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Never felt bitter

Yeast preparation

In a fit of madness I've decided to brew my next bitter using yeast cultured from a bottle-conditioned ale. This is the one I've decided to use.

I collected the dregs from 2 bottles and added to 200ml of 1.020 wort to wake those yeasties up. That got 36 hours on the stir plate at 20C.

The next stage was to add 200ml of 1.040 wort and that's getting 36 hours on the stir plate.

At a conservative estimate I'd say there's about the equivalent of 2 packs of liquid yeast in there and of course it's only two days old.

I think I'll chill it for a couple of days after that to see how much I've got and give me a chance to taste the fermented wort. Then I'll make a decision on how big the last stage needs to be. I'm guessing between 700ml and 1 litre ought to do it.

I poured a little of the spent wort to taste and it was fine, in fact it was rather fruity and enjoyable so now on to the final stage. Given that I think there's a good 2 packs in there already I've gone for a third stage of 700ml/1.040. I added that to the flask you see above.

That's now back in the brew fridge at 20C spinning away merrily. Total DME usage: 100g. Total water usage: 1.1 litres.

Brew day

Today's brew is a bitter that will be fermented with the Fullers 1845 yeast that I cultured last week. With the weather forecast showing possible snow this afternoon and me wanting to use the patio for washing up I got up early at 6am to hopefully finish before the weather changed.

Recipe: Never felt bitter
Style: Best Bitter

Recipe Specifications
Date: 24 January 2021
Batch Size (fermenter): 24.00 L  
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Estimated Color: 26.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 33.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Water profile: Ca:80 Mg:13 Na:10 SO4:128 Cl:78

Amt         Name                                             Type         %/IBU
29.72 L     Tesco Ashbeck                                    Water        -        
3.50 g      Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash)                  Water Agent  -        
2.50 g      Calcium Chloride (Mash)                          Water Agent  -        
2.50 g      Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash)                        Water Agent  -        
0.50 ml     Lactic Acid (Mash)                               Water Agent  -        

4.50 kg     Maris Otter (Crisp) (7.9 EBC)                    Grain        94.6 %   
0.19 kg     Caramunich II (Weyermann) (124.1 EBC)            Grain        3.9 %    
0.07 kg     Carafa II (Weyermann) (1150.0 EBC)               Grain        1.5 %    

0.70 g      Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Sparge)                Water Agent  -        
0.50 g      Calcium Chloride (Sparge)                        Water Agent  -        
0.50 g      Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Sparge)                      Water Agent  -        
0.20 ml     Lactic Acid (Sparge)                             Water Agent  -        

20.00 g     Hallertau Magnum [11.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min       Hop          24.9 IBUs
12.00 g     Brewer's Gold, UK [4.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min       Hop          3.0 IBUs 
16.00 g     Brewer's Gold, UK [4.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min       Hop          3.0 IBUs 
1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)                 Fining       -        
22.00 g     Brewer's Gold, UK [4.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min        Hop          2.2 IBUs 

1.0 pkg     Fullers Ale (bottle cultured from 1845)          Yeast        -        

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 4.76 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time    
Mash In           Add 24.72 L of water at 71.3 C          65.5 C        60 min       

Sparge: Dunk sparge with 5L

The grains were ready and waiting for me to grind as I'd weighed them out last night.

I've been wanting to brew a Brewer's Gold beer for a couple of years and haven't got around to it until now. One of my favourite beers when I'm out up in Nottingham is BG Sips by the Blue Monkey brewery that's only got Brewer's Gold in it. If I can get anything like the flavour that they do then I'll be well happy.

Brew day went fine all the way up to the point where I turned the tap on to my immersion chiller and water started spurting from the inlet where the jubilee clip hadn't quite gripped the hose to the chiller tight enough. The water was missing the wort and in hindsight I should have turned the tap off before trying to address the leak by tightening the clip. My fiddling around made the hose pop off the end of the chiller causing a small water fountain, a few flying drops of which landed in the wort. Doh! At least it was clean water from the tap through a hose that's only used for this purpose and the wort was at boiling point so probably no harm done. Kicking myself though.

Cooling, when I fixed my hose, was quite quick in the freezing weather and I collected 24 litres of amber/tawny coloured wort at an OG of 1.050. That's 5 points more than I expected which I think is mostly down to the great extraction that I get from Crisp Maris Otter compared to the Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner that I usually use because the water volume and grain weight is almost identical to the recipes where I've used the Weyermann malt.

I guess this will be an ESB then and if anyone asks I'll tell them that I meant it all along ­čśä. The wort from the sample jar tasted fine and not at all of hosepipe.

I'll pitch the decanted 1845 starter this evening when the wort is at 19C. I've no idea how much the yeast will attenuate so it'll be a learning experience I guess.

Kegging day

It's kegging day today for my Never Felt Bitter, brewed with the Fullers 1845 yeast. All signs of active fermentation had ceased after 72 hours which did give me some cause for concern because I'm out on a limb a bit with this yeast.

Two weeks later and blind faith has paid off because it's finished at 1.009 for an ABV of 5.4%. I was hoping for something in the 4's but it's fine, I'll just drink less. Probably.

The sample is certainly amongst the clearest I've ever had straight from the fermenter. This is a flocculent yeast that certainly clears up after itself.

I got one keg and almost 2 full bottles, down by about 750ml from usual which is a bit of a head-scratcher. It could be down to higher boiloff during the colder months; I did notice 2 extra points gained during the boil compared to usual. The keg was purged 5x15psi, fined with Clear-It (though it doesn't need it) and it's now on at 12psi for a couple of weeks of conditioning.

Finally, the obligatory tasting of the sample jar. My first thoughts were flippin'eck this is a dead ringer for 1845. The taste has that distinctive 1845 character running all the way through it. I didn't intend to brew a clone but I'll not be disappointed if this is how it continues to taste after a couple of weeks conditioning.

Tasting notes

If a beer can be damned by faint praise then I'm afraid that's what I'm about to do. This one was just OK. Not great, not terrible, just OK. I don't think my choice of hops was a great one and I also think that an English crystal malt would have contributed a more traditional flavour than the Weyermann Caramunich.

Also, the two bottles that were filled from the remainder of the batch turned out to be overcarbonated and sour tasting. The kegged beer didn't taste dodgy but it was consumed weeks before the bottles. I wonder if something went wrong with my yeast handling?