Category Archives: Meetings

How to brew a Mild

We were lucky enough to have Paddy and Matt from the brewery with us in this month’s meeting and being back in the boardroom almost meant we lost someone in the bar. In the end it was all good though and we enjoyed some great discussions about the beers brought, enzyme use and parti-gyle brewing.

Before we got to the beers though Paddy and Matt were kind enough to spend some time talking about the history and brewing techniques and recipes you need to make a ‘bostin’ mild. I’ve captured what I can recall here so feel free to use these tips and points to make your own ahead of our Mild May meeting based on CAMRA’s Mild month! (That’s a mouthful that sentence)

First the history, and this is where the excellent ‘Designing great beers’ by Ray Daniels shows its value. The chapter looking at Brown ales and Milds gives a real historical view of their origins but the take away for me is that time was the choice in a pub was between a bitter and a mild, two beers at opposite ends of a spectrum. The bitter end is obviously just that, bitter, and the mild end focused on the malty side of the street. A Mild is a beer designed to showcase everything malt has to offer without the sharp tang of the hops taking up too much space.

The low strength many people associate with a Mild appears to be a newer phenomenon maybe based on ‘value engineering’ of recipes by the brewers as their popularity dwindled and they had to maintain the margins. Paddy created some notes around the recipe and process build – including the strength and I’ll share and explain those here. So first what would you aim for in terms of gravity, colour and bitterness.

The gravity, colour and BU of a Mild

So here we have the specification from two breweries Mitchell & Butler and Highgate. You can see the gravity here would give you a beer of about 4.0%. The interesting aspect of this is the PG. This is the gravity that the beer was filled into cask meaning the beer was quite actively fermenting still when it was packaged and so it really was extremely cask conditioned. The bitterness of around 24 is on a par with a modern commercial lager, enough to balance the sweetness but not overwhelm it. The colour here is quite dark – as I’d expect a mild – but the range can be from a chestnut up to black, so a lot of scope there.

Mash ingredients for a Mild

What about the mash? This is a showcase for malt flavours and you can see here where they come from. The values relate to the mash tun at the brewery but the ratio would remain and then scaled down to your own mash tun size to yield 1035 or so. So a solid base of pale ale malt and then around 4% Crystal. This would probably be a medium colour crystal and then about half that amount of Black malt to get the colour up to where you like. Paddy’s tip was to aim low on the colour as you can always add more with liquid caramel (as per the recipes here) to increase it, but you can’t take it away. The 10% torrified barley and 6% malted wheat give you the body and thick head retention and then sugar as well. This is on top of priming sugar added into the cask. On top of the remaining gravity when filled that priming sugar would have made sure it was a real strong fermentation in the cask. I’ve no idea how it cleared. Note at the bottom Calcium Chloride. This should be added as opposed to gypsum to the mash liquor to emphasise the maltiness.

Additional info on a mild

And finally the process details. You can see a slight difference in the mash temperatures between the two breweries here but it didn’t have much difference on the FG. The boil at Highgate you see is aiming for a massive loss of volume, over 8%, and at M&B it’s still high so a long boil is important, I wonder if that helps with the caramel and Maillard flavour development in the beers? Not mentioned in the notes are the hops. These were discussed but used only for their bittering properties the type of hop used is less important. Traditionally they would be English hops so for authenticity Fuggles perhaps, but they’ll not be adding too much to the finished product. We did discuss the likelihood that in the US an American twist on this beer would definitely be hop loaded – so not traditional but something that could be interesting.

Fermentation was pitched at a normal 17-19C and left to rise naturally up to 23-24C as the yeast got going. The relatively low OG should mean this would probably be done in 3-4 days – less if you move to cask with all those point of gravity left. So this is a quick beer to turnaround and it was often gone so fast in the midlands that it would expected to be drunk young. This means you’ve plenty of time to get yours done before the Meeting on the 25th May when Paddy will judge your efforts and interpretation.

Alan’s Raspberry Saison recipe

Alan’s Raspberry & Lemon Saison

BrewerAlan MolloyStyleFruited Saison

Beer details

This beer was brought into the March 2022 meeting and was an instant hit. Fresh, fruity, zesty and bright it was a real summer drink that sings out with the raspberry flavour perfectly balanced against the Saison base.

