26 November 2005

posted by benjy edwards

I couldn’t decide whether to brew an oatmeal stout or a Russian Imperial Stout, so I compromised by brewing a clone of the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, which is between the styles in terms of alcohol content.  I added three pounds of oatmeal not found in the original recipe, for the smoothness and oiliness it will contribute to the body.  Target gravity was a robust 1.090, which we achieved by filling the mash tun to its absolute limit, and by lautering for almost two hours.  Other malts we included were roast barley, chocolate, wheat, and black malt.  Hops were Kent Goldings, Cascade, and Willamette.
The Christmas Ale was racked to secondary, after two weeks on the yeast.  Gravities were sharply different, the London attenuating to 1.020 but the English managed 1.012.  Both samples only had subtle ginger and cinnamon notes, so more spices will be added to the secondary or the keg.

12 November 2005

posted by benjy edwards

Now is a good time to make the Christmas Ale for 2005, so that it’s ready in December.  The recipe was simplified from last year, including only cinnamon and ginger as the spices, plus several pounds of honey.  The honey was added with only a couple of minutes remaining in the boil, so as to ensure that the flavour comes through.  Hopped to about 40 IBU with strictly Cascade, we used the last few ounces of the homegrown hops in addition to commercial hops.  Gravity was a substantial 1.075, so it’ll end up about eight percent.  Should be nice and fortifying for the long winter evenings.
The Harvey’s was casked in the firkin, dry-hopped with about 4 ounces of Goldings.  After primary the flavour was similar to that of the real thing, we’ll see how much change we get over the next week or two.  Alcohol content should end up around 4.2 to 4.3 percent, a touch higher than the 4.0% target of the original.

5 November 2005

posted by benjy edwards

Brewing again, but this time without the Burton ale yeast.  I started London ale yeast on the 3rd, and kept the English ale that has been used three times or so.  The Burton was attenuating well, but its lack of flocculation makes it very slow to clear.  Crash-cooling helps to drop out the yeast, but it still takes a couple of weeks to clarify enough to serve.  We made a clone of Harvey’s Best Bitter, aiming for a gravity of 1.040, but achieving 1.046.  The extract efficiency is definitely higher on smaller mashes, so the efficiency drops off the higher you go on the gravity.

The ground water is cold enough now to use the counterflow as the sole means of chilling the wort, but the use of the hopback today was the cause of a slow runoff.  Half of the Alpha King clone from two weeks ago was kegged, the other half (Burton) going to secondary for clearing.  We also tapped the Highgate Mild in the firkin.  The level of condition was low, no doubt due to the finishing gravities of 1.011 and 1.012.