Oct 242014
 

merlins beardI dreamt up this recipe after making a Stella Artois clone. My first venture into the world of lager brewing turned out really well so I decided to add some subtle hop flavors to the basic lager recipe. As I hinted in my previous lager recipe I decided to add a small amount of Citra hops. Using my trusty brew pal app I tinkered with my original lager recipe.

 

Merlin’s Beard!

Character

All grain 23 Litres

OG 1.048
FG 1.009

Ingredients

Ingredients
5Kg Pilsner Malt

40g Saaz Hops 60 mins

10g Citra Hops 20 mins

10g Saaz Hops 5 mins

5g Citra Hops

Irish moss last 15 mins

White labs WLP815 Belgian Ale yeast (Made into a 2 litre starter 24hrs before brew day)

Gelatine (or finings of choice).


Brewing

Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16 litres of strike water at  77 °c which gave a mash temp of 66 °c. The grain was mashed for 60 mins and then fly sparged with 18 litres of water at 77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops and Irish moss as above. The brew was cooled with a wort chiller to room temperature and then the 2 litre starter was added.

The fermenter was then put into a fridge and the temperature lowered to 10°c,  primary fermentation lasted around two weeks. The beer was then taken out of the fridge and had 48 hrs diacetyl rest at room temperature, then transferred to secondary, had finings added and was then placed back in the fridge at the coldest setting (around 1°c) for a month to lager.

The beer was then transferred to my cornie keg and forced carbonated.

Results

I have as I have said above I’ve made a lager before and I was rather chuffed with my little self with the results.This brew went really well and I had no Finished articleproblems in the whole brewing process. I have evolved in my brew regime and now use star-san for sanitising, gelatine for clearing and force carbonate the beer in cornie kegs. I find these methods not only save time but produce a more professional and better quality homebrew. This lager is good. The slight taste the citra hops give the lager are great and yet again I was pleased with the results. The lager is crisp and clear and has that added dimension with the citra hops.



May 232014
 

 

I have a dirty little secret, I like drinking stella. To the stella noob this is a pilsner syle lager of around 5% ABV brewed by Anheuser-Bush InBev in various countries all around the world. I am sure any lager drinker (especially in the north of England) would have come across it.StellaArtois_logox328 Over the years I have had many dates with “Stella” before I saw the light. I can imagine the tutting and head shake of disapproval from some real ale and homebrew connoisseur’s, but let me offer some evidence for the defence. I know some lager can be described as boring, tasteless, carbonated water but there is something about stella I like and as a homebrew project requires some skill to make. This lager has a crisp clear taste so care and a good brew day routine are needed to keep any off flavors from creeping into the finished beer.
I did the usual web based research and as usual tinkered around with my brew pal app and came up with a simple smash (single malt single hop) recipe that might fit the bill.

 

Interstella

Character

All grain 23 Litres

OG 1.048
FG 1.010
4.9% ABVpilsner malt
2.2°L
20 IBU

Ingredients

5Kg Pilsner Malt

50g Saaz Hops 60 mins

15g Saaz Hops 5 mins

Irish moss last 15 mins

White labs WLP815 Belgian Ale yeast (Made into a 2 litre starter 24hrs before brew day)

Gelatine (or finings of choice).

When I say simple I meant the amount of ingredients, the brewing process is a bit more complicated and has a few more steps than making an ale.


Brewing

Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16 litres of strike water at  77 °c which gave a mash temp of 66 °c. The grain was mashed for 60 mins and then fly sparged with 18 litres of water at 77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops and Irish moss as above. The brew was cooled with a wort chiller to room temperature and then the 2 litre starter was added.

The fermenter was then put into a fridge and the temperature lowered to 10°c,  primary fermentation lasted around two weeks. The beer was then taken out of the fridge and had 48 hrs diacetyl rest at room temperature, then transferred to secondary, had finings added and was then placed back in the fridge at the coldest setting (around 1°c) for a month to lager.

