Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another pint of my #allgrain Summer Quaffing Bitter

This is seriously blowing me away as to how clear it is. No filtration other than through the hop bed when running off to the FV after boiling. I have to admit if served at room temperature the carbonation is a bit strong and stirs up the sediment but 30 mins in the fridge and it pours to pretty much empty without dislodging a skerrick - a skerrick is a tiny thing - of the bottle bottoms.

Absolutely going to brew this again, it's been superb - 2 bottles left alas :( note to self, get bigger pans and FV's and increase brew length soon.

It looks deceptively pale but there are layers of toffee, caramel, a hint of vanilla, dryness, tongue bitingly bitter that both quenches and makes you want to dive in for more. There are subtle fruits happening, citrus and more beyond my vocabulary of descriptors.

Here's the link to my brewday for this all grain, session bitter.

My Black Dragon IPA bottle label design

After some further tinkering using The Gimp (open source, free alternative to Photoshop) on several label designs recently I have finally settled on this one for my Black Dragon IPA. I'm still tweaking the recipe as far as the cold steeped malts but it's developed into a lovely, full beer. Not overly roasty and with some fragrant pineapple notes drifting into it now it's a few week old. I am putting the pineapple down to the Cascade.

Still waiting to hear back from Les Douanes (Customs) with regard to my initial start-up size requiring full warehouse keeper status or not. Although even if they say I don't have to, I think I will still register (it's free anyway) as it comes built in with the rights to sell (takeaway only) beer from the breweries location.

Reduced resolution and size for bandwidth and to fit on here.
And here's a bottle of the lovely stuff. I might have to crack one open in a couple of hours time. :)

The first brewday (I'll be swapping black malt for Carafa III) is here: allgrain homebrew Black IPA

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Label WIP for latest brew a Single Hop, Imperial IPA using Apollo Hops

Posting this here so I can link to it on a forum... brewday write up to follow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Last Pint of all grain Batemans Victory ag11 :(

This has been a lovely #homebrew beer and one I will brew again without doubt, deceptively pale it packs a 6.2% abv punch. Really clear now and with a long lasting head, nice lacing. There's toffee aromas in there, subtle but present. A gentle swirl and deep sniff in the glass brings caramel and citrus fruits. Although a couple of %abv over my idea of a session bitter this is easy drinking, smooth and refreshing. As I finished the last drops, I definitely wanted another one. Brew after next probably as I want to get a big hop monster of an American pale ale in next.

You can find the details on the brewday post.

Here's a much better photo than the one I posted previously.

All Grain Homebrew - Batemans Victory

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A delicious experiment in Beer

I don't know why I decided to top up an almost finished pint of my Black IPA with my Summer Blonde Bitter the other night but I'm very pleased I did.

A malt and hop explosion, gorgeous colour, delicious, creamy and smooth bursting with goldings and cascade. Love it! I now want to try to create a new recipe based on a merging of the two individual beers recipes. The mix was about 5:1 blonde to black,

Probably easier to brew separately and mix before bottling, not sure how to calculate the actual abv of two mixed together.

Black IPA Summer Blonde hybrid. A happy accident.

Pint of all grain Black IPA

Finally a photo that isn't blurred to shitrags!!! This was the brewday: All grain Black IPA

Definitely black. With a light shone right through it, it's very dark red just glimpse-able at the edges. More burnt/roasted notes than I was hoping for but nice and not as much as you'd expect to look at it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Angram beer engine, ready to rock!

I've been waiting for a missing drip tray and some beer line to arrive. It came today so I've set the beer engine up on the dining room table and hooked it up to a bowl of water. Pulls like a treat, nice pump and I'm chuffed to bits with it. Here are some better pics.

First beer planned is still fermenting but soooooon it will be mine :)

Water for now... but it works!!1

Monday, May 21, 2012

East Kent Blonde - Own recipe all grain pale bitter

I fancied something simple and session-able with the summer coming up (I wish someone would remind the rain gods of this) but also with a bit of interest in the nose and taste. Something quaff-able but with a bit of, "hmmmm what's that?" about it.

