montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 27th, 2014 09:14 am)
While slightly under the influence last Friday night, I volunteered to make beer for an event. Mrsbrown asked "what would make this event fun for you", or words to that effect. My first answer was "clothes that fit", closely followed by "making a brew for it". So... a few days later, I have done more reading, decided on a brew and ordered the grain.

I'm going to have a second try at what I was attempting for last festival. This time I will order the correct grain and not mix it up with a second recipe. This is the Irish Red recipe from Classic Styles, with a few small changes. I've halved the amount of roast barley because the type I can get is darker than the one the recipe calls for. I've swapped out a little of the pale malt for smoked malt. I'm going very cautious on the smoked, don't panic. A proper rauch beer recipe has 33% beech smoked malt. I'm only using 5%.

Nods to 16/17th century brewing:
-Low levels of specialty malts. The old recipe I'm looking at just says "malt". I've read some things that suggest early malts were all dark. Others think it was paler but likely mixed in with some bits that got too hot. Wood smoke was almost certainly involved.
-a smallish amount of low alpha acid English hops, added only at the start of the boil.

I'm not using historical mashing technique though. I'm not set up for gravity mashing. So I'm aiming at a line somewhere between authenticity and a tested recipe. I also don't want to serve anything much higher than 5% alcohol for safety/health/limiting intoxication reasons. The old recipe has twice the malt, which would mean something less than twice the alcohol (efficiency of sugar extraction drops with higher grain to water ratio). Later, when not under pressure as the only brew for an event, I'll have a go with these ratios and see what happens. I'd like to know better how to imitate the old malt though.

I'm still evolving my plan for the small beer. I think I'll keep it simple and not use either honey or spices. If it comes out a bit tasteless, I can steep the orange and spice and add it in later.
montjoye: (Default)
( May. 30th, 2014 10:01 pm)
Yay. I did all the beer things tonight that I hoped to.

Three things bottled:

Scottish Ale
4doz and 7. ~4.5% alcohol.
A nice, clean, not very dark, ale. Still suspicious that it and the festival big beer might have had their specialty malts mixed up in some random way. Maybe, maybe not. Still, this one seems to taste pleasant and we drank almost all the festival beer.

American (very) Pale Ale
5doz. 5.1% alcohol
This is a brew from scratch version of the American pale I once made from the G+G "artisan wort". I liked it lots. 10B made special mention that he liked that one too. The more true to style American pale ales are bigger, fuller. This is closer to what I think of an Australian craft APA.

Weird small batch small beer
2x500ml. <2% alcohol.
Made from 1L wort left over from festival brewing, with a hefeweizen yeast I didn't expect to otherwise use. Brew vessel was a 1.25L PET bottle :-). I haven't tasted this yet. I'll wait at least the 2wks carbonation time and then choose some brave fellow tasters.

I've also set up the new mash rig ready to go for tomorrow's brew. There is a new proper eye bolt for the pulley, new rope with an experimental detachable and therefore washable bit. This is to be able to clean off the sugary wort so the rope doesn't stay perpetually manky. There is also a new (to me) metal chair that will be used as the urn bench, so I don't have to carry out my medjeeval box, or get it covered in sticky wort.

Clean up and labelling can happen in between brewing tasks tomorrow. Too tired now.

montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 1st, 2014 10:18 pm)
is in the barrels!
Thank you so much to doushkasmum for doing all the presoaking, sterilising and general barrel wrangling. Including moral support and lifting assistance with the actual putting of beer into barrels.

Making quick notes here of the last stages:

Yesternight I sampled and measured densities

Big beer had stopped bubbling, but the sample was still efferevescent and cloudy (which says not finished to me). Density was 1.017, target 1.014. In a perfect world I'd wait a week or two more before bottling. but Festival waits for no brewer. So into a barrel it went. Last year I calculated that a cup of sugar for a 25L barrel was the same quantity as the standard bottle measure multiplied out. So, given that last year's beer was in a similar state, I used only half a cup of sugar for carbonation. This year we cut that in half again and put only a quarter cup in the barrel. We are a bit worried about the liquid and gas tightness of said barrels

Small beer was still glooping slowly. Honey will have that effect. Density yesterday was 1.004. No target as I don't have a modern recipe to work to. We added only half a quarter cup sugar to this barrel.

