I've brewed 3 extract brews and been happy with the results of 2 of them (the one unhappy result I think was mainly due to using bleach to sanitize PET bottles and not rinsing anywhere near enough). Seems like it's time to dip my toe into the grain pool, or maybe to jump right in and hope I float.
Anyway, I live in a country with no homebrew culture and where the dominant beers are what Americans might call BMC clones. My sources of supplies are a couple of niche websites (beerschool.co.kr , goodbeer.co.kr ) where I'm hampered by my poor language skills, and by their inconsistent inventories. Beerschool offers some prefabricated all grain kits which seem like a good place to start. As a Scot, I thought where better to start than with their "Scottish Ale" kit? The contents are as follows, with my interpretations in parenthesis:
pilsner (2 row pale?)
caramunich (pale crystal? crystal 30-60?)
carahell (crystal 10?)
carafa (chocolate? pale chocolate?)
instructions (in Korean, I should be able to get the gist, but will probably disregard)
I have no idea what types of hop will come, nor the type of yeast. I don't know what weights will be sent of each ingredient. Making a Scottish style ale is not necessarily my goal, making an interesting and tasty beer is. I also ordered some DME in case I screw things up and need to boost the OG. Their hops are almost all sold out, but I ordered 2oz of mittelfruh and 1oz of cascade - I can freeze what I don't need right now. In my fridge I have 1 pack of S-04 and 2 of Mauribrew ale (which came with HME kits and might be quite old).
1) Infusion mash or step mash? Papazian says infusion should only be used with fully modified malts, I don't know if these ingredients are. If not, he says that step mash is the way to go, but he also says that it would be the way to go with fully modified malt if head and clarity are issues. Advice?
2) Hops. Depending on what I get, and if the variety of what I get is marked, how should I proceed? In previous beers I've used a schedule of bittering at 60 mins (about 50% of hops by weight), taste at 20 mins (about 30%), and aroma at flameout (about 20%). Recently I've read Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher which suggests adding the bulk of the hops in the flavour and aroma stages. I've thought about using the oz of cascade for bittering, an oz of mittelfruh for flavor, and the last oz for aroma. I'm also tempted to take every hop I've ordered and the "bittering"/"finishing" hops , put them in a bowl, mix and weigh; then add 25% at 60, 25% at 20, and 50% at flameout. Your thoughts?
3) Yeast. It's tempting to pour in what I'm sent, a sachet of S-04, and a sachet of Mauribrew Ale just to let them fight it out among themselves and see what happens. Presumably the fermentation will be fast and furious. Does this sound like a good idea, or will I have to invest in ceiling cleaning supplies?
As I said earlier, this does NOT have to end up as a clone of a Scots ale (although out of interest do you think this recipe leans towards 70 or 80 shilling?), but I would like an ale that would be complex and the perfect accompaniment to a Cuban cigar while I sit on my roof and watch the sun go down.
Many thanks to anyone who replies. This must be one of the friendliest sites on the internet!