4 August 2012

posted by benjy edwards

Now that the yeast culture has fermented last week’s Harvey’s Best Bitter clone, it can be split in half in order to ferment a double batch.  Today’s recipes are Hophead, which is a staple, and a version of Boathouse Bitter hopped with Mt. Hood.  Oakham’s JHB uses Mt. Hood as a late hop, so I thought I’d try it on a single-malt beer of 100% Maris Otter.  The Hophead is hopped entirely with Cascade, while the Boathouse Bitter used Northdown pellets for bittering, then Mt. Hood for flavour and aroma.  Original gravity of the Hophead was on target, at 1.040, while the Boathouse Bitter came in at 1.039.

As stated above, the yeast from the Harvey’s was split into two more fermenters and today’s wort racked into the four primaries.  The Harvey’s Best was racked to a couple of corny kegs, but with no dry hop, as it seems to hinder, rather than help, the earthy hop character that I am seeking to recreate.  Out of the primaries the gravities were down to 1.011 and had the earthiness, but perhaps not to the extent that I desire.  Getting the correct hop character in this beer is proving to be a big challenge.  I am not sure if it is a question of which hops to use in which proportions, or the timing of the additions, or both.  Having used Progress and Bramling Cross in this batch, in addition to the Fuggle that was giving some of the right character in previous batches, I can’t say yet whether it’s getting any closer.  I should have a better idea once the beer is conditioned and served on handpump.

The only hitch today occurred when one of the propane tanks ran out, right at the beginning of the boil.  I had forgotten to fill the tanks earlier this week, and thought I may be able to get by with what I had, but even with the help of the new heatstick, it wasn’t possible.  The heatstick seems to be much less powerful than I expected.  Using it alone, it was raising the strike liquor by one 1 degree every few minutes – too slow!  I think I would need 3 or 4 of them in order to heat the liquor or wort quickly enough to use electricity in place of propane.

The plan for next weekend is an American pale ale, along with another cask bitter of some sort.  Stay tuned.

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