Archive for the 'Partial Mash Brewing' Category

PM#8 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale


It’s New Year’s Day and I’ve already got two brews done for 2013! I was feeling very pleased with myself after getting my second BIAB bitter in the fermenter and I had a quiet house, so I decided to do a partial mash American ale. It was all very “spur of the moment”, both in the planning and the execution. I decided it was time for another stab at an American Amber Ale. My last attempt didn’t go so well due to missing my target OG by 4 points! As such, what should have been a luscious, caramelly beer turned out thin, overly bitter and weak in flavour. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on myself. It wasn’t too unpleasant to drink, but it took me a lot longer to get through the 19 litres than I expected.

So I’ve decided go for a slightly different style of amber/red this time. Instead of relying on dark crystal malts to give colour and flavour, I’m going to do a beer which is more typical of an American pale ale, but I’m going to use a small charge (70g) of pale chocolate malt to give a nice hue to the beer. I’ve not used pale chocolate malt before so I’m not sure whether what colour this is going be when it’s in the glass. Flavour-wise, I want a hint of roasty character, but not too much. I’m using a mix of light and medium crystal malts and a decent portion of biscuit malt. In my haste, I forgot to add something like CaraPils or wheat malt to aid head retention. My last few beers have included malts like these and I’ve been very pleased with the results. However, there is a full pound of crystal in this so I’m not expecting any issues with body or head retention.

I recently got my grubby mitts on some 2012 Amarillo and Centennial so generous additions of these hops will provide the flavour and aroma for this beer. I’ll use a small addition of Columbus for bittering. I’ll be shooting for 40 IBU and watching the AA rating on my hops closely this time.


Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 20.00 l
Bottling Volume: 20.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 12.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 39.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


1.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.250 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM)
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)
0.070 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (300.0 SRM)
0.500 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
10 g Columbus [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 19.7 IBUs
1.100 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0  SRM)
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
25 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 7.1 IBUs
25 g Centennial [13.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 8.5 IBUs
25 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Centennial [13.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
30 g Centennial [13.50 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days
30 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days

01/01/2013 – My quiet house inevitably turned to chaos during the brew and the concentration started to lapse – I forgot the late addition of malt extract and only realised my error with one minute left in the boil. I had a choice – add the extract and boil for another 10 minutes (which would extract a lot more bitterness out of my high-alpha flavour hops) or add the extract at flameout and risk an infection with extract that isn’t fully sanitised. I decided to add the extract and keep it on the heat for a couple of minutes (it never came back up to boil). Adding the extract to boiling wort surely killed any nasties in there and I didn’t want an overly bitter beer.

I got an OG of 1.052 when topped up to just under the 20 litre mark. Pitch the dry yeast directly into the fermenter, as the brew day had been long enough at that point with the hassle of rehydrating yeast.

All in all, an unsatisfactory brew day. There’s nothing wrong with the recipe per se, but it wasn’t the recipe I actually wanted to do. My forgetting to add the late extract could have been partly due to the fact that my last two brews have been BIAB/AG and I haven’t needed to carry out this step. I think I’ve been bitten by the all-grain bug as the BIAB method I used just seemed really simple. A full-size boiler and the move to all-grain beckons it seems.

11/01/2013 – Dry-hopped with 60g of hops. I jammed the floating hop bag down to the bottom of the fermenter using a sanitised paddle. I think this might be my biggest dry-hop to date.

20/01/2013 – Bottled with 130g of table sugar. Got 33 bottles from the batch. Cold crashed in the shed for two days before bottling.

09/02/2013 – With only about three weeks in the bottle this is drinking extremely well. I wish I could say the same about my series of BIAB English bitters! The amber ale has a decent hop presence but really only reveals its charms when the beer warms up to “cellar temperature”. It’s like a scaled-down version of the Big Dawg Imperial Amber. It would be good to do a side-by-side comparison but I’m fast running out of bottles of the Big Dawg. I think the next amber ale I do will be following Jamil’s recommended 35 IBUs. The 40 IBU of this beer fights the caramel sweetness just a little too much. I was concerned about having no wheat malt or CaraPils in this beer. Out of habit really, I’ve been including it in most of my recent American ales, but the head formation and retention is great.

18/02/2013 – I think I’ve changed my mind about this. The last couple of bottles I’ve had have been quite bitter, astringent almost. I think the dry-hop might have been too much, even though it falls within the generally accepted guidelines for dry-hopping. It does seem very grassy. I’ll leave another couple of weeks before tasting.

