Monday, 11 June 2018

Brewday 28/05/18 Motueka Pale

Pale and Hoppy

I always try to keep a good range of ingredients in stock so I can brew at short notice. I also tend to have recipes created in advance which (although usually subject to last minute tweaks) gives me the ability to brew some beer when the opportunity arises. This was case at here when despite it being half term the rest of the family were out all day and I only had a couple of hours of work to do. I had the ingredients to make a nice hoppy pale ale so I got the mash on early, nipped out to work, and was back after 2½ hours to finish the brew.

I recently bought some Motueka hops and yeast from Crossmyloof Brew Supplies who I believe are a contract brewer who also repack hops and yeast to sell to homebrewers at very competitive prices. I had never dealt with them before so I was interested to see how the ingredients performed, especially the yeast which was their US Pale Ale Yeast.

Recipe BIAB

  • Mash for 150 mins at 67°C
  • Boil for 60 minutes
  • Mash water volume 29.3lt
  • 2.7kg Maris Otter
  • 0.5kg Munich Malt
  • 200g Flaked Maize
  • 200g Wheat Malt
  • 100g Crystal Malt 45L
  • 100g Carapils
  • 15g Northdown 60 mins
  • 12g First Gold 15 mins
  • 50g Motueka whirlpool 20 mins
  • 33g Perle dry hop 4 days


I pitched the yeast at 20°C which was about as low as I could get it during the UK's current never-ending warm spell. I also put the fermenter in a pan of cold water wrapped in a damp towel to try and keep the temperature down during fermentation which was fairly successful, the temperature stayed at around 21°C. Fermentation was very quick, the gravity reading was down to 1.010 after 3 days. I bottled the beer after one week.
OG: 1.040
FG: 1.008
ABV: 4.15%
The beer was pretty cloudy when I bottled it and the yeast was not as flocculent as others I've used, the yeast cake after fermentation was not as compact as usual. In fact bottling took far longer than usual with blobs of yeast blocking the bottling wand. I think the warm weather has affected the fermentation. However it seems to be clearing up in the bottles so hopefully it will end up as good hoppy pale ale.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Brewday 27/04/18 Barley Wine

Half the beer - twice the alcohol

I decided to attempt a barley wine for the first time, loosely based on this Ron Pattison recipe from 1956 for Tennants No.1 Barley Wine. With an alcohol level of 10% abv, and it being a new style for me, I decided to only brew about 10lt as this was not going to be a session beer.

Recipe BIAB

  • Mash for 120 mins at 65°C
  • Boil for 105 minutes
  • Mash water volume 18.1lt
  • 3kg Maris Otter
  • 265g Flaked Maize
  • 90g Chocolate Malt
  • 90g Crystal Malt 45L
  • 500g Muscavado Sugar
  • 25g Northdown 105 mins
  • 12g First Gold 60 mins
  • 12g First Gold 15 mins
  • 12g Perle dry hop 5 days
  • 1 pack GV12 Gervin English Ale yeast
  • Recipe in Brewers Friend


OG 1.082
FG 1.010
ABV 9.4%
Although I brewed about 11 litres I finished with just 20 x 330ml bottles. Given the bit of residue left in the bottling bucket and the trub left at the bottom of the demijohns I reckon I started bottling with about 8 litres, the rest escaped during an extremely active fermentation. 

The great escape
On reflection I think if I brew something similar again I'll split it over three demijohns.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Tasting the IPA

Testing Time

Time to try the IPA I brewed on March 2nd. First impressions are it's not too hoppy and it doesn't taste too strong despite being 6% abv. In fact it's a little bit too easy to drink. There's a bit of sweetness (maybe from the maize?) and I think I could have made it more bitter. Overall it's quite pleasant and very drinkable, perhaps more like a strong bitter rather than an IPA.

It's also cleared up a lot in the last couple of weeks. When I tried it two weeks ago and it was still a bit too hazy. This was the first time I've used Nottingham yeast and I am really impressed with it, the beer is clean tasting with no overwhelming estery flavours and it's perfect for bottle conditioning with the sediment sticking hard to the bottom of the bottle.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Competition Time

And the Winner is....

...Me! I entered three of my beers into the annual Stockport Beer Festival Bar Nouveau homebrew competition, where the winning beer in each of the five categories is brewed at a local brewery and launched at Stockport Beer & Cider Festival. I entered my Kolsch in the speciality category, Another Porter into Stout/Porter and Red Rye Ale into the Bitter category, all three beers made it through to the finals and my Red Rye Ale won the bitter category. Of the three I thought the bitter was the weakest entry which shows what I know. This means I receive the fantastic prize of getting to brew my beer at a local micro (this usually means digging out the mash tun but never mind). The only problem I have is thinking of a suitable name for my beer. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Brewday 02/03/2018 IPA

