I'm going out into the shed, to make beer. So if anyone calls, that's where I'll be.

Dry Stout

I’m not very well so I won’t waffle on too much.

I did a brew day today in between going to the doctor and doing the child care run and shopping.  My head wasn’t really with it so I made a few mistakes and the result is below par.  Anyway…  I brewed the Dry Stout from Brewing Classic Styles.  It yielded two cubes of 9.2 Plato wort.  One cube 15.7L and the other is 17.8L + a starter of about 1.5L in the Erlenmeyer flask.

9.2P is a too low, it should be around 10.5.  I guess it’s low because I only did a 1 hour mash so that I could do it in between the doctor appointment and picking my daughter up.  Better low than not at all.  It’ll end up being quite a low alcohol beer.

I bought a 24L container designed as a jerry can for water.  It says 20L on it but I checked the volume by weight.  The thing that has been stopping me from brewing slightly larger batches has been the size of the no-chill cubes I use (16.5L).  Now that I am packaging into 19L kegs I’m keenly aware of the couple of litres of unused space at the top of each keg.  Actually it’s usually when it’s at the bottom of the keg when you notice it the most.  I’m going to scale everything up by a couple of litres so that I can fill two kegs from each brew that I do.

I’m going to bed.


ESB Brewday

I had a brewday today.  It was pretty successful.

Produced two cubes (16.5L ea.) plus 2L to make a starter.  Hit all the right numbers at the right times and it all went pretty smoothly – even got to the hardware shop during the mash.

ESB – Recipe from Brewing Classic Styles p121.

13.75 Brix.

I started the elements at 7:20 and ended the boil at 11:32.  Everything washed and drying by lunchtime.

The ball-valve that I installed in the side of the urn is fantastic.  It let’s me do a whirlpool then draw all the good wort off leaving a mound of trub in the bottom.  I really need to get a pulley system sorted for removing the bag though.  At the moment I just use ropes off the roof trusses and it’s too cumbersome for one person to lift and tie it off.

60 Shilling Resurrected

Well I got the bastardised 60 shilling Scotch Ale into a keg a couple of days ago and finally had a taste of it today.  I haven’t been able to get any to come out through the taps for the last couple of days which was perplexing for a bit.  It turned out that the dip tube on the keg was right against the bottom of the keg.  Good for getting all of the syrup out of the keg but not so good when you have a home brew with a fair bit of sediment.  It had obviously clogged up what little gap there was with sediment.  The fix was to degas the keg, remove the out post and the dip tube and saw 20mm off the end of it.  I cleaned and sterilised it then put it all back together again.  Bingo: beer comes out!

Not only that but the beer that came out was pretty good.  As I mentioned last time, I was pretty unhappy with the 60/- because it was quite sweet.  So much so that I had left a cube of unfermented wort sitting in the shed for 20 months.  My fix was to take some out and do a mini boil with some hops that I had in the freezer (see last post for details) and then I also dry hopped from about day four.  The result is still quite sweet but it’s offset nicely by the hops.  It’s turned out like a light version of an IPA.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to brew it again but it’s passable and it certainly won’t go down the sink.  It certainly does the trick for what it was originally intended for: a ‘lawn mower’ beer.  There is quite a lot of sediment from dry hopping with pellet hops though so I might have to “invest” in a filter.

Regarding the Porter, well that’s nearly gone.  A bit disappointing really.  That’s the trouble with brewing beer that my wife likes, she keeps drinking it.  Only one feasible remedy for that – brew some more.

I’ve ordered the ingredients to make an ESB.  Recipe from Brewing Classic Styles.  I’ve made that before and liked it.   

Porter In Keg | Scotch Ale in Fermenter

Alright, so I got the kegs last week and have been slowly getting things together since then.  I’ve washed out two and given them new seals.  They weren’t in too bad a condition, a little bit of syrup in the bottom of each.  

As a practice I made up a batch of Coopers ginger beer, non-alcoholic style so that I could practice carbonating.   It worked fine although now the problem is that one of my kegs is occupied by something I can’t drink because of the chemicals!

