Thursday, February 11, 2010

#32 EBB (English Best Bitter)

Brewed: 6th February, 2010

This is another contender for the February BABBs mini-competition. In all I'll have three to choose from; this one, #31 CSA and #29 OPA. The rules of the competition are that you can only enter one beer to count towards scoring, and one additional beer to get feed-back on, so I'll enter the one that fits to style best for scoring, and perhaps the one I want to improve for feedback.

This brew will be cutting it fine for the competition, but it's also a style that is better fresh/young, so that might work out in my favour. I figure I'll have a week for primary, then transfer it to finish off fermenting (maybe three days?), four days cold conditioning and a couple of days to carbonate it. The competition is on February 25th and I transferred to primary on the 9th. Yes, definitely cutting it fine!

Once again, I was shooting for a lower volume with the intention of having just enough to fill one keg. I've only just started adjusting recipe volumes and I now realise that I have made a couple of mistakes over the last couple of batches, thinking I was doing the right thing by scaling the volume along with the grains & hops. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken into account that things like evaporation rate and transfer losses remain fairly constant, and so on both occasions, I have ended up with far less volume in the fermenter than I was expecting. It's a good lesson to learn, and something I'll be practising over the next few brews until I get right.

There were a couple of hiccups on the day. Firstly, during pre-heating the Mash/Lauter tun, I noticed a small leak at the tap, but subsequently forgot to tighten it after emptying. It wasn't until the grain was in and I'd started filling it that I noticed the leak again. Luckily, I was filling the tun from the bottom, which meant most of the grist on top was still quite dry and I was able to remove enough to get in and tighten the tap. I'll have to figure out a way to remind myself in the future.

The second problem came as a result of cleaning up from the last batch, when I mixed up the stainless steel washers from the MLT and Kettle. I had thought they were the same size, but it turns out that the kettle one is slightly bigger and I couldn't get the other one to fit. I only noticed this after the MLT was full so I was unable to retrieve the proper kettle washer, which meant I had to file back the mash tun washer until it fit the kettle. This lead to slight delays after mashing. On the plus side, the two washers really are interchangeable now.

Everything else went to plan, and aside from the lower volume, I'm confident about the result. I recently bought some English Maris Otter malted barley to use in some of my more malt-driven ales instead of the Australian Pale malt. The aroma coming from the mash tun was noticeably nuttier, the sweet wort had a nice grainy taste to it, and there was a slight toffee flavour in the hopped wort. I'm really looking forward to tasting the finished product.

The recipe (based on this one):
[Note that the original recipe calls only for Caramunich II, but as I didn't have enough, I substituted the remaining amount for the lighter Caramunich I]

Maris Otter Pale Malt: 3717g (88%)
Caramunich II: 268g (6.5%)
Wheat Malt: 165g (4%)
Caramunich I: 62g (1.5%)

East Kent Golding pellets (4.8% AA): 54g @ -60mins ~32 IBU
East Kent Golding pellets (4.8% AA): 17g @ -60mins ~5 IBU
East Kent Golding pellets (4.8% AA): 17g added to no-chill cube <1 IBU

Mash time: 60 minutes
Target mash temperature: 67C

Start: 67C End: 65.5C

Runoff: 25L

Pre-boil SG: 1043
Boil time: 60 minutes

Target OG: 1046 Actual: 1048
Post-boil volume (hot): 20.5L

Volume in fermenter: 17.5L
Yeast: WLP005 British Ale harvested from #27 DA
Ferment temp: 19C

Updated 4th March: This beer scored 36/50 in the BABBs February 2010 mini-competition. Results posted here.

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