Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Weekend of Brewing

Whenever my wife goes to visit her parents down south, I tend to go brew crazy, but I think this weekend has been a little more brew-intense than normal as I've made two beers. I don't even need them, but it's a case of striking while the iron is hot. Saturday was to be Imperial Stout day. I'd been planning on making one for some time, and after receiving a little gift of some peat-smoked malt from Eddie Gadd of Ramsgate Brewery, I wanted this to be a special, slightly smokey one. I have to admit, the recipe was only finalised as I was heating up the strike water, but there ya go.

The bad thing is that I'd never used so much grain in my home-made coolerbox mash tun, so I wasn't sure how it would behave. As it turns out, I got terrible efficiency, I think because the mash was really thick. I normally have efficiencies of 80-85% with a mash of 3-4 litres per kilo. This one was certainly less than 3. Lesson learned: for really big beers, use DME to provide some of the gravity, or get a bigger mash tun! Anyway, I could have intervened as I knew from the first runnings things were not as planned, but I let nature take its course. Thanks to TheBeerNut for the name suggestion of Peater the Great, which suited the original plan for an Imperial Stout at 10% ABV with peated malt. But, due to the lower ABV, I renamed it Schwarter Peater. I don't know what it would be classed as now. Do I care? No. As long as it tastes good.

Schwarzer Peater
BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
4.0 kg Pilsner Malt
3.0 kg Munich Malt
1.0 kg Caramunich® TYPE III
400 g Chocolate Malt 800
250 g Black Malt 1200 (Dehusked - Carafa)
250 g Rye Malt
150 g Peat-Smoked Malt

25 g Challenger (5.8%) - boiled 60 min
25 g Challenger (5.8%) - boiled 30 min
25 g Northern Brewer (11.4%) - boiled 25 min
25 g Northern Brewer (11.4%) - boiled 15 min
30 g Saaz (3.8%) - boiled 3 min

Fermentis Safale S-04

Batch size: 20.75 L; Efficiency: 59.32% Estimated Attenuation: 75.0%
OG: 1.072, Estimated FG: 1.018, Estimated ABV: 7.1%, Estimated IBUs: 70.

It began bubbling away within a few hours, so mission accomplished, almost.

Today is another brewday, but for quite a different beast. Around the middle of September my son and I went on a hop hunt, and successfully gathered almost 70g of wild hops from the area. There's a fuller account of how I processed them here on I've been thinking about a beer to showcase and experiment with the wild hop, and thought to model one on a pale ale I'd made before. In reality, the unknown alpha acid content of the hops made me reconsider, as to rely on them for bittering would be risky. I ended up using a classic German Perle hop for bittering, but staging the additions of the wild hops towards the second half of the boil to try and wring as much character from them as I can. That is of course assuming they have any! I could end up with a very bland beer, a terribly over-bitter beer or something just fine. We'll see. I also tweaked the malt bill of my original plan, adding Munich malt to get a more caramel character into the base. Again, a beer designed while the strike water was heating. Fun, eh?

Wild-Hopped Pale Ale

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic


3.5 kg Pilsner Malt
1 kg Munich Malt
500 g Caramunich TYPE III

10 g Hallertauer Perle (9.3%) - boiled 60 min
10 g Hallertauer Perle (9.3%) - boiled 45 min
17 g Wild Hops (4.0%) - boiled 20 min
17 g Wild Hops (4.0%) - boiled 15 min
17 g Wild Hops (4.0%) - boiled 5 min
17 g Wild Hops (4.0%) - boiled 0 min

Fermentis Safale US-05

Batch size: 23.5 L; Efficiency: 87% Estimated Attenuation: 75.0%
OG: 1.052, Estimated FG: 1.013, Estimated ABV: 5.1%, Estimated IBUs: 32.

Early indications are that the wild hops may be stronger than predicted, as on tasting the sweet wort there's a really good hop flavour; grassy, and a touch spicy. However, time will tell. Experimenting is fun!


Mark Dredge said...

Nice, these sound great! I might be requesting another box of beer to come my way again soon :)

I love the romantic idea of the wild hops, I hope it turns out well!

Barry M said...

We went seeking the hops in nice romantic locations by the river, but couldn't find any. By chance we happened on some by a railway track, which wasn't such an attractive location :D Still, it's the unknown factors which add to the concept, and it's kind of exciting to go gathering stuff to make a beer. I really must do something with no hops...

I'm a little pissed off that the Stout didn't get to the gravity I wanted, but it's a good lesson, and it is what it is now.

The Beer Nut said...

Sounds like it might turn out more of a Baltic Peater.

Barry M said...

Have you been studying the BJCP style guide again?

Schwarzer Peater might be a good one as an anti-Christmas beer. Santa's evil twin and all that :D

Leigh said...

Really interesting mate, I'd love to use some wild hops in my brews but I've not found any yet. And using peat-smoked malt is definately on the list. let us know how this one turns out. Experimentation is Key - you 're right.

Barry M said...

I was amazed last year at how many hop vines I saw all over the place, but never gathered any, so I'd been waiting this long to grab some and try them out. Earlier in the summer I noticed one growing through the hedge in the front garden and thought yes! But then my over-zealous neighbour pulled it out. Gah! :D