In like a (Red) Lion Bitter Ale

13 March 2013 AD

I have been experimenting with a prototype beer engine, but of course the only way to know if it works properly is to pull a proper pint through it. Since no one in the colonies makes a proper pint I had to make it meself. The goal here was a low alcohol (heresy!), mild, session bitter. I knew this, but yet was still unable to leave the brew store with less than 9 pounds of grains. Fortunately, I did have enough will power to keep some out of the mash.

I also did not want to overhop it. A bitter should be bitter, true, but I found the bitters in London to be far less bitter than is the standard for the American “X-tra triple hopped Imperial IPA”. I was targeting about 7 – 8 AAUs, though I will end up a little above that if I get full utilization out of them.

Grain Bill-

  • 4 pounds Brit Tipple malt (never heard of it, but sounds British, no?)
  • 3 pounds Maris Otter
  • 8 ounces crystal (40L)

Hop Bill-

  • 1 ounces Kent Goldings (5.8%) 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz Glacier (5.6%) 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz Glacier (5.6%) aroma – added at cold break

Yeast-

  • White labs London Ale yeast

I wanted to do a starter, but came up short on a stopper for the growler. So I ended up with this feeble mess:

photo(10)

Mash schedule- single infusion

I mashed in with about 3.5 gallons of water, enough to get the grains wet. I am not used to using so little malt, and ended up with a very loose mash.

  • Strike temp 154F
  • Mashed in, had to raise temp to 150F, held for 90 minutes
  • At 90 min, I noted the temp had dropped to 142F, likely due to a loose mash, so I raised it back to 150F and held another 30 min

Sparge-

This was a bit of a mess. As I poured the mash into the lauter tun, it knocked the filter around and grain got under the false bottom. Because of this, grain was coming out of the tube during most of the sparge. It kept plugging the tube and I would have to squeeze it through, at which point the liquid would flow forcefully and draw more grain in. To add to the fun, the tube that connects the sparge wand to the sparge arm came off and was shooting boiling water around for a bit. Good times. On the plus side, it wasn’t freezing as it dripped from the bucket like the last time I brewed (Groundhog Bock)

  • About 5 gallons sparge water at 170F

Boil-

The beer was blessed by snow beginning to fall at the boil.

  • 1  hour
  • Bittering hops (all of Goldings, half of Glacier) added at start of boil

Cold Break-

  • Pot stuck in the snow. Aroma hops (half oz Glacier) added to pot

Starting Gravity= 1.041 (perfect for a bitter. Maybe the lowest gravity beer I have ever made. This is usually the gravity before the boil.)

Pitched yeast starter, since it wasn’t well sealed anyway. Put carboy in the machine room which is kept at a constant 60F. Vigorous ferment by morning.

The intent on this one is a quick ale. I plan to have it in kegs by the end of march and tapping it for the World Snooker Championships which start the third week in April.

18.03.2013

Racked into a 5 gallon carboy. s.g. 1.012.

Originally it was in a 6. I ended up with a little extra, so I racked it directly into a minikeg, with no priming at all. In his book, Foster says this is how it is done in the empire, the ale is racked directly into kegs after the primary fermentation. So, this is an experiment.

30.03.2013

Kegged the ale. Final gravity right around 1.012. Didn’t move much after the racking.

I opened the experimental minikeg yesterday. It was not bad. The flavor and hoppiness are on target for what I was looking for. But the sample tasted dead flat. I guess this is not surprising since the gravity of the rest has not changed since racking. There was not much left to ferment. It had no body at all, though the sparkler effect from the minikeg gave it a nice head.

Color was pretty good for what I wanted. Maybe a little darker? A touch more or darker crystal? I am not sure.

photo(11)

I primed it with one half cup of light extract mixed in one imperial pint of water. I thought that seemed appropriate. This gave a mix with a s.g. of 1.040, so essentially a pint of the pre-fermented ale. Hopefully this will give me just the carbonation I am looking for. I bought a new 2.5 gallon keg from the Amish yesterday, and filled that and two 1.3 gallon minikegs.

I was actually impressed by the way the minikeg dispensed even the flat ale. I have been fucking around for years with these CO2 tapping systems, but maybe just gravity dispense off the minikegs is superior. It has a tiny opening that gives a sparkler effect, and it seems to have an air inlet system so that it does not need to be opened at the top. Need to investigate further.

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