Friday, September 5, 2014

Traditional Wee Heavy, split batch

I was recently tasked with creating a pumpkin beer and using the Wee Heavy style to do so.  My good friend Gates of Bear In Boots Restaurant Falmouth, MA is both the owner and proprietor of this esteemed establishment in Falmouth, MA and when a chef of his caliber thinks the flavors will compliment, then less figuring and more brewing is on the docket!

Ps. Bear In Boots is hands down the best craft beer/artisan restaurant on Cape Cod, fact!

In preparation for this bohemouth, I  reviewed Jamil Z's article in BYO, a great recipe found here and looked back in my notes from pumpkin scotch ales and traditional Scottish ale recipes I have done.

Originally the dark hues and caramel character of these beers were a product of long boil times.  The longer the boil, the greater the reduction of the brew resulting in ever-increasing caramel flavors and the development of a darker finish.  There were no specialty malts, there were no C120, or Melanoiden malts! Boy, what those folks would have brewed had they had access to our grocery store of grains! 

A few things to consider when brewing this beer:
1. The process of creating the base beer
- Traditional method plus some chocolate
2. How to impart the pumpkin character 
- roasted pumpkin purée 
3.  What adjustments I need to make based on the introduction of the pumpkin.
- pumpkin batch will receive additional yeast 

Split batch - half Wee Heavy, half pumpkin wee heavy

Because I do not want 5G of pumpkin anything, I'm going to use a Wee Heavy recipe, but I'm going to add some chocolate.  Pumpkin, chocolate cheesecake comes to mind an I just can't help myself. Pumpkin and chocolate marry so well together in that forum. Imagining the sweetness of the caramel from the kettle caramelization an the body of this beer, I feel the chocolate will play beautifully to the pumpkin.  Style guide be damned!  

Stats if base beer
5G batch

Marris Otter - 18lbs
Chocolate - 6oz (2%)
Roasted barley - 3oz (1%)

Half batch: Canned and roasted Pumpkin - 3lbs (HORRIBLE IDEA) _ You ended up buying sweet pumpkins (good idea) and roastng them, seperating the skins, then re-roasting them.  This mixture went in the boil.  NEVER AGAIN.  From now on its just pumpkin thinly sliced into mash and pumpkin spice at 10 on the boil....Done.


19lb@1.5qt/lb = 28.5/4 ~ 7G

Absorbtion: ~2G

7-2 = 5 requiring 3G sparge to make 8G minus 1G for caramelization minus 2 additional gallons for 2 hour boil leaving 5G plus .5G starter and .5G transfer loss resulting in 5G batch.

Total water: 10G

Water - treated for dark beer profile
Likely 2.5tsp gypsum for calcium, 2.5tsp baking powder for alkalinity.

19b@1.5qt/lb at 158 for 90.

Sparge and boil

Homework: pour 1G into "stovetop" boil pot and measure.  Pour 2 cups in and measure.  

1. Collect 1G first runnings to stovetop boil pot. Boil of 50 min.  At this point we should be close to 2 cups remaining - Logic - 2c = .125G = 1/8G...60/8 = 7.5, therefore if we evaporate 1G per hour it should take about 52 minutes to boil 1G to .125G or 2cups.

2. Add sparge water (3G) to remaining mash (double batch may be required) and mix and continue running remaining to kettle until measuring 6G.

3. Boil. (Removing carmelized runnings no later than 52 minutes) At 60 add carmelized runnings.  Total volume after 60 minute boil should be 6.125G, regardless boil until 6G and proceed.

3. At 6G in pot, take gravity and hop N.Brewer for .2 BUGU.

4. Boil to 45 minute mark.

5. Pour 2.5G to stovetop kettle.  (Yes, you will have a little more traditional wee heavy an that's fine)

5a. Stovetop - Add 3lbs heavily roasted pumpkin purée and nutrient to stovetop portion and boil gently for 10 minutes.  Prepare ice bath.

5b. Kettle - insert chiller and nutrient, gently boil 10 minutes.

Stovetop - whirlpool (to seperate pumpkin) and ice bath 
Kettle - immersion chiller 

Stovetop - While above 80, filter through hop bag with course cloves, nutmeg and all spice in hop bag to fermenter.  Fermenter back into ice bath to 62.

