Tag Archives: recipe

Apr 202119Mon

My first all-grain brew to my own recipe was conceived less than 24 hours ago when I decided that I needed to try reusing the yeast slurry that I saved from Twisty Listy last week. I couldn’t save that for the upcoming Yeti imperial stout because the style is too different, so I thought I’d do a quick & dirty pale ale from whatever’s left in the inventory once Yeti’s ingredients have all been earmarked. As usual I’m too late in the day to write this up fully now that I’ve cleaned everything (to be fair I only started at 14:00) so I’m pasting the brew day notes in verbatim below and will tidy it up tomorrow.

One Week Later

Well, I guess ‘tomorrow’ is more elastic than initially thought. Truth be told I’ve been trying to post-rationalise some sense into the weird loss of wort but I just can’t figure it out. On my last brew I had to add 4 litres of water to the fermenter to get back up to my target post-boil volume. On this occasion I seemed to be 3.5 litres short after sparging, but I after topping that up I decided to add another 1.5 litres, because I wasn’t happy with the (again) short sparge and because I took a guess and felt that 5 extra litres in total would put me in the ballpark for my pre-boil gravity, adding some welcome volume while staying inside the kettle’s limits. That bit was right and I’m just one point short at 1.043, with post-boil being three points short at 1.045. I’m not too concerned with either of those, but I need to sit down properly one day and try to figure out why I’m always about 3-4 litres off my target volume after mashing. Maybe a side-by-side comparison of my adjusted hardware profile against the B40 default in Brewfather is the place to start.

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Mar 202103Wed

Having another go based on my last extract attempt, this time using Brewfather for guidance instead of Brewer’s Friend. Things I’m doing differently:

  • Using 5g yeast instead of the whole 10g packet, also adding half a gram of yeast nutrient (magnesium sulphate, vitamins, minerals) to the rehydration jar a couple of hours before pitching.
  • Plugging the correct values (alpha acids, attenuation, etc) in at the start so that I don’t have to deal with surprises during brewing. Having done that it all looks OK, but the calculated FG of 1.008 was right on the lower threshold for this style of beer until I corrected the batch recipe to more accurately reflect the LME addition; just over half at 45 minutes boil, the remainder at flameout. FG then jumped up to 1.011, which is about halfway for this style. Result!
  • Topping the boil up to 3 litre mark instead of 4. Last time I couldn’t get the wort down to pitching temperature as quickly as I’d liked, so by boiling one litre less I’m also freeing up another litre to use for chilling.
  • Dry-hopping no more than 2 days from the end. The last attempt actually reached FG in just 3 days at 19 – 20 ℃ and I let it ride another 4 days with hops, so this time I may dry-hop on day 5 and bottle on day 7. Hoping to achieve 1.011 as planned since I corrected the recipe, something that I didn’t (couldn’t?) do with the last batch at Brewer’s Friend.
  • I’ll actually use Citra finishing hops as planned this time around. 🤫

Brew Day Notes

Nothing unexpected happened this time, no panic at all. I used the Brewfather app on iPhone to guide me through the boil additions and keep track of time, and it worked flawlessly. Topping the saucepan up to 3 litres after adding just over half the DME proved to be a good move, but trying to keep a relatively small amount of liquid at a constant temperature using an electric hob proved to be a challenge, with me bouncing between 88 and 93 ℃. In the end I lost almost exactly half a litre due to boiling.

When it came to throwing the wort into a fermentation bucket for mixing I first dumped in 5 litres of Tesco Ashbeck mineral water which had been in the outside freezer until it was slush, barely making it out of the widemouthed bottle. Even so I was slightly high at 25 ℃ and ended up throwing in 1.5 trays of ice cubes and another litre of chilled tap water. This brought the temperature down to 16.5 ℃ – more than I expected – and raised the volume to 8.5 litres according to my shoddy marking on the bucket, and dead on 9 litres according to the markings in my SS Brewtech mini bucket.

OG was measured at 1.043 (exactly as per batch recipe, once I adjusted it to 9 litres from 8, and I pitched the jar of yeast + nutrient at 17 ℃. There was already a small island of bubbles in the jar, so I’m hoping for a rapid start to fermentation. Shame I can’t see into the stainless bucket though, definitely an advantage with the Fermzilla.

