AG#29 West Coast IPA Style Ale

This is my brew for the Yorkshire vs Lancashire homebrew challenge arranged as part of the Leeds International Beer festival 2013.  I opted to brew a West Coast Pale style Ale….this plan evolved mid-brewday:  

Original Gravity (OG): 1.058
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 6.4%
Colour (SRM): 14 (EBC):
Bitterness (IBU): 50 (Average)

4.400 kg  Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.230 kg  Dark Crystal Malt

14g Green Bullet (12.0% Alpha) @40 minutes from the end (Boil)
20g Northdown (9.8% Alpha) @30 minutes from the end (Boil)
35g Cascade (7.9% Alpha) @15 minutes from the end (Boil)
20g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) @o minutes from the end (Boil)
40g Centennial (11.0% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (Boil)
90g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) leaf in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
20g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) leaf in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
20g Centennial (11.0% Alpha) T90 pellets in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
20g Citra (12.0% Alpha) T90 pellets in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
10g Columbus (12.6% Alpha) leaf in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)

I’ll add the usual info on temperatures etc at some point, but the main thing I learnt from this brew is that it isn’t safe to brew a Pale Ale while drinking super hoppy hoppy IPA and watching a beer review of Magic Rock’s Unhuman Cannonball.  I had already mashed in so the malts stayed the same, however my hop bill went out of the window and I delved into my freezer.  I stuck with the shorter volume collected and the higher OG.  I’ll add more dry hops than I originally intended on, et voilà!  A West Coast/West Yorkshire/Northern Hemisphere inspired India Pale Ale, of sorts.  The IBUs are lower than I would have aimed for had I intended to brew a 6.4% IPA, but the BU:GU ratio is still a respectable 0.86.

This beer will now be tasted alongside other Leeds Homebrew/Team Yorkshire beers, before we put forward our gladiator beers to be scrutinised by a panel of judges selected by the Leeds International Beer Festival.  Our Lancashire foe will be doing the same, and the best of Yorkshire will be pitted against theirs during the @LeedsBeer Fest in September.

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AG#23 New World ESB

Planned brewday for Sunday, and it’ll be my entry for the Great British Homebrew Challenge 2013.  I want to brew a strong bitter, but as a meddling homebrewer I also want to play around with it and hopefully compliment an English backbone with some New Zealand hop zing!…. well, spice actually, but you know what I mean.  Here’s what I’m aiming for:

Original Gravity (OG): 1.052
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 5.6%
Colour (SRM): 33 (EBC)
Bitterness (IBU): 41.0 (Average)

(87%) Golden Promise Pale Malt
(5%) Caramalt
(4%) Biscuit Malt
(2%) Black Malt
(2%) Pale Wheat Malt

Pilgrim (FWH)
Green Bullet @10 minutes from the end (Boil)
Green Bullet @5 minutes from the end (Boil)

Balancing_actAs you can see, it’s not the strongest of strong bitters, but I’m trying to stay on the right side of ‘sessionability’, given that the winning beer is destined for the pub.  I’d explain myself further, spelling out that I appreciate how strong beers sell too, but I can’t be bothered *smiley face*.  I’m wanting to give the beer malt character and a pleasing colour with the crystal and biscuit malts, but with a punchy bitterness with the Pilgrim hops.  I put a small amount of biscuit malt in my Black IPA and it gives a great flavour, and I’m told that Pilgrim will provide the clean bitterness I’ll need if I’m not to overpower the beer.  Will this create a balanced beer? I hope so.  The bitterness ratio (BU:GU) for a special/best/premium bitter is around 0.75, that is to say my target bitterness units (IBU) of 40 divided by my original gravity (OG) 1.049 = 0.81. (nb, you need to take the fractional proportion of the OG e.g. 0.049 x 1000 = 49).   See more detail on BU:GU rations on Mark Dredge’s blog.  I’m creeping a little out of best bitter territory and towards an IPA, but I’m brewing for my tastes too, so there you go.

