July 8, 2011

Notes on a Brewday: Intergalactic Brain Rescue Pale Ale

Gotta propagate some WLP029 for an upcoming biere de garde brew session. Gotta try out some new hops. Want a hoppy beer on tap. Busy, busy weekend - no time for an AG brew session. How about this: session-strength extract batch brewed with said new hops, ferment with 029 and then wash the yeast cake for next weekend's biere de garde. Excelsior!

Lawn chores, deck needs staining, laundry to fold, garage needs cleaning, dishes need washing - stupid everyday life. But staring down into a few gallons of boiling wort on a midsummer evening is  60-plus guaranteed minutes of quiet meditation, a brain vacation. A brain vacation into outer space, thanks to the heady, high-alpha tropical-fruit funk of Galaxy hops. Outer space ... tropical-fruit funk ... that sounds like Parliament mashed up with Os Mutantes; I think I have a brewnight soundtrack.

Life is complicated enough already, so the recipe is going to be stupid simple: no steeping grains, one hop variety in three additions, 3 gallon batch size to eliminate the need for a starter and to minimize time I need to spend waiting for the wort to cool. 

One more soapbox to climb before collecting water: American pale ale. How soon it seems we consigned you to the scrap heap of history in the rush to continuously-hopped torpedoed triple-digit IBUs and Doppelbock-grade ABVs as a matter of course. I have not forgotten, and I still love you.

Intergalactic Brain Rescue
3 gallons, extract

  • Chill to 65, pitch White Labs 029 German Ale/Kolsch
  • Ferment 7 days, rack to secondary (but save yeast cake!)
  • Dry hop - 0.5 oz Galaxy for 7 more days
  • fine & keg


    1. Is that Andromeda?

      I hope this was posted today in honor of the final Atlantis mission.

    2. @Tim - Nice spot, that is in fact Messier Object #31 (snorts, pushes glasses up bridge of nose).

    3. I notice that you say save the yeast cake...what's the best way to save the yeast cake and use for a future batch?

    4. @Anonymous - the simplest, lo-fi method would be to rack the first beer out of the primary, leaving behind the yeast, trub, and whatnot; then racking or pouring the new, cooled wort directly onto that mixed layer.

      What's generally considered best practice (assuming it can be done in a sanitary manner so as to not contaminate the new wort) is to "wash" the cake to separate the healthy yeast from dead cells, trub, and other non-desirable matter: http://www.donosborn.com/homebrew/yeast_washing_the_wyeast_way.htm

    5. I'm loving how chilled you make the whole session sound Dawson. Sometimes its great just to chill back and do something like this beer as you dont have the time, and Im guessing your exactly like me which means that your thinking about beer and which beer to make next 24/7 even though all the other stupid shit like work and everyday life gets in the way...

      Chapeau to you

    6. @MD - What are the benefits, and drawbacks between the link you posted in your comment above about "washing," and "top-cropping" as you did in the big beer episode? Which method will get me the cleanest, healthiest house culture?

    7. @Thomas - First, let me defer/refer you to this book for a complete and authoritative rundown: http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/brewing-books/brewing-books/brewing-how-to-books/yeast-the-practical-guide-to-beer-fermentation.html

      Having said that, this has been my experience: I wouldn't say one is better than the other - you'd select whichever works best for your equipment, fermentation conditions and the yeast strain being harvested.

      Skimming/top-cropping works great for certain strains (most any British Isles yeasts as well as some designated as such by the lab, eg. Wy3787), not as well for others (eg., lager yeast, very powdery/low flocculating strains). All other things being equal, you're collecting a "clean" pitch of very healthy cells with minimal hop/trub material. It generally requires fermentation in a wide vessel with easy access for skimming (bucket, stockpot, Fermenator). I think it requires acquiring a little sense of timing and judgment ("listening to your yeast") since there's a relatively narrow window of opportunity to actually collect it - not too soon, not too late. I also find it quite fun.

      Washing can be done with pretty much every type or strain of yeast, powdery or lager or ale; it can be done out of a bucket, carboy, rain barrel, etc (it's real easy if you have a conical fermentor). Because you're collecting the sludge from the bottom of the primary, you're getting all of the trub and hop solids along with the cells, but the window for collecting it is more forgiving (whenever fermentation is done and the beer is ready to rack).

      Good luck!