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6) Manky, out-of-date yeast?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…

https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/01/19/on-test-woodfordesale-wherry-beer-kit-with-a-twist-or-two/

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

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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:

t-n-t-titillator

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…*

https://www.everydropwater.com/product-details.html

(*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.

Anyway:

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.

BrewUK

BrewUKA bit like your local brewery, you should always hold your favourite home-brew suppliers dear.

As you probably know I tend to get my malt and hops locally (from Rob the malt miller as he’s local and has cut me a few favours on occasion)

But, for all my exciting sundries: kegs, pipes, buckets and all that jazz (and Wyeast!) I tend to go to Greg at BrewUK.  His prices are hard to beat and his range is pretty much unsurpassed.

The biggest draw to the BrewUK online presence, however, is the BrewUK forum…  I must admit that I wouldn’t be half the home-brewer I am today if it wasn’t for Saracen, Hamish and co.  They and the rest of the the community were the folks that set me off down the wort-splattered path of all-grain brewing.

I haven’t posted to the forum for ages, but feel I ought to if only to say “Hi” and also to ‘fess up to buying a Braumeister…will they ever forgive me?

So here’s the tip(s):  If you want some decent gear (including a *huge* range of extract/all-grain kits) go to the BrewUK store; however, if you need help, advice, or just a shoulder to cry on when you experience your fifteenth boil-over, you can’t go far wrong than join the BrewUK forum.

http://www.brewuk.co.uk/

UPDATE:

I have just logged on and said “Hi” – let’s hope there’s some Braumeister users on there.  I could do with some good recipe tips!

Water treatment for Home Brewing

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One particular area that causes much heartache for the budding all-grain brewer is water treatment;  just having the right starting water profile can gain you a few points of gravity in your wort, or simply make the beer more truer to style.

If you are interested in brewing to style, you might like to check out the Beer Judge Certification Program’s style guide – available in many exciting formats.  I have the PDF on my kindle, which is desperately sad…or so my wife says:

http://www.bjcp.org/stylecenter.php

For adjusting my water (or liquor if you want to sound vaguely geeky about it), I tend to use Carbonate Reducing Solution (CRS) and Dry Liquor Salts (DLS).  CRS and DLS are available from all good home brew shops; CRS helps to reduce the hardness in your water, and DLS helps to add the minerals needed to adjust it to style.

If you want a quick overview on how it all works you should take a look at the Brupaks website as they have quite a nice explanation, it’s a bit of a head scratcher to start with, but it makes sense after some reading:

http://www.brupaks.com/water%20treatment.htm

Before you start with that you’ll need to test your water to see how hard it is, and for that I recommend the API aquarium kit below, it was only a tenner from the local garden centre…I reckon it’s better than getting a water report from the water company as you’ll be testing the water that comes out of your tap and not learning about the state of the water in your general area:

http://www.apifishcare.com/products/product.aspx?productid=74

Once I’d got my results I found it to be a bit of a faff to get pen and paper out and then work out what I needed to add to the water and the mash by referring to the Brupaks website alone.

I took a lot of inspiration – and half-inched, modded and re-jigged some of the formulas – from the Brau Kaiser website, here:

http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=At_home_water_testing

Braukaiser have some legendary spreadsheets, which are great for the hardcore brewer/beer scientist.  Kudos to them. Visit and learn…

I decided to get together a smaller, easier to use, spreadsheet that would to make things quicker and simpler.  All you need to do is to enter in the results of your water test, and then select the style of beer you want to make.

I now use it every time I brew and it saves me a ton of time:

My spreadsheet is linked here, so feel free to have a look, check it out and see what you think.  It’s pretty simple and straightforward so have a play, download it and give it a whirl (you might have to select “Download”):

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3_xMi8545e8QWkwTGNNaGMzNXc/edit?usp=sharing

(Tedious legal bit: I take no responsibility for you either poisoning yourself while adjusting your brewing water or getting your computer all riddled with viruses after you download this.  It was clean when I put it up there, but once these things are out in the wild who knows what can happen to them…a bit like cats I guess.)

Speidel Braumeister

speidel_braumeisterLook at them, don’t they look tempting?

May the good Lord have mercy upon my wallet…I’m thinking of buying a Speidel Braumeister.

What is one of those, Jon?  I hear you cry.  Well I’ll tell you: it’s a German-made, full volume, all-in-one, single vessel, computer-controlled brewing system.

Computer-controlled and stainless steel mean that it’s borderline brew porn; Unfortunately with all good things, especially German engineered brew porn, it don’t come cheap…being an absolute non-snip at £1300 or so for the twenty litre version and £1900 or so for the fifty litre version.

But from what I can see the benefits kind of outweigh the cost:

  • One vessel means much less clean-up to do
  • One vessel means it’ll take up way less space than my current three vessel set up and temperature controllers, buckets and other random supporting tat
  • With computer control it’s possible to perform stepped mashes without having to heat a mash tun or fiddle about with decoctions
  • I can mash in and leave it to get on with it, no more intervention ’til a quick manual sparge and starting of the boil
  • The Braumeister produces crystal clear wort due to the recirculation pump and filtering screens
  • Less buggering about means I stand much more of a chance of actually getting an evening brew complete and done before 2am – which is what happens normally
  • My wife thinks it’s a good idea (Unbelievably, but I suspect this may require me to buy her something suitably expensive to even things up)
  • Easier automated brewing means more time to concentrate on creating recipes and focusing on making great beer, rather than spending lots of time “making beer”
  • I have tasted beer made in a BM (https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/06/20/hedgedog-epa/) and it was lovely.  And also probably a lot to do with Gary’s recipe too
  • It’s German engineered, so not likely to fall apart any time soon
  • It’s shiney.  My crikey it’s sooo shiney

On the negative side:

  • Will there be as much satisfaction as I currently get while piddling about with my current three vessel set-up? (most of which I built myself)
  • I understand that there’s a limit to the grain capacity – which could limit me to non-mental strength beers i.e. sub 7%
  • It’s a bit pricey
  • It’s a bit pricey
  • It’s actually more than a bit pricey

I’ve been thinking about the financials part of it.  Forget about the fact that I actually really enjoy brewing and just focus on the economics:

You can buy 3x bottles of decent beer from the supermarket on a three for a fiver deal, meaning 500ml of beer costs you about £1.67.

When I brew I estimate that it costs me about 45p for 500ml (note to self: must buy 25Kg sacks of malt in future) so minus that 45p from the £1.67 meaning that I’m reckoning that I need to cover £1.22 per 500ml.

Let’s assume that I’m going to buy a 20L BM for £1,275, I would need to brew 1045x 500ml bottles (or 522L) of beer to offset the cost.

Divide that by a standard 23L brew length and it appears that I only have to brew 24 full brews and either drink them myself or take them to parties, etc. and I’ve covered the outlay.

I reckon to drink/give away on average 5L of beer a week (light-weight, I know…think of the savings if you were a massive pisshead!)

So it’s safe to say that it’d only take a 100 weeks (circa. 2 years) in total to have paid off my “investment”

I am currently talking to a vendor about this product and will let you know if and when it all comes off and I buy one…did I mention that I’d pretty much sold it to myself after bullet point no. 5 of the benefits?

See here to watch the videos of how it works.  Prepare to want one:  http://www.speidels-braumeister.de