Opshaug Pale

Ref 2021-06 Opshaug Pale Brewer Pain & Patience
Style American Pale Ale Type Beer, all-grain
Started Tue 8th Jun 21 OG 1.056 Status Available, 6.0% ABV
Packaged Thu 24th Jun 21 FG 1.010 Fermenter Fermzilla 15 PSI
Handle 2021-06 Opshaug Pale
Brewer Pain & Patience
Style American Pale Ale
Type Beer, all-grain
Fermenter Fermzilla
Status Available, 6.0% ABV ABV
Started Tue 8th Jun 21 OG 1.056
Packaged Thu 24th Jun 21 FG 1.010

Another random beer clobbered together from bits of inventory, using some more of my top-cropped Kveik. Tracking Brewfather.

Jun 202124Thu

Keg Business as Normal

Standard story here with no drama; began as a closed loop pressure transfer at around 5 PSI (had dropped from 15 to 5 during cold-crashing) and filling a 19 litre Cornelius keg via floating dip tube to liquid-out post. After a while I grew bored with the trickle of beer from one vessel to the other so I junked the gas line and rigged the Fermzilla straight to my CO2 cylinder while popping the PRV on the keg now and then.

Bottling Carbonated Beer

There seemed to be between 23 and 24 litres in the Fermzilla, so having filled a 19 litre Corny keg I decided to try something I’ve been thinking about over the past couple of weeks: getting the remains into some bottles without making an almighty mess. Turns out that it’s not too hard at all, provided you have some threaded PET plastic bottles and a spare carbonation cap. Simply pop the liquid disconnect off the Corny keg once its full, and whack it onto a carbonation cap fitted to a plastic bottle. Originally I wanted to use the plastic T-piece on my bottles because that would allow me to have dedicated liquid and gas posts – just like a keg – but I was down to my last carbonation cap and therefore had to use it for liquid, venting out gas to keep the flow going by unscrewing the cap a few turns.

It worked pretty well, and although I pre-ressurised my first bottle so as to match the keg and minimise foaming via the dip tube on the bottom of the cap, by my second bottle I’d forgotten to do this and it didn’t seem to make any tangible difference. In the end I filled two and a half 1 litre bottles with practically no mess, unlike those tap-mounted counter pressure fillers you see now and then. The only downside is that when removing the carbonation cap after filling a bottle it effectively vents the headspace to atmosphere before the plastic cap is fitted, which may affect carbonation, and the exposure to oxygen may lead to oxidation too. Don’t care – with no way to carbonate these plastic bottles any further I’ll just have to drink them fresh while the keg matures, which is something I can live with.

Closing Thoughts / Wisdom

  • The distribution of finishing hops this time around has been much better than during Twisty Listy. I don’t know if this is due to me being a bit more violent when releasing the butterfly valve during dry-hopping and having everything slosh around, or if it’s a consequence of using Kveik yeast which led to a resurgence of ‘boiling’ fermentation once the finishing hops were added 9 days ago. I do know that the presence of hops is very prevalent on the palate and in the nose, something I’m very pleased about, especially with just 50g added. No worries here at all.
  • Since I had carbonation caps fitted to the collection jar from purging the finishing hops, I thought I could cheat the floating dip-tube and collect some more beer by moving my Bouncer filter to the lower post. This turned out not to be the case, because despite the trub being lower that the post initially, as I drew liquid down I also caused some of the hops that had settled on the Fermzilla’s sides to slide down, which led to the carbonation caps becoming blocked. I ended up putting my line back on the floating dip-tube to finish off.
  • The Tilt Pro continues to perform admirably, surviving pressure changes as well as cold-crashing. In fact the only sign of moisture inside is when I stupidly took it out of the chilled trub and washed it in warm water, causing some condensation to form in the top. Still, nothing on the batteries and circuit board, so I’m leaving it sealed.

