We’re back. After a three month hiatus mostly because of a lack of time to write, we’re back with a new entry. Good news is that, although we haven’t published anything, we’ve been active with some brewing days and some experiments, so we have some entries waiting to be published in a more regular way.
For today’s entry, we are going to describe the brewing day for our first smash beer, in other words, a single malt and a single hop beer. Besides, this beer will allow us to introduce to you, for those who don’t know, a couple of admirable pioneering projects, Lupulina hops and Grannaria malt.
Lupulina is a project commanded by Jordi Sánchez, it started officially in 2014 and it is dedicated to growing hops in the province of Girona (Catalonia). As they say it is an ecological hop farm of local production, “craft hop for craft beer”. In spite of its relatively small size, they’ve increased their offer of hop varieties which you can check in their website. All the process, from cultivation to selling hops, is managed by them, following steps that allow them to keep a great freshness in their hops.
Jordi, a regular collaborator to the ACCE (Spanish Homebrewers Association), gave several seminars in the last Congress held in Burgos in March this year, when I met the other protagonists of our smash beer, Grannaria malt. This project was created by two brothers who were previously homebrewers. Its beginnings were more or less at the same dates as Lupulina, in 2014, and since then they are dedicated to malting in their small facilities in Las Grañeras, in the province of León. They also imparted a seminar in Burgos, which I attended to, and that it is somewhat the reason for this entry, since they were kind enough to bring several bags of malt to raffle among the people who were present there and I was one of the lucky attendants who won one of those bags.
So, with 2.5 Kg (5.51 lbs) of Pilsen malt and 100 g (3.53 oz) of Cascade hops from Lupulina (2016 harvest) that we had in the freezer we started planning the brewday. Evidently, in this case we didn’t have to think too much about the ingredients or the process for this beer. Apart from yeast, the only thing we had to decide was how to divide the total amount of hops in the different additions during boil and/or dry hopping. Since we wanted the malt and the hops to shine, we chose US-05 from Safale as the yeast for this beer, since it is known for being a clean yeast. The ingredients and the process for this beer were as follow:
Smash L&G (Lupulina and Grannaria)
2.50 Kg (5.51 lbs) Pilsen malt from Grannaria (León) (3.9 EBC)
20.00 g (0.71 oz) Cascade (5.78% AA) from Lupulina (Girona) (boil 60 minutes, 27.7 IBUs)
40.00 g (1.41 oz) Cascade (5.78% AA) from Lupulina (Girona) (whirpool 10 minutes, 10.0 IBUs)
40.00 g (1.41 oz) Cascade (5.78% AA) from Lupulina (Girona) (dry hop 5 days after 6 days of fermentation)
Volume: 10.5 L (2.77 gallons) OG: 1.048 FG: 1.010 ABV: 4.9% IBUs: 37.7 Color: 7.2 EBC BU/GU: 0.783 Eficciency: 65.00%
67ºC (152.6ºF) for 75 minutes
After milling grains and sanitizing our equipment, we added 18.25 liters (4.82 gallons) of water to our 37.5 liters (10 gallons) kettle and we heated it until it reached 70.6ºC (159.1ºF), for a mash in temperature of about 67ºC (152.6ºF) once the grains were added. We stirred for a few minutes to stabilize temperature around the value we were looking for. Everything ok… no wait, something is wrong… Oh my God! We forgot to put our mash bag! After a few seconds of panicking, we realized there was no turning back, so we tried to solve it the best we could to avoid a catastrophic brewday. We decided to transfer all the mash, grains included, to a smaller kettle and a thermos cooler, with the mash bag in the latter. We cleaned our big kettle as thoroughly as we could, trying to pick all the rests from the grains as soon as possible. Once the kettle was reasonably clean, we transfer the mash once again to the kettle, this time with the bag. Fortunately, it was just a scare.
After 75 minutes, we mashed out at 76ºC-78ºC (168.8ºF-172.4ºF) and, after removing grains we boiled the wort for 60 minutes, adding hops as shown in the recipe, 20 g (0.71 oz) boiled for 60 minutes and 40 g (1.41 oz) at flame out. By the way, when we opened the bag of hops, the appearance and aroma were amazing, no doubt these had been the freshest hops we had ever had. When the boil was finished, we cooled the wort as soon as possible with our copper immersion chiller and pitched yeast at 19ºC (66.2ºF). This was going to be the fermentation temperature for this beer, so we set our fridge a couple of degrees Celsius below that temperature in order for the beer to be at 19ºC (66.2ºF), at least for the first days of fermentation. The original gravity was 1.043, a little bit lower than the theoretical value, 1.048. 24 hours after pitching, the first signs of fermentation were visible, with the airlock bubbling and a thin layer of krausen forming on the surface. The following days fermentation was at full speed and six days after pitching we added 40 g (1.41 oz) of Cascade hops for dry hopping.
In the above picture you can check the evolution of the beer each of the six first days of fermentation, proof that US-05 is a hell of a yeast strain. On day six, we added hop cones for dry hopping, leaving them in the surface, without anything to sink them in the demijohn. Maybe this way dry hopping is not so efficient, but anyway, we left it like that. Five days later, eleven since brewday, we transfer to secondary, purging the receiving demijohn with CO2 to avoid oxygen exposure as much as possible.
We took a sample to see how the beer was at this point. A very fresh Cascade aroma, a firm bitterness and a balanced flavor with some room for the malt. The gravity was 1.015, so we left it in the fridge for a few more days, with the temperature of the fridge set at 20ºC to try to encourage the yeast to ferment the sugars that may still be present. Four days later, the final gravity was 1.014 and we prepared everything for bottling. We ended with approximately 8.5 liters (2.25 gallons) of beer, enough for 25 bottles of 33 cL (12 oz). We added table sugar for carbonation targeting 2.4-2.5 volumes of CO2. We left the bottles at room temperature away from light for at least a couple of weeks. In a future entry we will tell you how our fist smash beer ended.
(UPDATE: You can check how this beer turned out here)
*This post was first published in Spanish on 21 June, 2017