James

Brett IPA brew

It’s amazing how web forums have become an amazing resource for everything from food and drink to tech and knitting. Homebrewtalk.com has an epic thread on WLP644 Sacc trois (formerly Brett trois) currently standing at 105 pages long, starting in 2011 up to present. I mean, where to begin? At the start, I guess. The posters – including Mike Tonsemire of Madfermentationist and Jeffrey Crane also an active blogger – discuss recipes and experience brewing with the yeast. I gave up on the post around 60 pages in when the posters weren’t adding too much information about the yeast and just chatting. This can tend to happen. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to have an abridged version of these epic posts? The information is all experiential so in a way, it’s proper crowd-sourcing data. You can’t always rely on it to be perfect. The posters may have neglected to talk about or weren’t aware of variables that changed the results of their beer.

I’ve made one all brett beer so far with the Yeastbay Beersel blend. I was hungover when I made the recipe and chucked in too much chocolate malt. I’ve ended up with some sort of tangy American brown ale – due to the fact that I put 200g of acidulated malt in there. I’ve had a bunch of beers sour on me these last 6 months as I’ve been brewing sour beers and haven’t paid enough attention to sanitation, so I though that this happened in this case, but I think that the drying out and 200g of acidulated malt probably contributed to the flavour. Brett can add some acetic character to a beer if it’s well oxygenated, so one has to be a little careful about that if this isn’t desired.

Jacques Sacc Trois Yeast Starter

A fellow brewer friend of mine Jacques came to visit recently and brought a bunch of bretty style beers with him. I’ve cultured a few of them up now, including the above one – a Sacc Trois black IPA. He wasn’t too impressed with the final beer, but the starter I made had some lovely typical ripe pineapple aromas coming off it. Hence, the trawl through HBT before brewday to get some info on what to expect from this yeast. Here’s a few things I learnt from reading through the post:

  • It goes really well as a primary strain in all brett style beers. Actually, it’s been classed as a sacc yeast but in behaviour it’s pretty much the same as a brett yeast.
  • It doesn’t really add much as a secondary strain to beers.
  • In primary it puts off lots of tropical fruit flavours – sometimes even almost a little too overripe fruit flavours.
  • Aerated it can produce some acetic character (another typical brett aerobic fermentation trait). It will produce a tang if aerated but not a bite, just a small tangy character.
  • Fermentation is done at typical English ale temps – 18-21C. I’ve not read of any people fermenting hot, and apparently below 18C is tough for the yeast to work at.
  • Heavily hopped beers can have a positive effect on this yeast – Kiwi hops being particularly complimentary to the ripe fruit flavours it produces.
  • Unmalted grains can help give the beer some body which it may lack due to high attenuation of brett. The high attenuation of brett in primary is a little disputed though. Someone presented a chart of all their homebrew club’s experiments with the trois and the average FG over around 20 beers was 1.010. The lower end being 1.006 to 1.008, with some reporting stalled fermentations.
  • Acidulated malt (or adding lactic acid) is said to (in Chad Jacobsen’s research) improve attenuation but most people seemed to be getting 80% without it. They may however, increase expression of fruity aromas. This isn’t verified though and could be due to other factors.
  • Anaerobic environments are said to improve “funky” aromas from the brett-type yeast.

With all that in mind, phew (!), I put together a recipe. Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops were used, with the former as bittering and both as aroma hops. Pale malt was used for the base, but other malts (wheat, vienna, munich, rye and carapils) were used to add body and I threw in some aromatic malt to add a little complexity on the nose.

crooked stave, beer, dregs, brett, brettanomyces,

On brewday, I remembered that I had some cultured up Crooked Stave dregs and decided to split the batch between the trois and the CS brett blend (12 different strains!). This also worked out as I was concerned about underpitching the cultured up dregs. Half the volume of wort to ferment effectively doubled my cell count.

Update 23/4/16 (brewday +2 days)

brett IPA fermentation

Lag time on the Crooked Stave dreg culture was an amazing 3-4 hours to get started. It was powering away very quickly. Sacc trois took a little longer to get going but was up and running after about 18hrs.

Update 28/4/16 (brewday + 7 days)

Gravity is standing at 1.010 for the CS culture and 1.020 for the Sacc. trois. Samples are both smelling delicious but very different. 5 days in, trois was smelling as reported – of ripe pineapple and that smell hasn’t abated. It’s still here after a week and likely to get stronger as the gravity drops down further. The CS sample I took 5 days in smelt vinous – like a white wine. Perhaps that was still some of the Nelson Sauvin hop oils present in the aroma, 7 days in that’s still there but has died down a little and been replaced by a fruitier aroma reminiscent of passion fruit and fresh figs. Can’t wait to see how it develops. Will keep updating here.

