Saturday, May 28, 2011

AG #9 - Furious IPA - Recipe

Next weekend in Ireland is the June bank holiday weekend, with the weatherman assuring us of nice weather to come, it's definitely time for a brew day. This recipe is based on a clone recipe of Furious IPA by Surly Brewing, the recipe appeared in BYO magazine. I have tweaked it a little bit but essentially I am trying to re-create the Surly Brewing beer, a flavourful, hoppy, American IPA.Here's how Surly describe this beer:

A tempest on the tongue, or a moment of pure hop bliss? Brewed with a dazzling blend of American hops and Scottish malt, this crimson-hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee. For those who favor flavor, Furious has the hop-fire your taste buds have been screeching for.

Sounds good....

Furious IPA

14-B American IPA
Author: Mark/Surly Brewing

BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
Size: 23.04 L
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 206.76 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.062 (1.056 - 1.075)

Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.010 - 1.018)

Color: 33.37 (11.82 - 29.55)

Alcohol: 6.11% (5.5% - 7.5%)

Bitterness: 73.8 (40.0 - 70.0)


6000.0 g Maris Otter
336.0 g Belgian Aromatic
408.0 g Crystal Malt 60°L
68.0 g Roasted Barley
17.0 g Ahtanum (6.0%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
34.0 g Columbus (15.0%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
10.0 g Columbus (15.0%) - added during boil, boiled 2.0 min
8.0 g Amarillo (8.5%) - added during boil, boiled 2.0 min
8.0 g Simcoe (13.0%) - added during boil, boiled 2.0 min
8.0 g Ahtanum (6.0%) - added during boil, boiled 2.0 min
8.0 g Amarillo (8.5%) - added during boil, boiled 0 min
8.0 g Simcoe (13.0%) - added during boil, boiled 0 min
8.0 g Columbus (15.0%) - added during boil, boiled 0 min
1.0 tsp Irish Moss - added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1.0 ea WYeast 1335 British Ale II

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yeast - Dry or Liquid?

When it comes to making beer, it has been said a million times before, but is worth reiterating; yeast makes beer, not brewers. The importance of this statement is not just to explain the part that yeast plays in turning your sweet wort into alcoholic beer, but rather to emphasize the fact that if you want to make good, or even great beer, then yeast should be one of your focus areas. There are lots of yeast strains to choose from but one of the first decisions to be made is whether to use dry or liquid yeast.

Dry Yeast

Dry yeast is probably where most homebrewers will start. If you begin with kit brewing you would normally get a sachet of dried yeast included with your kit. Once you move onto extract or all-grain brewing you then have the option to continue using dried yeast.

Varieties: There are a limited number of yeast strains available in dry form and that is due to the fact that not all yeast strains can be freeze dried successfully. Popular dry yeasts include US05, US04 and Nottingham.

How to Use it: The optimal way to use dried yeast is to rehydrate it prior to pitching. To do this simply get a plastic bottle and fill with 100ml of boiled water and let it cool to 20-25c. Then pour the sachet of yeast into the bottle, but do not shake. Cover the top with some foil and then let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then you can gently swirl the bottle and allow to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Once you wort has cooled to roughly 20c you can then pour in the contents of the bottle and stir it in.

Pro's: There are a number of advantages of dry yeast. It is relatively cheap compared to other forms of yeast and it is also very easy to use.

Con's: The main downside of dried yeast is the limited variety of yeast strains. Also as with any food stuff that has been dried it certainly loses some of the flavours and freshness that you would get with a liquid yeast.

Summary: An easy to use dependable form of yeast that is particularly good for beginner homebrewers who wants to focus more of their attention on other elements of the brewing process.

Liquid Yeast:

Liquid yeast is the choice for more advanced homebrewers. Due to the wide choice of yeast strains it allows you to brew a beer with the specific strain that is traditionally used.

Varieties: Yeast strains available in liquid form number in the hundreds and style specific strains allow for a much more authentic brew to be made. 

How to Use it: Liquid yeast normally comes in two distinct forms. Either pitchable yeast which can be used straight from the vial or alternatively the yeast may require a starter wort to be made. The simple instructions on creating a starter wort are detailed on the packaging, and although time consuming is very straight forward.

Pro's: The advantages of liquid yeast really lie in two main areas, firstly the variety of strains allows for much greater choice. Secondly, once prepared correctly, it can offer a much healthier yeast as it is much fresher. Another option is to reuse the yeast slurry from a batch of beer and so it can be used through a number of batches.
Pitchable yeast allows you to pitch
directly into a 5 gallon batch.

Con's: The disadvantages of liquid yeast are that it is more expensive that the dried version and also if you use a form that requires a starter wort to be made this can be quite time consuming.

Summary: When choosing which type of yeast to be used I would recommend that beginners use dried yeast. This is due to the fact that when beginning to brew there is quite a lot of processes to get your head around and the added complication of having to prepare a yeast starter is probably something the beginner can do without. For more advanced brewers I would suggest it is a matter of 'horses for courses'. If you are brewing a simple sessionable pale ale you can do no wrong going with the dry yeast strain US05. However if you are brewing a beer that requires more of an input from the yeast to create its flavour and profile I would certainly look at liquid yeast options.

