Aug 172012
 

So after a break of a month or two of brewing together, BrewJAM are back in business.  As an aside, I’ve decided not to post any more of the beers that I (James) have brewed on my own, as they aren’t as experimental or big (or as interesting to read about) as the beers we make as BrewJAM.

For this brew we decided to make a wheat beer.  We based it upon our Brau Weisse we brewed last year with a few changes.

We have upgraded several parts of the brewing process – for the first time ever there is no need to jug from one vessel to the next.  As well as this, we have a separate electric HLT for the first time and have hooked up everything before hand. Flavour emphasis for this brew is yeast strain rather than hops and we would like to experiment with adding fruits to flavour the beer.

Beer:  40l Wheat beer

Brew Date: 28/07/12

Brew Time:

Grain Bill – 40L Aim: 5.8%ABV  1.055 @ 70% efficiency

  • 5kg Pale Malt (47%)
  • 5kg raw crushed wheat (47%)
  • 0.7kg rolled Porridge Oats (6%)

Total grain bill: 10.7kg

The raw wheat was crushed in a Corona hand mill.

Corona Hand Mill & Raw Wheat from the barn

Muchos effort! Corona Hand Mill

The Crush

The Crush

Hops 

40g x Hallertau Mittelfruh 5.2% AA – 60min 13.7 IBU

Aromatic and pleasant lager hops

 

Yeast

We are splitting the beer into 2 for fermentation and using a different yeast strain in each one.

Danstar “Munich” 11g – (www.danstaryeast.com/sites/default/files/munich_datasheet.pdf)

Safbrew T-58 11.5g – (www.fermentis.com/fo/pdf/HB/EN/Safbrew_T-58_HB.pdf)

Safbrew T58 & Danstar "Munich" Yeasts

Mash


The style follows a Belgian “Wit” which is conventionally 50% raw wheat and ~5% oats.  The sticky proteins in the wheat can make it almost impossible to sparge a mash like this so we have gone for the classic “double infusion” mash with an initial protein rest, 45-55C for 30 minutes followed by the typical 65C conversion rest. Both the wheat and the oats are essentially raw starch which needs “gelatinising” before the mash enzymes can convert them to useful sugars, fortunately the gelatinisation temperature for wheat is 58-64C and oats 53-59C so both will be converted readily in a 65C mash.

So the plan was a rest at 47ish for 30 min then add enough hot water at the right temperature to get the mash to 65C and end up with a water/grain ratio of 3L/kg.

Nice in theory, but we buggered this up massively.

Our second infusion fell 5 degrees short (it only just hit 60C!!) even though we allowed for our strike water being a little lower than boiling in the calculations! We had hoped that by increasing the water to grain ratio to 3L/kg for this brew (instead of our usual 1.5L) we could increase our mash efficiency and make sparging quicker and easier. However, we had already hit 3.2L/kg by the time we had added an extra kettle of boiling water so we decided to fix the mash by drawing off 6L or liquor for a partial Decoction mash. This portion was boiled and added back to the mash. Success! In hindsight I think we should have held this liquor at 65C for a few minutes before boiling to aid conversion a bit. (Matt)

Here is the actual data:

Protein rest – 46.2C 20minutes
Boiling water infusion 16L @ 92.7C =  60.4C

+ 1.6L Boiling water = 61.0C

Decoction 6L Boiling = 65.1C

 We then mashed for 1 hour once we hit 65C.

The final temp of the mash was 60.05C

Dough In

 

Fly Sparge

We recirculated a few Litres using the pump, (lots of floating straw / debris) and collected the wort straight into the 50L boiler. We figured that at 20% boil reduction we will need 48L and this is pretty much all we can fit into our 50L boiler anyway- so no point in measuring…. just fill the boiler up. We had a very liquid mash so hardly any sparge water was needed. The mash appeared to visibly swell and absorb water, a real protein gooey grey mass.

Sparge water was 85C

 

Fly Sparging with pump

Boil

Flat out to hot break & boiled for 1 hour. Single, loose hop addition at beginning of boil. Instead of the usual scourer as a hop strainer we used  James’s nifty “Bazooka” hop strainer.  There was an issue with the hop strainer getting blocked up with wheat crap – never happens when brewing with just pale malt.

