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!