When I started brewing, it was with amazement that I could actually make beer. And I did. And the first beer I made I threw down the sink it was so disgusting.

But I learnt quickly and soon made beers I loved more than commercial beers. I built a fermentation chamber, bought a beer server, and went full blown equipment crazy.

I went from simple to complex. I was doing everything – grinding my grain, mashing in a mash tun, cooling that was past the ice(bag) age with a pump and a plate chiller – and it was fantastic. I was making delicious beer.

And then it went from fun to being a chore. The novelty wore off.

My brew days were longer. I could no longer brew without dedicating a day.

I was spending less time on recipes and more on process.

But I kept with it. Kept with it for years. That’s the way we brew, right?

Recently it came to a head though. I realised: I don’t enjoy this anymore.

I enjoy the formulating of recipes and seeing how they turn out. But I don’t enjoy the length and mendokusai-ness of the process.

After 50+ brews, I feel I know how to control mash temps. I know how to hop. I know how to cool.

I don’t feel I need to prove it to myself over and over.

I don’t want to lose a day of my life every time I brew.

I want to concentrate on recipes and in enjoying the beer I brew.

I want brewing to be fun again.

So….

 

It’s been a while. So long, in fact, that I forgot my login details!

Does anyone still follow blogs these days? The chances of anyone still following this one are pretty slim I guess!

I’m now up to beer 533, which means 22 beers since I last posted – a figure I can barely believe but which certainly explains the increase in my waistline! 

Currently brewing is Shakespeare Stout clone infused with 800g of toasted unsweetened coconut:

The last time I made a Coconut Porter/Stout was back in 2009 so I’m really looking forward to this one.

I have big plans for brewing this summer. More on that coming soon. In the meantime, if there’s anyone who found this blog who is looking for information on home brewing in Japan, Beer in Japan has just updated their resource page: Homebrewing in Japan – Beer in Japan

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Two weeks in and China Pils is moving along very slowly. I remember my first fridge Pils took about a month but I still expected this one to be further along than it is.

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Seems Genki enough though – although I suspect those yeast clumps on top really should have absorbed into the wort as it is supposed to be bottom fermenting yeast.

I brewed another pale ale tonight. It’s a variation of 507 Back to All Grain Pale Ale but with a bit more malt and a slightly different hop schedule (though the same hops). I’ll write the details sometime, but not tonight as I am cream-crackered.

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It’s the beer that almost started a war. It’s incursion into friendly territory – the house fridge – sparked tensions.

The first pils I ever brewed was amazing – 18 Don’t Mention The War Pils. It actually started me liking the style as I wasn’t a huge fan before; it tasted like Pilsner Urquell and encouraged me to explore the more bitter, hoppy pils.

But try as I might, I have never been able to replicate it. I suddenly realised why the other day – I have been following the recipe as written ignoring all the mistakes I made. For example, I was trying to match the OG of the recipe rather than match the OG of the resultant beer. Additionally, I had used 1 pack of S23 for the half batch but never scaled up to 2 packs for the full batch, which is the recommended amount for fermenting at 9 degrees with S23. Nor did I always keep the fermentation temperature and time the same as the first beer.

China Pils started as an exact adjustment of that original #18 recipe, adjusting for strength and IBU to the resultant beer. At the last minute I changed it – switching in 1kg of MO which I had ready milled and didn’t want to go off, and adding a 30m hop addition. So maybe it won’t be quite the same as the original, but I am hoping that matching the strength and IBU along with the slightly maltier MO and additional flavour hop addition, plus good temp control and adequate yeast, will give me close to the taste I want. I will be gutted if I come out with yet another batch of meh-pils.

