On Test: @WoodfordesAle Wherry – Beer Kit tasting

I hate doing write-ups like this.  Really I do…

This beer has been sat in a corny keg for most of February and a good deal of March and it still ain’t right (even with a test sample every week).  It’s as clear as a bell, beautifully carbonated, has a great head and really looks the part.  But it still ain’t right.

In the aroma there’s that “homebrew” smell, and in the taste there’s a faintly cardboardy…well…”homebrew” taste about it.  Lord knows I’ve given it to enough people to try and asked for their honest feedback (not telling them that this was a kit, just one of my regular beers that I brew) and comments were all along similar lines:

I don’t like it as much as the other beers you’ve made” – when pushed for brutal honesty they said it tasted like homebrew that they’d had in the late 80’s and early 90’s

I for one, can’t believe that this is down to quality of the Woodfordes kit.  There’s no way on earth it would sell as well as it does if it regularly turned out like this.  So let’s try and get to the bottom of it – addressing the usual potential homebrewing cock-ups:

1) Scrupulous attention to cleanliness?  Yes, everything was star-san’ed to within an inch of it’s life

2) Skunked through light exposure? Nope, the kit was made up in about 40 minutes and went into a glass carboy and into a cupboard that was pretty much light-tight

3) Wild fluctuation in fermentation temperatures?  Nope.  It sat a steady 18-20c for the whole two weeks

4) Fluctuation in conditioning temperatures?  Nope conditioned in keg at 12-15c for a week or so and then stored at a steady 17c since

5) Too long on the lees (yeast)? Nope, two weeks in the fermenter and then into the keg with all the yeast left behind.

6) Manky, out-of-date yeast? Nope, fresh pack of S-04

7) Chlorine in the brewing water?  Nope.  1/4 of a Campden table saw off the Chlorine or any Chloramine in the tap water – and besides, I’d expect Chlor(ine/amine) to react with the hops to give a horrible medicinal or phenolic note.

According to the BJCP tasting/off-flavour guidelines (http://www.bjcp.org/docs/OffFlavorFlash.pdf) cardboard can be attributed to oxidation due to excessive aeration of either hot wort (i.e. hot-side aeration, but I poured the warmed wort carefully into the rest of the water volume), aeration during bottling (I transferred to kegs with my auto-syphon exactly the same as I do every other beer) or it’s due to oxygen in the head-space (which it can’t be, as I purged the corny keg with CO2 before force-carbonating)

So that’s it, I’m at a loss and fresh out of ideas.  The only thing I can think of is that the kit was a bit long in the tooth and the malt extract had gone too far and somehow oxidised.  But that seems unlikely.  I’d love to re-run this experiment and see if it happens again – but I’m loathe to fork out twenty or so quid for another bash at it…  Twenty quid buys quite a lot of malt and hops…

Have you brewed the Wherry kit?  How did it turn out for you?  Did you get off-flavours?  Maybe you can see a really obvious step that I missed or didn’t do correctly?  I’d be interested in your thoughts…


UPDATE: On the 24th March (literally an hour after I published the above) The good folks at Woodfordes picked up on it and were dismayed, so have very nicely sent me a replacement Wherry kit…  I just need to find an hour or so to actually get it made up and into a fermenter – oh, that and a working Kitchen.  That’s still not finished…no, I’ve no idea where the time goes, either.

As soon as it’s done I’ll report back on my findings…

T ‘n’ T HXPA (Highly eXplosive Pale Ale) in a Braumeister


In your face IPAs…I’ve defined a new style: HXPA.  It’s sure to catch on, so just remember you heard it here first….you know me; any excuse to work up an eye-catching name for a brew.

I couldn’t help but buy a packet of  T ‘n’ T pellets from the Rob at the Malt Miller when I saw them (http://www.themaltmiller.co.uk/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=524) as they were different, interesting looking and very attractively priced at £3.80 for 100g

I’m sure the name T ‘n’ T has absolutely frig-all to do with explosives in any shape or form…so it’s still a bit of a mystery to me why these hops are so named.  I’ve searched about quite a bit and don’t seem to be able to unearth much about them – save for vague allusions to tastes of  “Intense red berry fruits”, “citrus”, etc.

The brew has been in the primary fermenter for about 9 days now, so today I’ll be dosing with the dry hops.  I may also sling in 30g of Nelson Sauvin that I kept in the freezer – or I may save them for my next brew which will crammed with boatloads of Citra.

Here’s the recipe for the HXPA brew, note that with this one is all about the late hop additions…that’s where I want the impact to be – not wasted on 30 minute additions.  I’ve kept the bitterness at a relatively low 41 IBU, so we’re staying in Pale Ale territory and not straying into IPA madness:


Plus there’s a dose of Munich and Vienna malt – just to further contribute to the body.

I managed to get 21.5L of 1059 wort into the fermenter and am using US-05 yeast as I trust it and love it in equal measures.  I followed my standard mashing schedule in the Braumeister (see previous post here: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/12/homebrewed-thornbridge-kipling-clone-braumeister-version/) but pushed the sacchrification rest to 67C as I’d like to get a smidge more body in the finished beer.

I hope that the US-05 will rip through the wort and leave me with a finishing gravity somewhere around 1010, which should give 6.4% ABV of explosive hoppy goodness…

Tasting notes will follow…

Everydrop looks like a good water filtering solution for home brewing…

We all know that we should be filtering our water prior to brewing, as chlorine is not a happy bedfellow to a hop – combined they create a nasty medicinal taste in the finished beer.

So with the release of Everydrop by Whirlpool it seems possible to cheaply ($20, no UK price yet) filter all the water you’ll need, at pretty much the same speed as it comes out of the kitchen tap:

Plus it looks like it’ll also filter out all the chloramine, particulates and other rubbish that might be present.

I might get one to replace my Water Gem filter and lengths of garden hose that I currently use for brewing…unless Whirlpool see this and fancy sending me a free one to review…*


(*to date I have received precisely zip in the way of freebies from any brewers or manufacturers to review.  Mind you Vigo did cut me some discount on the Braumeister and chucked some bits in FOC.  We like Vigo.  May they flourish.)

Getting some brews on…

I haven’t managed to get wort into the brew kettle (or Braumeister, if we’re going to pedantic about it) for ages, and that sort of bone-idleness just has to stop. Period.

So I’ve got two VERY exciting recipes worked out.  The ingredients have now all been ordered from Rob at The Malt Miller ( http://themaltmiller.co.uk ) as of last night at 10pm and he’s just mailed me to say that the order is already dispatched and winging it’s way to me, so I’ll get it tomorrow in the morning. first thing.

That’s why I now always order my ingredients from him.


Brew Number 1: Cascadian Dark Ale

This time it’ll be properly dark US IPA style, thanks to some Carafa II (dehusked, roast malt) along with a dose of Munich – to really accent the malt baseline.  200gms of Chinook and Cascade split between the boil and for KEG-HOPPING will really push the needle hops-wise.

Brew Number 2: A Thornbridge Kipling Clone

I love Thornbridge beers, I really do and Kipling’s punchiness of new-world Nelson Sauvin hops is especially close to my heart.  I shamelessly found and stole the recipe from a post on JBK by tfxm who apparently used to work at Thornbridge: http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=38455

Full recipes will follow with the brew day reports…I need to do them soon as Christmas is-a-coming.  God preserve us all.