Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pantry Clearing Bitter

I decided at the last minute that I wanted to brew today. I had some hops and grains in the pantry that needed to get used up so I figured I'd plug the amounts into BeerSmith and see what I got. Turns out I could use most of my leftovers on a 3.5gal batch of ordinary bitter. Most of the hops were pretty old so I intend to use them for bittering (reserving the oz of Saaz for a Belgian sometime). Picked up a couple of ounces of fresh hop pellets for aroma and a packet of S-04 to round out the recipe.

It's pretty cold in Ohio right now so I had trouble hitting my mash temp at first (138°F instead of the target 154°F). I figured that might happen so I mashed a little thick at first expecting I'd need to add a couple of quarts of near boiling water to get the temp right. The second addition was more like 157°F which was good since it's dropped a bit even in my cooler. I did a starch test due to the temperature issues to make sure I got full conversion and ended up with slightly more than a 60 minute mash. The grain bill is mostly pale malt with a mix of UK and Belgian 2-row since that's what I had leftover. A small amount of chocolate malt for some color and a little roast rounded it out.

A 60 minute boil with 2 hop boil additions and some at flame out clears most of my hops. The Styrian Goldings was a little more aromatic than the Fuggles and Amarillo so it's going in at 30 for some flavor. I bought Challenger and Pilgrim (both UK sourced) for some aroma and both go in during cooling. Pre-boil gravity was a smidge low at 1.028 but I suspect my efficiency was low because of the lower volume (greater percentage lost to dead space)

An unfortunate problem I encountered during my cold weather brew experiment is that a turkey fryer thermal valve will not stay open in 20° weather and occasionally catches fire since the o-ring shrinks. Luckily, my stove will boil 3.5 gallons without a problem so I just moved indoors. I eventually got up to a full boil at about 4:15 in the afternoon.

The boil was uneventful after that. I decided the cold was going to help me this time so I'm chilling outside right now. The aroma hops went in at chill time. Two new varieties for me: challenger and pilgrim. Challenger has been a staple for British styles for a while but I've always used the older varieties. Challenger seems to have a nice spicy and slightly musty smell. Jenn thinks it smells like mustard greens and I can't say I disagree. The pilgrim is a little less powerful with a spice and lemon nose.

I'm planning on drinking this one young so watch for updates and tasting notes in a few weeks.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Noble hop information

Just wanted to link everyone to a nice blog entry on noble hop characteristics and substitutions. It's a nice, succinct entry on the four noble hop varieties and is a nice read for beginner and advanced brewers.

Beersmith blog entry on noble hops