Brewday 45: Irish Red Ale 4.1

Brewed 01/10/17

Version 4 was red! Was it a fluke or can it be rebrewed and come out just as good?

For this variation I will be dropping the Roasted Barley to 100g and increasing the smoked Rauch Malt to 300g (from 100g). This should slightly lighten the overall colour of the beer and also give a nice smokey undertone to the malt flavours. This version would also use Fuggles hops instead of Bramling Cross for a little more traditional hop flavour but mostly because I didn’t have any Bramling Cross left in the freezer as it turned out!

The recipe for the Irish Red Ale 4.1:

  • 4kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 200g CaraRed Malt
  • 100g Roasted Barley
  • 100g Dark Crystal Malt
  • 300g Rauch Malt
  • 30g East Kent Goldings hops @ 60 minutes
  • 20g Bramling Cross hops @ 30 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 pkt Mangrove Jacks M15 Empire Ale yeast

The other major change to this version is that it will be brewed on the Grainfather whereas version 4 (Brewday 27) was brewed on my old three vessel system. In theory this shouldn’t make any difference as Beersmith will adjust the recipe based on the equipment profile but we’ll have to see if that works as intended!

Grain shot!

Hops in!

Colour looks promising!!!


Brewday 45 went perfectly to plan and I even remembered to put in the Irish Moss! OG came out at 1.046 so presuming the yeast attenuates as expected this should give an ABV of 4.7% and hopefully a bright red colour!

Brewday 44: Jaipur Clone

Brewed 19/08/17

In order to use up some of the hops I had stored in the freezer I decided to brew the Jaipur Clone from Brewday 26 again. The hop schedule needed to be tweaked slightly to fit my leftover inventory but the vast majority of the recipe was the same as last time and fortunately I had a decent selection of hops on hand to make reasonable substitutions so the end result shouldn’t stray too far from the original clone.

The recipe for the Jaipur Clone:

  • 5.55kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 0.45kg Vienna Malt
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 60 minutes
  • 15g Northern Brewer hops @ 60 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 60 minutes
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Chinook hops @ 30 minutes
  • 16g Centennial hops @ 0 minutes
  • 48g Chinook hops @ 0 minutes
  • 24g Ahtanum hops @ 0 minutes
  • 40g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss @ 10 minutes
  • 1 pkt Nottingham yeast

Mash on!


First hops in!

All done, transferring to the fermenter

Into the fermenting fridge

A little bit hazy… oops…

The brewday was going perfectly until I took my eye off the ball and forgot to add the Irish Moss to the end of the boil! Doh!!! As you can see from the pictures above how hazy the beer has finished up as a result of this error! Hopefully crash cooling once fermentation is complete will help drop out a lot of this murk though and the final beer might still end up pretty clear! Alternatively I will be finding out just how important the Irish Moss addition actually is for beer clarity!

OG was bang on target at 1.058 so once the yeast has done its stuff this Jaipur Clone should come out around 5.2% ABV. This is around 1% less than the real thing but I intentionally brewed this lower to make it a bit more session-able!







Brewday 43: Banoffee Goze

Brewed: 08/06/2017 and 11/06/2017

No, that’s not a typo! Brewday 43 took place over two separate sessions! This was my first attempt at a sour beer recipe which came to me at 3am in a flash of inspiration… a Banoffee Gose!
Banana & Toffee are great together, Salted Caramel is amazing too so can these flavours be combined into one beer?

The base of this beer would be a ‘proper’ kettle-soured Gose, but with the addition of some Caramalt to impart that toffee flavour. This would darken the beer slightly but hopefully not too much. The Banana would come from the Hefeweisen yeast which I would intentionally stress out and ferment at the high end of the temperature range to maximise this flavour output.
On paper this seems perfectly reasonable but will it work in practice?! There’s only one way to find out!


The Recipe for Banoffee Gose is:

  • 2.5kg Wheat Malt
  • 2kg Pilsner Malt
  • 0.5kg Crystal (20L) Malt
  • 13g Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops @ 60 minutes
  • 1pkt Omega Lactobacillus Blend (OYL-605)
  • 1pkt White Labs Hefeweisen yeast (WLP300)

The first stage of the kettle souring process is to complete the mash as normal. Once the sparge was complete I brought the wort to the boil for 15 minutes to pasteurise it and kill off any bacteria in the wort at this point. You don’t have to boil the wort like this if you are willing to risk other bacteria growing in your wort and therefore add a degree of randomness to the souring process – I wanted more control so I chose to boil!

