Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Gaffer's Home brew: a Hobbit Beer

If you haven't figured out by now that I'm a geek, and love fantasy novels,'re blind.  I spent quite a while thinking on this recipe, to attempt to get something similar to an ale brewed by the residents of the Shire.  As modified by Frodo and Bilbo's comments in the movie "Have you been getting into the Gaffer's homebrew?"  "Well, yes. But that's not the point.".  Which to me says that the Gaffer's brew is something special--either extra strong, or with extra herbs. 

If you've done some reading, the Shire is based on an Victorian, pastoral England; I believe Tolkien had Warwickshire in mind.  After seeing the horrors of industrialization and WWI, it's reasonable that he dreamed of an idealized time, before the smog and toxins.  So, I decided to go with a fairly simple grain bill without Crystal or fancy malts--just English base malts, some brown malt to modify the colour, and special roast to add some complexity--and brew a ESB (higher on the OG, and on the low end of bitterness for the style), since it is likely Tolkien was drinking something along those lines while writing the Hobbit.

To keep thing interesting (and from being to style), I am adding some licorice root--the Gaffer being known for his gardening--and a little wormwood (extra herbs).  Other thoughts as to the extra strength might be the use of potatoes in the Gaffer's beer to give some extra fermentable sugars (since he was know for his expertise in growing root crops); however, I didn't feel like attempting that this time.  I'm also not using an English hop for my bittering addition--I wanted a fruitier variety for that purpose--although Fuggles will be used for the flavour addition.

Gaffer's Brown Ale - Special/Best/Premium Bitter
Batch Size: 3.488 gal
Boil Size: 4.988 gal
Boil Time: 60.000 min
Efficiency: 70%
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.4%
Bitterness: 24.8 IBUs (Tinseth)
Color: 11 SRM (Morey)

                           Name  Type   Amount  Mashed Late Yield Color
      Simpsons - Golden Promise   Grain   4.00 lb    Yes    No   81%   2 L
         Simpsons - Maris Otter    Grain   4.00 lb     Yes    No   81%   3 L
                  Special Roast    Grain   8.000 oz    Yes   No   72%  50 L
 Brown Malt (British Chocolate)     Grain   6.000 oz    Yes   No   70%  65 L
Total grain: 8.875 lb

         Name Alpha   Amount  Use       Time   Form  IBU
 Brewers Gold  9.9%   0.350 oz Boil 60.000 min Pellet 14.2
 Brewers Gold  9.9%   0.100 oz Boil  2.000 min Pellet  0.3
      Fuggles  4.5%   0.300 oz Boil 25.000 min Pellet  3.9
      Fuggles  4.5%   0.200 oz Boil  2.000 min Pellet  0.3

          Name   Type     Use    Amount       Time
     Oak Cubes Flavor Primary 0.000 tsp    0.000 s
      Wormwood   Herb    Boil  0.2 oz 10.000 min
 Licorice Root Flavor Primary  0.2500 oz    10.000 s

            Name    Type    Form     Amount    Stage
      Wyeast Irish Ale  Ale     Liquid   Yeast Cake 

               Name     Type    Amount      Temp    Target       Time
                    Infusion 4.781 gal 162.413 F 155.000 F    0.000 s
 Final Batch Sparge Infusion  1.937 qt 207.718 F 165.200 F 15.000 min

Mashed in 2/1 and hit the target of 156 (I want this to finish fairly sweet).  Pre-boil is not quite the volume I want, and is about 3.75 gallons of 1.049 at 135 (1.065 adjusted?).

As usual, I am steeping the grains in 1.5 gallons of 150 water until the main kettle comes to a boil.  This is heavily squeezed, and will be brought to a boil separately; some will be added into the main kettle, but most boiled down to around 40oz.
I will be adding that to a growler, and pitching a bit of Roeselares to ferment separately for a few weeks and develop some complexity; remember that during the time the story is based, sanitation and pure yeast cultures weren't available.  So I am using a short mixed fermentation on a small amount, and will pasteurize that before blending with the main beer, since I don't want more than a touch of sourness/brett.

4-13-16; OG 1.070.  Flavour is complex and bitter--probably too bitter for me; hopefully it mellows out.  I think I forgot to take the wormwood's bitterness into account.
6-17-16; Surprise!  Massive pellicle.  I suspect there was cross contamination with one of the things that had Roeslares in it.  Which isn't a terrible thing, since I fermented some of the wort purely with Roeslares anyways.  But, it has an extremely sharp, kinda nasty bitterness.  Not currently drinkable.
SG is unchanged since last month--1.014.

9-10-16; Still undrinkably bitter, and the SG has dropped to 1.011.  I think the only solution is to brew another 2.5 gallons or so of English pale, unhopped, and add it.

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material.  The recipes and other contents therein may not be used for any commercial purposes.

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