I feel a bit pale

Still don’t own a decent burner, so I’m doing another extract beer because it can be done on the stove, and well, meh. So I’ve plumped for a Black Rock Pale Ale and I’m going to throw in some extra hops to see what happens…

I’ve recently acquired a big plastic water carrier (23L) so it means going to Speight’s for my spring water is a far less hasslesome task than a mountain of empty milk cartons and considerably less hasslesome than passing 20 litres of tap water though a filter jug. So, armed with a big box of chlorine-free H²O, a can of malt extract and some leftover hops from the last all-grainer I did, here goes.

I’m actually getting to know the routine quite well now, so the order in which stuff needs to happen is almost second nature. Even though I wash and sanitize all my equipment after each brew, I still do the same before the next brew, just in case. My basement is pretty dusty and even though everything big has a lid on it, and everything small is in a ziplock bag, I take absolutely no chances. So, all sanitization is carried out while I’m bringing 8L of water to the boil up in the kitchen. When I’m trying to cook a steak, this gas stove seems way too powerful – our smoke detectors will attest to this – but bringing 8L to the boil makes it seems tiny and pathetic, and I resolve to do no more beer until I’ve acquired a rocket fuel booster jet like the Bayou Classic I borrowed. Anyway, fast forward something like half an hour, and we’re ready to start introducing stuff to other stuff.

By the way, I should have taken a photo – I had all my ingredients (already weighed out) and equipment laid out neatly on the kitchen bench, it really makes things easy having everything to hand. Since I first read chapter one of ‘How To Brew’ I’ve never really bothered to read the instructions on the can of extract, preferring to follow John Palmer’s instructions instead, but I did pick up a useful nugget from the Black Rock instructions: Stand the can in a pan of boiling water for 10 mins before opening. Softening up the viscous gloop before pouring makes it so much easier to empty the can. Can’t understand why I’ve not read (or thought of) that before because it’s blindingly obvious.

So this time, I’m chucking in a full Kg of sugar rather than the 820g I’ve used previously. We’ll be aiming for a slightly stronger brew this time. In it goes, along with about 35g of UK Northdown hop pellets. Normally with extract brews I’ve just started the cooling process pretty much here, but I decide, due to the extra hoppage, to bring it back to the boil and hold it there for 10-15 minutes. Not sure what effect, if any, this will have but it seems like the right thing to do. And brewing is as much art as it is science, right?

The cooling process is really getting refined now. I’ve already set up a small paddling pool down in the garden, with cold water flowing into it, and I get the hot mash tun down into it quick smart. The wort chiller (which earlier I had to virtually sand clean of dust and shit) goes in and down we come. The hosepipe filling up the paddling pool is wedged near the base of the cooking pot, so there is fast flowing cold water going around the outside, while the chiller does its magic from the inside, and I’m stirring the contents fairly regularly so the temperature drops to the magic 23 deg in a little over 10 minutes, which is great news.

Into the fermenter goes the 8L of wort, poured from a height to aerate it (this is not something I’ve paid much attention to before), then the cupful of pre-hydrated yeast (it’s 11g of the old faithful, SafAle US-05). Then 14L of cold water, from an even greater height and we’re done.

I’m using the fridge/STC1000 again, instead of the incubator. I’ll write more in depth about why that’s still sitting on the trailer in my garage some other time…

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