Ooops, half way down the first sampler I remembered to take a piccy. Clearest pale beer I've brewed to date.
I went for pale malt, pale crystal and tried just using flaked wheat instead of torrified to see what sort of head retention it gave. I've been reading that flaked wheat behaves the same as torrified but without the flavours torrified can sometimes add. It was absolutely nothing to do with opening the wrong bag and not realising until it had been tipped into the malt bucket...

I also wanted the classic combination of East Kent Golding and Fuggle hops with some target chucked in for its higher alpha acid content for bitterness.

I also figured I'd have a go at caramelizing some of the first run sweet wort after reading a thread on Jim's Beer Kit about the toffee, caramel and vanilla notes this process can bring to a beer.

End result, v nice. Everything I'd aimed for pretty much but I ended up slightly over target OG so from what was meant to be 3.9% abv beer I ended up with a 4.1% - still a lot more session-able than the typical 5.5 to 7% brews.

This is also one I plan to have on hand pull for our summer garden party.

Target brew length: 25l (got 26l)
Mash liquor: 11l
Total liquor: 38l

Mash time: 90 minutes
Boil time: 90 minutes

Pale malt: 4,170g
Pale crystal: 100g
Flaked wheat (ahem): 150g

Bittering and Late Hops:
Target (12.6%AA) - 11g @ 90 minutes
Fuggles - 11g @ 90 minutes (old bag, pre MaltMiller supplier so %AA unknown)
Fuggles - 20g @ 30 minutes
East Kent Goldings (4.96%AA) - 15g @ 10 mins

Aroma Hops:
East Kent Goldings (4.96%AA): 20g @ 80C steep for 30 minutes
Fuggles (3.81% AA) - 25g @ 80C steep for 30 minutes

Not many pics, I was using my phone camera as my Mrs had pinched my camera to take photos of her handmade bags that she sells on Etsy.

As you can see (bottom left) flaked wheat looks nothing like torrified wheat... Not sure what I was thinking but it worked out ok in the end with a bloody nice, crisp pinter. Just need a bloody nice summer to finally appear now.

First runnings taken in my blurred foreground, sharp background photography style. FFS!

It was looking a little dark in the bucket even once I was sparging but it soon paled down/up.

1 litre of first run sweet wort boiling down next to the main boil...

Reduced to 250ml and a thick syrupy gloop. During this time the smells were absolute toffee and vanilla. Nice!

Chiller in and last hops etc etc yawn usual stuff

Shite heading for the compost bin.
Next time I brew this, all bittering hops in at 90 mins. Some additional EKG and Fuggles in at 10 minutes and then slightly more EKG and Fuggles in for the 80C steep.

It was bitter, it was hoppy but I think (possibly due to the caramel/vanilla notes) the bitterness and hop aroma can stand to go up a bit.

AG14 All Grain Black IPA - Black Dragon

I'm trying to get caught up with some brew day write ups to share so here's AG14, my first attempt at a controversially named Black IPA.

I've wanted to brew something using more American hops, this time to use up a bag of Cascade I've had for a while and some other odds and ends.

I ran this through qBrew an open source beer engine type brewing software for Linux.

Brewday 23rd April 2012

Target brew length: 20 litres
Target OG 1,074
Target FG 1,019
Target ABV 7.2%

Mash: 90 minutes
Boil: 90 minutes
Mash liquor: 15l
Total liquor: 35 (includes about 1.75l from the cold steep added to the boil)

Pale malt (Maris Otter): 4.5kg
Munich Malt: 600g
Special B: 500g
Chocolate Malt: 100g
Pale Crystal: 250g
Torrified Wheat: 350g

Black malt: 500g cold steeped for 2 hours in 2 litres boiled and cooled water.

Note: Next time I'll use Carafa 3 as the finished brew did have slightly more roasted, burnt flavours than I'd wanted even with the cold steep of the back malt. I'll also use more hops.

Bittering Hops:
Target: 10g @ 90 mins - 9g @ 60mins
East Kent Golding: 11g @ 90 mins - 8g @ 60 mins
Northern Brewer: 5g @ 30 mins

Aroma Hops:
Cascade: 25g @ 10 mins - 32g @ flameout 80C steep for 30 mins

Cascade: 22g Dry hop added to secondary fermenter for 1 week before bottling.

