Home-Grown Cascade Hoppy Pale Ale

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Well.  Let’s hope it’s hoppy, anyway…

The taste I took when transferring to the fermenter was quite assertively bitter, in fact probably a bit more bitter than I really intended…

Here’s the recipe for starters:

home-grown-cascade-pale-ale

You’ll notice that I used two 50g bags of home grown cascade…and right about the twenty-minutes-left-to-go point was where things began to unravel a bit…

In hindsight, I probably should have done another centennial addition here instead of using the home-grown cascades (I bought the centennial from Rob at the Malt Miller, and I know that they were 11.2% AA, whereas I had no idea at all what the cascades were…)

Twenty minutes of boiling is plenty of time to extract additional unexpected bitterness, especially when you’re using hops with a completely unknown alpha acid content…and maybe 25g was quite a lot when you’re not sure what they will contribute.

I’ve felt for a while now that some of my beers were good in the aroma department but tended to lack a little in the taste…so that twenty-minute addition was meant to address that.

Mind you, the hops smelt good and resinous from the freezer, so who knows: a ferment, a couple of weeks conditioning and a potential 6.5% ABV may get it to come right…assuming the yeast can wrestle it down to 1010 or so…

All in all it was one of my best brew days; no mess and a quick clean-up meant that I had a solid 1060 OG wort into the carboy, all oxygenated and yeast pitched; everything cleaned and dried, and me drinking a cup of tea by 10.30pm.

I used S04, because I heard somewhere (probably via Mike Tonsmiere on his Mad Fermentationist blog) that some English-style yeasts help to accentuate hop character.

If all else fails and it’s not quite where I want after a week or so, I can dry hop with more centennials or add some grapefruit zest, or maybe even add both…mmm, a grapefruit IPA…

DunkelWeisse – The Maltiest of Wheat Beers

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I’m happy to say that wanting to brew is an itch that has returned to me in the last week or so….and you know what to do with a good itch, don’t you?

I must admit that since trying Weihenstephaner Dunkel Weisse and enjoying it enormously (review to follow at some point) I’ve been desperate to make a clone.

As per usual, the web was full of useful, unhelpful and downright bizarre advice – including one recipe for this dark WHEAT beer that had no wheat in the grain bill at all?  I know we’re not all Rheinehetsgebot puritans, but that’s plain mental…

Fortunately the BJCP were on hand to give me some hints and tips as regards the style and vaguely which ballpark I should be playing in: http://www.bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf (the Dunkels Weizen section)

So I needed a fairly normal wheat, but this time with a solid malty backbone.  The colour seems to be pretty important too as it should be dark enough to distinguish it from the standard wheats.  Obviously if I was a braver, more resourceful and more time-rich brewer I’d be decocting the hell out of the wort – which would really make malts heavier and just that bit darker.

But as I’m none of those things right now, I aimed to make it right with some speciality malt additions:

Dunkel Weizen

That big old dose of Munich ought to help bring a more bready taste and aroma, with the CaraAroma really pushing the malt angle.  The Carafa II is just there to bring the colour on a bit, but as it’s a de-husked grain there’ll be no burnt astringency nastiness.

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I mashed as per my normal Braumeister/Brewmaster regime (see here: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/11/05/no-name-hefeweizen-iii/)

I tasted a little as I got to near to the end of the boil and it was fantastically malty and very clean tasting.  I got 22L of 1053 OG wort into the fermenter, which was a bit off the mark, but it’s no biggie…

Hopefully, with the grain bill, mash and boil all going of well we should be in for a treat.

…that is, as long as the weather doesn’t go and ruin it.

England is currently basking – more like: flaked out, beaten-up and being partially desiccated – in some high summer temperatures.  Overnight it didn’t drop below 20c in my utility room, which meant that everyone’s favourite mentalist yeast – WLP300 – had started up within 6 hours of being pitched (no starter, so sue me.  I live on the edge, man.)

Outside it’s expected to hit 27C today (80ish F in old/US money) and that, with an already crazy exothermic ferment going on could see us going high enough to start chucking out harsh fusel alcohols…

However, old-school problems demand old school solutions: I wrapped an old sweatshirt around the carboy and made sure that it was light-tight, and then doused the whole thing in cold water.  I’ll be regularly damping down this week, I guess.  The evaporating water should help to cool the whole thing down a bit.  I Hope.

Tomorrow we might get to 30C…yikes.

…this now leaves me wishing two things:

One, that I’d gone and done a Saison instead.  I’d have just let the Saison do what it wanted.  30C?  Yeah, fill your boots, go crazy…create all the Saison character you like Mr Dupont Strain…

…and two, I’m blimmin’ glad I didn’t do anything involving a fairly standard ale yeast….

Hefeweizen mk II in a Braumeister

Bavarian_Wheat_largeNormally I can always think of a great name for the beer that I’ve just brewed, but, with wheat beers I get a mental block and all I can think of is rubbish puns on Hugh Hefner’s name.

