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).

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