Saturday, March 30, 2013

LowTech Best Bitter

Previous attempts at this classic style have been "alright" but not great.  This time however, I am brewing with genuine English ingredients including WLP022 (Essex Ale), a characterful English top-cropping yeast from Chelmsford, UK (Ridley's Ale).  I hope it makes the difference.

Origin of WLP022 (not my ale)

LowTech Best Bitter v1

OG 1.046/ IBU ~33/ SRM ~9/ ~41L

90.9% Muntons Maris Otter
8.40% Muntons Crystal 150 (57L)
00.6% Muntons Chocolate Malt

7.6 AAU of Challenger @ 60 minutes
3.0 AAU of Challenger @ 30 minutes
3.0 AAU of Fuggles @ 30 minutes
9.7 AAU of Fuggles @ 12 minutes
12.3 AAU of EKG @ 3 minutes

The WLP022 will be a combination of top cropped (100ml) and bottom collected yeast (200ml) from previous batch of Brown Porter (brewed March 17th).

Brewed March 31st

30 minute hop addition modified due to lack of Challenger hops.  Mashed @ 2.9l/kg, rest @ 152F for 60 min.  Sparged to collect 46L  pre-boil vol.  During the sparge, at around the mid way point, the run-off stuck.  I had been drawing off the wort at a rather quick pace and must have compacted the grain bed too much.  After a quick stir and another vorlauf I was back in business.  Boiled for 70 minutes adding hops at 60, 30, 12 and 3.  Additional 1 tsp of Gypsum added to the boil.  Whirlfloc added with 5 minutes remaining in the boil. 

2 tsp Calcium chloride, 1 tsp Gypsum, 1 tsp Epsom and 105g Acid malt added to the mash for pH of 5.48.  Additional 1 tsp Gypsum added to the boil.   Final water numbers:
Ca 77, Mg 10, Na 18, Cl 66, S04 141

At flame-out, whirlpool chiller started immediately, wort cooled to ~70F.  Wort aerated through strainer before cold pitching WLP022 into each fermenter.  I tried a new kettle filter made from two stainless steel splatter screens.  The filter worked incredibly well!  I've never seen wort so clear when transferring to fermenters.  One problem, the rate of transfer was incredibly slow!   I may need to work the orientation of my dip tube slightly to allow better passage of the wort once the filter begins to collect a layer of hops and break material.   The starting gravity tested 1.0505 (12.5°P), which means my mash efficiency was higher than projected, 87% rather than the estimated 80%.

Update April 1st 

Both fermenters have krausen.  I re-areated both (19hrs since pitch) with my fizz-x for a minute or so.  Both krausens had a minimal amount of brown material on the surface.

Update April 2nd

Opened each 30L pail to see white fluffy krausen almost pushing the lid!  That's almost 8L of head space...crazy.  I promptly cropped each batch with a sanitized tea spoon.  Yeasty krausen was stirred into two 500ml mason jars which had been 3/4 filled with boiled and chilled water.  I'd estimate a total of 200ml solid yeast collected (100ml each fermenter).  Once the cropped, I closed up the lids and gave each pail a gentle swirl for 10-15 seconds.  Will do the same tomorrow and take a gravity reading.

Last evening before bed I noticed the krausen in one of the fermenters was beginning to back up into the bubble air-lock.  I did a quick clean up and cropped an additional 100ml of yeast into another mason jar.  This stuff is nuts.

Update April 3rd

Krausen has become more solid, sticky looking.  Sort of like the spray foam one might use to insulate their house.  I gave each fermenter a gentle swirl.

Update April 7th 

I've been swirling each fermenter once per day.  One pail has no yeast head/krausen left, it actually dropped a few days ago.  The other (more full) pail still has yeast cropping at the top.  When I snap down the lid, it's still producing quite a bit of Co2.  Gravity tested for the first time @ 1.0136 (3.47°P) which equals 73% attenuation.  Much better than the first time I used WLP022!  Sample is very nice, hoppier then I expected.  Some yeast character detected, I would describe it as bready.  Colour is to die for! Nailed it.

Update April 12th

Aside from a couple of hydro samples, haven't touched this for about a week.  I noted previously that the krausen in one of the two fermenters had completely fallen sometime ago, as of last evening, the second fermenter still has yeast cropped at the top of the beer.  Really interesting stuff!  I've stopped swirling the beers, I am pretty sure they were done a while ago.  Tonight I may skim the top crop and discard + take another sample to see of the FG has dropped significantly since the last reading.

Update April 13th

I racked the smaller of the two fermenters to keg ~ 17L.  Gravity tested 1.0117 (2.99°P).  I skimmed the top cropped yeast from the larger of the two fermenters, ~ 21L.  Gravity tested 1.0129 (3.31°P).

Update April 16th

I sampled a half pint and near flat Best Bitter last night, the one thing that jumped out to me was a noticeable "yeasty" flavour.  It was somewhat unpleasant.  I am hoping this will diminish with time.  Aside from that, there was some decent bitterness with an underlying fruitiness.  Hops mildly present on the aroma but the flavour was dominated by the aforementioned yeast flavours. 

Update April 25th

Second 20L racked to keg, pressure set to 36psi

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