Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Dubbel 2.0

As I've mentioned before, I've been trying to perfect (to my taste, at least) recipes for the Trappist Single, Belgian Dubbel, Belgian Tripel, and Belgian Quadrupel.  The recipe I've had the most trouble with is the Belgian Dubbel.  I've made several, and they've all disappointed me, whether they were my own recipe, a published clone recipe for a commercially-available Dubbel I like, or any other.  In many cases, they come out too light in color, with little or no dark fruit flavor. In others, they come out dry or overly bitter.  My most-recent attempt before today had a practically perfect color but still missed the prune/plum flavor I've been looking for.  Today's recipe began as a BYO Magazine recipe for the Belgian Dubbel style, modified a bit.  I replaced the hops with my preferred blend and changed the candi sugar rocks out for syrup.


5 pounds Belgian Pilsen
1.5 pounds Belgian Pale Ale
4 ounces Belgian Caramunich
8 ounces D-90 Candi Syrup
0.45 ounces Styrian Goldings hops pellets @ 6.2% AA (60 min.)
0.45 ounces Czech Saaz hops pellets @ 3.0% AA (10 min.)
1 package Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
3 gallons, 48 ounces water

Used the Zymatic High Efficiency mash profile with the two main mash step temperatures changed. The first temperature was changed to 144F, and the second to 158F.

A 90-minute boil was used, with 30 minutes of pre-hop boil time.

The D-90 syrup was added to the beer after the boil, just before the wort was cooled.

The Picobrew recipe crafter estimates that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.072 SG (actual was 1.075 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
  • IBUs: 17 (revised estimate 20)
  • ABV: 7.1% 
  • SRM: 18
  • Batch Size: 2.5  gallons (actual was 2.5 gallons)
After brewing, I measured the wort volume at 2.5 gallons and the gravity at 17.8 Brix, which BeerSmith adjusts to a value of 1.075 SG. That's a touch higher than the 1.072 SG I expected. Bitterness recalculates to 20.3 IBUs and Brew House efficiency to 70% for this batch.

The wort was chilled to 68F using a sanitized immersion chiller and transferred into a sanitized fermenter. When the yeast packet finally swelled, it was added to the wort along with the White Labs Clarity Ferm and the fermenter sealed.

The temperature controller was programmed to keep the wort at 71F for 3 days, then raise it to 80F for the next 10 days. That should ensure complete fermentation, with the 80F temperature providing a little stress to the yeast so that it delivers additional aromas and flavors.

I discovered a small crack in the Picobrew Zymatic's step filter, which I snapped pictures of and sent to Picobrew support.  Hopefully they'll be able to replace it, as the filter did leak during the post-brew rinse and clean.

Post-Brew Notes

04/08/2018:  The beer was brewed, yeast pitched, and temperature control configured.

04/09/2018:  Upon arrival in the basement, I noticed that the temperature controller was registering 64.5F as the wort temperature. That's much lower than the 71F I had configured. At this point I realized that was because I'd unplugged the heat wrap while configuring the controller. It had been set for a Saison that needed temps well outside this yeast's range, so I unplugged the heat wrap to prevent cooking the yeast. I just forgot to re-plug it.  I corrected that and ensured that the temperature was climbing back up to the 71F set point before going to bed.

04/14/2018:  The temperature control system has moved the temperature up to 80F to ensure that the beer finishes out its fermentation.  A sample taken from the fermenter showed that the beer is a bit sweet, which was not surprising given both the low bitterness level and the fact that the beer had not yet finished fermentation (and thus still had fermentable sugar in it).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Scottish 80 Shilling Revisited (v2.0)

An early bottle in need of more carbonation
Last year, I brewed my first Scottish 80 Shilling Ale, right before competition time. I thought it was a decent beer, though by far not the best I'd ever had, but it did poorly in competition.

This year, I am hoping to redeem myself with a new recipe.  I'm looking to hit all the BJCP flavor and aroma notes.  It should be a malt-forward beer with minimal esters. Hops should be present enough to balance the malt.  The malt itself can be rich, toasty, and caramelly.  Aroma should have low to medium maltiness, low to medium caramel, and some butterscotch is allowed. The best examples have a light fruitiness. They may have a low hop aroma, with English-style earthy, floral, citrus, and spice to it.  It should be clear, with a low to moderate creamy off-white head. The color should be pale copper to medium dark brown.


