BrewBlog 2 – Brewday from Hell, IPA from Heaven, and First use of Mangrove Jacks M44 yeast.

This, my second post about brewing, all started on 11th March with a slightly altered version of Greg Hughes’ American IPA. I’m quite fussy about my IPAs, I find a lot of commercial examples prioritise bitterness over flavour and aroma but in experienced enough at both tasting and brewing to know what I do like, so thought I’d be able to tweak the recipe to be the perfect IPA for me.

Initially, the only changes planned were to add a dry hop, delay some of the hop additions to later in the boil and increase the grain bill to compensate for the efficiency problems I had been having. For the yeast, I decided on Mangrove Jacks M44 – I’d had great success with both their California Lager and Belgian Abbey yeasts in the past, and wanted to see how this would compare with US-05 which is my go-to “neutral” yeast.IMG_1708[1]

This was also the first afternoon Brew Day I had done. I usualy do first thing in the morning (so my afternoon is free) or evening (once the kids are in bed), but we had a free afternoon, my daughter was shattered and the weather wasn’t great so we decided to have a lazy afternoon and it seemed as good a time as any to start a brew.

Everything started off well, the mash water heated well. I struggled to get down to a 66C mash temperature, but 66.4C was close enough.IMG_1709[1]

Then, about 25 minutes into my mash, my 18 month old son kicked off. He was refusing to nap, and then he became inconsolable. Then we noticed that his breath smelled horrendously. Then we took his temperature – sky high. Then we caught a glimpse of his throat – Tonsillitis. 

We are very good at spotting the symptoms of tonsillitis as my daughter had hers out at the age of 2 and a half after getting a bout every 4-6 weeks from the age of 9 months. We called NHS 24 and were told we needed to take him to the doctor. My parents came down to watch my daughter, we took my son to the doctor and I left the mash in the kitchen.

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When we returned I removed the grain bag, did a quick dunk sparge and put the wort on to boil. The grain had been mashing for just shy of 3 hours. Once the boil had started, I threw in my bittering hops and took the kids up to bed. My daughter decided she didn’t want her bath that night and would have one in the morning, so we decided to do the same for my son as we thought the sleep would do him good.

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This would usually be a quick process, but not this night. This night he just would not go to sleep – every time I put him in his cot he would cry. Eventually, he went to sleep and I came down the stairs. My wort had been boiling for 80 minutes! With only the 60 minute hop additions. 

I threw in half a protofloc tablet and quickly changed the hop schedule in Brewer’s Friend so I now had a 90 minute hop addition and a hefty 5 minute addition to get my IBUs back up to about 50. At this point I had a thought – the beer was already experimental, why don’t I throw in the rest of the bottle of Clark’s Maple Syrup I used on Pancake day? It was just maple syrup, fruit sugars and caramel colouring – what’s the worst that could happen?

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Well, the worst that could happen was that my wort turned dark brown. Like brown ale brown. Not a colour that looked very fetching for an IPA. It was too late now though, so I took a gravity reading. 1.074! Oops! I added water to bring it down to 1.062, pitched the yeast and hoped for the best!

Within 24 hours, I could see fermentation activity. By day 3, the krausen had popped the fermenter lid and had escaped onto the brew cupboard floor. 


The krausen didn’t even subside until day 10, which was when I dry hopped:


I bottled on day 15. Final gravity was around 1.010 giving me an ABV of 6.8%. It was no longer dark brown at this point either – it was now a nice golden-Amber kind of colour.

I managed to fill 3 mini kegs and 12 (mainly 330ml) bottles:
Fast forward 2 weeks, the beer is carbonated and the yeast dropped clear already! I gave a bottle a week in the fridge and then I was finally able to try it.

It was an accidental triumph. The smell was tremendous! There is no better smell than a Simcoe dry hop! It tasted more bitter than the eventual estimated 48 IBUs, which helped balance against the stronger-than-planned beer, and the residual sweetness left by the maple syrup blended beautifully with the citrus and pine notes from the hops. The colour was what I would call the perfect colour for an IPA. I would say that this is head and shoulders above any beer I’ve made.


As for the Mangrove Jacks M44 yeast, I would say it was every bit as good as US-05. In fact, as with all of the MJ yeasts I’ve used, the attenuation was very good so worked well considering I prefer my IPAs on the slightly drier side, and the beer dropped clear very quickly. I just need to make sure I leave plenty of headspace on the fermenter!

I’m still finding my feet in writing my brew blogs (this is only number 2), but I would plan on posting the recipes used (provided they are not out of a book). In this case, I don’t think you would really want to see the recipe, but here are some final screenshots from Brewer’s Friend anyway:


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