Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Beer #18

An early start at work for a filer software upgrade, had me leaving early and getting home before 14:00. With the whole afternoon ahead of me and the prospect of Gemma not being around, I decided to put the time to good use and get another beer on. Because last times were pretty high strength, somewhat accidentally I decided to go with something a little lighter. I went for a simple malt base aiming for 1.038 and decided to use up the Apollo hops in the freezer.

  • 3kg Maris Otter
  • 200g Crystal Malt
  • 10g Apollo @ 60 mins
  • 10g Apollo @ 15 mins
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 mins
  • 20g Apollo @ 0 mins
  • Danstar Nottingham Yeast, rehydrated

Everything went pretty smoothly and was kind of relaxed. Collected 22L bang on target gravity and pitched.

Beer #16 & #17

Left both of these untouched in the fermenter for 2 weeks and then bottled, both at 1.010, for 6.7% and 6.5%, respectively. Eek.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Beer #17 - SMaSH Challenger

The next beer was a comparison using a British hop. Slightly less volume was collected and it was also a point out in gravity.

  • 5kg Maris Otter
  • 24g Challenger @ 60 minutes
  • 24g Challenger @ 30 minutes
  • 24g Challenger @ 10 minutes
  • 10g Challenger @ 0 minutes

Mashed at 66C for 60 minutes. 60 minute boil. Collected 20L at 1059.

Beer #16 - SMaSH Apollo

So the theme of the next few beers are Single Malt and Single Hop (SMaSH), as a bit of experimentation to try and get to know the different flavours available. First up Apollo (at 17 something % AA).

  • 5kg Maris Otter
  • 10g Apollo @ 60 minutes
  • 10g Apollo @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Apollo @ 10 minutes
  • 10g Apollo @ 0 minutes

Mashed at 66C for 60 minutes. Collected 23L of wort at 1060 OG.

This was also the first outing of the immersion chiller which worked well. I found it quite difficult also using the false bottom (an Ikea splatter screen with bolts through it), as it merely served as a block to free circulation of the wort. Because it doesn't fit tight to the stockpot it didn't really do much to help block out hops. The hop stopper works pretty well anyway, and I used a hop sock over the tap to catch any stray bits that got through, which had a side benefit of aerating the wort quite well on it's way into the fermenter.

Double Brew Day

After the closure of the Thrifty Shopper website, I didn't have a handy way to get ingredients sized for the recipes I wanted to do, that meant ordering a 25kg sack of Maris Otter from the Malt Miller instead. Because of the size of the thing, I didn't really fancy having it delivered to work, so I had to wait until I could organise a time for the other half to be home to receive the delivery. That combined with several family visits delayed brewing rather too long, so I decided to be adventurous and do a double brewday.

This was the first brewday using the pot now it has the tap in it, and I'm not sure how I survived for so long with out it. Other than the length of the day, the fact that I was quite tired and that I had two dogs to look after, it was a breeze. The method was modified a bit and efficiency has increased dramatically.

Essentially, I'm now doing a large volume (26L or so) brew in a bag as I was doing, but during the mash step I heat another smaller stockpot of water up for a sparge step. I sparge using the very ghetto method of using a measuring jug to place water in a foil tray sat on top of the large stockpot, whilst letting the wort out of the tap at the bottom into a fermenter.

The problem with the increase in efficiency is that the beer is way stronger than I'd initially designed, although if I'm honest I did just pick out a round 5kg of grain, and because I've gone particularly bitter on the beer I don't think it's going to hurt it being stronger.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Beer #15 - Down the drain

Unfortunately my Christmas Ale got infected, possibly from all the messing around trying to get it from the stockpot into the fermenter. It's sad to have to tip a batch down the drain. Hopefully the tap in the pot will prevent this happening again.

I have the fermenter soaking in soda crystals at the moment.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Tap in the pot

Daz borrowed the pot to get his first all-grain on. He also enlisted his dad to get a tap fitted to the plot - which has duly been done. With a hop-stopper in it too. That should make things much much easier.

Beer #15 -Wassail Ale

I haven't got the details to hand, but last week I brewed a Wassail Ale. Basically the Christmas Ale from Mosher's Radical Brewing. It was a massive nightmare if I'm honest. Ended up with 8.5kg of grain in the bag, which when soaked in the mash became, understandably very heavy. This meant that it took both Gemma and me to pull it out of the pot, we couldn't do the normal suspend and twist to drain wort out. When we tried to put it in the smaller pot for a dunk sparge, it just managed to spread wort all over the kitchen.

