Friday, March 5, 2010

#25 GxSA (Galaxy Summer Ale)

Brewed: 3rd December, 2009

Another catch up post. This next beer in my series of Summer Ales was the second one that used Galaxy Hops. The change between this one and the last one was that instead of using Torrified Wheat, I used Carapils malt. I am assuming that the wheat content in the original recipe is used to aid head retention, and as Carapils is also used for that, I thought I would see if I could notice any difference between the two. I'm actually planning on doing the side-by-side test later on today, and I'll report the results back here in the near future.

The brewday didn't go entirely to plan. It was the first time I had a boil-over in the full size kettle, resulting in quite a mess in the brewery. I also made a note that the final volume appeared to be lower than usual, which I put down to the extra vigorous boiling at the start (which is what overflowed the kettle!). Aside from that, I came close to my target numbers, and more importantly, the numbers were consistent with similar recipes done previously.

The recipe:

Australian Pale Malt: 4500g
Carapils: 400g

Galaxy pellets (13.4% AA): 12g @ -80 mins ~18 IBU
Galaxy pellets (13.4% AA): 12g @-20 mins ~10 IBU
Galaxy pellets (13.4% AA): 16g @ -5 mins ~4 IBU
Galaxy pellets (13.4% AA): 23g in no-chill cube < 1 IBU

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 64C
Start: 64C End: 61.5C

Run-off: 30L

Pre-boil SG: 1041
Boil Time: 90 minutes

Target OG: 1047
Actual OG: 1046

Volume in fermenter: 21L
Yeast: WLP001 - California Ale (harvested from #24 GBSA)
Ferment temperature: 19C

FG: 1011
ABV: 4.6%

#24 GBSA (Green Bullet Summer Ale)

Brewed: 25th November, 2009

Time for a catch up post. I had used Green Bullet hops before with great success in a couple of New Zealand Pale Ales and wanted to see how the hops worked in the Summer Ale hop schedule, ie, with more late additions. The first time I tried the first of my NZPAs, it immediately brought back memories of some beers from previous trips to NZ, even though at the time I didn't think that NZ beers had any particular common flavour/aroma traits. I've since heard that this hop is used by a few commercial breweries in NZ, which probably explains the association I made.

I actually brewed this on the same day as the #23 German "Eis Pale Ale", mashing in at the same time that the German ale was in the kettle, and it's the only time so far that I've done two brews in a day. Mind you, the German ale was already in sweet-wort form, so I only needed to do the one mash on the day. In any case, I don't think it added too much time to the whole day, which is good to know if I ever want to do multiple batches in the future.

Although I had another beer in mind to take to Mackay over the xmas period, it hadn't finished carbonating in time so a keg of this one went up instead. It turned out to be a good choice, as it was more interesting than a lot of mega-swill beers out there, but not over the top in terms of flavour and aroma so you could enjoy a few in a sitting (and that we did!). I've since been told that this would also be a good "gateway beer", to show those who are not as adventurous with trying different beers that there is a whole other world of flavour out there!

The recipe:

Australian Pale Malt: 4500g
Torrified Wheat: 400g

Green Bullet pellets (13% AA): 13g @ -80 mins ~18 IBU
Green Bullet pellets (13% AA): 12g @-20 mins ~10 IBU
Green Bullet pellets (13% AA): 16g @ -5 mins ~4 IBU
Green Bullet pellets (13% AA): 22g in no-chill cube < 1 IBU

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 64C
Start: 64C End: 62C

Run-off: 30L

Pre-boil SG: 1040
Boil Time: 90 minutes

Target OG: 1047 Actual: 1046

Volume in fermenter: 22L
Yeast: WLP001 - California Ale (harvested from #22 GxSA)
Ferment temperature: 19C

FG: 1013
ABV: 4.4%

Thursday, March 4, 2010

#35 RP (Chocolate Porter/Stout)

Brewed: 25th February, 2010

I've brewed this recipe a couple of times before, and with St. Patrick's day not far away, I thought I'd brew it up again for that occasion. Unfortunately, the Wild Brew is still chugging away in the fermenter, so I haven't been able to get this one fermenting yet and I'll be pushing it to get it ready in time! Luckily I've still got a few bottles from the last batch if it's not ready in time.