The Porter has finished it’s fermentation so I transferred that over to one of the kegs tonight.  It finished at 1.014 which is the same as the last lot so I’m happy with that.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ve only got one other cube of wort available which is a Scotch Ale 60/- that I brewed in Jan 2012.  It’s been sitting in the cube since then because I didn’t really like it so couldn’t really see the point of fermenting and bottling it.  Anyway, the reason I didn’t like it was that it was too sweet for me, too much caramel malt.  In an attempt to address that I took out 3 litres of it and did a mini boil on the stove-top at dinner time.  Hop additions were:

60 Mins     12-15g fuggle

15 Mins     10g Nelson Sauvin, 15g fuggle

I have about 30g of Nelson Sauvin left that I might throw in as a dry hop addition after fermentation.  That should give it a real IPA style kick.  Some bitterness to offset the sweetness, some flavour and a whole truckload of aroma from the Nelson Sauvin.  Hopefully it will turn what was a fairly boring beer into something which I’d be happy to drink.

The Scotch Ale wort was 17L of 1.034 OG.

The Keg system I bought has 3 taps.  Granted: I only like one of the beers mentioned above, but it’ll be good to have them all occupied for the time being until I can get into the shed and brew some more good stuff.  I’ve got the next two weeks off to do some renos on the house so a beer from my keg at the end of a day sounds like a good proposition.  Hopefully I’ll be able to use one of the days to brew too…   Here’s hoping.

Kegs On The Way

I just put the second cube of Porter (see post from 30/04/2013) in the fermenter with a pack of Wyeast 1335 British Ale II.

It’s late so I wont ramble on too much but I just bought a Kegerator so I need something to put in it when it arrives.

I said I’d post about the ill effects of leaving Porter in the fermenter for 2.75 months before bottling.  There don’t seem to be any.  Maybe the hops is a bit lacklustre but I can’t really call it.  I have had two gushers though.  Both bottles had a distinct vinegary taste and aroma so there was definitely some extra spontaneous fermentation happening there.  That’s the first time I’ve ever had an infection in a bottle.  It’s also the first time I’ve bottled in the shed – usually I do it in the back room.  It could be a coincidence but another couple of those and I’ll be convinced to never bottle in the shed again.


I’ll post when I get it into the keg.

‘ been a while.

I finally got this Porter into bottles today.  By my Kakalations that’s about 2.75 months in the fermenter.  For those who don’t know, a brew will ferment in about a week and then I leave it for another just to settle.  Not 11 weeks!

I guess thing have been busy.  The priory list has been upside down or something.

I’ve got a couple of friends who’ve started brewing together and they’re doing something every couple of weekends.  I don’t know how they do it.  I guess it’s because they don’t have young kiddies.  You can check out their blog here:

Anyway… It finished out at about 1.009FG.  I got a bit over 15 litres.  It tastes a bit thin at the moment but it’ll get a bit more body from the bubbles.  I was half expecting it to be infected after all that time but there was no hint of it in the taste samples.  Actually, it’s probably a bit too early to say, but it doesn’t seem to show any signs that the extended stint in the fermenter has hurt it.  I’ll post something up in a few weeks when it’s carbonated properly.  It’s an interesting experiment anyway.

In other news:  I’m soooooo close to taking the plunge and buying a keg system.  Washing bottles is the most annoying part of home brewing.  By a long shot.

That’s it.


This past weekend was a long weekend so I had a bit of a chance to do a few things in the shed.  I installed a new tap in my urn (which I’ll post about separately) and brewed up a porter.

This batch yielded 2 x 17L cubes of 13°Bx wort.  The recipe is taken from Brewing Classic Styles where it is called the Black Widow Porter.

I’m having trouble with getting consistent figures for Brewery Efficiency.  I’ve had total efficiency figures as low as 61% and as high as 78%.  I think the problem lies with mash temperature.  I use an STC1000 to control the mash temperature with the urn’s built in element.  I tie the thermocouple to the basket that I use to keep the BIAB bag off the element.  I think the problem comes from the thermocouple not being DIRECTLY above the element, it’s off to the side a little bit where it’s probably taking readings of the cooler water coming in from the sides to fill the void created by the column of warmer water rising up off the element.  The result is temperature overshoot.  Solution: tie it directly above the element.  Easy.  But I’lll have to wait until next brew to try it out obviously.

