I’m back, and I’m brewing. I wonder if anyone missed me.
I am finally brewing at home (my home, rather than my dad’s) and finally doing all grain (technically brew in a bag, but it counts). I decided to go for small batches – 5l or so – which meant that setup was a lot cheaper and easier, especially for a small London flat. Also, this means I can try lots of recipes and refine the ones I like without having to go through 40 bottles at a time.
So I planned to do a few hoppy pale ales to start with and ordered some pale malt, a bit of crystal malt and then some Amarillo and East Kent Goldings hops. The first beer was a sessionable 4% Amarillo APA, which would hopefully be packed with citrus and resin flavours, and then I want to do the same grain bill but with EKG hops. The first would be fermented with US-05 yeast, for a clean, American pale finish, and the second will use S-04 English ale yeast for a more fruity flavour.
My dad very helpfully delivered all the equipment over the weekend, and on Sunday I made my first foray into proper brewing. This is the recipe:
Style: American Pale Ale
Batch size: 5.5 l
Boil volume: 8.0 l
Bitterness (IBU): 58.6
Color (SRM): 12.7
1.10 kg Maris Otter Malt, 83.3%
0.075 kg Crystal 50-60L (British), 16.7%
5.00 g Amarillo (AA 8.7%, Whole) 60 min, 19.3 IBU
15.00 g Amarillo (AA 8.7%, Whole) 10 min, 21 IBU
15.00 g Amarillo (AA 8.7%, Whole) 0 min, 0.0 IBU
15.00 g Amarillo (AA 8.7%, Whole) dry hop
American Ale yeast, 0.5 unit(s), Yeast Safale US-05
I weighed out my grains while the water heated up, and fitted my mesh bag into the pot for the mash. I used the brew in a bag (BIAB) technique that is so much simpler, quicker and easier than conventional brewing. Basically, you put the grain in the bag, put the bag in the pot and after 1 hour at mash temperature, remove the bag and start your boil. Easy! The bag I ordered, however, was a small, coarse straining bag which was both too small and too coarse. But, the mash went well, holding temp at 66°C for the hour, at which point the grains were removed and the pot brought up to boiling.
My first hop addition went in when it reached a boil, and this is where the beer gets most of its bitterness. The later hop additions are for flavour and aroma, and this is fairly heavily hopped for such a small batch.
After the boil, I put the pot in a sink full of ice and water to bring it down to room temperature ready for the yeast, who at this point were being rehydrated in a little warm water. This, I think, was the only error in the day: that I didn’t leave the wort to cool long enough in the water bath. I transferred it into my sterilized fermenter bucket but it was still just over 30°C, too hot for the yeast. I sealed the bucket, shook it to aerate and cool the wort but the temp only came down by a degree or two. the kitchen was pretty warm at this point after the hour boil, so I put the wort in a cool corner to sit while I cleaned up.
Eventually pitched the yeast at about 27°C (not ideal) and left it. This morning, the airlock was blooping away and a thick finger of foam lay across the top of the near-beer. Oh, and the smell coming out of the airlock was wonderful, lots of hop aroma, with the still sweet malt underpinning it. I plan to see how it’s going after a week and then dry hop it with more Amarillo for maybe 5 days.
It was all actually worryingly simple. But let’s see how the beer turns out before I get too complacent.