There is a second class of red heads…the DAYWALKERS!

Yes, the title of this post is in reference to South Park.  The ginger kids episode may be my favorite of all-time so when I was trying to find a name for my Irish Red Ale, “Daywalker” just seemed to be perfect.

Enjoy the video

So for this blog I will be walking you through the brewing process of one of my favorite beers to make, 11:11 Daywalker Red Ale.  Somewhere out in Los Angeles right now my father is reading this and is excited to know that next time he comes back east one of his favorite beers will be waiting for him.
First off, what is important to know about Irish Red Ales?  Most of us have had a Smithwicks or Murphy’s Red before, but what are the actual characteristics that make this beer unique.  To answer this question, we turn to some information provided by the BJCP.  The BJCP provides in depth criteria used to place beers in specific beer styles.  For anybody ever interested in getting involved in competition brewing, these guidlines are a MUST know.
The first requirement for a beer to be considered an Irish Red comes from the aroma.  These beers should have a malty nose, with hints of caramel.  The hop nose should not be noticeable, but should help in presenting balance so that the aroma does not come across as too sweet.  Irish Reds are generally noted for having a very clean nose.
The flavor of this beer should follow suite with the aroma, the beer should give a moderate malty flavor with notes of caramel and toffee.  Some beers falling into this category have a small English style Hop flavor, but more often then not there is no hop flavor and a very light to moderate hop bitterness.  This should be a very clean tasting beer with no estery characteristics.
Irish Reds should be easy drink beers, best served in a pint glass, they should have a light to medim body, a malty nose and flavor and a semi-dry finish.  Hops should be used to balance the beer, but no more  than a slight English Hop profile should be recognizable.
Now that we have taken a brief detour to understand the beer that we are brewing today, let’s get started with the actual process.  As is the case with any beer, the first step is deciding on your grain bill.  Grain plays a major role in the outcome of your beer.  It effects mouthfeel and body, provides the needed fermentable sugars to create alcohol. (who wants a non alcoholic “beer”). Provides color, and helps create head formation and retention. (you know that thick white foam that really makes your beer look classy).
For this beer I wanted to stick with a dominantly English grain bill in order to be as true to style as possible.  Therefore I used an English 2-row pale malt as the base grain.  The remainder of the grain bill consisted of Melanoiden Malt which promotes body and malty characteristics and a combination of Cara-foam and Cara-Red two specialty malts that provide caramel notes as well as help create that reddish hue.
With the grain bill selected and milled up, it was time to start the mash.  For those unfamiliar (there will be a more detailed posts later on) the mashing process is where I extract the sugars from the grain and create a sort of “sugar water”, also known as the wort (w-ert).  For this specific beer, and since the grains were all well-modified (referring to the malting process) I did a simple single infusion mash.  This refers to putting all of the mash water into the mash tun where the grain bed is at one time.  I put in just over 4 gallons of water and set the mash at 155 degrees.  Mashing in the mid 150’s helps in creating a maltier/sweeter beer.  The initial mash lasted for 90 minutes, giving me enough time extract and convert all the needed sugars for the beer.
Daywalker Red going through the mash process.  You can already see that red color coming through.
Since we are doing this beer down at the store today, we are using a bit of “McGuyver’d” equipment setup.  While it isn’t my ideal setup it is good to point out that regardless of the equipment you are using and what you have at your disposal, as long as you are sanitary and stick to your times and temperatures, you can still yield fantastic beer.
As I got closer to the end of my 90 minute mash I began to heat up my sparge water.  For this batch I will be doing what is referred to as a batch sparge.  The purpose of a sparge is to rinse the grains for a second time to make sure that any residual sugars that are still clinging to the grain endosperm (soft white interior found in grain) are rinsed out and pushed into the wort.
With the sparge water heating up to 172 degrees and the 90 minute mash done, it is almost time to drain the lauter tun of my first runnings of “future” beer.  First however it is time for the vorlauf steep.  (Clearly “vorlauf” is a German word, and we will quickly focus in on this term as your brewing word of the day 🙂
[ Vorlauf comes from the German word vorlaufen which means to “run ahead”.  When it comes to brewing we do a vorlauf steep where we run off a little bit of our sweet wort into a small vessel often called a “grant”.  By doing this we are draining out any liquid that may have small particles of grain in it.  As we drain out the liquid we recirculate it back into the mash tun very slowly so that we don’t disturb the grain bed and make our wort cloudy again.  By performing this task we clear up the wort before we drain it into our brew kettle.]  (A video on a proper vorlauf will be posted soon).
