Today was a glorious day for making a good home brew beer. Here in the sleepy town of Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham you would think nothing could go wrong …..
This type of brew was a first for me, being a SMASH beer (single malt and single hop) based around a Maris Otter barley base and 100g of Ella Flower Hops from Australia! The brew was planned for additions at 15 minute intervals. I originally got my inspiration from drinking a Brewdog single hop ale called IPA is Dead: Ella which i found really quite amazing.
First of all, I weighed out 7.0 KG of Maris Otter Barley into the brew bucket. While I was doing this, the water heater was steadily raising the strike water to around 77 °C. After the boiler thermostat control flicked off, a test with the digital thermometer confirmed the temperature. The mash tun was pre-heated with a kettle of boiling water, rinsed and then the strike water was added.
The landing temperature of the 28.0 litres of water sat at 71°C, the Maris Otter grain was added (7.0 KG) which brought the mash temperature to a respectable 67.1°C.
The mash stirring was a real pain, i found that trying to photograph, whilst adding the grain and then attempting to stir in is quite difficult. Anyhow ,I spent a good minute or making sure that the mash was well stirred in and crushing any formulation of dreaded dough balls. I didn’t waste too much time as I wanted the mash to stay at around 66°C.
Thankfully the mash stir in gave a conveniently pleasant 5.3 PH, so luckily the calcium carbonate & Lactic acid remained unused and no water treatment was needed at this stage. The mash tun was sealed and remained in situ for 1 hour to allow the ferment-able sugars from the Maris Otter barley to immerse into the mash.
The colander and jug were ready as two jugs of wort were collected and recirculated over the top of the mash to let the grain bed filter settle and obtain a clearer wort.
The colander was used to distribute the wort fairly evenly, not disrupting the grain bed too much.
The first running’s were then collected in the brew kettle.
In this brew, I sparged the grain with the sparge water and gently pushed the top of the bed down slightly to enable full immersion. The mash tun was re-sealed and I left the immersion of the grain for a further 30 minutes. The aim was not to disturb the grain bed filtration and add any nasty tanning to the wort.
Following the collection, I fired up the gas burner, with the brew kettle on to to get the brew going, only to find that the gas canister had run out of gas. Great. Now comes the real act of dexterity….
After lugging the (heavy and cumbersome) brew-kettle into the kitchen (and trying not to spill any), the burner fired up, the canopy extractor kicked in and the brew was fortunately saved.
After the brew had started a rolling boil, additions of 15.0g of Ella Flower Hops were added. One at the start, then every 15 minutes until the end of the 60 minute boil. Each addition was added in a hop filter, in an attempt to get a cleaner brew. In the final 10 minutes, I added 2 x teaspoons of yeast nutrient and a teaspoon of fining (in the form of Irish moss) to enable prompt protein coagulation in the beer.
The sterilised copper heat exchange was added to the brew to, before taking outside for rapid cooling. The rig runs from the outside tap, through the copper coil and into the outside drain. A trickle system works wonders here and also prevents too much wasted water.
A final gravity reading of 1059 was taken of the cooled wort (room temperature) before the brew-kettle contents were transferred to the steel fermenter. At this point, I wanted to enable as much oxygenation of the wort as possible and let the run-off splash from a good height to generate a good froth in the fermenter. Yeast was also added in the form of a recycled (fridge stored) M44 US West Coast Yeast which was saved from a previous trub in a brew from a few weeks ago. After racking to mini kegs and bottles I’m hoping for a 6.2% IPA style (post carbonation) beer. 40.0g of Ella dry hops were added to the fermenter after three days. So far so good!