OG1.034FG1.002
ABV4.0%IBU28
ColourRaspberry pinkBrew size40L

Mash ingredients

IngredientsWeight
Extra Pale Ale5.4kg

Boil additions

IngredientsWeightTime
Target Hops 10.5% AA25gStart of boil
Protafloc tablet1 tab50min
Lemon zest60g55min
Celeia 4.1%AA48gFlame out for 20min

Yeast

Type2 x Wyeast 3711 (French Saison)

Fermenter

IngredientWeightTime
Frozen and crushed raspberries4.0kg5 days
Mash:
On my set-up I required 11L at 78C to give a starting mash temp of 65.2C & ending at 62.4C, after 90mins I sparged with 35L @ 80C.This gave me 35L @ 1.036, which I diluted with 3L treated brew water to reduce OG to 1.032. 

Boil:
38L in the boil for 60mins with Target hops. Protafloc added 10mins before end of boil. Lemon zest added 5mins before end of boil. (TIP: peel the rind of the lemon & chop it up in a food processor, much easier). Celeia added @ switch off & left to cool to 80C stirring twice. Took 20mins. 

Fermenter:
Run wort through plate chiller to reduce temp to 30C & collected 32L @ 1.034.Agitation with a sterilised paddle. Pitched yeast direct from “Smack Pack” into wort @ 28C. (TIP: Spray outside of pack with steriliser before opening). This yeast ferments better at higher temp – 28 to 32C.After 5 days reached 1.002 & dropped temp to 8C overnight. 24hours later I added 4,000g of crushed raspberries in a fine muslin hop bag into the fermenter. The wort was now @ 14C. left them to soak for 5 days. 

Bottling:
31L bottled in 330ml & 500ml bottles. The final gravity was 1.003 giving ABV of 4.1%.I prime each bottle with normal white sugar, 330ml=<1/8tsp, 500ml=1/8tsp.
Beer tasting

Easy Tiger

Back upstairs in Unit 4 at the brewery for our March dive into easy drinking gave us a great selection of Pale ales, Saisons and some examples of technical difficulties.

Beer tasting

The March meeting theme was easy drinking and it was a good night of good beers and good company all too easy to enjoy. First though we were inundated with hops. A mistaken order quantity left Fran with a big box of ‘surplus’ hops to share. EKG and Summit were welcomed as any free hops would be despite there being just past their best before date everyone was very sure they could find a use for them.

Onto the main event – the drinking – we kicked off with a variety of pale ales showcasing some fruity and zingy hops. The variety of flavours that can be drawn out of a SMaSH pale is astounding. This coupled with solid, well conditioned malt bases allowed some beautiful beers to be sampled. As ever the questions about ingredients and process, the sharing of advice and isolating improvement opportunities is what the club is for.

We then shifted up a gear to two super – but different – saisons. A very traditional one and one that was a raspberry bomb – the freshness of the fruit flavours being something else. The recipe for this wonderful beer can be found here.

Keeping it fruity we had an interloper of a cider that was light and zesty – a perfect palette cleanser before moving onto something a little more dark. Some great advice was shared regarding the importance of fermentation temperature and pitching levels will hopefully help the evolution of a Timothy Taylor Landlord and a Bass Red Triangle clone. Hygiene is another key factor in good brewing as was shown with a Hazy Jane clone that had been served from a dirty keg. So now we know what Brett tastes like – when it’s unintentional not good.

We saved a milk stout for last to try and erase the nasty taste filthy kit can leave and it delivered some excitement. She’s a gusher, thar she blows as it popped open it popped wasting a lot of a very tasty beer. Enough was salvaged to enjoy but we did ruin a couple or three copies of the CAMRA magazine.

Look forward to next month when it’s open house no theme bring what you have. May however is the month of Mild so start thinking about recipes to showcase malty goodness.

Funky funky

Well that was an unexpected delve into funky sour beers. February’s meeting threw curveballs in both the location and the selection of beers on offer.

