Ramble On

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Shakedown Batch 2 - The Coffee Porter

Since I wasn’t able to participate in the first pilot brew, I made plans to be there for the second.  The planned recipe was a coffee porter – the idea of combining cold-brewed coffee with porters and stouts is very popular these days, and I’ve found some good ones in the offering commercially from Sierra Nevada and Schlafly.  So it’s a natural conclusion to want to have one of these on the rotation eventually.

When I arrived, the team was working on the mash.
When I arrived, the team had already brought the hot liquor tank up to temperature and the grain was milled.  As before, in true shakedown style, there were some hitches in the process – true learning experiences that I see as an investment of time and effort to build skills.

The situations reminded me of my first terrified homebrewing experience when I graduated from one gallon batches to five gallon batches.  I’d made all of this investment in the equipment and the recipe kit – and when I went to do a check on fermentation about a teaspoon of my sanitation solution spilled in the beer.

Sanitation is the key to good beer, so it’s not unusual to have a solution around all the time while doing chores in the brewery.  I use a food grade product that offers the convenience of no rinse application, so after I checked the label to see if this small dilution would be okay in a five-gallon batch, I relaxed a little.

Eventually I called a friend about it though, and he reminded me that people have been brewing for 5,000 years, and sanitation hasn’t even been a science that long.  You can imagine brewers in the dark ages using malt that had been ransacked by rodents, animals crawling around in it, maybe feces dropping in there…so here I was worried that I might have a little sani-solution mixed in to my brew.
A side chore for the day was to move the Brown Barn Ale -
the "extra special bitter" - into a keg.
That conversation ended with the comment, “Relax, don't worry, and have a homebrew!” So flash forward a few years and here we are going through the steps of a shakedown on the pilot system – my sense of it was we should experience the whole thing and learn how to operate as a team.
Since the cooler needed to be set for some hop yard supplies
(lower than fermentation temps) the coffee porter is going
to ferment in the garage.

So when I arrived, the guys were in the middle of figuring out some wort flow issues with the mash and the hoses and pumps – eventually diagnosed that the grain had been milled too finely.  The fix was to do a few of the steps manually, and during implementation that meant we got a longer protein rest at a lower temperature than the recipe called for…at the end of all of this we still had an O.G. that will yield a session alcohol by volume level.

Plus, it will be a coffee porter.  You know, the flavor of a beer like that is the key, not so much the ABV – so we’re looking forward to what’s likely to be a good thing!

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