Hyper Cat Brown Ale (X02)

2010/01/31 at 7:35 pm 3 comments

On my first trip to Brewstock I decided to pick up some supplies to create by first non-kit brew. I knew that I didn’t want to wast my time with another full kit as I was ready to move forward into more in depth brewing methods. I talked to Aaron, the proprietor and all around brewing guru, and he suggested that I try a partial mash extract (PME) recipe as the bridge between the simplistic work of the beginner’s hopped malt kits and the expert world of all-grain brewing. When asked about what kind of beer I was looking to brew I mentioned that I was a fan of Turbodog and would like to make something along those lines. Luckily enough, Aaron just happened to have a clone recipe that he had developed, and after a quick print and a few minutes milling the grain I had all the pieces and parts need to create my first “real” home brew.

Around this time I was also doing a bit more research into the brewing process in order to get some pointers from the home brewing community. I’d stumbled onto one of the more linked articles describing an approach to easy partial mash brewing. In this post the author introduced me to the concept of sparging in order to increase the final brewing efficiency. Although I haven’t yet gotten to the point of wanting to calculate the actual efficiency of my process I figured that modifying the given recipe in order to extract more sugars from the grains. Putting it everything together I came up with the hybrid recipe found above.

So on with the brew day.

Pictured here is most of the ingredients used during the brewing process including the yeast in a nutrient rich “slap pack” and a nylon paint strainer to hold and steep the grains.

While the initial stages of the brewing process are underway the fermenters and yeast contacting equipment are soaked in a weak bleach solution to fully sterilize.

This is the brewing area where most of the magic will happen. Pictured is a standard 5 gallon aluminum cooking pot which is typically used in this area for boiling crawfish. In the back is one 2 gallon stainless steel cooking pot. In front is a non-brewing related batch of bad-ass baked brown rice jambalaya cooling down for refrigerator storage. (Note: Brewing day can be a great time to prepare a nice meal since you’re already in the kitchen)

Also pictured magnetically attached to the useless vent hood is a Polder All in One Timer/Thermometer. I have to say that this instrument made the brewing very easy since I could set an alarm just above the target temperature and walk away and be alerted if the brew got too hot.

Two gallons of water was heated in the main brewing pot to 152 degrees. In addition, heat was applied to the sparge water to begin its trek towards 175 degrees of temperature. (Pictures not shown since photographed water never boils/heats). The yeast slap pack was activated and placed in a warm place to bloom. Next the specialty grains were added to the the steeping bag and the unnecessarily fine ground dust was allowed to collect in the pictured bowl.

The bag of grains was carefully lowered into the main brewing pot and within moments a deep brown color dispersed through the water indicating the first stages of wort creation. For the next 45 minutes the temperature of the wort was held at a steady 152 degrees as best as possible while the contents of the steeping bag was periodically mixed with a standard spatula.

The result was a sweet smelling wort with the target color achieved.

The steeping bag was removed from the brewing pot and the excess liquid drained from the bag. Note that if you are doing this yourself dont hold the bag too high above the liquid level to avoid causing the draining liquid to splash and avoid any level of oxidation.

By this point the sparge water had been raised to the appropriate temperature of 175 degrees. So the bag of grains was transfered to the sparging pot. At this time the temperature on the main brew pot was raised to approximately “Fires of Hell” to move the process towards the boiling stage.

The grain bag was “teabagged” for roughly 10 minutes while the grains were moved around to ensure optimal extraction. As can be seen this step was much more beneficial than expected as further wort extraction continued with a properly colored wort extracted into the sparge pot.

It’s worth noting at this point that I was initially skeptical of the viability of the nylon pain strainer to act as an effective steeping bag and actively seeking a worst-case scenario to fish out the entirely of the grain bill which would no doubt be deposited into the brewing pot upon the inevitable bag failure. However, as can be seen from all previous steps the bag held up very well with no noticeable wear present. After a quick rinsing the bag is ready for use within another brew if this method will be pursued in the future.

