Brewday 38: Brewers Gold III

Brewed 17/12/2016

Was this a case of third time lucky with this Brewers Gold clone? Actually it’s more that I needed a reasonably straight forward recipe using whatever hops I had in stock so I could get on with the inaugural brew for my shiny new Grainfather! To take advantage of the PID controlled heating element this recipe used a stepped mash and again I varied the hop addition timings from previous versions of this Brewers Gold to put more weight on the late additions to really try to boost that hop flavour!

The recipe for the Brewers Gold:

  • 4.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 300g CaraPils Malt
  • 30g Brewers Gold hops @ 60 minutes
  • 30g Brewers Gold hops @ 15 minutes
  • 40g Brewers Gold hops @ 5 minute
  • 40g Brewers Gold hops @ flameout
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet Mangrove Jacks M36 Liberty Bell yeast

Learning how to use the new brewery meant that I was far too distracted to take any photos! Next time… I promise!

The stepped mash worked really well and wasn’t that complicated to program however due to me trying to setup a Grainfather equipment profile on Beersmith I somehow managed to over-sparge with nearly 2 litres of extra water. As a result the preboil and postboil OG’s for this brew were much lower than expected at 1.040 instead of the target OG of 1.054. Luckily for me the Liberty Bell yeast managed to go a couple of points lower than planned too so the FG finished up at 1.012 meaning the final ABV was 3.7%. Off target however not too dramatically in the end. Phew!


New Brewing Resolutions: 2017

It’s that time of year again to set this years resolutions but first I have to review what I set myself last year.

2016’s resolutions were set as:

  • Brewery Upgrades [COMPLETE]: while my initial plans to expand to 56l have been scrapped I have bought a Grainfather to replace my old 3 vessel setup.
  • Brew once per month [FAIL]: Unfortunately the realities of life got in the way of brewing a lot last year and while I prevaricated about the brewery build there was no brewing happening!
  • Yeast Harvesting [FAIL]: With no working brewery there was no yeast and therefore no harvesting!
  • Competitions [COMPLETE]: My beers were entered into 5 competitions in 2016! The Cheshire Brew Crew kicked the year off with a Recipe Roulette competition into which I entered the Amarillo & Orange Saison and finished 1st place! The same beer was then entered into Brewdog Liverpool’s Homebrew competition however by that point it wasn’t as fresh as it had once been and the impact of the flavours had lessened. It got an honourable mention from the judge but didn’t stand a chance against some of the other beers entered! Over the summer the Jasmine IPA was entered into the National Home Brew Competition where it scored a disappointing 20 out of 50, and the Waitrose/BrewUK Homebrew Competition however there are no results given from that other than it didn’t win! Finally the Smoked Chipotle Porter was entered into #homebrewdog but was in 500ml bottles and was disqualified as a result – next time I will read the small print better!

Overall not a bad year, and although it wasn’t plan A (or B) for the Brewery Upgrades, I do now have a fully functioned brewery again! On to 2017!


For 2017 I will set a more modest set of resolutions:

  • Brewing!
    • I have a new brewing process to learn with the Grainfather so again for this year I will aiming to have one Brewday per month. January’s is already arranged for the 4th, this time I need to keep the momentum going!
  • Reading!
    • Over the last year I have compiled a pretty extensive collection of brewing books and so far have only managed to read around half of them! This year I will be completing my reading assignments I trying to put the theory into practice with this years brews.
  • Competitions!
    • Other than the strong start to 2016’s competition entries the others fell a little flat! Not to worry though, for 2017 I will be tweaking recipes and processes and hopefully improve the overall quality of all the beers I produce and return better results in the competitions I enter!

Brewday 37: Smoked Chipotle Porter

Brewed 21/07/2016

With the grand restocking completed it was time to get back to plan A for 2016’s brews with a Smoked Chipotle Porter. While it may sound like a strange combination I’ve had a few of examples of this style of beer from Red Willow, Mikkeller and Stone and I have to say I really enjoy them. The balance of the malt and the heat from the chillies makes for an amazing drink, perhaps not one to spend the whole night drinking but definitely one to crack open on a cold and wet English August evening! I scoured the internet for some sort of guidance on how much chilli to use and when best to use it but found so many conflicting accounts I decided i’d have to wing it and went with 50g for a 14 day dry-hop. I’ll adjust the recipe next time if this proves to be too much or too little!