20/02/2013 – I think I’ve figured out the problem with this beer. I think the astringency I’m tasting is actually just hop bitterness. I’ve been doing some reading up on the effects of hop steeping or flameout additions on IBUs. Some people calculate their IBUs using the final kettle addition at the 1-minute mark, even if the hops are only added at flameout. It seems to make sense. A lot of the podcasts I’ve listened to have commercial brewers telling us about the bittering contributions they get from whirlpool additions. As an experiment, I changed the two flameout additions specified in the recipe above (25g Amarillo, 25g Centennial) to 1 minute. The result? The IBUs shot up from 39 to 53!! You are definitely going to taste an extra 14 IBUs in a 1.052 beer with a moderate amount of crystal malt. I think I’ll definitely be doing some further experimentation with this. It seems that the last few pale ales I’ve brewed have been really over-bittered. I’d like to do some playing around with hop-bursting also, adding all of the hops in the last 15 minutes or so, with no traditional bittering addition at 60 minutes.

08/03/2013 – Definitely too bitter but the hop flavour in this is just lovely. Big-ass grapefruit from the Centennial. A decent American Amber Ale is still beyond my reach it seems! Next time I’ll be dropping the IBUs drastically and increasing the crystal malt by 50%.

PM#7 – Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale


This is going to be my first attempt at a West-Coast American IPA. This generally means a very heavily hopped ale with vast quantities of late hops to preserve the intense citrus flavour and aroma. This will be my first time using the Summit hop, a variety which tends to divide brewers, so I’m hedging my bets and adding equal quantities of Cascade, a perennial favourite of craft/home brewers.

I’ll be taking some inspiration from The Mad Fermentationist and attempting to make this an “amber” IPA. For this I’ll be doing colour adjustments using chocolate malt. I’ve got some wheat malt and biscuit malt in there for head retention and a bready flavour respectively. I’ll also be adding a little corn sugar to increase the attenuation and ensure that this high-gravity beer doesn’t taste too syrupy.

This is the most heavily hopped beer I’ve done to date, with close to 200g going into a 15 litre batch. Brewdog, eat your heart out! 🙂

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 12.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 10.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.071 SG
Estimated Color: 16.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 69.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


  • 1.500 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
  • 0.350 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
  • 0.160 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM)
  • 0.120 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)
  • 0.039 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (100.0 SRM)
  • 0.039 kg Chocolate Malt (530.0 SRM)
  • 0.600 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)
  • 15 g Summit [15.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min 37.6 IBUs
  • 0.900 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM)
  • 0.180 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min]
  • 0.39 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min 7.3 IBUs
  • 24 g Summit [15.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min 13.7 IBUs
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min 4.5 IBUs
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Summit [15.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
  • 1 pkg Safale US-05 Yeast
  • 28 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days 0.0 IBUs

Mash Day 03/12/2012 – Heated 8 litres of water to 72°C for mash in small brewpot. Doughed in and mash temperature settled at 67°C. Excellent. Checked after 30 minutes and mash hadn’t lost a degree so I just left it at 67°C and didn’t apply any heat to the pot as I usually would. Mash was pretty loose so I might increase my mash/liquor ratio next time in order to get more grain into my mini-mash beers. I had 5 litres of sparge water heating in the large brewpot (the kettle) but I overheated it. I added a big glass of cold water and added it but that only cooled the water down to 71°C. I figured the higher temperature might help my efficiency as it would function as a “mash-out”, dissolving some extra sugars during my dunk sparge. I didn’t squeeze the grain bag at all but I’ve got nearly 13 litres of wort now sitting on the stove and no idea if I’ll be to bring that volume to a boil. I suppose I can always boil a portion in the smaller pot if necessary.

The wort is a bit darker than I intended, but it might still come out as “amber” in the finished beer. Smells very, very nice.

I’m in a serious quandry over the Summit hops. After doing some more research on ‘tinternet, I’m seeing a lot of negative comments about Summit giving off powerful onion/garlic flavours. And the information is completely inconsistent. Some people are advising only to use as a bittering addition. Others are recommending only to use it as a late addition or dry-hop. I’m going to open the bag tonight and if I think they smell nice, I’m going to use. If they smell rank I’ll replace with Columbus. Either way, I’ll hopefully end up with the dank, powerful, hoppy IPA I’m looking for. (My next IPA is going to be lighter, slightly less pungent on the hops (Amarillo & Centennial) and slightly less alcohol.)

