About a month ago, on the occasion of a visit by conform, lawnjart, and icicle, we shared the last bottle of spiced porter from my beer magazine. The cupboard was bare.

The much anticipated and highly necessary Irregular Zymurgy Return of the Chipotle Ale - batch number 03-1

A kitchen is not truly one's own until one cooks in it. Although I have already done a decent amount of cooking in my new kitchen (in the apartment bindlenix and I moved into in February), I had not yet undertaken the brewing of beer. At the encouragement of misuba, I am revisiting the chipotle ale I made last summer. While that ale was golden, I think that this time 'round, I'd like it to have a darker cast, so I've chosen to use some whole grain malted barley roasted to a chocolate finish. Also, I have increased the overall amount of whole grain malt to contribute a more stable head to the ale.

Mid-last year, I helped a friend brew a batch of ale from whole grain barley malt. This was my introduction to the actual process of mashing, in which the enzymes developed by nearly sprouting the grain are encouraged to convert the starches in the grain to sugar. Some 10 pounds of crushed malt is steeped in water and brought to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit (about the point at which it gets uncomfortable to hold your finger in the water), and held there until nearly all the starch is converted (a simple iodine test). All told, this adds an extra three hours or so to the not insignificant amount of time it takes to brew beer, as well as additional pots and buckets, so I don't do it myself.

Prior to my observation of the mashing process, I had simply steeped the crushed grains as the water came to boil. After this, though, I found a means to mash the much smaller amount of crushed grain. I take a small pot, and create a mash in it, following the progress of the startch-o-lysis by taste.

    For those of you who would like to follow along at home, fill a four gallon stcok pot with about
  • 2 gallons of water and set it to boil.
    In a separate pot, put
  • 3/4 pound crystal 40L malt and
  • 1/4 pound chocolate malt, and cover it with water.
    Bring this smaller pot to about 180 deg F and maintain that temperature while the big pot comes to boil.
    When the big pot is boiling, take the smaller pot and strain off the liquid from the mash. Pour that liquid into the big pot, compost the grain tailings.
    To the big pot, add
  • 6 pounds ultra light malt extract and
  • 1 pound clover honey.
    It is important to stir the pot until the syrups dissolve so that they don't settle at the bottom of the pot and scorch. Let the pot come back to a boil. (My pot was too full at this point, so I boiled it down to a managable 3 gallons, which took an hour. Cursing didn't speed that up.) Once the pot is at a boil, add bittering hops:
  • 1 ounce Northern Brewer and
  • 1 ounce Cascade.
    Some say that you must drink beer to make beer, and I find that that adage helps keep me occupied when I might otherwise obsess over the boiling wort to detrimental excess. So I poured myself a nitrous-infused tin of Boddingtons and read Ovid's Metamorphosis for an hour. I recommend the same. After which I turned off the flame and added flavoring hops and chilis:
  • another ounce Cascade hops,
  • 4 split dry ancho chilis, and
  • 6 split dry chipotle chilis.
    These steeped for about 25 minutes. Then I strained out the spent hops and chilis, and set the wort to cool in a bucket. After a few hours, I decanted it into a carboy and pitched in Wyeast strain #1056 "American ale" as well as another 2 ancho chilis, 4 chipotle chilis, and about an ounce more of Cascade hops. I blessed this ale, as much as it blesses my zythepsary.

According to the daylogs, it was late July when I made the batch that this ale is based upon. So it might seem that I am almost two months ahead of last year's brewing schedule, but as this is the first batch of the year, I know I am actually six behind. I'd better get busy.

UPDATE June 17, 2003
Tonight bindlenix and I have bottled this chipotle ale. About 38 standard bottles (8oz) and 2 champagne bottles (750mL), fewer than usual due to the large amount of sedimentation and the floating hops. Next time, should I intend to dry hop (placing hops in the carboy during fermentation), I will rack the clear brew to a new carboy after a few days of settling, then add the additional hops. I'll try to hold off for three weeks before tasting it.

UPDATE July 21, 2003
Well, it has been almost five weeks since bottling. I felt it the appropriate time to taste this ale. (Actually, misuba came over and insisted he taste it two weeks ago; it was not completely bottle conditioned, and was not at its best.) The color is dark, the aroma of chilis is noticable, the taste of the chilis is slightly greeny. The ale itself is fine, perhaps not quite hoppy enough. The chipolte is present tingling the tongue and the palate after a sip. I think that this will develop further over the next couple of weeks. We'll see how my patience lasts.