Wednesday, November 24, 2010

AG #7 - Red Hopper - Brew Day

Had a chance last week to brew one of two beers I have planned for Christmas. This first beer is a hoppy red/amber ale called Red Hopper. The recipe for this can be found here. There were a couple of brew day challenges with this one, but overall I was pretty happy.

The grain bill came to just under 6kg, and the target ABV I hoped to produce was about 6.4%, there was quite a lot of crystal in this one, along with a little black malt. The brewing salts (white in the pic above) was just some PH 5.2 stabiliser, which for the moment is the only chemicals I use in my brews.

The first challenge I encountered on this brew day was the temperature. The air temperature was about 3 or 4c and this meant that I found it very difficult to hit my strike temeperature and also to hold the mash at the right temperature. I lost a staggering 11c in water temperature when I transferred my brewing water from the kettle to the mash tun. This led to me having to infuse the mash with two kettles of boiling water just to get the temperature to where I needed it. In future when the weather is this cold I will make sure that I heat my strike water to at least 15c over the target temperature.

Pleanty of aeration achieved when transferring to the fermenter. I pitched my starter of American Ale II yeast and the fermenter was happily bubbling away within 8 or 9 hours. However when I took a gravity reading after 5 days the beer had only dropped to 1026, ordinarily I find that my beers ferment out completely after 3-4 days. The reason for this I am guessing is due to my issues with the temperature of the mash. The low temperature probably produced a less fermentable wort and so there is not as much sugar in the wort for the yeast to consume. I think that what will be required with this fermentation will be patience and also maybe a little stirring to re-suspend the yeast and encourage them to continue their work. Hopefully a total of 2-3 weeks in the fermenter should do the job.

I mentioned at the start of this post that this is one of two beers I wanted to brew for the festive period, the second will be a version of Palmer's Lady Liberty Ale which I hope to brew in the next two weeks. I'll post the recipe once I have it finalised.

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