Update 1/5/16 (brewday + 11 days)

Decided to chuck on the heat to the trois for a week or so. Stepped up from 23-25c over a couple of days. Fermentation seemed to have restarted a little bit judging by the airlock activity.  Tasting very good. Lots of ripe pineapple. CS more vinous with a slightly tart note now. 

Update 10/5/16 (brewday + 20 days

Took a gravity reading on the trois a few days ago and it looks good. Down to 1.011 from 1.020. Didn’t take one from the CS version as I was concerned about acetic production from O2 ingress. As I had a little O2 come in, a nice little pellicle formed on the Trois. Don’t worry kids, it’s all under control!


Without further ado here’s the recipe – please ignore the grains of paradise I didn’t chuck them in – (and the first American brown brett thing below it):

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 27.581562 5.814925 1.051 1.012 5.117967
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Brett Beer 28 A 0 - 0 0.75 - 0.75 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
UK Pale Ale Malt 3 kg 50
UK Wheat Malt 1.2 kg 20
UK Vienna Malt 720 g 12
UK Rye Malt 500 g 8.33
UK Munich Malt 380 g 6.33
German Carapils (Weyermann) 100 g 1.67
Belgian Aromatic Malt 100 g 1.67

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
NZ Motueka 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 10.5
NZ Motueka 20 g 5 min Boil Leaf 10.5
NZ Nelson Sauvin 20 g 5 min Boil Leaf 12.5
NZ Nelson Sauvin 20 g 0 min Boil Leaf 12.5
NZ Motueka 20 g 0 min Boil Leaf 7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Grains of Paradise 2 g 60 min Boil Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Sacc Trois 75% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 68°C 60 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Soo.... it?s recommended that I use some galaxy or motueka hops here as apparently they go very nicely with the sacc trois flavours. Could use willamette and nelson sauvin as well. Mosaic too!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 14.198061 11.112302 1.055 1.012 5.640267
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Brett Beer 28 A 0 - 0 0.75 - 0.75 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Belgian Pilsen Malt 4 kg 68.55
UK Crystal Rye Malt 500 g 8.57
Belgian CaraPilsner Malt 300 g 5.14
UK Munich Malt 500 g 8.57
UK Flaked Oats 300 g 5.14
German Sauer(Acid) Malt 235 g 4.03

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
US Northern Brewer 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7.1

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii 77% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Based on the Mo Betta Bretta inspired beer in ASB. Difference being the NB hops and the crystal rye malt.

For Autumnal version (split batch?) add 32ml/l pinot noir + 0.3kg/l dried sour cherries.

Wine / Beer Blending Notes

So the next step on from brewing and secondary fermenting the Kiwi saison was to blend it with some Sauvignon Blanc wine from Marlborough, New Zealand. My friend Simon worked for a winery in NZ and amazingly managed to blag us some wine for the purposes of these trials. Thanks very much to the good folks at Saint Clair winery for providing the bottles for sampling.

I decided not only to trial the Sauv/Saison blend (inspired by the Mad fermentationist post) but also to trial some Pinot Noir blended with a Flemish Red I made in August 2015, as well as a porter of mine that soured through my poor sanitation practices that I was trying to rescue instead of chucking down the drain. It’s hard to say goodbye to something you’ve laboured over so much! In this case I was hoping the wine would boost the beer rather than just polish a royal dog turd.

As Simon is an experienced winemaker, I thought it would be great to have him along and show us the basic proceedings of a simple wine blending session. We decided to go fairly simple, with trials blending the wine with the beer at 5, 10, 15 & 20% by volume so for example, we’d add 5ml of wine and 95ml of beer, 10ml plus 90ml and so on. This was all done by using scales (1g/ml) as they’re more accurate than measuring. Only problem is if you add too much it’s difficult to correct if you’re blending directly.  I’d bottled and carbed a litre of each beer a few weeks previous especially for the session. The saison had been conditioning for 3 months with brett in a keg, and the Flemish red had been ageing for around 8 months – and 2 with a small piece of oak wine barrel stave. The sour porter was brewed in November and started souring after about a month.

