Homebrew Wednesday – Hopsinjoor

I’ve blogged about other people’s homebrew before, but hope to start contributing to the Homebrew Wednesday ‘thing’.  I say ‘thing’ because I’m not sure of its origin, but know that people interested in homebrewing have allocated Wednesday as the Holy Day.  Be it; brewing, blogging, vlogging, tasting, or sharing their latest brewkit project, Wednesday is the day to do it.

I have made some friends while brewing and blogging, and one such friend recently sent me a couple of his beers.  I haven’t asked him if he’d like to be Wednesday’d, but I don’t think he’ll mind.

Blog: Hopsinjoor’s Brewing Spot

Twitter: @hopsinjoor

Among other things, Al likes to brew beer at home.  I’m writing this as I look at two of his beers, both labelled and packed with vital stats and ingredients.  Off to a good start then!  I’m guilty of sending homebrew out to friends, and when they ask me what’s in it, I tell them what I can remember, which is usually good enough to be honest.  I drank the beers before reading the contents.

Smashton’s Bruxellensis IPA (Mk 1)

Pours murky amber colour, decent white head, good carbonation, smells fantastic (think Axe Edge meets Orval), sweetness, hops are jumping out of the glass, peach, sweet orange, lemon, bready.

Flavour/taste: resiny, grassy, peppery, fruit salad sweets, alcohol

Medium body, good carbonation

Really balanced bitterness and the punchy Mosaic hops play nicely with the Belgian yeast.  Pretty boozy.

Slightly dry on the finish, and then a long, subtle bitterness (considering the 70 IBUs).

Really complex beer, full of flavour and backed up with generous aromas.  It’s difficult to get across how good this beer is.  This is Al’s 31st All Grain brew and is not yet on his blog.

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-02-12-21.04.09.jpg.jpgSmashton’s Bruxellensis IPA Mk 1
Original Gravity (OG): 1.065
Final Gravity (FG): 1.008
Alcohol (ABV): 7.5%
Bitterness (IBU): 71.3 
Brewed: 21/11/2013
Bottled: 16/12/2013
Grain:  Marris Otter, Munich, Crystal, Wheat
Hops: Magnum (bittering), Magnum, Mosaic
Yeast: WLP650 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis

I’ll enjoy this beer, then update the post with beer #2 later this evening.  Cheers Al.

Smashton’s Winner Staison Bretted Stout (Mk 2)

Next up, stout.  It’s stormy outside, the stove is blazing, and I now have a glass of stout.  Same as before, drank the beer before reading the details on the label.

Opened with a fizz and gushed a bit, but lost very little beer.  Skills.

Pours black, the initial fizz settling into a thin head – fed by a stream of carbonation (just visible at the side of the glass).

The aroma is all about the yeast, and a faint whiff of roasted malts.  It has a Belgian yeast esters going on, and really mixes you up….reading stout on the label, pitch black in the glass, and then “Hallo!”

Initial taste is intense tartness – and I get the two mixed up, but – sour, like sherbet crystals.  The sourness dissipates leaving a smooth coffee flavour.

It’s a really interesting beer, I’ve had nothing quite like it.  I think this beer is too refined for me….it’s tough when you have no reference points.  It’s a sour stout, right? Al?  I’m thinking, acidic dark malts, and then the blend of yeasts playing tricks on me?  I need to know more about this one.

Definitely one to sip and enjoy, which I intend to do.  Cheers once again for the beers Al.

wpid-20140212_223910.jpgSmashton’s Winner Staison Bretted Stout Mk 2
Original Gravity (OG): 1.078
Final Gravity (FG): 1.009
Alcohol (ABV): 9.0%
Bitterness (IBU): 62 
Brewed: 27/10/2013
Bottled: 08/12/2013
Grain:  Marris Otter, Roasted Barley, Wheat, Flaked Oats, Chocolate Malt, Rye
Hops: Bramling X, Galena
Yeast: Saison / Brett

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AG#16 Broadford American Brown Ale (Take 2)

I recently brewed an American Brown Ale for the upcoming Ilkley Brewery competition.  I had high hopes for it based on an interesting malt and hop bill and a Burton Ale yeast.   My first concerns were due to the aromas coming from the FV, which turns out was from the Summit hops I added at flame out.  Having spoken to other homebrewers and a pro brewer I was reassured that the onion/garlic aromas from Summit do dissipate and make way for orange! Sure enough the onion stench moved along.  After my initial panic I had also dry hopped with 20g of US Cascade.  I took a gravity reading on day 7 of primary fermentation and tasted the beer…. describing it as ‘interesting’ doesn’t quite do it justice.  There are several unfamiliar flavours which could be as a result of aromatic or special B malts, which I’ve never used before, the combination of hops, the yeast or the combination of all of them.  The main off-flavour is of elastoplast (I think) and am told this could be chloramines.

Chloramines or Chlorine will give your beer a medicinal or band-aid type of flavor.

