Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Harpale Ale

Harpale Ale; 10 Gallon Split Batch
And a yard sale to boot!

Let me start off by saying that during every step of this brew day I was completely sad I did not have my camera with me. (I will add some related photos for flavor)  For some reason, this was one of those magical days of brewing when everything seemed to be perfect.  The weather was wicked hot, I was brewing with a friend, and there was a new beer at the bar up the street for Don and I to try post brew day.  Sounds great, eh?  Well, it was.

It wasn't just the brewing that made it so great, it was the atmosphere of the day.  For the past couple months of our pregnancy my wonderful wife Katherine has been on bed rest due to some complications.  She is fine but she cannot move around too much or lift anything heavier than her water bottle.  Think of it like this;  we pitched the yeast, things are fermenting fine, BUT, we need to make sure fermentation is complete and attenuation levels are high enough for the baby to flocculate out. That makes sense to me, the doctors on the other hand don't seem to get it.  Regardless, Katherine was there too.  We have her set up in her little yard recliner so she can be off of her feet and laying back.  Believe me when I say that this has been a life saver for keeping our sanity levels during the last couple months.  So whenever we can get out of the house and go somewhere else for an entire day, it is a marvelous thing for her.  It brings back a sense of normalcy to our lives.

Don and I knew we were going to brew this day and he knew he was going to brew up two kits from Northern Brewer...I believe one was an Inn Keeper and one was the Shining Star Pale Ale.  I haven't had the Inn Keeper yet but the Shining Star Kit is quite good and Don is dialing it in nicely.  This is his 3rd go round with this kit and it goes fast when it is kegged.  Me on the other hand, I didn't know.  Of late I have somehow acquired a lot of this's and that's in my brew room.  The biggest and most useful item is my first share from the Malt of the Month Club from Valley Malt in Hadley, Massachusetts.  Think of it as a Brewers Supported Agriculture (modeled after traditional CSA shares) but for malted barley and other types of specialty malts grown all over New England and then malted in Hadley. It is a wonderful operation ran by two wonderful people.  If you ever have the chance to brew with their grains or support their craft, I highly recommend it.  My first share was a 50 lbs sack of 2 row, 5 lbs of malted spelt (maybe 10 lovibond), and a few pounds of crystal spelt (maybe 40 or 60 lovibond).  More on the spelt in a later post.  The Mad Fermentationist has a good post on one of his experiences with their malt here.

When I purchased this share back in early winter I knew it would force me to approach brewing in a new way.  I would need to, as much as possible, brew with what I had.  Much like the southern racing and rabbit hunting expression, "Run what you brung."  I was really looking forward to stepping away from kits and moving to a more R&D approach to beers that I know I love to drink and beers that I think I might like to drink.  It also served as a way for me to feel like I was a part of something important going on in Massachusetts.  Katherine and I have a piece of land down there on her parents farm and we will be moving there one day to do our homesteading thing and any connections we can have to the land down there is great while we still live here in VT.  We are down in Mass whenever possible working to clear the land in preparation for ground breaking one day soon.  We even took down an old maple sugaring shack but left the stone walls and my hope is to one day have this be my dedicated brew day.  Another dream of mine is to one day cultivate barley for Valley Malt and know that my efforts lead to even more beer than I could ever produce myself on the home brew level. Terroir in beer is something I believe in whole heatedly...the spirit of the place and time can come through in so many ways.  And most of those ways won't show up on a score sheet or in your tasting notes. Through my adventures in homebrewing I am always amazed at the different communities that spin off b/c of brewing.  This one is special to me b/c it is rooted, as I am, in agriculture and working with your hands.  Hats off to you Valley Malt.

I put together this recipe based on what I like in a Pale Ale and b/c I have brewed it before and will be able to taste the way the two yeasts add to the final product along with any differences Valley Malts 2 Row will add to the mix.  I chose to brew up 10 gallons b/c I had a pack of 1272 American Ale II sitting around that I smacked on a whim to force myself to use it and b/c I had been building up a starter of WLP644 Brett Brux Trois for a couple weeks.  I have been very excited to use this strain and have spent  a lot of time talking with The Mad Fermenationist's Michael Tonsmeire about it. He is great and his blog is even better.  Read it.  I backed off on the hops a bit b/c I wanted to let the 644 shine through in one batch and b/c 1272 is much frutier than its subdued brother 1056.  What the 1272 lacked post primary and secondary fermentation I figured I could make up with some good ol fashioned keg hopping...which is slated to be Simcoe and or Amarillo. 

Recipe, Details, & Notes

Brewed on 7/14/12 with Don.