Saint Clair Malborough Pinot Noir Sauvignon Blanc

The wine was measured out and blended with the beer at the percentages proposed. We had 6 glasses in total for each beer blending session. Taking care to make sure that the glasses were all identical for consistency. The first was unblended beer, the second through to the fifth were beer/wine blends of 5, 10, 15 & 20% by volume, then the final glass was wine only. We didn’t worry too much about blind tasting tests for simplicity’s sake and also because we didn’t have so many glasses, and the purpose wasn’t isolating a specific flavour – more looking for a sweet spot within the blending percentages. Having the ‘naked’ beer and wines as a comparison, then being able to walk upwards through the blend strengths was enough for the purposes of the session.

First up was the Kiwi Saison. The aroma of NZ hops had died down considerably since I had kegged it – not surprisingly after three months in the keg. I also understand that brett can interact with the various hop oils to produce aromas of it’s own. The beer had aged with the brett very well, there were still some classic saison peppery notes, however there was a light fruity aroma on the nose reminiscent of apricot, as well as a light tartness present. All in all, I was very pleased with the results and it was one of the best saisons I’d brewed to date. The NZ Sauv Blanc was a classic example of the wine – one of my favourites: minerals, passion fruit, lime on the nose, a real fruity punch. Light, crisp and refreshing. Gorgeous.

Tasting the beer in the 5-10-15-20 steps was a very interesting process. At 5%, the wine aromas were perceptible but not really adding too much, at 10% the aroma starts to come into play, at 15% the blend was perfect – a wonderful interplay between the fruity/pepper of the beer and the bright, zesty aromas of the wine. At 20%, the wine overwhelms the beer flavour. There was quite a strong cutoff here and everyone agreed on the 15% as being just right.

The sour porter was a bit of a rescue case. The aromas were a mix of roasted malt, some acidic brightness and something else that wasn’t so nice for me – maybe some parmesan or something funkier. I’m not so familiar with the Pinot Noir grape, and expected a fruitier wine based on two bottles I’d recently had from Naked Wines. The Saint Clair pinot is a much more subtle beast. As Simon mentioned – it’s a wine comparable to old world wines like French Burgundy. Complex with a moderate body, the aroma is subtle and delicate. I was worried that the wine would be overwhelmed by the beer, and unfortunately a wine with a full-bodied fruity hit was what was needed for the sour porter. We found that 20% was the sweet spot for this one. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to mask that unknown aroma, although it did improve the beer, I didn’t think it right to throw away such a large amount of good wine to improve a below average beer. We decided that maybe it was worth trying with a punchier, fruitier red wine. I’m either going to do that, chuck some rosemary in, or just ditch the batch and chalk it up to experience.

As a side note, I’d put aside a gallon of the Flemish red to age with some damsons and was hoping that this bottle might be the magic bullet to go with the sour porter. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, and it was still a bit naff. The damson aroma seemed very muted after chilling in the fridge and even when we warmed it up, it didn’t seem to make much difference. A turd is but a turd, by any other blend, it seems.

wine beer blending session

The Flemish red I had more hope for. The beer itself had been massively improved by the addition of an oak stave. The sweet vanilla aromas really rounded the beer out a lot and made what seemed quite a simple malt/lactic tartness on the nose into something more complex and satisfying. We found something similar in this case as well, there was a sweet spot that we all agreed on, around the 10% mark. The wine added some depth, a slight astringency as well as an amazing red tint to the beer, however, at 15-20%, the wine overpowered the beer, pushing those vanilla notes down and masking their presence.

I had considered blending the wines into the keg but I’m going to blend a couple of gallons of the saison and the Flemish red and a keep a couple of gallons of them without the wine blended in to see if they’ll age differently in the bottle and have another side by side comparison to do in several months when they’re ready. Watch this space!

I’ve included the Flemish red recipe below. After primary fermentation with WYeast Abbey 1214, it was aged with a vial each of White Labs Berliner Weisse blend WLP630 (I needed to use it up!) and White Labs WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix for around 8 months.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
23 L 60 min 10.275584 13.469416 1.063 1.016 6.275050
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Flanders Red Ale 23 B 1.048 - 1.057 1.012 - 1.014 10 - 25 10 - 16 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Belgian Pilsen Malt 2 kg 30.89
UK Munich Malt 1.8 kg 27.8
UK Vienna Malt 1.8 kg 27.8
German CaraMunich I 250 g 3.86
Belgian Special B 125 g 1.93
UK Light Crystal 500 g 7.72

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Australian Helga 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 5.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Wyeast 1214-Belgian Ale 74% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

14ml of Lactic acid to add.

