Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lady Murasaki - Pale Japanese Session Ale

After a brewing hiatus of a few months while a new assistant brewer was born and welcomed into the world, I've finally managed to get a new beer devised and brewed.  I usually make fairly strong beers, 5% abv or higher is common, and I thought the time was nigh to rein in my usual tendencies and try to brew something a little less potent.

I had a couple of bags of the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace in the cellar which I'd been wanting to try out for a while, so that was the start of my recipe.  Given a Japanese hop, I thought that I'd add some cooked rice into the grist as well, to further accentuate the influence of Nippon.

After those broad brush strokes of the recipe I was left with filling in the detail, and of course a name for the beer. Murasaki Shikibu was a 10th - 11th century diarist, poet and lady-in-waiting to the court of Empress Shōshi.  And to add to those honours she's now lent her name to my latest creation: Lady Murasaki - Pale Japanese Session Ale.

(Some early apologies for this post being light on the picture front - after a break in brewing I was so busy making sure I was doing everything right that I forgot to take some snaps).

Beer Profile:
Original Gravity 1.036
Estimated Final Gravity 1.010
Estimated Abv: 3.4%
Bitterness: 39.8 IBU
Colour: 8.5 EBC

2800g Maris Otter Pale Malt
500g Pale Wheat Malt
250g Cooked White Rice
150g Light Crystal
100g Torrified Wheat

The grains were mashed, along with the freshly cooked still-hot rice (and what remaining cooking water there was in the pan) for 90 minutes in 10L water at 66C with a tablespoon of Gypsum and about an  half a teaspoon of Epsom Salts.  All the water was treated with 2 Campden Tablets.

I sparged with 22L of water at 77C, and was left with about 29L of wort to boil.

Boil Schedule:
Sorachi Ace [14.9%] - 5g - 90 minutes (First Wort Hops)
Sorachi Ace [14.9%] - 10g - 20 minutes
Irish Moss - 1 tspn - 10 minutes
Sorachi Ace [14.9%] - 55g - 5 Minutes

After cooling I was left with 25L of wort going into the fermenter, into which I pitched a 1 litre starter of Wyeast #1187 Ringwood Ale yeast, which I'd made up of the course of the previous week.  Ringwood Ale yeast is well known for being highly flocculant, so it needs a good rousing every couple of days or so, or it can settle down out of suspension and slow right down or even stop fermenting.

Even taking that into account, I've had the beer in the fermenter for just over two weeks now, and the gravity is only down to 1.016.  I hope it'll get down as low as 1.010.  Otherwise it's going to be even weaker than I intended.

Early tasting notes are, with regret, not great.  The Sorachi Ace seems to have imparted an almost lemon-detergent-like flavour into the bitterness.  Hopefully that harshness with condition out of the beer given time.

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