Flash cooled to ~ 30C but as the hop strainer got blocked at the end, the last 5L or so we had to scoop out and run through a sieve.  This mean’t we couldn’t cool using the setup we had.  We ended up having to add last 5L of the hot wort back into the fermenters – therefore it was decided to leave overnight to cool in the fermenters.

8kw propane burner – 50L beer keg Boiler

Counter Flow cooler (two cornelius coolers piggy-backed)

Fermentation

The OG of the beer was 1.040.  Which was a bit lower than we hoped for – we were aiming for around  1.052 (or even a bit higher).

We have had some issues with bottle sanitization (or maybe just heavily soiled bottles as James’s new bottles have been fine) so we are trying out some different chemicals. The fermenters were cleaned with Bruclean and James got some starsan to try (though starsan was more for the Corny Kegs than bottles).

We split the beer into 2 FVs:

20L – Danstar “Munich”

21L –  Safbrew T-58

 

Yeast rehydration

2 x fermenters

Conditioning

No Fruit this time – but would be great for dividing up some future brews. Commercial beers such as Kriek & Fruli are pasteurised in bottle and so use fruit syrups at bottling time. Which in our opinion is cheating. 😉

 

Result

Efficiency

40 x 41L = 1640

1640/ 3271.9 potential = 50.12% efficiency

Yet another low wheat beer efficiency. 🙁

 

Conclusion

Both great tasting and clearly very different tasting beers, surprising as only the yeast are different! Great foamy head, fruity flavours and actually after a few months of conditioning in kegs dropped into a clear and light amber colouration similar to some strong lagers. Producing a light and fruity beer with still enough body. High carbonation essential to bring out the characteristic mouthfeel. Good brew and reproduce-able.

 

Improvements

I read somewhere that enzymes are most active in the first 20minutes of the mash, need to read a bit more around this so not sure how true it is. If so one reason for our dropped efficiency could be the length of time it took us to hit 65C (~1/2 an hour) this method is a large strain on the mash enzymes anyway. Also the fact I cooked the decoction without allowing a conversion range would have murdered all the enzymes in the 6L portion. The malt was much fresher than our last attempt but still a few months old. TBF we still got the quantity of beer than we wanted so everything is rosey 🙂 we can just make a lot more if we figure it out. Grain bed temp at the end of the mash was down to 60.05C, Ideally to sparge we should be looking at more like 80C. Although our sparge water was hot at 85 it is likely due to the thin mash that we didn’t raise the grain bed temp nearly enough during our sparge. Another time we could remedy this by taking another “Large” decoction to increase the grain bed to mash out and use the pump to recirculate the hot water around.

 

 

 

 

 August 17, 2012  Posted by
Apr 162012
 

The BrewJam

Not sure of the best way to start the write up of this brewday, as to be honest the brewday was a bit of an after thought to the main event of the day – our please come drink our homebrew as we are running out of Corny kegs party.  Here is our bar setup:

Triple Reg

Triple Gas Reg

On tap we had, 2 kegs of each of our latest 4 IPAs, the last keg of wheat beer and the last keg of hodgpodge goblin.  We used the awesome reg that I picked up that has 3 outputs, so we can have 3 different pressures – we had the wheat and hodepodge at slightly higher PSI.  Plus we didn’t have to arse about with a billion JG fittings to split 1 line to 6, but instead split 3 to 6 which meant a lot less set up.

We then invited people over to drink our homebrew for free.  And they did.  We emptied 3 kegs.

As an aside, Corny kegs are very robust – I launched one across the field we were in into a pile of plastic chairs and the chairs came of far far worse.  I like to call it field testing equipment, not being a drunken idiot. (The Beer Fountain was also quite entertaining 🙂 – Matt)

While setting up for this we also decided to have a brew.  And because we are suckers for punishment we decided to brew a parti-gyle.  A parti-gyle is a beer where the beer is split out into two runnings – in our case we did 20l and 40l from the same mash.  This means you get 20l of a strong beer and then 40l of a weaker beer.  This allows you to make 2 beers from the same grain, which is pretty nifty!  Also saves some ££.