Kiwi Saison Recipe

Inspired by Mike Tonsemire’s NZ saison and sauvignon blanc post, I brewed a similar style saison a while back as part of a live brew day at the Brunswick.

We had a really fun day out at the festival – on the 17th of January – and the brew went very smoothly, although we got a bit tired towards the end of the day!

Emma interviewed me throughout the day as the brew went along and edited it into a wonderful piece for the show I’m a guest presenter for.

You can listen to it here.

Kiwi Saison Beer Fermentation

As you can see above – I wrapped the beer in a duvet to insulate it from the cold. My heater was just a heating mat and not too powerful. The insulation worked and in combination with an STC-1000 temp controller successfully fermented at a toasty 28C and fermented to 1.003 in a snappy 3 days. I believe that those mash notes might not be accurate and I may have done a ferulic rest at 45C for a bit to enhance the peppery aromas produced by the yeast.

After fermentation, I dry hopped for 3 days with 7g each of mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops – just enough to leave a presence but not too much to overwhelm the beer. Tonsemire’s recipe has a stack of hops in it and I wanted a little more yeast character to remain. The beer was kegged in a corny and some brett brux and trois were pitched in – and left for 3 months.

And here’s the recipe:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 22.655904 5.815522 1.048 1.007 5.391368
Actuals 0 0

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Saison (Standard) 25 B 1.048 - 1.065 1.012 - 1.016 20 - 35 5 - 14 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Belgian Pilsen Malt 2.5 kg 51.28
UK Pale Ale Malt 1 kg 20.51
UK Wheat Malt 1 kg 20.51
Sugar - White Sugar/Sucrose 300 g 6.15
Belgian Special B 75 g 1.54

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Australian Sylva 15 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7.6
US Mosiac 7 g 10 min Boil Leaf 13
NZ Nelson Sauvin 7 g 10 min Boil Leaf 12.5
NZ Nelson Sauvin 7 g 5 min Boil Leaf 12.5
US Mosiac 7 g 5 min Boil Leaf 13

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Wyeast 3711-French Saison 80% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 65°C 60 min
Raise by direct heating to 68°C 5 min
Rest at 68°C 15 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Inspiration:

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2014/08/new-zealand-saison-and-glycosides.html
http://adventuresinzymurgy.blogspot.com/2011/02/nelson-sauvin-saison.html


Water:

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 95
Mg: 3
Na: 0
Cl: 33
SO4: 25
HCO3: 205

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 23 / 0
RO or distilled %: 0% / 0%

Total Grain (lb): 4.6

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaSO4: 0 / 0
CaCl2: 1 / 0
MgSO4: 2 / 0
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
CaCO3: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid (ml): 5
Sauermalz (oz): 0

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 107 / 107
Mg: 11 / 11
Na: 0 / 0
Cl: 54 / 54
SO4: 59 / 59
Cl to SO4 Ratio: 0.92 / 0.92

Alkalinity (CaCO3): -87
RA: -170
Estimated pH: 5.49
(room temp)

Elderflower – Sambucus nigra

DescriptionShrub/small tree. Up to about 3m high. Umbrella shaped flower sprays. Purple/black berries.
UsesFlowers in cordials, champagne, beer aroma, desserts. Berries as any other berry - wines, addition to dark beers.
HabitatHedgerow, roadsides.
SeasonFlowers Late May-early July. Berries August/September.
DistributionAll over UK except northern Scotland.

Anybody put off by the word ‘foraging’ and all the dangers should relax a little. Elder is one of the easiest plants to identify and a walk around the block of most cities should turn up a few plants, identifiable by their sprays of white flower bunches.

(more…)

Jim’s Elderflower Champagne Recipe

Jim's Elderflower Champagne Recipe
Print Recipe
Bright, fresh, heady floral elderflowers go into this champagne. Whatever you do, wait for the fermentation to finish before bottling!
Servings Prep Time
16 litres 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
16 litres 30 minutes
Jim's Elderflower Champagne Recipe
Print Recipe
Bright, fresh, heady floral elderflowers go into this champagne. Whatever you do, wait for the fermentation to finish before bottling!
Servings Prep Time
16 litres 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
16 litres 30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: litres
Instructions
  1. Sterilise the FV and all implements.
  2. Dissolve dextrose/sugar in 1l warm water - heat and stir till dissolved.
  3. Add everything apart from the yeast and the honey water to your sterile fermenting vessel (FV).
    elderflower champagne brewing homebrew
  4. Rehydrate the yeast in 100ml lukewarm water.
  5. After 30 minutes, check the temperature of the bucket. If room temp, then pitch in and stir.
  6. Measure OG with a hydrometer. Should be around 1.055.
  7. Wait 2 weeks until bottling.
  8. Syphon to another sterile vessel.
  9. Measure final gravity - should be around 1.004 (7% ABV). If it's around 1.010 then don't bottle yet!
  10. Add the 100ml honey water (for your bubbles!).
  11. Bottle in brown glass bottles or soft drink bottles - keep in a cool dark place.
  12. Drink after 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes

