They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Sunday 8 May 2011

My First Brew!

This day has been a long time coming - My first full mash homebrew!

Being that this was my first, and I've been telling people for ages that I was going to get down and stuck in, I wanted to make it a memorable one. To do this, I didn't want to just make another pale ale that people would think was nice, and probably forget about in the next few weeks. (not that there's anything wrong with that, I just wanted to jump in with both arms and legs forward!)

So I decided after trying a few beers a colleague had brought back from America that I wanted to brew an Imperially hopped Red Rye Ale. Now this would be no easy feat, for a green-horn such as myself, so I thought it would be good to procure a little help. It turns out we get a couple of brewers who frequent our lovely shop - Beer Ritz. It would be stupid not to ask if one was able to give me a little had in the first ghostly beer production.

Step up one of the nicest men in brewing today.... Gordon McKiernan! Yes, not only is Gordon a head brewer of a very respectable Yorkshire brewery, but he's also a (non practicing) organic chemist!, so who better to take me through my introduction of making my own recipe beer.

So... the day went a little like this: An early start for myself lead us both to an art studio, where Gordon already had his homebrewing kit set up. First things first after sterilization: the mash in. The malt bill for this beer consisted of 3750g of Marris Otter, 1000g of Rye malt, 254g of Cara Red, 254g of Crystal Rye and 480g of Munich malt. It was a very thick 90 minute mash, which lead on to a good sparging. This sparging was also accompanied by some first wort hopping to create some good bitterness, with 18.5g of Amarillo and 15.5g of Columbus.

Whilst we were sparging, we thought it wise to put in another special ingredient - our 250g of Jaggery cane sugar!

Time for the 60min boil then. We let it go for a while, then at 45 mins in we put in 10g of more Amarillo, 10g of Columbus and 8g of Citra for a good flavour. This was followed at 0mins with another 10g of Amarillo and 10g of Citra for a good aroma :)

Colour looking good!!
The original gravity for the beer was 1054 and we ended up with a final gravity of 1070. Don't ask how we did, or why we did this, it will be our little ghostly brewing secret :) We ended up with about 15 liters of the gorgeous looking, and smelling, stuff. It was then time to chill the beast down to prepare it for the process of fermentation.

This involved on of the strangest contraptions I've seen in brewing: the wort chiller. Tubes were going from barrels to taps to other barrels - through thermometers and over sinks! It was a bit of a interesting sight, and quite impressive how an almost boiling bucket of wort could be chilled so quickly using a tap, tube and metal box. After the wort had been chilled down for a bit, it was time to add the magical ingredient - yeast. We used US05 for this brew, Gordon thought the large drying effect the yeast strain has would be a good countering effect on the huge amount of sugars used in the brew.

That was it then.... for now. In about 2 weeks we will be back for a bottling day, and about 2 months after that it will be passed around to a few deserving homebrewers around the area. It was a great day, and a lot of knowledge was gained , not just by me too! There was a couple of cock ups, but by the sounds of it we just made more of an extreme beer in the process. The forgetting of some Protoflock, Gordon would not let go. I kept telling him I didn't mind if the beer had a bit of a protein haze - it was all about what it tasted like, but he was clearly annoyed. I know it's going to taste so good it will take his mind off it.

My only requirement for the day was to help come up with the recipe, bring some beers along and design a label for the beer. This is what I have come up with so far, but it could well change in the next two weeks. So in the meantime....

See you in two weeks o beer of mine!


  1. Good stuff! It's nice to see people getting into brewing.

  2. Awesome, sounds like a decent recipe Ghostie, look forward to hearing about the results!

  3. Cheers Ed, I would love to take take a 'leaf' (sorry) out of you book and grow some vines next, it sounds fun.

    James - you can taste the results if you like! That's as long as it's not infected or anything of course ;)