Tag Archives: Crichollow Mild

English Mild – take 5

DSC_0537 HDR copy small

For my first batch in about 6 months I figured I’d start with the last recipe I had worked on before I took a break from brewing. If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know I’ve brewed quite a few Mild’s and never quite been happy with them (even though some have done quite well in competition). It’s not my favorite style to drink, but for some reason I keep brewing them! It’s also a category I qualified for in the MCAB competition so I figured if I liked this one I’ll use it as my entry. I spent a fair amount of time on this recipe and also got some help after trying several of another homebrewer’s Mild’s. The homebrewer in question recently won BOS at Midwinter with, you guessed it, a Mild.

The biggest change is using Mild Ale malt as the basemalt instead of my typical Floor Malted Marris Otter. I also greatly increased the Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal and removed the higher-kilned malts (leaving only Pale Chocolate). I also added some Golden Naked Oats since they contribute some unique flavor and texture and finished with a bit of domestic Crystal 60 (a bit sweeter than the English equivalent I think). For hops I stuck with Goldings and added a small 5 min addition to enhance that “English character” judges love to hunt for. Stuck with my usual WLP002 for the yeast – althought I have to admit I’ve enjoyed Wyeast 1469 in other Milds and will likely have to give that a try at some point.

Mild 5.0

60 Min boil

Mash at 152F for 60 mins

1.038 OG

1.013 FG

17 IBU at 60 mins – EKG

2 IBU at 5 mins – EKG

79% Briess Ashburne Mild Ale Malt (5.3L)

3% Briess Crystal 60  (60L)

9% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal (160L)

3% Simpson’s Pale Chocolate Malt (220L)

6% Simpson’s Golden Naked Oats (10L)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

30 seconds O2 (2.5 gallon batch)

Hit gravity and volume – fermented down to target as well.

DSC_1254

Here are some notes I wrote when working on this recipe: Looking for a quaffable mild with flavors of bread/toast/biscuit, light chocolate, hint of roast, hint of coffee, burnt sugar and some dark fruit, caramel/toffee, nuttiness. Want some slight silkiness/creaminess from the oats. The diff types of crystal malt in addition to different lovibonds should add some complexity and help achieve the flavors I’m looking for. 5 min addition of EKG should help with an assertive “English Beer” character. Pale chocolate should underline the toastiness with hints of chocolate, roast and even coffee.

The Mild Ale malt definitely helped with this, but even beyond that I must finally be learning something about recipe formulation because this beer hits all those descriptors – so much so that I see no need to go too in depth with a description.  There is a definite sweetness from the basemalt – you can pick that up separately from the crystal sweetness. It’s got a lot of toasted bread qualities and hints of coffee and chocolate.  It’s slightly creamy from the oats – not so much that you really notice though (probably wouldn’t call that out if you didn’t know there were oats). The only change I’d consider is adding a small amount of a darker chocolate malt – both to make the beer darker and to add a little more roast character.

I sent this into the March Mashness competition and I’ll likely send it to MCAB in April.

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Off flavor issue, other updates

I had several posts planned for some batches that are now in kegs, but due to an off flavor that kept rearing it’s ugly head I decided to condense some batches into this post.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a big believer that BIAB (mash in a bag) is as good a method as other methods of all grain brewing – after all it’s basically batch sparging without the sparge and a simpler/quicker lauter. That being said I had several batches in the last few months that had a fairly strong grainy flavor to them that was not there by design. It started with Crickhollow Mild 3.0 and I thought it was caused by the Amber malt I added to it, but I have since realized that the bag I was using (purchased from an online vendor) from that batch on was allowing too much husk material to remain behind after removing the bag. Boiling a little bit of husk material isn’t the end of the world, but when you find a bunch in the trub after you rack to a fermenter you probably have too much. I have since replaced that bag with another homemade bag for my 2.5 gallon batch setup, and am using my original bag until I can get another bag made up for my 5 gallon setup. At first I thought I might be having PH issues as I’ve never really had to pay attention to mash PH it didn’t seem likely. I figured if a new bag didn’t fix the issue I’d dig deeper, but as usual the simplest answer was the right answer.

The reason it took me so long to figure this out is that the grainy flavor was only coming through on batches that utilized Marris Otter as the base malt. Those happened to be batches that were a bit more subtle (Mild, English Bitters, etc) as opposed to batches that I used Domestic 2 Row in (APAs, IPAs, IIPAs, Robert the Bruce clone, Barleywine) – all of which used the same bag. I’m not sure if this is due to the size of the base malt (MO might be slightly smaller than 2 Row) or if the bigger flavors have masked the grainy flavor in the batches that used 2 Row.

