I designed the recipe as an extract recipe so any brewer could brew it. My last brew day was Pinch Hit Belgian Pale Ale so it was nice to have an easier brew day for a change. I steeped the flaked grains with a little 2-row in a 3 gallon stock pot. I let the grains steep for a little longer than 30 minutes as I fiddled with the recipe on BeerSmith.
I recently purchased Brewing Classic Styles. It really is a must-read. The book has award winning extract recipes and for every BJCP style. In Chapter 3: Brewing With Extract, co-author John Palmer goes into great detail in how to brew with extract and still get the same hop utilization as all-grain brewing. If all the extract is added at the beginning, the wort will be overly thick reducing the hop utilization. Evidently BeerSmith accounts for this, because when I adjusted the recipe the International Bitterness Units (IBUs) almost doubled. I tweaked my hop volumes to adjust the IBUs on the fly.
I put the first wort hop addition in the bottom of my five gallon kettle and used a wire strainer to separate my steeping grains. From there I brought my wort to a boil, shut off the burner, added the dry extract, and topped off with water until the total volume was three gallons.
The brewing was easy, but my clutter in the brew house is becoming a challenge. I had to bottle two separate batches just to make room for my fermenting bucket. I have so much beer that it is a challenge to organize. Sadly I have a lot of old beer that came out ok when it was brewed, but certainly hasn’t improved sitting in warm temperatures for months on end. I need to dump a fair bit before I end up on Hoarders. That is why I have made it a point to get into small-batch brewing.
Among other things, Noah emphasized to the importance of pitching a lot of yeast. Since I didn’t brew a session starter batch I could safely harvest yeast from and re-pitch, I had to make a yeast starter. Essentially that entails creating a low-gravity wort with malt extract that will not stress the yeast, pitching the package of yeast, and letting it ferment so the cell count will start to multiply. With the alcohol level and amount of hops, I wouldn’t want to reuse yeast from The Sustenance, so I used a similar approach to this article and made an extra large starter so I would have extra yeast for upcoming batches. I have two other IPAs in the pipeline I will want to use the yeast for. Chico is so versatile I can use it I’m almost anything.
With a yeast starter you can put the starter in the refrigerator after a day so the yeast in suspension will “cold crash” and condense at the bottom of the vessel. From there you can decant most of the starter wort before pitching. The other option is to pitch the entire starter, wort and all. I didn’t have time to cold crash. Since my starter used the same extract as I used in the beer, I wasn’t worried about the starter wort effecting the flavor.
Noah told me that the starting gravity of the Substance is 1.059 and final gravity is 1.009. That is an exceptionally high attenuation of 84%. He said to let it ferment in the mid 60s for a few days before letting it increase to the low 70s thereafter. The cool initial temperature will make the yeast ferment cleaner than at a higher temperature accentuating the hop flavor. BeerSmith estimates the beer will finish at 1.013; raising the temperature will give the yeast a push to keep fermenting that last bit of fermentable sugar in the wort.
My plan to do that was predictably low budget. I used a swamp cooler and frozen water bottles to keep the temperature where it needed to be. After three days I removed the bucket. The ambient temperature is around 70 degrees at the moment. The yeast should still generate some additional heat. As a hedge I added the yeast nutrient to the recipe to help ensure a healthy fermentation. If fermentation stops short of a 1.009 or 1.010 final gravity, I will add yeast energizer to try and get the dry finish the beer should have.
After 2-3 weeks, depending on when I have time I will rack the beer to a carboy for a secondary fermentation. I’ll dry hop three to four days after racking, and bottle ten days after that. Even though it is largely not my recipe, I sill might enter this into a competition. The recipe is obviously proven, so unless the beer is infected it should receive at least a decent score. If the beer receives a high score or even places in the always competitive IPA category, it means the lessons I applied in this beer and things I knew but have been lax about in the past like water chemistry, temperature control, yeast pitching rates, Palmer’s extract brewing instructions truly made a difference.