Fingers crossed!!

I have belatedly calculated alcohol levels
big beer=4.6%
small beer=2.8%
montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 30th, 2013 05:37 pm)
For my records, and maybe your interest.

I've racked the Apricot Cider to a clean fermenter. There was rather a lot of pulp which I wanted to leave behind prior to bottling. I added 200ml of sugar which is what I calculate is the equivalent of bottle charging. Except I was too overwhelmed by other things today to contemplate bottling. So I suppose I have to let that sugar ferment and then add another lot on bottling.

I strained the remaining 2L through cloth and let it settle overnight. Now I'm drinking the mostly clear liquid. It tastes light and perfumed, perfectly pleasant, though flat of course. It's not sweet but it is less dry than the harvest cider.  It's also 5.5% alcohol but doesn't taste it. More after the extra sugar ferments. Density at this stage is 1.006.

1 week later- bubbling had stopped so I bottled it with another sugar charge. Fingers crossed. Most went into my stash of rekorderlig bottles.

BTW- I sampled the scottish ale today. It hasn't finished carbonating. Not really surprising given how cold it has been. It's a bit sweet, which is slightly icky but will correct. Otherwise tastes good but very light.  I'll be planning my next beer to be higher alcohol! I was going to mash on Sat but couldn't face it, or even the prep for it due to both the work situation and an overload of other projects.

I also did the next step of the orange bitters on Sat. Strained off the (water) liquid through a cloth, squeezed for maximum volume and flavour. Boiled briefly to sterilise. Added sugar syrup (2T raw castor, 1T water, warmed to dissolve). Combine all this with the brandy infusion. This now needs to settle and I'll rebottle if sediment drops out. Still smells amazing. It's about half as strong as it should be by the recipe, but hopefully that means it will still work by using twice as much.

montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 20th, 2013 07:42 pm)
I bottled the new Scottish Ale on Sunday. 3wks after pitching the yeast. 5doz and 4.

My starting density was 1.042, (recipe) only 1.038. Does this imply that some of my grain choices were not right?

Finish Density 1.020 (recipe 1.014). So was it actually finished? there had not been gloop or density change for days despite heating. I don't think it ever got cold enough to kill the yeast either. So I hope it was finished, otherwise I may have another fountaining ale on my hands.

Resulting alcohol content=2.9%. Recipe was targetting 3.2%. Wish I'd noticed that, I'd have done a heavier version. This one was called "Scottish Heavy" so I thought it was a reasonable choice. Just as well I quite enjoy a lighter alcohol beer.

Scottish Ale
Stocks in the Montjoye beer cupboard are getting dangerously low. There are plenty of things that I want to make, but I only have equipment for one at a time. I am resisting buying more gear, not only due to cost, but I’d have to find homes for the extra kit.

Anyway, I bottled this year’s harvest cider on Wed May 22nd. It is pale and cloudy. Very strange. Density at bottling was 1.004 but neither I nor Weaver remembered to take a starting density. Is it pale because we used Campden tablets? I’ll be interested to see Weaver’s versions to compare. He used Camden in only the first batch. Flavour is still a bit sharp but no where near as acidic as last year’s batch. No crab apples this year, we didn’t have people to spare to go pick them. 25L starting volume – one shy of 6doz stubbies.