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild 3.0

The grainy flavor didn’t prevent Crickhollow Mild 3.0 from doing well in competitions so far (38 and 39.5 so far 1st and 3rd) so I ended up entering it at NHC since I didn’t really want to drink it. Luckily some grainy flavor/astringency is allowed within that style, but one judge did say it made the beer finish a little dry and 3/4 scoresheets said additional sweetness would improve.

The batch I’m most concerned about this flavor in is my Special Bitter that I sent to NHC. I don’t think this off flavor would help that beer at all so I decided to add some Polyclar to the keg to try to strip the tannins/proteins that I believe were causing that flavor. It definitely helped, but it didn’t get rid of all of it so I don’t have much hope for this one advancing to the 2nd round.

I brewed another Mild as my first batch with the small batch setup and had just gotten to the point of realizing that there might be too much grain in the kettle when I saw some swirling around during the boil as you can see in the picture below:

grain_in_boil

I strained a lot of it out during the boil, but obviously I couldn’t get it all out at this point in the process. The batch did turn out to be a lot more drinkable than the Mild 3.0 version and the grainy flavor does seem to be fading the longer it cold conditions. If my Mild happens to make it to the 2nd round I might send Mild 4.0 vs Mild 3.0 to Philly if for no other reason than I like 4.0 better and it has a little more malt complexity.

As a true test I decided to brew a really light flavored Ordinary Bitter (90% MO, 10% Carastan) which I’ll post up in a week or two when it’s ready, but initial samples out of the keg had no trace of grainy/husky/tannic flavors.

NHC 2013

In other news I stewarded at the St. Paul judging center for NHC last weekend. It was the first time I had volunteered at a competition and I had a great time. Thanks to the 2 bottle format for Round 1 us stewards got to try whatever beers we wanted when the judges were done with them. It was pretty cool to try some beers and sit in with the judges as they discussed them or to have a beer and read the scoresheets that they handed you for it. If any of you have the opportunity to help out with a competition I’d highly recommend it, even something as boring sounding as ‘stewarding’ turned out to be quite fun.

It was interesting to see how beers are handled, judged, etc. I was surprised how subjective the Mini BOS process is – it taught me that you really have to nail a beer to get place, let along get 1st place. Any little flaw, or deviation from style, slight imbalance WILL prevent you from placing – assuming there is some decent competition in your category.

I’ll have some more posts up soon as I have several batches fermenting/conditioning at the moment.

Cheers

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UMMO Results

UMMO.medals

The scoresheets came back from the first competition we’ve entered so far in 2013 (Upper Mississippi Mashout). As I said in an earlier post, this is supposed to be one of the best judged competitions of the year so I wasn’t really sure what to expect having not entered this one before (or possibly even a competition as well ran/judged as this one).

The results were posted sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning (I checked when I woke up) and the scoresheets were apparently mailed out right away, but there was a postage issue and they had to resend them all out last weekend – no big deal, still had within about 10 days of the competitions which is plenty fast.

We ended up with 1 gold (Mild 3.0), 2 silvers (Scottish 70/- and IIPA)  and 1 beer that didn’t place (APA 2.0). I talk about each beers in the post linked in the top paragraph as well as other posts so I won’t go into great detail in this post.

The Mild that got 1st (39.5) is one that I don’t like and neither has anyone else that has tried it so far. Apparently it’s a good example of the style though, but I won’t brew that recipe again. I am going to enter it in NHC though since it did fairly well and I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the batch. The judges stated it could improve with a little more fruity ester complexity – that’s the problem with competing in the English styles- if they don’t taste like fruit-cake you will hear about it on your scoresheets, I just like my English beers with very limited ester character so I won’t be changing that.

The Scottish 70/- got 2nd (41 adjusted to 39) and was noted to be slightly over carbonated which detracted from the malt flavor – I blame my piece of shit regulator, but ultimately that’s my fault and overcarbonation is something I’m almost never accused of (quite the contrary…). One judge thought it had a little too much roasted grain and slight diacetyl (from WLP001?!?) – this was Jamil’s recipe and I probably wouldn’t tweak much if/when I rebrew it.

