A friend wanted to brew a beer. We decided to do it at my house. A week or so later the temperature had dropped to single digits with a biting wind and over a foot of new snow was on the ground. Oh well. That's Winter brewing in Michigan!
Art and I brewed ten gallons of beer on Monday night. The temp really was 9 degrees Fahrenheit! We started at about 5 PM and finished around 1130 PM. It was an unusual brewday...
We ran out of propane and Art had to go pick up some more. While he was gone I transferred the strike water into his mash tun and started the mash. When he returned with propane (and a couple of beers!) we got right to work...on trying the new beers he brought. One was a Scottish IPA (Belhaven's Twisted Thistle) and the other St. Peter's Old-Style Porter. We tried the IPA first. It was surprisingly good and surprisingly hoppy! It poured a dark golden color with a fine white head. The aroma was hoppy and floral with earthy notes. The taste was sweet caramel and biscuity with a strong floral, spicy hop finish and aftertaste. It was very drinkable at the surprising 6.1% and well-balanced. I really liked it and so did Art.
The St. Peter's Porter was next. I didn't expect much because I'd had their IPA and, probably due more to its age and being lightstruck (green bottle), it was not enjoyable at all. The porter was another story altogether. It poured a dark brown and had a beautiful tan head on it. The aroma was chocolate with roasty notes. Tasted a delicious chocolaty coffee with roast and some very slight hop character. the mouthfeel was not too heavy for a porter but full enough to respect. I found it an altogether enjoyable porter and would drink it anytime I wanted a good English porter.
Now, by this time we were about ready to sparge so sparge we did. We got a little less than 11 gallons from the sparge, so we added a little sparge water and resparged. After all this was over we had enough beer and began to heat to boil. No problems so far. We had enjoyed some new beers were playing pinball in between the little jobs requiring our attention and listening to a nice shuffle on my computer.
After the boil we went to turn on the (outside) hose to chill. Now, I keep my white RV water hose inside until it's time to chill just because I know Michigan Winters. Still, I didn't expect the faucet to be frozen. It was. I took my Mapp torch out and started to gently heat the faucet so that I could turn it. After I got to that point, I had to heat the faucet further back to unclog the ice that was keeping it from releasing any water. After a few chilly minutes working gently on this job we were able to get the chiller going! Pheww!
Then it was time to drop the wort into the fermenters. The wort had chilled to just under 80 degrees and we were anxious to end this long brewday in such extreme conditions. We got everything situated and turned the handle on the ballcock...Nothing! Back to the torch. A few moments of gentle heat supplied the answer and we were racking!
Long story short, we got a good ten gallons of 1.067 wort in the two fermenters and pitched starters of Scottish Ale and Belgian Dubbel yeast into each. Should result in a nice Strong Scottish Ale and a Belgian Dubbel. I'll try to remember to supply tasting notes, here.
Merry Christmas, all!