The recipe for the Smoked Chipotle Porter is:

  • 4kg Maris Otter
  • 1.1kg RauchMalt
  • 0.5kg Crystal Malt (100EBC)
  • 0.25kg Chocolate Malt
  • 0.15kg Black (Patent) Malt
  • 50g Perle Hops @ 60 mins
  • 15g Mount Hood hops @ 15 minutes
  • 1tsp Irish Moss @ 10 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M42 New World Strong Ale yeast
  • 50g Smoked Chipotle Chillies @ 14day Dry Hop
Grain Shot!

Grain Shot!

Mash on

Mash on!

Boil underway!

Boil underway!

Bang on target!

Bang on target!

The brewday was very straight forward, all the volumes worked out and the OG was spot on at 1.058. Again I went with another pack of Mangrove Jacks dried yeast (New World Strong Ale M42), and if everything went to plan this would up around 5.5% ABV. Fermentation was over by the end of the week and after leaving the beer another week for the yeast to clean up, I added the Chillies. Firstly they were roughly chopped and tied in a muslin square before being submersed in boiling water for 15 minutes. The softened chilli-in-a-bag was then added straight into the fermentor for a 14 day dry hop and the soaking water was discarded. Again I had no idea if this was the right practice or not however it is what I had done making a curry the previous weekend so I figure the theory would be the same for this!

Chiptole 'Tea'!

Chiptole ‘Tea’ anyone?

19 days later (real-life got in the way a little) the beer was bottled and kegged. FG was 1.018 so slightly higher than intended but nothing too much to worry about. The initial taste test confirms this is definitely a chilli beer! The porter base is lovely and smooth and the Chipotles really provide a kick to the back of the throat! It’s perhaps a little too much at the moment however the real test will be once the beer has had a month or so conditioning in the bottle!


Brewday 36: Jasmine IPA

Brewed 01/07/2016

The restocking mission completes with another re-brew. The Jasmine IPA from Brewday 30 went down so well that this time around the plan is for this beer to also be one of my competition beers for 2016. There were a couple of minor alterations to the recipe for this version, the biggest being different bittering hops and a new yeast, but hopefully the results will be just as spectacular.

The recipe for the Jasmine IPA is:

  • 5.5kg Maris Otter
  • 0.25kg Munich Malt
  • 0.15kg CaraPils Malt
  • 0.15kg Crystal Malt (100EBC)
  • 50g Northern Brewer Hops @ 60 mins
  • 45g Dried Jasmine Flowers @ 10 minutes
  • 45g Amarillo hops @ 5 minutes
  • 15g Dried Jasmine Flowers @ 0 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1tsp Irish Moss @ 10 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M44 US West Coast Yeast
Mash underway!

Mash underway!

Hop/Jasmine schedule ready to go...

Hop/Jasmine schedule ready to go…

Dried Jasmine flowers

Dried Jasmine flowers

Oddly it appears I chose not to take any photos of the boil or the end of the process, probably because I was watched Wales vs Belgium on the TV in between boil additions and cooling! Either way, somewhere in the mental arithmetic of measuring the strike water for the mash I made a simple counting mistake and ended up with way too much volume in the boil. This time I can only blame myself and not my Beersmith settings though! Fortunately another vigorous boil helped to partly rectify the error but I still ended up with 25 litres in the fermentor. If the yeast works it’s magic as it should then the final ABV should be around 6.0%, just slightly down from the target ABV of 6.3%. Not the end of the world (plus I have an extra 2 litres of it!)

Brewday 35: Steam Beer

Brewed 18/06/2016

The restocking mission continues with a revisiting of the Steam Beer I brewed way back on Brewday 7 (and failed to rebrew on Brewday 28!). The recipe went under a few modifications for this version to increase the caramel taste and bring a bit more hop flavour into the mix.

The recipe for the Steam Beer is:

  • 4.5kg Maris Otter
  • 0.5kg Munich Malt
  • 0.25kg Crystal Malt (100EBC)
  • 0.25kg Crystal Malt (200EBC)
  • 0.25kg Victory Malt
  • 35g Northern Brewer Hops @ 60 mins
  • 25g Northern Brewer Hops @ 20 mins
  • 25g Northern Brewer Hops @ 5 mins
  • 15g Northern Brewer Hops @ 0 mins
  • 1g Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M54 Californian Lager Yeast

NEWSFLASH!!! This time there are pictures!!!

