AG#11 Broadford Belgian Pale Ale

I needed to fit a brew in so I could take part in the Beer Ritz /Copper Dragon competition, Operation Remix, co-arranged and blogged by Ghost Drinker.  I have the crappy weather to thank for brewing today, but you won’t hear me complaining!  I had a four-year old brew assistant up until the boil, and he’s starting to learn the basics… he still can’t make me a cup of coffee but we’ll get there.

The competition guidelines state that the brewer must choose one of Copper Dragon’s flagship beers, use the specified ingredients and either brew a clone, or remix it!  I opted for Golden Pippin, which is 100% Maris Otter pale malt and hopped with Cascade and Columbus.  I didn’t much fancy brewing a clone, so decided on a Belgian remix, using Trappist Ale yeast and will be dry hopped.  By my standards this is something of an experimental brew, so decided on a 11L brew length. I’m not keen on the idea of 40 pints of ‘weird’ beer, although I’m hoping that I will be kicking myself for not brewing a full 23L.  Here’s the recipe:

AG#11 Golden Pippin Celebration Ale (Belgian Pale Ale)

Original Gravity (OG): 1.051 (°P): 12.6
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010 (°P): 2.6
Alcohol (ABV): 5.34 %
Colour (SRM): 5.5 (EBC): 10.8
Bitterness (IBU): 31.1 (Average)

100% Maris Otter Malt

Cascade (5.7% Alpha) @ 30 Minutes (Boil)
Cascade (5.7% Alpha) @ 20 Minutes (Boil)
Cascade (5.7% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
Cascade (5.7% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes (Boil)
Columbus (14.2% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma)
Columbus (14.2% Alpha) @ 3 Days (Dry Hop)

Single step Infusion at 66°C for 60 Minutes. Boil for 60 Minutes.

Fermented at 18°C with WLP500 – Trappist Ale (cropped from my previous brew)

HLT switched on at 10.30am for a reasonably early start.  Strike temp of 73C and 5.5L liquor for 2.20kg grain.  Mashed in at 66C and lost 3C over 60 mins, probably due to the mash tun being so empty.

Sparged at 85C, 11.0L liquor.  Collected 14.0L wort (pre boil) at specific gravity (SG) of 1.040.

First hop addition of UK Cascade added at 30 minutes.  Second addition of UK Cascade 20 minutes, third at 10 mins and fourth at 5 mins.  Added a protofloc tablet at 15 minutes, and Columbus hops at flame out (electricity off).  I really wanted to make the most of the aroma properties of both hops.

Collected 10L of wort post boil with SG of 1.050.  Cooled to 18C and pitched my WLP500 yeast (I added some of the cooled wort to the starter and aerated before pitching).

A couple of things with this brew:

  • 100% Maris Otter with a Belgian yeast may end up very dry! However, as per the Golden Pippin spec I could not use sugar.
  • I’m not entirely sure how my hop choice will get along with the banana that will most likely come through in the final beer from the yeast.  Could be interesting.
  • I used UK Cascade rather than the specified Cascade.  I can’t see this being a huge issue and as these were to hand then they seemed like the sensible thing to use.

More photos of the brewday here.

Updated: 08/05/2012

FG 1.009 making the beer 5.38%

Will bottle tonight and batch prime based on the same information I posted in this post.  Desired volume of CO2 are  4.4 g/l (or 2.2 volumes)

Sugar addition = 53g (sugar syrup added to beer before bottling).

Updated: 19/06/12

This beer won me the competition! Woop.

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AG#10 Broadford Belgian Strong Ale

Today’s brewday, yes that’s right I brewed during the day for once, was a Belgian Strong.  It’s my tenth All Grain brew and I’m hoping it turns out well so that I can enter at least one beer into the UK National Homebrew Competition 2012 (Cat. 18D Belgian Golden Strong Ale).  For those interested, entries will be accepted from 20th August through to 7th September, with judging on 15th September.