 

Parti-Gyle Brew

Grain Bill – Aim 70% Efficiency OG1.046 (Avg) 60L

12.5kg Marris Otter Pale Malt (100%)

Hops

Stronger Beer:

  • 60 min Challenger 75g
  • 15 min Goldings 25g
  • 15 min Irish Moss
  • 0 min  Goldings 25g

IBUs – 70.8

Weaker Beer:

  • 60 min Admiral 30g
  • 15 min Goldings 10g
  • 15 min Irish Moss
  • 0 min Goldings 10g

IBUs – 20.6

Yeast

1Litre Starter on Stirplate

We did this a bit more properly than normal and planned ahead, making a 1L yeast starter.  We used a different yeast to normal Fermentis S-33 Ale yeast.  To make the starter we mixed 131g of glucose with 1L of boiling water and then left it to cool, this gives us an OG of 1.046 similar to our AVG target beer and by using boiling water saves having to worry too much about contamination. We added the yeast roughly 8 hours before we were planning on using it.  We placed the starter on a magnetic stirrer, chucked a stir bar into the yeast solution and left on a medium speed until required. By covering the flask with silver foil prevents general spores / bacteria in the air from landing on top but still keeping a nice aerobic environment at the top of the flask. By Stirring we are maximizing the surface area for the yeast to get working quicker and also keeping the wort gently aerated. We want to keep the starter aerobic (unlike in beer where we are making alcohol by anaerobic fermentation) because this gives the yeast the strongest head start to multiply and grow ready to tackle the sugars in the beer.

Mash

Doughing In

Doughing In

We doughed in using 2.5l of water per kg of grain, this is more than we usually use – we have used as little as 1.5l in the past.  So for 12.5kg of grain we used 31.25l of water.  We hit a temperature of 65.6C, we were aiming for 65C exactly, so not too bad at all.  We then left to mash for 1hr30.  The mash temp at the end was 65.2, so a drop in temp of 0.4C over an hour.  Shows how brewing when you aren’t freezing your nuts off helps with efficiency.

 

Fly Sparge

Fly Sparge

Fly Sparge

We sparged at a higher temperature than normal – 80C.  We know the temperature drops quite a bit as it goes through the grain bed, so we are hoping a higher initial sparge temperature will help to increase extraction of sugar from the grain. First 5l of runnings were recirculated.  We drew off 20l into one bucket.  We then drew off the next 40l into a secondary bucket.  I (James) screwed the pooch massively on this, I lost track of how many 5l jugs we had done and ended up making 65l of the smaller beer.  Rather than the planned for 40.  Usually I make a tally on a bit of paper, but not this time.  Whoops.  It all worked out okay in the end – we made 50 l of small beers and the last 15l we boiled without hops and are going to use to make yeast starters in the future (this reduced down over a 1hr boil to 5L @ 1.046, ideal for starters.)

Boil

Pump transfer

Pump transfer

We also used a pump to transfer the small beer wort to the boil kettle – this sped things up and made life a bit easier than jugging it.

The two beers were boiled separately in our 2 boilers – we did 1 x 20L boil and 1 x 50L boil.

We hit the hot breaks and then hopped as per schedule.  The stronger beer obviously hit the hot break first, while the smaller beer took a lot longer.

Cooling

Counterflow Chiller

Tandem Counterflow Chillers

We decided to go back to using counterflow chillers rather than letting beer just cool naturally – especially as it is beginning to get too warm to just leave out over night. We used 2 x Cornelius beer dispense coolers linked together (as these are both quite small.) Ended up chilling the beer to just below <30C.  We saved the cooling water in our 100L bowser to use for the next brew.

Fermentation

Yeast starter was split between the two beers once temperature had dropped to 22C.  I (James) was pretty drunk when doing this, and forgot to take the magnetic stirrer out – it is currently residing in one of the fermenters.  Furiously bubbling after less than 12hrs.

Small Beer

Finished FG 1.008 @ 6 Day

Large beer

Still fermenting at the time of writing but appeared to have stopped at 11 Days @ 1.024. Assuming the yeast has reached it’s alcohol tolerance we have added champagne yeast  in an attempt to get down to 0.010 or there abouts. 2tsp of yeast nutrient has also been added to try and perk the yeast up. If this fails, adding oxygen may be the only option to kick-start fermentation again or possibly some Safale T-38 which will ferment over 11% and is quite vicious.

