Archive for December, 2013

AG#7 – Yo-leven India Pale Ale


I’m not going to be able to do the “Yo-leven” Double IPA recipe for the forthcoming NHC competition as it takes too long to condition and it might not be tasting it’s best when the judging rolls around. So I’ve decided to do a slightly scaled-down version instead and I’ll be entering it in the competition as an American IPA, rather than the Double/Imperial designation. I’ll be dropping the ABV to 6.6%, but I’ll be attempting to keep that huge American hop character.

  • Vienna Malt – I’m including a significant portion of Vienna malt in the grist, which should add a toasty aroma to the beer. Vienna is reputed to be a large component in Odells IPA, one of my favourite examples of the style.
  • CaraMalt – this time I’m using all CaraMalt which is the lightest crystal malt I can get. I want the sweetness and body from the crystal but I want slightly less  caramel flavour than C40 would give. My theory is that this might make the Vienna malt more prominent.
  • Bittering – Even though I’m increasing the gravity, I’ve reduced the bittering hops slightly to give me 55 calculated  IBUs. The last attempt was just slightly too bitter for the gravity, according to my notes. But I’m adding a huge amount of flameout hops this time, which will contribute some considerable bitterness, despite what the brew software says. For that reason, I need to be a little restrained with the “calculated” IBUs.
  • Hop Replacement – I’m going for an all-out tropical fruit bomb assault this time. Mostly Citra and Amarillo, with some Centennial for good measure.


Boil Size: 25.38 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.065 SG
Estimated Color: 14.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 54.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 58.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 67.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.100 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 74.5 %
1.000 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC), 14.6 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (29.6 EBC), 6.6 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.4 %
13 g Centennial [10.90 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 20.5 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 14.3 IBUs
50 g Citra [14.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 19.5 IBUs
50 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Centennial [10.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
40 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
60 g Citra [14.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.850 kg
Mash In           Add 19.18 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 13.56l) of 77.0 C water


29/12/2013  – Mash temperature of 67.7°C. I used hop bags for my 100g addition of Centennial and Amarillo and was surprised to see that the bags still held a lot of the hop material, despite them being pellets. Added the 50g Citra addition at 80°C. Didn’t make much of a difference anyway, as I had the same issues separating the wort from the hops as I had during my last two brew days. Got an OG slightly over my target, which is my first all-grain batch to do so. I got a lot of break material in the fermenter because I had to scrape the bazooka screen of pellet hops to get the wort through it. All should be good though, got 19l of wort. Pitched about 400ml of US-05 slurry from “Pie-O-My” and it was fermenting like mad by the next morning.

03/01/2014 – Brought the fermenter into a warmer room as it looks like the vigorous fermentation has finished. The warmer temperature will ensure the beer is fully attenuated.

04/01/2014 – I’ve only got Amarillo hops in pellet form, so I was undecided about dry-hopping with them. The last thing I want is a crapload of green sludge in my beer when I decide to bottle it. In the end I decided to throw caution to the wind. I put 40g Amarillo hops in a muslin bag, weighted with marbles as usual, the added to the fermenter.

05/01/2014 – No sludge appeared in the end, great aroma. Nice fizzing action, even though nearly all of the kreusen has dropped. Will leave for a few days before racking to secondary and dry-hopping with a load of Citra hops.

10/01/2014 – Dry-hopped with 60g of Citra hops after racking to secondary fermenter. No flecks of pellet hops in the beer as far as I can make out. It’s a pity that the Citra hops I have are 2011 harvest. Will leave a few days before bottling.

14/01/2014 – Bottled using 130g of dextrose (17l @ 2.6 vol). Beer smells absolutely amazing so I have very high hopes for this one. I was just a few slugs short on the last bottle I filled and I couldn’t bear to throw it out, so I used a sanitised baster to pick up the last of the beer from the bottling bucket. I also had to resort to using some of the beer that had drained out of the dry-hop bag into a bowl!! Feck it. Got 33 bottles from the batch.

31/01/2014 – Far too soon to be tasting, of course, but reasonably promising. Good tropical fruit flavours, with plenty of dankness. The level of crystal sweetness seems a little over the top. Can’t help thinking that this is the flavour I should be tasting in the “Pie-O-My”, but isn’t there… Head retention decent, very hazy, but will benefit from another 4 weeks conditioning before competition.

18/01/2014 – Very nice! The flavours have smoothened out a little and it’s lost it’s harshness, leaving room from the tropical fruit flavours from the hops to shine through. I do think it’s a bit caramelly for an IPA though. I’d probably reduce the C15 next time. I think it will score reasonably well in the competition, provided the judge likes IPAs at the sweeter end of the scale.

