Brown Ale with Parti-gyle Practice

Monday, October 22, 2012

My background is in ecology & evolutionary biology, I am an environmental educator and as such, a huge advocate of the Three R's. The order of the R's is all too often forgotten by the masses;

Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle

Recycling is for lazy bastards that use more than they need and refrain from reusing their consumables. I try to reinforce this (though with cleaner language) to my kids and I will reinforce this thought here. It drives me up the wall when people find out what I do for a living and they proudly tell me that they recycle "two bins of plastic water bottles every week!" Those people need to reevaluate their IQ level.

Brewing uses a large amount of water and a decent amount of heat. Unfortunately there are few ways around this so in order to reduce our consumption we must look at all the ingredients in a brew day. Here is my list:

water, heat, grain, hops, yeast & time

MoreBeer! Absolutely Everything!

Water & Heat are probably the hardest two ingredients to reduce. The only reasonable method to extract sugars from the grain is with water of a certain temperature that is not easily produce without fire, gas powered in my case. The best thing you can do here is get yourself some excellent software, I use BeerSmith 2, and learn how your equipment behaves. The worst possible thing you can do is add water to your beer after the boil. This means you are not only affecting the body but it also means that you messed up and boiled off more water than you should have; you used extra water, heat and time, dummy!

If you enjoy the convenience of a wort chiller then you also suffer from high water loss! This doe not have to be the case, the water that runs out of that chiller is perfectly potable (the pipes in your house are made of copper too) and can be used for a great many things. If you are afraid to drink it, give it to your plants, fill up your washing machine with it or take a nice hot bath with a friend! Save water; shower with a friend.

Grain is gold, do not waste it. There is more sugar in there than you think! I brew all grain, so it goes with out saying that this advice does not really work for you lazy extract brewers (I kid... I was one too but after a while it is impossible to resist all grain brewing, you will see). Along with using software and understanding your equipment there are a few ways to ensure you use less grain, reuse what you have and if you must - compost the rest.
Using less grain is only a matter of becoming more efficient. Whether that be through the use of better methods, grain crush, math or simply experience, you will get there with time. I can not tell you how, everyone's setup is different but I can tell you about a new method I have already fallen in love with; Parti-Gyle.

Parti-gyle is a very old technique that was often used to create more than one batch of beer from the same mash, each successive batch having less potential gravity than the last. A common practice was to make a strong-beer, like a Tripel with the first runnings from the mash and a lighter "small beer" from the second and possibly third runnings. This all sounds simple, however there are not too many easy to follow directions out there on how to make your own successfully, until now.

Before we proceed we should mention the last two ingredients in a brew day; hops & time. Both of these are expensive commodities and should be reduced as much as possible. Unfortunately your hop needs will only reduce if you change the style, size or gravity of the beer you are brewing which can often be an unacceptable change. If you have any ideas on how to save hops, please post them. Time can only be saved by efficient planning, practice and patience! You are the key to saving time, I can only provide tips that work for me. Some will be found in the methods of parti-gyle brewing.

Parti Tyme!
For my first foray into this style I have chosen to brew up a batch of Brown Ale I enjoyed the year before. From here on out I will refer to the first runnings/batch as the Brown and the second as the Small Beer

- - -
Style & Targets
Brown Ale
6% abv @ 5.5 gallons

Ingredients
12 lbs 2-Row
4 oz Chocolate
4 oz Brown Malt
4 oz Victory
1 oz Centennial Hops (60 minutes)
1 oz Fuggles Hops (5 minutes)
1 tsp Irish Moss (15 minutes - how to use properly)
Danstar Nottingham Yeast

Procedure
Note: If you want to learn about the methods of all grain brewing, please do, it will be fun - however I will not teach you here. Go lurk around homebrewtalk.com or buy a book.

Mash at 156F for 60 minutes with 16.25 quarts. Bring 4.5 gallons to 176F and add to mash after mash time has elapsed. You should collect right about 7 gallons of wort. This is where your equipment comes in; you need to know the approximate rate of evaporation per hour. This way you can boil down to the point where you have exactly enough wort so that by the end of your 60 minute hop schedule you will end up with the desired amount of wort. Example: You start with 7 gallons of wort, your equipment loses about 1 gallon per hour to evaporation, this means you should start your 60 minute hop schedule once your wort volume has reached 6.5 gallons if your desired final volume is 5.5 gallons. Of course you will not be spot on every time and will lose some wort to the trub (do not put that shit in your fermenter!) but you can figure out that math on your own. Do not do that yet though, keep it aside while you bring the 5 gallons of water for the Small Beer up to 176F.

The Small Beer will be made from the second runnings. The 7 gallons I collected from the "first" runnings were right at 10 brix, perfect! OK now dump the 5 new gallons on the mash and let rest for 10 minutes. Now you can start your boil of the Brown beer keeping in mind the above advice about boil off. Cool off and pitch yeast. The best way to conserve this is to make your own! Yeast is very good at procreating and if you use the right methods you can have a happy plethora of styles in your yeast bank that will at least reduce your cost and packaging consumption, if nothing else.

Once the Brown is happily cooking away and your 10 minutes have elapsed drain the tun and see what you have got. I managed to get all 5 gallons out with a brix reading of 5; not bad at all.

Extra Ingredients (for Small Beer)
.5 oz Centennial Hops
8 oz Malto-dextrine

The Brown is nothing special, do what you normally would do with it. The Small Beer, however, is a different story - you can tweak it how you please! Here is what I did though: Boiled it down to about 3.75 gallons, added half an ounce of Centennial hops, boiled for 20 more minutes, added 8oz of malto-dextrine (for body) and cut the flame. The final wort I pitched the yeast onto gave me a reading of 3.33 gallons at 6 brix. My hope is for a beer with a decent body for something with between 2 and 2.8% abv. You could boil for longer before adding the hops to make a smaller batch but higher abv beer - but you already thought of that.
- - -

Successful first attempt! Hopefully it tastes good too; I am excited to have a truly medieval breakfast of small beer and hot cakes on a cold winter day.

Since we are talking the Three R's; DO NOT forget to Reuse the spent grain to make bread, flour, granola snacks or any other crazy concoction you can think of! My next post will be about the lovely joy of baking and eating spent grain bread! Give the rest to the chickens or worms.

Cheers,


Update (11/13/2012)Just tapped the big Brown and it is a total success! With a quick roasted caramel and chocolate upfront taste, a long drawn out brown malt nose and a perfect English-style dry finish, this beer will leave you pleading for more! At about 5.5% abv you can enjoy a couple before you get the wobbly legs! The small brown was a success as well and has been enjoyed a few times with the right breakfast company!

Use the recipe to make two beers or just skip the second step and make a 6-6.5% single batch. Perfect beer for the fall, turkey time and as an ingredient in Beer Cheese Soup!


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