Archive for the 'All-Grain Brewing' Category

AG#39 – Saison au Citron


After my last disastrous attempt at a fruit beer (the Raspberry Porter), I wanted to try another one, this time based on a Belgian Saison. I want something as pale as possible, so I’m using a large percentage of wheat malt. “Farmhouse Ales” suggests a maximum percentage of 30% wheat malt for saisons.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 19.12 l
Post Boil Volume: 16.12 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 13.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 10.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 24.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 45.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 46.7 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


2.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins
3.580 kg Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Weyermann (4.0 EBC), 63.0 %
1.705 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 30.0 %
0.170 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 3.0 %
0.227 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 EBC), 4.0 %
15 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0 mins, 9.5 IBUs
0.32 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
30 g Sorachi Ace [14.10 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 15.0 IBUs
3.00 Items Lemon Peel (Boil 5.0 mins)
0.6 pkg Belgian Saison I Ale (White Labs #WLP565
0.6 pkg Belgian Saison II Yeast (White Labs #WLP566

Mash Schedule: Bubbles Small Batch BIAB Mash
Total Grain Weight: 5.683 kg
Saccharification Add 22.46 l of water at 75.0 C 68.0 C 60 min

12/07/2015 – rrr

03/08/2015 – Bottled with 120g corn sugar (14 litres at 3 vol). Added lemon juice to most of the bottles – 7 x 500ml with 5ml juice, 7 with 2.5ml and 7 with no juice. Also did 8 x 330ml bottles with 2.5ml.

23/01/2016 – I’m astounded that I haven’t posted any updates for this recipe, but I’ve been merrily sampling bottle of ths for several months now. It’s simply amazing. The lemon character is perfectly integrated with the citrus flavours from the saison yeast. Delightfully sharp and lemony, but underpinned by the sweet and malty backbone provided by the pilsner and Munich malts. Full batch next year.

AG#38 – La Deluge Saison


This beer was going to be called “Saison du Maison” but a couple of disasters later, probably caused by drinking while brewing, I hastily renamed it to “La Deluge”. The new name really sums up the beer. “Apres moi, la deluge..”, as they say in France.. Read on..

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: 1.060 SG
Estimated Color: 8.6 EBC
Estimated IBU: 27.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


3.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins Water Agent 1 –
4.500 kg Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Weyermann (4.0 EB Grain 2 79.6 %
0.350 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 3 6.2 %
0.350 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 4 6.2 %
0.450 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 EBC) Sugar 5 8.0 %
20 g East Kent Goldings [5.80 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 6 17.0 IBUs
20 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0 mi Hop 7 8.8 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 8 –
20 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 10.0 mi Hop 9 1.8 IBUs
20 g Saaz [4.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison I Ale (White Labs #WLP565 Yeast 11 –
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison II Yeast (White Labs #WLP Yeast 12 –
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.650 kg

Mash In Add 14.56 l of water at 71.2 C 65.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.05l) of 77.0 C water

04/07/2015 – This is what I hope will be my house saison recipe. The mash was going perfectly, treated the water with a little gypsum, hit a good mash temperature (64-64.5C), did a 90 minute mash to account for the lower temperature. I’d poured a pint of cider off the keg during the mash as I was going out for dinner later. All going well, drained off the first runnings and set aside. When I was draining off the second runnings into the boiler I had failed to notice that the tap on the boiler had been left open. After a quick run to the toilet I walked back into the kitchen to find the kitchen floor flooded. I closed the tap and started with the long and dirty job of cleaning that mess up. The wort had went under the washing machine and behind the kickboards. They all had to be removed in order to clean. Never has a brew day taken so long to clean up after. I don’t normally have a beer when I’m brewing, and now I remember why. It causes lapses in concentration and brewing can be pretty unforgiving. One simple mistake can drastically alter the final result. An absolute disaster! I now have a new rule – no beers until both runnings are done. I estimate that I lost about two litres of wort. It’s positive that it was the second runnings that I lost where there is less concentration of sugar and flavour. I’m also getting a good percentage of fermentables from simple sugars on this brew, so that’s a positive also. Given the disaster, I decided to rename this beer to “La Deluge”, not realising what was going to come next..

