All breweries, no matter how small, need a name. That idea had not yet crossed my mind when I took up all-grain brewing around my 4th batch. As you may know, all-grain beer takes quite a bit more time than making simple extract & specialty grain. In those days it did not matter how early I started the strike water, clean up wouldn’t end ’till midnight or afterwards. It was a bit of inexperience and a bit my style. So, when I decided that I needed a name for my brewery, I picked the Midnight Hour Brewery to remind me to attempt an earlier finish.
Now-a-days I do not finish so late on a typical brew day. My last batch, however, was another late-night finish. It had been five months or so since I made beer and I was really feeling the desire to brew. Finally I decided to play hookey and make beer. I whipped up a recipe for three gallons of Bohemian Pilsner.
Fermentables (est 1.056 OG)
- 1.5 lbs Vienna Malt 1.037, 3°L
- 5.0 lbs Lager Malt 1.037, 1°L
Hops (est 45.6 IBU)
- 1.5 oz Tettanger 4%AA 60 mins
- 1.0 oz Tettanger 4%AA 10 mins
- 1.0 oz Tettanger 4%AA flameout
White Labs Czech Budejovice Lager yeast & distilled water.
Why the small finish volume? My kettle is out on loan for one thing, but I am also in the middle of building a stand for some new equipment I got for Christmas and my birthday. I got a great deal on some 15-gallon MiniBrew conical fermenters on EBay earlier last year, but they stand about four-foot-six off the ground. To get the chilled wort in there I would have to lift my 20-gallon kettle full of just-boiled liquid to the top of my pickup’s camper shell and put the chiller on a milk-crate on the tail gate. That crap had to stop, so I got a pump for my BD. A nifty false bottom, a mega burner, an upgraded CFC and a grain mill came for Christmas and at that point I needed to put together a way to chain it all together. So my brewery is in pieces right now, explaining the infrequent and small batches.
The Pilsner was a frustrating process. I decided to do a two-step infusion mash instead of my normal single step mash. I had problems hitting my rest temperatures, mashing at 155° F instead of 162° F like I wanted to. I also collected 5 gallons 1.023, putting my original gravity around 1.059 for 3 gallons, and a two hour boil. That’s a little outside the style guidelines for Bohemian Pilsner, but I wanted it at the high end of that gravity range, and it was the long boil that troubled me.
When I sanitized my new chiller, I discovered that I did not have the right hose diameter to get enough suction and clamps probably would have deformed the soft coper of my new chiller. I had already sold my old CFC to the person who also had my kettle, so I had to chill overnight.
At present, the brew is fermenting away at 50° F so it appears there were no infections. Now I have to wait out a 10 week lager for it to be ready. I’ll probably have my stand done before then, then it’s back to consistent, 10-gallon batches.