Prarie Doggin' Stout

Chocolate Oatmeal Stout with a roasted mildly bitter profile.

Brew day was a busy affair to say the least.  At some point basic knowledge of one’s own brewing system takes over after a year off from the craft.  With all equipment set up, and grains crushed, it was off to make some delicious chocolate oatmeal stout, which has become to be known as Prairie Doggin’ Stout.

Everything seemed to be running smoothly until checking the original gravity just prior to boiling.  I was using 2-row pale malt that was over a year old, but to my surprise, the wort was a full 12 points below original gravity!  The barley was stored in air-tight containers and seemed to smell and taste just fine.  I’m not one to just dump a batch, so I preceded to move on with the boil and keep the recipe as intended.  A week later, after tearing down the malt mill, it was discovered that over the course of our move, the mill was offset, which in turn didn’t crush the grain properly.

Fast forward to today, and checking final gravity, the beer came out at a beautiful 5.4% ABV.  Apart from a slight increase in bitterness, it still has all the qualities of the intended recipe.  It is now on CO2 and will be ready for consumption within a week or so.

In closing, I may have found an alternative recipe that could lead to a Turtle Head Stout.  It just goes to show that even when a recipe doesn’t seem to hit all the numbers during the brew process, or something seemingly catastrophic takes place, you may find great quality beer on accident.

Until next brew day!

Today started off pretty good.  It was a brisk 45 degrees outside and plenty of sunshine.  At this point, I had brewed enough on the current setup to have all of my numbers dialed in and I could concentrate on just making great beer consistently.

After all of the equipment was setup and the water hit temp, I mashed in and quickly discovered that I was 10 degrees over my initial mash temperature.  I have never encountered this situation where the water temperature only dropped 4 degrees!  I quickly started stirring with the lid open to get down to a reasonable temperature before I started extracted tannins.  After about 10-15 minutes, I noticed the temperature wasn’t dropping at all.  I checked my thermometer and realized in that very instant that it was defective.  Mother of all shitty things!!!!  So, after it was all said and done, I was actually 10 degrees below my target temperature at 145.  I guess I should never trust a thermometer that falls victim to a rolling boil several times.

After that entire ordeal was said and done, I still came within 3 points of my bre-boil gravity.  Who knows, mashing at this lower temperature may just give me a flavor profile that I’m happy with.

As usual, the boil, well, it boils.  There’s not much going on for this hour unless I lose a thermometer to the hot liquid death.  At this point the sun has gone down below the other houses and the cold is starting to creep in.  Still a nice day outside, and I figure, it will help cool the wort that much faster after flameout.

As I boil the wort, I find it very efficient to clean all of the other equipment that I have used througout the day up to that point.  It makes the very last part of the cleanup that much easier to manage.  Plus, who wants to spend an additional 30-40 minutes after the yeast have been pitched and are comfy, warm, and eating all that great food you just provided them.

So, all in all, even with the temperature SNAFU, I will chalk this up to a successful brew day.  Having a computer out here with me makes things much easier.

After 8 years of brewing, the inevitable happened.  I woke up this morning and checked on my newest batch of young malted goodness to make sure the room temperature was adequate and discovered the airlock was filled with krausen.  I quickly changed out the airlocks and went off to work.

Sometime around lunch, I get a phone call from my wife and she told me she was sitting in the adjacent room to where my beer ferments and heard a strange hissing sound.  Shortly after the hissing started, there was a loud bang.

I came home after work and promptly checked on what I had anticipated to be a recreation of a Mount Vesuvius eruption.  I approached the room and noticed the lid to the 6 gallon bucket was half blown off.  To my surprise, there was not a ton of fallout from what had to have been a massive explosion.

Since the yeast was still in a very active fermentation, and the ambient temperature was around 62F, I felt safe replacing the lid to the bucket and changing the airlock for the second time.

Only time will tell if the beer really survived through that ordeal.