Archive for November, 2014

AG#23 – Thirsty Dog Blonde Ale


A blonde ale has been on the to-do list for a long, long time. I really wanted to do this before the summer and have it as a “lawnmower beer”, but I want something different for the lager drinkers at Christmas time. I also need to grow up yeast for my Yo-leven brew in a few weeks time, so something neutral like a blonde ale seemed like a good choice.

For this brew, I’m going to use a portion of pilsner malt to augment the English pale malt. As this will not be a hoppy beer, or have significant flavour contributions from dark malts, I need to pack as much flavour into it as possibly by using some toasted malts. I’ve settled on Vienna and Biscuit malts for this purpose. I’m not including any crystal malts, in order to make the beer as crisp and lager-like as possible. I’ll also include some head grains (a 50:50 mix of wheat and CaraPils, which has worked for me in the past). I’ll probably keg this beer and lager it in the cold shed for a few weeks. I’ll also use plenty of carbonation to get that lager-like character. I’m tempted to include some citrussy American hops, as I just love those flavours, but as I’m trying to stick within BJCP guidelines, I’ll leave these out and just go with some noble varieties: Hersbrucker, Saaz and East Kent Goldings.

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: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 9.1 EBC
Estimated IBU: 20.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


2.700 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 52.9 %
1.500 kg Pilsner (2 Row) UK (2.0 EBC), 29.4 %
0.400 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC), 7.8 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 3.9 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 3.9 %
0.100 kg, Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.0 %
35 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [3.80 %], Boil 60.0 min, 19.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
15 g Saaz [2.30 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 1.3 IBUs
15 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 0.0 m, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.100 kg
Mash In           Add 14.28 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.23l) of 77.0 C water

Brew Day 10/11/2014 – Beautifully clear wort. The small hop bill also meant that I got a great run off from the boiler and very little break material into the fermenter.

11/12/2014 – Primed with 150g glucose. Got 12 x 750ml and 13 x 500ml bottles from the batch. I fermented this pretty cool, so I’m expecting (hoping!) for something very lager-like. I’m a bit concerned though – I didn’t calculate the priming sugar amount, just guessed really. And I’ve got slightly less volume than usual coupled with the fact that the beer would have been quite cold when bottled, hence would have had a bit of dissolved CO2. It’ll probably be fine, but I might end up with carbonation that is a bit livelier than intended. The beer smelled fantastic, really toasty and biscuity. Exactly what I wanted in the aroma profile. Lovely flavour too, so looking forward to seeing what some cold conditioning for a month does for the beer.

01/01/2015 – First taste and I’m pretty happy with it. Nice biscuity, bready flavours. Honey like flavour and aroma. Satisfying noble hop flavour, though nicely subtle. Next time I think I will reduce the gravity by a few points to make it more refreshing and lighter bodied. Lovely mousse-like head which lasts all down the glass. Should improve even more with extended cold conditioning.

02/01/2015 – This is turning out to be one of those beers that I open too early, realise it tastes great, and hammer them down before they’ve really had a chance to age properly. You can definitely taste the alcohol, and it’s more full-bodied than I was expecting. I think I could easily reduce the gravity and still keep lots of flavour in the beer.

11/01/2015 – Because I gave most of this batch away, I just drank the last bottle of it this evening. Great recipe, I’ll definitely do it again. I might also try it with a lager yeast. I was also thinking that it would make a great starting point for an Irish Red – it’s got more biscuit and toast going on than the malty Buckshot Flag recipe.

26/02/2015 – For my next attempt at this beer, I’d like to simply the grain bill in an effort to see if the intense toasty flavours I got were from the Vienna malt, or the small percentage of biscuit malt. I’m also going to reduce the gravity by a few points as I’d like this to be more sessionable, my stock “lawnmower” beer. Maybe even a little bit of Amarillo or Ahtanum in the hopping to get a hint of citrus flavour in there. I think this recipe would form the basis of a very nice American Pale Ale if I just increased the hopping.

AG#22 – Little Dawg Amber Ale

American amber ale has always been one of my favourite styles of beer, with Brewdog’s 5am Saint, one of the first hoppy craft beers I tried and my favourite for a long time. I tried to make several clones of this beer and had a reasonable level of success with my “Pie-O-My” ale. I also made a very decent version using a kit hack. As good as the attempts were, they were never quite good enough. So for this amber ale, I’m changing my approach and doing a scaled down version of my Big Dawg recipe, one of the best beers I’ve ever done. It has plenty of crystal malt for body and flavour, an insane amount of Cascade and Summit hops, and just a touch of dark crystal and chocolate malts to enhance the colour and the flavour of the beer. I know the balance of malts is excellent and provides a great malty base to layer hop flavours on.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.38 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 25.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 39.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.1 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 7.5 %
0.200 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 3.8 %
0.150 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 2.8 %
0.150 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.8 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC), 0.9 %
0.050 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 0.9 %
7 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 17.8 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 9.2 IBUs
25 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 12.7 IBUs
50 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
40g Citra [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.300 kg
Mash In           Add 14.84 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.35l) of 77.0 C water

Brew Day 16/11/2014 – An uneventful brew day, but started a lot later in the day than usual. I do prefer kicking these things off as early in the day as possible. The wort was a lovely colour, sort of copper/mahogany. Wort was very clear also. The only problem was the huge amount of hop material in the boiler. I had bought new hop bags which have a really fine mesh, thinking they were going to hold all of the hop pellet material. I was using all pellet hops today. But they didn’t hold much more than the regular muslin bags! I did notice that when I opened the Citra hops that they went to mush straight away. But I’ve frozen pellet hops before and they remained intact when thawed. Naturally, I got a shitload of hop and break material in the fermenter. I also got a lower volume, which seems to be happening more and more. I think its because I’m boiling with two elements more often now and getting more evaporation, but I’m getting reasonably accurate OG readings. My post-boil volume is a little less than it should be. This all points to problems with my efficiency and a need to increase my evaporation rate in BeerSmith. Pitched yeast about 7pm.

