18 December 2011

posted by benjy edwards

The last few batches of various IPAs have turned out a bit less hoppy than expected, so today we made sure to go overboard with the hops.  It is difficult when using home-grown hops to know what the IBU will be, since the alpha acid levels of the hops are unknown.  We have been using an average AAU percentage based upon the variety, but since the beers have been less bitter than targeted (Lagunitas IPA clone, Two Hearted ale clone), I switched the AAU% down to even lower levels for this batch.  Hence the criminal quantity of hops in this recipe – over 2.5 pounds in the kettle and mash tun!

The mash hop, first wort hop, and bittering additions were all home-grown Galena, a combination of 2010 and 2011 harvests.  Because nearly two pounds of hops were added to the boil kettle from sixty minutes left until the end of the boil, I removed the first wort hops from the copper before the 60-minute addition.  Even so, the hop matter left in the kettle after the wort was run off filled the bottom 1/3 of the kettle.  Even with this outrageous hop load, there was absolutely no trouble with running the wort off through the counterflow chiller.  I am always stumped as to why brewers complain about using whole hops, and today’s experience makes me wonder even more.  If I had tried to brew this beer with pellets I would have dumped the batch after spending hours dealing with heinous clogging of the screen and the chiller. Whole hops are definitely the way to go, and the flavour and aroma qualities are better than pellets, to boot.

The recipe was Boathouse IPA, and the hops added after bittering were a combination of Chinook and Cascade, all home-grown in Portland by Brian.  Additions were made at 45, 30, 15, 5, and 0 minutes, all ranging from 3 to 4 ounces.  Target OG was 1.068 from a grist of Maris Otter, Vienna, carapils, and kiln amber.  Because the first wort hops soaked up some wort when they were removed, I added back some of the last runnings to the boil when adding the bittering addition, so I was pleased that even with this dilution our actual OG was 1.067.  And for all those who grumble that whole hops act like wort sponges, we still got good volume in the primaries, more than enough to fill the corny kegs.

The Fuller’s ESB brewed two weeks ago was racked to a couple of corny kegs, each dry-hopped with two ounces of East Kent Goldings.  Racking gravity was 1.015, so this will yield an ABV of 5.9% after a couple more weeks of conditioning.  The Boathouse IPA brewed today was racked onto the yeast from the ESB.  The milk stout brewed last weekend is still in primary, I will likely keg it next weekend.  I am not sure yet whether the next and last batch with this yeast, the Firestone Walker Double Jack IIPA, will use the yeast from the milk stout or the Boathouse IPA.

10 December 2011

posted by benjy edwards

Following up on the parti-gyle double batch of Fuller’s London Pride and ESB, this week is a single batch of the Boathouse Milk Stout.  Amazingly, we still have the batch brewed in Ohio on tap, mainly because I’ve been saving it by not drinking it at all over the last six or eight months.  These dark beers keep really well, so it’s still fresh and tasty, but almost gone.  The recipe remains largely unchanged, except for dialing down the roast barley a little bit, and substituting in some black malt as well.  The lactose addition was bumped up to 2.5 pounds as I wanted a little higher gravity, around 5.5% ABV.  For some unknown reason though, we overshot our target gravity by SIX points (got 1.071 instead of 1.065).  Not sure how that works.

The milk stout was pitched onto the yeast cake from the London Pride, so that beer was racked to a couple of corny kegs with 2.5 ounces each of East Kent Goldings.  Both fermenters dropped down to 1.011, and tasted dry but very good.  Even after just one week, the beer has the characteristic earthy hop flavour and substantial bitterness.  The colour is perfect.  We’ll see how it develops in the cask.  Sometimes a beer that tastes amazing out of the fermenter changes for the worse by the time it is tapped; we’ll hope that does not happen here.  The Fuller’s ESB batch remains in the primaries for now, keeping the milk stout company in the fermentation fridge.

3 December 2011

posted by benjy edwards

A busy busy brew day here at Boathouse.  The parti-gyle double-batch of Fuller’s ESB and London Pride were on the schedule.  It was an interesting brew.  Nothing substantial went awry, the only real issue we had was a lack of mash tun capacity, which resulted in struggles to get all the malt and water into the tun.  In the end we were left with half a gallon of wort that had to be run off and left to the side until the malt absorbed enough to subside from the very lip of the mash tun.  The new burner and stand worked well, though a bit oxygen-deprived when run at full bore, which indicates a bigger air vent is needed on the hurricane burner.  I sailed close to the wind in using a mostly-depleted propane tank on the London Pride batch, but it didn’t run out until after the ESB boil was over, so swapping tanks was all that was needed.

The malt bill was 40 pounds of grain, 38 pounds of Maris Otter and 2 of crystal.  I expected to be short on gravity on one or both of the recipes, but in the end we overshot the gravity on the ESB (1.058 actual, target 1.055) and hit the target on the London Pride dead on (1.040).  The wort collected was generous on the ESB and a bit short on the London Pride, so if I were to brew this again I would know to divert more of the first runnings to the London Pride and less to the ESB.  Hops were Target for bittering, with Admiral (substitute for the Northdown that Fuller’s uses but which are unobtainable) and Challenger as the primary late hops, with a bit of East Kent Goldings as well.  Colour looked good in the gravity cylinder, we’ll have to compare them to the real thing in a few weeks.  It all depends on how fresh the samples of Fuller’s beer are from such a distance from their home.

The day was definitely a success: two batches brewed and less than an hour and a half longer than a single batch brew day.  It’s tempting to brew double-batches more often, especially doing two session ales, rather than one session beer and one premium strength.  With a big mash of 100% Maris Otter, I could brew Hophead and Batham’s Best Bitter together, or Landlord and a single-hop Citra or Simcoe pale ale, for example.  If both were in the 1.040-1.042 range (my preferred gravity), the mash would be relatively normal.  With one more kettle, it would be very easy, because the hot liquor tank would not have to double as the second boil kettle.

We also racked the Boathouse Dark Mild brewed last week.  Racking gravities were 1.013 and 1.014.