Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Batch 002: St. Nick's Nog v2

It's that time of year again, time to brew a Christmas beer.  Last year I was a little behind and ended up bottling on Dec 21.  Not really in time to enjoy for Christmas (that and a recipe mistake made it undrinkable until about April/May).  So this year I am doing it on time and will be enjoying a bottle on Christmas day.  This is a complete rewrite of the St. Nick's Nog I brewed last year.  I wanted a med-light brown with some spice.  Everything was going great and with 10 minutes left in the boil I add 1# of honey, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 3 cloves.  I thought those spices would be about right for a 5 gallon batch.  I was wrong.  When I tasted it on bottling day there was barely any cinnamon flavor and way too much clove.  I smashed up another cinnamon stick and added to my priming sugar as I heated it on the stove.  I bottled and set them aside hoping that all would work out.  Three weeks later I opened the first bottle.  There was a great cinnamon smell and it was pretty murky, but I assumed I had gotten some sediment while pouring.  The flavor floored me.  All I could taste was clove and it penetrated every taste bud.  After only a few sips my mouth was beginning to numb and I was pouring it into the sink.  I decided to just hold on to it and see where it went.  Months later the cloves faded out and now (10 months later) it is a pretty nice beer.  So I scraped that recipe entirely and went with the following.

The beer.  Again, you can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.  I simplified my grist and decided to let the beer do its own thing instead of forcing flavors into it.  There is a handful of chocolate malt giving me my color and hopefully some nice chocolate flavors.  I am adding some dark molasses near the end of the boil.  Looking for a really deep caramel flavor and some sweetness too. I went dark to try to leave some unfermentables in the wort.  One cinnamon stick will also be added to the end of the boil.  After a 2 week primary, I will rack to a secondary fermenter and add another cinnamon stick to age for 1 week.

The process.  This week went much smoother than the last.  I mashed in fairly high at 155F to leave it sweeter.  Some of the molasses will ferment and dry this out so I compensated with a high mash temperature.  Held a steady mash temp unlike last week and proceeded to the sparge.  Last week I hit my preboil gravity, but was short on my OG.  I assumed I had just not boiled off as much as I had told my software that I would so I dropped that down this week.  I sparged to 1.25gal and started the boil.  A small bittering addition at 60 will help balance the sweetness. With ten minutes left in the boil I added my 2oz of Full Flavor molasses and one stick of cinnamon.  After cooling I took a gravity reading and overshot my estimates by about 17 points.  I then realized I was also a quart short.  I added some water to get me back to the 1 gallon mark and measured my gravity again.   After topping it up my gravity was dead on.  I have to figure out my boil off rate and get that nailed in.

So overall, I fixed my mash problems and found a boil off rate issue.  Next week that will be fixed and we will see what pops up then.

Until next week, cheers.



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