After a lot of hard work and organisation the stars finally aligned and May 10th became our first brew day or ‘Gyle 1’. Our plan was to get 4 beers ready for launch so we decided we’d start with the one which will need the most conditioning, our 7.4% US hopped India Pale Ale, ‘Cannonball’. This would mean more malt, more hops and more work than any of our other core beers but we figured we may as well start at the deep end, and thoroughly test the kit. The first brew day was always going to be a relatively nervy affair as the size and design of the vessels meant we couldn’t really do any test brews, (that and the fact the gas burner wasn’t commissioned until yesterday).
We started mashing in relatively late at 8am owing to the fact that with the brewery van away for its branding, Stuart our head brewer had to get the train in from Sheffield. 23 bags of malt were needed for Cannonball which filled the mash tun more or less to capacity. The mash was completed in about 10 minutes and was nicely hydrated *high fives all round*. . Re-circulation of the mash began about 3o minutes in, (a great feeling as the site glass filled with the sweet coppery pale wort) and after another 30 minutes we began transferring the wort to the kettle.
When the transfer was nearly complete the gas burner was turned on and then its a waiting game to get the wort up to a good rolling boil, pre-boil gravity was checked a few times and we were bang on target at 1074. This was the one part of the brew we were a little bit concerned about as we found out during the commissioning of the gas burner that the ancient gas meter in the brew house wasn’t letting through enough flow to power the burner to its optimum performance. Sure enough the burner cut out a couple of times during the boil due probably to inconsistent gas flow but it happily re-lit and we were able to keep the brew boiling. While the boil was ongoing I dug and cleaned our mash tun out for the first time ready for the farmer to collect the spent grain.
As a big US style IPA, Cannonball obviously needs lots of hops. We added three pellet hop additions during a 1hr 30 boil, the first for bittering and then two subsequent additions for bittering and flavour. It was then time to weigh out an additional 12 kg of whole hops to be used in our Magic hopback. Cannonball uses more than a kilo of hops per brewers barrel in the brew to compliment its high alcohol and it’ll also be heavily dry hopped during fermentation to add more flavour and aroma.
After re-circulating to create a filter bed of hops in the hop back, we transferred the rest of the hot wort through the hopback to the fermenter via the heat exchanger, all of which was happily working well. It was then time to pitch the yeast and let it do its magic. We intend to re-pitch our own yeast eventually but for the time being and until we get up to capacity we’re using dried yeast. All that now remained was to dig out the hopback and wash down the brewery.
All in all a successful if slightly long 1st brewday, 13 barrels of Cannonball are safely tucked inside FV2 fermenting, we have one or two issues we need to address before we brew again, but we’ve overcome the first hurdle. Overall we’re really happy with the way the day went and after what feels like an eternity setting up it feels great to have finally brewed. The kit has done what it should and we’re confident of its ability to produce the quality of beer we want.
We plan to release Cannonball in Key Kegs and bottles as we think strong hoppy IPA’s are better suited to extra carbonation. As one of our core range we’re really hopeful it’ll turn out great, we hope you’re looking forward to tasting it as much as we are.
We plan to have Cannonball along with our 3 other core beers (High Wire, Rapture & Curious) available in early June, and the bottles should also be ready around the same time.
We took some pictures of the 1st brew day, check them out below