Introducing Badfish Bitter…Plus Brew Day Tunes Pt.2

Badfish LabelWhat an awesome day yesterday was.

Finally, after weeks of waiting, I was able to officially christen my debut brew and toast it with my family.

I bring you… Badfish Bitter.

Very pleased with the results. It’s clear. It’s carbonated and has matured a lot since I racked off my first sample before it went into secondary.

20140524_144155Much of the sickly-sweet maltiness has now dissipated and instead, you’re left with smooth biscuit and caramel notes, before a long, dry finish. The hops are the hero, though. More citrussy than floral, it’s got a nice bittery tang which lingers long in the mouth after the liquid has gone.

Room for improvement, sure, but probably a bit better than I was aiming for when I started the project, so I am one happy homebrewer this morning.

The main thing I’ve learned is that brewing requires patience, trial and error and I am indebted to those in the community for their sage words of wisdom, advice and support along the way.

20140524_153131It’s only right I pay it forward by sending a little link love their way, so huge props and crucial thanks in particular to @KevsHead, Gary at Bionic Brewing, The Apartment Homebrewer, The Happy Homebrewer and the Homebrew Handyman.

Now, my family and friends who know I have been working on this beer for weeks have been asking me what it’s called and where the name came from.

I’ve left them all wracking thier brains trying to figure it out for a few days, but it’s time to put them out of their misery.

It’s named after one of the Sublime songs which was playing when it was conceived:

Speaking of tunes, my second mash – I’m aiming for something akin to this –  is bubbling steadily away in the kitchen, ready for some serious sparge in a few moments time. Here’s what’s on today’s brewday playlist:

20140524_144121Pixies – Surfa Rosa. There’s always been a lot of debate about which Pixies album is the best, this one or Doolittle. It misses the point. Both are awesome. End of argument.

No Doubt – Rock Steady. Harshly derided as radio friendly chart fodder here in the UK – in my circles at least – but I don’t agree. No Doubt kick ass and this is their best. Plus, before Katy Perry, Aguilera, P!nk, GaGa et al, there was Gwen Stefani, and she’s better than the lot of them!

Sublime – 40 oz to Freedom. This one kicked off my last brew day, so it must be a lucky omen.

Jurassic 5 – Jurassic 5. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop recently and while there is a place for some of the more darker elements of the genre, I love the positivity that oozes out of every single pore of this one.

That should take me until mid-afternoon. New Order, The Kinks and Blur may get a spin later on if there’s time. We’ll see.

Happy Sunday, folks!

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I can see clearly-ish…

Almost a week since bottling and the vast majority of the brew is clearing very nicely indeed.

I managed to fill 37 half-pint bottles in the end, with a half-dozen chilling in the fridge and the rest in a totebox under the stairs.

I’m pleased with the progress of all bar one…..

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The taller bottle on the right as you view it is typical of the whole batch – quite still and clearing nicely.

The one on the left, however, has a tiny ring of froth at the top and is gently bubbling under the surface. To my mind, it means either a touch too much priming sugar has re-started fermentation… OR… that particular bottle is skunked.

This is my first ever brew and I am far from being an expert, so my questions to all you more experienced homebrewers out there is…

1) Safe or skunked?
2) If skunked, can I use that bottle as a guide as to when the other bottles in the batch have fallen fully clear, or will it behave differently if it has been infected?

As always, all advice from the community welcome and appreciated.

#FF Pint: Gladness, by Growler Brewery

Last Friday was so hectic that I didn’t even have the time to squeeze a real pint in, let alone a virtual one, so I have a doozy for you this week to make amends. Image

Following the theme of my last #FF pint, that is bands which create beer, I bring you Gladness, a rather curious little brew from the Essex-based Growler Brewery, in honour of one of my fave bands of all time – UK ska legends Madness.

I say curious, because they bill it as “a lager, that’s an ale…that’s totally mad.” Brewed as an ale, it uses only lager ingredients and the result is a golden amber beer, with the distinctive floral and malty notes of a lager, but a dry and bitter finish at the end.

At 4.2% ABV, it has an acceptable alcohol content and is, if I dare to describe it in this way, a distinctly British beer.

It’s a bizarre drinking experience, given that it looks like an ale, but it tastes like a lager, albeit with much more taste and body than the common cooking variety. It’s by no means unpleasant, though, and definitely one for the patio, in the sunshine, with a slow-cooked rack of ribs and some chargrilled corn on the cob.

