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A few low rumbles.

About the blog

The blog is generally for friends to share what I have been getting up to but also for the public if there is anything of interest.

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Brewing & Beer Posted on 11 Apr, 2012 13:58:58

It was bound to happen sooner or later! Splat!

4th Brew ‘Ell’s Rocker Ale’

Brewing & Beer Posted on 09 Apr, 2012 21:02:27

With my 3rd brew conditioning its time to steam on with my 4th brew.

Photo: The 3rd brew (IPA) seems to be clearing up nicely.

I based my recipe on a recipe pack but changed it quite a bit – using some real malts and also upped the strength and darkened the colour using crystal malt. I’m not sure how this one will come out really, its a bit of an experiment. (Recipe at end).

This is going to be my final extract based brew as I have bought some all-grain brewing equipment. The good quality extract is far too expensive, brewing from all malt really lowers the cost per pint (disregarding the initial spend on equipment). So with that in mind I decided to do a full volume boil so that the only new procedure for the next brew is going to be the actual mash.

I have a new boiler (traditionally called a copper) 32 litres, made from stainless steel. This allows me to boil 26 litres comfortably while still leaving room to prevent boil-over and allowing space for the hops and cooling coil. The boiler is fitted with a mesh ‘hop-blocker’ on the outlet valve so I don’t need to use the nylon bag anymore when adding hops.

I did my mini mash in the nylon bag with 6 litres of water in my old pan at 68 degrees for an hour and a sort of sparge by tea-bagging the nylon bag in the brew boiler which had 20 litres of water in it. I then poured the 6 litres into the boiler and boiled. At this point I added some of my malt extract, I added most of it in the last 15 minutes of the boil.

After boiling for an hour and adding the hops at the correct times I cooled the wort with a copper coil immersion chiller that uses cold water from the tap to cool the mixture fast. I found that including losses from boiling, soaking into the grain and the hops and dead space in the boiler that I got my 23 litre (aprox 5 gallon) fermentation volume. I’ll probably lose a few litres due to the yeast forming at the bottom of the fermenter so I’m expecting 20-21 litres (36-37 pints) of beer from this one.

The measured gravity of the wort after boiling was 1.059 which was spot-on what was calculated for the recipe so my ‘brewhouse efficiency’ is indeed around 60%. We’ll see what it really is when I stop using extracts.

Photos, top left: The new boiler… boiling with the hops visible on top. Top right: The drained boiler showing the spent hops and the copper cooler coil. Bottom: The batch fermenting in the cellar next to my 3rd beer conditioning.

The recipe:

Title: Ell’s Rocker Beer

Brew Method: Partial Mash Style Name: Old Ale Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 23 liters Boil Size: 26 liters Efficiency: 60%

Calculated STATS:

Original Gravity: 1.059 Final Gravity: 1.014 ABV (standard): 5.96%
IBU (tinseth): 47.89 SRM (morey): 19.14 (brown-dark brown)


3 kg – Dry Malt Extract – Light (63.8%)
1 kg – Maris Otter Pale (21.3%)
0.7 kg – Crystal 140L (14.9%)


25 g – Cascade (AA 7) for 60 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
20 g – Nelson Sauvin (AA 12.5) for 60 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
10 g – Nelson Sauvin (AA 12.5) for 15 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
20 g – Nelson Sauvin (AA 12.5) for 0 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Aroma


1) Decoction, Temp: 65 C, Time: 40 min, Amount: 15 L
2) Sparge, Temp: 65 C, Time: 10 min, Amount: 20 L


Danstar – Nottingham Ale Yeast
Starter: No
Form: Dry
Attenuation (avg): 77%
Flocculation: High
Optimum Temperature: 13.89 C – 21.11 C

3rd Brew Ell’s American IPA – brewing and racking.

Brewing & Beer Posted on 07 Apr, 2012 17:44:52

So I went ahead brewing (31st March 2012) that ‘american IPA’ based upon the recipe in the last blog entry. Again I went with my partial mash method combined with some dry malt extract as I currently don’t have the facility for a full volume (~25 litre) boil or the required cooling for that matter.

