Dec 172011

Beer:  Hodge Podge goblin 7.1% 25IBU

Brew Date: 16/12/11

Brew Time: 5pm to 10.30pm.

A variation on Smith’s Dark (aka INDESTRUCTIBLE) brewed on 15/11/10.  The beer turned out to be a really good stout after a year of maturing, so we’ve decided to make a variation to use up some odds and ends as well as try out a malt we haven’t brewed with before – smoked malt.  Hopefully this should give the beer a bit of an extra edge.  Grain bill  is simplified to use up a hodge podge of grain we had knocking about – OG will be calculated after boil has cooled.  Some of the grain is pretty old as well – a couple of years in some cases, but we have finally used up almost everything so we can move onto buying and using brand new ingredients.

Smoked malt should add a classic character to this dark beer. Back in the days before electricity malt had to be roasted over wood fires and so the beers (all porters/ stouts) were naturally dark, smokey and roasty.

Visited Copper Kettle Home Brew shop ( before we started brew to buy some smoked malt and some Nottingham yeast.  Ended up also buying a bag of Maris Otter Pale malt, some S-04 yeast and  Styrian Bobek hops (no recipe, just because we could).  Will definitely be back before next brew as we have almost used up all random ingredients that were knocking about.  Highly recommended a visit!  Plus there is a garden center attached so you can buy plants and garden gnomes as well if you really want.

Aiming for 40l at 65% efficiency (Update: 46l at 65.3% efficiency!).  Had to hold off using brand new bag of Maris Otter (new is always better!) and instead managed  to finish off 1 year old bag of Maris Otter that was knocking about – hence we are guessing at about a 65% efficiency rather than the 75% we had for Smith’s Dark.

To be honest we did almost no maths in this recipe – we guesstimated and rounded for both grain bill and hops.  IBUs should be 25 or so, but we wont know till we check the OG tomorrow morning (UPDATE: OG is 1.066 and IBU 21.78).   Our motto is: If in doubt – guess and just make the damn beer.

Grain Bill – 40L 7.1%ABV @ 65% efficiency

  • 10kg Pale Malt
  • 2kg Smoked malt
  • 500g chocolate malt
  • 300g dark crystal malt
  • 190g crystal malt

Total grain bill: 12.9kg

Hops – 25IBU

  • 45g Target (11%)

Only the one hop, used in this brew for bittering mostly, be interesting to see how it works with the smoked malt.  Added straight after the hot break.   Used target in one of the two IPAs we brewed 2 weeks ago, smelled amazing and tasted good, so decided to use it again!  Pretty high Alpha Acid


We will be using Nottingham yeast for the first time that can be remembered.  Flipped through Matt’s current brewbook and can’t see it, so it would be at least 2 or 3 years ago.

Not too sure of buying repackaged yeast rather than individual foil packed yeast – possibility of moisture getting in maybe?  At least that is Matt’s worry, and he knows more about yeast than I.  We will report back when we see what happens.  (UPDATE:  We were so so wrong.  See photos further down page to see how lively the yeast was)


A nice simple single infusion mash aiming for an average 65 C for 1 hour.  Preheated tun with 1.7l of boiling water from kettle.  If we were smart we would bring the Tun into the house the day before the brew to ensure it is warm.  As it was, it was still full with the grain from the last brew two weeks ago.  After dumping the grain and cleaning the tun, we doughed in gradually using approx 1.5l strike water per kg of grain.  Used a guesstimated 20l overall, as we had left the measuring jug elsewhere and we needed to get the brew started so we could finish before midnight.

The initial grain temp was 6C.  We doughed in to 62 C so we then did some maths and  topped up with 3.2l of boiling water to get to near 65 C.  It ended up at 63.8 C, so our maths or our measuring was slightly suspect there.  Whatever.  We pressed on and left it mashing.

We planned on only mashing for 1 hour, but due to the length of time it took the sparge water to heat, it ended up being 1.5hrs with a final temperature of 61.5 C.

Note rubber dinghy oar as mash paddle.  The one brew day we couldn’t find the oar, we had to use two giant spoons and it just didn’t work.

The smell of the smoked malt as the water hit it was amazing as well.  Glade should make it into an air freshener!

Fly Sparge

Heated a guesstimated 40l sparge water to 81C.  We recirculated first 5l of runnings.  Since we now had jug we are now able to work with exact figures.  Gathered 50l total, was aiming for 48l – (40l + 20% boil reduction).

During sparging we realised that we may have used some lager malt instead of Pale malt.  Pretty sure we just used pale malt, but we now have no idea where the lager malt has gone.  All we have is a receipt for a 25kg bag and only one lager in the brewbook that was made with about 6kg of the malt. If anyone in the Wellingborough area has seen a sack of about 19kg lager malt on the loose, let us know!


