24 April 2010

posted by benjy edwards

We still have last year’s harvest of the Cascade hops from our yard and I’ve wanted to brew with them, so assistant brewer Colin and I brewed an American pale ale today.  The malt bill is simply 95% Maris Otter and 5% wheat, with a target gravity of 1.046.

I used the remaining Galena hops for bittering and then homegrown Cascade for flavour and aroma, with less than an ounce of Amarillo included at the end of the boil.  Actual gravity was 1.045 after a shorter recirculation and wort collection than usual.  The chill went well, the wort was running at about 68F the entire time with full flow from the kettle.

The Harvey’s Old Ale clone brewed a week ago was racked to two corny kegs, no dry hop of course.  Gravity was down to 1.012; if it drops two points in secondary then it will be 5.1% ABV, which is almost 1% higher than Harvey’s version.  For some unknown reason our original gravity was much higher than expected last week – perhaps the extract potential of the darker malts is higher than what is contained in our spreadsheet.  The colour is much closer to the original beer (darker than our first attempt) and right now has a nice dark sugar/toffee flavour.   We shall see how it develops in secondary.

17 April 2010

posted by benjy edwards

We are continuing with the weekly brewing and use of the English Ale yeast culture.  During the last brew cycle we made a batch of old ale using Harvey’s Sussex XXXX Old Ale as the guide, and I wanted to try it again with some changes to see if we could get closer to the real thing.  I increased the amount of crystal malt, up to what Harvey’s has said they use (one-sixth of the grist), and also added a bit more black treacle to the boil.  To make it darker, we used more black malt and added a couple of ounces of debittered black malt as well.   For the first batch I used less crystal because I was concerned how sweet it might be, but it definitely needs more sweetness, maltiness, colour.   The original beer has a great raisin or prune flavour to it.

Target gravity was 1.046 and we reached 1.049, despite reducing the pale malt from the last batch to try to compensate for using more crystal and treacle.  The colour is definitely darker, but not sure if it’s as dark as it should be.  We’ll see after fermentation and the yeast clears out.

We vented the pin of JHB and tapped it.  Despite very little gas when venting it, it has nice condition and a bright hop aroma and flavour from the Mt. Hood.  The Brewer’s Gold batch brewed last week was racked to a couple of corny kegs, one dry-hopped with the remaining Brewer’s Gold pellets and the other with Goldings whole hops.  Gravity was down to 1.012 on each fermenter.

Earlier this week I put up the twine for the hops to climb up, and on brew day the shoots are about 2.5 feet high.  We continue to water them with the water coming out of the wort chiller.

10 April 2010

posted by benjy edwards

Another nice day to brew outside.  Today’s batch is another session ale clone we’ve made before, Brewer’s Gold from Crouch Vale Brewery.  We used 100% Golden Promise malt with a target gravity of 1.042, which we hit dead on today.  Hops are supposed to be solely Brewer’s Gold, but our supply is all pellets, so we used Northern Brewer whole hops for bittering, some Cascade for flavour, and finished up with the Brewer’s Gold pellets at 15 minutes remaining and steep.

We racked the two primaries of last week’s JHB to a corny keg and the pin, dry hopping each one with 1.75 ounces each of Mt. Hood hops.  After a week the yeast had dropped the gravity from 1.039 to 1.010, which is almost 75% attenuation.  The English Ale WLP002 is almost always a great performer for us.

I recently acquired 75 more pump clips to add to my collection.  It will take some time to put them all up for display, but the list of them has been updated on the “Real Ale” page of this site.

3 April 2010

posted by benjy edwards

We’re back to brewing now since the last batch in February.  The weather is a lot better so we can brew outside again.  The supply of cask ale has not yet given out, but will soon, so we’ll brew a few of those at first.  Today’s batch is the Jeffrey Hudson Bitter, or JHB, which is 95% pale malt and 5% wheat.  Hops are Northern Brewer for bittering and Mt. Hood for flavour and aroma.  Target gravity is 1.038 but because the pre-boil gravity was considerably lower than expected, we added .75 pounds of light brown sugar at the end of the boil.  Actual gravity ended up at 1.039, so we could have used a touch less sugar.

No previously brewed beer to rack today.  The hops growing in the backyard are just starting to show themselves, so soon it will be time to train them up the twine for the year’s growth.