Update on extract brew "Old Malty" – plus recipe!

We posted yesterday on our stuck fermentation problems, and how we’re trying an experimental batch with a kit to try and identify where in the process it’s all going wrong.

Obviously, having tried all-grain mashes, there was no way we were just going to follow the recipe – we had to tinker. Because we love the open-source ideal, here’s our recipe;

  • 2 cans of Muntons Gold – Old English Bitter (hopped extract)
  • 1lb carapils & 1 lb Munich malt, steeped in sub-boiling water for 20 minutes
  • 2lbs of light malt extract
  • Hops: 0.5 oz East Kent Goldings (5.6%) for 60 minutes (at boil), 0.5 oz East Kent Goldings (5.6%) for 20 minutes, 0.5 oz Cascades – 5 minutes
  • Gervins English ale yeast (sachet, re-hydrated)

Instructions follow after the jump.

Continue reading “Update on extract brew "Old Malty" – plus recipe!”

Brewing again – trying to solve the stuck fermentation problem

We haven’t brewed for a while. Since moving to all-grain brewing last year, we’ve had a couple of successes – a tasty mild and a blackberry wheatbeer, for example, as well as some drinkable if unremarkable bitters. However, we’ve suffered stuck fermentations in the last couple of brews, and it’s been rather depressing. All that effort, and you end up with sugary water.

(Note – a stuck fermentation is where it starts off fine, but stops fermenting before it reaches the expected final gravity. Final gravity should be around 25-30% of the original gravity. So our last brew had O.G of 1053, but only got down to 1025, i.e. 45%)

This has happened twice (and in fact, our third-from-last brew only got down to 35%), and we can’t understand why this has started happening – we’re not doing anything different with the yeast or aeration, which seem to be the usual culprits for stuck fermentation.

We consulted all our books, and searched the internet, and came up with the following theories (and counter-arguments). Continue reading “Brewing again – trying to solve the stuck fermentation problem”

Homebrewer’s recipe calculator – free toy!

Just a quick plug for an excellent product I found a few months ago and have been using ever since

Qbrew is a free-source homebrewer’s recipe calculator which you can download and use to formulate recipes. Basically, you can put in the quantities of malt (or extract) and hops you’re using, set your “efficiency” (i.e. how good you are at turning raw ingredients into alcohol) and end up with predictions as to the colour, bitterness and strength of your beer. There are a load of recipe “styles” you can compare your beer too and there’s even a handy hydrometer correction tool.

How do you work out your efficiency? Well, if you have a few brews behind you, you can put in the raw ingredients and play with the setting until you get Qbrew to end up with your end product.

Once you can get over the disappointment of being told you are only 60% efficient, it’s an extremely useful way to predict future brews. [Various snotty homebrew books say that “beginners should achive around 80% efficiency”! I blame London tap water]

I’m fairly new to homebrewing, so was surprised to find that there are a number of homebrewing programmes out there – though most of them you seem to have to pay for, and I’m not sure if the added features are worth it (“Hop Time Degradation” calculator, anyone?)