Archive for June, 2015

AG#37 – Epeautre Saison

Another saison recipe, this time upping the gravity a little and using 20% spelt malt, to see what that brings to the party.

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: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 9.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 21.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


4.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins
3.500 kg Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Weyermann (4.0 EBC), 67.3 %
1.000 kg Spelt Malt (5.0 EBC), 19.2 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 9.6 %
0.200 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 EBC), 3.8 %
38 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0 mins, 16.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
20 g East Kent Goldings [5.80 %] – Boil 10.0 , 3.4 IBUs
22 g Saaz [2.30 %] – Boil 2.0 min, 1.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison I Ale (White Labs #WLP565)
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison II Yeast (White Labs #WLP566) (500ml slurry from Dimanche Saison)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.200 kg
Mash In           Add 14.00 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.41l) of 77.0 C water

21/06/2015 – Bit of a disaster of a brew day. I mashed yesterday and that went fine, even though I was expecting some lautering issues with the spelt malt. I assumed that because it is a type of wheat malt that it was prone to the same stuck mash issues. But no problem draining off. The wort smelt nice, but different. Today’s boil took quite a bit of babysitting, especially during the 30 minute boil before the hops went in. I came close to a boilover a couple of times and had to keep cycling the second element on and off. I decided at the last minute to add 200g of dextrose to boost the gravity and dry out the beer, but even with that, I ended up with an OG of 1.050. The same gravity that was caculated by BeerSmith without the sugar! I also got only 17 litres into the fermenter, so I’m glad I didn’t decide to top up the beer with water. I racked the Dimanche Saison to a secondary fermenter and pitched pretty much the entire yeast cake. Got a little too much hop and break material in the fermenter. Next time I think I’ll use hop bags for the bittering addition. The cold break in the fermenter was pretty sticky, and a lot of it, probably from the spelt malt.

24/06/2015 – The airlock is still going in this, but has slowed down compared to yesterday. Should be good.

10/07/2015 – Bottles with 160g glucose (17 litres @ 3.2 vol). Got 12 x 750ml and 16 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

14/08/2015 – Been sampling this for quite a while. Very nice saison flavour, though nothing particularly distinctive from the spelt malt. There’s a prominent tartness from the yeast which has alarmed me in the past. I keep thinking there’s an infection in there, especially with the extremely low finishing gravities I’ve been getting with these saisons. Lovely orange colour though surprisingly low head. It looks like I could have done with some wheat malt in the grist after all.

27/09/2015 – This really is a fantastic saison. A bit of extra wheat malt would definitely help the head retention next time. I’m a bit disappointed that there’s not more of a unique contribution from the spelt, but it’s still a wonderful tasting saison.
10/12/2015 – Have a few 750ml bottles of this left. Had a bottle tonight and it tastes really good. Fantastic aroma. Head retention is still disappointing, but nothing a simple recipe tweak can’t fix.

MEAD#4 – The Maharajah Spiced Mead

Despite never having drank a mead before, I find myself making a third batch of the stuff. Sounds a bit odd, I know, but mead is known for taking a long time to condition into a drinkable beverage. I suppose I should have put more effort in trying to source a decent commercial or home brewed example before I embarked on my mead making journey. But the honey was on special offer, and I thought “why not..?”..

My first two batches were a simple mead (made with wildflower honey) and a cyser made with freshly pressed apple juice from the NHC group buy. So for my third batch, I’m doing something different again by making a metheglin, a name used to describe a spiced mead. I’d like to get some Indian/middle-eastern flavours into it, so I’m going to use fresh root ginger, cardamom. I considered including some saffron in the spice mix both for colour and flavour, but I know from using saffron in Indian cookery that saffron can be a bit of an acquired taste and can also become overwhelming even for those people that like the flavour. I think these ginger and cardamom flavours will work very well with the honey.

