Brewing A Golden Oatmeal Stout

INTRODUCTION

When you think about an Oatmeal Stout, you normally expect this in your glass:

But for something completely different, what about an Oatmeal Stout that looks like this:

Until a year or so ago, I had not heard about these new, niche beers, but they have become quite popular to make amongst the small craft brewers and I expect we will see more of them. The colour of a traditional oatmeal stout comes from the roasted malt, which also gives stouts their infamous roasted character in aroma and taste. As for gold coloured stouts, is it really a stout if the barley isn’t roasted?

Golden Stouts, as the name suggests, are beers that pour a golden colour and yet have all the traditional aromas and flavours associated with dark stouts, those trusty workhorses of the beer world that span the colour spectrum from ruby to brown to cola to pitch black. Typical stout flavours include chocolate and coffee with lesser contributions of caramel and nuttiness as well as hints of toffee and fruit. In regular stouts, be they Dry Stouts like Guinness, Imperial Stouts like Courage Imperial Russian Stout, or Oatmeal Stouts like Samuel Smith’s, the chocolate and coffee flavours are owed to the dark malts that are used. Heavily roasted malts impart all the coffee and chocolate we could ever want. Malts also impart colour to the beer. Thus, a style like stout whose characteristics are inextricably linked to these dark malts will, by definition, be dark in colour, right? Well, Golden Stouts would argue otherwise.

In this sense, it is useful to think of Golden Stouts as a thought experiment born into reality. Some intrepid brewers wanted to challenge themselves to see if they could create a beer that was golden yet tasted like the darker beers we’ve come to know and love. It’s a fairly simple brewing process, really. Brewers making a golden stout simply omit the darker malts in the grain bill. They can still include lighter malts that will offer flavours of toffee, caramel, and nuttiness. To replicate the chocolate and coffee flavours missing from the now-omitted dark malts, brewers add actual chocolate and coffee. Vanilla can be added as well for additional flavour. These actual adjunct additions will provide flavour and aroma without affecting the colour. Golden Stouts are a brewery sleight-of-hand, so to speak. They’re a great way to create some cognitive dissonance in yourself or others. Our brains are programmed to expect a certain range of flavours when we see golden beers and golden stouts mess with these neural pathways. You may very well have to drink a few before your brain comes around to it.

Since the concept of golden stouts seems to have gained some traction and won’t be consigned to the dustbin of history in the immediate future, I thought it high time I experienced this enigma and attempted to brew one.

ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS

Fermentables
The backbone of this recipe is Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt from Warminster Maltings, Britain’s oldest working maltings. Situated in the Wiltshire town of the same name, on the western tip of Salisbury Plain, the Pound Street maltings has been continuously making malt for the brewing industry since 1855. Not only that, in defiance of all the 20th century technology which completely overwhelmed the malting industry in the 1960’s, Warminster Malt is still made the traditional way, by hand, on floors, almost totally unchanged from the day the maltings was originally commissioned. Maris Otter barley was first introduced to British farmers, maltsters and brewers in 1965, and has endured for half a century.

Warminster Floor Maltings

A little Munich Malt is added to this recipe and is often used in Oatmeal Stouts. Munich malt is a well-modified lager malt which is kilned in such a way that modification continues during kilning and very high finishing temperatures are used to produce the characteristic colour and malty flavours. Munich has more pronounced rich toasty flavours and is ideal for dark ambers, milds, brown ale beer styles.

As the name of Oatmeal Stout suggests, oats are used in this recipe. Oats are wonderful in a porter or stout. Oatmeal lends a smooth, silky mouthfeel and creaminess to a stout that must be tasted to be understood. Oats are “flaked” by rolling them between two hot rollers, heating them sufficiently to gelatinize the starch during the process. They are also called “rolled” oats because of the rollers used in the process. There may be some difference in the quality, cut, and final size between what you see at the homebrew store and the grocery, but they are fundamentally the same product. In my case, I chose my local Lidl store for the rolled oats as they were a good price and of known quality.

Rolled Oats

Flaked barley is another ingredient you often find in oatmeal stouts. Flaked Barley is steam treated to soften them prior to passing through rollers. This process of part gelatinisation and flaking aids the mashing liquor to access the endosperm and negates the need to mill the product. Added in up to 10% of the total grist, Flaked Barley is used to add unfermentable saccharides in the brewing process. This increases the attenuation limit, while also adding high molecular weight protein for head retention, as well as greater body and turbidity. Flaked Barley gives a grainy bite to beers. I didn’t have any flaked barley in my inventory at present, and with deliveries currently so unreliable, I popped across to my local Holland & Barrett health food shop to get what I needed.

Flaked Barley

The last fermentable ingredient I am using is Panela Sugar. Panela, also known as picadillo or jaggery, is an unrefined, non-centrifugal, dark brown cane sugar pressed into blocks or cones. Once set, it can be pulverised to make it easier to dissolve. It contains higher levels of molasses and natural minerals than ordinary refined sugars. As well as increasing attenuation of the beer and lightening the body, this sugar imparts a rich caramel flavour.

Panela Sugar

Special flavouring ingredients
As already stated, a Golden Oatmeal Stout gets the roast coffee and chocolate flavours from using dark grain substitutes. The way I did it was to create separate coffee and chocolate tinctures using cheap vodka. These tinctures can be added after primary fermentation, individually measured out into bottles, or added at the bulk bottling/kegging stage (or added to the Bright Tank if you use one). To create a coffee tincture, soak crushed beans in vodka. They only need to be crushed, as you don’t want any fine grounds sneaking into bottles. You’ll want to leave the beans in the vodka for 7 – 14 days to ensure complete extraction. Next you’ll want to strain out the beans so you’re able to add the extract freely. The same process is used for the Cacao Nibs.

In my recipe I also used two vanilla beans to lend a nice smooth vanilla background flavour. Take the beans, cut the ends, split it down the middle and scrape them down a bit to rough up the insides. Scrape the “caviar” from them, and then cut them into rough 1 inch bits after that. Put it all in vodka, enough to cover them and seal it up in a glass jar for 14 days. Toss the whole lot into the beer through a strainer at the same time as the coffee and cacao.

Roast Cacao Nibs
Vanilla Beans, Shredded And Steeped In Vodka
Lidl’s Roast Coffee Beans

Yeast
The yeast used on this occasion is “Imperial A09 Pub”. Brewers swear by this strain to achieve super bright ales in a short amount of time. One of the most flocculent brewer’s strains around, Pub will rip through fermentation and then drop out of the beer quickly. Pub produces higher levels of esters than most domestic ale strains, making it an excellent choice for when balance between malt and yeast derived esters is necessary. Beers made with Pub need a sufficient diacetyl rest when main fermentation is finished.

Hops
An oatmeal stout is an English creation, so English hops work best when making this beer style. Examples include East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Northern Brewer, and Target. Aim for 25-40 IBUs. Hop flavour and aroma are usually minimal or non-existent, but if present they should not dominate the flavour of the final beer, so use restraint in the late hop additions. I am fortunate to still have some fine hops from my CAMRA colleague Bob Keaveny that were grown locally in his ‘hop garden’. So, in my recipe I have used Target as the bittering hop and Fuggles as a late addition aroma hop.

The recipe details now follow.

GOLDEN OATMEAL STOUT – RECIPE DETAILS
All grain recipe with no sparge. I used my Speidel 50L Braumeister to brew this beer, so the figures below relate to my particular set up and should be adjusted as necessary to your own equipment requirements.

Vitals:
Size: 32.5 Litres (post-boil hot)
Batch volume into fermenter: 27 Litres
Mash Efficiency: 81 %
Attenuation: 79.6%
Calories: 52.5 kcal per 100 ml
Original Gravity: 1.056 (style range: 1.045 – 1.065)
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (style range: 1.010 – 1.018)
Colour: 11 EBC (style range: 43.5 – 79, but this is for a ‘black’ version)
Alcohol: 7.4% ABV (style range: 4.2% – 5.95%)
Bitterness: 37 IBU (style range: 25 – 40)

Mash:
5.0 kg Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt (Warminster) 7 EBC (73.5%)
0.5 kg Munich Malt (Bairds) 9.9 EBC (7.4%)
0.5 kg Rolled Oats (Lidl) 3 EBC (7.4%)
0.5 kg Flaked Barley (Holland & Barrett) 140 EBC (7.4%)

Mash pH 5.6

Boil:
50 g Target Hops (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min (31 IBU)
25 g Fuggle Hops (4.0%) – added during boil, boiled 20 min (6 IBU)
0.5 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
0.3 g NBS Yeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 min
5 g Polyclar BrewBrite (finings)- added during boil, boiled 10 min

Post-boil:
300 g Panela Sugar 26 EBC (4.4%). Pre-dissolved in small amount of the boiling wort and stirred into beer in fermenter before pitching yeast.

