Monthly Archives: August 2014

SOLO BIAB#4: Wheat is this?

SOLO BIAB#3: Wheat Is This? (Wheat Wine)

As is often the way with blogs, I imagine, I have fallen very behind with posting, but do want to try and get all the recipes up here. So, I’ll keep this fairly brief.

Wheat Wine is an unusual beer style (certainly in the UK) and something that I’ve heard tell of, but never drunk before. I needed no further incentive or encouragement to give this a go. I found a Wit Wine recipe in Radical Brewing, made a few changes here and there, especially around removing the wit-style spicing, and came up with the following:

Wheat Is This? (6l)

1000g Wheat
430g Pale
390g Lager
400g Brown Sugar
25g Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 60m
20g Saaz @ 20m
30g Saaz @ 5m
White Labs Strong Belgian Ale Yeast (WLP545)

OG: 1.006
FG: 1.085
ABV: 10%
IBU: 41
SRM: 9

This was my first properly big beer and found this really useful set of advice (originally from @thornbridgedom) on high gravity brewing from the Manchester Homebrew website. Thanks to the tip-off from @mpdutton.

Following this advice, I did a 90 minute mash and shook the bucket very vigorously both immediately after pitching (having remembered to fit the lid first!) and about 24 hours later. This, plus the persistence of WLP545, did a great job of fermenting the beer.

I only did a 6l batch of this as that was all that one vial of WLP545 could comfortably handle. The plan was to treat this as a kind of hybrid between a beer and a yeast starter… the yeast cake from this beer will be washed and used to make a second batch of something similar in the future.

I’m really happy with how this is starting to taste at three months old.  Still quite hot, but I’m pretty confident that will settle down and improve in time.  I was also really pushing the gravity/volume that one vial could handle without a starter, so some more undesirable/interesting (depending on how generous you’re feeling) flavours might have come from underpitching too.

I’m really happy with this beer, though.  Tasty in it’s own right, will give birth to a full 10l batch of something similar soon and was a generally successful foray into high gravity brewing.


SOLO BIAB#2: Barrel’s Bottom (IPA)

This was a quick and dirty user-upper brew. As beer stocks were looking low, there were a couple of bags of old hops and some ageing Crystal, Carapils and WLP001 knocking around, Kev couldn’t resist the temptation to put a nice and simple solo brew together. The intention was for an easy-drinking, 5-5.5% APA.

The was something quite comforting about planning a bit more of a back-to-basics, simple drinking beer too. Quite a few of the more recent brews had contained a lot of wacky flavours, with varying degrees of success. Now, much as Kev loves wacky as much as the next person, there was a definite appeal in trying to pin down a solid, go-to recipe.

This sort of lower risk brew was also an opportunity to work on a couple of things. Firstly, three of the previous four brews have been outrageously overcarbed and the suspicion was this was down to overpriming. This beer would be deliberately primed more frugally to see if that was the problem rather than an infection in the brewkit somewhere.

It was also the first brew done across two nights, with the mash & sparge done one evening with the boil, pitch, etc. done the next day. The hope behind this was that it would be a more time/family compatible way of getting a batch brewed.

Anyway, enough blethering, on with the recipe:

Barrel’s Bottom (10l)

2000g Concerto Pale Malt (83%)
100g Munich (4%)
100g Crystal (4%)
100g Carapils (4%)
100g Wheat (4%)
10g Green Bullet / 10g Dr Rudi @ First Wort
10g Dr Rudi @ 5m
10g Dr Rudi @ 0m
DRY HOP (5g/l):
25g Dr Rudi / 15g Green Bullet / 10g Equinox for 6 days
White Labs California Ale (2nd generation)

OG: 1055
FG: 1007
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 34
SRM: 9

This was a very straightforward brew all things considered. Nothing remarkable other than splitting the brewing across two nights. Which was brilliant, by the way. It takes a bit longer all in (prob about 20-30 mins to get room temperature wort up to mash temperature), but it’s all a lot more relaxed. Couple of hours each night – where I can also pick away at those less glamorous, household jobs I’d be doing anyway – with the brew doing its thing in the background works really well if, like me, you can’t even think about getting started until about 8pm. I will definitely be doing this again.

Thanks for reading. Questions, comments, etc. always more than welcome. Cheers!

UPDATE: 24/10/14

You may have noticed from the stats above that this beer didn’t end up quite as expected. Kev’s gentle 5%ish APA turned into some kind of accidental 6.6%er. He’s just going to call it an IPA and say no more about it. This was down to the yeast really and it attenuating much further than anticipated. It was fermented warmer than was ideal (c.25C) and the second generation WLP001 was clearly very happy with that. So it ended up being a drier, stronger beer than planned, but that’s no great problem. If this was the intent, Kev would have increased the IBUs but, actually, it turned out plenty bitter anyway.

The beer itself was a little underprimed but, actually, that was good news. There were two main theories as to what the likely cause of our recent, foamy beer was… infection in the kit somewhere or too much priming sugar. As dropping the amounts of priming sugar resulted in no foamy beer, this must have been the culprit. Just need to pay a bit more attention to sugar quantities when bottling, I think.

