Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Recognition for Blog and Brewer.

Bit of a highlight for little old me in the last couple of weeks was to have the blog mentioned on the sites of bloggers far more superior than I.

Many of you will have visited this blog via Melissa Cole's Taking The Beard out of Beer. Melissa reviewed (very favourably, I might add) my Amarillo IPA. I've got a modified tweak on the go with half the hops so it'll be interesting to see how they compare.

Last weekend I also had an interviewed on Drink with the Wench, which was tremendous fun. Mind you there are some "proper" brewers on there which made me and my kit tweaks seem very humble in comparison. It felt like going for a swim with Michael Phelps whilst wearing armbands.

Back to the beer, tonight I will mainly be bottling my Linthwaite Light. Forty brown (heeding your words regarding light strike, Melissa) beer bottles await and then I'll get round to bottling the lager at the weekend.

With our friend Mr Darling putting up duty on cider, the requests my wife and the teenagers in my household have come flooding (well, trickling) in. I'm currently experimenting with something called THC (to quote Chris Evans, it's not what you think) which is a cider kit made with apple juice instead of water because, now, cider kits will work out cheaper than cider.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Stepping Up Production, a Dilemma.

So, after a particularly heavy night at Beer Club, I am faced with the need to step up production due to the club's burgeoning membership. The problem, as usual, is the time taken from brew to drinking.

Assuming it will be bottled (which most beers for beer club will be), a typical kit will spend 14 days fermenting, 2-3 days in the bottling bucket, a week warm conditioning and then a minimum of four weeks cold conditioning before it even becomes drinkable. That's 7-8 weeks from brewing. Kit beers taste even better when allowed to condition for 6-12 weeks so that'as anything up to four months.

As I wibbled earlier this year, I've been making lager which requires a three week lagering (obviously) period between fermenting and bottling and it then requires the full 12 weeks conditioning. The Brewferm Gold I brewed first thing this year is unlikely to be ready until mid May at the earliest. Not only does it take an age to be ready but it ties up a fermenter for five weeks. These days I have four FV's (fermenting vessels); two standard fermenters, one bottling bucket (fermenting vessel with little bottler attached) and a wine fermenter which doubles as another bottling bucket and a cider fermenter.

I've released my inner nerd and knocked up a spreadsheet which enables me to schedule my brewing and maximise my productivity but it is still only going to give me drinking beer mid May. I seems my options are either to buy a fifth fermenter so that I can double production in the short term or to invest in a 10 gallon all grain set up which finances dictate will probably occur in September. I've just put a request on my local Freecycle/Freegle board and we'll see what happens but an extra fermenter looks like the only option in the short term. Running out of beer would be, frankly, disastrous.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Beer Porn - Coopers Dark Ale

Brewed with 500g Dark Muscovado Sugar, 500g extra dark spraymalt and 250g golden cane sugar. It's come out about 6.5% so it's no session beer.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Beer Porn - Brewferm Gallia

I found her hiding from me in the shed; tucked away in a long forgotten crate. As I stroked her elegant neck, I smiled and I remembered how she tasted during our last brief but exciting meeting.

It came back to me in a flash; her effervescence, her golden appearance, her sweet heavy scent. I swear I could taste the candi sugar she was surely made from as she slipped down my throat slaking my parched thirst.

And then she was gone, just a memory. And yet I felt sure it was not the last time I would see Gallia or her sweet Belgian sisters.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Beer Porn - Amarillo IPA

I realise that kit brewing is seen in some quarters as the baseball cap wearing, bling encrusted, chav cousin of the all grain brew but there's something to be said for a beer that can be knocked up with a minimum of fuss inside an hour.

Yet it can also be turned into something really special with a bit of dry hopping, some beer kit enhancer and a means of keeping the fermentation temperature constant like a brewfridge.

So, to paraphrase a well known upmarket food retailer; this isn't just a beer kit, this is a South Street Shed Brewery, dry hopped, super aerated, IPA.

Shall I pass you the kleenex now?

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Summer Brewing Had Me A Blast

Something you need to do with brewing is plan about three months in advance especially if, like me, you're kit brewing. Some of my best brews last year were coming into their own just as some greedy git (usually me) was draining the last out of the barrel.

So this year I've been particularly good at building up my rolling stock. I've now got four kegs and two kits worth of bottles on the go at any one time. This weekend I've bottled or kegged three kits; one cider, one lager and a real ale kit tweak.

The tweak is a Woodforde's Great Eastern which I've dry hopped with 20g each of Amarillo and Pacific Gem hops. I've also eschewed the standard kit yeasts in favour of S04.

All of these are planned to be ready around the third week in May which, curiously enough, coincides with my birthday and I'm now planning the next series of brews which will take me through the second half of the summer.

I've got a Brupaks Linthwaite Light kit bubbling away as I type. This is a light but strong summer style beer that'll be going into bottles. I brewed to an OG of 1050 so I'm hoping for something around the 5% mark. I've been really impressed with every single Brupaks kit I've done to date and I expect this will will certainly be up to the mark, judging by the reviews my homebrew friends have given it.

Not being much of a lager drinker I stand to be corrected on this but I do believe that Cerveza style lagers, slightly sweeter than the pils style, are pretty decent barbecue fare so I've got a Muntons Mexican Cerveza on the go in one of the brewfridges. That's got another 10 days in the FV then it needs to be racked and lagered for three weeks or so before bottling. Of course the sort of weather we're getting at the moment lends itself rather well to lagering; I don't think it has been much above 5 degrees in the shed all week.

For later in the summer I'll be doing a Coopers European Lager and a Black Rock Cider. One of my brewing buddies gave me a Coopers European to try and it was very crisp and clean to taste. The Black Rock I don't drink (teenaged overindulgence put me off cider for life) but my wife and the children are pretty big fans of this stuff. Hopefully I'll get these on next weekend.