The IIPA got 2nd (37 adjusted to 43!) was the 2nd time I brewed a Pliny clone with some minor changes. One judge thought it had too much hop flavor and aroma, the other thought it needed more hop flavor and aroma. Both seemed to like the beer though, but the aroma was a bit subdued from the last batch which, I think, came from using gelatin. Based on the timelines though I had to use it and it really does make the beer sparkle. I think I’ll try to not use gelatin on APAs, IPAs and IIPAs when I can help it though.

The APA didn’t place (28.5) and that really surprised me as I thought it was about as classic of an APA as you can get. It also tasted really clean and I didn’t pick up any flaws. The judges thought it had too much diacetyl, which I either am not sensitive to or the judges maybe had some on their palates from a beer earlier in the flight – I’m not out to make excuses, but it’s got to be one or the other.

I will have to dig in and figure out how to adjust my process if I’m throwing off diacetyl and not picking it up myself. The yeast in question is WLP002, which I’ve had diacetyl comments from in several batches now and it is a pretty notorious strain for diacetyl, but it is still precious to me and I will fight through this.

I’m brewing a Special Bitter this week and the APA (with some adjustments) in 2 weeks both for NHC and both with WLP002 so I need to make some adjustments immediately starting with going from a 1L starter to 1.5L and probably doing my D rest earlier in fermentation than I have been (instead of when krausen drops I think I’ll do this about a day after high krausen (probably 2.5-3 days from pitching). I think I will also rouse the fermenter as I ramp up the temp – not sure what else to do besides leave the beer on the yeast a bit longer (I usually give these about 10 days from pitching, maybe I’ll go closer to 2 weeks). I sent an email to White Labs, but I don’t know if they’ll respond or, if they do, if it will be real constructive.

There are a couple more competitions coming up (this Saturday and next Saturday) so I’m hoping to have more scoresheets back before tweaking my process too much. This kind of feedback is part of the reason I enter competitions – if I truly don’t detect diacetyl (which some people are not sensitive to) than I may be serving friends/family buttery slick beer which is unacceptable, but I wouldn’t have known without getting feedback. I’ll know more once I see the results from the next 2 competitions, but it has identified some simple things I can do to reduce the amount of diacetyl that ends up in the finished product.

I’m still looking for more gold and hopefully a BOS or two this year, stay tuned readers.

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MILDly annoyed

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild

So back in November I brewed the third iteration of a Mild recipe thinking I’d nail it with the tweaks from version 2 to version 3 (long-winded blog post here), but after giving version 3 plenty of time to condition and mellow out I still don’t really like it – as gorgeous as it is in the picture above. I think the Crisp Amber malt just brought in an astringent flavor that is really unpleasant. As I mentioned in the competition post I did enter this in UMMO just to see if a trained palate can figure something else out that may be process related – it might even score well – it’s not bad I just don’t really like it and the guidelines do allow for some astringency in roast based versions.

Anyway though – dejected and demoralized I was thinking of just giving up on perfecting a Mild recipe for a while, but as I was reading through the style guideline when I was debating even entering version 3.0 I got an idea for a new recipe that I think could be quite delicious and decided not to give up!

I decided to target a more chocolate forward Mild and utilize some delicious  Simpson’s English Chocolate Malt instead of using Pale Chocolate and either Black Malt or Amber as in versions 2 and 3. I think with the amount I plan to use this should bring in plenty of chocolate flavor while hopefully adding just a bit of coffee and roast flavor. The Carastan and Extra Dark crystals will bring plenty of caramel, toffee, dark fruit, burnt sugar, and other crystal type complexity while the Floor Malted MO will bring plenty of bready maltiness (I sometimes get a hint of honey even – in a very good and pleasant way with this malt). I’m sure with everything going on there will also be plenty of toasty, nutty and other flavors mentioned in the style guidelines as well.

I might cask condition this and serve it on the Caskegerator if I can figure out a good way to bottle some for competition at the same time.

This recipe is subject to change at this point – probably brew it in a week or so:

Mild 4.0

60 Min boil

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.038 OG (factoring in .002 pts either way as I haven’t brewed a really low gravity ale since I got my own mill so I’m not sure what the efficiency will be)

1.012 FG

18 IBU (EKG most likely)

83.5% Warminster Floor Malted MO (4.5L)

6% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

6% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal (160L)

4.5% Simpson’s Chocolate Malt (430L)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

Readers – I’m open to any feedback/suggestions/criticisms that you may have on this recipe. I’m debating on the percentages, but I think it’s close. I also toyed with changing the Carastan to a darker crystal (probably the medium), but I think the combination of the Carastan and Extra Dark Crystal could be magical.

