Thursday, 19 November 2015

Catherine's Christmas Cracker

Hi all,

It has been almost a Year since my last post on the wonderful world of beer brewing. We have been extremely busy at home and work but the brewing has continued through-out! Just had no time to post, :(
That all changes today with Catherine's Christmas Cracker! My past Year of brewing has been taken up with chasing the best rendition of a lowish abv & high flavour/body IPA. I have drank a good few commercial samples of this type of beer and imbalance is noted by a 'high water' flavour/mouthfeel in some variants which is a major turn off and has me dangerously reaching for a Balls out AIPA @ 7%! At my advancing age this can't be done too many times, so here's how I compensate and keep that massive hop coming through cleanly and in balance. :)
Catherine's Christmas Cracker 15 gallon batch
8kgs Maris Otter
5Kgs Wheat malt
200 grmms Hallertau Tradition (FWH)
250 grmms Cascade pellets flame out
250 grmms Chinook pellets flame out
3 Protafloc tablets
WLP 32 yeast
O.G 1.040
Expected F.G 1.012
Expected ABV 3.8 to 4.0% & 50 IBU
I am continuing to refine my process which in this instance is with a roughly 60/40 split of basic MO& Wheat Malt.

 Doughing in
 Well mixed

Rest Temperature of 68 degs along with the Wheat Malt will give me the body I am looking for. I recirculated the mash through the grain bed for an hour before commencing run off. The wheat grain seems to help to catch a lot of dross and produces a nice run off. We recirculated through the grain bed during the sparge until complete.

I have been using disposable scourers on my hop stopper for a while now but these packs I picked up last time we were over in Turkey are absolutely excellent.

Rough end of a hop stopper

 Stretch and fit two of them like socks!

I am keeping this brew nice and simple and went with a single hop in FWH guise.

Brew Crew!

The brewery was filled with a light citrus from the Hallertau Tradition as the malt broke through the hop layer, a shame it is gone for ever! The cooled wort was ran through the hop bed for two hours.

I am using Hop Pellets for the first time and used both Cascade & Chinook as flame out additions.

I had read up on them  but was still surprised at how fast they broke up in the kettle..Excellent smell!

First brewday in a while and it went very well. Great to have Martin showing an interest and getting in about. I am hoping that keeping the recipe simple and filtering the hell out of the wort through the process will come through in the glass. I will leave half of the batch post fermentation with only a Cascade Dry hop for Catherine and will break out the Columbus and a few others in the second half of the brew along with some further fermentables to kick it upstairs to AIPA levels of BOOM! :)

Thanks for reading my drivel and hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here's a last photo of the wort post natural filtration.

Edit, next Day.

I tend to clean my mash tun during the boil and leave the kettle until the next day. I had a very pleasant surprise at the speed of clean up in the kettle with the majority being pellets for the first time. With flowers I normally have a used hop depth over the top of the cooling coil.

A final close up of the top of the hop filter, also had a sniff of the trial jar and extremely citrus, I lok forward to dry hopping this beer enormously and will be keeping stone ruination IPA in mind for the hopping of the experimental 2nd half of the beer post fermentation, watch this space for explosive yeast shots!

                              Edit, two days later

We are having a -2C spell so all beer decanted into his n hers vessels and brought inside, took off like rockets!

Yeast breaking free of the bag.

Edit 27th Nov
Well, that's the big batch completed!
 I added some home made Candi Sugar. In this instance with Lime Juice.

Ran it up to 300 F and held for 20 minutes, enough time to change colour and develop some toffee flavour.

I kept the slab (600 grm) as complete as I could when breaking it out of the tray. I placed it gently in the fermenter and you'll have to take my word for it but there was not a single trace of it on clean up today!

I had a relatively easy time with the hop pellets and used a cloth filter over the bottling valve. Cleaned the cloth every 8 bottles or so and caught a huge amount of hop debris.

In the end the 10 gallon boosted batch had a further 200 grm of Chinook and a 200 grm belt of Columbus pellets. The FV smelled absolutely outrageous and we have a nice little 5.4% abv. I think it will be a cracker (straightener)! Only time and carbonation will tell. We will keep an eye on these clear bottles to see if there is going to be a hop haze issue or not. It makes no odds to me as I am enlightened but some people.....

