Sunday 29 April 2012

First Crack at an English IPA

Yeast seems to have got over excited
So much has been written about this beer style I'm not sure any article I could write would add to the sense of what an Old School English IPA should, or shouldn't, be. 

My attempt is to try and emulate Meantime Brewing's take on an IPA as it is one of my very favourite examples of a strong, bitter beer showing off the East Kent Goldings at their very best. 

My recipe basically uses Fuggles for bittering with EKG's late and dry. I'm looking for a beer between 6 and 7% abv and a bitterness of around 45-50 IBU. Because I'm using fuggles (5.22%AA) for bittering that's quite a lot of hops (and a fair few twigs) but it didn't seem to give me much liquid loss coming out of the boiler. In fact I ended up with 24L @ 1063 instead if 23L @ 1067. A combination of that and pitching two packs of yeast probably explains why I woke up to a yeast explosion this morning. I am ruing the demise of my original 30L Hambleton bard fermenter which is scratched beyond reasonable use these days and thus only gets used for holding spent grain. 

Doughing in
Anyhow, as I write, the yeasties are munching their way through the wort. I'm going to transfer to a secondary bucket relatively early, partly because I'm going to dry hop with loads of lovely EKG's prior to bottling next weekend or early next week. Yes, I'm not going to keg this beer (to be honest I'm already dreading the faff that is going to be bottling but I really feel this beer is going to benefit from being in the bottle for an extended secondary fermentation period). 

The recipe is based on my ordinary pale ale recipe but beefed up with a bit of demerara and carapils instead of wheat malt or torrefied wheat. This is mainly because I have a wheat intolerant friend who I want to try this beer. The brewday was not without problems; I had to brew indoors due to the stupid English weather and one of my elements blew (probably due to the sugar in the brew that seemed to stick to the element) so I'm going to have to take the boiler apart to clean both the elements again. This will cause a problem all its own because you can bet your life that, when I put the elements back in situ, there'll be a leak. 

First Wort Hops, Demerera Sugar and Yeast

Brewlength 24L
Bitterness 45 IBU
Colour 15 EBC
Original Gravity 1063

Grain Bill

6kg Pale Malt
200g Crystal (120 ebc)
300g Carapils

First Runnings
Boil Ingredients

30g Fuggles First Wort Hop (5.22%AA)
500g Demerera Sugar
30g Fuggles @30 mins
30g Fuggles @20 mins
30g East Kent Goldings @ 15 mins
30g Fuggles @ 10 mins
1 protofloc @ 5mins
30g EKG @ flame out (80c steeped for 30 mins)

1 x Windsor
1 x S04

Thursday 19 April 2012

Tap East "Coffee In The Morning" Brewday

Back when I re-commenced home brewing in March 2009, like a lot of people, I turned to a couple of the many home brewing internet forums for advice. On one of these I found James Wilson and Phil Bird both of whom started at pretty much the same time as me and, through the power of the internet, we all became friends, met up and exchanged beers. 

Phil and Jim inspecting the brewery control panel
Some while later Jim made the career move that probably every middle aged home brewer wants to make (but mortgage/kids etc. prevents them from) and joined Brentwood Brewery as an assistant brewer. Since then I've watched his progress (and drunk some of the beers he had a hand in developing) and I was delighted to find out that he had been appointed head brewer at Tap East. Let's face it, when the Olympics kick in, that place is going to be buzzing and his beers, for better or worse, are going to be scrutinised by anyone who doesn't actually want to drink Heineken. Let's be absolutely clear, Jim has some excellent ideas and recipes up his sleeve and I predict a bright future for both brewer and brewpub. 

Anyway, imagine our delight when Jim invited Phil and I to Tap East to brew Coffee in the Morning stout made with coffee from Grind, the shop just round the corner from Tap East in Westfield. It's been a few weeks in the planning; we had to fit in with Phil's job (he works shifts as an electrician in a printers) and I had to book some time off work but it all panned out ok and on Wednesday 18th April we mashed in on Tap East's 2.5 barrel brewery. 
First Runnings

The first thing we found out is that it's pretty tricky holding the sack o'grain and stirring the mash at the same time. Goodness knows how Jim manages it but I ended up pouring and Phil was responsible for making sure there were no dough balls. Phil's natural curiosity with all things electronic and mechanical was immediately evident as Jim showed him under the bonnet of the brewery control panels. 

They talked at length about things I have no idea about, but even I can see what an asset Phil could be at a brewery with his background in electrical engineering and love of brewing. However, Phil doesn't have a sense of smell so, while they were talking techie I went off to the hop store to do what I do best, sniff hops. 

We settled on challenger for bittering and a few first gold late in the boil with some El Salvador coffee from Grind. I had to shove off to meet fellow home brewer and author Dr Brooke Magnanti who was in London promoting her new book The Sex Myth for a beer for mead swap. Jim and Phil persevered through the latter stages of the boil and the clean up; although I did help digging out the mash tun, the rite of passage that indicates you have cut your teeth on a pro brewery. 

Talking about digging out the mash tun, here's the pic (right). Phil's at the other end of that chute making sure it all gets in the grain sacks and I'm pushing the grain with a long stick thingy (I know all technical, me).

Whilst at Tap East we obey the "always have a beer 
whilst doing anything brewing related rule" I'm one for following rules like that. I had a pint of Titanic Last Porter Call (groans) and a hoppy number from Rooster whose name escapes me right now. 

Anyway - the beer should be ready to drink in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for Tap East's "Coffee In The Morning" Stout. Of course you don't have to drink it in the morning, you can drink it whenever the hell you want. 

Saturday 14 April 2012

AG #55 - Kolkata Black

It's something I've been threatening to do for a while, a Black IPA/Cascadian Dark - call it what you want, I don't really care. I've called it Kolkata Black. 

I didn't want roasty flavours but I did want the dark colour so my grain of choice was Carafa I, a de husked malt which removes some of the harshness associated with roasted grains. This seems to have imparted a really smooth mouthfeel and almost (but not quite) a vanilla flavour. 

In true homebrew fashion I've added some dry hops and I've no idea what they are. I've acquired T90 pellets from various trips to a number of breweries and I definitely have had Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo and Citra. I'm pretty sure that I've used all the Nelson Sauvin but the other two had come out of their bags at the bottom of the plastic container that I keep my hops in. I decided the best thing to do was to sterilise a dry hop sock and lob the lot in. Which I did and, three days later, the results are fine and dandy thank you very much. 

In terms of water treatment the calculator I use on The Homebrew Forum there are only drop down options for general, pale ale, bitter, stout, mild and lager. I didn't really know what yo use so I went for a stout profile as that's the nearest match colour wise.

Hop wise I used Perle for bittering (FWH), Pacific Gem mid boil and Stella at the end. Sadly I under pitched the Windsor Yeast which meant I ended up with a FG of 1020 instead of 1012 meaning I got an ABV% of 4.29 instead of 5.37. For all that, the beer tastes lovely and definitely one I'll be doing again. 

Brewlength - 19L
OG - 1053
FG - 1020
ABV - 4.29%
Colour  - 53 EBC
Bitterness 54 IBU

5kg Maris Otter
400g Carafa I
200g Aromatic Malt

25g Perle 8.00%AA FWH
17g Pacific Gem 17.00%AA @ 30 mins
10g Stella 16.00%AA @ 10 mins
10g Stella @ Flame Out
50g of T90 pellets - dry hop

Protofloc @ 5 mins
Yeast 1 x Windsor

Water Treatment
28ml CRS
4.5g table salt (in boil)
7.3g gypsum (in boil)