Lacto Starter

Following the mini-boil, the wort was chilled down to 28C using an immersion chiller and then held at that temperature using the Grainfather’s control unit. 48 hours earlier I had made a 1 litre starter using the Omega Lactobacillus Blend. Even though the photo shows the flask sat on one, this type of starter doesn’t need a stir-plate as it doesn’t need to be agitated to promote growth. The stirplate above was turned off!

The starter was then pitched into the wort and the lid of the boiler sealed with clingfilm to keep any other passing nasties out!

All sealed for souring

If you had a PH meter (and I didn’t!) now is the perfect time to take a reading! The wort PH will be around 5, and after 3 days with the Lacto Blend pitched this will have lowered to around 2 or 3. Ta-Daa! Soured wort!

After the souring process is complete, the clingfilm is removed and the wort is brought to the boil for the second time! This 60 minute boil kills off the Lactobacillius cultures and stops the souring process. Hops are added to this boil but only a tiny amount is used because too many IBU’s will negate the sourness.

Boil No. 2

All done! Transferring to the fermenter.










Second boil completed and the wort was down to an OG of 1.048. The Hefeweisen yeast was pitched and the fermenter fridge set to 32C. I intentionally didn’t create a starter for the yeast pitch because by under-pitching I hoped to stress the yeast even further and create even more Banana flavours!

Once fermentation was complete the FG read 1.016 giving an ABV of 4.2%. Possibly a bit on the strong side for a traditional Gose but not too big! The beer was then kegged and bottled and put away to condition, there wasn’t much in the way of Banana at this point so hopefully it would come through during conditioning…

Brewday 42: Rye Saison

Brewed: 27/05/2017

Taking a lot of inspiration from (Cheshire Brew Crew) Mark’s Rye Saison which we sampled earlier in the year came my own version. The Rye adds a peppery taste which work amazingly well with a Saison base. If it turns out to be anything like Mark’s version I’ll be very happy indeed!

The Recipe for Rye Saison is:

  • 3.8kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 1.36kg Rye Malt
  • 0.3kg Dark Belgian Candi Sugar
  • 1kg Crystal (20L) Malt
  • 43g Styrian Golding hops @ 60 minutes
  • 1pkt Wyeast French Saison Yeast

There is a tendency for the Rye addition to cause mashes to ‘stick’ more frequently so Rice Hulls are added to help keep some structure to the mash when sparging, and the overall OG is boosted with the addition of the Dark Belgian Candi Sugar.







The brewday was mostly without issue although the eagle-eyed amongst you will spot the filter from the Grainfather on the bench in the photo above. That was not supposed to be there! Darn!

The inevitable blocked pump aside, the brewday went ok and I ended up with an OG of 1.059 and with a FG of approaching 1.004 the ABV was a monstrous 7.2%!


Brewday 41: Maibock

Brewed: 12/03/2017

After the slightly unplanned interruption of the ‘Recipe Roulette’ Competition brew last brewday it was time to get back on plan for 2017’s brewing endeavours! Up this time is a Maibock. Maibocks (or Helles Bocks) are lighter, more hoppy versions of a typical German Bock. Wikipedia says “Colour can range from deep gold to light amber with a large, creamy, persistent white head, and moderate to moderately high carbonation, while alcohol content ranges from 6.3% to 7.4% by volume. The flavour is typically less malty than a traditional bock, and may be drier, hoppier, and more bitter, but still with a relatively low hop flavour and with a mild spicy or peppery quality from the hops.”
Traditionally this is a spring drink so this batch will all be bottled and conditioned until opening in early May.

The Recipe for Maibock is:

  • 5.5kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 0.5kg Munich Malt
  • 0.4kg Victory Malt
  • 1kg Crystal (20L) Malt
  • 50g Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hops @ 70 minutes
  • 30g Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops @ 20 minutes
  • 1tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • 1l yeast starter Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager Yeast

The inclusion of the Victory malt was a last minute thing as I ordered the ingredients based on a recipe designed at 77.5% efficiency however as I’ve been getting nowhere near that on my last Grainfather brews I recalculated this recipe at 72% efficiency in an attempt to fix some of the issues I have encountered so far. This meant I would need more grain to hit my target figures and as a result didn’t have enough Munich Malt in stock! Victory Malt is lightly roasted and brings out the nutty, toasty, and biscuit flavours in the malt bill so should fit quite well with this style.

