Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Outdoor All-Grain Saison!

Time for another brew session and a return to All-Grain brewing via Brew in a Bag (BIAB.)  I wanted to make a saison since I recently had a few thanks to my brother's Christmas gift to the rare beer club.  Saisons ferment at a high temp so I figured I get to it before summer showed itself the door.  In order to avoid stinking up the house (as much) I borrowed my dad's turkey fryer for my first ever outdoor brew session.

2.5 gallon batch
5 lbs Belgian Pale
6 oz Crystal 20
Mash at 149 for 60 minutes

1.25 oz Hersbrucker hops (60 minutes)
0.25 oz Hersbrucker hops (10 minutes)

Safbrew T-58 Yeast (rehydrated)


First thing I noticed was how fast the turkey fryer heats up water.  What a revelation after heating up all these previous batches on an electric stove!  It took a few minutes to get the hang of working the fryer and setting up my operation outside but the efficiency of the heat source alone convinced me that this is probably the way to go in the future.

Slowly adding and mixing 5+ pounds of grains
Too high yet again!  One day I'll get the hang of it.

Since this is all-grain I had to mash in the grains and let them rest for an hour at 149 degrees.  Theoretically anyway.  Like my last BIAB batch, I preheated the stove and put the covered pot in there once I hit the mash temp but soon realized the temp had actually dropped down to 144.  So back out onto the turkey fryer to heat it up a bit.  The temp slowly climbed but once I started futzing with my different thermometers I realized that now it was too high!  Somewhat annoyed, somewhat indifferent - I decided not to mess with it anymore and let it be for the next half hour.

60 minutes later and the mash is done

It was so much faster to bring to a boil outside

After another subpar mash it was time to bring it to a boil.  The turkey fryer made quick work of it, though I realized that the sides of the pot were black with soot.  Afterwards, research confirmed that this is the result of an inefficient fryer not burning all the gas.  Another issue to work on!  I didn't really think about the soot issue until it was time to cool it down when I realized that I'd have to bring this filthy pot into the house.  Amanda came home to begin preparing a big seafood dinner and she wasn't exactly thrilled that A) I was still brewing hours later and B) I was going to need to bring the concoction into the house to cool it down.  Still she's clever and can't resist a puzzle - she suggested sticking the sooty pot into my canning pot and cooling it down that way.

Pot within pot for the cooldown

Stuffing stuffies and none too pleased with me

Finished, one way or another
First outdoor brew was ultimately a success.  After all, I made beer!

I had forgotten ice of course so I made a quick trip to Cumbies while Amanda set up a fan to push the stink outside (don't listen to her, I think it smells great!)  I got back 10 minutes later with the ice and soon the wort was cool enough to dump into the carboy.  I took it outside and upon pulling the wort pot out of the canning pot, little flakes of soot poofed up into the air and a few landed in the wort.  Super!  At this point I'm just ready to be done so I grab some paper towels and dab up the black flecks as best I can.

After the carboy is filled and a hydrometer sample was taken, I confirmed what I had assumed - the starting gravity (which should have been 1.056) was 1.044.  Low but not that low.  Not entirely discouraged and somewhat as I had planned, I dumped a 1/2 pound of sugar into the carboy.  After a hearty shake session, I took another reading - 1.051.  Good enough for me.  The dry yeast I used was T-58, a strain designed for Belgian beers and fermentation took off almost immediately.  Within two hours the airlock was popping like mad. 

Now a few days later and the fermentation is slowing down.  I can see a tiny black speck floating at the top which annoys me but overall I'm happy with how things panned out.  Brewing outside is definitely better (especially since it keeps most of the beer making operation outside!) and once I figure out the fryer/soot issue (and get a better handle on the mash) I'll be good to go!

77 degrees in the basement - perfect for saison fermenting

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