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Hiney The Other

Hiney The Other is my attempt at cloning Russian River’s Pliny the Elder (PTE) Imperial India Pale Ale. PTE is one of my favorite IIPAs, and is also next to impossible to get in my neck of the woods. My first attempt at making Hiney The Other was as what’s called a mini-mash: steeping grains are combined with pre-made malt extract and hops in a single kettle. While it came out pretty good, I really wanted to try it as an all grain brew. It’s a big grain bill at 16lbs of grain and an even bigger hop bill at 17oz of five types of hops, all for a single 5gal batch.

I started off the brewing day by conditioning and milling the grain. Conditioning the grain is done by spraying about 2% by weight water, in this case a little over 5oz, onto the grain and mixing thoroughly. This small amount of water helps soften the grain husks, and helps keep the husks intact for a better lautering bed. I then ran the grain through my Monster Mill MM3, and just about filled my 5G grain bucket with the milled grain.

Next step was to take out two vials of White Labs WLP001 American Ale Yeast from the refrigerator, and place them on the counter to warm up.

Next it was time to move all of the equipment from storage to the back patio: mast/lauter tun (MLT), boil kettle, wort pump, hot liquor tank, burners, propane tanks, scale, immersion chiller, various and sundry hoses and clamps, ingredients, timer, table, water, and my steam infuser.

Next up was setting up my kettle to heat strike water, and my steam infuser. The kettle is a 50qt aluminum kettle That I purchased from Sam’s Club on-line. It’s large enough to boil up to 9gal of wort without worrying about boil-overs, which is just fine for doing 5gal batches of beer. I fitted it with a weldless fitting, a stainless steel 1/2″ ball valve, and a copper dip tube. I filled it with 5gal of Sam’s Club Spring Water, added some ph buffer, and placed it on my burner, and fired it up. The water needed to reach 168 degrees before I could begin brewing.

The next thing to set up was my steam infuser, a 21.5qt All American Pressure Cooker/Canner. I found one practically brand-new on Craigslist for cheap. I added a “T” and a 1/4″ ball valve to the tapped opening for the pressure meter, which I use to run steam at 250 degree steam into my MLT to control mash temperatures. The ball valve connects to a check valve and 3/8″ soft copper steam manifold in the MLT via high temperature silicone hose.

Once everything was up to temperature, it was almost time to get started. First, I made a sacrifice to Ninkasi, Sumerian Goddess of Beer, by opening one of my Dark Side Vanilla Bean Porter homebrews, and drinking it during the course of the brewday. Next, I transferred the hot water from the kettle to my MLT, made sure the water was at the proper temperature, and started adding in the 16lbs of milled grain, stirring as I went to avoid any dough balls. Now it’s time for a check of the temperature of the water/grain mixture, now referred to a the mash, which should be about 152 degrees. Perfect. Time to start the pump.

I use my wort pump to constantly recirculate the water over the grain in the MLT, in order to maintain an even temperature throughout the mash. It also helps to evenly distribute the starches that are slowly being converted into fermentable sugars by the enzymatic action of the grain.

After about an hour, I’ve determined that most, if not all, of the starch that was present in the grain has been converted into fermentable sugars. Time to stop the enzymatic action by raising the temperature of the mash to about 168 degrees, and transfer the wort to the brew kettle. During this time, I’ve also heated up another 5gal of water which Im going to use to extract every bit of sugar possible from the grain. This process is called sparging, and can be done several different ways. The method I’m using today is called batch sparging. Once the first wort, called a running, is transferred to the brew kettle, I add the 5gal of water that I heated up to 168 degrees during the first mash process. I circulate the water through the grain for about 10 minutes, and then transfer the second running to the brew kettle. The grain has absorbed about 2gal of the original 5gal, so the total volume transferred to the brew kettle is about 8gal.

Now it’s time to start boiling the wort, boiling kills any micro-organisms that might otherwise spoil the beer, and also allows me to infuse the wort with the hop flavor that helps make beer taste like beer. Since I’m reducing the 8gal down to a 5gal batch, the boil time will be about 90 minutes.

While I’m waiting for the wort to start boiling, I get my hop additions weighed out. I’m using three hop additions: Warrior and Chinook hops as soon as the wort starts to boil to add hoppy bitterness to the beer, Simcoe hops at 45 minutes for a citrusy/piney flavor, and Nugget hops at 15 minutes for floral flavor. I’ve also taken a small sample of the wort to see if the sugar level is where I expected it to be. I do this using a refractometer, and I’m within two points of my expected value. so far so good.

At the end of the 90 minute boil, known as flameout, I add yet another hop addition, this time for aroma. For this I’m using more Simcoe hops for a citrusy/piney aroma, and Centennial hops for more citrus notes. The reason that these hops are added at flameout is to avoid boiling off the volatile oils that produce the aromas. I allow the wort to sit for about 20 minutes to infuse with the hop oils.

It’s now important to get the wort down to a temperature suitable for the introduction of live yeast as quickly as possible, to avoid the possible introduction of unwanted micro-organisms. To do this, I use an immersion chiller to reduce the wort from its current temperature of about 180 degrees down to about 80 degrees in about 15 minutes. Once the wort is cooled, it’s transferred to the fermenting vessel, called a carboy. The carboy will be the wort’s home for the next two weeks or so. After transferring the wort to the carboy, I took another refractometer reading of the wort. This reading is called the Original Gravity, or OG, and is used to determine the beer’s Alcohol By Volume, or ABV, when fermentation is completed. It’s within a few points of the expected OG, so all is going well.

The next step is the introduction of the player that will convert the sugars in the wort to alcohol, carbon dioxide, and various other compounds called esters that make beer taste like beer. That player is yeast, in this case White Labs WLP001 American Ale Yeast. I oxygenate the work with a shot of pure oxygen through a stone diffuser, add the yeast, and place the carboy in the fermentation chamber, in this case a converted chest freezer.

Now starts the wait…

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