Monday, 24 December 2012

Hop Squeezing

Hi All,
Very last post of 2012! While thinking about how i wished HopSynergy 4.0 to develop i had intended to leave the beer until the end of January to bottle. Subsequently the rate of fermentation has been faster than i expected, with this in mind and combined with my work schedule slipping i should be able to bottle Synergy before departing for Azerbaijan on the 3rd January. I had not expected to be dry hopping this brew so during initial prepwork i did not sterilise HopThang. :(

As you can hopefully see from the photo above i DID dryhop but in a low tech way! The hops of choice for this were 1.5oz of Styrian Goldings and 3.5 oz of Chinook. The muslin bags are weighted with glass marbles and miscellaneous stainless steel fittings (all sterilised of course).

The beer is coming along nicely so it was just a case of fitting a sterilised string and then dunking into the beer to beat the yeast layer back into the beer.

I then decided to try a new technique (to me). Each morning and evening i have sterilised my hands and then pulled the hopbags out of the beer. I have given them both a good strong squeeze. They both run green with hop solution when squeezed. I then dunk them into the beer to allow the hops to absorb beer again and repeat twice.
Presqueeze and Dunk with nice yeast shape
Post squeeze and Dunk with yeast desolation all around!
I read a beer book a few years ago which wrote of the handling/& rubbing of hops preboil to break open the lupin sacks and increase the hops effectiveness in the brew. This is a truly oldschool technique(1800's). I liked the tactile idea of that, very basic and satisfying i thought. The same thing occurs here with a wet hands on approach to dry hopping. Possible downsides are risk of infection and massive additions of bitterness (especially with 16.5% aa Chinook hops). The upside is of course the huge hop aroma that i am ensuring is making its way into the beer and also gaining insight into a new wrinkle in brewing
. I did the hop squeezing for 3 days, today the 4th day is the final day as there is a marked drop off in aroma when squeezing so i would say i have got all that is worthwhile out of these hops. During days 1 & 2 the aroma coming off of the hops when i squeezed them was fantastic, worth the experiment just for the olfactory benefit in those minutes. Time will tell as to how bitter this beer will be, it should have been a 60 IBU beer but if the bittering extractions are large using this method then i could have an 80 or 100 IBU on my hands. I drew a sample from the bottom of the conical and allowed it to ferment out indoors in a trial jar. It achieved a FG of 1.006! The yeast to beer ratio was insane probably 80:1 so hopefully the big batch will stall out sooner than that. See you in the New Year for the trial of the batch. Cheers, :).


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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

HopSynergy 4.0

Hi all,
I recently returned from Azerbaijan, whilst there i tried the light and red beer from the simply named 'The Brewery'
Very nice beers indeed, the light was a yeast heavy pale ale which was lightly brett'd and the red was a toffee led smooth yeast heavy pint of loveliness. By the time i returned from Baku i was absolutely gagging to get a brew on.  I am always tempted to make big strong IPA's full of flavour and character, sadly only a couple of these can be consumed before the effects begin to manifest themselves. As a side note, approximately 9 months ago i tried a scaled down version of Brewdogs 5am saint, the name of this beer was Blitz, it ran at 2.5% but sadly it was a step too far and the hop presence was totally out of balance with the watery beer, truly a lesson on 'why beers need balance'. Dead Pony club by Brewdog on the other hand is a good balance of the 5am saint profile but at a quaffable 3.5% abv. This is the sort of area i am aiming for, a decent bit of body to balance out lots of wonderful hop presence and a lightish abv to have a few if the mood takes me.
With all this this in mind i kept the recipe simple.
 HopSynergy 4.0
16kgs Marris Otter
10.5 oz Cascade FWH
2oz Bramling Cross 5 mins
7oz Willamette 90 minute steep
3.5 oz Fuggles  90 minute steep
3.5 oz EKG's  90 minute steep
1.5 oz Bramling Cross  90 minute steep
Handful of gypsum
Yeasts Burton Ale & US-05
Final volume into fv was 19 gallon with approximately 60 IBU's and hopefully no greater an ABV than 4.2%. I won't dilute my finished products as that's heresy and would damn me to Budweiser purgatory when i stop breathing!
I have been deliberate in my depletion of grain stocks over the past months to allow myself a fresh start in Spring. With this in mind i used my remainder sack of MO for this beer.

Using a single malt recipe i ran a higher mash temp, strike temp was 80 degrees and it settled at 69 degrees. Hopefully a good bit of body in the glass.

I really like these Cewal gauges, good big clear displays and accurate.

 i ran off the first two gallons of wort and reduced them down to a gallon or so to infuse some sweeter flavour to the final product. I am a bit of a woose when reducing and stop too early as i always fear buring the reduced wort and ruining the beer.

Business as usual after that with a load of FWH'ing during the wort recirculation, sparge and runoff.


 Its been a while since i brewed and it was great to be opening hop packages again, what a smell! The Cascade in particular. I like this photo as it says it all about brewing tools.

Also this one for the larger brewing tools.

I finally took a picture of my kettle full and boiling!

I think i will have to extend or make a new cooling coil as my current unit takes over an hour to cool a 20 gallon batch to 30 degrees. i would like to get a lot more cold break out of the beer before transfering to to FV so a bigger cooler will be the way forward i think.

Transfering the cooled wort went well but the US05/Burton Yeast wet repitch was very slow in taking hold. Two days in and it was just forming a layer on top of the wort. I pitched a fresh packet of 05 and it took off like the excellently predictable rocket that it is.

Yeast head 24 hours after pitching fresh yeast

Temperatures in the garage are between 3 and 7 degrees. I am aiming for a long cool fement (as if i have another choice)! I should be bottling this beer at the end of January prior to a trip to Turkey.
So that's it, the sack is empty.

I've just got time to show you my Xmas lights.

Also, our tree.

Finally, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and i hope you all have a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
P.S I have always believed that laughter and joy are tremendously beneficial to the soul and that laughter helps to keep the bad stuff at bay. Its not been the best year for many of us so i'd like to share with you out there something that i do to keep my family smiling when they are down. I tend to walk into walls when cutting about like this but it does give them a laugh so its worth it!

Simple eh? Just like me. :)


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