Well, I have been talking a bit about it on the forum - so I thought (spur of the moment) that I'd finally brew an American style Pale Ale. I had a packet of US-05 in the fridge that was due to expire... the dreaded 03-09 batch! I did a brew with another 03-09 packet 3 or 4 weeks ago: it was my GP Simcoe SMaSH. The beer is incredible - so I thought bugger it, I'll just use the same yeast... it's fermenting quite happily now at 18 degrees.
What I thought I'd talk about this week is beer clarity, and what I do (be it supersticious probably) to try and get clear beer. I will disclaim now - that this is not a "How To" or me proclaiming to be a great home brewer. I don't even claim that my home brew is any good. The following is just a "this is what I do" for anyone to read. I will state though, that when I want clear beer, my beer is clear.
I made a brew yesterday that has to flavour it two Yakima proprietry hop varieties: Simcoe and Amarillo. In my opinion. Yakima Chief is leading the way in producing unbelieveable flavour and aroma hops with incridible smoothness. I used the generic cultivar "Nugget" to bitter this batch - however the main theme here is "Late Hopping".
To me, I'd say that if you want clear beer - you need clear wort. Before I rigged up my recirculating mash setup, I used to do the "pitcher then pitcher" technique: i.e. I'd fill a 2 litre pitcher then move the hose to the next while tipping the previous back into the top. Now, I just turn the pump on (at the same flow rate) and just leave it to recirculate. This is handy in 2 respects. The first is that the wort becomes very clear with minimal effort: I recirculate what I calculated to be 30 Litres. That is 15 pitchers. Normally I'd get bored after 5 pitchers or so, and make do. The second is mashing out. Because there is a constant flow in the mash tun, mashing out can be completed without even disturbing the grain bed. This is a major plus as disturbing the grain bed will unclog all the shit you just filtered out over the last 15 minutes. This is a photo of the wort once the mash was complete, after 15 minutes of reculation.
After the sparge and I have my full volume in the kettle, I'll have a look at a sample of the wort. This takes a bit of judgement, and it all depends on if you want a clear beer - or one with a bit of haze. If there is visible haze in the sample, I'll think about upping my regular dose of carageenan. Normally, the dose for this stuff is 4 grams per hectolitre. If my wort is as clear as, I'll stick to about 75% of this: I use 0.6 grams. Below is the level of clarity for the Yakima Monster.
For the Yakima Monster, I wanted a clear beer (as opposed to my Simce SMaSH) so I threw in 0.8 grams with 15 minutes to go in the boil. This stuff needs to be thoroughly mixed into the wort. I use a paint strirer being careful not to aerate. After it's mixed in, I start the whirlpool to a: steralise the pump and hoses, and b: keep the carageenan in contact with all the wort. It drops out very fast - so the motion of the boil alone may not ensure that all the protein will coagulate.
Lately I have been incorperating a 90min boil into my brew day. I believe (amongst other things) that this too aids in clarity. Below is a photo with the whirlpool running after I have thrown in the "Flameout" addition.
Finally is the waiting game. I've heard a lot of people will finish the boil, cool the wort and chuck it into the fermenter - which is fine: 1,000,000 brewers in the world; 1,000,000 ways to brew beer. What I do is whirlpool for 30mins while cooling. Then I'll leave the chiller running for another hour to let everything settle in the bottom of the kettle. Regardless if the wort is at pitching temp after 15mins of whirlpooling: I still do 30min whirlpool and 1 hour for settling. Lately, with the new setup - I'll be able to see the "cone" at the bottom of the kettle with about 5 litres to go when transferring to the fermenter. Below is a photo of the kettle at the same level as before (80mm) with all the crud below the surface of the wort.
And that's pretty much it really. I tasted the wort, and went to smile in the mirror. I was shocked when I realised that my teeth had completely dissolved.
The brewday didn't bring as many Dramas as it did last week. I found out that my online friend was right when he told me that "Baby sitting and Home Brewing go hand in hand". One of Christinas friends came down from Auckland along with her Husband and 2 daughters. The Women ditched us for the whole day - and we turned this batch out without any injury to the infants. We hit the home brew last night - and he was quite fond of the Simcoe Smash (US Blonde), and my German Pilsner. He liked the flavor of the Blonde, but said he could drink more of the Pilsner - he has a regular blokes pallate.
Watch out you Westie Boys - looks like I have a contender in my fridge... now the only challenge is keeping enough stock in hand before thr 28th arrives.