Key Points for Key Pints
Yeast starter. Diacetyl, esters, incomplete fermentation—
the side effects of stressed yeast cells are not metal.
Cold steeping. For this month’s recipe, the 2-row will get mashed by itself, while the Perla Negra will be cold-steeped for 24 hours prior to brew day (this is just like brewing cold press coffee) then strained. The resulting inky liquid is added to the kettle during the last few minutes of the boil. This will create a very intense, chocolate-and-coffee roast malt character and deep color with minimal harshness.
Hopstanding. Most of the hops in this recipe don’t go in until the last 10 minutes of the boil, or until after the boil is shutdown—about 66% of the IBU are from about 85% of the hops, which isn’t exactly a picture of efficient use. Along with bitterness, hopstanding brings a big dose of fragrant hop oils and resin, which would otherwise be lost in the heat and agitation of a rolling boil.
To the Homebrewery
Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.
24 hours prior to brew day:
Make a yeast starter—2 liters of water, 8 ounces DME, a pinch of yeast nutrient; boil, cool, and inoculate with yeast.
Mill the Perla Negra, or have it done for you at the shop (remember to keep it separate from the base malt).
Cold steep the Perla Negra—put the milled grain in the mesh bag and soak it in 2–3 quarts of cold or room-temp brewing water.
On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, your measurements may vary) and heat to about 165°F.
Mill the base malt, or have it done for you at the shop.
Mash & Sparge:
Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 151–153°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.
Bring the wort to a boil and hide your well-worn copy of ABBA Gold in a Skeletonwitch or Entombed album sleeve. Add 0.5 ounce chinook hops when the wort begins to boil, and boil for 60 minutes.
While the wort boils, remove the bag of Perla Negra from the steeping liquid—use a colander to let it drain and collect the liquid. The grain can now be discarded.
Ten minutes before the end of the boil, add 1 ounce each centennial, simcoe, and amarillo hops; also add the reserved cold steeping liquid to the boil kettle at this time.
Perform the hopstand: when the boil is finished, turn off the burner. Add 1 ounce each centennial, simcoe, and amarillo hops. Cover the kettle and let rest for 20 minutes prior to using the wort chiller.
Proceed with cooling the wort.
Fermentation and Beyond
Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast. Aim for fermentation temp of around 65°F. Given a healthy population of yeast cells and adequate oxygen, the wort should be at or near terminal gravity within about 8–10 days.
If you can, cool the finished beer to encourage the yeast to drop and allow another week or two to condition and then package. The hop flavors will only diminish with time, so enjoy this one fresh!
Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.
Like this recipe? You can find it and 63 other witty and detailed homebrew recipes in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” In each recipe, Dawson includes suggestions on how to modify and customize each beer, along with all-new essays on Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water, giving readers critical insight into the building blocks of every successful brew. On sale now for $24.95 at mashmakerbook.com.
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