Firstly thanks to everyone at The George for the (very) warm welcome and help setting up. The Hop House was a great venue for the meeting, plenty of space and quiet enough for easy conversation and sharing of beer details. I think if we set up more talks or presentation this will be an ideal location.

The Hop House at The George

Then to the beers – without any prompting this session turned into an exploration of funky sour beers. A pineapple sour, a Flanders red, a lambic and a cherry lambic. Quite an exploration of the sour palette and some amazing examples of the layers of complexity fermenting with something other than saccharomyces cerevisiae. The night was topped off with a super Ginger stout that reminded me heavily of Dandelion & Burdock from the Pop truck.

One other difference was the later closing time of the pub – which meant a lively discussion about everything beer and not lasted quite later than usual. A great night all round.

Cheers

February change of venue

Our next meeting on Wednesday 23rd February has had a change of venue away from Unit 4 at the brewery to the Hop House at the George inn. https://www.georgeinn-eton.co.uk/hop-house/

The George in Eton


It’s not too far away from our normal venue and, having had a drink in their in the past, I think is perfect for us.
The reason for the temporary change is that unit 4 is hosting the Knightclub and launch of Windsor & Eaton’s platinum jubilee celebration beer Castle Hill https://shop.webrew.co.uk/products/castle-hill-12-x-500-ml-bottles
This means they are moving their regular quiz to Wednesday and I don’t think we could compete with pondering the longest river in Asia as we discuss the beers.
Everything else will remain as normal – 7:30 start and a bring anything theme. (Remember March theme will be Easy drinking)
Look forward to seeing you there.

Winter warmers

Our first meeting back after the Christmas break, and our first ever competition, saw some old friends making a welcome return back from the pre-Covid world meetings. The meeting was dedicated to judging the Winter Ale Contest but we also welcomed a few lighter palate cleanser beers as well to help with the concentration; an excellent dry hopped lager, a first spot on all grain attempt at a Landlord clone and a fruity Mosiac SMaSH

Judging the beers

We had four beers entered – which may not seem many but given half of them had an ABV in double figures it was plenty to get though in a session. There were two prizes on offer. The main prize was the Champion beer as judged by combining a carefully thought out and considered scoring system looking at Appearance, Aroma, Flavour, Desirability and Style. After some discussion and recalibration of what 10/10 would mean for a strong dark winter ale (Note – it is not “Could drink pints of this”) the judging commenced.

We were also lucky enough to have Head Brewer Matt Stead with us as well to offer advice and choose the Brewer’s Choice prize. So to the beers, quite a range two extra-strong dark beers in a Russian Imperial Stout and an Eisbock and a couple of relatively lighter beers – relative being key at around 7% – with a traditional spiced winter ale and a Belgian Dubbel style beer. After trying the beers I’ll admit the maths proved to be more of a problem than I anticipated. Adding up scores and working out the average was impaired by the strength of the beers.

Counting is hard

And so to the winner – a superb beer, perfect for sipping next to a roaring log fire with a cigar on the go. Congratulations to Iain M’s Russian Imperial Stout. A worthy winner and I’m sure he’ll turn the Maris Otter he’s won into a special beer.

A worthy winner

Embarrassingly – and certainly not a fix I swear – my own Belgian Dubbel “Radiant Orange” was chosen by Matt as the Brewer’s choice and the rosette is proudly displayed in the kitchen now.

Overall another great night of fine beers and good conversation. Looking forward to February (Wednesday the 23rd) and then the March (Wednesday 30th) meetings we agreed to a free for all tasting and beer swap next month and then a challenge for the March meeting. The theme of the challenge for March – something to get started now – is a light beer. Make of that description what you will. I’ll be most looking forward to Fran & Vincent’s effort after taking advantage of an amazing offer from David E who got in contact with the club to offer to donate his 25L all grain set up to someone looking to move up their brewing to the next level. I think this applies perfectly to Fran & Vincent a perfect home for the equipment.

Cheers!

Incredible India

I love the crash and bang of a busy pub, music playing people laughing and the feel of being back in raucous company as much as everyone. Also my hearing isn’t what it used to be, so while I really enjoyed last month’s meeting up on the mezzanine of unit 4 above the bar it did make discussion about the beers harder than normal. In all honestly we did sort of split into two groups at either end of the table because they were the people you could hear.

