Beer update: Special Bitter redux

December 14th, 2011 | Tags: ,

My first stovetop brew was a special bitter. It’s a fun style. Not too strong, so you can do it on the cheap, and nice for playing around with adjuncts and showcasing hops. It’s a happy middle between a fully alcoholic beer and table beer, tasty enough so you can toss a few back without getting sauced. Because of the low-gravity yield of my rig, it’s a style that lends itself to sitting in my fermenter.

Today I brewed my second take on it. I upped the bitterness a bit, and changed the yeast to something more characterful and fruity. But I didn’t make it more bitter by adding more hops. Instead, I changed the hop schedule around a little bit to bring out more flavor from those delicious Kent Goldings. I also employed a technique I have been reading about on various homebrewing Web sites for extract brewing. I only added about a third of the malt extract to the water at the beginning of the boil–the rest went in about 15 minutes from the end. Apparently this increases hop utilization, and also eliminates what has been referred to as “extract twang.” I had assumed that the wierd taste I had been getting in my beers was because of the molasses. So we’ll see in about 4 weeks just how attributable it is.

I also got around to making my volumetric displacement stick, or as I like to call it, my Rod of Displacement +1. So for this batch I was able to precisely determine how much distilled water I needed to hit my gravity. I also remembered to tuck the distilled water in the fridge the night before, so it brought my wort down to well within pitching temperature range. 64F, to be exact! I wanted to make a video of the brew session, but this netbook is not up to the task, and I don’t have a better laptop available for use. But I’ll get my shiny new YouTube channel up and going before the new year, I hope.

One of the best reasons I love my stovetop setup is this ability to brew the same recipe with only minor tweaks. When Clinton and I brew on the big rig, there’s a pressure to do something awesome that we haven’t done before. (Especially since we did a LOT of repeat brewing for Rob’s wedding!) But I can be as boring as I like at home. :)

[Update 12/15: Whoosh, the yeast (Danstar Windsor) are off like a rocket this morning! The airlock is bubbling away. Definitely a change from the first yeast I used (Wyeast London Ale), whose activity was much more tepid even at the beginning. This bodes well :) ]

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