Showing posts with label water. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2013

International Homebrew Project - Water

Those of you planning to take part in this year's International Homebrew Project will know that next weekend, February 24th/25th, is when we will be brewing the 1877 Truman's No. 4 Burton ale which topped the poll I ran last month. Hopefully most of you will already have sourced your ingredients, but a question which has been asked of me several times is in regard to the ingredient most of us tend to take for granted, our water.


Although Truman's is best known as a London brewery, they did have a Burton operation and it was there that the No. 4 would have been brewed. As such, they would have been using the famous Burton water, which is high in alkalinity, pretty hard and with a moderate sulfate content. A representative breakdown of the mineral content of Burton water reads like this:
  • Calcium (ppm):294
  • Sulfates (ppm):800
  • Magnesium (ppm):24
  • Sodium (ppm):24
  • Chloride (ppm):36
  • Carbonates (ppm):200
The accepted method of adjusting your water is through the use of gypsum and Epsom salts, although you can also buy specific Burton Water salts.

For the purposes though of the International Homebrew Project I really don't want to make Burtonising your water a requirement. Feel free to do so if you know the appropriate changes to make in order to replicate Burton's water, but don't feel as though you need to. One of the interesting things, at least from my perspective, about the project is reading the differences between the finally beers based on the same recipe and obviously water contributes a lot to that.

Still on the IHP theme, but nothing to do with the actual brewing, I have recently been in contact with Truman's Beer, the company which bought the rights to the Truman's name from Scottish and Newcastle and is in the process of returning to the East End of London. They were excited to know that homebrewers from around the world were recreating one of their old recipes and asked if it would be possible to have samples sent to them so they can see how they turn out. This is mainly, I imagine, for the UK and Ireland brewers, but if you are interested in sending some samples to Truman's drop me an email and I can give you the relevant details.

I am looking forward to brewing the Burton Ale, and decided to get a headstart on the yeast by brewing my latest batch of bitter using Wyeast 1028 on Friday so I will have a nice healthy yeast cake to pitch the wort on to when I brew.

Friday, August 10, 2012

BreakFast Time!

I haven't had a drink for 12 days now. Yes, I am on my annual, post Daytona Beach beer fast, though this year it is forming just part of a bigger program to get myself back down to my 2009 weight, and once that happens perhaps I will keep going until I reach my 2007 vintage.

The beer fast itself though will come to an end tomorrow as it is the Dominion Cup and I have volunteered to judge - though at the time of writing I still don't know what categories. Even though the beer fast will be broken, I have a plan to avoid the booze effecting me too much too soon, involving a nice greasy fry-up and a pint of whole milk. This weekend could also see the return of brewing, depending on what the wife is doing on Sunday.

With this being my first brewday in the new house I have decided that I will do a double header to see the difference between my well water and the usual purified water I use from the shop. I am hoping that my well water makes good beer and thus cuts a cost from my brewing (did I mention that I am quite cheap?). To test the water I will be brewing my autumn beer, which in keeping with the spirit of my post on Wednesday will be ready around the time of the Vernal Equinox (the middle of autumn in the UK, the beginning in the US). My autumnal beer for this beer is an 80/- "Scottish" ale using the following recipe:
  • 96% Golden Promise Pale Malt
  • 4% Roasted Barley
  • 15 IBU Fuggles for 60 minutes
  • 5 IBU Kent Goldings for 15 minutes
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale Yeast
I won't be engaging in any spurious techniques like boiling down some wort to make an intense maltiness, or adding peated malt to get that smokiness which is wrongly considered part of the style by some. Nope, this will hopefully be another session beer to enjoy when the days of steady rain finally arrive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From the Source

Think of the great brewing cities of the world, London, Burton, Vienna, Plzeň. Each of them home to a famed type of beer, London its porter, Burton its IPA, Vienna its red lager and Plzen its Pilsner. When we look at brewing history, we look at the malt, hops and yeast that made these styles, we look at the methods employed to create the wort, we look at how long the beer spent conditioning, and then at how it was handled once it left the brewery. One thing though that I sometimes feel is overlooked is the most important ingredient in beer, water.


Whether it is hard water of London, the soft water of Plzeň or the famous sulphurous liquor of Burton, water has played a greater role in the development of beer that probably any other ingredient. As recently as the early 1890s the brewers of Munich were convinced their water would not allow them to brew a pale beer in the Pilsner style.


When I went to the new Blue Mountain Barrel House a couple of weeks ago I was talking with Taylor about the water source they have there - not a common beer lover line of conversation I am fairly sure. Taylor told me that the Barrel House water is insanely soft, on a par with the well at Devils Backbone apparently, while the well at the Blue Mountain brewpub, just a half hour drive, is quite hard.

To taste the difference between water sources, we sampled Blue Mountain's Full Nelson at the Barrel House, and again, half an hour later, at the brewpub, and the difference was very noticeable. The soft water version has a softer, gentler bitterness and hop flavour which I find very appealing, in fact I think I prefer it over the original, the Full Nelson Urquell you could say. That's not to say that the brewpub Full Nelson isn't a moreish, drinkable pale ale, just that the Barrel House version is more so.

It sometimes feels as though the only truly local thing about many beers is the water, given that malt, hops and even yeast are shipped in from around the world. While I understand the reasoning behind tampering with a water supply to recreate the waters of great brewing cities, when a brewery has access to tasty, clean water, I think it is something of a pity not to let it speak for itself.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

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