Grain Bill:
18 lbs Valley Malt 2-Row
1 lb Caramel 60
3 lbs Munich 10
1 poundish Belgian Biscuit

60 min at 153

2 oz Columbus @ 60
2 oz Amarillo @ 10
1 oz Amarillo @ 0
2 oz Simcoe @ 0

Yeasts and Adjuncts:
5 gallons got non decanted 1 liter starter of 1272
6 gallons got non decanted 1.5 liter starter of WLP644 and fresh dregs from Russian River and Sierra Nevada collaboration Brux.
7/23/12- added dregs from another bottle of Brux.

Pre boil 1.040 at 13 gallons.
Original Gravity: 1.049

Collected 13 gallons

Aerated both batches with 60 seconds pure oxygen.

7/14/12-  Brew day went well.  Challenges were revolving around height for gravity transfer during sparging and cooling the wort.  Ended up having to sparge into the mash tun and into a sanitized bottling bucket and then slowly transferring the wort to the 15 gallon brew kettle.  Because of this, the sparge took much longer than expected but enabled the wort to be almost at boil by the time the 13 gallons were collected.  This was nice.  The wort was absolutely gorgeous!  I wish I pictures to was darker than expected, maybe from the Valley Malt, given that it was only 1 lb of 60 in there and half poundish of biscuit.

The WLP644 batch began fermenting within 1.5 / 2 hours.  Very vigorous.  Had to transfer both carboys home in the car.  That is always an experience in Vermont.  Our roads leave something to be desired, that is unless you like lots of bumps, pot holes, and cracks.  Just Vermont's way of helping me aerate the wort again...that terroir I was talking about right? 

7/18/12- Pulled a sample from each carboy to see how things were going.
1272 batch was down to 1.012.  Aroma was that of coriander or some sort of similar spice.  Fruity, citrusy.  Not dank at all, much more fresh fruit on the nose and taste.

644 batch down to 1.018.  I expected it to be a tad lower given the intensity of the fermentation.  I had to add a blow off tub by midnight of the brew day.  Aroma had some herbs to it....thyme and or rosemary is what Katherine got on the nose. I was more along the lines of that and juicy fruit esque aromas.

7/23/12- More Brux dregs into the 644.

7/25/12- 644 still going strong, picked up a bit since last week too.  Temperatures in the house are warm and the 1272 has a LOT of yeast in suspension as well as a small krausen still on top.  I would normally try to cold crash the yeast out of suspension (if it was done of course) in the 1272 but my keg fridge recently broke.  BUMMER.  I will be checking gravity again soon and will update.

8/6/2012- Transferred both beers out of their respective primary fermenters today.  I would have liked to have transferred the batch with 1272 our about a week earlier but due to fermentation fridge being down I gave it more time in hopes that more yeast would flocculate out.  While it wasn't completely there it was MUCH better than it would have been had I done it a week previous.

1272 Version- Gravity at 1.011. Appearance; again, surprised at how clear it turned out given that temps were high. Very orange and caramel color.  Deep, more of an IPA color than I was going for with this batch. Was hoping for a lighter orange/marmalade color.  Aroma; changed since last tasting. Last tasting revealed more fresh fruit/citrus.  Still citrusy but now more fruit and spice dominating the nose. Will be a great mix when keg hopped with simcoe.  Taste; very citrusy on the front end with a nice bitter finish. Smooth.

644 Version- Gravity at 1.009 (approx 82% attenuation!). Transferred directly into the keg to reduce oxygenation.

Appearance; same deal as the previous but cloudier.  I love the look of this beer. Somehow, the cloudiness adds to the flavor and aroma of the beer.  Aroma; citrusy, solid American hop backbone. Some Christmas spices.  More peachy and mangos than the original pineapple nose. Hard to distinguish the hops from the yeast contributions. Deep citrus.  Thinking this will be great once keg hopped. Taste; nice and tart in the cheeks. Not much bitterness on the back end of the taste. Love the tartness with it's nice dry finish.  I am glad I kegged when I did as I did not want it to dry out too much.  May bottle a few of these johnnies and store for the future!

Side by side...slight difference in color.

8/14/2012- Dry hopped the 1272 version with 1 oz Simcoe.

8/16/2012- Bottled the 1272 version. Gravity at 1.011.  Had some issues with my 5 year old "Black Beauty" bottle capper.  Decided to keep it as a spare capper once I get myself a more reliable red barron capper.

8/29/2012- Keg hopped the Brett version with 2 ounces of Simcoe and 1 ounce of Amarillo

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