AG#32 Texas Brown Ale – Continuity Error

I recently blogged about my intention to brew a Texas Brown Ale.  More about it here.

Here’s the writeup from the brewday last week (28/02/14).  This beer is destined for the Northern Craft Brewers & Saltaire Brewery bar.  Brown hoppy craft cask ale.  No filtration, no pasteurisation, no pressurisation, no vitriol. 

wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-02-26-19.14.18.jpg.jpgOriginal Gravity (OG): 1.048
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 5.1%
Colour (EBC): 50.4
Bitterness (IBU): 48.9 (Average)

3.30kg Golden Promise Pale Malt (Simpsons)
0.50kg Biscuit Malt (Dingemans)
0.25kg Dark Crystal Malt
0.25kg Chocolate Malt
0.25kg Pale Wheat Malt (toasted)

10g Columbus (Tomahawk) (16.5% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (boil)
12g Brewer’s Gold (7.5% Alpha) @30 minutes from the end (boil)
88g Brewer’s Gold (7.5% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (boil)
50g Columbus (Tomahawk) (16.5% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (boil)
100g US Cascade (pellets) (5.8% Alpha) dry hop

Safale US05  yeast.

Strike temp of 75C, 12.0L liquor for 4.55kg grain. Mashed in at 65C (single step infusion).   Mashed for 75 minutes.   First runnings 1.090.  Sparged at 76C 19.0L liquor.  Collected 24L at 1.046. 60 minute boil.  

I collected 17L of wort, post boil, with an OG of 1.056.  Liquored back with 2.0L cooled boiled water to 19L with an OG of 1.048

Pitched US05 yeast starter at 19C.

Update: 03/03/14  1.040 

I’ll be transferring to secondary and adding 100g US Cascade pellets for 3-5 days.

Update: 12/03/14  FG 1.012 (4.8%) Dry hopped with 100g US Cascade pellets (in primary).

N.B. My last brewday led me to look at my efficiencies.  I got in a right muddle and was rescued by a professor of brewing, loosely associated with Stringers Brewery.  I applied the prof’s maths to my numbers from this brew. And I calculated my Mash Efficincy as 80% and my Brewhouse Efficiency as 69%.  Workings out, below. 

Pale malt: 3.5 kg @ 293 L.deg per kilo = 1025.5
Biscuit malt: 0.5 @ 273 = 136.5

Dark crystal malt: 0.25 kg @ 275 = 68.75
Chocolate malt: 0.25 @ 273 = 68.25

wheat malt: 0.25 @ 296 = 74.0

Total potential extract 1025.5 + 136.5 + 68.75 + 68.25 +74.0 = 1373 litre.degrees

My runnings from the mash were 24 litres at 1.046 Specific Gravity, so: 24 litres x 46 degrees = 1104 litre.degrees

My mash efficiency is something like…
 1104/1373 = 0.804 = 80%

Post-boil, I ended up with…
17L @ 1.056 i.e 17 x 56 = 952 and 952/1373 = 0.693
That is 69.0% which I’m calling my brewhouse efficiency.

 A couple of photos:

The grist


The toasted wheat malt


First runnings from the mash


The final colour


AG#31 Raspberry Blonde

It’s been a while (AG#31 British Hopped IPA, still to write up).  This one is my entry for the Northern Craft Brewers & Saltaire Brewery competition.  

“The Homebrew Competition is to brew a speciality beer:
It could contain Herbs, Spices, Vegetables, Fruit but the idea is you get a 5th ingredient to compliment and add to the Water – Malt – Hops – Yeast”.

I decided to play it safe and go with a simple recipe.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.044
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 4.46%
Colour (EBC): 7.3
Bitterness (IBU): 24 (Average)

2.800 kg Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.800 kg  Pale Wheat Malt

10g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (Boil)
30g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (Boil)
50g Amarillo (8.7% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (Boil)
1.400 kg Raspberries (from frozen) in secondary for 5 days

WLP001 California Ale Yeast.

Strike temp of 74C, 9.0L liquor for 3.600kg grain. Mashed in at 66C (single step infusion).   Mashed for 60 minutes.   First runnings 1.082.  Sparged at 76C 19.8L liquor.  Collected 24L at 1.040. 60 minute boil.  Amarillo in at 60 minutes (from the end of the boil), followed by additions at 10 minutes and 0 minutes.

I collected 18L of wort, post boil, with an OG of 1.044.

Pitched WLP001 California Ale Yeast starter at 19C.

Update: 10/02/14  1.024 

I’ll be transferring to secondary and adding 1.400 kg of raspberries (bought forzen and defrosted).

