29 November 2015

posted by benjy edwards

I had intended to brew on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but as my holiday consisted of suffering a perforated eardrum as a result of a sinus infection, I took another day to rest and tackled the brew on Sunday instead.  I was still feeling pretty crummy, but one may as well do something fun while feeling rotten.  That, plus we need more cask ale in advance of the homebrew club holiday party coming up in mid-December.

The recipe is our stalwart, Hophead.  We chose to keep things simply and stick with the authentic Maris Otter and Cascade, so no changes to the recipe.  Now that we’re dealing with different water, it makes no sense to change lots of things when it is important to be able to determine what effect the water has on our existing recipes.

The Maris Otter was mashed at 153F for 45 minutes, in line with our recent shorter mash rest practice, and wort recirculated as the dark mild from a week ago was kegged.  By the way, happy birthday to Maris Otter, which celebrates 50 years in the brewing industry.  Most malts only have a lifespan of half a dozen years before a more efficient malt comes along, but MO is so superior in flavour that it has survived.  Also, despite these modern malts, I find that I get better extract from Maris Otter than any other base malt.

The racking gravities for the two mild fermenters were higher than expected, at 1.016 and 1.017, making this about a 3.5% ABV mild.  I don’t know whether the high SG is due to the yeast being the first pitch, or something else.  We are using a different temp. controller on the fermentation cabinet, so it’s possible that it is fermenting colder than usual, which would certainly cause a higher finishing gravity.  The good news is that it tasted very good, not only like our previous batches, but also seems to confirm that the water treatment, at least for dark beer, is appropriate for the new water source.

The pre-boil OG for the Hophead was looking good, so the 90-minute boil proceeded normally.  The chill went well too, and the wort was aerated on the yeast cake.  Original gravity was correct, at 1.040.  The entire session took just under 5 hours, which is very good for only the second brew in the new brewery.  Although I wish that there were a bit more space, the compact footprint certainly seems to save time.

Plans for the immediate future include finishing up the pub area and perhaps brewing a hoppy American pale ale or West-Coast IPA for the next batch.


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