Yeast:  Safale SO4 rehydrated and kicked of in a small starter of first run sweet wort boiled and cooled
Copper Finings: Protofloc - used a whole tablet as I wasn't impressed first time using just 1/4 tablet

The pics.

A bit of a grain user upper, Munich and Special B left over from AG13 Weissen

One of 2 carafes containing the cold steeped black malt extract

Adding hot liquor to the pre-heated mash tun

Doughing in

First runnings from the mash tun were pretty dark even before the cold steep was added.

Cold steeped black malt extract being added to the run off sweet wort before boiling.

Vigorous boil and the first bittering hops are in.

10 minutes from end of boil, chiller already in to sterilize in the boiling wort.

Lots of cold break crud settled on the base of the boiler as the hopped wort is run off to the fermenter

Pitching the SO4 starter @ 26C

The next morning. Water bath temp at 22C, hell of a fermentation

Crazy alien yeast head! It's Aliiiiiivvvvveeeee!!!!1!
I had to give the inside of the FV rim a good clean with a sterilized scraper before I could put the lid back on. It settled later that day but fermentation finally stopped around 1,022, 3 points above target FG.

I racked off to secondary and dry hopped for a week. Checking the gravity again before bottling and it was still at 1,022

I've calculated the finished beer to be 6.5% and it's tasting very good. As I wrote above though it does have a more burnt flavour than i was expecting so next time I'll definitely opt for the de-husked Carafa 3.

I'll try and get a decent photo of a pint of it this evening but I'm having a few blurry issues with my camera when it comes to photographing pints.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pint of AG12 - All Grain Felinfoel Double Dragon

Here's a peek at a pint of my all grain Double Dragon brewed back in April. Apologies for the crappy photo, I seem to be getting backgrounds focused all the time and the subject blurred. Camera set on auto... even an idiot like me should be able to take a photo clearly.

One of my favourites so far and I currently have a second batch fermenting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Real Ale Review - Thunder Holt by Joseph Holt

Hi I'm Steve's mate Alex and I share his passion for drinking real ale, it's all in my name - Ale-x... Sorry, *cough* anyway a while ago Steve asked me if I'd write some reviews of ales I've been drinking to his add to his blog.

Please bear in mind I have no experience of craft brewing, I'm purely a drinker, so any blogs I write will probably reflect this. I honestly couldn't say if something tastes of this or that hop etc.

Tonight the wife brought me home an ale locally brewed in Manchester by the Joseph Holt brewery.  It's described on the bottle as a russet red ale with light citrus flavours of challenger hops and rich undertones of dark crystal malt. Rated at 5% abv.

Pouring - it pours well with a bit of a bubbly head that doesn't last particularly long. In fact it was all but vanished by the time I was half way through.
Colour  - to my eye it is a lovely reddish chestnut brown.
Aroma - a pleasant slightly burnt bitter scent that is just strong enough to be interesting but doesn't quite punch you in the face.
Taste - well balanced between bitter and citrus sour flavours with just a hint of burnt treacle that leaves an enjoyable dry tingle on the tongue.
When - for me this ale would work well with a spicy meal such as lamb balti where the gentle bitterness would create an interesting counter balance to heat of the spices whilst the burnt treacle undertones will bring out the richness of the lamb.
Conclusion - This isn't the most exciting of ales out there, however because it's not an overpoweringly strong flavoured drink I could see myself enjoying a two or three of these over the course of an evening, maybe more in the right company.

