28 May 2011

posted by benjy edwards

This week’s batch is an American pale ale, using a combination of Columbus and Amarillo hops.  Both of these hops are great on their own, and I thought a combination would go well.  The malt bill is Maris Otter supplemented with a bit of leftover American tw0-row, followed by crystal 60, carapils, kiln amber, and Vienna.  Target gravity was 1.054 and although we’ve been hitting our targets regularly, this batch turned out at 1.056.  Usually when going for stronger worts (all previous batches in this cycle have been in the 1.040s), one’s efficiency goes down, but not this time.

The hops are abundant in this beer, with almost 50 IBU for bittering, and then additions of Columbus and Amarillo at 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and steep.  There are five ounces of steeping hops that were given 20 minutes in the kettle before chilling.

After a week in primary, the Golden Arrow was racked to a couple of kegs, one dry hopped with Styrian Goldings pellets and the other with whole Fuggle.  Gravities were down to 1.012 and 1.011.  The difference may be due to a degree difference in fermentation temperature, which is caused by one fermenter being closer to the  fridge vent than the other.  Even in such a small space as a fridge you can get difference temperatures from side by side fermenters.

Chilling is still possible without the use of ice, and may be possible year-round.  We’ll see how it is in the summer.

22 May 2011

posted by benjy edwards

More cask session ale required, the eternal problem.  Having just brewed the Hophead a fortnight ago, I chose the clone of Cottage Brewing’s Golden Arrow.  A fine pint of this in the wonderful Brewer’s Arms in Lewes, East Sussex, motivates me.  It’s a great showcase for Styrian Goldings, as is Taylor’s Landlord and Palmer’s Best Bitter.

Malt is Maris Otter and light crystal, but this ale is all about the hops.  The more Styrian the better.  Unfortunately, this hop is only available in this country in pellet form, so I had to use equal amounts of Fuggle, its closest substitute, so that I could counteract the pellets with whole hops and avoid a stuck runoff to the counterflow chiller.  Brew went without a hitch.

Last week’s batch of Gale’s HSB was racked to two corny kegs and dry-hopped with Fuggle in one and Goldings in the other, which should be a good test of their differences if I manage to sample them both at the same time, which doesn’t usually happen.

14 May 2011

posted by benjy edwards

Today’s recipe is a new one – a clone of HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from the now-defunct Gale’s brewery in Horndean, Hampshire.  The brewery was bought by Fuller’s, who continues to brew the beer, now from their brewery in London.  It’s a malty special bitter with an OG of 1.050 to 1.052, but my recipe has been scaled back in the malt so as to be more sessionable.  OG was 1.043, with Maris Otter, dark crystal, wheat, and black malt.  Hops are Target and Fuggle for bittering and Kent Goldings for aroma.  I added Goldings at 15 minutes to go and some more at knockout.

The wort was chilled to 70F with no trouble, though the well water is warmer than it was in the winter.  It remains to be seen how much it changes in the summer, and whether any sort of chilling of the cooling water will be needed.  The fermentation started within two hours, and I cooled the wort to 66F by that time.

I also racked the Hophead from last week, half to a corny keg and the other half to the 5 gallon cask.  Both were dry-hopped, the corny with homegrown Cascade, the pin with Chinook for a twist on the usual Hophead.  Gravities were down to 1.012 on the corny batch and 1.013 for the pin.  The wort was brilliantly clear in the fermenter, which is very pleasing.  It is a good sign of the correct water treatment.  The true test will be in the taste of course, and due to some horrible virus I have, I can’t taste or smell a thing today, so I have no idea what it’s like yet.

7 May 2011

posted by benjy edwards

We’re back to brewing today, and this time we’re using the faithful old WLP002 yeast again.  With some luck we’ll be back to clear wort after primary fermentation is over, and not have to wait several weeks before it drops bright.  The recipe for today is Dark Star’s Hophead, one of my favourites.  Target was 1.040 and actual original gravity was 1.042.  The mash was kept at 155F for an hour, with the usual 90-minute boil.  I used a combination of commercial and homegrown Cascade, with lots at the end of the boil for aroma.

There was no beer to rack from last week of course, having started the yeast from a vial on Thursday and adding more wort on Friday.  Fermentation took about 10 hours to kick off, which is a bit slower than usual, but by Sunday afternoon it was fermenting well at 66-67 degrees.