Monday, January 19, 2015

Dark Mild: Brewing for Competition

This year my goal is to start entering beer in to competitions. I’ve never entered anything before but I would like to get some feedback from someone that doesn’t know me and will give honest feedback. I feel my beers are good, but it will be nice to see what others think. Normally I tend to not brew to “style,” put prefer to think of what I would like to drink and then create a beer based around that idea. I will be entering beers into style categories where I think they’ll fit but I also plan on brewing some beers specifically to fit style guidelines. The way I prefer to do this really isn’t that different then my normal process for creating a recipe. I read the BJCP style guideline for the specific style and design a recipe based off of the parameters provided and the taste that I would prefer. 

My English Dark Mild was my first attempt to specifically brew a beer based off of BJCP style guidelines. I think it came out quite well but there were some small adjustments that needed to be made to dial it into the style requirements. It was probably a touch too sweet, so I reduced the Crystal malt a bit, which also helped it to fit better into the alcohol percentage range. Previously it was on the high end of the style range. The other issue was that it was definitely over carbonated. I’ll have to work on that because I keg the beer and don’t have a duel regulator, so this will be a challenge. The entry of the competition is about a month away and the judging is about a week after that so I should have time to cold condition for a few weeks to help clarify the beer. 

I’ve also started to determine the corrective factor for my refractometer. I didn’t learn until recently that refractometers are not calibrated to measure wort so their measurements will be off from what they are reading. On top of that the standard gravity scale on a refractometer is virtually useless because Brix to SG is not a linear relationship. In order to correct my refractometer measurements I take a reading with a properly calibrated hydrometer followed by a reading with my refractometer and then use the following equation 


More information on the subject can be found here. Thanks to this revelation I found out that instead of being constantly under efficient, I’m much more efficient then I thought I was because my refractometer was not calibrated and I was reading the standard gravity measurements. Your average corrective factor should be between 1.1 and 0.9.
Beer Stats
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
Boil Time: 90 minutes
Estimated OG: 1.038
Measured OG: 1.038
Measured FG:1.010
ABV: 3.68%
SRM: 25o
IBU: 18.5

Grain Bill
7.5 lbs - Pearl Malt
0.65 lbs – Crystal 80L
0.25 lbs – Chocolate Malt
0.5 lbs – Golden Naked Oats
0.5 lbs – Brown Sugar

Hop Schedule
1 oz – Fuggles – 60 minutes

Wyeast 1335 – Brittish Ale II

Mash Schedule
154F –Single Infusion – 60 minutes

1/9/15 – Brewed by myself. Added 1.5 grams of CaCl and 0.5 grams of Gypsum to the mash and 2.4 grams of CaCl and 0.8 grams of Gypsum to the sparge water with 6.4mL of 88% Lactic acid. Measured pre-boil gravity 1.038, added 1.25 gallons to bring it back down to 1.032. Accidently added hops at 90 minutes but ended up only boiling for 60 minutes to hit target gravity. Pitched 1L starter made the night before and added 45 seconds of pure O2. Placed in beer room at 64oF. Fermentation started that night.

1/11/15 – Fermentation up to 68oF.

1/12/15 – Fermentation up to 71oF to finish out the fermentation.

1/25/15 - Placed in chest freezer at 35F to cold crash.

1/27/15 - Racked to a keg set to 8 psi to add some carbonation. It might not need that much in the end. 

3/4/15 - First tasting. There is definitely an infection. Now it's a Stock ale :)

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