March 2009

The OG for my All Centennial IPA is 1.055.
The OG of the recipe I based it on is 1.067.

Why the difference?

All yesterday that was puzzling me. We used the same base amount of malt and grain so they should be the same. Did I do something wrong? Was I “inefficient”?

I built a spreadsheet to work out the implied OG (ie, based on the ingredients, what should my OG be) and it came back with around 1.055. I put in the base recipe’s ingredients and again it came back around 1.055. By this time my head was well and truly scratched.

And then I realised: I miscalculated the amount of water!

My first two beers were kits, both requiring about 22L of water. My bucket has gallon/litre markings on the side, and 5 gallons is around 22-23L. The base recipe is 5 gallons, so obviously that’s about 22-23L. Right? Wrong!

5 Gallons at around 22-23L

My bucket – being from the UK – has imperial gallon markings, but a US gallon is around 19L, 3-4L less than the imperial gallon!

I plugged those new water amounts into the spreadsheet and sure enough, an OG of around 1.067 popped out.

My procedure yesterday was perfect – but I screwed up by adding too much water at the end. Doh!

But there are worse things to screw up on. At 1.055, that’s still more than the OG of most commercial beers and I’ve seen other IPA’s starting at the same level. And if it gets down to 1.016, it’ll be a respectable… 1% (in line with Japanese homebrewing regulations, certainly nothing like 5%, oh no).

I was a bit concerned that the caramel will be overpowering, so now that it’s more diluted, hopefully that wont be an issue.

But what a mistaka to maka! Eh? Eh? Baka!

Centennial Hops

Centennial Hops

Beer three is my first “non-kit” beer, made with dry malt extract, grain, and hops. I based the recipe on TheJadedDog’s well reviewed All Amarillo IPA. I wanted a beer which has good citrus flavour and aroma without being too bitter or sweet, and All Amarillo IPA seemed to match that well.

I have to give a big thanks to TheJadedDog for answering all the PM’s I sent to him on – he really was a big help, answering all my newbie questions on technique and helping to choose a substitute for amarillo.

This being Japan, I couldn’t get amarillo hops. Or cascade (TheJadedDog’s recommendation was a mix of ventennial and cascade). Or the same DME. And Sakeland didn’t have Crystal 40 (I could get Crystal 40 from Advance Brewing, but that would mean buying just one thing from them). And I used Safale 04 yeast rather than Safale 05 (British vs American). So although All Centennial IPA is a based on All Amarillo IPA, I feel it sufficiently is “mine”.

One amazing thing about using real hops and grains for the first time is that now I can start to smell the individual ingredients in other beers. Drinking a Yona Yona Real Ale, I could smell the hops, taste the caramel. I don’t think beer drinking is going to be the same for me now – I’m going to be dissecting every flavour!

This morning I woke up to the joyful sound of the bubbling from the airlock. The smell is amazing.

Now, without further ado, here’s the recipe and how I prepared it.

Beer three: All Centennial IPA


Measuring up

Measuring up

3.25kg Muntons Extra Light Spraymalt (6 1/2 x 500g bags; 6 1/2 x 650yen)
200g Caramel Malt ECC55-85 (already crushed) – Using the formula EBC = (L x 2.65) – 1.2, this should be equivalent to Crystal 21-31L (2 x 68yen)
100g  Centennial Leaf Hops AA9.2% (3 1/3 x 600yen)
Safale S-04 Fermentis Yeast (310 yen)

Hops schedule

60 minutes: 38g
15 minutes: 26g
5 minutes: 26g
0 minutes: 13g

I prepared each hop addition in advance, putting the correct quantity into thin kitchen bags. The weight includes the weight of the small bag they are in (approx 1g).

Why 6 1/2 bags of spraymalt instead of 6 or 7? Why 3 1/3 bags of hops instead or 3 or 4? For the spraymalt, I wanted to match the quantity of malt in the All Amarillo IPA – and I can use the extra half bag when I make Beer four (another IPA). For the hops, I changed the quantity based on AAU calculations. Amarilla was 8%, centennial 9.2%, which meant approx multiplying the All Amarillo IPA scheduled weights by 8/9.2. The remaining 2/3’s I’ll either keep for a future beer or use with Beer four.


