29 April 2017

posted by benjy edwards

This weekend we brewed on Saturday since the weather will be nicer on Sunday, plus I’ve got lots of pizza-making activities to do on Sunday.  The recipe is an IPA similar to the award-winning Breakside IPA.  The malt bill is domestic two-row, Munich, and light crystal.  There were no problems in the mash, except the temperature was 154F instead of 153F, but that is hardly an issue.

During the mash rest we kegged up the Harvey’s Best from last week, with no dry hops in either keg.  The gravity was down to 1.010, so that is great attenuation, and the beer was quite clear.  I like the Thames yeast so far, though I haven’t tried any finished beer yet, just samples from primary.

We did a full 90 minute boil, adding Columbus hops at 60 and 30 minutes, and then Centennial at 10 minutes and a combination of Citra and Chinook at 5 and 0 minutes.  The chill went fine, no problems with a slow runoff like we had last week, so I think that was down to the seeds in the Bramling Cross hops.  We hit our target OG of 1.060 and by this evening we needed blowoff tubes on the fermenters.

Next week will likely be the second batch of Fuller’s 1845, followed by another IPA to finish off this pitch of yeast.

23 April 2017

posted by benjy edwards

Happy St. George’s Day!  All week I’ve been monitoring the Thames yeast as it ferments the Simcoe-hopped cask beer, and I was pleasantly surprised to see near the end of the week that it was clearing nicely.  Not quite the amazing flocculation of the Fuller’s yeast, but very good nonetheless.

Today’s recipe is another cask beer: once again an attempt to reach something close to Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter.  I hadn’t changed the recipe at all, except to include a bit of East Kent Goldings in place of some of the Bramling Cross.  This week I was sure to use filtered water for all of the brewing liquor, and encountered no problems during the brew day until it came time to chill the wort.  At first I noticed a lot of bubbles in the line from the kettle to the chiller, which is very unusual.  I made sure all of the hose connections were secure, but the problem persisted.  It got worse when the flow slowed, then almost stopped.  I had no choice but to sanitize a spoon and scrape off some hops from the kettle screen.  This solved the flow problem, but I had to do it once or twice again to keep it going.  I only used four ounces of the total pound hops as pellets, so I don’t know if that was too muc or if it was the seeds contained in the Bramling Cross whole hops that were blocking the screen.

In any event, it only caused a 15 minute delay in the brew day, so all in all not much bother.  The original gravity turned out to be 1.043 instead of the target 1.040, so perhaps the boil was a bit strong, since we ended up just shy of 5.5 gallons in each fermenter.

While the mash was proceeding, we kegged up the Simcoe version of Hophead.  Clarity was indeed very good, and the yeast attenuated to 1.012 in one carboy and 1.011 in the other.  Best of all, the beer tasted great, with no sign of any ill effects from the chlorinated liquor.  Both were racked to kegs with two ounces each of Simcoe and left to condition at room temperature.

Next week will either be an IPA or a second batch of the Fuller’s 1845 which turned out so well the first time we brewed it.  Also in the works are another IPA, and if we stretch the yeast to a sixth batch, perhaps a double IPA.

16 April 2017

posted by benjy edwards

After a break of almost two months, it is definitely time to get back to brewing.  The empty kegs have been accumulating for a while now, we are up to 8 empties, a sure sign of needing more beer.  I intended to brew last weekend, but the weather was decent so I rode instead.

I recently got a vial of a recently released special strain from White Labs; their Thames Ale yeast, which I thought I would try.  The flocculation is listed as high, which is a good as it gets except for the Fuller’s strain which is the only “very high” flocculating yeast in the world, but the starter I made on Saturday did not clump at all after taking it off the stir plate, so that’s some cause for concern there.

The recipe is a SMaSH with Maris Otter and Simcoe, so a sort of Hophead clone but with Simcoe instead of Cascade.  I’ve used Citra, Chinook, Belma, and Cashmere before, but not Simcoe.  Target gravity was 1.038 but we reached 1.040 even with a shorter 75 minute boil instead of the usual 90 minutes.  With the 30 minute mash rest and some efficient recirculation due to not having to keg a previous batch, we kept the total brew time to under 4 hours.  There was a bit of messing about with cold water to get the 153F mash temp right, as it started out at 158F for some unknown reason.

However, the problem of the day reared its head when Colin asked me why I was using the unfiltered water supply for brewing, rather than connecting up post-filter to fill the mash and hot liquor tanks.  Oh no!  So, the result is that the mash liquor was chlorinated, and the first two or three gallons of sparqe liquor also was chlorinated, before I discovered the problem.  I had already added 9 ml of lactic acid to this liquor, so I didn’t want to chuck it out, so I just added filtered water to top up the HLT.  I was more concerned when I could smell the chlorine coming from the HLT once it was up to temperature.

The only solace I can take from this situation is that there is a brewer in my club who makes great beer that tells me he uses the city water straight from the tap, no filtration.  If he can get away with it, perhaps it won’t be a problem with this batch, though certainly not one I will willingly repeat.  Apart from this mistake, the rest of the brew went well, and there was fermentation by next morning.  Fingers crossed!