May 102009

Boiling the wort

Boiling the wort

First off, Happy Mother’s Day to any moms out there! I’ll drink one in your honor tonight!

Yesterday was a very productive brewing day. I woke up to heavy rain and resigned myself to having to postpone yet another brew. However, a couple of hours later the rain had stopped and I thought the day had a chance of clearing up. I decided to plan a quick extract brew, hoping to sneak it in before the weather turned again.

I ran out to Maltose and picked up some ingredients – 6.6# of wheat LME, an ounce of Vanguard hops, a pack of Wyeast German Wheat, and a pound of Orange Blossom honey. My recipe was a slightly modified version of the Wildflower Wheat found in Sam Calagione’s book Extreme Brewing. I couldn’t find chamomile anywhere, so I planned on using some dried elderflower I had at home. I couldn’t find the elderflower, so I settled on some Grains of Paradise instead, hoping it would give a touch of peppery citrus to the finished beer.

A few hours later, I had five gallons of beer sitting in the fermentor. The brewday was perfect – the weather turned beautiful, everything went smoothly, and doing an extract brew saved me a bunch of time. I did a full boil in my aluminum kettle (which usually serves as my HLT) – just didn’t feel like breaking out the huge kettle when I had the smaller one ready to go.

The wort was treated to a 60m boil, with hops added at 60m, honey and Whirfloc at 10m, and spices at 1m. Since I was using the smaller kettle, I didn’t have my evaporation rate nailed down. I finished up with around 5.75G of wort, chilled down to 64ºF, and pitched my yeast. I was expecting a very short lag time since the date on the smackpack was only five days old (think that’s the freshest I’ve ever gotten!). This morning I still had no airlock activity, but upon closer inspection that was due to a loose gasket around the airlock. I wrapped the airlock with some sanitized teflon tape and wedged it in there. Problem solved, and now this beer is fermenting like crazy!

Original gravity clocked in at 1.047 (right on target – man, that 100% efficiency with extract is a nice change of pace!!) and I anticipate kegging in about two weeks. I may decide to throw some fruit extract in after primary – depends on how much of the delicate spice and orange honey flavor comes through. I also have the Old Speckled Hen clone nearing completion – I’ll probably be kegging that up next weekend, as well as starting a wine kit (Shiraz) I’ve been sitting on. Shaping out to be a very nice Spring so far!