Archive for the 'All-Grain Brewing' Category



AG#35 – Dimanche Grisette

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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

Ingredients

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

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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

Ingredients

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

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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

Ingredients

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

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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

Ingredients

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

Ingredients

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.

AG#28 – Cammock Stout

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I still remember the fantastic smells that used to come out of the St. James Gate brewery from the days when I lived in Kilmainham. The smell was sometimes a sour, lactic smell (boiling the famous “Guinness Extract” perhaps?). On other days the smell would be like putting your nose into a freshly opened bag of Weetabix. Lovely stuff.

This brew is my first attempt at a dry Irish stout, coming similar to Guinness or Beamish. The recipe has a very simple grain bill consisting only of pale malt, roasted barley, flaked barley and a little wheat malt. I’m hoping for plenty of mouthfeel from the flaked barley, but without much sweetness. I like my stouts on the roasty side, so there’s plenty of roasted barley in there to give the coffee and burnt toast flavours I’m looking for.

I’ll keeping this sessionable, as befits the style – none of the commercial dry Irish stouts are over 4.5% ABV. I plan on bottling conditioning this.

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: 80.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 40.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

3.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Crisp (6.5 EBC), 65.3 %
1.000 kg Barley, Flaked (3.3 EBC), 20.4 %
0.500 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 10.2 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 4.1 %
26 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 60.0, 24.2 IBUs
26 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 16.0 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.900 kg
Mash In           Add 13.72 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.61l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 06/02/2015 – Had a bit of trouble with mash temperatures. Overshot with the cold water I added to bring the strike temperature down. And had to boil a kettle of water to bring the temperature back up. Mashed around 66C. Mash smelled great. Pretty slow runoff from the mash tun, caused by the flaked barley, perhaps?

Brew Day 07/02/2015 – Pretty enjoyable brew day because I got started early in the morning, and with so few hop additions, the boil was pretty low maintenance. Slow runoff from boiler. Got nearly 20 litres into the fermenter. Rehydrated sachet of US-05 and got signs of fermentation within 24 hours. Fermented pretty cold.

04/03/2015 – Bottled with 130g of glucose, but didn’t bother to calculate carbonation. Got 8 x 750ml and 23 x 500ml bottles from the batch. Took final gravity reading because I fermented this pretty cold. Got an FG of 1.006-1.008. Tastes pretty good.

17/03/2015 – It being St. Patrick’s Day, I just had to open up a bottle of this. I’ve been homebrewing since 2010 and I’m never organised enough to have a nice stout ready for the festivities. It tastes extremely good, even though it’s only been in the bottle for 2 weeks. The flaked barley gives it great body for a 4.5% beer, but without sweetness, exactly as flaked barley is supposed to do. It’s got a good firm bitterness, but balances the malt nicely. However, it’s not quite as roasty as I was expecting. I thought a half kilo of roasted barley would give a lot more dry roasted flavours. I do think it needs some small improvements. It lacks something in the flavour department which would make it sing – some Munich or biscuit, just a little bit, to give the malt profile an extra dimension. Not very traditional, I know. I might also try replacing half of the roasted barley with black malt, to give more dryness. Great first attempt at a dry stout, though.

18/03/2015 – A little light on flavour, perhaps. Using an American ale yeast probably didn’t help – I might have better results with the Guinness strain, WLP004. Definitely needs more roast too – black malt next time.

