New BJCP Style Guides

This is old news, but work has kept me away from the blog. The BJCP style guides have been updated. There's a handy PDF file that can be used to print a pocket sized guide, as well as a word document with track changes enabled that allows you to see how the 2008 style guide has changed. I'll probably try to make an effort to use the new style guidelines on new posts, but all of the old posts will retain links to the 2004 style guides.

758. John Harvard's Crooked Caber

758. John Harvard's Crooked Caber

I had a pint of this at John Harvard's in early February.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: John Harvard's Brew House
Alcohol: ?
Serving: Tap
Style: Scottish Ale, BJCP Style Guide

This post probably won't be informative since I'm just going on memory, but I remember it being a pretty standard Scottish style ale. It wasn't as malty as others, but it was tasty.

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Home (Lab) Brewing: ESB

I've been wanting to homebrew for awhile, but my lack of experience and lack of equipment made the activation energy insurmountably high. Matt, who joined the lab last May, has acted as a homebrew catalyst, lowering the activation energy with his experience and equipment.

We've been planning on brewing for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it until now. Since we work in a yeast lab we thought it only fitting that we brew in lab and use any useful equipment in brewing. We decided to go with an extract based ESB recipe that Matt had brewed before, with a few hop modifications. I'll give the basic protocol in the recipe, then I'll talk about the lab equipment we used later. On Wednesday Matt, Gloria and I went to Modern Homebrew Emporium in Davis Square after lunch at Chipotle. We bought the grains, malt extract, hops and yeast then.

  • 6 lbs Plain Light Malt Extract (Munton's)
  • 4 oz. crystal 40
  • 4 oz. chocolate malt
  • 4 oz. roasted barley
  • 1.5 oz. Brambling Cross for bittering
  • 1 oz. Cascade for finishing
  • 0.5 oz. Cascade for dry hopping.
  • White Labs WLP002, English Ale Yeast
Protocol: The milled grains were put in a mesh bag and were placed in the water. They were steeped until the temperature reached 62ºC (144ºF) and were held for 30 minutes. After the hold the temperature was brought up to 70ºC (158ºF) and the grains were removed. The malt extract was added and the wort was brought to a boil. The boil was 60 minutes total. Half of the bittering hops were added at the beginning of the boil and half were added 30 minutes in. Yeast nutrients (20 mL) were added at the beginning of the boil, and Irish Moss (5 mL) was added 45 minutes into the boil. The wort was removed from the heat and the finishing hops were steeped for 10 minutes. The wort was cooled, diluted and the yeast were pitched.

7 February 2008
On Thursday we added 50 grams of malt extract to 250 mLs hot Poland Springs Water and boiled on a hot plate for 10 minutes.

8 February 2008
The starting malt extract was reboiled for 10 minutes was allowed to cool and was inoculated with the entire volume of WLP002. The starter was placed on a 220 rpm shaker and grown overnight.

9 February 2008
Our original plan was to use Bunsen Burners for the boil. We found a metal grate in lab that we placed on some glass dishes for elevation. Unfortunately about three minutes after we lit the burners the metal on the grate was red hot and had started to bend. Either we need a more heat resistant grate, or we need to elevate it more so it contacts a cooler part of the flame.

The original setup (all photos can be clicked for full-size).

Since we didn't have another suitable surface to place the pot on we decided to use hotplates for the boil. It fit nicely ontop of two large hotplates with a smaller one behind. We put about 3.5 gallons of Poland Springs water into the pot to boil.

The bitchin' hotplate setup!

Lakefront ESB Chilling in the ice machine.

They have a grain mill at the homebrew shop so we didn't have to worry about having to mill our own grain. Matt had a large bag that we used to steep the grains.

Matt shaking out of the grains.

I was initially a bit skeptical of the ability of the hot plates to do the job, but after this round of brewing I'm sold. They got the wort up to 70ºC pretty easily, and the dials on the front made keeping the wort at 62ºC for 30 minutes extremely easy. I think they'll be nice if we decide to do an all grain batch.

Steeping the grains.

After we were done steeping the grains we added 6 lbs of malt extract, and cranked up the temperature to get it to a boil.

The wort after the extract was added.

After 70ºC the hotplates were pretty slow in getting the wort up to boiling temperature, so we used two Bunsen burners on the side of the pot to help things along. The Bunsen burners helped a lot, and got the wort up to a boil pretty quickly.

Jeremy and Matt heating the wort with Bunsen burners.

Once the wort started boiling the hotplates easily held the boil for the entire hour.

The boiling wort.

We have all sorts of neat toys for everyday yeast work in lab. So before we pitched the yeast we decided to get some info about what we were pitching. I took the optical density (OD) of the culture using a spectrophotometer. Our reading for a 1 to 20 dilution of the starter was 0.687, meaning our final OD was 13.74. For reference, a culture that's grown overnight to saturation in YPD (yeast media) is usually at OD 7 or 8.

Me taking an OD reading on the spec.

We also have a Coulter Counter, which can be used to determine the number of cells in a volume of sample. In 1 mL of a 1 to 10,000 dilution of our starter culture there were 12, 078 cells, meaning that there were about 120 million cells per 1 mL of our starter culture. We pitched our entire starter, 285 mLs, for a total of approximately 34.4 billion yeast.

Matt using the Coulter Counter.

We cooled the wort in an ice bath in the 4ºC room. It ended up taking about 15 minutes to cool sufficiently, and when we mixed in the rest of the cold water the wort was at a perfect 78ºF.

The wort cooling.

Matt pouring the cold water into the primary fermenter.

Me pouring the wort into the primary fermenter.

34.4 billion cells ready to be pitched.

Me pitching the yeast.

WLP002 on a plate for future brewing.

We also took some of the wort aside and pitched SK1 and W303, two lab strains, in about 350 mLs each. By that night there was significant bubbling in the airlock, and on Sunday the yeast were going crazy, we had to refill the airlock several times. On Monday the airlock was bubbling every 5 seconds or so. By Sunday SK1 had also started fermenting, but the W303 fermentation seemed to be stalled. W303 is auxotrophic for adenine, so we added some on Monday. We'll see if that's rescued the fermentation in the morning.

The original specific gravity was 1.050.

We're planning transferring to secondary on Friday or Saturday, and dry hopping with the remaining 0.5 oz. of Cascade hops then.

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