Results

3.0% 39.5L – Pale Ale

10% 20L – Barley Wine

81% Efficiency! Whoop de Whoop.

Discussion

Through each brew we’ve been getting better and this time we were the most organised and this is the smoothest brew we’ve done by far. With much improved technology, we managed to make a starter with the stir plate, use a pump to transfer wort and counter chill the beer and get it pitched in the same day and before midnight. All in all we’re getting slick at this… maybe. Plus we had more time to spend at our local homebrew shop (www.copperkettlehomebrewing.co.uk)and got to sup some epic beers with Ian (try the chilli beer if he has any left!) as we weren’t in our usual rush.

More water to grain ratio has upped our efficiency dramatically, this combined with the warmer weather has also helped us keep a more consistent temperature during the mash. Also we effectively over-sparged, collecting more wort than we intended which almost certainly helped our final efficiency as we flushed every drop of sugar out of the wort we could. By measuring the SG of the runnings in future we should be able to keep an eye on the gravity of our runnings, maybe with a refractometer.

 

 April 16, 2012  Posted by
Feb 252012
 
Beer:  100L IPA – split into 4 differently hopped 25l batches.

Brew Date: 19/02/12

Brew Time: 12 till 2am.

Grain Bill – 100L Aim: 5.8%ABV  1.055 @ 70% efficiency

  • 25kg Pale Malt (100%)

Total grain bill: 25kg

We are still experimenting with hops, so we decided to do a basic IPA and then split it down into 4 batches and hop each differently.   This is based upon our tale of 2 IPAs recipe using Maris Otter malt.  However we removed the wheat from the grain bill, as while it gave the IPAs a better head the beers ended up very cloudy.  We also decided to use irish moss to combat this cloudiness, which isn’t something we use very often.  There is no problem taste wise with cloudiness, but it can be off putting to drinkers.

This is the first time we have brewed 100l, so there were bound to be issues.  We used two mash tuns as we didn’t have one big enough for 25kg of grain plus 2 x 25 l of water.  Also the first time we used the new boiler, which we had only just finished putting together 10min before we started using it to start boiling water for sparging.  The new boiler is almost an exact replica of the first one, meaning that we now have 2 x 50l boilers.

Again we had problems with the cold affecting time to hit the hot breaks and prettty much any other temperature that needed to be hit- however half way through brewing we swapped from butane to propane when it started to get really cold (0oC) which meant we had far less problems with the boilers (propane is far less rubbish in the cold than butane).

 

Hops ~60IBU

Hops

Crystal 25L

  • 60min- 19g Pacific Gem (17%AA)
  • 60min- 55g Crystal (6%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Crystal (6%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Crystal (6%AA)
  • Total – 60.61IBU

Sorachi Ace 25L

  • 60min- 40g Sorachi Ace (14.9%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Sorachi Ace (14.9%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Sorachi Ace (14.9%AA)
  • Total – 59.9IBU

Styrian Bobeck 25L

  • 60min- 18g Pacific Gem (17%AA)
  • 60min -50g Styrian Bobeck(6.17%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Styrian Bobeck (6.17%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Styrian Bobeck (6.17%AA)
  • Total – 60.0IBU

Citra 25L

  • 60min -40g Citra (15%AA)
  • 10min – 15g Citra (15%AA)
  • 0min- 30g Citra (15%AA)
  • Total – 60.2IBU

 

Yeast

Safale S-04 (2 x 11.5g)

For this brew we created 2 yeast starters of S-04 at the beginning of the brew, rather than the usual method of just sprinkling a sachet in each fermenter.  We decided to stick with S-04, as it worked really well for the IPAs we made last time, and while we have experimented with Nottingham yeast recently, we didn’t want to change the yeast on top of all the other changes we were making to the IPA recipe. Yeast starter consisted of 1Litre of glucose solution @ 1.050 to make it pretty close to the fermentation gravity, split between 2 sachets to really give them a kick start.

