03: All Centennial IPA (e)


I’ve made some decisions about how I’m going to progress my brewing.

Firstly, I’m going to start making 3 US gallon batches instead of 5-6 US gallon batches when I’m experimenting, especially with IPAs. If I make something not great, I don’t want 5 gallons of it hanging around (like I have at the moment). I can always brew more later.

Secondly, I’m going to start partial mashing. With smaller 3 gallon batches, I’ll be able to partial mash with about 1kg (2.2lbs) of grain using this method (very similar to steeping, actually).

Thirdly, my next three beers will be another bitter (from tasting so far, All Goldings Bitter seems like my best so far), an IPA, and a porter. I’ve not decided the recipes for these three yet but for the bitter I may do an All Fuggles Bitter version of the All Goldings Bitter recipe – either a 5-6 US gallon extract or a 3 gallon partial mash.

Fourthly, I’ve worked out a way to brew through the summer! With the purchase of the kegerator, I was thinking of returning my fridge to the role it was built for – being a food fridge! – but yesterday I remembered that the temperature within the fridge was around 10 degrees when I first put the keg and CO2 tank in, before I turned up the cooling. 10 degrees is the perfect temperature for brewing pilsner! So even though I’m not a big lager fan, this summer I’m going to try brewing some.

Bucket status at the moment:
1. Brewferm Kriek – finished primary fermentation at 1.010 (as per kit specifications).
2. All Goldings Bitter – half way through fermentation at 1.012. It’s still fizzy to taste so fermentation is still going on – hopefully it will get down to 1.010 or 1.008.
3. Empty

Completed beer status:
1. Lager kit: Bacteria free but so bad I wont even drink it. Takes like Bass Pale Ale but worse.
2a. Whispering Wheat kit with wheat DME: I only bottled 10 of these. They taste kit like but they are drinkable.
2b. The above dry-hopped with orange peel, coriander, and nutmeg. This is my favourite of the beers I’ve made so far.
3. All Centennial IPA: This was a my first non-kit beer, but it turned out disappointing. The hop taste is too deep and intense with little aroma except sweetness. I think dry hopping would really liven it up but it’s in bottles. I may experiment with pouring some into a PET bottle and adding a little hop tea – see whether that rescues it.
4. Triple Cock(-up) IPA: Black Rock East India Pale Ale kit with DME. Since I added hop tea to the keg, this has actually become OK. It’s a bit light because of the kit origins, but its drinkable.

This weekend in-between rearranging my apartment to fit in the kegerator, I hope to bottle some of the Kriek and rack the rest onto cherries, and to fill the empty bucket with a new beer – most likely an IPA since until All Goldings Bitter has finished fermenting, I can’t really be sure whether the recipe worked.

I did nothing this weekend that wasn’t homebrew related, which makes me wonder how I filled my weekends before I started making beer. Oh yeah, I had other hobbies then. What happened to them?

This will be a long update from the bottling of Friday, to the regulator search and buying CO2, to the party on Saturday, to receiving the keg delivery, to viewing an old fridge, and finally ending with my first kegged beer.

Friday night I bottled Beer three (All Centennial IPA). It had been in the primary 2 1/2 weeks, bubbling finally slowing down to almost non-existent on Friday. I might actually have left it a few more days but I wanted to take some to the homebrewing party on Saturday. I thought it safer to just bottle the lot rather than take one PET bottle full (the plan being to add carbonation to the PET bottle using a carbonator cap).

In honesty, I have to say I’m a little disappointed with All Centennial IPA. It appeared to be maturing along nicely in the fermenter and the tastings showed promise, but the result (so far) is a bit too intensely hoppy to me. Not a light fresh intenseness, but a deep, dark intenseness. Maybe some time in the bottles will fix that. One thing is for sure, every time I have tasted All Amarillo IPA it has been different, so who knows how it might turn out.

