Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dry hopping - What the hell is it?

Dry-hopping is simply adding whole leaf or pellet hops to the secondary fermenter or after the initial primary fermentation is done (first 7-10 days). It is usually done one Pale ales and IPAs and it adds extra aromas and flavors to the final product. How much do you use? Well . . . that's a good question. Generally speaking people only use 1-2 oz per 5 gallon batch but some people will go nuts and add up to 6 oz. I don't recommend that, especially with the hop shortage right now. The most common hops for dry hopping are: cascade, centennial, amarillo, chinook and columbus.

How long do you let them sit? Usually, you want them to sit for a minimum of 1 week, max of 2 weeks at room temperature. If it's cooler than room temperature then you can let them sit an additional week, however, if you let them sit too long then you run the risk of off grassy-like or vegetal flavors. You don't want that to happen!

And drink this shit fresh! Don't let it age. You want the maximum aroma and flavoring so drink it fresh, as soon as it's carbonated. And enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to Batch Sparge

Batch Sparging, how is it done.? If you aren't familiar with Batch sparging, it's a technique used in all grain brewing and basically, what you're doing is rinsing your grain bed in order to extract the sugars from your beer. Here is a pretty basic rundown. Let's say you have a standard 5 gallon batch with 10 lbs of grain. Heat up about 3.5 gallons of mash water to 168 degrees (this is 1.25 qts per lb of grain). Add that to your mash tun and stir well and let rest for 60 minutes. When that's over, open up your valve, take some runnings and gently recirculate into your mash tun. I usually take a piece of tin foil, punch some holes in it and float it on top of the grain bed so it doesn't disturb the bed. Do this until the wort runs clear of all debris. This is called vorlaufing. When it's clear, just open the valve and collect your first runnings. Then add another 3.5 gallons of preheated 170 degree water directly to the mash tun again, sometimes this temp isn't high enough to hit a mash out temp of 170. If that's the case then you're going to have to experiment with higher temps to hit your mash out target temp. Sometimes you need to heat it as high as 200 degrees. Don't worry about extracting tannins, just stir really well so it distributes the heat properly. Stir well and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Vorlauf again and then drain completely. This is your second runnings. Stir well and light up the flame.

Sometimes people will do a two stage batch sparge. They'll collect their first runnings and then heat up approximately 2/3 of the total batch sparge water, add that, vorlauf and collect second runnings. Then they'll add the remaining 1/3 batch sparge water and repeat with vorlauf and collecting. Why do they do this? Usually you can achieve a better extraction efficiency. I've never bothered doing it because I continuously hit 75% efficiency with my system.

And remember, everyone's system is different. You're going to have to learn from experience and dial in your system to how it works best. It may take a few batches, but you'll get there.

And there you have it. The simple version of batch sparging. Really, it's that simple. Give it a try.