 

 

Mash

Single Infusion, target 65C for 1hr.

mash

Since we were mashing 25kg of grain we had to call into action a second mash tun as the one we use has a max capacity of 20kg grain.  Luckily we know a guy, so borrowed a second mash tun “The Elephant”.  This is going to be the area where we increase capacity next – possibly to a 100L Igloo. Both mash tuns had been inside for previous 24hrs, so didn’t need warming up as much as usual – about 2 Litres of boiling water was used to pre-heat each tun.

Strike Water 50L @ 82C, Grain temp 5.2C

Split grain between 2 mash tuns and doughed in gradually with the magic boat paddle at 2l of water per kg.  So for 25kg of grain we used 50l of water.  Not sure why we used 2l rather than 1.5l per kg of grain this time. (Matt – “think this was just because we had 50L heated up, maybe was just too temping to use the lot, we tend to dough in by eye to a good consistency anyways. We only needed 37.5L”.) Both had to be adjusted with hot / cold water as initial strike temperatures were 60C and 69C respectively which is really pants. Delays due to construction of 2nd boiler and waiting for sparge water to heat during mash, extra mash time doesn’t hurt however.

Doughing In

 

Blue “Elephant” = strike temp 63.0C dropping over 1hr 45min to 61C

Red “Cube” =  strike temp 66.6C dropping over 2hrs to 65C

 

Fly Sparge

2 x 50L @ 71C

Since we used 2 mash tuns we fly sparged 50l water through each one. Both grain beds were maintained above 60oC which is great as this is the temperature that sugars dissolve, however it would have been better if the sparge water was a bit hotter at 75-80oC. First 3l of runnings were recirculated back through each mash tun for clarity.  All runnings were collected in a 120L HDPE barrel and mixed with the mash paddle for consistency so that the OG and the volume could be standardised and split into 4 equal batches.

Collected a total of 114.5L of Wort – measured using a 5L jug to collect from each Mash Tun. This was diluted with a further 4.5L of water to make a total 120L. This allows for 20% boil reduction.

the elephant fly sparging

 

Boil

Carried out 4 x 30L boils, two at a time, each with different hops.  During this process we switched to Propane as our Butane was giving up in the cold weather and the bottle was freezing.

Boil

 

Crystal – just boiling, Irish Moss @ 10min , Final Vol 24.5L, 18% reduction

Sorachi Ace – just boiling, Protafloc @ 10min, Final Vol 26L, 14% reduction

Styrian Bobek – hot break, Irish Moss @ 10min, Final Vol 20L, 33% reduction

Citra – just boiling, Irish Moss @ 10min, 27.5L, 8% reduction

Hops were added as per the recipes at top of page.  We also added a teaspoon of Irish Moss or Protafloc (which was recommended by www.copperkettlehomebrewing.co.uk/)with the 10 min hops. Major reduction in Styrian Bobek is due to an initial hot break which was left to boil for longer whilst waiting for the second boil to catch up before pitching hops. Also had a lot of Hops at 103g but not as much as crystal at 119, other 2 recipes only have total 85g hops. Hops absorb water from the boil.

 

Fermentation

Beers were diluted where necessary to at least 25L and left to cool in the fermenters overnight. Around 9am the following morning we pitched the yeast with the wort ~15C.  We put half of an S-04 starter in each of the 4 fermenters.

Checking OG & Temperature correction

Crystal OG 1.051, Vol 25.5L

Styrian Bobek OG 1.051, Vol 26L

Citra OG 1.054, Vol 27.5L

Sorachi Ace OG 1.054, Vol 26L

4 x 30L Fermenters

All slow at 24 hrs so pitched another 2 sachets of dry S-04 between the 4 fermenters. This lead to good airlock activity at 48hrs and 6 days later the airlocks are still going stir-crazy. All activity finished at 12 days FG____ .

 

Conditioning

A 6% beer should take anything up to a month to condition, the yeast has had an epic time devouring all the sugars so if we keep it alive and give it a little time to reclaim some of the by-products it’s made our beer will taste much better. So we’ll transfer the beer off of the yeast cake into pressurized Corny’s and keep in a nice cool outdoor shed to condition. Normal cellar temperatures would be  ~ 10 – 13oC.