5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
2 ounces English Crystal Malt (60-75L)
2 ounces Roasted Barley
2 ounces Avangard Caramel Light Malt (8L)
2 ounces Melanoidin Malt
2 ounces (Quaker) Flaked Oats
0.3 ounces Horizon hops pellets @ 8.2% AA (60 min.)
0.5 ounces Bramling Cross hops pellets @ 6.5% AA (10 min.)
1 packet White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm (primarily to remove gluten)
3 gallons, plus 16 ounces, of Starting Water

According to the PicoBrew Recipe Crafter, the beer should have these characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.061 SG (14.4 Brix)
  • Final Gravity:  1.017 SG (8.5 Brix)
  • IBUs: 21
  • SRM: 18
  • Volume: 2.5 gallons
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • BU/GU: 0.33
After brewing, the actual measurements were:
  • Original Gravity: 1.059 SG (14.2 Brix)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 SG (7.9 Brix)
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • Volume-Adjusted IBUs: 30
  • Volume: 2.0 gallons
At the end of brewing, the keg held less than 2 gallons of wort at 17 Brix (which with my refractometer adjusts to about 1.072 SG). I diluted this with distilled water to get down to the intended range, but overdid it slightly. I ended up with an original gravity of 14.2 Brix or 1.059 SG. That's close enough for now.

The Edinburgh yeast likes a fermentation temperature range of 65-70F, so I configured the InkBird controller to hold 65F for three days, then 70F for ten days to ensure it finishes out. Given the large fermenter, cold ambient basement temperature, and small recipe volume, I don't think I will need cooling on this one. If it does get a bit hot, that may contribute some esters that could enhance the beer if not overdone.

Post-Brew Notes

I'm concerned that the roasted barley in the recipe could add a roasty note to the beer that takes it outside the style definition, but we'll have to see.  The mix of Crystal/Caramel and Melanoidin malts should deliver some malt complexity.  Hopefully the 10-minute addition of Bramling Cross contributes good flavors and not too much bitterness.  I'm hopeful that the oats will deliver a bit of body and mouth feel, since it always seems like my beers in this gravity range are thinner or better-attenuated than they should be.

During the brew, the Zymatic did generate a fair amount of foam, enough that there was a significant puddle on top of the tray but no significant spillage.

03/27/2018:  It's roughly 24 hours after brewing and I'm seeing no activity in the airlock. Then again, there is a lot of headspace, so there may not be much airlock activity to see.

04/7/2018:  Despite a lack of visible airlock activity, the beer appears to have finished fermentation. I now need to treat it with gelatin and then get it bottled. Final gravity is registering as 7.9 Brix, which BeerSmith is calculating (after adjustment for my refractometer) to be 1.014 SG and an ABV of 5.7%.  In 3-4 days I plan to bottle with carbonation drops.

04/11/2018:  The beer is looking nicely clear, so I decided to bottle it.  I ended up with about 14.5 bottles (12-ounce variety) of this one.  I harvested the yeast for future re-use.  The aroma has a hint of butterscotch to it, and the flavor seems pretty good, too.  There is a nice malty backdrop with just enough hops to balance it, but it's not hop forward. The bottles were placed in a 76F "hot box" to condition.  In about ten days, I hope to try the first sample.

04/14/2018:  Having not paid attention to the bottling date for this beer, I opened a bottle today to check on it.  It wasn't very carbonated yet, which makes sense with only three days in the bottle.  Ignoring the relative lack of carbonation, here's how I'd score it if I were a BJCP judge:

  • Aroma (7/12):  Caramel, butterscotch, and malt come through. The fruity and hoppy aromas present in some 80 Shilling ales aren't visible here.
  • Appearance (3/3):  Assuming it carbonates well later, it has a nice coppery color with a beige head. It's fairly clear but not crystal clear.  It looks like I expect a good 80 Shilling to look.
  • Flavor (15/20):  It has a good combination of caramel and roasted malts, balanced against the hops, which provide a subtle fruity note to it as well. 
  • Mouthfeel (4/5):  It's medium bodied, with a really silky texture from the oats. In fact, the oats might make it seem to have a bit more body than it should.
  • Overall Impression (8/10):  In terms of appearance, flavor, and mouthfeel, this beer hits most of the notes we'd expect it to.  Aroma could be improved, perhaps with a more expressive yeast. Body could perhaps be a little thinner, by reducing the oats. Still, though, it's a good representation of the style.
  • Total Score:  37/50 (Very Good)

