with the occasional rant about tin openers...

Monday, April 9, 2012

The New Style- Irish Black Ale

Let me be the first to unveil a new beer style, the Irish Black Ale. No, it’s not a stout, and for some reason it’s not Irish Red Ale either. I used the same, small, amount of chocolate and roasted malt as the last red ale, but for some reason, it’s just come out black. It might clear up after fermentation…
Probably the Best Cold Break in the World
I think I qualify as a small brewery now. After St. Patrick’s day I brewed another golden ale, which has been kegged. Unfortunately the plastic barrel’s CO2 valve leaks the wrong way, so I’ve had to replace it with a nut and bolt. Now the beer’s nicely conditioned, but if I’ve put too much sugar in the keg, it’ll explode. Better drink it quick.
After the golden ale, I brewed up another; a 2 gallon batch of strong ale. The reason being, I wanted to see if you could recycle hops. I calculated that the amount of hops I’d have after the golden ale would make a second beer very bitter, so I made it very strong. I mean, if you assume that in a one-hour boil you use 30% of the alpha acids, that leaves 70% acids… well, it doesn’t seem to work like that. My green credentials remain intact, but my brewing credentials, less so. The old ale is basically stewed malt extract. No bitterness whatsoever.
Then a quick Irish red. No, Irish black, sorry. Most of the wort was boiled with some Northdown, while a very little extra was boiled with a lot of Magnum hops. This extra has been added to the strong ale mentioned above to put some bitterness back in. It’s still fermenting away, which is nice to see, in two demijohns. Hopefully the finished product will be more balanced.
How great to have manipulated my way through all these difficulties- the underbittered beer, the broken keg, brewing two beers in one afternoon- only to be thwarted by a distinct lack of yeast! I was so sure I had one more sachet left. Lots of bakers yeast, but no brewers yeast. Fortunately I did keep some back in a bottle. I intended using it for another beer, but needs must. Anyway, lessons learnt.
By the way, Nestea and Lucozade bottles make perfect starter bottles, as the opening is the same size as those handy rubber bungs. I wouldn’t need to know this if I’d kept track of how much yeast I’d used.