Conclusion - amazing. Slightly cloudy, very well carbonated! Fresh aroma and taste. And not too dry.

Tasted after 2 weeks in bottle. Ready to enjoy! A good improvement on last year.
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Gose Beer Sour Kettle Method

So this was my second attempt at a sour beer. The first I did in a Burco with an STC-1000 temp controller. It didn’t go so well as the probe was stuck in the mash and this meant that the boiler kept on overheating the wort. It would have been much better if I’d put the temp probe near to the bottom of the boiler as I’d have got a much more accurate reading and subsequently better control.

So I went crazy and got myself a Braumeister for my birthday. The first beer was a simple pale, and the second was this.

The method is basically this:

  1. Make a starter (I used acidulated malt grains and cider – a lot of people use DME in water and crystal – I think I’ll try that next time)
  2. Grow the starter at 40-45C. I’d read that 45C was better as it inhibits the heterofermentive lacto and other nasties like Clostridium that produce “baby vomit” smells)
  3. When the starter is ready (3 days? Should smell nice and fruity and tart) mash the beer.
  4. Drop the finished mash down to 45C and remove the grains. I actually left mine in there for the lacto fermentation.
  5. Bring the pH down to about 4.4 with some lactic acid (I brought mine down too far due to me not reading the pH strip properly). This will make the mash a happier place for the lacto and less hospitable for other bacteria.
  6. Innoculate with the starter.
  7. Flush with CO2.
  8. Hold 45C for as long as it takes for the pH to drop to 3.4-3.6. Test daily. Mine took a week and I had to chuck in some extra crystal as I’d lost confidence that the starter was doing anything.
  9. Bring up to the boil and run the hopping schedule.
  10. Ferment as normal with yeast.

The advantage over traditional Berliner Weisse methods that just pitch in a mix of lacto/yeast is that you have complete control over the acidity of the beer. You are also able to increase the hop bitterness levels – which you can’t do on a regular Weisse/Gose due to the hop oils inhibiting the lacto.

The fermented beer came out not too remarkable to be honest. It was nicely tart but on the nose was lacking in complexity. It smelt a bit like a simple cider. So I ended up doing a couple of things that completely transformed the beer. Firstly I threw in some Orval dregs for that brett complexity. After a couple of days (see pic below) the typical brett pellicles started popping up, and after about two weeks, the brett funky smell came through. It was lovely and almost savoury. A few weeks later, I hit upon the idea of adding some grapefruit. I took three (for a 20 litre batch) and shaved the zest and juiced them, then heated the zest up in the juice to Pasteurize and also extract a bit more of those oils nice and quickly – making sure I didn’t heat it up too much and lose those lovely delicate aromas.

The grapefruit went in and immediately it transformed the beer. In the beginning it overwhelmed the brett smell a bit but now it has balanced out and this really is a great beer. I’m bloody happy with it – it’s one of my best so far.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 14.476408 3.242660 1.038 sg 1.038 sg 0.000000

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Gueuze 17 E 1.04 - 1.06 1.01 - 1.015 0 - 10 3 - 7 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
UK Wheat Malt 2 kg 49.14
UK Pale Ale Malt 1 kg 24.57
German Pilsner Malt 1 kg 24.57
German Sauer(Acid) Malt 0.07 kg 1.72

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
US Sterling 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Salt 14 g 60 min Boil Other
Coriander Seed 14 g 60 min Boil Other

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Want to do a 64.5C mash for 1hr then 74C mash out for 15 mins. Drop to 45C (add cold water to reduce/top up?) and pitch in the Lacto starter.

Lacto starter is 400ml of apple juice with small handful of acidulated malt thrown in held at 48.8C for 2 days. Will thrown in another small handful of the acid malt and some crystal to the sour kettle process to innoculate further. Will keep at 45-46 to inhibit nasty bugs and heterofermentative lacto. Will aim for the sour mash to bring pH down to 4.5 before kettle souring. 36 hours should be enough to bring it down to pH 3.6. May be better not to taste due to risky business going on.