Yeast:
1 packet of Imperial A09 Pub
(2 litre starter using 200 g dry malt extract, roughly 290 billion yeast cells)

Bottling/kegging stage tincture:
220 g of Roasted Cacao Nibs (Waitrose or Sainsbury’s cooking ingredients)
250 g of Coffee Beans (Lidl’s Italian roast was used)
2 Vanilla pods

All the above soaked separately in just enough vodka to cover for two weeks. In my case, about 1 Litre of cheap vodka was used (again from Lidl). Pour tinctures through strainer into bulk beer.

NOTES / PROCESS

  • Add 300mg potassium metabisulphite to 43 litres tap water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water profile dark and malty: Ca=110, Mg=11, Na=25, SO4=50, Cl=150. SO4/Cl ratio 0.3.
  • 4.0 L/kg mash thickness with no sparge.
  • Single infusion mash at 68C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 77C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Protafloc, etc., as per boil schedule. Lid on at boil-out, whirpool with large spoon or paddle and allow to settle. Start chilling immediately.
  • Whilst wort is boiling, draw off about 500 ml in a plastic jug and dissolve the 300 g of Panela sugar.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 19C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Stir previously dissolved Panela sugar mixture into fermenter.
  • Aerate well. I use pure oxygen from a tank at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 90 seconds.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 19-20C (wort temperature).
  • After the beer has fermented to near final gravity the beer is raised from fermenting temperature to a higher temperature roughly 1-2 degrees C above the original fermentation temperature and allowed to sit for two to four days for a diacetyl rest. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over 3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank or bottling/kegging vessel that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup.
  • Strain the tincture flavourings into the beer, as per the bottling/kegging stage described above.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to a cornie keg that has first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2.4 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. If bottling, use 151 g of table sugar in 25 Litres at 20 C. Leave at room temperature for two weeks, then store at cellar temperature for another week before serving.

COMMENTARY WITH PICTURES AND VIDEO

Here’s all the equipment set up ready for the brew. Notice the obligatory cup of tea! If you are wondering about the engine hoist, it’s there to lift the heavy malt tube out prior to boiling the wort.

Before the brewing day starts, I have to make sure that there is sufficient yeast for the fermentation. The best way to do this is with a yeast starter. A yeast starter is simply a fancy way of saying that you’re going to grow more yeast cells. A starter is simply a small unhopped beer, whose sole purpose is to allow the yeast to reproduce. You cultivate this yeast and then throw away the resulting ‘beer’, keeping only the yeast. This is usually done by making a small batch of lower gravity (1.036 – 1.040) wort in a flask by boiling dry malt extract (DME) and allowing it to ferment to completion. Lower gravity is best as it maximizes healthy yeast growth. The more yeast you need, the larger the starter you need. Here’s my 2 litre starter on the stir plate:

Starter at peak fermentation:

When the starter is finished, it needs to be put in the fridge for two or three days for the yeast to settle out. After settling, the unwanted ‘beer’ above the yeast is decanted off. Swirl a little of the wort from the fermenter into it, and tip the lot back into the fermenter (after wort has been oxygenated).

As well as preparing a starter, I have to prepare the tap water to make it suitable for brewing. My tap water alkalinity measured 233 (ppm as CaCO3) on the day of brewing and is far too high. There is no sparge water to treat as this is a non-sparge recipe. However, I do have to treat 43 litres of water for mashing. As the treated water needs to be chloride forward for the beer style, I am using 1M strength Hydrochloric Acid to lower the alkalinity. I used 134 ml of the acid and this gave me a very suitable alkalinity measurement of 33 (ppm as CaCO3). The tap water once treated is now called “liquor”.

Alkalinity Out Of The tap
Alkalinity After Acid Treatment

Here are the milled malt grains and flaked ingredients ready for the mash:

With the grist carefully poured inside the 50L Braumeister malt tube, I start the mashing process. Here’s a video of the wort rising up the malt tube and recirculating by running out of the top plate and down the side of the malt tube:

While waiting for the boil, I weigh the hops ready to add to the boiling wort:

Target & Fuggle Leaf Hops

After the mashing is over, the malt tube is removed and the wort is heated to boiling point.

When the boil is over, I pump the boiled wort into the fermenter via a counter-flow chiller to cool it down to yeast pitching temperature. Here’s a picture of a previous brew showing how it’s done:

This is what the beer looked like after two days in the fermenter. The A09 yeast is really chomping away at this one!

This is a photo of the beer when fermentation was finished. I’ve not yet crash cooled or added the tinctures, at this stage, but the colour is perfect and the taste – even without the coffee, chocolate and vanilla – is like a very smooth and full bodied amber ale. The hoppiness seems about right as well and is slightly understated as it should be for a oatmeal stout.

And finally, as this beer is a bit of an enigma – being both golden and a stout – I’ve decided that “Enigma” would be a perfect name for it. So here is the bottle label I will be using:

Another successful brewing day over and a welcome increase in my brewing knowledge.

CONCLUSION
Some beer drinkers love these new, niche beers, while some couldn’t be bothered. Still others, like yours truly, have yet to come down on one side of the fence or the other. Do they taste good? Indeed they do, and they’re a fun exercise in the creativity of modern brewing techniques. But will they ever supplant their darker brethren? I doubt it. In my experience, while delicious in their own right, golden stouts lack some of the depth of malt complexity that I yearn for in a stout (this makes sense, given that their malt bills are, by definition, simpler). You could even think of golden stouts as coffee blonde ale with chocolate and maybe some lactose-smoothness added. Luckily, I think golden stouts are here to stay. So the next time you feel like taking a walk on the wild side with a mind-bending beer, try a golden stout! Cheers!

CAMRA 2021 Winter Beer Festival 19 – 21 March

What do you do when you can’t get to live beer festivals? Here’s what CAMRA said when I checked out their web site:

JOIN THE GREAT BRITISH BEER FESTIVAL WINTER FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME!

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, we are unable to host the Great British Beer Festival Winter in Birmingham as planned. However, we still wanted to share with you some of the very best beer, cider and perry the UK has to offer. Join us for the Great British Beer Festival Winter at Home – an interactive, immersive and on-demand virtual festival that you can enjoy where you want, when you want. Included in the price of your ticket is a box of fantastic beers, ciders or perries and a login code for access to a vast array of online content including beer tastings, brewery tours, recipe ideas, industry Q&As, pub history talks and so much more.

This is the link: https://winter.gbbf.org.uk/

Well, anyway, I signed up. Cost me £30 delivered for a box of 6 dark beers and a ticket for the expert tasting session – called the “Highlights of Sheffield Beer Box and Tasting Session”. What with the other online sessions, and money off various festival food selections, it doesn’t seem bad value for money. No travelling expenses or B&B costs either!

Here are pictures of the beers I was sent:

And here are descriptions of the beers from each brewer’s website:

  • Ballast Porter 4.4%. Stonehouse Brewery, Weston, Shropshire. Smooth, velvety porter balanced with Guatemalan coffee and vanilla.
  • Victorian Ruby Mild 7.0%. Bottle conditioned. Ashover Brewery, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. A traditional strong mild brewed to a historic recipe. Brewed especially for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day to promote the efforts of female brewers.
  • Wildcat Scottish Style Deep Amber 5.1%. Cairngorm Brewery, Scotland. A smooth, deep amber coloured beer with a complex malt, fruit and hop flavour.
  • Maggs Mild 3.5%. West BerkshireBrewery, Yattenden, Berks. A traditional rich, dark mild with big hitting biscuit malt flavours, a light earth hop aroma and a velvety smooth finish.
  • Stout Coffin Dark Ale 4.6%. Church End Brewery, Nuneaton, Warks. Black, chewy and creamy. A first class example of what a stout should be.
  • Mild Concussion 5.5%. Fixed Wheel Brewery, Blackheath, W. Midlands. Our house mild brewed with a plethora of specialty and high dried malts, big toffee and caramel flavour’s on a light malt base, big fruity finish, a beer with layers of flavour yet light and easy drinking, just watch your head with the older style abv.