 

Result

Crystal, FG___

James:

Matt:

 

Styrian Bobek, FG___

James:

Matt:

 

Citra, FG___

James:

Matt:

 

Sorachi Ace, FG___

James:

Matt:

 

Conclusion

Good use of capacity, with all vessels being stretched to pretty much full capacity. However inconsistent due to splitting the beer between vessels each time.

 

Improvements
Efficiency 70%, as our malt was fresh we can’t blame that. There are several areas where we can improve efficiency in the future and as James has pointed out it may be worth looking into water chemistry at this scale. We should certainly have achieved 75% comfortably. Likely areas where we lost points in order of severity include:

  • mash strike temperature inconsistency
  • innacurate measurements of liquids in large quantities
  • spillages

 

Strike Temperature

Our mash strike temperature was way out due to a combination of underestimating the cold weather and failing to calculate the strike temp. It could be that whilst we adjusted each mash with boiling or cold water to a favourable temperature,  this may have just saved the top half of the mash tun and the bottom remained at a less desirable temperature, significantly damaging our efficiency. James has pointed out that we should get thermometers mounted in the Boilers – this would make life much easier to track the Strike water / Sparge Water temperatures which may change dramatically during the time taken to dough in or fly-sparge for all we know.

Liquid Measurement

May be worth investing in an accurate 10L bucket to measure our liquids a bit more easily, that 5L jug is awkward when full. Also worth considering using pumps to transfer liquids at this scale as it becomes less manageable by hand. If using pumps James pointed out that we would need to fit sight Gauges to the boilers for measurement purposes. Pumps would not necessarily reduce wort spillages as liquid becomes trapped in the pump and transfer hoses. Also need to install sight glasses and calibrate them for measuring batches. Our Final volumes above are a guestimate at best as Fermenter graduations are useful but renowned for being innacurate.

Consistency

Single larger mash tun would be key to improving consistency. Also the cold is still beating us with a “big stick” so will need to insulate the shed as much as possible and consider adding a bit more insulation to the tuns – especially the lids which possibly lack insulation within them and could be filled with squirty foam.

Currently using one regulator and a T-piece to supply each burner, at 8kw each it may be better to have a gas bottle and reg for each burner.

While not an issue this time as we are only fermenting in 25l batches, it would be good to have a larger FV – a 50 or even 100l one for when we do large brews would be nice.

With these hoppy brews we can start estimating the amount of water that we will loose to the hops, may still be easier to add the water back at the end though to dilute to the full target volume.

Spillages

Shit Happens 🙂

 February 25, 2012  Posted by
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 (www.copperkettlehomebrewing.co.uk/) 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

Yeast

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)

Mash

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!

Boil

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!

Fermentation

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.

 

Conditioning

Transferred to kegs and kept to condition.

 

Conclusion

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.

Results
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.

Yeast

Safale S-04 (2 x 11.5g)

Mash

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.

Boil

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.

Fermentation

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

Conditioning

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

Result

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).”

 

Conclusion

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.

Improvements

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
Oct 292011
 

Beer: Brau Weisse 5%ABV 15IBU

Brew Date: 29/10/11

Brew Time: 6pm to 12pm (clock went back an hour due to daylight savings time, so 7 hours)

Bastardised version of the Erdinger Hefe Weissbier recipe from the CAMRA “Brew Classic European Beers” book.  Matt has had quite a lot of experience brewing witt style beers, so we weren’t expecting too many problems.  Raw wheat was taken from the farm we brew on, at start of brew we went into the barn and grabbed a couple of buckets worth.  The wheat was the crushed using a hand grain mill.  At least an hour was spent crushing the 4.62kg of raw wheat.  This was the first brew after quite a break (3/4 year or so), so ingredients were all pretty old.  This caused issues, which we will go into later on. The method of brewing “witt” harks back to some of the most historical or “cultural brews” still brewed today in Belgium.

Grain Bill – 40L 5%ABV OG1.050 @ 70% Efficiency

  • 4.62kg Pale Malt
  • 4.62 Raw Wheat (crushed)

Total grain bill: 11.24kg

Hops – 60 min boil, 15IBU

  • 8.5g Tettnang (4.8%)
  • 13g Saaz (3.2%)
  • 19g Hallertau (3.2%)

Finishing off hops in freezer.  Used Palmers to match hops available to hops in the original recipe. I love the smell of Tettnang hops.

