21 October 2017

posted by benjy edwards

It is time to make another IPA, so the choice of hops is the most important consideration.  We’re out of our favourites Citra and Simcoe, and while we still have Mosaic, the pale ale last week was heavy on that.  We also have Eureka and Lemon Drop left, so we’re going to make another batch of what we’ve called Crisp Lemony Zip.  The hops are exclusively Eureka and Lemon Drop, for a lemony and piney flavour and aroma.  The grist was primarily Maris Otter, with some Vienna and Munich to lessen the English biscuit character, and some wheat for head retention.  The target gravity is 1.062 so it should be in the mid 6 percent ABV range.  The mash rest was low, 151F for a dry and crisp IPA.

The brew went fine, another sub-4 hour session.  We hit our target gravity spot on, and the wort colour looks good.  During the mash rest and recirculated we kegged up the pale ale, which for some reason was quite cloudy.  That’s very unusual for the Fuller’s yeast, but it tasted very good so there is no reason to think the yeast is a problem.  The gravity dropped to 1.010, so the attenuation is fine as well.  We dry-hopped each keg with two ounces of Mosaic and force carbonated them.

It is unlikely that we’ll use this yeast another time, but I haven’t ruled it out yet.

14 October 2017

posted by benjy edwards

I didn’t have a set recipe in mind for today, so I just went with an IPA using some of the hops we happen to have on hand.  I was intending to use Maris Otter along with some pilsner malt, but we only have one bag left of pilsner, so I’ll save that for when we brew some lager this winter.  I have a 25 pound bag of Palouse Pint English pale malt from Joseph’s Grainery in Colfax, Washington, so I used that.  I set the extraction rate as the same as the domestic two-row, but even using the whole bag along with 3 pounds of wheat and 2 pounds of flaked oats, we fell well short of the expected 1.062 gravity, hitting only 1.050.  So this batch is an American pale ale, not an IPA.  I still went with the IPA hop bill, targeting 100 IBUs.  The hops were Columbus for bittering, along with Columbus, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Centennial late in the kettle.

During the recirculation and wort collection for the boil, we racked the Batham’s Best Bitter clone into a couple of corny kegs.  One problem arose when I forgot to switch kegs and started filling the already-full first one with the second fermenter, so it overflowed a bit and had to drain off some for the needed headspace for conditioning.  The gravity was down to 1.012, and it was very tasty.  I dry hopped each corny with two ounces of East Kent Goldings.

The boil went well as did the rest of the brew, and we kept the whole session to just over three and a half hours.  The next batch might be the last, and will be an IPA for sure.  I don’t have any Citra, so the Kern River clone is out.  We’ve got Eureka and El Dorado, so perhaps something with those would work.

1 October 2017

posted by benjy edwards

There is one more cask ale to brew during this run of the yeast.  I chose another batch of the Batham’s Best Bitter, a very simple but delicious bitter.  The mash is just Maris Otter, and the hops are primarily East Kent Goldings late, with bittering hops of Northdown and Fuggles.  However, I chose to bitter with Bramling Cross and used EKG for flavour and aroma.  Target OG is 1.042, which we hit spot on.

There was one little problem during the brew, which was a boilover shortly after the kettle was filled.  Other than that, another short brew day of just over three and a half hours.  While the wort was being collected, we racked the dark mild into a couple of corny kegs.  The gravity was higher than I expected, at 1.018, but if it drops a few points in the keg then it should end up around 3.8-3.9% ABV.

Next week it’s time for an IPA, and we’ll follow that up with the final batch as either another IPA or perhaps a double IPA.  The Kern River Citra double IPA at 8% would be a nice choice.

23 September

posted by benjy edwards

I had to skip two weeks of brewing due to travel, so today was my first chance to reuse the yeast first pitched back on the second of September.  The weekend after that I racked half of each carboy of the Hophead to a pin cask so I could take it on the trip, and today the carboys are still half full.  I racked the rest of each off to a corny keg, dry-hopping both the cask and the corny with 2 ounces of Centennial.  Gravity was down to 1.012 and it was quite tasty.  I prefer the Hophead brewed with Cascade, but the Boadicea kettle hops were an interesting change.

On to today’s recipe, another batch of our dark mild.  The malt bill is Maris Otter, dark Crystal I and II from Fawcett, pale chocolate, chocolate, flaked oats, brown malt, and the slightest hint of peated malt.  Target gravity is 1.042, but we reached 1.045.  Everything went smoothly, and quickly, because we managed to set a new record for a full all-grain batch: less than 3.5 hours for the entire process.  Sticking with the 30 minute mash and the usual 60 minute boil for this beer, we saved additional time by only using one wort recirculation before collecting into the kettle and also starting the boil before all of the wort had been collected.  The bittering hops were added at 45 minutes, Bramling Cross for about 25 IBUs.  The only changes from the last batch was to increase the pale chocolate and chocolate malts for a bit more roastiness.

The plan is to brew again next weekend, probably another cask beer such as a best bitter.  Then for the rest of this yeast culture, we need IPAs, perhaps a single and a double IPA.  The 8% Citra double IPA based on Kern River Citra Double IPA would be a good option.