Cheers

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In Search of Gold……Medals

As happens several times throughout the year there are several competitions coming up within weeks of each other in the area that allow drop offs at Northern Brewer – meaning no hassle with shipping. Whenever this happens I try to brew up a few beers to enter in each – which I’ve made mention of in some recent posts. I also had some bottles left of other beers brewed last year that I decided to enter. I was really hoping to volunteer at the Mashout, but couldn’t get out of work Friday and Saturday (during judging) so hopefully I’ll have that chance later this year as I’ve never helped out with a competition.

 

Bagshot Pale

Bagshot Pale

American Pale Ale – Bagshot Pale – this is the second iteration of the recipe, see the post for more info there. The first iteration got 1st, 1st, 3rd in the three competitions I entered it in. I’m really happy with the changes made in this version – the hop flavor is amazing. I’m planning to enter this recipe in NHC, which may or may not change depending on scores/feedback from the upcoming competitions. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26, The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9 and MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

Hamfast the Gaffer

Hamfast the Gaffer

Imperial IPA – Hamfast the Gaffer – once again, this is the second iteration of a Pliny clone – lots of info in that post. Also, once again, I’m really happy with how this turned out in it’s second iteration. I probably wont rebrew this to enter it in NHC, but I will brew it at some point again this year probably whenever the next group of competitions around here are together (probably late summer/early fall). Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26, The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9 and MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild

English MildCrickhollow Mild – this is my third attempt at a Mild – I go into great (probably too much) detail about the recipe in the post, but in this case I’m not thrilled with what the amber malt brought in – almost an astringent-like flavor that is a bit strong at this point. I’ve read that the flavor can/will fade over time, but I’m not sure how patient I’ll be with it. I figured I’d enter it anyway and see if the judges like it better than I do or if they think the astringent flavor is a process issue or something. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26.

 

MacAulish

MacAulish

Scottish 70/- MacAulish – I brewed this back in August and it has been at about 35* F since early September – for whatever reason this beer really improves with extended cold storage. This got a silver medal in Hoppy Halloween scoring 36.5. This is Jamil’s recipe with Simpson’s Caramalt/Extra Dark Crystal (as opposed to American crystal) and Northdown for bittering. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26.

 

Oatmeal Stout w/ Espresso shot

Oatmeal Stout w/ Espresso shot

Oatmeal Stout – Ivy Bush Oat Stout – This was brewed in early October and turned out fairly good. This is essentially Jamil’s recipe with a few tweaks (UK crystals, toasted the oats, etc) – see recipe in the post (which is in the Oatmeal Stout Chili post) for more info. The only glaring issue with this beer is the head retention is fairly poor (unlike when you add a shot of espresso as in the pic) – I know that will count against the score as it’s mentioned in the style guidelines (“Thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head.”), but I wanted to get some feedback anyway since I haven’t entered a stout in a competition yet. This is entered in The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9.

 

Janet's Brown Ale

Janet’s Brown Ale

American Brown Ale – Janet’s Brown Ale – brewday post here and tasting notes here. I happened to have exactly 2 bottles left of this after giving some away and decided to enter them instead of drink them. Last time I had one of these (1-2 weeks ago) it tasted excellent so I’m hoping it’ll hold up for another month until the competition. They’ll be picking one Brown Ale (English or American) to be ramped up and brewed at the Milwaukee Ale House sometime this year so I figured it was worth a shot, just wish this was fresher (brewed 10/27/12). This is entered in MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

I’ll get a post up at some point after each or all of the competitions. For past results see competition results page.

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Brewing/Competition Summary 2012

Good day readers.

2012 – and maybe the world – is coming to an end. We are done with competitions for 2012 so thought it would be good to have a post about what we have gained from competing this year.

I’m going to bring you back to 2011 – this is when we first attempted some all grain beers. The first beer was a Surly Bender clone that I found online (this was before there was a kit for it). This batch, in addition to the next 2 did not attenuate more then 50%. Eventually we figured out that the dial thermometer we were using, although calibrated in ice water, was not at all accurate in the mash temperature range. After several dumped batches a new thermometer was purchased which was a bit more accurate – close enough to be dangerous at least.

