My cycling endeavours went well yesterday, if a little tiring because while it is true I put my bike away for the winter, I neglected to mention that in was in fact the winter of 2005. As a result I brewed today with sore thighs and an aching arse. Still, at least I don't sit down much during the average brew day.
For today's brew I opted for:
4.2 kg Maris Otter
400g 75 EBC crystal malt
20g Galena 60 mins
16g Centennial 20 mins
16g Centennial 10 mins
16g Centennial 0 mins
I ended up with an OG of 1.045, which was bang on the money, and my newly purchased refractometer made it all the easier to keep track of the runnings and boil off rate.
I intended to use solely Centennial for this beer to get an idea of what it brings to the show, but with the shortage of aroma hops, and the measly 100 gram bags of pellets I had in stock, I decided to fall on the ever faithful bittering power of Galena. This hop is one of the most potent smelling hops I have come across, and just love opening the pack when the pungent raw hoppiness slaps you in the face. It is not a subtle hop at all, and I have heard of using Galena for aroma, but it seems a little resinous to me and think I'll stick with the tried and tested aroma hops for now.
This was my first time using pellets, and straight off can see how brewers who use pellets exclusively can pack way more hop flavour and character into their beer. I used a hop sock to take care of the debris from the pellets, which I assume were type 90 and was glad I did this because there was no way my dodgy hop back like filtering system could have dealt with the tiny fragments. This is an aspect of my set up I would like to change, and adding a tap to my kettle or investing in a fancy one from the USA should take care of it.
I took advantage of all my brewing kit being out and having sanitising solution sloshing around the place by bottling/kegging a bitter I'd had in secondary for a week. I put half in a 10 litre pressure barrel which is bound for a stag night in week or so, and bottled the rest for my own consumption and that of my guinea pig friends and family.
I'd eased back somewhat on the hops in this one in the hope that it might have a more substantial malt profile and it appears to have worked. I hopped with First Gold, a hop I was eager to try because I had heard good things about it, but the only commercial beer featuring this hop to any great degree is Badger's First Gold, which was way too gassy to enjoy and the hops were lost on me. Hopefully this bitter will provide a clearer insight into the flavour profile this hop brings to a beer.