YES !!! – Finally, after feck knows how long I have indeed brewed some beer. Flawless – NOPE, but beer nonetheless.
I was rather planning on making the Zoom Brew day this time – promised myself if my back was better (which it is was), I would hop on the brew day and join the “bants” and make a brew. Did I make it, no of course not but then what did anyone really expect. I did dial in to watch the lads brewing but I was (to coin a phrase) – “As rough as a badgers todger”; I rather stupidly started to sink a beer or so Friday night prior to the brew day and lost count of how many… so missed it.
Fear not, I collected my RO water and brewed my absolute current favourite beer – Harrisons Brewery’s – “Vacant Gesture”. I love this beer; it is just about perfect for me. It is a light session blonde ale at 3.8% – hoppy but not overly so, sweet initial taste with a dry (not bitter) bite at the finish which makes it very quaffable. I have wanted to make this beer for so long so I did.
Brew day went like clock work until the boil. Volumes spot on, pH perfect – the new upgrades to my BIAB system all worked really well; very fast to the temps and my PID controller having ran several Auto tune cycles appeared to be holding temps pretty close. As it was a BIAB my efficiencies are set at a realistic 65% (MASH) so my grain bill was scaled accordingly to hit 3.8% based on Harry’s original 500 Litre recipe and efficiencies. Long story short I needed about 4.5Kg of grain for this one. I had improved efficiencies on previous batches by stirring every 15 mins so I repeated this process as the grain was nearly 12 months old. I took the readings for SG (pre boil) and instead of 1.034 I seemingly hit 1.038 (temperature adjusted). OK – I thought, let’s just get the boil on and see where we go. Again, in previous batches on this kit I routinely gained about 7 points in gravity as the water boil off occurred. However, this time I was rocking 4.5Kw not 2.4Kw so was unsure of the impact. I left my controller temp control set to PID and once the boil hit I was to drop it lower until I reached a decent but not excessive rolling boil. It is possible to set the controller to manual and dial in the percentage but I figured as long as the boil was controlled all was good. It was clear that this extra power was going to hit the boil off rate (even with the adjusted power). Further more, the condensing boil off was more than I had experienced in the past and was returning to the pot back from the extractor. In addition, the extractor didn’t seem to be coping too well with the steam. As an immediate solution I placed the lid 3/4’s on the pot which help direct the steam up the extractor; it also was a handy place to catch the condensation from the extractor. This seemed to work quite well but of course the partial closer with the lid increased the pressure in the boil – again making it somewhat more vigorous and therefore boiling off more water so more steam !!! By the time I had thought to lower the the temp (having remembered the Protofloc tablet and yeast nutrient – not too mention the re-circulation as to sanitise the plate chiller etc.), the boil was over. It was clear that when cooling down for the whirlpool addition I had lost a fair bit of volume. When finished my OG was now a staggering 1.053, a full 16 points up on target but severely down on volume. My Mash efficiency was through the roof but Brew House efficiency through the floor. Decision time, back water or not to back water..?
If this brew ferments out to 1.007 I will have a 6% beer on tap – I think I am looking at a potential 14 Litres into the Keg, so a 4 or 5 Litre back water could see me back close to where I need to be. I chose to make this beer at the target 3.8% – I just need to decide. I will see what sort of volume I get into the keg (I will weigh the fermentation vessel prior to kegging and make sure I have some pre-boiled RO water ready). Other than that – I was really pleased with the brew day. My back was in sheer agony at the end but after a shower and a kip, I was ok in the morning – sort of and now back to normal (as normal is for me). As long as I remember the 2 dry hops (dates marked in calendar) – I should get a good beer out of this one. The wort tasted very good (for what that’s worth). The only other issue this beer will have is the colour. The target EBC on this beer is circa a score of 7, mine will be 13. This isn’t a problem for me, I know exactly where the issue came from too. In my haste to buy the grain and have a go at this recipe I believe I may have bought too heavy a crystal malt. This won’t affect anything much other than the colour – it’s no big thing and I can get it right next time – it’s only 100 grams after all.
So, we are back in business; the brewery continues to take shape and I will continue to brew moving forwards. I hope to populate my brewing calendar on my Resource Page soon, which should demonstrate what is being made and what is on the Taps. I do aim to condition all of my Grain to Glass beers over the coming weeks, possibly ignoring them through Christmas ready to tap and drink in the New Year – hopefully with friends. In the meantime I have also made a Kit Beer, Mangrove Jacks – Juicy IPA, which I did under Kveik Yeast; so far so good – when I introduce my Pressure Fermenter I can go from Kit to Glass in about a week. I just might do this for instant beers whilst the other is being conditioned. Time will tell.
Until next time.
Stew (aka Drunk Delilah Brewery)