Mashing it up
On Wednesday night here in the sleepy little town of Creswell, there was a think fug in the air, and it was emanating from my new flat. After many years of thinking about it, and aided by my new flat mate Luke, I (we) finally did our first full mash brew! The recipe, albeit somewhat modified was an IPA named Flaming June from the book Home Brew, The equipment; from the very helpful people at Wineworks in Chesterfield, the badass super yeast; kindly donated by Claire at The Welbeck Abbey Brewery and the smell…Incredible.
It really is something that I have wanted to do for ages a full mash brew. I have done a good few brews from the yeast extract kits and have usually had pretty good results, but the thing with them is, good as they are, that you don’t really have a great deal of control of your final outcome. I mean you can do some things to make them more interesting, for instance; once when making a wheat beer we bottled conditioned the beer with a couple of raspberries in each bottle. The flavor was great and the natural sugars in the raspberries was more than enough to give a secondary fermentation. I feel at this point, before I get in trouble, I should point out that genius behind this idea was not me but the love and light in my life Ann. But what you can’t do is say, hmm that beer was really nice but it wasn’t quite bitter enough, I’ll chuck in a few more hops next time. But with the full mash you can, you can literally turn four basic ingredients; water, malt, hops and yeast into beer, Wow! Alchemy, better in fact, because for all the gold in the world if you cant get a decent pint, then what’s the point? Well I am sure that some would disagree with that last statement, but unless you have all the gold in the world then you can’t prove me wrong so I’m sticking with it.
Total Liquor 25.08l
Mash Liquor 9.24l
In Mash (Mash Time 90min)
Pale Malt 3.45kg
Medium Crystal Malt 274g
In Boil (Boil Time 90min)
Uk Amdiral 20.5g 90 min
Protofloc 2/3 tsp 15 min
Fugges 19.g 10 min
The process, while not to difficult was a little time consuming and being the fact that this was the first mash that either of us have ever done took a little longer again as we were both getting to know the requirement and the process for the first time.
To start with you need to measure out your total liquor, which we could not do as we only have two containers capable of actually holding that much water, 1) our boiler and 2) our fermentation bucket, both of which were going to be needed during the process. So as a workaround we just started our mash with the required mash liquor and then added the necessary water during the sparge, it seemed to work ok, however when all the water was added to the boiler we did have just shy of 26l as opposed to our desired 25.08l. The result of this I would guess (if anyone reading this knows feel free enlighten me) would be that you end up with a slightly lower overall sugar level in the wort, leading to a slightly lower abv, but that’s just my guess.
So anyway, for the mash we headed up the necessary water to around 72C, and added the measured out malts, the mash time was 90 minutes and the temperature it is supposed to be at is 66C. The reason for heating the water above 66 was to compensate for the temperature drop when adding the better part or four kilos worth of room temperature grains. God the smell when those malts hit that hot water is great! We then wrapped up our container is as many blankets and towels as we could find in an attempt to keep the temperature stable and let it be. When the ninety minutes was up we unwrapped and took the temperature of the mash liquor, surprisingly it was exactly 66C. We then filled up the mash tun (which was, incidentally, also our boiler) with warm water, allowed evering to settle for a few minutes and then drained of the liquor into our fermenter which gave us 18l of liquor, so we then added another 7 liters of warm water, let settle and drained again to give us a total of 26l, now I know math’s wasn’t exactly my strong point at school but something here doesn’t add up, my best guess is that it is our cheap ass measuring jug! The purpose of drawing all this water through the cooked grains is to extract the sugars, which will then feed the yeast and create your little friend and mine…Alcohol. But we’re not quite there yet. Once we had our 26l we cleaned out our boiler and added the liquor back into it and brought it up to a rolling boil and threw in the first of our hops, the Admirals. These are the bittering hops, which are high in alpha acid, and they are boiled up for the full ninety-minute boil time and are what give the majority of the flavor. At this point the aroma that floods the surrounding area is strong, intense and gorgeous, in my opinion it is enough of a reason in itself to brew from scratch. Fifteen minutes before the end of the boil we added some protofloc, which is some kind of clearing aid, and then ten minutes before the end we added the Fuggles, these are the aroma hopes, now I’m no expert but I think that these are to add to the aroma of the finished beer. After the hops have boiled the next step is to cool the beer down to the correct temperature to add the yeast, around 20-22c, we achieved this by transferring the wort from the boiler into the fermenter and simply leaving it to sit overnight. Quite a few of the hops which had been boiling away for the last hour and a half seem to have made it from the boiler to the the fermenter during the transfer so I will need to research this step a little more to see how to avoid this. However I don’t think that it will be a major issue as they should settle in the bottom of the fermenter and be left behind when the finished beer is siphoned out after fermentation has finished. After leaving to sit overnight the beer was still much to hot for the yeast so I sat it in a bath of cold water hoping to get in down enough, but after two hours it was still too hot and I had to get to school, so out of the bath it came and sat in hall awaiting my return. When I got home it was at the perfect temperature, so I measured the gravity and pitched the yeast, woohoo my first full mash is fermenting as I type, a great feeling.
On other beer related news, the first brew which we began a little while ago was casked up on Monday and has been sat conditioning for a few days now. We gave it a small taster last night and I have to see it’s a might fine brew. Not exactly world beating, but very drinkable. Our second brew, which is a little Bavarian pilsner 10l brew bag, kindly donated by Mat has been fermenting during the week and should be ready to take a little sugar tomorrow to kick start the secondary fermentation. After that she’ll be ready to condition and should at the very least have been tasted by next weekend, watch this space for a report.