Category Archives: Cal Common eBIAB 1

Cal Common eBIAB 1

Second brew on the new eBIAB single vessel system and I made a few tweaks including mashing a lot thinner and using a sparge arm to make the recirculation a bit more gentle both of which seemed to really help my efficiency (this batch was 74%) and wort clarity.
I wanted to do another slightly hoppier beer for my wife and I had never brewed a Cal Common so seemed like a good one to try.  I looked at Jamil’s recipe in BCS as well as the one old NHC winner I could find and a few Anchor Steam clone recipes.  Nothing really peaked my interest so I decided to keep it simple.  I just did 90% pale/MO style base  and 10% mid-caramel/crystal.  My local homebrew shop carries Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise which I’ve always wanted to try and this beer seemed like a good one based on the BJCP style description.  I’m not a huge fan of american caramel malts so I figured I’d branch out and try a british crystal that I haven’t tried before.  I did some digging around on the web and people seem to LOVE Simpson’s Crystal so I ordered some Medium Crystal from them.  Jamil’s Northern Brewer hop schedule looked pretty hoptastique so I used that as a rule of thumb.  Here is the recipe:


Recipe Info

Beer Name: cal common 1
Style: California Common Beer
Author: hommel homebrew
Date: 3-13-15


Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.012
Color: 10.6
Alcohol: 5.3 %
Bitterness: 44.1 IBUs


Efficiency: 70
Attenuation: 77


Mash Fermentable Weight: 11.125 Pounds
Mash Thickness: 1.5 Quarts per Pound
Grain Temp: 72 F
Strike Water Qty: 6.17 Gallons
Mash Volume: 7.06 Gallons
Strike Water Temp: 159.7 F
Mash Temp: 150 F


Kettle Gravity (start of boil): 1.043
Starting Boil Volume: 6.75
Boil Duration: 60 Minutes
Evaporation Rate: 1.25 Gallons per Hour
Final Boil Volume: 5.5


Weight (Lbs) % by Weight Name Yield SRM
10 89.9 thomas fawcett golden promise 80.5 2.7
1 9.0 simpsons medium crystal 76.0 67.0
.125 1.1 Weyermann Acidulated Malt 78.7 2.3


Weight (ozs) Name AAU Time (mins) IBUs / Addition
1.33 Northern Brewer Pellets (UK) 6.0 60 29.5
1.33 Northern Brewer Pellets (UK) 6.0 15 14.6
1.33 Northern Brewer Pellets (UK) 6.0 0 0.0

Yeast and Friends

Amount (Milliters) Name
1 pouch California Lager – WY2112


Amount Name Time
1 Whirlfloc Tablet 15
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Wyeast) 10


mash salts:
4.1g Gypsum
2.0 calcium chloride
boil salts:
should give mash pH of 5.4
pitch @ 60 and ramp to 62 over 1 day then hold till done (~14 days). rack to keg lager for 2 weeks. rack to clean keg and force carb to ~2.5 volumes.
BrewDay notes:
I’ve been re-reading “Brewing Engineering” by Steven Deeds.  It’s a fun book since it is him documenting his home experiments.  Some are very basic and a bit silly but some are very interesting.  In particular, he doesn’t buy the MrMalty’s yeast viabilty calculations and so he tests them with his own yeast and finds that the MrMalty numbers assume too high a die off rate.  And I’ve seen this a bunch of times in my brewing where MrMalty will say a yeast is only 30% viable based on age and calls for an enormous multi-stage starter and when I do that I end up with what looks like way too much yeast.  I have recently purchased a microscope and the other tools needed to do cell counts so I plan to test this out on my own as well.  So, my yeast for this beer was 4 months old which meant I would have needed 7 vials or some enormous starter.  But this yeast has been kept nice and cold the whole time so I just don’t buy it.  Maybe 50% viable but I’m doubting 7%.  So instead I used Wyeast’s standard recommendation for a hybrid strain and did a 2L starter (actually 1.4L since this was a smaller batch) and I did end up with a nice pitch of yeast after that ran for 48 hours and when I pitched it the fermentation was going strong by the next morning.
And the more I think about it the more that viability measure bothers me.  You could have 2 week old yeast that shipped in 100F weather and it have poor viability or have 3 month old that was stored cold and have good viability.  If you can’t do a cell count, why even bother with the MrMalty calculator.  In all reality, you have NO idea what your viability is.  So it seems the right path is either do cell counts and pitch the right amount of yeast or just use Wyeast’s starter recommendations.

  • 1 liter starter = about 150 billion cells
  • 2 liter starter = about 200 billion cells
  • 1 liter starter, then pitched into 4 liter starter = 400 billion cells

Or maybe I’ve been thinking about this too much 🙂
3/23/15 made 1.4L starter
3/25/15 pretty standard brew day.  did a step mash of 152 for 60 mins and 168 for 10 mins.
started at 6:45 am and had pitched and had beer in fermentation chamber by 11:30 am.  Under 5 hours.  Not bad.  Another 2 hours for cleanup but that was 80% the cleaner recirculating and me not doing anything.
pitched at 11:30 @ 60F and set controller to raise to 62F over 24 hours and hold it there till its done.
3/26/15 @9am.  Nice 1″ kreusen and steady strong bubbling
3/27/15 still kreusened with nice bubbling although maybe slowed a hair?
3/28/15 kreusen dropped.  bubbling slowed to ~2sec apart
3/29/15 ~10 secs
3/30/15 ~15 sec
4/2/15 no activity – dropped fairly clear
4/9/15 racked to keg ~3.5 gallons
FG – 1.015 pH 4.28
very nice beer but a hint of sulfur.  very low but will lager for 2 months to get rid of it.  also a bit green
4/23/15 forced carbed and put on draft.  big foam issue which seems to be from the liquid out post on all my lotto kegs.  moved to a new keg and problem went away but knocked out all the carb need to recarbonate.  very hazy.
4/28/15 still not quite carb’d but getting better.  still hazy but starting to clear.  a tasty beer.  need to try side by side with anchor steam.
my beer vs anchor steam:
aroma: mine>clean with restrained caramel and generic malty notes.  noticeable herbal/woody hops.  anchorsteam> more caramelly (oxidized?), less hops
flavor: mine> nice caramel character.  hop bitterness and flavor are spot on.  anchorsteam> more caramel flavor.  bitterness is similar but less hop flavor.
appearance: similar color.  my clarity stinks 🙁
mouthfeel: very similar
overall impression: other than clarity I prefer my cal common to anchor all the way around.  anchor sample has way more caramel and less hop aroma and flavor.  this doesn’t match up with the anchor i had on draft in bay area but it’s what I’ve got. seems the anchor steam here is old and oxidized.  sad.
5/5/15 finally dropping clear after ~2 weeks.  ok clarity but not great.  next time would definitely try gelatin or biofine to see how much faster / better it clears.