Archive for April, 2014

BIAB#6 – “Santa’s Big Sack” Christmas Ale


This is a spur of the moment brew, not one I’d been planning to do at all. But I’m in the zone for brewing and aging some big beers at the moment. I’m very restricted on the amount I can boil on my hob, so I figured I’d do the “Basic Brewing” and make a 1 gallon batch. A Christmas beer is the perfect candidate; I’m curious to see what it tastes like in a few months time, but I know I’d never drink a beer like this in quantity.It was great to be doing a bit of “brew in a bag” again. Very simple method and a quick cleanup, but I think I prefer my mash tun.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 7.20 l
Post Boil Volume: 5.20 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 l
Bottling Volume: 3.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.089 SG
Estimated Color: 39.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 43.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.400 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 93.6 %
0.060 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 2.3 %
0.060 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 2.3 %
0.030 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 1.2 %
0.015 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 0.6 %
8 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 43.9 IBUs
0.13 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.25 tsp Mixed Spice, Ground (Boil 1.0 mins)
0.3 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
Mash Schedule: Bubbles Small Batch BIAB Mash
Total Grain Weight: 2.565 kg
Saccharification Add 8.77 l of water at 76.2 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Remove grains, and prepare to boil wort

Brew Day 26/04/2014 – A lot of work for 5 litres of beer, but this is one beer style I would not see myself drinking a lot of. Volumes were spot-on, with just a little over 5 litres into the fermenter. Sprinkled on the yeast and snapped on the lid. Great Christmas pudding aromas. Nice dark mahogany colour.

10/05/2014 – Got 8 bottles from the batch as expected. Primed with carb drops. Now we wait until Christmas!

AG#14 – Old Dawg American Barleywine


So much for 2014 being the year of the session beer! This is the second barleywine I’ve done in a week! 🙂

This was a spur of the moment brew, because I had a couple of bottles of yeast slurry from the Chasing Tail Pale Ale that I didn’t want to go to waste. I’ve wanted to do a barleywine for ages now, and I figure that if I’m getting my keg system on the go this summer, I’ll have plenty of bottles doing nothing. What better way to utilise them than to start off an archive of “stock” ales. I decided to using the Big Dawg Imperial Amber as the basis for this barleywine. I’ll be using the same amounts of specialty malts, but obviously the gravity will be much higher on this beer, which will necessitate a lot more base malt. The only substitution I’ll be making will be subbing the chocolate malt with the pale version. In order to fit in with style guidelines, I want to make sure I don’t get too much roastiness and keep the dark colour in check.


Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 26.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 96.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 71.8 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 5.1 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.6 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 1.9 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 0.6 %
0.050 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (591.0 EBC), 0.6 %
1.000 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC), 12.8 %
35 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 70.7 IBUs
0.350 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose), 4.5 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
30 g Cascade [9.20 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 8.5 IBUs
30 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 17.1 IBUs
71 g Cascade [9.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
22 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (500ml slurry from Chasing Tail Pale Ale)
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.800 kg
Mash In Add 18.06 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.30l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 20/04/2014 – Mashed at 67.8C, a bit higher than my intended target. But mashed for 90 minutes, and decided to leave the wort in two FVs for boiling the next morning. Wort is an amazing colour, and great aroma. Just a little bit of roast there. Can’t wait to layer some big American hop flavour on top of this monster of a beer.

Brew Day – 21/04/2014 – A LOT of trub into the fermenter. Think I used a good bit more Whirlfloc than usual and ended up with masses of cold break. So it all got stirred up when I was helping it through the hop blocker. I also had very little hops in the boiler because I was using two muslin bags. It might have back-fired on me doing this as there was no hops to filter the break material. Chilled to about 18C before pitching yeast and not only had fermentation kicked off with a few hours, but it’s threatening to escape the fermenter. I probably massively overpitched, but I’m hoping that won’t do any harm in a beer as big as this. Got about 18.5 litres at 1.092, just slightly higher OG than my intended target. Smells great, though I’m concerned about all that trub.

