Monday, October 10, 2011

A Very Beery Weekend

If you follow my Twitter feed, you will know that the weekend just gone was full of brewing and bottling my homebrew.

Mrs Velkyal's uncle has again asked me for some of my beers for his clients. Every year he makes a gift basket for them with organic and homemade foodstuffs. Last year I provided Machair Mor, an export stout with a hefty dose of chocolate malt, and Biere d'épices, an amber ale spiced with clove, cinnamon, ginger and dried sweet orange peel, hopped with French Strisselspalt and fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast strain. This year I am providing more of the Machair Mor, but switching out the Biere d'épices for a new beer called Winter Gold, which is kind of my take on Fuller's magnificent 1845, but with a hop dose which would put it in the same ball park as Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale.

On Saturday morning I brewed the first batch of Machair Mor and but for having to change the recipe slightly at the last minute - I forgot to buy the dark brown sugar I use and so had to dig around the cupboard and thankfully there was enough turbinado sugar to do the trick - everything went swimmingly. I ended up with a batch of 1.056 (14 Plato) of pitch black wort, which the Nottingham yeast I used munched on with much delight, when I checked the cellar this morning the krausen had all but died down. I am expecting about 5.9% abv for this one, and if it tastes as good as the gravity sample then Mrs V's uncle's clients are in for a treat.

I wasn't planning to bottle the first batch of Winter Gold until yesterday, but while changing the blow off tube to an airlock on Saturday morning, I managed to push the bung into the beer. Well, sort of. The airlock sat on the neck of the carboy, with the bung dangling above the beer, so it only went into the beer itself just before I starting siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket. Hopefully nothing drastic has happened, but retrieving the bung from the empty carboy was far easier than I anticipated. Winter Gold started off at 1.062 (15.5 Plato) and finished at 1.010 (2.5 Plato), giving it a very respectable 6.9% abv, which should go nicely with the 38 IBUs of First Gold and Fuggles, the gravity sample certainly suggests it will be a nice beer.

Having walked the dog at the crack of dawn as usual, I brewed again yesterday morning, this time as part of a project for the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale. We are starting an internal Iron Brewer, where those in the club that wish to do so will brew any beer style they want, but must use 3 ingredients chosen in advance. The plan is to present the beers at our November meeting, and our 3 must use ingredients were chocolate malt, raw blue agave syrup and Palisade hops. My plan was to make a brown ale, my plan went wrong. I say "wrong" but nothing went awry with the actually brewing process, it was more a case of not putting the right chocolate malt into Beer Calculus. I put just generic "American Chocolate" in the calculator, which has a Lovibond rating of about 125 but used Simpson's Chocolate Malt, with a rating of about 420. So my brown ale became a porter, a very dark porter at that. The actual recipe was:
  • 81% Vienna Malt
  • 10% Chocolate Malt
  • 9% Raw Blue Agave Syrup
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 60 minutes
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 15 minutes
  • 1 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 1 minute
  • 1 packet Safale US-05
All that gave me an original gravity of 1.048 (12 Plato), and the yeast was happily doing it's thing within a couple of hours.

A busy but satisfying weekend was rounded off last night with drinking a fair amount of homebrewed cider at a fellow CAMRA member's party and hearing plenty of positive feedback about the brews that I bought to the party.


  1. Sounds like a nice weekend. All I was able to do (brewingwise) was bottle my porter (that I added Maple to in secondary- wish I used more). How did you retrieve the bung?

  2. Respectable brewing activity! The beers sound good too. Already waiting for my double brew weekend to come.


Lukr At That Cask Ale

Take a moment to think about what a pub that specialises in cask/real ale looks like... Chances are that when you thought about the bar itse...