AG#27 – Jaipurish India Pale Ale

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I’ve long been a fan of Thornbridge’s Jaipur. Though it’s brewed by an English brewery, it’s very much an American style IPA, though perhaps not as strong as most IPA. It comes in at 5.9% ABV, but delivers a lovely hoppy punch – grapefruit rind with a little pine. I’ve always liked it because it’s very crisp and drinkable. I decided to attempt a clone version of the beer because I have some WLP810 yeast slurry left over from a previous batch. It might seem odd to be using a lager strain for this beer, but I read some comments on JBK that point to WLP810 (the Anchor Brewing strain) as the yeast Thornbridge uses for this beer. The only way I’ll know is to give it a try. for the grain bill, I’ll be using Mitch Steele’s recipe taken from his “IPA” book. Mitch specifies 96% pale malt and 4% Vienna malt. I’ll be using 4% Vienna, 4% wheat and 92% pale malt. I’ll also be using the hop varieties reported to be in Jaipur – Ahtanum, Centennial and Chinook. I’ll be using lots of Ahtanum and Centennial but keep the Chinook addition(s) quite restrained, as Chinook can be quite pungent and I don’t want it to overwhelm the more delicate Ahtanum. I doubt by beer will be as pale as Jaipur, but I hope so.

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: 1.056 SG
Estimated Color: 10.1 EBC
Estimated IBU: 55.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

5.166 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 92.0 %
0.225 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC), 4.0 %
0.225 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.0 %
24 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 44.6 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Ahtanum [6.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.2 IBUs
25 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 7.0 IBUs
50 g Ahtanum [6.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg WLP810 (400ml slurry from Union Square)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge

Total Grain Weight: 5.616 kg
Mash In           Add 15.72 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 18.32l) of 77.0 C water

Notes

26/01/2015 – Made a couple of boo-boo’s.. First of all I decided to add more hops at the last minute, but instead of adding them to the flameout bowl as intended, I added them to the 10-min bowl. I couldn’t accurately remove them as there were different hop varieties in the bowl so I just left them in. Beer will have a bit more bitterness than the 56 IBU above suggests. I also completely forgot to take a gravity reading. Used hop bags for all the additions, even the bittering addition, and I got a good run off from the boiler. I might have to do this again. I’ve a horrible feeling my dial thermometer is not accurate, it was measuring 20C before I ran off from boiler, but the hop bags I removed from boiler had beer in them that felt distinctly warm. Were the hop bags insulating warm beer inside them? Must calibrate the thermometer before I use it again. Pitched yeast mid-morning and fermentation was going by evening.

Also, I was adding some cold water to the strike water to take the temperature down, but I overcooked it. When I doughed in, the temperature of the mash was at 63-64C. Even I couldn’t ignore that mistake. So I added boiling water from the kettle to bring the temperature back up closer to 65C. Added an extra 25g of Ahtanum and increased the amount of Chinook to 40g because they smelt so fresh.

02/02/2015 – Weather is really cold at the moment, but this is still fermenting away. Still a steady stream of bubbles through the airlock.

16/02/2015 – Kegged the beer tonight and bottled a single bottle with 2 carb drops. Aroma is a bit sulphurous, but the sample tasted quite nice.

AG#26 – Yo-leven India Pale Ale

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This beer was fantastic the last time I brewed it, but I did think it was a little too sweet and cloying. I’ve taken the drastic step of removing all of the crystal malt in an effort to dry out the beer to make it more quaffable. It might also allow those hop flavours to come out even more. I’ve included a small portion of CaraPils, which together with the wheat malt will give the beer great head retention and lacing down the glass. The hopping schedule is exactly the same as the last recipe – some things you just don’t mess with!

Recipe Specification

Boil Size: 26.90 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.066 SG
Estimated Color: 11.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 57.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

5.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 79.1 %
1.000 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC), 14.9 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 3.0 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 3.0 %
18 g Magnum [10.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 27.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Amarillo [8.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.4 IBUs
50 g Citra [14.40 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 18.6 IBUs
50 g Amarillo [8.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Centennial [11.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Citra [14.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (400ml yeast slurry from Thirsty Dog)
60 g Citra [14.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days       Hop           13       0.0 IBUs
40 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days    Hop           14       0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.700 kg
Mash In           Add 18.76 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 15.35l) of 77.0 C water

Notes

29/12/2014 – Dry hopped with 40g of Amarillo pellets. Plan on leaving them in for no longer than 5 days before racking to secondary and dry hopping again with lots of Citra.

