Homebrew: American Farmouse Ale

I’ve been homebrewing for about three years now and every time I brew I learn something new. Donald also homebrews and sometimes we have different ideas about the best process and ingredients.  To mitigate the inevitable opposing opinions, we switch off who is the Master brewer and who is the assistant. The master brewer calls the shots during the entire beer process and the assistant, well, assists.

This time around, Donald is making a American Farmhouse Ale using a partial extract method.  I’m assisting, and for the record, don’t particularly like partial extract brewing. I prefer all-grain.  While extract is easy, it’s one of those prepackaged, commercially produced goods that I just don’t like.

But I’m not calling the shots here, so we’ll get on with the brew…Don created this recipe by poking around the internet, researching different farmhouse ale recipes, and knowing what has worked in the past for his brewing style and process.

Brewing is not an exact science at all – you can easily make good beer by applying basic beer-making principals and choosing malts, hops , and yeast that make sense for the style you’re going for, and your brewing tools and environment.  Though if you want to make the same beer again, you’d better write down exactly what you did.

American Farmhouse Ale  (5 Gallons)

Grain Bill:

2/3 Lb Flaked Maize
2/3 Lb Flaked Wheat
1 Lb Malted Rye
1 Lb Belgian Biscuit
1/2 Lb Special Roast

Plus the extracts…
3.3 Lb Bavarian Wheat Liquid Malt Extract (Briess brand)
3.3 Lb Golden Light Liquid Malt Extract (Briess brand)

  1. Mash grains at ~155 degrees F for 1 hour.
  2. Sparge with 1/2-1 gallon of water (water at 170 degrees).
  3. Add the extracts, and stir well so they don’t burn.
  4. Boil for 1 hour, following the hop schedule below.

Hop Schedule:

1/2 oz. Sorachi ace pellets – 60 min.
1/2 oz Centennial pellets – 20 min.
1/2 oz. Amarillo pellets – 15 min
1 tsp. Irish moss – 15 min.
Sprinkle in another 1/2 oz of Centennial throughout the boil.

Yeast: Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison smack pack

Dry Hop in Secondary:  1/2 oz Amarillo, 1/2 oz Sorachi Ace

We used hop pellets in this batch, but usually we use whole hops. The hop pellets ended up clogging the filter we usually use to protect the auto-siphon when transferring the boil to the fermentation bucket.  Next time, I think we’ll stick with whole hops.

A quick note on hops.  At first whiff they’re fragrant and floral, which works wonders to attract bees for pollination. But the resin in the buds is also a pungent source of bitterness if eaten by predators.  This evolutionary combination of aroma and bite are what make hops the perfect plant to bitter your beer. Hops used early in the boil and boiled for longer will impart bitterness; and you’ll get more floral and fragrant characteristics from hops used toward the end of the boil.

Beer wasn’t always bittered with hops – ingredients from seaweed to dandelions have been used to curb beer’s inherent maltiness. But hops are the contemporary choice. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more non-hopped beers (well, gruits) pop up in the next few years as the craft beer craze gets even more crazy.

The original gravity of this batch is 1.66 – we usually hit an ABV of around 7% using this process. We set it up with an airlock in a corner of the guest room – the house stays about around 66-68 degrees.  Although this yeast prefers slightly higher temps, we should be ok, according to reddit.   If the gravity hasn’t dropped to 1.01 or lower after two weeks we can let it spend a day or two in a room with a space heater.  Now all we have to do is wait! (and then rack it into secondary, wait a couple weeks, then bottle it, and wait another 2-3 weeks….)  Watch for an update on this batch in about 2 months.

A note on sanitation while fermenting…

I’m crazy about sanitation when it comes to fermentation – especially beer and cider. Some recipes are more resilient like Kombucha and Kimchi since the acidic nature of the product kills off harmful bacteria. But when something non-acidic ferments and is stored in a sealed container (like a beer bottle) for months, any tiny but of bacteria can be ruinous, and possibly dangerous.

We use iodophor with water to sanitize EVERYTHING that comes into contact with the beer after the boil. We also boil any water that is added to the beer after the boil. Because the boil kills off bacteria, it is essentially pasteurized at that point, but reintroducing any microbes is a risk.

 

 

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