One problem with meads is that they can take a long time to clear properly. Even when they look like they’re sparkling, some further aging or racking will encourage more yeast to drop out. This is one of the reasons why meads are not often bottled-conditioned, as they create so much trub following fermentation in the bottle. But this is often dependent on the yeast strain used. The Lalvin 71B that I used for my first two meads is not a strain that is supposed to be well-suited to bottle conditioning as it’s supposed to get a bit funky with extended ageing. I like the idea of a sparkling spiced mead so I’m going with a champagne yeast strain this time, the Red Star Montrachet.

06/06/2015 – I used 5 x 340g jar of Holland & Barrett’s Organic Wildflower honey in this match, total 1.7kg honey. Heated about 750ml of water in my small stockpot and added two jars of honey which had partially crystallised. I weighed out 113g of root ginger, peeled it and attempted to grate it into the warm honey mixture. I gave up on the last third of it and just sliced it thinly into the must. Left to steep for about 10 minutes. At this point, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to whizz the other three jars of honey into the must using the stick blender or risk whizzing up the ginger further and end up with a stringy mess in the fermener. Strained the must into the 5 litre bucket fermenter using a sanitised sieve. Added 4.5 litres of bottled water in total and aerated using the blender. Used 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient, 1 tsp acid blend. Rehydrated Champagne yeast in a little water and pitched. Smells great though I’m worried there won’t be enough ginger flavour as I didn’t steep the ginger for a long time or add it to the fermenter. But I suppose I can always adjust this in secondary when I’m adding the cardamom.

07/06/2015 – Added another 1/2 tsp of yeast nutrient.

10/06/2015 – There doesn’t appear to be much going on in the fermenter but when I shine a light through the plastic I can see fizzing going on. Added another 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient.

24/06/2015 – The yeast completely dropped in this last week so I racked to the demi-john and added the seeds from 4 cardamom pods which had been lightly crushed. The high alcohol in the mead will help extract the flavour from the seeds. I don’t know how much ginger flavour is in it, but I’ll do a taste test in a couple of weeks and might adjust with more root ginger.

25/07/2015 – Racked to tertiary. Plenty of acid in there, bit of ginger, but the cardamom is the dominant flavour. Fantastic honey and spice aroma. I’m looking forward to tasting this in a years time, as it’s already quite drinkable.

07/02/2016 – First taste, took a sample from the demi-john in the shed. Very medicinal, though not helped by the fact that the acidity is overdone. I think the overwhelming cardamom flavour would be much improved if there was more sweetness there. Not much ginger showing.

29/07/2016 – Got a gravity reading of 7 Brix. Can’t be accurate! The alcohol must be skewing the reading.

26/08/2016 – Bottled this with carbonation drops. I got 5 x 500ml and 5 x 330ml bottles. 2 carb drops in the 500s and 1 drop in the 330s. Smells great. I have half a bottle left over so I’ll do a gravity reading on that and a taste test.

27/08/2016 – Got a reading of 0.098-1.000.

AG#36 – Bad Landlord Best Bitter


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: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 16.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 32.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


6.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins)
4.500 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Crisp (6.5 EBC), 93.0 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 6.2 %
0.040 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 0.8 %
22 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 60.0, 16.3 IBUs
22 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0, 9.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
15 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 10.0, 2.4 IBUs
15 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 10.0, 1.3 IBUs
15 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 2.0, 2.0 IBUs
15 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 2.0 min, 1.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) (400ml slurry from Tailgunner)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.840 kg
Mash In           Add 13.55 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.72l) of 77.0 C water

28/06/2015 – Kegged and bottled 4 bottles with carb drops. Colour is absolutely spot on, and the taste is wonderful. But only a side by side tasting will determine whether this is a proper clone or not.

15/11/2015 – I don’t know for sure what happened with this brew but I’m going to have to dump the remainder of the keg. It is giving me the most blinding headaches imaginable, even when drunk in small enough quantities. There’s no mention of it in the recipe, but I think I might have treated the liquor with Epsom salts, which I don;’t have any experience of. Epsom salts are known for their ability to dehydrate the body, but I wouldn’t have used any more than 1 or 2 grams, even if I had used it.

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