The last time I brewed the beer, it came out a little more roasty than I was expecting it, pushing it more into Stout territory, hence the slight naming confusion in the title. I had to substitute a smaller quantity of Chocolate malt for some of the Carafa Special grain this time, as I didn't have enough of the latter for the recipe. I also added a little more cocoa this time (150g instead of 100g) and added it to the no-chill cube instead of the kettle in the hope of pushing the beer back into Porter territory. The experiment on the last batch with using late citrus style hops didn't have the desired effect of adding a noticeable citrus taste to the beer, but the flavour worked out well, so I went with a similar late hop schedule. I substituted Fuggles for East Kent Goldings as the bittering addition due to stock levels.

The brew day went completely to plan - all target numbers were hit and no mistakes were made. I was joined for part of the day by my sister's friend, Aaron, who currently makes beer from Kits & Bits. He wanted to see the process involved at this level, which I was happy to show.

The recipe (based on the previous batch):

Australian Pale Malt: 4500g
Light Munich: 1000g
Crystal 135: 500g
Chocolate Malt: 250g
Carafa Special II: 100g
Roast Barley: 100g
Cocoa powder: 150g (added to no-chill cube)

Fuggles pellets (4.5% AA): 51g @ -45 mins ~21 IBU
Cascade pellets (6.6% AA): 18g @ -5 mins ~2 IBU
Cascade pellets (6.8% AA): 10g in no-chill cube <1 IBU

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 68C
Start: 68C End: 66.4C

Run-off: 28L

Pre-boil SG: 1052
Boil Time: 60 minutes

Post-boil volume (hot): 24L
Target OG: 1057 Actual: 1058

Yeast: Re-cultured Coopers yeast (harvested from #31 CSA)
Ferment temperature: 18C

February mini-comp results

Last Thursday's BABBs meeting included the first mini-competition of the year. The selected styles for the competition were Australian Pale Ale and English Bitters. At the mini-competitions, you can enter up to two beers, but only one can count towards points that are accumulated over the year, and the other is just for feedback. To make things more interesting, you have to choose which is which at the time of entering.

I did a tasting of my three contenders a couple of days before and I decided to enter my Coopers Sparkling Ale clone as my "points" entry, and my English Best Bitter for feedback. The Australian Pale Ale that missed out was starting to show some signs of aging, and wasn't tasting nearly as good as the other two beers. Once that was decided, it was also easy for me to choose the Sparkling Ale clone as the better beer, as the Best Bitter had an unexpected slightly dirty/ashy flavour to it. I'm still not sure where that came from, but am happy to say that it is starting to fade away now.

In the end it didn't matter, as both of my beers scored 36/50. The winning beer of the night scored 39, but there were at least four others that scored higher, as I wasn't mentioned in the top 5. Out of 31 entries in total though, I am still happy with the two results.

I've transcribed the scoresheets below. Unfortunately, I didn't get a whole lot of feedback on the Best Bitter - I was mainly hoping that someone might have an insight as to where the unexpected flavour was coming from. As for the Sparkling Ale, it turns out that it was judged by our table, so I inadvertently received even more feedback than we recorded on the scoresheet. It was the last beer we judged though, and after the four other beers (three ordinary bitters and another Australian pale ale), I didn't recognise it from the flavour! The lack of carbonation that we marked it down for was possibly from the way I filled the bottles. I'll make sure that it's slightly over carbonated next time I fill it from the keg.

#31 CSA Category 3A (Australian Pale Ale)
Aroma: 10/12
Good fruit & ester
Bready aroma coming through
Slight solvent aroma?
Apple aroma coming through

Appearance: 2/3
Carbonation a bit low

Flavour: 14/20
Bitterness is too strong for malt

Mouthfeel: 3/5
Lacking carbonation
Not finishing dry enough

Overall Impression: 7/10

Good drinking beer
Needs more carbonation

#32 EBB Category 3C (English Best Bitter)

Aroma: 9/12
Fruity and malty aroma

Appearance: 2/3
Some cloudiness

Flavour: 15/20

Mouthfeel: 3/5

Overall Impression: 7/10
Typical of style

Sunday, February 28, 2010

#34 BWB (BABBs Wild Brew)

Brewed: 19th February, 2010

This beer is part of a collaboration brew for the brewing club I belong to. The idea is that about 22 members will brew up the same recipe and ferment it out under the same conditions (well, as close as possible anyway), then the resulting beer will be blended together and aged in an ex-wine barrel with another yeast strain. At the end of the year, we will bottle off half of the barrel and then brew a new beer (possibly a different recipe) and blend it with the remaining half of the beer and the cycle will start again. More details, including the recipe, can be found on the BABBs website.

