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Brewday: Operation Cream Ale

January 22, 2012

It has been over a year since I brewed a batch of beer.  This weekend I finally set up a brewday with Joe.  We talked about what we wanted to make and settled on a cream ale.  We also decided it was time to brew our first all grain batch.  On Saturday Joe picked up the 9 pounds of 6-row pale malt, a pound of flaked maize, and a vial of California Ale Yeast (WLP001) from Home Brew Den in Tallahassee.  On Sunday I grabbed a propane burner from my father-in-law and cleaned all of the equipment.  Joe arrived a little after 2 o’clock and we started brewing.

We poured the grain into two large mesh sacks and placed them in the 5 gallon cooler.  We then steeped the grains in 3 1/4 gallons of 165 degree water for 60 minutes.  At that point we added another gallon or so of 195 degree water to the cooler.  We let the grains steep for another 10 minutes before drawing off the wort and pouring it into our brew kettle.

We then sparged the grains with two additional gallons of water.  Our pre-boil volume was 6 gallons and we fired up the propane burner and boiled our wort for 60 minutes.  At the 55 minute mark we added 1 oz. of Noble Hops.  When the boil was completed we placed the brew kettle into a kiddie pool and iced it down.  When the temperature dropped to 72 we poured it into our fermenter and pitched the yeast.

According to my hydrometer the beer’s original gravity (“OG”) was 1.032.  The target OG was somewhere in the 1.042 range.  The low OG is going to limit the alcohol content of the beer.  If the yeast ferment all of the available sugars in the beer we are looking at a 4% alcohol by volume beer.

Going back over our brewday notes I think I detected the problem.  When we added the sparge water I immediately drew it off.  This did not allow for us to get the most sugars out of the malt and probably impacted the OG.  I also would like to get a larger cooler to steep our grains, a more accurate thermometer, and a more detailed recipe.

The beer is going to ferment for one week and then I will transfer it to a secondary fermenter (a large glass carboy).  The beer will sit in the secondary for two weeks to allow it to clear before we bottle.  I am very interested to see how this beer turns out!

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