AG#36 Feed Zone IPA

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This was my second brewday in a 24 hour period, just so I can join in the with the Leeds International Beer Festival, homebrew competition!   Very basic recipe, very brief write up. 

I thought I should stick with the pack and use a Tour de France inspired name.  I quite liked Sticky Bidon “the term used to describe what happens when a rider gets a new water bottle from the team car.  They tend to hang onto it for longer than necessary to get a free tow for a hundred metres or so“.  But, went with Feed Zone “a designated section of the race where riders pick up musettes from the soigneurs”.  A talking point…OK!

You can find the source of that interesting information and other Tour-lingo, here.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.050
Final Gravity (FG): 1.011
Alcohol (ABV): 5.0%
Colour (EBC): 10
Bitterness (IBU): 46 (Average)

4.26kg Pale Ale Malt
0.11kg Crystal Malt 60L

12g Warrior (leaf) (18.2% Alpha) FWH
30g Citra (pellet) (14.4% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (boil)
80g Citra (pellet) (14.4% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (aroma)
100g Citra (pellet) (14.4% Alpha) dry hop

Safale US-05 Ale Yeast (dry) 1pkt of 11.5g

Strike temp of 74C, 11.4L liquor for 4.37kg grain. Mashed in at 66C (single step infusion).   Mashed for 75 minutes.  Sparged at 76C 18.6L liquor.    60 minute boil.

I collected 19L of wort, post boil, with an OG of 1.051.  Pitched the yeast at 20C.

I’ll be transferring to secondary and adding the dry hops.

AG#35 Malted Milk Stout

This will be my entry for the Thornbridge/Waitrose Great British Homebrew challenge.  I’m a bit last minute with this brew, but it should be ok in time for the 31st July deadline.  I’m hoping that someone will put me straight if I’m wrong here, but I’m thinking the lactose puts this beer into the Specialty Beers category; as it contains a “non-core brewing ingredient at a level intended to impart a distinctive and discernible flavour or character“.  It’s my first attempt at a sweet stout, and after having tasted the wort, I decided that the amber malt has added a subtle biscuit flavour, and hope this carries through into the finished beer.  For this reason, I’m calling this a Malted Milk Stout

BrCSYpPIMAA1z1oOriginal Gravity (OG): 1.057
Final Gravity (FG): 1.024
Alcohol (ABV): 4.4%
Colour (EBC): 85
Bitterness (IBU): 27 (Average)

3.23kg Pale Ale Malt (Golden Promise)
0.52kg Roasted Barley (de-husked)
0.44kg Pale Crystal Malt
0.37kg Flaked Oats
0.27kg Amber Malt
0.23kg Lactose – Milk Sugar

30g Amarillo (leaf) (8.7% Alpha) @45 minutes from the end (boil)
Safale US-05 Ale Yeast (dry) 1pkt of 11.5g

Strike temp of 80C, 12.4L liquor for 4.83kg grain. Mashed in at 69C (single step infusion).   Mashed for 75 minutes.   First runnings 1.090.  Sparged at 76C 18.0L liquor.  Didn’t take a reading for pre-boil wort. 60 minute boil.

At 15 minutes from the end of the boil, I added the milk sugar to the copper (which I had dissolved into 1/2 litre of boiled water), along with the immersion chiller and protofloc.  

I’m not sure what the final gravity will be, and the FG should (hopefully) finish a lot higher that the 1.012, but BeerSmith didn’t seem to account for the lactose, neither did it seem to adjust the FG when I raised the mash temp.  Hopefully it’ll finish nearer 1.018 and the 5.2% abv stout that I’m shooting for.  Edit: It finished much higher – yet still within the BJCP style guidelines – at 1.024, making this a 4.4% beer.  Tasting good!

I collected 19L of wort, post boil, with an OG of 1.057.  Pitched the dry yeast at 20C.

29/06 1.038
02/07 1.033

05/07/1.024

09/07 1.024 – bottled 18L / batch primed with 78g sugar.

Homebrewing in the UK (2013/14)

Warning:  this is a long post, and was intended to be posted in time for Boak & Bailey’s Beery Long Reads.

Roughly this time last year, I wrote about “homebrewing in the UK”.  It’s my opinion that the boom-and-boom of homebrewing is symbiotic with the general surge of interest in beer.  Look around and you will see more independent bars and off licences; more breweries, more homebrewing competitions, some beer on the TV; a bigger selection of beer in restaurants. It’s a veritable beer bonanza out there.

