Robust Brown Porter

Or something. Last night I brewed what was to be a 10 gallon batch of Robust Porter, I think I missed my mark.

Robust Brown Porter 2

I’ve been trying to get into the habit of brewing on weekday nights to help free up valuable weekend time. I still don’t have my routine down, but the concept is sound. So last nights goal was to be a high gravity (1.120 range) Robust Porter split into two carboys and diluted down to achieve two normal strength (1.060) five gallon batches of Robust Porter. I should have known from the beginning that it was going to be ‘one of those days’ when I was feeling a little out of place from the get-go.

I had never done a split batch like this before, and I have now decided that experiments like this should still be attempted but should be left for when you have extra time and feel fresh, not when your crunching your time and feel spent. Anyway, lots of little things added up to a rough night. Measuring and grinding my grains took way too long and is one of those steps that I want to start doing the night before if I am going to continue brewing on weekday nights. So, since the measuring took so long, which is while I heat my mash-in water, I overheated my water, so I had to let that cool. While that was cooling I knew the rain was getting ready to break and I brew outside. So I ran out with my new tarp and bungees I had bought to try and build a rain-fly for the brew area. The tarp was way too big and the bungees were a little too small. Fortunately I rigged it up so it kept most of the water off of me, actually it worked pretty well, it just made the area really muggy for the rest of the night.

Then it was time to mash-in, but I forgot to put my Bazooka manifold in my mash tun. Just as I was beginning to pour the grains in I realized it. Fortunately my mash tun and hot liquor tank (HLT) are built the same, so I grabbed and manifold and inserted it in the HLT, then dumped the water from the mash-tun to the HLT then mashed-in. Between the water and the grains the tun was very full, 13+ gallons in a 15 gallon tun. But between all the over-heating, cooling, switching between containers and adding the grains I totally undershot my target temperature and had no room left to adjust. I was aiming for 155-156 and I hit 149-150, yikes! Oh well, nothing I could comfortably do at this point but ride it out. So I began to heat my sparge water and mash-out water. I couldn’t even use the full amount of mash-out water that was called for. According to Pro-mash everything was going to line up, according to what happened Pro-mash lied or something else went a rye. Anyway, I mashed-out with what I could fit.

Robust Brown Porter 1

So as I was sparging I realized I wasn’t going to be able to collect as much wort as there was sugar in the bed, I could just feel it. I ran it slow and hoped for the best. After the sparge was over I ran out what was left in the tun into a bucket, almost four gallons at 1.038 at about 120F, ugh. Plus, while I was moving my kettle from the floor to the burner (no handles) I spilt hot wort down my arm and into the gloves I was wearing just I was having my dinner brought down to me. So not only did I mildly burn myself, I was embarrassed. Fortunately I wasn’t really hurt (except my pride) so I turned on the burner and ate some food which helped. In preparation for this batch to be split I planned on using a bunch of hops, six ounces of pellet hops, I’m not a big fan of using that much pellet hops especially in this high gravity of a brew. I also didn’t realize I had any Whirlfloc left and used Irish Moss instead, no big deal, but the Irish Moss is my back-up, I prefer the Whirlfloc. I need to organize my stuff.

So the boil went fine I suppose, cleaned a couple carboys and the mashing equipment while it was going on. I began to chill the wort and remembered that it was summer time; it was going to be a while. After an hour I was tired of waiting, the thermometer read 78F and I was tired and pissy and didn’t care, so I was done cooling. I began to transfer the wort to a carboy. My idea was I would transfer to one carboy, see what volume I collected, and check the gravity. If it was in the “proper range” I would then split the batch half-and-half and dilute with bottled water up to five gallons, retake a reading and go from there. The goal was 1.120, I hit 1.098 at 78F, so I knew it was really at least 1.100 if I adjust for the temperature. Of course the valve on the kettle clogged twice before completely clogging (did I mention I love using large quantities of pellet hops) and I had to do my favorite, the ol’ dump technique. So since I gathered six gallons via that technique, I figured with all the trouble I went through, I might as well split the batch and hope since I was putting a little bit more than 2.5 gallons in each carboy to start with that the new OG might be higher than 1.050. Lets just say this turned out to be messier than expected and I was starting to crack a little.

