Saturday, June 18, 2011

AG #9 - Furious IPA - Brew Day

Over the June bank holiday weekend here in Ireland I got the opportunity to brew, the recipe is based on a clone recipe for Furious IPA (by Surly Brewing) that appeared in BYO. The thing I like about brew days is trying something new and on this particular brew day, an additional piece of equipment allowed me to try out two new techniques.

Three Tier Gravity Fed
Set Up
The new piece of equipment was a HLT (hot liquor tank), having a dedicated vessel for heating my strike and sparge water allowed me to brew using a three tier gravity fed system. Basically your three main brewing vessels (HLT, Mash Tun and Kettle) are set up so that you can move the liquid from one vessel to the next during the brewing process using only gravity. In the picture to the right you can see this in action. HLT can be seen with the foil insulation, blue cooler box mash tun in the middle and then my kettle at the bottom.

The great advantage of this set up is that it allows me to try out a new technique which was continuos sparging. This in essence means that once your mash has completed (in my case after 60 minutes), instead of draining off all of the wort and then filling the mash tun again with water (known as batch sparging), you can simply open the tap from the HLT to your mash tun and then the tap from your mash tun to your kettle. As the wort drains into the kettle, new water is replacing it in the mash tun. This technique is great as a time saver and also gives you a really good grain bed in the mash tun to filter your wort through. The one slight downside some people find with this technique is that mash efficiency can drop, mash efficiency calculates how efficient your process is at getting fermentable sugars from the grain into your wort. However I have to say that I did not find this to be the case, I achieved an efficiency of 73%, which is pretty similar to what I get when I batch sparge.

First Wort Hopping
Due to the fact that I now could use my kettle purely for boiling wort (before I had a dedicated HLT it also doubled up to heat my strike and sparge water) I can also try out another new technique, first wort hopping. First wort hopping entails placing hops in the kettle and then starting the flow of wort from the mash tun into the kettle. It is another technique for getting hop flavour into your beers and it is said to give a nice balanced bitter flavour and not the harsh bitterness you sometimes get when too much bittering hops are used.

This beer is a bit of a hop monster, with over 100g of hops used for the 7 gallon batch it has IBU's in the region of about 70 and an ABV a touch over 6%. I transferred this to the keg today and had enough left over to fill about 10 bottles. The clarity of the beer was perfect, which was something I struggled with in my last beer, but I am glad to see that the few tweaks I made to my brewing process seem to have solved this issue. The taste was fantastic, very hoppy with a nice malt base. I am really looking forward to trying this beer, however I am going to be patient. A week conditioning at room temp in the keg will be followed by a week of cold conditioning, I will then force carbonate for a week. Will report back next month with some tasting notes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eight Degrees Brewing

I spoke today with Scott from Eight Degrees Brewing, the latest entrant into the Irish craft beer market. Based in North Cork, Eight Degrees is taking a slightly different trajectory than other Irish craft brewers. Their vision is to produce their beers in 330 ml bottles and look to sell them by the six-pack. This is something that would be very common in the American market but something that Irish brewers have not yet tried. Currently most Irish brewers sell their beer in 500ml bottles. Scott hopes that this packaging will differentiate them in the Irish market.

The beer they will be releasing initially will be Howling Gale Ale, and this looks set to be followed by a red ale and a porter. I tried the Howling Gale this afternoon and it was very good. Bittered strongly with Chinook at the start of the boil, it is then finished off with Amarillo and I think Centennial, all of this hoppiness is backed up by a nice sweet malt base. The beer will be bottle conditioned and Scott says that their bottling set up will allow up to 48 bottles a minute and so we should hopefully be seeing six packs of Howling Gale available in your local off-licence very soon. Better still is the price point, the six-packs will be sold for approximately €12, will special pricing reducing it to closer to €10 on occasion!

Howling Gale will also be available on draught and should be reaching pubs in the next week (Bull & Castle, Against the Grain and L Mulligan Grocer, all in Dublin, will be getting kegs shortly).