I realized I said my next brew would be something special that would challenge me, this isn't that beer. This was a fairly unexpected brew day and didn't have the money on hand to pick up the necessary stuff to do it. Anyway, on to what I actually DID brew.
Brown ales are a bit of a sore subject for me. 90% of the commercial brown ales that I have tried just taste kind of muddy with no clear purpose. There is one brown ale that I have had that defied that though from Crown Brewing in Crown Point, IN. My hopes in making this is to make something as rich as that.
The recipe: I started off with Maris Otter as the base malt to accentuate the maltiness with special roast for some nice toasty flavors and chocolate malt for color and flavor. I used Willamette hops for a mild hop flavor.
The process: I upped my batch size from 1.1 to 1.25 gallons with this batch. I doughed in with 8 qts of water at 161F for a mash temp of 154F. I kind of overshot the temp so I had a bit of stirring to do, but it was down to 154F within 5 minutes so I'm not too worried about it. 60 minutes later I checked my gravity and had a pre-boil gravity for 7.5 Plato when I was expecting 9.3 Plato. I checked two more times and it was the same every time. I lautered anyway and brought the wort to a boil before checking my gravity again and making a decision on adding DME to bump up my gravity. I checked again and it was at 9.2 Plato so I continued with the boil. What happened was the the wort stratified and basically the sugars sank. The boil stirred everything up and unified the wort allowing me to take an accurate reading. One more reason to not freak out about every detail while brewing. I also tried upping my boil rate to match what I have in my software other than trying to match the software to my process. I realize that is kind of backwards, but it was just something to try before trying to figure out what my burner was at and repeat it every time. Knowing my burner is at 100% is easier to repeat. At the end of the boil my gravity was 13.5 Plato when I was expecting 13.2 so I am pretty happy with the results. It wasn't exact, but a lot closer than past brews. Over all this brew day had a hiccup or two, but turned out to be one of the best ones yet and a great way to start the New Year in brewing.
While brewing I also racked over my berry cyser to secondary and added more fruit to it: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. The color was awesome and the taste was good too. Tart and dry so I added sulphites and sorbate so that I can backsweeten later. Two more weeks for that one until it gets racked to tertiary and sweetened. Excited for that one.
So, next week I will finally get around to that challenging brew.
Until next time, cheers!