Monthly Archives: April 2014

Use-it-up ESB

We bought hops and malt in bulk last year, thinking we’d brew more than we have.  Well, that’s not true, we thought we’d brew more British beer over the last 12 months.  But we didn’t, and now we need to use it up.

What better way to use British malt than brew a British beer?

Name: ESB
Batch size: 5 gallons
Expected OG: 1.055
Expected FG: 1.014
Mash: 90m @ 151F at 1.3 qt/lb

  9 lbs Muntons Maris Otter 3L
  1 lb  Briess Victory 28L
  6 oz  Muntons Medium Crystal 60L
  6 oz  UK Crystal 150L

1 oz Challenger    8.7% AA @ 90m
1 oz Kent Goldings 5.5% AA @ 15m
1 oz Kent Goldings 5.5% AA @  5m
Whirlfloc + yeast nutrient @ 10m

1 pack Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire

The only ingredients that are “fresh” are the yeast and the Crystal 150L.  Not that older ingredients will make bad beer, but obviously the fresher the ingredients, the better the beer will be.  But don’t get us wrong, we just like beer so we’ll drink it anyway.

The Brew

We mashed at 151F for 90 minutes, and then batch sparged again (mostly to refine our process).  The first batch yielded a respectable 5 gallons @ 13P (1.053).  Next we added another 5 gallons of 150F water, recirculated for 15 minutes, and drained off 4 gallons @ 5.25P (1.021).  We combined the entire first batch and 3 gallons of the second batch in the boil kettle, for a total of 8 gallons @ 10P (1.040).  We thought the low gravity required a volume reduction, so after 30 minutes of boil-off, the real boil started with 7.5 gallons @ 11.25P (1.045).

At the end of the 90 minute boil we got a bit less than 5 gallons at a much higher gravity than we expected: 1.068 OG.  What happened?  It turns out these numbers are completely expected.  We simply started with too little wort; instead of boiling off a half-gallon, we should have begun with all 8 gallons of 10P (1.040) wort and boiled down to 5.5 gallons over the 90 minute boil (at a 1.67 g/hr boil-off rate) to achieve the target gravity of 1.055.  Oh well.

We also over-boiled our oxygenation stone when cleaning and sanitizing it, which broke the stone away from the MFL fitting that connects the stone to the oxygen hose.  So we used the tried-and-true pour method of oxygenation, dumping the cooled wort from the keg into a sanitized bucket, and then back into the keg through a funnel.  The funnel provided a bigger pour target and a more concentrated stream into the keg, which produce quite a bit of foam and thus oxygenation.  So much so that it foamed out of the keg and onto the floor.  Oops.

The Beer

After 18 days of fermentation between 59 degrees (night) and 65 degrees (day) we racked to a secondary keg.  Oddly, flocculation was awful.  Final gravity ended up at 1.014 for a healthy 7% ABV, which like the OG, was way over what we expected.  That’s 78% apparent attenuation, which is quite high for this yeast.  Maybe the yeast nutrient we added or good aeration helped the yeast be extra-efficient?

A month after brew day, the beer was clear and drinkable.  It lacked some body due to the lower mash temperature (151F) and low percentage (7%) of crystal malt.  Next time, we’ll try mashing a bit higher (153F) and if that doesn’t work well enough, we’ll up the crystal to 10% or 12% of the grain bill.  The higher alcohol content caused an unwelcome bite versus the IBUs (~50), which created a slightly off-balance final product.  Correctly managing the boil gravity will solve that problem next time.

But it looks good, and tastes OK, and we like beer.  We’ll drink it!