Weighing no-rinse sanitiser

Weighing no-rinse sanitiser

1. Clean and sanitise everything – bucket, airlock, etc. Very important.

2. Prepare the ingredients so that everything is at hand (see photo above). 

3. In a large pot (mine is 16L), bring 7L of water to 70-75 degrees celsius.

4. When the water is at the right temperature, put the caramel malt grains into a grain bag, and put that grain bag into the water.

Like a giant tea bag

Like a giant tea bag

5. Keep the temperature around 70 degrees for 20 minutes, adding heat where necessary. I checked the temperate every 3-4 minutes and at the same time gave the grain bag a good swirl round the pot to help extract more goodness.

6. After 20 minutes, remove the grain bag from the water and hold it above the pot for a minute or so until there’s almost no water dripping. This is what you’ll be left with:

Grain tea

Grain tea

7. Then turn up the heat, and while waiting for the boil, discard the grain from the grain bag and put in the first set of hops. Don’t add them to the pot yet.

Discard the grain

Discard the grain

Hops in the grain bag

Hops in the grain bag

8. While waiting for the boil, now’s a good time to pour a beer. This is Beer one – made with a can of mix and sugar, a world apart from today’s beer. It’s not actually finished conditioning in the bottle yet (he he).

Occupying the time

Occupying the time

9. When the pot is boiling, turn off the heat and start to stir in the malt.

Add the malt

Add the malt

10. The first bag of malt should melt straight away, but after a few it will start to go hard and congealed when it hits the water. When that happens, turn on the heat again. Keep adding the malt and stirring until all is melted, then bring back to the boil.

Stirring the malt in

Stirring the malt in

All the malt added

All the malt added

Coming to the boil

Coming to the boil

Bubbling away

Bubbling away

11. When the top starts to clear, add the grain bag with hops, pushing it down with your stirrer to ensure all the hops are soaked. There’s not really a “hot break” when using extract – not in the same way you get with all grain – but after a while the top will start to clear. Start your timer now: 60 minutes. When there’s 15 minutes left you add the second batch of hops.

Adding the first hops

Adding the first hops



12. The bag will fill with air occasionally when in the pot – gently prod it with your stirrer to keep the hops under water. In the photo above you can see I have two frozen bottles of water out. These will come in handy when it’s time to cool the wort – the ice cold water I’ll add to the wort directly; I’ll then add the bottles with ice to my cooling sink (more on this later). The bottles were unopened bottles of mineral water, frozen overnight.

13. While waiting for the second hop addition, rehydrate your yeast. Sanitise a bowl (I spray sanitised several times then rinsed with boiled water). Place boiling water in the bowl and loosely cover with cling film (you want steam to escape but nothing to easily get it), then put in a basin of cold water to cool until about 35 degrees celsius (temperature recommended by How to Brew, though higher than the 18-24 degrees written on my yeast sachet). I didn’t want to put a thermometer into the water I’ll be using for the yeast so beside it I have a measuring jug with boiled water that I’m taking the temperature of. I should have used an identical bowl and cover it with cling film to match conditions but this was my first time to rehydrate yeast and I was improvising slightly.

Cooling the yeast water

Cooling the yeast water

14. When the water is at the right temperature, add the yeast and stir with a sanitised spoon until all the powder is dissolved, then cover again.

Yeast powder added

Yeast powder added

15. After about 15 minutes, take a tablespoon and hold it in the boiling wort for a minute or so (to sanitise it) then take some wort and hold it in the air until it has cooled (until there is no more steam). You can see I’ve moved on to drinking Yona Yona Real Ale by this time.



16. Add to the yeast and then cover.

Food for the yeast babies

Food for the yeast babies

17. Don’t forget your hop schedule! If it’s time, add the second hops, then third hops. Just put them into the grain bag at the right time.