2 days
Jun 202122Tue

I was supposed to start chilling this in order to clear out any suspended cloudiness three days ago on the 19th June, but Tilt’s progress graph still showed decreasing gravity by that point so I left her alone for a couple of days longer. With the curve now beginning to level out it’s time to drop the temperature. I’ll measure FG when I put it in the keg in a few days time, should be pushing nearly 7% ABV!

2 days
Jun 202120Sun

Both the Opshaug Pale and Bure Gold that I’m brewing with my resident Opshaug Kveik are still fermenting when they should have finished out a couple of days ago, though to be fair the trend graphs provided by Tilt Pro are now beginning to flatten out a little so I’m looking forward to getting both of these put away in the coming week.

I don’t pay attention to the absolute values reported by Tilt, but I think it’s safe to say that both of these brews are going to be way stronger than they’re supposed to be; Bure Gold should be around 4.3% (previous efforts were 4.3 and 4.2%) and Tilt thinks we’re nearer 4.6% right now, Opshaug Pale was aiming for 5.3% in the recipe (5.9% adjusted for actuals) and I’m presently in the neighbourhood of 6.7%.

The only negative aspect of this continued fermentation is that my finishing hops will have had their contribution diminished a little due to the production and venting of CO2, but there’s nothing I can do about that now other than record what’s happened and adjust subsequent brews using this yeast accordingly.

#wisdom: I’m not sure if it’s a trait of WLP518 or the way I’ve harvested / re-used it, but my Opshaug Kveik has not started as furiously as expected, and taken much longer to ferment. If the Opshaug Pale turns out well then let’s repeat it, but dry-hop much later.

5 days
Jun 202115Tue

Added 25g each of Falconers Flight and Mosaic via the bottom jar method after lowering the pressure from 15 to 5 PSI and closing the butterfly valve. No real drama here, just a bit fiddly / messy trying to catch all the drips and undo the jar with the strap wrench.

Hops were added to the sanitised jar as well as two small tubes on the inside to direct the CO2 that was used to purge the jar of oxygen via the side-posts once it was refitted. I tried to open the valve as quickly as possible so that the hops would be distributed throughout the brew, and although they did go for a vigorous swim they soon settled back in the bottom of the jar. I’m not happy with this method as I’m sure it’s not giving me the hop utilisation that I could get via another method. Need to experiment at some point.

Pressure is set for 15 PSI again, though to be fair, blasting in the hops took it to just under 10 PSI as some of the carbonation was released. Temperature going up a notch too, now set at 28℃.

The fermentation graph in Brewfather has been decreasing at a steady rate these past few days instead of tailing off, which is interesting. I wonder what’ll happen for the remaining three days?

Opshaug Pale, 7 days into Primary
5 days
Jun 202110Thu

It’s just under 24 hours since fermentation started properly (approx. 36 hours after pitching) and we’re halfway towards FG, which means the yeast is at its healthiest point and ripe for harvesting. I used a glass jar and small ladle, both sanitised using boiling water. Pressure was reduced gradually over the space of about 15 minutes, and although the top of the Krausen had receded slightly from its high-tide mark on the bottom of the lid, when the pressure started dropping it reared up again and a small amount was ejected into the waiting blow-off bottle. This may not have been needed if it wasn’t for the top-cropping, but having it doesn’t hurt. Removing the Fermzilla’s top cap was predictably messy and I ended up washing it and the blow-off tube before sanitising and refitting afterwards.

#wisdom: don’t bother fitting the floating dip-tube to the lid if planning to harvest yeast, as it’s just in the way and one more thing that needs cleaning. Instead fit it when replacing the lid after top-cropping.

#wisdom: using a bigger mason jar for the yeast is recommended, since it’s really just foam at this point and compacts down to nothing when it’s chilled.

1 day
Jun 202109Wed

As per my previous experience with Opshaug, nothing happened when I first pitched last night after dropping the temperature down to an acceptable level, and nothing continued to happen for around 12 hours.

