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
Nov 152010

Indestructible Dark Ale

Beer:  Indestructible Dark Ale  7%ABV 25IBU

Brew Date: 15/11/10

Brew Time: All evening

Smith’s Dark (aka INDESTRUCTIBLE) is our own evolution of a tried and tested recipe. We wanted to brew a malty dark beer over christmas with some complex malt and grain flavours, with the proviso that it had to be strong. We took a recipe for a Biere de Garde from Brew Classic Euro Beers at Home, upped the anti by using Chocolate Malt in place of Amber and increasing the dark crystal and crystal malt in the recipe to balance out the high ABV.  Obviously a complex beer with such a high ABV could take anything up to 6 months to mature, but we were prepared for this and weren’t expecting it to be ready for up to a year. It’s hard to say whether this beer could be described as a stout or a porter, for me unless it contains roasted barley it’s not a stout and porter suggests a more classical and simple beer, thus Dark Ale is a confident description for this complex beer.

The brewing process follows the pattern you’d expect to produce a typical British Ale with a single infusion mash. Hops are also a classic British choice with the hope that the low Alpha Acid levels and high bulk will add some underlying hop character to the beer, not just bitterness as with the Biere de Garde. Unlikely with all these malt flavours but we’ll see. Ultimately we have taken a reliable trusted recipe and twisted it quite dramatically to make what we wanted.

We aimed for 40l of beer and we presumed a  75% efficiency.  The OG was 1.065 so an ABV of 7% or so presuming an FG of 1.010.

Apologise for the relative brevity of write up and lack of photos (UPDATE: Found Photos!), but this beer was brewed over a year ago, and it has only really reached its potential now.


Grain Bill – 40L 7% ABV @ 75% efficiency

  • 9.6kg Pale Malt
  • 500g Chocolate Malt
  • 500g Crystal Malt
  • 160g Dark Crystal

Total grain bill: 10.76kg

Hops – 25IBU

  • 88.4g Goldings (5.6%)


Safale S-04


Pre-heated tun with a kettle full of boiling water to reduce heat losses. Doughed in gradually with 18L of strike water @80 C (1.5L/kg). Grain temp 10 C resulting in a grainbed  at 65.5  C. We aimed for a 1hr mash but ended up at 65 C after 1hr40min.  We should probably start recording why these delays happen – usually because we forgot to heat  water, but I think we went to Tesco during the mash this time.

Fly Sparge

Heated 38L (80% target vol) sparge water and collected 47L overall. Target volume was brew volume + 20% to allow for boil reduction (48L). We recirculated the first 2L or runnings. The final grain bed temperature was 77 C. Sugars dissolve at 60 C so this is great and also less than 80 C, so we avoided extracting tannins from the grain husks.


47L just squeezes into our 50L boiler. It was boiled to hot break and then turned down the gas slightly and then the loose hops were added. Our hop strainer is a stainless pan scourer jammed in the back of the boiler tap. Boiled a little over time at 70minutes but the increase in bitterness extraction from the hops should be negligable. We achieved exactly 20% reduction in volume which is ideal for coagulating proteins in the final beer. The brew was flash chilled using a Therminator plate heat exchanger to pitching temp. Used a quick cheat and sanitised the fermenters and taps by steaming them over the boiler with the taps open.


40L @ OG1.063. Fermentis S-04 a great standard for fruity ale yeast with a heigh sedimentation (i.e. forms a nice tight yeast bed and a clear beer once it’s finished fermenting.) Pitched quite heigh at 37 C, 1 sachet 11.5g split between 2 batches of 20L.

24hrs – Healthy 6″ Krausen and emphatic airlock activity.

9 days – Racked at FG1.010-1.012 into Corny kegs.


Placed outside throughout the winter in an outdoor shed at -2 oC to +4 oC for at least a month. This should serve to function as a form of cold conditioning for the beer as the yeast can survive and reclaim many of it’s metabolic by-products as with many Belgian high ABV ales.


Cost works out at about 22.5p per pint. Great efficiency at 75%. The 57L mash tun could comfortably handle double the recipe although we’d need to boil in 2 batches.

Indestructible, this beer has put up with some serious abuse.  It has been forgotten and thrown out of windows.

A dark rich stout-like beer with a good drinkable body, roasty and liquorice flavours and not too heavy in the body. A good creamy head. Great Dark beer, definitely one to brew again.


On reflection this beer with it’s residual sweetness could take IBU’s anywhere up to 40 or 50. However at 25IBU we’re not complaining too much. In the future it would be really interesting to take some of the learnings from Belgian beers and treat this beer to make it thinner and increasingly drinkable by stepping the mash, using a heigh attenuation yeast and cold conditioning the beer.

 November 15, 2010  Posted by