Thursday, 29 November 2012

November Update!

Over the last month i have brewed 7 beers (holy crap!)

As follows, in no particular order (with recipe specific write ups to come):

Pilgrim Pale: Straight up SMaSH recipe with Maris Otter and UK Pilgrim hops. Part of an intended series of single hop brews (preceded by Apollo and home-grown Bramling X) to help understand certain hops/hopping rates/malt flavour etc on a basic level. Also as a means to test the efficiency of my home-crushed malt (result - drop 10 efficiency points - bummer.)

Notes: Was expecting 'Marmalade' flavours, and an additional malt sweetness thanks to decocting part of the mash (first attempt at this) currently rewarded with extreme hop bitterness and not a lot else. Mellowing with age though - probably should have dry-hopped to hell for a proper IPA. Still, its a project in understanding and sometimes thats best achieved through trial and error. Emphasis on the latter.

Stout day Stout:  An improptu brew of the 4 Shade of Stout recipe found on JBK, partly because my dear friend Tom declared one Thursday afternoon it was stout day, and partly because my last (and only, thus far) 3 attempts at stout have been underwhelming at best, i thought 1 last attempt with a well hyped, tried and true recipe would settle things.

Notes: Only had 2 weeks in the bottle but its already looking pretty good. My concerns regarding the low quality of my previous efforts seem to be down to choosing the wrong recipe for what i wanted, or possibly even the wrong yeast. This was brewed with US05 because i am bad at forward planning and didnt have any so4 as intended. Similarly the previous efforts lacked that real stout mouth-feel fullness, that appears to have been rectified by 10% grainbill of flaked barley, and no torrified wheat, which may itself be the reason my other stouts tasted 'off'. Note: used perle for bittering as lacked the specified hops.

ESB: Most recent brew, performed with Christmas in mind with my step-dad Colin, to John Keeling's own homebrew recipe from BYO, with fullers yeast cultured from 2 bottles of Bengal Lancer.

He and i brewed a Landlord Clone last October for last Christmas but being one of my first forays in to Brewing in a bag (and lacking the experience) it came out...underwhelming (and under-carb'd). We since got together to brew 'The Bramling X experiment' a straight forward SMaSH recipe using only MO and hops he identified as BX cultivated from his garden (and dried in mine). The results were... excellent - how i wish it was easily repeatable, but not only is there a lack of supplies, but i didnt make any damn notes!

The ESB itself is scheduled for bottling this Sunday so no notes as yet, but it all went to letter despite a slightly lower than average gravity probably thanks to my recent variations in sparging methods (in an attempt to get that efficiency back up. Not too worried about the ABV however as the BYO John Keeling artcile suggest a low abv ESB is just a (dry-hopped) London Pride, and they are both excellent beers.

Then my good friend Tom and I stumbled on something very unusual; a day free of commitments, a day free of things to fix, clean or go out and purchase - a 'free' day - a day to do some brewing! so brew we did:

Chinook Pale: Exactly what it sounds like - yet another SMaSH, but this time with Lager Malt and of course, at Tom's request, Chinook hops. US05 Yeast as usual - this time dry hopped for 4 days in the primary (where it is at this moment) so no tasting notes at present, but more detail to follow.

Dunkel: Intended to be our first lager using my new outdoor brew-fridge and temp controller, this sadly ended up indoors fermenting away happily with US05 due to 36 hours of searching for my brew-belt proving fruitless and not wanting to leave the unfermented beer to sit for any longer, tempting fate. Again, still in the primary at this stage, but using US05 and intending to lager (because i dont have anywhere else to put it anyway!) hopefully this will turn out to be a lovely beer regardless, brewed to this recipe here.

I then had a thought, while we were standing around mashing/sparging/boiling/drinking/mashing/sparging/boiling, etc and realised i had everything required (mainly 2 small brewing buckets, and an extra tap/tank connector/etc required to set up a 5L 'trial' setup. Some drilling, a bit of gaffa tape and a few boils of the kettle later and we had on:

White House Honey Ale: Having brewed up the White House Porter with Tom previously (which proved to be a very nice beer indeed) it seemed fitting to give the other recipe a punt and there wasnt much involved in 5L in terms of ingredients etc. This went as per the recipe again, stopping the sparge slightly short at the correct gravity resulting in approx 4.5L yield. Fermented in a Tesco's Ashbeck water 5L jug with Fermentis Belgian Yeast (dont ask me why, it seemed like a good idea at the time....) This was bottled yesterday and a reasonable american ale. Possibly overprimed following instructions for american pale beer - at only 4.5L it was worth a go.

That concluded Tom and I's day of brewing - tasting results to follow in a month or so.

Finally in terms of recent brews, following a trip to a pub in Dulwich with Tom himself handing me a pint of the excellent HeadInAHat Brewery 'Tommy Ipa' and explaining it was a pre-WW1 recipe the strange mixture of pale hoppy beer with full mouthfeel and a pleasant, but not terribly malty sweetness got me intrigued so i did some digging and happened upon what appears to be a similar recipe in:

Fullers 1914 AK - effectively an IPA in style this beer had the curious adjunct (at least to me) of flaked corn, but otherwise seemed to fit the bill. Having just put together the 5L mini-brew setup i figured it was worth a go. Lacking the necessary flaked corn, and the patience to order some i opted for coarse Polenta from the local World Foods shop. Fermented with So4  (sadly the Fullers yeast was not ready at this point) it went in to the bottle yesterday (via a rudimentary hop-back of a handful of hops in a sieve straining through to the bottling bucket, because, well, i was bottling and i'd forgotten to dryhop it days earlier) and this is possibly my most exciting prospect to date. Straight from the fermenter it tasted fantastic. Hopefully it will just get better! Proper write up to follow.

And thats it for now. Off home to brew a 5L batch of London Porter with Yeast from the ESB in the hope that it'll be drinkable for New Year!

Tasting notes for all of the above, sometime over Christmas i guess!

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