After brewing up over 60 batches of homemade beer from scratch using barley grain, it’s now becoming old hat. I rarely have to read the recipe to figure out the ingredients, timing, or temperatures… that’s mostly due to the fact I brew the same recipe most of the time – my blonde ale called “White Moustache”. Well, since I started brewing up 10 gallon batches, I’ve had more time on my hands, and my “pipeline” is pretty well full, meaning I rarely have enough empties to bottle beer. A good problem to have, as it gives the beer time to age.
So, it wasn’t really necessary to brew this weekend, but I was itching to try a couple new mash paddles I made in my shop. I haven’t touched my woodworking equipment in years, and while on holidays a couple weeks ago with not much to do, I decided to get back to it. The result was two mash paddles that were inspired by some pictures I saw on Google Images while searching for “Custom mash paddles”. As for my beer recipe, the thought of brewing a strong beer, called “barleywine” was intriguing, so that’s what I did… in a 5 gallon batch, so as to not put a strain on my already full pipeline.
A typical 5 gallon batch will use between 8 and 10 pounds of barley for an average strength ale – say – 4 to 4.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). This barleywine recipe called for 16 pounds! That should theoretically give me between 8 and 9 percent ABV. Ooh baby! I then tailored the recipe with one pound of crystal 40 for colour and head retention, and 2 ounces of chocolate malt for more colour and flavour. With that grain-to-water ratio, I was curious how my new mash paddles would perform. The large one was a bit unweildly – perhaps its use would be better suited for a larger kettle. The smaller one was perfect. Sturdy enough for the thick mash, and the perfect size for my 48 litre kettle.
Another new thing about this recipe was the use of whole leaf hops. I use a variety called Northern Brewer for my 60 minute bittering hop addition, so while viewing an on-line catalogue of beer supplies, my eye fell on this one pound bag of leaf hops. I figured “why not?” and ordered them. Standard practice is to add a bit more than pellet hops, which I did. It was a cool experience to throw them in and use my new paddle to mush them around (that’s a technical term) in the boiling wort. I normally use a nylon hop bag for my pellet hops, but I wanted the real experience, so in went all my hops (leaf & pellet) straight into the wort. They were filtered out by pouring the chilled wort through a nylon bag when transferring to the fermentation bucket.
So, all in all, the raw hops, new recipe, and new mash paddles made for an exciting, and less than boring brewing day. I even left some grain behind for the local chipmunks – they love that stuff!
Cheers for beers!