While it’s not readily available in the major chains (certainly in my neck of the woods), a quick search of some of the speciality beer parlours near my place of work unearthed a modest supply and I’m sure the more determined real ale shops around the country can also get hold of some.

So, cheers to all the people who’ve engaged with me on this blog and via Twitter this week and if it’s your first time at the @JonnoBrews bar, don’t be a stranger.

Have a good weekend folks. I’ll leave you with this…

 

 

Cloudy with a chance of yeast balls…

20140512_213939Bottled my first batch yesterday, following a couple of weeks in secondary.

It was a leisurely, if time consuming, activity, but I now have 30+ bottles of beer happily conditioning away.

The beer itself hasn’t changed too much since I dropped in the finings. It tastes more or less the same, although perhaps a touch sweeter, but the one thing which has left me a bit puzzled is what has happened to its clarity.

When I racked my sample off last week, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a damn sight clearer than it was when I racked it from primary.

However, since adding finings (gelatine and isinglass), it has gone much murkier than it was. I had been working on the assumption that it should go the other way.

It left a huge puddle of slop at the bottom after syphoning the whole brew off into bottles, so I know a lot of the crap has dropped out of it since adding finings, but I was expecting it to be much clearer.

So, my question to all you more experienced craft brewers out there is: should I be worried about this development (beer tastes fine, just cloudy as a puddle)…and will it clear in the bottle over time?

Interesting post-script is that I can see a definite break in the bottles now, 24 hours on. About half an inch of beer at the top of each bottle is near crystal clear, with the rest underneath cloudy as hell…it was about half a cm when I woke up this morning, so definite progress, but will the rest clear over time?

Over to you, guys, am I on the right track?

Message (almost) in a bottle…

wpid-20140507_195134-1.jpgBrew has been in secondary for the best part of two weeks, but I pitched in some gelatine this evening, ahead of bottling this weekend.

I was extremely diligent with the sanitisation, but the opportunity to syphon off a wee sipper was too hard to resist, so rack off the best part of a pint I did. Here are the tasting notes:

Clarity: Not crystal clear by any stretch, but better than it was before going into secondary. A lot better, in fact. Not expecting perfection, but am hopeful that the gelatine will help get rid of most of the final fug and leave me with a beer you can see through.

Colour: It’s lightened another notch from the nutty-brown concoction it was and now looks like a nice, light ale.

wpid-20140507_194636.jpgTaste: Definitely matured. Still lacks body, which stems from the rushed sparge, but is by no means unpleasant. Much of the maltiness has gone, so the hoppy notes shine through and the finish is dry. I’m pleased at this stage.

Gravity: Dropped from 1018 to 1015, from 1035 at the start. Happy with that for a first attempt, but know where improvements can be made next time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Overall: Not perfect by any stretch, but not as shabby as I was expecting for the first brew, either. I could see myself drinking two or three bottles of this on the patio, in the late sunshine, when the time is right.

The plan is to bottle, name and Christen this batch at the weekend, then get my next one on the weekend after.

I’m thinking pale, in time for Summer, but we’ll see.

For now, cheers people!

#FF Pint – Build A Rocket Boys

20140427_180836Manic week at work this week, so blogging activity has been a bit sparse around these parts.

However, just enough time to squeeze in a quick #FF pint for all those who have been good enough to engage with me on this blog and on Twitter this week.

It’s Build a Rocket Boys!, a beer brewed exclusively by the band Elbow in support of their album of album of the same moniker.

I’m not a fan of the band – far from it, in fact – but I kind of like the idea of a band-endorsed beer, which reflects their roots, homeland and heritage.

Hailing from Bury, Elbow are very much a product of the home in the heartland of the industrial north.

Brewed by Robinson’s in Stockport, near Manchester, this golden, malty amber beer is a very smooth pint. Not at all unpleasant, but by no means remarkable.

If I was being harsh, I’d say it was a reflection of the band themselves – bland and inoffensive, but lifted by the occasional high note – but it’s the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend, so I’m not going to be so churlish and instead say that this made a good accompaniment to the roast lamb and mint sauce dinner I drank it with. Not perfect, but a good companion nonetheless.

So, bottoms up guys and thanks for checking out the blog this week. Hope to see you back here soon.

Cheers!