Monday, April 6, 2009

No-Sparge Brewing Session Ale

Every once in awhile I get the urge to brew, but don't have a full weekend day to devote to brewing. So I end up brewing on a weeknight after work. I get home around 5, so my "standard" 5-6 hour brew day (including setup and cleanup) takes up my entire evening.

To shave off some time I have tried a couple different techniques, starting the mash early (either in the morning or on my lunch break), and doing very small batches. This time around I decided to give no-sparge brewing a try. I simply mixed the grist with a high proportion of water (2.31 qrts/lb) let it rest for an hour and then ran off the wort. This technique worked pretty well it seemed, my efficiency only dropped 20% (worth the hour savings in sparge time to me).

I am planning on brewing an Adambier in the next couple weeks so I wanted to build up a big healthy slurry of Scottish ale yeast. This "starter" beer is a general session ale. The grainbill is along the lines of an English Mild, but for the hops I went with Nelson Sauvin. Nelson Sauvin come from New Zealand and purportedly have a piney white wine character that is pretty unique. It is pretty hard to get them here in America, but lucky I am friends with a pro-brewer who had a big box of them. The amount I needed for this batch (.75 oz) is probably less than they spill during while weighing out the pounds of hops each batch requires.

International Session Ale

Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 3.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.34
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated SRM: 22.8
Anticipated IBU: 25.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 50 %
Wort Boil Time: 65 Minutes

5.50 lbs. Maris Otter
1.25 lbs. Wheat Malt
0.25 lbs. Crystal 55L
0.19 lbs. Carafa Special II
0.16 lbs. Pale Chocolate Malt

0.25 oz. Nelson Sauvin@ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ 4 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 Min.
0.25 Tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 Min.

WYeast 1728 Scottish Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
65 min @ 154 (2.31 qrts/lb)

Brewed 4/01/09 by myself

Very thin mash, stirred several times to ensure good enzymatic distribution.

Did a no sparge, collected 3.5 gallons of 1.040 wort, diluted with ~3 qrts of filtered DC water pre-boil.

Fermentation was going well after about 12 hours.

4/11/09 Racked to secondary, full 3 gallons.

4/14/09 Down to 1.010, good flavor, nice fruitiness with a bit of toast. About ready to bottle when I find the time.

4/18/09 Bottled (ISS) with 1 5/8 oz of cane sugar (aiming for ~2 vol CO2). Smells pretty good, a mix of toasty and citrus.

5/05/09 First tasting

6/13/09 Scored 31/33/33 in the SoFB. The judges liked it, but the consensus was that there was too much dark malt and an incorrect hop character for a Northern English Brown.


Casey Watson said...

The hops sound interesting. Do you typically go without an airliock?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, I just crimp some foil around the mouth of the carboy for primary fermentation. There is so much CO2 being produced that you don't have to worry about oxygen or microbes finding a way in. It also reduces (but does not eliminate) the chances of pressure building up to the point where you get a beer volcano.

Once I transfer to secondary though I always slap a stopper/airlock on since there is no longer any CO2 being produced.

Emily & Matthew said...

Hey--I really dig the blog but never comment. So, here goes:

I think I'm not following something. Sparging only adds 10 minutes or so to my brewday -- I heat the sparge water during the mash and then batch sparge.

It's interesting that you only saw a 20% decrease in efficiency, though. Not enormous.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I guess I am slower on my sparge than you. When I batch sparge I generally add the water and give it a stir for ~5 min, let it sit for ~10 min to settle, then vorlauf for ~5 min, then I start running off slowly. So maybe its saves ½ hour for me, the hour savings is against my fly sparging time, but in truth I mostly do that for higher gravity beers (where my tun isn’t big enough for batch sparging let alone no-sparge).

gordsellar said...

I just noticed this post, and I'm wondering whether a significant part of the brewing time is spent heating water? A bunch of us brewers over in South Korea have found a neat gadget that helps cut lots of time (and control our evaporation loss better) for quite cheap. It's an immersion heater. It's literally cut at least an hour off my brewdays, sometimes more like two. (And I use it both with heating mash water, and getting the wort boiling.)

More info here:

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I spent longer brewing back when I did this post because I didn't have a turkey fryer. I still tend to heat the dough-in water on the stove, but that 40 minutes gives me time to get my equipment together and crush the grain.

I have a few friends that have heat sticks and electric elements, I’m just not confident enough in my skills to build something that won’t kill me. I’ve never seen one for sale like that, looks perfect for speeding things along.