Batch #7 – All Grain #3
- 15# Pale 2 Row
- .5# Aromatic
- .5# Biscuit
- .5# Caramunich
- .5# Special B
- 1oz Chinook 11% AA @ 60 minutes
- 1oz Chinook 11% AA @ 45 minutes
- 1oz Chinook 11% AA @ 2 minutes
- 5/8oz Chinook 11% AA @ 2 weeks
- 3.5oz. American Oak Cubes @ 1 week
- Boil: 90 minutes
- Mash: 60 minutes
- Strike Temperature: 162°
- Mash Temperature:154°
- Sparge Temperature: 168°
- O.G.: 1.062
- F.G.: 1.011
- A.B.V.: 6.6%
- Efficiency: 56%
This begins as a clone of Oaked Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewing Company. The brewers at Stone always seem to be challenging traditional style categorizations and their most popular brews tend not to fall precisely into any single category. That seems to be one of the core tenets of the craft brewing world – to continuously defy the standards and push beyond the existing boundaries of the beer world. The closest match in style for this one is an Imperial IPA. It’s a big hoppy beer featuring just a single hop variety as the central star.
In my decision-making process I’m taking into consideration that I have two empty kegs to fill. My first inclination is to create two individual grain bills and proceed with two consecutive brewing sessions. Worried about this degree of ambition and without additional time, space, and equipment I begin to consider other options. Having picked such a big brew to start with, I settle on using a parti-gyle technique in order to produce two beers from a single grain bill. I will brew the first batch using the base Arrogant Bastard recipe and then collect the wort from the additional runnings of same grain bed to create a second smaller beer. While the first batch is targeted as a clone, the second will be much more experimental. I’m using all of my Chinook hops for the main batch. The second will use whatever I have leftover in the freezer – probably a mix of Centennial, Cascade, and Pacific Gem.
Knowing that I’ll be brewing a double batch, I’ll need to create a yeast starter so that I’ll have enough viable yeast to pitch into both batches. The mix for a starter generally follows a ratio of one pound of DME to one gallon of water (or alternatively, one cup per liter). Smaller quantities can easily be scaled based on this ratio. In this case, I’ve used 1/3# (5.3oz) of DME mixed with 2pt and 2/3 cups water to start out with. I’ve made up this tiny batch of wort and pitched the yeast into it the day before my brew day so that it has time to build up. Ideally I might have done this a few days earlier and built up the yeast with a larger starter, but hopefully this small head start will suffice.
Kitchen Stove-top all grain brewing presents a unique set of challenges. With a limited amount of space and BTU output you are limited in the amount of liquid which can be effectively heated at once. Sometimes it means juggling multiple kettles on multiple burners while trying to maintain temperatures across them all. With my limited amount of space and BTU’s, my only option is to boil the batches sequentially rather than simultaneously. By the time I’ve finished the boil of the first batch, it’s late into the evening and I just don’t have the energy at this late hour to start a second boil. I’ve already collected the runnings for the second batch and they’ve been sitting in a covered kettle on the side the whole time. So I make the decision to keep the kettle full of wort covered up on the stove and hope it won’t spoil overnight. I’ll start the second boil first thing the next morning.
The larger batch goes into the ale pail as per usual while the smaller second batch goes into the glass carboy. Since the plan is to age the primary batch with the oak cubes in secondary and I don’t have any other fermenting vessels, I’ve decided to transfer the smaller batch directly from primary to keg to free up my carboy.
Tasting Notes & Final Thoughts
This turned out to be a vaguely successful clone. My all-grain efficiency is still very low – seemingly around 55% for this brew. The resulting beer is not as strong as the original yet it ends up being highly drinkable and reminiscent of one of the first west coast beers I came to know and love after first moving to San Francisco. The oak cubes spent only a few weeks in secondary so they ended up not imparting much oak flavor. For a stronger oak character I could have either used oak chips for the short period or increased the secondary aging time. Despite the flaws, this is one I’m overall very pleased with.
The secondary small batch is another story entirely. Having only a short primary before hitting the keg, the small batch is ready to sample much sooner than the primary batch. It’s pretty much undrinkable. It has no body, is watery, and has strong pungent grassy flavors. Over the course of a couple weeks, each sample remains as awful as the last. Something has apparently gone terribly wrong with this one. Did it need a secondary stage? Was there a problem with the old frozen hops I used? Did the overnight pre-boil delay affect the flavor? Did I try to push the grain bed too far and extract undesirable compounds? Does it just need a longer time to age? I’ll probably never know for sure, but my guess is a combination of low extract efficiency and overuse of mixed hops past their prime are the primary contributors to the flaws. I seriously doubt any amount of aging is going to fix this one. It’ll stay in the keg until I need it for something else and then it will probably get poured down the drain. That’s just how these experiments go sometimes. They can’t all be winners, but you can always try – so goes the craft brewing ethos.