Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dax II: The Hoppening

Update:  Interview with Dax where he (meaning the USMNT Press Sec) received his namesake brews: ShinGuardian Dax interview

Last summer we fired up three pale ale recipes and let our friends decide which one they liked best.  Let's just say that we're going to be poor if we ever do open a full-scale brewery.  One beer won by a landslide.  Even WE voted for it, but that's not the Die Hipster way.  We decided that the Dax recipe had the wider appeal beyond a few oz tasting.  This time around, we doubled the recipe and will be handing over a portion to our friends over at The Shin Guardian.

Brew day went as follows:

Doubled the recipe from Dax I which means:

12.0 lbs Domestic Pale Malt
7.0 lbs Wheat malt
4.0 lbs Flaked wheat
1.0 lbs Munich Light

Mash Temp:  150 for 60 min

Hop Schedule:
2.0 oz Amarillo 60 min
2.0 oz Amarillo 30 min
2.0 oz Amarillo 5 min
1.0 oz Amarillo EOB

Yeast:  Whitelabs CA

Since the first Dax became the easiest drinking of the three, we didn't mess with it too much.  Instead we opted to go a little heavier on the aroma hops which is the ounce at the End of Boil.  Checking in on the gravity as primary fermentation winds down and the aroma hops are already paying dividends.  So far, so wonderfully fragrant.  Hop oils are a little volatile so we're hoping this comes through into the final product.  If you actually read the grain bill for this one you might think this is a wheat beer.  You'd be on to something and this beer will actually end up being a nicely hopped wheat beer.  Wheat changes some of the texture of the beer on the palate, suspended proteins will give it a little bit of haze and the flaked wheat allows for increased head retention.

First, 24 hours before we'll need it, we create a yeast starter.  Been through this before in a previous post but we need two for this recipe since we're doubling the recipe.  Simply put, we make a very rudimentary beer using light Dry Malt Extract (DME) that we keep on hand just for this purpose.  This wakes up the yeast and gets it used to it's new surroundings because eventually it will be pitched into five gallons of food.

Fermentation starts quickly and CO2 is evident in the airlocks.  This entire process requires EVERYTHING to be sanitized.  We go for sterile.  Yeast is fickle, and happy yeast means better beer.

It has been a long time since we did a 10 gallon recipe and forgot just how much grain and water we were working with.  Once our local shop mills our grains (coarsely crushes the malted barley exposing the sugars from the husks) we truck it out in a grain bag.

Since we're using a lot of grain, we like to make sure our filter does not clog so we add a natural filter in the form of rice hulls.  There is a metal filter at the bottom of the Mash Tun that allows the hot liquid to be strained out through the bottom.  The rice hulls shown in the second picture, aid in creating another layer of filter.

We let our oatmeal-like mash rest for 60 minutes at 150 degrees.  This time period serves to extract the sugars from the milled grains.  The temperature is critical.  A few degrees up or down impact how proteins are broken down.  When 60 min passes, the first run-off is captured then poured back into the top of the grain bed.  The first run off is the thickest and often a little chunky.  Re-circulating it serves to make sure less grain makes it to the actual boil pot.

The next step is what you see here.  The top vessel contains water that was previously heated to 180 degrees.  That drains down into the grain bed (second vessel underneath).  At this point the grains are being washed with the goal of extracting as much of the sugar from them as possible. Intuitively, the first runnings are the strongest and it weakens during the sparge.  The actual wort is in the boil pot at the bottom right of this picture.  This is the 'brewing' portion of making beer.  Everything so far is just creating something to boil.  We only hit 10 gallons.  Regardless of the volume you get, it's more important to hit your target gravity and we were spot on.  The downside is that we only got a little less than 8 gallons of a final product.

After a slightly longer primary fermentation (11 days), we racked the beer into secondary fermentation carboys.  This allows the beer to naturally clarify and allows any remaining yeast to clean up anything we don't want in the final product.  Will be bottling in about two weeks.