Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cheerful Insanity Progtoberfest

Today, AfroDan Progressive Brewers produced the third batch of our short existence, an Oktoberfest style we're calling Cheerful Insanity Progtoberfest. This one is quite tamer than our prior concoction, 21st Century Schizoid Ale, which my apprentice wants to brew another batch of soon, due to the rave reviews it's received.

We had intended to remain as true to the traditional style as possible, with a few minor adjustments, of course, but a couple factors caused us to have to improvise a little more than expected. First, due to the worldwide hop shortage, we were unable to obtain Perle hops, a German variety, from our local homebrew shop, and instead opted for the closest American equivalent, Sterling, based on a store recommendation. Second, because of our inability to utilize lager yeast at its preferred chilled temperature, we decided to go with a German Ale/Kolsch variety.

I've decided to share the recipe, sans our "secret ingredient", which was my apprentice's idea. For various reasons, though, the jury is still out on this one.

6.6 lbs. Light Malt Extract
1 lb. 2-Row Pale Malt
1 lb. Munich Malt
1 lb. Crystal Malt (40L)
1 oz. Sterling Hops (6% alpha acid), for bittering
1 oz. Hallertau Hops (2.4%), for flavoring
1 oz. Hallertau hops (2.4%), for aroma
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss
German Ale/Kolsch Yeast

To produce a 5-gallon batch, we heated 1 1/2 gallons of water in the brewpot, then steeped the grains (2-Row, Munich and Crystal malts) at 160-170 degrees for 20 minutes. After removing and discarding the grains, we brought the pot to a boil, then added the malt extract, and returned it to a boil.

We boiled the wort for 60 minutes, adding the Sterling (bittering) hops for the entire boil, the Hallertau (flavoring) hops for 30 minutes, and the Hallertau (aroma) hops, the Irish Moss and the secret ingredient for 15 minutes.

After cooling the wort to about 160 degrees, we strained it into the fermenter, and added close to 4 gallons of Poland Spring Water, just enough to bring the batch to 5 gallons total. We then took an original gravity reading, pitched the yeast, stirred gently and sealed the fermenter.

We were disappointed that the original gravity reading was only 1.044, giving our brew a projected alcohol content of 4.2%, quite lower than we expected. I'm not sure why, considering the recipe was projected to reach a 1.065 O.G. and 7% ABV. Regardless, we're optimistically awaiting fermentation to begin, and fairly confident that we've produced another batch of fine ale, albeit one that may not be quite as deserving of its name as our 21st Century Schizoid Ale.