25 April 2015

posted by benjy edwards

It is time to switch from cask ale production to our other favourite brews, namely IPA.  This recipe is entirely our own, and only loosely based on various previous IPAs.  We were looking for something about 6.5 percent, and with a blast of West Coast hoppiness.

The malt is domestic two-row, Munich, Vienna, wheat, and aromatic malt.  As with most of our IPAs, it contains no crystal malt.  It should be a nice gold colour, about 6 SRM.  The hops are Belma for bittering, then a combination of Azacca, Calypso, and Amarillo beginning at 30 minutes, with further additions at 20, 10 and 0 minutes.  The Calypso and Azacca are new hops for us, but smelling them was pleasant, especially the Calypso.  We used a total of 15 ounces of the late hops and 4 ounces of Belma for a 60 IBU bittering charge.  The original gravity was spot on, at 1.060.

Last week’s Landlord clone was kegged and dry-hopped, with one keg receiving the last of the Styrian Goldings (1.5 ounces) and the other keg has 2 ounces of East Kent Goldings.  The gravity went down to 1.011 for each yeast, so they are having no trouble attenuating, despite a fermentation that was 1-2 degrees cooler than our usual regimen.  As with the previous two batches, the 1968 was brilliantly clear after only 1 week, whereas the Yorkshire strain is slightly cloudy.  However, this batch is the first one where I prefer the Yorkshire yeast over the Fuller’s yeast.  I do think think it is a coincidence that it happens to be the brewery’s own recipe.  The reason Landlord is so good and has won so many awards is no doubt due in large part to the combination of this yeast and the hop and malt flavour.

We will see when these three cask beers are on tap, whether we still prefer the 1968 for the Hophead and Mild and the 1469 for the Landlord.  The only beer to be tapped is the Mild fermented with the Fuller’s yeast, and it is fantastic.  I believe that it is the best batch yet, so upping the brown malt and the pale chocolate was a good move.  This is a great recipe, and full of flavour for its modest 1.042 OG and racking gravity of 1.014.  The Yorkshire one dropped to 1.012, so we will see if that made a difference.  I would guess that the yeast flavour will have more of an impact than just a difference in attenuation.

The next batch will likely be the last, and will be another IPA or perhaps a double IPA.  Kern River Citra Double IPA is tempting, and at 8% is really about halfway between most IPAs and double IPAs.

18 April 2015

posted by benjy edwards

The third use of this yeast will be another batch of cask ale.  The choices were a session IPA or a Timothy Taylor Landlord clone, and since the Styrian Goldings hops we have are older than our IPA hops, we opted for Landlord.  This recipe came to mind because we are currently fermenting half the batch with the West Yorkshire strain from Wyeast, which is reputed to be Tim Taylor’s yeast.  They use Golden Promise malt, but we only have Maris Otter, so we substituted three pounds of the Otter (just over 17% of the total grist) for Munich, to lighten up the biscuity character.

That reminds me, I was corresponding with our maltster, Thomas Fawcett & Sons of Castleford, Yorkshire, and Mr. Fawcett referred to their Maris Otter as “the Malt”.  I was caught by that usage and will adopt it for my use!  It is the finest malt in the world, as the late Greg Noonan said, and deserves the title of the Malt.

Hops are of course Styrian Goldings, but we also used Progress for bittering, along with East Kent Goldings to supplement the Styrian.  Target gravity is 1.042, which we reached spot on.  No snags during the brew day, and the Hopstopper hop filter lived up to its name despite the high percentage of pellets in the boil.  It makes for a slightly lower runoff, but since the dip tube reaches the bottom of the kettle, there is no need to elevate and tilt the kettle for the final wort collection, as is the case with the Bazooka screen.

The all-Apollo Hophead was kegged, with gravities of 1.012 for the 1968 and 1.011 for the 1469.  It was dramatic how different the two beers tasted, I would have guessed that they were not the same wort.  The 1968 was overall superior, with a touch more sweetness but also a bigger punch of hop and overall complexity.  The 1469 was simpler and muddied in flavour by comparison.  It will be interesting to see the difference in the finished beer.  Things most often change from first sampling and the fully matured ale.

We began carbonating the Bohemian Pilsner today, putting on some top pressure to carbonate over time.  The kegs should not be shaken to speed things up, or all the good clearing from the lagering period will be undone.  A tentative name for this beer is Boathouse Boathemian Pilsner.  Next batch will definitely be either a hoppy pale ale or an IPA, with the fifth and final batch either an IPA or double IPA.

11 April 2015

posted by benjy edwards

In keeping with the need for cask ale, today we are brewing another batch of one of our favourites, Hophead.  This time, though, instead of using all Cascade, we are experimenting with our first use of a new hop, Apollo.  Brewing with only one hop is the best way to assess its qualities.  Apollo is supposed to be bold, dank, and resiny, so it should be interesting in a 4% cask ale.

The brew went well, no snags of any kind, except that our original gravity turned out to be 1.038 instead of 1.040, but that is nothing to worry about.  The mash is all Maris Otter at 152F, and the hops went in at 60, 30, 15, 5, and 0 minutes.  IBU should be about 50.

While the mash rested, we kegged up the dark mild from a week ago.  Interestingly, the two yeasts attenuated differently, with the Fuller’s strain being 2 points higher than the West Yorkshire (1.014 v. 1.012).  The Yorkshire yeast wasn’t quite as bright in clarity, but not bad for a week old.  The aroma was more pronounced with the Fuller’s, and the same goes for the flavour.  The Yorkshire didn’t taste as sweet, but its overall level of flavour was subdued compared to the Fuller’s.  The Fuller’s batch also was more complex.  However, much can change during conditioning, so we shall see what the final results are.

Edit: the next day after brewing, we discovered that the chest freezer containing the cask ales was no longer cooling.  Cleaning the area around the compressor and letting the motor cool did not help.  The compressor just makes a buzzing sound with no cooling.  Time to replace this!  The inside is all rusty, anyway, after a decade of condensation and loading and unloading firkins, which scratch the walls of the freezer.

4 April 2015

posted by benjy edwards

The second IPL has been in the primary for two weeks, so it is possible to brew ales again.  We’re in need of cask beer, so today the recipe is our dark mild, with a couple of tweaks to the malt bill by upping the percentages of brown malt and pale chocolate.  Target gravity remains 1.041.  The mash went smoothly except for a rather low pH of 4.9, due to the dark malts.  I added some calcium chloride but the pH did not change significantly.

This beer has a shorter, 60 minute boil, with bittering hops added at 45 minutes.  We used Styrian Goldings, East Kent Goldings, and some Progress pellets for a total of 25 IBU.  I couldn’t decide whether to pitch our favourite yeast or try out the West Yorkshire strain, which is said to be Timothy Taylor’s yeast.  On the suggestion of a friend, I ended up using both, one for each fermenter.  This is wise, as we can not only compare fermentation performance but also final flavour side-by-side.  Actual gravity turned out to be 1.042.

The second IPL (and final lager) was kegged while the mash rested.  Racking gravity was 1.012, putting the finished beer at 7.5% ABV.  It tastes quite nice at this young age, but as with the other two, we will lager it for at least a month.  All three of them have been cloudy when kegged, but given that much lagering time, the hope is that they will clear.  The first batch, the Bo Pils, has had a month of lagering so far, so it should be ready in a couple of weeks.