This beer is much better than last year's version, though I do see room for improvement. I'm thinking next time around I will dial back the oats and try using Lallemand ESB yeast, which worked well in an earlier version of my ESB. The yeast gave it the fruity note in the aroma that this beer lacks. I might also try putting a small amount of Bramling Cross at the end of the boil to give it a little of the aroma from that hop variety.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Cloning Georgetown Manny's Pale Ale - Part 2

My first attempt to clone this beer was a dismal failure.  For this version, I decided to dig through the clone recipes I could find online. As with many clone recipes you encounter, most of them contained no images of the finished beer, no indication of whether the beer had ever been brewed, and no reviews indicating how it compared to the original.

I finally settled on a recipe on one of the home brew forums which did actually have tasting notes under it, from someone who had reportedly done a side-by-side test against the real beer.  I had all the ingredients on hand and put them to work last night.


4 pounds 2-row Pale Malt (75% of the grist)
12 ounces of Crystal 40L Malt (14% of the grist)
2 ounces of Crystal 60L Malt (2%, because I had some lying around to use up)
7 ounces Cara-pils/Dextrine Malt (8% of the grist)
0.3 ounces of Summit hops @ 16.7% AA (60 min.)
0.25 ounces of Cascade hops @ 6.9% AA (15 min.)
0.45 ounces of Cascade hops @ 6.9% AA (5 min.)
1 ounce of Cascade hops (dry hop, 5 days)
3 gallons, 16 ounces of starting water
Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale yeast (from a previous batch)

PicoBrew's recipe crafter says this will yield a beer with the following qualities:
  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.056 SG
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
  • IBUs: 38
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
After brewing, the characteristics were:
  • Actual Original Gravity: 13.1 Brix or 1.054 SG after wort correction factor
  • Batch Size: 2.3 gallons
I used the High-Efficiency Mash profile with the Zymatic, and a 60-minute boil.

While adding the hops to the hops baskets, I added three pellets of Summit to the two late additions to help increase the Summit flavor contribution and increase the bitterness a little.

After the beer finished brewing, it was chilled rapidly with an immersion chiller and pitched into a sanitized stainless fermenter.  A while later, some yeast left from a previous batch was pitched into the fermenter and it was sealed shut.

Brewing Notes

03/16/2018:  Apart from slightly undershooting gravity and volume, the brew went as planned. The color seemed like it might be a little dark in the fermenter perhaps due to the 60L, but that can change after yeast activity consumes some of the sugars.  I'll be back in a few days to report anything worth sharing.

03/19/2018:  Tonight I pulled a sample from the fermenter for a gravity test. It registered 6.3 Brix, which is roughly half the original gravity. Since it's likely that this means we're near the end of primary fermentation, I added a generous dry-hopping of Cascade hops to the fermenter. There was still some krausen visible inside, so I think I chose the right time to dry-hop it. The sample tasted much more like a pale ale than v1.0 did.

03/24/2018:  I bottled the beer today, directly from the fermenter. Yield was 23.5 bottles of the 12-ounce size. The rest of the fermenter was a solid cake of yeast and trub. A sample taken before bottling registered 6.3 Brix as it did five days ago. The hop aroma was noticeable, a mix of pine and grapefruit, as we'd expect for Cascade dry hops.  I primed each bottle with a Coopers Carbonation Drop and two small carbonation tablets.  I placed the bottles in a 76F "hot box" to complete carbonation.  It should be ready to taste on Easter day.

03/29/2018:  I decided to chill a bottle and see how it's coming along.  Below are two images. The image with the bottle and the extra-thick head is my brew. The bottom image in the Manny's Pale Ale glass is the real beer. There's perhaps a little more reddish color to the real beer, but they aren't too far off.  Having not had the real beer, all I can really tell you is how this one is.  The color is a hazy reddish amber with thick beige head that lasts a while. The aroma is a mix of grapefruit, orange, and pine.  The flavor starts moderately bitter, with a bit of malt behind it and hints of orange and other citrus.

