7 February 2015

posted by benjy edwards

The last brew with this yeast is going to be a shot in the dark.  I say that because, while the brew day itself went well, forgetting to unplug the heater from the temperature controller to plug in the refrigerator meant that overnight, as the yeast kicked off the temperature rose, and the controller switched on to cool it, except that it ran the heater instead.  I still remember the shock of looking at the reading on Sunday morning and seeing “97”.  I immediately realised the cause of the problem and cooled it back down to the low 70s, but 12 hours at that temperature, coming right at the most active time of fermentation, could have disastrous results.  My fingers are crossed for some hope, however, for when I dry-hopped the primaries on Wednesday, I took a sample to taste, and the only off-flavour I got was some spiciness.  This could be phenols or fusel alcohols, or perhaps we may be very lucky and it is derived from the rye in the recipe.

Speaking of the recipe, let’s start at the beginning after I started with the bad news.  The mash was mostly domestic pale ale malt from Great Western, some Maris Otter, just over 15% rye malt, and some carapils and Munich.  We mashed at 151 for the usual hour, then ran off to the kettle after vorlauf.

Since we continue to have a glut of Amarillo, that was used for bittering.  And since we love Citra, we used a combination of that and Amarillo for flavour and aroma.  The final addition at knockout was a new hop, Azacca, which is supposed to have a huge tropical aroma and flavour.  I may dry-hop one keg with Azacca and use Citra and Amarillo in the other.  The dry hop added to the primaries after four days was Citra.

Target OG was 1.068, but we were a bit low, getting 1.064 instead.  This is par for the course for us using domestic malt.  I keep using just a bit more each time, but it’s clearly not enough.  I think rather than the 32 points per pound that I use to calculate, it must be more like 28 points per pound.  Compare that to 35 PPG we get when using Fawcett’s Maris Otter, and it seems like the higher price for the Maris Otter doesn’t really make it that much more expensive to use, plus of course bringing a much nicer depth of flavour.

So, the jury is definitely out on how this one turns out, but I’m not about to consider dumping the batch yet.  Even if it is unpleasant when tapped, we can wait a while and see if it improves.  Beer never stays the same, it either gets better or gets worse.

Next up is brewing our first lager, perhaps as early at the weekend after next.  We need to ferment it while we still have cooler winter temperatures.