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!

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