Brew Day 04/12/2012 – I set some heat under the brew kettle and cracked open my first ever bag of Summit hops. Got a blast of tangerines and some pungent piney aromas. That’ll do me. So I followed my original hop schedule and hopped with Summit and Cascade. It took a while to come up to a boil but the cooker just about managed it. Serious amount of hop material which I strained out using a sieve. I was too tired to calibrate my large fermenter as planned so I just topped up with water to just over 13 litres and got an SG reading of 1.078. SO I added some more water to just under the 15 litre line. I didn’t want to overshoot it as there was a lot of foam on top of the wort. I pitched about 400ml of yeast slurry from the “Hoppy Feet Pale Ale” which is just over 2 weeks old. It’s currently foaming away. I hope to get 24 bottles out of this batch given that I’ll be doing a very big dry-hop. The sample from the trial jar was incredibly sweet and very hoppy as expected. I’ll probably leave it go for 2 weeks before dry-hopping for a week.

11/12/2012 – Dry-hopped with 28g Cascade in a muslin bag weighed down with 2 sanitised shot glasses. I also topped up with a little extra cold water as i don’t want to overshoot my FG.

16/12/2012 – Bottled using 90g table sugar, my first time to use plain old sucrose. Based on 14 litres at 2.5 vol. In actual fact I got less than 14 litres out of the batch, so I hope it’s not over-carbonated. I was happy to get two whole crates (24 bottles) out of it, though I did have to pull off some very yeasty beer out of the first fermenter using a turkey baster in order to make up the last bottle. For the first time ever, I didn’t have a taste – hope it’s okay. Smells very powerfully hoppy so I might have to leave this alone for a few months to let it calm down!

12/01/2013 – First taste and the surprising thing is that it’s extremely mature and drinkable after less than 4 weeks in the bottle. The hop flavour and aroma is absolutely awesome – lots of orange and grapefruit underpinned by a smooth toffee backbone. The biscuit and wheat malts are in there too, giving a nice grainy flavour. The only downside in an otherwise amazing beer is that the colour is far too dark. Not that I’m bothered about where it fits into the style guidelines, but the fact that it’s quite cloudy from the intentionally excessive hopping means that the beer looks extremely murky. No bother, I’ll drink with my eyes closed. And omit the chocolate malt next time..

13/01/2013 – Tonight I had a very nice example of the India Pale Ale style from the Norwegian craft brewery, Nogne. Very delicious obviously, but it’s interesting to note the differences between a commercial IPA and my homebrewed version. Even though both beers were exactly 7.5% ABV the commercial beer was so much drier. Extremely dry in fact. I can’t imagine Nogne are using sugar to dry the beer out so I can only conclude they achieve this by using a low mash temperature and judicious use of crystal malts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really pleased with my own beer, it’s just not really an IPA. I think it would be better described as an “Imperial Amber” ale due to the colour and the much higher sweetness and body.

08/02/2013 – Very high hopes for this beer in the forthcoming National Homebrew Championship. I’ve entered it as an “Imperial Amber Ale” in the “Specialty” category – a safer bet as it doesn’t fit into any other category. It’s like a super-charged version of 5am Saint, though it doesn’t have the same dank hop flavour.

06/03/2013 – What a fantastic way to finish this post. “Big Dawg” Imperial Amber Ale won a bronze medal in the inaugral National Homebrew Championship. The beer scored a whopping 40 points (the best of show also scoring 40!) to win 3rd place in the “Specialty” category. The category winners were decided by the following judges:

  • Grainne Walsh (Co-owner and brewer with Metalman Brewing Company)
  • Patrick Gallagher (Brewer at Donegal Brewing Company)
  • Ciaran Kelly (Qualified professional brewer with Carlow Brewing Company, producers of O’Hara’s)
  • John Devlin (Premier International, Beer Importers)

Now, what to do with the remaining 3 bottles… 🙂

PM#6 – Hoppy Feet Pale Ale

I’m looking forward to the new season hops which should be arriving in a few weeks time. I’ll be putting in a big order for hops and grains so I need to make some room for new supplies. Rather than viewing this as a “leftovers” beer, I like to think it more as a blowout. “Hoppy Feet Pale Ale” will be an intentionally over-hopped American pale ale. I’ve got a good amount of 2011 Citra and Amarillo, and even a smidgin of Chinook (about 5 grams). I’ve also got some Munich and CaraPils which are a little out of date, so they’re going in too.

I’ll be using a small charge of Columbus at 60 mins for bittering but I’m planning on hop-bursting with the Citra and Amarillo (less than 10 minutes boil time) so that’s where I’ll be getting most of my IBUs in this beer. I think I might leave out the dry-hopping this time, but I’ll use my fresh bags of Cascade or Summit if I do.