05/07/2015 – I still wanted to do a full boil so I decided to replace the lost sugars with some dry malt extract. I figured that since I lost around 2 litres of wort and that the wort would be around 1.040 (though I didn’t bother checking this) that 200g of malt extract should suffice. It turned out to be a pretty good hunch, as I hit my OG perfectly in the end (1.060) and got 19 litres into the fermenter. My renaming of the beer was especially ironic as during the chilling phase, the weather turned extremely sour. Huge downpours of rain that not even the patio parasol could hold. I had to put the lid back on the boiler while the wort was chilling because the rain was coming through the parasol. Felt like another disaster and a huge disappointment after yesterday’s fiasco. However, I was delighted to see that I’d hit my numbers, produced a very clear wort, and got the full amount into the FV. During chilling, I racked my spelt saison off the yeast and pitched about two thirds of the yeast into this saison. I reserved a flask of yeast to do a small batch with during the week.

18/07/2015 – The bubbling has only just stopped on this. This yeast combo really is a beast. Will cold crash for a few days to drop the yeast before bottling.

24/07/2015 – Bottled with 169g corn sugar (18 litres at 3.2 vol). Got 12 x 750ml and 16 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

17/09/2015 – I thought this was going to take a long time to condition but this is tasting fantastic already. The alcohol is prominent, you know it’s a strong beer you’re tasting, but it isn’t hot in any way. Lovely colour, perfectly judged bitterness, can’t wait to see what another few months aging does for this beer.

14/11/2015 – Comparison tasting between the “La Deluge” saison and one of the few bottles of the unbretted “Funkytown” saison. In comparison to the Funkytown, the Deluge is tart and fiercely alcoholic. Nut the most striking difference between the two is the clarity. The Funkytown is absolutely sparkling, whereas the Deluge is extremely hazy, though you’d expect that for a saison. The Funkytown has an alcohol presence, but it’s not as hot. I can’t explain the difference in the clarity – both beers got the same dose of Whirlfoc. The hotter alcohol in the Deluge can surely be attributed to the fact that there’s no simple sugar in the recipe. The Funkytown recipe has a slightly lower OG but it’s an all-malt beer. The Deluge has a considerable portion of corn sugar in the recipe. I will definitely be rebrewing the Deluge beer without corn sugar next summer.

20/12/2015 – I think the alcohol has faded quite a bit in this. Tasting pretty good, perhaps a bit drier than Saison Dupont, I’m not sure if would pass as a clone. Very dry, very highly carbonated. Still has a satisfying body though.

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.

AG#35 – Dimanche Grisette


After a couple of years of disappointing summer brewing, I felt that I approached things correctly last year. Instead of doing my usual styles of beer like pale ales and IPAs, I concentrated on using yeasts which thrive under warmer conditions. I did some Belgian/Trappist beers with excellent results and I also did some wines and turbo ciders. It’s a good approach and one I was determined to take again this year. As the summer approaches I’ve decided on doing a series of saison ales, a Belgian farmhouse style which must be fermented at warm temperatures.

The classic strain for saison is the so-called “Dupont” strain, available from WhiteLabs as WLP565. However, this particular strain is known to be a little finnicky – often stalling at higher gravities and leaving an under-attenuated beer. Heavy aeration in conjunction with controlled, elevated fermentation temperature can eliminate these issues, but some brewers opt to finish the beer by pitching a neutral ale yeast which produces the dry beer that is required. In contrast, WhiteLab’s WLP566 Saison II strain (reported to be another strain isolated from the “Dupont” multi-strain culture) is reported to be less troublesome, giving the beer a classic saison character but attenuating fully in a timely fashion.

