Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brew #57: American Pale Ale

This is the first brew of the year, an American Pale ale. It actually ended up more like an India Pale ale as the mash efficency came out at 78%, something I'm really happy about. I used a new batch sparging technique, which I'll say something about in a future post.

The batch was brewed 2008-03-27.

American Pale Ale
25 liters. All grain, batch sparge
15 EBC (Amber)
40 IBU
5400g Maris Otter malt, Thomas Fawcett
270g Crystal malt 80 EBC, Dingemans
230g Caraamber, Weyermann
200g Biscuit malt, Dingemans
66C, 60 min
78% efficiency
30g Simcoe whole, 13.2%, 60 min
30g Cascade pellets, 5.8%, 10 min
60g Cascade pellets, 5.8%, 1 min
Wyeast Fat Tire yeast, 2.7 liter starter on magnetic stirrer
90 min
19 C

OG: 1.060 FG: 1.012 abv: 6.3%

Monday, March 24, 2008

Norwegian Homebrew Competition 2008

What: The annual festival where homebrewers serve their own beers to the public, which get to vote for their favourite beers of the evening. Homebrewers also compete in five other categories (bottled entries submitted earlier). The winners are announced towards the end of the evening.

When: Saturday April 5th 2008, 19:00-00:30 CET
Where: Studentersamfunnet Bislet, Pilestredet 52, Oslo, Norway.
Cost: 130 NOK (100 NOK if you're a member of Norbrygg)

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I'll be there, but I won't be serving any beers this year as I'm judging the finals of the five other competition categories (light lager, dark lager, light ale, dark ale and strong beers). For the same reason I won't be able to partake in any of the competitions either (doh).

Friday, March 21, 2008

A brewing tip from Norway's Julia Child

"Kjøkkentips", a book by Ingrid Espelid Hovig and Scott Givot contains a lot of practical tips about doing smart things in your kitchen. One of the tips that caught my eye that might be useful to brewers is how one can cool down a pot of hot liquid in the sink. They say that if you place a spoon upside down beneath the pot that would allow it too cool down quicker. Simple, and just brilliant, as this would expose the pot to more surface. If you chill your hot wort in the sink then this might help you cool down your wort faster.

Getting the temperature right

You may remember that I have had some issues with mashing at too low a temperature. Because the beers were mashed too low they were thin bodied as this produced more fermentable sugars. I recently bought a new thermometer (the one on the right), and that helped a little. The recent beers have had more body, but the doppelbock I brewed just before Christmas still was a little thinner than expected. It meant that I still had some problems with the mash temperatures.

Interestingly, I was offered to have my thermometers calibrated at a local brewery using professional calibration equipment. That was exactly what I needed as this would let me know exactly by how much the thermometers were off.

The temperature calibrator system that was used was a Tek Know TC2000 from Scan-Sense. The results from calibrating the two thermometers at 55C, 65C, 70C and 80C can be seen below. Click the thumbnails to see the full-sized photos.

The digital thermometer on the right is clearly the most exact of the two as its readings are the most consistent, but they are still off by 1.5C or so. It was this thermometer that I used for the last few brews, so the dobbelbock was mashed at 67.5C instead of 69C. The old white digital thermometer (now broken) must have been off by at least 3.5C as it read 2C lower than the new one. That is a quite significant difference.

In all this is very useful information to me and it will allow me to hit the mash temperatures much more precisely than before. If you have doubts about the readings from your thermometer then having it calibrated is much recommended. Even small variances on the readings in the mashing range can lead to significant differences in fermentability.


Eight weeks ago Kristiane and I adopted Ulrikke, a beautiful 23 months old girl from Guangdong, China. This has worked out very well and we're now a happy family of three. I have spent the last six weeks on paternity leave, so things have been busy. Things have settled down nicely, so I should now have more time to spend on my brewing efforts. Not to mention that I now have a brewing assistant. :)