Purge BM with CO2 and seal the lid with tape due to risk of clostridium bacteria.

 

Get started with all grain beer brewing for under £30

This is a guide to making a beer with the minimum amount of gear possible. A lot of this kit you’ll be able to find in your kitchen – but even if not, you should be able to get started for under £30. I’ll update it in time with a video, some pictures or even a fancy infographic but this’ll do for the time being.

This method is heavily inspired by the BIAB (Brew in a Bag) brewing method. The main difference between this and the traditional homebrew method is that you don’t have a separate vessel for mashing and boiling and you can use the full quantity of water for the final wort in the mash. I tend to sparge (pour a kettle or two’s worth of warm water over the grains once they’re out of the wort) to extract a decent amount of sugar from the grains but it’s not essential.

The recipe is at the bottom of the page.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 x 2 gallon pot (big enough to fit in your oven for the mash – if it’s too big don’t worry)
  • 1 x nylon brewing bag (from your homebrew store – Brew in a Bag-style)
  • 1 x thermometer (get an infrared one or one with a cable so you can have it monitoring the temp while it’s in the oven)
  • 1 x demijohn or small fermenting bin (preferably with a tap at the bottom for sampling or
  • 1 x airlock
  • bottles + capper (if not using swing lid or screw top bottles)
  • 1 x syphon hose
  • 1 x hydrometer or refractometer (better!)

Ingredients:

One of the things that can overwhelm (it certainly did me) and even put off the homebrewer at the start is the sheer number of ingredients available. After a while you do get used to it but it’s a bit of a hump. I’ll try and explain what you need right at the start at least.

Malt

Most beers have a base malt (for fermentable sugars) like pale or pilsener malt and a speciality malt (for flavour and colour and not so many fermentables). To start out find a recipe with either pale malt only or pale + crystal. I’ve chucked in a bit of torrified wheat to the recipe as this helps with head retention (keeping your head for as long as possible!).

Hops

Again, get what you need once you’ve decided on a recipe. Store in sealed bags in the freezer once you’ve used them. For your first beer try just using a single type of hop – I’ve used American hop type Cascade for this one.

Yeast

Get some Safeale S-04 or S-05. They’re proper workhorses and you shouldn’t have any issues with stuck fermentations or the like. You’ll learn that different yeast give off different flavours in due course but for the time being, don’t worry. Make sure the temperature where they’re fermenting is a stable and 18-20C. Higher or lower and you may have some issues.

Water

Most people don’t tend to worry about water in the beginning. I’d tend to agree but I would also say that it should be high on the list of your priorities to get organised – it’ll have a massive effect on your beer quality. Head on over to our Brighton water page if you’re in the area and you should have a decent enough idea about what to do with your water treatment. Head to Murphy and Son and get a water test done if you want your water properly treated.

All of these you can get online somewhere like the maltmiller or brewuk. I can supply some as I have a few spares.
 

Part 1: The Mash

  1. Turn the oven on to 65-70C.
  2. Add 9 litres of water to the pot (you may need to make a dipstick or to etch markings in the side of the pot to get an accurate measure of the volume in the pot) and heat up to about 70C.
  3. Weigh out your malt according to the recipe
  4. Place the nylon bag in the water
  5. Add the malt to the water
  6. Temp may drop here due to the lower temp of the malt being added to the water – adjust temp to 67C if needed
  7. Place in oven for 1 hour – the oven should hold the temp of the mash due to the external heat being the same as that of the pot. There are other ways to do this – you can insulate your pot to hold temperature, you can keep it on the hob and check every 15 minutes and adjust accordingly. Whatever works with your kit.
  8. Pull bag out, waiting for liquid to drain. Do not squeeze as this adds undesirable flavours to the beer.
  9. Measure water – the grains absorb water so you’ll need to adjust the levels here. During the boil, 10-20% of the water will evaporate so you may want to get the pre-boil volume to 9-10 litres as the final volume is 8 litres. You might want to “sparge” at this point – by running some water over the removed grain bag and placing that back into the wort. I use a colander (to sit the grain bag on) and a steamer (to allow for even distribution of the water over the grain bag) in the fermentation vessel. Just make sure you collect the water and add it to the wort before the boil begins.

