Putting Together a Temperature Controller

I’ve been told by many other homebrewers that one of the most important things in homebrewing is repeatability. ¬†If you can’t repeat your process exactly and only change one variable at a time, how are you ever going to dial in a recipe and/or diagnose then reduce faults?

So one of the most variable parts of my brewing process thus far has been fermentation temperature control Рbasically I had none.  I started off with the fermenter sitting in the corner of the room, meaning that the temperature would fluctuate based on what the central heating is currently setting the room temperature at or the time of year.  I then migrated to placing the fermenter in a large flexible plastic bucket (something like this) filled with water.  This did a good job at stabilising large temperature fluctuations, but the overall temperature was still dependent on the room temperature and the time of the year.

So enough was enough, I had a spare fridge in the garage which was going to become my fermentation chamber, and a tube heater borrowed from a buddy at work, ¬†now all I needed was a temperature controller…

Here’s the shopping list – I got the STC-1000 is from eBay and everything else from Maplin:

* 2m for main power lead, 1m each for heater/fridge plug sockets, the remaining cable I striped and separated out the cores to use for the internal wiring in the box.

To put the thing together I cut holes into the box using a Dremel hand saw and a drill, then simply followed the instructions in this great video, but instead of using heat shrink wraps, I used the terminal blocks and wired the mains cables into one side (coming directly from the plug connector) and the wires from the controller to the other side:

And this is the final result!



I’ve got in use on a batch as I type this and it’s happily holding the fermentation at 19¬†¬ļC. ūüôā

Single Hop IPA – Galaxy – Results

Here’s the results of my first attempt at an IPA. The brew day (and the bottling session) was a bit of a cock-up but thankfully the beer has turned out really well!

Aroma РA slight yeasty aroma (most likely due to the crud in the bottom of each bottle), but this is masked mostly by a really powerful tropical fruit and citrus aroma.

Appearance¬†– If you pour it right and avoid getting any of the crap out of the bottles it’s a clear light orange/brown colour, with a creamy white head.

Flavour РMatching the aroma for big big fruit flavours Рcitrus, kiwi, banana and a sweet maltiness too.

Mouthfeel –¬†Light to medium body, good carbonation.

Overall – This has to be the best beer I’ve brewed yet, and it’s a bloody nice IPA to boot – once you manage to¬†separate¬†the beer from the crud that is!

Would I brew it again?¬†– Oh yes, I’ve already ordered another bag of galaxy hops! ¬†This turned out way better than I expected, the next time i’ll make sure I have a better brew day and manage to bottle more…

Exmoor Ale Clone

Whenever Catherine and I head down to the west country I love the bitters and ales we find down there. ¬†Exmoor Ale, by the Exmoor Brewery has been a¬†perennial¬†favourite over the years so I thought I’d have a bash at a clone.

Here’s the recipe details:

Recipe: Exmoor Ale
Style: Special/Best/Premium Bitter
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.70 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.64 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 18.93 l   
Bottling Volume: 17.41 l
Estimated OG: 1.039 SG
Estimated Color: 30.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 40.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 74.8 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
18.93 l               London, England                          Water         1        -             
5.00 g                Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash 60.0 mins)      Water Agent   2        -             
5.00 g                Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins Water Agent   3        -             
1.00 tbsp             PH 5.2 Stabilizer (Mash 60.0 mins)       Water Agent   4        -             
3.20 kg               Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC)         Grain         5        87.9 %        
0.40 kg               Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC)   Grain         6        10.9 %        
0.04 kg               Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC)               Grain         7        1.2 %         
50.68 g               Challenger [6.00 %] - Boil 90.0 min      Hop           8        40.0 IBUs     
1.00 tsp              Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              Fining        9        -             
7.00 g                Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 0.0  Hop           10       0.0 IBUs      
0.5 pkg               American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast         11       -             
1.00 tsp              Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days)        Other         12       -             

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out

Total Grain Weight: 3.64 kg

Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 9.51 l of water at 74.3 C           66.0 C        90 min        

Sparge: Fly sparge with 20.79 l water at 75.6 C

Brewed on 24th June 2012

Notes on the results to come soon. ūüôā

Luton Pride – Results

This is the beer from a few weeks back. ¬†This has turned out very drinkable…

Taste¬†– High bitterness with a good malty character. Fruity esters come through as well with good dry finish. ¬†It’s not really come out anything like London Pride (the original target recipe) but it’s turned out great.

Aroma РA light fruity hop aroma, and mild malt notes.

Appearance¬†– A light toffee brown colour and brilliantly clear. ¬†It’s lightly carbonated and forms a nice head upon pouring.

Would I brew it again? РYep!