We presumed our usual 20% reduction for boil.  Since it was  cold outside ~1.5 C,  it took 1.5hrs to achieve hot break instead of usual 30 min.  Also our boil reduction was far less than expected – about 10%.

Added hops at hot break then boiled for 1 hour.  Boil didn’t seem as vigorous as usual.

Left to cool over night in fermenter as we currently don’t have a heat exchanger.  Also of note is that  since there is a cider and 2 American Style IPAs currently in fermenters we currently are running out of fermentation vessels.

We forgot to measure final volume, so using the measured height and radius of the beer in the fermenters and some nice maths ((15^2) * pi * 36) + ((15.25^2) * pi * 28) you get a final volume of 45 904.1665 cm3.  Which is a nice 1 to 1 conversion to 45904ml or 45.9l.  This does mean that the  boil reduction was less than 10%!

Calculating IBUs is pretty easy – mass of hops in g (45) x alpha acids (11)  x utilisation (0.202) * 10/volume in l (45.9).  Utilisation is a nice lookup table of boil time (60 min) against OG (1.066) from Palmers book “How to Brew.”

IBU were worked out at 21.8 IBU.

If we had collected the expected 40l instead of 45.9, then we would have been bang on the 25 IBU target.  Guesstimation for the win!


After 12 hours to cool (probably only need 3 or 4), OG was a pretty good 1.066, so presuming we get to a FG of 1.010, we should have a beer at around 7.2%abv.

Fermenters were brought inside and 11.3g of Nottingham yeast added to each fermenter.

Update – 24hrs

Healthy 1″ Krausen from the Nottingham Yeast and a wonderful sweet coffee / tiramisu aroma.

Update – 48 hrs

Nottingham has officially disgraced it’s self all over the floor, an impressive krausen ~5″ particularly as we didn’t even aerate the wort at all before pitching. At this rate we’ll achieve our FG without much issue. Also looks like we’ll get a nice creamy head on the finished beer.



Transferred to kegs and kept to condition.



Efficiency was calculated at 65.3%, which was just 0.3% off the expected efficiency. Great considering the age of our Malt.

Working in an unheated stable at night with a temperature of around 1.5 C meant that everything involving heat took longer or shorted than expected – whichever made brewing more difficult at each stage.  Grain was too cold, hot break took far longer than usual  etc.  Also possibly the fact we were using butane for gas, which turns into a liquid at 0 C (thus negating its usefulness as a flammable gas), and the temperature we were working in was at 1.5 C meant the burn was not as good as it could be.  This is a problem thats been seen before when brewing in winter.

Other than that nothing went wrong except forgetting the measuring jug for half the brew and then forgetting to measure final volume of liquid.  We even remembered to put the hop strainer in.

James: “My flat mate has gone nuts for this beer – 14l went in just over 2 weeks.  Not as smoky as I was aiming for, and the smoke taste fades with maturation.  Perhaps some of the smoked malt should be replaced with peated malt next time.”

Matt: “Smooth and drinkable @ 9 weeks. The smoke certainly isn’t overpowering, could get away with a lot more. Great body and rich ruby colour. Unfortunately smoke apparently depreciates with age too so we may have to really load up a strong beer like this with lots of smoked malt to get the effect after long conditioning. Great head.”

 December 17, 2011  Posted by
Dec 032011

Tettnang Target IPA 30/12/11

Beer:  42L IPA – Split Hopping with Tettnang and Cascade 5.8% 60IBU

Brew Date: 02/12/11

Brew Time: Late Friday

A big fan of BrewDog and their stonking high-hopped IPAs, James wanted to brew something similar. We both agree that we want to learn much more about hops in order to have some real conviction in blending and creating new beers. In so many of the beers that we drink the blends of hops stop us from really being able to appreciate the individual character of each (and in some cases we don’t even know what hops have been used), so this beer will lead us into a series of future single hop brews. I’ve personally found that formulating recipes to generate a consistent and specific hop “flavour” is the most difficult part of the process, all other elements of the beer can be calculated with a good degree of accuracy and in advance, from colour to bitterness and ABV even attenuation can be fairly well estimated. Hop flavour however is entirely dependant upon the characteristics of each individual hop variety and like grapes the seasonal weather and soil conditions where the hops have been grown. The process of blending a great tasting hoppy craft beer therefore is reliant on actual experience of working with the hops and by trial and improvement using our own organoleptic (or sensory) analysis to develop each beer to create the flavour we’re aiming for. In essence the more beer we brew and reflect upon, the better the brews should become.

We brew outdoors in an old horse stable and it’s freezing cold!

Grain Bill – 42L Aim: 5.8%ABV  @ 60% efficiency

  • 11.35kg Pale Malt (93%)
  • 0.85kg Wheat Malt (7%)

Total grain bill: 12.2kg

We scoured a number of IPA recipes and came to the conclusion that a nice simple base malt should let the hops shine through. The addition of 7% wheat malt to give us a nice creamy head on the finished beer. Estimated efficiency pretty low just to be on the safe side as we are finishing off the last of the old malt.

