We used the recipe for Extra Strong Bitter from John Palmer’s recipe book: Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew. I’m Not Bitter, I’m Thirsty recipe, pg. 119.
We use an 8-gallon capacity boil kettle and the Bayou Classic burner. We get the majority of our supplies from Brewstock at 3800 Dryades St, New Orleans (http://www.brewstock.com/). They have a wide selection and are very helpful if you have any questions or need to make substitutions. They can also mill your grain.
To start, fill the boil kettle with about 5.37 gallons of what will be your strike water and bring it to about 151°. Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water on the stove and pour that into your mash ton. This is to warm up the mash ton so your strike water doesn’t cool too quickly.
When the boil kettle reaches 140°, dump out the water from the mash ton and add in your grain. We had 10.75 lbs of grain.
When the strike water reaches between 151-155°, use a pitcher to add the water to your grain (pour down the sides of the mash ton rather than directly down the middle of your grain and creating a tunnel). After a few pours, use a hose to transfer the rest of your strike water to the. Be careful not to aerate the grain/mash. Stir and cover the mash with a lid.
Stir the mash and take the temperature every 15-20 minutes for an hour.
Before the hour is up, fill the boil kettle with 3.5 gallons of water (for sparging) and bring it to 165-175°. Transfer the sparge water to another vessel (preferably insulated to retain the heat). We used our bottling bucket and had an issue with keeping the water up to 165°. We added boiling water from our kettle, but it didn’t help to keep the temperature up. Next time we’d bring the sparge water up to the top end 175°, or maybe even a bit more, before transferring to the bottling bucket. Ideally, we’ll have another insulated vessel before we do our next batch. An insulated vessel, such as another cooler, shouldn’t have a problem keeping the sparge water at the correct temperature until you are ready to sparge.
When the hour is up on the mash, pour a few quarters out of the mash into your pitcher until it begins to run “clear” (meaning that bits of grain are not coming through). This should take about 6 quarters total and is called recirculation. Dump each pitcher back into the mash. Then use a hose to drain the mash into the boil kettle.
Dump the sparge water into the mash ton and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Recirculate the mash again until it runs clear, then transfer to the boil kettle. Stop transferring if you get to 7 gallons.
Now you will continue brewing as you would with an extract recipe. Bring your boil kettle to boil and then proceed with your hop additions and Irish Moss between 30-15 mins left in the boil.
This recipe calls for an hour-long boil. When the boil is finished, cool the kettle as rapidly as you can to 75°. We use an ice bath in the sink.
We used about 27 lbs of ice and, as you can see, it melted pretty rapidly. We’ve previously done boils for 5 gallon batches and haven’t had trouble cooling the wort, but this one made us a bit worried. We were able to get the wort cooled in time, but next time we’ll definitely get more ice (ice, baby).
Once the wort has cooled, you are ready to transfer to your fermenter and add yeast. Make sure to siphon some of your beer out to get a hydrometer reading. Here we are using our new Big Mouth Bubbler for the first time.
Add your yeast and move the fermenter to a dark, cool place. We let our beers ferment for three weeks before transferring to bottles.
We started our brew day at about 11:45 am and finished up just after 5 pm. It was a long day, but very fun and we chose a beautiful weekend.