Sunday, July 29, 2018

Scottish 80 Shilling v3.0

Although I liked my first two Scottish 80 Shilling Ales, judges in the competitions I entered them into decidedly did not. The second actually scored worse on average than the first, despite the fact that it incorporated feedback from the judges of the first recipe. This time around, I decided to build my own recipe after having a look at the BJCP criteria for the style and the ingredients it recommends.

Ingredients

4.5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
4 ounces British Crystal Malt (60-70L)
2 ounces Caramel Light (8L) Malt
2 ounces Melanoidin Malt
4 ounces Flaked Corn
2 ounces Special B Malt
1 ounce Roasted Barley
0.35 ounces Horizon hops pellets @ 8.2% AA (60 min.)
0.25 ounces Bramling Cross hops pellets @ 6.5% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient at 15 min.
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the Mash
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in at 15 min.
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss at 10 min.
1 packet White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
3 gallons, 16 ounces filtered tap water in keg as starting water

The Zymatic Recipe Crafter provides the following estimated characteristics for the finished beer:
  • BJCP Style: 14.C Scottish Export
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (actual was approximately 2.25 gallons)
  • Original Gravity: 1.059 SG (actual was 1.057 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
  • IBUs: 20
  • SRM: 18
  • ABV: 5.5%
The mash schedule was configured based on the Zymatic High-Efficiency Mash Profile, but modified to increase the body and hopefully the unfermentable sugars:
  • Dough In: 102F for 20 minutes
  • Mash Step 1: 154F for 30 minutes
  • Mash Step 2: 156F for 60 minutes
  • Mash Out: 175F for 10 minutes
The boil schedule was configured to the following:
  • 90 minutes: Pre-hop boil
  • 60 minutes: Horizon hops
  • 15 minutes: Brewtan B and Yeast Nutrient
  • 10 minutes: Irish Moss and Bramling Cross hops
  • 0 minutes: Chill to yeast-safe temperature
The plan is to leverage my new BrewJacket fermentation temperature control setup for this batch, keeping the wort temperature at 68F (in the middle of the Edinburgh yeast's 65-70F optimum range) for the first 7-10 days of fermentation. If the final gravity has not been reached by that time, increase to 70F and hold there until final gravity is reached - or until the gravity has held constant for at least 3 days.

After that, I'll bottle with carbonation drops and condition for 7-10 days at ambient basement temperature (68F this time of year) until carbonated.

Brew Notes and Observations

07/29/2018: Despite my best efforts to get the recent Zymatic errors sorted out, the system has continued to have trouble. Generally speaking, any time the Zymatic has to heat wort by more than a few degrees, it seems to generate the dreaded "Fatal Error #1" which implies that the temperature of the heat loop is 50F higher than the temperature of the wort itself. This is generally thought to imply that there is a clog somewhere in the lines that prevents the wort from flowing smoothly past the heat loop, thus causing the heat loop to be much hotter than the wort. Rather than burn up the components inside the Zymatic, the computer throws the Fatal Error code and stops the brew immediately. Unfortunately, I could not find a problem. The keg posts were clear of debris and clean. The in-line filter was also clean. Water seemed to be flowing through the system well when I set it to recirculate. After a few attempts, I got it to Dough In. Then it generated the Fatal Error again. After a few more attempts, I got it through the mash and boil process. According to the information kept by the PicoBrew site itself, it took seven tries to get the beer brewed this time around.

Original gravity came in two points below the expected gravity, which is pretty close... close enough that I didn't try to adjust it. Volume came in low, as it usually does, somewhere around 2.25 gallons rather than 2.5 gallons. After chilling with the immersion chiller for about 8 minutes, the wort was down to 77F. At that point, I transferred it to the sanitized fermenter with the Clarity Ferm and put the BrewJacket to work chilling it down to 68F before I pitched the yeast. (I'll cover the BrewJacket in more detail in a future post, but don't want to talk much about it until I feel like I have a good enough impression of its pros and cons.) By about 11pm, the wort temperature hit 68F and I pitched the yeast.