Some really great beers in the selection and all fine words no doubt, but the truth will be in the tasting. I’m really looking forward to joining the tasting session and other festival sessions over the weekend. Hopefully, ‘virtual’ beer festivals will be temporary and not the ‘new norm’. With a bit of good fortune, real, live beer festivals will return by late summer. Not mixing with other beer drinkers and getting ‘virtually’ imbibed on my own just isn’t the same thing!

Brewing A Green Hop Special Bitter

INTRODUCTION:
In the October CAMRA Bromley Branch e-Newsletter we told how Bob Keaveney’s hops were going to be used in their freshly picked ‘green’ state to make three “Green Hop” seasonal beers. As previously reported, the brewing recipes would be based on the winning entries in the Bromley CAMRA Branch “Green Hop Beer Competition”. The two members who won with their recipe ideas were Stephen Osborn and Murray Mackay. Bob was also given a ‘bye’ into the finalists round as he provided the hops!

Hops freshly picked

Stephen wanted a traditional bitter-style beer that predominantly featured one variety of the hops. Whereas, Murray went to the opposite end of the beer style spectrum and suggested a flavoursome mild using Fuggles. Along with Bob, they also had suggestions for the third recipe, which when combined with my brewer’s input, prompted the design of a strong pale ale. So the three beers brewed with the Cascade, Fuggles and Target green hops were:
• Green Hop Special Bitter
• Green Hop Cask Mild
• Green Hop English IPA.

Hops used for brewing are usually quickly dried out under controlled conditions and can keep for up to three or more years if stored correctly. Green hops, however, must be used as quickly as possible after picking, and at the most within 48 hours. Otherwise, the green hops quickly lose their unique fresh flavour and the moisture in the hops can give rise to mould. With speed in mind, the beers were made over three days commencing Monday 7 September.

Picking the hops

Bob came along to help out on the first brewing day and took some photos as well. Grateful thanks to Bob for recording the day as it is very difficult to stir the mash and take photos at the same time. Both Stephen and Murray assisted on the last brew day. Their toil, and the brewer’s, were greatly eased with plenty of beer from the brewery “tap room” as we worked. Brewing can be a long and lonely chore, so from my perspective as the brewer it was nice to have a captive audience to chat to. Besides which, with their hands on the brewery tools as “Assistant Brewer”, I had someone else to blame if it all went wrong!

This brewing write-up will cover the first of the three recipes – the Green Hop Special Bitter suggested by Stephen.

ABOUT HOPS IN GENERAL AND BITTER STYLE BEERS:
The modern hop has been developed from a wild plant as ancient as history itself. As far back as the first century AD they were described as a salad plant and are believed to originate from Egypt. The plant itself is actually in the Cannabaceae family, which also produces cannabis. So, when you look at the hop buds, they look very similar to miniature cannabis leaves and almost appear as if someone decided to make marijuana into rabbit food!

Today, the words beer and ale mean much the same, but the word ‘ale’ was originally reserved for brews produced from malt without hops. This was the original drink of the Anglo-Saxons and English, whereas ‘beer’, a brew using hops, probably originated in Germany. Hops were cultivated in the Low Countries (modern Belgium and Holland) from the 13th century.

The cultivation of hops was probably introduced from Flanders to England in the Maidstone area of Kent at the end of the 15th century. Our national drink until then had been ale, unhopped and sometimes flavoured with herbs such as wormwood. English brewers were the last of the Europeans to adopt hops and up until that transition to hops, “gruit” was the option for herbed and spiced beers.

Brewers started to import dried Flemish hops but these contained so much extraneous matter that an Act of Parliament was passed in 1603 imposing penalties on merchants and brewers found dealing in hops adulterated with “leaves, stalks, powder, sand, straw and with loggetts of wood dross”. In those early days, the sole reason for using hops was to preserve the beer in good condition: the bittering effect was thus reluctantly accepted by Englishmen. By the 17th century ale (i.e. un-hopped beer) was no longer popular and bitter-flavoured beer was the established drink.

Around the 1930s and through the second world war, English bitters rose to popularity in England as consumers opted for something other than the common dark-style ales available at the time. Post-WWII, bitter had established itself as a premium product that offered better quality and flavour. During the 20th century, bitter was the most popular type of beer sold on tap in UK pubs; some consider it “the national drink of England.”

English bitters and pale ales are generally a popular choice for people who like more flavour (compared to a light lager) and a slight bitterness from their beer (compared to an IPA), but who aren’t looking for something too extreme, overpowering, sweet, or heavy. The complexity and range of flavour for bitter beers can be broad. A style that has evolved over time, there are both lighter mild versions and stronger, more bold version of the English bitter. When brewed, it is made using top-fermenting ale yeasts. The bitterness from the hops should be less bitter than an India Pale Ale.

Today in the UK, Bitter is not a strictly governed style and beers bearing that appellation might be golden to red, drily bitter or honey-sweet, rich in hop perfume or rather austere. Depending on strength, they might be called “Ordinary,” “Best,” “Special,” or even “Extra Special Bitter (ESB).” It is easier, perhaps, to say what Bitter is not. Once the classy alternative to Mild, then the conservative alternative to trendy lager, it is now the preferred choice of the anti-hipster — it’s not American IPA, and definitely not fruit-infused barrel-aged Saison.

ABOUT THE RECIPE AND INGREDIENTS:
The recipe I am using is similar to one I have successfully used before when I brewed a clone of Jennings Cocker Hoop. However, it is modified to take on board the use of green hops and Stephen’s winning suggestions.

Let’s first talk about the hops. Green (wet) hops fresh from the bine contain about 80 percent water, so you need to use more than you would when using dry hops. In general, four to eight times as many wet hops are needed by weight as dry hops. Fresh hops may be used at any point during the brewing process. You can add fresh hops as a boil addition, whirlpool addition, dry hoping, or even in the mash. Fresh hop beers are known for their fresh green aromas. When you adapt a recipe for wet hop brewing, you can savour the difference. Due to their comparative low bitterness, they are best used at the end of the boil, or alternatively in the beer conditioning stage, mainly for aroma only, so normal dry bittering hops should be used at the start of the boil. In this recipe all the hops used are Cascade. The bittering comes from Bob’s Cascade hops that were dried from last year’s harvest, with the fresh green Cascade hops being added at or near the boil end for that beautiful green hop aroma.

Turning to the malts in the recipe, the malt bill is relatively simple consisting of Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Torrified Wheat, and a small amount of Black Malt.

The Pale Malt after the mash tun conversion process supplies the bulk of the fermenting sugars and gives both colour and a sweet biscuit flavour. Munich malt brings rich malty flavours and golden hues to light beers. It is an excellent base malt for Strong Bitter, Dark Amber Ales, Brown Ales and Milds. Munich Malt brings intense colour and malty notes, without compromising enzymic action. Despite its continental name, this malt provides a fantastic malty base for British Ales and Bitters. Torrified wheat is a pre-gelatinized unmalted brewer’s wheat that can be used as a cereal grain/adjunct in the mash, and can replace malted wheat if you desire. It increases body and head retention, as well as adding a very slight toasted flavour. Because it’s not malted, it needs to be mashed with the diastatic pale malt in order to convert the starches to sugars ready for fermentation. The black malt is used in very tiny quantities in this recipe, and is there merely to provide colour to the beer and to give it a slightly crisp edge.

The yeast process I used in this brew was slightly unusual for me. I re-used a slurry of Safale American US-05 yeast left over from a previous fermentation. A couple of days earlier I had brewed an American Double IPA (DIPA). After the DIPA had finished fermenting in it’s conical fermenter, and the beer had been transferred to the conditioning tank, what was left on the bottom was the finished yeast remains. Without cleaning out the fermenter, what I did with the wort of the Special Bitter, after boiling and cooling, was to pitch the new brew straight onto it. Within 3 hours it was going like the clappers. As the fermenting gases blew the through the airlock it sounded like a church organ! Here’s a picture of the slurry waiting to devour the sugars from the Special Bitter wort:

Slurry awaits a feast!

