This is my second brew in the space of a month. The once seemingly limitless rows of bottles on my beer shelves has dwindled to the point that I need to make more, and soon. It’s also a chance for me to try out a couple of new toys!
So, I was trawling the web for a good pale ale recipe and I chanced upon a Little Creatures Pale Ale clone, and in BIAB format too. I’ve drunk a lot of this beer recently, as it’s one of the only craft beers they sell on tap in my work’s current favourite watering hole. This is the first time I’ve tried a clone of something I actually know, so this time I’ll have something to compare it to. Or I would have done if I could have obtained ALL the required hops, with no substitutes. I’m really putting my beer’s authenticity in the hands of the guys at the Malthouse – so far I’ve no reason not to trust them, so if they say Motueka is an acceptable sub for Galaxy hops then who am I to argue?
- Ale Malt – 3.7kg
- Munich I – 225g
- Wheat Malt – 225g
- Caramunich II 75g
- East Kent Golding – 16g
- Galaxy (I used Motueka instead) – 10g
- Cascade – 26g
So, new toy #1 is a digital thermometer. What the hell was I thinking, trying to get by with a candy thermometer? This makes it so EEEEEASY. Best $40 I ever spent. It’s even got an alarm so I know when I’ve reached my mash temperature. It also helps that I’ve got more used to the delicate ‘throttle’ on my burner, but I have been able to leave the thing for almost a whole hour without needing to fuck about turning it up and down constantly. Because the candy thermometer was so small, I had to remove it from the wort and blow the steam off it every time I needed a reading, which can’t have been anywhere near accurate. Oh well, these things we learn by experience. Note – it appears that the thermometer (actually a meat roasting thermometer) is not 100% accurate. Even though the wort is clearly boiling, the display only shows 99 deg. This means that my mash temp was a degree or so more than I thought, but I’m not too bothered by this.
So, this time I am trying a few minor changes in order to improve my efficiency. I’ve agitated the bag in the kettle a whole lot more this time, really ensuring that as much water flows through the grain as possible. I’ve tried to extract as much liquid from the discarded grain as possible. I’ve been MUCH more accurate with my mash temperature. I dread to think how much fluctuation there was with the previous set up. I’ve paid more attention to the mashout this time (not really mentioned in the last recipe I used). And this time I have some DME standing by just in case I need to bump up the SG 🙂
I’ve created a starter again this time, although I probably didn’t need to, given that this beer is only going to be around 5% at the most. One fellow brewer makes a starter every time, just so he knows he has good yeast – I can see his point, you wouldn’t want to use up 3 hours and a bucket of grain only to discover that your yeasticles were firing blanks. Anyway, MY yeast (a good ole SafeAle US05) has made a good start on devouring all the malt extract I fed it yesterday. No problems here.
New toy #2 is a refractometer. Courtesy of Aliexpress I’ve been able to get one for $30. I know the quality of the stuff you can buy on this site is generally poor but it’s worth a punt. Even if it’s not totally accurate, it will be very useful for determining if fermentation is still occurring, without having to draw off (and consequently waste) 100ml in order to use the hydrometer (which was only $10 so not likely to be totally accurate either. One drawback with buying shit off a Chinese website, the product descriptions are not brilliant. Turns out I’ve bought one measured in Brix rather than SG, so I’ll have to convert each time. Never mind.
So, the SG was not as high as I wanted (but an improvement on last time). I toss in a pound of DME as insurance. We’ll see…
nb This is the LAST time I try and do a brew on a week night. The boil has only just started and it’s already 21:30. I’m not going to bed until midnight at this rate, because I’m one of those people that just can’t leave the dirty pots until the morning. They are so much harder to clean if you let them dry…