Thursday, October 6, 2011

Brewdays - #4 All Grain Banks Bitter

I'm a bit late getting this brew day blogged due to getting chimneys cleaned and fitted out with stainless steel flexible flue liners, wood burners tidied up, firewood sorted ready for winter and rehearsing with my new band (I play drums).

Brewday was 22nd Sept and the recipe is from page 114 of Graham Wheeler's splendid all grain home brewing recipe book, Brew Your Own British Real Ale.

The only modification to my brewing equipment has been the addition of some quick fit hose connectors and a length of brand new hose pipe for my home made wort chiller.

To open with here's the obligatory grain shot. Again, I tried to jazz it up a little by making a smiley face with the grains but it didn't turn out too well.

This wasn't the most taxing of brews although being a newbie to this, I'm not exactly looking for problems. The day went very well all in all and I ended up with 23 litres of very nice smelling hopped wort in the FV.

I pre heated the mash tun again using just a kettle full of boiling water and shut the lid while I prepared a few last minute bits and bobs. After about 10 or 15 minutes I tipped out the boiling water and began to fill the mash tun with 10 litres of hot liqour at 74C (grain temp was 22C), my target mash temp was 67C which I hit bang on when I added the grist and doughed in.

Feeling a lot more relaxed this time, a couple of brew days under the belt makes a lot of difference, I even managed to sneak away and get a big old bacon and mushroom butty on the go. Argh that was the last pack of English bacon left in the freezer. When we have visitors who drive here rather than fly we ask them to bring a few packs of good olde English bacon with them. the French stuff is nice in its own way but it's different and sometimes you just can't beat a proper bacon butty.

The mash (6pH) was left for 90 minutes.

First runnings from the mash tun was very clear after the first couple of litres. It was looking darker than my memory of Banks Bitter however and I remember thinking at the time - when reading the recipe - that there seemed a fair amount of black malt (38g) for such a light coloured beer. (As this is a late post of the brewday I have since bottled and tasted this beer and it is darker than Banks Bitter. Next time I'll half the black malt)

Sparging bar worked really well again, I'm very happy with it. By the time I turned off the sparge liquor (80C) I had 27 litres of lovely wort. Based on my previous losses during the boil I topped this up to 32 litres with fresh water.

Hot break material forming prior to reaching a rolling boil. This brew I did something different having read a couple of posts and had some feedback on Jim's Beer Kit Forum about skimming off the break material froth. Using a slotted spoon, I removed enough frothy scum to almost fill a 2l jug.

Rolling boil reached and the bittering hops (58g Fuggles) went in. I don't know what the exact benefits of skimming the froth is but this time there was no build up sticking and burning onto the edge of the boiler. Surely, as it burns, it must impart some less than desirable flavours into the wort.

10 minutes from the finish of the boil in went 20g East Kent Goldings and a teaspoon of Irish Moss finings. This time I re-hydrated the Irish Moss in approx 100ml of warm water, again having read suggestions to do this. The stuff smells quite strong when re-hydrated and after a few minutes of soaking the water goes slightly jellified - I tipped the whole lot in. The wort chiller had been put in about 5 minutes before that to sterilize in the boiling wort.

I missed a couple of photos here and so after turning off the gas burner and chilling the wort I ended up with this lovely frothy bucket of hopped wort. I pitched the yeast when the temp was down to 25C. The yeast was some of the yeast I'd recovered from my All Grain Courage Directors brewday, good old brupaks ale yeast, that I had made a starter from using dry malt extract a couple of days previously.

The remains of the day ready to go on the compost heap. I donated some of the mashed grains to my Mum who uses them in some her lovely home made breads. The rest of the grains go to our chickens who kindly repay us with wonderful fresh eggs.

Original gravity target was 1,038 and I got 1,039 and I ended up with just under 23 litres so all happy there.

Target Final Gravity was 1,009 and on day five in the fermentation vessel it was 1,010 the following days I was occupied elsewhere and unable to check it so by the time I got around to checking again (Day 8) it was 1,008 giving me around 4.1% ABV higher than the target 3.8%

I racked the wort from the FV into another bucket and sealed it up until I'd have the time to get it bottled. As it turned out that was just a couple of days later so on 1st Oct it was bottled.

Bottled with 80g sugar dissolved in 250ml water - 5ml syringe of priming sugar in each bottle. I didn't batch prime this time due to being a bit rushed and not having the time to clean up and sterilize my HLT that I use when I batch prime. It was definitely a lot slower using the syringe method though so next time I think I'll go back to batch priming.

I had a sneaky taster last night and it's good, very good although obviously a tad green (new). Good priming already and apart from a slight haze, clearing nicely. It is darker though and I don't think quite as hoppy as it should be. The hops are well within their use by date so maybe the quantities need upping a bit. We'll see, once it's had more time to develop... if it gets chance :D

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