30 September 2006

posted by benjy edwards

It has been a couple of years since we brewed a clone of Magic Hat #9, and this time I wanted to brew 5 gallons with the apricot extract called for in the recipe, and the other half with blackcurrant syrup instead. Last time we brewed it we made 20 gallons from one mash, so the water to grist ratio was changed to be much stiffer. I forgot to change it back, so today’s mash started off way too thick, and I had to heat a gallon or so more water in the boil kettle and then add it to the mash. I didn’t brew this batch using the no-sparge method used for the last couple of weeks, going back to our usual fly-sparging technique. The grist was Halcyon, crystal, caramunich, wheat, aromatic, and biscuit. Hops were minimal, a couple ounces of Magnum for bittering and Tettnanger for flavour. The ground water still isn’t cool enough to avoid the dual-stage chill, so we used the immersion chiller again.

We racked the Harvey’s bitter to a firkin along with a few ounces of Northern Brewer. Attenuation improved over last week, getting mid-teens on both yeasts. We also kegged up the other half of the Milk Stout, and tapped the first keg of it.

23 September 2006

posted by benjy edwards

Since the yeast we’re using right now is relatively new, we brewed another low gravity session beer before moving up to the stronger beers later on. Today it is the second version of Harvey’s Best Bitter, since it won for a second year in a row at the Great British Beer Festival in the best bitter category. The mash is Maris Otter, crystal, and flaked maize, and we used the no-sparge method again. We had to sparge about a gallon and three quarters in order to hit the gravity, but this time we hit it right on, at 1.040. Hops are Fuggle, Phoenix, First Gold, and Kent Goldings. The ground water is still 70 degrees, so we used the two-stage chill again.

The London Pride clone spent a week in primary, but since it was the first use of the yeast it hasn’t reached its attenuation potential yet, so secondary gravities were 1.020 and 1.019. We racked them to the firkin with a couple of ounces of Northern Brewer in the cask. We’ll have to remember to tap it in a week or two at the most, otherwise it will be over-conditioned. We tapped the Alpha King clone on the engine and it was surprisingly non-grassy for having spent only a week in the corny keg and the hops had not been taken out of cold storage ahead of time. The only theory we came up with is that the hop bag prevents them from mixing well with the beer. This makes sense, since the beer didn’t have a lot of hop flavour or aroma, so the hop bag must be to blame. I much prefer the sure screens, so I ordered three more. That should be enough that we will never run out of them, even when all of our beers are using them!

16 September 2006

posted by benjy edwards

The milk stout fermented quickly, so on Friday night it was time to rack it to secondary and chill it. Gravities were 1.022 for the Dry English (a touch too dry for the milk stout, but what can one expect using that yeast?!) and 1.025 for the British. I needed another carboy in order to rack the milk stout, so I also kegged up one of the Hop Wallop carboys. The starters from Thursday were fed again with more malt extract. Saturday we brewed a clone of Fuller’s London Pride, using the no-sparge technique, which is where instead of sparging the mash with the hot liquor to extract more sugars, you start with a bigger mash and run it off once, then add hot liquor directly to the kettle to make up volume. The theory is that you get a better malt profile because there’s less tannin extracted from the grain. It being the first time we’d used this technique, we were concerned we would end with too low of a gravity, so we did top up the mash with extra water before running it off. It turned out that we needn’t have bothered, because we got a gravity of 1.046 when the target was only 1.042. Hops were Northern Brewer, Galena, and Target for bittering, with Northern Brewer late in the boil for aroma.

The cask version of the Sierra Nevada pale ale clone and the firkin of Hardy Country Bitter both emptied this week, so we casked five gallons each of the Hop Wallop and Alpha King clones in corny kegs. Both got three-plus ounces of dry hops, using a surescreen for the Hop Wallop and a grain bag (bigger than a normal hop bag) for the Alpha King.

9 September 2006

posted by benjy edwards

This week it’s a batch of milk stout. I’d always been intrigued by this style, but this is the first time brewing it. Pale and crystal malts along with a couple of pounds of chocolate, a pound of black malt, and half a pound of aromatic malt went in the mash, with Kent Goldings for bittering and two and a half pounds of lactose sugar in the last 15 minutes of the boil. The gravity was 1.066, quite high for a sweet stout. If the fermentation goes as planned the beer should finish in the mid-1.020s. This is the last use of the Dry English and British yeasts for brewing. The Dry English will be chucked out and the British will go on to ferment a batch of cider, to which blackcurrant syrup will be added. I had only one spare secondary fermenter to rack last week’s Hop Wallop clone to, so I kegged up the other half of the Simcoe IPA and the first five gallons of the U.F.O.

2 September 2006

posted by benjy edwards

I decided that it was time to use up some hops I’d been saving to brew another batch of the Boathouse IPA, aka Hop Delivery Vehicle. I still had some Galena, Columbus, and Chinook, and substituted Fuggle in place of the Glacier used last time. The gravity was 1.073, made up of only pale, crystal, and carapils malts. Almost two pounds of hops go in this batch, more than two if you count the dry hop. Fermentation started within thirty minutes, and was quite lively. It’s the first time I’ve had to use blowoff tubes since we started using the fermcap foam control. Both yeasts needed blowoffs within a few hours of pitching. The UFO (Unidentified Fermented Object) brewed last week was racked to secondary, and the gravities were quite low, 1.013 for the Dry English and 1.011 for the British.