Friday, 27 January 2012

Bristol Beer Factory Homebrew Challenge

I did promise to review some of my recent brews but I’m holding fire for a couple of days while I sort out something to improve the look of the posts. You’ll understand when the time comes.

The general upshot is they are nice drinkable beers, but the trouble is, I’m quite a difficult dog to please. None of them stand out as anything special in my mind.

As such, I’m rather short-handed for an up-coming competition. I only found out via Twitter the other day about the local homebrew challenge organised by the Bristol Beer Factory. Entries need to be submitted by March 16th and with little of note in stock, that doesn’t leave much time to sort something out.

There’s a chance the latest incarnation of my Best Bitter might be good, though.

Early tastings from the FV are most encouraging. The downside, however, is that it is just a standard English bitter. The guys at the Bristol Beer Factory knock out some stunning beers and tend to be quite innovative. I’m not convinced my bottle of best will be what they are looking for.  

Probably the only option open to me, if I do wish to enter, is to brew something new. While I don’t wish to brew something just for the sake of it, there are a number of brews that need to be considered for my local brew club, so if I can nail one of those, I can kill two birds with one stone.

Perhaps I’ll have a crack at a brown ale. American style. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Brewday - Best Bitter 20/01/2012

Freezing temperatures of late haven't been conducive to home brewing.  For one, standing around in the cold isn't much fun and the outside water supply has been frozen too.

Thankfully the cold spell has relented and Friday will see the brewery fired up for the first time in 2012. My only reservations are that I'm out for a few beers on the Thursday evening, so I might well have a sore head when the time comes to switch on the HLT, which will be pretty early as I like to get finished while there's still daylight. The second reservation is the pump.

The pump failed last winter, albeit under colder temperatures. Some of the internal casing split, so although it's only been down to minus 6C this time around, I'm a little bit apprehensive about its condition.

Tomorrow I'll flush the brewery through to make sure it's all clean prior to the brewday, so I'll find out then if I need to get my hands dirty and change the pump. I do have a spare unit, just in case, but I'd rather not have the aggro.

As for the brew, I'm having another crack at my Best Bitter with a few modifications. The last one came in at 4.8% ABV which is probably a tad high for a pint of best. I'm going to scale the recipe down so it comes in around 4%, keeping the split between Pale Malt and Crystal the same at 95% & 5% respectively.

But, the main purpose of re-visiting this brew is to replace the Bobek hops. Although part of the trio that made up Styrian Goldings , I didn't like the flavour when used individually for the first time in the last brew. This time I'll be using Savinjski as the late hop and I'll be interested to see how it differs.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Casks

The wife took the hint and bought me a lovely pair of casks for Christmas.

Okay, technically they're pins (4.5 gallon) and they're not a lovely colour, but they will enable me to produce proper cask conditioned ale.

Until now I've either bottled or kegged, so I'm looking forward to using these. I recently knocked up a winter ale (not yet blogged about) which will be the first brew to be cask conditioned. The grist was made up of pale, crystal, chocolate and wheat malts with a touch of roasted barley. Hops were Challenger and Goldings plus a few Cascade at the death.

Today I've added auxillary finings and will cool the beer to around 5C for 4 days. I'll then rack into the cask with isinglass. It promises to be a belter.