I’ve been struggling with efficiency in my partial mash batches so I’ve decided to try and nail down my process. I decided to purchase a good quality 11 litre stockpot to do my mashes in. Instead to doing mashes in whatever pot takes my fancy I’ll have a dedicated mash vessel with which I can record volumes and temperature in an attempt to get consistency in my mashing process. I’ll be using my large stockpot (which functions as my brewpot) to do the sparging in. I also bought a snazzy digital theremometer as the liquid thermometer is too difficult to read. Hopefully with this new equipment I’ll have my volumes and temperatures sorted.

When I was designing my recipe, I also used a pretty low efficiency of 65%. I can increase this for subsequent brews as my process and efficiency improve.

My American pale ales have suffered in the past from being overly bitter, so I’ll be watching my hop additions and AA ratings closely. I did the mash today and I’ll only be deciding on the final hop schedule when I open the bags and weigh out the hops.

Category: American Pale Ale
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Mash Efficiency: 65%
Total Grain/Extract: 3.75 kg
Total Hops: 84.0 g

Original Gravity: 1.052 (1.045 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.010 – 1.015)
Color: 8.47 °SRM (5.00 – 14.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 41.3 IBU (30.00 – 45.00 IBU)
ABV: 5.2% (4.50 – 6.00%)


  • 0.19 kg Munich Malt
  • 0.075 kg Belgian Biscuit
  • 1.3 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.36 kg CaraMalt
  • 0.225 kg Belgian Cara-Pils
  • 0.5 kg Dry Light Malt Extract
  • 0.95 kg Dry Light Malt Extract
  • 0.15 kg Dry Wheat Malt Extract
  • 8 g Columbus (Whole, 14.2 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 28 g Amarillo (Whole, 11.2 %AA) boiled 10 min.
  • 32 g Citra (Whole, 13.8 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 8 g Amarillo (Whole, 11.2 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 8 g Chinook (Whole, 13.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Targets: OG: 1052, FG: 1013, IBU: 38, SRM: 7, ABV: 5.1%

Prime to 2.5 volumes using 150g dextrose.

Mash 04/11/2012 – Heated mash liquor to 74°C and added my 2kg of grain. It was slightly over my intended mash temperature of 68°C but I just put the lid on the mash pot and left it anyway. Next time I’ll shoot for 73°C. After 30 minutes of mashing, I stirred and checked the temperature. Pleased to see the mash was at 67°C which was much higher than I expected. Popped the lid back on and left for another 30 minutes. Heated 6 litres of sparge water in the large brewpot and placed the grain bag in there. Gave the grain a good stir and left for about 15 minutes. Wort looks nice and clear. It’s also pretty light.

Boil 05/11/2012 – I was aiming for around 38 IBUs and had all the hops measured out and recipe calculated. Then I realised 10 minutes into boiling that I had forgotten to adjust the AA ratings on the hops. I was using the BeerTools defaults! So much for paying attention. I adjusted the AA ratings and my IBUs were coming out at 43! So I moved my 5 minute addition to 1 minute which brought the IBU back down to 41.3. A little better. Because BeerTools (inexplicably) cannot accept ZERO minute additions, all my flame-out additions are set to 1 minute. Even though my recipe says otherwise, my 1 minute additions were done at flame-out, hopefully bringing my IBUs down to 37. (Of course, I realise I could have simply omitted some the hops from this brew to get my desired IBU but where’s the fun in that!) I also allowed the flame-out hops to steep for at least 15 mins before I started the wort chiller. Never done this before.

I nearly forgot the Whirlfloc which would have been a damn shame in such a pale beer but I chucked some in at 10 minutes and saved the day. Wort looks clear anyway.

I had a little less wheat DME than I thought so I balanced with regular DME. Plenty of hops to soak up the wort so I had to squeeze them a little in a sieve to get the wort out. I hit my target OG of 1052 but that’s assuming an efficiency of 65% which is pretty rubbish. I know now that my efficiency issues are not being caused by temperature so what is it? I know the hop soakage accounts for some loss, but 65% is crap. I need to up my batch sizes with the intention of leaving a litre behind in the kettle.

Wort is really light in colour. Probably the palest extract/partial beer I’ve done to date. Nice biscuity nose and flavour and huge amounts of orange and tropical fruit. Rehydrated a new sachet of US-05 and it was showing signs of fermentation a couple of hours later. Lots of trub in the fermenter. Should be a good one.

