Kim Jong-il: I'm not evil - I just haven't had hops for a while

Kim Jong-il: I'm not evil - I just haven't had hops for a while

Thanks to the skill of a fellow homebrewer, my pot and weldless kit are now completely leak free. I could describe what caused the leaks by resorting to crude and smutty innuendo and double entendre, but I’m far too mature to do that.

So what made my hole leak? Looks like there were two issues:

  • The hole was too small so I couldn’t shove the shaft (of the weldless kit) all the way in.
  • The (steel) ring was too large and rubbing off the bottom (of the pot).

Yes, much too mature.

I’m now free to make Axis of Evil IPA. 

Good job the weldless kit wasn’t ready this weekend because it’s only today I realised I don’t have a clue how to do it – mash with my new equipment, that is. How much water to use, temperatures, method – it’s all different from the “grain bag in a pot” method of all grain and partial mash I’ve been doing in the past. There isn’t a single piece of equipment involved in getting this beer to the fermenter that isn’t new or modified.

So I’ve finalised the recipe and spent some time researching, trying to fix all the variables that were uncertain to me. I’m going to do something I haven’t done before on the blog – publish the recipe in advance and then the details of how I’m going to make the beer. Today will be the recipe and fixing the variables for mashing. Later this week I’ll tie this all together on how I plan to use all the equipment on the day – from mashing to boiling to chilling to, finally, fermenting.

I’m not sure whether my planning and thought process with be interesting to others or not but my aim is to have everything written and certain here by the end of the week so that I’ll be able to read the blog while I’m making the beer and not screw anything up. That’s the idea anyway – we all know that evil never goes to plan and Scooby Doo always stops us pesky kids.

Axis of Evil IPA


Axis of Evil IPA is another nuclear hopped IPA. Compared to Hops of Mass Destruction, it uses three hops instead of two – Chinook, Simcoe, and Amarillo – and while it remains 100+ IBUs, it uses slightly less hops in the bittering addition and more in the flavouring and aroma additions to match with a (hopefully) slightly drier body. Base malt comes from Maris Otter with Carahell, C60, and Vienna.

Boil size: 25L
Size at end of boil: 22L – approx 1L will be left behind in trub, hops

Predicted OG: 1.062 – Mashing efficiency 70%
Predicted FG: 1.012, I hope
Predicted ABV: 6.4% 1%, because this is Japan

5kg Maris Otter 2-Row
0.5kg Vienna
0.5kg Carahell
0.3kg C60

Hops (all leaf) – Predicted IBU: 129 IBU + 10% for FWH
60m + FWH: 70g Chinook (13%AA)
20m: 20g Amarillo (9.3%AA), 15g Simcoe (12.9%AA)
15m: Irish moss
10m: 20g Amarillo (9.3%AA), 15g Simcoe (12.9%AA)
Dry hop: 30g Amarillo (9.3%AA), 22.5g Simcoe (12.9%AA)

Yeast – US-05 (NK-03 being unavailable)


I’m going for a batch sparge rather than a fly sparge. In a batch sparge I’ll soak (“mash”) the grain in water, drain it to get “first wort runnings”, soak the grain in water again, then drain it to get “second wort runnings”. Fly sparging would involve soaking the grain in water and then draining it slowly at the same time as adding additional water – while I have the facilities to do this continuous sparging, I’m using every piece of equipment for the first time so I want to keep things simple. More on sparging here.


Again, to keep this simple, I’m going to do the first stage  at a single constant temperature rather than increasing the temperature – this is fine because I’m not using any special grains like wheat or oats.

I’m going with a temperature of 65 Celsius (149F) for the first stage. A temperature of 150F (65.5C) or less gives a thinner, drier beer – over 156F (68.9C) gives a sweeter beer. My beers often end up a little sweeter than I’d like, with an FG of around 1.018 – that’s probably because I’ve been using mashing/steeping temperature of around 67-70. The one beer that I used a temperature of 65 for mashing came out at 1.009 and the temperature I used a Kiuchi was 65 – proof, I hope, that I’ll get my FG down to the dryness I want by using a temperature of 65 instead of the late 60’s I’ve been mashing at so far. I never realised until now that a few degrees makes such a difference.

For the end of the first stage (“mash out”) and the second stage, I’ll use a temperature of 76 degrees, around 169F. This around the 170F recommended by How to Brew, and also the temperature I used at Kiuchi.

Water quality

I’ll be using filtered tap water but I’m not going to be making any adjustments for PH levels. I’ve had pretty good results since switching to filtered water.

Water quantity

This has been rather hard to determine – not just because of the differences between measuring in litres, US Gallons, UK Gallons, lbs, and kgs but because water quantity calculations seem to use another unit: the “quart”. 1 quart is 0.946L.

For the first stage, a quantity of 1.5 quarts per lb of grain is generally recommended. I’ll be using 13.9lbs of grain, which required 20.85 quarts, or 19.73 L.

At the end of the first stage, I’ll raise the temperature to 76 degrees for “mash out”. Technically I don’t need to do this because I’m not using rye, wheat, etc, so I may skip this step – but apparently it makes sparging easier. I’ll wait and see on the day. If I do it, the only way I can raise the temperature is by using boiling water stirred into the grain, and I don’t know how much water will be needed in order to raise the temperature.

The amount of water for the second stage is also difficult to calculate. For fly sparging, How to Brew recommends 1.5 times the amount of water used in the first stage – which would be around 29L. For batch sparging it’s a little different.

From the first stage I can assume my 13.9lbs of grain will absorb 2.78 US Gallons (10.5L) – that’s based on 0.2 US Gallons per lb. That means from my 19.73L of water in, I’ll get out 9.23L. Assuming I lose a little to the mash tun (due to pipe height under the false bottom), I’ll get about 9L out. To collect 25L, which is what I’m aiming for, that means I need 16L added during “mash out” and the second stage.

So first stage: 19.73L. Mash out and second stage combined: 16L. Of course these figures have been calculated from theoretical values – how much I’ll actually get out, I don’t know. By all accounts an absorption rate of 0.2 is quite conservative – some sites recommend 0.15 which would see me collecting an extra 3L or so. I’ll obviously need to vary the 16L depending on how much I actually collect on the first stage and whether I mash out.

If everything works out nicely, I should have 25L of wort. Based on losing 12% to the 60 minute boil, that leaves me with 22L. Another litre lost to the trub (grain gunk) and hop matter – hopefully I’ll end up with 21L. In theory.

More to come on turning the wort into beer in part 2….