He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Wee Heavy

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Saturday around these parts meant it was Wee Heavy brew day.   Eight-plus pounds of grain is pushed my 2.5 gallon BiaB setup to its limits, I think.  I normally start my mash with 4 gallons of water in the kettle, and after absorption and boil off, I end up with about 2.75 gallons.  That’s just enough to get 2.5 in the fermenter and leave most of the settled out protein and hop crud behind.   Today, anticipating a 90-minute boil, I started with 4.5 gallons of water.  Once I put the grist in, the water level rose within an inch of the top of the kettle.

Mash temp was 154 to promote body.  Boiled for 90 minutes, 1 hop addition (Fuggle) at 30 minutes to get to 20 IBU.  Nailed estimated brewhouse efficiency, 79%.  OG was right on the money at 1.088.  This was my first experience with a carmelized wort, and I am sold.  The stuff looks, smells, and tastes like caramel.   Pitched 1728 from starter@ 64 degrees, hoping to get it down to 61-62 in a few hours..

IMG_20130330_095822In an amazing bit of coincidence (er, poor planning), it is also bottling day for FDE, my camping beer.  How this beer ultimately turns out is anyone’s guess.  Going in to the bottle it is crystal clear and smells exactly like a margarita.  The taste right now is a little too fruity for my liking, probably from the combination of higher fermentation temps (65-68) and the lime/agave nectar combination.  I do get a blast of the tequila flavor, too.  I am hoping the strong flavors mellow out in the next 30 days.  If not, we might be drinking it from salt-rimmed solo cups at the camp site.

UPDATE:  The Wee Heavy SG was 1.032 after 7 days.  The hydrometer sample had a very yeasty aroma, but tasted pretty good.  Heavier than expected alcohol taste.  I am planning to let it go for another 14 days in primary, with a free rise up to 66-68.

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