14 February 2016

posted by benjy edwards

Brew day this week happened to fall on St. Valentine’s Day.  The recipe wasn’t decided upon in advance, which is very unusual.  In brewing, not planning ahead can lead to problems, and that is in fact what happened this time.  Not needing to brew two IPAs with this run of yeast, we had to find something else, and we are in need of something darker than a pale ale or IPA, so we settled on a brown ale.  The recipe was loosely based on our last hoppy brown ale from a couple of years back, but not having any treacle, we needed fermentables and colour from another source.  Previously, the grist was Maris Otter, Special B, and aromatic malt, which this time was supplemented with pale chocolate and coffee malts, and a bit of debittered black malt for colour adjustment.  The black malt wasn’t added until about halfway through wort collection, once the colour of the beer was determined.

The original gravity was calculated to be 1.052, but for some reason we hit 1.046.  Such a large discrepancy is quite unusual, and difficult to explain.  Perhaps the lower than expected mash pH played a role, or maybe it was the higher mash temperature (155F), or perhaps both together.  In any event, this will be a very sessionable strength brown ale, and how the hops interact with the added dark malts will either be interesting and pleasant or a train wreck of flavour.  If the latter, I have no reason to be upset, by not having done our homework ahead of time.

The next recipe will be an IPA, and is likely to be a clone of the new Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA, which is my favourite new IPA since Loowit’s Shadow Ninja and Hopvine from Schooner Exact.

During the mash and recirculation, we racked last week’s pale ale to a couple of kegs.  The dry hop was equal parts Lemon Drop and Eureka.  The gravity dropped to 1.013, so it should be around 5.5% ABV.  It tasted very good from the primary, and the hop character is definitely unusual, as expected.  The two anticipated flavours were lemony and earthy/piney, and it turned out more citrusy than piney, which I attribute to more Lemon Drop added during the boil than Eureka.  It will be interesting to try this again after the dry hop and carbonation.  We force carbonated one keg but not the other, so as to be able to serve the latter via handpump.  Comparing the two methods of dispense will add further interest.

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