20/11/2012 – Bottled using 140g glucose (18.5 litres at 2.5 vol). I got 32 bottles out of this. I think I need to do some calibration of my fermenters. Never bothered taking an FG reading but I had half a bottle left over and it tasted fantastic. A lot more piney/dank than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be all about the tropical fruit but there’s definitely a lot of cattiness coming through. Is this from the small additions of Columbus and Chinook, or has the Citra contributed this? I’ve heard that Citra can get quite catty when used for bittering, but all my Citra went in as late additions. In any case, I think this is going to be a great pale ale.

08/12/2012 – The biggest surprise for me yet as a homebrewer when I opened this beer after only 2½ weeks after bottling and found an amazing beer. Most beers I’ve made in the past have needed much more conditioning time than this. Fantastic hoppiness and firm bitterness but nicely balanced. I think the Munich is adding a certain maltiness too. The aroma is all about mangoes and other tropical fruit (from the Citra), but there’s a huge blast of Amarillo citrus there too.

29/12/2012 – Only a few bottles left and it’s a real winner. The tropical fruit has dissipated somewhat, but there’s about ten tonnes of grapefruit in this bad boy. Could this be from the late addition of Chinook? Randy Mosher has a recipe which recommends such a late addition to add a real grapefruit flavour. I like the way the Munich comes across in this and I like the level of crystal malt sweetness which really does make the hops pop.

PM#5 – Pork Chop Porter

A wise Englishman I know eschews food when out for a few drinks claiming “there’s a pork chop in every pint, mate!”. This brew is in honour of him.

This is my beer for supping over the Christmas period so I’m hoping for something with plenty of mouthfeel, good alcohol warmth and plenty of roastiness. The recipe is based on the Robust Porter contained in Jamil Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles. For robust porters, Jamil recommends a 40/60 blend of lighter and darker roasted malts to give a balanced roastiness to the beer. For this 19 litre batch, that means 225g of black malt and 340g of chocolate malt. I’ve decided to use amber malt in place of his Munich as I liked the flavour when I used it in an English pale ale recently. I’m bittering with Northern Brewer because I have a full bag in the bottom of my fridge which is feeling very unloved. I’m also using two flavour additions of East Kent Goldings. US-05 yeast for a nice clean profile which will allow the malt flavours to shine.

Category: Robust Porter
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Total Grain/Extract: 4.09 kg
Total Hops: 72.0 g


  • 1 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.45 kg Crystal 40
  • 0.17 kg Amber Malt
  • 0.34 kg Chocolate Malt
  • 0.225 kg Black Malt
  • 1.1 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 1 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 30 g Northern Brewer (Whole, 8.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 6 %AA) boiled 15 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 6 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Original Gravity: 1.065 (1.048 – 1.065)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.012 – 1.016)
Color: 29.63 °SRM (22.00 – 35.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 37.9 IBU (25.00 – 50.00 IBU)
ABV: 6.6 % (4.80 – 6.50 %)

Targets (Brewing Classic Styles Robust Porter): OG: 1064, IBU: 37, SRM: 35

I did the mash for my first porter last night and I plan on doing the boil tonight. The wort smells and looks great but a few things are concerning me. I was using a new stainless steel steamer basket to protect the grain bag from scorching but I figured there wouldn’t be enough room in my smaller pot, which is around 10 litres. I hastily made the decision to do the mash in my 20 litre brewpot and use the full boil volume of water including an extra litre for grain absorption. So, that makes about 13 litres in total. Strike water was 72C and I used heat to bring back up to 68C. Mash for 1 hour, applying heat at the 30-minute mark to maintain the mash temperature. I also used an extra 30% (or 300g) of base malt to account for a no-sparge. I’m thinking now that I should have upped the specialty malts too. I gave the bag a decent squeeze too but I’d say there’s plenty of goodness left in the grain. I’m hoping it won’t be too lacking in flavour.

I’ve also been reading lately about the challenges of partial mashing dark beers, where the pH level can encourage tannins to be leached out of the grain husks. The wort doesn’t taste tannic or astringent at the moment so I hope there’s no problem there. I didn’t want to squeeze the grain bag too hard for this reason.

If I have problems with this I think the solution might be to steep the darker grains separately from the mash. But this is a bit of pullaver and I wanted to avoid that work this time around. I might also have to examine my water volumes and see how I can best accomplish a “dunk-sparge” after I finish mashing. I might try this for my next beer in any case, just to increase my efficiency.

