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Monday, 3 December 2018

Happy birthday to me!

It was my birthday this weekend and received some home brew treats. A good haul!

The problem is that now I have the ability to make water adjustments, and a wealth of other recipes to try, I'm tempted to change my brewing schedule to do a different historic beer with my California Common yeast rather than the direct comparison with the Kolsch yeast!

We'll see .

Friday, 23 November 2018

East Street stout bottled

Bottled the East Street stout today. It really tastes promising. That's made the fermentation fridge available for the Barkley Perkins 'kolsch' to finish it's diactyl rest. The bottles of stout are in water baths carbing up. This leaves me a spare inkbird and immersion heater, so I can do the California Common version of the Barkley Perkins lager.

I received my order from the Home Brew Company, and so have enough supplies for my next few brews. I'm thinking these will be;

California Common version of BP lager
Something Belgian with the CML Belgian yeast
Something Victorian from Ron Pattinson
A Vienna lager with Kolsch yeast.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Juggling things about

I'm off work, using up annual leave, again next week, so I want to get a couple of brews in. Thing is, I don't have any fridge space or Inkbirds & fish tank heaters spare. So tonight, I went out to the garage to see what was happening.

The Barklay Perkins Lager using Kolsch yeast has dropped to 1012 already. Oh dear, I didn't manage to catch that for a diacetyl rest at 50% or so attenuation. As I suspect it has a couple of points to drop still, I've started raising the temperature. 14.5 tonight, 16.5 tomorrow and then to 18 on Monday. My logic behind the slow increase in temperature is that the Inkbird is measuring the water bath, not the wort, so I want to give the thermal mass of the FV a chance to slowly catch up to the raised temperature of the water in the bath before ramping it up again. And the sample? Wow. Double wow. I had forgotten how lovely Saaz hops are. This is a lovely drop, and already tastes clean and lager like. Once carbonated up and then left to pseudo 'lager' in the bottle for several weeks I think I may be onto a winner. Very impressed with the CML Kolsch yeast at this point and am already thinking about other historic lagers I could commit heresy with brew with this yeast ~ darker, more complex, malty beasts. Won't be ready for bottling till the end of this week at the earliest, however. So no Inkbirds to free up there.

Next up for testing was the best extra stout. This appears to have dropped to 1014 already, but, again, needs to be left for finish off. Tastes incredibly chocolaty and rich. Very nice, in fact. Both these have cheered me up a bit, after coming to the realisation that my brown ale is pants. More on that later. Again, no freeing up the brew fridge.

So I popped a bottle of ESB in the fridge, cracked it open to see of they had fully carbonated. They have, which is excellent as it frees up an Inkbird and a couple of immersion heaters. That is all I need to ferment the CML California Common version of the Barklay's historic lager.Now, it hasn't totally cleared, but it tastes really good, just what I was aiming for. It also has a cracking head, which I think has me converted to flaked barley.

So, I'd better cover the 1954 Whitbread Double Brown. On bottling, I quite liked the fruity flavour the yeast gave it. But, I'm afraid, it just doesn't work. In fact, the whole recipe is just thin, and uninspiring. Its not undrinkable, but it's not enjoyable. It just doesn't really work at all. Still, its the first all grain brew I've done that I haven't liked, so I'll chalk that up to experience.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Is it fermenting yet?

Went to check that the East Street stout was still doing its thing.

I think that's a yes! Cleaned it all up and replaced the airlock with a clean one and it's bubbling away happily, so peak crausen must have been and gone. I will have to go back to using a blow off tube. It always seems to be dark beers that cause massive yeast escape attempts, as I don't really regard Nottingham as a particularly active yeast when it comes to climbing out if the FV. Efficient and highly attenuating yes, escape artist, no. 

My Kolsch is bubbling away happily as well, and my water
bath solution for conditioning bottles is working well. One inkbird controls both the immersion heaters, but obviously the temperature probe can only be in one bath, but I've checked and they are within 1°C if each other which is fine for carbing up. I need to ask around on the forums to have a guesstimate as to how long the Kolsch yeast will take, as the idea will be to ramp up the temperature for a diacetyl rest when it's within a point or two of final gravity; obviously I don't want to be disturbing it unnecessarily and risking introducing infection by constantly measuring gravity so am idea of when this might be will be helpful.

