Monday, October 23, 2006

Hardwick Special Bitter - All Grain 1

First of all thanks everyone on the Home Brew Forum for all the great advice over the last few months, I'd never have got to this stage without y'all. My first all grain is an English Special Bitter that I've produced before with great sucess using extract and crystal malt. It's based on a Palmer Recipe but I've altered nearly every part of it so I feel it's ok to share.

19L recipe
3.0kg Maris Otter Pale
250g crystal
0.5kg Flaked Maize

35IBU total
17IBU - Northern brewer 60min 14g
11IBU - Goldings 30min 24g
7IBU - Goldings 15min 23g + werlflock tablet (free from H&G order)

mashed for 60minutes
15L strike water @ 74.5oc (ratio of 4L/kg)
69oc strike temp
64.5oc final temp

Photos here -

Doughing in

I pre-warmed the tun with 2L of boiling water poured through the top with a funnel. After doughing in there was initially a good few inches of liquid ontop of the grain but the grain swelled to accomodate this nicely. Could maybe fit in a double recipe at a squeeze?



A nice 45minute Fly-sparge where the 2 taps were essential for regulating flow.

The T-bar sparge arm worked nicely

Lauter water 13L @ 80.5oc
collected ~ 25L wort

Stong boil with rapid hot break dispersal. The burner is only 8.5kw but I run it flat out and the final boil volume was ~17L so I lost 7L (a whopping 28% reduction over 1hr)

Left it to rest for 15minutes before cooling. I'd already got the CFC going using a recirculating system based around a 5gal fermenting bucket and a £10 pond pump. This water wound up at ~ 40oc and I used it to clean the boiler out with.

Cold Break

There was a lot of cold break but I didn't see any hot break

Pitched the yeast @ 34oc (a bit warm)
Final Gravity @ 1.0467 (corrected to 15oc)
aimed for 1.047Smile

Will have to work out my efficiency sometime

cost= 11.3p/ 500mlExclamation
People were sceptical when I reported on here that MrWallis of the Pensans brewery had told me he could brew beer for ~ 20p/ pint Smile All I did was buy a 25kg sack of Maris otter from my local microbrewery for £20, the 20kg sack of flaked maize was £5 from a local horse feed shop.

can't wait to drink it

Results 8.11.06
Oh dear - the first all grain has had a few weeks in the fermentors, over a week pressurised and conditioning and it's not looking good. I probably should have kept more of an eye on it but now I find large amounts of suspended particles which I presume is that cold break gunk. I hoped I had left most of this behind when I racked into the 2ndary. The body, colour and the flavour are weak although the brew is definately alcoholic.

Will add some finings overnight and hope for the best (that means that the chunks don't turn out to be mould!)

Monday, October 09, 2006

BrewV - Porter (John Palmer)

OG1.054 IBU35
Somewhere between a brown ale & a stout this beer is perfect for using up some spare ingredients I had knocking around, mostly darker malt extracts I bought during my original mix and match purchase at the HBS. Loosely following the Porter-Palmer recipe with the addition of 250g crystal malt and using Challenger & Goldings in place of the American hops. The addition of crystal malt in previous recipes provided a vast improvement in flavour over straight extract beers adding a caramel flavour & better head. Before moving on to all grain brewing I thought I'd take the chance to try out a full boil for the first time. I feel that I can divulge the recipe for this one becuase I have completely adapted it from the published porter recipe all previous recipes are as per Palmers book.

Challenger 8% - 60minutes - 22g 21IBU
Goldings 5% - 40minutes - 23g 12IBU
Goldings 5% - 20minutes - 14g 5IBU

(19L recipe)
1.6kg diastatic malt extract
1kg medium spraymalt
0.5kg dark spraymalt
250g crystal malt - steeped

Procedure- Full boil 22L (19L final)
Given that this is quite a strong flavoured beer it's a good one to experiment with. I completely reworked the hopping, taking into account the new full boil gravity & different alpha acid% hops. I maintained the same boil shedule & IBU's. Unlike previous boils this has a schedule of hop additions (in 1hr count down fashion) of 60minutes, 40minutes & 20 minutes. This means I guess I'll get little or no aroma but some very strong flavour from the hops, the procedure inkeeps with the style of this beer.