So the fermenter was free and I had an unbooked weekend. Thusly on Friday night late, I ordered the grain for the Scottish Ale I have been wanting to brew. I love that one can submit an order in the middle of the night and still go pick it up the following morning! I’m glad this is a simple brew, ‘cause I woke all hazy and work-hungover on Saturday. Went down to the brew shop and said “I’ve had two beers and still can’t wake up”. Of course I meant coffees, not beers, which just illustrates how hazy I felt. I’m still thick headed today actually.

details, details... )
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2013 09:32 pm)
A day after filling the barrel, it sprang a leak again, same place in the lid. That weak spot just cant handle the pressure. I let off the pressure at the fill hole, bad for both carbonation and keeping. After much angst and a little discussion, that night I tipped it upright so the leaky lid is uppermost. The next morning, as I feared, it was spilling the ferment gas (CO2) from the leak. I wet it and put a weight on. Now I have found some beeswax, melted a little and poured it on the leak. Seems good so far, Yay. I think I’ll take that happy smile in the wax pattern as an omen for here on in.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 12th, 2013 09:00 pm)
You can't tell by looking but that there barrel is now full of beer.


density just before filling was 1.018. Only 3.5% alcohol it seems. It does taste like beer. I'll be very interested to see what it is like after two weeks in the barrel. I added < 1/2cup sugar- this is half or less of a normal sugar charge for carbonation in an attemp to avoid fountaining beer.

The process of getting the barrel ready for the beer was arduous and stressful.
argh )

Small beer
is now set up to ferment. Two 10L carboys of wort. One kept at room temp (pretty damn warm at the moment, 26deg or so), One in the fridge. Together we have a starting temp of 19C, density 1.027. Nottingham Ale yeast. The wort doesn't taste of much. I don't think those fuggles hop flowers were fresh enough to offer much. There is very little bitterness or even flavour from the orange and spices. Might be different when not masked by the sweetness? We will see.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2013 12:22 pm)
gloops 2min apart
density 1.020. fizzy still. Not finished then. Should get to 1. 010-1.016.
tastes like beer though! rather nice actually, though not strong. I think this will be very quaffable.

I wonder if three more days will do it? or if I should wait to Tues 12th to barrel? I'll test again on Wed and decide then.
montjoye: (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2013 06:00 pm)

Extra Special Festival Beer, plus ‘sperimental small.
Ha, and wave to Batty. Now I realise what those initials remind me of  :-)

Much yabbering about details. Process, recipe, timing… )

Things I want before next time:
-a proper eye bolt for the shackle- it’s just tied up now, one day this will give way I’m sure
-a better arrangement for hooking the rope at different levels
-a better scale- mine struggles to make up it’s mind between 0-5g. Not good!

Tired now, and hot. It got to 39C on the back verandah, despite the tentish cloths I hung to keep most of the sun off. I've still to do the last of the washing up... but I have two new worts!

montjoye: (Default)
( Oct. 1st, 2011 09:54 am)
Ferment really slow, density at 1.013.
Much clearer which says basically finished to me.
Taste not as good, but maybe breakfast coffee wasn't the best palate prep.

I might bottle tomorrow, or one evening next week. It's a good brainless evening job.
has just been started

Ingredients and method identical to #1 except
-I used "Styrian Golding"s Hops ( a Slovenian variant of the English hop "Fuggles"-developed in the late 19th C- so Victorian and therefore steampunk! supposedly has more earthy character and less sweetness than the older "Goldings" hop) *
-I used the (5.5L) added water(half warm, half hot) to further extract the sugars/maltiness etc from the grain bag.
-I hydrated the yeast (boil a cup of water, allow to cool to barely warm, add yeast, leave for 10-15min. Goes all creamy and a bit foamy)

Starting density 1.048
temp 25deg- a bit warm but so was my last to start. By the time the yeast wakes up it will have cooled.

*I didn't know all this when I bought it simply on the recommendation of the brew shop chap (the nice one that I first spoke to, yay). He chose it for something different to Goldings that was nice and fresh, unlike their stock of Fuggles proper (great name eh?). BUT one can learn many things by googling.


montjoye: (Default)


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