13/10/2012 – Worried about the lack of sparge, I added an extra 100g of spraymalt in some vague and unscientific  attempt to hit my intended OG. As it turned out, I hit my OG following water top-up, but that was only with the extra base malt and spraymalt. Serious issues with efficiency obviously, but I’m happy enough with this one. Any worries I had about getting enough colour out of the roasted malts were unfounded. This thing is as black as soot. Pitched a good quantity of yeast slurry from the Leann Dearg and it was bubbling away within the hour. Excellent.

23/10/2012 – Bottled using 130g dextrose (actually Dunnes Stores glucose). Looks completely different from the Shamrock variety when it’s dry. Got a FG of 1.014. Had a quick taste from the trial jar and it’s quite promising given the beer is quite young. Lots of sweetness and very pleasant alcohol warmth, but not “hot” alcohol. Plenty of chocolate and roasted character coming through which should develop further as it bottle conditions. I got 32 bottles from the batch.

I also steeped 50ml of Jim Beam bourbon and soaked half a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out. Steeped for 2 days, the aroma of the bourbon was intense!! I dosed 5 of the bottles as follows: 2 x 6ml, 2 x 8 ml, 1 x 10ml. I’m guessing the vanilla bourbon porter might take a little longer to age into something drinkable. I’d say it will be pretty potent in terms of alcohol, but I think the bourbon/vanilla flavour will go well with the porter. Will open this during the festive season, a nice winter warmer!

06/12/2012 – I was expecting this one to take quite a while to condition but it’s fantastic after only 6 weeks in the bottle. Amazing, in fact. There’s big sweetness and caramel up-front but balanced by a robust hop bitterness. The caramel then morphs into chocolate and coffee. The after-taste is burnt toast with more coffee and burnt toast on the burp. I can’t see myself changing the recipe much with this one. The proportion of chocolate to black malt is spot-on, as Jamil promised.

Although, I might try a dry English yeast as I think it would work well. I might also try using Munich malt (as specified in Jamil’s recipe), instead of the amber malt I used. I wonder what using roasted barley for the black patent would do? A keeper!

05/01/2013 – A “keeper” indeed. At the moment, I can’t even fathom changing this recipe in the slightest way. It’s just perfect. I’m currently sipping a bottle of the bourbon porter (and “sipping” is advisable with a beer like this) and it’s excellent. This is a bottle of the 8ml version. Even in the 6ml version there is a perceptible note of vanilla and bourbon. The 8ml version is sublime – there’s a serious hit of oak coming through from the bourbon and the vanilla is there in spades also. But the roasty porter is still the cominant flavour. If anything, the bourbon only accentuates the chocolate flavour of the beer. After doing the vanilla beer in this fashion, I can’t see the merit in batch aging the porter with the vanilla-infused bourbon. Dosing the bottle is definitely the way to go and I can see myself doing with with future brews. I’ll probably dose a few bottles of the Foreign Extra Stout I plan on doing in the near future. I think the extra alcohol and mouth-feel would work very well with the bourbon. After that, a Russian Imperial Stout!!

16/01/2013 – A fantastic recipe. Only three bottles of this left. Sweet, roasty, carmelly, bitter. Great head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.

03/03/2013 – Happy days! Pork Chop Porter scored 38 in the NHC competition. The beer was scored by Anil Godinho (professional beer taster with Diageo) and Liam Hanlon (formerly head brewer at O’Haras). Anil detected traces of “hexanoate”, whatever the hell that is! Comments from Anil included “great balance of flavour but slightly too much alcohol for style”, but he scored the beer highly on both “Technical Merit” and “Intangibles”. Liam Hanlon noted “Licorice, malt, caramel all there. Slight acetylaldehyde, very slight phenolic”. “Head retention is good, no clarity at all, colour is good”. “All the flavours required are here, but masked and knocked out of balance by the alcohol. There is too much alcohol for this style”. “Too warming, too much alcohol, otherwise this would have been very good”. “This beer may have been entered into the wrong category, tastes like at least 7.5% ABV”.

PM#4 – Leann Dearg

After much deliberation, reading forums, posting on Beoir and listening to podcasts, I finally decided on a recipe for my Irish Red which I’ve christened “Leann Dearg”. I want something akin to “O’Hara’s Red” – plenty of caramel, clean yeast character and a generous roasty finish. Using the targets specified in “Brewing Classic Styles” I came up with the following. I was a bit confused about how much roasted barley to use. Jamil uses a whopping 170g of 300L roasted barley but it seems the Americans use a much lighter version than we do here (and in the UK). My roasted barley is around 600L so decided to tread carefully on my first attempt and use 60g for a 19 litre batch. I hope to get a decent colour but with a noticeable “burnt toast” finish. I just don’t want to veer into porter/stout territory, so caution is the key here.

