Archive for July, 2014

TC#6 – Spiced Applewine

Had a good 500ml of cider left over after bottling the teabag cider so added 250g corn sugar, 1 level tsp wine tannin, 400ml Suma organic concentrated apple juice, approx 2.5 litres Lidl apple juice and 750ml bottled water. And 2 cloves! Shook to aerate and left the yeast to do its thing. I wasn’t going to take a gravity reading, but thought better of it. A surprisingly low 1.062. But then, the wine yeast will ferment out all of the sugar so it will still end up with a pretty high ABV.

21/07/2014 – I can’t believe this thing is still bubbling! Still flying. I was thinking of racking to secondary and adding some oak chips.

27/07/2014 – Still going! Slowed down a lot, but still the odd bubble going through the airlock.

10/08/2014 – Bottled into 750ml swingtop bottles with two carb drops each, apart from a single bottle which has only one carb drop. I ran out! got 5 bottles from the batch. It’s so clear, looks fantastic. You can taste the alcohol, but it’s still pretty dry and sharp. I doubt I will be opening the first bottle of this within the next 6 months. I had it bottled before I remembered that I was going to oak this batch! Ah well, next time.

23/08/2014 – Unrelated to this particular brew, but I was reading recently that the Lalvin 71B yeast is a good strain for absorbing malic acid. Probably a good strain for doing future turbo ciders. Will crack a bottle of this open at Xmas time and warm it with some spices and maybe a little brandy.. Wassail!

24/12/2014 – Cracked open the first bottle of this in order to do some mulled cider. Had a taste beforehand and it’s pretty potent stuff. I’m not sure if I’d be keen on drinking this straight up. The mulled version was really excellent though. I did a bottle of applewine with fresh root ginger, sliced apple, clove, star anise and a splash of brandy. Brought up to temperature then knocked the heat off and left to infuse for 10 minutes. Then brought back up to temperature before serving. Really delicious but nearly knocked me off my feet. 🙂

AG#17 – “Hard Rain” Dubbel


Sitting here after a rather stressful brew day, sipping on a glass of the Westmalle. It’s not like I remember it; it’s much drier than I expected it to be. Surprising too how highly carbonated it is. Plenty of that raisin flavour going on. Though from my memory, I think I might prefer the Chimay! It’s got more fruitiness which I think complements that raisin character in dubbels. The goal for this recipe is to make what would be considered a classic Dubbel. I’ve used the Zainasheff recipe, with only some very minor adjustments. I’ll be using Saaz for the bittering addition, because it’s used in a lot of Belgian beers and I have plenty in stock.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.90 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.063 SG
Estimated Color: 48.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 25.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


4.300 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC), 69.4 %
0.450 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 7.3 %
0.250 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.0 %
0.225 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC), 3.6 %
0.225 kg Caramunich Malt (110.3 EBC), 3.6 %
0.225 kg Special B Malt (400.0 EBC), 3.6 %
0.300 kg Candi Sugar, Dark (541.8 EBC), 4.8 %
0.225 kg Corn Sugar (0.0 EBC),  3.6 %
37 g Saaz [4.80 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 25.8 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)

10 g Coriander Seed, Boil 5 mins
1.0 pkg Trappist Ale (White Labs #WLP500) (400ml slurry from Patersbier)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.200 kg
Mash In           Add 15.89 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 18.19l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 05/07/2014 – Mashed in at a temperature of just underd 72C. Mash temperature settled at 65.8C, so not too far off my target of 65C. Got my usual pre-boil volume of 25 litres and then I realised I hadn’t adjusted my pre-boil volume for a 90 minute boil! So I just made the change and BeerSmith and added some top-up water to account for the bigger evaporation loss.

Boil Day 06/07/2014 – Bit of a disaster. Just set up the boil outside and the torrential rain started. I used the patio parasol to cover the boiler and it did a pretty good job, so I was just too wary of it. So I split the wort into two buckets again, and moved the whole operation inside. Pain in the ass boiling inside, can’t believe I did it for so long. Wiping down condensation and the rest of it. I need to plan these brew days around the weather in future. I also had a nightmare separating the wort from the trub and hop material. The bazooka screen clogged almost immediately again and I had to resort to use a paddle to get the wort through the bazooka. The net effect of that is lots of trub in the fermenter, which I really did not want on this beer. Pity, the beer was sparkling otherwise.

Pitched the slurry and snapped on an airlock this time, as the weather is too warm at the moment and I don’t want to take the risk of things getting under the lid and into my beer. Started off the fermentation cool, but might move to a warmer room later. Will take a temperature reading tomorrow and decide.

At least my gravity was as expected!!

07/07/2014 – Bubbling away like mad.

10/07/2014 – Bubbling has slowed down a good bit now.

20/07/2014 – Racked about 4.5 litres along with 235ml of concentrated sour cherry juice to a demi-john. Just eyeballed it really. Also bottled with 127g of corn sugar (13.5l at 3.2 vol). Got 11 x 500ml, 1 x 330ml and 9 x 750ml bottles. Great aroma.

