Lately it has been difficult to find free weekend morning to devote to brewing, so I thought I would try doing some mini-batches in the kitchen. Still all-grain, but hopefully a little less time consuming. I am also hoping to use this method to try out some recipes before brewing 5 gallons of them.
I put together a 2-gallon mash tun and, a couple weeks ago, tried a basic recipe to go through the process before doing anything more complicated. I did another pilot brew today which I'll post about soon. I called this recipe Fuggle ale because it's just pale malt and Fuggle hops (with a dash of some other hops because I didn't have quite enough Fuggle).
OG: 1.046, FG: 1.010, 4.6% abv
2.33 lbs Maris Otter pale malt
0.3 oz Fuggle hop pellets (4.5% aa) @ 60 min
0.1 oz E. Kent Goldings hop pellets (5.0% aa) @ 60 min
0.3 oz Fuggle hop pellets (4.5% aa) @ 5 min
3 g Safale S-04 English ale yeast
I fermented this for just under 2 weeks at 64 F. I bottled it today in two 2-liter bottles and one 12-ounce bottle. It tasted pretty good and will hopefully be great after carbonating and sitting for a couple more weeks.
Everything went pretty much as planned for today's brew of the Oatmeal Cookie ale. The mash ended up starting at 154 F instead of 157 — this is probably because I forgot to preheat the mash tun with hot water until just before using it. Not a big deal. The original gravity came out to 1.056. Mark came by to assist for the first half, and my mom came outside to see the process in between helping K with Patrick.
I have been having problems with my Hop Stopper clogging, but after emailing Dennis Collins at Innovative Homebrew Solutions, he suggested that my pump might be trying to drain the wort more quickly than it could pass through the screen inside the kettle. I left the pump turned off this time and let it drain at the natural siphon rate. It worked great and the Hop Stopper left only a quart of wort in the kettle along with the spent hops. This recipe only had about an ounce of hops, so the real test will be the next time I brew something quite a bit hoppier. Thanks, Dennis, for great customer service! I attached a picture of the inside of the kettle after draining the wort into the fermenter.
I planned to brew this batch a few months ago, but had to keep putting it off. Now that our son is a couple months old and his grandmother is visiting for a few days, tomorrow is my chance to finally get it done. This is one of the open-ended recipes from Radical Brewing, one of my favorite brewing books. More than just a collection of recipes, it's an entertaining tour of beer history and ingredients that really inspires you to start building your own recipes.
I adjusted the recipe to end up with more of a medium-strength beer rather than the strong one in the book. This recipe is centered on toasted oats, which I haven't done before. I toasted some Quaker quick oats in two batches on a large cookie sheet for about 20 minutes at 300 F. They smelled great, but didn't seem to really brown at all. I decided it would be better to under-toast them than burn them.
Oatmeal Cookie ale:
Grains & sugar:
5.7 lbs Maris Otter pale malt (Thomas Fawcett)
2.06 lbs Biscuit malt
0.47 lbs Brown malt
1.12 lbs Rolled oats (1 18 oz can of Quaker quick oats, toasted for 20 min. @ 300 F)
1.0 lb Dark brown sugar
0.4 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (10.4% aa) @ 60 min
0.5 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (10.4% aa) @ 20 min
Wyeast 1028 London ale yeast
I am planning to mash this at 157 F, to keep it a little thicker even with the pound of sugar added. I'll report back in a few weeks once I see how this turns out.
