First Split Batch Ever.


At some point, almost all homebrewers will split a batch.  This can mean many things, but usually it means to take one wort and separate it into more than one fermentor and change one variable such as yeast, dry hop, fermentation temperature, etc. This allows for a somewhat accurate (albeit subjective) interpretation of what that variable brings to the table.  It came a surprise to me that I’ve never personally broken up a batch, besides a couple of collaborative brews but one of those was a barleywine and the other a sour ale still fermenting after nine months. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll probably have noticed that I’ve moved up to ten gallon batches, which makes splitting that mich easier.  No need to buy smaller fermentors (three gallon glass or plastic carboys for splitting a five gallon batch) I can just use my standard six gallon joints to get my experiment on.

The first batch on the new ten gallon system was a closet-cleaning batch which I had low expectations for.  I call it a closet cleaner because I tried to use up what I had remaining from previous batches.  That included three different base malts and a pound of special roast that I bought from the Brooklyn Kitchen when I first started brewing about two years ago.  I chose to split the batch up and use two different yeast strains to see how they stacked up against eachother.  I chose two English strains, Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale and a dry pack of Safale S-04 Whitbread and used organic New Zealand Rakau hops along with one of my new favorites, Glacier.

Appearance:  Both beers are amber to copper colored but the Ringwood version is much clearer.  I remember that I added gelatin to the Ringwood in order to have it ready for one of Josh Bernstein’s homebrew tours, but ended up serving them both for comparisons sake.  The S-04 is much cloudier and stays in line with my experience of dry yeast being a bit less flocculent than its liquid counterpart (S-04/1098 Whitbread and S-05/1056 American Ale). Dense white head lasts a few minutes.

Aroma: Both have a distinct baking spice and cocoa smell with some toasty bread crust behind it. I also sometimes get some floral notes, possible from the late addition of Glacier. The Ringwood strain gives me a slight cherry note when I really get my nose in there.

Taste: Both of these beers benefit from being served somewhat warmer as the gentle breadcrust notes seem to blend in with the fruity hop profile a little better.  When cold, the toastiness fromt he Briess Special Roast seems to be prominent and a bit harsh for my tastes.  The Ringwood tops the S-04 in this category with gentle notes of peach and cherry that linger in the mid-palate. The S-04 seems a bit bland in comparison and seems somewhat neutral, with a slight tartness.

Mouthfeel: This is also where the Ringwood trumps the dry yeast by being more full bodied and “chewy” without seeming under attenuated and sweet. The S-04 seems a bit thin and not very exciting. The Ringwood version reminds me a lot of a fresh Newcastle Brown.

Overall impression: The recipe needs some work mostly in the hop profile which seems a bit disjointed and generally too prominent for an English style brown. Doesn’t have that intangible quality I look for in a beer that makes you want reach for another sip.  Unfortunately, I don’t plan on working on this recipe but I do feel fortunate that I now have this knowledge of the different strains side by side as well as a good sense of what special roast does in a recipe.

Recipe to follow:

Spring Cleaning Red Ale 2012 (Ground Pound Brown)
Date: 4/13/12
Size: 13.2 gal
Original Gravity: 1.049 (1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 12.78 (6.0 – 18.0)
Alcohol: 4.78% (4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 42.1 (30.0 – 50.0)
7 lb (29.3%) Standard 2-Row – added during mash
7.5 lb (31.4%) Pale Ale – added during mash
7.12 lb (29.8%) Golden Promise Pale – added during mash
1.0 lb (4.2%) Munich 10L Malt (Organic) – added during mash
1.0 lb (4.2%) Special Roast Malt – added during mash
4 oz (1.0%) Carafa® TYPE II – added during mash
56.7 g (36.4%) Organic Rakau (12.7%) – added during boil, boiled 60 m
1.5 oz (27.3%) Glacier (5.5%) – added during boil, boiled 10.0 m
56.7 g (36.4%) Organic Rakau (12.7%) – added during boil, boiled 1 m
2.0 ea WYeast 1187 Ringwood Ale™
1.0 ea Fermentis S-04 Safale S-04
Sacch Rest – Rest: 60 m; Final: 153.0 °F
4g Chalk, 2g Gypsum, 2g CaCl
1.055 preboil gravity, seems way too high.
4/23/12 Fermentation seems to have stopped, both beers at 1.011, special roast “toastiness” is apparent in nose, S04 seems brighter and drier than 1187, but 1187 seems to have a fuller mouthfeel and slight stonefruit peach flavor.
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4 thoughts on “First Split Batch Ever.

  1. I actually just split some wort for the first time a few weeks ago. it was more of a last minute adjustment than an experiment though. I was doing a batch of Hefe and had less boil off than expected, The Wyeast 3068 yeast is supper active and needs plenty of space, so I directed about 1.5g of wort to a smaller primary. The only other yeast I had on hand was a pack of Cooper’s Ale yeast that I had on hand for bottle conditioning big beers.

    They were bottled on June 6th, so the outcome is still yet to be seen… soon.

    • kylers says:

      Nice! Lemme know how they turn out. I’ve always shied away from Coopers for no good reason so I’d like to know how it turns out.

      • I’ll certainly let you know how it comes it. I’ll probably space out a few side-by-side tastings (and probably a picture for visual comparison) over a few weeks to see how each one develops over time.

        As far as using Cooper’s yeast… it’s a typical ‘middle of the road’ of dry ale yeast, not being a standout with any particular characteristic. If fermented on the extreme low end, even well below recommended temps, it’s fairly clean and neutral, a valuable trait in some circumstances.

        I typically steer clear of dry yeast too. It does have it’s place… Handy to have around for stuck fermentation or bottle priming big beers. It’s very versatile with a very broad temperature range that it will actually work in. Also, in my area, access to brewing supplies is pathetic at best, it does server as an option of last resort.

        I actually did brew a full batch of American Wheat using all Sorachi Ace hops last spring using Cooper’s yeast. I wasn’t a big of a fan of the batch, but it was quite well received by the 4-5 other palates it hit. I’m not sure if it was the yeast or SA hops flavor that I didn’t care for though.

  2. The results are in… and unimpressive. Although visually virtually identical, that’s where the similarities stop. I think the easy analysis is, because my micro split was an impromptu affair, the outcome is less than interesting. The Hefe wort with Cooper’s yeast is rather unappealing to say the least. I think the 3 biggest things that didn’t work out were:

    1 – Wort composition. This wort composition just isn’t suited for the English Ale type yeast. I would say the hopping in particular would need the biggest adjustment before it would work even remotely with this yeast,.. if at all.

    2 – Yeast Health. I’m not sure how the package of yeast was. While it did ferment fully and on time, it was very old, possibly 1 year or greater. I generally keep this yeast on hand for bottling additions on very large beers if needed.

    3 – Pitching Rate. I didn’t have very accurate measurements of the extra wort volume, nor did I measure out a precise amount of the yeast to pitch. I ball parked both the wort volume and pitch rate.

    Properly planned with a more appropriate yeast strain, this might have had a much more interesting outcome.

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