2013 was another good year for homebrewing, and 2014 is already full of promise.  Not to discount the hundreds – if not thousands – of folk who quietly go about brewing alcoholic beverages in their kitchens, bathrooms, sheds, basements and garages – but there is a growing number of brewers who are interested in having their brews critiqued, or taking their beer to the next level.  From experience, I have found that this can be an anxiety provoking step, a step into unknown and sometimes unfriendly territory.  However, when you ask for someone’s opinion of a beer that you have lovingly created, you should be prepared for the ugly truth.  The good news is that it’s possible to learn from even the clumsiest of comments.  Several more homebrewing groups have formed over the last 12 months, and I can recommend them as a safe place to pour and share your beer, and be guaranteed at least one useful piece of feedback.  A step further on from this, there are local/regional brewers who support homebrewing, and who periodically offer an incentive for homebrewers to compete.

Unless you were out of the country during February, you will not have escaped the giddy anticipation of the announcement of the Craft Beer Company’s National Homebrewing Awards.  You can read more about it here, and from the winner (Andy Parker).  Andy will be brewing 20BBLs of his American Red beer, with competition partners – Dark Star Brewing Co during 2014.  If that wasn’t big enough news, then you only need to look at Siren Craft Brew ‘s competition  run in partnership with transient Swedish outfit, Omnipollo.  They announced their winner, Mike Bates, who convinced the judges with his English hopped 4.5% abv Saison.  Unsurprisingly, Mike knows a thing or too about beer, educating himself on a daily basis through his work with the fabulous House of Trembling Madness, York.   I hope some of the resulting beer will make its way back to Yorkshire!

There have been other competitions, notably the UK National Homebrewing Competition (not to be confused with the Craft Beer Co) over the last couple of years, and all of which have shown initiative and helped to demonstrate the shift in homebrewing honours; from ghastly ‘beer’ born from the airing cupboard; to commercial accolades.

So, that was my take on the UK’s homebrewing  scene, rather a long introduction, but one that hopefully leads nicely to what other people think.  I contacted a number of folk who are interested in homebrewing.  I approached all of the respondents with the same question –  that I am interested in the apparent growth of interest in homebrewing…and seeking any observations they might have; and where they see homebrewing ‘going’”.

Here’s what they had to say:  

Phil Lowry writes CAMRA’s  homebrew column in BEER magazine.  He also brews at home, sells beer for a living at beermerchants.com, and founded the London Brewers’ Alliance.

“[the growth in homebrewing] is really parallel to the growth in interest in the provenance of what we consume.  Food, clothes, electricity, you name it, I think we’re being more conscientious about what, and who we deal with.  I think beer, being that we can make it “easily” at home, falls in the easy to do, early steps bracket.  Then add grow your own, and, all the other things we can do to be better at living.   It’s just the weird, obsessives like ourselves, and our friends who take it further to the extremes.

But, I think there’s interest, whether it’s growing, as fast as we perhaps perceive.   I do think it’s [a case of] more people coming out of the woodwork, that “coming out of the closet”, is acceptable, for want of a better analogy.  

There are of course a few have-a-goes who fall beside the way side,  but, ultimately yes, there is a growth, parallel to the growth in interest in beer.  The great part, is the authenticity and quality are entirely in you the brewers’ hands.  We’re in good times, I just hope that convenience doesn’t trump “home made” in time”.

 James Kemp, formerly of Fullers, Thornbridge and Buxton, and now working for SPL International, and describes himself as – among other things – a “homebrew geezer”.

I see homebrewing in the UK at a decisive point, there is massive potential for homebrewers to be at the forefront of the beer revolution that’s occurring in the UK, there are breweries popping up all over the place and let’s be honest – where are the new wave of head brewers going to come from if not from homebrewing ranks? Already I see a short supply of quality commercial brewers in the UK, who’s going to fill that need? I think it’s time for the homebrewer to step up, the same way that the homebrewer in the US stepped up.

There is some absolutely fantastic homebrew being brewed out there, I recently had a conversation with a beer retailer who said “you’ll get better brewed and packaged beers at the national homebrew comp than you will from the majority of commercial UK breweries”. 

