Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fun with Hopbursting

Sunday was brew day for me. I put together a recipe using "Designing Great Beers" for an American Pale Ale: .5 lb Munich, .5 lb Crystal 40, 6 lbs Pilsen DME, and 5 ounces of Cascade hops. I've been reading about hopbursting, so I decided to give it a shot with this batch. Basically, the idea is to add all of your hops at the end of the boil to maximize flavor and aroma. You still get some bittering, but not tons, so that's why you need to use a lot of hops. I started my additions with 20 minutes left, then did another ounce every 5 minutes.

I did have another minor boilover right away when I added the first 3 lbs of DME. I'm trying to decide for next time if I should drop my boil volume by a gallon or try out some Fermcap (I guess it's supposed to knock out the foam). What would you do? Anybody else having issues with their new full boil setups? I did rig up a pretty sweet windscreen for my burner and kettle. Brian suggested sheet metal, but what I think he suggested (I was drinking at the time) didn't sound like it would work on my rig, so I ended up getting 2 ten inch diameter furnace duct pieces that are 36 inches long. I crimped them together and ended up with an awesome windscreen that goes almost all the way around the burner stand and goes up almost to the top of the kettle to trap in heat, plus it only cost me 8 bucks.

I reused half of the yeast cake that I saved from my Brown ale, which had been in the beer fridge for 3 weeks. I just brought it to room temp while I was brewing but didn't make a starter or anything to wake it up, just poured off the beer from on top, swirled it to get the yeast into suspension, and pitched it. It was probabably about 2 cups of slurry total. Apparently if a yeast cake has been sleeping in the cold for 3 weeks it needs a snack to wake up, because it took 20 hours to start fermenting. I was pretty worried, plus I went to my LHBS to pick up some dry yeast "just in case", but it was closed for President's Day. Fortunately, when I got back home empty handed the yeast was belching out CO2. It is now rocking out and kicking goo into the blowoff tube at a comfortable 60 degrees and it smells awesome!

I'm thinking about maybe brewing a dubbel after I culture the Chimay yeast or another brown ale (probably not oaked) next. Have you seen kit and hop prices at Northern Brewer lately? Holy smokes, it's like 50 bucks for their IPA kits! I did spend a little more at my LHBS when I built my APA recipe, but their hops were still only 2 bucks an ounce. I'm thinking about buying a 33 lb jug of LME to save some cash. Anyone else do or consider bulk buys?

I know at least Jeremy brewed this weekend, how did your brew day go?


Anonymous said...

I've got nothing new brew related, except that when I was day dreaming at work today, I thought about infecting my alley with hops, growing a plant at every telephone pole. I haven't decided where to grow them yet obviously. I've considered ripping out the concrete sidewalk along side my garage. If I did that I could attach stuff to the garage and let the plants grow all over the side of it. It's also the best southern exposure that I have available. But that seems like a lot of work.

rich.tessler said...

What about building a pergola type thing over your sidewalk or hottub? Then you could train your hops to grow over it? I'm still debating whether or not to grow hops or not. I got the okay from my father-in-law, but I'm only there once a week and I'm not sure if that would be enough to train them up the wires. I also don't want to tick him off too much if they get a little crazy.

SWART said...

I brewed the Phat Tyre kit from Northern Brewer a week ago and changed it to the secondary this Sunday. Things are looking and smelling great.
I need to mention that I initially thought that I was having fermentation problems again. 48 hours after pitching the yeast I didnt have any action. I read that you should try shaking the primary a little and did so and I immediately had blow off into my airlock and then constant bubbling after that. I also found that I had some leakage from what looks like a couple of holes near the top of the pail. This would appear to be the culprit for my failure with the Trippel. So of course this sadly means that the Trippel was likely fermenting and I wasted it without knowing. I had to have a beer to get over that.
Anyway, I think I will start using my carboy as my primary so I can see whats going on inside. Next up is an ESB this weekend.

rich.tessler said...

That's what I like about the carboy, you can see if it's fermenting even if there's no bubbles. Always look at your beer though, if there's bubbles or scum at the top, it's fermenting. You can also use a hydrometer to check to see if the gravity is dropping. That way, if you take a reading before pitching the yeast, even if there's no bubbles and it doesn't look like it's fermenting, if the gravity is dropping you know the yeast is doing their thing. After you pitch the yeast you should shake the hell out of the carboy to add oxygen (so don't cap it or put an airlock on). Yeast need the oxygen for reproduction. That also helps mix them up and gets the oxygen in solution. You should try starters too, I've had a lot more success with reduced lag times and better attenuation when I've used them. You want me to post some instructions for starters? It's pretty easy actually.

SWART said...

I was looking at the starter kits at Northern Brewer and MoreBeer. Is this what you use? I cant see these flasks being ok on a burner, but I could be wrong. I am planning on doing a starter for the ESB, likely making that on Thursday. From what I can tell it sounds like the temp that you store the starter in doesnt matter. Is that right? Perhaps you should post some instructions.
I must say, this blog is great. It makes me spend a lot more time thinking about and planning beers. I havent been actively brewing alot for awhile without others around me doing it and the fact that for almost a year I was the only one I know drinking beer. None of our friends here drank! Isnt that crazy. Anyway, keep it up.

rich.tessler said...

You need to get new friends!

You don't have to use a flask, they can get spendy, plus they are bad for boiling as they typically turn into a wort volcano. You can use them directly on a coil or gas burner, but not a flat top. I have one but usually don't use it. I usually just boil in a saucepan, let it cool, then pour it into the flask or a growler. Growlers (1/2 gallon) are even better in my opinion, they're my starter vessel of choice. As far as temp goes, there's different schools of thought. Room temperature is fine. I usually put mine on top of the fridge with a brown paper lunch bag around it to block the light. You don't really have to worry about light spoilage like you do with wort but I do it as a precaution anyway. I'll probably make a new entry tonight about starters.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog googling "hopbursting." I use starters and get outstanding results, usually about 1200 mL of 1.065 made with pale DME. I like to think I have a "house strain" but it's just 1056 at tenth generation to my "flagship" beer that I always have a keg of. Flasks are great on the stovetop but you have to attend to them or they'll volcano on you and that's a nasty mess. I shake up the DME with water in a mason jar and heat it from there, and candle the flame low enough to boil but not high enough to cause in-flask boilover. Then use the steam to sterilize the airlock (but not melt it!) and stopper in place and leave it to cool overnight before innoculating. I usually just spray it with the dregs of my last keg, which is basically all yeast slurry.

To prevent wort boilovers in your brewing, I've found one of two things work well. (1) come to a boil slowwwwwwwwwly, e.g. over the course of an hour (default on some stovetops); by the time there's a boil the protein will have broken into solution. (2) I stick a thermometer in there with an alarm at 208F. I then watch carefully and when the boilover starts, I set the flame so there's equilibrium. Eventually the proteins break into solution and you're good to go.