The Elements Project

This months Beer52 box contained a rather exciting experiment which highlights the difference that a single ingredient can make.

Exactly the same reason for building Brewnode.

Malt

Ruby Rising v 11th Hour

Both beers have Caramalt, Amber Malt, and Pilsner Malt. 11th hour has the addition of rye malt. The differences were surprising. The rye dramatically increased the head foam and its retention. It also caused a slight haze. Overall it seemed more rounded and suited the style.

Yeast

California Dreaming v Dreaming of Frites.

No surprises here. The Abbey yeast gave a saison nose and correspondingly typical flavour. It also made the beer a bit darker and slightly better head retention.

Zig v Zag

Zig used a Belgian abbey yeast and Zag was T-58 (whatever that means). In my mind, Zig was the clearly the better beer. It had a sweet, fruity aroma and a more rounded mouth feel than Zag. Most significantly, Zag retained no head foam and was clearly less effervescent.

Hops

Mosaic v Ekuanot

Well this one is all about the nose. I preferred the Mosaic because it was more floral and slightly sweet smelling.The Ekuanot was not as powerful and had a medicinal edge to it. Mosaic has a stronger aftertaste but was less bitter than Ekuanot.

One thing that came as a surprise was that the Ekuanot had better head retention. I don’t understand how hops can have this effect. I definitely need to do some more research on this.

Conclusions

  • Amber malt increased the head retention but introduced a slight haze.
  • Hops can effect head foam. How?
  • Avoid the Belgian blonde yeast, T-58.

Ping Pong Pale

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To celebrate a small table tennis event at work I brought along my latest brew. It was a fruity New England style IPA.

I have to admit though that the cloudy nature of the beer was unintentional. Iam still unsure of what went wrong in the process, although taste did not seem to be negatively affected.

Open Day – Summer Lightning

To celebrate the launch of Brewnode, I invited a few friends around to sample my wares.  I had all the ingredients for a replica of the classic Summer Lightning from Hopback brewery.  I decided that it would be good to give a go and brew live on the day. I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not since I’ve never had a brew run complete automatically from start to finish. But hey, why not?

Recipe

Ingredient Quantity
Pale Ale, Golden Promise 5.5Kg
Challenger Hops 30g for 60 mins
Challenger Hops 30g for 30 mins
Golding Hops 35g for 15 mins
East Kent Goldings 50g Dry hopped for 7 days
Mosaic Hops (panicked addition) 50g Dry hopped for 3 days
Yeast WLP002 English Ale Yeast

You might notice the addition of some Mosaic dry hops. That’s not in the original recipe but I panicked a bit about the taste during fermentation.

Mash

With hindsight, the initial mash temperature was too. This meant that the average temperature during the mash was only

Fermentation

Active fermentation lasted only 3 or 4 days but I left it for about 2 weeks before transferring to a keg. I took a sample after about 10 days and I was not impressed. So much so that I had a decision to make as to whether leave it as is and hope for the best. Or take action and attempt to turn it into something more palatable.

I didn’t have the bottle to run with it as was, so I decided to chuck in a large amount of Mosaic hops into the fermenter. I know this was not in the plan and diverged significantly from he original intention. But I am glad I did because the change was remarkable. The aroma changed almost immediately from a stale smell to a fresh citrus.

Tasting

Like previous brews, there was a definitive chill haze. I now suspect that cold break in the fermenter is the cause. I chill straight from the kettle to the fermenter through the plate chiller. This means that all of the cold break ends up in the fermenter.

I had to buy some Summer Lightening to compare mine against. Over the past 20 years, what used to be a classic in my mind had turned into a rather bland and fizzy lager like drink. I exaggerate of course but the aroma of Goldings just doesn’t compare to what I’ve become used to.

Conclusions

  • Start with more liquor.
  • Increase malt variety to give more body.
  • Let BIAB drain.
  • Use less bittering hops.
  • Chill to clear before carbonating.

 

Black Hat

The main difference with this brew from the previous (Hop++) was the addition of Carafa malt to give the black colour. It was interesting to see that this malt has no husk and doesn’t look like a grain at all. The lack of husk avoids extra tannin making into the beer. Leaving the colour to dominate.

One other change I made was using an east coast yeast because this was where the Black IPA style originated.

