Homebrew: Perihelion

Submitted by DM on Wed, 18/01/2017 - 20:07

I've recently found myself with some extra time on my hands & naturally the thing to do is brew some more beer.   I need a stock as I'm often finishing drinking a batch as it's coming into its prime.   I'm also off to Manchester soon & will be dropping some beers off with friends, creating space under the stairs for more beer.   It's often assumed that I must drink a metric boatload of beer every week, whereas I actually give much of my beer away - particularly if it's a really good one.

A recent tour of Jennings Brewery reminded me that the local water is incredibly soft with hardly any minerals at all in, so I bought some calcium & magnesium sulphate (gypsum & Epsom salts respectively) to alter the water chemistry to favour this beer.

My aim was to make a Belgian-style strong blonde ale.Perihelion

Mash: 1 hour (water strike temp 70°C) 67°C at start & falling to 63°C at the end.

5 Kg pale malt

1 teaspoon magnesium sulphate

1 teaspoon calcium sulphate

Boil: 1 hour

30g Goldings hops 4.86% alpha acid) added 30 mins from the end.

60g Goldings hops added 15 mins from the end.

90g Goldings hops added 5 mins from the end.

The wort was cooled using my simple wort chiller.   As it was being cooled I made a tea out of 25g of dried jasmine flowers & added this.   40g of Goldings hops were added as dry hops to the chilled wort.

I hydrated a packet of Safale M-33 which is an alcohol tolerant, low attenuating yeast.   This should give a sweeter, fuller mouthfeel to the finished beer from residual sugars.

I collected 20 litres of cooled wort at 18°C with an Original Gravity of 1.068 & a Final Gravity of 1.024, which should give it 5.8% alcohol at bottling (after priming sugar is added this will be 6.0% in the finished beer) & 37 IBU.

The temperature rose from 18°C initially to 20°C after 48 hours, then fell to 16°C at 7 days.   On the 7th day I removed the dry hops & moved the fermentation vessel to a cool place to help clear it where it reached 14°C for 2 days.

I came to bottle the beer & the gravity was 1.024, which was higher than I was expecting but looking at some homebrew forums there are plenty of people who think this beer is done rather than stuck.   The taste is sweetish (no kidding - really!) with a good Goldings hop flavour, but still yeasty.

I warmed the beer to 20°C for another 48 hours, then chilled to around 3-5°C for another 48 hours before finding that the gravity hadn't budged a bit. A little less turbid, bit still very cloudy when bottled.

Verdict on bottling - a big bodied beer, with some alcohol warmth but yeasty-bready flavour due to amount of suspended yeast still present. Will need a while to clear this one.

I've not opened any bottles to try it, but the previously turbid beer is now clearing well.   The bottles are gassing up nicely too, but there's always the worry with bottling at an FG of 1.024 that the yeast will restart & I'll get gushers or worse.

This isn't a bad beer, but it's a bit bready & doesn't have the wacky interesting yeast character I wanted.   Curiously other people really like it.   Additionally I brewed way too much of this - usually I get to brew once every couple of months, so make 40 pints a time, but recently I've got some time on my hands - and ended up giving it away to anyone who'd have it!

The bottles haven't carbonated up as much as I wanted, but there is still enough sparkle - just.

This beer now has a butterscotch-toffee taste that is too dominant for my liking & the rest of this batch has been dumped.   Since Christmas I've been recycling my brown 500ml bottles & they've given very hit & miss results in the finished beer.   I've now switched to only using virgin PET bottles & I'll ensure that I brew smaller batches to keep the beer fresher.

Given the opportunity I'd get glass bottles & reuse them by running them through my dishwaher, but the house I'm currently in doesn't have room for one in the kitchen & we don't have water or electricity to the garage yet.