Further Reading: Wiki - Yeast
How to Brew, John Palmer - Chapter 6: Yeast (online edition)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Troubleshooting - Homebrew Haze

I have been drinking the results of my most recent homebrew, Lady Liberty Ale, and while the taste profile was exactly what I was looking for, a light sessionable pale ale, the one problem with the beer is that it is quite hazy. While this is an aesthetic thing it is quite annoying and so I set about investigating the different causes of haze to see if I could make sure that I could address any problem in my process that could have led to this. Haze in beer can be one of two types, it can be permanent or temporary.

Lady Liberty Ale; tasty,
but hazy.
Permanent haze in beer is typically caused by two different kinds of process, biological or non-biological. Biological basically means that your beer has been infected. In this instance I do not think that the beer in infected, it has no off-flavours or smells and so I believe that the issue that caused the haze in this case is non-biological. If it was a biological infection the most likely cause would be poor sanitation, as sanitation is something I am very fastidious with when brewing I do not think this is the issue. Permanent non-biological haze is more than likely caused by an excess of starch built up due to an issue in the brewing process. This is a rare occurrence and so the focus of my investigation will be in relation to possible temporary haze, temporary haze can be caused by a number of issues.

Chill haze in beer is caused by proteins bonding with polyphenols and becoming insoluble, this occurs when the beer is cold and so as the beer warms they should dissolve once again. Chill haze in beer needs to be fixed through a process change, it is important to get your wort boiling quickly at the start of your boil to enable a good hot break, similarly it is important to chill your wort quickly post-boil in order to get a good cold break. Achieving these two breaks quickly should reduce the risk of chill haze in your beers. Another thing that will help solve this issue is to use a fining agent, Irish Moss or Whirlfloc can be added to the kettle 10-15 minutes from the end of the boil (personally I use Irish Moss).

Brewers don't make beer, yeast
does and healthy yeast = tasty beer.
The second possible cause of temporary haze could be from the presence of residual yeast in the beer, this is caused when yeast calls do not settle to the bottom of the fermentation vessel once fermentation is complete. You can solve this issue through a little patience, the typical conditioning period of 2 weeks can be extended and more time conditioning should encourage the yeast to settle out. If you are really concerned you can use another fining agent called Isinglass which can be added to the beer after fermentation.


In my case I believe the haziness is due to two problems; chill haze and residual yeast. To test whether this was purely chill haze I poured a glass from the keg and left it for a few hours to warm up, although there was some improvement in clarity the beer still appeared hazy. Secondly I read back through my notes and noted some issues with the yeast, 1) it was right at the outer edge of its use by date and 2) it did not completely ferment out as I would have expected it to and finished a couple of gravity points too high.

In order to address these issues I will make two changes to my brewing process for future batches. To address the chill haze problem I will make sure to have a good rolling boil throughout the 60 minute boil (at times in the past I have had the tendency to switch off one of my elements and just maintain a weak boil). Secondly to address the issue of residual yeast I have decided to invest in a wort aeration system that will allow my to oxygenate the cooled wort prior to pitching the yeast. This should create a very healthy environment for the yeast to do its work in.

Further Reading/Reference:

Brew Your Own Magazine, Hazy Homebrew by Betsy Parks, May-June 2011, p. 11
The Home Brewers Answer Book, Ashton Lewis, p. 312-314
How To Brew, John Palmer, Appendix C - Beer Clarity, p. 277-281

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brewing Equipment - Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel (SS) brewing equipment is the dream of all homebrewers, it's shiny, it looks cool and it looks semi-professional, all things that appeal to us brewing geeks. However the major draw back is the cost! All of my all-grain equipment (fermenters, kettle, mash tun) was sourced or made with a total outlay of about €200 (approx. $300). Here is a quick comparison of the costs:

BoilerMaker Brew Kettles, the
Rolls Royce of home brewing.
My kettle is a converted 33 ltr plastic fermentor that has been fitted with two kettle elements, a hop strainer and a tap, this was a DIY project and cost me about €60. An 8g SS kettle with tap, thermometer and false bottom will cost a minimum of €150, the really good ones (like boilermaker) could cost three times this amount.

My mash tun is a converted 28 ltr cool box, I bought this already converted at a cost of about €85. An SS mash tun with tap, thermometer and false bottom starts at about €250.

My fermenters are all plastic, I have both bucket and carboy types, each costing €10-15 each. An SS conical fermenter will cost you in the region of €700-800!

My DIY Kettle.
Living in Ireland adds another layer of cost as these products are not available in Ireland and so you will also be paying to ship them from the US or UK.

The reason for my post on this topic is that I have been considering switching some of my equipment to SS. Initially I think I will look to replace my kettle, I have found a US eBay shop that has 8g SS kettles with thermometer and tap for about €180 (including postage). I will then use my current kettle as a hot liqueur tank (HLT). The next step after this will then be to replace my Mash Tun with SS and then finally (probably in the very distant future) I will look at investing in a SS conical fermenter. All of this is further complicated by the fact that the switch to SS in my boiler will mean that I will also need to invest in a gas burner and some form of stand, as my current set up is all electric.

Whoever said that home brewing was cheap? It may be cheap to get into, but once it has it's talon like claws in you it will drag you down the route of wanting the cool equipment, however it will probably pay for itself in 20-30 brews :-)

For your viewing pleasure here are some links to some shiny brewing equipment:

BoilerMaker Brew Kettles
Hop & Grape SS Mash Tun
Blichmann Conical Fermenters