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Friday, 13 April 2012

Like Busses

Brewdays are like busses.... well they are for me at the moment. You wait for months without having time to fit one in and then 3 come along at once!

Not quite at once then, but I have had the chance to brew 3 times in the last 6 weeks. Just in time too. I had run out of home brewed ale and was having to rely on the odd bottle from the shops, having not brewed since the beginning of December 2011. I even considered putting a kit or two on.

Things have changed since that December brew day too. Anglian Water have issued their first hose-pipe ban in around 20 years so I was worried about how to handle a brew day without the use of hoses to move the water around.

Filling the HLT was the first hurdle but that's an easy one to overcome. I simply half fill the HLT from the tap before moving into position and then filling to the required level using a spare bucket.

The next issue then is being able to cool the wort at the end of the boil. Of course I could leave it to cool overnight, with the inherent risks of infection (bacterial and/or wild yeast). And then there is the concern that without the crash cooling the cold break will not be secured.

I realise that there are plenty of brewers out there that don't bother with chilling the boiled wort and still make excellent beer but I won't be one of them.

No, I still want to cool using my immersion chiller.

In the end I bought a cheap pond pump from Amazon and used this with a load of ice to pre-chill the water.

I fill up a fermenting bin with water from a water butt and then add litre bottles of ice for the last 30 minutes or so of the boil. The chiller goes into the wort for the last 15-20 minutes as usual to kill off any nasties and then the pump is switched on when the boiler is switched off.

So, the wort is cooled to 24°C from the rolling boil within the hour - actually more like 40 mins.

IC run from pump using pre-chilled water.

So, what did I brew? The first brew day was a clone of Brentwood Brewery's excellent Lumberjack. This is one I'd definitely do again at some point.

The second brew day was inspired by the very unseasonal hot weather we were having. I went for a tweaked version of the summer favourite, Way to Amarillo, or in this case, Another Way to Amarillo.

Name: Another Way to Amarillo

Type: All Grain
Style: American Pale Ale

Batch size: 19.00 ltrs
Boil size: 26.00 ltrs
Boil Time: 90 min
Efficiency: 75%

Est. OG: 1.049 SG
Est. FG: 1.010 SG
Est. ABV: 5.10 %
Est. Colour: 14.5 EBC
Est. Bitterness: 44.2 IBU

Amount Type Colour
3300.00 gm Pale Malt, Maris Otter 5.9 EBC
250.00 gm Caramunich 100.5 EBC
200.00 gm Wheat, Torrified 3.9 EBC
200.00 gm Caramalt 29.6 EBC

Amount Hop Type Alpha Acid % Time Use
30.00 gm Amarillo 9.00%AA 90 min Boil
15.00 gm Amarillo 9.00%AA 15 min Boil
10.00 gm Amarillo 9.00%AA 5 min Boil
30.00 gm Amarillo 9.00%AA 0 min Aroma

Safale US-05

Mashed @ 66°C for 90mins using a General water profile. This one smelt awesome in the FV and is just about ready to bottle now.

The actual OG was slightly down due to collecting slightly too much wort but still consistent with my 75% efficiency target.

I was originally going to dry hop this one but have decided that there is already plenty of aroma and flavour in this one.

The weather then proceeded to take a turn for the worst - this has got to be the wettest drought on record!

I decided to revisit an old favourite of mine. A tweak to the Far Weltered recipe. This is a dark ale using traditional English hops but I've never been quite happy with the balance of the beer. This time I still boiled for 90 minutes to secure the hot break but piled in the hops towards the end of the schedule. I also reduced the IBU's, aiming for a more balanced and fuller bodied finish to the beer. Only time will tell!

