Full Mash Technique
4.5kg Crushed Pale Malt
50g Challenger Hops
15g Goldings Hops
Dry Hops (added at Flameout):
10g Challenger Hops (or 15 hop pellets)
½ Britewort Tablet
Sachet Harris Premium Beer yeast
Sachet Beer Brite Finings
Carbonation Drops (optional if bottling)
5 gallon of water for Bitter brewing
We recommend that you consider the Grainfather brewing system for brewing full mash ales. The Grainfather is an automated brewery system that gives precise results every time, allowing a scaled down commercial brewing process to be achieved. Your local home brew store may hire out Grainfather equipment. It is great fun to use and produces commercial quality beers every time. It is not a cheap piece of equipment but if you consider the Grainfather an investment it will soon return a break even on your initial cost and will reward you with perfectly crafted beers on demand. A demonstration video is available at www.shop4homebrew.co.uk.
Another time saving mashing process uses the Electrim Bin system, which is the method this recipe will describe. In terms of equipment, you will also need a second 5g bucket (preferably with a tap fitted) and a good quality purpose designed grain bag (one which has courser mesh on the bottom and finer on the side). You will also need a long handled spoon, a large 2 litre plastic jug, and a good quality thermometer.
Treat your water before use to make it suitable for Pale Ale beer. There is a guide on www.shop4homebrew.co.uk on how to adjust water qualities.
The Mashing Process:
Raise the temperature of 11.5 litres of water to 68-70C (this is known as the Mash Liquor). The aim is to achieve a strike point of 66C. The strike point is the final temperature after the malt grains have been added. You will need to predict how far the temperature of the water will fall when the grains hit. This will be more noticeable in cold seasons. A good tip is to store the grain in a warm room for 24hrs before use to ensure it is not cold.
Switch off the boiler and stir in the grains, ensuring that they are fully mixed with water to form a loose porridge. Do not allow dry grains to fall onto the hot heating element as this could impart a burned smoky flavour to the beer. Once mixed, turn the Electrim Bin back on and maintain a temperature of 66C for 90 mins. It is critical that the mash temperature remains within a couple of degrees of 66C throughout the mashing process and particularly during the first ten minutes. This process will convert the starch within the grains to sugars. If all of the starch is not converted then a starch haze may result in the finished beer.
The Sparging Process:
Heat the remaining water (11.5 litres) to a temperature around 75C (it should be hotter than the mash temperature).
Fit the grain bag around the empty bucket and carefully pour the grain mash into it. Raise the bucket to a higher level and put the Electrim Bin underneath. Open the tap to allow the liquor to empty out. This can be carefully and slowly poured back over the grain bed in the mashing bag. The idea is that the mash bed now acts as a filter and allows sugars to pass through whilst holding back any unconverted starch particles/fine grains.
A good way of thinking of the sparging process is to imagine the grain husks as upturned umbrellas and the fine starch powder lies in the bottom of each small umbrella with the sugar. Your goal is to very gently rinse the grains to wash the sugar out of them but ensuring the powdery starch remains captured in the upturned husks. Therefore, it is imperative that you pour the water very slowly and finely over the grain bed. (some brewers use a sterile water can rose or a hand shower attachment to ensure a fine flow). As a guide the sparging process should take around 40 minutes and the resultant 23 litres of liquor which is now contained in the Electrim Bin is referred to as Sweet Wort.
The Boiling Process:
The next stage of the brewing process is the boil. This is where the hops are added and proteins are broken down. It is a very important stage to ensure great flavours/ aromas are produced, and to ensure clear beers are ultimately achieved.
There are two categories of hops to add to the boil. At the start and early on in the boil bittering hops are added. These are usually robust (or noble) hops that will provide the power house of the hop flavour in the beer. Finishing hops are added towards the end of the boil to provide subtle flavours (complexity) and a delicious hoppy aroma in the final drink. Sometimes dry hopping is recommended, whereby a small quantity of hops are floated into the boil at the end after the heater has been turned off (known as Flameout), for ten minutes to give a final added value to the beer.