So, still without a decent name, this wheat is a re-spin on the first attempt: https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/01/08/im-waiting-on-a-wheat-hefeweizen-mk1-the-first-outing/ and uses exactly the same recipe, but with a couple of differences:

This time around, I added 200g of flaked oats (and to hell with the Reinheitsgebot – I want more creaminess in my wheat!) and 1.5L of oat husks to avoid a sticky mash (and the inevitable regency fountain effect.)

I got my oat husks from Rob The Malt Miller – who advised that, despite what you read on the Internet, these particular husks don’t need washing prior to use.

The mash in the Braumeister did start off a bit “floaty”, so I did have to stir it after about twenty minutes, but then it did behave itself and all went well.

The refractometer showed a post-boil reading of 1056 so I overshot my target gravity by 3 points, but I’m still getting my eye in on wheats; normally for all-barley-malt beers I overshoot by miles!

For the fermentation I’m using a new yeast: it’s a dried Bavarian Wheat yeast from Mangrove Jacks.  I pitched a re-hydrated packet of Mangrove Jacks into the 22C wort and stuck it away in a room that was 19/20C  – aiming to satisfy the old German wheat beer maxim that pitch temperature and environment temperature should add up to 30C, (I was 1C over – so shoot me)

The environmental temperature has now risen to 22C and the carboy is warm to the touch…  This ones going to be fruity, I think.

After 6 hours the airlock was bubbling away nicely, after 24 hours the initial foamy krausen has fallen away and the surface of the wort is fizzing like lemonade…  God, I hope the head retention will be OK…

Update: 48 hours later, it smells strongly of very ripe bananas.  Perfect.  Just what I wanted.  You just have to get fruity sometimes with these things.

I’m waiting on a wheat: Hefeweizen Mk1 – the first outing…

20150107_215040God, I love wheat beers.  I didn’t ever think I would, but I do – so much so, that I decided to have a bash at brewing one up yesterday evening.

In a break with tradition I won’t be putting up a Brew Engine produced recipe but rather a set of guidelines, guidelines that I’ve painstakingly trawled for and researched.  I must confess that I’ve never seen so much controversy caused by a simple beer type – there must be hundreds of recipes and hundreds of bits and pieces of advice…

So here’s my interpretation that I brewed.  Advice will follow later:

Grain Bill:
50/50 Wheat Malt and Pils Malt (2.5Kg of each) (OG: 1052 @ 83% efficiency)
Hops:
11 IBUs of whatever I had hanging around (Chinook from the freezer) in a 60 minute addition
Yeast:
WLP300 Hefeweizen
Mash Schedule [Braumeister (hooray!)]
38C Dough In
43C Ferulic Acid Rest (20 Mins)  – apparently helps the yeast with developing a clovey spiciness in the finished beer
67C Saccarification Rest (60 Mins)
76C Mash Out (10 Mins)

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That all looks quite simple doesn’t it?  Well it was, sort of…until about two minutes into the mashing I heard the sounds of trickling water from inside the BM.  Lifting the lid revealed wort fountains and serious channeling through the mash!

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Cue Handel’s Water Music

In a panic I phoned Greg at BrewUK for advice, he said that It’s due to the wheat malt being huskless and the pils malt – being crushed quite a bit finer than Maris Otter or Belgian pale – means that the pressure builds up and eventually forces it’s way through the mash into these oh-so beautiful little fountains.

Greg asked if I had any rice hulls to hand to loosen up the mash a bit – which of course I hadn’t.  I said that I figured that the awesome power of the BM would negate the need for mash fillers…apparently not.

To his eternal credit, Greg offered to replace my ingredients should I have to dump everything, but I decided to go for a serious bit of stirring and mash agitation every 10 or so minutes – 30 minutes later and this seemed to have done the trick.

The rest of the mash went off fairly uneventfully apart from a little fountain during the last ten minutes in the mash-out schedule.

After a 4 litre sparge and a little over a 60 minute boil I ended up with 22 litres in the carboy at 1051 – which was pretty much where I wanted to be and not bad considering it’s my first outing with wheat.

UPDATE: Pitched WLP300 at 10.30pm last night and just got called at 10am by Eve claiming “That beer is now stinking the house out“.  At least it’s working!

UPDATE No.1: Eve called at 4pm to say that the beer was now foaming out of the airlock and pouring down the side of the carboy (fortunately I sat it in a big bucket, beforehand)

UPDATE No. 2: Got home at 6pm to find about half a litre of beer and foam in the bucket that the carboy is sat in and a very strong bready/malty aroma pervading the house. Airlock still foaming like mad.

UPDATE No. 3: It’s 10pm and things starting to settle a bit.  Cleaned out the bucket and washed down the outside of the carboy.  Airlock still going every two seconds but no more foam.  Will replace airlock, etc. tonight.  This yeast is crazy!  Ambient air temperature still holding steady at 19c/20c

For all your homebrew needs (including advice in a panic!) http://www.brewuk.co.uk