Image borrowed from since I can't get the beer locally

04/03/2018:  The family member who loved Manny's Pale Ale said that he liked this one a lot, but that he felt it was "malty".  I take this to mean that either I need to lower the mash temperature a bit (to reduce sweetness) or reduce the amount of caramel malt used.  He also felt it was overcarbonated, and it probably is.  Next time around, I'll drop the Caramel 60L and reduce the 40L by a couple of ounces. I'll also drop the mash temperature by a degree or two, and perhaps dry-hop with some Summit as well.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Kentucky Common 1.0 (Bluegrass State Ale)

My first Kentucky Common Ale
I read about the Kentucky Common ale style, and saw a presentation from the American Homebrewing Association about it online.  This is a pre-Prohibition era beer predominantly made in the Louisville, Kentucky, area.  It featured a significant amount of corn in the grist, along with six-row pale malt, and just enough specialty malts to darken to an amber or brown color. It used a mix of American and European hops, and a clean fermenting yeast.  Traditionally, it was served fresh and not stored long enough for refrigeration to be an issue.

I crafted my own recipe for it based on the guidelines referenced by the Beer Judge Certification Program and the American Homebrewing Association and brewed it today.


4 pounds six-row Pale Malt
2.5 pounds Flaked Corn
1 ounce Black Prinz malt
2 ounces Caramel/Crystal 80L malt
0.30 ounces Horizon hops @ 8.2% AA (60 min.)
0.50 ounces Cluster hops @ 7.2% AA (15 min.)
0.50 ounces Czech Saaz hops @ 3.0% AA (5 min.)
1 packet Fermentis Safale US-05 ale yeast
1/8 tsp. yeast nutrient
1/8 tsp. Super Irish Moss
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
Starting water: 3 gallons, 22 ounces

According to the PicoBrew recipe crafter, the beer should have the following characteristics:
  • Original Gravity: 1.070 SG (but I planned to dilute it to 1.055 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • IBUs: 24
  • SRM: 12
  • ABV: 7.8%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
This is well outside the alcohol level for the style (5.5% max), so I planned to dilute it after brewing to be within the guidelines and increase the batch size. My target for the batch was an original gravity of 13.2 Brix or 1.055 SG, within the Kentucky Common guidelines.

My actual gravity was 13.2 Brix (which for my refractometer's setting is 1.055 SG) and my volume was approximately 3.4 gallons once diluted with sterile distilled water.  

Brew Notes

03/04/2018:  I had rinsed the Zymatic the day before, after brewing and later deep-cleaning it.  I performed multiple rinses and had forgotten to remove the final rise water from the step filter before brewing. Because of this, the mash water volume pretty much hit the maximum amount the step filter could hold without overflowing.  Despite that, the beer's gravity after brewing hit the 1.070 SG target expected by the recipe crafter software.  Diluting that down to 13.2 Brix or about 1.055 SG took most of a gallon of sterile, distilled water.

I chilled the wort down to 68F and pitched the dry US-05 yeast on top of it.  I sealed the fermenter and left it to its own.  Given the small amount of wort and the ambient basement temperatures this time of year, temperature control shouldn't be necessary.  Worst case, moving the beer to a cooler corner of the basement should provide enough cooling (I proved that with an earlier lager brew).

03/11/2018:  The fermentation appears to be over, so I treated the beer with gelatin and moved it to a secure outdoor location so that the "near refrigeration" outdoor temperatures could help clear up the beer, as I am hoping to enter it into competition soon.  With 3-6 days in the cold, the gelatin should brighten it up nicely.

03/16/2018:  I brought the beer back indoors to warm up a bit before bottling.  Took a final gravity reading, which the refractometer measured as 6.9 Brix.  After conversion to SG and adjustment for the wort correction factor, that's 1.010 SG, meaning that the beer reached an ABV of 5.9%.

03/17/2018:  The beer has been bottled, using carbonation drops for priming. The BJCP notes for the style indicate that this is a "highly carbonated" beer, so for the first half of the batch I used a large Coopers carbonation drop and two smaller carbonation tablets.  After noticing a lot of foaming in the bottle for that first half, I was concerned that the residual carbonation in the beer might be higher than expected (resulting in bottle bombs), so I bottled the second half with only a single large carbonation drop. I marked the batch with the extra small tablets to identify those bottles later.

03/28/2018:  I opened a chilled bottle tonight. As you can see in the photo at the start of this post, the beer is a deep coppery brown color with a finger-thick head that lasts a while and leaves behind rings of beige lacing.  The aroma is definitely malt-forward with a clear sweetness.  The color may be a little too dark for the style.  It's slightly hazy, but almost clear enough to read through.  The flavor is malty, slightly sweet, but with enough hops to keep it from being cloying. The finish is clean and malty. It's definitely in the medium-body category, too.  All of this, except perhaps the darker color, is in line with the BJCP guidelines.  It's a very easy to drink beer.  I'm definitely planning to enter it into competition.