Friday night I continued with my search for a regulator. I wanted to find a dual gauge model but I couldn’t. According to Advance Brewing, his supplier has stopped making them so there will be no more from him.

In the end I found four sources of single gauge (how much gas is left in the tank) and gaugeless regulators:

  • Beer-server.com – 13,000yen. Beer server is the most expensive of the three, and they were not particularly knowledgeable when I called them.
  • Homebrewing Service – one gaugeless model at 7,800yen.
  • Greens – The best selection so far, including 2 way, 3 way, two mini regulators, and an adapter for using mini CO2 tanks on full regulators. Best prices outside of Yahoo auction.
  • Yahoo auction – Searching for 減圧弁 or ビールサーバ can bring up regulators occasionally. On Saturday I bid on a 2 way model and had it right up to the last minute when someone outbid me by 100yen. On Sunday I searched a couple of times, then late Sunday night a new regulator popped up for an auction price of 3,000yen and a “buy now” price of 3,500yen. I bought it now. Total price including delivery and auction fee was 4,200yen.

Yahoo auction is the cheapest, but it can be difficult to be sure whether the regulators will work with beer or not. Even Advanced Brewing almost got it wrong – recommending a regulator to me on Yahoo auction and then mailing me later to say it doesn’t work with CO2 (Advance Brewing were very helpful though, providing me with the link to beer-server.com). I lucked out by finding a new one on auction, and since it says it’s for use with a beer server (ビールサーバ), I shouldn’t have any problems.

Several homebrewers have said they were able to scrounge regulators from their CO2 suppliers. I’ve tried 5 so far and no luck, however the last place – one minute from my house, where I finally bought my CO2 – is going to speak with their suppliers and see if they can get one, and a beer delivery guy that I accosted on the street said he’s going to have a look for one in his warehouse and give me a call this week, so you never know. Now that I have one from auction it is less urgent, but it would be good to have a spare.

Saturday I went to a party hosted by one of the homebrewers I met at the hanami a few weeks ago. As well as the excellent beers of the host, many other homebrewers brought samples of their beers. It was good to taste Lost in Fermentation‘s Foreign Extra, Extra … Extra Stout – nice to try a beer you’ve read about!

One thing that is continually surprising about the homebrew community is how helpful and friendly people are. There’s no arrogance or ego like you get with some other “hobbies”. Everyone just wants others to succeed.

Under partial duress I brought along samples of my beers to get feedback. It can’t say how embarrassing it is to be taking along the first beers you ever made and present them to people who have years of experience – but I got valuable feedback from it. I only wish my IPA had turned out a bit better so they got a better impression of my skills.

Sunday morning the kegs order arrived – minus carb cap (Advance Brewing’s mistake) and with a gas hose which wouldn’t fit the regulator I borrowed. Yet again an example of people’s kindness, a quick mail to the guy who lent me the regulator with the query “Is this hose really supposed to fit in here?” and he replied back with “No” and offered to give me the right host later that evening.

So while waiting for the evening to arrive, I made more beer. Beer six is my “All Goldings Bitter”. It’s my own recipe, made with the help of the Tasty Brew calculator. I varied the recipe I posted a week or so ago, mainly because when fed it back into the calculator at Tasty Brew it gave me different values – I don’t quite understand why even now. Update: Turns out there was an error in the calculation a week ago.

Beer six: All Goldings Bitter

1.5kg Extra Light DME
0.5kg Wheat DME
0.3kg Crystal 40L (pre-crushed; steeping)

Hops: East Kent Goldings AA 4.6% Leaf

60 Minutes: 48g
20 Minutes: 18g
2 Minutes: 16g

I was aiming for 1.5oz, 0.5oz, 0.5oz of hops (42.5g, 14.2g, 14.2g) but the hops were a block of youngsubrew and I used a knife to cut the block before separating it out, hence the quantities above. Since the AA was a bit lower than I’d hoped, I just left the hops at those weights. 2.5 US Gallon boil; total 6G. IBUs should be around 34.

