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February Flowers

Last week I acquired a thermapen, a quick-read temperature probe to replace the previous one that has started to become very unreliable. In celebration, I decided it was time to knock up another homebrew and so placed an order with the Malt Milller to get the ingredients to try the Flowers IPA recipe given in Graham Wheeler’s Brew Your Own British Real Ale. I like the strongly hopped flavour of an IPA and Flowers is one of my favourites.

What I couldn’t do was brew in the quantities that Wheeler suggests so I scaled down his recipe to use 1kg of pale malt along with 88g of crystal malt and 7g of black malt in the grain bill. That gives me plenty of crystal and black left for future recipes as the miller sells them in 1kg packets; I bought these un-crushed to give them a longer shelf life, while the pale malt was ordered pre-crushed. This was mashed for about 90 minutes, in theory at 66°C although it was below this temperature most of the time. I tried using my two big pots in a bain marie type arrangement but should have got the water in the outer one preheated. I added 3l of water to the grain bag at 60°C and hope that the long mash time made up for the slightly dubious thermal control (the thermapen was great for letting me know how much I was missing the mark!).

I had planned to sparge with 7.92l but think I was a litre or two short. With the palava of boiling a litre at a time to 80°C, I lost count or at least the nerve to trust my count. The result of washing the grains was getting quite thin and my copper (the large boiling pot) was getting quite full. I added 6g of Target hops (in pellet form) and 95g brewing sugar (dextrose) and brought this to a rolling boil on my induction hob before transferring back to the stove top for another 90 minutes. The induction hob worked well; on my last brew I didn’t manage to get the wort to a proper boil until towards the end of the process. Ten minutes before the end, I then added 2g of Goldings pellets (Savinjski rather than Styrian but I understand these are equivalent to each other) and 3g of Irish Moss to help coagulate the floating particles. Rather than struggle with cooling, I transferred the liquid to a 10l thick plastic jerry can and left to drop to room temperature overnight.

This evening, I siphoned the wort into a brewing vat before aerating with a stick blender and pitching about 6g of pre-hydrated Nottingham yeast. This has been added to a couple of fermenting vessels (5l water bottles) along with a sample jar containing my hydrometer. The reading for the start of fermentation is 1.040 @ 17°C, which is a touch higher than Wheeler’s specified 1.035 original gravity. Maybe that extra litre or two of water wouldn’t have gone amiss although I would have felt less safe bringing it to the boil.

Anyway, time to wait now. Based on previous brews with Nottingham Yeast, it won’t be any later than next weekend that I’ll be ready to put this in the bottle and then allow it to condition for a couple of months before starting to sample it and find out if my February Flowers is anywhere in the target zone of Flowers IPA.

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