So I put one of the cubes into the fermenter this evening with some Wyeast 1056 American Ale at 19°.  It should be good and my wife likes this one so that’s important.

Bottled IPA

I bottled the IPA this evening.

15.8L of beer primed with 50g of sugar.

Gravity was 5.75 brix which, by calculation, should end up with about 6.5% alcohol.

I like this bulk priming thing.  It’s too hard to control the amount of sugar with a scoop and it means that you can use all sorts of different sized bottles.  My previous method was a pain because my fermenter doesn’t have a tap so I had to start a siphon and bottle from that.  Of course the siphon would always get bubbles somewhere or get blocked by a chunk of hops or something so it was  a royal pain in the arse.  By putting it in a separate bottling cube I eliminate the siphon and also I can let it fall bright for a couple of days before bottling.

I also helped out some mates today with bottling two batches of their beer.  It was good to do because I learned a few things.  Firstly that I don’t need a tap in the side of my carboy – those little brass taps are too small and are a bit of a pain in themselves.  Secondly I definitely need a tap in the wall of my brewing urn.  At present the urn drains from the centre so I can’t whirlpool.

A bit of activity

I had a bit of time this afternoon while the family were having a nap so I got out to the shed.  I wanted to put the American style IPA from the last post in a cube so that I could get it ready for bulk priming and bottling just in case I get time to do that tomorrow.   So that’s what I did.  It also gave me the chance to put it in the fridge and crash chill it too.  I generally leave brews in the fermenter for longer than this so they have a chance to settle and become more ‘bright’.  Actually that isn’t the reason at all.  The reason I leave them so long is that I have difficulty finding time to get out into the shed.

Anyway, I syphoned 14 litres into the cube and it ended up as 5.25 Brix (measured 1.008 FG with a hydrometer).

I actually forgot to dry hop this brew so I’m not really sure how it will end up.  Theoretically it’ll still have the bitterness from the boil hops and also the flavour but none of the aroma.  It might be a bit more malty than intended, we’ll see.

While I was syphoning off the IPA wort I thought ‘what the hell’ and decided to use the old yeast cake sitting in the bottom of the carboy to start off another fermentation straight away.  So I dumped in 15 litres of Oatmeal Stout that I brewed on 14/06/2012.  I measured a SG of 1.055 or 14.5 Brix.  Obviously the yeast is the same as the IPA Wyeast 1098 British Ale.  I was using the fridge to crash the IPA so I had to leave the fermenter just sitting in the shed.  The forecast for the next couple of days is mid 20s so I’m keen to free up the fridge and set the controller at 19°.

I did a little experiment during the week.  I left the sample of IPA uncovered in the test tube.  I was intending to retest the specific gravity of the sample after the sediment had dropped out but I got distracted and left it over night.  When I checked it the next morning it had already started a spontaneous fermentation so I put some plastic wrap over it and let it do it’s thing.  On Thursday it had finished so I gave it a taste.  The flavour was flat and muddy, it tasted like the most uninteresting beer you could imagine drinking.  There wasn’t anything offensive about it (unless you are offended by mediocrity) but I had no desire to drink the rest of it.  It also tasted exactly like a batch of beer that a friend of mine brewed a few years ago, we couldn’t work out what had happened to it – he seemed to have done all the right things.  Now I know that it’d just been inoculated by wild yeast before the sachet of dry stuff had established itself.  So you live and learn.

Hoppy IPA


13.7 Brix

Wyeast 1098 British Ale at 19c

Put second half of this Hoppy IPA in the fermenter.  Fridge is set for 19c with 0.5c leeway.  For some reason the hydrometer reads 1.052 but the refractometer reads 13.75% Brix so they disagree.  There is a lot of crap in suspension in the hyd. test tube so it may be that effecting things.  I’m a bit grumpy about the amount of loss there is to trub, I’ll have to get a tap on the wall of the kettle so that I can whirlpool.  I’m going to bulk prime this batch because I’m sick of having super gassy beers.