Update: 16/02/14 – Added 1.4kg raspberries to 18L. The FG was higher than expected at 1.014, making the beer nearer 4.0% abv

Update: 22/02/14 – transferred off raspberries. 15L.

Update: 28/02/14 – bottled 15L primed with 75g sugar syrup (5g/L to achieve 2.5 vols).

Not the most intersting of brewdays, or recipes, but the beer will hopefully be well balanced, with the raspberries the star of the brew.  This was a straightforward recipe, and I managed to make a note of most of my volumes and gravity readings, so thought I would try and understand ‘efficiency’ a little better.  My current understanding is poor, and it’s one of those things that I think “I’ll worry about it next time”.  To make things more confusing, an online calculator gave me one answer, and my calculation based on ‘the maths’ (edit: 12/02 – removed Brew Your Own, & Brewer’s Friend links – see update below), gave me a different answers (see below).  What I have learnt is that efficiency can be measured at each stage of the brew, and that my system, the water profile and the grist will affect efficiency.  I definitely want to get to the point where I can use efficiency calculations and brewing records to influence my brewday planning; but until I’m in a position where I have a brewkit that’s not botched together with whatever I can borrow, I’m not going to get hungup on grist and water treatment variables, too much.  Having a degree of certainty around temp and liquor losses should come first, right?

Back to this brew (I might brave a post on efficency another time).  I asked Twitter to help me out with my efficiency confusion, and the ever-reliable folk helped me out.  Thanks to; @hopsinjoor @RoostersOl @Jimthebrewer @BigAdeBrewing @Dunloptired and @tw05ers for their suggestions.   Al (@hopsinjoor) kindly shared his brew spreadsheet, which I’ll use when I have my kit ‘dialled in’

As ever, thanks for reading, and your comments are – almost – always welcome.  I’m sure there will be comments, as my understanding of efficiency; and the calculations above will be riddled with mistakes.  Hopefully, with practice, reading and comments, I’ll be able to put a more useful post together at some point.

Edit: 12/02 – see comments on efficiency:

The product of volume and gravity in brewers degrees.
For instance…
10 litres at SG 1.040 = 10 x 40 = 400 Litre.degrees.

The maltsters give laboratory extracts for the malts which you might  think of as the extract 1 kg would give in 1 litre. If that were actually possible. For decent pale malts this is probably around 300 (assuming a coarse crush / moisture as is).

That’s to say, one kg of malt mashed under ideal conditions would give you 1 litre of wort with a gravity of something like 1.300.

So, for an example homebrew mash:

Pale malt: 2.8 kg @ 293 L.deg per kilo = 820.4
wheat malt: 0.8 @ 296 = 236.8

You can get these values for extract from a recent malt analysis, but you can look up typical values on the InterWeb , or you could call it 300 and wouldn’t be far wrong.

Total potential extract 820.4 + 236.8 = 1057.2 litre.degrees

What you actually get out of the mash might be 24 litres at 1.040 Specific Gravity, i.e…
24 litres x 40 degrees = 960 litre.degrees

So your mash efficiency is something like…
 960/1057.2 = 0.908 = 90.8%

Post-boil, you might end up with…
 18L @ 1.044 i.e 18 x 44 = 792 and 792/1057.2 = 0.749
That is..74.9% which you might call brewhouse efficiency.

“Thanks Prof!” – full post and source here.





Texas Brown Ale

This will be my brew for the upcoming Northern Craft Brewers event in April 2014.  Alongside the bottle competition, there will be a full bar of homebrewed beer to explore, this being one them.  I’ve brewed an American Brown Ale before, but this time I’m taking inspiration from one of the craft brewing pioneers – Pete Slosberg and his Wicked Ale (circa. 1986).  Sadly this beer was discontinued in 2011*.  More recently a Bear Republic / Fat Head’s and Stone Brewing Co. collaboration paid tribute to Pete’s Wicked Ale, when they brewed TBA, a 7.1% / 80 IBU “extra hoppy brown ale“.  Sounds good to me!, however, as this will be on a packed bar, with fairly limited drinking time, and dispensed from cask, I have toned it down, and in doing so hopefully making it more akin to Pete’s beer.  I can always brew it again at full volume, for bottle consumption.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.051
Final Gravity (FG): 1.011
Alcohol (ABV): 5.3%
Colour (EBC): 50
Bitterness (IBU): 45 (Average)

The Stone collab recipe calls for; Victory malt – substituted for biscuit malt; Toasted Wheat Malt – which I will sub in some home-tasted pale wheat malt; and molasses – which I will omit for this lower abv version.  I think this wants to be a medium-bodied beer, so no point in overloading it, for the sake of “cloning” a recipe.  I think it will be complex enough with the roasted malts.

