Category Archives: Ingredients

Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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Yeast!

Howdy!

I thought it would be good to talk about yeast: the magic little organism that turns sugars into alcohol through the process of fermentation.

I won’t go into the fermentation process, but if you’re curious, the Wikipedia articles are quite easy to follow.  Fermentation in general can be found here – this article is not specifically about alcohol fermentation, but explains the process in general.  Alcoholic fermentation information can be found here for further reading.

Yeast in general:

Really, you can use any kind of yeast for fermentation, even regular baker’s yeast bought at the super market, but the various brewing yeasts are specifically designed for taste and alcohol tolerance.

On that note, it is possible to kill your yeast if the alcohol content of your brew gets to high.  At this point, you can’t really get anymore fermentation going because even if you add more yeast, that will probably die too!  Then you’re left with a half fermented beer that still has lots of sugars in it, which would probably taste quite interesting, but not in a good way.  Don’t worry too much though, it’s easy to track down yeasts that will be good well into the high teens/twenties on alcohol percentages; these are generally wine making yeasts.

If you’re making a cider or anything with fruit, it’s also possible to use the wild yeast that naturally grows on fruit peels.  In fact, my mother uses this to make home made vinegar: her most interesting concoction was a banana vinegar!  The problem with using wild yeast is ensuring that it’s only the wild yeast that goes into your wort (or juice if doing cider) and not other bugs that will mess up your brew.  I have yet to attempt this, but it may be fun!

Yeast and temperature:

Yeast is pretty resilient, so if it gets too cold, you won’t kill it.  It just gets a bit sleepy and slows down a bit.  You can even freeze yeast if you want to preserve it.  This means that even if your wort gets a bit cold, things will keep working, just more slowly.  Although this isn’t too bad, be aware that if your wort is in the fermenting tub for too long, sediments may begin to taint the taste of your beer.

On the other side though, if your yeast gets too hot, it will probably die, just like anything else.  So although heat will help speed up the fermentation process, there is a point where you won’t get anymore benefit and the heat will actually be detrimental.  Make sure your wort is at specified temperatures before pitching your yeast.

Experimenting with yeast:

Of course it’s easiest to simply buy yeast from your local home brew supply store, but experimenting with different kinds of yeast can be a bit of fun.  The different strains that you can buy at a good home brew supply store have different characteristics for taste, optimal temperature, and alcohol tolerance.  This means that you’ll use a different yeast for different kinds of beers.

For example, there are specific kinds of yeast for ales, lagers, and wines.  With the few cider experiments I’ve done, I’ve always used an SN9 wine yeast and been happy with the results.  As it’s not desirable in a cider/wine, this type of yeast doesn’t leave any taste behind.  Sometimes you want some of that taste in your brew, and you can generally find a yeast that will do that for you.

That’s it on yeast for now!

 

-Chas

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“The Friedlieb” Coffee Porter – first trial

Friedlieb Runge was a German chemist and the first person to isolate caffeine. Because of this, it’s only appropriate to name our ongoing coffee porter experiment after him!

As much as we liked the Brewsmith porter kits we did (we’re still waiting to see how the coffee version turned out), they’re only sold with enough ingredients to make about four litres – so what do we do when we want to make a big batch? Adding to that, they are a bit expensive when compared to sourcing the ingredients directly. Don’t get me wrong on this. The price of the Brewsmith kits is quite fair, but if you’re willing to take the time to try and recreate their recipes, you can save a bit of money. If you’re not willing to take the time to recreate the recipe, then hey, keep buying the kits because they do a great job.

Anyway, as a base, we used a recipe presented by the great Craig of Craigtube. If you haven’t checked this guy out yet, do it! We weren’t able to get all the ingredients here in Australia, plus we didn’t want to use a canned wort with bittering hops in it, so there was some improvising.

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Since this was the first attempt, it was only a 4 litre batch.

The recipe and ingredients we went with was as follows:

  • 580 grams light liquid malt extract
  • 90 grams dark dry malt extract
  • 90 grams dark crystal
  • 50 grams chocolate malt
  • 40 grams peated malt
  • 50 grams melanoidin malt
  • 60 grams rye malt
  • 3 grams Willamette hops (bittering)
  • 3 grams Fuggles hops (taste)
  • 3 grams Fuggles hops (aroma)
  • 8 shots expresso
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Windsor style ale yeast

Steep the grains (using a grain bag) in about two litres of water for 20 minutes (on reflection we probably should have done 40…). When this is done, remove the grains and sparge them with a litre of boiling water.