SS Brewtech Mini Bucket
Jan 202127Wed

Been a long afternoon, but I’ve finally taken a step further towards true brewing with my first extract attempt, fingers crossed this works out.

The Ingredients

  • Tesco Ashbeck bottled water, around 9 litres
  • 1.2 kg Mangrove Jack’s light LME (i.e. 1 whole bag)
  • 20g Cascade hop pellets (planning to dry-hop one FV later)
  • 10g ale yeast

The Plan

  1. Add half the LME to large pot, top up to 4 litre mark with water
  2. Heat to around 90 ℃ while stirring
  3. Throw in 6g Cascade hops and start 45 minute timer, maintain temperature
  4. When 15 minutes remain, add another 6g Cascade, maintain temperature
  5. Fill fermentation vessel with 2 litres ice cold water
  6. Hydrate 5g ale yeast according to manufacturer’s instructions
  7. When the timer’s done, turn off heat and mix in the rest of the LME, transfer immediately to FV
  8. Top up to 8 litre mark with hot / cold water to achieve pitch temperature of 18 or 19 ℃
  9. Stir vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes, take OG reading – should be around 1.044 according to calculator
  10. Add the hydrated ale yeast, fit lid and airlock, leave at 18 or 19 ℃ for 10 days

Brew Notes

Having a plan is all very well, here’s what really happened. These notes were made on-the-fly and I’ve not had a chance to tidy them up, maybe I never will. Bit tired right now.

  • Noticed that Brewer’s Friend recipe shows Cascade as having 7% Alpha Acids, but mine are labelled 4.9%. When I changed the percentage on BF I was too low, so I altered the 45 and 15 minute drops to 10 g each instead of 6 g each.
  • Hops added bang on 90 ℃ and the brew turned green and threatened to foam, but settled down again with stirring
  • Going to pitch 2 x 3g Ale Yeast instead of 5g since I’m using two Ashbeck FVs instead of a single vessel. Instructions say to soak yeast in clean container at fermentation temperature using previously boiled water. Wonder how much yeast I’ll lose since it’ll be a sticky mess instead of an easily pourable sand.
  • Added the remaining 600g LME at the 5 minute stage, temperature dropped to 88.5 ℃ but recovered for the remaining time.
  • Prepped cool bucket with about 2 litres cold water, poured in boil – 94.6 ℃. Topping up to 8 litres took a whole 5 litre bottle of Ashbeck, did I really lose more than a litre of water in boil?!?
  • Even with 5 litres of near-freezing water we’re still too hot at 39 ℃ so I’m dropping this bucket inside a larger one filled with cold water.
  • 15 minutes on and I’ve only dropped 10 ℃. Off to prep the yeast.
  • Digital scales not registering anything as I add the yeast to the two ramekins of previously boiled water, presently at 19℃. Poured most of a 10g bag into one before I realised, tried to correct by emptying the remainder of the bag into the other ramekin and then visually evening it out, which is nearly impossible since it’s a grey sticky mess now. Just going to hope for the best and cross my fingers – 5g of yeast (give or take) per 4 litre FV is quite a lot.
  • Bucket’s still at nearly 30 degrees, way too hot for the yeast. Removed it from the ice bath and decanted into the two 5 litre FVs, the latter of which may have received more hop sediment than the first despite stirring beforehand. I used a funnel instead of the bottling wand, at least both brews are well and truly aerated now. Individual ice baths while I measure SG from the sample collected from the bucket before separating.
  • Gravity comes in at 1.044 – bang on as predicted by the recipe builder. Impressive!
  • Yeast pitched at 21 ℃ and not too difficult, since most of it had dissolved completely in the ramekins and could be poured into the FVs via a funnel, rinsed out using a splash of wort and the turkey baster.
  • Both vessels are using my new airlocks secured with grommets rather than the glued-in bungs I used last time, but at least one of them is leaking as I can see the levels equalise on both sides when I squeeze and release the sides of the bottle. I’ll have a go a drilling some fresh tops tomorrow to see if I can get a better seal for the grommets.

Lessons Learnt

  • Get better at preparing / estimating amount of cold water needed – shouldn’t need to chill with another vessel when there’s a dedicated freezer and plenty of bottled water available.
  • Get some decent scales! Need to be able to measure hops and especially yeast with better accuracy. (done)
My recipe on Brewer’s Friend (PDF version)