Say hello to Cole everyone. Cole represents yet another step in my evolution as a brewer. Iggy (my blue Igloo cube mash-cooler) has serviced me well…but if I’m serious about really refining my recipes, I subsequently need to refine my brewing process. I’m not naïve; I know that there are always (and will always be) steps that can and need to be taken to improve one’s brewing – in this case, it’s an upgrade in capacity and the overall sophistication of my equipment.
Why? Have my beers sucked or something? No, at least I don’t think so, but here’s the thing: With the increasing popularity of the GrassHoppers Review Club I will need to be increasing the overall capacity of my current system. With several iterations of Le Roi Rouge Imperial Red (and others) planned in the coming weeks and months, I need to be getting in the habit of brewing 10 gallons at a time (for yeast experimentation). When you mash, a good rule of thumb is to employ a ratio of 1.25 to 1.5 quarts of water to pound of grain. This presents a problem some of the time. The most Iggy could mash was around 20-22 pounds of grain; and that was pushing it. What happens when I want to do a 10-gallon batch of LRR or Ethereal Earth Belgian Strong – where each has at least a 15lb grainbill for a 5-gallon finished product? I’ve already told you guys that GrassLands, even though we’re not in official operation yet, will never sacrifice quality.
Iggy (pictured in action below) is a 48 quart (12-gallon) cooler that has a stainless steel braid as a grain filter. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Iggy, who valiantly stepped up to the plate to be transformed from a cooler to a mash tun when I made the jump from being an extract brewer to an all-grain brewer. He’s done a great job and I expect we’ll still be friends in the future (for experimental 5-gallon batches here & there). But times, they be a changing. (Or as Roland Deschain might say: "Ka is a wheel...") Perhaps we’ll find a way to nostalgically honor Iggy whenever GrassLands is finally in operation. That should be fun :)
Now Cole, on the other hand, is a freakin' monster of a cooler at 70 quarts (17.5 gallons) and will be boasting a much more complex filtration system (a slotted/channeled CPVC manifold) in hopes to increase efficiency (the ability to extract as much sugary wort from the mashed grains). Iggy averaged around 75-78% efficiency with a simple SS braid (not too shabby). I’m hoping Cole will help significantly boost that average. I have no reason to think he won’t. He promised he would, anyways. Cole will allow me to comfortably brew all of my recipes at a 10-gallon capacity. No sweat. The only issue he might run into is maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the mash, which lasts anywhere between 45 and 75 minutes. But I'm sure I can handle that in a pinch.
Anyways, Cole’s first task: refining GrassLands’ eventual flagship beers. What are flagship beers? Pretty much what they sound like: a brewery’s select beer (or beers) that will be produced more often than others - like seasonals or limited releases – primarily because people just like the flagship(s) more. Sierra Nevada’s famous Pale Ale and New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber are great examples of flagship beers.
Realistically speaking, I believe hope GrassLands will have one or two flagships. All this recent emphasis on Le Roi Rouge Imperial Red is due to the fact that I want LRR to be one of my high gravity flagship beers. The other, Daisy Pusher Pale, will also be heavily refined in the coming months. A third is up in the air at the moment, but we’ll discuss that one (probably ad-nauseum) in the future. I’m eager to get feedback from the GrassHoppers, and hopefully they’ll enjoy all the beer I’ll be providing for them in the coming months!
So expect to see Cole in action a BUNCH; and perhaps we’ll see him and Iggy team up from time to time for when I’m feeling a tad masochistic and decide to endure the pain of a 15- or 20-gallon brewday. Those, however, will most likely be few and far between - though I probably should get used to the experience of brewing more beer for a longer period of time. :)
Okay, so what else is new? Couple things. GrassLands and Broken Cog will be officially judging at CASK’s First Coast Cup in Actionville, FL next weekend! GLB has a couple of brews entered, as you well know, but I won’t be judging in those categories. I can’t wait for it! Stoked! NFBL Summer Party is tomorrow, so we'll be having a blasty with a TON of different beer, featuring GrassLands' "Hylidae Imperial IPA." Stoked!
That’s it for now…anticipating another double-post (Wednesday & Friday) next week. Have a good weekend, dear readers; you deserve it.