17/11/2014 – Early signs of fermentation in the bucket, despite the cold temperature in the room. Wort smells amazingly hoppy.

24/11/2014 – Fermentation almost finished, but will leave another week until the yeast fully drops before racking and dry-hopping with some Cascade.

30/11/2014 – Racked to secondary fermenter and dry-hopped with 40g of Citra pellets. I’d planned on using Cascade, more in line with the original Big Dawg recipe, but I had the open bag of Citra, and I thought it would be nice to ring the changes, given that I’ll be doing a batch of Big Dawg before the end of the week anyway. The beer was really clear for such a heavy hopping rate. I did something slightly different with the hop bag this time given that I was alarmed by how fine the hop particles in the Citra when i used them in the boiler. I boiled the hop bag as normal, then sanitised in star san and weighted the bag with marbles. I then secured the bag with a sanitised bag clip. I saved two flasks of yeast slurry, but it looked pretty grim, with lots of green hop material.

05/12/2014 – Bottled 3 x 500ml bottles and kegged the rest. There was only about 16 litres of beer in total, because I got slightly less than volume than usual. Great aroma and colour. Can’t wait to get this carbed and ready for drinking, hopefully just in time for Christmas. I haven’t done a really hoppy beer in months.

CIDER#5 – English Ale Yeast Cider



29/11/2014 – Kegged and bottled. Transferred into 10 bottles using bottling wand and primed with 1 carb drop per bottle. Kegged the remainder and transferred keg to the shed for conditioning over the winter and spring months. At this point, I will open up the keg to see if the cider needs sweetening or other adjustments. Took FG reading of 1.000.

MEAD#2 – Cyser


To summarise:

“Then it was time to make the cyser. I poured the 4 litres of juice from the demi-john into my sanitised pot. I then added the honey (which I hadn’t warmed, like I did the last time), 1/2 tsp wine tannin, 1 tsp citric acid and approximately 15g yeast nutrient. I then whizzed the mixture thoroghly with the stick blender before adding the must back to the demi-john. I think the volume is a little too high for the demi-john, so hopefully the fermenting cyser won’t escape. It might have been a bad idea not to warm the jars of honey as there was still a little bit of honey stuck in the jars, and some more stuck to the bottom of the pot. Very small amounts though, so I didn’t bother to retrieve them. Pitched the Lalvin 71B yeast slurry from my Wildflower Mead.”

06/11/2016 Brew Day – Used 1 x 900g blended honey and 1 x 340g Australian honey.

17/11/2014 – Still a steady stream of bubbles coming form the airlock, hard to believe. And the cyser is still a milky yellow colour.

26/11/2014 – This has only stopped bubbling after 3 weeks. Still cloudy, but there’s a good 500-750ml of trub at the bottom of the demi-john.

30/11/2014 – Racked to secondary as bubbling has (finally) stopped. Huge amount of trub in the demi-john, so had to re-start the siphon once. I’m pleased with the amount of mead I got into the secondary demi-john though, despite the amount of trub. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll top up with bottled water as I planned to do. Will do a an extended cold secondary of this one in the demi-john if I decide to top up. I’ll probably end up racking again though.

07/12/2014 – There was a decent layer of yeast and trub at the bottom of the demi-john after the last racking, so i racked it again to another another sanitised DJ. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll top it up or not. I think there’s probably enough alcohol to cope with some dilution.

22/11/2015 – Side by side tasting of the wildflower mead with the cyser. Wildflower has a massive, almost overwhelming floral honey aroma. It’s also got some melon fruit aroma. Flavour is moderate honey, some fruity esters, alcohol prominent but not hot. Finish is acidic and slightly mouth watering, making it very drinkable. The cyser aroma is predominantly apple, not too much honey, some alcohol. Colour is a shade or two darker than the wildflower mead, as you’d expect. The cyser is not as sweet up front, mouth watering, nice meld of apple and honey flavours.

17/01/2016 – When tasted on its own, I get a completely different impression of the cyser. It’s quite sweet, with a wonderful honey aroma and apple notes in both aroma and flavour. There’s a quenching acidity in the aftertaste which invites another sip. A 330ml glass fills three licquer glasses and I’ve finished all three! It is extremely drinkable, but totally beguiling in flavour. I think my mead making journey is beginning in earnest.

CIDER#6 – Young’s Yeast Cider


29/11/2014 – Kegged and bottled. Transferred into 7 bottles using bottling wand and primed with 1 carb drop per bottle. Kegged the remainder and transferred keg to the shed for conditioning over the winter and spring months. At this point, I will open up the keg to see if the cider needs sweetening or other adjustments.

17/05/2015 – I only got a few bottles out of this particular batch with the cider yeast. The rest of it is still in the corny keg. It’s pretty good, lightly carbonated, but not terribly acidic, as I was expecting. However, there is still a slightly sulphurous aroma off it, which is surprising after such a long conditioning period. Maybe the kegged version will be better as it might be possible to off-gas the sulphur.

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