This month was different – we’ve moved again. Thanks to Will for helping us set up space in the shop – we were fully equipped and supported as usual and had the added benefit of being able to hear each other’s feedback and questions. Another really nice surprise was seeing Paddy again. His help initially setting up the club is still very much appreciated.

And so to it – in our audibly improved environments what did we taste and share? In all honesty this was one of the strongest selections of beers I can remember us having and a really wide range of beers, but pair of styles to help with direct comparisons.

We started comparing two versions of the same beer; a sessionable pale ale – the question posed which should be the house beer A or B? Obviously we’re never going to answer in that manner and it ended up being a little from pot A (A malt balanced easy drinking hoppy pale) and a little from pot B (A more typically assertive bitter pale). That said I’d happily have sat around drinking either of them. Recipe C ideas shared we moved onto a subtle & delicate Belgian wit and a couple more pale ales. All of exceptional quality.

But the night just kept delivering – a fine example of a traditional ESB (who’s recipe is now in heavy demand) with some fancy Dan artwork on the bottles lifted the standard again and led us into the battle of the stouts.

This was a great comparison that showed the different takes you can bring to the recipe when making a big stout. In the red corner we’ve the sweet malty chocolate monster and in the blue corner his emphatically hopped American style cousin. Both beers were of excellent quality but used a similar malt bill and yeast – the tunes you can play on beers with ingredients and process were highlighted amazingly and gave great food for thought on what a stout could be.

Then the weird beer! An experimental recreation of an ancient Indian beer painstakingly recreated from 7000 year old texts. As you’d imagine it was hop light but flavoured with 11 plants and spices (Or is that Colonel Sanders?) to give a complex, but surprisingly drinkable, brew. The beer had layers and trying to pick out the flavours; earthy, ginger, fragrant, curry leaves was very difficult. They just kept coming. A fantastic successful experiment that put me in mind of what you might call an Indian Wit – fascinating.

A fantastic meeting again and we ended with the exciting news of the January meeting Homebrew competition (Details here) having a prize on offer. Get your beer brewed and ready for our next meeting in 2022 to have a chance to win 25kg of Crisp Maris Otter malt.

Cheers

Bigger than ever

The second post COVID-Disaster-World WEHomebrew meeting took place at the amazing looking Unit4 WEBrew venue. Sat up on the mezzanine gives a great view down on the busy bar where a busy Wednesday night crowd enjoying the huge range of beers available.

There was a big variety of beers on offer from the club members as well. A really eclectic set of ales. From Saisons (including a surprise mystery beer I found in the shed) through to a lovely Belgian strong dark ale packaged in some fancy half champagne bottles. Along the way we sampled, IPAs, Mild and Stouts all great examples prompting in depth discussions about every technical aspect you can imagine.

Aside from the good beer it was great to catch up with members new and old. It’s been a long long time since the unexpected last meeting and it’s good to see some familiar faces. It’s also brilliant to see so many new faces, introductions and hearing about people’s set ups and what they love brewing is what this is all about. It’s a growing community of knowledge we can all share and learn from – and more free beer to try every month!

And so to what’s new. From next month (Next meeting will be Wednesday 24th November) we’ll be trying a new Beer Swap feature. So as well as the usual couple of bottles you’d bring for group tasting and discussion for Beer Swap you can bring a separate bottle labelled with your email address or other contact details (Maybe your Untapped Homebrew account) and someone will take home your beer, sit down one evening and give it the time and contemplation it deserves. Then contact you with their thoughts and feedback. This means you’ll get thoughts about it’s drinkability and not just the immediate impact our tasting sessions offer. Help overcome the Pepsi-paradox.

In addition to this new idea we agreed the Winter challenge – our informal homebrew competition. In time for the January meeting (Currently planned for Wednesday January 26th) think up, brew and package your interpretation of a ‘Winter ale’. It’s a broad category with plenty of scope for interpretation – so make of it what you will and surprise us with your innovation and skill. There’ll be more details on how it’ll work soon, but there’s no time like the present to get started on that recipe.

