I’m not a big fan of what most people call American beers, Lagers and Pilsners made light with very little body. Thin and watery, like the Monty Python joke, its like making love in a canoe… fucking close to water. I like a heavier brew, ale generally, with a good backbone to it. Malt is good and I don’t mind hops at all, though I like them malty to balanced, hops shouldn’t dominate the brew. Some brews are like a hop grenade, they try to shove every last IBU (international Bitterness Unit) they can into their product.
Hops have a few purposes:
- They add bitterness to beers and ales to balance out malt and sweetness
- They add secondary flavors and aroma, depending upon type they can add spice, fruit, citrus, herbal, earthy or evergreen characters to ales and beers.
- They preserve beer naturally, adding shelf life.
- They have healthy effects, aiding in sleep and 2 beers a day (no more) can help keep heart disease and cancer at bay. In fact hops can be used in pillowcases for aroma therapy to help improve sleep quality.
But I don’t like hops for the sake of adding hops. I prefer a light hop like a Hallertau Select, nice aroma and light bitterness, they compliment the brew, not dominate it. This is why I prefer Scottish Ales and Porters over most others. They are dark in color, and depending on the type range from light in body to heavy.
- 60/- has about 2.5-3.2% alcohol by volume and 10-20 IBUs
- 70/- has about 3.2-4.0% alcohol by volume and 10-25 IBUs
- 80/- has about 3.9-5.0% alcohol by volume and 15-30 IBUs
They aren’t meant to be pounded like their lesser cousins, they are made so you can sit with a nice pint and relax, they tend to be a bit filling so you probably won’t be drinking too many but that fits me quite well, two of anything is about all I care for at any given time, usually one will do me quite nicely.
Back to this batch, I brewed it on the 12th, racked it from the primary fermenter to the secondary on the 19th, when I racked it I gave the yeast a good feeding and added oak chips to it to give it a barrel-aged character. The current batch of yeast is going still now so the ale strain has almost played out so I’ll let it settle to clarify until next week. Wednesday I’ll prepare a starter of champagne yeast and pitch it on Thursday and let do its thing until Friday. Champagne yeast won’t ferment the malts or change the character and when I “bottle” it on Friday I’ll add priming sugar, this will naturally carbonate it in the “bottles.”
I say “bottles” because I’ll be using 6 liter bottles, in a tap-a-draft system, its very close to kegging. Two will be naturally carbonated which will take up to two weeks for it to fully carbonate. The third I’ll force carbonate, this involves two CO2 cartridges in the tap system, over the course of a week it’ll age and carbonate in the brew fridge and carbonate that way.
Experiments all the way around, and experiments can be fun and tasty! That’s another advantage to 60/-, from 4-6 weeks after brew day you can be nose deep in froth and it doesn’t take any special care along the way. Many styles can be real prima donnas.
© 2008, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.