Tag Archives: English

English Mild – take 5

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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.

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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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Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

Ivy_Bush_Bitter_1.0

We’ve had glimmers of Spring here in MN, but as I write this it’s snowing outside on May 1st… Back in late March I thought it would be nice to have a nice malty low ABV pale ale to drink to ring in Spring. I also needed to build up some yeast (WLP002) for a few upcoming batches so an Ordinary Bitter seemed to fit the bill. I had just spent a weekend in Wisconsin drinking New Glarus beers so I decided on a Spotted Cow type Bitter since that’s nice and drinkable – exactly what I’m looking for here. In addition to that I knew I could be drinking it inside 2 weeks.

I stuck with my go-to English base malt in Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter and decided to just use one specialty malt, in this case Baird’s Carastan (37L). I had some Northern Brewer hops in the freezer and knew they’d be perfect for this one.

Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

2.5 finished gallons (3.5 gallon batch size – .75 left in kettle, .25 left in fermenter)

Brewed 3/28

Kegged 4/7

60 min boil

Mash @ 150*

1.038 OG

1.011 FG

90% Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter (4.5L)

10% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

60 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 30 IBU

15 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 4 IBU

0 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% equal amount from 15 min addition

 

The aroma is quite malty, there is a bit of fruity esters, caramel and a hint of toast as well. There is some hop character, but not a lot. The caramel and toast qualities are more pronounced now at about the 5 week mark than they were even a week ago. In short, it smells like an English Beer. The bitterness dominates the flavor until you swallow when you are hit with malt/bread and caramel. There is, again, some fruitiness, but I don’t get a lot of toasty flavors (would like some). There is some hop flavor as well – it hits me as EKG with a hing of noble hops. The finish is dry with no lingering bitterness – just leaves you craving the next sip. As expected the color is pale gold, very clear (no finings needed) with great head retention and small bubbles. Remember to serve these around 50* and keep the carbonation low with these delicate English ales. I probably would not brew this exact recipe again for a MN spring, but this would make a great beer on a hot summer day. This would be a great beer to serve on cask.

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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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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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