Friday, April 6, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer VI

What better way to herald in the holiday weekend with a poker game/beer fest? The group of regulars to the monthly Thursday night poker game have been anticipating this keg of beer since I started the brew back on February 20, 2012. The evening provided an opportunity to get a rating of the beer using the American Homebrewer's Association score-sheet.

The AHA evaluates a beer across 5 dimensions: Bouquet/Aroma, Appearance, Flavour, Body and Drinkability Overall Impression. The resulting score is out of a total of 50 points.

The Judges:

The raters ranged in knowledge of beer styles from "I don't like beer, I prefer wine" and "I'm Dutch, I prefer lager" to very sophisticated, #...takes me back to the days of sharing a pint with me dad in Lancashire". Only myself and another member of the group have actually tasted White Shield on draught in its native country, England. In general though, this group will drink anything resembling beer, and there has only been one beer that I have brewed that people didn't like (except the Dutch guy) - a cherry lambic.

The Rating:

The average rating for the beer was: 40.5/50. This places the beer in the Excellent range according to the AHA Scoring Guide. To the credit of the style (UK IPA) people commented on the fruity aroma and taste, the good balance, the alcohol presence and the malty character. A few people noted that for the style, the beer lacked a full hop bite. Also, on the con side there was the presence of caramel in the aroma on initial pour. All-in-all, the beer was a fine English bitter that needed a little more hop character to be worthy of White Shield.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer V


This weekend the secondary fermentation was completed! The "green" beer was siphoned into the conditioning keg and priming sugar was added to create the final level of carbonation. The siphoned beer ran crystal clear, with no trace of haze.

A test sample was taken and the final gravity for the beer was 1.018, which was slightly higher than the expected 1.017. The indication, then, is that fermentation was essentially completed. With these data, the estimated Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is expected to be 5.4%.

I had a chance to taste the test sample and was very pleased. If the conditioning goes well over the next couple of weeks this will be a mighty fine beer. The malt/hop balance was near perfect, with no "off" flavours interfering with the palate. This should be a beer worthy of serving to my poker buddies on April 5. Stay tuned for the final report after that date.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer IV

From Primary to Secondary

Today is the 4th day of the brew cycle and time to transfer the fermenting beer from the primary to the secondary fermenter. After sanitizing all the equipment a siphon is started and the new beer begins to flow.

For the past few days the brew has been at a constant 65 degrees F on the basement floor. There has been a lot of action and a couple of times the foaming mess overflowed the container. Fortunately, there was a pot underneath the fermenter to catch the overflow.

A test of the specific gravity showed 1.025 / 64 degrees. This mean that about 81% of the available fermentable sugars have been converted to alcohol by the yeast. There are still 19% of the sugars left to arrive at a final SG of 1.017. Current alcohol is estimated at 4.7% ABV.

Taste Test

I tasted the test sample to assess the
quality of the brew at this point. I am happy to report that there are no off flavours. In fact, the beer tastes pretty good. There is a very agreeable malt/hop balance, with perhaps a little less bitterness than anticipated. Floral notes in the hops were quite evident. This is still early, of course, but the flavour is well within the profile parameters of the beer type (India Pale Ale).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer III


For this brew method I used an 8.5 US gal. pot with a false bottom suspended 3 inches above the source of the heat. I filled the pot with approximately 5.5 gal. of cold water and brought to a temperature of 130 degrees F. I then filled the bag with the grains (see recipe) and stirred until temperature stabilized at 128 degrees. This temperature was held for 20 minutes.

The mash was heated to 156 degrees over 15 minutes. It was held at this temperature for 1 hour. The mash was then heated to 170 degrees over 22 minutes. Finally, the bag was raised out
of the pot and rinsed with 170 degree water to 6 3/4 gals.

It took over an hour to raise the wort to boiling. In the process the wort was reduced to 6 gallons before the bittering hops were added. The wort was boiled for 45 minutes and the aroma hops were added. By this time there was just less than 5 gals. in the pot, which was topped with boiled water to bring it to 5 1/4 gals.

The wort was cooled quickly to 64 deg. F. using a reverse-flow cooler. After aeration the yeast
was pitched. The SG was measured at 1.059 at 64 deg. F., resulting in a mash efficiency of 86%!

A note on the recirculating pump:

A pump was used at the outset to take the wort from the bottom of the pot and bring it to the top of the grains. While the outflow tube was submerged in the mash, a foam developed which led me to believe that hot-side aeration was occurring. I dismantled the pump set-up at this point and relied on frequent stirring instead.

Beer Profile After Adjusting for Efficiency
The profile after adjusting for the measured efficiency of the method is as follows:

SG 1.059
Bitterness 39.1 IBU
Colour 11.2 SRM
Est Alcohol by Volume 5.5%

This is wonderfully close to the specs for Worthington White Shield!

The batch is now fermenting at 65 deg F. in the primary fermenter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer II

I have planned for tomorrow to be "brew day". There are still a few things that need to be done, however. I am using a set up, developed by Australian home brewers, that will apparently make brewing easier. The method is called brew in a bag (BIAB) and requires the grains to be steeped in a large bag, much like tea. Today's task is to rig a pulley system to handle the extrication of the hot and heavy bag full of wet grains.

Last weekend I enlisted the help of family to sew up the bag needed to hold the grains. I also rigged up a pump system to recirculate the hot wort through the grains. I will be using a three-stage mash process with a final rinse at 168 degrees Farenheit.


Protein rest - 125 degrees (20 min)
Saccharification - 156 degrees (60 min)
Mash Out - 168 degrees (10 min)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Brewing a Great Beer

Worthington White Shield

When I was in England a few years back I visited the Bass Museum in
Burton-on-Trent. While there I had, what I recall, was one of the best ales in my life. The museum brewed the Museum White Shield ale based on the old recipe developed by Worthington in the 19th century. The ale is a traditional India Pale Ale and became a major export for Worthington well into the 20th century. I had what would turn out to be one of the last pints to come out of the museum brewery.

A description of the beer follows:

White Shield (5.6%) is brewed from pale malt with a touch of crystal for colour and flavour. Its colour rating is 26, making it quiet dark for the style. The hops are Challenger, Fuggles and Northdown, which create 40 units of bitterness. Challenger and Fuggles are copper hops used for bitterness, with Northdown are added at the end of the boil for aroma. - taken from Beer
I adapted my recipe from Graham Wheeler and Roger Protz book "Brew Your Own British Real Ale", CAMRA/Storey Books, 1998. The recipe I used is reproduced here.

8 lbs 11.6 oz

Pale Malt (2 Row) UK
1 lbs 4.7 oz

Caramel/Crystal Malt


20.00 g

Challenger [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min
15.00 g

Northdown [8.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min
10.00 g

Northdown [8.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min

1.0 pkg

London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)

The r
esulting profile matches closely that described above, with bitterness at 42 IBU, colour at 11.6 SRM and alcohol by volume at 5.3%, (assuming 80% mash efficiency). (Estimates based on Beersmith brewing software.)

Grinding the Grain

Propagating the Yeast