this is my first recipe post and first brewing blog post ever, so I would like to thank Nigel for the opportunity to share my own experiences on his blog. Where Nigel would be the planned, prepared and most likely patient brewer, I am more of what you would call a “gut-shot” brewer. I have more of an idea for a style than a recipe plan starting out, my brew days fall on me with all of the preparation of an improv-gig, and I have been, justifiably, accused of brewing off the cuff. With all that said I’m hoping contributing to this blog is going to be like therapy for me, having to deliver to an audience should encourage me to be more methodical; we will call this my Rash Brewers Anonymous, and this is part of the 12 step program.
Hello everyone, my name is Alex, and I am a Rash Brewer.
So this recipe, which is a partial, started with the idea of a light, summery easy drinking ale. It’s a blonde ale, an approachable and easy to drink light hybrid ale. So I went to my local brew store and with a little help crafted up this hybrid ale. The brew kettle I have at the moment isn’t quite large enough to handle a full mash brew, also as part of my RBA 12 step program I am restricting myself to tamer brews than I have attempted in the past.
Batch volume: 22L
Pre-boil volume: 18 L
Pre-boil gravity: 1.056
Bitterness: 17.3 IBUs
Colour: 4.85 SRM
Calories (per 355 ml bottle): 725 kJ
|% of Fermentables
|Pale Liquid Extract [Boil for 60 min](15.8 EBC)
|Pilsner Liquid Extract [Boil for 60 min](6.9 EBC)
|JWM Caramalt (21ºL)
|Weyermann Carahell (11ºL)
|Kohatu [8.3% AA] – 30 min
|Kohatu [8.3% AA] – 10 min
|Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10 mins)
|Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10 mins)
|Wyeast American Ale II 1272
Mash the specialty grains in a mesh bag with about 8 L of water and hold the temperature at 65ºC for 20 -30 minutes. Drain the collected wort and sparge with 4 L of hot (around 75ºC) water. Add the wort and sparge water back into tho the kettle. Add the liquid malt extracts and bring to the boil. After the hot break, boil for 30 minutes. Add first hops and continue boiling. After 20 minutes add second hops, whirfloc and nutrients. Add to fermenter and stir in dextrose to pasteurise it. Top up to 22 L and allow to cool. Pitch yeast when temperature is under 25ºC.
Kohatu is a relatively new New Zealand variety with lots of tropical fruit punch. Try substituting it for other similar tropical or citrus flavours like cascade, citra or moteuka, adjusting for AA values.
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonate to 2.3 volumes and store for at least 30 days prior to drinking.
A Cautionary Tale of Rash Brewing
So there’s our recipe, pretty simple and approachable right? Well when you’re a Rash Brewer anything can happen, so now it’s time for our lesson in patience. I was inspired to brew this hybrid up after a friend told me of a little homebrewing group that was starting up, the entry ticket being an offering of homebrew. So with a fire in my belly and a gorgeous day at my disposal I went to my local homebrew shop and grabbed the ingredients. I came home, sterilised my gear with a no-rinse sanitiser (Shock! Horror! Can you, dear reader, detect a trend forming here?), and got ready to brew.
I had invited a friend over to hang out while I was brewing but got started bringing my mash water up to strike temp figuring it would take some time given that I brew on a small gas stove top. With my mate still not there yet I chucked my grains into my multi-purpose mesh fabric bag and started the mash, maintaining temperature with a little bit of luck and some practice. After the mash it was time for a quick sparge through a colander, in with the liquid malt extract and bringing the wort to a rolling boil. Okay so nothing too crazy has happened so far but here is where all the fun starts. Waiting for the hot break, I’m worried that my boil isn’t quite hot enough with the small burner (largest available but still small) the kettle is on. Solution? Lid on, keep some of that heat in, and watch out for boil overs, if you’re prepared nothing can go wrong, yeah? No, lid is on for a no more than a minute and I get distracted then comes the sound of rattling metal and my horrors are realised, fortunately my reflexes are honed to a razor sharpness from a lifetime of similar stupid mistakes so it’s a very minor issue. And good lady luck smiles on me, hot break achieved, just in time for the first hop addition. It’s also about this time that two of my mates show up with a 6 pack.
Right, hop addition. So all I need to do is weigh out 20g of hops and stick it in the now rewashed multi-purpose mesh fabric bag. Major problem one, I don’t have scales, how did I forget that I don’t have scales? Idiot, well, make the best of a bad situation, roughly one fifth of the bag measured by eye should be close. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. I have a problem and the first step is admitting it. Hop addition 2 goes the way of the first, guestimated; then, whirfloc tablet added and some yeast nutrient for luck. So that’s it for the boil, now into the fermenter and wait for it to cool (if you expected me to counter-flow chill or ice bath after reading this far shame on you).
Only I’m hanging out with mates and I’m distracted/want to show off so I decide to take a quick OG reading just to demonstrate to the boys how it’s done. I fill up the test tube, drop in the hydrometer and give it a spin. Panic Stations! Only 1.020 OG!? (I’m sure you can see where this is going), that’s terrible, but I can correct it with some dextrose. 500 grams should do it, but I don’t have scales, so two cups, that’s got to be close. So two cups of dextrose go in, well one more couldn’t hurt, three cups of sugar go in. Give the wort a quick stir to dissolve the sugar, which shouldn’t take long because the wort is still hot, basically straight off the boil. The hot wort, which you just measured, hot. It hit me almost as soon as I added the third cup of dextrose what I had done. When the wort is hot it can give a much lower specific gravity reading then is actually present.
This is the impatience of a Rash Brewer. Fortunately for me when I measured the OG the following morning the reading was only 1.048, higher than intended but not disastrous. I pitch the yeast and now the fermenter is happily bubbling away and there are some good flavours developing. It can be easy to get in a rush and slip up. The trick, as I’m learning, to a better brew day is slowing down, breathe, compose your thoughts and plan ahead. Just have fun with it. Mistakes happen, but that’s part of the fun, mistakes are an opportunity to learn, take them as such.
Well thank you for reading, when I started writing I had not yet formed the concept of Rash Brewers Anonymous, it just came about organically as I was typing this saga up, but the RBA struck a chord with me so I have decided that I will, in a future post, spend some time discussing some of the mistakes that can befall the Rash Brewer, and I will be developing a 12 step like program to help us all combat this.
Thanks again, and keep on brewing.
Alex Keynes, the gut-shot brewer.