Archive for October, 2008

On tap now and slipping down like a dream. I intended to wait until around Bonfire Night before cracking this one open, but a couple of friends came over for Sunday lunch and so it was the right time to give it a go.

Because it’s a new style to me, achieved what I wanted and is made from Fuggles grown in my own garden, I’d say this was definitely my most satisfying brew to date. Also it will inevitably become Boxshed’s definitive dark ale, and I’ll be knocking up another batch as soon as I can get my hands on some new malt stocks. Yum.


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This golden ale was brewed back at the end of April and was an experiment in making a pale malt only, single hop beer for summer supping. It turned out very succesful and was probably the most popular beer I have made to date. Consequently it didn’t last very long at all! The East Kent Goldings were a bargain from Barley Bottom and were the making of the brew. So here’s the rather long winded recipe, as recorded by me at the time:

EKG Sunray
Brew Type: All Grain
Date: 23/04/2008
Style: English Special
Batch Size: 23.00 L
Boil Volume: 32.00 L
Boil Time: 120 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %

4.50 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (5.9 EBC) Grain 94.7 %
0.25 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 5.3 %

65.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.60%] (120 min) Hops 38.6 IBU
35.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.60%] (15 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)

Whirlfloc Tablet (15 min)
1 Pkgs SafAle US (Fermentis #US-05) Yeast

Batch Sparge
Mash Grain Weight: 4.75 kg Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Grain Temperature: 13.0 C
Mash In Add 11.75 L of water at 75.0 C 65.6 C 90 min
Step Add 9.95 L of water at 80.1 C 71.6 C 10 min
Step Add 16.00 L of water at 80.1 C 75.0 C 10 min

Beer Profile
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.043 SG (1.039-1.045 SG)
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.013 SG (1.009-1.014 SG)
Estimated Color: 8.9 EBC (11.8-27.6 EBC)
Bitterness: 38.6 IBU (20.0-45.0 IBU)
Alpha Acid Units: 1.7 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 4.0 % (3.7-4.8 %)

Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Kegged (Forced CO2)
Kegging Temperature: 13.0 C
Age for: 4.0 Weeks
Storage Temperature: 11.0 C

I doubt I’ll be rushing to do a two hour boil anytime soon, but Marc Ollosson had reccomended so in his similar recipes like Premium Pale, 100% Satisfaction and Styrian Stunner and I like his book a lot. Apparently a longer boil can give the beer better keeping qualities, but I don’t know that it makes much difference in a 4% ale, really.

It all went very well , although it was a bit epic. I managed to collect 24 litres at 1.044 with no mishaps, and the boiler in which I had just replaced the element worked just perfectly with a new hop strainer despite a lot of seeds.

I even had enough time to mess about filming the boil while 6Music played a favourite track:



I chilled to 25c then transferred immediately. Ideally I now know I should have let the bed settle for a while longer, but I figured I would skim any dirty break over the US-05 after a couple of days anyway, and that turned out to be the case. It got down to just over 1.010 after a week, although it was supposed to finish around 1.013. So having flown past the expected FG I decided to move this into secondary on its eighth day of fermentation. My plan was to give it a full week to settle out and then take another look. It smelled fresh and hoppy and was a glowing pale amber colour which went very well with its Sunray name.

I managed to get 19L of good bright beer into my last and most battered Corni unprimed and purged with CO2, plus five full bottles, also nice and bright but primed with half a tsp glucose each for gentle carbonation. A friend gave me nine really sturdy 660ml swingtop Fischer bottles he had been storing for some years in his chicken shed. I gave them several rounds of thorough cleaning and sanitising and they came up really nicely with good seals. One of the bottles stayed with me as a control, the other four went back to the original owner full up, as thanks for the donation! I was quite jealous actually, the bottles looked really promising and could be chilled more readily than a keg.

This brew turned out very well and tasted as good as any of the new commercial golden ales I drank over the summer, so I was very pleased. Here are a trillion photos:


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This brewday was my first of the season, back in early September, and made good use of Pioneer hops which I’d never tried before. Anyway, I called it Pion Brew. To rhyme with Iron Bru, you see? People immediately pronounced it ‘Pee On Brew’. Great. Anyway…

After a lengthy summer brewing hiatus I finally cleaned up all my kit and got ready with an evening brew. I see it as an evolution from my previous golden ales, adding bitterness, a sound combination of copper and aroma hops, plus some extra malt complexity with the small Munich addition. Wheat for head retention largely, and US-05 yeast to ensure dry finish and good drop.