This recipe was inspired by the description of grisette beers in the excellent book, “Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition” by Phil Markowski. The book describes the beer style as being the traditional beer of Belgian miners who would exit the mines after a long shift to be handed a glass of this beer by the local young ladies. The ladies were clad in grey uniforms, and were known as the “grisettes”, “gris” being the French translation for “grey”. The beer style is intended to be low-alcohol, light-bodied, refreshing, but full of flavour. In effect, they’re a low-gravity saison.

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: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 6.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 21.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


3 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins)
4.052 kg Bohemian Pilsner Malt, Weyermann, 90.0 %
0.450 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 10.0 %
38g Styrian Goldings [3.0 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 15.8 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
20 g Saaz [4.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 2.8 IBUs
20 g Styrian Goldings [3.0 %] – Boil 2.0 min
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison I Ale (White Labs #WLP565 Yeast)
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison II Yeast (White Labs #WLP566 Yeast) (1.2 litre starter 25/05/2015)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.502 kg
Mash In           Add 12.61 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 20.30l) of 77.0 C water

29/05/2015 – Was a bit worried that the starter hadn’t finished so I took a gravity reading. Delighted to see it was down to 1.008. Taste was a bit tart but this could have been down to the yeast still in suspension.

31/05/2015 – Pitched yeast around 11am and was fermenting by lunchtime. Really pale wort, lovely spicy aroma from the hops.

01/06/2015 – Ffs! It’s only just over 24 hours since pitching and the airlock has gone dead already. The airlock was like a machine gun for 24 hours but I wasn’t expecting the fermentation to be finished this quickly. Took a temperature reading of 21.7c which should be fine for both yeast strains. Have a blanket wrapped around the fermenter.

10/06/2015 – Tentatively took a gravity reading to see what is going on with this. I was expecting an under-attenuated mess but it’s down to 1.004. It’s the palest beer I’ve done in a long time. Yeast hasn’t fully dropped out yet so I might cold crash it for a few days to see if that helps. The most satisfying thing, however, is that it tastes fantastic already. Dry, spicy, grainy, fruity. Just like a saison really.. I’m very excited about the brews i can do with this yeast during the summer. Might do the spelt saison next.

21/06/2015 – Racked this to a secondary fermenter because I wanted the yeast cake for my spelt saison. I was expecting it to be pretty yeasty because there was a lot of yeast floating on top of the beer, but this thing is clear as glass. A little bit tart, lots of Belgian flavour, and the aroma, although a little sulphurous, is amazing. For a 4% beer it’s got bags of flavour. I checked out the recipe in BeerSmith this morning and noticed that the expected FG on this is 1.014. No way is a saison supposed to finish at 1.014! Will bottle in the next day or two.

23/06/2015 – Primed with 169g corn sugar (18 litres at 3.2 vol). 12 x 750ml bottles and 18 x 500ml bottles.

16/07/2015 – Pretty impressive first taste andI’m glad to have it tasting so well after only a few weeks in the bottle. At least now I’ll have a nice Belgian sipper for the summer months. It’s a beautiful colour – pale straw with a nice little haze to it. It’s light-bodiesas you’d expect, low malt flavour, but plenty of Belgian yeast character shining through. Carbonation level seems fine, but the head is low. Despite the low head, the lacing down the glass is very impressive. Very happy with this. The starting and finishing gravities on this give an ABV of 5.2%, a long way away from the 4.% predicted by BeerSmith. But I was using the wrong mash temperature in my calculations, which affected the attenuation a lot.

22/07/2015 – This is a great beer but next time I think I’d put a little Munich in to boost the malt flavours. I like the light body, but malt-wise, it’s a little one-dimensional. I’d also love to see what some light Brett notes would do for this beer. Carbonation is actually good, and the head retention is pretty good, unlike the first bottle I opened. This will definitely disappear in short order.