Part 2: The Boil

The hops are added at different intervals depending on whether they’re bittering or aroma hops – bittering at the beginning and aroma towards the end. In most recipes the boil is 60 minutes and hop additions are indicated as time before the end of the boil – ie “60 minutes” at the beginning and “15 minutes” is in the 45th minute of the boil. Do make sure you have an accurate way of measuring the hops as small amounts can be important at this quantity. I’ve got a scale that measures down to 0.1grams – they’re less than £10.

Recipes measure hop additions from the start of the boil. So if it says “60 minutes”, then it means it’s 60 minutes before the end of the boil, if it says “15 minutes” it’s 15 minutes before the end.

  1. Bring the water up to boiling
  2. Add first (60 minute) hops. I put mine in the (cleaned) nylon bag I used for the grains as it gives freedom for them to swill around but means I don’t have to filter afterwards. If you’re not using a filter you may want to just use a sanitised sieve when you’re pouring the wort into the fermentation vessel to strain the hops out.
  3. Add any more additions into the boil as it goes along.

Part 3: The Cold Drop

You need to cool down the wort (the liquid) as fast as possible now. I just chucked it in a sink full of cold water and changed it once. Took about 30 minutes.You can add ice to speed this up. You can get or make an immersion chiller, counterflow chiller or better still, a plate chiller if you’re working with larger volumes of wort. It needs to get down to at least 20C for it to be right. Any higher and you might risk damaging the yeast.

It’s important to know that at this stage, you need to pay special attention to hygiene. After the boil, you want the least amount other bugs to come in contact with the wort – so clean and sanitise everything that the wort comes in contact with.

Note: at this stage you could use a hydrometer (it’s a glass tube that sits in another tube with the beer at room temperature in it – how high it sits determines the sugar content) or refractometer here to measure the “Original Gravity”. This is a measure of the sugar content in the beer before fermentation has begun. This will help for a couple of things:

  • If you compare that with the “Final Gravity”, you can work out the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) ie % alcohol.
  • You can work out the efficiency of your brewhouse. This means that when you’re designing recipes in the future you can take into account this figure. If you get a 4% beer instead of your planned 6% beer due to a lower efficiency – the massive amount of hops you chuck in will overwhelm the beer and taste extremely bitter.
  • During fermentation, if it stops (ie bubbles in airlock stop) or you’re not sure if it finishes, a quick measure of the gravity will tell you how much the yeast has fermented of the wort. If it’s at the level to be expected, then go ahead and bottle. If it’s less than expected, then you’ll need to do something about it. Certainly, don’t bottle.

Part 4: The Ferment

  1. Clean the demijohn and bung with cleaning solution. You can buy special brewery cleaning stuff like StarSan. If you’re on a budget, use 1 capful for a half demijohn full of thin chlorine bleach solution and rinse thoroughly. Other options are baking it in the oven or using some antiseptic tea.
  2. Use a sanitised funnel or jug to pour in the wort, making sure that if you’re using a demijohn, you allow about 2 inches clearance from the neck to allow for the yeast cake which will rise above the surface of the wort.
  3. “Pitch” in the yeast.
  4. Bung a clean finger over the lid and give it a good shake to oxygenate the wort. Yeast loves oxygen before fermentation begins. Later on, you’ll do everything you can to prevent the fermented beer from being oxidised. I use a santised hand blender with a whisk attachment and it does a lovely job.
  5. Wait. Fermentation should start within 24 hours. If it doesn’t, you might need to pitch in a different pack of yeast. 2-5 days should be enough for the beer to finish fermentation. It depends on external temperatures, yeast type, wort strength.
  6. Give it about 2-4 weeks before bottling. This is called conditioning.

Part 5: Bottling

  1. After a month or so of conditioning, syphon the beer into bottles, making sure you don’t add or stir up any of the sediment at the bottom.
  2. You’ll need to prime the beer with sugar. You can either syphon the beer into another vessel and “batch prime” ie add sugar syrup to the whole lot and stir well, or you can prime it bottle by bottle if you have some accurate scales. The batch priming method is easier but there’s a risk of oxidation and contamination with this. There are online carbonation calculators for this.
  3. Wait for about a week or so for the remaining yeast to ferment the added sugars – the CO2 released will carbonate the beer as the bottle is under pressure.

Part 6: Drinking

I’m guessing no one needs instructions for this part… Just send me an invitation!

