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!


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.


Feb 232012
 

 Brupaks Czech pilsner.

To give the kit its full title brewers choice from Brupaks continental Czech Pilsner.

The brupaks blurb describes this kit as “A beautiful golden lager with a full-bodied, malty backround and a pronounced hop character derived from genuine Czech Saaz hops.
Brews 23 litres (40 pints). Colour; golden. Bitterness; high (EBU 38 – 42) . A.b.v. 4.5 – 4.8%.

Brupaks Brewer’s Choice are unique in that they are the first dried ingredient kits that don’t require boiling. The kits are comprised of first-grade, spray-dried malt extract, freshly crushed grains, pre isomerised hop pellets and genuine brewer’s yeast. As the hops have already been isomerised (alpha acids, the bittering substances in hops, are insoluble until they have been boiled in wort for at least 20 minutes) all that is neccessary to release their biterness and flavour is to steep them in hot water for a few minutes.

This kit is the next step to extract and all grain brewing. The kit is a “dry” kit and is made up of a bag of dry malt extract, grains, hops and brewferm lager yeast. The kit costs £19.75 but further ingredients are required. This is the beauty of this kit.
There are three choices of further ingredients that can be used which alter the type of beer produced, these are:-

1. Sugar 1kg. This will produce a light bodied beer with a pronounced hop character.
2. Dried malt extract 1kg. This will produce a beer with more body and a maltier profile, hops are still in evidence.
3. Light liquid malt extract 1.5kg. This method produces a truly commercial beer with a fuller body and a higher alcohol content, although this choice will slightly darken the beer.



Would you care to hazard a guess which method was used? You got it option 3 was used to make my beer. The can of extract cost £11.00, so the total was £30.75 which works out at 76 pence a pint.

Brewing method.

This kit is slightly more involved to make than just mixing the kit and sugar as there is an element of hop and grain additions, but more about that later.

The first thing to do as always is to sterilise everything that comes into contact with the beer, further details can be found on the sterilise page. The next step is steep the hop and grains. This is the clever bit as this kit uses “tea bag technology”. The grains and hops are in large “tea bags”. The tea bags are placed into a clean pan and are then covered in 2 litres (one kettle) of boiling water. This is then left for twenty mins to steep. the liquid is then poured out into the sterilised fermenter. This step is repeated a second and third time and the tea bags are then discarded. The malt extract is then added to the fermenter and mixed in. The next step is to add your own chosen ingredient. I used option 3 the 1.5kg of liquid malt extract. The can was heated in a hot pan of water for 15 mins to soften the contents and added to the fermenter. The can was rinsed out with boiling water to get all the extract out of the tin. While this is done the yeast should be rehydrated (as per the instructions on the packet). This is basicaly adding the dry yeast to cooled boiled water and leaving it for about 15 mins to rehydrate.

The fermenter is then topped up to the required 23 litres at a temperature of between 18-22 degrees C and the lid and air lock fitted. The beer should be left to ferment for around 5-7 days. Once the fermentation has stopped the beer should be syphoned into bottles which have been primed with dextrose or batch primed and bottled. The beer will be ready to drink in a further 7 days or so.

Conclusion and taste.

This beer is a little bit more complicated to make than a standard kit but is well worth the effort. I like the fact that the kit is flexible and can be changed to taste. I used the liquid malt extract option and it did make the beer slightly darker. The taste of this beer is quality and I would liken it to Holsten Pils. The carbonation and head retention were good. The taste was more malty than hoppy but you could taste the Saaz hops in the background. I drank this batch over christmas and enjoyed every drop. Next time I make this (because there will be more batches made) I will try the extra dry malt extract option to see if the beer is “lighter”. Conclusion – A flexible kit that is very good quality and great to drink.


Aug 242011
 

Coopers European lager.

This kit form cooper’s costs around £13 and is 1.7kg. The coopers blurb says” Coopers European Lager captures the style of the finest quality lagers exported from Northern Europe. Serve well chilled in a tall, narrow glass with a generous head of 5cm or so and savour the herbaceous hop aroma and crisp finish. For the best results mix with 1 kg of Coopers Brew Enhancer 2 and store for at least 12 weeks in the bottle prior to drinking. This kit was purchased on impulse as the shop had run out of mexican cerveza (see above). The 12 week conditioning required was putting me off, but what the hell eh? Cost of kit and ingredients was £18.30 which works out at 45p a pint.

Brewing.