04/09/2018:  Three bottles of the beer were left at Barley's Ale House for their annual home brewing competition. I should have the results in a couple of weeks.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Cloning Coniston's Old Man Ale v1.0

Much darker than the real beer, below
While out to dinner at a local tavern, I had the opportunity to try Coniston's Old Man Ale.  I found it to be an enjoyable and slightly tart brown ale.

Looking online, I couldn't find a clone recipe, so I decided to see if I could create my own.

The brewery's web site gives the following clues:
  • Malt:  Roasted Barley, Crystal, and Pale Ale Malts
  • Hops: Challenger and Mount Hood
  • ABV: 4.2%
  • Description:  "A radically different beer... it has roast barley added to the pale and crystal malts. It has a deep burnished copper color, a rich port wine aroma, a big chocolate and creamy malt palate and a dry, grainy, roasty finish balanced by hop bitterness and tart fruit. It is a remarkably complex beer that deepens and changes as you sup it."
The Beer of the Month Club says that you should drink it at 58F or you miss a lot of the nuance.  They describe it as "extremely toasty, crackery, with fruity notes favoring orange tones, but grounded in a robust earthiness."  Another web site suggested that the "Pale Ale Malt" referenced on Coniston's site was actually Maris Otter, so I may try that in a future version if this doesn't work out.

With all of this in mind, I came up with the following first crack at a recipe and brewed it today.


3.75 pounds Two-row Pale Malt
1 ounce Roasted Barley Malt
12 ounces Crystal 80L
0.30 ounces Challenger hops @ 6.8% AA (60 min.)
0.20 ounces Mount Hood hops @ 5.6% AA (15 min.)
0.20 ounces Challenger hops @ 6.8% AA (15 min.)
0.40 ounces Challenger hops @6.8% AA (5 min.)
0.35 ounces Mount Hood hops @ 5.6% AA (5 min.)
1 packet White Labs WLP023 Burton Ale yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
3 gallons plus 16 ounces starting water in Zymatic keg

The Picobrew recipe crafter estimates the following characteristics:

  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.049 SG (actual was 1.052 SG or 12.5 Brix)
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
  • IBUs: 26
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (2.5 gallons actual)
  • 60-minute boil
  • High-efficiency mash profile
Actual measurements post-brewing were:

  • Actual Original Gravity: 1.052 SG or 12.5 Brix
  • Actual Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • ABV: 5.5%

In retrospect, I probably should have gone with Maris Otter for the Pale Malt, but that didn't occur to me at the time.  If I re-brew this, I'll go that route.  I chose Crystal 80L because it fits in somewhere between British Medium and Dark Crystal malts. Since one of the descriptions I read said that Crystal was added for color, a darker malt seemed more appropriate.

Challenger is a dual-purpose hop, used for both bittering and aroma, so I decided to leverage it throughout the boil.  Mount Hood is more an aroma hop, so I added it nearer the end of the boil to allow it to serve that purpose.  It wasn't a particularly bitter beer, so I went for enough hops to fit into the middle of the English Brown Ale BJCP range, but no more.

Brewing Notes

3/1/2018:  I loaded the Zymatic step filter and keg, then started it brewing.  There was a bit of foaming on top of the step filter lid, but no wort made it into the drip tray or onto the table.  

The brew yielded about 2.3 gallons of beer at a much higher gravity than the recipe crafter estimated, so I added some distilled water to bring it to the full 2.5 gallon batch size. Even at that, the gravity was higher than expected.

I pitched the wort, the full packet of yeast, and Clarity Ferm into a sanitized fermenter and sealed it up. I then went about cleaning the Zymatic, including running a deep clean session.  During the rinse cycle, it became clear that one of the hoses is dripping.  I've reached out to Picobrew for assistance as the hose clamps used are an unfamiliar type that requires a crimping tool I don't own - so tightening them is probably not an option.

3/2/2018:  About 26 hours after pitching the yeast, airlock activity was taking place. The thermometer showed that the beer was below the yeast's ideal fermentation range, so I attached temperature control to keep it at or above the low end of the range for days 1-3, then push it toward the upper end after that to ensure it finishes out completely.