Back at it

It’s been a while but I’m really happy to announce a comeback. While still in the midst of this depressing cold lockdown we’re following the rest of the world and joining the Zoom revolution.

taken from online - no one we know...

On Wednesday 24th February at 7:30pm we’ll be hosting our inaugural online meeting. Even better to get the brain firing on all cylinders again it will include a talk on water chemistry from brewing guru Hugo Anderson.

Hugo has many years managing huge breweries and ensuring the quality of some of the world’s biggest selling beers, and he’s happy to share some of his wealth on knowledge with you. So if you want to know if the ingredient that makes up 95% of your beer is important this is the night for you.

After the discussion and questions it’ll be open season to show and tell about a beer you’ve brewed and are enjoying on the night. Maybe you’ve brewed a killer Kölsch or a brilliant Bitter. Maybe its a disappointing Doppelbock or a lousy Lager either way lets talk about it.

Really pleased as well that the Zoom facility will be kindly shared by Dave and Windsor’s best bottleshop and purveyor of every type of beer you could ever want A Hoppy Place.

Please contact through the facebook group here or twitter here if you’d like to join and I’ll send the log in details closer to the day.

Post-meeting update

Water chemistry lessons all round

Big thanks to Hugo for the time and vast amount of knowledge he imparted to the group. It was a really engaging walk through the importance and practical aspects of brewing water chemistry. He’s been kind enough to share the slides which can be found on the resources page here.

Mashing in

Lockdown brew day

Lockdown brew day

It’s been 3 months and… wait a minute do I sound like Sinead O’Connor here? Anyway it’s been a while since the last WE Homebrew meeting back in February and it could be some time still until the next meeting. I hope, like me, you’ve been brewing and drinking a fair bit more in this time.

It’s a bank holiday Monday and I thought I’d write down how I generally brew and what kit I have. No other reason than just to share and maybe elicit some advice on a glaring mistake I may be making and be completely unaware of.

I’ve got to warn you though – I’ve just finished the day and this is quite a long – and some might say – boring post. TL;DR? I had a big cock up at the end and spilt wort all over the shed.

First and foremost what am I going to make? This was a challenge set by Ben Jones to try a style I’ve not done before – a Weizenbock. I’ve had some success making a Bock before so in terms of recipe I just amended that and swapped out half the Pils malt for wheat malt then changed the yeast to try and get some big banana flavours. The recipe I’m following is as below.

Beer details – Challenge Accepted Weizenbock

OG 1055 FG 1013
ABV 5.6% IBU 12
Colour 20 EBC Brew size 20L

Mash ingredients

Ingredients Weight
Wheat Malt 2.5kg
Pilsen Malt 1.4kg
Munich malt 1.5kg
Special W (Weyermann) 0.1kg
Crystal malt 60L 0.18kg
Aromatic malt 0.28kg

Boil additions

Ingredients Weight Time
Hallertauer Hersbrucker 2.4%AA 51g 60min

Yeast

Type Lallemand Munich wheat beer yeast

If that’s what I’m going to make, how do I normally go about it? Firstly is preparation the day or so before. In this case I’m using a pack of dry yeast so no need to make a starter, from the fridge full of old collected yeast samples, but I do need to collect some water.

I use Old Windsor tap water – which as you’re probably well aware from the state of your kettle and shower head is remarkably hard. The water report for Windsor – here – shows the hardness around 300ppm and, more importantly for mashing, the Alkalinity at 240ppm. To ensure I get the pH around 5.4 once the grain has been mashed in I need to add some acid. I add about 12ml of 10% Phosphoric acid to 27L of tap water in an old plastic fermenter. I do this the day before in the hope that the water sitting and warming up in the house might lose some of the Chlorine added at the water works, but I’ve no idea if it does or not.

