Sunday, 20 June 2010

IPA's and why i love them.

India Pale Ale is my all time favourite beer style. Below i am going to try and explain some of the reasons for this. I promise to limit myself to three reasons as i know if given the chance i would be typing for days on this one!

Reason 1
IPA's fire my imagination and inspire my beer making.I recently i watched a TV show on the Titanic as she is now. Within the same week i had found and tried Whiteshield IPA.
Both ideas came together in my head and emerged in my imagination as an IPA to be drank on the promenade deck of the Titanic while taking the evening air.
With a Beer and Stout inventory running to 20,000 bottles at departure i think i can be forgiven for hoping there's room for my beer on-board?
I had some extra time before my next offshore trip so decided to squeeze in one more brew. In this case i brewed towards an American West Coast IPA style with hopefully a slight restraint on the customary exuberance of this offshoot of the style.

White Star IPA(6.5 gallon batch)
5.00 kg Pale Malt
2.00 kg Munich Malt
2.00 kg Wheat Malt,
0.15 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
30.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min)
1.00 oz Chinook (90 min)
3.50 oz Bobek (90 minFWH)
1.80 oz Styrian Goldings (90 minFWH)
1.00 oz amarillo(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz simco(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz Chinook (15 min)
0.45 kg Honey last 10 minutes of boil
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold(3 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(3 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(1 min)
2.00 oz Simcoe (1 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(Flame out)
1.50 oz Chinook (Flame out)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Flame out)
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (Flame out)
0.95 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 5.0 min)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
3.1 oz Whisky barrel Oak Chips ( 5 days)
1.5oz simco dry hop (5 days)
1.5 oz amarillo dry hop (5 days)
US-05 and Whiteshield Yeasts
ABV 6.2%
IBU 105

You may look at the hop bill and wonder where the 'restraint' part of the recipe is. It is mostly(i hope) in the smoothness imparted from the FWH(First Wort Hops)and in addition the large amount of closed lid gentle boil aroma hops. Only time will tell.

2012 is the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. This is of course not a date to celebrate. On the other hand, I will raise my glass to the fascination and inspiration that the Titanic awoke within me. Firsly as a small boy reading about her and now as a man brewing beer.

Reason 2
Its not boring and bland.At the weekend my family and i attended a BBQ at a friends house. I suggested that my contribuiton be 40 bottles of one of my beers instead of the usual burgers and stuff. The suggestion was jumped on so we arrived with a relatively light IPA named Mid-Atlantic IPA. The IPA went down very well and the final bottles were being worked over as myself and family left in a taxi.

A thought exercise to back up Reason 2.
Imagine that you attend a party with a slab of SOL/Stella/Carling/Budweiser/Coors lager or similar. You drop off the slab in the beer area and go with partner to mingle.

How many times during that party will people single you out to ask about the lager you brought?
How many times will you apologise to your wife for speaking about the beer(after people ask) even though you have promised not to while getting ready for the party.

How many people will ask what Lager is?

The last one amazed me. People don't know what IPA is. There have been many books written about the rise and demise of IPA and i'm sure you'll agree that there's no need to badly plagiarise these works here!
If you would like to learn more about the style and the times it was developed in you could do a lot worse than to pick up a copy of CAMRA Homebrew Classics IPA. The benefit i receive from giving this book a plug is the happy knowledge that with this action i may turn somebody onto a new beer style and that's all the reason i need! Unless you click on the Amazon link below and buy the book of course. :) This book continues to be my IPA bible and a great source of ireas. My current copy is looking rather dog eared!

India Pale Ale: Homebrew Class (Homebrew classics)

Damn the Expense Mid Atlantic IPA(12.5 gallon batch)
5.80 kg Pale Malt
2.50 kg Wheat Malt
2.00 kg Munich Malt
0.55 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
4.50 oz Northdown (90 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (12 min)
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent (10 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (5 min)
1.00 oz Cascade (1 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (1 min)
0.80 oz Bramling Cross (1 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold (Flame out)
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (Flame out)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
30.00 gm Gypsum
US-05 Yeast 24Grms
ABV 4.4% 55IBU's

Reason 3
The depth breadth that can be brewed within the style.India Pale Ale is a style of beer i fell in love with many years ago without realising it. At the time It was just another pint that i'd try now and then when i was out and about in the 80's drinking bottled Beck's etc. I'd think 'WOW, nice pint' and then back onto the Beck's. Fast Forward to the 90's and early Noughties and one of the few IPA's that could be found on Draught in Scotland was Deuchars. Luckily for me Deuchars take the time to craft a fine balanced Lowish ABV(for an IPA) decently Hopped pint of IPA so my love for the style was rekindled. Fast forward another couple of years and i find am deeply entrenched in British Micro Brewed beers with a big smile on my face!

