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Slow Flowers

It has been over two months since my last homebrew post and longer since the last beer related one. For what it’s worth, the cider I mentioned back in November turned out somewhere on the borderline between drinkable and vinegar. The first bottle I tried had good carbonation but wasn’t an entirely delightful combination of tastes. However, it does pick up when used like a cordial with sparkling water; the vinegar overtones are masked and the apple comes through. Therefore, it looks like I’ll be enjoying cider spritzers for a good portion of the year to come as well as having plenty spare to experiment with for culinary purposes.

Meanwhile, I’m getting back into beer with another batch based on the Flowers IPA in Wheeler’s Brew Your Own British Real Ale. I’ve done this a couple of times before (see February Flowers and Summer Flowers) but I’m making a small twist for this new batch, which I’ve christened Slow Flowers.

The new factor is that I’m using my Codlo (temperature probe, timer and power controller). Last year I made a lot of use of my Raspberry Pi to monitor the temperature at different stages but I still haven’t got that set up to turn power supplies on and off. I was able to use the Codlo to mash at a very consistent 66°C in my slow cooker. The challenge was that it only has a 5l capacity so I had to do two batches of 4.5l (which just about avoid overflowing when adding the grain). That makes the mashing take longer but, on the other hand, it doesn’t need monitoring for the 90 minutes of sitting at heat. Next time I might try three 4l batches keeping the liquid a little further away from the brim but giving a higher final output. Boiling was the same as normal – I worked on the principal that 90 minutes of rolling boil would be more than enough to wipe out anything that was trying to grow in the cooling wort from the first batch while the next one was underway!

After the boil, the wort was left in a plastic jerry can for the best part of a week. I’ve done this experiment before and it was mainly due to having a few details like getting an assignment in on time that stopped me getting the fermentation starting earlier. I did that today though and the original gravity, adjusted for temperature, was 1.043 – quite a long way up on last time and well over the recipe, suggesting I get very good efficiency with this approach.

I’m using the Codlo again to support the fermentation process. I did some tests earlier this week with a pot of water and determined that it was able to control a brew belt to maintain a consistent temperature. I’ve got the Codlo set at 20°C, which should keep the yeast happy. I can get 99 hours out of the timer which may not be enough to cover the whole fermentation but I can always reset it early next week.

The final proof will be in the drinking but leftovers of the unfermented wort make me hopeful that I’ll have a decent brew at the end, even if I only end up with eight or nine bottles this time round.

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