21 June 2008

posted by benjy edwards

It is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, so I went for a three and a half hour bike ride.  After that, though, I casked the last batch brewed with this culture of the English Ale yeast, a clone of Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter.  Since there is a shortage of space in the chest freezer holding the cask beer, I put the batch into a couple of corny kegs because the British casks take up a lot more space.

Sampled out of the primary, the beer is very close to the real thing, with that earthy, robust hoppiness that is the signature of Harvey’s Best.  I dry hopped each keg with three plugs (1.5 oz.) of First Gold.  The gravities on both fermenters were 1.012, which will work out to about 3.5% ABV, so slightly lower in alcohol than the target.  Once this batch is conditioned we’ll have five different real ales on tap, so we need a couple more handpumps to serve them all!

14 June 2008

posted by benjy edwards

No brewing last weekend, and I wanted to use the current yeast culture once more, so despite recovering from some virus, I brewed today. The recipe was the fourth batch of Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter. The original gravity target was 1.040, but because I just used what was left of a bag of Golden Promise for the base malt (12.75 pounds), I was short on the gravity. Expected gravity was 1.035 after the mash, but with a hard boil I made it up to 1.037, so not that far off. Perhaps more of an ordinary bitter than a best, at that strength. The yeast had been decanted into flasks last weekend, so I pitched some starter wort into them on Friday night.

Hops are an eclectic mix of Fuggle, Phoenix, Bramling Cross, and First Gold, at about 45 IBU. The rest of the malt bill was caramunich in place of dark crystal malt and some Special B for added colour. The chill went reasonably well using the frozen pot containing the immersion chiller, getting a wort temperature of 72F after running the wort through at full speed. Perhaps if we run the wort at half speed during the height of summer we can still get to the proper pitching temperature. I chilled the fermenters down to 68 before pitching the yeast. The aeration stone was not working so well, but after changing the sanitary air filter for a new one it was much better.

There was no beer to rack today, although the first half of the Boathouse Pale Ale with the homegrown Cascade ran out last week, so I kegged up the other half on Thursday of this week. Once the Spitfire and the Harvey’s Best are on the handpump our cask lineup will be five ales. The first half of the Bishop’s Farewell ran out during the brew, so we will have a total of 8 corny kegs of cask ale (provided nothing else runs out before the Spitfire and Harvey’s are tapped).

7 June 2008

posted by benjy edwards

No brewing today, but Steve and I racked the Spitfire Ale out of the primaries and harvested the yeast for later reuse.  One primary was racked to a corny keg with 1.5 ounces of First Gold plugs, while the other half of the batch was racked to a secondary.  Gravity on the kegged half was 1.013 and the other half was 1.014.  The idea is to serve the first corny keg on the handpump and see how it is, and if it seems like a good beer to serve at Steve’s wedding in July, we will keg the other half and take it for the reception.  Initial samples are promising, it has some maltiness and good colour.

The yeast was dumped out of the primaries into a couple of 2 litre flasks, with the idea of using it one more time to ferment a batch next weekend.  There was no sign of any negative flavours in the sample beer, so it seems like we will be able to get six uses out of this yeast.

1 June 2008

posted by benjy edwards

Jonathan and I kegged up the Belgian Strong Golden ale that we brewed back in April.  For the last several weeks the secondaries have been conditioning in a fridge at about 52F, which has enabled them to clear very well.  The wort was a light golden colour and very clear as it was racked to the kegs.  I added some orange peel in a hop bag to my keg, and force-carbonated it.  Jonathan’s half was racked without adding anything, although he plans to put some coriander and other spices in it before carbonating it.

My keg was put in the fridge at 42F for the co2 to dissolve.  I will probably force-carbonate it at least once more so as to get the high level of carbonation typical of Belgian ales.  Final gravity was 1.005, which makes it 8.5% ABV, and about 350 calories per Imperial pint (not that anyone but a maniac would drink this stuff by the Imperial pint).