Double trouble on a bank holiday

Welcome brothers and sisters to the latest Manly Mens brewing adventure. It’s been a while since we’ve written about anything brew related and a while since I’ve had the opportunity to try anything new when it comes to brew related matters. But all this changed this Bank Holiday Monday past, I’d got new kit to try and new ideas to test…

(sorry for the lack of pictures people, solo brewday and I forgot to take any. I’ll try hardr next time)

Having been inspired again by the wonderful podcasting talents of experimental brewing in their episode about Parti Gyle brewing I took a quick trip to my friendly local brew shop (Waterintobeer) I now had two 10 litre fermenters and a load of grain to brew some smaller batches in, perfect for a one day Parti Gyle extravaganza… And as we all know there ain’t no Party like a Parti Gyle Party.

So. Parti Gyle. What is it? To put is simply it’s an older method of brewing where you fill your mash tun with grain and water, let it stand for a bit to let the sugars magically transfer from the grain to the water, drain the resulting Wort into a kettle to be boiled with hops and then put another load of water into the grain again to grab any sugar you didn’t get the first time to make a second batch of Wort.

What this gives you is two batches of wort with drastically different Original Gravities and an opportunity to make two differing beer styles from one load of grain. It also suits smaller batches well and I’d decided on two 8/9 litre batches.

I’d decided to try out a Belgian Ale style for the higher gravity Wort and an IPA / APA style for the lower gravity offering (Nice strong Belgian ale and a simple, smooth session ale. The perfect pairing). And my grain bill consisted of:

4kg Golden Promise

1kg Vienna malt

And finally around 200g of medium crystal sprinkled on top before the second mashing out session.

Everything went as planned and both running produced around 9 – 10 litres of wort which was duely boiled with the following hops:

Belgian style

60 mins – 7g East Kent Goldings and 7g Junga

15 mins – 10g Hallertauer Mittlefrueh

5 mins – 10g Hallertauer Mittlefrueh

APA

30 mins – 10g Pacific Jade and 5g Mosaic

15 mins – 5g Mosaic and 10g Amarillo

5 mins – 10g Amarillo and 10g Citra

Dry hop – 20g Citra

And then into the new 10 litre fermenters, shaken up for oxygenation so our little yeast buddies have plenty and avoid being stressed out as they go about their mystical work and then in with said yeasts (Mangrove Jack’s Belgian Ale Yeast and  Safale US04)

At this point there nothing left to do by sit by and wait for the yeast to do its thing (apart from the addition of a dry hop of 20g of Citra to the APA). Having said this I did manage to entertain myself during the weeks of fermentation by messing around with my other bit of new kit, a refractometer. Up to this point we’ve been more than happy to use our hydrometer to measure our gravities and it’s done extremely well. So well in fact that I have actively resisted purchasing a refractometer for the last couple of years as an unnecessary expense. But then my sister bought me one for my birthday so it would have been rude not to give it a go. There is a bit of complication when it comes to using a refractometer in that it is designed and calibrated to measure the gravity of sugar water and not wort. You’re supposed to take continual reading over a period of time to establish your wort index but I read somewhere that the actual inaccuracy is only around 4% of the Brix reading either way so I ignored the advice and just took readings as and when I need to check on the progress of the brews.

Generally speaking when I double checked the readings with a hydrometer reading they came back within a similar range. Which either means the Wort index didn’t make that much difference or I’m bad at reading hydrometers accurately… The two main advantages with using the refractometer over the hydrometer set up are Sanitation and wastage. The hydrometer requires around 70 – 80 ml of liquid every time you want to take a reading, not a major issue when you’ve got a 5 gallon batch on the go and only really take two readings (OG and FG) but a bit more of an issue when you’ve got a 1 gallon batch of beer souring away needing reading taken every couple of months. The refractometer only needs one tiny drop of the valuable beer to get a reading from. The sanitary advantages are also clear, when taking a reading with a hydrometer we have to take the lid of the fermenter and dip a ladle into the beer to take a sample (everything is sanitised but you never know), when you need a sample for the refractometer you can get it by poking a pipette through the airlock hole and grabbing a few drops. Easy, see?

The refractometer should also be more accurate and reliable than the hydrometer, but I should probably make a bit more of an effort to learn how to use it properly.

Anyway, I digress, having waited patiently bottling day arrive and the now fermented beer was primed, bottled and laid to rest in order to carbonate… The results? Take a look (Belgian style Ale on the left and American session Pale on the right):

One more thing, I made a slight error when I primed the APA. Normally when we prime we pour the sugar into the beer, usually about halfway through the process of transferring it from one vessel to another, this isn’t a conscious decision it’s usually because we forgot to get it ready in time to put it in the vessel before the transfer begins. On the plus side by adding the sugar in this fashion it mixes it in really well. What doesn’t mix it particularly well is putting the sugar in the bottom of the vessel and then syphoning the beer on top of it and not really make any effort to stir it. So the APA ended up being a bit under gassed (actually a lot under gassed) but it still tasted nice. Lesson learned for next time.

Conclusions? – Parti Gyle is a good way to try new recipes and I need to pay a bit more attention…

Freud judges those who allow themselves to be distracted by shiny things.

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