China Pils

Boil 27L

Collection (after boil off, trub, hops, etc) 19.5L at 1.055

FG of 1.013 will give around 5.4%

Bitterness: 61 IBU (Beer Recipator), 51 IBU (Brew Pal iPhone)

Grain:
240g Munich
60g Carared 20L
1kg Maris Otter
3.5kg German Pilsner

1 hour at 67-65 degrees
Batch sparge at 73 degrees

75g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 60 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 30 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 15 min.)
30g Saaz (Leaf 4.2% AA, 3 min.)
15g Saaz (Leaf, aroma)

2 x S23 pitched dry at 19 (Recommended is to pitch or hydrate at room temp). Will cool and ferment in 9 degree fridge.

After a week the gravity is 1.018 / 8 brix. I hope there’s still a little to more to ferment but looking at the top, the yeast isn’t that active.

Ferm temp was highish at the beginning – pitch about 30, then dropped throughout the week from early 20s, to late 10’s, and finally yesterday to early 10’s – another indication that the yeast isn’t active much now, because the yeast would be warming the fermentation chamber.

Taste is sharp bitterness with slight citrus aroma. Flavour dominated by creamy biscuit, like a creamy baby rusk. I don’t taste distinct hoppiness but I can feel it is there blending the bitterness and creaminess. I like it and maybe should leave like this, but I still have the memories of my second Swan Lake Amber last week which was too much, so I want some extra hops in the aftertaste – also to balance out the bitterness more.

Added 30g Amarillo and 28g Centennial. The Centennial seems very genki but the Amarillo… I don’t get a great aroma from it, so I’m not sure it’s the very best condition. Hence going for 2oz between the two hops, which might be a tad excessive otherwise for a 13-14L. I’ll need to watch this over the next few days.

I’m leaving 509 out of the fermentation chamber today to raise the temp a little bit – hopefully give the yeast a final boost and allow it to do some cleanup, perhaps get down a few points. I’ll put it back in the chamber tonight.

Up at 6:30am for a brew with the new equipment (mill, kettle, chiller). If you look at the pictures, it all looks like it went swimmingly. Did it b#ll#cks.

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Apart from screwing up the first hop addition with almost double the bittering hops and having to recalculate the recipe, and apart from the little one getting up and throwing up half way through the brew (thankfully not in the brew), I ended up 5 1/2 litres short from the boil. Over 25% short of the intended 20L.

Ouch.

A combination of collecting a little bit less from the mash+sparge than intended, a very vigorous boil from the new kettle, and underestimating the amount of water the hops would absorb contribute… ut I can still barely believe it was 5 1/2 litres short.

The 14 1/2L was stronger than anticipated, but after calculating how much I could water down to reach the planned final gravity (1 1/2L) I decided not to bother – 14 1/2L will fit in a mini-keg with a few bottle to spare.

So clearly I have some homework to do. But sod that, I have beer brewing and it’s Sunday night. Time for curry.

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Very nice those Parrot Pale & IPA’s. From NZ but they use Maris Otter, which gives a subtle bread/biscuit taste. And co-incidentally, bread and biscuit flavours were the aim of today’s brew, with a Amber (Biscuit) malt, Munich (II – Dark), and Maris Otter.

509: New Equipment Crack-of-dawn Amber

Intended recipe below, recalculated after screwing up the first addition. Result was 14.5L fermentation at 1.057.

IBU 113
Alc 5.1%
OG 1.052
FG 1.013

70% efficiency
23.28L Boil
20L Fermentation

3.2kg Maris Otter
1.0kg Munich II
0.5kg Amber
0.16kg Carared
0.15kg Crystal 60L

27g Zeus (17.5% AA, FWH + 60 min)
15g Amarillo (8.9% AA, 15 min)
15g Centennial (10.5% AA, 15 min)
15g Chinook (14.2% AA, 15 min)
32g Amarillo (8.9% AA, 5 min)
32g Centennial (10.5% AA, 5 min)
32g Chinook (14.2% AA, 5 min)
32g Amarillo (aroma)
32g Centennial (aroma)
32g Chinook (aroma)

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Best pils I have had in a long time. I made damn similar with my first ever pils (the beer which actually made me appreciate pils). Have never been able to replicate it again.