If you follow my Twitterings you will have seen my #brewday tweets.  The brew went well, but reminded me how much I still have to learn about the basics.  I’ve left the recipe alone, despite the fact that I have ended up with a slightly different beer.  I’ll explain more below, but my reliance on brewing software caught me out on this occasion.

AG#10 Damn Nation

Original Gravity (OG): 1.077 (°P): 18.7
Final Gravity (FG): 1.016 (°P): 4.1
Alcohol (ABV): 8.0 %
Colour (SRM): 3.9 (EBC): 7.7
Bitterness (IBU): 22.8 (Average)

83.06% Pilsner
14.95% Candi Sugar, Clear
1.99% Wheat Malt

1.1 g/L Styrian Golding (4.5% Alpha) @ 90 Minutes (Boil)
1.9 g/L Styrian Golding (4.5% Alpha) @ 30 Minutes (Boil)
2.1 g/L Saaz (3.4% Alpha) @ 20 Minutes (Aroma)

Single step Infusion at 65°C for 90 Minutes. Boil for 90 Minutes

Fermented at 20°C with WLP500 – Trappist Ale (yeast starter post here)

HLT switched on at 9am and off to a nice early start.  Strike temp of 75C and 13.6L liquor for 5.12kg grain.  Mashed in at 65C, struggling to raise the temperature to 66C even with boiled kettle water.  I decided against adding more water and making a barley soup, so proceeded at 65C (will use higher strike temp for next brew).

Mashed for 90 minutes and lost 1C.  Sparged at 78C, 16.5L liquor.  Collected 24.8L wort (pre boil) at specific gravity (SG) of 1.041 (1st runnings SG of 1.084 at 32C).  The recipe includes a candi sugar addition to achieve the orignal gravity (OG).

 

First hop addition of 20g Bobek added at 90 minutes.  Second addition of Bobek 37g at 30 minutes.  Added a protofloc tablet and the candi sugar at 15 minutes, and 40g Saaz hops at flame out (electricity off).

Collected 20L of wort post boil with SG of 1.070.  Cooled to 20C and pitched my 2.2L yeast starter.

With the brewday over it was time to reflect on what went well, blah blah blah.  As it happens there a few learning points for me.  Like many other homebrewers I use computer software to aid the design and cataloguing of recipes (I use BrewMate).  Each software varies and you need to get to know it and your brewing kit before it will play nicely.  Here’s what I can take from this brewday aside from 22L of delicious beer.

  • Check the water/liquor loss calculation settings in your software.  I collected too much wort (pre boil), which contributed to missing my original gravity.
  • Mash temperature is always important and your target temp will depend on what you are trying to brew.  I started cooler than planned and already know that I lose 1C over 90 mins.  This was sloppy work by me and will have affected the extraction and contributed to missing my original gravity.
  • Using sugars is not new to me, but this was my first go with candi sugar (an invert sugar).  The candi I was using was 73% solids.  This should have prompted me to adjust my software to compensate for this.  This was a mistake, but one I’m not going to get upset about and I’ll know for next times.  This was most likely to be the main contributer to missing my original gravity.  However, it also goes someway to making me feel better,  here’s why.  My software calculated my OG based on th % extract it has stored in its settings for pale candi sugar.  The screen shot below (kindly provided by Neil @leedsbrew), shows my recipe as per Beer Alchemy (a different brewing software).  If you put your specs on you can see that it has the OG as 1.071 for 19L.

This helps me in a number of ways, but mainly to realise that I didn’t miss my OG by a country mile.  I did however collect too much wort (20L) which probably accounts for my OG reading of 1.070 (yes I could have boiled for longer, but didn’t want to add additional bitterness and colour).

