Yes folks, something special to mark the start of the brewing season and also a 'milestone' brew in the brief history of the Nunhead Brewery: all-grain brew #10. Not just that, but in order to avoid total psychological meltdown and get stocks replenished I'm going to do 2 brews in one day. And a long day it will be at that.
After a summer of stockpiling ingredients and preparing equipment for the onset of cooler, brewing weather I realised that all these hops would be slowly diminishing in flavour and bittering potential so I ought to make a dent in them, quick. The temptation to brew yet ANOTHER Styrian Stunner was proving hard to resist (yes it really is that good) but you can get too much of a good thing, so maybe best to save it for another day. Also, what would be nicer than a strong, dark complex beer on a cold and stormy November night? With this thought in mind I went straight ahead and brewed another light, aromatic and fruity pale ale (rolls eyes). But only on the condition that brew number 2 of this marathon day would be something to lay down to mature in time for christmas.
I had an as yet unopened package of Brewer's Gold hops, bought with the idea of trying to replicate the awesome, twice 'Champion Beer of Britain'-winning Crouch Vale 'Brewer's Gold', a lovely pale yellow ale which is sweet, fruity and delicious, in my top 10 favourite beers ever ever ever list, no doubt.
Some insider knowledge gleaned from JHBF stated that Crouch Vale's recipe uses exclusively Brewer's Gold hops, which go into the boil as one huge late addition that gives all the bitterness and a big hit of flavour at the last 15 minutes. For this first attempt I bottled-it a bit and went for 10 IBUs from the full-boil, then a big flavour addition at 15mins to go, then an aroma addition once the boiled wort had cooled to 80°c.
As if a double-brewday with a completely untested hop schedule wasn't enough I thought I'd give batch-sparging a go, in order to try and shave a bit of time off the process and see if there were any gains in quality to be had from employing different methods. More on this later...