Thursday, 15 April 2010

Brewing: Summer Lightning clone (First ever extract brew!)

So, this is the beginning of my extract phase of my brewing journey.  I'll explain it all in more detail at some other point but this basically means that I'm no longer relying on someone else to do the hopping for me, but I am relying on them to do the extraction of the the sugars from the malt.  Luckily for you, I managed to take some photos whilst doing it, so i'll talk you through how it went down...

I decided I wanted to do a really simple brew for my first go so I chose the clone of Summer Lightning in Graham Wheeler's near ubiquitous book Brew Your Own British Real Ale.  As I also only wanted to be making 10 litres at a time to start with, I plugged the recipe into Beer Engine (also by Graham Wheeler, he seems like a great guy).  This meant I would only be using small amounts of hops so instead of using 2 different types of hop (1 for bittering, 1 for aroma) I decided I could afford to use just the one hop.  This really means that the beer I've made isn't much like Summer Lightning anymore, but oh well.  The long and the short of it is that I ended up with recipe for 10 litres of a simple, one type of malt and one type of hop beer.

After all of that japery, and having ordered the ingredients etc, I finally got down to brewing today. 

I started by marking out some measurements on the inside of my boiler as the ones on it already are a) on the outside so you can't see the water level, and b) pretty obviously wrong.

I then weighed out the ingredients, the Spraymalt was quite easy as I needed 1400 grammes and had 1x1kg bag and 1x500g bag.  The hops were a little less easy as I need 31g, 10g and 6g, and my small, precise scales were not to hand.  This meant that most of my hop amounts were enitrely guessed (the first thing that could make this a disaster).

Once the ingredients were weighed out, I mixed the Spraymalt into the water that had already been warming upto about 50C.  This was just as tough as it is when doing kit brews and gave me a really sore wrist, but got done eventually.  The froth on top here is a product of my thrashing it, not any boiling or anything.

Once it was all stirred in, I turned the thermostat up and set out to get the stuff boiling.  I was pretty chuffed with this thermometre holding arrangement until (about a minute after this picture was taken) the tape gave up and dropped the thermometre in.  I just had to hope that I wouldn't find it smashed at the bottom once I drained the boiler.

This is it just starting to boil.  The frothy stuff here is scuzzy material that gets kicked up by the boiling.  This part of the brewing is called the hot break.

The froth built up incredibly quickly and because I was taken photos, I almost didn't notice it has pretty much reached the top of the boiler.  Luckily I turned it down in time and it settled down again.

Once that died down I chucked in the first lot of hops( ~31g).  I'm using hop bags at the moment because I don't have a hop filter fitted to the tap.

It seems I forgot to take any photos when the other two hop additions happened, but one of these (~10g) went in 10 minutes before the end, and the other lot (~6g) went in right at the end and just got steeped for a while.  This was the less than satisfactory solution I came up with for the shelf thing I had the boiler on not being high enough.

After some searching I found stuff to build up the shelf with, and it went pretty smoothly from there.

I ended up getting pretty much exactly 10 litres, but I'm not sure what OG it has yet (will update when I know).

This is the junk left in the boiler after I ran the wort out, the astute among you will notice the thermometre (not smashed) wedged at the bottom.

And this is where it is as I type.  Obviously the wort is really hot afte the boil so it need to be cooled before pitching the yeast, hence standing it in cold water.  Ideally, it should be cooled much quicker (crash cooled) to facilitate a cold break, which helps it clear.  I don't have the equipment to do that, though, so this'll have to do.

Thanks for reading, I'll update you as the fermentation of this one proceeds.

EDIT: Finally got around to pitching this at about 10:00.  It had been at a low enough temp for a while actually, but I was engrossed in the leadership debate so couldn't do anything about it. I suppose I should give this brew a suitably election-based name, but can't think of one yet.  Answers on a postcard.


  1. to help coil it more quickly, try adding 3/4 2l bottles of frozen water - leave a little space in them to expand. It's quicker than placing in the bath.

  2. Hi Tim, thanks for the tip. I'm planning on building an immersion chiller in the next few weeks, but will try that idea for my next brew.