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!

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