Date Style IBU Boil Target OG Actual OG FG ABV %
12/08/2012 Irish Red 23.6 75 min. 1.041 1.038 1.012 3.4%

When I decided I wanted to craft a trio of traditional English style beers, I knew that the perfect complement to a stout and a bitter would have to be an Irish Red. The first red I remember really enjoying was Laurelwood Brewing’s Free Range Red. Big and bold, it held its malts and hops in perfect balance in a brilliant red beer. Luckily for me, Laurelwood publishes a lot of their beer statistics and properties right on their labels, so I had a good blueprint when it came to attempting to reverse-engineering it. Frankly, I didn’t even come close, but I still managed to make a great red that bears repeating and improving.

Ingredients

Grain Qty %
Marris Otter Pale 6 lb 70%
Vienna Malt 12 lb. 24%
Roasted Barley 6 oz. 4%
Crystal 120L 3 oz. 2%
Hops/Additions Qty Time IBU
Fuggles 1 oz 75 min. 18.7
Goldings East Kent .5 oz 15 min. 4.9
Irish Moss 1/2 tsp. 5 min.
Yeast Qty
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale 2 package

Brewing Notes

Dec. 8: Mash at 150° for 75 minutes. Removed the grain from the mash tun, sparged into a second vessel with 168° water. Topped off with a half-gallon of cold water to maintain the mash temperature. I’m curious how this recipe will turn out – the color looks much more like a brown ale right now. The mash went well, I was able to keep the temperature between 150-155° for most of it, and never went above 160°.

Had some spillage while sparging, mostly from juggling the collander/grain bag system I rigged up. Not the best process, needs some improvement. Still managed to collect 2.5 gallons of second runnings from the sparge.

Cooled the wort with an ice bath as usual, assisted by stirring with a sanitized 20 oz. bottle of ice. Colled from 220 to 70° in about 25 minutes, adding .5 gallons of cold water to help cool. Pitched my yeast at 1.038 OG.
Dec. 13: Gravity sample is still really dark, chestnut-colored. Has a mild nose and a roasty flavor. Tastes like a slightly fruity stout. Might skip the 120L on the next batch, or sub in some 30-60L instead.
Dec. 18: Moved the beer to secondary. Tastes great, will probably prime with brown sugar. Volume is about 3.8 gallons or so (?) Need to re-measure the volume markings on the fermenting bucket again.
Dec. 28: Bottled 4 gallons today. Primed with 2.8 oz. of corn sugar instead of brown sugar. Filled twenty-six 12-oz bottles and six 750ml flip-top bottles. Named this one ‘Dark Phoenix’, inspired by its darker-than-expected color. Tastes good, though it’s a bit lower on the ABV than I’d hoped.

label_004Tasting Notes

Jan. 8, 2013: Opened the first bottle today, after 11 days in the bottle. Flavor is mildly nutty and malty, with VERY mild hops. Should be well-carbed in another 7-10 days.
Jan. 19: After three weeks, this is a pretty damn good beer. Brought a six-pack to a party, and it was a popular alternative to the scotch. Two non-beer drinkers complimented me on the lack of hoppiness – people share my preference for lightly-hopped beers! Consensus is that it’s a bit weak, but tasty. Not surprised that it seems week, considering how far the OG was below the estimate. A more-consistent process should help.