Grain Shot

Grain Shot

Mash on!

Mash on!

(Very) Vigorous Boil

(Very) Vigorous Boil and hops additions ready to go!

All done!

Into the FV, nearly done!

The brewday was a general success but the overly vigorous boil meant that I ended up with just 21 litres in the fermentor and a slightly higher OG than expected. To correct this I added some extra (cooled) boiled water to the wort to water it back down and once corrected the final volume was 22.5 litres and bang on target OG! The yeast was pitched, and following the explosive nature of the last brew day the fermentor was tentatively moved into the fermenting fridge and left well alone!

Fortunately this strain of yeast was much better behaved and after two weeks fermenting, and no unplanned explosions, the finished beer was bottled and kegged ready for conditioning. The final ABV was 6.0% which is a little big for a Steam Beer to be honest but no so much that I’ve created an Imperial Steam Beer by accident!

Brewday 34: Hefeweizen

Brewed 20/05/2016

Disaster struck last weekend… The beer supplies in the kegerator ran out! Only one thing for it, an emergency brew of a quick conditioning beer to get at least one of the taps up and running again! The Hefeweizen from Brewday 20 was the perfect solution, although I would be making a few tweaks to the recipe this time around.

The recipe for the Hefeweizen today:

  • 1.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 3kg Wheat Malt
  • 100g CaraRed Malt
  • 200g CaraPils Malt
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M20 Bavarian Wheat yeast

These aren’t typical hops for a Hefeweizen however as they are in such low quantity I hoped they wouldn’t be too bitter (plus I didn’t have anything more suitable in stock come brew day!)

There are no pictures from this brewday but everything went to plan until dropping the beer into the fermentor to find the tap hadn’t quite sealed properly and leaked! I fortunately didn’t lose too much and after a mild panic the Hefeweizen was snugly tucked away in the fermenting fridge but it wasn’t finished with me yet… the yeast was so vigorous this time that by the next morning the airlock had been blown off and there was yeast trub splattered all over the fridge! Joy!

Brewday 33: Amarillo & Orange Saison

Brewed: 19/02/2016

The January Meet of the Cheshire Brew Crew homebrew club saw the setting of our Spring competition ‘Recipe Roulette’! Each brewer picked a ‘Hop’ and an ‘addition’ from a random selection in a hat, and then had free choice to brew whatever style of beer they felt fitted their ingredients best. The only rules set were ‘The final beer must taste of the two ingredients’. I have to say I got pretty lucky with my picks, amongst the cries of “Fix!” and “Stitch Up!” from the other contestants (and me offering to re-draw I should add) I pulled out Amarillo as a Hop, and Orange Peel as an additive. Both ingredients compliment each other really well, and both fit perfectly to a Saison (which I just happened to be planning to brew next anyway!) – RESULT!!!

Saison is a Belgian style, light in colour and traditionally relatively low in ABV at 3 – 3.5% more modern versions of the beer are usually between 5 – 7%. My version will be aiming for c. 6%

The recipe for the Saison is:

  • 5kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 500g Munich Malt
  • 25g Amarillo hops @ 60 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 15 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 25g Bitter Orange Peel @ 5 minutes
  • 1l yeast starter White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison Yeast

Saison’s generally ferment at warmer temperatures than regular ales and I plan to put the temperature controlled fridge to good use on this brew by starting fermentation at 20C and gradually increasing this to 24/25C over the course of two weeks. The beer will then be lowered back to 20C to finish for a week before bottling. This may be a little quick as Saison yeasts have a habit of stalling half way through fermentation but hopefully I will be able to get this fermented, bottled and have at least two weeks conditioning time before the competition is judged at the end of March! Fingers crossed!

The brewday went to plan other than a higher than expected boil off rate due to the freezing cold evening brew session and I ended up with 22 litres in the fermenter and an OG of 1.064. If the yeast ferments all the way down to target this will come out at 7% rather than the target of 6%! I could have watered this back to closer to the original planned beer but didn’t think about it until too late so decided to stick with what the beer gods had given me! The beer is now tucked away in the fermenting fridge at 20C and bubbling away contently to itself. I’m looking forward to this one!