Post boil I ended up with about 7L at 1099! I did some back of an envelope calculations, boiled up some extract in water and added some additional water which brought us to about 1073 (from memory) and just shy of 15L.

Fermentation, with T-58 was rapid for the first couple of days. It got down to 1030. Checked it today after a full week in primary and it's still at 1028, so I've roused with a sanitised spoon.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Beer #14 -Saison

Bottled the Saison this morning. It got down to 1012, so should be 4.6%. I put 10ml of lactic acid in the bottling bucket along with quite a bit of priming sugar solution, aiming for a fairly highly carbonated beer.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Beer #14 - Saison

Got another all-grain brewed over the weekend, this time shooting for a modification of the Radical Brewing Saison. Efficiency was up with this brew despite no changes in technique or anything. Rather odd.

  • 2.3kg Lager malt
  • 1kg Munich malt
  • 450g Wheat malt
  • 450g Demerera sugar
  • 28g Northern Brewer @ 90 mins
  • 43g Saaz @ 30 mins
  • 57g East Kent Goldings @ 5 mins
  • + Coriander, pepper and orange peel @ 5 mins (I forget the amounts at the moment)
  • T-58 yeast

Siphoning into the fermenter was 'fun'. I ordered new siphon tube but got a massive bore one instead of the smaller. Caused me all sorts of problems and it will be a miracle if this brew is not infected. But still about 17L into the fermenter at 1.048. I am bemoaning the lack of a tap though.

I also think I'm going to have to watch late hop additions. Since I'm not cooling and just leaving the wort to cool in the pot with a lid on and sanitised tea-towels over it, the late additions are sitting in very hot wort for quite a lot longer than would normally be the case. Definitely a chiller is required.

It's fermenting away nicely, with a large krausen the morning after pitching the yeast. Fermenting pretty warm as I still need to sort some method of fermentation temperature control out. I'll add some lactic acid at secondary or bottling to emulate the souring a real Saison would have.

Beer #13 - Bottled

The Split-Wit was bottled a couple of weeks ago in a time-consuming and messy operation. I've actually had an early trial bottle of the 2/3rds spiced and it was rather lovely. Bonus.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beer #13 - Fermentation

I was a little worried that by pitching really high I was going to either kill off the yeast or cause off flavours in the beer. The day after pitching I awoke to a healthy krausen. Unfortunately the next day it had subsided massively. I've just checked with a hydrometer and it's around 1014/1013, so I think it's done OK. I will test again tomorrow and then syphon off into 3 demijohns for a week of secondary fermentation. I'm going to try them with differing amounts of the vodka extracted spice mixture and one with a bottle of raspberry syrup in it.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Beer #13 - A Belgian Wit to split?

Daz came round on Friday night to go through the BIAB process and to act as an assistant. Much less disastrous than the previous attempt. And much easier with an assistant, although given the beer intake went up quite a bit it had the potential to end up a mess.

  • 26L in big pot @70C, 3L removed for temperature correction
  • 6L in little pot @70C
  • 900g lager malt
  • 2370g wheat malt
  • 450g porridge oats
  • 15g Northern Brewer @ 90 minutes
  • 28g Saaz @ 30 minutes
  • 28g Saaz @ 5 minutes
  • Safale T-58
Mashed for an hour @ 65C resulted in a SG of 1046. Dunk sparged in the other pot to get 6L at 1034 which went straight in the big pot when it was boiling. 90 minute boil and then pot left overnight to cool with sanitiser soaked towels over the lid. Into the fermenter the following afternoon at 32C and cooled a couple of degrees by sitting on some coolbag ice blocks. Pitched yeast, and the following morning a healthy krausen on top, but it's fermenting a little warm at 24C. Circa 16L @ 1044.

