Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home Brewed Beer II: English Nut Brown Ale

After the success of the first batch, I decided I would go to Home Sweet Homebrew myself this time and put together a beer. I like hoppy, high alcohol, aggressive beers, but these are not beers that I can easily quaff or share since many people don't necessarily like big beers. So I thought a mild, full-bodied, malty brown ale would be a great idea. Since I was making this beer, I made sure there was enough bitterness and herbal hoppiness to make a balanced beer to suit my palate.

I went to HSH and told them I wanted to take an malt extract kit as a starter and then jazz it up with some fancy hops and actual malted grain. The proprietor was very helpful and started with the Dark Star English Brown ale as the starter, additionally added 1 lb Demerara sugar, 1 lb Crystal Malt, 1 lb English Brown Malt, and Bramling Cross and Kent Golding aroma hops. The Demerara sugar is a special type of raw sugar from the Caribbean, the Crystal hops add a caramel flavor, the Brown Malt is for the rich color and chocolately flavor, and the Kent Golding adds a herbal, low bitterness, fragrant quality.

I decided to buy 5 gallons of spring water this time because accurately measuring all that water last time was a pain and this way I could be sure that I had the right amount of water and didn't have to worry about boiling or water loss from evaporation. I poured a gallon and a half of water into my biggest pot and boiled the malt extract along with the bittering hops (Gramling) for 45 minutes; then I added the Demerara sugar and another pound of dark brown sugar (for extra flavor and alcohol) and boiled for 15 minutes more. I then added half an ounce of the East Kent Golding hops, closed the lid to the pot and let it rest. At the same time, I steeped the 2 pounds of milled grain in 1 gallon of water at 150 F for 45 minutes. After that I boiled for 15 minutes to sterilized. After both liquids were ready I poured them into the fermenter with 2 gallons of cold spring water and let the mixture get back to room temperature, before I added dry yeast.

By the end of the day, the beer was already bubbling the krausen had risen about half a foot, almost to the top of the bucket. I let it go for 3 days and then transferred into the glass carboy for fermentation, dry hopping with the rest of the East Kent Golding hops. After 5 days, it was still going strong, so it must be all that extra sugar from the brown sugars, and malted grain. After another week the fermentation had about stopped and I wanted to start another batch of beer so I added corn sugar and bottled.

After about two weeks after bottling, the beer was fully carbonated. It could use a little more bottle conditioning to develop a little more, but it's great to drink now! The color is a little misleading as it's more of a dark brown than black, but the tan head looks great with a long sustaining head and a sticky lacing. The beer fermented quickly and with good attenuation which makes it clean with a dry finish featuring flavors of chocolate, walnuts, and herbal hops. If I were to brew this again, I think I would use a more complex malt to give a little more sweetness and body, however, for my first partial grain beer I am very pleased.

Beer Geek Stats:
Grain Bill: 6.6 lb Amber Malt Extract; 1lb English Brown Malt; 1 lb Crystal Malt 120L; 1lb Demerara Sugar; 1lb Brown Sugar; 5 oz Dextrose (priming)
Hops: 1 oz Bramling Cross (60min); 1 oz East Kent Golding (1/2 after boil, 1/2 dry hopped into secondary)
Yeast: Safale S-04 English Ale
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.013
ABV: 6.0%

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