  • The fun and games doesn’t end there though.  My final learning point(s) are relating to the yeast starter.  I forgot to factor in the 2.2L of 1.040 wort which was housing my yeast, this of course will affect the OG (depending on how much of the starter I decided to pitch).  Usually this will have been factored into the recipe and compensated for.  However as I didn’t so this, here where the options.  Pitch the whole thing and take the hit on the OG, or put the starter in the fridge, let the yeast fall out of suspension, before decanting the excess wort and pitching the yeast.  Thanks to Twitter I received a lot of immediate advice and reassurance on what to do next.  My Yeast Sensai helped me see the situation most clearly “Don’t be worrying about all that shit. Now let the healthy magical yeast do all the work and give you a marvellous beer“.  He was right, what the hell was a I worrying for…yes I want to understand where I went ‘wrong’, but there is really no issue with getting a beer a few points lower than targeted, so long as it tastes great (and I hope it does).   Another kind brewer (Ade @pdtnc) provided a calculation which I did not fully understand, but tells me that my OG is 1.067.
  • Final point and software related.  Brew Mate tells me that my beer will ferment out to a specific gravity (SG) of 1.016.  I’m lead to believe that the software doesn’t account for the yeast strain, and the WLP500 I have pitched will attenuate much further, to a more likely SG of 1.008, which will give me something like 7.8%.

Conclusion = swings and roundabouts!

It’s important not to get hung up on the details, but they are important and I want to understand my process and my kit well enough to be able to use brewing software without the headache.  There will be much opinion on the above and that’s fine.  I like the debate and I’m learning everytime I brew.

This write up should however serve as a warning to any homebrewers who do not want the debate or the dissection of your recipes and practices, not to tweet your recipe and your progress at every stage.  I prefer to do it this way, but get ready for feedback!

Will this be a 18D. Belgian Strong Ale in the eyes of a BJCP judge? I’m not sure, but there is only one way to find out (no, not a fight).

More photos of the brewday here.

EDIT: update on fermentation (for my records).

10/04/12 SG reading of 1.028 so moved the fv to a warmer place.

11/04/12 SG reading of 1.022,

Making a Yeast Starter

I’m planning to brew in a couple of days and here’s how I made my yeast starter.  This is my first attempt at using liquid yeast and I am using some instructions kindly provided by Dominic Driscoll from the Thornbridge Brewery.  He visited our local homebrew group back in January and talked us through the key points to consider when brewing a high gravity beer.  I will be brewing an 8% Belgian Golden Strong Ale.

Equipment

  • A saucepan
  • A suitable flask or 5L demijohn
  • Sanitiser
  • Aluminium foil
  • A thermometer

Ingredients

  • Dried Malt Extract
  • Water
  • One vial White Labs or a packet of Wyeast
  • Yeast nutrient

Method

1. Took my liquid yeast vial (WLP500 Trappist Ale) from the fridge, gave it a good shake and left it at room temperature for a couple of hours.

2. Visited Mr Malty‘s pitching rate calculator to find out what size starter I needed to make to achieve the correct pitching rate.  With an Original Gravity (OG) of 1.077 and a wort volume of 19L (5.02 US Gallons), the calculator suggested a 2.2L starter.  Dominic’s starter recipe calls for 100g Dried Malt Extract (DME) to 1 Litre of water.  So, 2.2L of starter needs 220g of DME.

3. I mixed the DME and water in saucepan on the hob, added 1 tsp of yeast nutrient, brought the mixture to the boil and boiled for 15 mins.

4. I placed the saucepan in cold basin of water and cooled the starter mixture to a wort pitching temperature of 22C.

5. Once the mixture was at 22C I poured it into my sanitised demijohn (sanitised using Star San), then added my liquid yeast.

6. I then covered the top of the demijohn with a piece of sanitised tin foil.  The reason for using foil is to allow CO2 out of the demijohn, to keep O2 in and to keep any other nasties out!

7. With the top of the demijohn covered with tin foil, I aerated the mixture for 2-3 minutes.

8. I then returned to the starter every 2 hours to aerate (by shaking the demijohn).

9. Opened a beer and blogged my efforts.