The complicating factor, as I understand it, is that attenuation can muck this ratio/balance up.  For this beer I am using some yeast kindly given to me by Saltaire Brewery.  The brewer told me that the yeast is feisty and will go to town on any sugars available.  He also suggested that if I mashed high that this will help tame the b(y)east.  So the mash temp will be 69C.  Reason being for this is that I don’t have the luxury of temperature control, therefore I can’t stop the fermentation that easily.  If the high mash temp doesn’t seem to be working and the FG starts dropping below 1.010 then I’ll transfer off the yeast and give it a stern talking to (while drinking a homebrew and chilling the f*ck out).

Eyes down, HLT at the ready.

Updated 10/12/12:  The brewday went well, although I managed to collect 20L at 1.061, so liquored back (a little too far, due to lack of concentration) to 24L at 1.052.  I pitched the Saltaire yeast early evening and as of this morning there was no visible fermentation.

I tweaked the recipe once I’d had a chance to look at it through the eyes of my BrewMate software.  The colour was on the pale side and the only crystal malt I had was Caramalt, which wasn’t going to add any real colour.  I opted to add 100g Black Malt, somehing I haven’t tried before, but was happy with the resulting colour.

One other observation from the brewday.  My brewkit is annoying me…. again.

Updated 07/01/12 – sadly this brew didn’t make it beyond the FV.  It was tasting of fusel alcohol.  Not terrible, but not worth bottling and certainly not good enough to enter into the competition.  I think the issue could have been fluctating temp or that the yeast got too hot in the FV – autolysis?  Anyway, moving on to my next brew…..

AG#21 Stanley Bay – NZ Pale Ale

I’ve gone on about this brew a bit too much, but I’m excited about it and I shan’t apologise!  I wanted to try to clone Hawkshead’s NZPA, I really don’t like the term ‘clone’ as it implies success before you even roll your sleeves up.  I prefer to say that it’s a bad copy of the original.  We’ll see.  So, it was a late brewday and didn’t mash in until 19:40.  Add to this a hard week at work and an ill-thought-out trip to the pub on the way home to imbibe some Anchor Old Foghorn.  Despite these things, it was probably the most straightforward brew I’ve done.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.056
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 6.1%
Colour (SRM): 7.0 (EBC): 13.8
Bitterness (IBU): 45.9 (Average)

3.8kg Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.300kg Caramalt
0.200kg Vienna
0.150kg Pale Wheat Malt
0.150kg Munich I
0.150 Melanoidin Malt

15g Green Bullet (12.7% Alpha) (First Wort)
10g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @30 Minutes (Boil)
10g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @30 Minutes (Boil)
15g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @10 Minutes (Boil)
15g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @10 Minutes (Boil)
75g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @0 Minutes (steep @80C)
75g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @0 Minutes (steep @80C)

Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), 1 tsp gypsum (mash).  My weighing scales aren’t great and I only require 3-4g, which is a tsp (approx).  Same rule for the epsom salts in the boil.  I really should start looking at my water profile to suit beer style.

Strike temp of 75C, 12.0L liquor for 4.8kg grain.  Mashed in at 66C (single step infusion).

Mashed for 60 minutes and temp remained constant.  Sparged at 78C (strike temp 86C), 20.60L liquor. First runnings from the mash were 1.090 20C.  Didn’t take a pre-boil gravity, whoops.

First wort hops were Green Bullet.  I haven’t added hops in this way many times, but may start to do so as standard, my thinking here is that the software tells me ‘X’ IBU’s, but in reality it’s probably a lower extraction than that?  Anyway, as more experienced folk than me keep saying, we (the beer-drinking humans) can’t detect the difference of 5IBU’s either way.