10/08/2014 – Bottled into 500ml bottles (8 bottles with 2 carb drops each). I’ve never put 2 carb drops into a 500ml bottle before, so I hope it will be alright. But I wanted a good level of carbonation in this Belgian beer. I was really curious to have my first taste of this. It’s a little too sour, I think. There’s a decent cherry flavour, but the sourness is too much. Though maybe the sourness will diminish over time. It’s incredibly clear in the bottle though.

13/08/2014 – I checked these bottles this morning and the sugar still lying at the bottom of the bottle. Did i age it with the cherry juice for too long so that all of the yeast dropped out? Or did the recent hot weather kill the ale yeast altogether. Either way, I might end up having to reseed these bottles.

22/08/2014 – I normally wouldn’t be opening a bottle of homemade Belgian beer so soon after bottling, but this particular bottle has been in the fridge ‘lagering’ for the last 3 weeks or so. It’s extremely promising, and far too drinkable, even at this early stage. It’s got a little too much banana esters at the moment and the alcohol level just slightly too hot. But more than happy with this, should be tasting fantastic in another month.

31/08/2014 – Had the single 330ml bottle that I filled with this beer. And poured it into my new Chimay glass. Tastes really good, though I think I got a little too much yeast from the bottom of the bottle though. The bottle hadn’t been in the fridge long too. Might explain why the carbonation wasn’t quite as lively as I expected. Still good, though.

23/09/2014 – Tasted my first bottle of the cherry version, and as I feared, it is woefully under-carbonated. Only the quietest of hisses when I popped the cap on the bottle. I do have the option of re-seeding the few bottles I have with some US-05 but for 6 or 7 bottles, is it really worth it? more importantly, I’m not sure if I like the beer enough to go to that effort. But maybe I’d like it more if there was some lively carbonation. There’s a nice cherry flavour there, but lots of acidity that will only become more apparent if the residual priming sugar is fermented out by the US-05. Probably not worth it..

16/11/2014 – I’m not sure I like this. It was definitely the beer in my 2014 Belgian series that I was expecting to like the most, but it’s just not doing it for me. The carbonation is probably a bit lower than it should be, but the head formation is really poor. Barely a finger of foam when first poured, which gradually dies away, especially if not in a nucleated glass. It seems really attenuated and too dry to me, but maybe this is a good thing? I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the Westmalle Dubbel the last time I had it, so I think I’ll do a side-by-side tasting with a commercial beer to see how the home brew stacks up.

09/01/2015 – Did a side by side tasting with a bottle of Chimay Red

TC#5 – Very Berry Turbo Cider


Added 1 tsp of pectolase and 4 tsp Splenda to demi-john before adding 3 litres of cold apple juice. Shook vigorously to aerate and dissolve the sweetener. Added 400g of frozen and thawed mixed berries. Just pushed them through a funnel using a racking cane. Added yeast slurry from my Simple Turbo Cider and topped up with more apple juice. Colour is great but the fruit pulp floating in it looks a bit scary!

05/07/2014 – Given the demi-john the odd little shake over the last couple of days and the colour is great. A really intense red colour. All the colour seems to have leaked out of some of the berries (the blackcurrants?) and into the cider. Will have to rack this away from the fruit pulp and sediment and give it a couple of weeks clearing time. Not much sign of it clearing at the moment, so I’m wondering if the pectolase is doing its job.

20/07/2014 – Bottled with carb drops. Got 5 x 750ml and 1 x 500ml bottles from the batch. Bit sharp and acidic as all the others have been, but a great berry flavour.

02/11/2014 – I opened a bottle of this at a meet recently, and wasn’t particularly pleased with it. Not only did it gush a little (probably due to the bottle warming up), but the flavour was very sharp and acidic. Though this may have been because my palate had adjusted to the flavour of beers with lots of residual sweetness. However, having opened a 75cl bottle of this today, straight from the fridge, and served in champagne flutes, it’s actually very pleasant. Even my chief taster declared it to be excellent. Presentation is everything! But there’s a great aroma of the berries, fantastic deep red colour, and the berries carry through to the flavour. I do think it could benefit from a little further artificial sweetener, as it is quite acidic. Very refreshing for a summers day, I must put on another batch in the springtime.

26/11/2014 – This is going down extremely well. I’m definitely going to do another batch of this next year, but will do a bigger batch this time. It would be a good idea to do 11 litres of apple juice in a plastic FV with two or three packets of fruit in a large muslin bag, then rack into two demijohns for some aging and settling. It also needs some more sweetening with more Splenda to take the edge off that acidity. It’s also beautifully clear, so the pectolase did its job well. Would also like to get more carbonation in there to take it more champagne-like. I suspect the fruit skins contribute a bit of tannin which makes it more wine-like.

24/02/2015 – Just a note for when I get around to making this again: prime with 5g per litre and sweeten with 1.5g per litre of Splenda.

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