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In trying to keep up with my Year of Brewing Beer this past Sunday I went ahead and brewed a Southern English Brown. You may not be familiar with this style as there are no real commercial examples available in St. Louis (at least that I’m aware of.) Here’s a quick rundown from the BJCP:

Overall Impression: Malty-sweet, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Moderately fruity, often with notes of dark fruits such as plums and/or raisins. Very low to no hop aroma. No diacetyl.

History: English brown ales are generally split into sub-styles along geographic lines. Southern English (or “London-style”) brown ales are darker, sweeter, and lower gravity than their Northern cousins.

As you may or may not remember, I brewed this beer in early September for a party we were having in October. I’ve quickly found this is one of my new favorites, it’s lush and slightly chocolaty. Also, at 3.8%, it’s a perfect session beer. The other great thing about this beer, is because I enjoy it so much, it gives me a chance to really hone my techniques and start focusing on making sure to do all of the little things right. It gives me the ability to see what differences there are from batch to batch and where I might need to improve in the future.

Warning, really nerdy homebrewing stuff lies ahead.

This was also the second time I got a chance to use my whirlpool immersion chiller. If you’re not familiar with brewing beer, one of the most important parts after you’ve finished brewing your wort is to cool it as quickly as possible. You get benefits not only from a flavor and sanitization standpoint, but also because it saves you time. An immersion chiller is really nothing more than a coiled copper pipe that you attach to a hose or your sink. You push cool (or at this time of the year, cold) water through the pipe and in turn it cools your wort.

One of the problems with this though is that you’ll get an envelope effect going on in your pot. You’ll find that you’ll have pockets of cooled liquid and where the immersion chiller is touching the wort and pockets of hot or warm liquid where the immersion chiller isn’t in direct contact with the wort. Well, the whirlpool method that Jamil Zainasheff came up with helps to resolve that problem. By using a small pump and a small copper pipe that dips into the pot, you can take liquid from the bottom of the kettle and pump it past the immersion chiller, allowing you to cool your wort more quickly than letting it sit there alone. Here’s a picture that gives you a quick run down:

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I’ve also included a video of the pump in action:

After the jump there is a run down of the day in picture form.
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Mr. Claus was very nice to me this year bringing me a bunch of beer related toys:

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 If you’re not familiar with the items above, here’s a list:

  • Stainless Sparge Arm
  • March 809HS-PL Pump
  • Stainless Steel Ball Valve (For the pump.)
  • Stainless Coupler (For the pump.)
  • Stainless Hose Barb
  • Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer
  • $50 to Lukas Liquor (from my brother.)

Weee, this is going to make brewing just that much more fun.