26/02/2014 – Amazing!

AG#6 – Diabolus in Lupulus Imperial Amber Ale


My goal with this beer is to make the most insanely hoppy beer I can, to really push the envelope with regard to hop flavour and aroma.  It’s somewhat inspired by Arrogant Bastard in that it will be a big, hoppy red ale, though without the huge levels of bitterness that the Stone beer has. I like the idea of prominently featuring the Chinook hop, the same hop used in AB, but I’m also going to supplement it with huge amounts of my old favourite, Cascade. I’m going to use the same levels of gravity and bittering units that I used in my Big Dawg Imperial Amber in order to achieve a good balance. And I’ll be doing massive late additions and dry-hopping in order to achieve the BIG American hop flavour and aroma. My plan at the moment is to use 300g of kettle hops in my standard 19 litre batch. I’ll be using three fresh, unopenened packs of pellets and I’m planning on doing the flameout additions in stages – doing a ‘hop stand’ and adding a fresh charge when the chilling wort hits 80C. This will hopefully capture lots of the volatile hop oils and give the beer several different levels of aroma and flavour. I’ll also be doing two separate dry-hop additions.

I’ll doing something a little wacky with the yeast this time. I’m planning on doing a mixed-strain fermentation with WLP007 and US-05. I really like the flavour of the WLP007 – it really accentuates the malt flavours in a beer, but I can’t seem to get a good level of attenuation from it, probably because I’m not fermenting at a high enough temperature. Even though it’s supposed to be a “dry” English ale yeast. So I’m going to add a sachet of US-05, which will theoretically chew up the last of the sugars left by the WLP007, leaving a much drier ale behind. The English yeast should kick off first, because it’s in the form of yeast slurry left over from a previous beer, and the dry-pitched US-05 should ramp up 24 laters later and do it’s job. That’s my theory anyway, I hope it works out.

However, I don’t want to take any precautions with the attenuation, just in case my yeast experiment doesn’t work, so I’ll be adding a small percentage of corn sugar to the kettle. To keep the beer dry and drinkable.

With two yeast strains and almost a pound of hops, this is going to be one expensive little brew!


Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.072 SG
Estimated Color: 33.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 75.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 70.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.700 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.1 %
0.400 kg Caramunich Malt (120.0 EBC), 5.7 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.3 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.1 %
0.150 kg  Special B Malt (400.0 EBC), 2.1 %
0.025 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 0.4 %
15 g Chinook [13.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 28.2 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 28.5 IBUs
0.300 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 15 min], 4.3 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.2 IBUs
25 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 8.1 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) (400ml unwashed slurry from Pork Chop Porter)
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

25 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

68 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
32 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge

Total Grain Weight: 7.025 kg
Mash In           Add 18.83 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.28l) of 77.0 C water


23/12/2013 – Mash temperature 68C. I thought the wort looked a little light in colour, so I decided on the spur of the moment to add a little cap of roasted barley, just to drive up the red colour a bit. I’m not sure it made a huge amount of difference – it definitely doesn’t look as red as the Buckshot Flag ale did. Got a bad result with an actual OG of 1068. Had an absolute nightmare trying to “lauter” the wort from the huge amount of trub and pellet hops. But after my last brew, at least I was expecting difficulties with this. I got my 19l of wort but I got a LOT of trub into the fermenter. Pitched about 400ml of wlp007 slurry along with a sachet of US-05.

24/12/2013 – I was expecting some activity from this morning but it was looking pretty dead. Perhaps a little white foam just starting. I thought the WLP007 slurry would have started this off very quickly. A good job I added the sachet of US-05. A decent layer of kreusen by evening time though. Great hoppy and dark caramel smell.

26/12/2013 – Thinking about it, it’s possible that the WLP007 hasn’t done anything and the reason it took 24 hours to kick off was just the US-05 ramping up. I guess I’ll know from the flavour when it’s finished.

27/12/2013 – Fermentation seems to have completed. Dry-hopped with 25g of Cascade and 25g of Chinook.

28/12/2013 – Still plenty of bubbling going on. I noticed the aroma from the fermenter was quite different from my usual American ales, and I’ve just put my finger on it. It’s the WLP007. I originally thought it was just the darker caramel malts in the recipe, but it’s more distinctive than that.

01/01/2014 – I was going to rack to secondary in order to do a second dry hop (there’s a LOT of trub in the fermenter, and I don’t want the beer sitting on it for any longer than is necessary) but there’s still a steady stream of bubbles breaking the surface. I’ll leave it another day or two before racking and dry-hopping with more Cascade and Chinook.