This lager kit comes with a packet of lager yeast so has to be fermented at a lower temperature. The brew was mixed as usual (500gms dextrose and 500gms of light spray malt) and not with the recommended coopers brew enhancer 2. The fermenter was placed in my usual brewing cupboard and covered with a wet towel to keep the temperature at 19°c. The beer took two weeks to ferment and was rather inactive through the airlock, with only a few bubbles every now and then. The beer was then bottled with the required amount of priming sugar, and left for required 12 weeks, the hardest part of making this kit!


Taste and conclusion.

To be honest i did try a “few” bottles after 8 weeks and it tasted great. The carbonation was fine and it did have a decent head. It tastes like a lager and competes with anything supermarket bought. I did a taste test with a famous belgian lager and there was no real difference, in fact people preferred my homebrew! Next time i make a batch of this lager it would benefit from some hop addition, just to give it a little bit more clout. I still have a few bottles left and to be honest i have drank one while writing this review. Conclusion – Harder to make, but well worth the effort.


Aug 242011
 

Munton’s Connoisseurs Continental Lager.

This kit from munton’s costs slightly more at around £16 and is a 1.8kg kit. Munton’s describe this beer “This is a light amber hoppy lager modelled on the full-bodied beer available across mainland Europe. Serve chilled to appreciate its rich character.” The cost of kit and ingredients is £20.30 which works out at 50p a pint. The kit comes with its own packet of yeast which is an ale yeast and not a lager yeast so again the fermentation temperature is easier to control.

Brewing.
This again is an easy kit to mix and make.  The first thing i noticed when making this beer is the colour. When i added the extract i found it to be very dark and not as light as a lager should look, maybe it will lighten when the water is added, i thought to myself. I added the usual 500gms of dextrose and 500gms of light spray malt, topped up the fermenter to the usual 23 litres and the colour remained dark. When fermentation had finished it was bottled,with the bottles primed with dextrose. The beer was left to condition for 2 weeks.

Taste and conclusion. 
I opened a chilled bottle and the beer was nicely carbonated. The colour was still dark. When i say dark it looked like an ale rather than the usual straw lager colour as it shows on the tin. The taste of this beer was more of an ale taste than a lager. It reminded me somewhat of carlsberg special brew, a drink i am not a fan of.  Then i had a thought why it tasted like this. Is it that this is how it should taste, or did i do something different during the brewing process? The only thing that was changed was the steriliser, as i had run out of my usual and had bought another brand. On returning to my brew shop i enquired with the owner regarding the steriliser that was used, and he confirmed that indeed it could of been this. I am not so sure! Having only ever made one batch of this beer and wouldn’t make another, its still an unanswered question, although saying that it all got drank! Conclusion – easy to make, one i can’t recommend.


Aug 242011
 

Coopers Mexican Cerveza.

This is the first kit i ever made and started me on a long road of homebrewing. This kit is a good place to start for a first brew.

The kit is 1.7kg of malt extract and costs around £12, it comes with instructions and a packet of yeast, which is an ale yeast , so the ferment temperature is easier to control.

The coopers blurb reads “Mexico is known for its arid lands, dusty conditions and oppressive heat. So it is not surprising that the people of Mexico are expert at quenching a thirst. Coopers Mexican Cerveza (beer) emulates the style of the finest quality beers exported from Mexico. This premium beer is light in style with a fresh clean taste, ideally served ice-cold with a wedge of lime or lemon”.

Brewing.

This brew is easy to make. The ingredients required for this beer are 500gms dextrose and 500grms light dry spray malt extract.

The dextrose will cost you around £1.50 for a Kg  and £3.80 for the dry malt extract. Total cost of brew is £17.30 for 40 pints which works out at around 43p a pint!!

The kit is easy to mix and all you do is as in the basic brewing pages and bung it all in the fermenter,mix with boiling water and top up with water to the right temperature, then pitch the yeast.The beer takes around 5 days to ferment. This beer is better bottled, so you can use your left over dextrose to prime the bottles. The beer when bottled does not smell like mexican cerveza, such as corona, but this did change. The beer should be left to condition in the bottles for around 2 weeks, but you can “test” a few after a week to see how they are doing. For best results leave as long as you can in the bottle.


Taste and conclusion.

The finished beer is well carbonated and is very like the usual mexican cerveza, such as sol or corona. This beer though is a little different tasting and can be enjoyed by any beer drinker, especially when its chilled on a sunny day. I can recommend this beer as i have made a number of batches and have never been disappointed. The only problem you might have is getting hold of it, as when i was in my local brew shop last week there was no stock and the owner was having trouble getting hold of any, Bugger! Conclusion- easy to make and easier to drink!


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