Name: Far Weltered Ale (Mk4)

Type: All Grain
Style: English Bitter

Batch size: 19.00 ltrs
Boil size: 26.00 ltrs
Boil Time: 90 min
Efficiency: 75%

Est. OG: 1.046 SG
Est. FG: 1.013 SG
Est. ABV: 4.30 %
Est. Colour: 24.7 EBC
Est. Bitterness: 34.00 IBU

Amount Type Colour
3200.00 gm Pale Malt, Maris Otter 5.9 EBC
400.00 gm Crystal Malt 118.3 EBC
100.00 gm Wheat, Torrified 3.9 EBC
35.00 gm Black Malt 1300.2 EBC

Amount Hop Type Alpha Acid % Time Use
55.00 gm Fuggles 3.8%AA 60 min Boil
30.00 gm Fuggles 3.8%AA 15 min Boil
20.00 gm Fuggles 3.8%AA 5 min Boil
10.00 gm East Kent Goldings 5.0%AA 0 min Aroma

Safale S04

Late Aroma hops added @85°C

Clear wort and targets hit
This time the wort collected and OG is as expected.

With this one I had intended to mash at a slightly higher 68°C but messed setting the temperature up and ended up with a reasonable 66°C.

My biggest worry from the last few brews is that the mash tun seems to be losing a few more degrees centigrade than it used to over a 90 minute mash. It might be because I've managed to damage the cool box casing, introducing a couple of small holes in it. For now I think I'll just wrap it up more during the mash and see how it goes.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

UK National Homebrew Competition

The UK National Homebrew Competition for 2012 has recently been announced.

This one completely missed my radar until after the closing date for entries last year so I missed out but from what I understand is was a very well supported competition.

What I particularly like about this one is that all entries receive a judges score sheet and feedback within a week or so of judging. It is always very useful to receive constructive criticism on our home brewing efforts and I believe is a key step in progressing as a brewer or brewster.

The competition opens for registration from 1st January 2012 and registration then closes 8th September 2012.

Entries can be received from 20 August 2012 through 7 September 2012.

Judging will be 15 September 2012 at a location to be confirmed. Prizes will then be awarded from 4pm.

The judging is based on BJCP 2008 categories with the best beers in each category being entered for a chance to win best of show.

It is also possible for clubs to win awards by accruing points from individual entries.

All the information for the competition is available here.

Lets hope for continued good support for brewing competitions like this one.

Happy Brewing!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Lazy Brew Day - Update

So, if you read  my last post you'll also know that recently I brewed a full mash kit, designed and packaged by a real micro brewery.

The Fulstow Brewery Fulstow Common is a copper coloured session bitter that comes in at around 3.8% ABV.

As I wrote before, the kit was very well put together and good value for money. The fermentation went well and I bottled the beer about a week ago.

One week in the bottle, even for AG brewing, is quite soon to be sampling but I was keen to try it out and see if it in anyway matches what I would normally drink at the pub. I have got to say that it does, although it could do with a few more weeks to mature and come into condition.

The carbonation levels at the moment are quite low and the lack of conditioning can be seen from the pitiful, almost non-existent head on the beer at the moment. However this I am sure will improve given time.

At this stage it definitely gives hints of the commercial beer but lacks a bit of that rounded flavour that comes in a well conditioned beer. At the moment it is still possible to pick out some of the flavours which are still very distinct and haven't blended together like they should but even now it resembles the beer that I can buy from the brewery tap on any night of the week.

Given another week in secondary fermentation and then a few weeks at cellar temperatures then this should be spot on. I think the outcome of this "kit" has been much better than I had hoped for. Although the instructions accompanying the kit were comprehensive and detail, the scaling down of a commercial recipe and the brewing of that recipe on home brew equipment can be difficult to get right.

The other factor is that people brew using different processes. I ignored some of the instructions on the kit so I could brew using my usual process, including my own water treatment, mash schedule and brew length.

The reason for doing this is that I know from experience that it's the process works best on my setup and produces predictable results. The instructions provided would work just as good for anyone that is just starting out in their AG brewing journey and is uncomfortable in winging it with their own process.

For the beer to have turned out as good as it has it testament to the time and thought that must have gone into designing and producing this full mash kit. I would certainly recommend any of the kits in this range to any home brewer, whatever their level of experience or expertise.

All that is left for me to do is to sign off with a picture of the beer. Ok.... my brewing is better than my photography (and indeed my writing).

Happy Brewing!