Catherine's Christmas Cracker is lagging behind at a still 1.020 gravity. I will let things run their course then dry hop further with Cascade. It should be 4 to 4.1% and a slightly lighter colour. Until next time and thanks for reading! :)
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Monday, 1 December 2014

5 pm saviour, the verdict

Hi all,
I am departing for the fair Kingdom of Saudi in the morning so thought i should post my thoughts on 5pm Saviour while it is still freshly bottled and all new. Bottling was a week ago but this wee beer is honestly the closest i have ever come to a commercial beer (in a good way).The beer is a single grain (Maris Otter) high mash temperature (80 strike/ 72 deg rest) and fermented on wlp 23 Burton & US05 split yeast. The percentage split in the split of two yeasts is unknown but its around 10th Gen. When i poured the beer the malt/yeast hit me with authority from easily two foot away, that was quite a surprise. If you have tried a well made Polish or Czech Bohemian style lager you will know the smooth vanilla odour that is a part of the best of them?

That is present here although no lager yeast was used. The beer was fermented out over 6 weeks at approx 7 to 10 degrees and i think that is well shown in the smoothness. The Burton snatch is present as well but in a subdued fashion nicely counterpointing the slight hop bitterness from the calculated 40 IBU.
 This beer has a fair charge of hops but the yeast is basically walking all over them unlike in Satans Circus where the same yeast split 9th Gen yeast was crushed below the hop avalanche.

Ah, wait a moment, the beer has been chilling outside on this cold 1st Dec rainy evening and as i approach the bottom 1/4 of the glass i am experiencing the Pacific Gem hop nicely, sweetness and ripe tropical fruit overlaying a very slight touch of caramel and that's close to it.

Okay second beer now and i am tasting toffee and light citrus. This is all still moving around below the yeast, maybe the sweetness is being boosted by the chinook hop which does tend to have a sweetshop profile. Absolutely brilliant to find in what is quite a simple beer, no huge mouthfeel just nicely balanced with a small edge of Hop zing that many commercial do not have.

Anyway there we have it, good head retention, good colour all from one grain and a nice high mash temperature. Hops woven in nicely without screaming out and dominating too much, try the recipe yourself. I am going for the KISS mantra in brewing in 2015. Merry Christmas you crazy cats and a Happy New Year where ever you are.

 P.S custard and pineapple here at the end of the second beer. :)

Thanks, until next time.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

5 pm Saviour & HopThang Mk II

Hi all,
I have decided to try out a high mash temp average hop (for me) pale ale at low abv as the holy grail for me would be a full on IPA taste experience but at low abv so it can be an ongoing evening thing and nothing to pay the next day!
The recipe for the beer is as follows
5 pm Saviour
14kg maris otter malt mashed in at strike temp of 82 degrees to settle at 71 for those residual long chain sugars.
1 oz Chinook Mash Hop
3.5 oz Magnum 90 min boil hop
10.5 oz Chinook 120 min steep aroma hop
7 oz Simcoe 120 min steep aroma hop
3.5 oz Pacific Gem (seriously under rated hop) 120 min steep aroma hop
Yeast WLP032 & US-05 combo
20 Imp gallon batch with a SG of 1.042 & FG of 1.012 diluted down to a final abv of 3.5% and an IBU of 40. A most normal but hopefully tasty beverage!
Once this was complete i swung into action with my Mk II version of HopThang. Basically it is a slightly larger model to hold more hop and the hole volume in the screen has been increased by approx 50% to achieve a quicker through put and less to zero backpressure on the pump. The inaugural hop ran through was a 1.75 oz shot of Amarillo. See pics & video below. I advise you to mute video as pump is hellish noisy!


I am off to Saudi for a month so the Amarillo will stew in Hopthang MkII at 10 degs or less for the full thirty and then have a replenishment and run before bottlling. The initial volume will be caught and checked for vegative presence before being added or discarded to the main batch, another plus of a HopThang for the time distant brewer! I was pleasantly surprised to see demonvalleybrewing have went the HopThang route and for all the right reasons, best of luck to them! :)
Thanks, until next time.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Satan's Circus Trial

 What a surprise Satan's Circus has turned out to be. It has a huge sweet malt backbone, also a lightly catty nose involved with the sweetness of the malt. The cat disappeared quickly as the carbonation vented off and is replaced with tropical fruits on the malt. Almost crackling on the tongue with citrus fruit, mangoes, chocolate and a bitter zing which has luckily been partially muted by the malt sweetness. The beer stands up well in my memory to Stone Runination IPA, it ain't Stone but they are cousins for sure!
The 6.5% ABV is right on to balance everything else that is going on in this beer By happy co-incidence we seem to have found a good  balance of Malt to Hop BANG to Hop bitterness. The yeast is in there but to be honest it is swamped! :) That chocolate is a real surprise to find but it sits well alongside the malt. I guess it helps that the beer has had three months to blend.

Tomorrows beer is going to be a girlish 3.5% ABV mockery of Satan's Circus named 5pm Saviour. I will update as i go, a high Mash temp on a single malt to give some residuals to the Hop Frenzy, are you liking it? :)

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