Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Brew day, a Scotch ale is born

And its brew day, or more correctly the post brew day post. I meant to get this up a lot sooner, but I’m lazy. I had to make a few changes to the recipe which you can see below. My homebrew supply does not carry either of the hop varieties listed in the original however the staff there recommended sterling as a substitute on both fronts, warning that it would add a tiny bit more bitterness, but also a bit more of a floral note on the other side. And so here is what we are looking at as a final recipe.

             6.6 lb light LME
             2.0 lb munich malt (10L ?)
             0.5 lb crystal malt (60L)
             0.5 lb crystal malt (20L)
             3.0 oz chocolate malt (350L)
             4.0 oz Wheat malt (2L)
             2.0 oz Hugh Baird peat smoked malt (2L)
             1.0 oz sterling (whole, 60 min boil)
             1.0 oz sterling (whole, 15 min boil)
             Wyeast 1338 (european ale, 1 qt starter)
             3.0 oz Oak chips

After getting everything prepped and cleaned I started with two gallons of hot water out of the tap (about 120 degrees) and added the grains, bringing the temperature up to 160 and adding the grains to steep for about an hour before I removed them and let them drain back into the pot. After that I added the malt extract and brought everything up to a boil before making the first hop addition. The mix boiled with the hops for 60 minutes before I added the second ounce of hops for the last 15 minutes. After the boil I brought the whole mess down to 80 degrees and transferred it to the fermenter topping it off with cool water up to five gallons.

Now to the question of oaking the beer, I’ve not had a lot of experience with the process and so asked the staff at the store if they had suggestions, they had two. The first is a sort of “dry hoping” with the oak chips where they are added to the fermenter for the last week to impart some character but not too much. The second is to put some of the oak chips into a jar with some whiskey to allow the spirits to soak up some of the character from the oak, I’ve chosen this method.
I’m using white dog from McMenamens distillers and about an ounce of the oak chips as an experiment, and even after a few days I can see a strong change in the color and aroma of the whiskey as it “ages” on the oak chips. The smell is a lot more pleasant with hints of vanilla and caramel already which were completely absent from the un-aged whiskey when I started, I am interested to see what happens in this experiment. I will be adding a measured amount of this on bottling day to add some of the oak and whiskey character to the scotch ale, it should be interesting.

The starting gravity was about 1.08 when adjusted for the temperature which has a potential ABV of about 10%. Time will tell.
Also as this is a new recipe for me (and I've moved away from the origional recipe) I need to come up with a name for this brew, I'm open to suggestions.

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