A Double Double Mash
Brewing the mistress was a pretty full-on process. Normally when I brew a beer for Penyllan and transfer it into barrels I just take care of it, help it become the best beer it can, and wait to see how it turns out. But with The Mistress I had a strong idea of what I wanted right from the start. Something luscious and heavenly.
And…. I failed.
Whenever I brewed this beer, something would go wrong. I had the power cut out on me during sparge, meaning that my beautiful strong wort ended up on the ground rather than in the kettle. I had the beer turn out way to dry and roasty. And I had one konk out during primary fermentation. Anyway… It took a lot of time to get my base beer right.
But how I brewed the beer is the fun part. The Mistress is a 13% beer brewed in at an insane 36 degree plato and for me to create this in our very small and basic system is a long process of a double double mash. We have no temperature control on our mash tun so that also means that the liquid that we put in there has to be at the right temperature for the particular beer we are brewing.
With my mash tun I can only fit in 400kg of grain before it overflows. So I did the first mash, took out 800L into the kettle and brought it up to temperature. During this time, I kept sparging back into our HLT (hot liquor tank) to collect the rest of the wort so it could be used as sugary sparge water. Then cleaned out the spent grains from the mash tun. The animals that eat out mash were very happy this week. Then I transferred the wort from the kettle back into the mash tun and mashed in again on the already strong wort. Then a long and slow sparge as it was sticky! Out of this second mash in, I took around 11hl. Not a lot for all that work. Then back to the kettle and then a soft boil overnight and chilled like normal the next day. The second running that didn’t make the strong first runnings, went back into the HLT again so my strike water the next day already had some strength to it. And then… I did all of this again so I had a full tank. It was exhausting but very worthwhile!
Primary fermentation was done in conical and then into the barrels with some of the Garden Party (our house culture) as well. She mainly went into Bourbon barrels but there was a fresh Cognac barrel as well that I thought might be glorious.
And now, after four years of aging on the barrels I have two Mistresses. The Bourbon version is a blend of a few of the Bourbon barrels and then a single barrel Cognac version. Both are delicious!