Obviously there is also some extremely dire examples, but often that’s a reflection on the amount of misinformation the brewer has to disseminate.  Homebrewing literature is shockingly dated and contradictory, this is where I think the homebrewer is being held back and ultimately where the brewing industry as a whole will be held back.

This is where I come in I guess, I’m using my experience in the industry to cut through the rubbish and give a little back by advising and helping anyone that wants to make good beer”.

Robert Neale is a keen homebrewer, and owner of online homebrew & micro brewery suppliers – The Malt Miller. 

Since The Malt Miller site went live in May 2010 we have seen a wholesale change in the appetite of the all grain home brewer. Home brewers were brewing mainly because it was cheaper, and although that is still part of the market we are now finding that most of our customers are brewing at home because, outside of the major cities, they find it hard to purchase the beer they want to drink.  Being able to supply exciting new varieties of hops, malt and yeast from the US, Europe and the Southern Hemisphere, the exact same ingredients that the famous “craft” breweries are using has been key.

As it stands we have 6800 customers registered from all over Europe and that is growing daily.  To keep up with demand we now employ three members of staff along with myself, and send out an average of 50 orders a day. Business has come a long way from selling a few packets of hops through an internet forum!

Graeme Coates is an award winning homebrewer; 2012 National Homebrew Champion, which netted him a brewing ‘holiday’ with none other than Norwegian outfit –  Nøgne ø

I’ve been homebrewing and competing a while now – in my view there’s been an enormous change in the hobby which has been visible from not only the competition side of things but also through aspects of social media, forums, blogs etc. The hobby is growing, there’s a continued increase in the availability of new ingredients (the recent experimental hop varieties a good example), and there seem to be more competitions taking place being run in conjunction with brewers and bars alike.

In earlier years the majority of the entries in competitions I entered (eg Sutton) seemed to come from the English Pale ale styles – APAs were few and far between, and rarely did you see a beer over 1065. The change started in Skipton (2010?) where the categories didn’t help out the judging when an enormous number landed up in “Speciality” (with this being split into “Belgian” and “non-Belgian”!) and I think we’ve seen continued expansion from homebrewers since, many have gone on to do it commercially too.

And you know, I’m almost feeling a little left behind in some respects with some of the ideas that people are coming out with – and much of this is being reflected in the way some of the commercials are heading (and probably for good reason as many are/were homebrewers themselves and inspiration runs two ways here).

Where are we going in the next year? I think there’s increasing numbers of homebrewers trying their hand at (intentionally!) sour beers – Ali [Kocho-Williams – now owner of Seren Brewing Co.] won the UKNHC (UK National Homebrew Competition) with a Straight Lambic in Sept 2013 – the variety of “additions” to beer (as debateable as some might sound seems to be a current trend, and I doubt the need to experiment with ever hoppier beers (with emerging hop varieties) is going to stop soon.

The only thing I’d add is that I’d not be too quick to wish away the homebrewing of low ABV bitters and good traditional lagers within the homebrewing fraternity – they are wonderful categories to really test and hone your brewing ability, as there is often nowhere to hide… (but that suffer enormously from stereotypical “twigs” and “lager is piss” descriptors).  Simple recipes can offer great flavour just as much as a complex one after all… Can I really stick my neck out to hope for the year we see the UK Homebrewer embracing the malty dunkel, the crisp German Pils and the flavoursome well brewed and perfectly balanced English bitter…?” [you just did, Graeme!]

 

Homebrewers Kevin Head, and partner in crime Jono, kindly added some thoughts from the perspective of homebrewers relatively new to the hobby, and therefore relatively untarnished by their peers!

“[First Jono’s thoughts] Making beer was something that I’d wanted to do for a while but I hadn’t got round to it. I guess fatherhood and drinks in the pub were things that brought us together but it was probably our respective wives that suggested that we were both keen to make some beer and that we should get together to do some brewing.  It’s somehow much more acceptable to spend 4 hours making beer at home than going out to the pub for the same amount of time – at least if kids wake up there’s still the possibility of being useful at home! The internet has been a huge help in finding out the basics and having an Edinburgh resource like Brewstore has made sourcing and sense-checking ingredients a much easier process.  I think the homebrewing “movement” isn’t just one thing, but the two main factors to me as an outsider looking in are probably the general tightening of purse-strings around the country over the past few years (along with the realisation that you can make decent alcohol without spending anywhere near as much per beer). 

