Round two of all grain brewing…decided to switch recipes and go with an Scottish Ale brew from our friends at Hops and Berries. So with twelve and a half pounds of grains, 1 ounce of hops, and White Labs yeast, we headed on our merry way. This was going to be another two brew session…
When I got to Steve’s house, he was already mashing the grains for a Pale Ale, so I started my mash process. I was excited and nervous about the second attempt at a full mash. Since the anomaly of the low gravity and grainy taste of the Irish Red, I was determined to figure out where I went wrong. I scoured books and websites, reader’s comments and friend’s advice, to figure out how best to extract the sugary sweetness from my grains. Figuring that I didn’t sparge correctly, I spent the morning figuring what my brew efficiency was and adjusting my grains to what I though I could hit, converting liters to ounces and kilos to pounds, ounces to gallons and back again (remember…we’re English majors for a reason…), and measuring out what the liquid loss in my mash tun would be. After a couple hours of this, and a couple Advil, my brain still hurt, but I finally unlocked the elusive secret to how much water to mash and sparge with if I wanted 6 gallons of wort to boil…I know, rocket science right…but Steve never told me there would be math involved (let alone chemistry) when I signed on.
So now my water is heating and all these numbers are running through my head. When my thermometer read 170 degrees for the mash water, I add the hot water to my grains and take another temp to be sure we are around 156, this time using Steve’s thermometer. 120!?!? Could the grains and MLT have absorbed that much heat! No way… Now begins the mad rush to figure out how much water we need to raise 4 gallons of water and twelve pounds of grain 36 degrees…logic prevailed and we just started adding boiling water and stirring until we hit about 156. Time to let it sit for 45 minutes and see where my temp when wrong. We temped the mash out water for the pale ale which was now boiling, and my thermometer read 240!!!
Crap! $30 dollars worth of grain trashed because of a flipping thermometer! Mystery of the low gravity Irish Red ale solved…they say it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools…looks like we need to add a step to our brewing checklist – calibrate equipment.
Since we had to add a fair bit of water to reach mashing temp, the first drain yielded the 6 gallons I needed, so we sparged with the wort.
For yeast, we used White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale. First time using White Labs and I was pretty impressed.
Chalking the Irish Red up to experience (I still blame the damn thermometer), the Scottish Ale turned out with an original gravity of 1.052, which is what we were aiming for, and an efficiency of about 60%.
Cheers and Happy Holidays,