Aug 26, 2012

Brewday: Playoffs IPA 2.0

It's great to be getting back into the rhythm of brewing. Even though I'm in the middle of a month off drinking alcohol, I'm enjoying producing it and the anticipation for tasting these brews is high. Yesterday I brewed up a slightly modified version of the Playoffs IPA I brewed back in April. I was really happy with how it turned out the first time and I'm excited to get this version into the bottles and drinking.

I bought 1kg bags of Simcoe and Columbus hops a while back so I went a little crazy with the hop additions. Along with a dose of Amarillo they are the stars of the beer. I also reduced the pale malt percentage a little and increased the rye and crystal malts slightly. The beer is fermenting away in the fridge at a happy 18'C and it's making the whole room smell like tropical fruit punch. I'm going to dry hop it in a day or two with 40g each of Simcoe, Columbus and Amarillo.

Big bag o' hops
This was my second go at using my urn and it went better than the first time but I still missed some of my targets. I ended up with more pre-boil liquid than I was aiming for and needed a longer boil to get the gravity near what I planned. Still, I now have 18l of a 1.060 IPA (I was aiming for 1.062) doing its thing in the fermenter so things aren't too bad. Hopefully over the next couple of batches I'll get it dialled in properly.

Now the plan is to build up a starter of my saison yeast (WY 3725) and have that ready to go as soon as the IPA is done. I can't wait to get that yeast cranking in a beer at 27 or 28'C now that I have a temperature controller and see what flavours it gives.

Aug 14, 2012

Export Stout 2.0

I like Stouts but they certainly aren't my favourite style. Somehow though I seem to end up brewing them more often than anything else. This one is a second attempt at the ANZAC Day Export Stout that I was pretty pleased with and comes with the added pleasure of being intended for a gathering with some friends I studied with.

Last time around the mash temperatures were a bit high, the efficiency was a bit lower than I expected and the yeast didn't attenuate as well as it should have due to cold temperatures. Together they made the beer lower alcohol that I intended (5.9% abv instead of 7%) and left it a bit sweeter and thicker bodied than I wanted. That said, it was freaking delicious so I was keen to give it another go with some tweaks.

This time I lowered the mash temps which should take care of the residual sweetness and help attenuation. There's rolled rye in the grist which should take care of the body. I also have a proper fermentation chamber and that should give the yeast a hand too. In addition to all this, I finally got the 40l urn I bought back in March up and running so I enlarged the recipe to brew a 20l batch. I was hoping that the size of the urn would help me get better efficiency and reach the 1.070 OG I was shooting for. It didn't work though, I only ended up with 1.062 so I'm going to have to do some more work to get efficiency up.

The Spaceship complete with camping mat insulation
The recipe is nearly the same as last time, just scaled up and with Northern Brewer used solely as the bittering hop. If the tweaks turn out well, this is going to be perfect for some good times catching up with mates I haven't seen for a while. That along with an IPA and a Saison if I have the time should make for a nice selection.

Aug 3, 2012

Brewday: Kimberly, a Brown Porter

Room has been made, a fridge has been picked up and beer has been brewed. Finally! I've been desperate to brew for a couple of months and there are like 15 recipes that need to be brewed this minute.

My Brown Porter, sadly there's only room for one at a time in the fridge
Because we live in a cruel world where I can't brew 15 beers at the same time I chose to brew a Brown Porter. It gave me the chance to use the brown and crystal malts I roasted a while back. I called it Kimberly because that's the name printed on the oven I used to roast the barley. Why name an oven Kimberly? Who knows but now it's been passed on to my beer.

It was such a joy to experience the small pleasures of the brewday again. To open the bags of grain and hops and inhale the roasted goodness. The brown malt has mellowed nicely, the crystal malt smelled like fruit toast, all raisins and sweetness and roasty malt. I've never used Victory malt before and cracking the bag unleashed cookie dough upon my senses. Fuggles is nothing new to me but man it was nice to smell those delicious hops.

I also got to use my stir-plate for the first time. It stirs.
The recipe: Maris otter, brown malt, crystal malt, victory malt and chocolate malt. Fuggles hops. WY1469 West Yorkshire Ale.

It's amazing how much of a relief it is to have the fridge set up. I hadn't realised before how much I was worrying about the fermentation when it was at ambient temperature. It's so easy with the fridge. I can be confident that the yeast is getting it's best possible shot and I'm free me to brew and brew and brew. Now I'm more or less properly set up. With the stir plate and fermentation fridge I can control temperatures and treat the yeast properly so there's no excuse for not producing good beer. My aim now is to brew a stack more and try out styles I haven't tried before as well as trying to master a few.

Up next: ANZAC Day Export Stout redux, a Saison and another American IPA.
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