My personal motivations are that I feel that this is a lost art within my family – I can’t imagine that with a farming background on my mum’s side of the family that there wouldn’t have been beer being brewed in the farmhouse, and I feel sad that those skills and recipes are something I’m having to relearn.  I’m a fairly experimental cook and having tried my hand at making cheese, chutney, jams, pickles it was only a matter of time before I needed to try something else new.  

In terms of resources I’ve found BrewToad useful for looking at other people’s recipes as well as the BrewMaster software for trying to make our own. I’ve listened to a few episodes of the Dr. Homebrew podcast and although it’s very US based (and I wish there was a UK version) I’ve learned a bit from there. The main resource has been my brewing partner Kev and just doing some kit beers, then experimenting with changing kits slightly, working hard to get the process right then moving up to doing Brew In A Bag. It’s an exciting hobby to have started and I personally feel like this is something I’ll be perfecting for the rest of my life!

[and a few words from Kevin]  In terms of anything additional/extra [to Jono’s words], I guess I have a bit more of a ‘beer geek’ background than Jono and there’s definitely something aligned to that which is really appealing.  Children, wife on maternity leave, etc. has severely curtailed my previous beer spend and the potential for making cheap(ish), quality house beers is a big, big incentive.  I also have pretty arbitrary, self-imposed price limits just now (no more than £3 on a 330ml bottle and £5 on a 500ml… devastating huh?!) which mean that some of my favourite beers (strong ales, imperial stouts, barley wines) are borderline inaccessible.  Not wanting to walk before we can run, but I hope to build up towards being able to make my own versions of these big beers one day.

Building up, or the urge to escalate, is something that I’m already finding is a massive and almost irresistible urge.  I’m already seeing that there’s something really compulsive about this homebrewing lark.  Whether it’s around quality, ingredients, batch size, brew day frequency or equipment, the desire to scale up appears to be a strong one.  (In other words, popping a Cooper’s kit brew on just doesn’t quite cut it anymore!).  I’m still committed to trying to brew quality, inexpensive beers for my own drinking, but can see that keeping things simple won’t be easy and certainly won’t be every time.

Oh and sharing!  Sharing and giving away beers you’ve made yourself is a great feeling.  I reckon it’ll be an even greater feeling as the beer continues to improve over time.

The final comment I thought it was worth making is how welcoming, supportive, generous and helpful I’ve found the hom brewing scene to be.  Whether through Twitter, or the monthly club run at Brewstore (our ‘LHBS’), people have been nothing but inclusive and giving of their time, knowledge and expertise.  My early impressions are of it being a genuine community which is a really positive and open place.  It seems, with a bit of investment of time and energy, anyone can begin to feel part of that community very quickly”.

London Amateur Brewers – Peter Hughes is the LAB Chairman

You’d be right about the growth of home brewing in the UK. We’ve experienced huge growth in the last few years. When I joined LAB in 2009 we were a small group of about 15 people who would meet in a small upstairs room at the Wenlock Arms.  Since then we have seen a lot of new members come into the hobby and we now have 40 – 50 members regularly attending meetings at our current and larger home, The Draft House (Tower Bridge).  We’ve also seen some of our members move into pro brewing, some starting their own breweries and some getting jobs as brewers.  LAB has also been lucky enough to participate in and contribute to important brewing trials, most recently trialling experimental hops given to us by Dr Peter Darby at Wye Hops. I think what’s significant is home brewing’s contribution to the new wave of modern brewers starting up in this country.  The Kernel & Weird Beard were born out of LAB and some of the other exciting London brewers made their start as home brewers too”. [Peter also referenced an article written by Mark Dredge, for Zymurgy Magazine about the link between London’s Pro and Amateur brewers – most definitely worth a read, and is an article that I have referenced before].

Manchester Homebrew Group’s – Ed Grimley

“Much like craft brewing, the home brewing scene has exploded in recent times. The number of people taking up brewing at home is astounding and incredibly exciting to see. New people turn up every month to our meetings who have taken the jump into all-grain home brewing and are very keen to learn more. Home brew clubs are popping up all over the country: the number of people willing to share hints and tips is endless, everyone is so happy to help one another out.

