with the occasional rant about tin openers...

Friday, July 6, 2012

A brew-day in pictures:

The following is a Daily Mirror-esque photo-casebook.

The recipe for Smithish (Irish Red Ale)
I'm going to make two identical Irish Red Ales, then ferment with two different yeasts: Mauribrew Ale Yeast and Nottingham Ale Yeast . This way I’ll have lots of beer and I’ll be able to make more informed decisions regarding yeast the next time I want to brew something. Every day’s a school day.

I’m using the same recipe as Smithish, adjusted to all-grain, as the original used dried malt extract. Also, I don’t like faff, so whatever the original proportions was, they’re now rounded up to the nearest pound (lb). Also, the hops are different, and there’re more of them.

Ubiquitous photo of hand
and task.

I’ve also taken this learning opportunity to take photographs of the brew-day. There are loads of pictures, though only a one is actually of brewing. Most blogs have lots of pictures, and, frankly, my hand pouring in hops is the same as your hand pouring in hops, so I’ve added pictures which give a little more of the ‘character’ of the brewing session, as opposed to step-by-steps. That’s why there’s a picture of my fridge door, my recipe book (which will fetch a fortune on eBay one day) and some other bits and bobs. And seeing as I brew beer when I have the house to myself, any action shots only happen when I’ve a hand free. That means putting the beer down.

So, the brew’s in the bucket. Having measured the starting gravity (and accounting for hydrometer error at high temperature) I’m disappointed with the result; it looks like my mash efficiency is between fifty-five and 60%. I buy the malt ready milled, the first area to look at with low efficiency, so maybe I’ll invest in something one day. I followed Charlie Papazian’s half gallon/lb or grain sparge too, which is much more than I’d normally use, and still poor extract. Well, never mind. 3.5 – 4 % ABV isn’t strong, but it’ll be a nice drink.

Heat seeking missiles, cats.

The final picture is of my latest golden ale, sunbathing. The books and beer reviews all talk about light-struck beer. What is it? Well, that’s explained in the book. What does it smell or taste like? That, too, is in the book. It smells like a skunk. Brilliant. I’ll just pop down to the local field and sniff a skunk. So, I bottled some very hoppy golden ale in a clear bottle and on the first sunny day I sat it in the sunniest spot (just look for a cat). So, after 30 minutes on the windowsill and an hour or so in the fridge, it’s ready to drink. Now I think I know what sunstruck is. It seems to be that lovely burnt, nutty flavour I originally associated with pale-malt-only beers. I was wondering how to recreate it in a recipe, as I actually quite like it. No accounting for taste, I suppose.

So, that’s why I don’t take pictures.