A couple more batches were attempted and were drinkable, but had some off flavors. Eventually these were found to be from the water in my city being very poor for brewing (mineral levels are not typical for the area, Mg is especially high and above ideal levels), so we started using water from another city and our beers improved again. By this point we were nearing the end of 2011 and had brewed 16 all grain batches. I’d say 10 of these batches were good enough to drink, the other 6 were bad and were mostly dumped. At the end of 2011 we were pretty dejected and weren’t really sure how much longer we’d keep brewing, there were just too many batches not turning out (due to process issues, recipe flaws, etc). This is basically like in Return of the King when Frodo is ready to give up and Samwise the Brave gives the inspiring talk about there being some good left in the world that is worth fighting for.

I (and my brew-partner Jay) still believed there was some hope, and it was worth fighting for. I immersed myself in brewing literature, podcasts, etc. and figured out a few things to work on. First was to start using Reverse Osmosis water and add back some minerals/salts to desired levels. Second was the use of pure O2 instead of just shaking the carboy to aerate. Third was to stop taking liberties with recipes or to try to create them until we knew more about recipe formulation.

The first batch we attempted in 2012 was Jamil’s Evil Twin. We used RO water and used the water profile that Tasty McDole uses for his hoppy beers (Ca-110ppm, Mg-17ppm, Na-17ppm, SO4-350ppm, Cl-50ppm). We pitched the proper amount of yeast and added 60 seconds of O2. A month later were were drinking a delicious IPA – it really is a great recipe. In addition to the use of RO water and adding O2, an important thing here is that we started to really pay attention to detail with this batch. We took detailed notes, followed the recipe to a T and didn’t really drink much during the brew day – a previous requirement while brewing.

After a very successful batch in Evil Twin we made a special bitter – Jamil’s ordinary Bitter recipe made slightly bigger (by accident). We thought this was a pretty fantastic beer, so we entered it in the 2012 March Mashness competition thinking this would reveal some process flaws we could try to fix next. To our surprise, this scored a 35 and took 2nd in the English Ales category. The only things the judges said was that it was lacking a bit in hop bitterness for the style.

After that competition we really became confident in our process and stopped looking to the next big technique or piece of equipment that could help us make better beer. We kept brewing and started entering more competitions towards the end of summer where we had some decent results. We kept tweaking the special bitter recipe and it eventually took 1st in it’s category at the State Fair (42.5), but since then it has not done well in competition due to oxidation issues.

This is one area of our process that we have now addressed as a result of competition feedback. Instead of racking with an autosiphon and gravity, we have started using a closed transfer system using CO2 to push the beer from a Better Bottle to a keg. We also started capping on foam when filling bottles from a keg – I believe these 2 process changes will eliminate oxidation issues. When we can fit it in, we will redeem ourselves by entering the Special Bitter again – it’s a matter of honor (“Well of course it’s going to be dangerous if it’s a matter of fucking honor” – if you haven’t seen In Bruges stop reading and go buy it – I know you don’t want to watch it because Collin Farrell is in it, but do it anyway – you won’t regret it).

There were 7 styles we competed with. We picked 4 styles to try to rebrew for some competitions coming up in early 2013 based on feedback received throughout the year.

English Mild

American Pale Ale

American IPA

Imperial IPA

I am not positive we’ll get to the IPA, but the Mild and APA have been brewed and the IIPA will be brewed next week. These will be entered in 3-4 competitions in January and February. I went into detail about the recipe evolution for the English Mild (Chrickhollow Mild) in this post. The IPA (Erebor Pale Ale), if brewed will not change much as it’s done very well in competition already, but the dry hopping will be increased as we only used 1 oz last time (would use around 3 oz in the rebrew). The IIPA (Hamfast the Gaffer) will be mashed slightly higher as it finished around 1.009 last time and was missing a hint of malt backbone that the judges are looking for. I think we could get it to finish around 1.011, but I wouldn’t want it any higher and this may not even be noticeable.

I was a bit torn on what to do with the APA (Bagshot Pale). This got 1st in Hoppy Halloween (judged in late October) in the American Ales category with a 37.5. The scoresheet stated that it was missing some malt flavor, which I agreed with. The middle was lacking some flavor, but otherwise this beer was exactly what I was shooting for. I also submitted it in SCH*ABC V and Land of the Muddy Waters, both competitions were judged on 11/10/12. By Mid November, the beer was about 8 weeks old and the hop flavor had started to fade a bit. The malt character was more noticeable. It took 1st at Land of the Muddy Waters and 3rd at SCH*ABC V. The scoresheets now were saying the malt comes through a little more than the hops, which makes sense as it ages. I decided to add about 3.5% Victory Malt and also increase the hot steep (basically whirlpool addition) by about 25% and the dry hop by 50%. I’m hoping this will provide just a little bit of malt flavor when fresh, and the increase in hops will keep the hop aroma/flavor around a bit longer (which probably won’t happen, but we’ll see). This was brewed last Saturday so we’ll see how this ends up coming out in a few weeks.