The beer was then transferred to my cornie keg and forced carbonated.

Results

InterstellaUmm well as using lager yeast and a fridge for fermentation was new to me, I had some worries. I really wanted this lager to be crisp, clear and light and I hoped I had done enough.  The mash temp, strong starter, choice of yeast, fermentation temps, diacetyl rest and use of finings should ensure a crisp clear lager, and they did. I was really pleased with my first attempt at brewing a lager and relieved!  This beer was clear, had no off flavors and was a good resemblance to my old flame “Stella”. I couldn’t help wondering what this lager would taste like with a slightly different hop profile to make it a bit more interesting than a light pilsner, maybe add some citra or…..hmmm I feel another experimental brew coming on!


Feb 072013
 

hopocalypse This beer when was originally going to be another batch of my ghost rider IPA, but when I went to the local homebrew shop they didn’t have any simcoe hops in stock. I decided to substitute the simcoe with citra and cascade and go mad with the hops, hence the name. I kept the grain bill simple by using Marris Otter and a little roasted barley to give the beer a red hue, hopefully.

 

 

 

Character

OG 1.061 sg
FG 1.011 sg
6.6% ABV

48 IBU

9.9l colour

BJCP 14B American IPA

Ingredients

6Kg Marris Otter 99.5%

28g Roasted Barley

25g Chinook 1 hour 12.5% alpha, leaf

25g Cascade 30 mins 6% alpha, leaf

25g Citra 15 mins 11% alpha, leaf

25g Cascade 0 mins

25g Citra 0 mins

25g Citra 4 days dry hop

25g Cascade 4 days dry hop

Irish moss last 15 mins of boil

Wyeast Thames valley ale, washed and made into a  starter with DME.


 

 

Brewing

Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16 litres of strike water at  76 °c which gave a mash temp of 68 °c. The grain was mashed for 90 mins and then fly sparged with 18 litres of water at 77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops as above. The brew was cooled and then the starter was added and the beer left to ferment. After four days the two dry hop additions were added and left in the primary for a week. The beer was then transferred to the secondary and left to clear for a week. The beer was then transferred to a keg and batch primed with 180g of dextrose.

Hopocaypse IPA in the boiler

Results

The beer when poured was nicely carbonated with a thick white head which stayed to the bottom of the pint, the red hue which I was aiming for was barley noticeable. The aroma of the hops was really nice with a great citrus tone. Taste wise it hit the spot for hopheads as it was like a hop explosion of citrusy delight. To be honest it was very similar to the Ghost rider but subtly different, it seemed less harsh and more rounded which was a suprise as the two beers are have very similar ingredients and exactly the same brewing method. Conclusion – a great beer which was surprisingly good.

Dec 072012
 

Recently I have been drinking Brewdog’s Punk IPA and have got a bit of a taste for it so as ever wanted to make my own version. The Brewdog website gives some information as it lists the ingredients, so I decided to give it a go. I wanted to do a SMASH (single malt single hop) beer but brewdog list four hops used which are Chinook, Simcoe, Ahtanum and Nelson sauvin. I could not get hold of Ahtanum and Nelson so decided to try a brew with Chinook and Simcoe. The grain bill lists only Marris Otter so decided to go with that and add some wheat malt that was leftover from a previous brew. Using my trusty Brewpal app I came up with this gem of a beer which is 55 IBU’s and 6.5%ABV. SG 1.060, FG 1.010.

 

Ingredients

6KG Marris Otter pale malt 96%

250g Wheat malt 4%

25g Chinook hops 60 mins

25g Simcoe hops 30 mins

25g Simcoe hops 5 mins

25g Simcoe hops 1 min

25g Simcoe hops (dry hop 4 days primary)

25g Chinook hops (dry hop 4 days primary)

Irish moss last 15 mins of boil

1 tsp Gypsum (depending on your water) to water in mash tun

Yeast starter using DME and washed Thames valley ale yeast


Brewing

Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16  litres of strike water at  76 °c which gave a mash temp of   68 °c. The grain was mashed for 60 mins and then fly sparged with 18  litres of water at   77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops as above. The brew was cooled and then the starter was added and the beer left to ferment. After four days the two dry hop additions were added and left in the primary for a week. The beer was then transferred to the secondary and left to clear for a week. The beer was then transferred to a keg and batch primed with 180g of dextrose.