GREEN HOP SPECIAL BITTER RECIPE VITALS:
Size: 47.5 Litres (post-boil @ 20C), 42 Litres into fermenter
Mash Efficiency: 86 %
Attenuation: 80%
Calories: 43.5 kcal per 100 ml
Original Gravity: 1.047 (style range: 1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.009 (style range: 1.010 – 1.016)
Colour: 16.9 EBC (style range: 15.8 – 35.5)
Alcohol: 5.1% ABV (style range: 4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 45 IBU (style range: 30 – 50)

MASH:
6.5 kg Pale Malt (Minch) 5 EBC (84.4 %)
0.75 kg Munich Malt (Bairds) 9.9 EBC (9.7 %)
0.375 kg Torrified Wheat (Crisp) 4 EBC (9.4%)
0.075 kg Black Malt (Crisp) 1300 EBC (0.9%)

Mash pH 5.39

BOIL:
75 min boil
75 g Cascade leaf hops (7.0% alpha) – added during boil, boiled 75 min (20.4 IBU)
200 g Cascade green hops (2.0% alpha) – added during boil, boiled 10 min (8.1 IBU)
300 g Cascade green hops (2% alpha) – added during boil, boiled 5 mins (6.7 IBU)
1 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
0.5 g Yeast nutrient – added during boil, boiled 12 mins
7.5 g Polyclar BrewBrite – added during boil, boiled 10 min

POST BOIL:
500 g Cascade green hops (2% alpha) – added at end of boil (hopstand for about 10 mins) for aroma (1 IBU).

YEAST:
Yeast Slurry SO5 500 ml
(387 billion yeast cells)

NOTES/PROCESS:

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulphite to 62 litres water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water treated with brewing salts for a hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275).
  • 2.61 L/kg mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 66C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 76C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • Fly sparge with 40.84 L water with 5.6-5.8 pH (measured at mash temperature). Collect 56.5 litres.
  • Boil for 75 minutes, adding Protafloc, etc., per schedule. Add hopstand hops at boil end. Start chilling after 15 mins.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 20C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 20C (wort temperature).
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 19 litres of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to cornie kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this beer is best consumed fresh, so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 hour period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Some pictures of the brewing day follow.

The first picture (L to R) shows the boil kettle (BK), the Mash Tun (MT), and the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT). The big black box with knobs is the Control Panel, which controls the process stages and temperatures. The chiller, wort pump, and water pump can be seen below.

Brewing kit all set up

Close up on the Control Panel:

The “Brain”

Setting the mash tun temperature:

Head Brewer at work!

Scooping the grains into the mash tun:

Easy does it!

View inside the mash tun showing the recirculation above the grain bed:

Mashing underway

Once the mash is over we start running the wort into the Boil Kettle:

Run-off into boil kettle

Once the boil is underway we add the green hops:

Green is beautiful!

Stirring in:

Giving it a good stir

Video of the boil underway:

A vigorous boil

After the boil and draining into the fermenter via the chiller, this is the spent hops that are left:

Spent hops

This picture shows the pumps and hoses set up to run the boiled wort through the chiller into the fermenter:

Cooling before pitching the yeast

Finally, the fermenter stored in the cold room next to another fermenting beer so that it doesn’t feel lonely:

Fermenting away


Once the fermentation was finished the beer was packaged into bottles and kegs. Packaged was 1 x 19L & 1 x 12L cornie, 17 x 500ml glass bottles. Total 39.5 L. Specific Gravity at packaging was 1.009, pH was 4.29. After about three weeks the beer can be enjoyed in all its glory!

This shows the front and back bottle labels:

Bottle labels

Brewing the green hop beers has been an interesting and challenging experience. Not the least because you have to work with huge amounts of the green hops. Nonetheless it was very enjoyable and I look forward to repeating it next hop-picking season with new recipes. Thanks to Bob for supplying the hops and thanks to Stephen and Murray as the “Assistant Brewers” for their excellent suggestions and help on the brewing days.

Green Hop Brewing Competiton

(This is an historic post as the competition closed on the 7 September 2020)

INTRODUCTION

Those of you regularly reading the monthly Bromley CAMRA Branch newsletters would have been following the growth of Bob’s hops from planting through to flowering. They will be ready for harvesting in early September, so now is the time for me as the beneficial brewer to think about what beers to make with this magnificent crop. The three hop varieties to be used in the brewing are Fuggles, Target and Cascade.

In our very own local version of CAMRA’s “Brew2You”, we want to get our Branch members involved in how we are going to use these hops, so the hop farmer (Bob) and the brewer (me) thought it would be a good idea to run a competition for the branch members. So what we are inviting you to do is to give us your suggestions on what we should be brewing.

Fresh beer and green hops

The plan is to use the hops in their green state, fresh after picking, and not dry them out for later use, which is the normal procedure. Several factors make fresh hops beers uniquely challenging for brewers. Fresh hops are less concentrated, so it takes more of them to achieve the same flavour as a beer made with dried hops. Fresh hops also provide distinctively grassy, plant-like, and “green” flavour profiles without the extreme bitterness we associate with IPAs and other beers featuring copious dried hops. Additionally, fresh hops expire extremely quickly and need to be used roughly within 48 hours of harvest.

Just to get your brains thinking, let me tell you very briefly about typical beers made from the three hop varieties that Bob has grown.

Fuggles is a very traditional English hop and is used to make classic British ales and milds, giving the beer an earthy and grassy aroma, especially when used both for bittering and aroma. It is also used for porters, lambics and winter seasonals. Well known beers include Blacksheep Best Bitter, White Shield, Shepherd Neame IPA, Fullers IPA, Adnams Broadside, Theakston Old Peculiar and Young’s Special (some combined with other hop varieties).

Target is a more modern English hop with a floral flavour. With its high alpha acid content it is very suitable as a bittering hop, although some brewers also like the hop’s floral notes for dry hopping. Target can be used for almost all beer styles, although it is considered too harsh for light lagers. It is particularly popular as a bittering hop for stouts and porters. Used with discretion in combination with fine aroma hops, however, excellent Bitters and Pale Ales can be produced. Beers made with this include Dark Star Imperial Stout, Fuller’s Imperial IPA, Fullers ESB, Murphys Irish Stout, as well as being often used in Saisons.

Cascade is considered by many the quintessential American Hop and with good reason. It has become an essential hop addition in many American Pale Ales and most West Coast IPAs. Today there are also New Zealand, Argentinian, and Australian varieties of Cascade – as well as found in Bob’s UK garden! A hop with unique floral, spice, and citrus qualities, with the citrus elements often running toward a strong grapefruit character. Here are a few examples of beers with Cascade hops: Anchor Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dark Star Hop Head, Founders Pale Ale, Kelham Island’s Pale Rider and Adnam’s Ghost Ship.

So get your beer thinking hats on and tell us in one or two short paragraphs what you would like to see brewed. We will probably have enough hops to brew three distinct brews. The brews you suggest can use one, two, or even three of the hop types for really imaginative ideas. All three winners will be given two bottles from the three brewing batches – six in all.

Further more, if you want to, the winners will also be able to come along to one of the brewing sessions and watch the beers being made.

The brewery

Due to the need to use the hops in their freshly picked state, the opening and closing dates for your suggestions will be very tight. The Branch newsletter will be delivered to your email boxes on the 1st of September. The hops will start to be picked, weather permitting, on the 5th of September.

The closing dates for your recommendations will be Monday 7th September and the brewing will start the day after.

Send your submissions to: Beohha’s Brewhouse

Brewing Jennings Cocker Hoop

INTRODUCTION:
A golden pale ale with a creamy white head and malty flavours. You can almost taste the Lake District in this – it’s so fresh and crisp with a slight citrus aftertaste. It’s not too fizzy and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth but a frown on the face when it is finished!

The original Jennings Cocker Hoop is an award winning golden bitter which won gold in the World’s best beer Awards (European) 2013 and a silver medal at the International Beer Challenge 2014. It has also won the best bitter bronze award at a past CAMRA GBBF.

It’s a bitter beer of great character, appealing to those drinkers who really appreciate their beer and are looking for a traditional English Bitter with a more modern flavour twist.

Cocker Hoop Pump Clip

First launched in 1995 as ‘September Ale’, Jennings Cocker Hoop became hugely popular, particularly with Lake District tourists in summer. The name is derived from ‘Cock-a-Hoop’, an old custom of removing the cock (or spigot) from a barrel and resting it on the hoop of the cask before commencing a drinking bout, but was changed to reflect the brewery’s location on the banks of the River Cocker. The original has an ABV of 4.6%, but mine is a little stronger at 5.6% just to make the brewing of it worthwhile!

