Sunday, 17 June 2012

AG Brews #8 and #12 - Red Bee (An Irish Red Ale with Honey)

This beer started out as a name - 'Red Bee', as it's the place where I work and I wanted to brew something for my colleagues - and it was only after I started to look up recipes for an Irish Red that I realised that it wasn't so far fetched to brew a beer in that style with some honey to dry it out a bit in the finish (hence the 'bee' element!).

I have to give full credit for this to MysticMead, whose Raging Red Honey Ale was the basis for this. From reading his blog, his recipe has done him good service, including winning a few homebrew competitions, so it seemed like it would be worth a try. (His blog has some great stuff on it besides this recipe, including hop growing tips, so give it a look!)

I made a couple of changes to the hops to put my own spin on it. His recipe calls for Crystal and Cascade - I didn't have Crystal, so used Mt Hood instead. And to make a change from Cascade, which I've used in all the IPA batches I'd done so far, I swapped them for some juicier, fruitier Galaxy hops that I had in the freezer - I thought they'd suit the malty profile of the style.

Finally, I didn't have any WLP001, which he uses, but I did have Wyeast 1056, which is pretty much the same strain (I'd quite like to give this a try with a more English/Irish strain in future). No starter for this, as it's relatively low gravity.

Recipe - Red Bee (based on Mystic Home Brew's Raging Red)
3kg Pale Malt
500g Cara Aroma Malt
250g Carapils
250g Melanoidin Malt

Mash at 66C for 60 mins using campden-treated tap water. Mashout for 5 mins at 72C, then sparged with water from the boiler at about 70-72C. Collected 23l (can't find my pre-boil gravity figure though, which is annoying)

28g Mt Hood (5.7%) at 60 mins
28g Galaxy (15%) at 15 mins
10g Irish Moss at 15 mins
454g wildflower honey (made a bit more liquid with about 50ml boiling water) at flameout

Specific Gravity - 1.052
Approx volume - 20.5 litres (this translated into 39 500ml bottles)
ABV 5.78%

This was one of the easiest brewdays I've ever had - simple mash, simple boil, no starter to worry about - and one of the most satisfying. Eight days of fermentation at room temperature (19C) and it was down to 1.008 with no fuss. I was a bit concerned when the bottles took about 3 weeks to carb up, but they were worth the wait. It really looks the part - amazing, deep-red colour with a good white head - and with a deep malt flavour that finishes a little dry (from the honey). It's very sessionable, although I wouldn't recommend it given the strength.

As per the title, I've today brewed this for a second time due to demand from people I've given bottles to - the only change second time around was to first wort hop the Mt Hood, as in the original recipe. Just as before, it was a pleasure to brew - very straightforward, and I managed to hit my SG again (although thanks to some improvements in efficiency I managed to collect a bit more wort this time, so I've got a full 23l in the FV). If it turns out as well as the first batch, I'll be chuffed.