hybrid stout: disaster strikes!

last friday I dropped by san pedro brew co. to sample some brews with JW and watch him rack his wit (or was it a hef?) to one of the bright tanks.

  • we tasted the black lager and ale next to the version JW brewed for the brew co. as well as some commercial examples.  I was really happy with how the brew turned out – the lager was clean and dry with a subtle roast back that made for a very sessionable holiday beer, while the ale ended up as a smooth roasty mild.
  • we also tried JW’s bohemian pils and his wit, which were both on their way to becoming solid draft options at the brew co.
  • the tasting got me excited for the hybrid stout brew day that JF and I had planned for the weekend.  little did I know that my brew day luck was about to run out.
  • the grain bill for the brew was based on a dry irish stout, with some added flaked oats and a little black patent:
    • 11.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 60.27 %
      4.25 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 23.29 %
      1.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 9.59 %
      1.00 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 5.48 %
      0.25 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
      3.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 28.0 IBU
      1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (30 min) Hops 7.2 IBU
      1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale
  • I hit my mash temp of 154, held it for an hour, and then started the sparge.  this is where some brewday lessons were learned:
  • don’t crush flaked grains, and use tons of rice hulls to balance them out. the sparge turned out to be a no-go, as the mash was seriously stuck.  I had added a few (3-4) handfuls of hulls when I mashed in, but I immediately regretted not adding a pound or more to the mash.  also, I had carelessly tossed the flaked barley and oats into the crusher with the rest of the specialty grains, turning them into dust that plugged the keggle’s false bottom like cement.
  • if the false bottom clogs, replace with braided hose and batch sparge. after removing the entirety of the mash and clearing the false bottom tube, I added a pound of rice hulls and a couple gallons of hot water and dumped the mash right back in.  wort flowed freely for about a minute, then slowed to a trickle as the pulverized barley and oats again plugged up the false bottom tube.  I ended up removing the entire mash a second time, replacing the false bottom with my old cooler mash tun braided hose, and massaging out 10.5 gallons of wort through an impromptu batch sparge.
  • watch your back and take it slow.  I’m not gonna lie, the sparge sucked.  in my haste to get the boil going, I deadlifted a partially full keggle and bent over a thousand times to empty and refill the mash tun.  by the time the wort was cool and ready to rack, my back was seriously tweaked and I was hunched over like an old monk, which effectively killed the rest of my weekend.
  • despite the above mishaps (in addition to a broken thief, one overflowed keg, and a painful cleanup), JF and I actually hit our numbers spot on, with an O.G. of 1.047.  I added a healthy starter of 1056 and in less than 12 hours vigorous fermentation was observed.  after all the work that went into it, this brew will likely taste spectacular to me, even if there is a slight aftertaste of sweat and tears…

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