Results

The beer when poured was nicely carbonated and had a nice white head. The only thing was that it looked a little hazy, I put this down to the wheat malt and will leave it out when I next make this beer as it is all about the hops. The aroma was very hoppy with a citrus note due to the dry hopping. Taste wise it was amazing, with a strong citrus taste. It hit the mark with what I wanted to achieve, it isn’t a direct clone of Punk IPA but very similar and the keg did not last long. I originally brewed this for some light relief during christmas but now have to make some more!! Conclusion – a very nice hoppy citrus beer that is refreshing and strong, a definate will make again!


Nov 152012
 

This beer started off life with me wanting to make an original beer. I have previously made an extract chocolate porter and wanted to make a stout version. I started off by taking a stout recipe and adding to it, you guessed it, chocolate and vanilla. The challenge in making this beer is keeping the taste nicely balanced and not making it too bitter with adding chocolate. I also had to consider how much vanilla to add and when to give a nice subtle vanilla flavour which did not overpower the beer. One of the reasons why I started all-grain brewing is that you can experiment and come up with some original beers. So for the chocolate I decided to use chocolate malt and cocoa powder. The coca powder used was low fat to prevent adding too much fat/oil into the beer which could mess with head retention. The cocoa powder would also add some bitterness into the beer so I decided to add some lactose to try and balance this out in the taste. I made my recipe on the brewpal app as follows.

OG 1.050
FG 1.011
5% ABV
34 IBU
32l


Ingredients

 

4kg Marris Otter 77%
250g Amber Malt 4.9%
250g Flaked Barley 4.9%
200g Roasted Barley 3.9%
200g Crystal Malt 3.9%

25g Target Hops 1hr
25g Fuggles 10mins
100g Low Fat Cocoa Powder 10mins
50g Lactose 10mins
2 teaspoons Vanilla Paste 10mins
2 teaspoons Vanilla in primary
Irish moss 10mins
Yeast of choice (I used Thames Valley Ale yeast Wyeast 1275 with a starter)

Brewing


So working out the mash I decided to go with a high mash temp to give a nice stout mouth-feel  so used a single infusion mash at a temp of 68°c for 90 mins. I heated up 13 litres of strike water up to around 86°c and added it to my mash tun. I then put the lid on and let the cooler heat up and the water cool slightly. When the temp reached 76°c I added my grain. Once the grain was mixed into the water and the temp had equalised I hit my target temp of 68°c. The grain was left to mash for 90 mins.

I then heated up 20 litres of sparge water to 77°c. The grain was then fly sparged and 26 litres of wort made it into the boiler. The wort was then boiled for an hour with the additions added at the required times (as above). After the hour was up the wort was cooled and added to my fermenter and the yeast starter added. I then added another 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste and the beer was left to ferment for 14 days. I then kegged the beer into my king keg and batch primed with 100g of dry malt extract.

Results.

When I was kegging this beer it smelled great and i could detect the vanilla. This got me worried, as I didn’t want to overpower the beer with vanilla, but rather have a nice subtle choc vanilla taste. Pouring this beer out of my keg into the glass I was pleased with the carbonation and the thick creamy white head that formed. The beer gave off a coffee vanilla aroma with hints of liquorice and chocolate. The hops could also be detected but again quite a subtle aroma, so far so good. The taste of this stout was great with a usual roasted coffee taste with a subtle after taste of chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla stood out more than the chocolate to be honest. I was worried that the lactose added might make the beer a bit sweet tasting but it turned out that it just countered the extra bitterness of the cocoa powder. I was really pleased with the outcome as the beer had ended up roughly how I wanted it to taste.