02/01/2014 – Still a few bubbles coming through the surface, but I figured it was just off-gassing CO2? I took a gravity reading of 1.012 which would imply that it’s finished, so I decided to rack to secondary and do the dry-hop. I used 68g of Cascade and 32g of Chinook…. This is either going to be a fantastic success or an unmitigated disaster…

05/01/2014 – Moved back to the colder room as I was concerned that that kitchen was getting too warm. Will bottle in a few days.

08/01/2014 – Bottled using 125g of dextrose (17l @ 2.6 vol). In actual fact I got closer to 16 litres from the batch, due to the losses from the big dry hops. The beer definitely has potential, though I’m a little unsure about it. It smells like an English beer, big malt aromas – not the huge punch American hops you’d expect. However, the resiny hop flavour certainly comes through the malt. On subsequent sips, I was actually reminded of Arrogant Bastard! Strange to get so close when the malt bill is quite a bit different. I’ll definitely be doing a side-by-side tasting of AB when this has fully conditioned. Not the red colour I wanted, though a good strong amber colour. Taste is good, but I’m not getting the hop assault I expected. Hopefully it will become more apparent when it’s fully carbed and conditioned. Got 31 bottles from the batch.

31/01/2014 – First taste and it’s pretty damn good. Though, it still tastes young. The yeast doesn’t seem to have compacted in the bottle though, which is quite worrying. The first thing that strikes you is the HUGE head forming on the beer. Thick, compacted, silky head. Massive hop aroma. Big citrus. Very hazy. Tastes a little immature, but there’s plenty of sweetness to balance the hop bitterness. Very promising – eagerly anticipating what another 4 weeks aging does to this beer. Catty, funky, dank, fruity. Feck, this could be very good.

11/03/2014 – The flavours have mollowed quite considerably in this now, and in a good way. The prominent grassiness has faded a lot, and there’s some nice candy-like caramel sweetness in the background. Still excellent head retention and massive hop nose. Hoppiness carries through on the flavour, with intense American hop character. Great balance of malt and hop bitterness. Not sure I’d do the “Diabolus” like this again though. I think next time I’d like to do it with some roasted barley for colour and lots of caramalt. The hops are spot-on though. As it’s improved so much, I’m now really interested to see how it scores in the competition.

21/03/2014 – Nothing new to report, except to say that the malts and hops in this beer have mellowed and mingled into a rather fantastic drop. Not an every day beer, admittedly; it’s insanely hoppy. Bitter too, but still very well balanced. I still maintain that I’ll take a different approach with this next time. I think I’d get a better result by doing an “Imperial” version of my “Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale”, but with huge amounts of American hops. It would at least have that “devilish” colour that I’m after with this beer.

AG#5 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale


This is my fourth attempt at my American amber ale, “Pie-O-My”. I don’t think I’ve done any beer style before that has always fallen so far of the mark. My previous attempts have always tasted closer to a pale ale at the amber end of the spectrum, rather than a fully-fledged, caramelly amber ale. Though I’m not really one for doing clone recipes, I suppose what I’ve been shooting for is something like Brewdog’s “5am Saint”. It was one of the first American-style ales I tasted and more than any other beer is probably the one that got me started with craft beer and home brewing.

This recipe attempt has some dark caramel malts (just 125g of crystal 100) in addition to the last grain bill I used. I’ve also used some more wheat malt this time. Plus, this attempt will be fully all-grain.

I’ll be hopping things up fairly aggressively – using a lot of Amarillo, Columbus & Nelson Sauvin. They’re expensive hop varieties, but I want to emulate that 5am Saint taste. I’ll also be doing two separate dry-hops, using Cascade, Centennial, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe.


Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 15.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.950 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 68.4 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 8.7 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 6.9 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 6.9 %
0.250 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 4.3 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 2.6 %
0.125 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (100.0 SRM),  2.2 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.7 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 6.7 IBUs
10 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.8 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 7.9 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 5.6 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale US-05 (400ml of slurry from November Irish Red Ale)
20 g Cascade [6.90 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.775 kg
Mash In           Add 16.17 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 15.99l) of 77.0 C water

16/12/2013 Brew Day – Largely uneventful brew day but I came in 3 points under-gravity again. I think the boil-off volume is not as high as was configured in my BeerSmith, so I’ll have to reduce that slightly and see if it makes a difference. The mash water was 78.7°C after transfer to mash tun so I had to cool that down by lifting jugs of the water out of the MT and pouring it back in. Took a few minutes, but I settled on a strike temperature of 74.5°C. After doughing in, the mash temperature was at 67°C, a degree lower than I was shooting for. I screwed up my sparge water temperature yet again! The water measured 92°C in the boiler and I put the lid on a left a few mins while I got my first runnings. When I transferred the water for batch sparging, the temperature of the grain bed was only at 73.5°C, not the 77°C I wanted.