I will look into this in more detail, but did the following to avoid this: Water treatment using 1 Campden tablet per 5 Gallons and I use an acid, rather than chlorine, based sanitiser.  I’m hoping that the off flavours are phenols that haven’t been dealt with by the yeast yet, so there is hope, but I didn’t want to chance not having a beer to enter into a competition I’ve helped organise.  So here is the American Brown Ale brewday Mark II.  Despite Chris Ives (Ilkley Brewery) advice to make incremental changes as a way of understanding your brewing process, I decided on a totally different recipe (sorry Chris), and a beer I’ll be calling ‘Mothman’, due to my late night brewing and the critters dive-bombing me and my precious beer.  (Also, thanks to Neil @leedsbrew and Ian @lugsy51 for talking this through with me).

Original Gravity (OG): 1.038  (°P): 9.5
Final Gravity (FG):    1.010  (°P): 2.6
Alcohol (ABV):         3.73 %
Colour (SRM):          16.4   (EBC): 32.3
Bitterness (IBU):      38.8   (Average)
Maris Otter Malt
Caramalt
Crystal 30
Chocolate, Pale
Special-B
Amber Malt
Flaked Oats
Magnum (12.5% Alpha) @ 30 Minutes (Boil)
US Cascade (7.9% Alpha) @ 15 Minutes (Boil)
US Cascade (7.9% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes (Boil)
US Cascade (7.9% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma)
Single step Infusion at 64°C for 60 Minutes. Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), Gypsum (mash), Epsom Salts (Boil).  Boil for 60 Minutes. WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast.

Strike temp of 72C and 4.53L liquor for 1.810kg grain.  Mashed in at 64C.

Mashed for 60 minutes and temp remained constant.  Sparged at 84C, 12.23L liquor (total liqour 16.75L).  Collected 13.60L with gravity reading of 1.030 @22C.  My target was 15.1L at 1.036.

First hop additions of Magnum at 30 minutes.  Added a protofloc tablet and immersion chiller at 15 minutes, and a further copper additions of Cascade at 15 and 5 minutes, before a heap of Cascade at flame-out.

Collected 10L of wort post boil with SG of 1.038.  Cooled to 20C and pitched the vial of WLP090 yeast.  No starter for this one, but MrMalty told me that this would be fine.  Ideally I would have made a starter, but the brew impromptu and needed to be done without further delay due to the 14/07/12 deadline.

and a shot of the colour in the daylight

The design and name of this yeast promise a lot!  I’m hoping it saves the day.

A few more photos of the brewday here.

Update 25/07/2012 This beer took joint 1st prize in the Ilkley Brewery competition (along with Matt Lovatt).

Hop Tea

Image by Kevin Worth

I’m sure that others will have tried this before me, but I haven’t seen or read anything about it recently, so here goes.  I decided to have a go at making a few jars of hop tea, not so much for the drinking, but for the experience, although I have read that hops can be used in medicinal teas.  I’m sure there are plenty of people in the brewing industry experienced enough, or maybe beer enthusiasts who have a keen enough sense of smell who can differentiate between hop varieties, by looking, feeling, smelling and tasting the hops in their raw format, dried and or wet.

I’m so new to brewing that I have only used maybe ten different hop varieties to date.  When I had the idea to make some hop tea I had eight varieties in the freezer two of which were opened so left them alone.  From the six I plucked from the deep freeze, three were UK varieties, and three US two from the US and one German.  From the UK: East Kent Goldings (EKG), Fuggles and Pilgrim, from Germany: Magnum and from the US: Chinnook and Columbus.  The %AA values scribbled on the pieces of paper are to denote the alpha acids present in the hop resin.  Alpha acids provide the bitterness we enjoy in beer.  Beta acids complete the resins found in hops and contribute to the beers aroma.  High AA beers, for example the Columbus are primarily used for their bittering qualities with this particular harvest offering 16.5% alpha acids by weight (AABW).  Aroma hops usually have a lower concentration of alpha acids and higher concentration of beta acids.  Just to confuse those of you who are even newer to brewing than I am, some bittering hops (which are typically boiled for longer during the brewing process to impart their bitterness) can also be used successfully as aroma hops, and hops primarily used for adding aroma can be used in larger quantities throughout the boil to impart bitterness and aroma.

Dry hops

Fuggle 4.3% AA

Despite having come straight from the freezer, the hops were dry, pale yellow in colour and had very little aroma. The little aroma present was grassy.  Having recently been to a brewday where a single hop fuggle beer filled the air with fresh orange pith, my stock was a poor reflection.  Possibly past their best.

East Kent Goldings 5.2% AA

Like with the fuggles, these were dry to the touch, more a pale green in colour and had a very weak, yet sweet aroma, even when rubbed between my fingers.  This was not what I had been hoping for. Possibly past their best.

Pilgrim 11.2% AA

I bought these recently and used them in an IPA as the bittering hop along with Cascade and plenty of Columbus late in the copper.  They were noticeably more sticky than the fuggles and EKG and pale green in colour.  When rubbed between my fingers they were indeed sticky and pungent, almost cheesy, which I have read is not a great sign of freshness?  Can I just say at this point that I had divided the hops into jars all in one go, so as you might expect there was a strong smell of hops in the kitchen and was making things difficult.

