Sunday, April 14, 2013

Apricot Saison and the AHA Conference 2013

I'm getting ready for the AHA Conference in Philadelphia in June of this year.

Brewing Apricot Saison in collaboration with my friend and fellow BFD Mike Damiano, and Patriot Oatmeal Stout.   We brewed the Saison in a 15 gal batch on Mikes electric brewery, which was pretty freakin cool!  I have about 4.5 gals on apricot puree sitting in my apartment right now, while Mike has the remaining 10 gals.  So we have 5 for AHA and about 4 for each of us!  This is my first fruit beer (unless you count a pumpkin ale I made right after I started brewing).    Here's the info on how to add fruit:

After speaking to a couple folks who have done this recently, I think we may have been light on the Apricot, but we will see.

Today I am brewing the Oatmeal stout, and I have had the difficult experience of trying to do a double infusion in a 10 gal cooler.  I added another 2 gals of boiling water to the mash to get to Mashout temp (168 degrees F) and ended up with minor overflow.  This was one of the most difficult brew days I have had in some time, and it all started with the grain crush. I couldn't get it to crush properly, and I ended up with the grain still in the husk, even though I conditioned it and re-milled it.  I think there could have been two issues:
  1. I was using some Valley Malt 2 row that is now 2 years old, I think.  It is possible that it isn't good anymore.
  2. I was trying to mill the grain using a drill instead of hand cranking, as I usually do.  I wonder if I milled too fast and it just squirted through.
  3. (oh, yeah, I said two--well tough) I might not have sprayed sufficient water to condition the grain .
So from the start, my gravity was low.  Of course, I had a hard time telling that because for some reason my refractometer seems to be messed up.  The line you read is now on an angle, which is not so good.  Also, the plastic cover doesn't seem to line up properly.  I checked it with a hydrometer though, and it was accurate once I nudged it back to place and re-calibrated with some distilled water.  I was shooting for a relatively high OG for the style, but ended up with 1.054, which is in the guidelines, but not what I should have had given the grain bill--that would have been 1.069!  A major miss, that one!   Of course the calculation was with Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter, not Valley Malt 2-row, so it might not have hit exactly, but I expected to be closer.

One cool thing that I tried (anyone but a brewing geek can stop reading here) is to recirculate the boiling wort in the last 15 mins and after knockout to cycle it around the kettle and the immersion chiller. Got the fasted cool down I have ever had with that chiller, so I guess it works! Thanks, Jamil, for idea.

Here it is in the fermenter.  Notice that there is a TON of headroom, because I had to boil for 2 hours to get the gravity UP to 1.054.  I only collected 4.5 gals, and then I pitched my dry yeast.  I hope it tastes good, but we will see in a week or two.

Next up for tasting is the apricot saison. I may get another can of apricot and add that in as well.

Happy brewing!