26 February 2017

posted by benjy edwards

Although we are getting to the end of this run of yeast, we’re still brewing cask ale, because we committed to serving two cask beers at the upcoming Pacific Northwest Homebrewers Conference, 17-18 March.  This is the second beer to make for serving at my seminar on home-brewing cask ales.  I knew I wanted to bring an English bitter, but couldn’t decide on a recipe, so opted for our go-to Hophead clone.  Continuing with the experiment about blending malts, I used half each of Maris Otter from Fawcett and Baird.  Hops are just Cascade, for bittering and 30, 15, 10, and 5 minute additions.  The mash rest was thirty minutes at 153F.

The dark mild had six days to ferment, during which time it reached 1.016 in one fermenter and 1.017 in the other.  No dry hops in the kegs, of course, just leaving enough headspace in the kegs to achieve good condition.  I have yet to decide whether to serve one of the ales from a pin instead of a corny keg, but of course if I do, it will have to be the Hophead.

20 February 2017

posted by benjy edwards

Lately, I have been brewing primarily on Sundays, mostly because there are more football matches aired on Saturdays (!).  This weekend, though, I am taking advantage of the holiday to brew on Monday.  The recipe is a low-gravity cask beer, which is unusual for the fifth use of the yeast.  The reason is that it is the right time to brew the beer that I will be serving at the Pacific Northwest Homebrewers Conference in Vancouver, Washington next month, where I will be presenting a seminar on brewing and serving cask-conditioned ales at home.  I did the seminar last year at the inaugural event and the organisers were kind enough to invite me to give it again.

I will be taking two ales, a dark mild and a bitter.  Today’s batch is the dark mild, and we will brew the bitter next weekend.  I made a few forced changes to the grist bill, because I am out of Special B and kiln coffee malts.  I increased the Fawcett Dark Crystal II to replace the Special B, and replaced the kiln coffee malt with a bit more pale chocolate malt.  Just for the hell of it, I replaced the flaked maize with flaked oats the peat malt with a cherry-smoked malt from Briess.  The target gravity is 1.042 and our actual gravity was 1.043.

We always follow a 60 minute boil for this beer, which is the only repeated recipe that uses the shorter boil.  This, along with our now-standard 30 minute mash rest, enabled us to brew this batch in a speedy 3.5 hours.  There is only one hop addition, Bramling Cross at 45 minutes for about 25 IBUs.

While recirculating the wort, we kegged up the Mosaic pale ale brewed on Sunday.  It attenuated well, down to 1.010 on one fermenter and 1.011 on the other.  Each keg was dry-hopped with 1.75 ounces of Mosaic, naturally, and force carbonated.

While the mild was boiled, I dumped out some of the yeast since the cake at the bottom of each carboy was about an inch thick.  Perhaps this was the reason that the fermentation did not start as quickly as previous batches, or maybe the lower gravity of this wort compared to the pale ale from last week had some effect.  I do not remember ever pitching a lower gravity batch onto a previous higher-gravity batch, so this is a bit of a test.  It is customary to pitch yeast into progressively stronger worts, and there must be a reason.  One of course is that you don’t want to repitch yeast from a very strong beer because the yeast has been stressed from the high alcohol environment of the previous beer, but in this case I am re-pitching from a 1.052 OG to a 1.043 OG, which one wouldn’t think could make much of a difference.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so as Charlie Bamforth likes to say: “suck it and see”.  I certainly hope the experiment is not a failure, as I will not be the only one drinking the results!

12 February 2017

posted by benjy edwards

This week we are brewing an American pale ale with my favourite hop, Mosaic.  I think I have more Mosaic on hand right now than ever before, so we can afford to use it throughout the whole process, from bittering to dry-hopping.  The malt bill is simple, just domestic two-row, Munich, and Victory, with the oddball ingredient being 15% oats.  We have not used oats in a pale ale before, but have enjoyed the few commercial versions that are out there.  Target gravity is 1.050 and 75 IBU.

The mash rest was 151F for our now-usual 30 minutes, then recirculated before the 90-minute boil, with bittering hops at 60 minutes followed by late additions at 30, 15, 10, and 5 minutes.  Our actual gravity is 1.051 and the wort smelled great.  Surprisingly, it was not hazy coming out of the kettle, which I thought would be the case with so much oats.

Meanwhile, we kegged up the hoppy brown from last week, which hadn’t attenuated as much as I’d expected: 1.020 on the first carboy and 1.019 on the second.  As the yeast was just as active (in fact more so, needing blowoff tubes) and we kept the temperature the same, the less attenuation must be the result of so much crystal malt.  It tasted great from the fermenters, though.  We dry hopped each keg with 1.75 ounces of Cascade and force-carbonated both.

There should be two more batches to come using this yeast, one of which is sure to be an IPA.  As for the other, who knows?

5 February 2017

posted by benjy edwards

For the third batch on this yeast, we are brewing our hoppy brown ale.  I did not intend to make any changes to the recipe, but upon discovering that we have no Special B, I was forced to substitute some English crystal, the Fawcett dark crystal II (120L), along with some brown malt.  Partly as a result of the malt changes, the OG turned out to be 1.058 instead of the target 1.048.  I think another reason for the gravity boost is that we are now milling the grain twice, which certainly helps with extract efficiency.

This week, I remembered to prep the kegs  the day before, so that helped things go smoothly.  The Cashmere single hop beer from last week was kegged with two ounces each of more Cashmere.  The gravity on this batch dropped really well, to 1.010.  These kegs were not force-carbonated, but will be left to condition on their own for serving on handpump.

As for the hoppy brown, we hopped with Columbus for bittering, and Cascade with a touch of Chinook for the late hops.  By Monday it was fermenting rapidly and I needed to fit blowoff tubes on the carboys.  Next week might be a pale ale or an IPA.  The clone of Fuller’s 1845 made last last year is drinking really well, so there is also the possibility of making that again soon.