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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brew Day!


                It was a wonderful day in Wisconsin!  Few days hold as much excitement as a brew day, and the excellent weather also allowed me to finally take the cover off my grill and BBQ some chicken for the first time this year!  Yesterday was a great day.

                Having freed up my primary fermentation bucket on Friday, I was eager to get more experience and brew another batch.  We usually keep our house on the cool side in the winter and early fall (just under 60), so I wanted to find something that I could reasonably ferment right around 60 degrees.  One of my favorite styles is a British bitter, unfortunately British bitters do not travel well so they are hard to find outside of the UK or Australia.  Although I have had excellent British Bitters in Bangkok and Hong Kong, so I suppose they are often brewed in or imported fresh to any area that has a large population of British or Australian ex-pats.

Standard bitters often have a caramel malt aroma accentuated by fruity esters and a hoppy aroma reminiscent of British hop varieties.  They tend to be yellow to copper in color with a low to moderate off-white head, due to low carbonation. Flavor-wise, they often have a medium level of bitterness, with high fruity esters and a moderate earthy/resiny/floral British hop flavor.  As is expected, English bitters tend to be more bitter than sweet, however unlike some IPAs the hoppy bitterness does not overpower the other flavors.  BYO magazine has a great write-up on the style.

On to the brewing..  In order to keep things simple and work off a quality recipe I was interested in Northern Brewer’s BrokenSpear Bitter, which utilizes a yeast strain from the Wyeast private collection,   Wyeast 1882-PC Thames Valley II Yeast.
Here is the profile according to Wyeast:

Beer Styles: Ordinary and Special Bitters, ESB, Northern English Brown, Robust Porter, Dry Stout, Foreign Extra Stout

Profile: This strain was originally sourced from a now defunct brewery on the banks of the river Thames outside of Oxford, England. Thames Valley II produces crisp, dry beers with a rich malt profile and moderate stone fruit esters. This attenuative strain is also highly flocculent resulting in bright beers not requiring filtration. A thorough diacetyl rest is recommended after fermentation is complete.
Alc. Tolerance  10% ABV  
Flocculation      high
Attenuation      72-78%              
Temp. Range   60-70°F (15-21°C)

 Northern Brewer offers the following description for the Broken Spear Bitter:

 With a bantamweight ABV of only 3.4%, Broken Spear is modeled on a world-class standard bitter from the town of Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley. It arrives in the pint glass with a tawny color and fine, short-lived bead (because we don’t want to waste that volume on foam, now, do we?). A true session beer that showcases fat, juicy malt ahead of snappy bitterness, and subtle tropical fruit behind a blend of fragrant, resiny hops. Dry hopping adds layers of earth and new-mown hay to the restrained fruitiness of the nose. Low alcohol? Yes. Bland? Oh heavens no. Serve at cellar temperature with fish and chips or a nice chunk of Stilton or Cheddar.  

The recipe is:

 SPECIALTY GRAIN
--0.25 lbs English Dark Crystal
--0.125 lbs English Black Malt

FERMENTABLES
--4 lbs Munton’s Light DME (60 min)

HOPS & FLAVORINGS
--1 oz UK Fuggle (60 min)
--0.5 oz UK Kent Goldings (60 min)
--0.5 oz UK Kent Goldings (15 min)
--0.5 oz Styrian Goldings (15 min)
--0.5 oz Styrian Goldings (dry hop - 7 days)

YEAST
--WYEAST 1882 THAMES VALLEY ALE II.

Now, on to the pictures, although I only have pictures from the steps that only required one set of hands because my wife was the one taking the pictures...

Adding and boiling the water

 Crushing the specialty grains
 Pouring the specialty grains into the grain sock
 Tying the bag...
 Beginning to steep the bag.
Wonderful extraction from steeping the specialty grains..
 Water is finally boiling.. Time to add the dry malt extract
 Cutting the bag...
 And pouring in.. Damn, dry extract sure does love to turn into dough.  It just sucks up all the moisture from the boiling water..
 Yay for boiling wort...












Unfortunately, that's the last picture, forgot to take shots of the hop additions.  There might be more shots come bottling day..

Now you have come to the end, reward yourself with a well-earned craft beer!

Happy Drinking!

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