After all the transfers I took a little bit of a break from the wort and cleaned everything up. After clean-up I took a second reading of the new diluted wort, 1.048 – wha, wha, what!? I tasted the original sample next to the diluted sample, I shouldn’t have diluted it. I hate this beer. So I’ve been having problems with my O2 stone, it just hasn’t been bubbling properly. So even though I thought my tank was pretty full I bought a new tank to test because the tanks are cheaper than the stones. No difference. After sort-of oxygenating my wort I pitched the yeast, a third generation WLP001 yeast cake split between the two batches. By this point I had basically been “brewing” this batch of beer for almost seven hours and it was nearing midnight. I was wooped and wanted to go to bed and just forget about this beer. Hopefully it turns out drinkable since I have ten gallons of it. Originally it was supposed to be a Robust Porter. Now it looks more like a Brown Porter, but with Robust Porter attributes. So maybe a Robust Brown Porter, I dunno.

Oh, and I was sober the whole night, brewing without drinking beer is almost unheard of in the homebrew community 😉 .

9 Responses to “Robust Brown Porter”

  1. Garrett Says:

    Ouch, man – Brutal brew day. Is that your first 10-gallon attempt on your equipment?

    As far as the brewing without drinking – Its pretty easy to live by that when you get started at 5am – unless you’re accustomed to drinking before noon! 😉

  2. Garrett Says:

    P.S…. Next time, borrow my 14 gal kettle. 😀

  3. Brian Says:

    Yup, first time I attempted 10 gallons on a 5 gallon system, only worked OK. Things are fermenting fine downstairs, I hope the beer tastes OK too.

    Maybe the whole sober thing was my problem, j/k.

    I know, I know, I thought about asking to borrow your kettle last Friday when I was over, but I also wanted to see if it was possible on my system. Thanks though.

  4. Garrett Says:

    Your tun definitely has the room for 10 gallon batches of moderate beer (like 1.040-1.060 range), because its bigger than mine and I’ve managed 1.060 on my system. Its the kettle space that really becomes the issue.

    You know me, man – You’re more than welcome to swing by anytime and grab the kettle and a couple pints…

  5. andrew Says:

    ice water for wort chiller – get a utility pump and put a bag of ice into some large vessel, then pump that through your wort chiller. Works great especially for the last 50 degrees of the chilling process.

  6. Brian Says:

    Thanks for the input Andrew. I agree, a pump and an ice bath are the way to go in the summer, but I have a couple other projects I am working on that I could use the money for. This is the pump I would like to get – – which I could later use for hot wort moving too. Do you have a suggestion for a less expensive pump? Thanks.

  7. Andrew Says:

    That’s essentially what I was aware of for a high temp pump. The ice water trick can be done with a plain old non-high temp, non sanitary utility pump. I got the cheapest model from Home Depot a few years ago for maybe $65. It has a male hose fitting, so you can easily switch your water from the spigot to the pump once the wort temp drops to the point that warm tap water is losing effectiveness. You can of course just use ice water from beginning to end too. Maybe you’re thinking you only want to buy one pump for all uses, the utility pump isn’t intended for high temp food grade uses and I certainly would not consider using it for pumping hot wort. In my case, I already had the utility pump, and one day last summer thought of a new use for it…

    I just brewed a batch Monday night (same idea of not using weekend time) and struggled to get the temp down to 80F. Definitely time for ice water…

  8. Brian Says:

    Andrew – Ah ha, so something like a pond pump – That’s a pretty good idea, I may need to investigate.

    Hope your brew session went well besides the cooling issues – B

  9. Andrew Says:

    Well, my utility pump is designed for pumping out flooded basements and such, why I originally bought it, but the pond pump looks like it would also work, and it’s a bit cheaper. Anything you can attach a tube to I guess. There are some even cheaper pumps on HD’s website but you might want to be careful getting too small and not having enough flow capacity. I throttle my pump back with a valve between it and the wort chiller, since its good for up to 1000 gal/hr, way more than is needed for my wort chiller 🙂

    Brew session went OK thanks. You’re right about it being tougher to do after work during the week. I would have been a lot more likely to have not made those small mistakes that led to lower efficiency if I had done it on a weekend, but I’m OK with this batch being a little low in alcohol (it’s a Pilsner, so I’m OK with it being even more of a session beer). Plus it’s a batch to use up ingredients I didn’t want to use in more ambitious brews – stuff that came in kits that I bought last winter thinking I was going to get hops that were then hard or impossible to buy by themselves.

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