Recent brewday: 'Locked Down and Bitter ESB'brewing · lockdown
My friend Tom and I were recently bemoaning the fact pubs are still shut for this third, interminable lock-down, and that despite the fact a lot of really good canned beer is available, we would actually quite like a decent pint of British ale.
So, I offered to brew some for us to share. I’ve been homebrewing a few years now, and have occasionally done one for a party, but this is the first time I’ve brewed a batch to split with a friend.
When the first lockdown started to lift back in June 2020, I walked down to the Southey Brewery in Penge, not far from where I live in SE London. They are situated in an alley that is covered in street art - could Penge be the new Shoreditch? On that occasion I had a pint of their best better, served on draft with a handpump: it was some kind of nectar. Several were had.
This is just the kind of experience I wanted to relive for my and Tom’s sake. A nice easy-drinking English bitter. Fortunately I have a decent collection of homebrewing books, and chose to base our emergency brew on one from “CAMRA’s Essential Home Brewing” (written by Andy Parker, of Elusive Brewing, and once a member of LAB where I met him a few times).
I picked a recipe where I could re-use the grist but decide on my choice of hops. Since I’ve had a bumper harvest of Fuggle hops in my back garden the last few years, and I recently acquired a vacuum packer, making it predominantly Fuggle seemed a good plan. With home-grown hops you have little idea of the alpha acid content, so I decided to add a bittering charge of Target that was in my freezer from an earlier brew.
This then is the recipe:
|Original / Final Gravity||ABV||IBU||Colour|
|1.049 / 1.011||5.1%||34||28 EBC|
|Maris Otter||5 EBC||5.0kg||94%||£10.00|
|Crystal 400||200 EBC||245g||4.6%||£0.50|
|Crystal 200||100 EBC||80g||4.6%||£0.50|
|Crystal 400||200 EBC||245g||1.5%||£0.16|
|Fuggle||Whole leaf||40g||+5min <80C steep||?||nil|
|Safale S-04||dry||2x pkt||£5.00|
The brewday itself was fairly uneventful. Nothing went wrong! This is not always the case. But on this occasion the only real deviation from plan was that I overshot the target pre-boil gravity, so the OG going into the fermenter was 1.056 rather than 1.051 as planned. This gives the brew a free upgrade from Best Bitter to ESB! I hope it will be balanced, as I didn’t adjust the hopping rates. There seemed no point given that I don’t know the %AA content of my homegrown Fuggle.
The next post will go into the specifics of the brew, and will include plenty of pictures!