Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brewing Great Beer Part 2: Brewday Decisions

My friend Patrick and I brewed the Rye Pale Ale last weekend. The brewday went pretty well, but for the fact that I was horribly undercaffeinated early in the brewday. I made a "gameday decision" to add what I thought was 2 oz of whole amarillo hops to the flameout addition of the batch. I packed the 2 oz of amarillo into a hop bag with the chinook/columbus blend that Patrick had contributed. Except that I added 4 oz of amarillo, not 2. Later in the day (post coffee), I realized my mistake and decided to drop the 2 oz Cascade flameout hops, since it was already such a big dose of amarillo, columbus, and chinook. I also decided to push the crystal hops to 5 min to see if 5 min hop additions (something I used to use a lot, but haven't tried for quite some time). As a result of the swap, I decided to punch up the bittering addition a bit. And, as the beer became less cascade-centric and amarillo took on a leading role, I decided to add a touch of amarillo to the dry hop mix and to embolden the beer with a larger-than-standard dry hop dose.

The brewday went pretty well. We again had a fairly serious problem with wort being trapped in the mash tun and not draining fully out (this mash tun badly needs to be replaced). But since the recipe was planned with a lower efficiency in mind, we still hit our ideal gravity of 1.051-1.053.

I sprinkled the BRY-97 dry yeast directly onto the wort, as that is what I generally do with US-05 and I wanted to see if I encountered any real problem in doing so. I pitched at 62F and I left the fermentation chamber at 56F, which is ideal for fermenting at 62F. The yeast lagged a bit, and didn't really "take off" until I raised the ambient temperature in the fermentation chamber to 58F (thus promoting a fermentation temperature of 64F). Even still, krausen grew slower and worked slower than US-05 would, even at a much cooler fermentation temperature (I have fermented at 56F without issue on numerous occasions with a similar-gravity beer). This leads me to believe either that Danstar yeasts are much less amenable to being sprinkled directly onto the wort without proper rehydration or that US-05 is much more cold-tolerant than BRY-97.

Time will tell.

Here is the updated recipe:

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