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Brewer's Reserve

Today is an experimental bitter with the following recipe. I've never used Northdown before but Fullers use it and I very much enjoy a pint of Pride. I've also never added Chocolate malt to a bitter before but it's there in one of my favourite bitters of late: Darkstar Partridge so I'm putting the two together and doing this today.

Brew day

Recipe: Brewer's Reserve
Date: 14 October 2018
Style: Best Bitter

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 29.96 L
Post Boil Volume: 26.56 L
Batch Size (fermenter): 25.00 L   
Bottling Volume: 23.00 L
Estimated OG: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 21.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 32.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 81.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt              Name                                             Type          #          %/IBU         Volume        
30.88 L          Tesco Ashbeck                                    Water         1          -             -             
4.40 ml          Lactic Acid (Mash)                               Water Agent   2          -             -             
3.70 g           Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash)                  Water Agent   3          -             -             
2.50 g           Calcium Chloride (Mash)                          Water Agent   4          -             -             
2.50 g           Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash)                        Water Agent   5          -             -             
3.74 kg          IREKS Pale Ale Malt (6.0 EBC)                    Grain         6          85.0 %        2.44 L        
0.44 kg          IREKS Munich Malt (20.0 EBC)                     Grain         7          10.0 %        0.29 L        
0.13 kg          Crystal Medium - 240 EBC (Crisp) (236.4 EBC)     Grain         8          3.0 %         0.09 L        
0.09 kg          Chocolate Malt (low colour) (550.0 EBC)          Grain         9          2.0 %         0.06 L        
25.00 g          Northdown [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min               Hop           10         20.7 IBUs     -             
25.00 g          Northdown [7.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min               Hop           11         7.5 IBUs      -             
1.00 Items       Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)                 Fining        12         -             -             
30.00 g          East Kent Goldings (EKG) [6.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop           13         4.0 IBUs      -             
1.0 pkg          West Yorkshire Ale (Wyeast Labs #1469)           Yeast         14         -             -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.40 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 25.33 L of water at 71.3 C          66.0 C        60 min        

I'm using Ireks Pale Malt for a change. I usually use Crisp Clear Choice but Ireks Munich is so tasty I thought I'd give their regular Pale a shot.

This will be a 25 litre split batch. 4 litres will go into a demijohn and be fermented with WLP009 (Australian). The rest will go into the main fermenter and will get Wyeast 1469 (West Yorkshire).

I originally planned to use only WLP009 but it arrived 5 months old and smelled a little sour in the vial so I decided to not risk the whole batch. Instead I overbuilt a starter, kept some in the fridge for next time if it's any good and will pitch the rest into the demijohn. The starter wort tasted OK which is encouraging.

Got the mash on. Aimed for 66C and got about 66.5 to 66 depending on where I probed. That's fine. Mashed for an hour.

Did the iodine test at 60 minutes to confirm it was done. No problems there.

Dunk sparged for about 10 minutes. Push, prod and agitate the bag. Lifted and squeezed the heck out of it. Only lost about 600ml to the 4.4kg grain bill. Beersmith is showing a healthy 83% mash efficiency.

Got the first lot of hops measured and ready. Lovely fresh pungent smell from the bag. Crossmyloof hops are always fresh.

I use a large 5 gal hop bag so they get lots of freedom to infuse during the boil.

I collected 26 litres of wort in the end. I stopped my immersion chiller at 26C and put the fermenter into the fridge to get it down to about 20C where I'll pitch the yeast.

OG was 1.044 according to two different hydrometers, bang on Beersmith's prediction. I wish I knew why my refractometer is so unreliable. Today it was consistently +4pts above both the hydrometers on pre and post boil readings. On other days it will match 1 for 1. I wonder if wort clarity has anything to do with the degree of refraction. I don't know.

All in all a uneventful brewday that was complete including washing up in 6 hours. Now comes the waiting.


I pitched both the 1469 and the WLP009 at about 10pm yesterday and this morning, 9 hours later they're both bubbling away strongly.

The might-be-dodgy WLP009 in the demijohn has developed a healthy looking krausen which is encouraging.

The 1469 seems to also be at peak activity. I can't see it in the opaque & sealed, stainless fermenter but it's firing bubbles out of the blowoff tube like a thing possessed.

Kegging and bottling

I bottled the WLP009 "test" brew today from the DJ. It had fermented out in 4 or 5 days but a thorough d-rest never does any harm. The DJ yielded 7 bottles with an FG of 1.008 giving an ABV of 4.7% before secondary fermentation. No dodgy flavours from the sample jar, in fact it was rather drinkable already with unmistakable notes of London Pride that I assume are coming from the Northdown hops. I'm looking forward to comparing these bottles side-by-side with the main batch, fermented with Wyeast 1469, that I'll be kegging this Sunday.

Tasting notes

The bottled WLP009 batch was a bit 'meh' to be honest. I thought it was OK but didn't stand out in any way that would make me want to use this yeast again.

The Wyeast 1469 batch was totally different and I really enjoyed its full flavours. It was spicy from the Northdown hops with sweetness to finish. Next time I might make small changes such as not bothering with the crystal malt and maybe using Styrian Goldings instead of EKG. It was good as-is though.