Sunday, November 29, 2020


The brown ale has been bottled. It was a bit of a troublesome brew as my Wyeast 1318 packet turned out to be a dud. There was no change in gravity after three days, so I pitched a packet of Safale S-04 that I happened to have on hand in case of emergency. Fermentation kicked off about 24 hours later. The fermentation temperature was 64F for the first five days of and then I raised the temperature to 68F upon noticing that the gravity was stalled at 1.012. Raising the temperature and rousing the yeast seemed to get one more degree of fermentation out of it. I bottled four days later as the gravity did not change. At bottling time the beer was drier than expected. My Tilt hydrometer reported the ABV as 4.46 percent. A very gentle brown ale along the lines of the old formulation for Newcastle (not the current version brewed at Lagunitas.) The Tilt spreadsheet for this recipe (Brewer's Best Brown Ale kit) is here.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Brewing a brown ale tonight. A British brown ale fermented with Wyeast London Ale III (#1318), a liquid yeast alternative to the Brewer's Best Kit that I bought. Yes, sometimes I just want to brew from a kit. There's nothing really that wrong with the Fermentis S-04 yeast that comes with the kit, but I like the London Ale III as it does well up to 74 degrees and since I'm brewing in a new environment I want a little leeway in terms of temperature. I started renting an apartment for work and play last year and although it has turned out to be more of a work space than I originally intended (thanks coronavirus), I've also decided to move the home brewery. I think my first batch was a brown (isn't everybody's?) and since it feels a bit like starting over, I decided to brew a brown. 

Meanwhile, I've cracked open a bottle of the porter that I brewed several months ago and it is still quite good. A fine aroma of toasted malt and chocolate with more chocolate on the palate and surprising dryness. Hops kept very much in check for more of an English-style porter. This porter is just shy of sweet but I quite like it. Not everything needs to be hoppy, but a little bit of a hop nose might have been nice.

Back to the brown: brewing from the kit worked well. I put the grains in the muslin bag that came with the kit and tied it to one of the handles on my Gigawort so it stay off the bottom of the kettle. I feared the the liquid malt extract in the kit might sink to the bottom and trigger the run dry sensor in the Gigawort -- and it did -- even though I killed the heat and let it sit for five minutes. Adding the dry extract went fine and got the kettle going again. Putting the recipe into Beersmith I found it to be a bit too bitter for an English brown so I adjusted the hop schedule, adding the second ounce of Willamette hops at five minutes left in the boil. I also decided to added on piece or one "star" of star anise at the end of the boil for a little complexity. I chilled the wort with my copper immersion chiller and got the wort down into the 60s in about a half hour. I pitched the yeast into 65 degree wort about an hour ago and the temperature of the wort has already risen to 71, so I have my Brewjacket Immersion Pro set to 64 as I'm afraid that the heat produced by fermentation could push the wort temperature above it's recommended maximum of 74. Cloud logging is working with my Tilt so I'll be able to monitor the temperature remotely. I won't be able to adjust the temperature remotely but just knowing what's going on will be comforting.