So it’s brew day today. This will be the first all-grain batch using the new system. This is intended to be a Belgian Witbier that I’m calling Hazy Daze Wit. I’m going to take some pics and do a more journal-oriented post so that I’m trapping some of the decisions made along the way which always seem to get lost before I sit down with the brewing software to document things.
Prior to brew day, I researched the style and brewing approaches. Traditionally this is a beer that is about half and half barley and wheat. Large amounts of wheat in a grain bill is notorious for stuck sparge due to the high gluten produced by the wheat. Basically, it is like trying to rinse all the sweet nectar from the grain bed when there’s a boatload of library paste in there with it. Given a little experience and what I read, I’ve taken out some insurance and added half a pound of rice hulls (which are mostly benign in flavoring).
I was worried about using traditional raw wheat. I didn’t want to complicate things by having to deal with what I had read regarding gelitinization of the raw wheat. Because the raw wheat is not modified like barley, gelinitization of wheat needs some help. There is a process of doing this separately, then adding this to the mash. Flaked wheat, on the other hand, has already been gelinitized, so this made the recipe formulation a little easier.
The mash schedule is a single decoction mash found in a couple of recipes out there. The first infusion temp is to do a protein rest as described at John Palmer’s How To Brew.
The typical Protein Rest at 120 – 130°F is used to break up proteins which might otherwise cause chill haze and can improve the head retention. This rest should only be used when using moderately-modified malts, or when using fully modified malts with a large proportion (>25%) of unmalted grain, e.g. flaked barley, wheat, rye, or oatmeal.
Since I can’t apply direct heat to the mash (because it is a Rubbermaid cooler), I am going to perform a single decoction to reach conversion rest temperatures where the enzymes in the highly-modified pale malt will act on the starches that have become available during the previous rest. I will try to mash out at this point, but if I get a stuck sparge, I will perform another decoction to try and reduce the viscosity of the grain bed. We’ll see how it turns out.
10:15: Started boiling 6 and 4 gallons of water in my 7 and 5 gallon pots.
11:30: Both are boiling. Killed the heat, and am beginning to cool the water down to strike temperature (128°F).
11:45: Put some water in a tea kettle and boiled it. Added this to the cooler to bring its temperature up so that I didn’t lose too much heat when doughing in.
12:47: Checked temp. Hit 122°F.
1:22: Decoction is boiling. Letting it go for 10 minutes. Stirring it every minute to try and keep it from burning on the bottom.
1:33: Began bringing sparge water back up to 170°F
1:36: Checked temp of mash. It is only 140°F. Bringing kettle water up to boiling to try and raise mash a bit. Thinking I didn’t allow for the mash to cool off while I was pulling the decoction off. Anyway … I’m relaxing, not worrying and … you know.
1:43: Added boiling water to mash to bring it up to target 154°F.
1:45: Still not hot enough. Added more boiling water. If not hitting it after this, I’m going to have to pull another decoction to get me where I want to be. I think that I messed up with calculating the decoction volume. Rookie move!
2:00: Added second decoction. Fingers crossed.
2:15: Not sure why, but the temp appears to be dropping. I think it has to do with all the head space given the fact that I’ve got no thermal mass above the mash keeping the whole internal volume warm. Each time I open the cooler, I let all that steam out. Keeping it closed, and will just see how this first all-grain batch goes. Also read that I might have had too thin a decoction (too much liquor … not enough grain). Next time, will pull a thicker decoction.
3:15: Sparge water fell to 162°F. Boiling some of it to bring back up to target 168°F.
4:15: I collected 6 gallons of wort, which allows for a little over half a gallon of boil-off, concentrating to 5.5 gallons after the boil. Began bringing this up to a boil on the stovetop over the front and back burners. I also set aside some to cool. Will use this to see how I did with hitting my estimated gravity.
5:20: Inserted immersion chiller so it will sanitize. Deciding at the last minute to reduce the spicing. I can always add it with a potion of infused vodka in the secondary if necessary. Just don’t want to overdo it. Going with .75 orange peel, and .5 of ground coriander.
6:00: Wort is crashed to 78°F. Opened up valve on brew pot, to let it drain into primary. Doing it this way to let it splash away hoping to introduce oxygen into liquid. Pitched yeast and began to clean up. Will post more as readings are taken.