04: Triple Cock(-up) IPA (k)


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.

Advertisements

The hop tea made a big difference to Beer four (Triple Cock(-up) IPA). It’s now at the level where it’s enjoyably drinkable and I’m very happy with that!

Two deliveries arrived the morning. One is my new regulator from Yahoo Auctions, the other is Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels. I want to do some brewing this weekend in the primary that I have free, before the summer hits. I’m currently formulating the recipe for an IPA. I don’t think DGB will have much input into this beer – I’ll barely have time to scratch the surface of Designing Great Beers before brew day – but it should help with future brews.

Beer five (Brewferm Kriek) has finished fermenting. I’m toying with the idea of bottling half and then racking the other half onto some cherries to see how much difference they make. It’s only a 11L kit so I don’t have much leeway though. The Kriek need 6-8 weeks bottle conditioning so it’s going to be a long time before I can try it!

The carbonation wasn’t the disaster I thought it was. After venting the keg once and reducing the pressure to pouring pressure, Triple Cock(-up) poured out sweet. Not perfect carbonation, but not bad either.

However despite dry-hopping there’s still not much taste and aroma. It’s better than before and it’s drinkable, but not something I’d want to drink an entire keg of. So this morning I made hop tea – boiled about half a litre of water, placed in two tea-bags (empty, bought from the 100yen store) filled with centennial leaf (about 4g in each), boiled them for a few minutes, and then let the tea cool. While the cooling was going on I took the keg out the fridge, vented, started to take off the lid… and heard a splash as the lid o-ring fell in the keg. O-ooops!

I tried to fish it out with the plastic ladle I use for mixing wort but it was too short. Rather than stick in my arm (not sanitised + damn cold in there), after pouring in the tea and hop bags, I used the o-ring from my other keg and resealed with that (then purged oxygen, etc).

I have a few days before I need to use the other keg. If the ring isn’t fishable by then I’ll need to take more drastic measures – such as transferring to another keg.

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.

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.