14/09/2015 – Really enjoyed this, though the tartness is probably a little overwhelming.

AG#32 – Old Dawg American Barleywine


This is a re-brew of the American barleywine which I did last year.

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: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 25.9 EBC
Estimated IBU: 137.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 77.8 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


1.00 tsp Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins Water Agent
5.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 71.8 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 5.1 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.6 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 1.9 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC), 0.6 %
0.050 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (591.0 EBC), 0.6 %
1.000 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC), 12.8 %
22 g Chinook [11.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 30.8 IBUs
30 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 21.5 IBUs
0.350 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min], 4.5 %
75 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 18.1 IBUs
50 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 30.1 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
60 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  20.0 Hop, 11.4 IBUs
25 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  20.0 Hop, 8.7 IBUs
25 g Summit [17.70 %] – Steep/Whirlpool  20.0 Hop, 11.8 IBUs
16 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool, 4.7 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (450ml yeast slurry from Big Dawg)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.800 kg

Mash In           Add 18.06 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.82l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 24/04/2015 – Mashed in at around 75C which I though might be a bit hot, but with the large volume of grain, the lash temperature settled out at 67-68. A little higher than I wanted for this barleywine, but happy enough. Run-off was fairly slow. I also realised that I didn’t have the full kilo of DME that I thought I had!

Brew Day 25/04/2015 – Got an OG of 1.088 – 1.090, so pretty much on target given the large gravity. I was short about 140g of regular DME, so I used some wheat spraymalt I had. It won’t make an difference. I made some last minute additions to the hop bill, based on what I had open in the fridge. I had a small bit of Centennial which I decided to use as a mid-boil addition and then use the rest at flameout. The Chinook I had smelled so good that I had to use a little of that along with the Cascade and Summit. Run off from boiler was an absolute nightmare, despite using my hop bags for the flameout additions. The fermenter is full of cold break and pellet hops. Pitched the yeast slurry and will try to ferment as cold as I can for a few days.

27/04/2015 – Fermentation underway after less than 12 hours. Going like a machine gun now.

17/05/2015 – Aimed for 16.5 litres of bottled beer. Got 18 x 330ml and 21 x 500ml bottles from the batch. primed with 115g of corn sugar (16.5 litres at 2.6 vol). Happy with the bottling session. I opted not to reseed the yeast (out of laziness) and I hope I’m not going to regreat that decision. But I think the carbonation problems I had with the last brew of this beer was mostly due to using carbonation drops and also due to lack of patience. I just need to leave this at conditioning temperature for 2 or 3 weeks. Anyway, the smell from the beer was amazing. It’s so hoppy that there was a very visibile layer of hop oil on top of the beer. A couple of days ago I was alarmed that I wasn’t getting much hop aroma out of the fermenter, but that was due to the blanket of CO2 on the beer. I literally hadn’t touched the fermenter since the wort went in. Can’t wait to sample this. And I’m happy to get at least some of this beer into 330ml bottles. 500ml bottles really are too big for a beer of this strength and intensity.

19/07/2015 – I opened a bottle of this because I was concerned about the carbonation level. I’m happy to say the carbonation is great this time around. The alcohol and hop bitterness are still a little overwhelming, so I’m hoping the hop and malt flavours will be more in focus when fully conditioned. I drank it all, which is probably a good sign.

01/12/2015 – This has improved a lot. I can taste more of the malt and hops. The bitterness is still very assertive, probably still a little bit too much. For a beer that’s almost 10%, it’s quite dry and drinkable. I think another 3 months aging on this will make a huge difference. Lovely hop flavours. Big caramel. Alcohol is quite smooth. Very nice.

16/01/2016 – Lovely head retention, quite hazy but still looks the part. Very nice aroma, citrus hops and dark caramel. So far so good. Flavour is great, big ass hops. Fourth beet of the evening, so probably not detecting any hot alcohols. Bitterness is still very prominent. Could probably use another couple of months aging.

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.

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