Back at it and brewing Olivia Milde

Woohoo!! I finally got to brew up a batch of beer again! I’ve been on a brewing hiatus for quite a few months now due to injury from my other hobby, cycling. One day after finishing the Bike Across Kansas, I took a major spill on my bicycle resulting in a broken bone in my elbow and a pretty severe AC separation in my shoulder. After reconstructive surgery and months of physical therapy, I finally got the go ahead for riding my bike and brewing beer again.

It was about dang time!!

Because it had been awhile since I had made any beer, I figured using a tried and true recipe with a small amount of experimentation was in order. I’m definitely glad I went with a familiar recipe because this brew day was NOT without problems!

The day started out getting everything dragged out of the garage and into the driveway where I could make an assessment of the overall condition of my equipment. Although it was all perfectly functional, it was FILTHY! Sitting unused for months had not been kind to my system. It was at this point that I knew it was going to be a long brew day.

After finally getting everything all cleaned up, it was time to start brewing. While the strike water was heating up, I began milling my grain. Olivia Milde is a fairly simple recipe with not a ton of grain, so I was able to fit the entire grain bill for 10 gallons of wort into a 5 gallon bucket.

Mashing in was fairly straight forward as well although there were a few dough balls that I had to fight. Lots of oats in a recipe will do that to you! I did my best to get everything fully incorporated and broken up, then began my 60 minute mash timer.

Once the mash and vorlauf were completed, more problems began rearing their ugly heads! Because it had been so long since I had last brewed, there were lots of quirks about my system that I had to relearn. For some reason I remembered my mash efficiency being higher than it was. I designed Olivia Milde’s grain bill around an 80% efficiency when it should have been much closer to 75%. I ended up with a much lower starting gravity going into the boil kettle than what I had anticipated. Luckily, I had also designed the recipe to produce 11 gallons of finished product so all was not lost! By adding an extra 30 minutes to the start of the boil, I was able to bring the starting gravity up a few points until I was just under my intended pre-boil gravity.

Luckily, the rest of the boil went exactly as intended and I was able to transfer just over 10.5 gallons of fresh wort into the unitank. Using the unitank’s temp control, I brought the wort’s temp down to 68°F. Using Imperial Yeast’s Loki for the first time, I pitched 2 packs into the wort and was finally able let the yeast take over.

Not only did Loki ferment with a wonderful yeast profile for an English Mild, it did it’s thing in EXTREMELY short fashion. Olivia Milde hit terminal gravity in 4 days allowing me harvest the flocculated yeast and begin cold crashing/carbonating.

After only 7 days, Olivia Milde was ready to be kegged and put on tap for the weekend!

In the end, getting back in the game and brewing up a familiar batch of beer felt great. Sure, I had some issues along the way, but I learned a lot from everything and made sure to adjust my processes so that next time will go a lot smoother. The whole brewery is cleaned up, I put it all to use, and I finally got beer flowing out of the kegerator again. I call that a success!

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