One of the best parts about making beer (aside from drinking it) is the social aspect. Brewers love to swap recipes, discuss what well or horribly wrong in their brews. We thought it would be a fun idea to start a beer conversation here. We're going to make a beer every month here and encourage other brewers to make it as well. In the end, we're hoping we can share our opinions and experiences with the recipe and crowd-source some improvements. The recipes will be easy to make and we will gladly assist new home brewers in the production of these beers. They will all be 5.5 gallons in size. We find that after fermenting and racking a 5.5 gallon batch turns into a standard 5 gallon batch pretty quickly.
At the start of every month we will post the recipe in store, as well as on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will also have a set price for the recipe that will include a discount of up to 25%!
Best Bitter – 5.5 Gal - OG 1.044 – FG 1.011 – ABV 4.3% - IBU 38 – SRM 9
My (Connor) favourite soccer team is Norwich FC who play in the English Soccer Leagues. I say leagues because they are one of those bubble teams that tends to be in the top league one year and the lower one the next. In 2018-19 they blitzed through the Championship League and earned promotion to the Premier League. Hopes were high that they would be able to stick around in the Prem for a while – well, that did NOT happen. Norwich started off well, beating the defending champs early in the season. But things went awry shortly after that and they crashed and burned to the bottom of the standings. Norwich has been relegated to the lower league for the third time in five years.
This month’s beer is all about easing the bitter taste left after a bad season. It’s a classic English Best Bitter. Like most English beers, it has a low ABV which means you can enjoy a couple more of them during the game. It has a spicy, earthy taste from the East Kent Golding hops, along with a nice caramel finish to balance the sharp bitterness. We chose a classic ale yeast for this recipe: Nottingham Ale. Until recently, S-04 was our preferred English Ale yeast, but we brought in Nottingham and ultimately preferred the flavours Nottingham brought to this recipe. Finally, we add gypsum to the mash water in order to promote the hoppy aroma and flavour of the East Kent Golding hops. This addition mostly applies to people using Guelph water, but would also work for this in the tri-cities, Fergus, Elora, and Rockwood.
Golden Promise x 8.5lbs
Crystal Medium x 0.3lb
Double Roasted Crystal x 0.2lb
Acidulated Malt x 0.3lbs
East Kent Golding (4.4 AA) x 2oz @ 60 minutes
East Kent Golding (4.4 AA) x 1oz @ 10 minutes
Recommended Extra: 3/4 tsp Gypsum at mash in
Important Tips on Brewing
Be extra cautious when it comes to cleaning! Once you have stopped boiling your wort everything that gets in contact with the beer MUST be sanitary.
The temperature of your mash is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. Not being in the 150-155f range can drastically affect your beer. Make sure you correct the temperature ASAP once all of the grain has been added to the mash.
Always let your beer ferment for 10 days! Do not disturb it, do not open the lid. It is absolutely natural for the airlock to stop bubbling after a few days, it is still fermenting though.
Oxidization:Airspace is always something to consider. When undergoing primary fermentation airspace is needed so that the beer can bubble up and ferment vigoursley without leaking out of the container. The fermentation creates a layer of CO2 that remains in the pail due to the airlock. Once primary fermentation is over, and the lid has been opened, the layer of CO2 dissipates, and oxygen replaces it. At this point airspace can ruin your beer. When racking into carboys make sure they are filled to the top, or you blast CO2 inside to prevent oxidization. Ask us for details on this!
Before bottling, make sure you use a priming calculator (many can be found online) to verify the amount of sugar that needs to be added.
What's the deal with the acidulated malt?If you're using Guelph water, or any tap water from Ontario it is almost always very hard water. Hard water has a high pH, in order to get the pH down to the proper level for brewing we recommend adding 2.5-3% acidulated malt to your beer. It depends on the style a bit, but this is a good rule of thumb. Get in touch with us if you'd like a more in-depth explainer of pH and water adjustment!
Mashing -> converting the grain into a fermentable liquid.
Bring 6 gallons of water in your brew pot to 155°F. This is our strike temperature. Turn off the heat to the pot.
Wrap the muslin/nylon bag around the brew pot and slowly pour all the milled grains into the bag. Stir them in while adding to prevent clumps. The addition of grain should drop the temperature down to 150-155°F.
