Dead Pony Taste Test

I wanted to compare how my inspired brew compared to the original. Given the problems experienced during the brew it is no surprise that they are not the same.

First of all, the beers look different. My Little Dead Pony is significantly darker. The aroma also is noticeably different too.  I am no expert but I would almost describe my brew as being “off”. Not in a particularly bad way but just a bit odd. Brewdog’s aroma is much more hop-like whereas mine is not that reminiscent of hops.

Taste-wise, things improve somewhat. Mine is very bitter – in a good way. A nice strong after-taste lingers. But if anything, it’s probably a little too bitter. Again I still prefer Brewdog’s because I can’t help feel that there’s something wrong with my brew.

Brew 1 – My Little Dead Pony

Well, I’ve finally bit the bullet and decided to brew. I know the software was far from complete but  the hardware was ready to go and as they say “you learn from your mistakes”. So here goes.

If this brew-day was filmed, I reckon it would have made a great disaster movie. You know the script. Things begin calmly, the world is good. Then there’s a small problem but it seems under control. Then another problem unexpectedly arises which compounds the first problem. Then things escalate and it all goes open loop. Everything that can go wrong does, it seems like the end of the world.  But then the hero arrives at the last minute and figures out how to save the day. The world is right again. That was my first brew day!

The whole process was semi-automatic. Driven from the command-line step by step.  I don’t trust my code enough to fire and forget just yet.

The Recipe – My Little Dead Pony

This recipe was inspired by Brew Dog’s Dead Pony Pale Ale. I tweaked a few quantities, mainly increases in malt and also hop quantities during the boil. I felt Brew Dogs use of hops was a bit stingy (at least during the boil).

Ingredient Amount
Maris Otter Pale Ale 4 Kg
Caramalt 0.45 Kg
Pale Crystal Malt 0.3 Kg
Citra Hops (Boil 60 mins) 20 g
Simcoe Hops (Boil 60 mins) 20 g
Citra Hops (Boil 30 mins) 10 g
Simcoe Hops (Boil 30 mins) 10 g
Citra Hops (Dry Hop 4 days) 75 g
Mosaic Hops (Dry Hop 4 days) 50 g
Simcoe Hops (Dry Hop 4 days) 50 g
WhiteLabs California Ale Yeast

WLP001

Sanitizing

Before starting I manually ran Starsan through all pipes. Paying particular attention to the route between kettle and fermenter via the chiller.

Mash

The intention of the mash was to recirculate at 65C for 75 mins. This slightly lower temperarture and longer time is from Brewdog’s recipe published in “DIY Dog”.

This had to be stopped after 15 mins because the mash was sitting at  only 60C. I manually had to switch on the heater because the kettle was only at 56C and the wort was not very sweet.

The grain bed also became very dry so I pumped all of the kettle contents into the mash. Had to override pump because it was pumping too often. Also had to manually open the mash inlet valve.

The kettle was at 70C but the mash was only 57C. I notice that the element was scorched. I don’t think it was running dry but something was seriously wrong.

So I pumped all the wort from the mash tun back into the kettle. Heated it to 80C and back to the mash tun again. Did another cycle at 75C.

The wort gravity was low and very thin to taste. It was clear that the sugars were not fully extracted. So I essential did an immersion mash until the OG was reached and not unsurprisingly tasted nice and sweet. The total mash time was very long indeed but I felt it was more important to extract the sugars than to stop the mash based upon time.

 

Erratic mash followed by the boil.

Chill

The chill command began fine. The cold inlet opened and flowed through the chiller into the drain. Then the other valves opened and the pump switched on to transfer the wort from the kettle to the fermenter.

The fermenter temperature appeard to be down to 16C, so I pitched the yeast. It was only then that I noticed that the cold input value to the chiller has closed. Refreshing the display showed that the fermenter temperature was sitting at 37C!

Initial Chilling

I tried to pump cold water from kettle but couldn’t. I though there was a blockage so I had to connect the mains cold supply directly to the fermenter and run the coil output to a big bucket. Eventually I  got the temp below 20C.

Fermentation

  • Initial ferment algorithm seemed to go well. I awoke at 0530 and checked the temp – all was well so I went back to bed. Got up at 0730 and the kettle was boiling and the ferment temp was back up at 30C.
  • I though I fixed some issues but debugging was impossible since the system was live. I had hoped it was fixed but not yet. The temp kept on going through the roof. Eventually I spotted my stupid mistake. The control algorithm was monitoring the mash thermometer instead of the one in the fermenter – doh! After fixing that the ferment temperature stabilized at the desired temp of 19.5C.
  • Fermentation lasted a couple of weeks. After which the gravity reduced from 1050 to 1012. Giving a final ABV of 5.0%.

Conclusion

It was an eventful mash process but the wort tasted good  in the end nevertheless.

The fermentation temperature was initially too high but I got it down from 33C to 21C in 30 mins. Not ideal but I think within limits.

I’ve got bugs to fix:

  • Recirculating mash is currently flawed and needs further development.
  • Chill valve is closing prematurely.
  • An air lock develops sometimes when regulating the ferment temperature

Punk 2007 vs Punk 2017

I couldn’t wait for my bottles of nostalgic Punk IPA to arrive.  Brewdog have released versions of their original recipe 10 years on. I’ve fond memories of this stuff and I know for sure that it’s changed over the years. Although I was curious to know if my memories were purely nostalgic or not.

So I poured each one into an identical glass and started the test.

The 2017 version as we all know is light, fresh and hoppy.  It’s clean with a bitter after taste.

The 2007 version was noticeably bitter, which I liked. However I felt it was bordering on being ‘off’. There was a rather unpleasant fusty smell. This was also reflected in the taste. I am no brewing expert but either my taste buds have matured over he past 10 years or I got sent a dodgy batch.

Original on the left.
2017 2007
Appearance Light and golden Noticeably darker and slightly less carbonation than 2017
Aroma Floral and hoppy. Not terribly pleasant. Borderline off and stale.
Taste Clean and bitter. Stale beginning but hop bitterness kicks in later.
ABV 5.6% 6.0%
IBU 35
Malt  Extra Pale Extra Pale
Hops Ahtanum, Chinook, Crystal, Motueka.

8.3g/L

Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook,  Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe.

14.1g/L

Overall I think a combination of the two would be ideal. I didn’t like the aroma of the original but I did appreciate the extra hoppiness.

Perhaps my own taste has moved on but I would not buy 2007 Punk IPA today. There are just too many similar beers available that are a lot better. It’s probably a good thing that Punk has changed to keep up with today’s tastes.

 

Power Budget

Item Voltage Current Power
TDK DSP5 5V 1.5A 7.5W
TDK DSP10 12V (2off) 1.66A 39.8W
TDK DSP30 12V 2.1A. 25.2
Pumps: 12V (2off but only 1 on at a time) -1.25A -15W
Valves 12V (8 off) -2.4A -28.8W
LEDs (8 off)

Max when Red Off & Green On

5V  

-81mA

 

-0.4W
Raspberry Pi2 5V -1A -5W
Load Cell Amplifier HX711 5V -1.7mA -8.5mW
Flowsensor (5 off) 5V ? ?
Watchdog LED 5V -0.5mA -2.5mW
SSR 12V -10mA -0.12W
Heater LED 12V -?mA -?W
Spare 12V 0.1A 1.2W
Spare 5V 0.41A 2W
Extractor Fan 240V ?A ?W
Temp Sensors (9 off) 5V -13.5 mA -82.5mW

Fully automated brewing system using NodeJS