Bitter Brewing…

On May 3, 2008, in Family and Friends, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

Brew SculptureI slept in until 9:15 a.m. (woohoo!), and walked around in a daze for fifteen minutes. At 9:30, I lit the brew sculpture burners, made a pot of coffee, and pulled my feeder wort out of the fridge to warm up a bit. After a quick shower, I heated the feeder wort, and then decanted off the nasty starter beer from the 1600 ml White Labs Premium Bitter Ale yeast, WLP026 starter, and fed it another 700 ml of wort. It is back on the stir plate and the airlock is bubbling away like crazy.

I turned off the strike water burner at 161 degrees and mashed in. Final mash temp was right on the money at 153 degrees.

I changed the Old Man Bitter recipe a bit, as I’m apt to do in the days leading up to a brew day, to reflect the British nature of this brew. I wish I’d had some Marris Otter on hand for the bulk of the grist, but the closest thing I had was Golden Promise, so I split the bulk of the grains between it and standard 2-row. I also mixed up the crystal malts a bit add some complexity to the bitter. The updated recipe is as follows:

Old Man Bitter
8-C Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)

Size: 10.00 gal
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 272.61 per 16.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.061 (1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 12.8 (6.0 – 18.0)
Alcohol: 6.04% (4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 41.12 (30.0 – 50.0)

Ingredients:
0.7 tbsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer – added during mash
11.0 lbs Golden Promise Malt
10.0 lbs Pale Malt(2-row)
1.5 lbs Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
1.2 lbs Toasted Pale Malt
8.0 oz Crystal Malt 120°L
4.0 oz Crystal Malt 20°L
4.0 oz Crystal Malt 10°L
2.0 oz Fuggle (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60.0 min
2.0 oz Fuggle (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 30.0 min
2.0 oz Goldings – E.K. (4.8%) – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1.0 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2.0 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2.0 oz Goldings – E.K. (4.8%) – added during boil, boiled 1.0 min
1 1600 ml starter White Labs WLP026 Premium Bitter Ale

Lately my efficiency has been up and I attribute that to extended recirculation, while I mash-out. I figure that for the last ten batches or so, I’ve recirculated 75%-125% of the wort back through the mash while the temp slowly climbs to mash-out temps. I know for a fact this practice clears the wort going into the boil kettle – and far fewer chunks of malt from the grist wind up in the boil. I didn’t mash-out on my first fifty batches, and I really don’t think it negatively affected the taste of the final product, but I do know that my recent batches have fallen clear faster than in the past, so I do see that as a benefit.

John - The best neighbor possible!12:15 p.m. – Ahhhh! the aroma of Fuggles boiling away. Being a major hophead, I typically use west coast types of hops in the majority of my brews. They tend to have the citrusy, piney and floral aromas of IPAs and pale ales, and these Fuggles lend a more “earthy” and subdued aroma to the boil. The aroma filling my backyard is a pleasant sign of the simple session ale that will come from this brew session.

John, the inspiration for this bitter brew, stopped by and had an ale (or three:). When I finally get my act together and get a sign made for the bar, it’ll be named after one of his favorite phrases when offered a beer – “Well, just to be sociable!”. The bar will be called Sociables. Let’s face it, homebrewing, and beer drinking, is all about being sociable! Additionally, this bitter’s name is also inspired by John. Those of you who know me well know that I am a rabid (long suffering:) Seattle Seahawks fan. John has been gracious to share his 49ers season tickets with me for the last six or seven years. We always go see the 49ers vs. Seahawks game together, sharing a friendly rivalry. The second year we went, the Seahawks won the game, and as we were waiting for the crowd to subside so that we could get out of the Stick, a drunk 20-something 49er fan, started throwing popcorn at me (I was in my blue Seahawk fan gear) and talking trash. John looked up at the jerk and said, “That’s not very nice!”, to which the drunk shouted back, “What are you going to do about it, Old Man!” I thought John was going to leap three row of seats to go kick the drunk’s ass! I grabbed him in a big ‘ole bear hug and held him back. He later thanked me for keeping him out of jail, but for me it was self preservation. You see, he had the car keys in his pocket and I really did want to get home:) So to John, I say, “Old Man, this bitter’s for you!

2:15 p.m. – The Old Man Bitter is in carboys. I oxygenated the wort and popped on two Carboy Covers, and put the ale to bed. The original gravity is 1.064. This should be a nice session ale (at least as much of a session ale a 6% ABV ale can be:) in 4-5 weeks!

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Old Man Bitter on Deck

On April 30, 2008, in Family and Friends, Homebrewing, Music, Recipes, by Mark Ranes

Old Man Bitter LabelIt’s time to brew an English Bitter, in honor of my next door neighbor, John. John is probably the biggest fan of my beers, after Stephen, and never fails to sing the praises of the beer in his hand. John is very English and is always teaching me new phrases I can use to amuse and excite my friends. Old Man Bitter is an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), hopped with Fuggles and East Kent Goldings, traditional hops of English ales. It also features a pound toasted 2-row malt that adds a biscuity note to the ale. I’ll be using one of White Labs Platinum Series yeast strains, Premium Bitter Ale yeast, WLP026. The last time I brewed this ale I used White Labs Dry English Ale yeast, WLP007, so it’ll be interesting to see how it differs. The last batch attenuated almost too well and seemed to lack the chewy mouthfeel I like in my beers. The Premium Bitter yeast doesn’t attenuate quite as well and has a more estery quality that should suit itself well to this ale. Here are the recipe particulars for Old Man Bitter:

Old Man Bitter
8-C Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)

Size: 10.0 gal
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 75.0%
Calories: 268.34 per 16.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.060 (1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.010 – 1.016)
Color: 9.5 (6.0 – 18.0)
Alcohol: 5.95% (4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 41.12 (30.0 – 50.0)

Ingredients:
2.0 tbsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer – added during mash
21.0 lbs Pale Malt(2-row)
1.5 lbs Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
1.2 lbs Toasted Pale Malt
1.0 lbs Crystal 15
2.0 oz Fuggle (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60.0 min
2.0 oz Fuggle (5.0%) – added during boil, boiled 30.0 min
2.0 oz Goldings – E.K. (4.8%) – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
1.0 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2.0 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2.0 oz Goldings – E.K. (4.8%) – added during boil, boiled 1.0 min
1 1600 ml starter White Labs WLP026 Premium Bitter Ale

Saturday is brew day. I’ll be mashing in to Marley about 9:30 a.m. Have I told you lately how much I love brew day? 🙂

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TAFTBD IPA Brew Session

On April 20, 2008, in Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

 

Chillin' with a wonderful Summit IPA!The Teach a Friend to Brew Day IPA is currently chilling (as I am with a Summit IPA:).  The brew session went well once I quit chasing the temperature of the mash.  I always wig out when the mash temp is not where I expect it to be once I mash in – always forgetting that I need to wait for it to stabilize.  Initially it seemed high and I dropped in a couple quarts of cold water to drop it, and then it was way low, necessitating a couple quarts of water from the hot liquor tank.  Maybe I just need to have a pint and chill out with some good tunes when I’m mashing in!

It’s funny how your perspective changes as to the value of a particular brew, with this ale requiring such a large amount of hops.  But in the big picture of things, it is worth it.  I love the big hop front-end of this ale, backed up by the huge malt backbone.  This is truly one of my house ales that needs to be on tap all the time.

A huge boild for Teach a Friend to Brew Day IPATAFTBD IPA has got to be one of the most aromatic boils I do, of all my ales.  Each addition of hops causes a crescendo of aroma that permeates my back yard, as well as the nearby neighborhood.  I just love brewing this ale!  John came over towards the end of the boil and at that point I had a couple ales.  I’ve learned that my brews turn out better (like I don’t forget to add things at the right time:) if I wait to have an ale until late in the boil.  The ice on my pre-chiller is almost gone and the temp is right on track at about 72 degrees.  I’ll be dropping the wort into the carboys in just a few moments.

Weighing hops for Teach a Friend to Brew Day IPAThe only difference to the recipe I posted earlier, is that I added a half pound of corn sugar as I have been doing lately with all my IPAs.  I like how the corn sugar helps dry out the ale a bit.  It also help me hit my projected OG.  The TAFTBD IPA came in at 19 brix, or an original gravity of 1.076.  This should be a quality ale in eight weeks!

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Wow! Wyeast 1388 is a Workhorse!

On March 24, 2008, in Craft Beer, Homebrewing, Stuff..., by Mark Ranes

Jeez – just a little more than 48 hours later, the Belgian Strong Golden is all but done! The airlock is only bubbling about once every 30 seconds and there’s a huge yeast cake on the bottom of the carboy. Tomorrow morning I’ll give the carboy a swirl (yea, I’m a swirler:) to re-suspend the yeast and hope to get a couple more points off the final gravity. I’ll not rush this ale out of glass, so it’ll sit on the yeast for at least ten days, if not longer.

On a completely different note, when I woke up Saturday morning, eager to brew the Belgian Strong, I noticed that one of my eyes was red – like a small blood vessel had burst, but it didn’t look too bad. My eyes are often pretty funky looking and red after taking a shower, so I didn’t think a whole lot about it. But within an hour or so it kinda blossomed (if you look carefully at Saturday’s pictures you can see it:) and over the next day it started looking pretty bad. Brenda suggested that if it didn’t get better I ought to call the optometrist’s office and see what they had to say. By Sunday, it looked bad and I had pretty well decided to call the eye Doc on Monday morning.

I called this morning and they reassured me that the burst blood vessel wasn’t dangerous, or even that urgent, but I could come in if I was worried. A strange coincidence, I’d planned on getting an appointment for a regular check-up this week since I’m on spring break. Of course, they had no last minute appointments available, but put me on the “call list.” Well, I got a call about 3:00 p.m. today saying that they had a cancellation for 4:00 p.m., so I jumped at the opportunity:)

The doctor looked at it, laughed (he’s an old family friend:), and said I had a good one indeed!

Red Eye Mark

It may take as long as a month for all the blood to drain out and make the eye look normal again. Great…

Tomorrow is a full day. We drop Brenda’s Jag off in Livermore to get worked on, I have a leather jacket to return to Wilsons in Pleasanton, then it’s off to EJ Phair (they currently have Drakes IPA and Schooners IPA as guest handles – yum!) in Concord – and a quick trip to MoreBeer. Once we pick up Brenda’s car, we’re heading down to Redwood City and the Paul Thorn show. Life is good!

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