Category Archives: Brew Days

Diacetyl & My First All-Grain Batch

Things weren’t looking good for my first all-grain batch. I didn’t have a mash ton for a start. I’m not going to try and explain how much of a failure the 6-hour-long brew day was, and I’m not going to bore you all with the details about how I covered my kitchen in spent grain and sticky wort, but suffice to say things didn’t go to plan and I ended up with more beer on the floor than in the fermenter.

What I do want to talk about though, is the heavy butter taste that my beer has half way through fermentation. It tastes like butter popcorn and buttered bread – not a great taste in a 2% pale ale!

After some research online, I discovered that this buttery taste was caused by the chemical Diacetyl. According to Wikipedia, Diacetyl is a main flavour component in Butter. At low levels, diacetyl contributes a slipperiness to the feel of the alcoholic beverage in the mouth. As levels increase, it imparts a buttery or butterscotch flavor. Diacetyl is produced by the yeast as they turn the sugars into alcohol.
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“Spring Morning” Extra Special Bitter

For my first batch of homebrew, I decided to build my own recipe. I wanted to create a light, refreshing ale to reflect the seasonal changes here in England as the first few colours of spring appear after a long, grey winter.

I decided to stick to an extract recipe for my first brew, as I was not confident enough to start mashing grains with no prior experience. I used BeerSmith software to help build my recipe; the interface is fantastic and makes for easy calculation of IBUs, gravities and alcohol content. I based my recipe on the BJCP style guide for Extra Special/Strong Bitter (Style number 8C), although Beersmith calculated the colour as 8.2EBC which is under the style guidelines for Extra Special Bitter, the beer turned out exactly the right colour for the style. Continue reading