As per advice from the HBForum (where I have learnt so much) it's best to dissolve the spray malt in the boil water whilst it is still quite cool and then liquid malt extract when it is really hot, mixing it in with a large whisk. The 8.5kw burner achieved a rolling boil within 20 minutes and I added the hops in cotton hop bags to keep them enclosed.

The only original ingenuity I used in this brew was with my cooling method, the counterflow cooler uses hose water to cool the hot wort which is let through the exchanger slowly. Blikman engineering claim the unit will cool 5gal of boiling wort to ~25oc in 20minutes. I purchased a small pond pump for £10 and used it to recirculate 5gal of cooling water (in a brew bucket) through the exchanger in order to dramatically reduce water wastage. The wort ran a little fast and was cooled to 40oc in ~ 5minutes. The spent cooling water was leaving the exchanger at a dramatic 78oc and left the 5gal body terminally at ~ 50oc -> perfect for me to clean the boil kettle & hoses with. In future I recognise that I will need more cooling water to cool the wort more effectively possibly 10gal.

For the 3rd sucessive brew (after topping up the wort to 19L) I pitched the yeast at 35oc and saw activity in under 10minutes. Overnight a healthy 2" krausen (foam head) grew with some agressive airlock activity. Hydrometer readings indicate that the brew is stronger than anticipated with a gravity od~ 1.060, this would be due to the additioal 250g crytsal malt .

Dark brown & very drinkable, a pleasant caramel flavour works well with the strong bitter tone. The beer has almost no nose. I could drink this beer all day & it could work well with mixed gas and a creamer nozzle (like guinness.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Progress - All grain & full boil

Some original goals complete. Over the last 2 months I've experimented with some different hop varieties, different malt extracts & a few different beer styles. Recently results have been very drinkable & since the first brew the process & calculations have become increasingly familiar and far easier. Now I've grasped the extract and hop utilization side of brewing it's time to complicate it a little further with all-grain brewing. Most of the beers I've made so far used mostly liquid extract and a bit of spray malt working out at ~ £0.65/pint, brewing with actual malt is far cheaper. Recently I constructed a 30L cool box mash tun & purchased a 25kg sack of crushed pale malt from the Great Oakley microbrewery; my aspirations to all grain brewing and particuarly the brewing of the more delicately flavoured lager beers (utilizing refrigeration) are getting closer to hand.

Equipment -
Since before I started all this brewing I somewhat ambitiously constructed a 50L boil kettle in the form of an adapted stainless steel beer keg & an 8.5kwatt propane burner (see equipment gallery.) I also purchased a Blikman Engineering Therminator (counter flow cooler) which I have been unable to use so far because the boil volume is often as little as 7L after the hours boil.* It seems stupid that I'm only carrying out partial boils of 11.5L in my 50L kettle but my intention has been to try out a few recipes until I find I can make a really drinkable beer.

Now I can start using the equipment properly. With all-grain brews there is no option but to boil the full brew volume whilst I can adjust the extract recipes to a full boil of 19L if needed (the actual boil volume would Ideally be 22L allowing for 10% reduction.) In a larger boil volume the hops are used more efficiently and so the quantity can be reduced. The kettle still provides enough room to produce 2 kegs per brew.

I’m particuarly keen to continue with the English Special Bitter recipe and develop it further. Using the originally specified “Target” bittering hops, this same hop combined with Goldings is that used to make my favourite beer – Frog Island “Natterjack” (microbrewery Northampton UK.) Further to this I know what % the beer is and that it's made with pale 2row malt and malted wheat. My aim is to create something similar to this beer by matter of trial and error with these ingredients. I can even recover the same yeast because with bottle conditioned beers it is possible to culture it from the sediment in the bottle.

With other recipes such as the IPA's I'd like to repeat them and try out various hop varieties, I do love a good Pale Ale such as Green King and Sierra Nevada. Once I've got the hang of mashing grains, fruity wheat beers will be on the menu also.

*I have read in published scientific papers that the ideal boil reduction is 10% of the wort volume during the boil, this allows for sufficient coagulation of proteins etc and this is why often a powerful burner is desirable.