Golden Promise Pale Malt
Biscuit Malt
Crystal Malt (120L)
Chocolate Malt
Pale Wheat Malt (toasted)

The hops in a Texas Brown Ale should be Cascade heavy, but taking direction from the Stone TBA, I’m going to layer it up with Columbus and Brewer’s Gold (leaf hops) and dose it with a Cascade dry hop (pellet).  In comparison to the Stone beer, my target IBUs don’t look wayward enough, but I’m shooting for a BU:GU of 0.9, so should be plenty for the strength.

Columbus (bittering/late copper)
Brewer’s Gold (late copper)
Cascade (dry)

If I’m given enough encouragement, I may be persuaded to brew a 7.1% abv / 80 IBU version.  Comments welcome, as ever.

Thanks for reading.

*Brookston Beer Bulletin – “Gambrinus Discontinues Pete’s Wicked Ale

Brewing People are Good People

There is a saying in the beer world that ‘beer people are good people‘, (sometimes known as “good people drink good beer“) it’s more a notion than a fact, but you don’t have to look too far to find examples of it in practice.  My understanding of the saying will be different from the next persons, but I see it as a reference to a small part of the global beer community.  I’m not talking about beer geeks, tickers or reluctant-scoopers, I’m talking about anyone who engages with beer as a drink that can enrich your life, in one way or another.  The sceptical among you will argue that  “beer is just a drink”, or that “industry people have a ulteria motive to their actions”.  This may well be the case, but if you see beer as just another drink then fine, move along and find something that makes you happy, and if you think the industry is just out for your wallet then you may have missed the point.

Breweries are engaging with each other more than ever before, nicely put by The Pub Diaries writing for Melbourne based The Crafty Pint when discussing the “Beer Revolution, Beer Renaissance, Beer Revival” in London (roughly this time last year).  With the London Brewers’ Alliance epitomising the efforts being made locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to collaborate and benefit from shared knowledge, experiences and in some case resources.  I can understand the forming of these alliances, there is a natural tendency to draw your camp closer together when the wolves are circling, but I suspect the alliances would live on despite the lack of a tangible need.  What is more difficult to comprehend is an increasing trend of breweries extending their circle to include and support homebrewers.  It’s more apparant why a brewery would collaborate with another brewery, blogger or publican, but homebrewers?  Once again, the cynics will have their say; “nothing is free”, “you’re being used” etc.  Yes, there are benefits to a brewery getting creative with their marketing and engaging with niche customer bases, like homebrewers, but the benefits are largely in favour of the homebrewer.  Being suspicious of strangers bearing gifts is only natural and it’s a sad part of being human, but many pro brewers started as homebrewers and maybe the reasons for this relationship is to give support where they didn’t have it, or to increase the profile of brewing in general.

This post is probably going to make most sense to those homebrewers who have already benefited from help via social networks, invitations to brewdays, opportunites to compete and win the chance to experience their recipe being produced commercially.  I only have local examples of these kinds of activities, but Saltaire Brewery’s support of the Northern Craft Brewers and Leeds Homebrew group welcoming representatives from Thornbridge, Revolutions and Ilkley breweries to it’s meetings.  Encouragement, recognition, a free beer or two, call it what you want, but they are interesting times and long may this continue to develop.

(Edit: It turns out there may be some villains too, boo!…hiss!)

Northern Craft Brewers 2012

Saturday was the long awaited Northern Craft Brewers (NCB) English IPA competition.  Adding to the sense of occasion were the Midland Craft Brewers, a ‘Brew Off’ if you will, however I can report that there were no ugly scenes reminiscent of West Side Story.   For a more factual write up of the day see Ade Chapman’s blog @pdtnc.  This was my first time meeting with the NCB crowd and wasn’t sure what to expect, but knowing Ade was involved and with a great venue in the shape of Saltaire Brewery I knew it was going to be a good day.

The 38 entries for the English IPA competition were checked in as folk arrived and the judging commenced at around 1pm, with what looked to be two tables of judges, possibly working in pairs to score and comment on each beer.  The judges came together with their highest scoring beers and then went about deciding on the winners.

