Thursday, 3 October 2013


as in, i'm back on it.

Unwittingly welcoming in one of the finest weekday evenings in weekday evening history, October second brought with it some serious brewing undertaking that while left dangerously incomplete, also saw the completion of a previous project - so i think that makes up for it.

With the moral, spiritual and physical assistance of Tom & Christine we set about;

Brewing 12 litres of 1896 AK (complete!)
This was hopped with home-grown Bramling Cross from my Mum & Stepdad (Colin)'s Garden.
Unfortunately due to late picking these were beginning to brown so this was an exercise in attempting to use some of them up before they're too far gone to be of any use, rather than anything calculated or sensible.
The thinking here was fairly straightforward - Colin likes AK. Colin likes the beers made with hops from his garden. So why not? Many excellent reasons, as it happens, not least the fact that homegrown hops are impossible to know the strength (alpha acid content) and so in taking a punt i could have overbittered to an unpalatable degree, something even more dangerous in a hop-heavy beer - but sometimes extremely low expectation can mean that even mediocre is pleasing. We will see!

5 Litres of Fullers OBE
Having tasted this Tuesday night Tom declared we have to make it (or maybe i declared it... who cares, we made it) Straight to the recipe and destined to be dumped on fullers yeast cake the hope is that a few bottles of this pretty serious beer can be shared around at Christmas....
Currently incomplete awaiting hopping although brought to boiling point to hopefully sterilise enough to last the overnight.

4/5 Litres of Chiswick/AK
I've noticed of late that my figures are totally off and im winding up with far more in the mash tun after brewing and overall slightly less of the original beer than desired. Part of this is my natural desire to brew more than my boiler can take (12L desired beer + 2L Boiloff + A ton of hops does not fit in a 14L Pot....), and part of it is the fact that my mash tun is so slow to drain the sparge that i often give up before its through. And then theres the fact my calculations are totally fucked and need some serious analysis. Anyway, the upshot is twice in a row now i've wound up with 4-5 Litres of extra beer at approx 3%.

In the case of the 1896 AK this is going to become a weaker version, hopefully not dissimilar to my beloved Fulllers Chiswick bitter. Previously though the extra wort has not been found until the next day, emitting a serious funk from 24 hour mashing. In this case it was hopped with (slightly younger) Bramling X to around 30 IBU's (estimated) and left to ferment on its own with wild yeast. Tom's been raving about Sour beer so hopefully it'll make him happy. Personally i'm a little scared to touch it.

Bottling a the Damson Beers

Not much to say about this part of the process other than recording the fact that each 5L batch was full of mushy damson gunk and had 20g of cane sugar added to it for secondary fermentation.

Heres a low down on initial tastings (mostly courtesy of Tom);
Mild - Slight sweetness, less roast flavour than expected but still relatively bitter. Not a lot of sour or fruit.
Porter - Similar to the above but bigger flavour - smelled almost like fruit wine, jet black with a purple hue.
Dregs - Possibly the most interesting of the lot (goddammit!) "fruit, sour, tart, sweetness" - says Tom.

Shall let them sit for a few weeks then tentatively try a couple, and maybe leave the rest til Christmas....

Other things of note; 2 successive weeks have seen the brewing of an attempted Sam Smiths Pale Ale 'clone' - involving some epic decoction to hopefully impart that toffee flavour and a slightly darker colour through caramelising the malt sugars
& substituting some Fuggles for Delta (Fuggles/Cascade hybrid). I'm not sure why i keep thinking that using Delta is a good idea, especially in a traditional english bitter, other than the fact the everytime i see the word i hear Paul Simon singing the line; 'shining like a national guitar', which brings back such awesome memories i can't help but feel entirely positive about the decision.

Its probably the reason that when coming to brew the next beer the same day as bottling the SSPA (and taking a sip thinking its bitterness was spot on) i decided it was a good idea to make a Delta 'IPA'. Modelled on EdWorts Haus Ale (with Munich instead of Vienna and Delta substituting all Cascade). Hopefully this'll be good.

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