Gravity 1.057 SG, Temperature 68F

07/30/2018: Nearly 24 hours later and no change in gravity or temperature. Removing the airlock and peering inside, it was clear that the yeast did not start fermenting. I opened a package of Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast and added it to the wort. At that time, gravity registered 1.058 SG at 68F.

07/31/2018: Fermentation kicked off pretty strongly around midnight after the yeast was pitched. By 8pm, gravity was down to around 1.032 SG.

08/01/2018: Gravity is down to around 1.020 SG now. That works out to apparent attenuation of 64.9% and 4.86% ABV.  The yeast can reportedly attenuate 73-77%.  I raised the fermentation temperature to 68.5F to help get the yeast through the last of the sugar. I am debating raising it to 72F and rousing the yeast by swirling the fermenter a bit, to see if I can get it down to my intended 1.017 SG final gravity.

08/02/2018: Today the gravity has dropped to 1.017 SG. That's 70.18% apparent attenuation and 5.25% ABV. Temperature has held at 72F since I set it there last night.

08/03/2018: The gravity is now 1.017 SG. That's 71.93% apparent attenuation and 5.38% ABV. I reduced the temperature to 71F, and plan to reduce it to ambient temperature.

08/04/2018: Gravity has been at the 1.017 SG target since around 10pm on August 2. Tomorrow I'll give it a dose of gelatin and cold crash it before bottling.

08/12/2018:  Gravity has been holding at 1.016 SG for some time. I lowered the temperature to 50F and held it there for several days. Today, I bloomed a teaspoon of gelatin and heated it to 155-160F before adding it to the fermenter. I placed the fermenter inside the mini-fridge to allow the gelatin to get the beer nice and clear. I'm expecting to bottle it next week.

09/04/2018: I opened a bottle today to have a taste. The photo at the top of the post is the actual bottle used for these notes. Below are my tasting notes, in roughly BJCP format:

  • Aroma (7/12): Malt-forward, with strong caramel notes, and a touch of butterscotch. Could use a touch of pome fruit and a hint of English hop aroma, which would bring it closer to a 12/12.
  • Flavor (15/20): Malty, with a hint of roastiness, some toffee, and a touch of dark fruit. A very subtle butterscotch note comes through as well. Balanced bitterness, allowing the malt to shine through. Some fruity esters would push it toward 20/20.
  • Appearance (3/3): Bright, coppery, with a thin off-white head. The head is nice and creamy but does not last that long, and leaves behind no lacing. Looks as good as any true Scottish-made ale I've seen.
  • Mouthfeel (5/5): Medium-bodied, creamy, and smooth. Exactly what I want from the style.
  • Overall (8/10): I'm very pleased with this one. The appearance is exactly what I wanted from it, a nice coppery brown. I'd like to see the head linger a bit more, but it's good as-is. The flavor is complex, starting a bit caramelly, followed by a touch of sweetness and a roasty note, with a hint of dark fruit and butterscotch near the finish. Finish is roasty and complex. 
  • Total score: 35/50
What would I change next time around? Here are my initial thoughts:
  • Replace some of the Maris Otter with Carapils. In my experience, the combination of Carapils and Melanoidin makes for a creamy, long-lasting head. That would make the beer's appearance (to my taste anyway) dead-on perfect. Maybe 4 pounds of Maris Otter and a half-pound of Carapils malt in place of 4.5 pounds of Maris Otter.
  • Evaluate other yeasts and hops. To really nail the BJCP criteria for this style, it needs a bit of pome fruit (apple, pear, and/or quince) in both the aroma and flavor. Some of this could come from the choice of hop and/or the choice of yeast, as some yeasts give off an apple aroma. I'm thinking Mangrove Jack Burton Ale or White Labs WLP023 Burton Ale might add a pear note.
  • Late-hopping for some English hop aroma. The BJCP criteria talk about pome fruit, earthy, citrus, floral, or spicy aromas in the best examples. I'm considering Challenger, First Gold, Progress, or another UK variety.
I'm hoping some combination of these changes will take the beer over the 40/50 scoring line.

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