While the judges were busy downstairs, there was a buzz of activity around the brewery.  A talk on India Pale Ale by Shane Swindells of the NCB and then much homebrew chat, bottle swapping and enjoyment of the beers available on the bar.  Alongside some well known breweries like Saltaire, Buxton and Triple fff Brewery,  were six cask beers brewed by members of the NCB and MCB.  With no restrictions on the specification, there was a choice of a West Coast APA (by Rob Derbyshire), a Black IPA (Ade Chapman) and three IPA’s brewed by myself, Neil Gardner (Leedsbrew) and Allan Gayton (MCB).  All proceeds from the bar have been donated to the chosen charities and am delighted to report that the discerning drinkers voted in favour of my effort.  Thanks to those who enjoyed my beer and especially to the two homebrewers who cast a more experienced eye over my recipe, and gave me the confidence to brew it!  I think we all knew it was a close run thing and for me I was just made up to have my beer being dispensed on tap.

The meet was a fantastic event and big congratulations go to the winner and runners up in the headlining English IPA competition.

1st – Steve Syson

2nd – Tom Dobson

3rd – Ade Chapman

4th Dr Ray Carson, HC Karl Clarke, HC Ron Allinson

Also a huge well done and pat on the back for those responsible for organising and making  everything run smoothly on the day: Shane Swindells, Ade and Emma, Tony Gartland for the use of the venue and supplying the trophies, to the judges who bravely faced many homebrews in order to find our winner and of course to the 50+ homebrewers who supported the event and raised £400 for charity.

I would encourage other homebrewers to keep an eye on the NCB website and join us at the next meeting!

AG#7 Broadford Progress IPA

I’ve brewed my entry for the Northern Craft Brewers IPA Day event at Saltaire Brewery, March 31st 2012.  If you are a homebrewer and want to join in, then this is a joint event with the Midlands Craft Brewers and I’m sure both groups would welcome some new faces.  I want this beer to have plenty of time in the bottle so decided to get a brew on.

With it being an English IPA competition, there are a few requirements;






1.050 – 1.070 1.010 – 1.018 40 – 80 8 – 14 5 – 7.4%

Oh and most importantly,  English hops only.

So here was my plan, brew something pale, clear and with a decent head on it.  Having said that, I think the judges will probably have a taste too, so I decided to throw a few hops in, 100g of Progress hops to be precise.  It may sound a lot (or not enough?), but I’ve tried to match the IBU’s (International Bitterness Units scale) with the abv (alc/vol).  I’ve been told this is a reasonable idea when trying to balance the bitterness.  Also, over the sixty minute boil, I went for 50% (weight) for bittering and 50% for aroma.   I’ve not used Progress hops before and couldn’t find any examples of it being used as a single hop, but I do believe it will be a good all-rounder and think it’s worth a punt.  As for the malts, the guidelines do not limit the choice, but should be “consistent”with the style.

A hoppy, moderately strong pale ale that features characteristics consistent with the use of English malt, hops and yeast

This will be a good test for me as an inexperienced homebrewer.  Brewing to style and nowhere to hide when judges and peers are going to be involved. Using Progress hops is really quite apt I thought, see how far I have made it thus far.  I should also mention that I invited fellow homebrewer and brother-in-law Ben (@boodrums) along.   He recently brewed his first beer, a partial mash Pale Ale and is already building his mash tun in preparation for his first full mash brewday.

Golden Promise Pale Malt – 86.7%
Munich Malt – 5.2%
Amber Malt – 3.1%
Crystal Malt 30L – 2.7%
Wheat Malt – 2.3%

Progress 50g – 7.9% @60mins
Progress 10g – 7.9% @30mins
Progress 10g – 7.9% @20mins
Progress 10g – 7.9% @10mins
Progress 15g – 7.9% @0mins (steep 20 mins)

Final Volume: 19 Litres
Original Gravity: 1.061
Final Gravity: 1.015
Alcohol Content: 6.1% ABV
Bitterness: 58.3 IBU
Colour: 9.6 SRM
Yeast: Nottingham Danstar
Mash: 60mins @ 67c
Boil: 60mins

It was a fairly late start on Friday evening, with the HLT switched on at 7pm, but with Ben firing questions at me and the bottles of beer flowing, (breaking my usual rule of no beer until the boil!), I really didn’t care that my rendezvous with the finishing line was located somewhere in the small hours of Saturday morning.

I had an issue with losing too much heat during the mash for my last brew so, compensated three-fold: raised the strike temp a degree to 79C, wrapped the mashtun with a blanket and used more malt.  The idea being that less head-space = improved insulation.  Mashing in at 68C, a bit hot I know but I lost 5 degrees last time and ruined the extraction.

I also decided to experiment with both a 60 minute mash and a 60 minute boil (I usually use the standard 90 mins for each).  After 60 minutes the mash temp was 67C (lost 1C).

