Saturday, 31 December 2011

Black Moon Stout

The next few posts will probably review some of the recent brews. I’ll kick off with the Black Moon Stout as it sitting in two kegs and I’ve been drinking plenty of it, served under a Nitrogen/Co2 mix.

I split the 10 gallon batch, which had been infused with a couple of vanilla pods, into two fermenters and added some toasted coconut to one. 

The positives are that it’s a very drinkable beer. Dark  ruby, rather than black, and very very smooth. Any vanilla flavour is muted in the background somewhere, but it’s there if you search for it.

The coconut, however, was probably a gamble which didn’t pay off.

It didn’t add enough flavour to make the impact I had hoped, and for some reason, the coconut version isn’t quite as smooth as the vanilla. While it’s  a nice beer, it’s simply not as nice as the other.

Would I make it again? For sure, although I might tinker with the recipe a little. If anything it’s a little light for a stout – in terms of body and maybe in colour. Maybe just a handful more roast barley would sort that. And I’d leave the coconut alone and maybe double the vanilla pods.

A good beer.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Impromptu Brewday

I know there's only just over a fortnight to Christmas, but I've decided to squeeze in a small brew which will hopefully be ready in time.

With the harshness of the Bobek hops dominating my last two pale ales, I thought I'd like something in reserve that wouldn't put off the non-ale drinkers who might frequent our humble abode over the festive season.

So I've decided to do half a batch (40 pints) of a very simple ale. Very nearly all pale malt with just handful, or two, of torrified wheat to help the head retention and just a single hop; Cascade.

To get it ready in time it needs to be lowish gravity, so I'll aim at something like 1.040 and use a fast acting, flocculant yeast, like S-04.

With colder weather forecast in these parts, there's a chance the outside water supply might freeze at some time between now and Christmas, so I reckon it's a good idea to get a brew on while the going's good.

Like I need an excuse.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Get Supping

Hops. Wonderful things, but right now they're doing my head in. Or at least one variety is. Or, should that be three varieties? I'll explain.

Many of the pale ales I've brewed over the last few years have included Styrian Goldings. A lovely variety, both for bittering and aroma. Soft, slightly floral, with a hint of citrus.

Sadly we can no longer buy Styrian Goldings as Styrian Goldings. They are grown in Slovenia but, since joining the EU, someone's stuck their oar in. The original Styrian Goldings, I'm led to believe, were made up of a mixture of three hops; Bobek, Celeia and Savinjski. Now, because of EU legislation, they have to be sold individually.

This might not seem a problem, but I've recently done two brews that both called for SG's. These were beers that I've brewed on several occasions, so I knew the flavour profile I was looking to achieve.

The two brews in question were the first in which I replaced the SG's with Bobek. Let me tell you now, it's not the same beer. Both beers have disappointed (only slightly, they're still good drinking), and I'm sure it's down to the hops as everything else in the recipe and process remained constant.

As a result, I've purchased small amounts of Celeia and Savinjski to try next time.

The most frustrating part  is that both beers had been developed over a period of time. Having just got the pair where I wanted them, the flavour gets skewed and it's now going to take several more batches to get them back on track while I try the other two hop varieties, or a combination of all three.

The upside is that I'll have to brew more. While drinking is no great hardship, supping a near identical batch, time after time, maybe.