Batch 3: SO MUCH HOPS…
I decided to make an Imperial Amber. From the online calculator I used, it was supposed to come in around 106 IBUs and 6.5%. It ended up coming in at almost 8% and closer to 111 IBUs. I did a couple things differently this time, which I think made all the difference.
For one, I used two kettles for boiling. This allowed me to boil much more water than usual, roughly 3.5 gallons total. I also did a late malt addition, holding back the LME until the very end of the boil. This gave more punch to the hops (roughly 20% more) and made me a nervous wreck that I’d fucked the whole brew sideways until about three days ago.
The kitchen was a billion degrees (roughly) but things seemed to go smoothly enough. I think I held back a 1/3 lb. of malt just from what stuck to the bag and stayed in the can. Initial gravity reading was 1.090 which was way off. I had no idea if the yeast would even survive that much, as the package labeling was confusing at best. I added another half gallon, which brought it to 1.070. Close enough.
Aerated by hand shaking the carboy, waited until the temperature was well under 70. I added the smack pack of yeast and crossed my fingers.
The initial fermentation wasn’t all that impressive, considering the amount of malt and yeast involved. 100 Billion cells? Seems like it should make some movement. Well… within 12 hours, my carboy had blown the airlock four feet away, hop cones were lining the outside and wort was puddling on the floor.
It settled down about two days later, and spent another week in the primary. I racked it on 5/7, 14 days after initial fermentation. A day later I noticed a definite separation that looked very much like the LME I’d added late in the brew. Ok, exactly like it. I really thought it was shot, and looked up the issue on several of the main homebrew forums. Consensus seemed to say that it was just the yeast clearing out and that my beer was nearly ready. I was still skeptical, but the pro’s were right.
A week later, the gravity was at 1.018, and I thought it was close to finished. Thankfully, life got in the way, and I wasn’t able to bottle until a week after that, 5/20. When I took that final reading, it had reached a stunning 1.011. The calculator didn’t even think it would clean up that much. I feel like I vomited paint at a canvas and it landed in the shape of a Dali work. I can’t wait to drink this. (I didn’t wait, actually, and even flat and warm, it was complex and hoppy as can be. I’m expecting good things from this.)
It smells amazing. My good friend and fellow brewer Adam helped me bottle it yesterday. I figure four weeks in the bottle should do it, if I can restrain myself. (I won’t.)
3.3 lb Liquid Malt Extract - Amber
6 lb Dry Malt Extract - Amber
2 oz Nugget 60 min 13.3 47.91 Pellet Boil
1 oz Simcoe 60 min 13 23.41 Pellet Boil
1 oz Warrior 60 min 16 28.82 Pellet Boil
1 oz Simcoe 5 min 14.1 4.6 Leaf/Whole Aroma
1 oz Amarillo 5 min 8.6 2.81 Leaf/Whole Aroma
Added the DME at the start of the boil, as usual, held the LME back until the very end (after the hop schedule was done). Stirred like crazy to keep the malt from caramelizing. This batch may have seen more oxygen than it should have, hopefully that doesn’t affect the flavor too much.
btw, did you know Wil Wheaton is a homebrewer? yeah, fuckin guy, just keeps gettin cooler.