Belgian Christmas Ale 30/11/2010
My brew-evening went ahead as planned, but with an unwelcome interruption. Let me set the scene for you; the house is warm and cosy, it's dark outside and the snow is falling. I start my brew and 5 minutes in there is a knock at the front door. I answer the door to be met with a rendition of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas', however I only knew this because the same six words were repeated and not because the little angels singing it could hold a tune. I let them finish what I thought would be the only verse, before breaking it to them that I didn't in fact have any change to give them. I apologised and wished them a a merry Christmas before closing the front door. THUD! THUD! and a few swear words rang out. I waited and opened the door to see the angelic singers flee the scene. Foot prints and spit decorated the outside of my door. Merry Christmas Shipley style!
Back to the brewing. This was an extract kit, so while the tin of malt extract sat in boiling water, I steeped the grain teabags in a litre of boiling water for 20 minutes and added them to the FV along with the malt extract. I made the wort up to 10 litres using cold tap water and also added half a crushed Campden tablet*, then gave it all a good stir to make sure all the sugars would be dissolved (and not stuck to the bottom of the FV) and set it aside to cool. Once the wort reached 20C (68F) I pitched the yeast. I substituted the Muntons 6g yeast sachet for a Safale S-04 11.5g sachet. Before tooking the FV up I took an Original Gravity reading of 1.050. If the beer ferments to 1.012 this will give me 17 pints of 5% a.b.v. Happy days.
*Campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) are a sulfur-based product that is used primarily in wine, cider and beer making to kill certain bacteria and to inhibit the growth of most wild yeast: this product is also used to eliminate both free chlorine, and the more stable form, chloramine, from water solutions . Campden tablets allow the amateur brewer to easily measure small quantities of sodium metabisulfite, so it can be used to protect against wild yeast and bacteria without affecting flavour.
David Bishop, 33 year old Bradfordian, born in East Yorkshire. Garage brewer and novice blogger with grand designs to own a micro-brewery. It's early days!