In the hobby of homebrewing, five gallons has long been the standard batch size. Some advanced brewers have equipment and brew batches anywhere from 10 gallons up to half barrel batches. On the flip side, small batch brewing has taken off. Brooklyn Brew Shop really shook things up when they came out with their one-gallon, all-grain kits. Still, the five gallon batch is the standard. Most recipe kits are five gallons, and most published recipes are five gallons.
I have been racking my brain trying to figure out ways to brew full five gallon, full-boil. all-grain recipes in my apartment. The obstacle is being able to boil enough wort on my electric stove. If I had a gas stove, I could probably boil six gallons of wort down to five gallons without any problems. On my electric stove I can get almost five gallons to a boil in my five gallon kettle. After boil-off and trub loss I usually end up with a little over three gallons of wort. When I tried boiling in my eight gallon kettle, I found that when I boiled four gallons of wort the boil was inadequately soft.
I looked into induction cooktops. Most of what I read online indicated you need a 240V outlet to generate enough power, and a 240V induction burner would be around $200. Williams Brewing and Blichmann Engineering have solutions that will work with a standard 110V outlet; either one would be a fairly big purchase. At the moment a full boil is out of the question.
Another limitation to the brew-in-a-bag batches I brew at home is the amount of grain I can mash. Once my recipe gets around 10 pounds of grain, that bag of dripping hot grain becomes quite unwieldy. Resting the wet, heavy bag on a strainer to drip can be difficult, as is making sure the heaping bag drains back into the kettle instead of all over my stove.
This batch I am experimented with brewing a five gallon, all-grain brew in my apartment with my mash tun. Last year I bought a 10 gallon mash tun, and have only used it a few times as it has mostly sat in my basement. I lugged that thing up to the third floor and used it to mash as it has the size I need to hold the grain the recipe requires.
I used my 8 gallon kettle as my hot liquor tank to heat and hold my sparge water. I ran off my mash into the 5 gallon kettle I use to boil on my stove top. The plan was to do a partial boil and top-off with water as I would with an extract batch. I trusted BeerSmith to adjust my recipe to make sure the gravity and bitterness were still where they needed to be.
As I put together my recipe I realized this was the first double IPA recipe I had ever done. The only double IPA I had ever brewed was a kit with Andy a couple of years ago. I took advantage of a Cyber Monday Nikobrew was running and purchased a pound each of Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus hops. What better way to put that to use than a double IPA? As brew day got closer, I became more excited about brewing it. This is as exited as I have been about brewing a particular beer in a long time.
I solicited some advice from Eamon, my manager at Modern Homebrew Emporium who suggested to use a "hop shot" of hop extract, Malting Company of Ireland (MCI) Irish Ale malt, give the beer at least a month to condition in a secondary fermenter so the alcohol has time to mellow, that the hop flavor and aroma from the boil would be gone by the time the beer was ready to package, and that all of the flavor and aroma came from the dry hops.
Eamon suggests MCI malts to almost everyone in the shop. I also love their malts having used MCI stout malt in my first Summer Somewhere and when I brewed BeerSmith's Dry Irish Stout. I am anxious to try Endicott Red brewed with the Irish Ale malt.
With all of the "C" hops I am using, I originally envisioned the beer as more of a West Coast-style double IPA. As such I didn't really want the beer to have too much malt or yeast character. My original plan was to stick with generic US 2-row. While I worked on the recipe I noticed the beer was quite light in color. As a compromise and to darken the beer a little, I did use equal parts Irish Ale and Briess 2-row Brewers Malt. When that didn't make the beer quite dark enough, I added a little bit of Munich II malt to get the color exactly where I wanted. After having great luck with both batches of Broken Fist, I am going back to WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast for this recipe.
For my first time with this setup, I made sure to take meticulous measurements. My mash efficiency was only around 60%, which I probably should have expected given I only ran off 4.5 gallons of wort. I had enough fermentable sugars in my mash to run off another 4.5 gallons which I used to make another beer. Even after running off the second beer, my wort was still coming out at 7 Brix. I probably could have run off a few more gallons before running the risk of extracting tannins from the grain.
The other thing I ran into that I probably should have anticipated was trub loss. I added around three ounces of hops during the boil. As I racked to my primary fermenter, I probably lost over a half a gallon due to hop absorption. This is why Eamon also suggested using a hop shot, as the liquid hop extract would have just dissolved into the wort as opposed to leaving sludge. The only reason I didn't use the hop shot was that I had already purchased all of these bulk hops.
I am still deciding exactly how much dry hops I am going to add. I also need to try and prevent the beer from becoming oxidized during racking, bottling, and aging.
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