Saturday, May 3, 2008
(click pics to make 'em big)
Last year Kelsey, myself and Jimmy McGowan whipped up Arrogant Sombrero -- a 13% "Adambier" that took a first place and a Second Runner Up Best of Show in the only competition we bothered to enter it in. That particular brew day was plagued with every sort of problem imaginable. Including my favorite, a busted pump. This year would be different.
Or not. For one thing, we didn't have Jimmy. That's another set of arms to stir the damn decoctions... Anyhow, based on the fact that I was... uh... a bit hungover (or lazy, or not thinking... dumb?) I didn't give Kelsey's recipe a proper once over before we embarked. Long story short, 53 pounds of grain and 17 gallons of water (12.5 or so gallons for an initial strike plus 3.5 gallons for infusion) have a hell of a hard time fitting in a 100 quart cooler. You'll notice above that the mash tun was so full you can see the frigging lid indents.
Above is all those ingredients. Kelsey was a little miffed because usually the two home despot buckets hold all his grain. With this sucker we had to grab a pot. And then another pot. That's overkill for you. Grain bill is something like: Mostly Munich, 30% Golden Promise, 15% Vienna, 5% Rauch malt, half a pound of Acidulated malt and a sprinkle of Black Patent. We First Wort Hopped with Domestic Hallertau, bittered with Magnum and then dropped in 3 more ounces of (this time) German Hallertau at flame out.
For those who don't know how we do it out West, we (apparently) decoct our Adams. A single decoction is the way of the loser. Two decoctions -- especially during a late April heatwave -- now that's some manly shit. Then of course there's the dumb-ass way to go -- three decoctions -- which is exactly what we did. Above is Kelsey during the first hour long plus decoction. What's a decoction? It's where you remove about a 1/3 of the mash, put it in a pot and boil it. The trouble is, the mash needs to be constantly stirred otherwise it will scorch. It sucks. Kelsey's not looking happy. And yes, he's 11-feet tall.
World's longest mash. Seriously, this sucker turned into a 10-hour brew day. Like last year, we missed out target OG by 10 points, but were still up in the 1.120 range. Furthermore, that lovely brown color is from the decoction. Wort tasted good, too.
Showing up to save us from ourselves by providing yummy refreshments was XL Perro. Yeah, yes sir, you betcha, that's a Magnum of 2006 Stone Double Bastard. And holy fuck was it good. Lee's last batch of Double Bastard if I'm not mistaken. Excellent. Also fantastic was was Big Dog's funky stuff in a bucket sour beer. 3 1/2 years old and WAY freshing after standing over a murderous-hot kettle. I believe he added hibiscus flowers (to the bucket) which gave it a lovely pink/reddish hue. Seriously nice American-made sour beer. Anyhow, the pic is XL unlocking his well cared for 3.0-liter. Oh, and remember how I said the Sombrero wort tasted pretty good? Big Dog added it (unboiled) to his tulip of Double Bastard. Surprisingly, it tasted good.
It wouldn't be "brewing with Kelsey" unless Kelsey had some sort of jealously-inducing new toy to play with. Yeah, that's a conical. Fucker. Below you can see the beer being pumped into the neato fermentor. Kelsey said it's halfway through with primary and that it's much hoppier than batch #1. We'll let you know.