Friday 22 October 2010

Whispering Bob - The Recipe

I was listening to the BBC Radio Four Today programme some months ago on the occasion of Bob Harris' 40 years in broadcasting. They played an audio clip (they tend to do that on radio programmes) in Bob's trademark whisper: "kick back, open a bottle of pale ale and listen to this."

Now it's fair to assume that, when the legendary broadcaster originally uttered that phrase, this isn't the kind of pale ale to which he would have referred. If it were around at all, the American craft brew scene surely hadn't evolved to the level it has now at the time Bob was cutting his teeth on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Yet, US style craft beer and Whispering Bob have so much in common; they're both born of geeky innocence, bursting enthusiasm and a genuine love of their fellow musician/brewer. By being at the cutting edge of their respective fields and unafraid to push the boundaries, they have won the loyalty and respect of their fans.

So this is what I'll be brewing tomorrow and I hope it is a fitting tribute to a highly respected broadcaster.

6.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain
0.40 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC) Grain
0.40 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC) Grain
0.25 kg Caramunich Malt (110.3 EBC) Grain
0.25 kg Pale Crystal Malt (55.0 EBC) Grain

Bittering Hops
30.00 gm Chinook [11.40 %] (90 min) (First Wort Hop)
30.00 gm Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (90 min) (First Wort Hop)

Flavour Hops
30 min 10.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (30 min) Hops
15 min 10.00 gm Cascade [7.60 %] (15 min) Hops
5 min 1.00 items Protofloc (Boil 5.0 min) Misc

Late hops
25.00 gm Cascade [7.60 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)
25.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)

Yeast US-05

Estimated OG 1069
Bitterness 70.6 IBU
Colour 21.5 EBC
Estimated ABV 6.45-7%

OK it is more San Diego than Nashville and it might take me a few goes to get it right but it feels like I am on the right track.

Monday 18 October 2010

Back to Kit Brewing - Briefly

On the homebrewing forum I am a member of, it is often said by the All Grain brewing community that, once you've tried All Grain beer, you'll never go back to kits.

Well, that's not strictly true in my case. As I've said before, All Grain brewing makes excellent beer but it can take hours to do whereas a kit can be knocked up ready to ferment in 30-45 minutes.

It has been more than six months since I last brewed a kit but I am booked to demonstrate the principles of kit brewing at a local homebrew shop, so I wanted to give myself a quick refresher. This kit is an out of date brewbuddy kit which I've brewed with a pack of Windsor yeast, a kilo of beer kit enhancer (50/50 spraymalt and brewing sugar) and a hopped tea made up of Simcoe and Cascade hops.

Adding hopped teas and changing the yeast is referred to as kit tweaking. In order for the yeast to do its best, it meeds to have lots of sugar and oxygen to feed on so one of the other important things to do in kit brewing is to get as much air into the wort as possible. This can be achieved by letting the water drop from a great height or by thrashing with a beer paddle.

The thing is, I'm quite lazy and I've found that, by using a hand blender, you can whip loads of air into the wort. It is worth noting that in the 48 hours since I placed the fermenter into the brew fridge, the wort has fermented down from 1055 to 1012, which is pretty cool.

The reason I've gone for the Simcoe and Cascade hop combo is that I'm beginning to love the West Coast style. I'll be putting a Cascade/Simcoe all grain recipe together pretty soon and it will be nice to see how they effect the Brewbuddy kits. I find, if you have a number of identical kits which you brew with identical yeasts, it gives you a decent test bed for testing hop additions. Of course the only problem with kit beer is that it takes about 5-6 weeks to be ready to drink. Still I've given myself the refresher course I needed and now I'll be ready for my demonstrations in a few weeks' time.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Dark Beer Time

I don't quite know what it is about the darkening days but it makes me think of a warming fire and a strong dark beer full of chocolate malt and roasted barley. I've got two such beers fermenting away; a dark porter called Dogbolter made from a recipe from Ramsgate Brewery and an Imperial Stout called St Petersburg which is brewed by Thornbridge.

The Dogbolter, on the right of the picture, needs to be racked today or tomorrow and has fermented down to 1009 giving me a 6% abv. I've got 20g of Kentish Fuggles sitting in a sterilised stocking. It will add a resinous grassiness to the beer.

On the left of the picture is the St Petersburg. Although it fell four points short of the OG at 1068, it has fermented out to 1010 so far, giving an ABV of 7.6, just under the commercial version.

The next brew on the horizon is another stout, this time an oatmeal variety. I'm not entirely sure why I've got all these dark beers on the go at once, it must be the impending wintertime but I'm sure looking forward to drinking them.