I brewed this beer for the Roosters Brewing Co. / Leeds Homebrew competition. I didn’t write it up on the blog at the time as we were asked by the organisers/judges to keep our entries anonymous. It won. On Friday I went along to Roosters to brew it on their pilot kit.
Ol Fozzard (Head Brewer/Roosters) made it clear throughout the process that this was my beer. He had no interest in changing it from the beer the judges chose. At times I found this a challenge, brewing a beer I had only brewed once before, on an unfamiliar kit and knowing that a limited number of bottles would eventually be sold to the discerning public. Ol did lead the brewday, no doubt, but each time there was a decision to be made I was left to mumble my way through it. The beer is a hop-forward Porter, meaning that in the first instance I aimed to brew a Black IPA, made it too roasty (possibly) and voila! a hop-forward Porter. We stuck with this, but substituted some of the crystal malt for brown malt and added some flaked barley for head retention/body.
The reason for entering these competitions is for fun and for the opportunity to get some impartial feedback on my beer. Another reason for me is to gain experience from the brewday that usually forms part of the prize. As well as a day off work and the chance to get inside a brewery, I try to learn something new. This can be tricky when there is so much information to take in. Brewing with Ol, a guy with over ten years commercial experience, gave me time to watch what he was doing and ask a fair few questions. Whereas a typical brewday for me at home, bearing in mind that I’ve only brewed 20 beers, is a repetition of the process I know. I become more familiar with my kit, and might make fewer errors, like closing all the taps or adding the finings at the right moment, but I wouldn’t say I’m learning more about the brewing process. Ol didn’t come from a homebrewing background and as such he has learnt from the brewers at Daleside, Copper Dragon and most recently his time working alongside Sean Franklin as the brewery was handed over. He doesn’t use brewing software, bar the odd spreadsheet and has learnt the maths. One such equation can be seen below. This was used as we stood and scaled up the malt bill from my 23L brew. Total malt extract value multiplied by kg’s, divided by brewlength, multiplied by brew kit efficiency, equals OG. In this case we looked at the pale malt and the munich. A useful calculation.
The second learning point (or more a starting point for more reading) was regarding pH. I haven’t concerned myself with pH while brewing at home. I have brewed a few times and have not had feedback to suggest off-flavours of that nature. I use minimal water treatments and haven’t read/applied much in the way of water profiles to suit beer style. It appears I have got away with it this far, but should take note that the styles of beer traditonally coming out of London, Burton upon Trent and Dublin were no coincidence. Being aware of the pH of your local water supply, routinely checking it before you start brewing and adjusting it accordingly, depending on your malts, will help the conversion of sugars during the mash, and among other things, it will affect the flavour of the finished beer. In the case of my Porter and the inclusion of roasted malt (Carafa III) the acidity needed to be taken into account. Ol knows the water for his brewery and knows exactly how he will treat it for the beers they brew. During the brew the pH was measured no fewer than five times: HLT (and adjusted), mash, sparge, run off from sparge and post boil.
…all malts (and dark malts in particular) have phosphates in them that react with the calcium and magnesium ions in alkaline water freeing up H+ ions that make the mixture acidic. Adding malt, especially dark malt, lowers the pH of the malt water mixture in the mash – BeerSmith ‘understanding pH’.
I won’t try to talk any more about pH as I need to learn about it first, and I know there will be more than a few homebrewers who will read this and wonder why I’m heralding this is as a gem of information. It’s just new to me, that’s all.
Finally, the finer details.
Original Gravity (OG): 1.062
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 7.3% (if the yeast stops!)
Colour (SRM): 16.7 (EBC): 32.9
Bitterness (IBU): 61.0 (Average)
Golden Promise Pale Malt
Carafa III (in the mash)
Carafa III (before sparge)
Cascade (Dry for 5 days in FV)
Centennial (Dry for 5 days in FV)
I’m told (this morning) that the fermentation has been steady and the smells from the FV are promising. With a bit of luck the beer will make its way safely into bottles and you’ll be able to buy it from Beer Ritz (Headingley) and online. A few people have asked when it will be available and I don’t have the answer to that, but I’ll be tweeting about it along with @RoostersBrewCo, @RoostersTom and @RoostersOl. Can’t wait to see and taste the finished beer. Tom had drafted the label and it was looking great!