Score - 6/10

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Social Network, Owned By It's Members - Zurker

Ok so this is not entirely to do with brewing but as brewers like to share on forums, twitter etc there is some relevance especially as social networks are becoming increasingly greedy and spammy.
Social Network Owned By It's Members
Having become very tired of the spam and bloat of facebook and constant battery of advertising, personal data use and other less obvious concerns, I have decided to keep a very close eye on new social networking site Zurker. Since the name first started cropping up on blogs, Tweets and stumbles earlier this year, there has been growing speculation and interest in the startup and it's continuing to grow.
The name Zurker at first struck me as a bit crap really but having now had a look around I can safely say that I am fascinated by it. Here’s why:
Zurker is owned by the members - me and, if you accept my invite and invite your friends,  you!
Here's your invite to Zurker.
To begin with, you have to be invited to become a member which gives it an element of exclusiveness and this in itself is not a new idea (Pinterest for example) but this does show you that Zurker wants their members to be serious about signing up.
They promise that all investment will come from the members in the form of vShares.
By inviting friends to join the network you earn a vShare. These don’t count as real shares until Zurker becomes a publicly traded company but it’s still a pretty good start and further incentive for members to put some time and effort into treating Zurker as a serious but still fun way to share with the important people in your life. You can also build networks with other people who share interests, hobbies etc - very similar to Google+ circles.
It's obvious Zurker wants you to refer as many friends as you can so that you get more shares, they don't hide this fact and there's a reward for doing so. How many friends invite people to use apps on FB for example, only to get nothing other than useless farmville credits but by doing that, send more revenue to the app developers.

On the subject of openess, Zurker also publishes it's revenue and out goings etc as Open Books for all to see, another bold move.

Encouraging people to invite new members allows the social network to expand, the bigger the better. You can also purchase vShares from as little as 1 euro (in my case) which at the moment is about £0.80 GBP or $1.29 (at today's exchange rates)... Not a lot considering the potential returns.
I am captivated by the idea of this startup and already set up my account.  I'm sick of social networks getting richer and richer by using our personal information and not giving a hoot about our privacy. It’s time for a big change in social networking and this could be just that.
You can find me on Zurker, sign up and say hi :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pint of AG11, all grain homebrew Batemans Victory

Oops, here's another pint that I haven't actually posted the brewday for. It was a typically brew really, nothing special but it's made a cracking beer. Really enjoying this, it's a tad paler than original as I'm currently using up a sack of pale crystal malt I ordered by mistake. EDIT I lie like a cheap watch, here's the brewday, all grain Batemans Victory. One thing that has struck me is, having just been over to Batemans website is they say there are US Liberty hops used in the recipe... EKG and Styrians according to my recipe. So I think I'll be re-brewing this one anyone as it's nice and I'll get hold of some Liberty hops and see what the difference is.

Lovely wash of hop aromas as you stick your nose in the glass and a pleasing, creamy mouthfeel. Soft and delicate but at 6.1% abv it's one to keep an eye on. It goes down faster than a £300 escort light, summer session bitter. It has a lovely, thick white head that lasts the course and even when it begins to thin out a little, a quick swirl in the glass and it's back.

Here's the pic, sorry it's blurred I'm getting worse at photos. I seem to have a knack of getting backgrounds in perfect focus... meh!

While I'm on the subject of summer session beers, I've just bottled an own recipe Golden Bitter ready for summer, target abv was 3.9% but I ended up at 4.1% so it's still pretty low. A quicker taster before bottling and it's hoppy and fresh. I'm looking forward to trying the first small, sampler bottle in a few days.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Toy :)

My Angram beer engine arrived :)

Second hand but only used for a couple of days at a beer festival last year.

Job's a goodun :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A pint of my all grain Wheat Beer

Ooooh yeah!!!! This is good, bloody good. I am now wanting to do a dark wheat beer and I think I'm going to leave out the orange, maybe the coriander too as the wheat aromas on this are stunning. I want to try them alone, no competition from spices etc

Very, very nice. Loving it.

Brewday was 13th April and it was my 13th all grain brew so I am naming this, Effinguud 1313 Weissen

Beer Label Design - All Grain Black IPA

I had a sneaky taster of AG14, my first Black IPA yesterday while racking it off to a secondary fermenting vessel and dry hopping with the remaining Cascade hops. Very nice indeed although i ended up with more roasted flavours than I'd hoped for by cold steeping some black malt to extract colour but not too much roastiness. Next time I will use Carafa 3 which is dehusked in order to lend lots of colour and flavour without the burnt taste typically associated with Stouts.

Anyway as I type this I realise I haven't actually blogged my brewday for this particular beer... so anyway, here's label design idea 1.