Add the Bittering Hops to the Sweet Wort liquor, and set the Electrim Bin to boil. It will take a while for the liquor to boil and the Electrim Bin may cut off for short periods as it heats up to prevent any caramelisation. Once the boiling point is reached the Electrim Bin should allow a rolling boil to take place. This where it rolls the hops from the side of the surface to the centre. During this process a Hot Break Point should be reached. This is where the proteins contained in the liquor are brought together (coagulated). This is an important part of the process, without which the final beer may remain cloudy through a protein haze. You may see a green hop resin film on the surface of the beer as the hot break point is achieved. Until recently brewers added Irish Moss or Protafloc to the boil to ensure an early and effective break point. However, Britewort is a much more effective product and contains natural ingredients. It has become the first choice for both home and commercial brewers.
The boiling process should continue for 90 minutes in total but after 80 minutes add the finishing hops, together with half a Britewort tablet. Until recently brewers added Irish Moss or Protafloc to the boil to ensure an early and effective break point. However, Britewort is a much more effective product and contains natural ingredients. It has become the first choice for both home and commercial brewers.
Once the boil has finished turn the Electrim Bin off and pitch in 4-5 pellets or 4grams of dry hops (alternatively a hop teabag can be used). Float them in the wort for 10 minutes then pour through the grain bag fitted to the spare bucket to filter out the spent hops. Be careful as the liquid will be extremely hot!
The Cooling Process
The wort now needs to cool down to fermenting temperature. The faster the wort is cooled the better the end result will be. This can be achieved naturally but by using a wort chiller (a pipe connected to a cold water tap that acts like a refrigerator) the wort can be cooled extremely quickly. This will enable a Cold Break Point to be achieved. This where the coagulated proteins fall as a sediment to ensure a crystal clear beer is produced. The combination of hot and cold break points provide an extra benefit as they will also sterilise the wort.
Once the temperature of the wort reaches 19C pitch in a sachet of Harris Premium Beer Yeast. Choice of yeast has a huge impact on the final result. Harris Premium Yeast is an extremely clean fermenting yeast that is alcohol tolerant and highly attenuative, making it perfect for all beer styles. The yeast will convert a very high percentage of sugars into alcohol leaving a beer with more alcohol and producing a crisper drier flavour. There are over 50 billion viable yeast cells in each sachet and it is currently one of the best beer yeasts on the market.
Traditional methods of brewing involve partially fitting a lid to a bucket and covering with a cloth to keep insects out. This allows air into the bucket to support fermentation. However, if the beer is left too long before bottling/barrelling there is a risk of airborne infection.
Contemporary brewing techniques recommend that the beer is given a vigorous two minute stirring to aerate it and mix with the yeast before tightly fitting a lid fitted with a grommet and airlock (or alternatively using a screw capped wine fermenter). The theory is that there will be sufficient air in the wort to support the fermentation process, and the closed environment will minimise the risk of airborne infection. This is the technique that is recommended.
Leave the beer to ferment in a temperature between 15-20C. Fermentation should take 7-14 days. A final gravity below 1015 should be achieved. Premium beers with high malt contents will often finish at gravities above those previously cited (1004 for bottling and 1008 for barrelling). The rule of thumb is that if a gravity reading of around 1010 (or below) is stable for 2-3 days consider the primary fermentation complete.
Once fermentation is complete mix a sachet of Beer Brite Finings with a little water and add either to the fermentation vessel during the last day if bottling, or directly into a barrel. Then siphon the beer carefully from the sediment, either into a sterile bucket or directly into a barrel (fitted with a gas injector/relief) or bottles. Prime the barrel by adding 100gms sugar and secure the cap. If bottling, the use of carbonation drops for priming is recommended. They give excellent results. Store the bottles or barrel in a warm place (24C) for 5-7 days to allow a secondary fermentation to take place. This will ensure the beer is carbonated. Then store in a cool place to condition and clear. Do not rush the maturation period. If you can wait 2-3 months then high malt content beers will reward you with a delicious taste. The difference in quality between a beer matured for 2-3 weeks and one matured for 2-3 months is remarkable. This advice applies to premium high malt beer kits too.
Finally, pour carefully and serve at the correct temperature. Then sit back and reflect on the fact that you have cloned a commercial champion beer at a fraction of the cost, using natural ingredients, and crafted using your own skills….. Cheers.