Monday 23 November 2009

Shot for collaborating

Well, I should be for my poor efforts at doing a collaborative brew

Whilst on young Rob's stag do we discussed the possibility of doing a joint brew. It seems the in thing for brewers do be doing at the moment. It also seems to be taken as an opportunity so show how zany and cutting edge you are, so naturally my thoughts turned to doing something like a black IPA or a pale, hoppy mild. Fortunately I must have sobered up at some point and thought bollocks to that and we decided to do an IPA. After a discussion about the recipe we decided on doing this:

In the mash tun.

Pale malt: 96.5%
Crystal malt: 2.5%
Amber malt: 1%

(Note: all percentages refer to extracts not by weight)

Target OG: 1064

In copper.

Boil for 1 ½ hours with the following additions.

Northdown 90min (for 40 IBU)
Northdown 15min (for 3-5 IBU)
Challenger 3min (for 1-2 IBU) + copper finings
Fuggles 0 min added after wort had cooled for 30 min

Rob had the first go and didn't quite hit target gravity but otherwise seems to have done OK.

I propagated some EdsLab Chiswick yeast last week as it's similar to the one Rob used. Brewing  started on Sunday morning and fell at the first hurdle. I rummaged around my grain store and saw I didn't have any crystal malt. "Oh, bugger" I thought. I'd forgotten I'd used up all my crystal malt stocks doing my Christmas beer. I had some British cara malt so I used that instead but felt bad about introducing another variable to the collaboration so soon.

The rest of the brew day went fine until I check the original gravity of the wort. It was way over. I'd aimed to go a bit high so I could liquor back to the gravity Rob had achieved but not this high. I used to be very stable in the extract efficiency I'd get out of my home brew set up but since having a university brewing education, working as a brewer and of course discovering Jims beer kit I've been making some changes. I'm getting higher efficiency now, and making better beer, but the change in efficiency means I misjudged the amount of grain I needed. 

When I was diluting the wort down to get to the target gravity I had to bring in a second fermenter to hold all the wort. At this point I realised I may be diluting the sugars to the amount I want but I'm also diluting the hops past the point I want. Once again, I found myself going "Oh, bugger". 

I'm disappointed that I didn't do as well as I'd hoped at matching Rob's brew. Simon will be doing his version soon and it will be interesting to see how he gets on. I suppose I can take some consolation in the fact I have gallons of IPA fermenting away, and it will still be interesting to see how it compares to my friends efforts. 

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