Wednesday, 09:22 (P+12)

This morning I finally saw some signs of life; a slight movement on the spunding valve gauge, some bubbles on the side of the Tilt, and some gunk floating on the surface. I’m not sure if this is part of the hot break / other protein deposits or if it’s some of the yeast resurfacing from its sugary slumber, but there are some clear areas on the lower slopes of the Fermzilla now.

Looks like we’re off!!

Wednesday, 11:22 (P+15)

Things are really going now, with foam islands linking up and growing almost as I watch. Pressure climbed to 8 PSI in 3 hours just now and I’m dialling it back down to 5 now that I’ve got enough feedback on the spunding valve. I’m also increasing temperature to 27℃ since most sources suggest Opshaug is happy between 25 and 35℃. Can’t wait to see what this looks like by late afternoon.

Wednesday, 17:22 (P+21)

Houston, we have liftoff. Even from outside the ferment fridge I can hear the spunding valve, sounding like a punctured tyre. The pressure has crept up again to just over 8 PSI and again I’m knocking it back down slightly because I want to top-crop some yeast when she reaches 50% attenuation. Reducing it wholesale at that point will probably stress the yeast and my Tilt as well, so it’s a question of keeping an eye on it and reducing gently, ideally stopping around 5 PSI, though now I’m slightly concerned that the increase in temperature and relatively low fermentation pressure will result in Krausen breaching the vessel and getting into my spunding valve, so I may inline a spare 5 litre keg for safety. Hell, at this rate I might just use the gas being produced to prep some kegs by filling them with sanitiser and then driving it out, rather than doing it later with cylinder gas.

Spunding Valve on Opshaug Pale, 21 hours after pitching

Wednesday, 22:22 (P+26)

One day and one hour after pitching unleashing this monster I’ve had to fit a two litre blow-off tank in the name of safety, lest we should wake up and discover that Opshaug Kveik has consumed not just my spunding valve, but our entire world. The beige, foamy mass is mere millimetres away from conquering the recently provided 2 litre bottle and shows no sign of slowing down. Attenuation sits at 31% so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to harvest nearer 50% at some point in the morning, unless this thing kills us during the night. Sweet dreams!

1 day
Jun 202108Tue

After my recent Stout and then the Vienna Lager I’m ready for something lighter, so I put together this recipe from scratch in Brewfather, loosely aiming for an American Pale.

Brew Day Notes

06:45 – Begin mash-in. Heaters have been on since 06:00 from 17℃, water filled to just below 24 litre mark last night, everything wet except chiller coil. Maybe next time I’ll work up the courage to use the timer function so that I reach strike temperature (68℃ today) while I sleep, but for now I’m happy to get mash-in complete and start the 20 minute mash-rest by 06:55.

5.45 kg of Malty Goodness

Mashing

07:17 – Start mashing. Observed level just below 30 litre mark.

07:44 – First stir done. Mash looks a little looser than usual, ramping up the pumps to 60%, mix lever roughly at 4 o’clock, seeing if I can maintain a fan above grain bed without the dip-tube sucking air.

07:55 – Circulating exclusively outside the malt-pipe for a few moments to get a measure of the levels – looks like 28 litres. That’s slightly pessimistic as the level inside the malt-pipe is maybe half an inch higher, but I don’t want to waste valuable mashing time waiting for those levels to equalise. Second stir, back on with the wort fan. 25 minutes to run.

08:17 – Third and final stir done, fan still good but slightest hint of whirlpool above the dip tube. Wort seemed almost clear before stir, and although a bit of haze was disturbed from the bottom of the malt-pipe it settled out very quickly and became clear again. Looks like this will be another lightning sparge.

08:20 – Target temperature increased to 75℃ in preparation for mash-out. I’ve built 15 minutes into the recipe in order to achieve this, let’s see how close I am.

18:36 – Bang-on 75℃ after 15 minutes, what a guess!! Mashing out for 10 minutes then gravity reading, vorlauf, sparge. Wort looks lovely and clear.

