26 May 2013

posted by benjy edwards

The second use of this yeast is a double batch of some hoppy beer, which will come as no surprise to any regular reader of this brewing blog.  Recently we have been brewing clones of IPAs that are not obtainable in this area (the Citra Double IPA from Kern River Brewing and Boneyard’s Hop Venom).  The Hop Venom is seen sporadically on draught here, so it is at least a beer which I have tried.  Russian River’s single IPA is Blind Pig, which I have never tried, but there are clone recipes readily available, including one given by the brewer Vinnie Cilurzo and published in Mitch Steele’s excellent book IPA. 

The original gravity of the commercial beer is only 1.057, quite low for an IPA, but it is supposed to have a great hop character.  The low strength fit in well with this double batch, since in order to brew a 1.040 cask ale, the high 1.050s is the maximum for the first wort beer.  The malt bill is two-row, crystal 40, and carapils.  I used Maris Otter for the base malt since we are also brewing the cask beer, which is a batch of Boathouse Bitter hopped entirely with Belma.  Gravities turned out well despite not even maxing out our mash tun: 1.058 for the Blind Pig and 1.040 for the Boathouse Bitter.  A couple of mishaps occurred, but neither were serious.  First the sparge rate was a little too fast, so while I was kegging the Dark Ruby Mild brewed last week, the mash tun overflowed and we lost a couple pints of hot liquor.  Then the Blind Pig boiled over once, but as boilovers go, it was minor.  Hops in the IPA were Columbus and Chinook for bittering, then Cascade, Amarillo, Centennial, and Columbus for flavour and aroma.  The colour of the wort as we chilled and racked to primary was very light, which is perfect for an IPA and a single-hop session bitter.

The gravity on the Dark Ruby Mild was higher than expected, at 1.026.  The mash temp for this beer was very high (158F), so I expected a full-bodied, low-attenuating beer, but perhaps due to this being the first pitch of the yeast, it attenuated less than predicted.  After only a week it tastes very good though, perhaps a touch too much sweetness, but the black treacle gives it a sharper finish.  With some conditioning and carbonation I expect it to finish properly balanced.

18 May 2013

posted by benjy edwards

It has been a few years since we last brewed a clone of the Dark Ruby Mild, from the Sarah Hughes Brewery in the West Midlands of England.  I remember trying this beer for the first time over a decade ago at the now-defunct Real Ale Festival in Chicago.  It was great from the cask, despite having traveled all the way from overseas.  We visited the brewery a few years later and got to try the beer right from the source, after touring the tiny Victorian tower brewery.  The head brewer gave us the recipe, but our clones so far have not been exactly on target, perhaps due to the unique equipment used in their brewery.  The recipe is simple, just Maris Otter and 25% crystal malt, with invert syrup added during the boil.

Our version uses other malts in order to recreate the complexity of the beer.  This time, in addition to Maris Otter and two English crystal malts (Fawcett’s Dark Crystal I and II), we used some pale chocolate, brown malt, and a couple of ounces of debittered black malt for added colour.   The target gravity is 1.060, but we overshot that by five points.  I could see from the pre-boil gravity that we would overshoot quite a bit, and considered cutting back on the black treacle, but went ahead and put in the two pounds of treacle since it’s not just there to boost gravity, but mainly for its flavour contribution.  The mash temperature given by the brewer is 158F (70C), which is at the upper limit for starch conversion.  We began our mash at this temperature and by the end of the hour it was down to 156F.  Hops are Fuggles and East Kent Goldings at 60 minutes and an addition of EKG with 15 minutes left.  The brew day was uneventful and we pitched the wort with a fresh starter of WLP002.

There was a cider still in primary from back in March, almost two months ago.  Last weekend I made up a tincture of dark rum, grated ginger, cinnamon, and allspice.  After a week I decanted the liquid off of the ginger and spices and added that to the keg while the cider was racked.  Also in the keg went three cans of concentrated apple juice to back-sweeten it, since the gravity was 1.000 and it was very dry.  The keg is chilled and force-carbonated and is ready to be tapped once one of the other two ciders runs out.  This week I also tapped the clone of Kern River’s Citra Double IPA, and it is fantastic.  I see now why this beer gets such great reviews.  It has a great straw colour, not much bitterness, but a very powerful tropical fruity hop flavour and aroma.  A great beer!  Although it is 8% ABV, I think it comes across more like a single IPA than a double.

Next brew will likely be a double batch of a cask ale and a hoppy American pale ale.  I’ve wanted to brew something like Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA, so maybe taking that recipe down a bit in gravity will yield a super hoppy pale ale.