31 August 2011

posted by benjy edwards

For the last day of the month (I can’t believe summer, such as it is here, is ending already), we brewed a new recipe for a best bitter.  I’ve read rave reviews of a brew from the Black Country, Batham’s Best Bitter, so I was intrigued to try it.  The grist is 100% Maris Otter, so that’s easy.  The hops are Fuggles, Northdown, and Goldings.  I am out of Fuggles at the moment, so Willamette was substituted.  Northdown is unobtainable, so I used Willamette for bittering.  Target gravity is 1.042 and we reached about 1.042.5 after a prolonged mash recirculation in order to get the timing for the end of the boil just right so as to allow time for child ferrying.  The late hops were added at flameout and sat for 40 minutes until the chill began.  Colin absolutely adores the wort chilling so he needed to be back from his summer camp in time for that.  Even at the end of summer the ground water is cold enough for a 25-minute chill time with no ice and not less than half speed on the wort run through the counterflow.

Last night the Tribute clone was racked to two corny kegs and dry-hopped with Willamette.  Racking gravities were very low, 1.011 and 1.012.   One of the kegs is destined for the rowers’ reunion in about ten days’ time, but that should be just right for proper conditioning.

19 August 2011

posted by benjy edwards

The third batch with this yeast culture is the last brew destined for the rowing reunion in September.  We got the higher-gravity pale ale done last week; today’s batch is an English session ale, St. Austell’s Tribute.  Thanks to the collaboration on Jim’s Homebrew forum, we have the recipe pretty well nailed down.  Maris Otter, Munich, and some wheat make up the grist.  Bittering hops should be Fuggle, but as we’re out, we used Target.  Flavour and aroma hops are Willamette and Styrian Goldings. The Styrians are pellets but at under 50% of the hop load there were no problems with the chill.  I still am not used to being able to chill the wort in mid-August without the use of ice.  Running the wort at half speed and the cooling water at full speed, I can easily get 68F on the wort exiting the counterflow.  Total chill time even at half speed is 25 minutes.

Original gravity is 1.042, with an IBU of 31.  The brew went without a problem, although it was disconcerting to discover mid-mash that I had used the hot liquor tank for the mash tun and the our mash tun as the HLT.  No harm resulted, but it explains why I had such trouble last night trying to get the false bottom affixed to the bottom of the ‘mash tun’, which in reality was our hot liquor back.

Speaking of last night, that was when we racked the pale ale to kegs.  A generous dry hop of all Chinook in one with a combination of Chinook and the last of the Amarillo went in the other.  Racking gravities were higher than expected, at 1.017.  That gives us a strength of 5.4% ABV.

12 August 2011

posted by benjy edwards

While I would normally continue with the cask ales in the early few uses of this yeast, the tactic this time is slight different, as a result of the rowers’ reunion coming up mid-September.  The idea here is to get the American pale ale brewed before the next cask ale so as to give it more time to mature.  With luck, all three will be ready and at the right stage of conditioning to be best for the gathering.  So, that means today is a batch of the Boathouse Pale Ale, very similar to the one brewed on 28 May.

Pale, crystal 60, kiln amber, carapils, and Vienna comprise the grist, which are just the backbone of this beer.  The major player is the hops – much more than the typical pale ale.  Based on the colour of this beer and the intense hop character, most would confuse this with an IPA.  In fact, in a recent local competition, I struggled with the decision to enter it as an APA or an IPA, and finally decided upon IPA, for the reason that it lacks the colour and malt character usually associated with American pale ales, and also brings loads of hop bitterness, flavour and aroma like an IPA.  Calculated IBUs of 80 are not quite the usual pale ale, but certainly in the region of an IPA.  Water treatment is as per usual for the last batch, so there’s one thing relatively sorted.

Hops this time were Chinook for bittering, plus Columbus and Amarillo for flavour, and finished with a trio of Amarillo, Columbus, and Chinook.  Original gravity is 1.056, pitched onto the yeast cake from the previous batch of Golden Arrow.  Speaking of the Arrow, it was racked the night before to a couple of corny kegs, and dry hopped with Willamette, which saved time during the brew day.  That is always as welcome thing when watching the boys during the brew, and may well become part of the modus operandi when brewing solo.

5 August 2011

posted by benjy edwards

It’s a welcome back to brewing for us with a batch of Golden Arrow, one of our favourites.  Half of this batch is destined to be served at our rowers’ reunion in September, down in Portland.  The recipe has not changed much, other than to account for current hop stocks.   Maris Otter with a bit of light crystal is paired with Fuggle, Styrian Goldings, and Willamette in the copper.  Actual gravity was 1.042, a couple of points higher than target.  IBU should be around the 30 mark.

Since it’s the first batch on this run of yeast, the starter was pitched onto the wort with no need to rack off any previous batch.  Today’s brew will see a dry-hopping with Willamette.