AG #06 – Binary Star: Delta, Green Bullet

I had originally planned to brew a US style IPA for AG #06, but I wasn’t happy with the makeup of grain I’d selected and range of hops I had left in the freezer. So in the end I decided to brew another batch of Binary Star, and use up the last of the older hops in the freezer, which were Delta and Green Bullet. If the last brew had been a bit of a snap decision, this brew was even more so, as even a couple of hours before I started, I hadn’t even thought of sneaking a brew in.

Fermentable Colour Grams Ratio
Crisp Maris Otter Pale Malt 5.5 EBC 3317 grams 95%
Thomas Fawcett Pale Wheat Malt 3 EBC 174 grams 5%
Kettle Hop Variety Type Alpha Time grams IBU Ratio
2010 Delta Whole 6.5% 90 16 30%
2010 Delta Whole 6.5% 15 17 15%
2010 Green Bullet Whole 13.7% 15 13 25%
2010 Delta Whole 6.5% 10 23 15%
2010 Delta Whole 6.5% 5 43 15%
Other Hop Variety Type Alpha Time grams
2010 Delta Whole 6.5% 80°C steep 1g
2010 Green Bullet Whole 13.7% 80°C steep 37g
2010 Green Bullet Whole 13.7% days 5 to 9 37g
  Expected Actual
Volume (in FV) 19 litres 18.4 litres
Mash 90 mins at 65°C 120 mins at 65°C
Original gravity 1.040 1.041 (10 Brix)
Terminal gravity 1.007 1.003 (4.25 Brix)
Attenuation 81% ~92%
ABV 4.3% 4.9%
GU/BU ratio 1.25 1.21
Yeast: Safale US-05
Brew fridge: 19°C ±1°C

I tried to fit the mash around the kids dinner and bedtime, but got my timing slightly wrong, which meant that the ninety minute mash, turned into a two hour mash. On the plus side though, I managed to finally hit my target mash temperature of 65°C. Which is typical, as I finally remembered to have a kettle of boiling water and a jug of cold water on hand, to adjust the mash temperature if I missed the target slightly.

I did get a partially stuck mash during the first batch sparge though, which was really quite annoying. After getting around eight litres of the twelve and a bit I needed, I just stop the flow and added the second batch of sparge water and stirred. This seemed to do the trick, as the runoff from this second sparge, while not the fastest, didn’t have any issues.

The boil was uneventful, although it had rather a lot of scum on the top to start with. It’ll be interesting to see what this one tastes like, as the Green Bullet hops were smelling amazing in the packet; so good in fact, that I had to wander back into the house and let my wife have a sniff. Given the lower Alpha Acid content of the Delta hops, there was only 1g left after the boil to use in the 80°C steep, so we should really get to find out what Green Bullet can bring to the table in term of aroma.

The only real problem became evident once I’d transferred the wort into the fermentation bucket, there just wasn’t enough of it! I was aiming for nineteen litres and got just over seventeen and a half, so I wasn’t exactly impressed. I’m not sure what happened, maybe I boiled too hard, so there was more evaporation, or that the hops were really dry, so soaked up more wort, I’m not really sure. As the gravity reading was higher than the 1.040 I was aiming for, it meant that I could try liquoring back for the first time. So in the end, I managed to get about eighteen and a half litres in the fermentor, which was slightly better.

Fermentation took hold pretty quickly and after four days, I whizzed up the last of the Green Bullet and added it to the fermentor. It’s been in there for three days so far, so this evening I’ll be turning the temperature down to 2°C, in preparation for bottling on Monday evening. I’m looking forward to trying this one, especially as I switched from CARAPILS to Wheat Malt for head retention. It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, difference that makes.

Update: 26th June 2013
I spent Saturday and Sunday scrapping labels from bottles, so that I could have a range of sizes to fill on Monday evening. It may appear a random selection, but there was method to my madness. There are some old Sierra Nevada 710ml bottles, so when My wife and I want to share one, some 500ml bottles that once held Crouch Vale’s Brewers Gold for when I fancy one and a bundle of 330ml bottles to give away and for when my wife fancies one to herself. See, method to the madness.

One thing all this bottling has taught me though, is that I really, really need to get a bench capper. I don’t think "Greta" my twin handled capper can handle many more bottling sessions, as it took multiple attempts to get most caps sealed properly. It was a real ball ache, as was the transfer from the fermentor to the bottling bucket, which was hampered by hop detritus, again. Next time I’m going to wrap the end of the syphon tubing in some muslin and hope that stops it getting clogged up.

Looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks though, the sneaky taste I had, showed a bit of promise. Maybe not quite what I was expecting, but it had a nice bitterness to to, which is the whole point of this series of beers…

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