After the 10 minutes of sparging was completed the contents of the sparge pot was added to the heating brew pot once again making sure to splash at little as possible to avoid the possibility of oxidation.

Since I was still pretty much new to the process at the time I didn’t think to take a boil gravity reading at this point in order to calculate my extraction efficiency. If you’re following along at home you can apply the following formula to calculate the actual efficiency of the extraction process:

Points(Crystal Malt) = 35/lb
Points(Chocolate Malt) = 30/lb
Points(Viena Malt) = 34/lb
Total Points = (35*0.75lb)+(30*0.5lb)+(34*0.25lb) = 49.75
Estimated PPG = 49.75/4gal = 12.4375
Estimated Boil Gravity = 1+(12.4375/1000) = 1.0124375 ~ 1.012
Efficiency = [Actual Boil Gravity]/1.012

Once the brew came to a boil I added the malt extract and the initial hops for the full boil while making sure the entire brew didn’t boil over or otherwise misbehave. 85 minutes later I added the last two ounces of hops and proceeded to cut the heat after another 5 minutes.

A quick turn around in the kitchen and the brew was placed into an ice bath for cooling. The wort was periodically mixed with the pictured spoon to more evenly cool the mixture. Since I don’t have a wort chiller the ice bath was the best I could accomplish. Unfortunately this meant that the total time to cool the wort to yeast pitching temperature was somewhere in the ballpark of an ungodly 30-35 minutes. However, later results proved that this was not a problem as there was no bacterial infection present in the fermenter or primed bottles.

Here are the fermenting vessels for the brew. Yes, the yeast pack was not fully bloomed by this point, but it wasn’t too bad as activity was undoubtedly present. Note the growler jug which was previously used for the Endless Sail Orange Lager. This time it has been preloaded with around 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder. A ridiculous amount yes, but since I didn’t incorporate it via boiling in the brew pot I figured increasing the amount in the fermenter would make up for this fact. Time will tell if this gamble works well or not.

The brew was added to the primary fermenter and extra water added to bring the total volume up to 5 gallons. Since the temperature still proved to be in the acceptable range I ripped open the yeast pack, added the contents, and shook the vessel like hell to aerate the brew for the yeast. Then, I hooked up the bottling attachment to the primary vessel and filled the growler jug. A quick shake of the growler jug incorporated the powder into the brew and sterilized water was added to airlocks to complete the process.

Now the fermenters are placed in their fermentation location (the floor of the pantry) and activity looks to be good so far. The brews will sit here for two weeks and then bottling!

All in all the process took longer than expected mostly due to the time required to being such large amounts of liquid to a rolling boil on an electric stovetop, but for the most part the process was very straightforward and easy to accomplish in the limited amount of space available in my kitchen. I’d recommend the partial mash method to beginner brewers who want to step up from kit brewing but are not quite comfortable enough to jump into all grain brewing.

Personally, after having completed this step in the evolution of brewing techniques I feel like I’m ready to go ahead and build a lautering attachment for an existing chest cooler and dive head first into all grain brewing. However, that’ll be a story for another time…


Entry filed under: Brew Log. Tags: , , , , , .

Coopers Lager Update Part The Third Hyper Cat Brown Ale Update

3 Comments Add your own

  • […] either wrong, misguided, or blindly unjustified. For one thing, the sparging process used in the Hyper Cat Brown Ale was straight up idiotic. While the temperatures were indeed nearly correct for the different stages […]

  • […] in this recipe. Upon tasting this beer I can say that I was not that far off base. In short, the Hyper Cat Brown Ale turned out bitter as hell. The 85 minute boil time of the 12% AA hops imparted such a high level of […]

  • […] my current worldview of beers the closest brew I can compare this offering to is that of the Hypercat Brown Ale. The main characteristic of this brew is its all-around bitterness: bitterness of the dark malts […]


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