Thursday, 10 May 2012

Brewday - Best Bitter 10/05/2012

During the spring and summer months my work begins to hot up, so opportunities to brew can be few and far between. It's important to fire up the brewery when a window appears, and as I've had some work cancelled due to the appalling weather, that's today.

I'm revisiting my standard English Best Bitter that I've had problems with since switching the late hop from Styrian Goldings. This time I'm going to have a crack with a higher alpha hop, Aurora, sometimes referred to as a 'Super Styrian'. The remainder of the ingredients will be the same as before.

Special/Best/Premium Bitter

Type: All Grain Date: 10/05/2012
Batch Size (fermenter): 50.00 l Brewer: Mark
Boil Size: 62.65 l Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Elite Brewery
End of Boil Volume 55.12 l Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 50.00 l Est Mash Efficiency 77.4 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50):
Taste Notes:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
8700.00 g Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain 1 95.0 %
460.00 g Crystal Malt - 60L (Thomas Fawcett) (118.2 EBC) Grain 2 5.0 %
32.00 g Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) [6.80 %] - Boil 75.0 min Hop 3 12.3 IBUs
30.00 g Progress [7.50 %] - Boil 75.0 min Hop 4 12.8 IBUs
20.00 g Aurora [8.10 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 5 4.4 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 6 -
30.00 g Aurora [8.10 %] - Boil 1.0 min Hop 7 0.6 IBUs
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.042 SG Measured Original Gravity: 
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG Measured Final Gravity: 
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.2 % Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 30.0 IBUs Calories: 
Est Color: 12.7 EBC

As always, nothing seems to go exactly to plan when I'm rushing in the morning. My strike temperature was a little too high, so I had to add some cold liquor to the mash to get the temperature down. It's still at the higher end of the range around 69C (156F) and the mash is now a little thinner than usual, but we'll see what happens. The pH was 5.2

I'm going to split the batch into two and ferment one with US-05 and the other with WLP007. I'll be interested to compare yeasts and see what the pair bring to the table.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Dry Hopped Cousin

It may not have been good enough to feature in the Bristol Beer Factory Homebrew competition, but my American Brown Ale has a cousin. A dry-hopped, cask conditioned version.

I tapped it yesterday and it was the first pint pulled through my new, twin beer engine.

The dry hopping has made such a difference to this beer. I'm a hard man to please and while this isn't my best beer, the dry hopping has definitely lifted the flavour.

Many of my brews are re-brewed, but normally with a slight change to the hop or malt schedule, to get them just where I'd like them and this beer is no different. I'd do things slightly differently next time; get the gravity down a bit and the hops up, but I'll definitely have another crack at it.

There is a downside to the cask, too. Once tapped, the cask will not fit into either of my temperature controlled fridges, so it has to be drunk at the ambient temperature in the garage. With temperatures a bit below the norm for this time of year, it's being served at around 8C which is definitely a tad chilly. By the time I reach the end of the pint it's noticeable that the flavour has improved, but with temperatures likely to rise over the next couple of months, hopefully this will not be a problem for future brews.

Like many of my recent beers, the head retention isn't great, either, and that's something else I'll have to work on.

I took pH readings at various points through the brewing process on my latest brew, which may help in this respect.

Mash: 5.5
Sparge Liquor 5.9
First Runnings 5.2
Final Runnings 5.9
Start of Boil 5.5
End of Boil 5.2

The mash pH was a little high, but otherwise the figures look acceptable. I'll be interested to see how this beer fares once it's bottled and conditioned. In the meantime, I'm looking to brew again next week and I'll endeavour to get the readings for the mash and the liquor a little lower.