Process was as follows:
1. Steep C40 for 30 minutes in 68-73 degrees water
2. Remove grain and turn up the heat. As the wort is heating up, add the extra light DME.
3. Once boiling, boil for 5 minutes until most of the foam has disappeared from the top, then add the first hops addition. 40 minutes timing starts now.
4. After 40 minutes, remove the hops and add the wheat DME. Boil for 5 minutes then add the second hop addition along with the first hop addition. 20 minutes timing starts now.
5. After 5 minutes add a teaspoon of Irish Moss.
6. With 2 minutes to go, add the final hop addition.
7. When finished, cool the wort then proceed as usual.

I used S-04 yeast, rehydrating while the wort was boiling. I could only get the wort down to 30-32 degrees. Rather than wait and risk airborne infection, I pitched the yeast at this temperature – I figured that since the yeast was hydrated at 35-40 degrees, the higher temp shouldn’t kill it and might even help it get started.

Starting gravity was 1.035, which should give me a nice light beer – I want an easily drinkable (without getting too drunk) beer for the summer.

The first keg

The first keg

After picking up the gas hose and a few nice beers at the Nakameguro Taproom, I then went to look at the most dirty fridge in the world – a complete waste of time save for the fact that I found a hardware store on the way there – and back home to start kegging.

I have to say that I was pretty nervous about handling the CO2, but it was fine. Putting the beer into the keg was a doddle. What wasn’t a doddle was carbonation. I tried the “add CO2, shake, add CO2, shake” technique but it was taking forever and I was getting no-where fast and very painful arms. Quite possibly the beer was too warm to absorb the gas, or my technique was just bad. I ended up sticking the keg and CO2 in the fridge and leaving it there with the CO2 switched on. It should carbonate that way but more slowly than I would have liked. Later today I’ll look for “how to carbonate” videos on You Tube.

Tonight I’m getting the carb cap which Advance Brewing forgot to send. Tomorrow or Wednesday I’ll get the regulator. At some point this week or next week I’ll get the hops. At the moment I have a free primary. I’m drawn towards making another beer while I wait for the hop order (it will most likely take another week to arrive), but on the other hand it would be great to have a primary free for when the hops arrive. Decisions decisions.

Update: The hops have arrived! Pretty good delivery – ordered 14th April, arrived 20th April.

Last night marked six days since partially bottling Beer two (Whispering Wheat with Wheat Spraymalt) and then dry hopping the rest with hassaku, coriander, and orange peel (details here). I wanted to leave the dry hopping for longer but thanks to stuck fermentation, Beer two has been in the primary for nearly a month now. It’s a miracle Beer two has survived at all – the last thing I want is to risk off flavours from leaving it too long in the primary. So since last night I decided it was time to finally get the rest of Beer two out of there.

It actually tastes pretty damn good after six days dry hopping – I don’t think this beer is going to last very long before it is gone. I tried a bottle of the pre-dry-hopped version (there were only 10 bottles, now 9) and it tastes kit-like. The dry hopping made a big difference.

Beer five was going to be my extract bitter creation but I didn’t have time to make it last night, so instead I made up the Brewferm Kriek kit (my final kit). I was a bit lazy in my sanitisation at a couple of points – eg, after using the stirrer and putting it down, I just washed it with cold water instead of resanitising it when using the stirrer again, and when I rehydrated the yeast, I used the jug that I’d dissolved the cane sugar in. It may come back to bite me, but I think I’ve been a bit anal about sanitisation lately. For example, the cane sugar solution is going into the kit, right? If there are nasties in there, they’re in the beer anyway.

So Beer six will become my extract bitter creation, after the IPAs are ready to bottle. I’m actually thinking to make Beer seven a bitter also, but varying the malts and hops used. I liked having two IPAs come together at the same time, so it will be good to do the same for the bitters. One of them will be a “traditional” bitter with only goldings hops, the other will use goldings for bittering but centennial or another hop during flavouring – inspired by one of Baird‘s bitters.

