Last night I finished Beer four. I’ve named it Triple Cock(-up) IPA for reasons which will be obvious in a moment. It also fits in well with the yearly Kanamara Matsuri – Festival of the Steel Phallus – which will be held Kawasaki, Japan this Sunday. Last year there were three huge cocks held high being paraded around the streets at this fertility festival. Triple Cock(-up) IPA seems rather appropriate for the time of year, doesn’t it?

Unless this turns out particularly stunning, this will be the second to last kit beer I make. Despite adding grain and hops, the aroma and initial taste just doesn’t match up with my all extract All Centennial IPA. After using my last remaining Kriek kit, I’ll be extract only.

Cascade

Cascade

Beer four: Triple Cock(-up) IPA

Ingredients

Black Rock East India Pale Ale Kit
1kg Muntons Medium Spraymalt
0.25kg Muntons Extra Light Spraymalt (left from the All Centennial IPA)
200g English Ale malt grain EBC8.3 (already crushed)
2 x 12g packs of Morgans Cascade Finishing Hops (the only Cascade in Japan at the moment; bought from Tokyu Hands but not on the Tokyu Hands site anymore so I guess they have sold out)

I’ve been rather unimpressed by kits so far, especially after trying an all extract. They tend to lack aroma, flavour, body and just taste sugary kits.

When I made the all extract All Centennial IPA I used extra light spraymalt, but I had the nagging doubt that with a kit, the extra light would be overpowered by the kit and have little effect on taste. Along with the addition of hops and grains, I hope using medium DME will balance the kit out and result in a beer more similar to an all extract. I may be wrong of course…

The grain. Good choice or not? I don’t know. I figured the kit would have enough caramel and sweetness so I didn’t want to use caramel malt. English ale malt seemed like a good choice although I am a little concerned its flavour will get “lost”. Still at only 120yen or so, it seemed worth the while trying it rather than just leaving grain out.

Method

This is my first time to use grain and hops with a kit, first time to boil a kit, and first time to use the finishing hops. Basic procedure is similar to the All Centennial IPA step by step, but instead of adding all the malt at the same time, I add the DME first and then the kit later. And I made three cock-ups.

Like 24, this recipe will be in real time.

21:09 Water heated to 73 degrees (approx 8L of water; I just judged it by eye). Add English Ale 200g EBC8.3 in the grain bag. Keep the temperature around 70 for the next 30 minutes.

21:39 Take out the grain and turn up the heat. While this is happening, start to prepare the yeast (sanitise bowl, put in boiled water, let the water cool to 35 degrees).

21:48 Now the wort is boiling, turn off the heat and stir in the spraymalt. When done, turn up the heat again.

21:53 Wort is now boiling again.

22:01 Yeast water is 35 degrees. Stir in yeast with a sanitised spoon and cover.

22:03 Ten minutes boiling has complete. Turn off heat, open kit can, start to stir in kit extract, lid falls off kit can and falls into wort, fish out lid, finish stirring in kit.

22:06 Kit mixed in. Turn on heat and immediately put in one pack of cascade finishing hops.

22:11 Wort is boiling again. I’ll give it 5 minutes boiling with the kit.

22:15 Yeast has been standing almost 15 minutes. Take some wort in a spoon, then hold it in the air to cool.

22:16 Put cooled wart into yeast and cover. Put in the second cascade and immediately turn off the heat. Leave for a minute while filling the sink with cold water.

22:17 Start to cool wart in the sink. Add 2L of cold water to the wort.

22:18 Start to rinse the sanitiser out of the washed and sanitised bucket and realise there’s a dirty mark inside. Damn it! Panic as I try to clean off the mark, all the time remembering that I need the wort in the bucket ASAP to finish cooling.

22:28 Finally get the wart in the bucket and fill to 22L. Stir and aerate for a few minutes and then take a sample for the hydrometer.

22:44 Pitch yeast. Put on sanitised top and airlock. Touch side of bucket and realise it’s hot. Realise I have not taken the temperature. Realise I’ve not even stuck the thermometer on the new bucket. Do so. Temperature reads 30, which is hotter than it should be.

22:54 Check hydrometer reading: 1.046. Taste work from the hydrometer sample. Still tastes sweet like a kit. Damn.

22:55 Finished.

Can you spot the cock-ups?

I’m really pissed off with Sakeland. On Lost in Fermentation‘s Japan Brewing Links page, he rips into Tokyu Hands with this:

Most of the other suppliers deal in brewing kits and malt extract. Tokyu Hands also sell kits in store and online, along with various equipment and cans of Black Rock malt extract in most beer styles. However my experiences with this store have not been positive. The cans of malt extract are old and completely beat up and dented. They also place metal items such as the bottle capper and can inside the fermentation bucket, which scratches up the interior and makes it very vulnerable to bacterial infection and next to useless.

My Tokyu Hands bucket did come with the things inside, granted. But the holes were cleanly drilled and I’ve not had any problems with bacteria.

My two Sakeland buckets came one inside the other, with malt, boxes and padding inside. And it’s that damn padding which caused the black marks. The marks are the kind you get when you peel something sticky off a surface and residue is left behind – and you know how difficult it can be to get sticky stuff completely off a surface.

Yes, it was my fault for not spotting the marks sooner, but my bucket shouldn’t have been contaminated with sticky stuff. I done the best I could to remove the marks and resanitise and I hope I got everything off, but if this batch gets ruined with bacteria, I’ll know whether it has come from.

I think Tokyu Hands should be championed rather than criticised. They are the only high street store will the balls to stock homebrew supplies, and that adds legitimacy to homebrewing. Should any homebrewer ever get arrested for accidentally going over the 1% legal brewing limit in Japan, having the defense of “These are sold in a high street store with Japanese instructions which, if followed, result in the 1% limit being exceeded” is a far better argument than “I ordered this specialist brewing kit from the internet and they provided the instructions which caused my beer to exceed 1%.” The second is far more seedy.

Of course it goes without saying that I always brew my beers to maximum 1%.

As well as helping the homebrew cause in Japan by increasing perceived legitimacy, they are also the only emergency source of supplies – such if I run out of hops, malt, or break some equipment (such as the hydrometer). My local has cascade hops, and while they are only finishing hop pellets, they are the only place with cascade at the moment. The extra light spraymalt from Tokyu Hands has the same expiry as that from Sakeland.

Fermentation is started (it was bubbling away this morning). I just need to keep my fingers crossed now that I got all the stickiness off and the beer doesn’t get ruined by the stickiness or taking too long to cool. Don’t want another beer going tits up.

The SG of Triple Cock(-up) IPA is 1046. That’s quite low, about 10 points lower than my extract recipe, but better than the 1035-1040 the kit says I should get if using malt extract. Aroma from the hops? Certainly not as strong as the All Centennial IPA – probably a combination of different types of hop (leaf vs pellet) and different quantities. Certainly the aroma from the centennial leaf hops themselves was much stronger than the aroma from the cascade.

After all the cock-ups, I decided to crack open a bottle of Beer one. It still tastes disappointing. Oh well, that’s what you get with a lager kit and sugar! Hopes now are on All Centennial IPA (Beer three) turning out well.

I should be fair and point out that apart from the dirty bucket and delivering an order a day late with a poor excuse, I’ve had good service from Sakeland. They reply to emails promptly (if you write

to them in Japanese) and are consistently the cheapest around. But I will be pissed if that bucket ruins my beer.

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