That’s the water quality – what about amount? This is where the first bit of kit is introduced. The electric mash tun / kettle. I do brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) so for water volume, in theory, you should just work backwards for how much wort you want to end up with, take off the losses of liquid you can’t get out of the mash tun, the trub you don’t want to transfer, the lost water as you boil off and the water absorbed by your grain husks. Then bung all that in at the beginning. However the mash tun is my capacity constraint. It holds 27L, but 3L of that is below the tap and is the cold break I generally leave behind. Then of course your grain takes up volume as well. 6kg of milled malted barley takes up 12L of volume dry. It obviously absorbs water so doesn’t need that much space in the mash tun, but I’ve more than once been close to overflowing when I mash in the grain to the water.

To remedy this I don’t add all the water into the mash. I dunk sparge the bag later with 5L of hot water – show you this later – and also add water back after the boil. So when working out the amount of grain I need I calculate the extract to hit my target OG before boiling. I then measure and dilute down the wort back to this gravity post-boil.

As you can see from the photo I’ve added some rudimentary insulation from an old camping foam Karrimat / exercise mat. As I brew outside in the shed this is necessary in the winter and helpful in the summer. It means I can heat the water to strike temperature then turn off the heating and avoid scorching the bottom of the mash tun and burning the bag or grain.

For this particular beer I’m using a low mash temperature 64℃ so I get the maximum conversion, with the thought that this won’t thin it out too much due to the gums in the Wheat malt. BeerSmith – the indispensable brewing app that I create all my recipes on – calculates your strike temperature and water requirement for each recipe. In this case it recommends 69℃ so I heat the water up and then mash in the grains.

One thing I didn’t mention is milling the grains. This I normally do using a drill attached to a hand mill while the water heats up to strike temperature.

Something to note with this recipe – Malted wheat mashes in really easily. There were no dough balls and the mash mixed in quickly and easily. As you can see BeerSmith got the strike temperature more or less right and the phosphoric acid did its trick with the pH.

I would imagine measuring pH at 65℃ is contentious. Measuring it at 20℃ or 25℃ would be normal lab procedure as pH changes depending on temperature. My meter isn’t so sophisticated that it compensates for temperature either. My thinking is that the optimum pH has been determined by looking at the kinetics of the amylase enzymes, this is generally accepted to be somewhere between 5.2 and 5.5. I don’t know the method used to determine this, and so have taken it to mean that the enzyme works best in this range regardless of temperature. I’m more than happy to be put right on this.

I generally mash for about an hour giving it a stir every now and again, when I get round to it, and checking the temperature’s not dropping too much. Today after half an hour it had dropped to 60℃ so I turned on the heat for a couple of minutes.

After the mash is complete I increase the temperature up to somewhere around 70-75℃.Then I use a Jerry-rigged pulley system, to a hook in the roof beam, to take the BIAB out of the mash tun and leave it to drip back into what is now a kettle heating up to 100℃ for the boil. At this stage I’m also checking on the efficiency as there’s still a small chance I can do something if it’s cocked up. I take a sample, to cool and measure the gravity, and determine the volume with a steel ruler to gauge the depth. In this case the gravity was 1066 and the volume was 20cm or 19L – ignoring thermal expansion of the liquid for now.  As you can see from the temperature photo the mash tun is very full. This is after me adding 22L of water and 5.6kg of grain. If I added no more water into the mix, after losses and boiling, I think I’d be fermenting about 13L of wort. To combat this I do a 5L dunk sparge, more to add volume than actually extract more sugars from the grist.

To do this I heat up 5 L of the acidified water to around 70℃ and dangerously swing the hot bag of mashings across into a big bucket. There I drop it in, add and mix the hot water and hoist it back over the kettle. One thing of note here is that boiling the acidified water causes it to become cloudy as the calcium comes out of solution.

This gives me another 5L of wort at 1038 that I can add back to the kettle so I finish with 24L of 1060 wort. This is great – I’m aiming for 1055 into the FV – so post boil it will allow me to add back quite a bit of volume.

By now the wort is boiling in the kettle and a little bit of hot break has always bubbled over and spilt on the floor. If I’m lucky it’s not scalded the dog.

For this brew I’m using fine German noble hops in the form of Hallertau Hersbrucker, but to be honest it’s really low BU, and there’s not supposed to be any hop flavour or aroma, so I’m beginning to wonder why I’m adding 50g of these when I could have added about 10g of Magnum? Too late now, the pack is open, and they’re tipped into the hop spider and plonked into the boiling wort to do their – in this case limited – magic.

