Sunday, 18 March 2012

Kegging: Summer Lightning clone

I tested this brew a few times through the week and it was consistently sitting at 1.008, meaning that the beer is at about 3.5% abv -exactly what I was aiming for. So I've put it into the kegs today. I haven't freed up enough of the bottom tap mini-kegs yet, so I used some of the top tap ones that need the gas-fed tap putting into the top. This means that it keeps for longer than the bottom tap ones, because it puts a layer of gas on top of the beer.

I used a bottling bucket with a little bottler fitted to fill the kegs. It went okay, but it meant I had to hold the keg up below the bucket, and they get really bloody heavy when they fill up. I think I will have a rethink of how I do this for the next time, but it came out fine in the end. The only other issue was that I lost about 2 litres of the brew to yeast at the bottom of the fermenter -I just couldn't syphon them out through the massive yeast layer. I will not pitch a whole 11g of safale next time I do this short of a brew.

I'm drinking a bit of the brew right now and I must say it is pretty damn nice. There's a bit of a strong hop bitterness at the back of the mouth, but this should mellow off in the kegs after a while.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Testing: Summer Lightning clone

I tested this today on day 7ish of fermentation. It's down to 1.012, which is very good progress. I reckon it will be ready to go in the kegs sometime this week. I want it to be ready for my birthday party on March 24th so need to get it into the kegs asap so it can start conditioning a little.

I was surprised by how nice it tasted, very hoppy, but not aggressively so. I left some in a glass for a while to let the yeast settle out and it was much clearer than I expected, considering how slowly it cooled and the nightmare I had draining it through the hop layer.

All in all, I'm a happy brewer!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Testing: Summer Lightning clone

I just gave this its 3 day test and it's diwn to 1.022, which is pretty good going. There is a massive layer of yeastiness on the top, much more than usual. I guess it's down to putting too much yeast in for the brew length. I don't think this will be an issue. I hope it won't.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Brewing: Summer Lightning Clone

I've just finished making my second ever extract brew with the boiler She Who Must bought me for Christmas ages ago. I used the same recipe as before (a clone of Hopback's Summer Lightning from Graham Wheeler's 'Brew Your Own British Real Ale' book), but with some changes. I decided to try using liquid malt extract instead of powdered, because it's cheaper and the powder is a real ball ache. I also now have a proper set of scales so could measure the hopping more accurately. Lastly, I added more liquor so it will be weaker than it should be (the original is about 5%, which explains all of those drunken summer afternoons in the Jolly Brewmaster).

My overwhelming impression of the experience was how long it took to do. Several things lead to it taking much longer than I anticipated:
  1. The boiler kept cutting out after the 1st hour of boiling. This is apparently a well known problem with my boiler, and down to the thermostat and the element having temperature cut-outs built in. I don't remember this happening last time, so I'm going to try cleaning the limescale off the element before next time.
  2. I had to cool the wort using a couple of frozen coke bottles full of water. This seemed ingenious to me when I thought it up, and I imagined plunging the frozen bottles into the wort with steam flying up round my ears. It was, in reality, much less dramatic and less effective than I thought. It took well over half an hour for the wort to cool to pitching temperature, meaning I didn't get a cold break (the beer will be cloudy), and it took longer.
  3. I don't have a hop filter fitted to the tap of the boiler, and couldn't find any hop bags, meaning that the tap got very clogged up with hop debris when I was running the wort out into the fermenter. This took absolutely ages, and I ended up having to blow up through the tap several times to clear it.
After this experience, I have decided that I need the following pieces of equipment:
  1. An immersion chiller
  2. A hop filter for the boiler (one to fit 'Electrim boilers')
It is my birthday coming up, so my family should really be reading this...

Anyhow, the beer is fermenting now (I hope), I realised after I'd opened the packet of Safale yeast that there is twice as much as such a short brew needs in that pack, so I'm hoping it should go like bajeezus. I ended up getting about 8ltr from the boiler and topped that up to 12 in the fermenter to give me a starting gravity of 1.035. it should turn out as a nice, session type ale, but very very hoppy (possibly too hoppy).

Friday, 17 February 2012

New brewing area

The new house doesn't have a handy place to keep my brewing out of the way like the boiler room in the last place. The only place that is suitable is the porch as it has a stone floor and isn't being used for anything. With that in mind, I've put in some shelves from Ikea to store things like ingredients and mini-kegs that are conditioning. I made the bottom shelf tall enough to store a fermenting vessel so that brews can sit in there whilst fermenting (it's raised off the ground too, so it'll stop the cold getting in). The upper shelves are the height of mini-kegs.

The only problem is that the porch is pretty cold, so not ideal for fermenting (great for conditioning though!) I'm planning on getting an immersible heater to keep the brews warm, but for now I'll probably still be keeping the fermenter in the dining room.

The photo is crap because it's from my phone...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Kegging: Great Eastern Ale

I've just put the labels on the kegs. Lookinh pretty good!

Kegging: Great Eastern Ale

I've just finished putting this into the mini kegs and it went pretty well as far as I can tell.  I used a bottling wand to make it easier to get the stuff into the kegs and it was very useful. What I didn't think about when planning this all was how to get the priming sugar into the kegs. They require 3g of sugar per litre so I planned on just weighing the sugar and spooning it in. Turns out the hole at the top is a bit tiny and was a bit of a faff. Next time I think I'll put a priming solution into a seperate bucket and do it that way.

Anyhow, here are some pics...