08:56 – Post-mash levels 24 litres indicated. Post-mash gravity = 1.063 (1.052 @ 49.8)

Sparging

08:58 – Start sparge, HLT temp 75℃. Very difficult to maintain any kind of evenness despite tin foil hat and constant juggling of HLT valve / pump.

??:?? – Bollocks, forgot to time the sparge again!! Didn’t feel like very long anyway, and I’m still not sure about the distribution of water on top of or inside the grain bed. Kind of feels like no matter where I try to channel it using the punctured tin foil and gentle encouragement of pooling, it just runs through the mash which then dribbles for a while but ceases again quite quickly. Pre-boil gravity 1.049 (1.031 @ 64.9) against predicted 1.046 – 3 points up!

Still not 100% happy with this tin foil method

Boiling

09:15 – Malt-pipe out, heaters to 100%, manual control.

09:31 – Malt pipe cleaned, temperature in kettle at 94.1℃. With gravity samples returned (hey, it’s pre-boil and every drop counts) and expansion I’m looking at approximately 30.5 litres, which is near enough my planned pre-boil volume of 30.94.

09:35 – Foam on top. I think in the US they call this the hot break, whereas over here the hot break is the protein that floats around in the wort like egg soup. Maybe they’re one and the same, but at different stages, who knows. I try to give it a stir but that only seems to increase the foam … and lower the apparent wort level by half a litre. Weird. Steam hat and condenser fitted

09:41 – Boil tracker started, we’re rollin’! Turn on condenser feed, 60 minute additions in.

10:21 – 20 minute additions in, all looking good. Fermzilla floating dip tube fitted to lid, start sanitising the aeration kit. Yeast and nutrient already collected from fridge, acclimatising to room temperature nicely.

10:28 – 15 minute additions in (Protafloc and yeast nutrient) starting circulation through chiller to sanitise, heaters to max.

10:31 – 10 minute additions in, starting to boil again after a slight thermal hit from the chiller. Need to keep an eye on this and not let boil get too intense otherwise the recently added hops will crust at high tide and not contribute. Forgot to measure levels before cutting chiller in, but now it’s in I’m looking at around 27 litres, which doesn’t sound as much of a loss as with previous brews. From memory I think the chiller is around 2 litres, so I’m putting this down as 29 litres post-boil.

10:40 – Heaters off, measure level before turning on chiller feed: 26 litres hot. 

10:50 – Tank temperature down to 61℃, return from chiller 29℃. Getting ready to plumb in the Fermzilla.

Constant pump speed produces funky patterns

Transfer

11:13 – Transfer to FV is complete, but despite watching my chiller return temperature I’ve ended up with 46℃ in the Fermzilla. Maybe it’s because I was using the pump at steady 5% so as not to disturb my pyramid of kettle trub, and regulating the flow to my FV using the upper left tap halfway between returning to kettle and pumping to Fermzilla. Instead of pumping to kettle it must have been pushing wort from the kettle and the chiller into my FV. Oh well. Wort is aerated and the lid with dip tube is resting on top, ready for pitching as soon as it gets cool enough. I can’t see this taking much more than an hour. Let’s see how the values stack up, maybe I’ll do a chiller top-up with some iced water to hurry things along.

11:16 – FV volume is very approximately 23.5 litres, OG 1.056 (1.051 @ 36.3) which means I’m 2 points ahead of Brewfather’s estimate of 1.054 but 1.5 litres behind my target fermenter volume. Great news all round, except for the cock-up with the temperature. Hopefully standing around for the next X hours won’t affect the brew too much – next time I’ll have a couple of litres of slush on standby.

12:40 – Cleanup finished, Fermzilla in the Fridge minus yeast, heading for 25℃ but presently at 35.6.

21:11 – Temperature down to 21.4℃, pitched a teaspoon of Opshaug Kveik originally top-cropped from Good Night Vienna and then revived on the stir plate before being stored in the fridge for a while. Spunding valve has been fitted and will be dialled to 5 PSI as soon as the needle moves.