Brewday 32: Pilsner

Brewed 22/01/2016

One of the benefits of now having a STC-1000 temperature controller hooked up to my spare fridge is that I can now ferment at any given temperature as I see fit. For the most part this will just allow for consistent fermentation for my ales however it does also mean I can now brew a Lager and ferment it at the optimum temperature for the yeast of 12C. As a result of the cooler fermentation temperatures Lagers need to have significantly more yeast cells pitched than an ale and as just opening the packet and pitching it in wasn’t going to cut it, a yeast starter would be required. This was started two days before brewday and placed on the Stirplate to stimulate the yeast growth from c. 96 billion up to around 175 billion cells. Beersmith suggested I would be better using a 2l starter at nearer to 250 billion cells however as I only have a 1l Erlenmeyer flask it would have to do!

The recipe for the Pilsner is:

  • 4.5kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 350g Carapils Malt
  • 50g Saaz hops @ 60 minutes
  • 50g Saaz hops @ 30 minutes
  • 20g Saaz hops @ 15 minutes
  • 30g Saaz hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1l yeast starter White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager Yeast

This time I am aiming for 4.8% ABV and a clean light bodied lager. Although there are 150g of Hops in the recipe the Alpha Acid (AA) of them is only 3.07% so the end result won’t be too bitter!

The brewday went impressively smoothly, and despite being freezing in the brewery today all target numbers were hit and we ended up with 23l of 1.046 Lager in the fermenter. The yeast was pitched and into the fridge it went! 12C for 14 days to ferment and then two months lagering at 5C.


Bang on target!



Brewday 31: Black Jai-P-A

Brewed 02/01/16

Off to a flyer in 2016 with a brewday on the 2nd! Hopefully this will distract that nothing has been brewed since August!!

Anyhow, this recipe was a combination of two of my recipes that had gone before it. The malt bill is loosely based on the Black IPA from brewday 19 but with a couple of small tweaks to fit what I grains I have to hand, and the hops are from my Jaipur clone from brewday 23. A little bit lazy on the design front I suppose but that’s what you get for designing a beer on New Years Day!

The recipe for the Black Jai-P-A:

  • 4.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 400g Rauch Malt
  • 150g Roasted Barley Malt
  • 200g Chocolate Malt
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 60 minutes
  • 12g Chinook hops @ 60 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 60 minutes
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Chinook hops @ 30 minutes
  • 40g Centennial hops @ 0 minutes
  • 40g Chinook hops @ 0 minutes
  • 30g Ahtanum hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet Mangrove Jacks British Ale Yeast

This should come out around 5.5% all things considered, and this time I even had an assistant brewer to help me out on the day, though for some reason this meant I took even less photos than normal!


Obligatory Grain Shot!

During the brewday we hit the mash numbers pretty accurately ending up with 500ml up volume and 2points down on gravity however by the end of the boil it ended up 1l down on volume and 8 points down on OG. Perhaps the boil was particularly vigorous on this one but more likely this seems to be down to my boil data input into Beersmith so I need to investigate this more to try and iron out this issue in the future. Fingers crossed for a good fermentation to hit target ABV!


New Brewing Resolutions: 2016

There’s nothing better than making plans for the coming of a new year and currently on the cards is:

  • Brewery Upgrades!
    • A slight increase in capacity (40l to 56l) will need to come with a shiny new control panel and a host of smaller upgrades along the way. Expect a lot of build posts for this process!
  • Brewing!
    • I’ll be aiming to return (and maybe even stick to this year) one Brewday per month. January’s is already pencilled in for the 2nd so I am at least starting as I mean to go on! There will be some revisiting of old recipes but also a few new styles that I want to brew too.
  • Yeast Storage!
    • Once all the hardware upgrades are complete in the brewery I plan to start splitting and storing liquid yeasts. Lots of posts to come on this process too!
  • Competitions!
    • This year I’ll be entering as many competitions as I can find… these will definitely include the Brewdog NorthWest Homebrew off in July, the Waitrose/Thornbridge GB Homebrew Competition around the same time and the UK National Homebrew Competition in September. Wish me luck!


2016 is going to be a busy one it would seem!