Monday 31 May 2010

Beer Porn - My First All Grain Pint. Amarillo Pale Ale

For my first effort I wanted to keep things simple and recipes don't get simpler than this:

4kg Pale Malt
200g Torrefied Wheat (for head retention)
45g Amarillo @ 90mins
35g Amarillo @ 10 mins
15g Amarillo @ 0 mins

I'd like to say that the recipe was mine but it wasn't and need to thank Drew the Brew from the Brew it Yourself forum for it.

Sunday 30 May 2010

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front for a couple of weeks; mainly due to my birthday party last week but also due to work, the onset of the cricket season and a number of other pressing engagements.

The most recent of these was a visit to the Rough Old Wife cidery in Old Wives Lees just outside Canterbury. They make their cider the traditional way with a long slow fermentation in old whisky barrels which certainly leaves its stamp on the cider.

I've never been the greatest fan of cider but what I drank yesterday, including Blushing Old Wife made with 10% raspberries was fantastic. It has certainly given me ideas for what to do with my demijons in the winter.

Tomorrow I'll be starting my third all grain brew, a beer in the style of Brentwood Brewing Company's Best Bitter. I've now moved the brewery permanently into the shed and bought a small pump to transfer the sweet wort from the collecting vessel back up to the boiler. While it is mashing and boiling away I'll also be bottling my Black Rock Cider (made from a kit) and my "Gone for a Burton" which should both be ready in time for my brother in law's birthday in three weeks time (I made an 35 litre batch, of which about 27 litres were kegged last week and the rest racked and further dry hopped for bottling tomorrow). All of this is good news as my kegs and bottles took rather a hammering at last week's party; two (admittedly already half empty) kegs and a good 60 bottles went which I take as a sign that my beer wasn't all that bad.

In the meantime I'll be knocking up another summer ale recipe using Northern Brewer as a bittering hop and Cascade for the flavour (no prizes for guessing where I got that idea from). Hopefully I'll post a couple of pictures of the new brewing in action tomorrow.

Sunday 16 May 2010

An "As live" Brewday

This posting appeared on Facebook but for those who don't have access to that social media and would like to read my wibblings here please see below.

0810 Hot Liquor Tank on, before and of you fnarr fnarr about me having a hot licker in the shed, a Hot Liquor Tank is a posh name for a boiler, in brewspeak, liquor = water. Make the tea.

0820 While water is warming up, the shed needs to be cleared out so that both I and my brewery can both fit in there.
It's a bit tight in the brewing shed.

0830 Weigh out the grains; in this case 8.10 KG of Pale Malt (Maris Otter) and 840g of Crystal Malt.

0900 Temp of water up to 80C, run off a couple of litres to pre heat the Mash Tun

0910 23 Litres of Liquor at 77C and then "dough in" the grains, make sure the mash temperature hits 66C (which it does) and then cover it up and set the timer for 90 minutes.
"Doughing in"

0930 Hang the washing out. There's a lot of downtime in All Grain brewing as Russ Pope with tell you so it never hurts to earn those brownie points from the other half. During this time I'm also going to attempt to sterilise some bottles and a keg in preparation for kegging/bottling last week's brews.

1010 Weigh out items for the boil. 40g Northern Brewer, 40g East Kent Goldings, 840g Golden Cane Sugar (all for the 90 min boil) 20g Fuggles and a protofloc tab for the last 2 mins.

1040 Drain and recirculate the first few litres of sweet wort then, when it runs clear, collect it in a fermenter (or bucket). Top up with 15 litres of water at 75C then leave for 10 mins. Prepare the last 18L of water for the second batch sparge.

1200 Put collected wort back into the boiler and switch the elements on. I've collected just over 10 gallons which was slightly less than I needed which will mean the beer is a little bit stronger than I will originally have planned.

1300 Rolling boil achieved added the sugar, Northern Brewer and East Kent Goldings. Pop round to the neighbours with the spent grain for their chickens and return with half a dozen freshly laid eggs. Apparently the last lot of grain has caused the yolks to be even yellower. Woohoo.
Lots of hoppy goodness

1428 The late hops for aroma and protofloc to help prevent chill haze when the brew is bottled.

1430 Chillers in; this helps to cool the wort quickly to pitching temperature which helps prevent bacterial infection. Rehydrating yeast in some cooled boiled water
OG spot on. This may be a strong one. I think I'll call it "Gone for a Burton"
This takes about 40 mins so I've got time to bottle my last (but probably not last ever) kit brew. This one is one of what is known on Jims Beer Kit as an Out of Date Brewbuddy experiment. My good friend and fellow brewer James Wilson got his mitts on some out of date Youngs Brewbuddy kits from a supplier. I've taken five of them and am applying identical (kit) brewing techniques with different ingredients.