3/11/2018:  Today, my wife and I bottled the beer directly from the fermenter, priming each bottle with a Cooper's Carbonation Drop to ensure a consistent and mild level of carbonation. Yield was 24 bottles. The room temperature, uncarbonated beer seems well-balanced, with a hint of roasty grain and chocolate to it. I'm hopeful that it will be even better carbonated.  It should be ready to do a taste test on March 18.

3/17/2018:  I opened a bottle today to sample. The carbonation seemed a bit low, which was disappointing. The flavor, however, was excellent. It reminds me more of a Foreign Extra Stout than the Old Man Ale I was aiming for.  While being reminiscent of the Coniston beer, it was not tart as I recall that beer being.  This one is also considerably darker in color than the actual Coniston beer.  That said, although it's not a very good clone of Old Man Ale, it's actually a very tasty beer and one I'll likely brew again.

Actual bottle of Coniston's Old Man Ale (note reddish brown color)

To get the beer closer to the original, my plan for next time is to replace the Pale Malt with Maris Otter, switch to a lighter Crystal malt, and see if I can get the color down into the SRM 12-14 range to get closer to the actual beer's color.  I'm currently thinking something like 3 pounds and 2 ounces of Maris Otter, 6 ounces of Light Crystal (or Crystal 60L if I can't get that), and the ounce of roasted barley.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Salsbury's ESB v1.2

Looks a bit darker here than it really is
My last Extra Special Bitter (ESB) used continual hopping with Styrian Goldings. This version abandons that (primarily because the Zymatic can't simulate it) in favor of four hop additions.  This version also includes an ounce of Special B to bump up the malt complexity slightly. I'll also use Wyeast Thames Valley Ale Yeast this time around because I'm already using half the package for the Manny's Pale Ale clone I'm brewing and it'll shave a little off the cost of this batch. According to Wyeast's web site, this is an appropriate ESB yeast.  I've also decided to add a few pellets of East Kent Goldings to bring a little bit of a familiar flavor to the beer without overwhelming it.


3.5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
10 ounces Crystal 40L
7 ounces Crystal 60L
5 ounces Crystal 10L
5 ounces Victory malt
1 ounce Special B
0.30 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (60 min.)
2 pellets East Kent Goldings @ 5.3% AA (60 min.)
0.30 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (30 min.)
3 pellets East Kent Goldings (30 min.)
0.55 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (15 min.)
5-6 pellets East Kent Goldings (15 min.)
0.55 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (5 min.)
5-6 pellets East Kent Goldings (5 min.)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/2 packet White Labs Thames Valley Ale 1275 yeast

The PicoBrew recipe crafter suggests that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.055 SG
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
  • IBUs: 33
  • SRM: 17
  • ABV: 5.1%
  • Starting Water: 3.12 gallons
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
Actual results post-brewing were:
  • Actual Original Gravity: 11.1 Brix (adjusts to 1.046 SG, 9 points below expected gravity)
  • Actual Final Gravity: 1.002 SG
  • Batch Size: 2.3 to 2.4 gallons
  • ABV: 5.1%
Brewing Notes

The brew went according to plan, though the grain bed did not get completely soaked. The edges in the front and back on the left-hand side remained dry. Despite that, gravity came out fairly close to the expected number and the volume was closer than I've often been with the Zymatic.

I pitched half of the yeast in the Pale Ale and the other half in the ESB.  I also pitched half of a vial of Clarity Ferm into each beer, to remove the gluten and help reduce chill haze.

After brewing this batch, I re-read the Zymatic manual on the subject of cleaning. I ran two full rinse cycles through the machine, washed the step filter, and re-read the manual on the subject of cleaning. I removed the posts from the keg to find that they were badly soiled. I removed them, disassembled them, and cleaned them well with PBW. After rinsing them, I reassembled them and the were good as new.  The dip tubes were also cleaned.  I'm ashamed to admit that I missed that part of the cleaning process in the manual.  That explains some of the trouble the system seemed to be having flowing wort in and out during the brew.

02/28/2018:  After a couple of evenings of the airlock on the fermenter appearing totally still, tonight there is some bubbling from the airlock.  When you place just over 2 gallons in a 7.5 gallon fermenter, it takes a while for the yeast to generate enough CO2 to cause airlock activity.

03/02/2018:  I've kept the beer in a cooler part of the basement in lieu of temperature control. The thermometer has shown it staying down in the lower 60's despite airlock activity being visible now. A sample pulled from the fermenter was a little sulfury by not very sugary, indicating that fermentation is moving along nicely.

