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.


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