 


Oct 242012
 

Fursty Ferret is brewed Badger ales (Hall and Woodhouse) in dorset and is described as an ale of character. The aroma is spicy hops, orange and malt. The taste is like the aroma, gentle malty, spicy hop and slightly fruity. The taste is not strong and has a very nice hoppy malty balance that is quality. I have wanted to make this beer for a while as its my number one session ale, so time to see if I could emulate this ale of character.

Character

1.042 OG

1.010 FG

4.3% ABV

26IBU

Style 8B special/best/premium bitter

Ingredients

3.8kg Marris Otter (84.8%)

300g Carapils (6.7%)

300g Wheat malt (6.7%)

80g Chocolate malt (1.8%)

12g Target 13IBU 11%a 60 mins

25g EK Goldings 7IBU 5%a 20 mins

20g Styrian Goldings 6IBU 5%a 20 mins

Irish Moss 15 mins

1275 Wyeast Thames valley ale yeast (washed/ starter).


Mash

I used an infusion mash with a mash out. The 11.6 litres of strike water was heated up to  72°c to give a mash temp of 65°c. The grain was left to mash for 75 mins during which another 8 litres of strike water for the mash out was heated up rot 100°c, for a target temp of 78°c. This was added after 75 mins and left to mash for a further 10 mins. The grain was then fly  sparged with 13 litres of water at 77°c.

Brewing

The 26 or so litres of wort was boiled for one hour with the hop additions as above, with Irish moss added at 15 mins to help clear the beer. After yet he boil the wort was chilled to pitching temperature and the yeast starter added.

The fermentation was vigorous and after seven days the beer was kegged and carbonated with 140g of light dry malt extract.

Results

The beer cleared very quickly in my king keg top tap and was ready to drink after a week. The beer when poured had a amber colour with a nice tight white head. The aroma was of sweet malt with spicy hops. I did detect an estery note in the aroma, hmmm. The taste was like the aroma with a nice fruity malt flavour with a gentle hop taste. I could detect the ester taste in the beer, which was not a major problem as it is not uncommon in this style of beer. I wanted to make a clone of Fursty Ferret so was a bit disappointed with this, I suspect it was down to a high fermentation temperature (it had crept up on a warm day).  I decided to leave the beer to age for a couple of weeks longer and this did the trick. When I tasted the beer after two more weeks the taste was perfect, the slight ester was not detectable and it was a great copy of the original.


Oct 042012
 

When I started brewing I used to look for kits that would possibly taste like my favourite beers. One of the reasons I moved on to partial extract brewing was so that I could tailor beers to my taste. So with an air of inevitability I ended up all grain brewing. It goes without saying with all grain brewing you can make any beer you like. So what to make next? Well I love Spitfire ale from Shephard Neame and always pick up a bottle or two when in the supermarket. Spitfire is an English pale ale 4.5%ABV with a nice earthy hop aroma with a hint of caramel malt and citrus. The taste is like the aroma with a taste of caramel up front then a nice bitter hoppy after taste. The body is medium with a light carbonation.

The challenge with making this clone, as with most, was to get the distinctive aroma and taste of this famous Kentish ale. I searched for a recipe in the usual places and as usual ended up with a hybrid recipe of my own.

Ingredients

3.75Kg Maris Otter

400g Crystal 100L

400g Torrified wheat

250g Amber Malt

200g  Wheat malt

30g Target hops 90 mins

28g Kent Goldings 60 mins

10g Kent Goldings 15 mins

Irish moss 15 mins

Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale Yeast


Brewing

To start I heated up 13 litres for a strike temp of 72°c and mashed for 75 mins. Mashed out with 9 litres at 100°c for a target temp of 78°c and rested for ten mins. The mash was then sparged with 12 litres at 77°c.
The boil was then carried out for 90 mins with the hop schedule as above. The kettle had to be topped up before the boil. The wort was then cooled and added to the fermenter. The yeast used was previously washed and a starter made the night before which was then added to the wort after aeration.The fermentation was vigorous and the beer was bottled and kegged after being batch primed with 140g of DME. The OG was 1.049 and FG 1.011 which gave 5.0% abv and the beer should of been 39IBU.