Mix in ¾ tsp of Gypsum into the water and grain. This will raise the sulfate minerals in the mash which leads to a crisper bitterness. This addition is based on Guelph water chemistry, it should also work for Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo/Fergus/Elora/Rockwood. If you are outside of these areas feel free to reach out to us and we can try and recommend a proper mineral addition.
We want to mash the grain at 154°F for 60 minutes. It is very important to hold the temperature at 154°F. If the temperature rises above 155°F it hurts the fermentation, or if it dips below 149°F it can lead to a thinner tasting beer.
The first 15-30 minutes are essential for the success of your brew. The temperature HAS TO BE IN THE RANGE OF 150-155°F. Sometimes adding the grain to the strike water does not lower the temperature enough, in this case add a little bit of cold water to bring the temperature down. Cover the pot with your lid and let it sit.
Most brew pots will be able to maintain 154°F without adding heat for 20 minutes, we recommend checking the temperature every 15 minutes, and if it drops add more heat to bring it up. We recommend opening the lid and using a thermometer in the liquid.
After 60 minutes, bring the temperature of the mashing grain up to 170°F and hold for 10 minutes. This is our mash out.
Time to remove the grain. Lift the bag full of grain out of the brew pot. Let the liquid in the bag dribble into your wort. Once that is done, put the bag inside of a brewing pail, or another empty pot. There will be about 4 gallons of wort in the brewpot, we need to get it to 6 gallons before we can begin the next stage.
Run warm water through the grains in the bag, aim for 170°f – let it run through the grains and add to the brewpot. Add until you reach 6 gallons.
PSA: It is natural to think that the grains need to be squeezed to get all of the liquid out of them, DO NOT DO THIS. Aggressively squeezing the grains will lead to tannin extraction and a doughy taste in your beer. Lightly pressing the bag is fine, but do not try to squeeze every last drop out.
Boiling -> Hop addition time
Bring 6 gallons of your wort to a rolling boil, and let it boil for 5 minutes, this is called the hot break.
Add 2 ounces of East Kent Golding hops to the pot and set a timer for 60 minutes, keep the wort boiling (212°f) and uncovered.
With 15 minutes left in the timer add the Irish Moss, and if you’re using a wort chiller add that too.
With 10 minutes left in the timer, add 1 ounce of East Kent Golding.
When your timer goes off, turn off the heat, and proceed to the cooling stage.
Now it’s time to cool the beer down to 75°f (20-25°c) as quickly as possible.
We love using a wort chiller for this, it can get the beer down to temperature in 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, you can immerse the brew pot in an ice bath or wait it out. The longer it takes, the greater the risk of infection
Fermentation -> Turning the wort into beer
After the boil is done it is time to be extra careful in regard to sanitation. We recommend using a no-rinse sanitizer called Starsan. Mix ¼ tsp of it with water in a 500ml spray bottle. Before we touch any part of the beer we spray it with Starsan.
Transfer the cooled wort into your fermenting pail or carboy. Run it though a strainer to catch any hop or grain residue.
It is also an important time to take a hydrometer reading. It should be around 1.044 give or take a few points.
Your choice of fermentation vessel is important. During primary fermentation, it will bubble up quite a bit, you want to be sure there is airspace for it to work away. Otherwise the pressure of it will push out the airlock.
Make sure the wort has been cooled to at least 25c!!! Adding yeast at a higher temperature will likely kill it.
Once the beer is in the fermenter, pour in the 11.5g sachet of Nottingham Ale yeast
Put the bung and airlock in the hole (make sure there is water filled up to the line in the airlock). If using a pail, make sure the lid is sealed tight. Put the pail in a room that is in the range of 18-21°c.
After 10 days have passed, take a hydrometer reading. It should be somewhere between 1.010-1.014.
Lately, we have been of the opinion that secondary is an unnecessary step. Unless you are kegging, we recommend proceeding to the bottling stage. Clarification can occur in the bottle rather than in a carboy, and the risk of oxidization is greatly reduced.
Bottling -> We’re getting close to Beer Time now.
Rack the now fermented beer into a bucket.
At the same time, mix the priming sugar with 300ml of boiling water and add to the beer. Stir it in VERY gently.
Make sure to check out a priming calculator to verify the correct amount of sugar. Too much sugar and your beer will end up foamy, or even start blowing the caps off! Too little and the beer won’t be fully carbonated.
Rack the beer into your bottles or growlers. Then, let them sit for 2-3 weeks at room temperature. Chill and enjoy!