Archive for April, 2010

Ten Gallon EPA, update.

Last weekend I did the ten gallon batch of Extra Pale Ale, and pitched different yeast strains in each carboy. I thought I’d throw out an update to that brew day, since I kegged it all last night. The strains I used, Pacman, and Wyeast 1056 American Ale, aren’t really all that different, in fact I’ve read that Pacman (which is a proprietary yeast of Rogue) is a mutated strain of 1056. So I wasn’t really expecting too many differences between the two. What came to be was somewhat surprising and expected.

Due to the loss of wort in the kettle (which I have now solved with a pickup tube bought from, I only ended up with around 8 gallons. The 1056 American Ale yeast came from a Propagator smack pack, and pitched into a 750ml yeast starter. The Pacman came straight from the Activator smack pack, no starter. I thought I’d throw the Pacman yeast into the carboy with less wort in it, since the 1056 starter had a pretty healthy supply of yeast at the bottom of the flask, and would be better suited for the full 5 gallon carboy. I pitched both in the afternoon, and by bedtime, there was some bubbling in both airlocks. By noon the next day, a low, thick krausen. By Wednesday evening, both beers were finished fermenting, and by Friday, all krausen was gone. Consecutive gravity reading showed fermentation was done, so last night I racked them both into kegs.

The initial gravity reading before fermentation was 1.045. The beers then took a similar, yet slightly different path. The Pacman finished out at 1.012 (4.3% ABV), and the 1056 finished at 1.010 (4.6% ABV). Now, the 1056 had a starter, and more yeast, but it also had more volume. The Pacman¬† finished faster, but the attenuation wasn’t as high. Also, the Pacman beer seemed a slight bit darker. The taste? They both tasted the same to me. Light, crisp, and very hoppy. Both batches were racked to a keg for some conditioning and clearing. Should be interesting.

Here’s a side by side comparison of the two. On the left is the beer fermented with the Pacman yeast, on the right, the 1056. The one on the left seems a tad darker and clearer.

Ten gallon brew day

The first batch of Extra Pale Ale turned out well… well, that the keg had an abnormally short lifespan. While I enjoy making mouth-puckering hop monsters that tend to be (by design) unbalanced and a little on the thin side, a nice, easy drinking pale ale is something I always like having around. With my family out of town, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful spring day and push my honey-do list back a day and break out the ten gallon equipment and do a double batch. I basically doubled the malt bill and and hops, and added a little more for good measure.

I’ve had the pump and the plate chiller for a while, but I’ve only used the chiller a couple of times, by gravity only. I finally got around to getting some hi-temp tubing and fittings so I can pump the wort from the kettle, through the pump, into the plate chiller, and then cooled to around 68 degrees into the fermenters. It worked pretty well, although the valve on the kettle is a little high, so I need to work out a way to not lose so much wort….or I could just up the batch by a gallon.

I ended up with around 8 gallons total (due to the above mentioned valve, and a little extra boiloff), so I filled one carboy and put what I could into the other. The main idea behind doing 10 gallons this time was to use two fermenters, each with a different strain of yeast. So I have one fermenting away with a 1L starter of 1056 American Ale yeast, and the smaller batch has a smack pack of Rogue’s Pacman yeast. I’m interested and excited to see how each strain will affect the flavor and character of the beer.

Here’s a photo of the whole setup.

This year’s order of hop rhizomes are in, and I plan on getting those in the ground soon. The 4 I planted last year all have shoots coming out already. Should be a good year for hops!