Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Centennial IPA and Future Partial Mashes

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my brewing recently and I've come to the conclusion that I need to simplify things. I don't mean my methods, as I actually think I need to become a bit more sophisticated, but in my ingredients and recipes. After learning about German brewing methods that produce fantastic beer with the simplest of ingredients (1-2 types of grain, 1 type of hop, and a house yeast strain) I realized that you don't have to have a complicated grain bill nor a complicated hop bill to make truly great beer. Most of the recipes I've been brewing I've taken from the internet and to be honest, I have no idea what the various pieces contribute to the final beer in terms of taste. In fact, many of the grains I've been using to steep actually require mashing.

As such, I've decided to simplify my recipes to better learn what the various ingredients actually contribute. As part of this decision, I've also decided to move to partial mashes. I don't want to continue steeping grain that isn't supposed to be steeped, but I also don't want to limit myself to a fairly small sample of specialty grains for my recipes. The answer is partial mashing. After doing some extensive reading on the subject, I won't need any extra equipment and it will only add a 1/2 hour or so to my brew day (I already steep for 30 minutes). It seems like mashing is simply steeping for a longer period of time under more strictly controlled temperatures. I already have the materials for an extract/specialty grains porter, which will be my next brew, but after that I intend to make a wit using the partial mash methodology. Who knows, maybe I'll see such a large difference in my beer I'll be inspired to go all grain.

My first brew under my new simplified philosophy was a one hop IPA brewed on Saturday:

5 Gallons, 4 Gallon boil

.5 lb Crystal 20L
6.5 lbs Light DME
1 oz Centennial Hop Pellets 8.8% (60 minutes)
.5 oz Centennial Hop Pellets 8.8% (45 minutes)
.5 oz Centennial Hop Pellets 8.8% (15 minutes)
1 oz Centennial Hop Pellets 8.8% (5 minutes to flameout)
1 oz Centennial Hop Pellets 8.8% (Dry Hop)
1 tsp Irish Moss (15 minutes)
WYeast 1272 American Ale II

I made a 1 qt starter the Wed. prior. My usual procedure is to make a starter on Wed., then put it in the fridge on Friday night to drop the yeast. On brewday, I pour the liquid off the top and make another 1/2 quart starter. By the time my wort is ready for the yeast, my new starter will have a nice krausen. It worked on Saturday with a lag of less than 3 hours. The next morning I woke up and I was maybe an hour away from having to clean up a huge mess as my airlock was completely clogged and the lid on my fermenter was starting to bulge!

I'm hoping that this simple IPA recipe will teach me about crystal malt specialty grains and centennial hops. A pretty simple request considering they're basically the only ingredients in the beer! My SG was 1.060. I don't have the stats on me, but I do remember the IBUs on the high side and the color on the low side. I'm sick of my IPAs looking like mud compared to things like Smuttynose IPA. I purposely shot for a lighter color.

I'm excited about trying a partial mash brew, but first I need to make my porter...hopefully in a week or two. Fortunately, October is shaping up to be a relatively slow month so I should have plenty of brewing opportunities.


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