18. After 15 minutes or so, you should see the yeast start to foam – this will show you it is working.

The yeast is starting to work

The yeast is starting to work

19. When the hour of boiling is done, add the last of the hops to the grain bag, ensure they sink into the water, then turn off the heat.

The last hops are going in

The last hops are going in

20. We now have to cool the wort quickly. Start filling the sink with cold water and then move the pot there. If your sink isn’t big enough, you may need to use the bath for this! I’m lucky in that despite having a tiny kitchen, I have a huge sink (you can see my entire kitchen in this photo – sink, small worktop area, little stove!)

Cooling the wart

Cooling the wort

21. Now it’s time to use the iced water. Pour the iced water from the previously frozen bottles into the wort. When there’s only ice remaining, seal the bottles again and then put them into the sink to help keep the water cool.

22. Now take out the grain bag of hops, letting the water drain. Then add some cold tap water to the wort to as high a level as you risk carrying! (Remember you have to pour this into your bucket!) As I was adding cold tap water, I opened up the grain bag and let some of the water run through the hops, to get more out of them.

Ready for the bucket

Ready for the bucket

23. Pour the contents into your sanitised bucket. Fill the bucket up to 22 1/2 litres. You want the wort and water to splash in, to aerate. Once at the right level, stir the wort for a good 5 minutes to aerate further.

Aerate the wort

Aerate the wort

24. Check the temperature is in the right range for your yeast – by this stage mine was 22 degrees, within range. Now take a hydrometer reading and then add the yeast. (Don’t do what I did and add the yeast and then scream “S*#&, I forgot to take a hydrometer reading!) My OG is 1.055.



Add the yeast

Add the yeast

25. Give the wort a final stir to ensure the yeast is mixed through (don’t do what I did and remember 3 hours later that I’d forgotten to stir again, then have to reopen the bucket and stir!)

26. Put on the lid and pop in the airlock, and start the waiting. The temp in my livingroom is about 22 degrees celsius. I’ll probably bottle this after about 2 weeks.

Beer three and Beer two

Beer three and Beer two

27. Clean up and drink some beer to congratulate yourself!

Update – 24th April 2009

1. While the method above is sound, the recipe sucked. The beer came out with a deep, dark, intense centennial flavour, a sweet aroma, and a lack of bitterness. Dry hopping or adding a hop tea to the keg would probably have balanced it out with a nicer aroma and fresher flavour, but unfortunately I bottled it all. I’m considering unbottling some to see whether I can rescue it!

2. When I posted this method, several people said to me that it’s a good idea to keep half the DME and add it later in the boil because the more malt that is in the wort, the less effectual boiling the hops will be. So by adding half the DME later, you’ll get more bitterness from the bittering hops and so can use less of them.

Splitting the DME makes using some recipe calculators more tricky – because they assume the full DME has been added at the beginning of the boil. The way around that is to calculate the recipe twice – once with half the DME and once with the full DME and expect a value inbetween.

Update – 19th May 2009

I’ve now done this technique many times, not just for extract + steeping, but I’ve adapted it for partial mash and even all grain. From that experience, I recommend two things:

Firstly, the 24th April update mentioned splitting the DME. Don’t do it. It becomes very difficult to calculate IBUs when you do that because none of the online or program calculators can handle it. Ok, so you could potentially use slightly less hops to get the same bittering effect if you split the DME, but you risk unbalancing your carefully calculated recipe.

Secondly, before step 23 (pouring into the bucket), let the wort settle for about 10 minutes. If you have a sanitised ladle on hand, giving a quick whirlpool wont hurt before letting it settle (to whirlpool, you want all the water to be spinning in one direction) – but it’s not essential to whirlpool for an extract recipe. Then after settling, pour into your primary, but don’t pour down to the last drop. Leave behind the last 250ml or so, which will be mostly sludge.

I never did unbottle the recipe above to keg it with some dry hops. I’ve just been drinking a bottle every so often to see whether the taste changes. It hasn’t so far – but you never know.