10/05/2014 – Was worried that the fermenter smelled too yeasty, so I took a sample out and tasted. Absolutely bonkers bitterness, massive resiny hop character. Plenty of American hop citrus there, but a little drowned out by the assault of bitterness. I’d planned on dry-hopping, but I didn’t have any Cascade and figured dry-hopping would add very little given the long aging period. Decided to bottle straight away. I had a batch priming solution ready to go and forgot about it! Racked straight into the bottles! So I used carb drops, which will not give the measured level of carbonation I expect these days, but hopefully it will come out well. One carb drop for each 500ml bottle. Got 22 x 500ml bottles from the batch. Recorded a FG of 1.020, which is an excellent level of attenuation, giving an ABV of 9.6%. Even though both my OG and FG figures were just slightly off, my intended ABV was spot-on in the end.

I also racked almost 5 litres into a demi-john and added 15g of American medium-toast oak chips. The oak chips had been sanitised by steaming in a colander for about 10 minutes. I was going to toss them in straight from the bag, but I chickened out. Probably a wise move. The smell from the oak chips was amazing. Can’t wait to do more experiments with oak. Will bottle the oaked version in about 2 weeks time.

13/09/2014 – Thought it might be a bit early for a sample of this, but already it tastes absolutely fantastic. So much for cellaring this, I can’t see it lasting too long. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be dark enough because I subbed the chocolate malt with pale chocolate, but the colour is perfect. Amazing blend of toasty malt and hops. No hot alcohols, but there’s no mistake that it’s a barleywine you’re drinking. I had a bottle of 2011 Bigfoot during the week and the quality of this home brew is right up there with one of the best commercial examples of the style. Very pleased.

18/09/2014 – Opened a bottle of this at a meet this evening which was a little disappointing due to the fact that it was under-carbonated. The low carbonation makes the beer more sweet and cloying. It also lessens the hop impact a bit too. I hope they’re not all like this one! Definitely going to do a re-brew of this in the next few months.

02/11/2014 – Extremely disappointed to find that the oaked version of this beer is absolutely flat as a pancake! And the heartbreaking thing is that the flavour is amazing, at least as far as I can tell in a completely flat beer. The level of oak is really good, and melds well with the hop and dark malt flavours. I don’t really want to just chuck this batch away, so I’m going to attempt to re-seed and maybe even re-carb the oaked portion of the barleywine batch, as well as some of the regular, unoaked barleywine.

24/02/2015 – Quick update on this. Great recipe, great beer, but woefully under carbonated. The key to doing a barleywine like this is getting a good level of carbonation to make the body seem lighter. I ended up dumping all of the oaked batch, because it wasn’t carbonated at all. I’ve dumped a lot of the regular barleywine too – it’s alright for a few sips but quickly becomes overwhelming because of the low carbonation. I think I have a couple of bottle left though, which I’ll use to plan a re-brew of this recipe.

AG#13 – “South Dublin Brewers” English Barleywine


Time to re-fill our oak cask with some English barleywine. Post written by myself below:

After lots and lots of discussion last night in the DH, most of the signed-up barrel contributors (Bubbles, Shanna, Rossa, Brewtus, David, Cathal, Beerfly, Shiny) have agreed on a rather unique strategy for our second fill of the barrel. We’re going to brew an English barleywine, but instead of striving to achieve consistency across everyone’s batches, we’re going to do exactly the opposite…

Everyone who wants to contribute will brew an English barleywine to his own recipe. After fermentation and conditioning, the beers will be rack to our rinsed out barrel and aged for as long as it takes to extract the oak flavors. The recipes will be unique and our finished beer will certainly be unique. A real collaboration of brewers.

So, to summarize what was discussed and (mostly) agreed last night..

While the recipes will be individual and designed according to each brewers vision, there are certain things which can’t be changed. The original gravity, bitterness and yeast strain will be standard across all batches. We’re going to shoot for an OG of 1.100 (targeting an FG of 1.024 and an ABV of just over 10%), and an IBU of 63. Yeast will be Nottingham with a recommended pitch of 2-3 sachets, depending on batch size. Mash temp 66C to keep the wort reasonably fermentable.