We’ve held tasting competitions and there have been some real crackers, I’m always surprised by the originality and creativeness of home brewers. You have anything and everything your imagination can think of to play with, and no commercial issues that naturally hang over professional breweries.  I’ve seen all kinds of beers: from strange flavour combinations to downright crazy ideas! It’s impressive and exciting to see what people can come up with.

I have rarely sampled a ‘bad’ home brewed beer.  Gone are the days of home brewing meaning cheap and disgusting brown beers, it’s now about a real craft and passion to create a beer just as good as one you’d drink in a pub or bar. Here’s to the future!” 

Last, but not least, Andy Parker – Award winning homebrewer, most recently crowned Craft Beer Co. UK Homebrew Champion; and aspiring Pro-Brewer with Elusive Brew Co.

If attendance at the London Amateur Brewer meetings are anything to go by, then home brewing definitely increased in popularity in 2013, perhaps reflecting the resurgence in commercial brewing. Some people brew at home to save money but others have designs on brewing commercially. I think the bulk of home brewers fall somewhere in between however, wanting to brew quality beer purely as a hobby with less of a focus on cost and more on producing the best quality they can. That’s what drove me to start brewing at home – a desire to recreate the commercial beers I enjoyed but couldn’t always get hold of.  It was once I started blogging and tweeting my experiences that I really started to learn.  

The feedback and engagement I got from fellow home brewers and professional brewers really helped me improve my process and the results got better and better, which drew me further in and encouraged me even more.  The online engagement soon spilled over into real life and I’ve met and am now friends with many other brewers”.

(Update: 19/03/14) Darren Shaw, homebrewer and blogger of homebrew at Urban Chicken Homebrew.

” ‘It’s the most expensive way to save money on beer’ – a statement I read last year and it’s certainly true.  Homebrewing is no longer about buckets of brown beer in airing cupboards and creating cheap pints of ‘the strong stuff’, people are brewing to specific styles and taking pride in what’s being created.  The art and craft of homebrewing is emerging, rather than it’s sole purpose being to create a budget beer.  However, on basic, homemade kit, great beer can be brewed.

My enthusiasm for brewing stems from an interest in the technical side, and the creative aspect including producing the artwork for my labels.  All aspects of homebrewing can be aided by really good online brewing communities (Twitter, YouTube, forums etc.), with people always willing to share information and ideas.  Beer swaps – not many people live next door to a fellow homebrewer – provide a good way to get feedback and sample the creations of others around the UK.

In 2013 I had the opportunity to get involved with two local breweries; The White Dog Brewery as part of a CAMRA ‘brew off’ and Muirhouse Brewery to create a collaboration brew (Dumb Cluck, a 5% Stout brewed with Cascade) which went to the Robin Hood beer festival in Nottingham, The Brewery Tap micro pub in my home town of Ilkeston and a few other pubs around the area.

This year I intend to increase brew lengths after the process of upgrading my kit but in the mean time a converted cool box and a plastic boiler are doing the job just fine!

I can see the scene continuing to grow in 2014 with even more people getting involved with the addictive hobby that is homebrewing”.

 

As this is already a long article, I won’t say much more, but I would like to thank all of the contributors.  I felt I could have asked so many more people, and would still have gained additional insights into the current homebrewing scene.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment.

AG#27 Nebulous Cascadian Dark Ale

This is my brew for the bar at the Northern Craft Brewers event on Saturday 13th April.  I opted to brew a Cascadian Dark Ale.  The recipe is based on my AG#5 Nebulous Pitch Black Ale, this time with more of an effort with the dry hopping.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.048
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 5.1%
Colour (SRM): Dark (EBC): Dark
Bitterness (IBU): 64.8 (Average)

Mash 1:
0.500 kg  Black Malt (cold steeped with 2.5L liquor)

Mash 2:
3.800 kg (84%) Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.400 kg (9%) Caramalt
0.200 kg (4%) Munich
0.120 kg (3%) Pale Wheat Malt

15g Galena (12.0% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (boil)
5g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) @30 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) @20 minutes from the end (Boil)
20g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (Boil)
65g Simcoe (15.0% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
100g Centennial (11.0% Alpha) T90 pellets in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)

Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), 1 tsp gypsum (mash). My weighing scales aren’t great and I only need 3-4g, which is a tsp (approx). Same rule for the epsom salts in the boil.  I ordered some 0.1-100g scales last week so that once I’ve looked at my water treatment in a little more detail, I’ll be able to weigh the salts more accurately.

