29 November 2008

posted by benjy edwards

We never seem to have enough IPA on tap, so today we brewed the fifth clone of Two Hearted Ale from Bell’s.  The pale malt was a mix of Maris Otter and Golden Promise, with some wheat, Vienna, and pale crystal added.  Hops are all Centennial, added throughout the boil at 60, 30, 15, 5, and 0 minutes. We were a bit low on the pre-boil and original gravities, reaching an OG of 1.055 with a target of 1.058, which is itself probably a bit low for Two Hearted.

Jonathan Page was nice enough to lend us a hurricane burner last week, so on Friday we installed it in place of our jet burner for the boil kettle and tested it during the brew.  It is much quieter than the the jet burner, and seems to be comparable in power, although the test result wasn’t conclusive because we had to change propane tanks while bringing the wort to a boil, so that slowed it down.  Maybe we can give it another try next weekend.  As to whether it is more efficient, it would take several brew sessions to be able to determine that.

The Boathouse Pale Ale from last weekend was racked to a couple of secondaries.  Splitting the yeast in half when pitching the yeast last weekend had the effect of reducing the attenuation for this batch.  Racking gravities were 1.016 and 1.015, and we are conditioning the secondaries at primary fermentation temperatures for a week to allow the yeast to finish up the fermentation.  Taste was very nice though, so splitting the yeast took care of the sulfury aroma detected in one primary last weekend.

The firkin of Hophead which we tapped on November 20 was finished on Friday the 28th, that’s very quick work for ten gallons.  The low alcohol session ales really go fast.

22 November 2008

posted by benjy edwards

Last Sunday I put the tarps up around the brewing shed, and not a moment too soon, as today we had planned a brew and it was in the low 30s all day. The recipe is an American pale ale using Amarillo and Centennial hops, which are supposed to be a good combination. The last pale ale we brewed was Amarillo and Simcoe, and that was a nice hoppy beer. Malts used today were Maris Otter, pale and dark crystal, Munich, aromatic, and kiln amber. Target gravity was 1.055 but we only reached 1.053. Since we had more volume than recent other brews we probably didn’t have the gas turned up enough during the boil.

Chinook was the bittering hop, with Amarillo and Centennial for flavour and aroma at 15 minutes and at the end of the boil. We chilled the wort in the brew shed and got a great temperature, right at 68F. The Landlord from last week was racked from the primaries to a couple of corny kegs. Gravities were 1.011 and 1.012. Since the 1.011 batch had dropped so much and also had a slightly sulfury aroma, we tossed that yeast out and divided the yeast in the other primary into an empty carboy for today’s batch.

15 November 2008

posted by benjy edwards

The miserable winter weather is rearing its ugly head, today was mid-40s with a steady rain and a strong wind. I haven’t prepared the brew shed for winter yet, so we’re still brewing out on the patio. The recipe today is a clone of Landlord, with a new technique added to try to get the same colour and flavour from 100% Golden Promise malt. Timothy Taylor’s brewery is reputed to use only Golden Promise in the Landlord, but the colour is significantly darker than what homebrewers get when using 100% pale malt. Also, there is a toffee-like characteristic to the beer. The idea is that the commercial brewery caramelises the wort, thus darkening it and getting the toffee flavour as well.

By boiling down some of the first runnings, we should get a darker colour and some toffee notes. We reduced about a gallon of the first runnings to about half that volume, then added it back to the boil. After a week of primary fermentation we should be able to tell if we achieved any colour or flavour difference from previous batches. Target gravity was 1.042, we reached 1.041 after the boil. Hops were Fuggle for bittering, Goldings for flavour, and Styrian Goldings at 15 minutes and the end of the boil. With the cold weather and the wind, the burner had to run fully open in order to maintain a vigorous boil.

The Palmer’s Best Bitter from last week was racked to a couple of corny kegs, one half dry-hopped with Styrian Golding pellets, the other with U.S. Goldings whole hops. Gravities dropped to 1.011 and 1.012, respectively.

8 November 2008

posted by benjy edwards

Today we produced a second batch for the English Ale culture to ferment, this time the fifth version of Palmer’s Best Bitter.  The recipe was more similar to the third version than the fourth, since the fourth batch had different hops which resulted in a less flavourful beer.  Hops this time around were First Gold for bittering, with some U.S. Goldings and East Kent Goldings for flavour, finishing up with Styrian Goldings for aroma.  About half of the hops were pellets, but by adding most of the pellets at knockout after the burner was off, I think we succeeding in getting the pellets to float on top of the leaf hops, thus the pellets could not clog the Bazooka screen at runoff.  The question is whether floating pellets added at knockout will contribute much aroma to the finished beer.

The gravity turned out fine, despite some initial concern.  Like last week, we were about 1 gravity point low before the boil, and then refractometer readings during the boil indicated that the original gravity would be in the 1.030s, but the target was 1.042.  As planned, 14 ounces of brown sugar went into the boil with 15 minutes left, but I considered adding more.  However, as has happened before, hydrometer readings taken during the boil can cause you to panic without justification.  By trusting to the usual process, the gravity turned out to be 1.041, so it turned out fine.

The chill was effective, but running off at about two-thirds speed the temperature in the fermenters was 68F.  I cooled that down to 64 before fermentation began, then it kicked up to 66F when very active.  The fermentation began to slow on Sunday, but turning up the temperature controller kept it at 66F so the yeast doesn’t go dormant.

We racked the Hophead clone from last week into a firkin, it had cleared nicely despite rousing the yeast twice mid-week.  Gravities were good, 1.013 and 1.012 in each fermenter.  The firkin will be stored at temperatures in the mid-50s for at least a week for conditioning.  The cask was dry-hopped with two ounces of Cascade.

The Cols-ch has been carbonating for a week and should be ready to tap, but there is no serving space as of yet so we will give it a little more time.

1 November 2008

posted by benjy edwards

We’re back to brewing again after a break of several weeks.  Despite it being November, we had a great day for brewing, sunny and almost 70 degrees.  I got a couple of vials of White Labs WLP002 English Ale yeast started on Thursday, and pitched them with more wort on Friday.  The flasks have been on stir plates since Thursday.  The recipe today was Hophead from Dark Star, with half a pound more malt than the previous version so as to get a couple of points more gravity.  In fact we ended up one point higher than target, hitting 1.041.  Lots of Cascade hops were added at 60, 30, 15, and 0 minutes during the boil.

We skipped chilling the cooling water going into the counterflow and got the wort down to 72F by running it at full speed through the chiller.  While aerating we cooled the wort down to about 65 degrees before fermentation began.

The Kolsch-style ale we brewed back in September has been lagering for a month, so we kegged up half of it.  The gravity hadn’t changed from racking out of the primary, at 1.014.  It has cleared out completely, though, so that was good.  Given a few days to carbonate, it will be ready to drink.