Brewday 22: Irish Red Ale IV

Brewed 29/08/2014

The search for the perfect ‘Red’ in the Irish Red Ale continues with version 4!

This time I used a totally new grain bill to try and hit that elusive colour however the hop additions would stay very similar to previous versions. The only changes are more Bramling Cross additions in the final 10 minutes of the boil to maximise the Blackberry tones from those hops. As version 3 was a little too dark when I used 113g of Roasted Barley this time I would scale that right back to just 30g and introduce some CaraRed to supply rest of the colour.

The recipe for the Irish Red Ale IV:

  • 3.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 0.5kg CaraRed Malt
  • 0.4 kg Vienna Malt
  • 0.35kg CaraAmber
  • 0.03kg Roasted Barley
  • 13g Target hops @ 60 minutes
  • 15g East Kent Goldings @ 15 minutes
  • 20g Bramling Cross Hops @ 10 minutes
  • 1tsb Irish Moss
  • 20g Bramling Cross Hops @ 5 minutes
  • 20g Bramling Cross Hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 White Labs Irish Ale yeast

No photos again for this brewday I am sorry to say! Targets were mostly met although I finished with one litre more than the expected 23 litres, and as a result the actual ABV of 4.4% was slightly lower that target of 4.6%. Not to worry, it still sits comfortably in the ‘session ale’ range!

Colour-wise… it’s too pale! The CaraRed didn’t impart as much colour as I had hoped and as the Roasted Barley had been reduced by so much the beer came out as a mid-amber colour with a touch of red (depending on the light!). Fortunately though this was a very tasty beer, perhaps a little on the sweet side from the Cara malts but certainly not undrinkable!

For version 5 the Roasted Barley will be increased to 50g however I probably won’t be brewing this again until 2015!

Brewday 21: American Pale Ale

Brewed 26/07/2014

The Hefeweizen last time out was such a success I had to follow on with another easy-drinking beer of Summer. This time I would brew a nice pale American hopped ale. I am still getting to grips with Beersmith 2 and a new setup however this one should be fairly straight forwards!

The recipe for the American Pale Ale:

  • 4.25kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 0.23kg Caraamber Malt
  • 0.23kg Munich Malt
  • 0.10kg CaraMalt
  • 0.10kg CaraRed
  • 20g Northern Brewer @ 60 minutes
  • 8g Galena hops @ 30 minutes
  • 18g Galena hops @ 30 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 White Labs California Ale yeast

As predicted the Brewday went to plan with every possible measurement hitting target without exception! However perhaps this angered the brewing gods, or I should not have rested on my laurels, and after pitching the yeast I just tucked up the fermenter and thought nothing more about it. The UK summer arrived in full force and the air temperature in the garage rose to 30C and, although I did not think to check this at the time, the temperature of the fermenting beer would have been well above the 18C target.

The result of this overheated fermentation was a beer that absolutely refused to clear over the next 3 months regardless of serving temperature and a very significant yeast taste in the beer. Not at all what was wanted!

Last year I remembered I had moved the fermenters on to the concrete floor (to act as a heat sink) and wrapped them in wet towels to ensure the temperature was kept low. I was still thinking about how wonderful hindsight was whilst I poured this batch down the drain. Lesson learnt.

DIY Hopback

Before writing this build up I first have to say that my Hopback build is very much inspired by the Bennachie Brewery Hopback here http://bennachiebrewery.blogspot.co.uk

A Hopback can be used at two points in the brewing process. Firstly to add another layer of Hop Aroma’s to the just boiled wort, and secondly as a Randall in between the keg and the tap to add a further fresh hop twang. Additionally the Hopback acts as another filter layer so will hopefully help with getting a clearer final beer too.
Initially I was tempted with a shiny stainless steel Blichmann version however before I reached for my wallet I fortunately stumbled across the website above that provided my inspiration to build my own!

The build starts with a 10″ water filter housing purchased on Ebay. I went for the clear plastic option. See-through is the new shiny!

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All the bits!

 I removed the filter housing (the top part of the assembly) and fitted it with a small section of flexible hose held in place by stainless steel hoseclamps.
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Cap with hose fitted

The 12″ Bazooka screen I removed from my boiler was cut down to around 8″ and screws nicely into the cap fitting.

Like so!

 Finally the cap is screwed back on to the filter housing (don’t forget the washer!)
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Ta da!

 And that’s all there is to it! Hop leaves are put in the filter housing and then after flameout, while the wort is still hot, I use a 24v Solar Pump to circulate the wort through the hopback before returning it to the boil kettle.
Further modifications will probably include a length of stainless steel tubing to force the beer to the bottom of the casing however I have used this a number of times now and don’t believe that’s a totally necessary alteration. In fact the only issue I have had was when I forgot to reinstall the washer and ended up spraying hot wort all over the brewery! Let that be a lesson to you all!