Strike temp of 77C, 11.0L liquor for 4.5kg grain. Mashed in at 68C, a degree higher than my target as my mash tun loses a bit of heat (single step infusion). Mashed for 60 minutes and temp dropped to 67.  Fly sparged at 84C for strike temp of 78C, 18.5L liquor (the 2.5L cold steeped liquor making up the total to 21L). The boil was scheduled for 60 minutes.  Galena added as the wort was coming to the boil, followed by additions of Simcoe at 30,  20, 10 and 5 minutes before the end of the boil.

I collected 23L of wort post boil with SG of 1.051, and added 2L cool boiled water  (liquoring back) to bring the OG to 1.048.  Pitched US-05 at 20C.

My only mistake of the day was calculating the IBU using the Simcoe AA% as 12.2 when it was supposed to be 15%.  No big deal, the average IBUs were 57 and will now be more like 65.  Also, having had a hydrometer emergency I had to rush oer to HopZine Rob’s house and borrow one.  I’ve since purchased two new saccharometers which I’ll be taking good care of.

Updated 21/03/13 – SG 1.026

Once I reach the target 1.010 I’ll transfer to secondary and dry hop with at least 100g of Centennial pellets.  My first attempt with pellets.  It’ll then be transferred to a bag-in-a-box from which it will be dispensed to the good folk at the Northern Craft Brewers meet.

Went with 4 day dry hop with 50g Centennial t90 pellets in primary.

Updated 30/03/13 ) Racked to a polypin today, gravity 1.010, primed with 12g sugar. Roll on the 13th April.

AG#25 & 26 Prohibition APA

This is the write up from my brewday from Sunday gone.  It’s an American Pale Ale that will serve two purposes; my entry for the Revolutions Brewing Co. competition (AG#26) and my test brew for the Northern Craft Brewers event in April (AG#25).  As this is an American Pale I wanted to use US hops, opting for trusty Galena for bittering and then Cluster as the main copper hops.  I chose Cluster hops having decided to try a new variety and was happy with my choice.  During the boil I was reading a little more about Cluster hops and stumbled upon this by Beervana;

By the turn of the 20th century nearly every hop grown in the country was Cluster (96%). After Prohibition, Clusters continued to dominate; in 1935, they occupied 90% of the market – Beervana

From a quick read of Beervana’s blog post you learn that Cluster hops were gradually overlooked over the years, and in their place came the ‘C’ hops we enjoy in many of the beers we enjoy today.  Despite all of this I started focusing on one of the comments made at the bottom of the blog;

If you see any brewers talking about them, the phrase they generally use is “catty,” or “cat piss.” They aren’t being catty themselves, cluster literally smells like a litterbox – Daniel Warner

I was 20 minutes into the boil when I read this and started doubting whether Cluster were the right hop for this brew….I had in mind an easy-going, fruity APA (nothing wrong with a bit of cat piss aroma right!).  I Tweeted my dilemma and with 10 minutes to spare before needing to make the hop addition, the ever-friendly Jay Krause (Quantum Brewing Co.) tweeted some sense into me and I stuck with my original plan.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.052
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 5.6%
Colour (SRM): 9.3 (EBC): 18.3
Bitterness (IBU): 40.0 (Average)
Brew length: 21.0L

3.000 kg (82%) Pale Ale Malt (Dingemans)
1.500 kg (10%) Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.600 kg (6%) Crystal 40
0.200 kg (2%) Pale Wheat Malt

14g Galena (12% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (boil)
20g Cluster (8.1% Alpha) @30 minutes from the end (Boil)
50g Cluster (8.1% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Cascade (7.8% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
25g Cascade (7.8% Alpha) in secondary for 3-4 days (dry hop)

Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), 1 tsp gypsum (mash). My weighing scales aren’t great and I only need 3-4g, which is a tsp (approx). Same rule for the epsom salts in the boil.

Strike temp of 75C, 13.2L liquor for 5.300kg grain.  Mashed in at 67C, a degree higher than my target as my mash tun loses a bit of heat (single step infusion).  Mashed for 60 minutes and temp dropped to 66C.  Sparged at strike temp of 87C, to sparge at 78C, 18L liquor.  The boil was scheduled for 60 minutes.  All went to plan, Galena in at 60 minutes (from the end of the boil), followed by additions of Cluster at 30 minutes and Cluster and Cascade at 5 minutes.

