I have had a very successful brewing start to 2018. I decided to try my hand at an all-grain stout recipe, and now, having finally tasted it, I can truly say that I have brewed a cracking beer! This recipe was a milk and chocolate stout, with a long and complicated grain bill including oats, brown malt, and cara wheat grains. I found it interesting how stouts and porters are truly an expression of the grain profile involved, and the hops take more of a back seat- something which is unusual in today’s day and age of hoppy craft brews.
For the first time I also decided to use my local tap water for the entirety of the brewing liquor. Having ordered a lab test of it late last year, I was confident that it was good enough to brew, and for this batch the only alteration to the liquor was the use of a single Campden tablet to eliminate the chlorine. For the next batches I am planning to use dry mineral salts to alter the composition of the water to better suit the style of beer which I will be brewing, but more on that later…
I am pleased to announce that the stout turned out delicious! I have even received a comment saying that it is better than some of the stouts available commercially- which to a home brewer is one of the highest compliments. The lactose sweetness really comes out, as well as aromas of chocolate and coffee. The level of carbonation is quite low, which I feel compliments the beer perfectly. To finish it all off it has a lovely off-white head which looks really appealing in my opinion.
For the label I have decided to remove the side panel and go with a more graphic approach. The space man was really due to the dark nature of space, much like a stout, and the fact that I loved the illustration as soon as I came across it. Without further ado, here is the final version of the label:
I called the brew “Milky Nibs” as I used cacao nibs as an adjunct during the fermentation, and of course as the brew contains lactose sugar milk had to be involved in the title somehow. Overall I feel the design is quite striking, hopefully the drinkers of my beer will agree! At 4.5% it is also dangerously sessionable, and I for one will be drinking a few of these bad boys in the coming weeks.
I have just finished another brew day, so keep an eye on the blog for the write up of that coming sometime next week.
So it’s been a little while since I posted an update to this blog (since my Summer APA post back in July to be precise) so I thought I would write a little bit about what has happened since then.
I have not lost my passion for brewing- quite the opposite in fact. Since the Summer APA I have brewed a Midsummer Ale, a Harvest Pale Ale, and a single hop wonder called the Amarillo Armadillo. I will be posting a little breakdown of how each brew went and some tasting notes for you soon, but I think they were quite successful brews each in their own right. Since the D’n’Ale I have also made the leap to all-grain brewing, which has been both extremely challenging and rewarding. All grain brewing involved purchasing another piece of equipment needed for this process (a mash tun of course) but now I have complete control over the quality and style of the finished beer. Furthermore, having now brewed two batches using the all grain method, I can safely say that I will not be going back to extract!
We have also had a second successful hop harvest in autumn, with the yields from the hop plants out in the garden being much more impressive than last year!
Exciting times ahead with a lot more brews scheduled. Next up- a milky chocolate stout. Super excited for the next brew and cannot wait to document it on here.
Hey there readers,
So, as promised in my last update, my next brew (also from extract) was another American Pale Ale (APA). The Spring APA was quite a successful experiment, but for this batch I wanted to amp up the hop content and really get both the hop bitterness and aroma that is characteristic of this style. In order to do this, I once again used Citra as the bittering hop, and my own home grown Cascade hops from last year’s harvest, but this time I amped up the quantity. I had come to the conclusion that my Cascade hops had lost a lot of their potency due to improper storage (they were not frozen originally, although vacuum packed), and thus decided to double the content of Cascade in the recipe, assuming a 50% loss in potency. The majority of the fermentable sugars for this brew will come from 3kg of light dry spray malt, augmented with a little bit of crushed Crystal Malt, which I steeped in warm water for 30 mins prior to the boil. This “mini mash” is just another way to put a unique spin on the malt base of an extract brew and make it slightly more unique than just using malt extract alone.
The upped hop content worked out great, having tasted the APA a week ago I can safely say that the bitterness which I intended has come through. The hop aroma was also present, but still not quite to the quantity which I had hoped. For the next iteration of the brew, I think I will increase the amount of hops used for dry hopping. Furthermore, since I am dry hopping in a muslin bag to prevent too much of the hop pieces from making it to the final brew, I believe this may be limiting the amount of hop aroma imparted.
The label for this brew followed the structure of the Spring Pale Ale, but altered the colour scheme a bit, as well as the logo:
I’ve added a side label with a short description of the beer as well as instructions to pour it carefully, as most people are so used to filtered beer that they do not really know how to pour a live beer with a yeast sediment at the bottom.
Overall I am very pleased with this batch, and look forward to tasting how the flavour profile develops as I continue storing it for a little while. Next up- a Midsummer Ale!
I have recently decided to follow my passion for beer and begin growing my own hops in the garden and making up my first batches of delicious home brew. I am a little apprehensive but thoroughly excited to see the fruits of my labour, and am already looking forward to my first harvest sometime in September.
Today I took the first step and ordered my hop rhizomes (that’s the little plant cuttings from which hops grow), as well as a starter beer-brewing kit. I will make a couple of practice batches of beer between now and harvest time, so the first few times that I brew will be using a kit containing all the necessary ingredients, as opposed to my own garden grown hops. However, this should mean that when the big day comes I will be fully prepared to make the most of my organic hoppy produce. The dream is to one day have a full hop farm, with a brewery and pub attached, but I think this is something which will not come into fruition until much later on in my life- but one has to start somewhere! To begin my home grown hop garden I have ordered 4 rhizomes of Fuggle (a classic British hop variety), 4 of Cascade (an American hop variety used in IPAs and other American Ales), and 4 of the Prima Donna hop, also know as First Gold. The last one is a particularly interesting breed as it is a dwarf hop, meaning it will not grow anywhere near as tall as the others and is usually grown by those with limited growing space. Overall I feel these are a good mix for my first year of growing, and are used in a lot of beers which I enjoy. I am definitely planning to brew a fair amount of IPAs and American Ales, and I think Cascade will allow me to do this nicely.
I shall keep you posted on my progress, and will be uploading photos from my first batch of brew (which should be happening sometime next week) as well as when I plant my precious little hop rhizomes. In the meantime, I’m planning to learn as much as I can about the process of brewing, as we all know- knowledge is power.