I have yet to brew a big beer in my home brewing career. Yesterday I decided to make the move and put together this:
Maris Otter 5.4 Kg
Dark Crystal 400g
Special B 400g
44g Challenger @ 60 mins
1 sachet of S0f 04 + 1 sachet of Danster Nottingham
OG 16 Plato (1.064)
This should be plenty rich and if I have the will power I'll leave it for a great many months to mellow out. All did not go well with the mash, though. Dark crystal and Special B pack a great deal more acidity than I thought and as a result the pH of the mash dropped to around 5.0 and without any carbonate to correct it I could do nothing but hope it worked out. Mash pH that is too low is always preferable to one that is too high but a low mash pH causes increased extraction of nitrogen compounds and a longer time is required for extraction to occur. To try and counter the effects of the low pH I mashed for 30 minutes longer than usual, but this didn't fix the matter entirely because the OG is lower than I had anticipated. Not to worry, it is respectable and should make for a decent strong beer. I mixed yeast because I didn't have two matching sachets and needed the extra pitching level for the high OG. Let's hope the two strains play nice in the wort and don't do anything petulant like refusing to flocculate.
While I had all the brewing kit out I took the opportunity to bottle my last beer. It is something of a disappointment, but in some respects exactly what I was shooting for. I used solely base malt and got exactly what I expected; a light beer lacking in body. The hop character isn't too bad, mainly due a healthy measure of dry hopping with Cascade, but the over all impression is one of a thin beer with no length. It reminds me of a number of unsatisfying golden ales I have had on cask around Britain. I often wondered how they managed to make a beer that had so little body, and now I know. A measure of speciality malt is definitely required to pad out golden ales; cara pils is great for this, but Munich or Vienna malt will do the job without darkening the beer too much.