Hops ~60IBU

Tettnang / Target 21L

  • 60min- 57g Tettnang (4.8%AA)
  • 60min- 22g Target (11.5%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Tettnang (4.8%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Tettnang (4.8%AA)
  • Total – 59IBU

Cascade / Northern Brewery 21L

  • 60min- 57g Cascade (4.5%AA)
  • 60min -29g N.Brewer (8.5%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Cascade (4.5%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Cascade (4.5%AA)
  • Total – 53IBU

Following the basis of a simplified Brewdog Punk IPA clone we found online (will add a link when we find it again), we have kept a fixed amount of flavour hops at the ten minute addition and again a fixed amount at flame-out for an aroma steep. This way we can actually compare the characteristics of the 2 hops side by side. The shortfall in the single hop has been made up with small quantities of high %AA bittering hops which should add little character to the final beer barring bitterness.  Unfortunately as we were finishing up ends of hops, we didn’t have enough of either bittering hops to use just one in both.

People conduct the steep in a number of different ways but we let the hops settle and strained the beer off the hops into the fermenters rather than letting the beer cool on the hops. I believe that our technique here could have a great effect upon the aroma of the final beer.


Safale S-04 (2 x 11.5g)


Single infusion aiming for a heigh 68 C for a dextrinous wort with good body. One hour mash time. As usual pre-heated tun with boiling water from the kettle and doughed in 18L of water at 85 C  (1.5L/kg.) Half time temperature was 67.2C. Final temperature was between 63C and 66C, which is great considering the outside temperature was near freezing, the mash had cooled much more around the edges of the tun compared to the middle.

Fly Sparge

Heated 1L per target volume plus some spare. 43L @ 80C. Collected 50.7L to allow for 20% Boil reduction. The brew is collected into the 50L boiler so that the strong first runnings and weak final runnings are all mixed together. The first 3l were recirculated.


Split the wort into 2 batches with loose hops. MISTAKE. Forgot to fit the hop strainer again! So the emergency sieve and a big funnel was dug out. Full blast to the hot break took about 1/2hr. Then turned down the power with the addition of the bittering hops. No Irish moss was used as we forgot.

Collected just 17.7L at the end of each boil, this is a whopping 30% reduction due to the bulk of hops retaining a large amount of liquid, also the reduced volume of the boil compared to our usual 50 odd L means relatively more evaporation. Strained off the settled hop bed into fermenters to cool overnight.


Each batch diluted to 21L.@ 1.060 and moved indoors. Safale S-04 pitched one sachet into each. 21oC ambient.

update – 48hrs

Healthy 3″ Krausen

14 days – 1.013

Racked @ 17 days FG1.010


Racked into barrels and Cascade is dry hopped with ~ 14g of loose hops as aroma was low.


Fantastic! We achieved 65% efficiency, so the beer is a little stronger than anticipated at 6.5% which is pretty sweet for an IPA. Incredible high hop aroma from the Tettnang hops.  The beers have become drinkable after about a month of maturation so we’re just beginning to drink them in the new year.

Tettnang Target

Matt: “Strong bitterness and a good malty character too, incredibly fruity high hop flavour and aroma from the Tettnang. V.Cloudy.”

James: “Possibly too much bitterness, Tettnang however is an amazing hop and it comes out well in this beer.  A pretty good beer, but one that could be improved.”

Northern Cascade

Matt: “40 days of conditioning, at winter temperatures over Christmas/ Jan, this has matured into a startling modern “bitter” with a pleasant emphasis on the bitterness and a rich if somewhat earthy Cascade character. Relatively Soft on the nose despite dry hopping although the flavour is great. Also v.cloudy which doesn’t look nice. Looses it’s head too.”

James: “Meh. Dry hopping rescued this beer I think.  Turned into a very drinkable IPA, although too cloudy to brag about (not that cloudiness affects taste).”



A great start to our investigation into the character of individual hops, 2 very drinkable strong pale ales loaded with flavour. Certainly a recipe for us to build and improve on.


Forgot the hop strainer again! Much hassle. Must be a more permanent solution than the stainless pan scourer.

No Irish moss and the wheat malt in this brew has probably led the beer to be cloudy, certainly wouldn’t pass muster at the pub where people run at the sight of a cloudy beer for some reason.

With the addition of a 100L barrel to collect the runnings into we could another time mash the same base and collect a brewlength of up to 100L, splitting this into 4 x 25L beers for single hopping. With the addition of James’s boiler this wouldn’t take us any longer to achieve 4 beers where here we have made 2.

Hops are 2005 harvest, but have been kept sealed in the freezer and still seemed to have good potency. We’re coming to the end of this supply so fresh hops on the agenda soon.

 December 3, 2011  Posted by