Chinnook 12.4% AA (2009)

These were from a packet I bought  a couple of months ago and were dry with a slight resinous feel and light green in colour.  The aroma was distinct, white pepper and citrus fruit, very fresh and pleasant.

Magnum 12.7% AA (2010)

As with the Chinnook these had only been in my possession for a couple of months.  The were bright green in colour, very sticky and I have to admit that I found it difficult to identify the aromas, only to say that they had plenty going on.

Columbus 16.5% AA

Also very fresh and green in colour (not as striking as the magnum) and out of all six varieties they had the most aroma, really pleasant, with white pepper and citrus aromas.  I don’t mind saying that I found trying to identify aromas of dry hops very tricky.  Some of them, especially the high alpha acid US varieties were very familiar to me and no doubt due to the beers I’ve been enjoying of late – beers which have been generously dry hopped.

Steeped Hops

The next stage was to add boiling water to each jar and let them steep for ten minutes before tasting each variety.  This is where the wheels fell off my grand hop tasting session!

What can I really say here, without using Google to save me from abject failure.  What I can say with authority is from fuggle through to columbus the hop tea became progressively more unpalatable.  If you brew and have tasted your boiled wort, then you know what I am talking about here.  Especially in highly hopped beers, the wort tastes so bitter that it can be unpleasant and in my opinion not dissimilar to chewing on a Paracetamol tablet.  The aromas were interesting in that, unsurprisingly, the process of steeping intensified the dry aromas, with the columbus been the stand out favourite for me, which bodes well for this brew.

So what did I learn from this exercise? well, I’ve learnt that brewing with the freshest hops you can source is a must.  It may seem obvious to be saying this, but I really didn’t fully appreciate the extent to which the opened packets of hops in my freezer have been degrading.  If you consider that the hops homebrewers buy are probably not the best from the harvest as the choicest hops will have been snapped up by the buyers/distributors and ultimately the major breweries.  Also, theses hops have been handled a lot, they have been packaged and repackaged, experienced changing temperatures and then we (the homebrewer) may use 20g from a 100g packet and then bung them in the freezer with the blind faith that they’ll be fine the next time we happen to use them.  On a lighter note, it may also be fair to say that when smelling a load of hops all in close proximity, then describing their aroma as “hoppy” is acceptable!

I think most importantly, I have confirmed (for my understanding of beer and brewing) that hops may play an important role in the finished beer, but they are nothing without malt, other adjuncts and maybe most importantly the yeast we use to ferment our wort.  Even the sexiest, most sort after American hops taste like death when you drink them in isolation to their partners in crime.  It has been a useful exercise and one I’m not sure I need to repeat, but I’m glad I did it and know the experience will play its part in my development as an amateur brewer.

Some useful resources (but not the only ones available):

Charles Faram & Co Ltd.

Brew365 – Hop Substitution Chart

The Malt Miller – Hops

AG#5 Broadford Black IPA

A long awaited brewday (night!)  and one that I decided to coincide with local fellow brewers @brotherlogic and @pdtnc #blackipaoff.  This was my fifth full mash brew (AG#5).

The grist

The Brief

Brew a Black IPA, swap some bottles, taste, discuss.

Beer styles are always a topic for discussion and I know that the oxymoronic Black India Pale Ale is a debate in full flow.  I’m not here to discuss it, just to brew a beer, but I was interested to see what others had said on the subject Stout Fellow, Called to the Bar,  Into the BrewCraft Beer and Hop Press.  All things considered I’m sticking with Black IPA.  If it’s good enough for Kernel, Brodies, Windsor Eton Brew, Thornbridge, Buxton then it’s good enough for me!

Malts:
Maris Otter Pale Malt (5.45kg) – 77.9%
Munich Malt (1kg) – 14.3%
Crystal Malt (350g) – 5%
Carafa III (200g) – 2.9% (I added a further 300g Carafa before I sparged.  Aiming for maximum colour, minimum roastiness).

Hops:

Rolling boil & 1st hop addition

Magnum 45g – 12.7% @90mins
Chinook 20g – 12.4% @20mins
Cascade 20g – 7.6% @20mins
Chinook 20g – 12.4% @5mins

Cascade 20g – 7.6% @5mins
Chinook 20g – 12.4% @0mins (steep 20 mins)
Cascade 20g – 7.6% @0mins (steep 20 mins)

Final Volume: 23 Litres
Original Gravity: 1.069
Final Gravity: 1.017
Alcohol Content: 6.8% ABV
Bitterness: 79.2 IBU
Colour: 100 SRM
Yeast: Safale US-05
Mash: 90mins @ 67c
Boil: 90mins
Water treatment: 4g gypsum, 2g epsom salts, campden tablet.

OG 1.069


I’ve now brewed with this setup a few times and I’m really happy with the results this time around.  On day 3 of the fermentation the hydrometer reading is down to somewhere between 1.030 and 1.020 (difificult to tell through the krausen and I’m not messing around dipping trial jars. One of these days I’ll treat myself to an FV with a tap!).

You can see the rest of the pics here.