I’m hoping to get a brew on later today, it’ll be the first time in about twenty months. So it’s probably about time I told the sorry tale of my first two all grain attempts. I’d come off the back of a run of about six malt extract brews and was ready to step up and finally have a go at doing it all properly. As I didn’t want to complicate things, I’d decided not to worry about any sort of water treatment for the first couple of brews, just so I could concentrate on the process. In hindsight this was a huge mistake.
I used the same recipe for both of these brews, unfortunately the exact recipe is lost in the mists of time, as it was on my old laptop which was stolen out of my car. I’m pretty sure that I’d used Simcoe and Amarillo in the boiler and Columbus as a dry hop, but my report of the first brew on Jim’s Home Brew Forum suggests that I used something similar to the recipe below:
Grain, aiming for OG of 1050:
95% Marris Otter (3312g)
5% CaraPils (174g)
90 min mash @ 65C
90 min boil with hops:
12g Cascade @ 90 mins
6g Simcoe @ 90 mins
21g Cascade @ 20 mins
10g Simcoe @ 20 mins
20g Cascade @ 0 mins for a 20 min steep
20g Simcoe @ 0 mins for a 20 min steep
Rogue Ales Pacman recovered from a bottle of Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale.
From looking at the LibreOffice files I created to print off labels for both of these batches, I can see that I actually dry hopped with a combination of Amarillo and Columbus, although I have no idea about the quantity used.
I knew both batches had issues, I’d missed target volumes and gravities, but I was sort of expecting that kind of thing to happen until I got used to all the different steps. There was also something about the taste that wasn’t quite right though and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just assumed that it was down to a failure in part of the process and would work itself out in future brews. As we were about to have an extension built, the brew kit was packed away in the loft, while the sheds were moved around the garden; I haven’t brewed since.
As it happened, my wife bought me an Adnams Brewery Tour for my birthday that year and when we went, I took a couple of bottles along and dropped them of for Fergus the head brewer. Imagine my horror a couple of week later, when I got a DM from Fergus telling me they were tainted with Chloramine, which manifests itself as a slightly antiseptic type taste. So when I got home that evening, I broke out the TCP and had a bit of a gargle, then I tried both batches of beer. I poured the few remaining bottles down the sink and emailed everyone I’d given any too to do the same; I was mortified that I hadn’t picked the taint out.
It turns out that my failure to do any sort of water treatment was the cause. Tap water has chlorine added to it, who knew, and if you don’t get rid of it before you mash, then you can end up with this kind of taint in your beer. There are a couple of ways to get rid of it; you an pre-boil your liquor the night before you brew, for around half an hour, or you can add half a crushed campden tablet per 25 litres of cold liquor and leave it for ten minutes before you heat it to strike temperature. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to do either of these and that’s a mistake I wont be making again, mainly as I’ve bought a tube of 50 campden tablets, which should last for a few brews.
Going forward, I’m still not going to concern myself with full on water treatment at the moment, at least not until I’ve got another couple of brews under my belt. I’ve already contacted Cambridge Water and received all the values I need to input into a water treatment calculator. I think I’ll save those for another blog though, as I need to get out to the shed and make make some tweaks to the brew fridge wiring in preparation for its first use.