With an estimated original gravity of 1.104 SG, this was by far the biggest brew I've ever attempted. The grain alone for this batch weighed in just under 8kg; three kilograms more for the same volume than the usual grain bill for the Summer Ales I have been brewing over the recent months. As I still only have a hand mill, I was lucky enough to get the grians pre-milled!

I was a little surprised to see that my system was able to extract the necessary amount of sugar from the grain for such a large volume, with my pre-boil gravity coming in just above the calculated expected value and getting more volume than I had anticipated. I think this was partly to my mis-calculation of sparge water volumes, resulting in first-runnings of 20 litres instead of the expected 14! I adjusted the second sparge to account for this mistake. I'll have to look into this calculation again for future big beers so I don't make the same mistake again.

The gravity of the second runnings was indeed high enough that I decided to sparge one more time and get 5 litres of additional sweet-wort from the grain. It's still sitting in the fridge (after being boiled) waiting for me to make a decision about what to do with it.

My evaporation rate wasn't quite as high as I predicted, and as a result, I needed to boil the wort for two and a half hours instead of the predicted two. It probably could have done with an extra 10 minutes on top of that to hit the target OG spot on, but it was close enough in the end.

The biggest mistake I made on the day was that I didn't notice that my kettle drain filter had become blocked towards the end of draining, and I assumed that it had finished emptying. This resulted in me leaving behind 3 litres in the bottom of the kettle instead of the normal 1 litre I usually lose, and pretty much canceled out the great extraction efficiency I had during mashing. I think the blockage was partly caused by the wort being a lot more dense than I am normally used to - yet another lesson learned.

These were my results from the brewday:

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 65C
Start: 65C End: 63.5C

Runoff: 30L

Pre-boil SG: 1.068
Boil time: 150 mins

Post-boil volume (hot): 21L
Target OG: 1.104 Actual: 1.101

Volume in fermenter: 17L
Yeast: Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity
Ferment temperature: 18C for first 24h, then up to 24C

#33 ChSA (Chinook Summer Ale)

Brewed: 13th February, 2010

This was the 9th batch in the Summer Ale series I have been brewing and a contender for the BABBs March mini-competition, which focuses on American Ales. I actually changed two key ingredients for this batch; the hops and the base malt. I chose Chinook hops as I've heard of its good for bittering and flavouring aspects, and although I haven't used it before, I've tasted a few beers that contain Chinook and have enjoyed the flavour. This recipe will isolate the hop flavour so I can see what it tastes like itself. I changed the base malt for this recipe too, as I knew I wanted to enter it into the competition, and American Pale Ales are meant to have a bit more of a malt component than what I've been getting in my previous Summer Ales. I chose English Maris Otter, as it is said to leave more malt flavour trace than the Australian Pale Malt I've used in the past.

I first noticed the difference that the base malt brought to the recipe when I was draining the Mash/Lauter tun; the runnings were a lot darker and cloudier than I had seen in the past. It almost had a green hue to it and certainly appeared to have a higher suspended protein content. The aroma from the mash and kettle was also a bit more grainy than what I remember from previous batches, so hopefully that carries through in the final product.

I hit most of my targets on the day, with the exception of stopping the boil a few minutes late, hence the odd timings for the hop additions.

I've since tasted the beer after primary fermentation finished, and really noticed a good citrus aroma and grapefruit/passionfruit flavours coming through. I'm going to dry-hop the keg before I bottle my competition entry, with the aim of delivering more of that fresh aroma on the night. I didn't notice a change to the malt flavour at the time though, so I'm not sure if that part of the experiment has paid off. Time will tell.

