Wild Hop Beer

In January 2007 I brewed a beer using the wild hops I had harvested in the autumn. it was intended to be a basic bitter/ESB so that I could evaluate the character of the wild hops. To complicate things, this was the first brew I did since we had our kitchen redone, and there were many other changes to my usual procedure.

Grain Bill

Grain Weight est. og est. fg
Pale Malt 3.6Kg 35 8.3
Crystal Malt 0.6Kg 5.3 1.25
Chocolate Malt 15g 0.13 .08
Torrified Wheat 250g 2.24 0.53
TOTAL
42.6 10.16

Expected og of 1042 and fg of 1010 giving abv of 4.4%

This was based on 25 liters with 82% efficiency.

Also added one teaspoon of Brupacks DLS.

Hops

Planned for around 25 ebu, using the wild hops mainly for aroma/flavour. As the wild hops were unknown, I estimated that they were Fuggles variety and had 4% alpha acid content.

Copper Hops:

Type quantity alpha ebu
Target 10% 15g 12
Wild 4% 50g 16ebu

Aroma hops:

Wild: 25g, 10 minutes before end of boil along with teaspoon of Irish Moss

Wild 25g 1 minute before end of boil.

Yeast

Packet of Brupacks top fermenting ale yeast. Used a starter of 25g DME in 1/2 pint of water, boiled for a few minutes and cooled. Also added teaspoon of yeast nutrient.

Process

This was in a new kitchen so my process was different than usual. In addition I had recently obtained a 60L stock pot and planned to boil on the gas hob instead of using the electric boiler. I expected that this would allow me to collect more run off from the sparge and allow for evaporation, whereas with the electric boiler I did not have room to allow for evaporation and had to top up the wort back to 25L.

25L of water was boiled in the electric boiler.

About 10 liters was dropped into my mash tun (picnic cooler) and left to cool to the strike temperature of 170F (Note I am using Farenheit here because that is what my thermometer measures in).

Grain was mixed into the water, and got desired mash temperature of 150F.

Left to mash for 90 minutes.

Whilst waiting for the mash I topped up electric boiler with water and reboiled. Then transferred into my sparge tank (a plastic bucket with a tap on it).

I sparged (using Phil sparging arm) and collected 25 Liters of wort with a brix reading of 9.8% (1040 og… slightly lower than expected).

The wort was put into the 60L stock pot and some extra water added (5.4L) to allow for some evaporation.

Wort was boiled on the gas cooker… the new cooker has a central ring that is much bigger than the others, but unfortunately this did not provide enough power to bring it to a vigorous boil, so had to also use one of the other rings as well.

I boiled for 90 minutes adding the hops and Irish moss at the appropriate times.

The next problem I encountered was that the cooker was now a long way from the sink (they used to be close to each other). I did not have enough tubing to get from the tap to the immersion chiller. Instead I simply placed the lid on the stock pot and left it overnight to cool.

The next morning, the wort was siphened (I don’t have a tap fitted to the stock pot yet) into fermenting bucket. To avoid infecting the wort with my mouth bacteria when starting the siphon I followed a tip that someone at the Oxford Brewing group suggested of putting a section of larger tube over the end to suck on and then removing it when the siphon started.

I only managed to collect 19L of wort (did not account enough for evaporation and trub loss). The brix reading of this was 10.2%.

Pitched the yeast and left it for 6 days to ferment. Transferred to secondary fermenter under airlock and left for 2 weeks before bottling (primed with 80g DME) on 11th February 2007.

fg = 1008, final brix = 5.4%, making an abv of 4.1%

Taste

Very nice, malty and hoppy. Certainly wouldn’t be disapointed if served this in a pub. The wild hopshave quite a strong after-taste, but this may mellow out after being left longer to condition.

I plan to take a few bottles to the Oxford Brewing Group’s Taste and Swap event tomorrow (2nd June 2007) to get some other people’s opinion.

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