Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to Brewing - Happy Days

As planned a while back, Saturday was my first day of brewing here in the US.

Even before we moved over I had staked a claim on the storage room in our new flat as being my fermenting room and of course sorted out where to get my new brew kit - these very helpful guys in Columbia, South Carolina, as well as locating an ingredient supplier near Charlottesville.

My original intention was to brew a Red IPA, using Caramel 40 malt to add some colour and amarillo hops for those lovely citrusy flavours which I have really started to enjoy, not forgetting the East Kent Goldings hops for the flavour and aroma additions.

Back in November when Mrs Velkyal and I had the great pleasure of meeting the Beer Nut and Adeptus at the Bull and Castle in Dublin, they made me aware of, a handy little site for calculating recipes, which I use to get a general idea of what to expect from my ingredients.

Beertools told me to expect an OG of 1.057, however I ended up with only 1.045 - any thoughts on what caused the lack in OG would be much appreciated. Anyway, here is the recipe I used:
  • 6lbs Muntons Extra Light DME
  • 1lb American Caramel 40
  • 2oz Amarillo hops, boiled 60 minutes
  • 1oz East Kent Golding hops, 15 minutes
  • 1oz East Kent Golding hops, 5 minutes

My yeast was from White Labs, the WLP023 Burton Ale, which was in a very nice vial and apparently didn't need a starter to cope with 5 gallons worth of wort. Sure enough this afternoon my wort has the beginnings of a lovely krausen on it and will hopefully produce a very nice American Pale Ale. Judging from the sample taken for the OG, it will be a copper coloured ale, so fingers crossed.

As I said I was planning to make a Red IPA, but the colour and gravity are slightly off hence the "re-branding" to an APA. Next time I will up the caramel malt to an 80 and use some C-hops for the Red IPA, but that has left me with a little problem regarding what to call my beer. Some thoughts bouncing around my head at the moment are:

  • Copper Head Pale Ale
  • Commonwealth Ale
  • Ploughman's Delight

It is great to be brewing again.


  1. How about Red head?

  2. On the gravity being off, did you put the boil time down as 60 mins only on the site? I have never used the site calculators as I own the software so I use it in there and the software boil time defaults to 90 minutes. A longer boil time usually gives you a slightly higher gravity.
    Just a thought.
    Another is that you were subconsciously eating DME instead if putting it in the boiler :D

  3. Eat the DME? That sounds pretty grim! Having said that, I do love the smell of it, although Mrs V prefers to go to the pool when I brew now because she isn't a big fan of the smell (possibly something to do with the rauchmalt from my first time brewing!).

    On the boil time affecting OG, how would that work? Surely once the specialty grains have been steeped and the DME added the amount of fermentable material in the wort remains constant? I would have thought that the only thing which changes is the volume of water in the boil.

    I was actually wondering if there is a problem with the efficiency of steeping the grains.

  4. Oh Al, You have never eaten the DME? It tastes like Ovaltine and is lovely stuff.

    Anyway all I can say for certain is in the beer tools pro software, it defaults to a 90 minute boil. If I drop that down the the 60 minute boil most people do then my expected gravity reading also goes down.

    It might only make a difference in All grain, I am not sure of the technical details but certainly on the software it makes a difference.

  5. Sounds like a nice brew. When the DME and malts are dissolved as wort there will be evaporation when you boil which will concentrate the wort. I don't use beer tools but if it is set up for a 90 minute boil then maybe you didn't get as much evaporation so ended with a lower OG. Or perhaps you got less evaporation than the software defaults so ended up with the less concentrated wort.

    I'm sure it'll be nice beer anyway.


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