With this one I brewed with 1kg of Beer Kit Enhancer, a hopped tea made with 15g Nelson Sauvin hop pellets courtesy of Gadds of Ramsgate followed by a dry hop with the remaining 28g. My brewing colleague Philip Bird has also done such experiments and between us we have East Kent Goldings, Pacific Gem, First Gold and Nelson Sauvin versions. I've used S04 yeast with mine but not sure what Phil used with his. I've got an Amarillo version to do and probably a Fuggles one as well (but this time with Windsor yeast).

1530 Running the wort into the fermenters from a height to achieve good aeration. Because this brew is to 35L I'll need two fermenters. I've taken the OG which, adjusted for temperature, comes out exactly at 1067 which was the target OG.
Lovely clear wort

1600 Pop off to Tescos to do a bit of shopping, come back and split the yeast into the fermenters using a sterilised 60ml syringe.

1630 Fermenters in the brewfridge at 20C and time to clean up. Actually I had other things to do at this time so the cleaning up has still to be done.

I'm pretty pleased with my second all grain effort and I'll be going another brew in a couple of weeks time when I've had the opportunity to empty some kegs and some bottles.

For other pics please see the thread on the Brew it Yourself forum

Sunday 9 May 2010

Popping My Full Mash Cherry

It's been coming for a long time but yesterday it finally happened. Do I feel any different? Has it changed the way I feel about kit brewing? "Not really" is the answer and obviously the jury's out until the ale is ready to drink but what is different is that I theoretically have much more control over what I'm going to brew.

Luckily I've got the help and support of a great brewing community both in forum land and the twitterverse which meant I've effectively got a pocket guide to brewing at my beck and call. Thank you, you know who you are and I couldn't have done it without you.

The brewday started with moderately ok weather so I fired up the HLT in the garden. Big mistake; by the time I'd doughed in the grains it was raining hard enough to encourage me to continue the brewday in my conservatory which is a complete mess. The recipe I used was nicked off a friend in the Brew It Yourself forum.

4 kg MO pale Malt
250g Torrefied Wheat
45g Amarillo @ 90mins
35g Amarillo @ 10mins
15g Amarillo @ 0 mins

I used Windsor yeast with this one.

The target OG was 1048 which I managed to hit and the smells coming out of the boiler were absolutely first rate, I really can't wait to drink it.

I've put pictures over on the Brew it Yourself forum. You can see the results here

Wednesday 5 May 2010

10 Gallon Brewery Construction

I was going to write a "how to" construct an all grain brewery but I'm so incredibly retarded at DIY that my attempts should probably be referred to as a "how not to". However the testing has been completed and I'll be popping my AG cherry on Saturday, weather permitting.

It all seemed so simple when I started out a few weeks ago bit of plumbing here, bit of drilling there, butcher a couple of kettles and bob's your uncle.

Why go for a 10 Gallon set up?

It was pretty simple really, my kegs are all 23/25L capacity and I'd like to do some bottling as well so why half fill a keg. The plan is to bottle 15 or 20 x 500ml bottles and fill a keg, once I've got the hang of it, that is.

And then the trouble started. First of all I had to find something to drill holes in the side for the kettle elements, I settled on a 38mm hole saw. The outside of the hole looked perfect but there were a lot of rough edges on the inside. I filed them down as best I could but they both leaked, not a lot, but they leaked.

At the weekend I tried top have a boil up and still had a small leak in element 1 but, worse still, the boiler wouldn't heat up. I went back to the drawing board and realised I'd forgotten to link the wires on the element to complete the circuit. I can build a computer from scratch but give me some simple household electrics and plumbing and I'm a gibbering wreck. In the end, the right amount of food grade sealant (i.e. lots) seemed to do the trick.

Last night I tested the boil and no leaks. It is hard to describe the feeling but I think the only way to describe it that is a bit like being a kid the night before Christmas crossed with a dog who's just discovered he can lick his own balls.

I'll post some pix of my first brew at the weekend, assuming it's not a complete balls up and I'll include the hop strainer which was the only thing that went right first time. Remember, if someone as hopeless as I can build a brewery there's hope for us all.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Copper Kettle Home Brewing Goes Live Today

Run by my good friend and fellow home brewer Yonny, Copper Kettle Home Brewing went live today. Just in time for my first venture into All Grain Brewing. Do visit his site and compare the prices. He's been selling for a while (with good feedback) on Ebay but this is his first venture on his own so to speak.