The weekend that I brewed the beer had very fine summer weather. It meant that it was a very enjoyable brewing day and I didn’t need to erect my brew-gazebo. Getting the 12 foot by 8 foot gazebo up can sometimes be a PITA, so it was very nice just to pull the brew-bench out and do it all in the open in the patio garden. Once again, I used my 50 litre Braumeister one-pot brewing system, which meant setting up, brewing, cleaning, and taking down was much easier. To provide the hot water for the sparging I used my converted 10 litre Baby Burco tea urn as a Hot Liquor Tank or HLT. Pic of equipment set up and ready to go:

Braumeister and HLT

ABOUT THE RECIPE AND INGREDIENTS:
The recipe I am using is one derived from Graham Wheeler in his book “Brew Your Own British Real Ale” 3rd edition 2009. Graham unfortunately passed away in November 2017, but he wrote many great home brewing books that are still readily available. His recipes of well-known commercial beers were based on considerable research. Although simplified for home brewing, they always produce excellent results.

Let’s first talk about the hops. Graham’s recipe and the original Jennings one, calls for the use of Styrian Golding hops and Challenger hops. Styrian Golding, or Savinjski Golding as it is commonly known, goes by a multitude of sometimes confusing aliases. Confusing still is the fact it actually doesn’t come from the Golding variety at all, but is rather the result of the clonal selection of Fuggle, and as such exhibits many Fuggle-like characteristics. It was considered a major crop in the 1930’s in both Styria, a state in Austria, and across the Savinja river in Slovenia (former Yugoslavia). Its staying power has been attributed to its disease resistance, specifically, its resistance to mildew. It is now a world-renowned hop and in high demand. From a brewer’s perspective, Styrian Golding is a lovely aroma hop and exhibits resinous, earthy flavours that are perhaps considered slightly more refined than Fuggle. It has also been described as imparting subtle aromas of white pepper to a brew.

As regards the second specified hop, Challenger, this was released to the public in 1972 after development by Wye College in Kent. Challenger hops were derived from varieties Northern Brewer and German Zattler. It accounted for a significant percentage of the hops grown in the UK during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but not so much now. Challenger features decent bitterness and a floral aroma and as such are considered fine for bittering or for dry hopping. Its flavour is smooth with balanced floral characteristics, some citrus and a dash of spice.

Having spoken about the wonders of the hops I was supposed to use, I have to say I had neither in my inventory! But what I do have is a large stock of Fuggle hops grown locally by a CAMRA friend in his garden, and as they gave rise to the origins of Styrian, they are a perfect substitute.

By way of history, the Fuggle hop originates in England and was first discovered in 1861 in a hop yard owned by George Stace in Kent. Some 14 years later it was officially named and introduced by Richard Fuggle of Benchley in 1875. Similar to a Styrian Golding, is noted for its distinct European aroma and has enjoyed a long, versatile run. At its peak nearly 100 years ago Fuggle was known as a dual-use hop. Today however, as other higher alpha acid varieties have become more prevalent, it’s now more prominently used for its aroma.

Now turning to what I could use instead of Challenger, again my hop friend came to the rescue as I also had a good quantity of Cascade hops from his miniature hop farm. Historically, it was pioneered in the 1950’s by Oregon State University, and was originally developed through open pollination of English variety Fuggle and the Russian variety Serebrianka. It is named after the Cascade mountain range that runs from northern California all the way north to British Columbia, Canada. The hops have since gone on to become one of the most popular American hops of all time. Cascade now represents around 10% of all hops grown in the United States. Released in 1972, it is grown extensively in the New World, as well as to a lesser extent in the UK. When used, it exudes a distinct spicy citrus aroma with hints of grapefruit. It thus has similar characteristics to Challenger in that respect.

Turning to the malts in the recipe, the malt bill is relatively simple consisting of Pale Malt, Torrified Wheat, and a small amount of Black Malt.

The Pale Malt I am using is Minch Hook Head Pale Malt. Minch produces malt from 100% Irish origin 2-row spring barley, exclusively grown in the Ring of Hook Peninsula, Co Wexford. This malt is malted in the Minch Boby Malting plant to achieve a deeper colour and sweet biscuit flavour, and is particularly suited to small-batch craft brewing.

Torrified Wheat has been heat treated (kind of “popped”) to break the cellular structure, allowing for rapid hydration and allows malt enzymes to more completely attack the starches and protein. Torrified Wheat can be used in place of raw wheat in Belgian style Wit-Beers, also very good for adding body and head, especially to English ales. Since it has not been malted, you can’t sub it for malted wheat. Because it’s not malted, it needs to be mashed with diastatic pale malt in order to convert the starches to sugars ready for fermentation.

The black malt is used in very tiny quantities in this recipe, and is there merely to provide colour to the beer. Used in small amounts, a likely very yellow beer can be turned into light amber without affecting the desired malt flavour outcome.

One of the extra fermentables I am using this time in #1 Brewer’s Invert Sugar. Invert Sugar is a brewing adjunct (unmalted source of fermentable extract). It is manufactured by converting sucrose (derived from cane or beet sugar) with either acids or enzymes to produce a mixture of glucose and fructose. It is called invert sugar because the sugar solution before the conversion (called inversion or hydrolysis) rotates the plane of polarized light in one direction and following inversion rotates the solution in the opposite direction. Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides and are rapidly used by brewer’s yeast strains. Liquid invert sugar can be stored at higher solids content than liquid sucrose or sugar, making it easier for brewers to handle. In the UK, where it is widely used, it is usually delivered either as a syrup or in brick-like loaves. Invert sugar can be supplied at different colour levels for use in different beers. For example, “black invert,” with a colour of 500 European Brewery Convention units (EBCs), can be used for brewing stouts. Brewer’s invert sugars can lend beers unique caramel flavours that are particular to many British bitters and other ales. They are delicious to nibble and not surprisingly, you end up picking off little bits to eat before you put the sugar in the boil!

COCKER HOOP RECIPE VITALS:
Size: 32.5 Litres (post-boil @ 20C)
Mash Efficiency: 90 %
Attenuation: 83%
Calories: 48.3 kcal per 100 ml
Original Gravity: 1.054 (style range: 1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (style range: 1.010 – 1.016)
Colour: 18 EBC (style range: 15.8 – 35.5)
Alcohol: 5.6% ABV (style range: 4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 40 IBU (style range: 30 – 50)

MASH:
5 kg Pale Malt (Minch) 5 EBC (85.5%)
0.55 kg Torrified Wheat (Crisp) 4 EBC (9.4%)
0.05 kg Black Malt (Crisp) 1300 EBC (0.9%)

Mash pH 5.46

BOIL:
90 min boil
60 g Cascade leaf hops (7.0% alpha) – added during boil, boiled 70 min (36 IBU)
250 g Ragus Brewer’s Sugar #1 – added during boil, boiled 20 mins (4.3% of total fermentables)
1 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
0.27 g Yeast nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 mins
20 g Fuggle leaf Hops (4%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min (11 IBU)

POST BOIL:
15 g Fuggle leaf Hops (4%) – added immediately after boil for aroma, stirred in and left for 10 mins (1 IBU).

YEAST:
2 packets of Fermentis US-05 dry yeast, rehydrated
(299 billion yeast cells)

NOTES/PROCESS:

  • Add 200mg potassium metabisulphite to 45 litres water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water treated with brewing salts for a hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275).
  • 5 L/kg mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 66C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 76C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • Fly sparge 5.8 L water with 5.6-5.8 pH (measured at mash temperature). Collect 39.79 litres.
  • Boil for 90 minutes, adding Protafloc, invert sugar, and hops per schedule. Add hopstand hops at boil end. Start chilling after 15 mins.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 20C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. I use pure oxygen from a tank at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 90 seconds per 19 litres.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 20C (wort temperature).
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 19 litres of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to cornie kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this beer is best consumed fresh, so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 hour period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Some pictures of the brewing day follow.

Samples of the grains before milling and the bulk after:

Left: Pale malt; Centre: Black malt; Right: Torrified barley
Milled grains ready for mashing

The mash process underway in the Braumeister:

Mashing the grains in the malt tube

The hops ready weighed for the boil:

Fuggles & Cascade hops

Vigorous boil underway:

Boiling away

This is what a lump of the invert sugar looks like:

No. 1 Invert sugar

Half-way through, I stopped for lunch with a wheat beer and freshly baked homemade focaccia bread filled with Italian cheese. My dog was eager to get a bite!

Giv’us a bit!

