Subscribe to:

The HUGE Brew

As I said in my last post, yesterday was National Homebrew Day, which was marked by homebrewers brewing in households all over the nation on the same day. Most of these brews were coordinated by the American Homebrewers Association and involved predetermined recipes that were posted on their website. But, I didn't want to brew any of those recipes, since I like making my own beer. :) So, I decided to brew the biggest beer that I could think of to both mark this event, and to commemorate my soon-to-be-born baby boy (4 weeks away! OMG!). Since this will be our second child, and two kids is exponentially more difficult than one, I decided to brew an exponentially harder beer to make, which of course meant brewing TWO beers using a brewing technique called parti-gyle! The parti-gyle technique involves making two beers from the same base grain: a strong beer from the first runnings, and a lighter beer from the second runnings. So, I created a new Barleywine recipe using this technique that is made without sparging (just draining the mash from the grain bed), which yields a pure and intensely malty flavor from the grain, followed by a Dark Amber Lager made from the second runnings (steeping and rinsing of the grain bed). The beers are named the Limbic Libation Barleywine and the Aftershock Amber Lager.

As you can imagine, brewing two beers in one day is quite the ambitious endeavor. As such, for the first time ever, I actually designed a plan for how I was going to get through everything, and figured out that the brewing process was going to take nine hours! I got started at 9am with filtering and prepping the water in the garage and starting the heating process for the mash water. I was so busy through the whole day, that I had very little concept of what time it was. Plus, there was a constant stream of friends coming to watch/help and drink my other beers, so it was really nice to socialize and involve so many people in the process, and we got to see some friends we hadn't seen in a long time. In the end, it did take exactly nine hours (minus cleanup) and I got two seemingly fantastic beers out of the process. It was definitely a marathon session, and I don't plan on making this pair of beers very often (maybe once/year), but I feel like I hit all of my planned temperatures and volumes, and I found out that my equipment can handle 35lbs of grain, which is awesome!! This is probably the biggest beer I'll ever make, so I'm really happy that I have the capacity to make any kind of beer that I want to.

Anyhow, both beers are now in the fermenters, and the Limbic Libation is already fully rolling on the fermentation. The Aftershock hasn't shown signs of getting started yet, so I brought it inside to let the temperature come up until the yeast can get going (lagers have to be fermented below 55F, so I had it in my fridge outside at 50F). I'll keep an eye on it and if it doesn't get going, I may have to rouse it with a second inoculation, or some nutrients for the yeast, but I'm not worried yet.

I had a great time yesterday, and I think everyone who came by had fun too. So, on this Mother's Day 2011, hand your mom a beer, and toast to National Homebrew Day, then come over and have some of mine!