02/01/2015 – Racked to secondary and dry hopped with 60g of freshly opened Citra pellets. Lot of what appears to be off-gassing of CO2 going on.

06/01/2015 – Removed the hop bag from the fermenter. Great aroma. Will let the sediment settle before bottling tomorrow night.

07/01/2015 – Did three bottles and primed with 1.5 carb drops per bottle. Kegged the rest, even though I only got about 15 litres into the keg. Didn’t bother sanitising the keg, just scalded the inside with a couple of kettles of boiling water.

10/01/2015 – I’ve a horrible feeling the bottles aren’t carbonating…

12/01/2015 – I think it’s okay, bit of life showing in the bottles.

17/01/2015 – Astounded to discover that this is tasting pretty dreadful out of the keg. Can’t figure it out. I thought that maybe it was just the first glass, but I drew three glasses off the keg and it still tasted rubbish, overly sweet and not very hoppy. It was also under carbonated, which is completely bonkers as it’s had a week to chill and carbonate in the fridge. I suppose I can’t do anything else expect wait another week or two before trying again.

15/02/2015 – This has actually come good in the keg, though not as nice as last years attempt. I suspected that the funny sweetness I was tasting was down to the CaraPils, because I got the same taste in the kegged Little Dawg. But interestingly, I didn’t get it in the bottled Little Dawg. Maybe it’s because the bottled beers are getting more conditioning time, whereas the kegged beer is going straight out in the cold shed after it’s finished fermenting. Anyway, the sweetness has subsided, revealing a pretty sharp bitterness. The hop flavour and aroma is a bit disappointing though, nowhere near as intense as last years. It could be just the keg version – I do have one bottle conditioned example of Yo-leven though, which I plan on opening tomorrow evening.

02/03/2015 – Tasted the bottled version. Nice, but not a patch on last years. Not enough bitterness and hop flavour is a little disappointing. Not the worst IPA I’ve ever had, however. The most troublesome thing about this sampling was how inferior the kegged version is compared to the bottle conditioned version. By comparison, the kegged IPA seems creamier, much sweeter and lacking in both aroma and flavour.

AG#25 – Union Square Steam Beer

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I’ve wanted to do a steam beer for a long time, even going as far as buying the WLP810 yeast a year ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fit it into my schedule and the yeast languished at the bottom of my fridge for a year before being thrown out.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 26.90 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: 21.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 45.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

4.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 75.8 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 9.0 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 7.2 %
0.200 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 3.6 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 3.6 %
0.040 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (591.0 EBC), 0.7 %
24 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 30.9 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
30 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 7.7 IBUs
30 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 6.4 IBUs
1.0 pkg San Francisco Lager (White Labs #WLP810) (starter)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.540 kg
Mash In           Add 15.51 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 17.44l) of 77.0 C water

08/12/2014 – Made a 1.2 litre starter with a vial of WLP810 California Lager yeast and 120g of light dry malt extract. Transferred to growler and shook to aerate.

15/12/2014 – Mashed at 66C, but couldn’t seem to get a consistent temperature reading, even at the end of the mash. Put the late addition leaf hops in bags, used perhaps a little more Whirlfloc than usual, started the chiller as soon as boil finished and subsequently got a great cold break and runoff from the boiler. Had a lower post boil gravity than intended but I did start out with slightly less in the boiler this time. Got an OG of 1.055 which is spot on. Also blocked the Insinkerator with the leaf hops but that’s another story. Just realised that I misread the recipe and used too much hops so ended up with a few more IBUs than intended. The hops weren’t particularly fresh though, so it’ll probably be fine.

16/12/2014 – First time using a lager yeast strain so a bit nervous about this one taking off, but it seems to be doing fine. No action from the airlock as yet. Will need to take a temperature reading this evening, as there’s a chance that I’m actually fermenting this too cold.

