Another extract brew, this time starting out in Brewfather by picking a style and seeing what’s possible with the same amount of LME as my previous two extract brews. The only differences this time around are a departure from Blond Ale (18A) to British Golden Ale (12A) and the addition of some steeped grains before the boil.
As usual there were some unplanned events throughout the afternoon and plenty of opportunity for thinking on the fly. Raw notes are below; I’ll highlight any noteworthy bits and will insert pictures as they were taken, this time using my Fujifilm X100V.
Brew Day Notes
- Weighed out ingredients, almost forgot the yeast!
- I didn’t have any Centennial hops as planned, these must have been added to the inventory when I ordered them and they’ve not been delivered yet. I need 5g for dry hopping so I substituted that for Citra instead. Can always change that back if I get my shipment in time.
- Plan to use two nylon strain bags, one for steeping and another one waiting in the FV when I transfer. Give them a thorough clean and then boil for a few minutes to try and get rid of the awful plasticky smell, but it’s still there. Hope the brew won’t be affected.
- Very difficult to get temperature right for the steep. I’m aiming for 75 ℃ but the new thermometer with remote probe I’m using is all over the place, reading between 50 and 90 ℃ depending on where in the steep I poke it. Being paranoid I add some more cool water in order to avoid tannins, steep at around 72 ℃ for the best part of half an hour while preparing the FV. Later figure out that the thermometer is actually very accurate and has a high refresh rate.
- Grains finished steeping after 30 minutes, lift the bag out and give it a gentle squeeze.
- Pour grain juice into big saucepan, add 600g of LME, top up to 4.89 litres (give or take). It’s occurred to me that pre-boil volume is shown as 4.89 and then there are the 60 minute additions of LME and hops, with boil volume still 4.89. I take it that includes the 60 minute additions of hops and LME.
- 97 ℃ and seeing some foam, about to boil and start timer. Is this the ‘hot break’?
- Figured out that I had left the initial 600g of LME as a 45 minute addition, not a 60 minute addition. Originally the recipe was for 45 minutes, but I didn’t think that was long enough to isomerise the hops properly so I scaled it to 60, forgetting to change the timing of the LME addition. Oops. Updating the recipe on the fly causes IBU and BU/GU sliders to move quite far to the left, so I move them back by increasing the 5 minute addition of Cascade from 5g to 23g – was going for 20g but there seemed little point leaving 3g in the bag.
- A nice rolling boil turns into a small boil-over, costing me a little bit of wort loss. Arse – I was hoping to accurately measure 60 minute boil-off rate and update the equipment profile, which I now can’t do unless I expect to have a boil-over each time I try an extract brew. Day’s turning into a bit of a nightmare!
- Thinking ahead a bit, I’m not sure how to best get the temperature down from flame-out to 80 ℃ for the hop-stand. Maybe throw some ice cubes in and subtract those from the fermenter top-up volume? At least that should be a constant @ 8 litres total.
- Clean the steeping bag while the boil is going on, and it’s a right pain with bits of chaff getting stuck everywhere. In the end I resort to rinsing it both sides twice then taking it outside and flicking it for 5 minutes, occasionally picking at the bits of crap.
- As I fit the second sanitised strainer bag to the SS Brewtech Mini Bucket it occurs to me that there’s little point filtering out crud now when I plan to dry-hop later, but I press ahead with the plan anyway. At least the boiled hops won’t be in there to have an effect on the yeast, if they even would.
- Added 5 minute hop additions and LME, and boil volume now looks like 5 litres bang-on. (so I couldn’t have measured 60 minute boil-off anyway) Bit of a worry, since the recipe said post-boil volume should be 3.39. Maybe I should have boiled with the lid off most of the time? I now need only 2 litres of fermenter top-up, not 5, if I am to stick to the original 8 litres. But I have capacity for 10. May decide which way to go once I’ve done the hop-stand and taken a gravity reading.
- Stirred in 2 trays of ice cubes, crossed my fingers, and for once I’m exactly where I need to be at 80.3 ℃. Yes!! But it’s going to take more than 2 litres of iced water to get this to pitching temperature.
- Post-boil gravity is 1.066 at 70.5 ℃, which calculates to 1.089. Brewfather was expecting 1.109 so I’m only a little way off… by 20 points.
- Transfer to FV and wow – there’s a lot of crud in that strainer! Glad I pulled it out. Top up to 8 litres approximately and measure OG at 1.043 / 36 ℃ which translates to 1.048.
- The Brewfather thinks I should be at 1.041 so I’m topping up the fermenter to the 9.5 litres mark, using all my iced water but still only getting to 32 ℃. Gravity now reads 1.038 which calculates to 1.041, exactly what I need. Excellent! But I’ve diluted the various fermentables to 9.5 litres, which I still need to reflect in the recipe somehow. Not to worry for now, I’m fitting the air-lock and getting this into the fridge ASAP so that I can pitch yeast at 20 ℃.
- I’ve been clearing up for half an hour and the brew has only dropped one or two degrees. The fridge is cold but air is a poor thermal conductor, so I’m doing something unorthodox and putting the stainless brew bucket into an iced water bath. It’s a shameful way to treat such nice piece of kit, but I have to get this down from 31 ℃ soon.
- Down to 21 degrees in 17 minutes – impressive! I’ve rigged up my air stone to one of the oxygen cylinders from my inline aeration kit, and bodge the join (waiting on parts) with gaffer tape. Seems to hold, so I’m going to give this wort a taste of oxygen before pitching the yeast.
- Aeration stone is a really cool piece of kit with a surprising amount of back-pressure. Adding pressure via the regulator I was worried my gaffer tape wouldn’t hold, when the stone suddenly sprung to life and started giving my brew a nice foamy head. I let it run for maybe a minute before pulling it out, then pitched half a packet of Cross My Roof yeast (same amount as last time) onto the foam at 20.6 ℃ before putting the lid on and setting it aside. Finished at 18:30.