“Union Jack”

May 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

It has been a cold spring: winter keeps coming, again, and again, and again. The temperature has been unstable, making for unhappy yeast. The mood swings remind me of many a night on the Northern seas, that cold and harsh mistress. The solution to this problem: more Blackjack, our ginger and blackstrap molasses ale!

We started off the brew day with spent grain crepes. Very tasty, great texture. The First Brew Matey knows what she is doing.

2013-04-20 10.11.14

This time, I used a British ale yeast, for better or worse (it had a higher low threshold for fermentation of 64 degrees). I also used a plain liquid “Gold” malt from Northern Brewer with steeped grains of Caramel and Biscuit to make it more hearty.

2013-04-20 10.55.58

The use of nylon bags for steeping grains and hop pellets has been a lovely modification to our brewing strategy: it keeps the wort nice and uncluttered.

2013-04-20 12.30.53

The brew day went pretty smoothly, but I was surprised by how avid the S-04 yeast was: it burned through the yeast over 36 hours and kept overflowing. I think a lot of the yeast might have exploded out of the carboy, which was further complicated by another cold snap that we had a couple of nights after the brew day. The final gravity was not as low as I would like it to be, but it will still have a decent ABV.

2013-04-20 14.09.00

Today, I bottled the beer: it’s a little bit sweeter than I would like, but hopefully it will mellow out in the conditioning chamber below decks.

2013-05-04 12.17.32


This experience did give me the resolve to make a further investment: a digital temperature controller, an electric fermentation heater, and another 3 gallon glass carboy. In the future, I plan to do more 5 gallon batches (compared to my prior 2.5 gallon experimental batches), and I will plan to split them between two 3 gallon glass carboys to prevent overflow. I hope I can use the electric fermentation heater as a flat heating element providing some warmth to both carboys.

Until next time,



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