Archive for March, 2015

AG#31 – Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale


This is the fourth time I’ve brewed this beer now, with only minor changes on each re-brew. I love the great balance of malts in it, though it did come out a lot darker than I wanted that last time. I did consider replacing the chocolate malt with pale chocolate (like I did with my American barleywine) but I don’t want to alter the character of the beer too much. I was worried that if I used pale chocolate malt it would simply be there as a colour adjustment, but I want to keep the hint of roast that the chocolate malt provides. So I’m going to use 20% less than last time, so 40g instead of 50g.

I’m going to leave out the massive Citra flameout addition this time and replace it with Centennial. I’m also reducing the alcohol, to make it a bit more sessionable at 6.5%. I’ve also reduced the bittering hops while keeping the same gravity to bitterness ratio. But on this recipe, I’ve also utilised BeerSmith’s ability to calculate IBUs for steep/whirlpool additions, something I normally ignore. This gives me an IBU rating of 61, which will hopefully be enough to balance all that crystal malt.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l  
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.062 SG
Estimated Color: 24.5 EBC
Estimated IBU: 61.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.7 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.900 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.1 %       
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 7.5 %        
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 3.3 %        
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.5 %        
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC), 0.8 %        
0.040 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 0.7 %        
9 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 22.6 IBUs    
0.250 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min], 4.1 %        
30 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 8.1 IBUs     
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 12.6 IBUs    
50 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  10.0, 7.0 IBUs     
50 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool, 10.8 IBUs    
25 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs     
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (400ml yeast slurry from Easy Company)
25 g Cascade [7.8 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs     

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.040 kg
Mash In           Add 16.21 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min       

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 18.01l) of 77.0 C water

28/03/2015 Mash Day – Very slow run-off from mash tun for some reason. I screwed up my strike temperature again and got a mash temperature of ~65C.

29/03/2015 – Absolutely chucking it down today, so I had to deploy the parasol on the deck where I do my boil. I used my fine mesh hop bags and got great run off from the boiler. I don’t think this has ever happened before when brewing Big Dawg. Fantastic aroma from the wort.

08/04/2015 – I had my fermenter, siphon, yeast bottles ready to transfer this beer over to secondary and dry-hop when I realised the beer was still fizzing! I did want to get the dry-hopping out of the way, so I ended up leaving the beer in primary and putting the hops into it. I used 60g Cascade pellets. A little more hops than intended because I couldn’t get any hop aroma off it. Though that could be because of the cloud of CO2 on the beer and also a terrific whiff of sulphur, which was a surprise. I’d probably been fermenting this too cold. I have the fermenter in the kitchen now anyway where it’s warm. this should finish off the fermentation nicely and allow good extraction of oils from the dry hops.

09/04/2015 – Checked the fermenter this morning and the sulphur aroma is gone, replaced by a massive blast of hops. [Update: just realised why this damn thing hadn’t finished fermenting! It’s only been in the fermenter for 11 days! I thought it had been in there longer. No matter, the leftover fermentation will drive off  any oxygen present in the hops. Will remove the hops after 5 days and cold crash. I’m not sure yet if I’ll do a secondary. I could also do a second dry-hop stage, but I probably won’t.

13/04/2015 – Removed the bag of hops from the fermenter and moved to a colder room to let any residual yeast settle out.

15/04/2015 – Bottled with 138g corn sugar (18 litres at 2.6 vol). Got 17 x 750ml bottles and 11 x 500ml bottles.

07/05/2015 – I was a bit worried about how this one was going to turn out having reduced the OG significantly, but it’s really good. The flavours are great but the head retention isn’t as good as usual. Beautiful red color, the best it’s ever been – I think I have the level of roasted malt and dark crystal just right in this attempt. The bitterness is a little overwhelming but should fade over the next few weeks. A tasty beer for the summer months ahead.

17/05/2015 – This is tasting terrific. Even though I would have said that the grain and hop bills are entirely different, it tastes remarkably similar to Brewdog’s 5AM Saint, one of my favourite beers of all time. Very tasty stuff. It doesn’t quite taste the same as “regular” Big Dawg, as it’s 1% less alcohol, but a great beer nonetheless. Only a few 750ml bottles left. I must try a session version of this again.

12/08/2015 – I just accidentally happened upon a bottle of this, thinking it was a bottle of California Common. Still very drinkable, lots of bitterness there, and poenty of hop flavour, though not as intense as when first opened. Great beer, but far too much bitterness for the gravity, compared to the original incarnation of Big Dawg.

AG#30 – The Ringmaster American Stout


American Stout – another style of beer that has been on my “to-do” list for a long time. When I first started getting into craft beer I was extremely taken with Sierra Nevada’s Stout. It’s rich and roasty, but with a background citrussy hop flavour from the use of American hops. It’s not a combination that sounds great, but it’s one of my favourite styles of beer. Sadly, the Sierra Nevada Stout is no longer available in Ireland, which seems very odd. All of the Sierra Nevada beers are available here at various times during the year – Hoptimum, Flipside, even the Beer Camp releases. It’s also strange that the Porter is freely available here, but not the Stout.