Result

Well the first thing you have probably noted is that the ABV was a little higher than the original but i think most of us can live with that. The beer cleared and looked in the bottle a very good clear amber colour and identical to the original, which I was pleased with. On pouring into the glass the beer was nicely carbonated with a white head. The aroma was bob on with nice earthy hop and caramel toffee notes, which again was very pleasing. The taste was close, very close but not exact, damn. It did have a sweet malty taste with a bitter hop after taste.  A number of friends have tried it and agree that it is an exact copy of spitfire, maybe I’m being too picky, who knows? The bottles and keg didn’t last long as it is a really nice ale and one I will make again. Conclusion – Cracking ale that emulates the original and is as close as damn it.


Sep 202012
 

Well with the new DIY brewery finished what to make first? Which beer was I going to make to put my new setup through its paces? I decided on a Hobgoblin clone, an ale I like and drink quite alot of. For the uninitiated its a dark ruby red ale with a great bitter taste and a hoppy after taste that has a little kick, its very drinkable. I looked around the net and found a few different recipes and decided to use one that is on a number of sites in one guise or another. I changed a few things but the basic recipe is similar to a number on the net. Could i replicate the famous “mischievous character”?

Recipe

Character

SG 1.053

FG 1.012

5.4% ABV

34IBU

8c ESB

Ingredients

4.8kg (89%) Marris Otter

0.25kg (4.6%) Crystal 100

0.2kg (3.7%) Carapils

0.15kg (2.8%) Chocolate malt

45g Styrian goldings   45g Fuggles

Wyeast 1275 Thames valley ale

Mash

The method used was a single infusion mash. I started the mash with 14 litres of strike water at 77°c. The water was heated up to around 85°c and put into the mash tun, the lid was put on and left for 10 mins. The temperature levelled of at around 78 so the grain was added. The target mash temp of 69°c was met and the mash was left for 90 mins. After 90 mins I checked the temp and the mash had lost a couple of degrees. I  I then fly- sparged the grain with 19 litres of water at 77° and around 26 litres made it into the boiler. During the sparge the first wort hop addition is added to the boiler, 15g of goldings and 15g of fuggles.


Boil

The brew day was going really smoothly and I was happy when the wort was heating up, my new set up was working great. The hot break came and went and I turned one of the heater elements off and after 30 mins added the second hop addition 15g goldings and 15g fuggles. After 60 mins the remaining element was turned off and the last hop addition was added of, you guessed it 15g of goldings and 15g of fuggles. This last addition stays in the boiler for an hour, which goes against everything I have done before. The usual brew lore is to cool the wort as quickly as possible to pitching temp and pitch the yeast, not with this bad boy. The wort is left for an hour then chilled and drained into the fermenter, I did not feel comfortable with doing that at all. That’s when the only hiccup of the day and chink in my new set up became evident. The hop filter blocked up after about 5 seconds and I had to use a sterilised spoon to move the hops from around the filter all this after the wort had already been stood for an hour. I started to lose my usual brew day confidence and laid back attitude.

The yeast was added to the fermenter and the ale fermented vigorously and I had to add a blowoff tube. I used this yeast as it can be used for many different English ales, and it has been washed and reused (with a starter) a number of times since this brew was made.

After two weeks in the fermenter the ale was batch primed with 120g of DME  and then  kegged/bottled.