2 September 2017

posted by benjy edwards

After a break of almost four months, it’s past due time to get back to brewing.  The weather has been great this summer, so I suppose it’s as good a time as any to have a break, but there’s a reunion of my rowing teammates in two weeks, and I’ve been asked to supply some beer.

The recipe is Hophead, but with a different hop than Cascade.  I’ve had a pound of Boadicea whole hops on hand for a while now, so I’m using it here, along with a grist of simply Maris Otter.  Despite being out of practice in making beer, the brew day went very well, with the only omission being that of taking a pre-boil gravity.  It did not matter though, since we achieved an original gravity of 1.042, just a tad higher than target.  We also managed to keep the session to less than 4 hours, helped by the fact that we didn’t need to rack any beer.

Because of the hot summer temperatures, the wort chiller only got the wort down to 86F or so, so I chilled the carboys for a few hours before pitching the yeast, which was a smack pack of Wyeast 1968 that I started on Thursday and fed with more wort on Friday night.  It was nice and active by Sunday morning and there were even signs of fermentation late Saturday night, despite pitching later than usual.

I need to rack this batch next Saturday so it has time to condition for the trip to the reunion on the Oregon coast, and I’ll try to brew another batch for the yeast, but I may need to do that on Sunday since the bike racing team party is on Saturday at my house.  Recipe ideas are for another cask ale, as usual, perhaps Landlord or Harvey’s best bitter.

21 May 2017

posted by benjy edwards

No brewing today, but we needed to keg the IPA we brewed last week.  Each corny was dry-hopped with an ounce of Simcoe and an ounce of Chinook, and force-carbonated.  I was surprised to see that the gravity had dropped down to 1.008, which is very low.  This is no doubt due to the low 149F mash temperature and the malt bill, which was just two-row, pilsner, and Vienna.  The beer is very light in colour, clear, and has great hop aroma and flavour.  This one turned out really well!  With the 1.062 OG and low finishing gravity, this IPA is going to be almost 7.5% ABV.

We’ll take a break for a while and then resume brewing when we’ve got 6 or 8 empty kegs.

14 May 2017

posted by benjy edwards

Today’s batch is an IPA, no surprise there.  It is a different recipe, however, one based on a recent find which I much enjoyed, the IPA from Saint Archer.  It is a typical San Diego style IPA, very crisp, clean, and dry.  From the colour, it appears likely to be only pale malt, so our malt bill is the last 10 pounds of domestic two-row that we had, plus 13.5 pounds of Best pilsner malt, and four pounds of Vienna.  The mash temp was 149F and since we are running low on propane, the strike and sparge liquor were heated by our heatstick and by boiling water on the stove, sparing the last of the propane for the boil.  This worked well, provided one remembers to start first thing in the morning.

During the mash rest, we kegged up the Fuller’s 1845, which despite its day and a half lag and having been brewed on Monday, attenuated down to 1.012, so it will be about 6.5% ABV.  This beer is not dry-hopped, and we force carbonated both kegs since at that strength it is certainly not a session beer.  The colour is a chestnut brown and has a delightful malt flavour.

Once that was done, the wort was recirculated a couple of times and then collected for the boil.  The boil went well, with no boilovers even considering the massive quantities of hops chucked in.  We used Columbus, Simcoe, Chinook, Centennial, and Citra throughout the boil and added a pound of cane sugar at the end.  The target gravity was 1.062 and we reached 1.060.

The total brew day time was four hours, which is quite quick considering we still use a 90 minute boil.  One technique we’ve been doing recently is starting the boil before all the wort is collected, and basing the boil time on when it first boils.  This means that we’re adding the sixty minute hops soon after the full volume is collected.

It is unlikely that we will use this yeast for a sixth time, since we only have 3 empty kegs and 2 of those will be used for the IPA we made today.

8 May 2017

posted by benjy edwards

I had planned to brew on Sunday, 7 May, but the weather was really nice so I took the opportunity to ride my bike.  That should have meant skipping this week, but on Monday my son Owen needed to go to the eye doctor unexpectedly, so after that I had the afternoon to brew.  I enjoyed the Fuller’s 1845 clone we made a while back, so today is the second batch of it.  I had to revise the malt bill somewhat since we were out of Special B and melanoidin, so I used Fawcett’s 120L dark crystal in place of the former and kiln amber in place of the latter.  We will see what those changes do to the beer.  There were no problems during the brew day, but later on it surprised me that we had such a long lag before the yeast began fermenting.

The previous batch was up to 75F at the end of fermentation, and of course I did not want to begin the Fuller’s at the temperature, so the pitching temp was reduced to 65F.  That must have caused the yeast to go dormant, because after 24 hours there was still no activity.  Finally, on Wednesday morning, 36 hours later, the yeast was active.  I had started to think there was something really wrong, so I increased the temperature to 68F on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning the yeast had bumped it up to 69F.  Perhaps having brewed on Saturday last week and not until Monday this week, the extra two days also contributed to the yeast going to sleep.

We also kegged the IPA from last week, which was tasting very nice already.  We dry-hopped each keg with an ounce of Citra and an ounce of Chinook, and the gravity was already down to 1.011.  Clarity was also very good, proving that this Thames yeast does flocculate well.  Next weekend we will brew another IPA, I’m thinking something similar to Saint Archer IPA, a very dry, crisp, and hoppy West Coast IPA from San Diego.

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.