Zeta Fermenting

April 8, 2008

I brewed the Zeta after work on friday. Everything went well for the most part. My roommate and I just built a covered deck out back so now I can brew in the rain, which is a big plus here in Oregon. We have plenty of chairs and even a bar on it, so keeping everything compartmentalised is really easy. This was my first all grain batch, and I was a little nervous my mash tun wouldn’t fit all the grain as it’s only a 22L cooler. Well it was just about perfect for 11 lbs. I could probably fit another 1 or 2 lbs. in there. Awesome. If I want to do anything bigger than, say, 1.065 or so, I’ll just add some DME to the boil.

I hit the mash temp on the nose @62C, but it dropped pretty quickly to 61-61.5C and stayed there for 90 minutes. This thing is going to be a bit thin if it attenuates out even close to 80% or so. Everything else went almost according to plan. I didn’t anticipate my efficiency being so high (~85%), which isn’t necessarily a bad things, but I also over estimated my boil-off rate. So I ended up with 5 gallons of wort in the fermenter @ 1.082, when I had anticipated 1.088. And with two measley hop additions I get kind of paranoid. The northwesterner in me wants to dump more in. But hey this stuff will still knock your socks off.

This is also the first time I made a starter. I’ve had good results with dry yeast so haven’t needed to do anything besides rip open a packet and toss it in, no questions asked. But this being such a unique style I was forced to get liquid yeast, which doesn’t have nearly enough viable cells to eat a whole batch of high gravity wort. I pitched a White Labs Abbey IV (this is Rochefort trappist strain) vial into 1 pint of 1.040 wort and let it ferment. I think I had it at too high of a temp, but got a nice cake out of it, then put it in the fridge after krausening. On brew day I took it out of the fridge and put it on the counter. When the chilled Zeta wort and starter were at the same temp I swirled and pitched the yeast with high hopes of rapid and thorough fermentation. This was at midnight. The next morning at ~8 AM, there were very little signs of fermentation. So I despondantly departed on my northbound train to Seattle. I just got back tonigh and opened my door to the sweet smell of stale runoff. At last rigorous fermentation has been achieved.

The temp was a bit low @ 62F. But I planned on ramping up the temp anyway to keep the fusel alcohols down, so I guess it’s a good thing. I turned the mini space heater on it and am aiming for around 72F. I also gave the fermenter an encouraging jostling. More pics from brew day to come. Hey, I’m lazy.

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