30 August 2008

posted by benjy edwards

The beer production is in full swing, we’re on the fourth batch in a row now.  This time it is a new recipe for an American pale ale using a malt base with some complexity, hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe, which is supposed to be a great hop combination.  The mash was Maris Otter, Munich, aromatic, caravienna, light crystal, and a touch of Special B.  Bittering hops were a mixture of Warrior and Chinook, with doses of both Amarillo and Simcoe at 10 minutes and 0 minutes left in the boil.

The target gravity was 1.048, with actual being 1.050.  We got a good chill this time since we had more ice in the pre-chiller.  Wort temperature ended up at 72F, which was chilled down to 64F, rising to 66F after a day and then 68F after 2 days, where it will stay until it is racked next weekend.

We kegged the previous batch, the Boathouse Bitter, into a couple of cornies.  Gravities were 1.017 and 1.016, the difference being accounted for by a slight temperature difference during fermentation due to one side of the fermentation fridge being cooler than the other (where the cold air duct is).  One batch will be served on the handpump, the other via co2.  We dry-hopped one with whole Goldings, the other with First Gold pellets, which is our first attempt at dry-hopping with pellets using a fine mesh bag.  We’ll see if it works.  We kept the SureScreen on the diptube as added insurance.

We tried out the new air pump for wort aeration, and it is indeed quite a bit more powerful than the previous one that stopped working.  It has a rheostat so the output is adjustable, and on the higher settings it causes the wort to overflow the carboy even with anti-foam added!

We tapped the first corny of Bishop’s Farewell, it turned out just as the previous batch.  Clarity wasn’t perfect, which is typical of the first couple of pints out of a “cask-conditioned” corny.  The firkin and pin clear up much better, due no doubt to the shallower shape so the yeast does not have as far to flocculate.   The Hophead in the firkin is drinking really well right now; that is a fine ale.

23 August 2008

posted by benjy edwards

This batch was designed to be split between cask-conditioned and forced gas dispense.  The recipe is based on an amber ale we brewed a couple of years ago, but this time with more hops, so it’s closer to a pale ale.  The use of 1 pound and a half of crystal made it darker than the typical pale ale, so it might be more like a hoppy red ale.  The recipe also contains aromatic, biscuit, and Munich malts, with a base of Maris Otter.

Hops were English, a combination of Phoenix, First Gold, and Bramling Cross, both pellets and whole hops.  The original gravity is 1.047.  We had trouble again this week with aerating the wort, the trouble was tracked down to a defective pump, so a new, more powerful one, is on order.

Chilling this week was a little slower than last time, due mainly to forgetting to top up the immersion chiller kettle with water for more ice.  The wort was 72F in the fermenter, which was then chilled down to 62F by the time fermentation began, with it allowed to rise to 66F after 24 hours.

The Bishop’s Farewell was racked to a couple of cornies, gravities dropping to 1.012 after one week in primary.  The kegs were dry-hopped with an ounce each of Cascade.   The firkin of Hophead was vented, then tapped by Jonathan Page, and it turned out very well.  Nice and clear from the first pint, with a nice Cascade hop nose, and quite drinkable at 3.5% ABV.

16 August 2008

posted by benjy edwards

Another great weekend of weather here, perfect for spending outside brewing beer.   Today’s recipe was the second batch of Bishop’s Farewell, a wonderful hoppy golden ale brewed with Cascade for a nice citrusy flavour.  The malt is all Maris Otter with a bit of wheat, and hops were Phoenix pellets for bittering and Cascade at 15 minutes and at the end of the boil.  Target gravity was 1.044 but we hit 1.042 instead.

We used a bit more icce in the immersion chiller kettle, so the chill was able to proceed while the wort was racked at the maximum flow rate, and we had a little bit of ice left over.  That isn’t too bad for mid-August and the hottest ground water of the year.

The aeration stone gave up the ghost today, it’s gotten completely clogged from years of use, so I aerated with the tried and true method of shaking the carboys.  A new aeration stone will be needed.

On Sunday I picked some more of the Cascade hops growing in the back yard.  Last weekend was the first picking, I have only harvested a few ounces so far.   The total crop looks good again this year, though, there’s a lot of big cones left on the bines.

9 August 2008

posted by benjy edwards

After a break of almost two months,  we’re finally back to brewing.  The beer supply has held up pretty well, but the usual summer parties and events have taken their toll.  There are still four cask ales on tap, although we’re down to the last corny keg of each.  Today’s batch was the second of the Dark Star Hophead clone, which is all Maris Otter malt and Cascade hops.  This time we bittered with Columbus since it is more efficient to use high-alpha hops for bittering, and then we substituted Ahtanum for Cascade because those hops were older.

Original gravity was 1.038, a couple points shy of target.  The chill was slow because of the 77F ground water temperature, the wort was running at about half speed in order to keep it around 70F using the immersion chiller frozen in the ten gallon pot.  We pitched with starters of the White Labs English Ale, and the fermentation kicked off around 5 or 6 hours from pitching.