The OG of the wort after boiling came out at 1.059 which is a little lower than planned because couldn’t boil a big enough volume so had to dilute down further than planned to hit the batch volume.

Photos: Left: Water was poured over the grains to simulate the sparge. Right: The hops were added to the boil using the same (washed) grain bag.

I mashed at with a single infusion at 65 degrees celcius and sparged at about 70 degrees. Instead of repeatedly dunking the bag this time I simulated a sparge by putting the grain bag into a colander which fits the diameter of the boiler. I was then about to pour hot water gently over the grains to dissolve the extracted sugars.

I cooled the boiled wort simply using a water bath in the sink and pitched a packet of hydrated dry yeast. The fermentation went pretty vigorously and after 3 days the krausen (yeast head) died down I added more hops to the fermenter (in the bag again that i’d tied a knot in). This is called dry hopping and it should give a great aroma to the beer.

Today I transferred the fermenting beer into a 2nd slightly smaller fermenter (made from a water cooler bottle) and added some finings to help clear the beer. I realise now I should have added some ‘Irish Moss’ (seaweed) finings to the boiler in order to help coagulate some of the proteins so I was worried the batch might come out cloudy. Hopefully the beer should clear up a bit in the secondary fermenter even if I have to add a little bit more yeast at bottling.

Photo above: The beer conditioning in the secondary fermenter. There is no heater in this one so it should cool to cellar temperature (about 10 degrees).

3rd Brew Ell’s American IPA

Brewing & Beer Posted on 31 Mar, 2012 21:33:57

Here is the recipe for my ‘american IPA’ style beer I started brewing today. Details to follow:

It is based on the ‘Way to Amarillo IPA’ but I wanted to do a partial mash to give me an excuse to play with real malt. I also wanted to up the bitterness to my taste so I decided to also use chinook hops. I’m going to dry hop that bad boy with 30g chinook and 30g amarillo for some serious in-your-face aroma. I hope!

Title: Ell’s Amarillo IPA

Brew Method: BIAB Style Name: American IPA
Boil Time: 60 min Batch Size: 21 liters Boil Size: 12 liters Efficiency: 70%

Calculated STATS:

Original Gravity: 1.057 Final Gravity: 1.014 ABV (standard): 5.58%
IBU (tinseth): 50.85 SRM (morey): 5.36


2 kg – Dry Malt Extract – Light (47.6%)
2.2 kg – Maris Otter Pale (52.4%)

40 g – Chinook (AA 13) for 60 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
20 g – Chinook (AA 13) for 30 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
20 g – Amarillo (AA 8.6) for 0 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil
30 g – Amarillo (AA 8.6), Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Dry Hop
30 g – Chinook (AA 13), Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Dry Hop


1) Decoction, Temp: 65 C, Time: 40 min, Amount: 8 L
2) Sparge, Temp: 65 C, Time: 10 min, Amount: 4 L


Wyeast – American Ale 1056
Starter: No
Form: Liquid
Attenuation (avg): 75%
Flocculation: Med-Low
Optimum Temperature: 15.56 C – 22.22 C


Method: cane sugar
Amount: undecided

2nd Brew: Bottling and Tasting

Brewing & Beer Posted on 31 Mar, 2012 21:25:35

A few weeks ago I bottled up my belgium old pec after 3 weeks in primary fermentation. I primed the bottles with dark soft molasses sugar.

Its really come out great- a final gravity of 1.011 from the bottle puts it at about 8.1% alcohol – the taste is superb and surprisingly quaff able. It started off seeming quite sweet (at bottling day) and now that seems to be reducing as it conditions.

I just have to attempt to not drink it all now while it reaches peak flavour. The only way for me to do that I think is – brew more!

2nd Brew: Brew Day

Brewing & Beer Posted on 26 Feb, 2012 20:32:50

So here we go, I set out making my belgium old and peculiar. I will be doing a partial mash, that is some of the ingredients are real malted barley but i’ve made up the rest with extract. The reason for this is equipment – to do an all grain brew of 19L I’d have to be able to boil and cool (quickly) about 20L of fluid.

The first thing I did was in the morning boil 10 L of water to sterilise it and let it cool while covered over a few hours.

