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Pliny --- wow! what a brewday...

tom_hampton

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Its my first time making Pliny...I wish I had the real thing to compare with.  Holy moly what a brew day.  At 8 hours it was twice the length of my average everyday beer brewday.

There are two ways I make beer: 

1.  The drinkable beer method - I don't really fuss over all the measurements.  I'll take most of them, but I don't generally do much about them.  Heck I brewed the last hefe, while my hydrometer was broken.  Didn't even take a gravity reading.  The first reading I took was the FG.

2.  The perfect beer method - I take everything at every step, dough-in pH/Temp, mid-mash pH/Temp, Temp/SG/pH/Vol of all runnings and final pre-boil wort, post-boil, into fermenter.  Adjust as necessary to keep everything in the desired ranges.

I switch back and forth depending on my mood, mostly. 

Well, Pliny being an obviously "special" beer, simply for the expense of the hops....but, also because its my only decent chance of having something that approaches the real thing (I'm in Texas, Pliny is NOT). 

1.  I cut my water 50% with RO to get the carbonates down to a managable level.  Then added CaCl, MgSO4, and CaSO4 in porportions to end up with a 7:1 SO4:Cl ratio, and needed Mg/Ca for mash-pH.  I don't normally cut with RO, but I've learned some experiential lessons recently about my carbonates and controlling pH of these light-colored beers.  The last thing you want is that much hop material and a high Boil-pH!!!!

2.  I treated my sparge water with lactic acid to hold the runnings pH down...again to help control sparge pH and ultimately boil-pH.  Normally, I NEVER do this.  The first attempt resulted in a sparge water pH of 4.8...I had to add more water and retry to get to my target pH of 5.7.  Final runnings pH was 5.81, ultimate Kettle pH 5.65.

3.  The big process change for the day was a new mash-tun.  I've been using a 5g round cooler for 7 years.  I finally switched to a 12g ice cube cooler.  I didn't really WANT to change process and have Pliny be the first beer on the new MLT....but, I didn't want to brew anything else since the Hops arrived last week.  It seemed like a fairly low risk change. 

I just moved my valve and false bottom over from the 5g setup.  This worked great as a mash-tun...it retained the heat just fine (2 degrees in 60 minutes).  As a lauter tun, its not quite there.  My false bottom didn't seal against the spout area and grain got underneath and into the outlet plumbing.  I ended up sucking on the outlet tubing to pull the grain slug through.  Good thing the hot side doesn't have to be sanitary!

4.  I ended up with more wort than I'd planned.  Some bad arithmetic at the last moment resulted in an extra 3/4 gallon in the kettle.  That was ok, because my efficiency was a little lower than planned, and the extra volume got me those last gravity points that I would have been missing otherwise.  So, I had to boil for an extra 45 minutes to get down to my intended pre-boil volume and gravity.  But, I hit it dead-on at 1.045 and 8.52 gallons after the extra boil-time.  Even so, my final runnings were 1.011 with a pH of 5.81...so, I shouldn't have extracted any unwanted tanins. 

5.  Then there's the hops!  I typically make late-hop only IPAs...so, I'm used to adding 3-5 ounces of hops at a time.  but, I generally do that with 10 mintues to go....not AT THE START OF A 90 MINUTE BOIL!!!!  At 4 oz, I added more hops at flame-out, then I often add to entire batches of anything except an IPA.  In total, I added 9 ounces of hops over a 90 minute boil.  Beersmith calculates 217 IBUs (of which only 90-95 may actually make it into the beer). 

That much hops presents an interested challenge to the whirlpool, and draining of the kettle.  I had a mass of hops about 4 inches thick in the bottom of my converted keg.  It didn't want to drain very well and the last gallon of wort was a bit of a fight to get out.  In the end I collected 6 gallons of the nector at 1.070 OG. 

I chilled it to 69F in the kettle.  My ground water temp is now at 68F...so I'm going to have to do something for the summer brews.  I'll probably get a utility pump and recirc ice-water once I get below 90F, in the future.

Then I placed it in the walk-in and began areating it.  By the time I pitched the 2L starter of WLP001 the wort was down to 68F, and this morning 63F.  There was already some activity in the airlock, I turned the controller on  the temperture should to come back up to 67 where I have the controller set.  the ambient temp in the walk-in is 52F....plenty cool to counteract any fermentation rise.

For the next three weeks, she will sit and ferment undisturbed.  67F this week, 69-70F next week, then (assuming its fermented out) turn off the controller and let it cool to walk-in temp and begin to clarify. 

Once it is clear enough, I'll transfer to a keg and start the dry-hopping.  With another 3 3/4 ounces of hops. 

I've already started adjusting the recipe for the next brew, based on the few adjustments I had to make throughout the day:

1.  My mash efficiency was lower than expected, and my final batch volume was lower due to the extreme trub losses (hops absorbtion).  So, I've lowered the brewhouse efficiency to 72%, and upped by trub losses to 1.25 gallons.  As a result my grain bill and total pre-boil volume will go up in order to more easily hit the 6.5g@1.070 target.  This of course has many follow on effects for salts, acids, and hops. 

