Friday, 22 June 2012

Brewday - Wheat 21/06/2012

Most days are pretty trying, but some days are more so. It was one of those days yesterday.

I had planned to brew, but needed to get finished relatively early. So I prepped everything the night before, had vessels full and ingredients weighed, milled and ready to go. The plan was to switch the hot liquor on before breakfast, so I could mash in early and start the sparge as soon as I returned from dropping little'un off at school.

I awoke plenty soon enough and went to hit the switch to get the HLT fired up. Trouble was, the garage smelt like a brewery. Although half-asleep, it was readily apparent there was beer everywhere.

My latest pale ale, which had been racked into a cask and was conditioning at 12C in my conditioning fridge had decided to cause me grief. Beer was dripping from the fridge door and there were puddles everywhere; seeping under another fridge, under a freezer, under my bottle crates..... you get the picture.

Inside the fridge, the cask just sat there. Minus a shive. Perhaps I racked too early. Perhaps I over-primed. I definitely lost beer and the sad thing is, it was a good beer too. I had sneaked an early bottle a couple of nights before, to see how it was coming along and it was good.

So I lost an hour of my day, cleaning. Then, when I attempted to commence the new brew, I was faced with another problem. I got the hot liquor to strike temperature plus 3C (as I tend to lose about 3C in the transfer to the mash tun). I checked the temperature in the MT before commencing with the malt, to find it hadn't lost 3C. It had lost 23C.

Impossible? Yes, I thought so too. The HLT thermometer was faulty. I checked the liquor in the HLT with the other thermometer and it read 20C lower than the original reading. I then got my spare thermometer and double-checked. The original liquor was definitely 20C lower.

So the cleaning delayed mash-in, was now going to be delayed again, while the liquor was returned from the mash tun, back to the HLT and reheated.

Ultimately beer was made and I guess it goes to show it's prudent to have a spare thermometer or two (and a spare hour or two...)

As for the beer, it was an ale containing 30% wheat. I don't like to call it a wheat beer as I'm not keen on the style and haven't used an appropriate yeast. So it's more a pale ale, with 30% wheat, fermented with an ale yeast. Cascade and Galaxy are providing the fantastic aroma that's currently coming out of the fermenters.

I hope the beer is more enjoyable than the brewday itself.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Brewday - Renegade Pale Ale 31/05/2012

I managed to squeeze in another brew at the end of last month. After playing around with my Best Bitter recipe so many times, I thought it was about time I did something different. So I did, but in all honesty, it's not that different...

The grist for the Best is made up of 95% Pale Malt and 5% Crystal. For this brew, I simply replaced the Crystal with British Caramalt, so it should give a much paler beer. The Caramalt is EBC 27-32, compared to the Crystal at EBC 120-140.

As for the hops, I used my normal WGV and Progress for bittering (essentially a Fuggles and Goldings type combo) and then late hopped with Simcoe.

I was hoping to end up with is a a nice pale ale, around 4.2% with a nice touch of bitterness from the English hops, but rounded off with a nice American zing.

The brewday was straightforward enough, although this was the brew that I noticed some cleaning residue inside one of the fermenters, which was slightly scratched. I used a boiling kettle to wash away the residue and continued as normal and just hope the beer will be okay.

Early samples prior to racking were encouraging, although the phenolic flavour that blighted by Citra Pale Ale didn't manifest itself until after it had conditioned properly, so only time will tell with this one. I've stuck half the batch in a cask which I'm putting to one side for a forthcoming BBQ and he other half has been bottled.

Tasting notes to follow, unless of course, the whole lot gets dumped...

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Hosepipes, Phenolics and Pale Ales

As of today, the ban from our local water authority on drawing water from the mains supply, via a hosepipe, has finally been lifted. And about bloody time.

I've managed to get around the ban by employing some copper pipe via a tap connector to fill the brewing vessels and to chill the wort. But, to be honest, the clean-up without the use of a hose has been pretty painful and probably the worst part of the ban, so I'm glad we're now free to chuck as much water at it as we like.

As well as the hosepipe ban being a bit of a downer in recent months, my Citra Pale Ale, which I mentioned in this post as being one of the best brews I do, turned out to be phenolic. Or, at least the bottles did. I split the brew into two fermenters and bottled one and put the other in a cask. The cask version was unaffected. but the bottles were dumped.

On a subsequent brewday I noticed a bit of cleaning residue on the fermenter wall. It appeared there was a scratch in the plastic and the residue hadn't been washed away, so I'm guessing this may have caused the problem. New fermenters have been purchased.

Since my last post, I've also sampled the Aurora late-hopped Best Bitter. It's a bit harsh at present and will probably be a nice beer given a bit more time, but the upshot is, it's still not the beer I was after. I'm missing the soft flavour of the old Styrian Goldings and I'll have yet another crack at this brew soon, replacing the late hop with Celeia.

I did squeeze in another brew at the end of last month, which is currently conditioning. Early samples from the fermenter were very encouraging. It's a Pale Ale in which I've used Simcoe for the first time. I'll do a more detailed post on this beer separately.

As for the next brew, my local homebrew club have a schedule of beer styles and it's about time I applied myself properly and did one. I swerved the Mild Ale due to lack of time but will have a crack at the beer style for July, which is any beer containing at least 30% wheat.

I've put together a recipe, incorporating another hop I've yet to try and can't wait to get stuck in. Maybe next week, now that the hosepipe ban has been lifted.