Luton Pride

This time round I thought i’d have a go a cloning one of the beers that introduced me to real ale – Fullers London Pride, but as i’m from Luton, I thought i’d call it Luton Pride!

Recipe: Luton Pride
Style: Special/Best/Premium Bitter
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 25.78 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.71 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l   
Bottling Volume: 17.49 l
Estimated OG: 1.040 SG
Estimated Color: 22.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 30.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 86.2 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
2.74 kg               Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC)         Grain         1        84.3 %        
0.51 kg               Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (157.6 EBC)   Grain         2        15.7 %        
11.08 g               Target [11.00 %] - Boil 90.0 min         Hop           3        15.9 IBUs     
6.04 g                Challenger [7.50 %] - Boil 90.0 min      Hop           4        5.9 IBUs      
6.04 g                Northdown [8.50 %] - Boil 90.0 min       Hop           5        6.7 IBUs      
3.00 g                Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              Fining        6        -             
7.05 g                Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 10.0 Hop           7        1.6 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               British Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1335) [124. Yeast         8        -             
4.00 g                Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Dry Hop 7 Hop           9        0.0 IBUs      

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 3.25 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 8.48 l of water at 73.8 C           65.6 C        75 min        

Sparge: Fly sparge with 21.50 l water at 75.6 C

Added 400g DME and 200g Corn Sugar into fermenter as post boil OG was a touch low (measured at 1.036, with sugar it came up to target - 1.040).

Brewed on 22nd April 2012

After the chaos of the last brewday, this one went pretty much as planned. ¬†The only slight¬†wrinkle¬†was that the post-boil OG once again came in a touch low at 1.036, so I had to add 400g DME and 200g corn sugar to the fermenter to get the OG up to target (1.040) – I think i need to re-asses my brewhouse efficiency for the next brew…

Fermentation went quite quickly, as the yeast cake from the last brew was quite substantial – it was bubbling away within about 4 hours – once it had calmed down a bit I transferred it into the barrel after 4 days and added the dry hop additions.

However, before putting the wort into the barrel I managed to put a little bit of muslin around the outlet (inside the barrel) to try and stop the hops clogging up the pipes this time around!

After 10 days in the barrel, it was time to bottle. ¬†The FG came in at¬†1.010, meaning an approximate ABV of 3.9% – not quite the 4.2% I was aiming for, but still a good sessional beer level. ūüôā

Single Hop IPA – Galaxy

Let me get this out there, I love IPA’s; English, American, Imperial, it doesn’t matter, it’s rare that i’ll find an IPA that I don’t like (Greene King – i’m looking at you >:-/ ). ¬†So it’s quite odd that I haven’t got around to brewing an IPA yet…

This changed a couple of weekends ago with my first batch –¬†I thought i’d try a single hop American style IPA with one of my current favourite hops – galaxy. ¬†Thank BrewDog and their recent IPA is Dead series for the inspiration on this one.

Recipe: Single Hop IPA - Galaxy
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 20.59 l
Post Boil Volume: 18.55 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l   
Bottling Volume: 15.49 l
Estimated OG: 1.062 SG
Estimated Color: 16.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 75.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 89.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
1.89 kg               Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC)            Grain         1        47.5 %        
1.88 kg               Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC)         Grain         2        47.4 %        
0.20 kg               Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (157.6 EBC)   Grain         3        5.0 %         
22.07 g               Galaxy [15.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           4        41.3 IBUs     
29.81 g               Galaxy [15.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min         Hop           5        33.7 IBUs     
0.50 tsp              Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              Fining        6        -             
1.0 pkg               British Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1335) [124. Yeast         7        -             
46.00 g               Galaxy [15.00 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days     Hop           8        0.0 IBUs      

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body
Total Grain Weight: 3.97 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 11.50 l of water at 71.4 C          64.4 C        75 min        
Mash Out          Add 6.72 l of water at 98.0 C           75.6 C        10 min        

Sparge: Fly sparge with 7.36 l water at 75.6 C


Notes / Measurements:

Brewed on 7th April 2012

Before we move on, here’s a PSA – always check your equipment!!! ¬†Somehow I managed to forget this golden rule resulting in me (a) putting 4 kg of grain in the mashtun when the false bottom was not properly attached to the drainage pipe, and (b) proceeding to put in the first batch of mash liquor with the drainage tap open on the mashtun…

So, one slightly moist carpet later I went on ok with the mash, but when it came time to run off the wort and sparge nothing was coming out!!! ¬†Not such a good start to the brew day. ¬†So, I had to scoop out the water and grain into another container to realise my error (the false bottom wasn’t attached) – once fixed I got all the grain and the mash liquor back into the mashtun and got to sparging. ¬†I managed to retain 24 litres of wort, with a pre-boil OG of 1.050 (target was 1.054 so we’ll call this close enough – I was just glad to be this far)!

