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Easter Courage

Over the weekend I had been planning to set another homebrew going but only managed to get round to it today. The problem is that, with setting up and sanitising equipment figured into the bargain, the process takes about 4-5 hours – 90 minutes for the mash, 90 minutes for the boil but another hour or two with things like getting sufficient water to strike temperature or moving from mashing to a rolling boil. However, there was nothing on the agenda for today and so I figured it was my last chance to try the brew I wanted to called Easter Courage before I would have to settle on a different name.

The recipe is based on another from Graham Wheeler’s book (like my February Flowers and April Shilling) and is a scaled version of his take on Courage Best Bitter. As with these brews, I worked everything round the reference point of a 1kg bag of crushed pale malt (Maris Otter Extra Pale in this case; that’s what the shop had available so my beer will be a little lighter than the recipe). That was mashed for 90 minutes with 70g of crystal malt and 7g of black malt (both of which had been ground together in my grain grinder on a loose setting), all contained in a bag and steeped in 9.83l of water. I got the water to 70°C; it dropped a little below the target of 66°C so I brought the temperature back to that point and then checked it every 15 minutes. I used my standalone induction hob, switched off between checks allowing me to swathe the pot in blankets and minimise heat loss.

Before bringing the resulting wort to the boil, I added 95g brewing sugar and 7g of Target hop pellets. The wort was boiled for 90 minutes with a generous pinch of irish moss added ten minutes before the end and then poured into a heavy duty plastic jerry can on top of another 2g of Target hop pellets to be left to cool in a sealed environment. The use of Target hops was the main thing that drew me to the recipe as I’ve got plenty of them left from the February Flowers. It will also make a contrast with the April Shilling, which only used Styrian Goldings.

Anyway, it is into the fermenting vessel at 1.042 @ 21°C (the nominal target was 1.039) with about 5.5g of Gervin yeast. I will be pleased if this works well as I can pick it up quite inexpensively from the local branch of Wilkinsons. In theory this can be pitched directly but I’ve read some research that suggests a slightly more rigorous protocol is worthwhile (boiling water, pouring about 10x the weight into a container and allowing to cool to between 30-35°C while covered, sprinkling on the yeast, leaving for 15 minutes, stirring and leaving for another five and then adding portions of wort at 5 minute intervals until the yeast solution is down to about the same temperature as the main body of the wort). This time round I am using my large fermenting bin rather than the two 5l water bottles I normally use; I’m concerned those have a rather complicated shape with nooks and crannies that are hard to clean and also that, having used them a few times, they might start to be at risk of rupturing. Hopefully the fermentation will get underway quickly and produce a good blanket of CO2 to protect the developing beer.

So, several experiments but hopefully a decent pint at the end of it all.

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