Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy … we had “fun” during the brewing of our wheat beer </sarcasm>

Seriously though, we screwed the pooch with a slight modification to our standard brewing practice. I’d like to give you fair warning that I’ll be dropping some terms on you that you might not be familiar with. If I don’t adequately explain it in the post, I urge you to post any questions in the comments section below.

We were really excited to try out a new technique to keep our mashing temperature steady (mashing is the process where you steep the grains, similar to brewing tea). The new technique was inspired by a system developed by Blichmann Engineering that makes brewing easy (rightly called BrewEasy). What we liked about that system’s setup was the fact that you could circulate the mash liquid into the boil kettle to heat it up and put it back in the mash, effectively keeping the temperature in the mash right where we wanted it.

This might not have been such a horrible idea, except that we put all the water into this circulation path (mash > boil > mash > boil …), and that had an unforeseen consequence. We were equilibrating the sugar concentration in our wort (the sugar water created during the mash), thus diluting the concentration that would ultimately be collected in the boil kettle. Normally we would put steep the grains in the minimum water required, pull off the highest concentration of sugars, and then rinse multiple times with fresh water to extract all the sugars we could from the mash. The new method left nearly 40% of the sugars behind, which would normally have been disastrous. However, we were prepared for not hitting our target gravity (how we measure how much sugar got into the wort) by having wheat dry malt extract (also called DME) to supplement our missing sugars.

Long story short, we made the beer we wanted, just not the way we intended. Lastly, we pitched three different yeasts into the three different kegs we have the wheat fermenting inside. Be on the look out for the German Wheat (clean, banana, and clove), Weihenstephan Weizen (cloudy, banana, and clove), Belgian Wheat (apple, bubblegum, and plum-like aromas) variants of this beer.

Well … not technically on the wall, but you get the idea. We got barleywine (silver), stout (red), and imperial stout (orange) all packaged up and ready for consumption.

2015-02-08

This helped us free up our single 3 gallon keg and three 5 gallon kegs. The baby keg will be used for playing around with the remaining 5 gallons of barleywine we still haven’t bottled yet. We’ll be going two routes; one tactic will be to ferment out some of the remaining sugars (we pulled it off yeast a little too early), and the other method of madness will has us aging it with some bourbon soaked wood.

The more exciting news is that the three empty 5 gallon kegs will get used for fermenting our next wheat beer. We’ll be doing two (maybe three) 13 gallon batches, each batch will use the yeast cake established from the previous brew, and each keg will also use a different German wheat ale yeast strains. We should get all types of flavors from these wheat beers, and the higher yeast counts for the subsequent batches will alter the flavors as well.

Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you up-to-date with everything we’re doing.

We has yet another great brewing session on the 31st. We maxed out our mash tun (~50 lbs of grain for our 20 gallon Blichmann), didn’t get a stuck mash (like the last time we took it to the max), hit the highest gravity yet (1.095), and successfully dropped our entire batch onto super hungry yeast (the yeast that was juiced up by the TX Brown).

Speaking of our TX Brown, the 11 gallons of brown ale was transferred into a couple 5 gallon kegs with the remainder getting put into a mini keg for super fast carbonating (we wanted to sample this during the Super Bowl). We were really impressed with the speed at which we were capable of getting the beer carbonated, but the beer itself was a little too green and will need to be matured a little before we start bringing it around for tastings (looking at the calendar … Houston’s BBQ Cook-off sounds like a good time to bust a few of those open).

Cheers everybody!

P.S. We are thinking about either brewing a Hefeweizen or an IPA next. Comment on this post about what you are most interested in drinking!