Brew Day: BIAB Kentucky Common

I finally got around to brewing again, this time with a twist.  I have way too much beer on hand right now, a problem most would like to have, right?  I’ve had ingredients on hand for a three-gallon batch of Kentucky Common.  A brief history, Kentucky Common was a beer brewed before Prohibition in the Louisville area.  The records I’ve read indicate it was a dark cream ale, heavy on adjuncts, mostly maize and some rye.  I’ve tried it several times before but haven’t gotten anything I’d drink much of.  So this time I did some research and did the recipe pretty straight.

So, with such a small amount of grain on hand (5.5 pounds) I decided to do a Brew in a Bag batch.  Here’s the setup:

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You see the bag, the thermometer, the timer and the supplemental hot plate.  My normal brew rig is a propane fired banjo burner but for this small amount, I decided to use the hot plate.  It played into the scheme later as I used it to add heat back to the mash.  That was a story in itself:  I got everything set up, the strike water heated, then the fun began.  Heating, cooling, overheating, it’s a wonder if I had any beta amylase left and may wind up with a very dextrinous wort.  But I got it going and got it done.  Here’s the temperature control:

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Yep, old towels thrown over the pot, inserted into my normal mash tun.  But I finally got it to a boil, cloudy and full of stuff I don’t normally have in my beers courtesy of a good, fine grind.  In the end, I got a 1.062 wort, I was shooting for 1.052 but boiled off more water than normal due to the small volume in my kettle.  Cut with water, I hit my numbers.  I pitched cream ale yeast at 72 degrees and the wort’s aerating now.  It’ll live in a water bath for a few days during primary fermentation and I’m looking forward to a good Kentucky brew.

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