2014 Brewing Calendar and notes.

Over Christmas 2013 brewing stopped and was restarted on 27th December with a Brewmaker Mild s.g. 1.042. A week latter 3rd January 2014 this was moved into the secondary fermentor and Geordie Mild s.g. 1.042. A can of Geordie Lager was bought ready as third brew of the year.
After 2013 brews the sugar has been reduced back down to 2 kg still double what is written on the can as required. I continued to overfill fermentor to around 25 litres, instead of 23 litres, so the brews should be around the 5% ABV ± 0.4%.

It is estimated each brew will remain in fermentors for 2 - 3 weeks, exact time will depend on temperature. To allow transfer between fermentor, so reducing the sediment it is important to allow enough time between each brew start. Since there is plenty of stock, likely will be left in the bottle until Easter, so there is no pressure to start new brews. Use of a heating tile allows temperature to be risen to 22ºC over 24 hours, this is used to accelerate brews to make room for next. Brewmaker Mild was a slow brew. Geordie Mild was much faster. Lager started 17th Jan 2014 seems to be doing well, but a full week was allowed before starting Geordie Yorkshire Bitter just in case it slowed down latter.

In spite of being called a Lager the instructions are the same as all the other brew kits. There is no instruction to cool, normally Lager uses bottom-fermenting yeast and requires refrigeration at least in the summer months. Fermenting normally at around 10ºC and it is then stored for 30 days or longer close to the freezing point. But the kit has no such instructions it says ferment at 18º - 24ºC then bottle and store for four days at room temperature and then cool place for 10 days. However since it should run cooler the heater was not used.

Equipment:-

Two fermentors identical, one used as primary, the other as secondary, to reduce the amount of sediment, fitted with screw lid large enough to put arm into for cleaning. Each has a stick on thermometer, and electrical stuffing gland, making a good gas tight seal on the air locks.

Old body warmers, and an old demo under floor heating tile, is used to maintain temperature if required.

Three hydrometers, and an old container for blowing bubbles, to float the hydrometers in. One is an anti-freeze hydrometer and is used to transfer sample and little attention is paid to the reading. In the main the glass hydrometer is used as the plastic one is more affected by temperature although is easier to read. Calibrated at 15.6ºC (60ºF) when beer is keep at between 18ºC and 24ºC there will always be some error. Also the concentrate and sugar take a lot of mixing with the water to get an accurate reading, so excel is used to calculate likely ABV, rather than use hydrometer reading. (Grams of Sugar + Concentrate/2.5)/20/Litres of water) has been found to give approx the same result as measuring before and after s.g. and calculating that way, so now hydrometer only used to ensure ready to bottle.

Loads of bottles, some tapered corks and demijohns the latter used if either run out of bottles, or lose siphon near end of bottling, last bit is then poured into demijohn to settle, and bottled the next day.

Clear plastic tube to siphon with, and a clamp to reduce flow.

Funnels to add sugar to bottles with, also to assist pouring last bit into demijohn, if siphon fails.

Steriliser & Cleaner (Young’s brew)

Sodium Metabisulphite (Young’s brew) Similar to above.

Campden Tablets (Young’s brew)

Fermentation Stopper (Young’s brew) Used with above to stop fermenting.

In the main chemicals are not used. Small amount of washing up liquid and then loads of rinsing is all that is done between each brew, but where fermentor or bottles are to be stored then they are sterilised first. The Fermentation stopper and Campden tables are not used with kits these are for cider to retain some sweetness.

Brew list
Brew Name Start Date Transfer Date Bottled date Start s.g. ABV Notes
Brewmaker Mild 27th Dec 13 3rd Jan 14 17th Jan 14 1.042 5% Took longer than expected.
Geordie Mild 3rd Jan 14 17th Jan 14 22nd Jan 14 1.042 5% Delayed because of first brew.
Geordie Lager 17th Jan 14 22 Jan 14 1st Feb 14 1.042 5% No extra heat.
Geordie Yorkshire Bitter 24th Jan 14 1st Feb 14 9th Feb 14 1.046 5.5% 2kg Sugar 25 litres water.
Geordie Lager Young's Yeast 1st Feb 14 18th Feb 14   1.050 6% Aiming at max temp 14 degs C
Geordie Bitter 20th Feb 14 27th Feb 14 11th March 14 1.044 5% Some in demijohn
Geordie Scottish Export 6th March 14 13 March 14 24th March 14 1.040 5% Ferm
25th March 14 Demi added Licorice Root
Geordie Mild 19th March 14 27 March 14 1st April 14 1.040 5% 1.010 on transfer
Geordie Bitter 27 March 14 5th April 14 16th April 14 1.048 5.5% 1.026 on 3rd April Label Jump Beer 12th April
Geordie Scottish Export 19 April 14 26th April 14 16 May 14 1.050 6% Used Lager yeast intend to finish in shed
Geordie Bitter 15 May 14 22nd May 14 30 May 14 1.048 5.5% 1.010 on transfer
Geordie Scottish Export 25 May 14 30 May 14 7th June 14 1.045 5% Notes
Geordie Scottish Export 2 June 14 9 June 14 18 June 14 1.048 5.4% Notes
Geordie Scottish Export 8 Oct 14 24 Oct 14 27 Oct 14   5% Notes
Geordie Scottish Export 24 Oct 14 7 Nov 14 15 Nov 14   5% Notes
Geordie Scottish Export 15 Nov 14 23 Nov 14 28 Nov 14     Notes
Geordie Lager 28 Nov 14 5 Dec 14 14 Dec 14 1.048 5.4% Start 22.7ºC set at 18ºC then 20ºC
Brewmaker Bitter 14 Dec 14 20 Dec 14 4 Jan 15 1.048 5.4% Start 23.5ºC set at 18.5ºC then 21ºC
Geordie Scottish Export 7 Jan 15 13 Jan 15 22 Jan 15 1.042 4% 1kg sugar made to 22 litres start temp 18 deg controller set to 19.5 deg fridge temp was 12 deg with no heat. Ambuent 10 deg.
Young's Harvest Stout 22 Jan 15 2 Feb 15 8 Feb 15 1.054 6.2% Just 30 pints.
Brewmaker Lager Geordie Bitter mix 1.5kg Sugar 13 Feb 15     1.058 6.5% Over filled fermentor start at 19ºC
            Notes
            Notes

