Archive for the 'Homebrewing' Category

AG#92 – Petit Cheval Saison

15/04/2018 – Brew Day – So much for overshooting my efficiency; I was actually down slightly, 1.042-1.044. I also came in a litre under target. Looks like I need to tighten the rollers on my mill further. Wort is a lovely colour and smells great. I pitched most, but not all, of the sachet of Belle Saison, plus the smack pack of Wyeast Saison which had swelled nicely after smacking last night.

AG#91 Smokey Joe Mild

AG#89 – Grodzilla Smoked Wheat Ale

This brew has been on the cards for so long, some of the malt was seriously past its prime, but as I was doing a spur of the moment brew day anyway, I thought I might as well use it up. This recipe is based on a style of beer called “Pivo Grodziskie”, a low-alcohol pale beer made with 100% oak smoked wheat malt and copious amounts of hops. It is served highly carbonated in a large conical glass to accommodate the large head.
Even though I’m a big fan of smoked beers, and while the oak smoked wheat malt from Weyermann doesn’t smell especially smokey, I’m going to cut some of the smoked malt with Weyermann’s Pilsner, plus a little Munich for a flavour boost. I’m also shooting for an ABV of 4.7%, in contrast to the much lower alcohol content of the traditional product, around 3%. I’d prefer to be using a neutral ale yeast like US-05 for this, but unfortunately Nottingham is all I have. It might do well considering that the BJCP style guidelines describe grodziskie as having “light pome esters (red apple or pear)”.
This is the first “brew in a bag” I’ve done in a couple of years, so today I’ll be getting the large stock pots out of storage. I may even attempt to chill the wort in the banks of snow that are currently in my back yard.
Finally, I’m planning on bottle conditioning this in champagne bottles at probably 3.5-4.0 volumes. It should make an excellent lawnmower with a bit more character and history that your “common or garden” blonde ale. With the light smoke aroma it might also be a great accompaniment to what will inevitably be coming off the grill during the summer months too. But for the moment, I’m just dreaming.. Back to the snow..
Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 18.15 l
Post Boil Volume: 16.15 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 13.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 12.4 EBC
Estimated IBU: 30.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 56.8 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
3.000 kg Wheat Malt, Oak Smoked (Weyermann) (8.0 EBC), 72.3 %
1.000 kg Pilsner (Weyermann) (3.3 EBC), 24.1 %
0.150 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 3.6 %
30 g Styrian Goldings [3.60 %] – Boil 60.0 mins, 20.8 IBUs
0.33 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
70 g Styrian Goldings [3.60 %] – Boil 10.0 mins, 9.7 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
24/03/2018 – Bottled 13 litres to 3 vol. Got 12 x 750ml and 12 x 375ml bottles from the batch. Used all champagne and gueuze bottles.
02/04/2018 – Moved the bottles out to the cold shed two days ago ut a week was obviously not long enough to carbonate. Tested a bottle and it had very low carbonation and I could taste some sweetness, probably from the residual priming sugar. The flavour is quite nice though, the smoke flavour being prominent but not overwhelming. Rought the bottles back indoors to carbonate. Unfortunately I had to give each bottle a gentle flip to rouse the yeast so I hope that this hasn’t oxidised the beer.
08/04/2018 – Opened another small bottle and it’s a lot more carbonated thankfully.

AG#90 – Swordfishtromboons

03/02/2018 – Brew day. Pitch a freshly opened smack pack of Wyeast Lambic Blend and fermentation was just starting to kick off before bedtime.

07/04/2018 – racked

15/04/2018 – Opened two bottles of Oud Beersel Kriek and pitched the dregs into the fruit treatments of this beer. I’d like to get some acidity going.

MEAD#9 – Orange Blossom

This honey has been sitting in a corner of my house for a long time now, and finally got it together to make a batch of mead with it before it goes out of date! (Honey goes out of date??) I’m using 14 x 340g jars of Tesco Finest Orange Blossom honey, which will finish with some residual sweetness hopefully. In 12 litres of must, it should have a target alcohol of >15%. But the idea is that the Lalvin 71B yeast I’m using to ferment this batch will reach its alcohol tolerance at 14-15% and the yeast will give up the ghost, thereby leaving some sweetness in the mead. At least that’s the theory, this is still a little new to me.

My meads in the past have all fermented out to complete dryness, so after some research, I’ve decided to increase my fermentables considerably in the hope of getting at least a semi-sweet mead.

I’m not sure whether the Tesco honey will result in anything delicious, but it was cheap enough, so I’ll give it a go. The labels says it’s a “Product of Spain and Mexico”. I’d like to split the batch in the two, one half will be a base orange blossom mead, with the second half flavoured with juniper or vanilla.

13/01/2018 Brew Day – very enjoyable afternoon making this mead. This is my first time doing a 12 litre batch. I plan to ferment this in primary as a whole, then split into separate demijohns for aging. I took a gravity reading with my refractometer, but it was off the scale! So it’s over 1.100.

15/02/2018 – This has developed a worrying layer of yeast on top. It’s a little like a film yeast with a couple of bubbles. I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling it a pellicle. Not sure if it’s worth saving. I have been neglecting its progress over the last couple of weeks. Not sure what to do with it now, might be drain pour.