Sakeland Delivery

Sakeland Delivery

Today I received the big delivery from Sakeland. I also managed to track down Oxiclean and a 16 litre boiling pot from Don Quijote (the pot was a huge bargain – 3000 yen, compared to 8-14,000 yen in Tokyu Hands). With all those new things, I started Beer three today – my first attempt at a non-kit beer – and gave life to Beer two.

I’ve taken loads of photos of the making of Beer three – enough to give a complete step-by-step on how to create a beer without using a kit – but I’m waiting until I see positive signs of fermentation before I post them. This is my first time to do many things – not use a kit; rehydrate the yeast before pitching; use an airlock – so I’m a bit nervous just to get positive confirmation that everything is OK before I post. That may not be far off – I noticed the lid started bulging in the last half hour. Fingers crossed that the morning will start to see activity through the airlock.

After finding out that Amylase Enzyme can (probably) solve my stuck FG woes, I wanted to find out about what the other additives are on the Sakeland website. I found this good English list – not all are available on Sakeland, but I want to include the full list here for completeness.

Brewer’s Gypsum – Gypsum is the most popular additive for brewing water. Most often used when brewing British-style beers if your water is soft.

Amylase Enzyme – Amylase enzyme is used to reduce the finishing gravity of beer. Add it at the same time when pitching yeast. The amylase enzyme breaks down some unfermentable sugars into fermentable form. Adding amylase enzyme will result in beer with very light body and higher alcohol content.

Burton Water Salts – Burton water salts are added at the beginning of the boil. They harden that water so that it’s similar to British water. This has the added effect of accentuating bitter hop flavors.

Calcium Chloride – A common water treatment. Dosage rate is up to 1 tablespoon per gallon.

Ascorbic Acid – Ascorbic acid has little effect on flavor unless used in large amounts. Ascorbic acid is usually added in modest amounts for its antioxidant properties. It’s a good natural preservative because it prevents spoilage due to oxidation (stale flavor).

Pectic Enzyme Powder – A more powerful version of pectic enzyme. Pectic enzyme is the only way to clear the permanent haze that some fruits give to beer or wine.

Lactic Acid (88%) – Lactic acid is a gentle acid which is very useful for reducing the pH in mash and sparge water for all-grain brewing. Also added for flavor in recipes for Guinness clones.

Yeast Nutrient – Provides nutrition for proper yeast cell multiplication. Good for adding to wines, considered a necessity for non-grape wines and especially meads.

Yeast Energizer – Should be added in conjunction with yeast nutrient in difficult-to-ferment beverages such as mead and fortified ciders. Also good in non-grape fruit wines.

pH 5.2 Mash Buffer – One teaspoon per 5 gallons is all that’s required to buffer almost any mash to the ideal pH. Will not harm flavor or clarity. Mashing at this ideal pH will increase starch conversion speed and efficiency.

Irish Moss – This wasn’t mentioned in the above site, but I already know this is added to “clear” beer.

Last night, in another attempt to get my fermentationally challenged beer fermenting again, I gave the whole mix a big stir, rousing up all the (old and new) yeast from the bottom of the bucket. Although I’ve yet to confirm with a hydrometer, it seems to have made very little difference.

I was all ready to give up when by accident I stumbled across Jim’s Beer Forums. I’ve so far asked for help on three forums but didn’t get anything that clicked. This time, however, I got great advice. Fellow homebrewer Chris-x1 pointed me towards two threads which hit just the right note.

Quote from this link: “I’ve read with interest some of the postings re stuck ferments. This is a frequent problem with all-malt kits,…”

Ah-ha! I have an all malt kit, and a stuck fermentation. Now I know I’m not alone!

This link has the best and most detailed advice I’ve found for restarting a stuck fermentation:

Restarting A Stuck Fermentation
by Chris-x1 on Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:19 pm

Muntons made kits (which includes the Woodeford range) often stick between 1016 and 1020.

The check list to get them going is as follows.

Make sure the temperature is 18 deg c or above.