I had not started brewing at this point but the IPA products of the UK microbrewery machine caught my attention(again). I then started brewing my own IPA's and quickly realised that in comparison even the best intentioned commercial IPA is hamstrung by the dreaded 'price per pint' limit. I am a fan of 50IBU IPA's all the way up to theoretical 200IBU IPA's and beyond. Sadly due to the 'price per pint' limitation 50IBU's and lower are the plane of just about all the UK IPA's. The brave few IPA's that go above 50IBU are mostly from the other side of the pond.

There we have it people, without going off all evangelical about it the third reason(to my mind) is the best. The sheer depth and breadth of a 'proper' IPA cannot be beat. As i don't have any 'price per pint' limits i can brew totally for end product and consumer(me and my mates) impact. This opens up all the recipes that are out there from IPA's heyday when the brewers would go truly over the top in ABV and hops. Also within my grasp are the IPA recipes from the brewers across the pond. In my case i draw inspiration from these recipes and go my own way knowing i can always fall back on the happy thought that No matter how extreme my IPA recipes seems today(compared to commercial) there's a guy from 200 year ago who would tell me i'm not trying hard enough!

I'll leave you with my current personal favourite. This was an 8.5 gallon batch which placed nicely in my IPA range with an ABV of 5.8% and an IBU of 75. In the spirit of adventure which i think is inherent in any IPA i have deliberately not given any details on my brewing process for these IPA's. I hope you'll take this as its meant and use the recipes as inspiration for your own creations!

Vulcan long Mash IPA
4.60 kg Pale Malt
1.00 kg Munich Malt
1.00 kg Vienna Malt
0.70 kg Wheat Malt,
0.60 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
0.20 kg Wheat, Torrified
0.15 kg Chocolate Malt
2.50 oz First Gold (90 min)
1.00 oz First Gold(15 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold(5 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(5 min)
0.75 oz Amarillo Gold(4 min)
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold(3 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(1 min)
1.25 oz Amarillo Gold(1 min)
2.50 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
25.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
2 pkts US 05 yeast

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

All Grain brewery build No1(Imperial Russian Stout)

Hello again,
By this time in my brewing timeline i had been reading intensively from the information available on the internet and had made the decision to go full on All Grain brewing.
For those that don't know(hey there may be a few)! All grain brewing is the ultimate in beer making. It allows you to use the freshest ingredients and choose from the broadest pallate available. The combinations of ingredients that are available to the AG brewer are truly vast. Add yeasts, temperature control, various fruits, spices, sugars into the mix and you are with minimal outlay truly within an infinity of beermaking choices. This sounds complicated but it is as simple as the equipment above.
Using the above equipment as a basis i developed my basic brewing technique. While doing this i also added other pieces of equipment to improve the fledgling brewing process.

An example of this is moving from cooling the wort in a pan of water to making a copper cooler which has the double bonus of cooling the wort quickly and also looking cool! Oh yeah and it helps the cold break form which will give me a cleaner wort in the fermentation vessel.

The next two photo's are my 1st true AG moment. In this beer i am trying to recreate an Imperial Russian Stout from around 1800 or so. When the smell wafted up from all those grains that was it for me. Hook, line and sinker! It turned out well but at 10.2%abv it has to be treated with caution.

The recipe for the first of my monster beers.

