Monday, December 28, 2009

High Gravity HiJinks

It was our first time brewing a higher gravity beer. I would have bet that before this week, we probably never brewed a beer over 4.5% ABV. Already, I have some insight to report.

We racked the beer directly onto our yeast from our West Coast Red Ale. The day is longer when we bottle a batch and brew on the same day, but somehow more satisfying. You have beer that will be ready to drink by the time this beer will be going into bottles. The real benefit is that you have an extremely quick and vigorous fermentation. This is a blessing (for the beer), but a curse. With a high gravity beer, (our OG was a low 1.067, and were shooting for 1.070) we had a lot of sugar to ferment in our 12 gallon batch. Within an hour, the yeast was overflowing the airlock and spilling onto the floor. I spent a lot of time cleaning yeast and beer off the basement floor. I don't own a large diameter tube to fashion a proper blow off tube, but I rigged one using the airlock and a 1/4" hose and ran that into a glass filled with a bleach solution. In the future, I think we will have to restrict our batch size to 10 gallons (instead of our normal 12), so I don't have so much work.

Also, because this was a "holiday" beer (Festivus if you are asking), we added cinnamon. I was planning on adding 3/4 or one ounce, but my brother at the last minute talked me into the whole 1.5 ounces I had....after reading a tad about it, I fear that I might be sorry about this. Most recipes only add 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons (which would be 3-7 for 12 gallons). 1 teaspoon is 0.16 ounces, so we were in the 9 teaspoon range. Perhaps with the blow off and the extended aging we have planned, this will not be such an issue.

After a day and half, fermentation is still vigorous, but I am ready to transfer back to using an airlock again.

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