Wednesday 14 February 2024

Country Brewer - Irish Red Ale Kit - BrewZilla Brew Day

For our latest brew day, we've opted for a simple Irish Red Ale kit from The Country Brewer.

The kit itself comes with;

  • 4kg of Bestmaltz Red X 
  • 500g of Simpsons Golden Naked Oats, 
  • Safale S-04 dry yeast
  • 1 x Whirlfloc tablet
  • 2 x 20g Fuggles hops
  • 1 x 20g Goldings hops

It's all neatly packaged and comes with a simple brew sheet as well (pictured above)

There was no indication of Alpha Acid % content of the hops, so we're unsure on bitterness ratings, but after entering the recipe into Brewfather it looks like it's going to get us into the vicinity of an irish red ale, so let's see how it goes.

We started off as always with water adjustments using magnesium sulfate, calcium sulfate and calcium chloride. We've gone for a balanced water profile in Brewfather.

We mashed in the grains and left the grain bed to sit for 10 minutes, and whilst waiting we took to adjusting our sparge water pH. After a bit of stuffing around again (even after adding less than what is suggested by Brewfather, we end up way too acidic with a pH of 4 and need to make further adjustments to raise it back up again), we eventually landed on a pH of 5.57 - just within the generally acceptable range of 5.2 - 5.6.

After our 10 minute mash-in rest, we took a pH reading of the mash which gave us 5.27. This is with no phosphoric acid added to the mash - the Red X malt being reasonably dark certainly adds more acidity and drops the pH. Interestingly, this is exactly the expected pH value that Brewfather gave us for the mash.

The recipe run sheet called for a mash temp of 68°C - we were generally around 67-68°C throughout the mash

We began recirculating the wort and had a pretty good flow and recirculation rate thanks to the relatively light grain bill

After our 60 minute mash we raised the temperature to 75°C for our 10 minute mash out period, then lifted the grain basket and began sparging.

We feel like we're starting to get the hang of our integrated sparging setup that uses our Spike Flow pump connected to our Digiboil to pump the sparge water up the recirculation arm and out of the Sergeant Sparge Head wort sprinkler.

After an uneventful sparge we reached our pre-boil volume of 27L and we set our BrewZilla to HH and waited for a boil to be reached.

Our pre-boil gravity reading was low (again) at 1.035 - 4 points lower than the expected 1.039. We're not sure whether it's the fact that this recipe included oats again (which tends to reduce efficiency), or if our new sparging setup is causing this (or perhaps a combination of both?), but looks like we'll be calling on dextrose to make up for some lost sugars again.

Plenty of foam and hot break to be seen just before we reached the boil

We added our hop additions at 60 minutes, 20 minutes and flameout as per the brewing run sheet and then proceeded to chill our wort using our KegLand Counterflow Chiller

And yet again we ran into difficulty with wort suddenly not pumping through the chiller. We ended up with a few hundred mL in the fermenter before the flow suddenly stopped, and after stuffing around trying to figure out what the problem was (around 20-30 minutes) we gave up and chucked in our stainless immersion chiller

We're having repeated issues with this counterflow chiller, and we're very close to doing away with it - stuffing around with boiling hot wort not flowing is nerve wracking to say the least. We have a suspicion on what the problem may be, so we're going to give it one more try next time and do a bit more testing in the meantime.

We added 200g of dextrose with approx 10 minutes left in the boil, and we ended up with a starting gravity of 1.042 - bang on what the original recipe predicted.

After our issues and delay with chilling the wort, we ended up transferring to the fermenter still a bit warm at around 37°C, so we left the fermenter in our fridge overnight to cool down to fermentation temperature (around 21°C) before pitching the yeast the following morning.

Fermentation was underway and terminal gravity was reached after less than 48 hours

We certainly enjoyed the simplicity of a read to go kit like this one with all the hops in particular being measured out and packaged separately. We're very interested to see how it turns out.

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