Won't do that again...

...until I do it again.  ;-)

The only relevant picture from the weekend.
This weekend was gorgeous, fun, busy and my son and I had the place to ourselves for most of the weekend.  Just how busy was it? So much so, that I managed to get through my entire brew session without taking a single photo of the brew in process. Crazy, right?  It didn't help that I had my handy helper to chase/entertain, but it was still fun and it wore the little dude out, so a win in the end!

The brew this weekend was a smoked porter. But, I had this crazy idea that I could brew the big batch of porter and then do parti-gyle batch and use the second runnings for a session-ish batch. But, the big batch was 4-ish gallons. My parti-gyle batch would be 1 gallon.  Really, I was just winging it. Seeing what would happen.  I've never done this before and was curious how it would all play out.

To save you a google search, the usual procedure behind a parti-gyle batch involves doing an Imperial (high abv) batch first, then using the second runnings to create a more normal abv beer, possibly even down in session beer territory (4%ish).  I wasn't doing an imperial smoked porter, so I figured knocking the second batch size down would help to concentrate things. It didn't quite work out that way in the end, but it was an interesting experiment.  ..but this is getting ahead of myself.

As far as the primary batch goes, I tried something that I won't do again. I used the volume markers in my cooler to measure out my strike water. Seemed like a good idea until my son and I dumped the grains in.  Instead of a good, thick consistency, it was soup.  This usually equates to poor efficiency for me.  But, we soldiered on, lowered the amount of sparge water, and called it good.  Somehow, during the process of it all, I ended up boiling off a little more than needed. I was probably running the flame a little stronger than usual. So the wort ended up a little short and strong. I was shooting for 4.25 gallons of 1.060 and ended up with 3.75 gallons of 1.068. Nothing wrong with that, ultimately!

The second beer was a bit of a challenge. Having to free up equipment (chill the first batch, get it into the carboy, clean up enough to re-use) was something I didn't really think through, so it ended up taking about 20 minutes longer to get going than I anticipated. And, the whole thinking of the smaller batch size eeking out a good amount of sugars didn't really pan out, so I ended up adding a bunch of coconut sugar - this batch is experimental anyway! What will it be? Well, the gravity finished out at 1.046, there was a vanilla bean added, and it was hopped pretty heavy handed with Mt. Hood, Fuggle, and Golding hops. Yeast? The harvested yeast from my belgian pale...and it took off!  The airlock was dancing in under 3 hours.  It might be a slightly smoky belgian brown ale. It might be a vanilla porter. Ultimately, I think this was a good experiment and only time will tell if it was really worth the effort...because, frankly, it made for a VERY long brew day and I'm lucky my boy made it through as much as he did.  If I do do this again, I think I would prefer to follow the standard parti-gyle routine of doing an Imperial first and something more standard second.

To cap the weekend off, I even bottled the belgian pale. This one ended up stronger than expected as well. This time, it was more due to a higher efficiency than expected and a lower final gravity: 6.7%. If it ends up a bit sweet, I may knock it down a bit for the next round...if I like it.  The little bit I tried was promising, but I always reserve final judgement until it's fully carbonated as that changes it a bit for me.

The brewing activities will be a bit quiet for a while now. With the 2 batches made this weekend, I'll have more beer than bottles!  I'll have to do some bottle emptying in order to accommodate these last two batches.  I know - it's a tough position to be in.  I have to drink my beer.  ;-)  There are certainly worse things in life.  Thankfully, I have a couple of neighbors and co-workers that are willing to pitch in as well.  The Questionable Shortcut black IPA has been a hit, and the heat is on in the NW so the Kiwi Hef has been a nice one, too. I'd like to take another run at the imperial ipa soon and with the porter's yeast being a more conventional american strain, I can harvest that for use in the imperial.  ...another way of saying the jury is still out on that belgian yeast.

Clearly, I could go on and on. Anyone getting this far down the page deserves a prize....or a beer.   ...but only if you return the bottle.  ;-)