Saturday, 31 May 2014

Summer Lightning Update

My first all grain beer has now completely cleared (although the pic doesn't make it look clear) and is tasting lovely!  Unfortunately, it's nearly gone.

Not a problem as AG#2 (another Summer Lightning clone but only 5.2% this time) is priming in bottles as we speak and #3 (my own Blonde ale recipe) is ready to be bottled in a couple of days.

#4 will be brewed mid-week, a Hobgoblin clone.  Pics to follow.....

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Earlier in the week, I strained off the banana wine into a demijohn and it now looks like this;

Not very appetising at the moment, is it?  Banana wine needs more racking than other wines due to dropping a lot of sediment.  Once it does clear, it will be a lovely golden colour.

My Summer Lightning is also in the keg and priming as we speak.  In a couple of days, it will go into my cool garage to condition for a few weeks.  That's the plan!  It is tasting lovely, even at this early stage, so it might be a problem keeping my hands off it!!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Raspberry Beer

Just tasting the raspberry beer I mentioned here

It's very nice and is quite dry (much like real raspberries).  The only problem is lack of fizz.  I batch primed the 2 gallons, bottled, and left at 20 degrees for a week but still no fizz.  It is not quite flat as there is a bubbly feeling on the tongue.  At first, I thought that pressure may have been leaking from under the caps on the bottles, but the plastic bottles (which did feel firm as though they had some pressure behind them) were the same.   Oh well, back to the drawing board!

Quick Update....

This is what I woke up to this morning.......!

The yeast is obviously doing its job well.  Also, the bitter aroma it had yesterday has been replaced by a lovely fruity/spicy aroma.  If it tastes half as good as it smells, I'll be chuffed :-)
Between all the beer-making shenanigans yesterday, I managed to mince the wheat to add to my banana wine.  

It has formed a crust on top of the wine and will need stirring once or twice a day to keep everything moist and get the flavours working.  I'll ferment it 'on the pulp' for about a week before straining into a demijohn. 

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

All Grain Brew Day #1 - Summer Lightning Clone

I chose this recipe after reading about 'Demon Valley' brewery's first all grain brew day and, seeing as the ingredients are fairly straight forward, decided it would also be my first brew.

•5kg Pale Ale Malt
•46g Challenger Hops @ 90 minutes
•15g Goldings Hops @ 15 minutes
•9g Goldings Hops @ Flameout/Poweroff
•Safale S-o4 yeast

I set my alarm for 0700 this morning but was awoken by a bad dream, in which my boiler wouldn't boil and kept cutting out (see how this brewing lark affects you?).

I got out of bed and measured out 16 litres of water.

0700 - The water goes into the boiler to be heated to 71.6 degrees for mashing.

The most important step in brewing and wine making is, of course, sterilising everything to avoid infection.  But is it?  Surely this is the most important first step?

My instructions/steps for the day, in case I forget anything;
Everything ready and prepared

And ingredients

 07:25  -  The water (liquor in brewing terms) reaches 71.6 degrees and is now added to the mash tun

The mash temperature I am aiming for is 66 degrees so, once the grist (malt) is added, this cools the temperature down to where I want it

I now mash at this temperature for 90 minutes which, I'm pleased to say, my new mash tun has managed without dropping a degree. 
Meanwhile, I heat up 20.86 litres of liquor to 75.9 degrees for sparging.
0900 - Time to sparge (rinse the sugars from the grist)
The first runnings.  This is returned to the mash tun until it comes through clear.......

.......Like this
Pre-boil gravity is 1.032

10:00 - The wort is now transferred into the boiler to give it a rolling boil for 90 minutes.  This drives off any unpleasant enzymes and sterilises the wort.  Hops are added at various times for bittering and aroma. 
10:50 - The wort is finally boiling so 46g of Challenger hops are added for bittering.

12:05  -  More hops are added, 15g of East Kent Goldings for aroma.  Also, the wort cooler is now added to the boiler to sterilise it for the last 15 minutes of the boil

12:20 - Time to cool the wort down to around 20 degrees.  Ideally, this is done as quickly as possible so the yeast can be pitched, and there will be less chance of infection

12:40 - Just 20 minutes to cool down 26 litres down to pitching temperature.  I'm happy with that!
The wort is now transferred to a fermenting vessel and, after being thoroughly aerated (to encourage yeast growth), the yeast is pitched

 Original Gravity is 1.052.

13:30 - Everything cleaned and tidied away! 

Problems:  The only problems I noted were the fact that my OG should have been approx. 1.043 whereas the actual OG is 1.052.  I'm not sure if this is down to a dodgy hydrometer!  The other problem was that hops got stuck in the tap, blocking it, when transferring from the boiler to the FV.  I had thought this might happen so prepared by sterilising a sieve and jug to transfer manually

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Banana Wine

After the success of the banana wine I made a couple of years back, I have decided it's time I make some more.

The initial recipe called for 4lb of bananas which I purchased, but then ate a pound of them.  So, I have decided to make up my own recipe.

3lb bananas (plus half a pound of skins)
1lb wheat (it needs using up as it's been in the cupboard for a few years)
1/2lb sultanas
2 1/2lb sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
yeast nutrient

Boil up the sliced bananas and skins for about 20 minutes.  Strain onto the sugar and minced sultanas and add the wheat (which should ideally be soaked overnight and minced).  Bung all the other ingredients in and ad the yeast and nutrient.

Boiling the bananas

Soaking the wheat

I didn't plan this ahead so I will have to add the wheat tomorrow as it is still soaking. 

Monday, 21 April 2014


I have been busy bottling today.

First, I bottled my carrot wine.  It has been maturing in the demijohn since May 2012 and tastes lovely, very much like a slightly spicy white port.

I also bottled some raspberry drink.  I'm not sure what to call it as it was made from some Lowicz Malina raspberry syrup I found in the Polish foods section of my local supermarket.  I made 2 gallons using 2 bottles of syrup and added sugar which has taken the ABV to 5.1%
It tastes and smells nice, but will benefit from a few weeks in the bottle to mature.  I added some priming sugar to the batch, bottled it,  and the bottles are now standing in water which is kept at 19 degrees by my new aquarium heater.
The tiny amount of yeast left in each bottle will feed on the sugar creating a bit of fizz.