Dead Czar Imperial Russian Stout6.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter
1.70 kg Barley, Flaked
1.50 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L
1.00 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM)
1.00 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM)
0.50 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
0.50 kg Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
1.50 oz First Gold [8.30 %] (90 min)
2.00 oz Northdown [8.50 %] (90 min)
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (20 min)
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (10 min)
0.32 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min)
1.27 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
5.07 oz Oak Chips (Secondary 7.0 days)
2 Pkgs Windsor Yeast

So that's the first real big beer i made. I still have a few lurking in storage. I'm going to wait until they are around 5 years old then see how they have aged. I guess my point in this post is to show how it's possible for very little money to be making beers that have not existed for a couple of hundred years in their true fashion. Its also a blast to put together the equipment yourself. As with many things in life it's possilbe to go and buy off the shelf items. IMHO, taking this route we end up paying more and don't learn anything like as much as we do by making something ourselves.
Admittedly with brewery No1 i was modifying equipment that was in existence and turning it to another purpose. It was great fun and a very enjoyable learning curve. I continued to tweak the brewery and ran around 20 beers through it before deciding to test my own theory on how much i had learned by building a second larger brewery.

This brewery lives on in its new home which is the Isle of Man mostly and a small part in Northern ireland. Through the alchemy of Brewers(helped by Ebay & Paypal) my Mk1 Brewery magically transformed into a couple of brewing books, a digital thermometer, two hop plants and a load of vacuam packed American Hops. Next time i'll witter on endlessly about the Mk2 brewery on which i am perfecting my art. Until then i'll leave you with a wonderful photo of the wee yeast beastie doing its thing.

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In the beginning.....

Now that the first post is out the way i can expand a little on who i am and what i hope to achieve with this blog.

Firstly i'm a 41 year old Scottish guy who lives in the North East of Scotland. I'm married with two wonderful children whom i dote on(don't tell them though). I work in the offshore industry and as a result i have significant blocks of time at home and this allows me to indulge my hobby.

The hobby itself is All Grain brewing. I hope in this and future posts i can project some of the boundless enthusiasm i have for this hobby/sport/past time. If i'm really lucky the blog will achieve its goal of turning a few people away from the mass produced 'beer' foisted on them by the big players and onto the magic that is All Grain beer!

In my case, 'The pursuit of the perfect pint' started a few years ago in Germany where i was introduced to the stunning beers brewed in that fantastic country. I returned to Scotland took one taste of the 'average' pint on offer and decided i had to do something about this.From there i took the traditional step of buying a beer making kit or three and having a go.

While this is a good way to get started and to begin to wrap my head around the processes it leaves something to be desired and IMHO basic homebrew kits taste of being kits(more about the ABV than the taste). From there I rapidly accelerated through tweaking the kits with different hops and sugars and before i know it i found myself sculling around in the shallows of the clear but very deep pool of knowledge that is all grain brewing.

I'm getting ahead of myself slightly, my apologies. There was an interim step in the slippery slope that i found myself on and its name is 'Mini-Mash'. Its at this point that the unsuspecting brewer has his final but in my case unrecognised chance to turn back to the real world!

I say this as even with basic equipment(and i was using a watering can and black builders bucket as part of my gear at this stage) the brewer will find himself turning out a better pint than he can buy in his local!
I'll quicky explain that the mini mash is the basic addition to the homebrew kit of some malted barley which has been steeped in hot water and then the resulting sugared water has been drained off and added to the brewing kit, This will(with luck) add flavour and body to the beer that would otherwise not be there.

I am not intending this blog to be a 'How To' guide on brewing. For that i would suggest that you tread in mine and many others footsteps and register on the following site. There is more beer related wisdom on this site than you could shake a very large stick at!

Yeah yeah but where's the beer i hear you ask? Well here's a picture of an early pint in my brewing life. It was cold, wet, tasted nice and after a couple the world was a very happy place AND it only cost about 25p to make!
I did not realise just how much time blogging takes so I'm going to sign off in a minute as i want to cook a pasta sauce.

At this point in my brewing timeline i've spent a few quid, made up a few kits. Tweaked some more kits and then found myself quite happy with the results but at the same time strangely dissatisfied. I'm still thinking about those German beers and i'm a long long way from their quality although by this point i have passed the mass produced UK standard. Next time we'll go full AG and have some proper fun!

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1st blog post ever ever ever!

Hi there in Blogland,

Over the past few years i've become increasingly interested in the process of making my own beer. It satisifies my engineering and artistic urges and the end result 9.9 times out of 10 is stunning beer that is unique(in a good way). I don't know much about blogging so i hope you'll bear with me as i go along. If you like beer, bookmark me and if you want to learn a bit about beer and how to make it you are more than welcome to ask.

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