I can honestly say that competitions have helped improve the quality of the beer that we brew. They are a great source for feedback for your brewing process as well as your recipes. One important point is that you aren’t going to get much out of entering a beer one time, it really pays to send it to as many competitions as you can.

We entered 21 beers in 7 competitions and ended up with 16 top 3 places and 1 best in show. For all the 2012 results, go to the competitions page here.

We’ll definitely be entering competitions throughout 2013, but are likely only going to enter and brew beers we really like as accurate stylistic interpretations (like a Mild, Special Bitter, IIPA, APA, etc) so as not to limit ourselves in whatever else we become inspired to brew (Pacific hopped IPA, smoked/oaked Hobbit Mild, etc.) and also because we want to use the Beer Engine Caskegerator a bit more and typically beers are better when you brew them with cask conditioning/serving in mind as opposed to brewing them for competition.

Cheers

Hamfast “the Gaffer” Gamgee

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A Brew Day to Remember

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This past Saturday some friends came over for some #hobbitlife festivities, chiefly the drinking and brewing of ale and the breaking of bread. There were lots of chips/snack mixes, Oatmeal Stout Chili, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Espresso/Oatmeal Stouts and some Meatball Sandwiches. Many a pint of Oatmeal Stout and Janet’s Brown Ale were imbibed as well as some meads. It was a bit chilly, but the burner and some spooning/heavy petting kept us warm enough. We ended up chilling the wort in the basement since the hose outside was frozen solid, the temp dropped so rapidly on Thanksgiving I never had time to bring the hose inside. Didn’t realize this until now, but this was the 20th batch of 2012, hoping to squeeze 2-3 more in before year end.

In the past, we’ve found that our mash efficiency really suffers with grainbills above 16 pounds or so of grain (to get to around 1.070 or so). Initially, to brew this Barleywine (targeting 1.100 OG) I figured we’d be best off just getting some Marris Otter malt extract to get us from 1.065 or so to 1.100. Before I bought the ingredients I remembered reading about a double brew to produce a strong wort (Radical Brewing). Essentially you mash once, collect the wort, and mash again (with new grain) in said wort. I did some google searching and found that some BIABers had attempted this with good results. BIAB actually lends itself to a double brew better then any other all grain brewing method I’d have to say. We really weren’t sure how this would work out, but with a strategy formed and a goal in mind we forged ahead.

 
The recipe was pretty basic, I’ll post it below as well, but the grist was just 24 pounds of Floor Malted Marris Otter, a half pound of Simpsons Medium Crystal and a half pound of Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal. The grain was split evenly into 2 bags (12 lbs MO, .25 Medium Crystal, .25 Extra Dark Crystal) and each mash was done at 148F for 75 minutes. Since the sach rest was at a lower temp and we wanted to drive up both efficiency and fermentability we figured an extra 15 minutes for each mash would maybe help, but certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.

I really went back and forth on the hopping. Part of me wanted to use all EKG with a 4-5 oz bittering addition, but ultimately I decided to use some higher alpha UK Target hops for the bittering addition (2 oz). I figured the cleaner bittering would be welcome and we could still add plenty of EKG at 10, 5 and 0 mins (1 oz at each). I’m planning to brew an Old Ale soon enough (likely an 1845 clone or something close) and will feature a huge EKG load at 60 mins in that brew instead.

For the yeast selection there was never really a question on deviating from the ever staunch, ever steadful WLP002 English Ale Yeast (WY1968 aka Fullers strain). I use this yeast for the vast majority of British/American ales that I make. A lot of brewers would shy away from using this yeast, convinced it would leave too much residual sweetness, but I have faith. I’m thinking it’ll bring the beer to around 1.020-1.025 within about a week, but we’ll see. I pitched directly on top of the yeast cake from Crichollow Mild 3.0 brewed a week prior to brew day. I was hesitant to do this, but Dawson (MZA on WordPress/Gravatar, blog here) answered some questions I had about pitching on a yeast cake (and about this recipe) and gave me the courage to try it without washing the yeast between. If anyone has tried washing WLP002 you’ll understand why I didn’t want to wash the yeast for a beer this big.