2.  I had to make several pH corrections at various points (with lactic).  I'm trying to capture those lactic acid adjustments, so that I more accurately hit my target pH's without much need for adjustment.  I'm particularly concerned about hitting mash-pH early on.  Waiting 10 minutes to take the first sample, a few minutes for it to cool, take the reading, make an adjustment, and wait another 10 minutes for the pH to stabilize....means I could be 30 minutes into the mash before the pH is correct.

3.  I'd start my starter at least 24 hours and maybe 48 hours earlier.  that way I would have the time to decant the last step and then wake up with a little more wort on brew-day.  This is my first time using CalAle...I've always been an english style brewer.  So, I'm learning this yeast.  It is a medium floc yeast, and I was not prepared for how much different it is versus English Ale.  I worried about the starter because the yeast wouldn't drop out, and I couldn't really tell how much yeast was present. 

If anyone is interested I can put my recipe up, including all water additions.  Granted my additions are for Dallas, Tx water.  I'm trying to capture EVERYTHING including salts and acids separated into mash and sparge.  I've created new profiles for most of the parts that drive this recipe (fermentation, mash, water, etc). 

I even found an error in my standard brewsheet.  I didn't remember that there is a special recipe tag for $STEEP_HOPS that is separate from $STEEP_INGREDIENTS...which seems to be specific to extract/partial-mash recipes.  Whereas $STEEP_HOPS is specifically for flame-out/Aroma additions. 

 

tom_hampton

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OMG....I just tasted it after 24 hours....nectar, is the only word.

Here are my recipes. 

v1.0 recipe I used to brew this batch
v1.1 recipe modified per the above
 

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dirigo

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Hey Tom!
  Had to go online to find out what you were making. I knew who Pliny the Elder was. I didn't know that they named a beer after him! LOL! From your post it looks like you scored! LOL! Good brew to you.
 

tom_hampton

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Its pretty intense.  It has just over 11 ounces of hops in the boil, and another 3.75 ounces to be dry-hopped in two different additions.  So, its 15 ounces of hops for a 5 gallon batch.  I bought three pounds so I could make the recipe three times.
 

Slurk

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Hi Tom,

Impressive!
Thank you very much for sharing your brew day with us.

I checked your recipe 1.1 and I was wondering if you could tell me more about your thoughts/reflections regarding the combination of these type of hops, especially boil timing, ratio and the dry hopping part. What type of taste and flavour profile are you after.
I am asking this because I fell in love with an Indian Pale Ale called "Proper Job". I am planning to go for brewing this one in the near future. At the moment I am experimenting for the first time with dry hopping in a 20L batch (a combination of 20gr of Saaz 4% and 50 gr of Marynka 8% in the second for 2 weeks, I will take them out this weekend). I would like to learn so much more about hopping and dry hopping.

Regards,
Slurk
 

tom_hampton

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Thanks, Slurk.

Its a bit early for me to have many thoughts, the beer is still at 1.023 SG...about 3/4th fermented.  I raised the ferment temp today  to 20C from 18C.  I started at 17C.  So, I haven't even started the dry hopping.

I should be clear that this is a Double or Imperial IPA.  I think calling these things IPA is a little misleading.  They bear almost no resemblance to an IPA.  Also, I'm following a recipe direct from Russian River.  This is NOT my composition.  Vinnie Cilurzo (owner/brewer) is a master.  He is one of the originators of this style. 

That said, Vinnie has stated on TBN, and in conference presentations that his dry hop experiments showed him that the optimum dry hop time was 12-14 days.  Any longer than that and they start to impart undesirable characteristics.  In Pliny the Younger (a more extreme beer than the Elder), Vinnie did multiple overlapping additions of dry hops at 12-14 days each to keep imparting more and more dry-hop character. 

When hopping with this much hops in the boil you impart a ton of other flavors, and body besides just bitterness.  The hop additions total 217 calculated IBUs, but only 90 or so make it into the beer.  Actually, I've heard that when the original Pliny was measured they only found about 68 IBUs.  He has since started using hop extracts to get the IBUs higher.  With this recipe you can actually "feel" the hops on your tongue. 

The hops in this recipe are Columbus, Simcoe, and Centennial.  Simcoe is practically sticky it has so much resin.  The only way to get an idea of what a beer with this much hops is like is to stick your head inside a bag of hops and breath DEEP.  Now image a beer 10 times that concentrated in FLAVOR (and aroma...but, its the flavors that really HIT you).  Simcoe is quite a bit different from any other hop I've ever used (british, german, or the big C hops). 

So, that's a lot to say, I guess...without having enough experience (by experimenting) to really comment about how to decide to adjust things...and balance flavors between hop types.  These IIPA beers are an expensive way to learn those things, though.

 

Slurk

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Hi Tom,

Thanks a lott for your additional information!
I was planning to take the hops out this weekend and just to be sure and to be prepared I decided to take a sample today. I was astonished about the mess the hoppellets had made (although no fermentation, particles everywhere) and in addition I became insecure about the fact that I saw a thin layer of oil floating on the beer (what about the foam on the beer?). I decided to filter the beer and that's what I just did now before I read you respons. I will put the beer back cold and give it some weeks rest.

