Cheese Makers Forum FAQ Equipment part 1 Equipment part 2 History

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Brew Day a Success

For the inaugural brew of the new setup and location, we made a clone of Newcastle Brown Ale. Everything went fairly well, without even any minor disasters. Some grain was spilled, didn't get quite enough sparge water, but all in all quite a success. We also got a tower and tap installed in the bar, along with an 'artistic rendering' of what it will look like in 3 weeks when it is fully operational.

The tap I am using is similar to a Guinness tap, but doesn't inject nitrogen. It's capable of creating very small, fine bubbles similar to hand pulled ales in England (and finer pubs in the states). Part of the reason to homebrew is to be able to make things you can't buy. You can buy Newcastle, but I can't name a single place in the entire United States where you can buy a hand pulled Newcastle. That. Is. Exciting.

Hand pulled, cask conditioned, and Real Ale are all talking about a style of beer that nearly went extinct. Instead of using refrigeration and CO2, a pub would have a cellar and barrels of naturally sparkling beer that would be pulled up using a beer engine. Because of the way the beer was kept, it's temperature, and it's specific kind of carbonation, Real Ales are creamy, mild, and delishus. Texture-wise they are in between a regular draft beer and Guinness, and hopefully this is what this style of tap will allow me to do. It won't be a perfect copy of a Real Ale, but I'm hoping it will be closer than what you can normally get in the US.

Recipe wise, I used a 10 gallon variant on the Graham Wheeler/Roger Protz Newcastle recipe from 'Brew Classic European Beers At Home' book. I have no idea what is up with the prices for this book on Amazon, when I purchased it in '99 or 2000, it must have been perhaps $15. Check your local home brew shop if you want a copy, don't buy this one from Amazon. The recipe for a 10 gallon batch is very simple:
  • 12 lbs Pale malt
  • 2.5 lbs Crystal malt (use ~100 lovibond, not the pale stuff)
  • 24 ounces white sugar
  • 2.5 ounces Chocolate malt
  • 1 ounce Nugget hops
  • 1.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops

Mash at 150-152F for 90 minutes (I hit 150F on the nose, even though I wasn't really even trying), sparge at 175F, and boil for 90 minutes with all the hops added at the beginning of the boil. Somehow my efficiency (the rate at which starch is converted to sugar then extracted via the sparge) was higher than what they reported in the book, so instead of a 5% alcohol beer this will likely be close to 5.5%.

There is only one thing that I am a tad disappointed in with this recipe, and that is the color. It looks like this batch is going to be too light. I used 15 lovibond Crytal malt, and I think that is the culprit--it was lighter than the recipe assumed I would have access to. Now that I look back through the book, the minimum color they list for Crystal is 100 lovibond, which would be a very dark tan to brown color, as opposed to the quite light colored malt I used. Oh well, next time I'll know.

At the end of the day, it looks like I extracted ~9.5 gallons due to a hop bag exploding. I'm not disappointed, but next time I'm tying that shit tighter :D

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Cheese A Day by Jeremy Pickett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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