with the occasional rant about tin openers...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Best Bitter, for cask.

Having brewed nothing at home for nearly a year, I’m making up for it now. The same can be said for this blog. Nothing new for years, and now I’ve a backlog of posts. Not because I’ve got more to say, necessarily, but I’ve finally got the hang of separating the content. So, to tease, the next couple of posts will include:

  • Toys for a Tenner: All the best toys for really keen homebrewers
  • Great Gruit: Brewing with Kviek and some not-hops
  • In good nick: Real ale, and how to get beer on the floor and in your face
  • Get pally at your local: Building an awesome bar from pallets

Onto the bitter. The recipe is similar to the last, because it was really very good. The changes include swapping out some crystal malt for Munich and Aromatic, simply because I wanted to try the Munich, and I was sent more Aromatic than I needed, and less crystal because I wasn’t. In they go.

This is a single hopped beer (not like that Double Hopped madness from Diageo, Hophouse 13), in that it is bittered, flavoured and aromad by Pilgrim. I’m nowhere near the end of the British hop list yet, so I’ve no interest in American or NZ hops when there are still so many varieties to try nearer to home. Pilgrim was described as "deeply fruity, lemon/grapefruit aroma with flavour characteristics including verdant, berries and pears. As a bittering hop it provides a refreshing, full-bodied and rounded bitterness" by The Homebrew Company, and they recommend its trial, so having enjoyed it in the first batch, I’ve stretched to another packet of pellets for bittering. I need to use some leaf hops to help filter out the trub etc, so the last additions will be leaf, totalling about 70 grams (This is a double batch, aiming for 44 litres in the fermenter). 70g won’t sound like much to many of you, I’m sure, but this is a session beer, remember. Drinky drinky, not sippy sippy.

The yeast is a reconditioned Fuller’s bottle, and it’s being stirred right up until pitching. This is its second run for me, and seems in good condition, so I’m happy to pitch later this evening. It’ll be a two litre starter, but I’ve no idea what that means in terms of yeast cell growth, as the starting quantity was one metric dollop, and it’s viability unknown.
I think the Fuller’s strain is WLP002, English Ale or something, should you want to pay €8 for it.
The recipe:
Minch pale (4-6srm) 5.8 kg
Munich malt (  ) 500g
Crystal 40 (80), 300g
Aromatic malt 200g
Torrefied wheat 500g
Water: down to 35ppm alkalinity, and added 10g CaSO4, 4g CaCl. 22.5l, should give roughly 3:1 litres:kg. God only knows what the Sulphate : Chloride ratio will end up, but going from experience it should be roughly 2:1, with about 200 – 300 ppm sulphate, and half of that in Chloride. That will leave plenty of Calcium for the yeast. Treated enough water to liquor back at the end.

Temperature settled at 65oC, so should get the FG down to 1010.
The grist yielded 44 litres of 1046, with plenty more sugars left to extract (sparge stopped at 1020).
Pilgrim (pellet) 10.3%aa, 42g
Pilgrim (leaf) 10.4%aa, 35g (+ ¼ tablet protafloc)
Pilgrim (leaf) 10.4%aa, 25g

1 small handful added to cask. Book says so.

The wort is an excellent dark copper colour, which pleases me. This was acheived by using a little chocolate malt the last time, but I think I tasted it in the form of a little dryness, so to have this happen accidentally from the Munich etc is a pleasant, though not entirely unexpected surprise.
Why am I bothered by the colour? The beer is to be served at a wedding, alongside a locally brewed golden ale, and a locally brewed stout. It’s nice to brew a beer that’s a different colour, and nobody wants to drink a red ale all day: I speak from experience.

So, about all I can remember is that it was delicious, very popular, was lighter (colour) than I expected, and needed about another week for some of the hop roughness to smooth out. However, an excellent beer, of which many a pint was had. This was in contention with a locally brewed golden ale and a stout, and they all pretty much emptied at the same moment, so I’m pleased with the result.
Not so pleased, however, that I won’t be adding back some more crystal malt the next time!