Today I sampled the latest batch, an English bitter I brewed on September 7. I have been enjoying English beers lately and would like to find a really good recipe. I've never had it, but I have heard many good things about Timothy Taylor Landlord. When looking for clone recipes, I came across Northern Brewer's Innkeeper kit, which they sold to accompany Wyeast's special release West Yorkshire ale yeast, which supposedly comes from the Timothy Taylor brewery. The yeast and the kit are no longer available, but the recipe was still up at Northern Brewer's site. I adapted it for the malts I had and a different yeast strain:
Grains & sugar:
6.45 lbs Maris Otter pale malt (Hugh Baird)
0.27 lb Crystal malt (120 L)
1.0 lb Demerara sugar
1.0 oz Fuggle hop pellets (4.8% aa) @ 60 min
1.0 oz E. Kent Goldings hop pellets (5.0% aa) @ 45 min
1.0 oz Styrian Goldings hop pellets (3.5% era) @ 5 min
Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale yeast
This recipe has had rave reviews on the Northern Brewer forum. I was interested to see that it included a generous dose of sugar, since I have lately realized that many or most commercial English ales are brewed with sugar. I think this may be part of what gives them a distinctive mouthfeel and body relative to American beers. Ron Pattinson has several interesting blog posts about brewing sugar in Britain.
Although the brewing went pretty smoothly, I did miss my target mash temperature (153 F) by a few degrees. The mash started out around 150 F, and by the end of an hour was only 145-146 F. I usually don't have much temperature drop, but this could have been a result of the smaller mass of grain in this recipe. This (along with the sugar in the recipe) resulted in a pretty fermentable beer - the final gravity was 1.008. Next time I will definitely try to hit a higher mash temperature. The hydrometer sample tasted good, but would probably be better with a more malty body. I will also experiment with other English yeasts. The one I used seems to be pretty clean, without too much fruity English character. Regardless, it should taste great when kegged.
Way behind on posting this one, but I only just kegged it yesterday after brewing my first attempt at Kölsch on July 19. I had been wanting to brew a Kölsch for a while, and so it seemed like a good choice when I decided to make a lighter beer for upcoming visits by relatives. I used a recipe I found on Mike Dixon's website.
8.52 lbs Pilsner malt
1.0 lb Wheat malt
0.55 oz Perle hop pellets (8.2% aa) @ 60 min
1.0 oz Hallertau hop pellets (4.4% aa) @ 15 min
Wyeast 2565 Kölsch yeast
This tasted great when kegging. Looking forward to putting it on tap - both taps are occupied at the moment, though, so this one is waiting in the closet.
Last weekend (July 5) I brewed the Centennial pale ale again. The last one turned out great (the keg has long since been emptied) so K requested another batch for an upcoming gathering she's planning. This time I cut back on the crystal malt from 1 pound to 0.75 pound, to make the color a little lighter and maybe make it taste a little crisper. Also, instead of putting 2 ounces of hops in at the end of the boil, I put 1 ounce in at flame-out and saved the other ounce for dry hopping.
I used Wyeast 1272 again, but didn't have time to make a starter. So I also tossed in a pack of dry US-05 yeast to help it along. Here's the recipe:
Centennial pale ale:
10.01 lbs Maris Otter pale malt
0.76 lbs Crystal malt (80 L)
0.11 lbs Chocolate malt
0.50 oz Centennial hop pellets (9.1% aa) @ 60 min
0.50 oz Centennial hop pellets @ 30 min
1.0 oz Centennial hop pellets @ 10 min
1.0 oz Centennial hop pellets @ 1 min
1.0 oz Centennial hop pellets @ dry hop (in fermenter)
About a month late posting this, but I had a great time brewing at the Triangle Brewing Company in Durham on June 6. Rick and Andy generously hosted TRUB, the local homebrew club (of which I'm a member). We paid for the ingredients and brewed a batch on their 10-barrel system with Rick's help. Each of us took home 5 gallons of wort to ferment at home. They called the recipe a saison, but I think it came out as more of a Belgian blonde. Here it is:
Grains & sugar
350 lbs pale base malt
27 lbs Cara 8
125 lbs white wheat
27 lbs Special B
50 lbs white cane sugar
Hops & spices
first (bittering) hops: 36 oz Styrian Goldings @ 6.6% AA
second (aroma) hops: 10 oz Styrian Goldings @ 6.6% AA
After getting my share home, I fermented it for 3 days at 70 F, then raised the temperature to 78 F (hoping to get maximum attenuation). After 2 weeks, the final gravity was 1.007. I didn't get around to kegging it immediately, so it sat in the fermenter for a third week at 35 F. Now it's kegged and carbonated and tastes great.