Friday, 14 January 2011

My First Brew

Today was a significant milestone in my brewing career - I brewed my own recipe at Kelham Island Brewery.

The sales chaps requested a '4% ish golden ale' which, being very vague, gave me a fairly free reign. I decided that I'd brew a slightly darker golden ale as we quite often brew very pale ones - a rich, deep golden ale I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down and designed the beer. It took me a little while, firstly deciding what I'd like this beer to be like, and then working out what ingredients to use in what quantities which would a) produce my desired beer, and b) contain everything in appropriate proportions which would give a beer which 'worked'.

I opted for addition of crystal malt in the grist, which gives a characteristic subtle biscuity, toffee/caramel flavour. It also adds a little red to the beer. Crystal malt is lovely; the sugar inside the grains is crystallized, giving a sweet crunchy snack for us hungry brewers. It smells divine.

As for hop additions, I chose three varieties. For bitterness: Challenger which gives a good rounded but not overpowering bitterness. This is essential to balance the sweetness from the crystal malt. For aroma, I chose two different varieties. Firstly, Good ol' Goldings which are another UK variety with a rich, spicy aroma. This should add a real earthy depth in the aroma. Secondly, New Zealand Hallertauer Aroma which are also spicy but much lighter with a vanilla note which will lift the whole taste.

Now, that is the theory. How it will actually come out I don't know.

Brewing it today wasn't too bad. The Original Gravity was very high due to the sugar extract from the Crystal malt, so if we brew it again I'll have to take out some of the Maris Otter (basic malt which provides the sugar) and probably a wee bit of crystal. Unfortunately I over sparged the hops a wee bit, which means there will be less sugar left to ferment during conditioning. It should be OK, I just hope it isn't too flat! I shall write about hop sparging some time, but in a nutshell: If the sugar content is too high after the copper boil, it's important to dilute this wort to give the right amount of fermentable sugar. We do this by putting more hot water through the hops which are left after the copper has been drained. It also is useful for extracting more of the lovely aroma oils.


  1. Brings back memories of my first brew. Let me know what it's called and I shall look out for it.

  2. Unfortunately I don't get to name it, the sales manager does. Being a big music fan, he's decided to continue his long standing tradition of naming our specials after song titles. Therefore my first brew shall be called 'Babay it's cold outside'. Brilliant.