Kettle - normal transfer.

Yeast - Scottish Ale - 2L starter - half to each batch.

Both - Pitch at 62 to account for free rise. Primary/secondary for 21 days.

Brew Day!

Brewed with Eric
2.5 tsp gypsum, 1tsp baking powder (targeting Edinborough water on
Final Stats
OG - 1090
FG - 1010
ABV - 10+
SRM - Dark:)  cant get a real SRM with the additon of the carmelized portion of the batch...She is dark-dark brown.

Mash 158
Yeast - Edinborough - 2L starter split half to each batch.

Fermentation - In bucket, pitch 70 - free rise toppped at 75.  

10/2/14 - Gravity at 5 days was below FG target, clear on top of beer.

Transfered off pumpkin to carboy - use sanitized slotted spoon next time, then attempt to syphon (or dont use pumpkin puree:)- terrible transfer t carboy - purged carboy with CO2 and crashed in fridge to 45 for 2 weeks.


Good plan and execution.  1G of first running took 1.5 hours to boil down before all water was boiled off and scorching began on the sugars.

BE CAREFUL - do not leave this unattended after 1 hour.  Once it starts to burn it burns very quickly!  Good thing Eric was i nside at the time or we may have ruined the carmelized portion of the batch.


FG from Brix reads 10.2 translating to 1.010, don't buy it based off OG could have been off from kettle carm add back...anyway, it's close and it tastes clean and scary. (Not boozy).  Bottled with sugar tabs - ready 11/1 on carb...age.....,,

Pumpkin batch racked to keg and force carbed at 30psi (shaking) for 4 minutes.  Bottled and corked.  Expedited ran to be ready for Halloween.
Taste of pumpkin apparent and front.  Spice is mellow.  Taste requires time.

10/17/14 a bottled both.  Two sugar tabs to each traditional and direct from bucket.

10/21/14 - didn't cage bottles, 6 blew.  Poured them direct to keg and force carbed.

10/24/14 - tasting from keg, pretty dam good beer!  Side by side of unpopped bottles could yield some differences but for now I'm happy with this result.

A deep deep brown with very slight ruby hued center, topped with a thick creamy white head.

Aroma of toasted bread, very light warming alcohol on the nose and slight dark fruit.  Maybe a perceived banana character in there.  

Taste - smoooth.  Round. Good balance between the roast, and malt characters.  A very strong perceivable center on the pallet of dark caramel and plummy fruit.  No hop aroma or taste.  Future tastings will be more appropriate as she should have at least 2 weeks, cold and on gas before a real sense of the beer comes forward.  But a great start! 

11/20ish/14 - The beer is delicious!  I would argue that it is a little cloying, but not too the point of being "too cloying."  It is a little one dimensional, as is the case with the traditional method of brewing this beer, but I really enjoy it!  Im excited to see how it ages, but I call this a very successful recipe.  A nice off white head dissipates by half of the beer.  Its a smooth draw with a medium mouthfeel and very little residual sweetness.  The beer is not complex, it is simple with some light esters coming through  and no hop charcter whatsoever.  The beer is slight malt forward with a great caramel to dark caramel middle.  The chocolate is barely discernible, but I have yet to make a beer where the chocolate character was truly perceptible to me.  The roasted malt does not come through either.

If I was going to do this beer again I would stick to the process, but I would try adding more of the Chocolate for fun.  I dont know that I'll be brewing this beer often as it is a little less complex than what I am looking to brew these days, not to mention it is one long brew day!  

In other news, we have a success here with the Pumpkin!  I think this is an excellent style for making a base beer to either a Pumpkin or Winter/Spice Ale.  The Pumpkin Ale come out very nicely with a bit more residual sweetness and a bigger mouthfeel, but its still relatively dry.  This beer attenuated really well and allowed the Pumpkin to accompany the final product nicely.  With the holidays coming to a close I am hopeful that a bomber will make it to next year and a little oxidation accompanies the pumpkin.

As stated earlier, I will never, ever, work this Pumpkin process again.  Far too much work and absolutely unnecessary.

Case Closed :-)

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