Twenty-five pounds of malt, I’m told is the maximum capacity for a ten gallon mash tun. Unsure of how much water I’d able to fit into my cooler with the twenty-five pounds of Maris Otter called for in this recipe, I prepared way more than I needed. I’m making a second runnings beer, so the water will be put to good use later, but for now I like to know that I have more than I need.
Once the mash water reached the temperature I needed, 170º, I added half of my grain to the mash tun and began adding water, half a gallon at a time. Normally, I’d add all of the water, give it a few minutes to warm up the cooler and then add all of the grain. In this case, I planned to just add as much water as I could fit. To prevent having too much water, I wanted to add the grain as I went, making sure it all fit. To prevent dry pockets, I added half and then some water and stirred it up good before adding the rest of the grain, more water, stirring again and then topping off with as much (or slightly more) water as would fit. It ended up being somewhere around six gallons of water.
After seventy-five minutes, I drained off about two gallons of wort, giving me enough room to give the mash a good stir. After I had mixed everything up as well as I could for a few minutes, I added that wort back in for recirculation. Then I began draining again, this time only taking about a gallon and recirculated again.
After that, I drained the mash and checked the volume of wort I had obtained. Again, I prepared a lot more sparge water than I actually needed because I wasn’t sure what I would need and the extra will have use in the second runnings beer.
I found that I collected close to five gallons of wort, more than expected. I added three gallons of sparge water, stirred the mash again, pulled off a gallon and recirculated and then ran the sparge into the wort I had already collected until my volume reached seven gallons, then cut it off, despite having more liquor in the mash. I saved that for the second runnings beer because I had the volume I needed.
Last year, I boiled Old SMaSHy for ninety minutes, adding four ounces of hops with sixty minutes left, another two at twenty and two more at flameout. This year, I bumped the boil time up to two hours. The bitterness level was perfect last year but the hop flavor and aroma were lacking. I blame that, in large part, on the yeast selection. I am using a drier, more hop forward yeast this year, but to hedge my bets, I added an extra ounce at flameout, leaving the rest of the additions the same.
Checking my notes from last year, I couldn’t help but notice that the Alpha and Beta Acid contents on my pound of East Kent Goldings hops were identical last year and this year. This makes me think these are likely from the same crop of hops. I like to think I’m getting fresh ingredients, but there isn’t a good way to check on the age of the hops I’m buying and this really opened my eyes to the need for harvest dates being provided on hop packaging. I could be wrong, but I highly doubt that two years of EKGs ended up with exactly the same acid content. I will say, though, that these hops still smelled great when I opened the vacuum pack. Hopefully the great packaging makes up for the age.
Anyway, after the boil, I checked the gravity and volume of the wort and found some problems. My gravity was higher than expected and my volume was much lower. I didn’t actually measure the volume, but I could tell it was low. The gravity was 1.112, though. I was aiming for around 1.100. I still had some of that extra water left, so I added some, slowly until I reached 1.100. This also helped speed up the wort chilling and it was a small enough amount of water that it shouldn’t change the hop profile much. When I racked into the carboy, the volume was perfect. I guess my boil is just more vigorous than planned.
Speaking the racking to the carboy, this wort went right on top of the yeast cake from Fruit Spectrum IPA. I racked that beer off (and took a very small sample… tastes great) only minutes before. I added a bit of yeast nutrient and the fermentation took off within a few hours. I topped the carboy with a cap rather than a rubber stopper because I expect it to go crazy for the first couple days and it would likely blow the stopper off. Once it calms down, I’ll add a stopper with an airlock to keep the bugs out. The active fermentation should keep it safe on its own.
With the water added, this year’s OG was .002 lower than last year’s. I expect this yeast to dry the beer out a bit more, though and expect the ABV to be a little bit higher than the 10.5% I got last year. I was and would still be perfectly happy with that number, but we’ll see where things go. My recipe is below.
Old SMaSHY (2014)
Style: English Barley Wine
Brew Date: August 13, 2014
Serve Date: October, 2014
Expected FG: 1.022
Approximate ABV: 10.5%
100% Maris Otter
Hops (120 minute boil):
4 oz East Kent Goldings @ 60 min
2 oz East Kent Goldings @ 20 min
3 oz East Kent Goldings @ Flameout
3 oz East Kent Goldings Dry hopped 7 days
White Labs WLP007: Dry English Ale