Monday, February 25, 2013

Brewday Disaster

There is a story that when Robert the Bruce was on the run, between 1306 and 1307, he spent some time hiding in a cave on Rathlin Island, off the coast of Northern Ireland. Whilst hiding out, so the story goes, he watched a spider spin a web. and every time the spider failed. Rather than give up and take up quilting, which let's face it spiders are not exactly equipped to do, the spider would begin again until he succeeded. Inspired by the spider, Robert the Bruce returned to Scotland, eventually defeated the English and resumed his reign, which lasted until 1329. The story is told to illustrate the maxim 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try again'.

Today I will be channelling the spirit of that spider as I brew my International Homebrew Project recipe again, though with a couple of changes. Given that the target gravity of the beer is 1.079, I used my 5 gallon cooler as the mash tun on Friday when I initially brewed the beer, rather than my normal smaller one. I am not convinced that my 5 gallon cooler holds the temperature very well, and as such I got terrible conversion and ended up with an original gravity of just 1.044. Having substantially dropped short of my gravity I decided to ferment my wort with a different yeast, and so I have 2.5 gallons bubbling away with Munton's and Fison's Premium dry yeast. Also, the hoping is crazy, calculated at 135 IBU.

The changes I am making for today's brew are really very simple, I am going to do a smaller mash in my 2.5 gallon cooler, which I know holds the temperature very well and gives me about 75% efficiency rather than the 53% of the 5 gallon job. I will then supplement that mash with a couple of pounds of extra light malt extract to reach the target 1.073.

Once I am done, I think I will drink the final bottle of last year's International Homebrew Project which I found in the back of the cellar the other day...


  1. My brew day went well, missed to OG target by .3 so pleased with that, the yeast pack had swelled nicely so all seemed well, yeast pitched at 8.30pm Sat night @ 20C, next morning very little fermentation & I do mean very little. After 24 hours no fermentation at all so in a panic I pitched a packet of Nottingham, it’s going like a train this morning. Not sure how this will turn out, hope the 24 hours of sitting does not do any harm. Cheers Peter @The Didsbury Brewer

  2. Sorry it didn't go as planned and hope you have better luck today. I'm aiming to brew on Friday so can't report back yet.

    Can I check the target gravity? I've planned for 1.079 as I think it says on the recipe page - is it in fact 1.073?

    I know it's not much difference but as I haven't started yet I may as well at least aim for the correct one.


  3. My oversight, it is indeed 1.079.

  4. I did not quite get my target OG. I don't recall what it was in the end but it should be enough for a decent beer.

  5. It has been reported that human lupulin tolerance maxes out at arpund 100 ibu's, so cheer up. You won't even notice those last 35 ibu's.