Here’s the full recipe:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
8 L 60 min 26.309286 6.645124 1.055 sg 1.014 sg 5.380353

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Standard/Ordinary Bitter 8 A 1.032 - 1.04 1.008 - 1.01 25 - 35 4 - 14 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
UK Torrified Wheat 0.03 kg 2.14
UK Crystal Rye Malt 0.075 kg 5.34
UK Pale Ale Malt 1.3 kg 92.53

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
US Cascade 10 g 10 min Boil Leaf 7
US Cascade 10 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7
US Cascade 15 g 0 min Boil Leaf 4.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
DCL S-04-SafAle 73% 0°C - 0°C

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 68°C 60 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Brighton Brewing Beer Water Treatment

So this is a rough approximation from a sample taken around a year ago so even if you had the same water source as where this sample was taken from it may very well have changed since then.

Results have been taken from two sources. My water (with a house water filter) done in Jan 2015 and Richard from the Brewclub done in 2014. We’re both based in Brighton so you should get a rough idea of the water. If you’re looking for a more accurate measurement I’d highly recommend Murphy and Sons’ treatment – lab manager Paul Taylor is a keen homebrewer and a very helpful, nice chap to boot.

Under each table, you’ll see some information about how to treat the water. Please note, Richard’s has slightly different treatments as he has opted for the DWB treatment which is specially prepared CaCl/CaSO4 mix.

Most homebrew software has some basic water treatment calculator functionality but I’ve found those and others online a little lacking in some areas. Recently I’ve tried out Bru’n Water which seems extremely in depth and also has some useful pointers as to why you should have this particular ion and how much of it. Give it a go if you want to go into more depth.

Bitters and Pale ales (Richard)
Ions (all figures in ppm)AMSDWBRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH7.11n/an/an/a
Nitrate29.8n/an/an/a
Calcium93.8104197.8180220
Magnesium2.835.8050
Chloride6892.344.92205.22150250
Suplhate9319320.37306.37250400
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-192236442060

AMS – 26ml per 25 lts liquor to be used, all liquor to be treated.

DWB – 13g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Bitters and Pale ales (James)
Ions (all figures in ppm)AMSCaCl flakeCalcium SulphateRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH6.85n/an/an/an/a
Nitrate46n/an/an/an/a
Calcium478095222*180220
Magnesium33050
Chloride568433173150250
Suplhate7819225295250450
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-160189292060

*note this theoretical value is slightly over the upper target value to the right (220).

AMS (CRS) – 22ml per 25 lts of liquor to be used, all liquor to be treated

Calcium Chloride Flake – 4.3g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Calcium Sulphate – 9g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Stouts, Porters and Mild (Richard)
Ions (all figures in ppm)AMSCaCl flakeSaltRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH7.11n/an/an/a
Nitrate29.8n/an/an/a
Calcium23.5104127.5120140
Magnesium33050
Chloride3442157.544.92278.42250350
Suplhate4720.3767.3750150
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-96236140100200

AMS – 13g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Calcium Chloride – 2.5g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Salt – 6.5g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Stouts, Porters and Mild (James)
Ions (all figures in ppm)CaCl flakeCalcium SulphateSaltRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH6.85n/an/an/a
Nitrate46n/an/an/a
Calcium70.52095185.3120200
Magnesium33050
Chloride12610533264250350
Suplhate48257350150
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)189189100200

Calcium Chloride Flake – 6.5g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Calcium Sulphate – 2.3g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Salt – 4.3g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Lagers and Pilsners (Richard)
Ions (all figures in ppm)Lactic Acid 80%Calcium SulphateRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH7.11n/an/an/a
Nitrate29.8n/an/an/a
Calcium20104124120140
Magnesium33050
Chloride44.9244.920100
Suplhate4820.3768.370100
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-188236483060

Lactic Acid 80% – 18.5ml per 25 lts of liquor to be used, all liquor to be treated

Calcium Sulphate – 2.5g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Lagers and Pilsners (James)
Ions (all figures in ppm)Lactic Acid 80%CaCl FlakeCalcium SulphateRaw LiquorTheoretical Wort values pre fermentationTargets LowerTargets Upper
pH6.85n/an/an/a
Nitrate46n/an/an/a
Calcium23.52095138.5120200
Magnesium33050
Chloride4233750200
Suplhate4825730200
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-156189332060

Lactic Acid 80% – 15.5ml per 25 lts of liquor to be used, all liquor to be treated

Calcium Chloride Flake –  2.3g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash

Calcium Sulphate – 2.3g per 25 lts of beer to be made, to be mixed in with the mash