AG #08 – Pulsar: Homegrown Cascade

Last year was the first year that I’ve managed to get any real quantity of hops from my Cascade bines. I dried about half of them in our dehydrator and just froze the other half without drying; they’ve all been sitting in my mother-in-law’s chest freezer since last September. Since I had no idea what they were going to be like, or what their Alpha Acid percentage would be etc, the only sensible thing to do, was to brew a single hop beer to find out. Here’s the recipe, it’s the same malt bill as the last brew:

Fermentable Colour Grams Ratio
Wayermann Pilsner Malt 4 EBC 2936 grams 95%
Wayermann CARAPILS 4 EBC 154 grams 5%
Kettle Hop Variety Type Alpha Time grams IBU Ratio
2012 Homegrown Cascade Whole ??% 60 66 100%
Other Hop Variety Type Alpha Time grams
2012 Homegrown Cascade Whole ??% flame out steep 150g
2012 Homegrown Cascade Whole ??% days 5 to 10 150g
  Expected Actual
Volume (in FV) 19 litres 20 litres
Mash 90 mins at 66°C 92 mins at 66°C
Original gravity 1.035 1.035 (8.6 Brix)
Terminal gravity 1.006 1.002 (3.6 Brix)
Attenuation 81% 94%
ABV 3.75% 4.18%
GU/BU ratio ? ?
Yeast: Safale US-05
Brew fridge: fermentation at 19°C ±1°C
dry hopping at 12°C ±1°C with 2°C ±1°C for two days before bottling

As the weather was still really nice, I decided to brew outside again, although I did mash in, in the shed, before moving everything onto the collapsible table. Unlike last time though, this brew was an evening/night affair, luckily for me the light in the shed was more than enough to illuminate things through the open door though.

To be honest, it was a pretty uneventful brew, apart from getting another stuck mash. The run off from the first batch sparge was crystal clear after vorlauf, I was most impressed. However, the run off just dribbled to a stop after half a litre or so and I had to apply judicious use of the mash paddle to get it going again.

I have an idea of what’s causing all these stuck mashes, which, if I’m being honest, are becoming a real pain in the arse. I think it’s all down to the tap on the mash tun, it’s a bit sticky and it seems to jump from off, to mostly full on, without stopping in between. So it’s practically impossible to have it on just a little bit, as it happens whichever way you turn it. I think I’m going to have to invest in one of those trick ball taps that I’ve seen others use, as they look quite controllable.

Given that I don’t know the Alpha Acid content of these hops, you may be wondering how I choose the amounts for each stage of the brew. It was quite easy, as I had two bags of dried cones and two bags of green cones. Each bag of dried cones weighed about 66g and each of the bags of green cones about 300g. So I decided to chuck in the whole bag of dried at the start of the boil and split the green cones for the flame out steep and dry hop. Which means I have enough to do a re-brew should it turn out to be nice and tasty.

The beer is currently sitting in the fermentation fridge at 12°C, while the dry hops work their magic. I’ll be dropping it to 2°C tomorrow, in preparation for bottling it on Monday night. I should really be bottling it on Sunday, but we’re taking the kids to the Olympic stadium to watch the super humans at the Anniversary Games, so I’ll be far too knackered by the time we get back.

Update: 30th July 2013
I managed to get it all bottled last night, I used 330ml and 660ml bottles. It went surprisingly smoothly and without a hitch, with even the capper behaving itself for a change. If I give it the normal two weeks in the bottle to condition, then I’ll be on holiday in France when it’s ready. So it looks like the majority of this batch will be sitting in a fridge till the end of the month before it gets drunk. I may take a few on holiday with us though, at least then I’ll have some hops occasionally…

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