I also started a vodka extraction of coriander, orange peel and coriander. I'm considering splitting the batch to do half like that and half with Polish raspberry syrup.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wheat Beer kegged

The disasters keep in coming with this beer. I racked it into a pressure barrel when fermentation steadied at 1.012 (for an ABV of 4%). Unfortunately the pressure barrel valve is knackered and doesn't seem to be holding pressure. I did purge with CO2 prior to racking which has hopefully helped keep it. It's certainly tasting pretty good at the moment, but I'm on operation drink it speedily.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Beer #12 -Wheat Beer

Last week's bank holiday Monday saw me trialling the new stockpot with a full size batch of Bavarian Weizen from Radical Brewing. It was basically moving from one disaster to another, but I did manage to get some wort in the fermenter, so it's not all bad. I'd bought a length of voile from Dunelm Mill. I may have to get this made into a bag, as it's somewhat tricky to work with otherwise.
  • 26L Water @ 70C
  • 2.322Kg Wheat malt
  • 1.7kg Lager malt
  • 0.45kg Munich malt
So, things that went wrong:
  • Wasn't able to insulate the stockpot/mashtun
  • Mashtun lost about 10 degrees C over the hour
  • Managed to get wort all over the hob
  • Wort on the hob carbonised and welded itself to the hob during the boil
  • Wort was 103?
  • Managed to get some more wort by 'sparging' in another pan
  • Overfilled the pot with water and grain and couldn't get the lid on
  • Did a simple infusion mash where the recipe calls for a stepped infusion
Because of my lack of a chiller I had to leave the stockpot overnight to cool with a couple of towels soaked in sanitiser over the lid. Fortunately the lid is quite tight fitting.

I got 20L of 1042 wort into the fermenter and pitched a pack of WB-05. After 1 week it's down to 1014.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Big Boiler

The other news is that Daz picked me up a 32L aluminium stockpot the other week. I did a test boil this morning. The pot manages to just cover 2 burners, the large and one of the medium. It was a promising start for 24L:
  • 30 mins - 48C
  • 45 mins - 66C
  • 61 mins - 83C
  • 75 mins - 93C
  • 90 mins - 100C
Unfortunately, whilst the pot managed a simmer, it couldn't quite get to a rolling boil, so I turned it off after 120 minutes. I'll have to think about another way to get it boiling, whether that be an electric element or a big gas burner. I popped the lid on and checked the temperature after an hour - 93C. After several more hours it had only dropped to 60C - at which point i nicked some of the water for washing up, and so that I could actually lift the thing to the floor. I needed to get tea on!

I was naughty...

...because of various things going on it took me way too long to get this beer bottled. Hope I haven't ruined it. FG was still 1.008.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Beer #11 - Fermented out?

I was away at the weekend so didn't manage to make an early check on the beer, a check this evening shows it at 1.010 which I imagine is fermented out and will make it 4% ABV. Easily the nicest tasting I've had straight out of the fermenter. I'll check again tomorrow and think about bottling.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Beer #11 - A bitter

I got a couple of cool books for my birthday last week, Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles and Radical Brewing: Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass. I'm just working my way through them and haven't really had time to fully absorb the info in them, but since I had today off thought I would get a brew in anyway.

  • 2kg Mariss Otter pale malt
  • 40g Biscuit malt
  • 200g Munich malt
  • 230g Crystal malt
  • 28g Challenger -60 minutes
  • 14g East Kent Goldings -15 minutes
  • 14g East Kent Goldings -0 minutes
Again, the brew in a bag method was used getting about 8.6L of 1.060 wort in the stockpot. I also dunk sparged the bag in a spare fermenter which gave about 6L of 1.0?? wort which I used to top off where the pot had lost volume to evaporation during the boil. In the end I was left with just under 10 litres into the fermenter at about 1.058 (I think), which I diluted down to between 12-13L and a OG of 1.040. The yeast went in after a bit of cooling time. I had had the pot in the sink but without the sink plug that has gone walkabouts it was somewhat more difficult. I used the cooling time to wander up to the plot and drop the spent grains off in the compost, tidy up a bit and cook tea.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Beer #10 - Bottled

The beer is finally bottled after I got off my lazy backside and did it. Taster glass out of the bottling bucket is OK, if a little dull, probably due to the under-hopping and over-diluting. It's a lovely colour though, which is nice. Still, this was a lesson learning brew and I'm taking the lessons on-board.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Beer #10 - Secondary

I meant to whack the all grain brew in bottles at the weekend, but needed to empty some bottles so invited people round for a curry. The emptying of said bottles ended up with me in no fit state to sort out the bottling on the Sunday. Oops. Still, all the homebrew drunk was quite nice, whether from extract or kit, and the curry wasn't bad either.

I've just racked the beer off into another barrel to get it off the yeast cake and will either leave it be for a while or bottle at the weekend.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Beer #10 - ALL GRAIN!

I nicked a grain bag from Daz that he'd inherited from his grandad. I'd ordered 4.5kg Maris Otter, with the idea of doing a couple of beers out of it. In the end I decided to roughly scale the 19L version of Brew Your Own British Real Ale's Hopback Summer Lightning, mainly because it's a single malt and secondly because I really like it and was upset at the wasted barrel of it that I made.