11/01/2015 – Bottled with 120g of corn sugar (17 litres at 2.6 vol). Got 6 x 750ml and 23 x 500ml bottles. Tastes fantastic, the biscuit malt and pale chocolate malt giving a wonderful toasty flavour.

01/02/2015 – I was very disappointed with this when I opened. Instantly I knew it was under-carbonated. Not hugely so, but the head formation is not good enough and not quite enough carbonation for the style. I think another 10-20g would have been perfect. On the upside, beautiful flavour. Nice bit of caramel, great “lager” flavour, dry and toasty on the finish. I was concerned there would be too much roast flavours from the pale chocolate malt, but it doesn’t come through. Instead it gives the beer a beautiful dark amber colour. One other disappointing thing is the hazy appearance, which I wouldn’t have expected in a beer that isn’t particularly well hopped.

AG#24 – Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale

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This is, without a doubt, one of the best beers I’ve done to date. The recipe was a little bit of accident. It was originally intended to be an amber IPA, but it came out darker than I intended and with a lot more dark crystal character than I wanted. It also had far too much residual sweetness to be considered an IPA, a style of beer which is supposed to be reasonably dry and easy to drink. However, the residual sweetness was perfectly balanced by the 70 IBU and beer turned out to be a delicious hoppy monster. I did a re-brew of it last year and it turned out well, but not quite as good as the original. This is my third attempt and my first all-grain version of the recipe, so I have high hopes for it. I hope to get as close to the original by closely watching my mash temperatures and volumes.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 26.90 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.072 SG
Estimated Color: 25.9 EBC
Estimated IBU: 70.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

5.800 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 82.9 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 6.4 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.9 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.1 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 0.7 %
0.050 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 0.6 %
32 g Magnum [10.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 47.5 IBUs
0.300 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min], 4.3 %
30 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 7.9 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
30 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 14.7 IBUs
60 g Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
60 g Citra [14.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Summit [17.70 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)  (500ml slurry from Little Dawg)
50 g Centennial [8.0 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge

Total Grain Weight: 6.995 kg
Mash In           Add 18.75 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 15.36l) of 77.0 C water

07/12/2014 – Good brew day, all additions made at the right times. Mashed at 66-67C. Pitched yeast pretty cold as it was so cold outside. The yeast slurry I pitched was pretty rank looking (lots of pellet hops and trub) but I’ve done this before and had no issues. Likewise, I had the same trouble I always have separating the boiled wort from all the hops and break material. But I’ve always had the same problem with this beer and had no problems. Finished just after lunch but seeing fermentation before night fall. Got an OG of 1.070, so 2 points under target.

08/12/2014 – Impressive kreusen on the beer.

15/12/2014 – Fermentation has completely finished and cleared so I started sanitising siphon etc. in order to do racking and dry-hopping – then I realised it’s only been in the fermenter a week!! Will leave it on the yeast for another week. Might do a first dry-hop in the primary.

23/12/2014 – Dry-hopped with 48g of Centennial pellet hops, just because I had them open. Unfortunately I gad some problems with the siphon and I was forced to give up after getting only 15 litres into the secondary fermenter. Great nose off the beer.

28/12/2014 – Bottled with 99g of corn sugar (15 litres at 2.5 vol). Got 9 x 500ml and 12 x 750ml bottles from the batch.

25/01/2015 – I’d better post a tasting update on this before it’s all gone! Really delicious, as always. There’s little roasted flavour coming through, but it’s a little bit darker than I want it. I think I’ll cut the chocolate malt down by 25% next time. It’s currently more brown than amber. The hop flavour is a tiny bit grassy still, but that will dissipate. Great aroma and very good head retention. The topical flavours of the Citra are definitely poking through on both aroma and flavour. Might a little more carbonation.

11/02/2015 – Down to the last few bottles of this and it tastes amazing. Definitely a shade too dark. Will use a bit less chocolate malt next time. Hopping is great, but might substitute Citra with something different next time too, like Amarillo or Centennial.


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