Mash Apocalypse #1 (Batch #5)

This beer was our first “own recipe”. This is to say it wasn’t exactly designed or anything, it was, in a way, improvised. The name comes from the fact that this beer was made with all our left over malts. We didn’t plan anything,we just added EVERYTHING we had left. The only design came in the hops and the yeast. Here’s the recipe. Batch size was 19L.

Grain

  • 680 gr Maris Otter
  • 770 gr Pale malt (Finnish)
  • 820 gr Halcyon pale ale
  • 30 gr Melanoiden malt
  • 30 gr Wheat malt
  • 80 gr Munich malt type 1
  • 100 gr chocolate malt
  • 20 gr Crystal malt (75L)

Hops

  • 14 gr Nugget (60 min boil) Pellet
  • 14 gr Cascade (30 min boil) Pellet
  • 14 gr Willamette (15 min boil) Pellet
  • 22 gr East Kent Goldings (10 min boil) (Flower)

Dry hopping

  • None considered yet

Yeast

  • Safale S05 American Ale (Dry Yeast)

Mashing

The recipe specifies a 60 min mash at 68°C-69°C.

Boiling

60 min, normal boil. 10 min hot break boil before adding first hops.

Unusual/special ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon of dry irish moss as a clarifier
  • 1/2 teaspoon WLP yeast nutrient
  • Yeast rehydrated in a cup of pre-boiled/cooled water

Fermenting

  • Planned for 2 weeks

Pre-boil gravity was 1.035 which is roughly were the it was estimated. OG was around 1.040. This beer will most likely be quite low in ABV given the low amount of base malts, estimated ABV is around 3.7 and 4.0%.

Lessons learned

It was quite interesting to use dry yeast again. The yeast package suggested to just sprinkle it on the wort, but reading some forums I decided to re-hydrate it. I used pre-boiled water and StarSan to clean and disinfect the necessary cups and spoon for stirring. We had some trouble with the fermentation because it took a bit longer than usual to start. More than 15 hrs to start and around 24 hrs to become really active. I think that the problem in this case was that since our thermometer decided to stop working we overcooled the wort. While this is not a problem for the yeast, it probably took it a while to get to optimal temperature and start fermentation effectively. Next time we’ll try just sprinkling it, just to see the difference in reactions times.

Another interesting issue was the hopping. I’ve been reading on beer design, and while I’m not quite proficient yet I understood the process better. I decided to use Nugget for long boil bittering because of its high alpha acid content. The other hops were chosen based on low/medium alpha acid and aroma potential. The amount was decided based on previous recipe experience. Not much to do but wait and see how it turns out!

l8rs!

/R

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American Pale Ale (Batch #4)

Since we have quite a backlog of posts waiting this will be a fruitful writing day. This post relates the beer we made last Saturday. The recipe is an altered version of the APA that Palmer has in his book. The original recipe name is: “Lady Libery Ale”, some malts were changed, but otherwise the recipe is the same. Ingredients and process below. Batch size is 19L.

Grain

  • 3.2 kg Halcyon Pale Ale (Fawcett) Original recipe calls for “British Pale Malt”
  • 227 gr Crystal 60L (Actually 55L Finnish Crystal malt)
  • 227 gr Amber malt (Fawcett)
  • 227 gr Munich malt (Type 1) (Weyermann)

Hops

  • 14 gr Northern brewer (60 min boil)
  • 14 gr Cascade (30 min boil)
  • 28 gr Cascade (15 min boil)

Dry hopping

  • 14 gr Cascade

Yeast

  • WLP060 American Ale Blend (Original Recipe called for WLP001 California Ale) Changed due to lack of availability

Mashing

The recipe specifies a 60 min mash at 68°C but we did it for a bit longer since I forgot to hear up the sparge water.

Boiling

60 min, normal boil. 10 min hot break boil before adding first hops.

