23 November 2007

posted by benjy edwards

The yeast has now been pitched four times, so for the fifth use we brewed a darker beer, a brown porter.  The recipe was cobbled together from many different sources, trying to get a good balance of dark malts as well as use some brown malt, which was historically used in porter.  The recipe ended up with Maris Otter, 9% brown malt, 9% crystal malts, 8% chocolate, and a touch of roast barley for a deep red colour.  Fuggle is a good traditional porter hop, supplemented with an ounce of high-alpha Phoenix.

The Boathouse Bitter from a week ago was racked, half to a corny using the last Surescreen, the other half to the pin which was just emptied a couple of hours before it was filled.  Dry hops were easy, a few plugs of First Gold in each.  Gravities were normal, at 1.012 and 1.013.  There is a nice selection of cask ales now, with even the porter destined for cask-conditioning, at least half of the batch.

17 November 2007

posted by benjy edwards

A solo brew day today, which means I’m busy but if there are no distractions the session usually goes pretty well.  Today was no exception, everything went well even when I overheated the mash liquor.  I just added a bit of cold water and brought it back down before adding the malt.  This was the eighteenth version of Boathouse Bitter, this time with malted oats, wheat, and some honey malt.  Hops were a mix of pellets and whole hops, all English except for the New Zealand Pacific Gem.  Target gravity was 1.042 and actual was 1.044, which is close enough considering the malt mill gap had to be adjusted for the Maris Otter malt from Hugh Baird rather than our previous supply of Thomas Fawcett’s.  The yeast is on its fourth use, the plan for the final two batches are a mild or a porter, followed by the annual Christmas Ale.

The Hophead clone from last week was racked to a couple of corny kegs, using my last two Surescreens.  I dry-hopped them differently since the plan is to tap one before the other.  The first one to be served only has .75 ounces of Cascade, while the second has 1.25 ounces, so that the first is not overly grassy because I didn’t let them warm up for a day in advance of dry-hopping.  Gravities were 1.011 and 1.012.

The Palmer’s Best Bitter clone was drinking very well this weekend, the slight sweetness has attenuated out and the condition has come up.

10 November 2007

posted by benjy edwards

Another brew day, this time a new recipe, and a simple one at that – 100% Maris Otter malt and 100% Cascade hops.  Target gravity was 1.040 and we hit 1.039, which was pretty good considering that we used malt from a different maltster which has a different kernel size and thus needed a change in the mill setting.  Our extraction rate has fallen, but with a slightly longer boil we achieved roughly the right gravity.

We racked the Golden Arrow clone from primaries to a couple of cornies, as well as kegged half of the Pliny the Elder clone and racked the other secondary off the pellet dry hop and into another secondary.  Finally, we switched out the empty keg of Snake River Pale Ale for the full one.   The kegged Pliny was dry hopped with a couple of ounces of Centennial and the Golden Arrow had an ounce of Willamette in each corny ‘cask’.

3 November 2007

posted by benjy edwards

I had a difficult time selecting which recipe to brew this weekend, partly because there are so many real ales I want to try to clone and partly because we don’t have most of the hops used in the beers.  I settled on Cottage Brewing’s Golden Arrow, a really nice golden ale I had in the Brewer’s Arms in Lewes on my trip to England a few weeks back.  The recipe guidance called for only pale malt but I remember the colour being a bit darker than that so I added half a pound of pale crystal.  Hops were Challenger pellets for bittering and a combination of the Styrian Goldings called for in the recipe, plus some Willamette to use instead of all Styrians.  Target gravity was 1.043 and we got 1.041 after yet again believing what the refractometer said during wort collection and adding a couple of quarts of water in place of some wort from the mash.

The runoff from the mash was very slow, and quite cloudy, for some reason.  Examination of the screens after dumping the mash showed a lot of grain under the false bottom, but nothing that we expected the stainless braid to be unable to handle.  Perhaps a lighter crush is in order, since we’ve been getting extract efficiencies in the region of 90% recently.  I haven’t changed the mill setting in quite a while however.

There was no beer to rack this week.  I drew off a couple of pints of the Palmer’s best bitter from the corny, something I should have done right after filling it, because it was so full that no conditioning was taking place.  The beer shows promise, but it’s not quite there yet, still needing some carbonation as well as to drop a couple of points which should drop the sweetness level just a bit.  Another week should do it for the corny.  The pin may already be ready, but we’ll wait a week on that too.