I added 8L of water to the stockpot and heated to 69 degrees C. Then added the bag and 2500g of Marris Otter Pale Malt. And topped up with hot and cold water, stirring with each addition, until the stock-pot was nearly full and the temperature was 66 degrees C. I then wrapped in a dressing gown and a sleeping bag and waited for 90 minutes. I was amazed that the wrapping managed to keep the heat in for the mash, I barely lost any at all - less than a degree. After removing the bag, letting it drip, and squeezing, I got 9L of wort at (I think) 1.064.

I brought the stockpot bag to the boil and boiled with the schedule:
19g Challenger for 90 minutes
7g Goldings for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp Irish Moss for 10 minutes
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient for 10 minutes
4g Goldings at flame out.

I was amazed at the amount of break material in the pan at the end of the boil. I cooled in the sink, replacing the water a couple of times. I'd cleaned and sanitised the bag during the boil and used it as a sieve to remove the break material whilst pouring into the sanitised fermenter. I think I got 5L after the break material was out and measured it at 1097! I may have made a mistake somewhere along the line.

Because it measured so high I started diluting with water, I slightly misjudged the amount to use and ended up with 13L at 1.042. The target was 1.047. I could have made it up with extract, but I wanted this first one to be a purely grain batch. Good-old Nottingham yeast went into the fermenter.

Daz's first extract brew

Daz piggybacked on my last order with Thrifty for the ingredients for a Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby from Brew Your Own British Real Ale, so I went round to his house just to be there for his first go at the extract brew. He had been a bit shocked by the price of extract, but subsequently has been told by the LHBS that the kits he used to brew are all going up (shockingly) in price.

The brewing went well, with quite a lot of drinking happening alongside, whilst the girls sat chatting in the living room. We had a bunch of brews from the off-license up the road as well as a couple of my Belgian's (still very nice) and a sampler of Beer #9, which was actually quite nice even for only having sat in the bottles for a week. The harsh bitterness I'd noticed from the trial jar had calmed down quite a bit. It was weak, yet refreshing, and I think will get brewed again as an allotment thirst quencher.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Beer #9 - Bottling

By about Tuesday evening the beer had dropped to 1.010. I decided to leave it and see if it fermented out any more and just bottle at the weekend no matter what. It hasn't shifted any further gravity-wise, which I think really is pointing to my need to get some temperature control for fermentation sorted. That makes the ABV estimate around 3.4%.

A sneaky taste from the sample jar indicates that reducing the brew length has made the beer very bitter and unbalanced. I'm hoping if I leave it in bottles for a while it will mellow out a bit.

I've rinsed out my bottles ready to sanitise, and ready to whack the beer into the bottling bucket (of which the tap will be scrupulously checked this time). I'm off for lunch first though.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Beer #9 - Ruby/Mild thing

I wanted to do a simple session-strength thing, but the major mistake made this time was thinking I had a 1kg bag of pale DME when it was only 500g -forcing a draw-down of the brew-length to maintain the required gravity, which means it will be more bitter than expected and the crystal malt in it may be a bit more than I'd have liked. Oh well.

Daz came round to watch the process as he's been fancying trying it himself. After cracking open a couple of the Belgian ales (the first of several) we started off.

Steeped for 15 mins in 6L 65C water:
200g Crystal Malt
50g Chocolate Malt

Added 600g Light DME & brought to the boil.
Added 30g Challenger (for full 60 minute boil)
Added 30g Fuggles (last 15 minutes)
Added 6g Challenger at flame out.

This time I cooled the stock-pot in the sink with a couple of changes of water, because I was using less water in the fermenter and had trouble cooling last time. I pitched a dry packet of Nottingham. After 24 hours noticed a healthy krausen on the top of the brew.

OG was 1.036. Lets see what this one turns out like, I assume it will be drinkable despite the mistakes.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Belgian Taste test

I've subsequently found out that the speciality grains I used are supposed to be mashed along side a malt with the appropriate enzymes to cause sugar release. Ooops. That being said, I'm sure they are imparting some flavour to the brew, even if not the 'right' flavour. And when chilled on the cellar head that flavour is pretty good. There's some banana and spiciness from the yeast, and it's tasting rather nice. It's certainly drinkable which given the head-cracking ABV is a bit dangerous!