Category: Irish Red Ale
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Total Grain/Extract: 3.50 kg
Total Hops: 58.0 g


  • 1 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.17 kg Crystal 100
  • 0.06 kg Roasted Barley
  • 0.17 kg Crystal 40
  • 0.1 kg Biscuit Malt
  • 0.9 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 1.1 kg Dry Light Extract (15 min late addition)
  • 37 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 4.5 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets(15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Original Gravity: 1.055 (1.044 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.010 – 1.014)
Color: 15.62 °SRM (9.00 – 18.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 25.0 IBU (17.00 – 28.00 IBU)
ABV: 5.5 % (4.00 – 6.00 %)

Used Jamil Zainasheff’s “Irish Red” targets as follows: OG: 1054, IBU: 25, SRM: 17

Got an OG of 1.054 but I was careful about the amount of top-up water I used. I reckon the total volume was only about 18 litres, so it seems my mash efficiency is way off target. I thought it would be a lot better because I was careful with the sparging.

Sample from trial jar tastes fantastic. Lots of caramel sweetness and plenty of hops but not much roast coming through. This will probable become more evident when it’s fermented. Here’s hoping.

06/10/2012 –bottled with 130g sugar. I only had about 60g of dextrose so I made the difference up with plain old table sugar. Only got 31 bottles due to the reduced volume. I really need to sort out my efficiency issues if I’m planning on upping the amount of base malt in my partial mashes. Got a nice roasty aroma out of the FV.

31/10/2012 – Perhaps it was a tad optimistic but I just had my first sample of this, less than 4 weeks in the bottle. Not great, it still tastes pretty young, like the darker crystal malt hasn’t had time to mellow out. I’ll give it another 3 weeks. Carbonation is decent. Colour is a little darker than I was expecting. Nice hit of roasted barley too, but nothing too dry. This may become more apparent as the beer matures.

22/11/2012 – Had an excellent result with this, though not quite there with the recipe yet. I think the darker crystal gives too much raisin, stone-fruit type flavours. It also comes across very sweet. Funnily enough, I agonised most over the amount of roasted barley to use, but I think the 60g I used was perfectly judged. Next time, I might reduce the ABV a bit and sub out the darker crystal with a lighter variety. I think I’d like a bit more late hop character in this also. Overall I’m very pleased with it though. I’d like to do a side-by-side tasting with some Clotworthy Dobbin as I think it’s quite similar. Indeed, the title “ruby porter” could easily applied to this beer.

PM#3 – Chasing Tail Pale Ale

Time to step my “American ale” brewing up a gear. I want to make my first partial mash IPA but I don’t want to use the recipe contained in “Brewing Classic Styles”. At 7.1% ABV it might be too much extract for my primitive partial boil system to handle. So, I’m using a recipe for BrewDog’s Punk IPA that I found in an old issue of BYO magazine. The recipe dates from when Punk IPA had a higher ABV (6%) than it does currently. The brewsheet on BrewDogs website specifies “biscuit malt” but the clone recipe accompanying the BYO article makes no mention of this ingredient. So I’ve included some of this, as I want to cheat some grainy/bread flavour into my extract beers. Will it work out?

The Columbus and Amarillo hops should give the beer that distinctive “BrewDog” flavour and aroma. I’m thinking the dankness of the Columbus will pair well with the fruitniess of the Amarillo. I’ve also got half an ounce of Ahtanum knocking around, which the boys at BrewDog use quite extensively. So that’s going in too. Will do a dry-hop too. It’s a pity – I don’t have a lot of my precious 2011 Amarillo hops left. Hopefully this brew will be a good use for them.

Category: American IPA
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 11 L
Total Grain/Extract: 3.55 kg
Total Hops: 117.0 g

Targets: OG: 1060, FG: 1014, IBU: 65 SRM: 8, ABV: 6% (BYO Punk IPA)


  • 0.125 kg CaraMalt
  • 0.325 kg Crystal 30L
  • 0.5 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.1 kg Biscuit Malt
  • 1.3 kg Dry Extra Light
  • 1.1 kg Dry Extra Light
  • 0.1 kg Wheat Dry
  • 22g Columbus (Pellets, 15.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 28g Amarillo (Whole, 8.50 %AA) boiled 10 min.
  • 14g Ahtanum (Whole, 6.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
  • 28g Columbus (Whole, 15.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 25g Amarillo (Whole, 8.50 %AA) used as dry hop.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05


Brewday: Got an OG of 1060, right on target.