Notes:- Brewmaker Mild was slow to finish took 3 weeks in all. The Geordie Lager was ready in 2 weeks s.g. 1.006 but far too much gas in the brew to be able to siphon so to be given extra time to dissipate gas before bottling. Not a clue why Geordie Yorkshire bitter showed higher s.g. than the rest as it had same sugar will guess on better mixed when reading taken which means rest should also be 1.046 and 5.5% ABV. In general winter brewing is faster than summer brewing as kitchen is kept warmer in winter. While still cold and loads of stock trying a Lager with Young’s Lager yeast. Starting off in garage 1st Feb 2014. Used a little less water so s.g. 1.050 giving around 6%ABV for finished beer. Temperature in garage 10 deg C so expecting two months before bottling. Clearly too cold to start it off so after a week used coat and body warmer and heating tile and over 30 hours lifted temperature to 18ºC then allowed it to cool slowly again and it is now active but slow so real start 9th Feb. 04 same day as bitter bottled.

By the 8th March the Lager was still producing bubbles from the yeast at the bottom and by shinning a light through the beer these could be easy seen in the clear yellow liquid. The garage has warmed up a bit around the 12ºC mark but the bubbles have remained the same as to air lock very little activity in any of the 6 demijohns.
In the mean time on the 27th February the Geordie Bitter was moved into second fermentor and since the siphon was lost near end about 3 litres was put into a demijohn using funnel so loads of sediment as well. On the 6th March a new brew of Geordie Scottish Export was started since not using heating plate gave it a few extra days so Geordie Bitter would be complete before ready to move the Geordie Scottish Export. The Geordie Bitter in the demijohn was interesting tiny bubbles came from the yeast at the bottom in the same way as with the Geordie Lager with Youngs Yeast.
This raised a question as to conditioning, storing, lagering, carbonating, and maturing are they in fact the same thing? Is the so called “clean up” process where the yeast having run out of the easy to digest sugars so instead eats the content which produces off flavours carrying on in the fermentor or demijohn with lager but in the bottle with ales? So question is if I don’t use the heat plate at the end of the brew to maintain 20ºC but allow it to cool to 16 - 18ºC will it produce a better beer? The problem is to taste test a beer started two months earlier than the one being compared to will not be a fair test. Memory of course plays tricks and to remember what I beer tasted like two months ago clearly does not work. Also taste is personal and also changes with time. So when I taste a friends brew I consider it as having far too many off tastes and far too cloudy and to my taste a green beer not ready to drink. However he does not like my beer either. After drinking my own beer for some time I also find commercial beer tastes green. Drank some Old Speckled Hen and was surprised as to how close to my beer. But age of beer changes taste so it does depend on how long they have been conditioned.

Since kitchen was being cleaned I took fermentor into shed but at 10ºC unlikely to get any activity so returned to kitchen. Temperature rise will be gradual without body warmer kitchen fermentor sits at around 18ºC using lager yeast (Youngs) the beer seems to ferment well with supplied yeast the rate is rather slow at 18ºC the idea of not having to boost the heat seems good so likely I will continue to use this yeast. After 10 days at 18ºC including transferring into secondary fermentor the beer is still fermenting at a near constant rate of 4 large bubbles per minute which started as soon as the krausen subsided. Starting on the 19th April and transferred on 26th April kept at 18ºC with start s.g. of 1.050 and using a dried lager yeast my Geordie Scottish Export started to slow down on the 1st May. Around 25 litres with one can of concentrate and 2 kg of sugar takes around 10 days since start was slow as too cold I will knock off one day. Always leave a little extra so two weeks start to finish. Same beer with nearly same conditions with supplied yeast took 20 days and this included wrapping with body warmer and use of a heated floor tile at 18W to maintain the heat near the end. However when I look further back again same brew took 16 days and a Young’s version took 20 days. So 4 days is really no great difference and it would be hard to say it was quicker. However having no body warmer or heating tile was easier. In July 2013 I did a Young's Harvest Bitter in 12 days and days in fermentor vary 12 to 24 days except of lager experiment. In some cases ready to bottle, but short of bottles and tend to leave an extra day or two anyway to be sure ready to bottle. So it would seem using lager yeast saved 2 days and use of body warmer hardly worth worrying about. What is of more interest is what it tastes like and another couple of months at least before tasting is likely. On the 6th May 2014 been away for weekend and expected to bottle bubbles down to one every 45 seconds however the hydrometer showed 1.016 far too high.