Home brewing antics can now be found at my other blog; http://gettinggrist.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Brewday - Black Canyon IPA

Brewday was last Friday, March 11th, the same day work started on the Hoover Dam in Black Canyon, Colorado, back in 1931. In 2011 Black Canyon I.P.A. is born.

For those unfamiliar with the brewing process, I've labelled up the three vessels on my kit below;

The HLT is where the water for the entire brew is heated.

Some of this liquor is passed into the Mash Tun where it's mixed with malted barley and kept at a constant temperature, to relase the sugars from the malt.

As temperature is critical, before mashing in I heated some water in the copper and pumped this into the mash tun to warm the vessel beforehand.

The malts used in this IPA were;
96.5% Pale
2.50% Crystal
0.70% Flaked Maize
0.30% Chocolate Malt

After the 'mash' I slowly pump the wort into the copper, whilst rinsing the grains at the same time. This is known as 'sparging'. My kit has a rotating arm beneath the mash tun lid which showers hot water from the HLT all over the malt.

Once the wort is in the copper, it's brought to the boil and hops are added. In this 10 gallon brew I added a massive 750g of hops. The majority of these were put in late - the schedule was as follows;

50g Challenger @ 75mins
100g Challenger @ 10mins
100g EKG @ 10mins
150g Challenger@ 5mins
150g EKG @ 5mins
100g Challenger @ 1 min
100g EKG @ 1min

Not for the first time, gravity came in higher than expected at 1064, so I must look at increasing my efficiency in the Beersmith software, as the new kit and home-ground malt appears to have made a big difference. It should still be balanced enough, with masses of flavour and aroma coming from those hops.

I boiled for 75mins then pumped the wort through the cooler into two 5 gallon fermenters. The wort was a stunnning gold colour and it promsies to be a cracking looking beer.

I had two liquid yeasts that were both out of date and badly stored. Nevertheless, I made up starters last Monday to see if they were viable. One was Fullers and the other was a Californian Ale yeast, but neither sprung to life, so I ended up pitching a dry yeast (US-05) in both.

The two fermenters were then nestled into the fermenting fridge, with the temperature controlled at 20c +/- 1 deg.

I'll leave it for 10 days on the yeast before racking and conditioning, and I'll update on it's progress as time goes by. Can't wait to sample this one.


  1. great post, to a wanna-be brewer its interesting to read and see the process. what controls the heat in the fridge?
    what happens to a brew if temp fluctuates a little, ?

  2. Glad to see you using proper hops even though elsewhere you are encouraging others to use (OMG) american hops. ;-)

    I am going to brew tomorrow with yeast from a dodgy out-of-date smack pack. It took about 10 days to revive the yeast. I think you were a little impatient. I slapped the pack and it swelled slightly by the next day but took 6 days to swell completely. The other 4 days have been on a heated stir plate. I have plenty of yeast now: it's stalling the stir bar.

  3. Wow, great bit of kit. As someone still working with beer kits for my brewing it seems like a scary leap to all grain... Would kill for a setup like that to experiment with tho ;) lol

  4. @ Arn: I have the fridge hooked up to an automatic temperature controller. When the temperature climbs above what I have set, it switches the fridge on. If the temperature dips, it switches a light strip on inside the fridge. I can’t remember the wattage of the light, but it’s very effective at heating a small space. Yeast will perform best at a specified temperature range – if it gets too high it can produce unwanted flavours into the beer, and too low means that fermentation will be held up. TBH, if you are starting out, you needn’t worry too much. I’ve brewed very acceptable beer that’s been fermented in a spare room at home without temperature control. It only gets to be an issue when it gets hot in the summer.

    @ Michael: Yes, I had a shedload of ‘proper hops’ in the freezer, so it made sense to use them in an IPA. I’m itching to use some ‘Citra’ though, so expect an American hopped beer real soon :)

    @P&M: Thanks guys. The leap to all-grain isn’t as scary as you might think. You don’t need fancy kit like mine to make decent beer. It can be done quite simply with a few stockpots/plastic buckets. I must have caught the wife on a good day when she agreed I could upgrade!