Friday, September 08, 2006

Brew III - English Special Bitter (J.Palmer)

OG 1.047 35IBU
Since the last beer I've moved up a step from just using malt extract to steeping some grain. Steeping grains are commonly known in the UK as crystal malts, these grains have already had their starch converted into soluble sugars through mashing and then they have been roasted to dry/ partially caramelise the sugars. I'm using crystal malt to try and make up for the dry flavour of the previous beer as this should add more complex & unfermentable sugars as well as some fresher grain flavours. The only additional skill you need is being able to work out the infusion temperature using Palmers straightforward equations i.e. You will need to steep the grain at ~75oC to extract the sugars and so you need to know what temperature 1L of water needs to be so that when you add it to 250g of grain (@ room temp) you end up with the correct temperature.

Bittering Hops: Target (10%) substitued with Northern Brewer (11%)
Aroma Hops: Goldings (5%)
Addition of 250g crystal malt

Procedure -
11.5L partial Boil
cooling by dilution to 19L

To steep the 250g of crystal malt I used 1L of water at 77 oC for 1/2 an hour, with the malt contained in a cotton bag (otherwise used for hops.) Assuming the grain is at room temp ~ 20 oC then to achieve the right temperature 1L of water needs to be 84.3 oC. In practice this worked out well and the mixture took up most of a 2L jug and evened out at 79 oC, insulated with a few towels. Steeping grain like this is a nice step towards all grain as it is simple lautering and the calculations are a good introduction.

I pitched just one 7g sachet of Youngs GP brewing yeast and there was activity within the hour. As before the brew fermented agressively for the first 3 days and then I racked it into a secondary fermentor. After a week in the secondary fermentor the gravity is still 1.020 so I may have racked from the primary a little early, I'll just have to wait a bit longer. I cannot currently see a need for yeast starters or wort oxygenation but I'm sure this will change when the brews get bigger. I read that pitching rates do have an effect on beer flavours.

Results - One to repeat :)
Clean flavoured, dark, hazy, sweet with a rounded bitter flavour. Even after nearly 3 weeks in the 2ndary
this beer is little below 1.020 gravity, gradual activity was evident during the first 2 weeks particuarly. The haze is odd considering I added the steeped wort from the crystal malt at the begining of the boil which proceeded to be very fierce. Final boil volume was down to ~ 7.5L from 11.3L and 10% reduction is industry standard. I waited nearly 20 minutes for the hot break and I'm not sure if it came or not as the boil was still very frothy. During the hot break the proteins in the boil that form the haze should be completely denatured, I could have problems here because the brew is so concentrated? The great thing about using the corny's as 2ndary fermentors (see my equipment) is that once fermentation is complete all I have to do is take off the gas post/ blow off tube, pressurise & draw off ~250ml which includes any yeast sediment (+ finings if added) then the beer can be conditioned / drunk directly from the same corny. Unfortunately I still haven't managed to let it mature for long.

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