After the boil, the wort is cooled down to 20C for the fermenter:

Hitting the right temperature for cooling

The hops left in the Braumeister after the boil:

Draing the last bit of wort off the hops

Transfer into the fermenter via the counter flow chiller:

Wort transfer

Here’s a view of the yeast working away in the fermenter after three days:

Yeast munching away at sugars

After crash cooling and clearing, this is what the beer looked like before packaging. The colour was just about perfect:

Here comes the sun!

When the beer was finally packaged I had 1 x 18L cornie and 12 x 500ml bottles. Total 24L. This shows the front and back bottle labels:

Front & back labels


Whether the original meaning of ‘cock-a-hoop’ was ‘turn on the taps, let the liquor flow and cast off all restraint’ or ‘stand on the barrel and crow with exaltation’ (or something else entirely) we aren’t ever likely to now know. Suffice it to say, if you come up with and publish a theory of your own, someone will believe it. Meanwhile, all I can say is that my clone turned out really delicious. Drinking it takes me right back to my long hikes in the Lake District and the glorious pints I have had with good friends there.

A Special Day

Today is our wedding anniversary, the 50th or Golden, and my wife and I started the day in style with smoked salmon and champagne.

Tonight we are dining with our family to celebrate.

Just to amuse you, here is a picture of Jan and I at our wedding all those years ago outside Poplar Town Hall in London’s East End. My wife is as gorgeous today as she was then. As for my thick black hair, I still have a little, but not where I can show you!


Thanks to everyone who has wished us well and sent us presents.

Now for the next 50 years!

And here’s a picture taken today of us enjoying ourselves.

Can’t quite work out why my wife looks 20 years younger than me!

Brewing an English IPA

INTRODUCTION:
The very first IPAs started off in England as strong Pale Ales characterized by an increased helping of English hops coupled with higher alcohol. English yeast lends a fruity character to the flavour and aroma, offering a contrast to the earthy and floral English hops. Different from its American counterparts, the English style strikes a balance between malt and hops for a more rounded flavour. It is vastly different from many of the modern American IPAs that we know, and perhaps, enjoy today.

There is an age-old incorrect story that the English IPA style was invented in the late eighteenth century by English brewers who discovered that increased hopping rates helped their beer survive the long sea voyage to India. While it’s true that hops have a natural preservative quality, it isn’t true that the style was specifically created for shipment to India. What was being sent was simply a Pale Ale beer that was already being brewed in England at the time. The dryer style proved to be popular due to the hot Indian climate and eventually (more than 50 years later) in England the beer started to be advertised as “Pale Ale as prepared for India”, which eventually morphed into the “India Pale Ale” name we know today. For details about IPAs and more, read the first few chapters of the book IPA: Brewing techniques, recipes, and the evolution of India Pale Ale by Mitch Steele (former brew master at Stone Brewing). This is a must-have book for any IPA lover.

ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS:
English base malts add biscuit flavours, instead of the more flavour-neutral Domestic 2-Row malts preferred by American brewers that want the hops up front and centre. English IPAs tend to be more on the balanced side with a distinct, often bready, malt character to compliment the hops. While English IPAs are still hoppy up front, they often have a caramel malt body with a smooth, dry finish.

The Heritage Crystal Malt is a classic kilning taken from the original Baird’s Greenwich roasting house in London. This classic slow matured malt produces sweet caramel and toffee flavours from traditional methods used in the 30s and 40s. Amber Malt gives a dry, biscuity flavour to ales and provides a red hue. The Pale Wheat Malt main characteristics are to provide head retention and lacing. The Black Malt is there to provide just an additional level of colouring to the beer. Lastly, you will notice I have used a small amount of Pilsner malt – this was only to use up the last bit of that malt before it went off. It could be replaced by the equivalent weight of pale malt.

English yeasts tend to throw more esters and flavours than the classic American counterparts. This line has certainly blurred over the years with the introduction of new (American) IPA sub-styles such as New England IPAs, which often call for the use of fruity English yeasts. I enjoy the crisp mineral qualities that Wyeast 1028 London Ale adds when coupled with higher sulphate water adjustments. The result is dry and thirst quenching.

English hops such as Target, Fuggle, and East Kent Goldings add subtle earthy, spicy, peppery, and floral flavours. They are much more delicate when compared to the bold pine, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, and citrus flavours that American and other New World hops bring to the table.

ENGLISH IPA RECIPE:
Size: 48 Litres (post-boil @ 20C)
Mash Efficiency: 92.9 %
Attenuation: 95%
Calories: 284 kcal per 500 ml
Original Gravity: 1.061 (style range: 1.050 – 1.075)
Terminal Gravity: 1.005 (style range: 1.010 – 1.018)
Colour: 25 EBC (style range: 11.8 – 29.6)
Alcohol: 7.4% ABV (style range: 5% – 7.5%)
Bitterness: 56 IBU (style range: 40 – 60)

MASH:
5.1 kg Extra Pale Propino Pale Malt (Muntons) 3 EBC
2.7 kg Pale Ale Malt (Minch) 5 EBC
0.625 kg Pilsner/Lager Malt (Minch) 3 EBC
0.60 kg Heritage 1823 Crystal Malt (Bairds) 140 EBC
0.35 kg Amber Malt (Crisp) 50 EBC
0.35 kg Pale Wheat Malt (Crisp) 3.5 EBC
0.09 kg Black Malt (Crisp) 1300 EBC

Mash pH 5.46

BOIL:
100 g Bob K Target Hops (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min (39 IBU)
1 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
120 g Bob K Fuggle Hops (4%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min (11 IBU)

POST-BOIL:
120 g UK East Kent Goldings Hops (5.9%) – added immediately after boil (6 IBU)

YEAST:
2 packets of Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast
(2 litre starter using 200 g dry malt extract, roughly 500 billion yeast cells)

DRY HOP:
120 g UK East Kent Goldings Hops (5.9%) – added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3-5 days

NOTES / PROCESS

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulphite to 75 litres water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water treated with brewing salts for a hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher’s ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less Sulphate).
  • 2.6 L/kg mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 65C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 76C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • 90 min fly sparge with 5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature). Collect 53 litres.
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Protafloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at boil-out, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 19C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. I use pure oxygen from a tank at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 120 seconds per 19 litres.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 18-20C (wort temperature).
  • Add dry hops once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from terminal gravity) and raise the temperature to 21-22C. Steep hops for 3-5 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over 3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 19 litres of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. Gelatine may “round off” some hop flavour and aroma, so I tend to skip this step with hop forward beers like this.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to cornie kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this IPA is best consumed fresh, so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 hour period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY:
Right, now for some pictures of the brewing process. Before the brewing day starts, I have to make sure that there is sufficient yeast for the fermentation. The best way to do this is with a yeast starter. A yeast starter is simply a fancy way of saying that you’re going to grow more yeast cells. A starter is simply a small unhopped beer, whose sole purpose is to allow the yeast to reproduce. You cultivate this yeast and then throw away the resulting ‘beer’, keeping only the yeast. This is usually done by making a small batch of lower gravity (1.036 – 1.040) wort in a flask by boiling dry malt extract (DME) and allowing it to ferment to completion. Lower gravity is best as it maximizes healthy yeast growth. The more yeast you need, the larger the starter you need. Here is a picture of two packs of the liquid yeast made to a 2 litre starter:

I put the starter flask onto a stir plate and run it for 24-48 hours at high speed. You want a nice vortex to make sure the yeast gets plenty of oxygen, as in this video:

Here we’re grinding the grains for the mash:

With grains inside the Speidel 50L Braumeister malt tube, I start the mashing process. Here’s a video of the wort rising up the malt tube and recirculating by running out of the top plate and down the side of the malt tube:

After the mashing is over, the malt tube is removed and the wort is heated to boiling point. When the wort is a little way from boiling the hot break forms. This ‘foop’ is skimmed off with a large sieving spoon:

While waiting for the boil to start I get all the hops ready:

When the boil is over, I pump the boiled wort into the fermenter via a counter-flow chiller to cool it down to yeast pitching temperature:

The temperature I need is 18C:

After draining, this shows all the spent hops left in the boiler:

Great for the compost heap!

Here’s some shots of the conical fermenter before being filled and in its resting place under the stairs. Once under the stairs and out of the way, I connect the heating and cooling pipework up. The aim is to keep it at around 19C for about 10 days. After the first 5 days I add the dry hops to give the beer a typical English hop aroma.

