30 May 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Today we brewed a double batch of the ever-drinkable Hophead from Dark Star Brewing.  The supply of cask ale is dwindling, as well as being decidedly malt-focused, so it will be very good to have twenty gallons of a hoppy session bitter on tap as we head towards late spring and summer.

We mashed 33 pounds of Maris Otter (twice the malt of a single batch), which fit fine in the mash tun.  Then it was run off to two half-barrel kegs, one of which was borrowed from our friend John Brush.  We tried to keep the runoff rate to each kettle exactly the same, and although the pre-boil gravities were the same according to the refractometer, after the 90-minute boil the two original gravities were different, at 1.039 and 1.042.  The hopping was kept exactly the same, using 9.5 ounces of Cascade in each kettle.  One kettle was left to steep with the knockout hops while we chilled the first batch, so there may be a difference in hop aroma due to that – it will be a good experiment to see what effect it had.

The night before I kegged a couple of beers, as one keg ran out this week (the Copperhop) and the first keg of Two Hearted Ale was dangerously low.  The Harvey’s 1859 Porter and the second half of the Milk Stout were kegged.  The porter only dropped a point during its spell in secondary, while the milk stout dropped 5 points.   The force-carbonated half of the English IPA was put on in place of the Copperhop, and the Two Hearted was replaced with the porter.

While we brewed we racked the pale ale brewed last weekend, now dubbed Colin’s Pale Ale after Benjy and Jennifer’s son, to corny kegs.  After one week the gravities were already 1.012 and 1.011, so plenty dry for kegging.  Each keg was dry hopped with 2.5 ounces of Amarillo.

The four carboys of Hophead were pitched with the starter of White Labs London Ale yeast that I started on Thursday night and had split into two flasks on Friday night when pitched into more wort.

23 May 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Today we brewed an American pale ale hopped with Amarillo and Cascade.  The target gravity was 1.058, we reached 1.057 after the normal 90 minute boil.  The malt was Maris Otter, a pound of kiln amber, two pounds of Munich, 1.25 pounds of wheat, and half a pound of carapils.  We had some high-alpha Newport hops to use up, so they provided the bittering, with Amarillo at 30 minutes, Cascade and Amarillo at 15 and 0 minute additions.

The English IPA had eight days in the primary to ferment, and it did well, with one carboy reaching 1.013 and the other 1.014.  Both were liberally dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings, one to condition for serving on handpull, the other will be force-carbonated after aging a little while. We opened the last bag of Maris Otter to brew the pale ale, so we need to order more, as we probably have only enough malt left to brew two more batches.

16 May 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Amazingly, I don’t believe we have ever brewed an English IPA before, at least not within the past few years.  It is time to correct that omission.  The malt is Maris Otter, light crystal, wheat, biscuit, and flaked maize.  The target gravity was 1.055, we reached 1.057 after boiling for an extra ten minutes.

The hops were considerable, with First Gold and Fuggle for bittering, Fuggle again at 45 minutes for flavour, East Kent Goldings at 30 minutes, Styrian Goldings at 15 minutes, and both East Kent Goldings and Styrians at knockout.  Even though the hops were less than 50% pellets, the sheer quantity clogged the bazooka screen, resulting in a slow runoff to the chiller.  Eventually we collected just under 5 gallons of wort in each fermenter and aerated it heavily.

The brown porter brewed a week ago was racked to a couple of secondaries to finish its fermentation, since the current gravity is 1.020.  We will keep it at primary fermentation temperature for a week or two for it to attenuate more, before casking half and kegging the other half.

9 May 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Today we brewed a brown porter that should be similar to the 1859 Porter produced by Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes, East Sussex.  The malt bill is rather simple, with dark crystal, chocolate, and brown malt supplementing a base of Maris Otter.  The mash rest was held at 153F for an hour  and the wort run off and boiled for 90 minutes, with four ounces of Bramling Cross for bittering and a couple of ounces of East Kent Goldings added with ten minutes remaining.

The wort was chilled to 70F by running it at about half-speed since the ground water is warming up due to the weather.  The yeast had been stored cold since last week with a thin cover of wort from the dark mild, which was racked off the fermenters into a 3 gallon corny keg.  The first keg of dark mild which had conditioned for a week was tapped, which was nice timing as today is National Mild Day in England, part of CAMRA’s Mild Month in May.

3 May 2009

posted by benjy edwards

Yesterday was the American Homebrewers Association’s Big Brew Day, where homebrewers around the country should gather to make collective batches of beer.  Unfortunately it was also the day of the Mini Real Ale Festival at Barley’s, and I didn’t have time to do both, so I just went to the beer festival.  It was fun sampling the ales and talking with many of the brewers.

Today I checked the gravity of last week’s dark mild, and since it was 1.011 in both fermenters, I racked them to corny kegs for conditioning.  No dry hops since it is a mild, and I didn’t bother to prime them either.  I kept the kegs at primary fermentation temperature though, so that the yeast will continue to be active enough to condition at that relatively low gravity.  If they drop a couple of points during conditioning the beer will be 3.8% ABV.  The sample I tried was very good, very malty but a nice balance of sweetness and malt character, not overwhelmed by any of the different dark grains in the recipe.