Monday, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus Red Ale

Two and a half years!

That's how long since I last posted. Hey, i've been busy. I worked virtually non-stop over that time, but coronavirus took care of that.

What to do? 

Make beer.

So after my last red ale effort which resulted in flat beer, I've finally decided to give it another go. My first red ale effort was arguably my best beer, so if it's anywhere close, it will be a delicious drop.

However, unhappy with the recipes I found on the net, i turned up at the brewshop with NFI what ingredients i wanted. All I knew was that I wanted to do a red ale. Flavoursome, but not too strong or burnt. So I looked at all the grains in the shop, and all the yeasts, relying on whatever old hops I had at home. Not equipped to do a full mash, partial mashes have served me well in the past, so that's what i'm going to make. Recently I've just done kits, sticking mainly to Coopers IPA, which is pretty much idiot-proof.

So as my base I selected 1kg of light malt extract and 1kg of dextrose which I tried to fool myself that I wouldn't use it all. As if! For my grains, i selected 250g of each of 2-row malt and 250g of Maris Otter, which was supposed to be Golden Promise, but I placed it on the list against the former. For my specialty malts, I selected 250g of Red Back Malt, and 250g of 60L Crystal Malt. I was going to select another red grain, but thought it might be unbalanced.

As for the yeast, I went with Mangrove Jack's Empire Ale Yeast from their Craft Series, which have served me well in the past (note to self - don't throw the used pack away before recording it and dumping used grain over it).

And for the first time, I used some Irish Moss at the end of the boil to clear up the beer. I don't give a rat's arse whether my beer is cloudy or not, but beer ignoramuses think it's weird, if ever I want to share some.

So after buying my stuff, i went home to see what hops i had. So i decided to use the last of my Spalt hops from 2017, and the last of my East Kent Goldings from 2018; 25g and 30g respectively. I only had aromatic hops left, which is not ideal, but I did my calculations and settled with an a bitterness profile of an estimated 33 IBU, however the age of the hops is likely to reduce the bitterness. I estimate my beer to be more like 30 IBUs, which is quite fine for this beer. I boiled the first two for 60 minutes, with a 5 minute boil of 30g of Cascade hops for aroma. I'm a big fan of Cascade hops, so it should add a moderate hoppiness to my beer, which is the most I'm prepared to add, as this is fundamentally a malty beer. I prefer to not overcomplicate my beers, making it either malty, hoppy or yeasty as the primary characteristic. Most recipes on the net have a ridiculous complexity that contains ingredients too small to make a difference. 5 different hops is just absurd, yet some people think complexity equates to better beer.

Anyway, it was a lot of work, but it's now in the fermenter and doing its thing. The original gravity was 1042, which is a bit lower than expected, but it should be right around the 5% mark, which is my ideal strength. After checking the original gravity, I had a little taste and the first thing that struck me was that the bitterness level seems just right. The ferment temperature is just right, now important since my beer fridge carked it a few months ago. An April temp hovering around 20C is just fine. I'll be drinking my most recent IPA until this beer is ready. I'll try and remember to post an update!