The first step to getting this brew started was getting the coffee brewed. Probably the one disadvantage of using cold brewed coffee for this batch is that there is a twelve hour lead time needed to get the coffee ready…so I started it two days before brew day.
Selection of the coffee is important as the character of the coffee will dramatically impact the character of the beer. A lot of coffees have spicy characters that I don’t consider to be too desirable in a beer. Normally I would try to sample several different coffee’s to find one that worked with what I was trying to do, however I got impatient and instead pestered the poor guy at new seasons about their whole coffee selection till I found on that had a rich dark roast flavor with hints of chocolate. I did try it before committing to use it in my beer, I’m not that impatient.
If you search through the Internet you will find a lot of instructions on how to make cold brewed coffee, but not a lot of information on the ratio of grounds to cold water. However for this batch I used two cups of coffee to 64oz of cold water. I used two growlers (total of 128oz of volume with 4 cups of coffee grounds), I did this for a few reasons, the first is that I know the coffee is going to soak up a fair amount of the water and I wanted to make sure that I had enough of the coffee concentrate to get the job done, also that the grounds displace a fair amount of water in the first place. Also I wanted to have extra to have around for a while, because it is tasty.
Prepping the coffee is pretty strait forward, pour two cups of course ground coffee into the growler, fill it with cold water and place in fridge. That is really the whole of the process, over the course of the two days I left it steeping in the fridge I would take them out to shake them up a bit as well as top up the water as the grounds had absorbed quite a bit.
On brew day I poured the coffee through a course strainer to get the big chunks out, and then a coffee filter to get the rest out, this left me with wonderfully dark, flavorful, strong, and smooth coffee without any thing floating in it.
The coffee concentrate goes in the fermenter along with two gallons of cold water to wait for the wort that will be coming later after the boil. And for those of you who wonder why I keep calling it coffee concentrate here we have a picture of a half gallon of coffee concentrate, and then a picture of a half gallon of coffee concentrate mixed with two gallons of water, you may notice they are the same shade of awesome.
The other part of prep really happens on brew day, and that is sanitation, everyone has their own way of doing things I however am of the opinion that anything that comes in contact with the wort after the boil gets an iodine bath. Which is the funnel, the strainer, the thief, the stopper, and the airlock, call me paranoid, I would rather not put all this work into something I throw away because I didn’t clean everything correctly. After that its getting the grain and hops into their respective bags, and then getting started.
I start with two gallons of hot tap water (about 100 degrees F) and add the grains, bringing the mash slowly up to about 170 (keeping things between 160 and 180) for 45 minutes. It is important during this process that you keep the temperature under 180, much above that and the grains will release proteins that can lead to a hazy beer among other things, though if you do go too high nothing you do here will ruin the beer, just make it less pretty. Once the mash is done remove the grain and add the malt extract along with enough water to bring the wort up to two to two and a half gallons of water in the kettle bringing everything up to a full boil. Once you reach a boil make your first hop edition of 1.5 oz Northern brewer hops, these will boil for 45 minutes. At the 45 minute mark make your second addition of .5 oz Northern Brewer and .5 Willamette hops for an additional 15 minutes.
After the boil it’s simply a matter of getting the wort cooled down to an acceptable temperature ( around 85 degrees) into the fermenter and then to pitch the yeast. Before I pitched the yeast I took a sample for the specific gravity, a relatively low 1.052, so we will see what we end up with but I wasn’t going for anything particularly high alcohol, just pleasant to drink