27 March 2016

posted by benjy edwards

We know it’s time to brew again when half a dozen or so kegs are empty and all of the previous batches are currently on tap.  A few of them are still the first keg of the two, but with two liquid yeast vials in stock, we should get to using them.  One of them is the seasonal White Labs Platinum strain of Essex Ale, supposedly the closest thing to Harvey’s yeast that we can get.

Naturally, the recipe is another crack at cloning Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter.  The malt is unchanged, with Maris Otter, medium and dark crystal, and flaked maize.  Harvey’s uses Bramling Cross, Fuggle, East Kent Goldings, and Progress.  I haven’t seen Progress available recently, so omitted that, and replaced the East Kent Goldings with Styrian Goldings, which is actually derived from Fuggle, but should complement the Fuggle in the recipe.

The original gravity is intended to be 1.040, but for some reason the pre-boil gravity was only 1.029 and post-boil was only 1.034, and so it is more like an ordinary bitter rather than a best.  I had intended to brew two batches of this, back-to-back, anyway, because the yeast is always less active in the first batch, and so the attenuation won’t be as great.  We can address the gravity issue in the second batch next weekend.

Other than the gravity problem, the brew went well.  The now-standard 30 minute mash was followed by our also-standard  three recirculations and final wort collection.  Hops were added at 60, 30, 15, and 5 minute additions and the wort was chilled, oxygenated at half a litre per minute for two minutes, and then the 2.5 litre yeast starter was pitched.  Fermentation was active by early Monday morning.  Next batch, as stated above, will be another attempt at Harvey’s Best.  After that pale ale followed by IPA is likely, and maybe an oatmeal stout or a porter thrown in for variety.