Batch 77: Zingibier VI

I first created Zingibier, a “grand cru” style spiced Belgian ale, in 2010.  With beginner’s luck, it won a gold medal in the 2010 National Homebrew Competition, and the recipe is featured on the American Homebrew Association’s website.

The beer is tough to categorize.  It’s a strong (~8%) wheat beer that uses a Belgian Witbier yeast and spices typically associated with the Witbier style: coriander, bitter orange peel, and chamomile.  It also packs a prominent ginger note, with the ginger sufficiently cooked as to not contribute heat.

This was my 6th time brewing the beer.   Recipe is below as well as on BrewToad.

Differences for Zingibier VI

I’ve varied the recipe a bit each time.  The original beer was my first partial mash brew, where I mashed enough grain to contribute half the gravity and supplemented that with malt extract.  I switched to all-grain brewing shortly after that and have since been reluctant to go back to extract.  That said, none of the four subsequent re-brews have been quite as good as the original.  Now, with a new baby in hand (six days old), I finally had an excuse to return to extract.

(spice amounts are in ounces)

I started with the Summer Wheat kit from my local homebrew shop and augmented it with more DME (for gravity) and some pils malt for the mini-mash.  Compared to my original recipe, I used more extract, doing a minimal partial mash of just 1.75 lbs of grain.  The kit instructs the brewer to steep the flaked oats and wheat by themselves in 150-160 F water, which I found highly questionable.  To extract their starches, those flaked grains must be accompanied by malted grains, so that conversion can occur.  To accomplish that, I added 0.75 lbs of pils malt.

I kept spicing amounts the same, but forewent the Whirlfloc (haze is good here) and swapped yeasts.  Through my homebrew club I acquired some CCYL 129 “Eagle River Ale Yeast”, cultured from the wild in Michigan.  I tried a golden ale from Brewery Becker that showcased this yeast and loved the rich phenolic and fruity profile.  This batch is doubling as a yeast starter, as I’ll be repitching this batch’s yeast cake into my next 20 gallon batch.

Brew Day – July 1 2018

Went well, with some help from now-big brother.  Ended up with 5 gallons.  My filtering + chilling is locked in on my all-grain system and it was an unwelcome surprise to struggle with filtering out the spices and cold break as I poured from brew kettle to fermenter.

OG was about 1.063, but was measured after adding 2L of fully-fermented starter; actual effective OG somewhat higher.

Boiled hops with 5 lbs of extract, added the last 2.5 lbs and table sugar at the end of the boil.  Topped up with 2 gallons distilled water.

Spices sat for about 15 minutes at flameout temps (~200 F) and remained in during a long, slow chill in the sink.  I peeled the ginger root into nice thin slices, thinking the added surface area was the way to go.

Fermenter was burbling away within hours, sitting at 66F ambient.  Craft Cultures recommends fermentation temps of 70-75F, so I’m just right after factoring in exothermic heat from fermentation activity.

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