Results

After what seemed an eternity the beer was ready drink. I compared it side by side with a bottle of Hobgoblin. The carbonation was just right and both beers looked identical in the glass. The malty aroma from the clone lacked a toffee note of the original but was very similar, the hoppy smell of the goldings/fuggles was detectable but was very subtle in both beers. The clone tasted bitter and had a rounded after taste whereas the real hobgoblin was bitter with a punchy bitter hoppy after taste. I put this down to the first wort hop addition as this can make the hop taste more rounded. Conclusion – this clone is very close to the original with only subtle differences, it is a very nice ale and one I will make again. I definitely had a mischievous character after a few pints of this ale.


May 172012
 

Better Brew Export Lager

I saw this kit in the homebrew shop and decided to make it as the Better Brew range from Hambleton and Bard are new to the market. There are several kits in the range which are:-
Export lager (this kit)
Yorkshire Bitter
Northern Brown Ale
Irish Stout
India Pale Ale
Czech Pilsner
Midland Mild

The makers blurb reads:-
Better Brew beer kits are made from the best liquid malt extract from several different manufacturers around the world. We have simply picked the best extract for each kit.
We have not settled for the usual “one for all” yeast strain either. We use genuine professional brewers yeast strains. So the wheat beer kit uses a genuine wheat strain, the different ales and bitters in the range contains different strains according to style and the lagers contain a particularly neutral strain.

There are no colourings at all in the Better Brew kits, neither caramel (which if used has to show on the ingredients list) nor malt colourings (which don’t need to be declared). All colour in the Better Brew range is derived from the malt itself. It won’t get any more natural than this.

The Better Brew range of kits come in DOY packaging (standing up plastic pouches) because it:
* Allows us to use different weights, so more malt in the dark ales
* Is better for handling, especially online and mail order sales
* Gives us a lower carbon footprint than using metal cans
* Gives us a lower packaging cost, so we can use more expensive raw materials

A very well balanced, medium hopped classic lager. Bitterness 18-22 EBU, colour 6-10 EBC, alcohol 4.6% ABV.



This kit cost £12.99 and I used 500grms of dextrose (£1.95 for 1Kg) and 500grms of light dry malt extract (£3.99).
The total cost of the ingredients is £18.93 which works out at 47P a pint.

The Kit was made in the usual way adding the 500grams of sugar and malt and was then left for ten days to ferment and bottled using 150grms of dextrose.See below for video of this beer being made!

Taste and Conclusion

This kit was cheap and easy to make. The blurb states that the ingredients are premium quality and it does show in the finished beer. The yeast compacted nicely at the bottom of the bottles and the beer cleared really well. There was hardly any chill haze with this beer something that you do tend to get with other kit beers.
The finished Lager was nice, crisp and clear. I found it a really enjoyable lager to drink. Conclusion – cheap and easy to make, very enjoyable lager, recommended. I must try further kits in this range.


Mar 022012
 

Beer labels

I don’t usually bother putting labels on my beer bottles and just mark the cap so I know what’s in the various bottles in my brew cupboard. This christmas I decided to make some bottles of homebrew for family and friends. I also decided to sort out some professional looking labels but how? In true wizard style i decided to see what was available online for free and what I could make. There are various sites and programs available so here is a quick review of the ones I had a dabble with.

http://labeley.com/

This is a great free program. You can pick the shape and design of your label and there are numerous variants. This includes designs,colours, borders and shapes. You can add the name of your brew and other details and pick the fonts.You can also upload an image or photo. I also put details on the rear label and it turned out very professional. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.beerlabelizer.com/

This is another good free program. You can pick various designs and colours for preset labels. A nice touch on this site is that you can upload an image or photo that can be incorporated into the label.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

http://www.beerlabelcreator.com/

This again is a free site that allows you to make a label and download it onto your PC then print it off. There are a few preset labels that you can change the details on. This is a very simple but effective site to make your own labels.

These are just a few sites to try and I am sure you will find a design you are happy. All these sites are free and the final label can be downloaded onto your PC. You can then print off the label and stick it onto each bottle. As I said before these labels were used on gifts to friends and family and not something i would put on every bottle every time.


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