27 May 2012

posted by benjy edwards

Today’s double batch went smoothly, proving yet again that it is possible to produce twenty gallons in under an hour more than it takes to make ten.  The recipes were an American Pale Ale and another attempt at the Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter clone.  The latter beer, brewed two weeks ago, showed signs of great promise as a clone when sampled from the fermenter, but the earthy hoppiness has faded after conditioning.  This may be partly due to dry-hopping the kegs with Goldings and Willamette, when I probably should have used Fuggle. In any event, the beer is not bitter enough, so today’s version has more bittering hops, plus greater additions of Fuggle throughout the boil, including a new 30-minute addition.

Of course both ales were brewed from the same mash, a grist of Maris Otter and light and medium English crystal malts.  The APA was run off first, it being the bigger beer of the two, but also for the fact that I added five ounces of pale chocolate to the mash after the APA wort was collected, in order to achieve the correct colour for the Harvey’s Best.  Original gravity of 1.055 for the APA was higher than I projected, but I’m glad of that, as the lower gravity pale ales served via the co2 faucets tend to be a bit too light in body.  The hops are Nugget for bittering, and a combination of Amarillo and Columbus throughout the rest of the boil.  I haven’t combined the two hops before, but the aroma from the kettle was wonderful, so I have high hopes for the beer.  I may dry hop one of the kegs with Nugget as an experiment, since Glenn Tinseth has said that it works well, despite Nugget having the historical reputation only as a bittering hop.

The Harvey’s wort was collected and boiled about half an hour after the APA, and received over a pound of hops in the kettle (Challenger for bittering, Fuggles and East Kent Goldings later).  Harvey’s uses Progress and Bramling Cross in addition to Fuggles and Goldings, but they are difficult to obtain in the US.  I did find both varieties in pellet form, but they hadn’t arrived in time for this batch.  OG on the Best is 1.040.  Both batches were chilled after a 20 minute rest on the knockout hops.

The four fermenters brewed last week needed to be kegged, so the Hophead kegs got two ounces each of Cascade, and the Batham’s Best Bitter kegs were dry-hopped with Fuggle.  The specific gravity of both batches was 1.014 when kegged.  I will sample the Batham’s next weeked to see the effect of Fuggle as a dry-hop, which will shed light on how that hop will affect the Harvey’s if added to the keg.  I may dry-hop one keg of Harvey’s with Fuggle and omit the dry-hop in the other, to see which one better preserves the earthiness found in the previous batch of Harvey’s that showed early promise, only for that character to fade by the time the kegs were tapped.

19 May 2012

posted by benjy edwards

The second brew day from this run of yeast is a couple of weeks after the first, since I was back in Columbus, Ohio last weekend for a quick trip to visit friends, family, and take in a convenient real ale festival.  Today’s brew is a double batch, the ever-popular Hophead and the second crack at Batham’s Best Bitter. I  tried to get the gravities slightly different in the two batches, and in fact I succeeded, but with a lower volume on the Hophead than the Batham’s.  The Hophead turned in an OG of 1.040, right on target, and the Batham’s Best was 1.044, which was higher than intended, although close to the specified 1.045 of  the recipe.

Hops were all Cascade in the Hophead and Fuggle and Challenger for bittering in the Batham’s, with East Kent Goldings later for flavour and aroma.  Double batch days are always busy, but this one rolled off without a hitch.  The two primaries containing the Harvey’s Best were racked (see next paragraph) and the yeast from those split into another two fermenters.  I’m still experimenting with the minerals in the brewing liquor, having decreased the amount of gypsum in an attempt to lower the dryness of the beer, but upon sampling the Harvey’s I think perhaps the gypsum is not the cause of the astringency.  Maybe it’s either the calcium chloride or the epsom salts.  Mash pH is not a likely problem.  I’m leaning towards the minerals added during the boil as the issue.

I also racked the Harvey’s Best from two weeks ago, and upon sampling from the primary I am happy to see that it resembles Harvey’s.  It has that same resinous earthy hoppiness, though not to the extent of the original.  I thought I’d hopped it very generously, but I think it needs an even heavier hand with the hops to achieve a true clone.  Gravities on the two fermenters varied quite a bit – 1.016 and 1.013, not sure why that is.  We’ll see how it conditions; I seem to always find that the samples from primary are quite different than the finished product.

5 May 2012

posted by benjy edwards

It’s National Homebrew Day, so of course we had to brew some beer.  We had a decent day for it, the kids got to spend the entire day outside while I made a batch of Harvey’s Best Bitter.  The brew went without a hitch, hitting the target gravity of 1.042 and getting the right dark amber to copper colour.  The mash was Maris Otter, English crystal, and Fawcett’s pale chocolate for colour.  Hops were Challenger for bittering and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings for flavour and aroma.

Of course there was no previous batch to rack, which made for a quick and easy single batch day.   Earlier this week I did keg a small batch of cider that has been fermenting for a couple of months, it turned out quite well.