Generally I’ll be boiling for an hour and, as it’s a hot day, it’s quite a vigorous boil. Brewing in winter has its own hurdles and I find it’s very difficult to maintain a rolling boil. This is why I first made the insulation which did help quite a bit but wasn’t perfect.

In terms of kettle additions this is very simple. No more hops to add, and as it’s a wheat beer it’s supposed to be cloudy, so I won’t be adding half a protofloc tablet to help it clear. I have, however, taken to adding a little yeast nutrient at the end of the boil. I don’t know if this is necessary but it hasn’t done any harm so far.

As the boil finishes, and I’ve added half a teaspoon of the Wyeast Beer nutrient blend, it’s time to cool. I pull out the hop spider and let the hops drip wort to the kettle (more as somewhere to put them as opposed to trying to eek out every last drop). I remove the insulation, sticky with boiled over wort from earlier. Often I have to peel it off the outside of the vessel. Then take a volume reading with the steel ruler – 22.5cm or 21.5L. The wort is hot so taking into account a 4% expansion of the liquid this means there is 20.7L of 1068 wort. I want 1055 so need to dilute with 5L of water to hit my target and leave me with a nice 26L of wort to ferment. Before that I’ve got to cool it and for that I use a length of coiled copper pipe. This is attached to the garden hose and immersed in the hot wort to run cold water through. Cooling takes no time in winter when the groundwater is at 11℃ but now it’s getting warmer the groundwater is 17.5℃ it may take a little while longer. I use temperature strips on the outside of the kettle to know when it’s lower than my fermentation temperature then I transfer it into the FV.

In terms of fermentation I had been reading up and found a lot of advice that in order to get a good banana flavour from the yeast you should aim on the high side of the recommended temperature. However I also found out that Lallemand makes two Munich yeast types: Munich and Munich Classic. The Classic version – not the one I have – is the more expressive one in terms of fruity esters and so I’ve made a bit of a balls up. Not to worry, hopefully this will still be a nice beer, just not what I had in mind. I’m still going to ferment at the top of the range to squeeze out what I can from the yeast so in this case that will be 22℃. This means I’ll cool the wort to below this before transferring across.

Transferring into the FV is very low tech for me. Just run the wort out of the kettle tap into a 5L sanitised measuring jug then tip into the vessel. I think this has two advantages; I don’t need to arrange everything so the kettle is higher, or involve a pump, to run through tubing and I don’t have to use tubing at all! I’m never convinced they’re clean. You can scour the inside of a jug – you can only flush through tubing or soak. It also allows me to add the dried yeast to the jug and splash the wort onto it. I’m not one for rehydrating the yeast beforehand – happy to chuck it into the mix and let it wake up when it does.

Well just as I thought it was all going so perfectly disaster struck. I poured the first jug of wort into the FV and it came straight out of the bottom. The Tilt (I’ll explain later) had jammed the valve open and so I was stuck like Hans Brinker with my thumb in the valve shouting for help. Got it sorted and cleaned up eventually and ended up with 21L pitched and fermenting at 22℃ and a couple of litres of sticky wort on the floor.

I have a love of gadgets and technology and this hobby allows me to indulge in both and get drunk too. As you see from the picture I have a Grainfather fermenter which both heats and cools. To cool I have a small Glycol tank stuck in my Keezer which the FV calls for and circulates through a jacket to control the fermenting beer’s temperature. I also make the FV wear an old down jacket (A Northface one I once had stolen off me by a tramp in Vienna) to insulate it from both heat and cold.

I mentioned previously the Tilt. This is an amazing piece of kit if you haven’t seen it before. It’s a wireless hydrometer that allows you to watch and plot your fermentation as it goes. For this beer you can watch this beer go by clicking on this link here.

So that’s it, that’s my set up and generally how I make my beer. I’d be interested on your thoughts and comments – any improvements or blindingly obvious steps or ideas I’m missing. Feel free to comment here on the website or head over to the Facebook group and let me know what you think there.

Cheers

Ian