Could you share your experiences further in the brewing process with us?

Have a nice weekend!
Regards,
Slurk
 

tom_hampton

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Absolutely.  I'd be happy to. 

The oil layer you saw should be hop oils.  It might affect head retention some...but, ITS HOP OILS...and will taste really good.  I'm happy to sacrifice some head retention for hop flavor in an IPA.  I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm guessing you put the dry hops in loose without a filter bag?  I'm planning on using nylon paint strainer bags for each of the additions when it comes time.

I bought enough to make three 5 gallon batches.  So, we'll see how things get tweaked from batch to batch. 


 
 

PetenNewburg

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  Tom,  How do you intend to keep your hops submerged?  I've read several posts about using marbles, others say marbles don't work, not enough marbles! :eek:  I used several Stainless Steel plumbing elbows in my hops bags, seemed to work fine.  I've read other posts saying that using bags restricts the hops utilization.  Any thoughts on this?
 

tom_hampton

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Bags certainly affect utilization in the boil.  I've never heard anyone suggest that they do a similar thing in dry hopping.  I haven't done any side-by-side, so I can't say.  2 weeks is plenty of time for the flavors to diffuse through the bag and into the beer, I think. 

I plan to use sanitized marbles.  All you have to do is use enough marbles.  Marble weight = hops_weight * 4ish.

 

Slurk

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Thanks, next time I will try a bag (a large one to give room for utilization) avoiding all the mess.

The thing that surprised me was that the sediment of hoppellets (after dry hopping) tasted very bitter while the calculator shows zero contribution to bitterness. Is there really no contribution to the final bitterness?

Regards,
Slurk
 

tom_hampton

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There is certainly no contribution to isomerized alpha-acid.  That requires heat (boil or very near).  But, that doesn't mean that some of the other polyphenols might not still give you a bitter perception.  The only way to know for sure, is to do a side-by-side. 
 

PetenNewburg

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I only use whole/ leaf hops to avoid "process alteration" of flavors ... etc, not to mention the mess.  To compress anything results in heat, so who knows what flavors will be extracted.  I'm sure that statement will attract "conversation", but compression to the point of pelletizing has to have some effect.
  I notice much better flavor extraction just from vacuum packing.  I am very tempted to use a “Essential Oil Extractor” on a pound of fresh hops just to see the results.
 

tom_hampton

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I use whole hops for the same reason.  Plus, they are easier to filter out of the boil.  For this, though, the only simcoe I could get were pellets. 
 

PetenNewburg

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  ‘Yes, that hop availability thing can be a pain.  I am fairly new to the "hop addiction" phase, but I am enjoying every bit of it!!  :D I am hoping to attend the finally of the Frederick, MD Beer Week at FBW FirkinFest at Still Point Farm in Mount Airy, MD.  They are the hop provider to Flying Dog Brewery among others.
 

Slurk

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Whole hops versus pellets/avoiding process alteration of flavors: I think you have a point there PetenNewburg. I don't know to what degree the process is influencing the flavor profile/intencity, but both you and Tom Hampton notice better flavor extraction in practice. This is really an exiting area!
Regards,
Slurk
 

tom_hampton

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I don't know...I use whole hops because they are easier given my equipment.  As long as I have enough whole hops in the kettle, I can use some pellets.  The flowers will stick to my kettle screen and work as a filter bed for the pellet debris. 

Almost all professional brewers use pellets, though.  JZ has always recommended pellets...for better utilization.  He's won enough awards (more than anyone else, ever) to dispel any idea that they are somehow degraded.  If flowers truly had better flavor, aroma, etc...I have no doubt that JZ would use them. 

However, given my equipment setup...flowers work better and I compensate my amounts for the slight decrease in utilization.  Another tip for using flowers....bags of flowers are not uniform.  The lupulin will settle to the bottom of the bag....so that the bottom of the bag has more hop flavor/aroma/bitterness than the top of the bag.  So, store them upside down when you get them and rotate them every so often to keep the lupulin more uniform throughout the bag.  Also, try and pull hops from various sections of the bag...like taking a core sample.  That way, you again help to compensate for any non-uniformity of lupulin in the bag.

 

PetenNewburg

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  I was discussing repeatability with a friend last night and this topic came to mind.  With leaf hops there can be variations from bag to bag.  Pelletizing requires a very large quantity of hops, ground and mashed together.  In this process variations may still exist, but would not really be noticeable to the home or commercial brewer/ consumer.
  Commercial brewers use a swirl tank prior to the chilling/ fermentation process to help remove the hop debris.
  So for repeatability from batch to batch, pellets do offer greater consistency.  It's the spent hops mess I dislike the most.  I also just like the fresh aroma!
 

Slurk

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Thanks PetenNewburg!

Isn't that one of the charming sides of beer brewing: the dilemma between on one side using products from nature that varies in their quality and on the other side our need for process control and reproducability/repeatability?

Regards,
Slurk
 
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