I was looking for a dry citrus finish, and opted for a hottish 90/90 mash, batch sparge and boil for brevity:

I was hoping that Northdown and Pioneer would complement each other like Fuggles and Goldings do, but it was just a theory from reading hop profile information. The Pioneer hops smelled great – like very pungent EKG. The mash all went well, nice and steady. Took lots of runnings, and repeated this with the two-step batches of ten further litres each. I hope there were enough aroma hops, probably should have put in more to steep. I took 21 litres of wort from the boiler at 1.045 and added two litres of water to the FV, making 23 litres at 1.040. I’m hoping for under 4% so happy with that.

Pion Brew

Mash in 10.5l at 75c (66c)
Hold for 90 minutes and drain
Add 10l at 75c (70c)
Hold for 10 minutes and drain
Add 15l at 82.5c (75c)
Hold for 10 minutes and drain

Marris Otter Pale Malt- 3.5Kg (83.3%)
Munich Malt- 350g (8.3%)
Torrified Wheat – 350g (8.3%)

Boiling (90mins)
30g of Northdown (9AA)at 90 minutes
20g of Pioneer (8AA) at 15 minutes
40g of Pioneer (8AA) steep

Other bits
SafAle S-05 rehydrated

This is probably my last use of batch sparging for a while. It still takes me around six hours from start to finish, allowing for a 90 minute mash, two stop sparging, plenty of runnings, a 90 minute boil and up to an hour chilling down to fermentation temperature and resting for the break to settle. I can’t see it getting much shorter than that, really, without going to 60/60, so starting at around 6pm leaves me pitching yeast at around midnight tired and surrounded by sticky equipment, hosepipes and power leads.

I never saw a proper raging ferment on this brew at all. Gas bubbled through the airlock steadily but unremarkably for a couple of days. I then skimmed the break, expecting it to take off a bit, but all it did was reform a head and steadily bubble once more. However, it hit target (1.010) after five days so I transferred it into a secondary fermenter to drop for a week or so before kegging. Looked very bright and yellow – reminded me of a Belgian Pale at that stage.

For reasons beynd my control this brew stayed in secondary for two weeks before being kegged and bottled, held in the warm for a further week, then banished to the shed for cold conditioning. Should be ready for Bonfire Night. Ish. Anyway, here are some photos as ever:


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Checked on this today after four days in primary and it had hit its 1.012 target perfectly – nice.

I transferred it into a secondary bucket, leaving all the break and yeast crud behind, and just taking nice clean brown hoppy beer looking stuff into a new home where it will now sit for about ten days.

After checking my hop stocks I found that for some reason I’d left behind a measly 21g of Styrians the other night instead of throwing it in as extra aroma hops. So I boiled up a muslin, some marbles and some thread and bagged the extra hoppage up, popping into the secondary for seven days of dry-hopping.

The secondary is burping once again, so I actually expect this to drop a few points further over that time, but it really has no need to on my account, it smells good and is strong enough for me. Nice colour too, so I’m pretty happy all in all. Plenty of time to screw it up still though.


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The plan for this brew was to produce a mild with all of the characteristics of a complex porter. My favourite commercial dark beer is probably Darkstar Over The Moon, and so I wanted to brew something with the same layered malt texture and hoppy profile. I realised this wouldn’t strictly result in a Mild, but the ABV certainly would as I wanted this to be a drinker, not a rare treat.

The only other essential ingredient for this brew was to use my own garden grown Fuggles hops in the copper. I was quite excited about using hops I’d planted, harvested and dried myself, and so was extra careful to get this one right. What made this a little tricky was the fact I’d never actually brewed a dark beer before, and simple things like black as oil first runnings and not being able to just clarity very easily at any stage were all things I hadn;t really considered.

As far as the recipe goes, I settled on six different malts, including two pales, three coloured and some wheat for head retention. On the hop front, Fuggles were a given, and East Kent Goldings made a natural partner, with a decent aroma guaranteed from a nice chunk in to steep. Here it is:


Boxshed Dark Garden

Mashing (90mins, 66 – sparge at 75)
MO Pale Malt, 2.7Kg (70%) 
Munich Malt, 400g  (10.5%) 
Crystal Malt, 200g  (5.2%) 
Wheat Malt, 200g  (5.2%) 
Chocolate Malt, 180g  (4.7%) 
Roasted Barley, 170g  (4.4%) 

Boiling (90mins)
Fuggles 4%AA, 45g, 90mins
East Kent Goldings, 30g, 15mins
East Kent Goldings 30g, Flameout steep

Other bits
SafAle S-04 rehydrated

Facts & Figures
Est. Brew length: 23L
Est. OG: 1.040
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. Bitterness: 30.6 IBU
Est. ABV: 3.8%


The mash and sparge all went very smoothly. Doing the returns was a bit weird because I’ve never brewed a beer as dark as this, so I simply did six litres in jugs and rinsed the grit each time rather than go by clarity. Check out the gallery to see more – sorry the photos are so gloomy but it was a grim, cold night, our fuses had blown on that lighting circuit, and the steam was pretty dense!



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