The double brew went really well. We just used the standard amount of water We’d use for 25 lbs of grain (according to beersmith). For the first mash we used our original pillowcase style grain bag.

After 75 minutes we removed the bag and put it in a bucket with an upside-down colander to drain.

Gravity after mash 1 was 1.038.

We raised the wort back up to strike temp and put the 2nd set of grain in the new bag that is shaped like men’s underwear. Once that mash was over we raised the bag and heated up to mashout temp and let the 2nd bag sit for about 10 mins. After mashout we raised the bag and let it drain while heating up to boil. The preboil gravity after Mash 2 was 1.078.

Here is where we hit our only snag of the day, the wort was so thick it wouldn’t drain effectively. We ended up having to squeeze the bag quite a bit, typically we don’t squeeze at all.

Our preboil volume was short by a quarter gallon, all in all not the end of the world. Next time we do a big beer we’ll account for more grain absorpotion. We thought about adding water back, but decided to just boil the 8 gallons and end up with 6.25 gallons post-boil instead of 6.5 gallons (which we did). This resulted in a bit more trub ending up in the Better Bottle, but that shouldn’t really matter in this beer.

The wort was chilled to 64 before racking onto the yeast cake and adding O2 for 90 seconds at a fairly high rate. The OG was 1.102.

The fermentation brought it up to 66F (where it will ferment for the first 2 days) and a blow off tube was needed within 7 hours. At the 2 day mark I’m setting the temp controller to 68F to encourage the yeast to keep working.

It was really fun to brew a beer like this with some BFFs. The beer will be good for years to come and we’ll enjoy it together, but the event itself and the memories are something we’ll have forever.

#hobbitlife for life

WC for life

Gaffer’s Reserve:

5 gallons

60 minute boil

1.102 OG

96% Floor Malted Marris Otter

2% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2% Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal

Mash half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes, remove and mash 2nd half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes

2 0z Target at 60 mins

1 oz EKG at 10, 5 and 0 minutes

WLP002

Pitch at 63F-64F, let free rise to 66F, when fermentation starts to slow down (day 2-3) raise temp to 68F

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is nearly here, lots of brewing stuff on my mind:

  • Kitchen remodel is nearly complete at Bag End – not brewing related, but deal with it
  • Janet’s Brown Ale is tasting mighty fine
  • Crickhollow Mild 3.0 is fermenting away, should be ready to keg in time to pitch an upcoming big beer on the yeast cake (stay tuned) – will be trying the oxygen free transfer “system” out for the first time
  • Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0 is performing admirably – had to take apart the old chamber as I built it in front of the water shut off for the house
  • Oatmeal Stout Chili batch 2 is on the horizon
  • Weather isn’t too cold here in MN, shouldn’t make brewing this Saturday too difficult (chilling with frozen hoses doesn’t work well)
  • Got scoresheets back from LOTMW (1st 1st) and SCH*ABC V (2nd 3rd) with some useful feedback as I get ready to rebrew Hamfast the Gaffer (Pliny clone) and Bagshot Pale (APA)
  • Have 4 batches planned between now and mid-December, good times

Mild 3.0 in the Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0

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Crickhollow Mild: A Recipe in Transformation

I became interested in brewing a Mild for several reasons. Historically it was a beer that was served in virtually every pub in London, but in the 20th century became nearly extinct. It’s typically a session beer, but has some real depth in it’s flavor (think toast, chocolate, burnt sugar, sometimes coffee). Mild is a very drinkable beer, you can have pint after pint and not become full or drunk, which makes it a great breakfast or lunch beer. It’s great for cooking as well.

One of the greatest advantages is that it’s a great starter beer – a beer that I’ll throw a single White Labs vial or Wyeast smack pack to grow up some yeast for other beers. The reason it’s so great as a starter beer is because the OG is low meaning a single vial or smack pack is sufficient (assuming it’s relatively fresh) to pitch. A lower OG obviously also results in a lower ABV which does not stress the yeast as much. It’s also a low IBU beer, which again makes the yeast more viable for repitching since it won’t have all the isomerized acids clinging to the cell walls. Lastly, Mild is a great beer to cask condition.