Rouse the yeast off the bottom of the fermenter, gently into suspension.

Add 1/2 tsp Brupaks Yeast Vit (Beer Yeast Nutrient) although this is rarely successful and shouldn’t be necessary (I wouldn’t make a special trip out to buy any).

If all that fails and there is no sign of fermentation after 24hrs,

(opt1) Rouse the yeast gently back into suspension and add Brupaks Dry Beer Enzyme (Glucoamylase). Which helps the yeast ferment normally unfermentable sugars. This is what is generally suspected to lie at the root of the problem ie an improper balance of sugars in the wort.

The draw back with this option is that the beer may turn out drier than intended. The results aren’t unpleasant though and this is probably going to be the best solution under the circumstances.

(opt2) Although this should work for most stuck fermentations by activating fresh healthy yeast and adapting it to its new environment gently, if the cause is an improper balance of sugars (generally considered to be the culprit with Muntons and Woodfordes premium kits) option 2, this option will always be the least successful.

Rehydrate some Safale04.

Take 1 pint of beer, put in a pan, add 2 tablespoons of dry malt extract, mix then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 mins.

Cover with a sanitise lid/plate and allow to cool (in a sink of cold water helps).

Dry off the bottom of the pan and funnel the contents into a 2L pet bottle, add rehydrated yeast, cap, shake then loosen the cap (to release any gasses created).

Once fermenting (it may take a few hours) you can either add more beer over the next 30 mins or so to attemperate/acclimatise the yeast or just pour it straight into the fermenter.

All items that touch the beer/wort/yeast should be cleaned and sanitised. The pan should be spotlessly clean and the boil will be sufficient to sanitise it.

Yesterday I posted that I was thinking to buy better yeast and try hydrating it (ie option 2), but given that sprinkling dry yeast didn’t make a difference and after reading the above, I think it’s option 1 which will solve Beer two’s problems.

This page has good info on Amylase Enzyme:

If a malt contains significant unfermentables (and most do – more or less), then the beer will only ferment down to where it has used up all of the fermentable sugars, and stops there. SG values all the way up into the 1.020’s can be a result of this problem. Such a problem, in the case of extract brewers, is NOT the fault of the brewer, and the ferment is stuck at that point.

This kind of stuck fermentation can be dealt with by the use of enzymes. They can be added when pitching yeast, or when they notice the fermentation seems to be stuck at a higher than expected SG. The enzymes will slowly break down the unfermentable dextrins and complex sugars, into fermentable sugars. This will result in the fermentation resuming, and help to lower the SG to a more acceptable FG value.

Today I placed a huge order with Sakeland for new equipment, grains, malt, yeast etc. Amylase Enzyme is now added to the order! Hopefully adding some will get Beer 2 started again (I’ll take a reading first though, just to make sure fermentation hasn’t restarted again).

Amazingly, while just searching around for how much to use – 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons seems to be the recommended – I found that Homebrewing for Dummies mentions Amylase Enzyme. A dummies book is the last place I’d expect to find info that I found so hard to track down elsewhere!

Note: Don’t confuse Amylase Enzyme with Beano. Beano will keep going until your beer ferments down to 1.000, resulting in something nasty (and dangerous if you bottle before 1.000).

I’ve been very patient with Beer two. On the first day it nearly exploded. By day 5 fermentation seemed to have stopped, but the hydrometer read around 1020 (not the 1012 it should read when done).

But last night I started to panic!

Day 7 and the hydrometer still reads the same. What is going on?

I decided to pitch more yeast, from another Black Rock kit. So I opened the lid and sprinkled the yeast on top. When I noticed little bubbles starting to form, I closed the lid again – not wanting the beer to be exposed to oxygen for too long in case it causes oxidation.

Ten minutes later and the lid started to bulge up, and a smile started to form on my face. Yeah! We have fermentation again!

Or so I thought. Before I went to bed I pushed the lid down, hoping to see it bulging again this morning from Co2. But it wasn’t.