The recipe:

Maris Otter Pale Malt: 4500g
Torrified Wheat: 400g

Chinook pellets (11.5% AA): 15g @ -83 mins ~19 IBU
Chinook pellets (11.5% AA): 15g @ -23 mins ~ 14 IBU
Chinook pellets (11.5% AA): 20g @ -8 mins ~ 4 IBU
Chinook pellets (11.5% AA): 20g in no-chill cube < 1 IBU
Chinook pellets (11.5% AA): 20g dry-hop in keg < 1 IBU

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 64C
Start: 64C End: 63C

Runoff: 30L

Pre-boil SG: 1042
Boil time: 90 mins

Post-boil volume (hot): 24L
Target OG: 1049 Actual: 1051

Volume in fermenter: 19.5L
Yeast: WLP001 - California Ale (harvested from #30 AmSA)
Ferment temperature: 19C

Actual FG: 1010
ABV: 5.4%

Thursday, February 11, 2010

#23 GIPA (German Eis-PA)

Brewed: 25th November, 2009

Time for a catch up post. This brew came about after a BABBs social outing up to Eagle Heights Brewery at Mount Tamborine. On the day we were there, they made up 500L of boiled sweet-wort, which was packaged into 20L cubes and distributed to members of the club. Each member who took some wort home was able to further process the wort and ferment it out however they pleased, with the only exception that no further malt could be added to it (other fermentables, such as sugar, honey, etc were ok). The results were to be brought back to the club's first meeting of the year in January, where we got to try everyone's beer side-by-side. The grain bill for the wort was 100% Munich malt, mashed at 66.5°C then boiled for 45 minutes.

Here's a picture of me on the day peering into the Mash/Lauter tun as Johann, another BABBs member, was mixing in the grain:

A great day was had by all, starting off at Eagle Heights Brewery, then heading up the road to MT Brewery for a few more beers before returning home. There's more pictures from the day on Eagle Heights Brewery's website, and more information about the day in the BABBs November newsletter.

Anyway, back to the brew. I didn't want to do anything too fancy with it, as I wanted the Munich Malt to shine through the end result. I was considering doing a SMaSH, but then had the idea of combining German and English ingredients, and doing something along the lines of an IPA, a style I hadn't tried brewing before. So I ended up with German malt, German bittering hops, English flavouring hops, and English yeast.

One of the most interesting things to happen with this batch was that at the end of five weeks of cold conditioning at around 0-1°C, when I went to transfer the beer to a keg, I found that it was a little too cold and had partly iced up on the inside! I only noticed this after I had started transferring, so I couldn't wait for it to thaw out. In the end, I decided to leave the ice behind and ended up with an Eis Bier! A German Eis Bier (Ice Beer) is made in a similar way, where once the beer has finished fermenting, it is cooled to below 0°C. At this temperature, the water component of the beer starts freezing, but the alcohol, which has a lower freezing temperature, remains in liquid form. Once the water is in ice form, it can be separated from the beer, thus concentrating the remaining flavour and alcohol. In my case, I only lost about 2 litres out of 16 to ice, which increased the alcohol content by about 1%. Ordinarily, brewers yeast can only tolerate alcohol up to 12-15% ABV, but by repeating the process, you can get the alcohol content much higher, which is how some beers can achieve up to 40% ABV.

I was pretty happy with how this one turned out - a great strong malt flavour. If anything, it is a little too bitter, but I'm planning on letting it sit for a couple of months and see if it smooths out.

There was a wide variety to the beers that were brought to the January meeting by the other members. There was a Belgian interpretation, a Bock and Dopple-bock, a couple of Dunkels, a sour-orange and a berry infused brew, and then there were those that were flavoured with oak chips, chai spices, and even pureed banana! I also took the oportunity to enter a bottle to be judged by Eagle Heights Brewery's owner, Ed Gordon, with the chance of winning a case of Mikkeller beer. I guess that will be announced at the next meeting.

This was the recipe I went with:

Light Munich Malt: 100%

Perle pellets (8.3% AA): 30g @ -60mins ~35 IBU
East Kent Golding pellets (4.8% AA): 47g @ -15mins ~15 IBU

Pre-boil gravity: 1051
Pre-boil volume: 20L

Boil time: 60 minutes

OG: 1064

Volume in fermenter: 16.2L
Yeast: WLP005 British Ale Yeast
Ferment temp: 19C

FG: 1018
Pre-ice ABV: ~6%
Final Volume: 14.2L
Final ABV: ~6.9%