2017, so far…

As of this writing, I have brewed 3 batches in 2017 – a Roasted Red Pepper Porter, a Franconian Rauchbier, and this morning, a peaty Irish Red Ale. (Recipes will follow at the end of the article.) More significantly, I have made 5 important changes to my brewing routine over the last few months.
Let me state right at the beginning that I am not being paid by any of these manufacturers to use or endorse their products. I did not get them free. I simply have found some upgrades to what I had been using for a very long time.
First, I am finally using Five Star Star San as my regular sanitizer. For 25+ years I used chlorine bleach, longer soak times and hot water rinsing. I can’t believe how much time I am saving with the air-dry, no rinse acid-based sanitizer instead.
Secondly, I got myself a Fermtech Auto-siphon. I used to joke about having an excuse to sanitize my mouth with a shot of Scotch before starting the siphon. Then I started seeing much more consistent results and less of an issue with sanitation by using the auto-siphon to transfer from primary to secondary, and from secondary to bottling bucket. Again, how did I not get on this bandwagon a few years ago?
The third change was made because of our process at the Lebanon Brew Shop – when we do demos and classes, we don’t really have room for bottle trees and buckets full of sanitized bottles in the Brew Lab, so to save space we use the Fast Rack system – again, sanitizing bottles is quicker and can be done a few at a time, the bottles are left to air-dry upside down in the Fast Rack – and we never have a bottle tree prong making contact with the inside of the bottle. Another “what was I thinking” moment…
Additionally, I’ve started using Imperial Organic Yeasts – 200 billion cells in a small, super-sanitary, aluminum can – not quite the range of styles as White Labs, my usual “go to” yeast brand, but so far, extremely reliable and easy to pitch. I’ve had start-ups in 3 to 4 hours at most in my last several brews using Imperial.
The final change in my brewery routine is perhaps the most interesting – my cellar and back room have become embarrassing. Too much beer. Some of it old and probably stale. But I have to keep brewing, right? So as of this past fall, most of my brews are now 3-gallon recipes. This also shortens my brew day – no sparge! And it takes significantly less time to bring the wort to a boil.
So to the recipes. None of these have been bottled yet so I have not yet recorded their TGs or abvs.
Roasted Red Pepper Porter
3 gallons, all-grain

5 lbs. Maris Otter pale malt
6 oz. Carafa III
6 oz. Cara-Munich III
1 oz. St. Celeia hop pellets
1 oz. Spalter Select hop pellets
3/4 lb. freshly roasted red Bell peppers (burnt skins and all)
Saflager W34/70 yeast (dry)

45 minute mash with the crushed grains and 1/4 lb of the peppers, in 17 quarts water at 155°F.

60 minute boil, adding another 1/4 lb. peppers and hopping with the St. Celeia for 60 minutes and the Spalter Select for 20.

Fermentation at 60°F, add the remaining peppers in the secondary.

OG 1058
Franconian Rauchbier
3 gallons, all-grain

3 lbs. Munich Type I
3 lbs. beechwood-smoked Rauch malt
1/2 lb. Carafa I
1/2 lb. Melanoidin malt
1/2 lb. CaraMunich II
1 oz. Spalter hop pellets
1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hop pellets
Yeast Bay Franconian Dark yeast

60 minute mash, in 17 quarts at 154°F, no sparge.

60 minute boil – the Spalt for 60, 1/2 the Hallertauer for 30 and the rest for 5.

Ferment initially at 65, chill to 40 after 7 – 10 days.

OG 1065
Irish Red Ale
3 gallons, all-grain

5 lbs. Irish Malting Company Ale Malt
1/2 lb. peated malt
1/8 lb. roasted barley
1/4 lb. 90°L crystal malt
2 oz. Target hop pellets
Imperial Organic “Darkness” yeast.

45 minute mash in 17 quarts at 152F. No sparge.

60 minute boil. 1 oz. Target for 60, 1/2 oz for 15, 1/2 oz added to primary.

Ferment at 65 – 68°F.

I will add 4 oz. light toast oak chips soaked in Jameson Caskmates Stout edition whiskey to the secondary and plan to age it on the oak for at least 3 weeks.

OG 1060

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