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SAA (Simple Autumn Ale)

It's now the end of summer, autumn is in the air and I'm switching from lagers to ales for a while. The first thing for me to do is to select a yeast that I'll use for this run of ales and I've decided to go with the Yorkshire strain from Brewlab.

After much back-and-forth deciding, reading reviews and then changing my mind I made the decision and today it dropped through the letter box.

Bought yeast doesn't get any fresher than a Brewlab slope. I only ordered one from them but they sent two which is nice. I'll be building up a first stage starter tonight. Can't wait!

So... the starter's on. Eventually. Not the smoothest starter making episode ever. Brewlab recommend a 300ml starter which is then enough to pitch into a homebrew batch. So my plan is to do their 300ml starter followed by a 1.5l starter of which I'll keep back 500ml and pitch a litre.

I made up the 300ml/30g DME wort as usual and chilled it in my dinky 500ml flask. Brewlab say that you should add a bit of the starter wort to the vial and shake it to dislodge the cells from the agar. So I did. Then I tipped the contents of the vial into the flask... and the whole lot including the big wodge of agar slipped out into my flask!

Hmmm. The instructions say that you should not attempt to dissolve the agar and I couldn't leave it in the flask as it would foul the stir bar so I had to sterilize a kilner jar (for its wide mouth) and a stainless spoon, tip the flask into the jar and spoon out the chunk of agar before pouring the jar back into the flask. Bit of a faff, that. Now I know for next time to obstruct the top of the vial with something when pouring to stop the agar coming out.

For the curious here's what the agar looks like with the yeast infection on the surface:

It's in the fridge at 20C on the stir plate. These slopes are meant to kick off within hours so I'll have a peek before bed to see how it's going.

The 300ml Brewlab Yorkshire starter has been chilling since it fermented out on Friday and I'm quite impressed with how much yeast grew from just those few cells.

I made up the second stage 1.5 litre starter wort tonight. 500ml will go back in the fridge for the next brew and 1 litre will go into this Sunday's wort.

It seems to be doing well this morning. Ale starters are much more entertaining than lager starters.

This was the scene at T+21hrs. I don't recall ever having a 1.5 litre starter climb out of my 3 litre flask before. Next time it's getting the 5 litre flask. Let's see it climb out of that!

After the above mess had subsided and the yeast was done I separated off 500ml into a sterilised kilner jar to go in the fridge and left the remaining litre to chill before brew day.

Brew day

Today's recipe is a simple one using Weyermann Pilsner Malt and Archer hops. The idea is to showcase this new yeast without too much else going on with the malt and hops. The Brewlab notes for the Yorkshire strain state that it likes a minerally wort so I've added a fair bit to the Ashbeck water to get the sulphate and chloride levels up.

Here's the recipe.

Recipe Specifications
Recipe: SAA (Simple Autumn Ale)
Date: 3 Oct 2021
Batch Size (fermenter): 24.00 L
Estimated OG: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 6.4 EBC
Estimated IBU: 31.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Finished water profile: Ca:122, Mg:22, Na:9, SO4:227, Cl:108

Amt         Name                                        Type          %/IBU         Volume   
6.10 g      Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash)             Water Agent   -             -             
4.90 g      Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash)                   Water Agent   -             -             
3.70 g      Calcium Chloride (Mash)                     Water Agent   -             -             

4.22 kg     Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner (4.0 EBC)        Grain         95.0 %        2.75 L        
0.22 kg     Weyermann Carapils (3.9 EBC)                Grain         5.0 %         0.14 L        

1.30 g      Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Sparge)           Water Agent   -             -             
1.00 g      Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Sparge)                 Water Agent   -             -             
0.80 g      Calcium Chloride (Sparge)                   Water Agent   -             -             

20.00 g     Magnum [11.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min            Hop           25.2 IBUs     -             
12.00 g     Archer [3.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min             Hop           2.4 IBUs      -             
16.00 g     Archer [3.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min             Hop           2.3 IBUs      -             
1.00 Items  Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)            Fining        -             -             
22.00 g     Archer [3.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min              Hop           1.8 IBUs      -             

1.0 pkg     Brewlab Yorkshire (Brewlab #Yorkshire)      Yeast         -             -   

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.44 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time 
Mash In           Add 24.51 L of water at 70.9 C          65.0 C        60 min   

Sparge: Dunk sparge with 5L of 75C water.

Brew day went off without a hitch and I collected about 24.5 litres of extra pale wort:

The OG was 1.043, just one point shy of my target of 1.044.

I was pleased to be able to use my new Klarstein 12 stainless steel wort chiller today. This replaces my previous one which was also stainless steel but was quite a lot smaller. The fittings use see on here do not come with the chiller, I sourced them all from Ali Express.

I was able to run the cooling water faster with this chiller and as such it only took me 15 minutes to chill to 24C using 55 litres of water which was all collected for later use during the washing up.

The yeast has been pitched and I'll be fermenting this one for 2 weeks at 20C in the brew fridge. As usual the CO2 produced during fermentation is being used to purge the keg that will hold this beer once it's done.

I checked in on the brew fridge the following morning and fermentation had started and during the day it was obviously ramping up. By the evening it was probably at full speed.

On the morning of day 2 it's still going at what looks like full pace and there is evidence of krausen marks at the top of the fermenter in the part where the plastic blow off tube attaches to a tri-clamp hose barb. That makes this the most active top fermenting yeast that I've ever used by some margin.

It's now day 16 and I've kegged it. Why so long? Well, looking back I think it was probably done after 7 days but it still continued to bubble through my blowoff tube at erratic intervals of between 5 and 30 seconds which I now believe was off-gassing from the dissolved CO2 produced during fermentation.

The FG was a rather low 1.005 for an ABV of 5.0% and apparent attenuation of 88%. Now I know that this yeast attenuates strongly I can adjust my mash temperature to compensate so it doesn't produce such a dry finish next time.

I wouldn't describe this strain as particularly flocculant, nor would I describe it as powdery. It does flocculate and when it does it seems to leave behind a nice clear ale. This is the sample from the fermenter:

The dregs and trub cake in the fermenter smelled amazing! It was all peach, apricot and mild citrus aromas. At this stage I can't say what was from the yeast and what was from the Archer hops but I'm quietly confident that this ought to taste good even with the low FG.

The keg's on at about 15 psi to carbonate sitting alongside my Perle Pils at 6C so it's also going to get a bonus cold crash in the keg before I raise it to 12C for drinking.


Time for an update on my Simple Autumn Ale. It's conditioned, carbonated and I've been drinking it for a couple of weeks now:

The Archer hops are not like any other UK hop I've tasted before. I get the peach and apricot flavours that they say you're supposed to get and they're rather pleasant. I think they'd go well with Fuggle.

The Brewlab Yorkshire yeast has cleared up quickly and has left behind a nice bright beer. Despite finishing at 1.004 the main characteristic I get from this yeast is a smooth, rich and silky full mouthfeel. I still can't identify the brewery which is annoying given that I'm from 'up there' and really ought to get it. Maybe after a few more brews!