Mash on!

First hop additions

All done!

This brewday went pretty much to plan! Finally! It is such a relief to be able to say that! I did away with the Hop Spider this time as I didn’t have an opportunity beforehand to blast it clear with the power washer and I suspect that it being blocked caused part of my problems on Brewday 40. I also used the water volume calculations from the Grainfather website and not what Beersmith was telling me as there was almost 4 litres less water required according to Beersmith! As a result of these changes I ended up with 22l in the fermenter at 1.070 OG. Target OG was 1.073 at 23l so there is still a little tweaking to be done however as the Grainfather’s efficiency does drop off with Malt bills over 7kg that may well account for the difference on this occasion and aiming for 21l instead of 23l might have ended up closer to target. Either way, the yeast starter was pitched and the fermenter was placed in the fridge at 10C for the first stage of this 30day fermentation schedule! Fingers crossed!






Brewday 40: Simcoe & Chilli Double IPA

Brewed: 03/02/2017

January’s meet of the Cheshire Brew Crew homebrew club saw the setting of our second ‘Recipe Roulette’ Competition! Again, each brewer picks a ‘Hop’ and an ‘addition’ from the random selections provided and then has a free reign to brew any beer they chose with those ingredients. Last year I got very lucky with Amarillo and Orange Peel and ended up brewing the Saison in Brewday 33 which went on to be crowned Grand Champion! No pressure for this year then!

This time around I picked Simcoe and Chilli! Not ideal but certainly not too obscure! The Simcoe hops really cry out of a hoppy American/Double IPA so hopefully a big grapefruit hit from loads of fresh Simcoe will be sufficient to balance out the heat from the chillies, and at least I have a little experience with brewing with chilli after the Smoked Chipotle Porter on Brewday 37. It will be a totally different challenge getting the flavours to balance in a lighter beer mind you!

The Recipe for Simcoe & Chilli Double IPA is:

  • 5.75kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 750g Munich Malt
  • 350g Crystal (20L) Malt
  • 25g Simcoe hops @ 60 minutes
  • 35g Simcoe hops @ 10 minutes
  • 45g Simcoe hops @ 0 minutes
  • 20g Smoked Chipotle Chillies @ 7days dry hop
  • 200g Simcoe hops @ 10days dry hop
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M42 New World Strong Ale yeast

*** STOP PRESS ***
Brewday pictures coming up!!

Mashing In

Doughing In Grainfather style!


Protein Rest


Sparging in progress


Brewday 40’s little helper!



Unfortunately the brewday didn’t go exactly to plan… despite some minor adjustments to my Beersmith profile I managed to end up nearly 6 litres down on final volume 5 points down on target OG. I (as is the Grainfather chap I chatted to afterwards) am at a loss as to where the volume has disappeared to without adversely affecting OG as with so much missing you would expect the OG to be sky high to compensate! It was perhaps a combination of a number of separate smaller issues through the session that caused the cumulative losses. Back to the drawing board with this profile it seems!

Either way, I ended up with 16 litres in the fermenter with an OG of 1.074 instead of the target 21 litres at 1.079. Hopefully the yeast will help me out again and the final ABV should be somewhere around 7.5%. After 7 days in the fermentor I will be adding 20g of rehydrated Chipotle Chillies followed 3 days later by 200g of fresh Simcoe for a 3 dry hop. As the total volume is so low this batch will all be bottled and I will save the Corny Keg space for brewday 41!



Brewday 39: Ace of Cascade

Brewed 05/01/2017

The second outing for the new Grainfather was another single hopped brew to help use up the surplus of hops crammed into my freezer!  Inspiration for the recipe actually came from Brewdog’s DIY Dog download although they’ve not used Cascade in their ‘Ace of’ series. Again I used the same stepped mash profile as the Brewers Gold III recipe in Brewday 38 but otherwise copied the temperatures and hop timings direct from DIY Dog.

The recipe for the Ace of Cascade:

  • 3.50kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 500g Crystal 20 Malt
  • 20g Cascade hops @ 60 minutes
  • 30g Cascade hops @ 15 minutes
  • 40g Cascade hops @ flameout
  • 160g Cascade hops @ 3day Dry Hop
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet Nottingham yeast

*cough* Even though I promised last time… I didn’t manage to take any brewday photos of this session! Sorry! *cough*

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!

I think I have the settings down in Beersmith now so here’s hoping for an issue free Brewday 40!

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!