The grain bill should be around 95% English pale ale malt and no more than 6% crystal malt. We can also sub a small percentage of the pale malt for toasted malts – pale chocolate, amber, brown, biscuit. If using roasted malts like chocolate malt or roasted barley, we should keep the additions very small.

Flavour hops should be strictly English varieties, though we can use a high-alpha American variety for bittering, as long as it’s a clean bittering hop, something like Magnum.

By the way, the target gravities, bitterness, grain bill percentages above are based on Jamil’s English Barleywine in Brewing Classic styles.

You don’t have to come up with your recipe independently, if you think you need guidance on your own brew, just shout on the forum. In any case, I think it’s a good idea to post the recipes on the forum before brewing so that we make sure we’re all on the right track.

There was a discussion last night around the use of extract. I know my own mash tun might not cope with the amount of grain for a recipe like this, so I’ll certainly be a using a portion of extract to bump the gravity up.

Below is a modified version of Jamil’s recipe which I punched into BeerSmith. It would be good to use this as a reference. My recipe is a lot hoppier, which I think is advisable in order to protect the beer against any nasties.

None of this is set in stone, by any means. I’m just trying to put a bit of shape on last night’s discussions. So please respond with any suggestions/corrections you have.


Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 26.96 l
Post Boil Volume: 24.96 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 21.00 l
Bottling Volume: 19.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.100 SG
Estimated Color: 37.1 EBC
Estimated IBU: 73.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
6.500 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 71.0 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 4.4 %
0.150 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 1.6 %
1.600 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC), 17.5 %
0.500 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 EBC), 5.5 %
40 g Magnum [10.70 %] – Boil 90.0 min, 49.0 IBUs
40 g Challenger [8.10 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 18.9 IBUs
40 g Goldings, East Kent [6.50 %] – Boil 10.0, 5.4 IBUs
2.0 pkg Nottingham (Danstar #-) [23.66 ml]

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 9.150 kg
Mash In Add 19.74 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.78l) of 77.0 C water

13/04/2014 Brew Day – Was surprised at how dark the wort turned out for this. Really dark… the word ‘mahongany’ springs to mind. I got a higher mash temperature than I wanted, around 68C. But I was aware of how big the grain bill was compared to what I normally do, so I figured I should add the grain when the strike water was a bit hotter. I shouldn’t have bother really. I was worried that my mash tun wouldn’t be able to handle the large amount of grain, but it coped just fine. I think it could handle at least another kilo of grain next time. even though I was doing a slightly larger batch than usual, I got much more wort than expected, 23 litres, but at a reduced gravity of 1.096. Hopefully I’ll have a few bottles to put aside for myself and still have 19 litres to go into the communal barrel. Used hop bags for the Challenger and EKG additions, so I didn’t have any trouble running off into the fermenter. Might explain my higher than usual volume into FV. I’d forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to deal with malt extract, horrible, sticky stuff that it is. Rehydrated 2 sachets of Notty in some tap water. It will have its work cut out!

01/05/2014 – Racked to corny for transportation to the South Dublin clubhouse. Measured FG of 1.019, which equates to 10.3% ABV. I also got 4 33cl bottles as a little brewers bonus. So I put a Cooper’s carb in each and capped the bottles. Will stick them away for a year or so.

03/05/2014 – Roughly 217 litres of English barleywine rackedto the barrel. Everyone’s looking and tasting a little different, but all English barleywines nonetheless. Can’t wait to taste this in a years time, give or take a couple of months. Long-term aging like this will smoothen out the hot alcohols and the oak will impart some great flavours hopefully.