In terms of tasting notes, this was what the (mostly!) good people at our local homebrew club thought of it:

“Interesting use of Green Bullet. Gives a great taste and bitterness I’ve not come across.”

“Piercing, resinous, spicy. Could work well with full fruity aroma hops. Great potential for recipe development. Bit yeasty though.”

“Nice grassy wheat aroma. Very mild.”

“Quaffable. Would happily drink away. Think it would be good with meditteranean food.”

We’d generally agree. It could be more bitter, and the slightly odd New Zealand hops might not be to everyone’s taste, but this is pleasant drinking and deceptively strong. A solid recipe to work on.

Plan from here will be to tinker with the grain bill for a while and try and pin down a decent base IPA recipe from there.

BIAB#6: Sloan (Sloe Stout)

For the @brewstore Homebrew Society, August 2014 (random ingredient/style challenge)

As those of you who’ve read the blog before might well know, Kev and Jono are regular attenders at Edinburgh’s original, biggest and best (only?) Homebrew Club run by the marvellous people from Edinburgh’s original, biggest and best (only?) homebrew shop, Brewstore. These really are great evenings and are probably the one thing that has accelerated both our enthusiasm for, and proficiency at, brewing our own beer more than anything. It’s fun too and there are some really excellent beers on show every month. If you’re in Edinburgh, or have an equivalent nearby, do give it a try.

Anyway, digressing again! At the July meeting we played a little game. There were two bags there with slips of paper inside. One with a range of beer styles inside and another bag with a bunch of random ingredients. Yep, you guessed it, everyone interested drew one of each and that was their beer to brew for the following month. We gave it a go and drew Sloes and Stout. We were delighted with that as a result, especially when you consider some of the beers that others selected. Banana Lager? Liquorice IPA? Cardamom Eisbock?

Anyway, it was Jono’s turn to develop the recipe and this is what he came up with.

Sloan (10l)
1800g    Concerto Malt  (62%)
210g      Flaked Oats  (7%)
200g      Flaked Wheat  (7%)
130g      Chocolate Malt  (5%)
130g      Flaked Barley  (5%)
120g      Crystal Malt  (4%)
110g      Peated Malt  (4%)
110g      Roasted Barley  (4%)
50g        Lactose
30g        Black Malt (1%)
10g       Fuggles / 6g Green Bullet @ 60m
10g       Fuggles / 6g Green Bullet @ 20m
100g     Hazelnuts in the Mash (10g/l)
20g       Dried Sloes @ 60m
20g       Dried Sloes @ 20m
150g     Cocoa Powder / 25g Cocoa Nibs @ 10m
60g       Lactose / 40g Dried Sloes / 2 vanilla pods for 7 days
White Labs California Ale (2nd Generation)

OG: 1066
FG: 1016
ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 48
SRM: 40

There were a few things to note with this particular brew. First off that it was, certainly in terms of using sloes, very much guesswork. The plan was to try and use their natural flavour as an additional bittering agent in the beer, hence the use throughout the boil as well as in secondary but we totally guessed in terms of quantities.

This was also the first time that we’d added some wheat to the mash for a Stout. Much as we’re already using a (too?) complicated grain bill in our stouts, this was added in to hopefully help with head retention.

The final new thing that we tried was bringing some hazelnut flavour in there to complement the sloes. A few months previously, we had sampled a Hazelnut Brown Ale made by Rory at Brewstore. The hazelnut flavour was clear, smooth and gorgeous and we thought this would work excellently both with a Stout and alongside the flavour of sloes. We copied Rory’s method to the letter (other than upping the amount of hazelnut, at his suggestion). This was to roast the hazelnuts for 15 minutes to release their oil before taking them out and transferring them between paper bags to remove as much oil as possible. We then blitzed the nuts into the size that you’d use as the topping for Brownies and added these bits for the full 60 minute mash.

Also, and maybe sightly oddly, we used WLP001 as the yeast. This was because we had forgotten to get any specific Stout yeast and there was some rinsed WLP001 sat in Kev’s fridge. It seemed far better to use that than to have to go to the shops the next day before pitching.

That’s that, really. Thanks for reading. tasting notes will follow but, as always, comments, etc. are more than welcome below. Cheers!

UPDATE: 21/10/14
Lots of good and lots of learning in this beer. Starting with the downsides, the sloes really didn’t come through anything like as much as hoped. The flavour’s kind of there, but nothing like prominent. A shame but, as mentioned above, we were totally guessing with quantities and I guess it’s better for it to be too subtle than overwhelming and ruining the beer.

The beer as a whole was grand, though, and the hazelnuts a revelation. Really like the smooth nuttiness these bring to the beer, adding a super tasty, nicely complex layer to our base stout recipe.

This one was, however, one of several beers in a row that we had overprimed. So can’t really comment on whether or not the wheat has aided head retention at all. Head taming was more the order of the day, truth be told!

Lots of potential for this one anyway, so might rebrew. Next time? More sloes at all stages of the process, keep the hazelnuts in, don’t mess up the priming sugar.