I don’t really understand it. Taking a sample last night, I could taste the sweetness – and since the reading is supposed to go down to 1012 using malt, that should be fermentable.

So I’m analysing what went wrong.

Last night? This site (which I should have read properly last night before adding the yeast, rather than going from memory!) has some pointers on restarting a stuck fermentation. I sprinkled the yeast in and once I saw it was working, I resealed – but the site advises leaving the lid off for 20 minutes and then giving the yeast a gentle stir. The point of aerating wart is to give the yeast oxygen to work with – by putting back on the lid and not stirring, I probably cut off the yeast’s oxygen supply so it couldn’t get started. Doh. I was too scared of causing stalling.

But why did it stick in the first place? Well that I’m stumped about. If I had not aerated enough, the yeast wouldn’t have been active enough to almost explode, right?

Maybe it’s the yeast with the wheat malt? The Muntons site says “Substitute two packs (1 kg) of Spraymalt for all the sugar recommended in the beer kit recipe. Important note: when using this recipe you must use Muntons Premium Gold yeast as you will be producing a beer particularly rich and full-bodied requiring the improved fermentation characteristics of the Muntons Premium Gold yeast.” Before I got started I mailed Muntons and asked whether it’s OK to use the kit yeast. They replied back “sure” – but maybe I really do need better yeast to get that down that last 8 gravity points?

Of course there’s always the possibility that 1020 is “right” and that it is “finished” rather than “stuck” – but that seems unlikely.

At the moment I’m quite demoralized. The first bottle tasting of Beer one wasn’t great, and right now, Beer two – which was supposed to be a wheat marvel – tastes as sweet as Beer one and isn’t settling to the proper final gravity.

At least – I have to remind myself – the beer didn’t get infected and completely ruined, but I was counting on Beer two turning out nice.

So what do I do now? Buy better yeast and rehydrate myself? Just leave it and hope the final gravity will go down? For how long?

Most likely I’ll leave it until I can get a secondary (hopefully this weekend) and then put it into the secondary with some orange peel and coriander. Maybe the time in the secondary will cause the final gravity to fall a little, and the slightly sweet taste will go well with the fruit.

While I was on the Sakeland website, I also had a look at the malt grains they have on offer. There are probably more on other suppliers (such as Advanced Brewing), but it’s tiring to translate Japanese and for the moment, I just wanted a rough idea of what’s available. I’ve included Google translatations of descriptions for some of them.

Available in small amounts are:

USA Base Malt:北米産ベースモルト(EBC3.8)

Germany Base Malt:ドイツ産ベースモルト(EBC3.3)

UK Ale Malt:イギリス産エールモルト(EBC8.3)
“Roasted malt and so slightly darker”

Germany Munich:ドイツ産ミュンヘンモルト(EBC1.9):ラガーモルト
“Also known as dark lager malt and barley used in the raw material containing a large amount of protein” (interesting translation!)

Caramel Malt – Dark: カラメルモルト濃色(EBC130~170)
“Sweet, caramel malt with a fragrant, rich aroma and a taste of caramel malt”

Caramel Malt – Light: カラメルモルト薄色(EBC55~85)
“Sweet scent of caramel in the malt to give a rich taste and aroma of caramel malt ”

Whole wheat malt: 「ホール」醸造用小麦麦芽(BEC4.5)

Weyermenn Pilsen (EBC3~5), Munich (EBC12-17), Vienna (EBC7~9), Roasted Barley (EBC800~1000), Wheat (EBC3~5).

Prices are listed per 100g, getting cheaper with purchaseS of more than 4kg.

These are available in 25kg bags only:

Weyermann Acid, Melanoidin, Carapils, Carahel, Carared, Caramunich 1/2/3, Caraaroma, Carafa 1/2/3/Special, Smoked, Pale Ale, Rye.

Crisp Malting Group Pilsen, Pale Ale, Chocolate, Caramel.

Notes from How to Brew on malts are here, with info on steeping here (I’m including these links mostly for my reference later!).

I’ve also found that Sakeland sell dried orange peel, which is good to know.

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