Friday, January 25, 2013

Twenty13 – EisGersteWein (Ice Barley Wine) – Part 1

          Last year I finally brewed a beer that broke the 1.100 mark. When it finished fermenting, it was my highest alcohol beer yet clocking in at 11.24% ABV. Then I heard all the buzz about Armageddon from BrewMeister (joke of a name!!) which clocks in at a whopping 65% abv. Damn buzz killers!  Envy set in quickly. For those who don’t already know, Armageddon is “freeze distilled” which removes water from the beer in the form of ice and leaves the residual malt sugars, hops and alcohol concentrated. It got me thinking about the time I was cold conditioning a bitter and accidentally froze it. The one gallon I got from the carboy was around 22% abv. !!

          I thought it would be great to do it right this time aiming to break the 20% abv mark. Most commercial breweries try to extrace 5 to 10% of the water as Ice, but BrewMeister must be extracting about 75%+ to achieve their 65% abv in Armageddon , so I decided to aim pretty high and try to match them with 68% of the water being extracted. It's not as hard as what they do to achieve a 130 proof beer, but it would be a good achievement if I could do it. I started with my Fullers London Pride clone recipe, then I increased all the malts by 60% and cut the hops by one third so the concentrated beer wouldn't be too bitter. Once the beer is frozen and concentrated, I hope the hop profile will measure around 75 IBU so the beer would still be balanced and drinkable.

          On brew day it was only 46 degrees outside. That’s pretty chilly for Orange County, CA.  I mashed at 151, but the day was so cold it dropped to 144 in no time even though the mash tun had a sleeping bag wrapped around it for insulation. Once I got it back up to 151 the conversion completed right away. In the boil I used First Wort Hopping to try and lock in a good amount of hop flavor too. I ended up with 9 gallons with an O.G of 1.065, but the effective OG is around 1.210 because of my plan to freeze the finished beer.
The English Ale (WLP002) yeast did an average job of fermenting the beer down to around 1.016 even though I wanted it to end up at 1.010. WLP002 is a VERY floccuative strain, and the cold-snap we had put it to sleep before I could really push the yeast.

(The twins)

          It looks like I’ll get about 2.75 gallons of beer at 20% abv, 75 IBU with an effective FG of 1.052. This should be a very rich winter warmer if I’ve ever heard of one! Most strong Barley Wines have a little less than half the alcohol and half the FG, but my IBU’s are right in line with the most American Barley Wines.

          Last night I used my Marks Keg Washer for the first time to clean up two kegs. After siphoning the beer into both, I ended up leaving 2 to 3 quarts of headspace. I’ll need this because the water in the beer will expand as it freezes. I hope to get the same chunky ice crystals I had in my accidentally frozen bitter. 

          My chest freezer was set to 20 degrees the day before the kegs were put inside. The kegs were put in the corner to maximize the cooling effect.

          After one day the beer was already a slushy at 23 degrees. According to laws of chemistry I will need to drop the beer to 18 degrees F in order to concentrate the beer to 20% abv. I turned the freezer down 10 degrees and gave each keg a swirl to get more ice to float up and liquid to separate downward.
(Beer Slushy anyone?!?!)

Geek Alert!

In order to figure out how much alcohol you want left in a liquid state you need to calculate how low of a temp the beer needs to reach.

Formula to calculate temp C needed for target ABV is:

=(((Target ABV/1.25)*1000)/46.06844)/(1-(Target ABV/1.25))*1.86*( -1)
Convert the Target ABV% to its decimal equivalent for the above formula.

Some results from this formula tell us how far down we need to drive the temp on our finished beer so the extracted EisBier has the alcohol level we desire.

10% abv   - 3.5 C  or    25.68 F
20% abv    -7.7 C  or    18.16 F
30% abv  -12.7 C  or      9.15 F
40% abv  -18.9 C  or    -2.20 F
50% abv  -26.9 C  or  -48.45 F

Please note that a tiny bit of the alcohol and the hops will be caught up in the frozen water, but the vast majority will make it into the beer you extract.

In the next installment we’ll discuss Spunding Valves….they’re not as kinky as they sound, but they can be very useful when you need to relieve some pressure or used to naturally carbonate when your beer is sitting in secondary in a corny keg.

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