Basic Brewing Radio / Brew Your Own Trub Experiment – Introduction

From time to time James Spencer of Basic Brewing Radio and Chris Colby of Brew Your Own collaborate on a brewing experiment, inviting their readers and listeners to participate by brewing and evaluating beers under (hopefully) controlled conditions.  Recently they announced their latest experiment, design to evaluate the impact of trub in the fermenter.  The experiment calls for the brewer to make a batch of beer and split it into two fermenters, one containing the “first runnings” from the boil kettle and the second containing the second half of the running and all of the trub.  I thought this would be an easy one to help out with, especially since I have really improved my process for making small batches of beer.

So the first chore is deciding what to brew.  It makes sense that if one is trying to identify subtle differences between beers, then those differences should be easier to identify in a lightly flavored beer (versus a big IPA or Belgian style).  This led me to think about stronger beers, and the fact that some stronger beers (and lagers) are better after a period of extended aging.  The BBR?BYO experiment is set up to evaluate initial taste results, but what if the trub materials have a long term flavor impact, perhaps contributing to poor stability or off flavors three or six months down after brewing?  My conclusion: brew two beers, a stronger, darker beer and lighter style and test both both initially and maybe at six months of life.

So back to what to brew?  It needs to be an ale due to time restrictions.  I wanted something fairly dark and strong, but something to be plausibly ready to drink 4 or 5 weeks after fermentation.  Ironically the ‘Old Ale’ struck me as a viable candidate:  original gravity of 1.060 was high but not outrageous, and with a color target of 10 to 22 SRM it would be dark but not black.  I thought the darker color would mitigate any visual impact the trub might impart, and force the evaluator to rely on tasting skills.  An 80 Schilling Scottish ale might have also worked, but since I had never tried to brew and Old Ale I wanted to learn more about the style and take a shot a brewing it.

The flavor description for an old ale calls for luscious malt character.  In: nutty, caramelly, molasses flavors.  Light chocolate and roasted can be there but are subdued.  They can be bitter, but hop aroma and flavor are not even mentioned.

Unfortunately the first suggested ingredient in the BJCP style guidelines was well modified pale malt preferably of English origin.  I am out, so I will substitute a combination of Breiss 2 row and light munich malt.  The guidelines also call for “judicious” amount of crystal and specialty malts.  What exactly does that mean?  It also mentions the use of sugars (treacle, molasses, etc.) and starchy adjuncts (maize, wheat, flaked barley). Since this is not rocket science, this is what I settled on:

Grist (1.39 kg):

  • 50% Breiss Two Row
  • 27% Weyermann Light Munich Malt
  • 7% Crystal 60
  • 4% Special B
  • 9% Flaked Barley
  • 4% Pale Chocolate (210ºL)

The above percentages refer to the grist, which contribute 0.81 kg of fermentables, or 95% of the total.  I also added 40 grams of light brown sugar near the end of boil, which contributes the remainder.

Target OG: 16.0 ºP / 1.065

Calculated SRM: 20

Hops: 20 grams of Northdown, 7.7% AA, at 45 minutes for about 60 IBUs.

Yeast: Windsor Ale dry yeast

In the next post I will discuss the details of the brewing and fermenting.

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