27/07/2012 – Dry hopped with Amarillo.

31/07/2012 – Bottled into glass bottles (red caps). Primed using 140g dextrose but had siphon problems so primed less than 18 litres. Hopefully, there will be no bombs going off!

14/09/2012 – First taste of this. (Well, second taste really. I opened a bottle of this after coming home from the Irish Craft Ale festival in the RDS recently. I’d guess my taste buds were pretty numb at that point in the evening). Anyway, it looks like this recipe was a great success. The bitterness is absolutely perfect at 60IBU (I was shooting for 5 IBU less than the published recipe). Great hop flavour and aroma, the Columbus and Amarillo do pair exceptionally well together. The star of the show (and a big surprise to me) is the prominent toasted bread flavour the biscuit malt contributes towards the beer. It’s absolutely fantastic, probably the best American ale I’ve made to date. Biscuit malt ftw!

PM#2 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale

Category: American Amber Ale
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19L
Volume Boiled: 11L
Total Grain/Extract: 3.53kg
Total Hops: 138.0g

Original Gravity: 1.054 (1.045 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.012 (1.010 – 1.015)
Color: 14.65 °SRM (10.00 – 17.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 39.9 IBU (25.00 – 40.00 IBU)
ABV: 5.5% (4.50 – 6.00%)

Targets: OG: 1052, FG: 1013, IBU: 35, SRM: 13, ABV: 5.1% (Brewing Classic Styles, American Amber Ale)

  • 0.34 kg American Caramel 30°L
  • 0.225 kg Crystal 100°L
  • 0.34 kg Munich Malt
  • 0.5 kg Maris Otter
  • 0.225 kg Biscuit Malt
  • 0.8 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 1 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 0.1 kg Wheat Dry
  • 12g Chinook (Whole, 13.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 42g Cascade (Pellets, 5.50 %AA) boiled 10 min.
  • 28g Ahtanum (Whole, 6.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
  • 28g Citra (Whole, 12.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 28g Amarillo (Whole, 8.50 %AA) used as dry hop.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Brewday – Got a disappointingly low OG of 1048.

09/07/2012 – Dry-hopped with 28g of tasty Amarillo hops.

13/07/2012 – Bottled. Primed to 2.3 volumes using 140g dextrose.

PM#1 – Krook’s Pale Ale

This is my first recipe using Amber Malt. I want this to be a super malty beer with just a little hop character. I’m using Nottingham yeast which is pretty clean but (to my palate at least) shows a little “English” character and attenuates well.

This is also my first partial mash. I’m using John Palmer’s directions for partial mashing in “Brewing Classic Styles”. John advises heating the strike water to 74°C before doughing in and settling on a mash temperature of around 68°C. Lost a couple of degrees after 30 minutes but applied heat and gave the mash a good stir.

I’m only using half a kilo of base malt for this beer but I need the diastatic power of the base malt in order to convert the amber malt. I’ll ramp up the amount of base malt I use in future brews.

Category: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Mash Efficiency: 72 %
Total Grain/Extract: 3.33 kg
Total Hops: 78.0 g

Original Gravity: 1.055 (1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 12.43 °SRM (6.00 – 18.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 37.0 IBU (30.00 – 50.00 IBU)
ABV: 5.5 % (4.60 – 6.20 %)


  • 0.23 kg Crystal 30
  • 0.5 kg Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 0.17 kg English Amber Malt
  • 0.11 kg Crystal 100
  • 2.2 kg Dry Light Malt Extract
  • 0.115 kg Dry Wheat Malt Extract
  • 50 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 28 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 5 min.
  • Yeast: Danstar Nottingham


Targets Spitfire ale: FG: 1.011-1.014, SRM: 14, OG: 1.052-1.055, IBU: 35: ABV: 5.2%

Forgot to add Whirlfloc so not sure how this is going to turn out. Planning on doing secondary to give it the best chance of clearing.

13/06/2012 – Bottled using 125g corn sugar. FG: 1.012. Sample tasted excellent.

22/10/2012 – As delicious as this beer turned out, I still have a few bottles left. It’s very, very malty. Almost veering into chocolate territory. Nice level of bitterness giving a dry finish. Definitely a very balanced beer though I think I would reduce the amber malt slightly next time.

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