This is what the beer looks like in the fermenter. Just the right colour and nice and clear ready for the yeast to eat the luscious sugars:

Once the beer has finished fermenting it will be crash-cooled to 6C and packaged into two 19L kegs. There will also be about 12 pint bottles.

And finally, the back and front labels I will be using:

Lock-down delights

Believe it or not, one can take some pleasure from the current COVID-19 crisis. In my case, it has given me the opportunity to set up and use a hand pump that I refurbished. A neighbour gave it to me courtesy of a pub clear-out and a skip. The hand pump cast iron base was badly rusted and the pump cylinder was full of old, caked beer. Here’s some pictures of before and after of the hand pump.




And how it looks now after being cleaned, re-varnished and repainted.

I’m going to use it to serve my English IPA that has just finished conditioning. Here is where the hand pump is going to sit in my cellar bar.

The hand pump now in place ready for connection to the cornie keg.

A ‘cornie’ is the abbreviated name for a Cornelius keg. This is a 19 litre stainless steel canister originally used as containers by the soft drink industry. They can be pressurised and used to store and dispense homemade sodas and home brewed beer. They act like a rather giant bottle and beer can stay fresh in them for up to two years. Here’s a picture of two of mine in my cellar bar.

I bought this demand valve to use with the hand pump.

The unit is used in the beer line just before the beer engine to stop the beer flowing forward through the beer engine when there is no demand (pump not being pulled).

Demand valve screwed into position under the shelf.

A view from the back of the shelf showing me at work setting up the pipework.

Connections made and showing the 3-position valve I am using.

The beer line runs through a 3-way valve then to the demand-valve. One side of the valve runs to the cornie keg, the other side to a bit of pipe that I will use to pull water through to clean the beer out from the valve and pump after a session.

And here we are – the first pint through the engine. Delicious!

A view of the pump clip label and a picture also of the rear label I used on the few bottles I packaged.

Whilst I was working in the bar, I also thought it was time to put the Baltic Porter on tap in the kegerator as well. Pictures of the beer and labels.


While I have my own beer on tap the Coronavirus lock-ins doesn’t seem too bad. In the words of my brewery motto “Vires Cervisiam” (Strength through beer).

Brewing a Belgian white beer (or Witbier)

In spite of the really foul wet and windy weather, I decided to brave the elements and brew a beer over the leap year weekend – after all, I did have an ‘extra’ day in the year to do it!

English Ales are all very well, but once in a while it’s nice to brew something different, so I decided to brew a Belgian Witbier. To make the brewery day slightly easier I used my Braumeister 50L (BM) one-pot brewing system – less equipment to wash up at the end of the day!

INTRODUCTION TO WITBIER & ITS ORIGINS
Belgian white beer (or Witbier) has a unique cloudy-white appearance with very little bitterness, some spiciness, and a slightly sour/tart finish. There is a very light sweetness with soft, creamy feel that is not cloying or heavy. None of the flavours or aromas stand out, making for a light refreshing beer with a moderate alcohol level usually hovering around the 5% ABV mark. Wit beers are usually quite cloudy from starch haze, with a very light straw to light golden colour. It’s a refreshing beer for hot summer days (or even horrible winter ones!)

Arguably the most popular commercial version of this beer is Hoegaarden, named after the village near Tienen in Flanders, which was the modern birthplace of witbier. Records of brewing in the village date back to 1445, when the local monks were enthusiastic brewers, but the tradition died out in the 1950s as consumer tastes moved towards different styles.

Ten years later, Pierre Celis, a milkman who had grown up next to the brewery and sometimes helped with brewing, decided to try to revive the style. He started a new brewery, called de Sluis, in his hay loft. He used the traditional ingredients of water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander seed, and dried bitter (Curaçao) orange peel. In the 1980s, with demand for the product continuing to grow, Celis bought a former lemonade factory, to expand his brewing operations.

Things changed after a fire in 1985. As is traditional in Belgium, several brewers offered their help to keep the business going and Interbrew (now InBev) lent money for the purchase of other buildings to rebuild the brewery. Over time, Celis felt very strongly that the company used the loan to pressure him to change the recipe to make the beer more “mass market”. So Celis decided to sell them the brewery and moved to the United States where he set up the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, to continue making witbier to what he described as the ‘original’ Hoegaarden recipe. It was later acquired by Miller Brewing who eventually closed the brewery and sold the equipment and brand names.

THE INGREDIENTS
Most Witbier recipes will call for crushed coriander seed along with the zest of fresh (or dried) oranges. I find that much of the spicy flavour behind a Belgian Wit already comes from the yeast (White Labs WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale or Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier) so I will often completely leave out the coriander and orange peel. Try it either way and see which you prefer. You can also use sweet dried orange peel, which is what I have used in this brew. Some witbier recipes will also call for chamomile flowers as a reportedly “secret” ingredient that Celis used in the original Hoegaarden recipe. He debunked this in later interviews, indicating that coriander and bitter orange peel was all that he ever used.

As well as the more usual Pilsner malted barley malt found in this beer, I used flaked oats and flaked wheat (both unmalted). I did a short cereal mash at 50C to help the flaked grains along. A cereal mash step is used with unmalted or low enzyme grains such as rice, corn or oats to gelatinise the sugars before continuing with a traditional mash. To avoid a possible stuck mash with all the flaked grains, I used some rice hulls to help break-up the grain bed and allow the mash liquor to properly circulate during the mashing process. Flaked wheat and oats do not have a husk, so the natural filter bed in the Mash/Lauter Tun is greatly reduced. Brewers with systems that are prone to stuck sparges should add rice hulls at a rate of about 20:1 wheat to rice hull ratio to avoid stuck sparges.

THE BREWING
A pretty standard BM brew really, but I used a new Bacbrewing top extender filter with a cross tension piece of my own making. The Bacbrewing plates are supposed to be used with the supplied wing nut on its own, but I found that this did not clamp the plate tight enough to prevent grain seepage out of the malt tube. So I used my cross piece with the wing nut. This worked perfectly.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 55.77 L
Post Boil Volume: 50.52 L
Batch Size (fermenter): 45.00 L
Bottling Volume: 43.00 L
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Colour: 6.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 15.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.4 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Water and treatment
75.0 L Thames Water tap water
18.5 L RO Water (from the Kingfisher’s Aquarium in Beckenham and used to dilute the tap water mineralisation)
500.0 mg Potassium metabisulphite (adding to the bulk water to remove chlorine and chloramines)
13.0 ml Lactic Acid 80% (used in sparge water only)
80.0 ml Hydrochloric acid 1M (used in mash liquor)
13.0 ml Sulphuric acid 2M (used in mash liquor)

Ingredients:
0.6 kg Rice Hulls (0.EBC) 5.0%
5.0 kg Wheat, Flaked, Unmalted (4.EBC) 41.3%
5.5 kg Pilsner (Weyermann) (3.3 EBC) 20.7%
0.5 kg Oats, Flaked (Instant/Ready Oats) (3.EBC) 4.1%
0.5 kg Brewing Sugar (Dextrose) (0.EBC) 4.1%
100.0 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker hop pellets 3% Alpha (Boil 60 mins) 15.7 IBUs

100.0 g Dried Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.mins)
30.0 g Crushed Coriander Seed (Boil 5.mins)
0.5 Items Protafloc Tablet (Boil 15.mins)
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient WLN100 (Boil 10 mins)

4 packets Belgian Wit Ale yeast (White Labs #WLP400)

Mash Schedule:
Total Grain Weight: 12.1 kg
Mash In: Add 52.87 L of water 50C 15 min
Mash Step: Heat to 68C for 90 min
Mash Out: Heat to 76C for 10 min
Sparge: Fly sparge with 15.00 L water at 76.C

Brewing Notes:
Water treated with brewing salts to: Ca=50, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=70, S04=7
(Hit minimums on Ca and Mg, keep the Cl:SO4 ratio low and equal).

Mash liquor pH no grain after acids was 2.98. Sparge pH was 5.3.
Mash pH at 68C was 5.68, then 5.47 after 4mins.
pH in boil kettle was 5.47. Post boil volume in kettle was 54L.
48L into fermenter at pH 5.3.

Cool wort to 20C and aerate well. Wort was aerated with pure oxygen using a wand for 60 secs at 1L pm flow.

Start fermentation at 20C and raise to 23C for the last third of fermentation.