03/05/2018:  The airlock activity has been non-existent for a couple of days, so I have dosed the beer with gelatin finings and moved it into my mini-fridge to cold crash for a few days before bottling.

03/10/2018:  The beer was bottled today, using 1.5 ounces of corn sugar. Yield was 24 twelve-ounce bottles. The bottles were placed in a 72F "hot box" for conditioning.  Final gravity registered 4.75 Brix on my refractometer. Given the OG, BeerSmith calculates that the beer finished at 5.7% ABV and claims the FG is 1.002 SG.  It should be ready to taste test on March 18.

03/17/2018:  I poured a bottle of the beer to try it out. There was a strong diacetyl aroma to it, but the flavor was otherwise fine. I will need to give this beer more time to condition, so that (hopefully) the yeast will clean up this buttery aroma.

03/29/2018:  I opened another bottle tonight. It poured a nice deep copper color with finger-thick beige head that lasted quite a while and left some spotty lacing in the glass. The aroma is primarily malty with a touch of herbal hops.  The flavor starts with a mild hop bitterness, which gives way to a malt-filled middle that mixes hints of biscuit, slightly toasty, and a hint of caramel and plum. The mouthfeel is medium bodied.  For my taste, it's a touch too dry and bitter, but not extremely so. The diacetyl I detected in the earlier tasting is gone now. I need to do a side-by-side with v1.1 to see whether I want to take v1.1 or v1.2 into competition.

04/07/2018:  It occurred to me why the beer seems too bitter. The hopping was based on a final volume of 2.5 gallons, but the Zymatic rarely produces a batch that high. When you recalculate the IBUs based on the actual yield of 2.3 to 2.4 gallons, the bitterness rises from 33 IBUs to over 47 IBUS. This is still within the BJCP guidelines for the style, but only barely.  This implies that I need to revamp my hopping in future to assume a 2.3 gallon batch in order to avoid over-bittering.

04/09/2018:  Three bottles of the beer were left at Barley's Ale House for their annual home brewing competition. I should have the results in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cloning Georgetown Manny's Pale Ale

The real Manny's Pale Ale from
Georgetown Brewing in Seattle
One of my relatives spent time in Seattle and fell in love with Georgetown Brewing's Manny's Pale Ale. Now that he is here in Central Ohio, he can't get the beer anymore. I thought it would be nice to try to brew a clone of the beer for him.

I started with a visit to the Georgetown web site, which yielded the following information:
  • 2-row Pale malt and Caramel malt are used
  • Summit and Cascade hops are used
  • Original gravity is 1.051 SG
  • Final gravity is 1.009 SG
  • ABV is 5.4%
  • IBU rating is: 38
  • English Ale yeast is used
For the next step, I formulated a tentative recipe based on the image of the beer on their web site and the above information. I asked the brewery by email if the brewers would offer any advice.  All I learned was that they recommended using the Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale yeast.

Searching on the web, there are various forum posts out there that suggest possible clone recipes which include:
  • 80% 2-row Pale, 10% Caramel 60L, and 10% Cara-Pils - with a 20% hopping of Summit at 25 minutes, 40% Cascade at 10 minutes, 40% Cascade at 0 min, and dry hopping with Cascade
  • 76% 2-row Pale, 8% Cara-pils, 8% Caramel 40L, and 8% Caramel 20L - with all hopping in the last 20 minutes of the boil
  • 75% 2-row Pale, 17% Caramel 40L, 8% Cara-Pils - with Summit used as a first wort hop and Cascade added at 15, 5, and 2 minutes
  • 86% 2-row Pale, 5% Cara-pils, 10% Caramel 60L - with Summit at 60 minutes and Cascade at 15 and 5 minutes, plus Cascade as a dry hop
  • 85% 2-row Pale, 9% British Crystal 55L, 6% Cara-pils - with Magnum at 60 minutes, Cascade at 15 minutes and 1 minute, plus Cascade as a dry hop
  • 91% 2-row, 7% Caramel 40L, and 2% Cara-pils - with Cascade hops at 15 and 5 minutes
Assuming that these are in the ballpark of the actual recipe, we get a grain bill something like this:
  • 75-91% 2-row Pale Malt
  • 7-16% Caramel Malt, some combination of 20L, 40L, 55L, and/or 60L
  • 2-10% Cara-Pils (although it looks like Georgetown may have used this in the past, they probably do not today since it's not listed as an ingredient now)
On the hops side, the consensus seems to be that Summit or Magnum hops was either used at the start of the boil or at the 25 minute mark, with Cascade used later in the boil and for dry-hopping.