Friday, 9 November 2018

East Street Best Extra Stout, Bring a Toy, and Pizzas

This started life as a recipe on Brewers Friend for a clone of Coopers Best Extra Stout. I then adapted various malts, and also the hops, for what I had in stock. This left me with tiny amounts of various things, so their amounts in the recipe were rounded up to use them up completely. The result was pretty far from the original clone, so it needed a new name. In Grimsby, East street is where Hewitt Brothers cooperage was (the building still stands, see photo), so I thought it would that was a tenuous link I could use.

Being off work this week, I got up nice and early, at which point out youngest announced that it wasn't 'bring a toy to school day' but 'bring one of your parents old toys' to school, preferably along with the parent to talk about it. So I needed to be in school for 1.30pm. I also had agreed to pop in to Grimsby (about an hour or so) to get some grub for tea. The latter I was planning to do during the 90 min mash, and I also needed some yeast, as my fridge only had Crossmyloof Belgian and Californian yeasts in it. I really must get into yeast recovery and banking.

As it happened, I was in town slightly longer than expected, and the 90 min mash turned into a 105 min one. I also did two batch sparges, one for 15 mins, and the second for 30 mins that gave me time to nip to the primary school and talk about my toy Mk II escort (in blue). Then back home, and the second sparge was drained, and all the wort put into the boiler. I had managed to collect 20L, instead of the planned 19; how this happened I've no idea. I batch, rather than fly sparge and measure my water in and out of the HLT. I can only think I miscounted.

So, adjusted figures were pre-boil gravity 1051 (predicted 1048) and post boil 1060 (predicted 1059). Perhaps the extended mashing bumped the efficiency up a little?

The lovely cool autumnal , mains water got the wort down to 21 degrees with no drama, and Wilko's Nottingham was pitched, with the fermentation fridge set to 20.

That's my brewery(!) at 100% capacity ~ Kolsch in a water bath, ESB in bottles conditioning / carbing up in another and the stout in the fermenting fridge. I haven't got any more inkbirds to control anything, so until the ESB bottles are ready for cold conditioning, I will have to find something else to do.

I'm thinking along the lines of a home made heated brew cupboard to replace inefficient water baths, but we'll see.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

1934 Barkley Perkins Draught Lager (not)

Today was brew day for the Kolsch yeast version of this lager. The mash schedule was easier than I thought, and the temperatures all appeared about right after each addition.

However, the pre boil gravity was down a bit (1035 rather than 1037) but the post boil was way off, 1039/40 rather than 43. It must be an extraction efficiency thing as volumes were bang on. I'm wondering if I should leave the rests longer, as in the original brewery, it would have taken longer for the mash to reach rest temperature (Kristen England does point this out in the notes of Rons post, which I appear to have managed to ignore).

The immersion chiller got the wort down to 23/4° in a reasonable time, yay for autumn water table temperatures, and I then left it in a water bath with a couple of ice packs. Pitched 2 packs of CML Kolsch yeast when the wort was around 18°, but falling rapidly, and I had a peek tonight and the yeast was just starting while the wort was about 14. The weather forecast tonight is for lows of 9° so hopefully it will settle at 12° when the heater kicks in.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Bottling the ESB

Bottled the ESB today, which will come out just over 6% one primed. The sample was really promising, which I'm really pleased about because I made the recipe up myself. Clear as a bell (my sample jar is plastic and not totally transparent), which I find is always the case with Mangrove Jack's Liberty Bell yeast. Lots of malt, balanced with hop bitterness, East Kent Golding flavours and some aroma. It's no hop bomb; more nice fruity yeast esters with caramel malts. I don't think the crystal will be overpowering, or too much, but I won't really know this until its fully conditioned and I can sink a few. It reminded me a bit of Batemans Victory, but perhaps I am sipping it through rose tinted taste buds. Certainly, pushing the yeast to the top end of its recommended temperature range has worked really well.

I actually found that bottling wasn't such a chore this time; perhaps I'm getting used to it and my technique becoming more efficient. I do, however, need to change the FV that my little bottler tap is fitted to as its mounted too high in the present one and needs lowering so that I can more easily get the last few bottles out without having t tip the FV. That's something I'll look into soon. I also solved the issue I've always had with my brew fridge that I couldn't fit an entire brews worth of bottles in at one go. Voila! A quickly cut up piece of chipboard and an improvised shelf that sits on the bottles below. The chipboard should spread the weight across the bottles, so I don't think it will be putting a huge strain on them. I'm brewing tomorrow, but will be popping that in a builders tub water bath, so the fridge won't be required and the bottles can sit there until carbonated (7-10 days with this yeast in my experience).