23 February 2013

posted by benjy edwards

Today is the first of at least two double batches planned for this brewing round.  As is typical, the mash was 100% Maris Otter, which not only produces ten gallons of the Hophead clone, but also another single-malt and single-hop (aka SMaSH) beer, Boathouse bitter.  The latter was hopped with Belma, a new variety grown at Puterbaugh Farms in Mabton, Washington.  It is quite similar to Cascade, but more subtle.  The last double batch along with Hophead I hopped with Belma, and it turned out well, so we’re making more.

The brew day went smoothly, except that I mistakenly added the flameout addition of Cascade, intended for the Hophead, to the Boathouse bitter, which was supposed to be 100% Belma.  As well, things like that happen, and it may be interesting to see if there’s any detectable difference in the resulting beer.  Instead of adding the Belma to the Hophead, I kept it 100% Cascade.  Original gravities were 1.040 for the Hophead and 1.039 for the bitter.  Mash temperature was spot on, at 152F for an hour.  Clarity in the two kettles was very good, showing the neat array of solid hot break material floating around in otherwise very clear wort.  I don’t know that it makes any difference in the taste, but seeing it at the beginning of the boil always makes me glad.

The only other hiccup for the brew occurred last night while preparing the gear for the day.  I changed the hose on the output side of the pump and in doing so, broke the barb off of the CPC disconnect.  This is not the first time this has happened, and has caused to me periodically consider replacing all of the plastic CPC disconnects with stainless steel.  The up-front cost of the change always puts me off in the end though, so instead I just ordered another couple of CPC disconnects.

The dark mild that we brewed a week ago was racked to a couple of corny kegs that I sanitized and purged with co2 last night.  The racking gravity on both fermenters was 1.014,  and we had an extra gallon left in each one after filling the kegs.  This is because the mild is only boiled for 60 rather than 90 minutes, but I still collect the same amount before the boil.  It is nice to have so much extra, because this beer tastes great right from the primary after only 7 days of fermentation.   It was interesting to compare the fresh batch to the last batch of the mild, which is still on the handpump.  The fresh batch has a more pronounced chocolately flavour, while the older batch is smoother and perhaps more balanced.  Of course the body and condition of the older batch is better, having a nice creamy mouthfeel.

Next week’s brew will be another double batch.  Exact recipes are uncertain, but will likely be an American pale ale and a cask-conditioned session ale.

16 February 2013

posted by benjy edwards

After a longer than usual break from brewing, today we started by brewing a single batch of the dark mild.  We still have the last batch on tap, but it is getting low, as is the total cask ale and co2 carbonated beer.  The recipe is unchanged except for increasing the brown malt a bit in order to get some more roastiness, which has faded over time in the batch brewed late last year.  The hopping level is the same, but I substituted the Fuggle with more East Kent Golding, and used up the last of the stock of Challenger.

The brew went very smoothly, with good clarity of the wort and an original gravity of 1.041, one point above the target.  The wort was chilled to 65F and oxygenated with 45 seconds of oxygen before pitching a starter of WLP002 made last night.  The temperature rose to 68 for initial fermentation and then heated to 70F after three days, when fermentation subsided.

Of course there is no beer to keg today, so it was a quick brew day.  Next week the plan is to brew a double batch of Hophead and a single malt, single hop cask beer.  The hop will likely be either Citra or Styrian Goldings.