Unusual/special ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon of dry irish moss as a clarifier
  • 1/2 teaspoon WLP yeast nutrient
  • 1.2 litre yeast starter made with spray malt at roughly 1.040 gravity. 2/3 of the yeast were used, 1/3 was saved.

Fermenting

  • No specification but will be done for about 2 weeks
  • Secondary is still up in the air, it might be that we dry hop in secondary 15 litres and bottle the remaining 4-5 liters.

And that’s the recipe! this recipe was done with our new equipment (on which I will post later on, and in detail). The overall experience was good, no major problems, except with the shitty thermometer we have which has become completely unreliable. Other than that we got the aim OG which was around 1.044-45.

Lessons learned

No lessons per say… just realised the advantages of making a starter. This beer didn’t really require it since the gravity was below 1.050, but we made it anyways. I have got to say, its the strongest, fastest, most active fermentation we’ve had so far. It started in less than 12 hours and has been going on for almost 3 days. This kinda makes me think starters should always be made… but let’s see, it’s not always feasible to do so due to timing and general availability.

E.S.B Tasting (Batch #1)

This post is a bit overdue…

We had our first beer for the first time 1 week after bottling, and at that point it tasted really funky and green… I feared the worst! but after another week and then a bit more it got to be pretty good… ladies and gentlemen, Batch #1 E.S.B:

Batch #1 E.S.B

So!, I’m not a professional taster or anything, so I’ll just give you my general impressions on the beer and hopefully that will be enough. The final ABV content was theoretically 5.2ish%, but everyone who’s tried it thinks it has more as it gets you a tinsy bit tipsy after only a pint.

I’ll divide the comments into sections to make it clearer.

Color

The color came out quite nicely I think. This redish/orange which is nice to the eye. If anything I’d say it’s a bit too darkish, but overall its a pleasing color. The beer is quite hazy, but this is expected because we didn’t have a wort chiller at the time and we didn’t use any irish moss. It doesn’t really affect the outlook though.

Carbonation

The carbonation level came out quite good, it keeps a nice fresh bubbling for the duration of the drink. The only think lacking was the head. It has a nice thin foamy head but disappears quite quickly. But I guess that also kinda goes with the beer style, so its no big deal.

Aroma

If you ask Anni, she likes the smell, if you ask me I think its a bit on the tangy (grapefruity) side. Hops are perceptible, but not the nice aroma I’ve come to love. There is a light yeasty smell that disappeared the later we stored the bottles and the more we cooled them. Overall good enough for a first try.

Taste

The taste is where this beer didn’t disappoint. Its really bitter but not overwhelming, the body is heavy and lightly sweet giving a satisfying (if a bit overly filling) feeling. The hop bitterness really comes across and while it has a slight taste of the trademark yeasty homemade beer taste the beer is pretty damn good!…. for a first try. 🙂

Lessons learned

So, if I had to say anything about this first all grain brewing experience and the end result I’d say I’m quite satisfied. This definitely surpassed by previous malt extract brewing and unlike extract brewing I learned a LOT during the process. Based on my limited knowledge and experience the things I’d do to improve this same recipe would be:

  • Not do a mash-out, or do it in a more controlled manner. I think that in attempting to do a mash-out we went a bit overboard with the temperature and we might have gotten some tannins in the wort.
  • Add irish mosh or something similar to reduce the chill haze and make the beer clearer
  • Include secondary fermentation with dry hopping as the original recipe said, to provide better aroma.
  • Perhaps include a yeast starter to the fermentation stage to make for an overall cleaner beer.
  • Try other carbonation sugars to see how they affect the end result.

But yeah, all in all I’d say this beer is a success. It might not be a beer you can drink more than 1 or 2 of, but its definitely enjoyable.

Cheers!

An ambitious attempt for a third beer

Yo! This wasn’t meant to be the next post, but Anni has been a bit busy lately and I brewed (with some friends) this last weekend. So this post will be about the beer we brewed and the lessons learned.