In the recipe I’ve chosen 1 kg of belgium pale malt and 250g of black malt (to give it the dark colour). I mashed these between 62-65 degrees C.

Here is my mash, I’m using a method I found:

It uses a fine nylon bag to keep the malt husks separate so I don’t need a mash tun with a false bottom or manifold – I can do it all on the stove top.

What I’m doing here is converting starches to soluble sugars. The bag of malt is kept in the water for about 30 minutes. The ‘spurge’ is replicated by using the bag like a tea bag in some more water at 65C for about 10 minutes so a little more starch can also be converted to sugar. I hit an efficiency of about 70% using this method which is really quite good.

After removing the bag and combining all the liquid I brought it to a boil and after the hot break (the foam appearing on the top) added the first of the hops. Using the same hops as Old Peculiar -> 60g of fuggles (2010 harvest 6.1% AA) these are known as the bittering hops as they are added at the start of the boil.

I added more hops 30 mins into the boil and 15 minutes from the end which contribute more to the aroma than the bitterness. I used the same (cleaned) bag that I used for the grain to boil the hops.

After an hour of boiling (total) the hot wort has to be cooled as quickly as possible, this is best achieved using some sort of chiller system but I did it just by immersing the outside of the pot in cold water in the sink. I had to change the water 4 or 5 times but I got the temperature down to 30C within about half an hour. The cooled wort is then added to the 10L of preboiled water I had waiting in my fermenting bucket vigorously. The whole lot is agitated to get some air in there – it is important at this stage apparently.

So there it is, my brewday complete. The gravity of the cooled wort turned out to be 1.073 which was exactly what I was aiming for! More luck than judgement though I think.


The fermenter stashed in the cellar where it will remain for some time. This is a long brew, it needs at least a week in this – then if I can I will rack it into a secondary fermenter for another couple of weeks then bottle. The bottles will need aging for several months though I think. I might add some champagne yeast at bottling.

2nd Brew: Belgium Old and Peculiar

Brewing & Beer Posted on 26 Feb, 2012 19:28:13

With a possible success of my first kit brew I decided to abandon all the sensible advice that beginning brewers should follow established recipes. So I looked at a few different recipes for clone beers of different kinds to get a feel for what people are doing and decided to make my own. A couple of my favourite beers are ‘Theakstons Old Peculiar’ and Belgium Doubles. So I thought I’d aim somewhere down the middle and make my “Belgium Old and Peculiar” beer.

This is what I came up with:

Ell’s Belgium Strong Old and Peculiar

Method: Partial Mash Style: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Boil Time: 60 min Batch Size: 19 liters Boil Size: 9 liters Efficiency: 70%


Original Gravity: 1.073 Final Gravity: 1.013
Alcohol ABV (standard): 7.76% Bitterness IBU (tinseth): 23.06
Colour SRM (daniels): 27.7 (dark brown -> black)


Amount Fermentable PPG °L Bill %
1.5 kg Liquid Malt Extract – Light 35 4 29.7%
1.5 kg Liquid Malt Extract – Amber 35 10 29.7%
0.8 kg Golden Syrup 36 80 15.84%
1 kg Pale Ale 38 3.4 19.8%
0.25 kg Black Patent 27 525 4.95%


Amount Variety Time AA Type Use
60 g Fuggles 60 min 6.1 Leaf/Whole Boil
20 g Fuggles 30 min 6.1 Leaf/Whole Boil
20 g Fuggles 15 min 6.1 Leaf/Whole Aroma

Mash Steps

Amount Description Type Temp Time
5 L BITB Decoction 65 C 40 min
4 L Sparge Sparge 65 C 10 min


White Labs – Belgian Strong Ale Yeast WLP545

Attenuation (avg):




Optimum Temperature:

18.9°C – 22.2°C





My First Brew Pt3: Tasting

Brewing & Beer Posted on 25 Feb, 2012 17:47:05

1 week after bottling:

Colour: Brown

Alcohol: 3.8-3.9% ABV

Carbonation: light

Bitterness: High

Body: Moderate to Full.

Head Retention: Good

It has come out as quite a tasty bitter, with a lot of flavour! Absolutely not like an IPA though but its all good.

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