Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brew Weekend

So, I just got these kegs. While bottling last week I sanitized two of them up, and they are just waiting to be filled. We also have a lot of guests coming through and some prospective students coming into town, so we might make some beer to share with them. I'm down to 12 bottles of our IPA, at least 4 of which are headed for competition (my brew partner for that one has 12 also, so that leaves us 10 each). The red rye wasn't very good, so the 42 bottles of that (some larger bottles, we got 5 gallons exactly from it), is around, but not that tasty. It is supremely cloudy, due in part to a bad yeast bloom, which is entirely my fault. So, the point is I want to get some stuff up on tap sooner rather than later, and when I think beers that are easy to make, cheap, and ready for drinking pretty fast, I think bitters. I have London ale yeast in my fridge, which I can whip into a starter before heading to the brew store. I've also got some torrified wheat, 20L and some 2-row available, though it is American and calls for an APA, not a bitter, persay. Still, I've got plans for that stuff.

So, back to the bitter. My first one wasn't great, we had terrible efficiency and it was my first solo beer. I had nice help from my friends, but still, it wasn't great-- not terrible, just not great. It clocked in at 3.2%, and the carbonation didn't work well. It was a thin, low body beer, but the yeast bloomed well and it was free of any major deficiencies. I bottled with DME, which didn't help the process, taking about a month to fully carbonate. The recipe was one from the Clone Brews book, and I wasn't entirely happy with it. So, I'm thinking of using a similar idea, but with some twists that my very limited experience has shown me. I would like to add, in my defense, that I've drank a ton of bitters, so it is a question of taking what I remember and getting that flavor out. So, here goes, a special bitter recipe:

 6# Marris Otter
.5# UK Crystal II (~60L)
.5# Carmel 20L [or victory...]
.5# Torrified Wheat (For head retention)
Mash at 152 for a drier beer
Fly Sparge to 7.5 Gallons

Hops (44 IBUs):
1 oz Target/Challenger (9%AA) @ 60 minutes = 36.4 IBU
.5 oz East Kent Golding (EKG) (5%AA) @ 30 minutes = 5.6 IBU
.5 oz Fuggles / Willamette @ 2 min = 1.1 IBU
Keg Hop (in bag): .5 oz Fuggles & .5 oz EKG = 0 IBU

London 1028 (2nd Gen), 75% Attenuation 

Total IBU = 45 IBU
ABV = 3.7%
FG = 1.010 (higher if I mash higher, I'd imagine)

So, I'm happy with the above recipe. It should run me about $25 for five gallons, if I reuse the yeast (though I'm sure making the starter costs some money to make). It will be just inside the BJCP Best Bitter boundaries, as weak as a best bitter can be, as bitter as it can be, and within the color range (8 SRM). So I'm happy with the idea.

I also have some chocolate malt to burn through and 3# of 2-row, sitting in a closet going bad. For this, I'd like to re-do an earlier porter that took 3rd place in a competition. I got great feedback (and a score of 38, the lowest score in the 'excelent' category). This was my second batch, a straight copy from the clone brews book. This beer was a Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, which had a bit more treacle and a hop substitution. I liked it, and so did the judges. All around they said I should have less roasted grain, as it led to astringency. I would have liked a slightly sweeter final product, mabye with some extra dark crystal, and more treacle. I'd alos like there to be some more, and some more appropriate, hop flavor and aroma-- which means more dry-hopping! The comments were about the excessive black malt, so I cut that a lot. It was also suggested that I use some Victory malt which I'm all for trying, I might even drop it into the bitter above instead of the 20L...

8# 2-row
.75# Carmel 60L
.25# Carmel 120L
.5# Victory Malt
6 oz Black Malt
6 oz Chocolate Malt

Mash at 155F

4oz black treacle (full boil)

1oz EKG for 90 min
.5oz Fuggles for 15 min
.5oz EKG for 2 min
Keg Hop .25 oz Fuggles & .25 oz EKG [This might make the hop aroma step out too much...]

Originally Irish Ale Yeast, but I want to use Scottish Ale Yeast this time around (2nd Gen). Low attenuation, apx. 70%

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