Yeast

T-58 Safale

Mash

This brew used a double infusion mash.  The initial temperature rest is intended to be 50 C with 1l/kg of water, this facilitates protease enzymes to breakdown the sticky proteins in the mash and increase the grain-bed fluidity for later sparging.  This rest equates to 9.2l of water at a temperature of 64.3 C added to the grain.  In reality this resulted at a mash of temperature 51.2 C.  So pretty much perfect.  This was then left for 45 min to do its thing.  We then added boiling water to get the mash temperature up to 65C (64 C is upper end of wheat gelatinisation).  This should be 5.5l boiling water.  Hit the expected 65 C exactly. Left for 1 hour.  Final mash temp 56 C.  this is about 5 C lower than we were hoping for.  Mash tun possibly needs to be better insulated.  Or maybe we should mash somewhere that wasn’t outside, in winter and cold.

Fly Sparge

Water was heated to 83.5 C. We were aiming to collect 48l of wort.  This is the 40l we want, plus 20% to allow for boil reduction.  We actually collected 50l over 45 min.  The flow was sluggish, but the 50 C rest during mash has clearly enhanced the grain bed fluidity.  There was a distinct difference between the soupy first runnings and final almost clear runnings.

 

Boil

All 50l were put in boiler and it was set to full blast.  Didn’t bother with hot break.  Hops were added as soon as wort was boiling. We then left to boil for 60min.

Fermentation

Dumped liquid straight from boil into fermenters collecting 38l.  Slightly higher loss due to boil than expected – 24% as opposed to 20%. Liquid was split equally between fermenters then both topped up with 1l of water to gain the required 40l.

Safale T-58 yeast was pitched dry and split equally between the two fermenters.  A 1/2 “krausen had formed after 2 days and had hit the FG of 1.010 within 4! This is a potent yeast that can reputedly ferment up to 13%ABV and beyond.

Conditioning

Beer was stored in corny kegs for 1 month and then approx 20l was bottled for James, while the other half remained in corny for Matt.

 

Result

A fresh fruity beer, cloudy amber/ straw colour and fruit on the nose. Easy to drink and not at all heavy.

Discussion

We only achieved 45% efficiency (1280 / 2850 max HWE points).  The method used to make the wheat beer is sound as we have achieved 80% efficiency using the same method in 2010, but with a slightly higher ratio of malt to wheat – 60:40 instead of 50:50.  Issues that could have caused this lack of efficiency include:

  • Old grain – the Pale malt we used was over 1yr old and pre-crushed so will have dramatically lost enzyme activity.
  • Mash Tun – the drop to 56 C during the final part of the mash – ideally it should have been above 60 C at finish.
  • Stupidity – we could have screwed something up.

Initial taste was very watery due to our poor efficiency.  So to fix this 500g spray malt, 1.5kg liquid malt extract (medium) and 500g glucose were disolved and boiled in 1 l of water to sanitise.  This was then split equally between the 2 fermenters.  This raised the ABV from a poor 2.6ish% to 5%.  This has given a decent body to the beer, and it is very close to being a Leffe clone.  The malt extract (medium) has darkened the beer. Matt was particularly concerned that at such a low ABV and with plenty of nutritious protein this beer could have been at a heigh risk of infection.

 

Conclusion

Urgh, lots of work for this brew.  Low ABV beers mean a lot more sanitising of equipment, which also means a lot more work.  Hand grinding wheat is tedious and time consuming, even with multiple people to do it in shifts.  Next time we will increase the second infusion water volume to 2.5kg/l total as while the mash consistency was good, it was possibly too thick.  We should probably do starch test on sample of mash to calculate percentage conversion of starch.  Adding malt extract saved brew from being watery and pretty poor.

Here is a photo of the final product, being drunk on another brew day. It tastes especially good with a heigh carbonation, essential. Wheat beers are also best drank young.


Observation – 2 months on since the photo and now the beer is very clear.

 October 29, 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%)

Yeast

Safale S-04

Mash

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.

Boil

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.

Fermentation

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.

Conditioning

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.

Result

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.

Conclusion

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