Thursday, 23 September 2010

Not like lager at all really

I returned to Scotland a couple of days ago and decided to crack on with a lightish simple pale ale influenced by the lager i have been drinking recently in Baku and Turkey. I haven't brewed for a few months and as a result the day did not go flawlessly, more about that later.

The recipe is nice and basic as you can see.

Batch Size: 10.00 gal
Boil Time: 90 min
4.00 kg Pale Malt
2.50 kg Munich Malt
2.00 kg Wheat Malt
4.00 oz Hallertauer [6.5%] (90 min) (First Wort Hop)
3.0 oz Hallertauer [6.5%](30 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)
3.50 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (30 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)
1 Vanilla pod (Boil 5.0 min)
2 Pkgs US-05 Yeast-Ale
1 Protafloc tablet
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.14 %
Bitterness: 43.6 IBU
Est Color: 6.5

While the Liquor was heating i decided to get the yeast wet. I used US05 in this batch. A lot of the brewers i have spoken to simply rehydrate their dry yeasts in sterilised water. I prefer to add a few grammes of sugar to the sterile water so i can see that the yeast is active before pitching into the wort. I have been told that this stresses the yeast as i am making it work prematurely and consume its own engineered reserves in a non friendly environment. I can see the point of this view but so far (50 AG brews +) i've not killed the yeast and i like the peace of mind that i know the yeast batch i am using is live before pitching.

While the yeast was reawakening i kept an eye on the HLT. As you can see its a simple enough piece of kit. An HDPE container i bought off of Ebay and modified. Its been modified to carry two 240V heating elements, a sight level gauge and an extended probe (100mm) temperature gauge. The draw off point is at the bottom of the container. It holds 60 ltr's which lends itself to my preferred batch volume of 10 gallons.

I ran in the 60 ltrs of water added 2 crushed campden tablets and heated to 79 degrees C. It takes around an hour for the 2 elements to heat 60ltrs to 79deg C. This gives me time to measure out the grain.

My mash tun is a modified cool box from Igloo. Nothing fancy, it holds 150+ltrs and a grain filter made by myself. There's also a Speck magnetically coupled pump for recirculation of the wort through the grain bed for wort clarification. Again all bought through Ebay over a period of time.

I love the smell of Munich malt in the morning! There's 40 grmms of gypsum in there as well.

I ran in 21 ltrs of Liquor at 79 degrees C, gave the grain a good stir to lose any grain balls.

I have set the system up so i run the liquor in from below, the grain bed settled at 67 degrees for the rest (90 minutes). 

All going well at this point so i measured out the first wort hops and added to the kettle.

I carried out an Iodine test for starch, conversion went well and no starch present i then started the run off and sparge. It went wrong at this point. I was concentrating on balancing the run off and sparge  and  had forgotten to close a tap. Sadly in this case it meant that once the wort reached a certain point in the kettle it overflowed and slowly ran away into the flowers! End result being 4 gallon of wort lost to the flowers. Closed the valve, swore for a while and cracked on with the boil. 

 I adjusted the steep hops to allow slightly for the mishap. By this time i had added the vanilla pod to the kettle.I have three of them i brought back from Turkey, they smell fantastic!

I chopped one up with scissors and it was added to the kettle.

After that it was simply steep, chill and recirculate the wort through the hop bed for clarification.

Once completed i transfered the wort to the conical Fermentation vessel and pitched the yeast. A shame it only 6 gallons instead of ten but i'm sure it will be fine!

The FV was another Ebay purchase(is there a recurring theme here)? It was originally destined for use in the generation of Biofuel.I decided to use it for a higher purpose and save myself a small fortune in comparison to a stainless steel brewing specific conical.

I'm a huge fan of getting my money's worth out of anything i buy. I'll be the first to admit that my brewery will NEVER win any beauty contests(Rat Breweries rulez). What it will do though is make up to 120 ltr batches of fantastic all grain beer for a brewery build cost of well under a thousand pounds. 

If there's anybody out there fancies building a brewery for much cheapness many bargains they could do a  lot worse than join Jim's beer kit website and read up on the vast amounts of information available there. There's a link below. My vanity has made the link a short cut to my brewery build.

I'll update as the brew progresses, i really hope some small amount of the vanilla gets through to the bottled beer.

Edit 26/09/10

I had a look in the FV this morning and the yeast head has formed and started to subside(it was mountainous yesterday, 12 degrees in the garage at the moment). I have switched on the heater plate on the FV to push it towards the finish line.

Garage use should be maximised. I have a car, brewery and utility strip in mine along with loads of shelving. I managed to 'sell' the larger brewery to my wife on the back of 2 years without buying beer in the shops. In addition to this my beer costs are now approximately as follows for an 'average' 5% IPA.

4.5 kg grain £4.50
100grmms hops £2.00
Yeast £1.50
Heat & brewing misc £2.00
=£10 / 40 pints = 25p
per pint for beer that is only beaten by the very best microbrewers in the U.K.

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  1. Why the vanilla?
    I wouldn't mind getting the honey type taste you get in a Chang Beer from a Thai restaurant.

  2. The Efes lager i drank in Turkey and Baku had a vanilla like subtle flavour within it, trying to emulate that. I've used vanilla pods before in a cider to great effect. The smell off the pods when they come out of the bag is fantastic!

  3. Not sure how you'd get the honey flavour in there. Apart from masses of honey added right at the end of the boil, maybe caramelised sugars could survive the fermetation and leave a taste?

  4. Looks good, not sure I can get away with converting my garage to something so permanent just yet...

  5. Jo, Are you brewing All Grain? I ask as my 1st AG brewery was a very small footprint and was put away in a shed after brewing.