Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Homebrew Review - Homegrown Hop 2013

I brewed this beer in mid-September with my new harvest of Bramling Cross hops.

Last year's incarnation was good, but unfortunately, the 2013 brew hasn't turned out quite so well, even allowing for the fact that I'm particularly hard on my beers.

Homegrown Hop 2013 
I was out of carahell malt when I came to brew, so substituted that with caragold this time around. It produced a paler beer, probably the colour I was looking for initially, but at the expense of some body. I definitely preferred the rounder flavour the German malt provided last year.

I also increased my estimate of the alpha. This was a good move as last year's beer was possibly a shade too bitter and this year's is nicely balanced. The disappointment comes with the flavour and aroma.

Hop aroma is earthy, spicy, but definitely muted. Not the assertive, fruitiness, I was expecting.

The flavour is not too bad and was better received by my local homebrew group than it was by me. To be fair, it is nicely balanced, has more fruit to it than you get on the nose, but overall the beer is a shade thin. I think reverting to last year's recipe with the carahell malt would help in this respect.

It's nicely clear and has a bright white head which dissipates about half way through. But although it looks the part, because of the lack of body and aroma, the beer is ultimately underwhelming.

Only I know what I was setting out to achieve, which is why I'm probably a harsher critic than most and I think the problem lies with my hop picking. Worried about them 'going over' I harvested a couple of weeks earlier this year and while the hops looked great, they probably lacked some of that 'paperiness' that you need to ensure the Lupulin is at its peak.

Having said all of that, the beer is perfectly palatable and I'll have no qualms about sharing this among friends. I've bottled the whole batch, rather than splitting half into a keg, as I get more requests for handouts of this brew, than any other.

I'll keep trying, though. I'll revert to the carahell malt and pick the hops a shade later and hopefully this time next year I'll be singing its praises.

Edit: If you're a hop geek, there's an article and some great pictures from this year's British hop harvest HERE

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Brewday - RIP 06/12/2013

Friday is pencilled in for my next brewday. I've brewed this particular beer in some guise or another for a number of years. My father died unexpectedly a while back and I've tried to brew each year on the anniversary of his passing and that original beer I dubbed 'RIP'.

I'm not quite sure where you would pigeon-hole this brew. It's not really and ESB and I just tend to refer to it as my winter ale. The lower gravity version I did last year didn't really come up to scratch, so I'm bringing it back to a more respectable 1.055 gravity this year.

I've always found it very palatable. The British Challenger and EKG hops give the beer a moderate level of bitterness, with a late addition of Cascade delivering a hint of citrus.

And for this year, I've made a change to the grist, dividing the pale malt in half and substituting the other with mild ale malt. The other malts remain unchanged, the handful each of chocolate and roasted barley giving a nice touch of complexity to the finished beer.

I'm happier with my recent beers more than I have been in a long time and hopefully this will be another good one. A little later than usual this year, but dad, this one is for you...

Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)
Type: All Grain Date: 12/06/13
Batch Size (fermenter): 45.00 l Brewer: Mark
Boil Size: 52.43 l Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Elite 45L Brew
End of Boil Volume 48.88 l Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 45.00 l Est Mash Efficiency 73.1 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 
Taste Notes:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5300.00 g Mild Malt (7.9 EBC) Grain 1 46.2 %
5300.00 g Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain 2 46.2 %
500.00 g Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (118.2 EBC) Grain 3 4.4 %
230.00 g Wheat, Flaked (3.2 EBC) Grain 4 2.0 %
75.00 g Chocolate Malt (1000.0 EBC) Grain 5 0.7 %
55.00 g Roasted Barley (1199.7 EBC) Grain 6 0.5 %
20.00 g Challenger [7.10 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 7 8.4 IBUs
20.00 g East Kent Goldings (EKG) [6.45 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 8 7.7 IBUs
22.00 g Challenger [7.10 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 9 8.4 IBUs
22.00 g Goldings, East Kent [6.45 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 10 6.5 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 11 -
40.00 g Cascade [7.50 %] - Boil 7.0 min Hop 12 4.4 IBUs
30.00 g Cascade [7.50 %] - Boil 1.0 min Hop 13 0.5 IBUs
3.0 pkg Nottingham Yeast (Lallemand ) Yeast 14 -
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.055 SG Measured Original Gravity: 
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity: 
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.6 % Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 36.0 IBUs Calories: 
Est Color: 26.5 EBC