Ah, the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men… Again. Sometimes it seems like my adventures in homebrewing take two steps forward and then immediately, three steps backwards. I was hoping to have at least six to seven brews completed by this point in the year, not my first.
Brewing in the winter hasn’t been particularly good for the shed, as without an extractor system, the condensation is horrific. So I made a decision not to brew again until I’d bought and fitted an extractor system, expecting to have it all done and dusted in a few weeks. Fast forward to August and the system was still sitting in a box in the corner of the shed, although I’ll blame my lack of action on the fact that I finally decided to get a new job and not that I just couldn’t be arsed.
It’s not that I hadn’t wanted to brew, I’d just been putting all my energy into the new job, so there was just a general lack of arse about beer, brewing, the blog and various other things. The lack of homebrew started to grate somewhat though and I figured that drinking various Greek lagers for two weeks on holiday, would see me desperate for something with hops in it upon my return; so I finally extracted the finger and got the extractor system fitted.
I’d love to say that the brew went swimmingly, but it felt like I’d forgotten pretty much everything, including the fact that my thermometer was knackered and that I don’t have a PH meter. It didn’t help that my main boiler burned itself out and welded its plug to the socket, while bringing the mash water up to strike temperature. I’d been wondering what the burning smell was and it wasn’t until I filled the mashtun and saw the blackened element, that I realised what had happened. I’m just glad that I had two boilers, as it meant that I could continue using my old one and complete the brew.
My old boiler is a litre or so smaller than my now defunct main boiler, so it meant that the first part of the boil was squeaky bum time, as it looked like it was going to boil over at any second. I really need to get my new EcoKeg brewery built, so I have a boiler large enough to hold over thirty litres, so I end up with a decent amount in the fermenter; 18 to 19 litres just isn’t enough. I might try a double brew next time, just so I end up with twenty five litres in the fermenter.
The rest of the brew passed without incident and I closed the door on the brew fridge, with eighteen and a half litres of wort in the fermenter at around half past one. The beer wasn’t quite the one I was planning on brewing, but I still need to buy a couple of things before I can brew my White Shield inspired effort. Since this was going to be a cobbled together brew, I decided to try using Vienna Malt again, but without all the other highly flavoured malts, so I could determine if I liked it as a base malt. I also decided to try using a different brand of yeast, to see what it was like too.
Two weeks of drinking various Greek lagers, did indeed see me return with a craving for some hops, who’d have thunk it! The beer had happily carbonated in the shed while we’d been away, although I’d neglected to print and apply any labels. the Vienna malt certainly makes its presence felt, lending a sweetness and distinct flavour to the beer. The homegrown Cascade hops maybe weren’t quite up to the challenge of competing with it and the yeast though, as there’s just not quite enough flavour from them to balance it out.
The Mangrove Jack US West Coast yeast is an interesting one though, I was expecting it to be very similar to US-05. I’m not sure if there was a slight issue with the brewing process, the fermentation, or if the yeast is just supposed to be like that, but you can definitely taste it in the beer, it’s not as clean as I was expecting. As I said though, it maybe there was an issue with the brewing process which has thrown this flavour, rather that it being the fault of the yeast. Only brewing with it again will answer that question though.