Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brewing MoreBeer's Irish Red Ale

It's a good day for brewing, boys and girls! Today we'll be brewing up the Irish Red Ale all grain kit from MoreBeer!

Our brewing process today will be what I like to call a "hybrid brew in a bag", which is just a regular brew in a bag mash with a sparge step. To do this, we'll need our eight gallon pot and our three gallon pot. We'll name them big pot and little pot to make things easy.

Let's talk briefly about this recipe. MoreBeer's website says that "this beer is classified as a big Amber Ale, but is so unique, it does not really fit within any category. Contains Aromatic malt to provide malty flavor and aroma. Features dark Crystal malts, including Special B, and a pinch of Roasted Barley for a deep red color and very distinctive caramel flavor. One of our most popular ingredient kits."

Sounds pretty tasty! Original gravity is estimated to be around 1.053 for an estimated ABV of about 5%.

It should be noted that this particular recipe kit does not ship with yeast by default, but some of their other ones do. So you can either pick your favorite dry yeast or go with a liquid variety. I chose Safale US-05 dry yeast because I find that it typically ferments fairly cleanly for me.

If you glanced at the recipe sheet, you might have noticed that this ale includes two ounces of Willamette hops as a late flavoring addition. I typically get spicy, earthy flavors from Willamette, therefore I wanted a fairly clean yeast strain to let those flavors shine through.

The kit also ships with a pretty detailed all grain instruction sheet, which might be handy for brewers who bought the kit or received it as a gift without knowing much about the all grain process. I would still recommend at least doing some online research on the process and how it can be adapted to work for your specific needs.

MoreBeer mills the grain by default and packages it in separate labeled plastic bags. I personally don't have the space for a mill and extra buckets, so I just order my grain milled. The mill on this particular grain was quite good. Although until I mill my own grain, I definitely can't complain.

So after filling our big mash pot with 24 quarts of water, we doughed in our total of 12.25 pounds of grain. This comes out to be about 1.95 quarts per pound, which is considered to be on the high side. However, I greatly prefer stirring a loose mash because my pot is quite tall and therefore tips easily.

After our 60 minute long mash, we lifted the heavy grain bag out, drained it, and sparged with about six quarts of 170 degree water to bring us to our pre boil volume of about six gallons of sweet, sweet wort.

Now it's time for our 60 minute boil. Once our dark brown wort has come up to a rolling boil, we'll add our one and a half ounces of Northern Brewer variety bittering hops. These hops, like Willamette, have very nice earthy qualities about them.

There is now about five minutes left in the boil, so we'll throw in our two ounces of Willamette and one whirlfloc tablet. Smells pretty darn good right about now, doesn't it?

At this point in the brew day, when the boil is over and I am waiting for the wort to chill in a tub of water, I have time to think about how I want this beer to be served. When I imagine the end product, I imagine sitting in an old Irish brewpub with a pint of their house red in hand. I'm thinking beer engine, boys and girls.

Don't worry, I'll cover the beer engine in another post. Sit tight.

Once the cascading head settles from the pull, you're greeted with a wonderfully dark, deep ruby red beer with a creamy off white head. Let's get down with some tasting notes.

Appears black in low lighting, but glows a deep, dark ruby red when back lit. A two finger dense head fades to a one finger head that remains through the rest of the pint.

Piney and woody hop aroma with a rich malty background.

Due to the beer engine pull stripping a lot of carbonation out of the beer, the mouthfeel is silky smoothness. Complex malt sweetness quickly transforms to to a hoppy bite. The sip starts with an almost coffee like flavor up front, moving to caramel and dark malts. Then, as the beer moves towards the back of the mouth, a pleasant piney and woody hop flavor and bitterness takes over. The lingering head is dense, creamy, and somewhat bitter

This is a very complex, flavorful, and interesting beer. Its rich malt overtones are nicely balanced by its hop character. This is a great beer to sit and appreciate when you're relaxing for the evening.

Thanks for reading!

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