Added the all important protofloc tablet at 15 minutes and remembered to add my immersion chiller this time!  At 80C I added the 150g of Motueka and Cascade.  Cooled the wort down to 22C and then transferred to the FV, pitching the dry US05 yeast in about half way through the run-off.  I’ve started doing this with dry yeast as the drop to the FV aerates the wort and means I don’t need to sanitise a spoon / one less risk of introducing nasties.

Collected my target of 21L of wort post boil with SG of 1.056.  Slightly above my target of 1.054, but nothing worth worrying about.  If the yeast attenuates as per my guesswork it’ll make the beer 6.4%.  A tad stronger than NZPA, but who’s counting!

I’ll be dry hopping in the FV with Nelson Sauvin at a rate of 4.8g/L.  I’d use more if I had it.

Update: 08/10/12 Dry hopped with 100g Nelson Sauvin and 50g Motueka (7.1g/l).

Update: 22/10/12 Bottled 18L, batch primed with 45g sugar syrup (2.5g/l).  FG 1.010 (6.1%).

Update: 18/12/12 I already knew it, but you can’t win them all.  As I feared this brew has issues.  Due to illness the beer was left in the FV on the yeast for way too long and then dry hopped at a ridiculous rate for 14 days.  I knew it was going to have an adverse effect but I was laid-up so nothing I could do about it.  The beer has a musty, yeasty aroma and taste, verging on an infected/clove taste.  It’s a real disappointment, but it reminds me that a lot of the brewing process is about controlling the variables that can consign your beer to the sink.  I’ll have to brew it again, rethink my dry hopping and stay fit and well!

Brewing a NZ Pale Ale

Following on from my New Zealand Saison,  single hopped with Motueka, my next brew will be a New Zealand Pale Ale, which if you want to be picky is an American Pale Ale hopped with NZ hops? Anyway, what better inspiration than the much revered Hawkshead NZPA.  I like this beer, I like the other beers that comes from the brewery, and the head brewer, Matt Clarke, seems to be a nice chap, although his stranglehold over the UK’s antipodean hop supply could change my mind!

The label on Hawkshead’s NZPA lists four NZ hop varieties; Green Bullet, Motueka, Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin.  I set about sourcing these hops only to find that Riwaka might as well be a ‘Class A’ substance, and the Nelson Sauvin in my freezer was there after ‘borrowing’ it from a recent brewery visit.  I decided on NZ Cascade as a replacement for Riwaka, whereas Matt had used Pacific Jade.  I’m told that NZ Cascade is quite ‘soft’ in character so will use it wisely.

I’d already decided to use Safale US-05 yeast, keeping things simple.  So the next step was to try and come up with a malt bill that would get me close to the real deal.  The NZPA label gave me a strong lead to work on…I knew I was looking for malted barley.  After a short Twitter discussion with Matt Clarke and Graeme Coates, a brief gander at the BJCP and the realisation that there is no clone recipe available to guide me, I set about concocting my best guess.

I want to achieve a 6% abv beer, with around 45IBU, the colour will be on the pale end of the style, as per NZPA.  I want to have a medium/full bodied beer, so in addition to 80% pale, I’ll be using a combination of Vienna, Munich and Melanoidin malts to hopefully create a wort that will stand up to the hops.  Pale Wheat Malt for head retention, but also to build the flavours.  Caramalt to add some sweetness/colour but mainly to prevent the beer finishing too dry.  Incidentally, I had to adjust the BrewMate software to accommodate the consistently eager attenuation of Safale US05.  My US Porter achieved 92% attenuation!  “Whooa!” *that’s English for ‘stop a yeast’*.

The hop schedule is also guess-work, but with four lovely hop varieties to work with, I will be hard pushed not to get good results.  Right?  Green Bullet for bittering, then a couple of mid boil additions of Motueka, NZ Cascade, then large additions of the same to steep.  Dry hopping (5g/l) with all the Nelson Sauvin I have and may use some Green Bullet too.

I’ll be brewing this evening and will blog the results.  Comments welcome.