23 November 2012

posted by benjy edwards

It is time to use a lot of hops!  On the schedule for today is an IPA and a double IPA, both with boatloads of hops.  The IPA is our own recipe, using a combination of hops similar to a beer called The Dankness from Triple Rock Brewing in California.  Instead of Apollo, however, we used Columbus, along with Summit and Citra.  The double IPA is another version of the Double Jack from Firestone Walker, with the malt bill changed to lighten the colour.  The malts are domestic 2-row, Munich, crystal 40, and kiln amber, with a target colour of 8 SRM.

The malt was mashed in the 26 gallon kettle, with more than 65 pounds total of grain.  Because of the smaller kernel size of the domestic 2-row when compared to our staple Maris Otter, I considered double milling the malt, but after one pass through the mill, the crush looked more than adequate.  Therefore, I am afraid the lower efficiency of this malt is unavoidable!

The first runnings from the mash went to the double IPA kettle, with a bit of hot liquor added straight from the HLT, in order to achieve the correct pre-boil gravity.  The target OG of 1.080 was hit spot-on, but the OG on the IPA came in low, at 1.057 instead of 1.062.  More like a pale ale, then.  We mashed at 150F, so with a highly fermentable wort it may clock in at a low IPA strength.

The hops in the double IPA are Columbus for first-wort hopping, Summit, Warrior and Columbus for the bittering charge, and Cascade and Centennial late in the boil.  When it came time to chill the double IPA, the use of some pellets made itself known, as we suffered from the hated slow runoff.  Some clearing of the screen with a stainless spoon freed it up, however, and it ran off ok after that.  The IPA ran off better, despite having roughly the same ratio of pellets to whole hops.

The double IPA took off fermenting straight away, and before the night was over had blown off through the airlocks.  I removed them for the first couple of days of fermentation.  This batch needs a liberal dry hop during primary, which likely will be added on Tuesday, then the wort given ten more days to finish fermenting.  The plan is to brew a single batch this weekend, but we will use the yeast from the IPA for that.   As yet, no decision on the recipe for next week.

17 November 2012

posted by benjy edwards

It was another double batch brew day here, with an American pale ale and another attempt at cloning Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter as the recipes.  The APA uses all Citra hops, except for a bittering addition of Sterling, where the distinct flavour of Citra wouldn’t make an impact.  The APA malt bill is Maris Otter, medium and dark English crystal, and flaked maize.  To get the right colour for the Harvey’s, I capped the mash with three ounces of pale chocolate malt after running off the APA.  Target OG for the APA was 1.050, but we reached 1.058 in the end, so it will be a bit of a stronger pale ale.  Target OG on the Harvey’s is 1.040, whereas we achieved 1.039.  Mash temperature was 152F.

The hopping on the Harvey’s was tweaked again, going back to something closer to version 8, as it had a better hop flavour than version 9.  Cloning this beer has been one of the toughest challenges, without any specifics from the commercial brewery as to the timing or quantities of hops.   All we know is that it contains Progress, Bramling Cross, Fuggles, and Goldings.

During the brew I had help from my friend Brian who came up from Portland, and also from Nate, a fellow local homebrew club member.  It certainly helps on the double batch days to share the work.  The only hitch we had all day was when they put away the brewing stand, at my request, while we were chilling the second batch, and then I realised that we still needed it to raise the kettle to finish the chill.  As snags go, it was a minor one, at least.

The Hophead and Boathouse Bitter brewed last weekend both got racked to corny kegs, with a Cascade dry hop for the Hophead and Belma for the Boathouse Bitter, since it was an all-Belma SMaSH recipe.  Gravities for both batches were 1.010, so good attenuation on the second use of the yeast.  Samples straight from the primary were delicious for both ales.  I like the hop profile of Belma.

Next weekend we’ll try another double batch, recipes will likely be the Double Jack double IPA from Firestone Walker, and an IPA using some of the coveted Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra.  On Saturday night, Brian and I spent a lot of time vacuum-sealing the 2012 hops from Hopsdirect, in order to make room in the hop freezers for his home-grown harvest.  He brought up 7 pounds, plus 4 pounds of commercial hops, and on top of the 25 to 30 pounds of hops already in storage, we were very short on space.  However, we just managed to cram them all in, so now the priority is to use them up!

10 November 2012

posted by benjy edwards

Today we brewed a double batch of cask beer, both from the same mash of 100% Maris Otter.  This is the grain bill for Hophead, one of our staples.  The other batch I am calling Boathouse Bitter, and like Hophead, it is a single malt, single hop (SMaSH) beer.  The hops are a new variety grown by Hopsdirect, called Belma, which are supposed to have orange and tropical fruit flavours.  They certainly smelled great when I opened the bag.

Original gravities were 1.040 on the Boathouse Bitter, and 1.041 for Hophead.  No snags encountered during the brew, but noticed the supply of foam control and whirlfloc is dwindling, so more are on order.  Both batches were hopped at the 60, 30, 15, 5, and 0 minute intervals during the boil.  After the boil, there was a short delay before the chill, as last week’s yeast was reluctant to pour from the dark mild fermenters to a couple of sanitized carboys to split the yeast between the two batches.

Speaking (or is it “writing”) of the dark mild, I racked it to corny kegs today, with no dry hop, of course.  Because of the shorter boil time, I had even more beer left than usual, so I was able to fill two gallon growlers with the extra.  After just one week, it tastes delicious.  I think the added dark crystal and brown malt only improved the recipe.   This beer is an exception that proves the rule that the simplest malt bills make the best beers.   The dark mild has no less than nine different malts.  Racking gravity was 1.014, so with a couple more points’ drop during conditioning, it should be 3.8% ABV.  A perfect autumn session ale!

Next week’s brew is scheduled to be a batch of Harvey’s Best Bitter (more recipe tweaks) and an American pale ale.

3 November 2012

posted by benjy edwards

After an unusually long break from brewing, we’re back to making beer.  The supply of cask ale has held out with some judicious metering, but of course it is the first priority when brewing again.  The weather has shifted into the cool and wet season of fall, so I thought a dark mild would be appropriate.  The recipe is largely unchanged from previous batches, though I did increase the Special B and the brown malt, to see what difference that would make.  Target gravity is 1.041 and our actual result was the same.

Brewing went without a hitch, and was a quick day with a short 1 hour boil and no prior batches to rack.  Hops are Challenger, Fuggle, and East Kent Golding, all added with 45 minutes left in the boil, bittered to about 22 IBU.  We pitched a starter of White Labs WLP002 and the first signs of fermentation began by the end of the night.

Next weekend batches of Hophead and a similar cask ale hopped with the new variety ‘Belma’ are planned.