Heritage Homebrew

For my next beer I decided to brew an old style English IPA. Not to a genuine heritage recipe but I took inspiration from my copy of The Homebrewer's Guide to Vintage Beer by Ron Pattison (whose blog "Shut up about Barclay Perkins" is great source of historical beery information) The 19th Century IPA recipes featured in the book aren't especially strong - around 5-6% abv - but are extremely bitter with IBU ratings in excess of 150 and hopping rates of up to 18g per litre. I didn't want to go for such a high level of bitterness so I used most hops as late addition and for dry hopping, with (high for me!) an overall hopping rate of 10g per litre. The IBU's are around 52 so still quite bitter. This brew was the first time I tried adjusting the water profile. One of my fellow local homebrewers gave me a water adjustment spreadsheet with our local water profile data from a recent report. After some messing about in Excel I ended up adding 6g of calcium chloride and 6g of Epsom salts to the mash, whether this will make any significant difference remains to be seen.

Recipe (BIAB)

  • Mash for 90 mins at 66°C
  • Boil for 60 mins
  • Mash water volume 28.5lt
  • Maris Otter 4.8kg
  • Wheat Malt 150g
  • Crystal Malt 45L 250g
  • Flaked Maize 250g
  • Northdown 7% 25g (60 mins)
  • Northdown 7% 25g (30 mins)
  • First Gold (homegrown) 25g whirlpool 75°C for 30 mins
  • Cluster 7% 25g whirlpool 75°C for 30 mins
  • First Gold (homegrown) 25g dry hop for 4 days
  • Cluster 7% dry hop for 4 days 
  • Nottingham Ale Yeast 11g pack pitched at 18°C
  • Recipe in Brewers Friend

Results 12/03/2018

I bottled this after 10 days fermentation
OG 1.057
FG 1.012
ABV 6%
Now I have to give it a few weeks to condition before I can taste it.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Testing Times

Kolsch and Porter

I've not been able to drink much of my most recent brews until recently as I have been going out drinking (and paying for) other beers. However, things are more or less back to normal now so I can revert to being an antisocial solitary drinker once again. My two most recent brews were a Porter and a Kolsch and both have benefited from a longer conditioning period than I usually allow.  

The Kolsch (strictly speaking I can't call it "Kolsch" as it's not brewed in Cologne, maybe Kolsch-style or Kolsch-ish) was brewed on the 17th of November, fermented for 10 days at 17°C, bottled conditioned for two weeks at room temperature and then stored for 6 weeks at 10-12°C. The end result is an extremely crisp, clean tasting beer which is also very pale and clear.

The taste is very slightly sweet, slightly spicy or herbal with a hint of malty breadiness. It's 4.8% abv so a bit more than session strength but not too strong. Overall I found it really clean and refreshing and probably more suited to summer drinking, which I'll try to do if I manage to save some until then.

The Porter was brewed on the 8th of December and fermented for 10 days (the yeast was pitched at 18°C and the fermenter temperature never rose above 19°C). One bottled I left it at room temperature for another 6 weeks. The beer is smooth and full bodied, not too bitter and has none of the astringent burnt flavours which I have found in past dark beers, which I guess is due to the very small amount of black malt in the recipe.

Despite the relatively small quantity of dark malts the beer is still very dark and at 5.1% abv it's not weak but remains very drinkable. It has a smooth consistency which I believe is derived from the oats. It's not overly hoppy but neither do the malts overwhelm flavour-wise, the sweetness of the crystal counters the bitterness of the black and chocolate malts so overall I think this is a easy drinking and well balanced porter. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Brewday 08/12/2017 Another Porter

Brown Stuff

I had one last opportunity to brew in 2017 so chose to make a porter. I had some dark malts in stock and I could use some more homegrown hops and free up some space in the freezer. 

Recipe (BIAB):

  • Mash for 90 mins at 66°C
  • Boil for 60 mins
  • Mash water volume 28lt
  • Pale Malt 3.5kg
  • Munich Light 0.5kg
  • Crystal 60L 200g
  • Chocolate Malt 240g
  • Black malt 60g 
  • Rolled Oats 250g
  • Northdown 7% 15g (60 mins)
  • Northdown 7% 25g (15 mins)
  • First Gold (homegrown) 25g whirlpool 75°C for 30 mins
  • Cascade 4.2% 25g whirlpool 75°C for 30 mins
  • First Gold (homegrown) 63g dry hop for 3 days 
  • Gervin GV12 English Ale Yeast 11g pack
  • Recipe in Brewers Friend
The whirlpool addition is a bit of a misnomer, I just chilled the wort to 75°C, added the hops, gave it a stir and left it for 30 minutes before finishing chilling. This should get more aroma from the hops as opposed to adding at flameout when the wort is still at boiling point.

Results 18/12/2017

I bottled this after 10 days in the fermenter.
OG 1.049 (efficiency 70%)
FG 1.009
ABV 5.17%

I'll give it a couple of weeks conditioning and try some in 2018, hopefully it will be good, the sample I tried from the gravity reading was very tasty!

Update 31/01/2018

Yep, still tasty!