Ref 2020-10 Razorback Brewer Festival
Style IPA Type Beer, kit
Started Mon 26th Oct 20 OG 1.052 Status Archived, 5.4% ABV
Packaged Sun 15th Nov 20 FG 1.011 Fermenter Plastic Bucket
Handle 2020-10 Razorback
Brewer Festival
Style IPA
Type Beer, kit
Fermenter Plastic Bucket
Status Archived, 5.4% ABV ABV
Started Mon 26th Oct 20 OG 1.052
Packaged Sun 15th Nov 20 FG 1.011

This is my first ever home-brew, kicked off in October 2020 from a kit bought online. No real idea what I’m doing yet, and in following the instructions a little too closely I ended up adding the finishing hops too soon, resulting in a slightly twangy taste with not enough bite. Still, it’s early days (I’m writing this at the beginning of January) so she may yet condition out. Overall a very nice kit, will repeat.

Milestones & Tasks

Dec 21 -1270dReady to taste
Dec 01 -1290dConditioning
Nov 15 -1306dBottled
Nov 01 -1320dAdded 75 g IPA-specific hops
Oct 26 -1326dStarted Primary
Jan 202105Tue

Not the first one – I’ve had eight of these now – but certainly the first one which hasn’t featured an almost overpowering rawness, a definite twang that’s probably due to the 14 days with finishing hops before bottling. This still isn’t great, but makes me think that I should have a little more patience and let the remaining bottles condition for a couple more weeks before trying my next Razorback.

On a positive note, there’s no complaints regarding carbonation from any of the three bottling variants in this batch, which means that the crown caps did their job despite some of them being loose enough to spin with bare hands just after bottling. Which is nice.

15 days
20 days
Dec 202001Tue

Hard to believe this was bottled 14 days ago already, let’s hope the next 21 days in conditioning pass just as quickly. Already the brew is very clear, with some sediment on the bottom and a couple of very fine particles in suspension throughout. Nice colour too.

Hurry up, Razorback!

16 days
Nov 202015Sun

FG at 1.011 still, decided to bottle. Racked off into clean vessel and added 100 g Priming Sugar (from kit, labelled ‘best bitter’) before filling 38 bottles:

  • 12 clear glass flip-top (bottles #1 – #12)
  • 14 brown glass crown caps (purchased, bottles #13 – #26)
  • 12 brown glass crown caps (recycled, bottles #27 – #38)

All of the crown caps could be spun with varying amounts of pressure except the recycled Chaplin & Cork’s and Guinness Originals, which were also difficult to cap and remove from the device.

3 days
Nov 202012Thu

No apparent change, still at 1.011. Unsure what to do; bottle it and risk explosions, leave it and risk contamination or off-flavours due to the crud floating around? Let’s give it just a couple more days. The folks in this forum post seem to agree.

1 day
Nov 202011Wed

Airlock activity is minimal, there’s still some popping going on but it’s too slow to bother measuring, maybe once every 5 or 6 minutes. SG weighs in at 1.011 again, lumps starting to form in the green film on top. Instructions advise not to bottle until SG is stable for 48 hours (check) and has reached reached 1.005 (nope) so I’m going to let it ride for another 48 hours and then review. Taste is OK, quite hoppy and only slightly sweet, colour a bright and hazy funk with a tint of green luminescence. The only weird thing is some lumps and detritus that was sucked up by the pipette grabbing the sample. I was nowhere near the bottom (or the top) of the bucket, so I’m guessing there must be some suspension in there. Let’s not leave it too long before bottling.

2 days
Nov 202009Mon

Airlock still popping slowly, maybe every 3 or 4 minutes. Was supposed to be bottling 3 days ago, so I took a reading today with a hopeful view to bottling in 2 days, 11 November. SG right now is 1.011 and there’s an impressive film of green hops on the brew. Tasted just lovely but could do with some more carbonation and a little chilling. Instructions do say to have SG stable for 2 days before bottling, and since they also say to add priming sugar I’m inclined to let the sugar add the fizz and have the brew completely stable, even if it takes a few days extra. Anyway, SG 1.011 now translates to 5.38% against a claimed value of 5.7% so I’m happy for the Manx water to do its thing a little longer.

4 days
Nov 202005Thu

Was hoping to start bottling today, but the airlock’s still popping so we’re clearly not done fermenting just yet. Will leave it another day or two.

4 days
Nov 202001Sun

Fermentation has slowed on Razorback, just one short burst of bubbles every 2.5 minutes now. The instructions said to add hop pellets (75 g, IPA-specific) 5 days after starting the brew and then ferment for a further 5 days (or at least until it’s stable for 48 hours at or below 1.005) but I heard that you can increase the hop flavour by adding hops closer to bottling, so I added the hops today, technically six days after the start, hoping to bottle in around 4 days. Once sprinkled on top (as instructed, not stirred) the hop pellets increased the rate of bubbling from once every 2.5 minutes to once every 5 seconds. Amazing. Soon dropped back down to previous level though.
I took the opportunity to measure SG as well today, and it’s now at 1.016. That’s a good reduction from 1.052 at the start but nowhere near where we need to be, so let’s see what the briefly increased rate of fermentation brings. Rather than returning the sample we tasted it, and while it was flat, warm, and quite raw, it definitely tasted of beer. The fumes from the bucket were noticeably alcoholic too, so it feels like we’re moving in the right direction.

2 days
Oct 202030Fri

Bubbling slowed to around one short burst every 25 seconds, foam appears to have receded too. Hop pellets going in on Sunday, 2 days time.

Evil Dog on left, Razorback on right

2 days
Oct 202028Wed

I think we’re over the worst of it; fermentation has slowed to the point where the airlock emits a series of short parps every 4 seconds, and there was no foam visible in the neck of the clean airlock fitted last night. Temperature overnight with the bathroom brewery and office doors open held steady at 23.3 ℃ according to the new min/max thermometer.

1 day
Oct 202027Tue

Still bubbling away, some more foam in the airlock although not as bad as before. Maybe it’s beginning to slow down? I’ll replace it with a clean one before turning in for the night, hopefully things will calm down a little from now on and it won’t bubble itself dry overnight.

0 days
Oct 202027Tue

Some foam in the airlock has led to most of the water being ejected, replaced the whole airlock with a fresh one. Bubbling activity could be described as ‘angry’ now …

0 days
Oct 202027Tue

Bubbling fiercely now, seems to have ejected some water out of the airlock. Foam visible between 23 litre mark and top of lid. Room temperature dropped to 19.2 ℃ so I’m closing the bathroom door for a while to see if the towel rail brings it up a little without breaching 25 ℃.

1 day
Oct 202026Mon

Kicked off first home-brew attempt with Festival Ale’s Razorback IPA. Initial ingredients:

  • 3 kg malted barley (IPA specific)
  • 650 g dextrose
  • 10 g beer yeast (IPA specific – added at 23.9 ℃)
  • 23 litres water (up to 23 litre mark – includes malted barley)

SG measured at 1.052 before yeast was added (do the fine bubbles matter?) room temperature in spare bathroom 23.1 ℃. Next step is to add hops in 5 days time.