Cobra’s Hopped Home Brewer’s Challenge

A local craft brewer conjured up a home brewer challenge. Silvia and I were intrigued enough to sign up.

When we arrived to pick-up out mystery ingredients were expecting a
crazy experimental hop or goofy fruit like Buddha hand. Instead we received a one pound jar of dark liquid malt extract, honey malt, munich malt, and some crystal 40. Our instructions were to use some of each ingredient at some point during our brewing process.

Silvia did some digging around a variety of recipe sites looking for something that sounded tasty which was based on the dark liquid malt extract that was part of our kit. We also consulted Randy Mosher’s Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer to get an idea of what each of the malt ingredients would bring to the flavor bouquet and attempted to sort out how we could balance those tastes with hops. After a few days, she settled on an 80 Shilling ale, which seemed to line up with the flavors that we expected to get from our box o’ingredients.

On March 20th we brewed an 80 Shilling Ale. According to Beersmith, we were not_fire_proofshooting for a pre-boil gravity of 1.056 and achieved what I think is a respectable 1.050. This is also the day that I tried to burn down Shawn’s rig and learned that the shiny bubble wrap on mashtuns is NOT fireproof. Fortunately there was a calmer person nearby with a spray bottle of sanitizer and the fire was quickly doused and the melty silver plastic was whisked away to safety.

At the end of the brew day, we managed to take home 6.5 gallons of wort at a respectable 1.070. Our starter yeast was pitched that evening and the anxious wait for bubbles began. Monday came and went without any serious activity in the fermenter. I got nervous and bumped the temperature up two degrees, to 69 F, that evening.

By the next morning there were a few small clumps of yeast floating on top and many more rolling around below the surface. Yet still no bubbles. It wasn’t until Wednesday morning that we actually had CO2 being released in any appreciable quantity. Ten days after first pitching, we still had gurgling sounds coming from the fermenter.

April second the beer was racked to secondary with a final gravity of 1.012 and a calculated ABV of 7.6%. I think after another week of conditioning, a cold crash, a fining with gelatin, and a week of carbonating in the keg it will be a tasty beer and a reasonable approximation of an 80 shilling ale.

I’ll post an update after the official judging and the people’s choice results are decided on May 29th. Until then, Cheers!

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