So for this beer, I’m essentially trying to clone the Sierra Nevada stout. I’m using the recipe from BYO magazine, even though that’s probably a little out of date. There’s a massive percentage of Munich malt in the recipe and a lot of black malt. Hopping is Cascade and Willamette, two classic American varieties. I’ll be re-using the US-05 yeast slurry from my Cammock Stout.

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: 1.068 SG
Estimated Color: 74.4 EBC
Estimated IBU: 61.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 60.0 %
1.500 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 21.4 %
0.500 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 7.1 %
0.500 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 7.1 %
0.300 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (147.8 EBC), 4.3 %
26 g Magnum [14.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 50.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
40 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.1 IBUs
25 g Willamette [5.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs

25 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (400ml slurry from Cammock Stout)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.000 kg
Mash In           Add 19.60 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 13.31l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 14/03/2015 – Fantastic smell from mash, really roasty.

Brew Day 15/03/2015 – Smelt amazing while the boil was in progress. It reminded me of the amazing grainy flavour from the Guinness factory. Good run-off from boiler.

04/04/2015 – Bottled with 118g corn sugar (18 litres at 2.5 vol). Got 6 x 750ml bottles and 27 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

29/05/2015 – Pretty happy with how this has turned out. I’d definitely do the recipe again, but not without a few small tweaks. There’s a bit of an acidic bite, but I don’t know whether that’s from the roasted malts, or the fact that it’s slightly over-carbonated. Lovely roasty flavour and caramel sweetness. The American hops are there but only in a supporting role. Might sub a small percentage of the black malt for Carafa Special next time. Might also use more Cascade to make it scream “American hops”.

18/06/2015 – The acidic bite is still there, defintely down to excessive carbonation and use of highly roasted malts. Just looking at the BYO recipe, the black malt is specified as 500L, whereas the black malt I use (preumably from either Muntoms or Fawcetts) is 1300 EBC, or 650L. So quite a bit more roasty. I think cutting the black malt with some dehusked Carafa Special would give great results. The best thing about this beer is the hop flavours, absolutely fantastic, I wouldn’t change a thing.

25/07/2015 – This is a very nice beer. I think that the acidity mentioned above is simply caused by it being overcarbonated. The black malt balance is pretty good, it might just need a couple of months to age out. Lovely mouthfeel, probably from the wheat. Fantastic hop flavours too. I don’t think the recipe is quite there, but needs little adjustment. Would also consider reducing the bitterness slightly also.

17/01/2016 – Second last bottle and still tasting great. Fantastic blend of chocolate, coffee and resiny American hops. Would brew this again.

AG#29 – Easy Company Pale Ale

The hop drawer in my brew fridge is currently crammed full of partially used bags of hops. I know that in there I’ve got bags containing Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, Summit, Northern Brewer, Chinook, Cascade, EKG and probably loads more. A “leftovers” recipe has been on the cards for a while.

I’m going to do my usual thing of weighing out my hop leftovers on brew day and then updating the BeerSmith recipe to get my measured IBUs. Hop bags will be required for this brew, I think!

I’m going to use a simple malt bill of Crisp Maris Otter and equal percentages of Munich malt and wheat malt. Nothing else. I think that in the past I’ve unnecessarily complicated the grain bills on my pale ales and IPAs. So I’m going to concentrate on using a simple malt base in order to layer on the lovely hop flavours. I’m keeping this at a sessionable 4.5% as part of my 2015 effort to brew more low ABV beers.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 9.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 66.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.800 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 82.6 %
0.400 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 8.7 %
0.400 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 8.7 %
10 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 18.6 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
60 g Amarillo [8.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 13.7 IBUs
24 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 7.5 IBUs
10 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 2.2 IBUs
99 g Citra [14.40 %] – Steep/Whirlpool, 5.0 min, 15.8 IBUs
30 g Saaz [4.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  5.0 min, 1.5 IBUs
21 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  5.0 min, 3.3 IBUs
21 g Columbus [14.20 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  5 min, 3.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (sprinkled)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.600 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 , 20.15l) of 77.0 C water

14/03/2015 Mash Day – Mashed at around 66-67C. Slow enough run-off from mash tun. Wort is nice and pale.

15/03/2015 Brew Day – Centennial leaf hops a bit musty, 21g chinook smelt amazing. Bit of Saaz got in by mistake. OG 1.046

30/03/2015 – Dry-hopped with 50g Centennial pellets. Will dry-hop for 3-5 days. Smells pretty good from the fermenter already. I have some concerns at the momentabout how little aroma and flavour I’m getting from the hoppy beers I put in the keg. They never seem to be what I’m expecting given the huge amount of hops I’m putting in. For this reason, I intend to bottle these beers, probably in some 750’s.

04/04/2015 – Bottled with 118g corn sugar (16 litres at 2.7 vol).

27/04/2015 – been a bit lax in posting updates on this. It’s nearly gone! And only just over three weeks in the bottle. Great hoppiness and mouthfeel. Really firm bitterness. But the star of the show is the crispness contributed by the gypsum which was added to the mash water. It makes a huge difference. Probably the best pale ale I’ve ever done. Already considering a rebrew.

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