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)
( 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)
( Mar. 17th, 2014 08:48 pm)
Big beer is trying hard for first gloop. Density 1.052

Small beer
wort #2 without honey=1.020
wort#4 =1.022
combined together and with the honey=1.026

Quote from last year:
"Small beer has been fermenting for a week and has slowed right down. It’s not quite finished but I’ve bottled it anyway. I figure it will carbonate slightly by the last of the ferment. No sugar charge, don’t want to overdo and we don’t need the extra alcohol. Density at this stage is 1.012, down from 1.027, so around 2% alcohol"

So we have similar starting density, but with honey included and some darker malts present. We also have 27.5L in the fermenter! I think we drank most of the 15L I made last year.
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2013 05:15 pm)

.


Has been fermenting for a week and has slowed right down. It’s not quite finished but I’ve bottled it anyway. I figure it will carbonate slightly by the last of the ferment. No sugar charge, don’t want to overdo and we don’t need the extra alcohol. Density at this stage is 1.012, down from 1.027, so around 2% alcohol. I can test again later, no one is going to be too fussy about exactness in this measure at festi. I’m happy to report it now tastes pretty nice. The orange and spices have come through. It sort of tastes like beery dilute orange juice- but more pleasant than that sounds! Let’s hope it keeps well and doesn’t overpressure.

There was 20L in the fermenter. That has been packaged up into:
10L carboy with tap
5 x 1.25L PET bottles
4 x 500ml glass bottles as pictured. These at least will not go to festi

I haven’t enough brain for a creative name. I did find enough brain to make labels that go the other way! This was to better cover the sticky patch on the PET bottles, but is a cute option that I may use again.
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)
( 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!

.

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