I collected 21L of wort post boil with SG of 1.052 and ran this off into two FVs:

  • Pitched US-05 at 18C into FV2 (10L) and liquored back 1.8L (total 11.8L) to achieve an OG of 1.044.  I’ve also tweaked this batch with another ingredient, but more about that once the judging has taken place.
  • Pitched WLP090 at 18C into FV3 (11L) leaving the OG at 1.052,  I’ll be dry hopping both batches  Cascade (in primary FV).

Updated 23/01/13

Interesting to see the progress of the different yeast strains.  The only real difference being the OG.  US-05 had taken the SG in FV2 to 1.012 in 3 days, whereas WLP090 (the highly flocculant San Diego Super Yeast) had only managed 12 points in the same time, SG 1.040.  I’ll take another reading today, but here’s how they look (and by the way, no cat piss yet, just lovely fruity hop smells):

AG#24 Tomahawk IPA

I got the green light for a brewday on Sunday morning, so I set the kit up and weighed the grain the night before to ensure an early start. I had five hours to get this done and cleared away (ended up being nearer 6). This was a rebrew of my Tomahawk IPA AG#9 and AG#15. My aim was to brew a similar beer, but as this is one of my two recipes in development I tried a couple of different things with it. Having just bought Mitch Steele‘s IPA book, I couldn’t resist tinkering. The first was to tweak the grain bill, upping the quantity of caramel malts. To date I have used a combination of Pale, Munich, Pale Wheat and a small quantity of Caramalt in my IPAs, but wanted to experiment, so out with the Pale Wheat Malt and in with some Crystal 60L.

The second change was to the hopping, sticking with Pilgrim for bittering and with Columbus as the late copper hop. I previously brewed with Cascade in there too so kept that. I added Chinook to the bill which I hope will tame the Tomahawk down a notch. As well as the slight change to hop varieties I wanted to structure the schedule, as per a Deschutes recipe (Inversion IPA) in the Steele book. I want a beer with 80 IBUs or thereabouts that isn’t harsh, and as I wasn’t sure how that would work it seemed a sensible idea to use a Deschutes recipe (Inversion IPA) as a guideline for hop addition rates. I based my recipe on their 5.8g/l , which worked out at 133g, added to the kettle as follows: 15% at the start of the boil, 25% at 30 minutes and 60% at 5 minutes. For the dry hops, Deschutes use 1.16g/l which works out at 30g. This seems a bit low, but as those hops will be Columbus, Chinook and Cascade then they should still give it a bit extra on the aroma.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.062
Final Gravity (FG): 1.012
Alcohol (ABV): 6.7%
Colour (SRM): 9.3 (EBC): 18.4
Bitterness (IBU): 80.0 (Average)

5.000 kg (82%) Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.600 kg (10%) Caramalt
0.370 kg (6%) Munich
0.120 kg (2%) Crystal 60L

20g Pilgrim (11.2% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (boil)
33g Columbus (14.5% Alpha) @30 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Cascade (7.9% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Chinook (12.5% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
60g Columbus (14.5% Alpha) @5 minutes from the end (Boil)
10g Cascade (7.9% Alpha) in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
10g Chinook (12.5% Alpha) in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)
10g Columbus (14.5% Alpha) in secondary for 3 days (dry hop)

Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), 1 tsp gypsum (mash). My weighing scales aren’t great and I only need 3-4g, which is a tsp (approx). Same rule for the epsom salts in the boil.

Strike temp of 76C, 15.2L liquor for 6.090kg grain. Mashed in at 68C, a degree higher than my target as my mash tun loses a bit of heat (single step infusion). Mashed for 60 minutes and temp dropped to 67. Sparged at 78C (strike temp should have been 88C, error), 19L liquor. The boil was scheduled for 60 minutes. All went to plan, Pilgrim in at 60 minutes (from the end of the boil), followed by additions at 30 minutes and 5 minutes. No steeped hops after flame out on this occasion.

I collected 21L of wort post boil with SG of 1.062. Pitched US-05 at 18C. Once I get back to the point of being able to plan ahead, I’ll brew a few more beers with liquid yeast. I’ll be transferring to secondary and dry hopping with Columbus, Cascade and Chinook.

Updated 09/01/13 – SG 1.032

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…..