AG#12 – Bad Landlord Special Bitter


The goal of this beer is to make a beer reminiscent of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. Landlord is probably my favourite English beer and it’s a popular choice for homebrewers doing clone recipes. I’ve scoured the internet and come up with this recipe. It relies heavily of Scottish Golden Promise base malt, as does the commercial beer. I’ve only got 3 kg of Golden Promise though, so I’ll be supplementing the grist with some Maris Otter. There’s no crystal malt in the recipe, which is a first for me in an English ale. There’s also a little wheat malt in there, just for head retention. Hopping will be generous – lots of EKG, Fuggles and Styrian Goldings.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 8.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 33.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.000 kg Pale Malt, Golden Promise (5.0 EBC) Grain 1 61.9 %
1.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (4.8 EBC) Grain 2 26.8 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 3 6.2 %
0.250 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC) Dry Extract 4 5.2 %
22 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 13.8 IBUs
17 g East Kent Goldings [6.90 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 6 15.6 IBUs
15 g East Kent Goldings [6.90 %] – Boil 15.0 Hop 7 4.0 IBUs
25 g Styrian Goldings [3.60 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) (400ml of slurry from Tailgunner Bitter)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.850 kg
Mash In Add 12.88 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 17.63l) of 77.0 C water

Brew Day 06/04/2014 – Mash temp 67C. Wort is really pale. Had a stuck mash and couldn’t get much of a run-off, so I had to stir and re-float the grain bed. It worked bu got a disappointing volume of wort and topped up with water. I measured my pre-boil gravity and naturally was coming in a few points below my target, so I added just a bit of DME to make up the loss. I didn’t do any calculations on the amount of DME to use. I didn’t take an OG reading, or at least, I didn’t record one…

08/04/2014 – I knew there was something wrong when I walked into the room and got a massive bang of sulphur! I didn’t think the English ale yeasts threw out sulphur like that, but it seems the temperature was just too low. I took a temperature reading of 17.4C, not especially low, but a little below WhiteLabs’ recommended range of 18.4-20C for this strain. Moved it to a warmer room and just a few hours later the temperature had risen to just over 19C. It seems a bit more active also. Hopefully that sulphur aroma will fade out with some vigorous fermentation for a couple of days.

27/04/2014 – Bottled with 120g corn sugar (17.5 vol @ 2.6 vol). Got 34 bottles from the batch.

04/09/2014 – I’m really disappointed with the lack of notes on this beer. It turned out really good, probably the best English bitter I’ve done to date. I think the difference, apart from the liquid ale yeast, is the generous quantities of hops I put in the brew. I milled through most of this beer just before the summer but I haven’t really been keeping an eye on what’s in the cellar over the summer months, so I was surprised to see a few bottles of this left. I can’t believe they’ve held up so well being stored in a hot shed over the course of the summer. It’s very crisp, low-moderate head retention, good carbonation, gold in colour, and the hop flavour is still there. I might stash a couple of bottles to put in the competition next year as I don’t have anything else “English” to enter. Will do this recipe again. I’m not sure how much of a “clone” recipe it is, but it’s a satisfying bitter. It’s a source of much online speculation as to how TT get the dark colour in Landlord. Some people speculate it’s through the use of caramel, though others disagree. A lot of home brewers use a small charge of black malt or chocolate malt to darken the wort, and I think that is what I’d do next time. Though at the moment, it’s hard to see me changing anything about the recipe as it makes a fantastic golden bitter as it is.

23/10/2014 – I remember drinking this during the summer and being quite taken with it, but if anything I think it’s improved even more. It’s a revelation really – that a single malt variety could bring so much character to a beer. Is the Golden Promise malt solely responsible for the fantastic flavour, or would I get the same quality from a good Maris Otter malt? The beer is a beautiful pale colour, and still plenty of hop bitterness and flavour there to balance the malt. I was a bit ambivalent about the series of English bitters I did earlier in the year, but my realisation of how good this beer is has changed my mind. Definitely a re-brew of this needed, with perhaps a little pinch of choocolate malt to adjust the colour and make it more “Landlord” like. The challenge will be getting my hands on Golden Promise malt. It’s not available in any of the shops at the moment, even in the UK. Though it is probably only available at certain times of the year.

24/11/2014 – Still tastes pretty decent. Though I’m not sure it could be deemed a blonde ale or a summer bitter, as it’s a bit darker than I remember. Good flavour, but perhaps not as medal winner.

18/12/2014 – Drank the last bottle of this and while it has possibly faded a bit, it still tastes good. I’d love to have a keg of this on the go. Might have another attempt at this with the WLP005 I have in the fridge.

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