17/02/2018 – Decided to rack this to secondary. If it is infected, it will show up in secondary too, but no sense in chucking it at this early stage, when I’m not sure. Took a gravity reading and it’s down to 1.002. So my strategy of having the yeast crap out hasn’t worked. Either there is some batcterial or wild yeast infection, or my nutrient additions were too generous and helped the yeast go the extra mile. After some reading up, I’ve learned that the alcohol tolerances given by yeast manufacturers are an average and only to be used as a guide. So basically, there’s no guarantee that Lalvin 71B will finish at 15%. More worryingly, when I tasted the sample from the trial jar, I instantly spat it out. Seriously alcoholic. This might mellow out, but will probably take a year or two.

04/03/2018 – No pellicle or signs of infection in the demijohn. It’s been happily bubbling away for the last couple of weeks.

14/03/2018 – Still the occasional bubble through the airlock, but I think this has finally finished fermenting.

AG#88 – ‘Murica Saison


I had some Ardennes yeast in the fridge that I fully expected to go down the plughole, but I decided to do a spur of the moment brew. As my grapefruit saison has thrown up a few challenges, namely finishing high in gravity and (as of writing) struggling to carbonate properly, I thought it would be a good idea to do the same brew again, this time without the grapefruit addition. Plus I was keen to brew an American style saison with some citrussy American hops.

I think I need to have a section in every blog post entitled “Today’s Grainfather Fuck-up”, because I seem to mess up some little detail in every brew I do these days. Today I prepared my mash and sparge water as normal but only when the mash was finished did I notice that I had neglected to plug in my sparge water heater! I should get an award for that kind of stupidity. I hastily decanted about 3 litres of the treated water in the HLT into my kitchen kettle and boiled before adding back to the HLT. It was enough to take the sting out of the cold water but it was barely lukewarm. I feared for my efficiency, but as it turned out, the efficiency was fine.

Batch Size: 23 L
OG: 1.050
Boil Size: 28 L
FG: 1.010
Boil Time: 60 mins
IBU: 22.2
Efficiency: 71%
Colour: 7.5

9% 0.50 Wheat – BE 37.0 3.8
4% 0.20 Munich I (Weyermann) 37.8 14.0
87% 4.70 Pilsner – BE 36.0 3.8

Saccharification Rest 65 50
Mash Out 76 10

38.00 Saaz Pellet Boil 60 3.6 13.8
10.00 Saaz Pellet Boil 10 3.6 1.3
20.00 Amarillo Pellet Boil 10 9.6 7.0
10.00 Styrian Goldings Whole Boil 0 3.6 0.0
20.00 Amarillo Pellet Boil 0 9.6 0.0

1.0 Wyeast Belgian Ardennes 3522 0.74

0.5 each Irish Moss 10 mins Boil

01/01/2018 Brew Day – Uneventful apart from forgetting to heat sparge water, but my gravity came out at 1.050-1.052, so surprisingly a little higher than expected. Wort smells great. Pitched the full amount of yeast slurry as it had been in the fridge for nearly two weeks, which is longer than I normally leave it. I try to use yeast slurry within a week or else it gets dumped. Some would say that’s too cautious, but there you go. Some gentle bubbling on the surface of the wort within 8 hours.

02/01/2018 – A slow and steady stream of bubbles through the airlock now. The weather is so cold, I’m concerned about the yeast flocculating out. I might roll this yeast over again into another saison and add some brett.

AG#87 – Hoppy Christmas Brown Ale


Batch Size: 23 L
OG: 1.056
Boil Size: 28 L
FG: 1.013
Boil Time: 60 mins
IBU: 35.7
Efficiency: 71%
Colour: 33.8

4% 0.25 Wheat – BE 37.0 3.8 Mash
4% 0.25 Caramel/Crystal 40 – US 35.0 105.2 Mash
2% 0.13 Extra Dark Crystal 120L – UK 33.0 318.7 Mash
4% 0.25 Brown Malt – UK 33.0 172.0 Mash
4% 0.25 Crystal 60L – UK 34.0 158.6 Mash
1% 0.08 Chocolate – UK 34.0 1,132.6 Mash
76% 4.50 Golden Promise – UK 37.0 6.5 Mash
4% 0.25 Munich I (Weyermann) 37.8 14.0 Mash

Saccharification Rest 67C 45 mins
Mash Out 75C 10 mins

5.00 Centennial Pellet Boil 30 11.1 4.1
75.00 Centennial Pellet Hop Stand 10 11.1 13.2
75.00 Galaxy Pellet Hop Stand 10 15.5 18.4

1.0 Wyeast American Ale 1056 0.75

0.5 each Irish Moss 10 mins Boil

20/12/2017 Brew Day – Great smell from the wort with the brown and chocolate malts giving a lovely toasty aroma. The flameout hops smelled amazing too. Removed the hop bags directly after the 10 minute hop stand in an effort to reduce the skull-crushing bitterness that I’ve been getting in my hoppy beers recently. I also didn’t treat my water with any gypsum this time.

29/12/2017 – Dry-hopped with 25g Centennial and 25g Galaxy, basically the remainder of the bags used in this recipe.

07/01/2017 – Bottled with 151g glucose (21 litres @ 2.5 vol). Got 12 x 500ml and 19 x 750ml bottles from the batch. Great aroma and flavour, and thankfully no sign of the crazy bitterness that I was trying to avoid. Final gravity 1.014.

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