Now that I have vorlaufed and the wort is clear I could drain the lauter tun and get my first runnings of wort into my brew kettle.  Once the tun had been drained it was time to add in the sparge water that had been heating up.  Generally when I batch sparge I like to let my sparge water sit in the grain for about 10-15 minutes.  Then I vorlauf again before I drain my sparge runnings into my brew kettle.  Between my first runnings and the wort collected from the bacth sparge my goal is to have 6.5 gallons of wort in my brew kettle.
Draining the hot wort from the mash tun into the brew kettle.  This is a photo from after my batch sparge.
While I am only doing a 5 gallon batch of beer, a lot of beer will “boil off” during the boiling process.  I know that from the size of my brew kettle and the strength of the burner that I will lose almost a gallon and a half of volume during my 60 minute boil.  Therefore by starting with 6.5 gallons I will still have enough wort left after the boil to reach my target volume.
While the mashing process is fun and vital, the real magic happens during the boil.  The boil is where hop additions as well as any other interesting flavors and adjuncts you may be using are added to the “future beer”.  While we will spend a blog post talking about how hop additions work here is a real basic idea of how a hop schedule functions.
Adding hops at the beginning of the boil or the “60 minute” mark, work as bittering hops, adding (you guessed it) bitterness to the beer.  Here is where you can really work on the beers overall balance countering the malt profile with the correct amount of bitterness.
Hop additions about halfway through are considered “flavor” additions.  They will still add a certain amount of bitterness to the beer, but because they are not in the boil for the full hour much of the hops flavor remains in the beer.
Late hop additions or flameout additions (after the heat is turned off) are generally considered “aroma” additions.  Hops added at this point in time aren’t in the boil long enough to add to the bitterness profile or really have any effect on the flavor.  Instead it is the aroma of the hops that remain in the beer, helping shape the “nose” of your beer.
As we talked about when looking at the characteristics of an Irish Red, hops in this particular beer are used simply for balance. more than for flavor and aroma.  While I still plan on having a small amount of flavor and aroma from the hops, this is a malty beer and therefore I want to keep the hop profile subdued.  Keeping this in mind I chose to remain true to the European-centric beer I am making and use only one variety of hop in this beer, England’s East Kent Goldings.  These traditional English hops are mild and pleasant and will provide the perfect amount of bitterness, flavor and aroma for this style of beer.
Weighing out my East Kent Golding Hop additions.  If you have never opened up a bag of hops and taken a whiff, you don’t know what you are missing!
Sticking to the simplicity of this beer, I did three simple hop additions throughout the boil.  Also, as I do with all of my beers with the exception of wheat beers and a couple other “unfiltered” styles, I added a healthy pinch of “Irish Moss” towards the end of the boil.  Irish Moss is ultimately a glorified name for dried seaweed.  By adding some of this to the beer, it acts as a coagulant, pulling out proteins floating in the wort and preventing what we like to call “protein haze”.  While haze is welcomed in some styles of beer, most of the time as a brewer I am looking for that brilliant crystal clear beer regardless of the beers color.  By taking steps to prevent haze I am generally successful in achieving my goal of a clear/transparent beer.
While Daywalker Red Ale, is a fairly simple beer, it wouldn’t be one of my creations without a little twist or surprise.  While not completely unheard of, my sneaky little surprise with this beer is the addition of a pound of honey right at the end of the boil.  While I am going to keep the special variety of honey blossoms I use a secret, (hey I can’t give everything away!) the addition of this honey helps provide a light residual sweetness in the beers aftertaste.  Furthermore since the sugars in honey are almost completely fermentable, this addition will help boost the alcohol content of the beer a little bit.
So there you have it.  A quick overview and look at the brewing process for 11:11’s Daywalker Red Ale.  With the brewing done, I have cooled down the beer and pitched the yeast.  While I am going to keep the particular strain of yeast I used a secret, I will say that it was a English style yeast, once again keeping with the beer’s general theme.
Daywalker Red Ale right after pitching the yeast.  It looks cloudy now but wait until you see it in a couple of weeks!

Until next time!
Categories: Beer

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