Thursday, June 28, 2012

Smokey The Poo Bear and Short Stack

Brewed 6/12/12

These beers couldn't have been a better mach for my typical double-duty brew plan. It was as if the perfect recipe for each beer existed completely independent of the other, and it was sheer dumb-luck that they both happened to be the same recipe with simple adjustments for gravity, yeast, and late-hopping. Man, I was so excited. It went like this:

I really wanted to brew up a Dark Mild worthy of Kel's wicked-good taste. The inspiration was the consistently great low gravity beers that Magnolia's in SF puts out and that Kelly always really loves (I like 'em quite a bit, too). They are incredibly full-flavored for such small beers, while still being super mellow and balanced. No gimmicks- not hiding behind a wall of hop aroma, not back sweetened to bulk out the low ABV, and definitely not "Light" at the cost of being pee-pee thin.

Magnolia was probably my first real exposure to true British Style beer, and after listening to my best guy Rowan muse on and on about them I felt like I finally knew what he was talking about. Mostly I find british beer to be less than appealing; they aren't bad, or even boring really thanks to their epic depth and balance, but they were never really bold enough for my tastes (also, I gravitate to hop-forward beers like American IPAs or yeast-forward beers like big belgians or sours, the emphasis on malty flavors that british ales focus on isn't my thing... Even the germans do malt better IMO) and besides having a thing for cask conditioned beers of all persuasions, I stay away from English brews.

But, like I said I really appreciate the drinkability and balance of a smooth Mild or silky Porter, so I thought they would be good choice for summer beers that were a bit out of the typical Wheat-and-Fruit light beers that basically just water beer down in the name of added refreshment. For the mild I wanted to add a little extra interest and settled on oak and smoke, and I figured a smooth and smokey porter with a bit of of lift from some mesquite honey would be just thing to compliment a s'more around a campfire on a warm night.

The mild was the priority: Short Stack- (Smoked Dark Mild)- Low gravity but not too thin in the body, with a hearty malt backbone that relies on toasty-oat and roasty-malt aromatics over tiring carmel sweetness, and a yeast expressive enough to deliver the light load with dignity. I settled on british Golden Promise as the base, with a heavy hand of lightly toasted malted oats, and some brown and chocolate malts for the color and roasted sweetness. I threw in 2lbs of mesquite smoked base for the camp-fire effect I was looking for. Hops are only vaguely there with some subtle earthy and floral tones-- There was more than enough going on already, I didn't want the hops to muck it up. My strategy was to rely on a really high mash temp to provide the unfermentables for body and  sweetness, the yeast for more character (oops... read on) and the roasted malts for depth. I wasn't really going for complexity, just a nice "fullness."

Smokey The Poo Bear- (Smoked Honey Porter)-The Porter was an easy adjustment up from there. I'd brew the wort to my target OG for a moderate porter (too big would have been kinda' messy in my estimation given the smoke and oats) and compensate for the super-full body from the hot mash and oats with some honey in secondary to up the alcohol and dry it out a bit along with a dry yeast to further chew through the malty-sweetness that I built into the Mild.

I simply brewed the porter as planned and added a gallon of ice to the Mild portion to bring the gravity down 12 points.

It was a PERFECT plan, and well executed I might add, until the early morning pitching fuck-up that I mentioned here when I accidentally pitched the neutral/ dry American Ale yeast meant for the porter into the mild and the low-attenuating/ sweet-and-chewy Fuller's yeast into the porter.

All and all though, things could be worse. The yeast situation was an easy fix for the Porter, I just topped it off with some dry english WLP007 that I had on hand and let it dry the beer out as planned. The Mild didn't have such an easy fix, but luckily the extra chewy wort looks like it isn't going to finish too-low after all, and I think I'll compensate for the lack of yeasty character with some oak chips and vanilla :)

The Recipe (for 6.5 gal):

12 lbs Golden Promise Malt-70%
2 lbs Mesquite Smoked Malt-12%
1 lb Golden Naked Oats-6%
1 lb Brown Malt-6%

1 lb Chocloate Malt- 6%
8oz local, woody honey into Porter in secondary- 6%
Whole batch got 1oz Nugget for 60min FWH

Porter got 1oz  Fuggles at F/O
Mild got 1oz Kent Goldings at F/O

**I diverted 3 gal of wort into 1 gal ice water at F/O to bring the Mild to my target lower gravity and IBUs, and to be able to give different F/O hop dosages to each beer**

Porter was supposed to get 1 packet of US05 "American Ale" yeast, but got 2L starter of WLP002 plus slurry form WLP007 "Dry English Ale".
Mild was supposed to get 2L starter of WLP002 "English Ale" but got 1 packet US05. 
Water adjustments: 100% RO city water with 1 gram/gal each of Gypsum and Baking soda.

Single infusion mash at 156F
Batch OG (before splitting and adding water): 1.052=58% efficiency **No idea what the problem was here, must have been that the grains sat for 2 weeks post crush. Also worth trying a "thinner" mash nest time**
Porter OG (3.2 og1.052 gal after boil)+ 8oz honey: Calculated 1.058 --FG: 1.009 for 6.5% ABV
Mild OG (after splitting wort and adding 4L water): 1.040 --FG: 1.011 for 3.8% ABV
SRM: 30 Porter, 24 Mild
(Average)IBUs: 30 Porter, 22 Mild
6/19-Porter @ 1.021, Mild @ 1.012

6/20- Added honey to Porter along with slurry from starter of WLP007. "Theroetical" OG now 1.058.

7/1- Added ~.9 oz American medium toast oak chips soaked in Vanilla extract for 2 weeks. I boiled them in some warter to remove any harsh-ness and pitched the chips in the bucket. Plan is to leave 'em in  for two days and one night. I'm worried that they will be too much for such a busy (and low gravity) beer, so I'm hoping the small and quick dose adds just a touch of richnes to compensate for the pitching mistake.

7/3- Bottled 3.5 gal of Mild with 1/4 cup corn sugar for 1.7vol (pretty low) CO2. FG 1.011 **higher than I feared. But still not the 1.015 I would have wanted if I had pitched the right yeast**

7/8- Bottle 3.1 gal of Porter with 1/3 cup corn sugar for 2.3vol (moderate) CO2. FG 1.009 **WHAT!!??! Must have been infiltrated by the Brett C that was previously in the same bucket for La Rouge. This should have finished more around 1.015, so I guess Brett is the only explination. It doesn't really taste all that funky though... we'll see what it is like once it carbs up.**

8/27- Smokey the Poo is seriously great. No sign of an infection at this point, so I'm not really sure what made for the low FG.

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