Late last year, the winter nights were drawing in, tastes were moving away from those light, hoppy, BBQ slammer pale ales.  Dark beers enter the fray, winter brewing starts getting planned after 6 months away from brewing due to a nightmare-ish house purchase, then… from the timeless void of space… Beerhawk had a sale… shit.!  Beer tokens were earned from homebrew equipment, extra tokens earned from writing reviews of the aforementioned equipment… lots of beer tokens in the account to be spent on… well, beer obviously.

Much perusal and sampling later, Founder’s KBS makes its way into the glass.  A big, scary, 11%, bourbon barrel-aged, Imperial breakfast stout from probably my favourite brewery; Founder’s Brewing from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Wow.  This beer is a revelation.  If you have shied away from beers as big as this, then KBS is the beer to change your mind.  Big, smooth chocolate and bitter coffee flavours, with those bourbon notes from the barrels and a boozy, but not burning finish.  This stuff is amazing, how can I copy it?

Luckily, Google came up with loads of information on it and the American Homebrewers Association has a recipe that apparently comes from the brewer himself, a gentleman by the name of Jeremy Kosmicki, result… cheers Jez.!

As always with American Recipes, I never stick to them exactly.  I round quantities up and down to get to the kind of quantities that I use.  After all, who wants to get stuck with 27 grams of Black Malt left or 78 grams of Munich at the end of a brew?  All daft quantities that you’d end up using, just to get rid of them.  So, 458g becomes 500g, 28g becomes 30g and so on.  I also swapped a few ingredients for ones I had in, or could easily get, or just preferred… so I swapped a portion of the roasted grains for some of the debittered/dehusked ones, as I don’t like them too burnt and acrid tasting.  After much titting about, I came up with this:

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I brewed this one across the May Day bank holiday weekend and have been very pleased with the result.  The guys have also given me some good feedback on it too, which is always nice.

The plan was to brew an English Bitter, using Jester hops.  I hadn’t brewed many traditional English styles before, so it was nice to brew something new to the repertoire.  I did a bit of reading up at some existing recipes to see what sort of grain bill I would need and was pleased to see that most use a fairly simple one, so I built on based on what I already had in and what I wanted out of the end product.

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This was my first attempt at a lager and the resulting beer was probably my best to date… my other half reckons it’s the best lager she’s ever drank… high praise indeed.!  The fermentation schedule was a little complex, but this was recommended to me by the brewer at Chorlton Brewery… I followed to the letter and the result was so good, I’ll do it again for definite.

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It was a Thursday afternoon and I was watching the clock gradually run down on the day at work.  I was having an afternoon cup of tea and chatting to the MWB lads on messenger.  We decided on the spur of the moment to try a 30/30, quick stove top brew on a school night, just to see how quickly and fuss-free a brew day (ok, night) could be.

I’ve been fancying doing a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale style brew, so quickly Googled a recipe to see what the basic make-up of it was.  It uses Cascade and Perle hops.  I knew I had plenty of Cascade, but I didn’t have any Perle, so Googled substitutions.  The first result I saw said Northern Brewer, as I knew I had plenty of that, I went with that.  The grist on the recipe I saw was 2R pale ale and Crystal 40.  Based on that, I fired up BeerSmith and set about building a recipe.

I have loads of Maris Otter, so went for that as a base malt.  I swapped the Crystal 40 for Crystal Rye (150EBC) and some CaraPils, just because I fancied trying the Rye and I always use a bit of CaraPils.  I’m not trying to create an exact clone after all.  The recipe was pretty much ‘middle-for-diddle’ on the BeerSmith “sliders” for an APA style, so that was good enough for me.  For the hopping, I went for Magnum to bitter to almost all the IBUs I was looking for, allowing late additions to make up the rest.  The Northern Brewer that was in place of the Perle, going in late, followed by some Cascade a minute before I switch off the gas and a bit more Cascade once its cooled a bit.

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Do you use them whole or pelletised? 😉

If anyone has had the pleasure of attempting to brew with two kids in tow, they know the joys of a brew day that can take twice as long as your usual brew day. Having the kids around shouldn’t prevent you from brewing though… it’s still possible.

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