The Nelson Sauvin hops smelled amazing and are very reminiscent of BrewDog beers. It was great fun weighing out those huge hop additions. I allowed 60g of the three hop varieties to stand for nearly 10 minutes before starting the chiller and then added another 60g once the temperature of the cooling wort had hit 80°C. My new dial thermometer, which had been in the boil all along, came in really handy for this.

I had some serious difficulties draining the boiler with all that hop pellet material. The wort was barely trickling out and had completely blocked up the bazooka screen when it got to the 10 litre mark. I was forced to scrape the bazooka screen with a paddle to keep the wort flowing out of the boiler. In the end I got 19l of horrible murky wort with far too much break material in it. I hope it won’t have an effect on the flavour. It was a good job I’d decided to run the wort off into a sieve as it was full of crud.

I brought the bucket straight to the fermentation room as it’s colder in there and I want the American ale yeast to be very clean on this beer. Big fermentation going on this morning when I checked. The smell from the fermenter is great. Will leave two weeks before dry-hopping. I might even do a transfer to secondary this time so that I can re-use the yeast in an IPA.

22/12/2013 – Kreusen has dropped completely though there’s still a bit of bubbling going. Dry-hopped with 20g of Cascade and 20g of Centennial. The hops didn’t smell particularly aromatic but I used them anyway. I’ll dry-hop for about 5 days before removing the hop bag and replacing with a fresh dry-hop.

27/12/2013 – I need the yeast from this batch for a pale ale/IPA that I’m planning on doing in a couple days. I racked to a secondary fermenter (it’s been ages, years, since I employed a secondary) and I did a fresh dry hop of 25g Nelson Sauvin and and 50g of Simcoe. That brings this batch of beer up to 345g of hops! I hope it’s worth it. I’ll leave the beer for another 5 days before bottling.

28/12/2013 – I had a taste yesterday from the trial jar. While it was very promising, it had a very sharp, harsh, resiny bitterness that had me worried for a moment. I’ve figured it’s just the dry-hop and those flavours will settle out as the beer conditions.

01/01/2014 – Bottled with 125g of dextrose (17l at 2.7 vol). Even at this early stage, the taste of the beer is absolutely amazing. Huge fruity hops. The colour and malt profile are absolutely spot-on. Very like 5am Saint. It’s a bit resiny, but you’d expect that after just pulling a huge sack of hops out of it. Got 10 x 750ml bottles and 17 x 500ml bottles (gold cap).

18/01/2014 – Not very long in the bottle, but I fancied something hoppy and couldn’t resist opening a bottle. Really good. Certainly as close to 5am as I’ve ever been. From memory, the grain character is spot-on and the hops even more so. Though I think the original is fruitier and mine is more dank. This is probably down the Columbus hops I used, which 5am does not have. The grassiness will age out though, and this should taste amazing in a few weeks time. Might row back just slightly on the C100 next time. Very promising. The dry-hop character is absolutely perfect.

22/02/2014 – Not too sure how close it is. I’ve got a cold at the moment, and my smellers and tasters are a little out of whack. That didn’t stop me trying to do a side-by-side tasting with 5am Saint. The first thing that strikes you is how clear the 5am is compared to the homebrewed version. The aroma in the 5am is not as dank as my version either. The same goes for the flavour, more fruitiness in the 5am Saint, and a lot less of that grassy character. Don’t get me wrong the home brew is still pretty damn good, but it still doesn’t compare to the homebrewed version. One thing that struck me about the commercial beer was the clean, grainy flavour in it. I’ve tasted this grain character in Galway Hooker before, and that uses an English C60 malt. I think I’ll replace the C75 with the C60 (not a huge difference in colour, I know, but it’s likely to be from a different maltster). I’ll also have to omit the Columbus hops this time, as they are surely contributing to the dank, grassy character in the “Pie-O-My”.

07/03/2014 – Colour-wise, there’s not much in it, with the homebrew half a shade darker. The 5am is a little bit more red in colour and unlike the homebrew which is a good deal murkier. Great head formation in both. With the Pie O My there’s a bit of dankness, cattiness even, creeping through on the aroma. The flavour whos huge differences between the beers, with the 5am being fruitier. The Pie has a lot more body and sweetness, but you’d expect that as there’s 0.8% more alcohol in the home brew. More fruit flavours in the 5am. It’s funny, I have fond memories of the way 5am Saint used to be and if you gave me both beers in a blind tasting, I might even say that the home brew was in fact, 5am Saint. In my memory, 5am is more caramelly and hoppy than it currently is. I do think the recipe has changed considerably over the last few years.

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