Homebrew 8

Brewday - 24 November 2013

Sidewinder - 6.8% American IPA

The brief for this one was to be a big hoppy number, pale amber colour, with plenty of carbonation and body. I bought a load of Amarillo and Cascade hops and set to it.

The grain bill was Maris Otter, Caramalt and Torrified Wheat, up to a total of 6.5kg. I decided against an overnight mash, based on the level of heat loss I had the last time with the cold ambient temperature.

I set the alarm for 5.15am and started off a 90 minute mash at 68C with a water-to-grain ratio of 2.6L/Kg.

I use a very rudimentary device to do sparging. It's just a plastic tray with holes poked in the bottom. I pour hot water into the tray and it acts as a reservoir, sprinkling the water onto the surface below. The tray can be moved around to get an even distribution over the surface of the mash. I collect the runnings through a seive and into a jug and pour the wort into the boiler, waiting below.

A set of digital kitchen scales is useful but this model only measures to the nearest gram. That's fine for weighing out the grain and hops but no good for water additions such as gypsum, which needs to be more accurate. At the moment, I just have to guess by adding a rounded teaspoon of gypsum but I may look for a little set of more accurate scales at some point.

 The cooling coil is a bit ropey too, because the copper-to-hose joint is under the surface and I'm always concerned about it leaking cooling water into the wort. I could do with modifying the design a bit or perhaps just getting a counterflow chiller instead.

The O.G. came out at 1.063, which was a little under what I was expecting. I used two packets of US-05 yeast again and within a couple of days, there was a nice thick foam krausen as can be seen in the photo above.


I kept the room air temperature at 19-20C throughout the ferment. It fermented in quite a restrained way, with no major swirling and churning going on. I'm hoping this may mean I had the temperature low enough and the fruity ester tastes that have hampered my previous pale beers may be gone.

On day 6 I added about 150g of loose leaf hops - again Amarillo, Cascade and Willamette. The F.G. was 1.012, which gives an ABV of about 6.8%. I bottled on day 12 and added the most dextrose yet, 170g, in an attempt to get a nice strong carbonation.

I opened a bottle after 4 days and it's yummy. Nice and hoppy, with a moderate aroma but a delicious complex and not-too-citrusy taste. The colour is exactly what I'd hoped for - a kind of light amber. The beer is really thick and viscous too, with loads of texture. I'm really pleased with it at this point and can't wait to see what it's like after another week or so.


Two and a half weeks after bottling and I'm down from 36 bottles to having 12 left, having drunk or given away the rest. It's not even really ready yet, which is the most upsetting bit. I'm going to lock away the remaining 12 bottles for a while.

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