Sunday 27 November 2011

Sneaky Kitchen Brew

Realised this weekend that if I don't get a brew on soon, I'll be knackered for Christmas beers. The problem for me is that I have a broken HLT and an issue with infection. I've slowly been replacing my kit and have narrowed down the issue to contaminated yeast starters and/or tubing.

I've replaced the cold side tubing on my boiler with new sanitised tube and I've used my last packet of dried yeast which happens to be an S33. According to the information on the Fermentis site S33 is:

A very popular general purpose yeast, displaying both very robust conservation properties and consistent performance.  This  yeast produces superb flavour profiles and is used for the production of a varied range of top fermented special beers (Belgian type wheat beers, Trappist, etc.).  Sedimentation: medium.  Final gravity: high.    Also recommended for bottle-conditioning of beers.  Excellent performance in beers with alcohol contents of up to 7.5% v/v but can ferment up to 11.5% v/v. 

Quite how this will come out in an English Pale Ale made with Styrians, I'm not quite sure but there's only one way to find out. 

Grain Bill

4.5kg Maris Otter Pale Malt
250g Amber Malt
250g Carapils


Bobek 5.2%AA 30g FHW
Bobek 5.2%AA 25g @ 30 mins
Bobek 5.2%AA 10g @ 20 mins
Bobek 5.2%AA 10g @ 10 mins
Bobek 5.2%AA 25g @ Flame Out

Thursday 10 November 2011

Brewing Al Fresco

A couple of times last summer it was simply too hot to brew in the shed so I decided to make the most of the patio and brew there. We don't seem to have held any of our annual parties this year (slapped wrists) which means that nobody (i.e. me) has cleared up the patio.

Once I had the boiler, HLT and mash tun set up, the advantage of shorter power cables and hoses (I have to run both down to the shed which is a bit of a pain in the bum) was immediately clear. However this advantage is slightly offset by the number of wasps that soon developed a taste for my sweet wort. On balance, it is something I will certainly do again given a good weather forecast.

It's made me think about a number of modifications I need to make for the brewery, first among them to get some kind of extractor fan set up in the shed but, ultimately, I'd like to get some kind of proper power and water feeds down there. Mind you, if I made it too comfy, I'd probably never come out. 

Monday 7 November 2011

Beer Porn - Oatmeal Stout and SNOB

Before I emptied the cornie last weekend I thought I'd take a pic of the only two beers I have on draught at the moment.  

On the left we have Oatmeal Stout, 4.8%ABV and as smooth as you like, thanks to some Carafa I. The other one is School Night Ordinary Bitter (or SNOB for short). This one was a "use up the ingredients" sort of brew and ended up being a flavour combo of Saaz and Cascade. It's slightly sharp and I've probably used too much Cascade and not enough Saaz but I'll have another go at it before too long, possibly with some Styrians. 

The idea behind the SNOB was to have something around the 3.8% mark but it fermented out at 1.006 which meant in ended up being 4.2%. 

Sunday 6 November 2011

Red Spider Rye

I've been planning this one for quite a while. I've done a couple of these before, one with Amarillo and Apollo (Double A) and one with Centennial and Columbus (Double C). 

I wanted to save the Amarillo to use with something else, so I've gone with Centennial, Columbus and Cascade for the late and dry hopping and Green Bullet and Columbus for the bittering.

Recipe details

Batch size19L
Expected OG 1070
Expected ABV 7%
Bitterness 73 IBU


3.50 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain
1.00 kg Munich Malt (25.0 EBC) Grain
0.75 kg Rye Malt (Pale) (4.0 EBC) Grain
0.30 kg Aromatic Malt (150.0 EBC) Grain
0.30 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC) Grain
0.29 kg Carared (50.0 EBC) Grain
0.08 kg Caramalt (24.0 EBC) Grain

10.00 gm Columbus (Tomahawk) [17.90 %] (60 min)(First Wort Hop)
20.00 gm Green Bullet [13.60 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) 

Boil Ingredients

30 min 25.00 gm Cascade [5.50 %] (30 min) 
20 min 10.00 gm Columbus (Tomahawk) [17.90 %] (20min)
10 min 10.00 gm Centennial [10.00 %] (10 min) 
5 min 1.00 items Protofloc (Boil 5.0 min) 


Wyeast Labs #1056

Dry hops 

15.00 gm Centennial [10.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) 
15.00 gm Columbus (Tomahawk) [17.90 %] (Dry Hop 3 days)

When Infection Strikes

I've had more and more of the dreaded infections over the past few brews so I've decided that radical action is required. The six fermenters I've been using since I re-started brewing in 2009 have clocked up more than 80 brews between them. No surprise then, that when I inspected them they are scratched to buggery. 

Where brewing is concerned, scratches are BAD. Infections can lurk unmoved by boiling, scrubbing or any amount of disinfectant, it would appear. So, this time I've opted to replace my fermenters one by one, dating them, naming them and calibrating them before use. 

In my brew diary spreadsheet, I've now added a column to include which numbered FV I've brewed them in. This way when an infection strikes, I can chuck out a fermenter and eliminate that from the causes. 

So what are the other causes? Well, basically, anything that is not sanitised. In the past I've identified dirty airlocks, little bottler taps, syphons. If you're not sure, chuck them out because replacing all of these still work out less than the cost of chucking a brew down the drain.