Thankfully the boil was pretty much uneventful and all went to plan, ending up with 16.5 litres going into the fermenter with a post-boil OG of 1.057, again this was slightly below target (1.062), but I wasn’t too unhappy with that.

After pitching the yeast there was good fermentation going after 12 hours.  I transferred the wort into the secondary fermenter (a pressure barrel) after 4 days.

After 10 days in the barrel it was time to bottle, the FG came in at 1.018, which is quite a bit higher than expected, so we’re looking at about 5.1% ABV, maybe the yeast will still get a little bit of work done in the bottles. In preparation for bottling, I added 180g of light dry malt extract to the barrel for priming, and then after a short while got down to filling my first few bottles, now here’s where it all went wrong again…

After the fourth bottle nothing else was coming out of the barrel – the taps and pipes were blocked with all the hops used for dry hopping! ¬†I ended up having to siphon all of the beer out and only managed to fill about 20 bottles (10 litres). ūüôĀ

The bottles have been sitting for nearly a week now and they’re starting to clear a bit, but there’s some nasty looking crud at the bottom of a few of them – fingers crossed it’ll all taste ok! ¬†Next time i’ll work on putting a filter over the tap in the barrel. ūüôā

As usual, tasting notes etc to come once the beer is ready to drink…

My First Hefeweizen – Results


So here’s the results from my¬†first attempt at making a hefeweizen

Taste¬†– Banana, citrus, a little bit of grapefruit – it’s light and refreshing. ¬†It tastes at it’s best chilled.

Aroma¬†– To be honest, it doesn’t smell that great (but then again, there’s not many hefe’s that I like the aroma of), there’s a bit of a sulphur hint, along with citrus and a slight yeasty overtone.

Appearance РLight, cloudy (when you swill the yeast out of the bottle), and with a small amount of carbonation (this could do with being better next time). It looks fairly similar to the Weihenstephan hefe you can get in most UK supermarkets.

Would I brew it again?¬†– With a few tweaks to the recipe yes – it could do with a touch more carbonation and a bit more body to it. ¬†I love a good hefeweizen so I’m determined to get this one perfect. ūüôā

My First Hefeweizen

I’ve always liked the hefeweizen style of beer, especially on a nice warm day. It’s not too heavy, hoppy or malty and is just damn¬†refreshing. ¬†So naturally I had to give it a go…

Batch Specifics:
Batch Size: 10 litres
Total Grain: 2kg
Anticipated OG: 1.047
Anticipated ABV: 4.5%
Anticipated EBC: 5.5
Anticipated IBU: 11.3
Est. Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 120 minutes

50% – 1kg German Pilsner Malt
50% – 1kg Geman Wheat Malt

13.5g Spalter Spalt whole hops (4.9% AA) added to the boil at 40 minutes

Not good...

0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient added to the boil at 20 minutes

Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen Рmade into a 1 litre starter a couple of nights earlier

26 litres of Luton’s finest, boiled for 30 minutes the night before with half a camden tablet. This was cooled overnight and then I ran off 25 litres ready for brewing, leaving 1 litre and all the chalk to be disposed of.

Mash Schedule:
Mash In: 5.3 litres of water at 78‚ĄÉ for 45 minutes
Mash Out: 2.1 litres of water at 98‚ĄÉ for 10 minutes
Sparge: Fly sparge with 17.5 litres of water at 76‚ĄÉ

Look at that change in colour!

Brewed 21st January 2012

Mashed the 2kg of malt according to the schedule, and ran off 24 litres of wort at a disappointing OG of 1.019 (expected pre-boil OG was 1.029). So, I added 45g of light dried malt extract to bring the wort up to the target OG of 1.029.

After the boil, again the measured OG was way below target – I measured 1.026 in 16 litres of wort, but the expected target was 1.050 in 10 litres! So I had to add yet more extract (300g) and sugar (600g – as I ran out of extract) to bring the OG up to 1.045.

The wort was cooled using a copper immersion chiller, and then transferred into the fermentation bucket and pitched with 750ml of the yeast starter. ¬†The other 250ml was put into the fridge – we’ll see if it’s viable for another batch in the future.

Not a perfect brew day, but there’s a lot more beer there than was expected – silver linings and all that…

There was good fermentation after 18 hours, and this kept going for another 4-5 days. After 7 days, I moved the wort into the barrel, OG was measured at 1.014, where it stayed for another 7 days before bottling (primed with 58g of brewers sugar) – the FG at bottling was 1.008, so we should be looking at about 4.8% ABV in the end.

That’s enough for this post, i’ll write about the results shortly!