25 April 2009

posted by benjy edwards

In England, May has been designated Mild Month by CAMRA in honour of the style and to revive interest in it since it has been in great decline for decades.  Today we brewed a dark mild so as to have it on tap during May.  The grist is Maris Otter, dark and light crystal, Special B, brown malt, flaked maize, and pale chocolate.  The hops are the traditional English mild hops Fuggle and East Kent Goldings.

The target gravity was 1.036, but we reached 1.038 after a one hour boil, with the only hop addition at 45 minutes left.  We collected 14 gallons instead of the usual 15 since we boiled it for 30 minutes less, and ended up with the usual volume in the fermenters, about 5.75 gallons in each.

The ground water is still cold enough to get a good chill without any pre-chiller step, and able to run the wort out of the kettle at full speed.  We watered the hops with the cooling water, which are growing well right now.  There were 20 or 30 shoots coming up, each about a foot to a foot and a half tall.  I cut most of them down, leaving a total of 10 or 12 to continue to grow.  Of those, one or two might not grow well, which still leaves us with 4 or 5 bines from each plant.

19 April 2009

posted by benjy edwards

I checked the gravity of the Sam Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter clone and upon finding that it was 1.012, decided to rack it to a couple of corny kegs for conditioning.  I dry hopped each keg with an ounce of East Kent Goldings.  There was enough volume left in each fermenter to leave a cover for the yeast cake on the bottom, so I just moved the fermenters to the coldest fridge to keep until needing them on Saturday for the next batch.  Then we’ll rack off the remaining beer before racking the batch of mild onto the yeast.

11 April 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Today we resumed brewing after a month break.  A vial of White Labs English ale yeast was pitched into a starter on Thursday night and put onto a stir plate, then re-pitched with more wort on Friday night.  The batch is a clone of Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter, an ordinary bitter with a malty, toffee-like flavour.  To replicate it we used Maris Otter, light crystal, Special B, kiln amber, and brown malt in the mash.  We also caramelised about three-quarters of a gallon of the wort by boiling it separately until it was a thick syrup, then added it to the boil.

The target gravity was 1.037 and we reached 1.038, perhaps because of concentrating some of the wort.  The hops were very traditional – Fuggles for bittering at 60 minutes and East Kent Goldings for flavour at 15 minutes.  The wort was cooled to 66F and the yeast took about 12 hours to begin fermentation.  I think that lag was caused by pitching the yeast into the starter wort that was a bit cooler than desired.