I first brewed Jamil’s recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, but I used all UK ingredients where he has the domestic varieties listed for the most part.

Version 1.0:

84.3% Floor Malted MO

6% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

4.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3% Pale Chocolate

1.9% English Black Malt

Mash at 154F for 90 mins

1.037 OG, 1.012 FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

I thought this turned out to be a really delicious beer, but the black malt seemed to bring with it a peppery astringent flavor and the roast was a little over the top. This also tasted a little thin and finished dry. This was a really beautiful beer though, not quite black, with ruby highlights. I entered this in 3 competitions and it ended up with a 33, 24.5 and 29.5 – one judge picked up phenolics, but the rest didn’t comment on that. I’m not sure if there was a process issue or if there was just too much black malt.

Version 2.0
84.7% Floor Malted MO

5.8% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

5.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3.7% Pale Chocolate

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.036 OG, 1.012 FG

20 IBU (Styrian Goldings – wanted to use this up, would typically use EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

In this version I dropped the black malt and increased the Pale Chocolate hoping to get rid of any astringency/peppery flavors. I also mashed for 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes. I used to always mash for 90 minutes, but I consistently experienced a thinness in the body so I have since reduced mash time to 60 minutes unless I really want to dry something out. I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not, but I think it’s made a difference. If nothing else it’s made my brew day shorter while only hurting efficiency by a small amount.

This version turned out quite well, it’s very toasty and the malt is about what I want. It tastes a little to clean though and is a bit one noted in flavor. This scored a 29.5 as well in the only competition I entered it in and got 2nd in the English Brown Ale category. Both judges agreed it needs a bit more body and needs to be a bit more malt forward. One judge recommended increasing bitterness, the other said to reduce.

Version 3.0

This has not been brewed yet, planning to brew it this weekend.

82.9% Floor Malted MO

5.7% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

5.7% Pale Chocolate

2.8% English Black Malt

Mash at 155F for 60 mins

1.038 target OG / 1.013 target FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

In this version I’m trying to increase the body (mashing a degree higher) and make this a bit more malt forward. I’m going to bring the IBU back to about 17 like version 1.0. I’m reducing the Extra Dark Crystal and making it up with some Crisp Amber Malt which I think will bring some maltiness and complexity to the flavor profile (hopefully a hint of roast without any astringency, some subtle coffee flavor, and additional breadiness). I also like the fact that Fullers commissioned the maltsters in the UK to recreate Amber malt after reviewing historical brewing records for their commemorative beer 1845. Seems fitting to use it here since Mild is an older style. I’m still debating on whether or not to reduce the pale chocolate and maybe add some English Chocolate Malt, but I don’t want to tweak too many things at once.

 
My goal here is to get to a point where I’m happy with this recipe. I’ll enter it in some competitions, but ultimately want a beer that I’ll almost always have on hand around the house. I also want a good base recipe that I can wood age at some point and maybe smoke as well (smoked oaked mild). If you read this in the next day or two please give me some feedback on the recipe which I plan to brew in a couple days.

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Hoppy Halloween results

I received scoresheets and prizes last weekend from the Hoppy Halloween competition put on by the Prairie Homebrewing Companions. This club is pretty hardcore about this competition, respect.

The results were posted live on facebook during the awards banquet – it was pretty cool to follow along, especially since 6/7 beers that I entered received a medal. I didn’t end up winning the conical for best in show, but never truly expected to.  I ended up having 2 beers in the best in show round so I did what I could.

Click Image to enlarge:

The feedback was generally very good, but some were off the mark (guessing recipe, telling me to add something that was already there, etc). I’ll be taking the feedback into account as I rebrew the Mild, APA, IPA, IIPA in Nov/Dec for some upcoming competitions in Jan/Feb.

Ended up with a lot of prizes, some t-shirts, hat, New Zealand Hops, grains, bottle opener, 7.5g stainless kettle and a temp controller. Most precious of all though are, of course, the medals:

The lanyards are way superior to the typical red, white and blue. The skulls and mummies were clearly a labor of love. The engraving on the back for the category and place is a nice touch as well, much better than the usual sticker.

Bagshot Pale (APA) and Hamfast the Gaffer (IIPA) are both in competitions (Land of the Muddy Waters & SCH*ABC V) this weekend, will post after those results are up on Saturday or Sunday. I’m a little worried that these are out of their prime, but hopefully I get some useful feedback regardless.

Original post on Hoppy Halloween

Overall Competition Results page

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