 

Recipe

Ingredient Quantity
Maris Otter Pale Malt 5.1Kg
Pale Crystal Malt 0.45 Kg
Carafa III Malt 0.35 Kg
Simcoe Hops 30g for 70 mins
Simcoe Hops 15g for 40 mins
Simcoe Hops 9g for 15 mins
Mosaic Hops 26g Dry hop for 4 days
Citra Hops 46g Dry hop for 4 days.
Yeast WLP008 East Coast Ale

Points of Note

  • The significant amount of dry hops appeared to have little effect. The same amount in a beer (Hop++) without the dark malt had more aroma.
  • There was a definite chocolate taste.
  • The colour was actually more dark brown than black. This visually detracted at times from the taste. Next time, I will add more Carafa malt.

Brew 3 – Hop++

For this brew I wanted to compare the difference between WLP01 and WLP02 yeast strains. I used the same recipe as  my previous brew  (API IPA) but changed only the yeast. Well that was the intention.

Hop++

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
17 L 70 min 83.7 IBUs 9.6 EBC 1.049 1.013 4.7 %
Actuals 1.04 1.015 3.3 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Blonde Ale 18 A 1.038 - 1.054 1.008 - 1.013 15 - 28 5.9 - 11.8 2.4 - 3 3.8 - 5.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Maris Otter Pale Ale 5 kg 98.62
Pale Crystal Malt 70 g 1.38

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Mosaic (HBC 369) 9 g 70 min Boil Pellet 12
Simcoe 9 g 70 min Boil Pellet 12
Simcoe 10 g 60 min Boil Pellet 12
Mosaic (HBC 369) 9 g 40 min Boil Pellet 12
Simcoe 9 g 40 min Boil Pellet 12
Mosaic (HBC 369) 9 g 25 min Boil Pellet 12
Simcoe 9 g 25 min Boil Pellet 12
Mosaic (HBC 369) 9 g 0 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 50 g 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 14.2

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Primary 14 days 19.44°C
Aging 30 days 18.33°C

All seemed well during the mash until I started to take some gravity readings. Two things surprised me. Firstly the colour was a lot lighter than expected. This was backed up by the correspondingly low gravity. Something was not right.

After puzzling for a while I realised that I had made a dumb mistake weighing the malt. Instead of adding 700g of caramalt, I had only added 70g!

The boil and cooling went well. The gravity into the fermenter was only 1040 but it tasted great. Given the nature of this brew, I figured that a significant amount of dry hops would do no harm. So 50g of Citra was added for 4 days. The final gravity was 1022 which comes out at 3.3%. Resulting in a light hoppy summer session IPA.

Hardware Mods

As a result of the problems encountered last time, I made a couple of improvements to the hardware.

Kettle Check Valve

I fitted to the input of the Kettle from the Mash Tun a one way check valve. This prevents the Kettle contents siphoning back into the Mash Tun.

Mash Tun Output Filter

I moved the filter from the input of the Fermenter to the output of the Mash Tun. This was needed to prevent the Mash pump clogging.  I used the Fermenter filter because any crud was being filtered before reaching it.

Brew 2 – API APA

I wanted to make a pale ale a little lighter in colour than My Little Dead Pony. Using less hops to reduce the bitterness and also putting fewer in post fermentation because I thought I previously over did it.

Recipe

Ingredient Quantity
Pale Malt 5Kg
Crystal Malt 0.7 Kg
Simcoe Hops 9g for 60 mins
Mosaic Hops 9g for 60 mins
Simcoe Hops 9g for 30 mins
Mosaic Hops 9g for 30 mins
Simcoe Hops 9g for 15 mins
Mosaic Hops 9g for 15 mins
Simcoe Hops 9g Dry hop for 7 days
Mosaic Hops 9g Dry hop for 7 days
Yeast WLP001 California Ale Yeast

Mash

Given the failure of the recirculating mash last time, I tried an immersion brew this time.

I took a guess at the initial kettle temp of 86C. I found a problem with my preheat routine. In order to warm up the equipment, in particular the mash tun, I heat the liquor up in the kettle and transfer it to the mash tun and back again to the kettle before adding the grains. What I found was that when the water is returned to the kettle that it is too cold to begin the mash. A further boost to 75C is required before beginning the mash.

Preheat & Mash
Preheat & Boil. Note dips during boil were due to stirring of the pot.

Problems

  • Software Bugs
    • brew 40 85 60 => no emitter name @ vessel.js line100
    • brewmon.start has hardcoded brewname
  • Mash pump clogged. Need to add a filter.
  • Need a check valve on kettle input to prevent siphoning back into the mash.

Fully automated brewing system using NodeJS