With this analysis as the basis, I formulated my first-guess recipe.


4.5 pounds of 2-row Pale Ale Malt (86% of the grist)
12 ounces of Caramel 60L Malt (14% of the grist)
0.45 ounces of Summit @ 16.7% AA (25 minutes)
0.30 ounces of Cascade @ 5.3% AA (15 minutes)
0.30 ounces of Cascade @ 5.3% AA (5 minutes)
1.00 ounces of Cascade dry-hopping for 3-4 days
1 packet of Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley yeast
3 gallons plus 16 ounces of starting water
1/2 tsp. Gypsum in the starting water

The Zymatic recipe crafter suggests that the finished beer will have these qualities:
  • Original gravity: 1.056 SG (vs. 1.051 for the real beer)
  • Final gravity: 1.015 SG (vs. 1.009 for the real beer)
  • SRM: 12 (slightly outside the BJCP guidelines of 7-10 SRM)
  • ABV: 5.4% (same as the real beer)
  • IBUs: 38 (same as the real beer)
  • Volume: 2.5 gallons
  • High efficiency mash profile
I decided to add the Summit late in the boil so that I could increase its flavor contribution without overshooting the target bitterness level.  Adding gypsum should also help to punch up the hops flavor.  

Brew Day Notes

I measured the ingredients and loaded them into the Zymatic, then powered it on and got it started brewing. About 5 minutes into the process, our Internet connection inexplicably dropped. When it did, the Zymatic shut down and waited for me to tell it that the Internet was back.  I found this rather annoying. It should have downloaded and held the brewing program, so it should have been able to tolerate a missing Internet connection for a few minutes. I would have been fine with losing the temperature data and status information it collects - but not so happy losing a batch of ingredients.

After resolving the Internet connection and restarting the brew process on the Zymatic, it continued with the Dough In process.

Near the end of the boil, the machine made some slurping noises that seemed to indicate a clog. I ran several rinse cycles after the brew, which pushed out bits of "gunk" that probably were associated with the clog. After that, it seemed to behave fine.

The original gravity measured 13.0 Brix, which (after adjustment) works out to 1.054 SG. That's within two points of the estimated 1.056 SG that the recipe software predicted.  The wort was chilled to yeast-safe temps, treated with Clarity Ferm, and the yeast pitched into it.  Since there was enough yeast to consider doing a second beer, I brewed my ESB after that so I could split the yeast between the two beers.

02/28/2018:  After a couple of evenings of the airlock on the fermenter appearing totally still, tonight there is some bubbling from the airlock.  When you place just over 2 gallons in a 7.5 gallon fermenter, it takes a while for the yeast to generate enough CO2 to cause airlock activity.

03/02/2018:  I've kept the beer in a cooler part of the basement in lieu of temperature control. The thermometer has shown it staying down in the lower 60's despite airlock activity being visible now. A sample pulled from the fermenter was a little sulfury and a bit sweet, implying that the yeast still has a bit of work to do.

03/11/2018:  Today, my wife and I bottled the beer using Cooper's Carbonation Drops for priming sugar to ensure a consistent level of carbonation across the batch. The beer already has a decent flavor, though if I had dry-hopped it as I originally intended, I think it could be better still.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and I didn't have a chance to drop in the dry hops until fermentation had finished - which runs the risk of oxidation.  The refractometer registered a final gravity of 6.1 Brix, which BeerSmith says is a final gravity of 1.005 SG and an alcohol content of 5.7%.  The beer should be ready for taste testing on March 18.

03/15/2018:  Taking a bottle of the beer out of the hot box and chilling it, I was disappointed to discover that despite the recipe creator showing a color comparable to pictures of the real Manny's Pale Ale, this beer is considerably darker - a deep brown in fact. It's nothing like a pale ale.  Although drinkable and pleasant, I consider the recipe a failure and will be brewing a 2.0 version ASAP.

As you can see below, it's almost a dark copper color. Flavor is fairly caramel-forward with hops in the background - nothing like a pale ale should be.  It's a drinkable beer, for sure, but not a good one.

This is definitely NOT a pale ale