The 1st runnings from the mash tun were clear after recirculating 6L.  I was pleased with the colour and my copper manifold performed well again…Woo!

First addition of 50g Progress hops to the copper at 60mins.

Still not built my chiller, so lots of waiting around to get a good cold break (FV in the sink/cold water).

I achieved a final volume of 18L at 1.071.  Used a calculator and liquored back 2L to achieve a gravity reading closer to my target of 1.062.  A 7% IPA was tempting.  I then opted to leave the FV cooling and covered with cling film – awaiting yeast in the morning.  I don’t like doing this for fear of a wild yeast invasion, but couldn’t stay up any longer (it was 2:00 am).

I took another reading in the morning but didn’t take a photo. It was spot on 1.061 at 22C.  Made a quick starter for the Nottingham Danstar yeast using 100ml cooled boiled water and 100ml of the wort.  Pitched the yeast 28th 08:30am.

An enjoyable brewday, but I’ve also got some figuring out to do.  Something is not right at Broadford.  Somewhere between, calculating losses, efficiency and being clueless is resulting in targets being missed.  More practice required.  Suggestions welcome.

Updated: Bottled this beer FG 1.015 08/02/2012

Homebrewing in 2012

I’m already homebrewing and have been for three years now,  it’s been said before but I’ll say it again, it’s great fun!  I also know people keen to have a go this year and have read others declare their interest.  While reading the Beermerchants Beer Blog post ‘2012’ I found myself nodding along at each of the thirteen points, but three of them stood out for me (four if you include Number 2;  ‘getting rid of the High Strength Beer Duty‘).

So here are the three, no doubt intended to be applied in general, but they do work well when just considering homebrewing.

Number 9: ‘Homebrew’

Do it.  It’s the best thing ever.   If you love beer, great food and find cooking easy.  And, have good cleaning routines… DO IT!     You’ll take a greater appreciation for the beers that you drink in the pub, or buy from, than from any book, blog or tweet.     Remember, support your local homebrew shop.

He speaketh the truth! You can make it what you want it to be, a few brews a year just to have a go or a few brews a month to really take steps forward.  Either way, and from personal experience, you get so much back.  It can provide purpose to your reading about the drink you love and maybe offering you a much needed side-step from your well-thumbed copy of ‘1001 beers to drink before you die’ [other books are available].   I have three brewing books on the go, as well as some general readers from the great and good of the beersphere.   As the Beermerchants blog points out, it can enhance your appreciation of the beers you drink.  Some of you may know it all already, but I for one have benefited from having some insight into the science, ingredients and process of brewing, albeit on a 5 gallon scale.  Regardless of the scale, the principles remain the same.

Number 11: ‘Play well with others’.

Number 13: ‘Have fun‘.

I think the last and maybe most important by-products of homebrewing (sorry for calling you all by-products) is the network of people available to you.  I’ve found that there is plenty of cross-over between the drinking, blogging, homebrewing and commercial brewing specialists, but I’ve seen how these networks link together and provide a playground for learning through debating and sharing.. it can at times be an unweildy mess of short, medium and long term spats which inevitably form as rock meets hardplace and chalk meets cheese, but it’s all good clean fun.

So what do you need to know? very little, and before you buy any books, find a homebrewing forum that suits your needs, there are loads out there and can save you a lot of time and money if you ask the right questions.  This will most likely inform the books you buy (maybe one good reference book for beginners) and the kit you buy or maybe even build of you’re that way inclined.  From there in on in, it’s up to you, either go for it solo or try and get a brew day with another homebrewer.  If you don’t happen to know any, there is the option of locating someone on the brewing forums (I did this and lived to tell the tale!).   There are also a number of informative brewing blogs out there, with helpful how-to-guides as well as tried and tested recipes.

The best piece of advice I’ve received during 2011 was from a commercial brewer local to West Yorkshire, who cut to the chase and said “Just F*cking Brew It“.

Finally, and staying in line with the beermerchants mantra, “support your local homebrew shop“.  This is something I have failed to do so far.  Busy lives mean that we will look for the most convenient route and there are also times when your local shop don’t stock what you are looking for.  I did visit my local homebrew shop yesterday Barley Bottom and to my surprise, Paul has started a one barrel brewery, going by the same name as his shop.  The brewery is on-site and I’m going back to join him for a brew day soon.   He is a homebrewer of over 10 years and look where it has got him. Poor sod.

A few dates for the Yorkshire and UK based readers:

Leeds Homebrew – 12th January 2012 @MrFoleys

Northern Craft Brewers English IPA competition – 31st March 2012 @SaltaireBrewery

UK National Homebrew Competition – last entries 7th September 2012