If you know me personally, and more specifically, if you know my personal beer tastes, you’ll know that I’m particularly fond of Imperial IPA’s. Given spring and summer are getting close and we have some beer plans we need to work on in the coming months I figured it was a good time to make an attempt at one of my favourite styles of beer.

The recipe used was the Hannah’s Ambrosia IIPA obtained from the Homebrewing for Dummies book. I changed some hops and malts due to availability and scaled it down a bit since we don’t have big enough equipment to brew a full 19L batch. The following recipe was obtained by the BrewMate software and scaled down to 15L.

Grain

  • 5.36 kg Maris Otter malt
  • 716 gr Pale malt
  • 178 gr Melanoidin malt (Replacement for DMC Aromatic malt)
  • 178 gr Amber malt (Replacement for DMC Biscuit malt)
  • 178 gr Carapils malt
  • 178 gr Wheat malt

Hops

  • 89 gr (reduced to 80 due to Alpha acids) Centennial for 60 min
  • 44 gr Cascade for 10 min
  • 44 gr Centennial for 10 min
  • 44 gr Willamette for 10 min
  • 22 gr Mount Hood for 10 min (Replacement for homegrown Cascade/Liberty  blend)

Dry hopping

  • 22 gr Centennial (time not specified, but will be 10 days)
  • 22 gr Willamette (time not specified, but will be 10 days)

Yeast

  • WLP002 English Ale

Mashing

The recipe specifies a 45 min mash at 68°C but I did it for 60 min, the strike water was a bit too hot when the mash started, so I decided to leave it a bit longer.

Boiling

60 min, normal boil. 15 min hot break boil before adding first hops.

Unusual/special ingredients 

  • 1 teaspoon of rehydrated irish moss as a clarifier

Fermenting

  • 7 days in primary
  • 16 days in secondary

That’s it for the recipe… as you can see the amount of grain used was huge, around 7 kg, the hops were also quite “abundant”… more than 200 gr for a 15L batch is a bit overboard; but I’m a hophead so I’m not so worried.

One particular issue with this beer was the aimed OG of between 1.09 and 1.1 (≈9.x ABV), which is considerably high. This “forced” me unto a new project, namely, a stir plate. I’ll make a post on the subject later, but suffice to say for the moment that it’s a device that allows you to double or triple the amount of yeast cells produced by a yeast starter. The starter was maintained for 48hrs before being put in the fridge for decanting on brewing day. Palmer and Nachel suggest that yeast starters be made for any beer over 1.045-1.050 OG. It allows the yeast to not be overwhelmed by the amount of sugars and enables the yeast to finish fermentation.But yeah… this is a subject on its own which we will address later…

Lessons learned

Ok… I have to admit this was an ambitious beer for a 3rd full grain batch… but it was also a very educational attempt. Just the amount of grain brings up new challenges. Some of the problems and lessons are listed below:

  • The strike water volume has to be carefully chosen so that it fits in the pot for example, likewise, the sparge water might be less than the amount used in normal mashing
  • Sparging should also be done slower and left longer to drip, the grain can hold huge amounts of wort, so if you’re too impatient you’ll waste a considerable amount of wort
  • Huge amounts of grain produce huge amounts of grub so you might want to consider filtering
  • Huge amount of hops merit the usage of hop bags, if not you’ll end up wasting a couple of liters of wort (unless you have a proper false bottom or filtering system)
  • High gravity beers might require 2-3 step yeast starters, plan well and use a starter calculator if necessary

Those are the lessons I learned this time. The cost of these lessons?

  • Shitty mash efficiency (OG of 1.072-1.076)
  • Barely 15L of beer in the fermenter with about 2-3L of grub

As I said previously, this was an ambitious beer for the 3rd try, but I don’t regret trying it, it taught me big lessons in one day.

Special thanks to Ville H., Ville A. and Antti P. for dropping by and helping/keeping me company.

l8rs!

/R