Now for some pictures of the brewing underway

Summary of water additions using the Bru’n Water app:

A video of my grain mill in action:
Pilsner milling

The flaked oats and flaked wheat:

“Mosaic” shot of the grains before going into malt tube:

Unfortunately, at my age, a few aids are needed to help get the grains in the malt tube!:

Malt tube top filter in place:

And a video of the top plate performance showing the mash recirculation just starting to rise:
BAC top filter with my spreader

Mash pH:

Hops, ground coriander and sweet orange peel ready for the boil:

Final appearance of beer as it went into fermenter. Looks just the right colour and cloudiness:

Package as you would normally. I rack to 19 L Cornelius kegs that have first been purged with CO2. I chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a keg conditioning fridge. After about 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. If you are in a hurry to drink it, this beer is best served fresh, so raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Carbonate this beer to higher than normal levels, around 2.5 to 3.0 volumes of CO2.

Brewing a London Porter

I love my dark beers, and if I’m honest, prefer them to many of the cloudy, hop milkshake, American type IPAs that you seem to get everywhere today. So here is how I brewed an old fashioned style London Porter derived from a Fuller’s 1880 recipe. The recipe I have used is based on one from Graham Wheeler’s book called “Brew Your Own British Real Ale”, 3rd Edition, and was published by CAMRA in 2009. As well as using traditional English hops, this will be an all-grain brew using kilned malts only. No additional sugars or adjuncts are used. The brewing method is as pure to traditional English brewing as you can get in a home brew setup!

The origin of how ‘Porter’ got its name is an unsolved mystery subject to much speculation. The usual explanation is that it was named after the London street porters of the 18th and 19h centuries. This has never really been proven. Originally, when this beer was made it was stored for some time to mature. Graham Wheeler suggests that the name may come from the Latin “potare”, which was probably chalked on the wooden casks when the beer had matured enough and was fit to drink in the sense of being potable.

A word on the ingredients
The Fuggle hop originates in England and was first discovered in 1861 in a hop yard owned by George Stace in Kent. Some 14 years later it was officially named and introduced by Richard Fuggle of Benchley in 1875. Similar to a Styrian Golding, it is noted for its distinct European aroma and has enjoyed a long, versatile run. At its peak nearly 100 years ago Fuggle was known as a dual-use hop, used both for bittering and aroma. Today however, as other higher alpha acid varieties have become more prevalent, it’s now more prominently used for its aroma. In this recipe it is used for both.

Maris Otter Ale Malt is a traditional, two-row, low-protein, winter barley variety with deep roots in English brewing. It is today considered the keystone malt for authentic British ale flavors. It was first bred in 1966 by Dr G. D. H. Bell, the director of the British Plant Breeding Institute (PBI), which was then located on Maris Lane, in Trumpington, England. Maris Otter is considered a very “malty-tasting” pale base malt, which has made it a favourite among traditional cask ale brewers for decades. Using Maris Otter, brewers are able to create beers of relatively low gravity and alcoholic strength, such as “ordinary” bitters, while retaining a genuinely malty flavour profile. After its introduction, Maris Otter quickly became popular with brewers because of its low nitrogen content, excellent malting homogeneity, and good enzymatic strength, which makes it easy to malt and mash.

Traditionally Brown Malt was produced on a special kiln which was heated by wooden poles and faggots. Hornbeam faggots were the most commonly used, cut to 5 foot lengths, and burnt to give the malt a harsh, smoky and biscuity flavour. Because of the lack of availability of these specially prepared brushwood faggots, all Brown Malt produced in the UK is now made in the roasting drum. It is sometimes referred to as ‘drum-brown’ and is cooked at a low temperature to impart a dryer and less sweet character than Crystal Malt of the same colour. Its uses are generally restricted to specialist bottled beers, brown ales and sweet stouts.

Crystal malts are specialty grains that add flavour and colour to any brew. These malts are used in many beer styles, from pale ales to porters, and are the most widely used type of specialty grain. You can use crystal malt no matter what type of homebrewer you are — extract, partial mash or all-grain. Adding crystal malt is a common way to add a sweet flavour to beer. The sweetness of crystal malt has distinct caramel tones to it. Crystal malts also add body to your beer.

Special B Crystal Malt is the darkest of the Belgian crystal malts. This malt will impart a heavy caramel taste and is often credited with the raisin-like flavours of some Belgian Abbey ales.

Black malt primarily gives a highly roasted flavor, that carries some bitterness and acidity. But it can also show a deep fruity character reminiscent of currants, blackberries or sultanas. It gives deep contrast to a round malty beer by giving it some elbows, without being pushy. Most importantly, even in very small quantities, it provides a drying quality that brightens up the finish of any beer.

Carafa Special III dehusked chocolate malt is a dark-roasted specialty malt made from high-quality spring barley. It’s carefully roasted to add an espresso-like bouquet, coffee and chocolate flavors, and a mild but noticeable roasted aftertaste.

Here is the recipe:

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 42 L (into fermenter)
Boil Size: 52 L
Boil Time: 90 min
End of Boil Vol: 44 L
Final Packaging Vol: 39 L
Brewhouse Efficiency: 91 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 94 %

Original Gravity: 1.058 SG
Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.6 %
Bitterness: 33 IBUs (International Bittering Units – how strong the hop bitterness is)
Colour: 60 EBC (The colour of beer is measured in EBCs. EBC stands for European Brewery Convention)

Mash Ingredients:
6.65 kg Maris Otter Ale Malt (5 EBC) 73 %
1.10 kg Brown Malt (105 EBC) 12 %
0.9 kg Crystal Malt (140 EBC) 10 %
0.24 kg Carafa Special III dehusked chocolate malt (1400 EBC) 3 %
0.10 kg Special B Crystal Malt [Steep] (300.0 EBC) 1 %
0.10 kg Black Malt [Steep] (1300 EBC) 1 %

Mash Steps:
1.) Mash In. Add 47 L of water at 70 C, hold at 67.0 C 90 min
2.) Mash Out and Vorlauf. Add 0.00 L of water and heat to 77.0 C over 20 min, hold at 77.0 C 15 min
3.) Fly Sparge. Sparge with 13 L water at 76.0 C

Boil Ingredients:
125 g Fuggles leaf 3.8 % Alpha – Boil 90.0 min – 29.7 IBUs
40 g Fuggles leaf 3.8 % Alpha – Boil 10 min – 3.2 IBUs
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)

Fermentation:
2 pkg — Wyeast Labs 1968 London ESB Ale (aka Fuller’s yeast)
Ferment at 18C – 20C for 10 to 14 days

Water adjustment:
You may remember in my last article I wrote about the need to get the water right for brewing purposes. When I brewed the English Pale Ale we needed water that was high in sulphates and low in chlorides. When brewing a porter the salts need to be the other way round. This helps to give a porter the roundness of flavour and the smoothness we expect from a dark beer. So in parts per million (ppm) this is what the brewing water (liquor) looked like after my adjustments:
Calcium (Ca) 113
Magnesium (Mg) 5
Sodium (Na) 27
Sulphate (SO4) 70
Chloride (Cl) 174
Thus giving a chloride to sulphate ratio of 2.4:1.

Now for some pictures of the brewing equipment and the process.

For this brew, I am not using my normal 3 vessel setup as shown in the November posting, but using a one-vessel system called a Braumeister. This is really a large, stainless steel version of a simple BIAB system (Brew-In-A-Bag). You still need an HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) for sparging. Here’s a picture of the setup:

This is the home made control panel that I use to control the Braumeister and the HLT:

Here’s what the grains look like after crushing and before adding to the mash process:

After the mash is underway for 20 mins, it’s time to check that the pH is right for the conversion of the malt starches to fermentable sugars:

This is a view inside the Braumeister showing the mash liquor rising up the inner tube:

Once the mashing is over, the inner metal tube containing the malt grains has to be raised to do the sparging (grain rinsing). Full of soaked grain, this tube can be very heavy and needs some kind of hoist to lift it. I use a small car engine hoist:

Pumping the finished wort after the boil into the fermenter via the cooling coil:

This is a view of the spent hops left after finishing the hop boil and draining off the wort to the fermenter:

Well, that’s it for now. This beer turned out really well for me and I won second prize with it in a recent national brewing competition. For further explanation of the brewing terms have a look at the end of this article “Brewing an English Pale Ale” on my HOME page. If you do make this beer, drink it slowly and give a thought to Graham Wheeler. Thank him for the rich brewing knowledge that he so willingly shared in his lifetime.