Last night I had a friend around to watch the bottling process. After it was finished we sampled the two IPAs. The dry hopping of Beer four (Triple Cock(-up) IPA) has really made a difference – my friend actually liked it better than the extract Beer three (All Centennial IPA). I can’t wait to get these into bottles this weekend.

All Centennial IPA (Beer three); Triple Cock(-up) IPA (Beer four); Orange Coriander and Nutmeg Whispering Wheat (Beer two)

All Centennial IPA (Beer three); Triple Cock(-up) IPA (Beer four); Orange Coriander and Nutmeg Whispering Wheat (Beer two)

That’s how I felt at the weekend: all dressed up with nowhere to go. Over 200 bottles ready to be filled, ingredients for Beer five delivered, yet all three beers still seem to be fermenting away. Since I’m putting these into bottles, I don’t want to risk bottling too early in case I get bottle bombs.

Both IPAs are currently around 1016. The extract (Beer three; All Centennial IPA) is bubbling about 3-4 times per minute, the kit (Beer four; Triple Cock(-up) IPA) about twice a minute.

Tasting the hydrometer sample difference between these two IPAs was like night and day. All Centennial IPA had aroma and taste – it’s perhaps a little more bitter and a little less citrusy than I would have liked, but it still has to mature. In comparison, Triple Cock(-up) IPA had only a little bitterness, but almost no aroma and citrus taste – quite disappointing given that I added grain and hops. Drinkable, but left me feeling kind of empty compared to All Centennial.

So I decided to dry hop Triple Cock(-up) IPA with 15g centennial leaf hops. I had wanted to keep the beer as cascade only but since the flavour isn’t coming through and the only cascade I have access to is the same ineffectual pack I used for the boil, I went with centennial instead.

Dry hopping with centennial. The floating bags are the cascade hops from the boil.

Dry hopping with centennial. The floating bags are the cascade hops from the boil.

I considered to dry hop All Centennial IPA also, but I’ve had enough IPAs which are “too hoppy” and I’ve never dry hopped with hops before so I decided to leave it alone in case I push the taste too far. It’s still nice as it is.

Beer two (Whispering Wheat kit with wheat spraymalt, dry hopped with orange peel, coriander, and nutmeg) is now at 1010, that’s 2 points less than when I bottled some before dry hopping the rest! I guess that adding the sugar not only brought the yeast to life (remember there is two packs in there with enzyme), but gave it enough “energy” to break down some more of the harder sugars. I certainly hope it doesn’t mean the 10 bottles I have of the pre-dry-hopped are going to explode!

The taste after dry hopping for a few days is pretty good. There’s a subtle but refreshing orange taste with just a hint of coriander and nutmeg at the end. I hope a few more days, until activity stops, will bring out the tastes further. I think this will end up disappearing very fast once it’s ready! It’s already tasting good.

So the bottles sit there, empty. The grain, hops, and malt for Beer five sit there waiting. Hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll be able to bottle at least one so that I can start Beer five, then finish the rest at the weekend.

This Saturday I went to the Tokyo beer group “BEERS” annual hanami and was lucky enough to not only taste some excellent homebrew but to meet some of the brews’ creators. These are guys who have years of experience making beer in Japan so should be good people to quiz about getting equipment, recipes that fit in with Japan’s limitations, etc.

With my recent interest in kegging, top curiosity for me was seeing how these homebrewers de-keg their beer – in particular, whether they use CO2 injectors, where they get refills, etc. A man giving out free homebrew is a popular man indeed at a hanami so I couldn’t get a lot of information on the day, but I did make a lot of good contacts and intend following up with people.

I get the feeling that a lot of the equipment on use was brought in or sent to Japan. One guy had a very nifty 5L mini-keg which a tap slides into, sent from the USA – would be perfect if they didn’t only last 6-8 refills. Most of the other kegs being used had been group purchased a few years back, sent into Japan.

