31 January 2015

posted by benjy edwards

Today’s brew was not without its share of mishaps.  It began by overfilling the mash tun with the strike liquor, which did no harm other than delay the mash by just a few minutes as the tun was drained to the correct level.  The next bump in the road was overheating the sparge liquor by ten degrees, but no harm came of that, as it had cooled to the correct 170F by the time wort collection began.  The final surprise came when we fell five points shy of the target gravity of 1.065.  Why this was is a mystery.  It is common to be low when using the domestic 2-row in place of Maris Otter, but not usually by so much.

The recipe is an IPA of our own devising, showcasing Citra, Amarillo, and Simcoe.  Other than Mosaic, these are our favourite new hops.  The malt bill was primarily domestic two-row, along with some Maris Otter for complexity.  Crystal malt was avoided, but a pound of wheat was included for foam stability, and carapils for added body.  The hopping schedule was Columbus at 60 minutes for bittering, then equal additions of Citra, Amarillo, and Simcoe at 30 and 10 minutes.  The final hop addition at the end of the boil was all Citra.

The Mosaic pale ale brewed last week was kegged today, during the mash of the IPA.  Right from the fermenter, this beer is fantastic.  It is a huge blast of Mosaic aroma and flavour.  If you like Mosaic, I cannot see how this beer can be improved upon.  It has just the right bitterness as well.  Racking gravity was 1.011, and one keg was force-carbonated for co2 dispense and the other will condition on its own for cask service.  I think this beer will be fantastic as real ale.

The next brew is likely to be the last for this yeast, and will either be another IPA or a double IPA.  One idea is to use Azacca as a single hop, in order to assess its character.  We recently got a pound of this new hop and are curious as to what it is like.  It’s purported to have an intense tropical fruit flavour, which sounds just right for an American IPA.

24 January 2015

posted by benjy edwards

Mosaic is currently my favourite hop, and we have just enough to brew a batch with it.  Most of our stock of Mosaic is pellets, but with five ounces of whole cones and a generous portion of non-Mosaic bittering hops, I can use the remainder as pellets and not clog my system.

The grist for the American pale ale is domestic two-row (Great Western), some Maris Otter, carapils, wheat, and honey malt.  No crystal other than the carapils will keep the beer dry and allow the hops to shine.  Mosaic is a pretty subtle hop, so it is important not to have the malt character get in the way.  Target gravity is 1.053, and we reached 1.052.  Mash temperature was 152F for an hour.

The bittering charge was East Kent Goldings, as it is the lowest alpha hop we have and in order to get enough whole cones in the boil to offset the pellets we needed as much hop material as possible.  The Mosaic was added at 30, 15, 10, and 0 minutes, with equal additions of whole and pellets except the flameout addition, which was 3.5 ounces of pellets.  Chilling and racking went fine, even better than last week, when we did have some pellet material block the tee which splits the chilled wort into the two carboys.  That was easily removed and from there the best bitter ran off fine as well.

While the mash rested, we kegged the Harvey’s Best Bitter, with no dry hop.  I found that dry-hopping the Harvey’s actually decreases its signature Fuggle-derived hop profile, even when using Fuggle.  The beer tasted almost-spot on to the original, so this is one of those instances when I hope the beer doesn’t change much as it conditions.  Racking gravity was 1.011 on both fermenters, so it should be 4.3% ABV.

Next week we’ll start brewing some IPAs, at least two before the run of yeast is over.  I also need to brew my first lager soon, before the weather becomes unsuitable for lagering.  The plan is to make a simple Bohemian pilsner with Best pilsner malt and Saaz hops.  I have a smack pack of Bohemian lager yeast to use.

17 January 2015

posted by benjy edwards

The second pitch of this Wyeast 1968 will be for another cask ale, and one we’ve brewed before.  It has been a long process trying to clone Harvey’s Best Bitter, with some degree of success.  It is not perfect though, and may never be, as their yeast is one of the main factors in its flavour.  Copious quantities of Fuggle hops are also key, and as I only have these in pellet form, I must restrict the amount so they don’t clog our system.

The base malt is Maris Otter, of course, with the addition of medium and dark English crystal, flaked maize, and a touch of pale chocolate mainly for colour.  Bittering hops were East Kent Goldings, then Fuggle and Styrian Goldings for flavour and more Goldings and Fuggle for aroma.  Target OG is 1.040 and we reached 1.042.  The brew went fine, and my concerns over the pellets were unfounded, as we kept the percentage low enough that the whole cones provided enough filtration (9 oz. pellets out of 24, or 37.5%).  I know 50% is too much, so under 40% seems to be ok.

The Hophead batch turned out well, it was kegged with two ounces each of Cascade for the dry-hop.  Racking gravity was 1.011, so should finish at about 1.009 after conditioning.  Next week’s brew will likely be an all-Mosaic pale ale, perhaps half served via handpump and the other on the co2 dispense.  That would allow for three new cask beers to supplement the two on offer now (dark mild and Boathouse Bitter).

10 January 2015

posted by benjy edwards

We are starting off the new year with a round of brews, with the first goal being to replenish the supply of cask ale.  Getting down to one corny of dark mild and one bitter is dangerously low levels of session beer.  The first batch is Hophead, the 19th brew of this recipe.  Simple SMaSH beer of Maris Otter and Cascade, which shows that the simplest recipes are often the best.  We are back to using our favourite yeast, the Fuller’s strain (Wyeast 1968 in this case, but WLP002 is what we prefer to use, but the local shop stopped stocking White Labs yeast).

The brew went very smoothly, with the only hitch being to forget to get the smack pack activated until I remembered at 10 o’clock last night.  After a hurried warming at 85F I pitched it into 2 litres of wort and put it on the stir plate late at night.  There seemed to be a decent quantity of yeast by the time it came to pitch at 3 pm today, though.

Target OG is 1.040 but due to a slightly overly vigorous boil we reached 1.042 actual starting gravity.  The chill went quickly and we had the wort at 64F at pitching.  We will let that climb to 66-68F for the first day or two of fermentation and then rise from there to the diacetyl rest.

Coming soon will be our first lager.  I got a coupon for a free smack pack of Wyeast, so I picked up the Bohemian lager strain and plan to do a Bohemian pilsner using German or Belgian pilsner malt, and some Czech Saaz hops.  Trying to control the ferment and lagering temperatures will be interesting, but at least this is the right time of year to brew lager.

We will also continue the cask beer by re-pitching the Fuller’s yeast.  Future batches are likely to be a best bitter and all-Mosaic pale ale.  IPA and double IPA are almost certainly to be included as well.