24 October 2009

posted by benjy edwards

I decided to brew a batch yesterday, so I got a vial of White Labs WLP002 English ale yeast and started it late Friday night.  We brewed a clone of Palmer’s Best Bitter, destined for the firkin as there is plenty of space in the cask storage freezer.  The target gravity is 1.042, but following the recipe of 14.5 pounds of Maris Otter, 6 ounces each of light and dark crystal in the mash, and a pound of brown sugar in the boil, we reached 1.044.

Hopping was East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings, with some Willamette added late for aroma.  The yeast took about 16 hours to begin fermentation, so longer than usual when I pitch a two-day old starter.

There was no beer to rack from primary today, but we did sample the Russian Imperial Stout with a view to adding some vanilla-infused bourbon.  In the end, we decided to keg the first half of the batch with no additions, as the bourbon does mask the beer’s own roasty, chocolaty flavour.  The bourbon might be best added to individual pints for some variation, rather than adding it in the keg to the full five gallons.

A week ago the gravity of the stout was down to 1.013, and it was too dry and the alcohol was very noticeable.  I boiled a pound of lactose in about a pint of water and added it to the secondary.  It made a remarkable difference, greatly improving both the body and the flavour.  The gravity was boosted up to 1.022.  It was force-carbonated and will go on tap as soon as the next keg runs out.

3 October 2009

posted by benjy edwards

The Simcoe IPA has been in primary for two weeks now, so it is time to rack it.  Instead of transferring to secondary, I kegged both fermenters since the gravity had dropped all the way down to 1.010 on each carboy.  Dry hopping this beer is a must, so one keg got 1.5 ounces of Simcoe, the other has 1.75 ounces.  Simcoe hops are hard to find these days, but I still have enough left to make a batch of bitter or pale ale.

I finished the harvest of the homegrown Cascade hops last weekend; the hops are all dried and vacuum-sealed.  I think I have close to a pound and a half this year, which is the best yield yet.