One of the guys brought along a dispensing machine, a model that can either be plugged in or filled with ice. I’ve been looking at getting something similar myself – in fact I bid on one on Friday but after the jolly hanami I forgot to login for the end of the auction on Saturday night and lost my place!  – so it was nice to see this in action.

Over the weekend I also checked out Beer three and Beer four – All Centennial IPA and Triple Cock(-up) IPA. After a week in the bucket, Beer three is around 1.018. I’m going to leave it for at least another few days – to the weekend if I can resist. Beer four I just tasted – it’s not as aromatic and flavoursome as Beer three, but it is only a few days old and should hopefully turn out drinkable. Beer two is still fermenting away – I didn’t touch it.

I’ll have at least one bucket free by this weekend – time to think about what Beer five will be. I need to take advantage of the spring weather – once summer hits Japan brewing will be a challenge.

Beer one (Black Rock Lager kit with 1kg sugar) will be “officially” finished tomorrow night, so I’m going to move some into the fridge and crack it open on Friday night. I say “officially” finished because it will be finished according to the kit instructions, though conventional wisdom says leaving it a few more weeks will improve the taste. So far – tasting in unfinished state – I’ve been relatively unimpressed, but I shouldn’t really have been drinking it, should I? ;) And compared to Beer two, which is turning into as saga, I’m going to be happy if Beer one is just drinkable!

Beer two (Black Rock Whispering Wheat kit with 1kg Muntons Wheat Spraymalt) was supposed to be the bees knees but at the moment is the bee gees knees. After restarting stuck fermentation three days ago with Amylase Enzyme, it has been slowly bubbling away. Last night I decided to see how far it has gone and found it hasn’t gone very far at all – about 0.002 points, to around 1.016-18. After posting a “How long does Amylase Enzyme take to kick fermentation to complete?” on various forums, replies have told me I’m in for a couple of weeks wait.

After doing the hydrometer reading, I took a sip of Beer two. It tastes like the beer has been mixed with baking soda – not good! But the beer is very cloudy and I think the Amylase Enzyme and yeast are currently in suspension actively working away, which is probably contributing to the taste. I left the sample out overnight and by this morning the top third had cleared, so I think (hope) the baking soda taste is temporary. It’s currently bubbling away slowly, about one bubble per 30-60 seconds. Maybe in the end this will turn into a star beer – I can only wait!

Beer three (All Centennial IPA extract beer) is the big hope for my first hassle free “gob smackingly good” beer! So far it’s been bubbling away nicely, today down to one bubble from the airlock every 8-10 seconds. I took a tiny sample yesterday. Seems to be some little bits of grain (or something) still floating around, but it is tasting good so far. Bitterness and caramel are a little bit weak and the aroma and centennial citrus taste are a little strong, but this is just after three days. It has another week or so before it is ready to go into bottles, and then another two weeks or so before it is drinkable, so lots of time for the flavours to settle down. Definitely the best tasting so far. Actually tastes like an IPA!

I can’t believe I’ve done all this work and I don’t yet have a beer that is drinkable!

Beer four? My hope was that Beer two would be finished this week and so I’d rack it (move it) to my third bucket with some orange peel and coriander then start Beer four in Beer two’s bucket. However it looks like Beer two will be fermenting away for a while so I think I’ll start Beer four in the spare third bucket. (You followed that OK, right? All these numbers is getting confusing!)

Current choices for Beer four are Brewferm Cherry Kriek kit or Black Rock East India IPA kit (I’ll be adding hops and grain to this). I want to do the Kriek but it takes so long to make (two weeks in the primary bucket plus 6-8 weeks in bottles) and I really need to have some “drinkable” beers made! So I think Beer four will be the IPA – which has the bonus that I’ll have two IPAs ready at about the same time. Will be good to compare the extract IPA with the kit IPA.

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!

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