Bring this three litres up to a boil and throw in three grams of Willamette hops for the start of your thirty minute total boiling period. At the 15 minute mark, put in three grams of Fuggles hops. Finally, with five minutes remaining, put in another three grams of Fuggles.

At the end of the thirty minute boil, turn off the heat and put in the eight shots of espresso as well as the brown sugar and give it a good stir. Put a lid on the pot and immerse it in a sink of cold water for twenty minutes, changing the water halfway through.

Throw this all into a five litre carboy, and top up with one litre of water. Try to get the temperature to between about 18 and 26 degrees with this top up.

Pitch the yeast and you’re done!

Other Notes

We got a gravity reading of 1.054, so we’re expecting an alcohol content of somewhere in the mid 4% range after bottle conditioning; I imagine the final gravity will be a little high due to the yeast type as well as the coffee, which isn’t fermentable but adding to the specific gravity.

In relation to hops, I found that the Willamette had bitter and dry smell with a hint of spice. The Fuggles were less bitter, with a more fragrant fruity/floral smell.

While the wort was boiling, the chocolate was quite overpowering when right over the stove, the smokiness came out quite a bit when I stood back. There weren’t any big hops smells, but when tasting the wort, they were definitely there and quite nice.

Overall, this should be a pretty good brew. We’ll see if it’s anything at all like the Brewsmith kit, but it should taste good any how.

-Chas

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Malted cider or un-hopped apple ale?

Hi everyone,

So as I mentioned in my last few posts, I have a juicer, and I have a bit of extra malt.  So why not try throwing some malt into some apple juice and see what happens?

20130518_145533I went down to my local market and found a pretty good deal on organic juicing apples, i.e. apples that aren’t pretty enough to sell as eating apples.  I bought a hell of a lot – about 7 kilograms!

I had read in various places that you get about 1 litre of juice from 1-2 kilograms of apples, so I thought that this would be enough for about 4 or 5 litres of juice.  Unfortunately I was pretty wrong and only got about 2 litres.  I’ve since found out that this ratio works better for apple pressing, which is a much more efficient method of extracting juice.  Using a juicer like I have tends to lose a lot of juice to the pulp it creates.

I’m not going to go out and buy a juice press, but next time I may try squeezing out the pulp.  We’ll see.

Anyway, after cutting up a whole bunch of apples and juicing them, I wasn’t left with the amount of juice I thought I’d get.  So from there, things began to turn into an un-hopped apple beer rather than a malted cider.

I set my 2 litres of juice to boil and added a cup of golden light liquid malt extract.  The hot break was huge on this one; the pot was only about a third full, and it still nearly boiled over!  Once that was under control, I let it boil for 15 minutes while I did some cleaning.

After the boil, I let the bottle sit in a sink full of ice water for 10 minutes, emptied the sink, and then filled it up again for another 10 minute bath.

Once this wort was in the carboy, I topped it up with about 2 litres of water – so this batch is going to be 4 litres in total.

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

The yeast i used was an SN9 wine yeast.  It’s what I had on hand, but, considering there’s malt in there, I probably should have gone and used an ale yeast. That’s something to experiment with later.

The wort was tasty.  It wasn’t overwhelmingly apple-y or beer-y, but had good hints of each.  So I’m confident I’ll get something interesting out this.

The OSG was 1.028, which is a little lower than I would have liked.  As a lot of that sugar is fructose, I should be able to get a final gravity pretty close to 1, so that’s promising.  Alcohol content should be around 4% after bottling.

I’d like to see if I can push the alcohol content a bit higher, so I might add some dextrose next time.  Of course the other option is adding more malt or juice, but, assuming the mixture of flavours is good, I don’t want to upset this balance.  Dextrose won’t alter the flavour.

Assuming this turns out tasty, I’ll also look at hopping it, which will make it a proper beer.

So we’ll give this a week and see what happens!

-Chas

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A malt explosion!

So I ordered a home brew kit from Australian Home Brewing.  I love ordering stuff online.  I don’t get much mail apart from bills, so it’s great to come home to a package on the doorstep; this is even better when the package contains home brew supplies!

Anyway, with much excitement, I opened my package, and, to my horror, found that the liquid malt container had broken in transit!  There was malt everywhere throughout the box, a total sticky mess.

Liquid malt everywhere!

Thankfully malt cleans up pretty easily with hot water (there’s a tip), so the other contents cleaned up pretty well. Unfortunately much of the malt extract was lost.

These things happen I suppose, but of course it’s disappointing to open a fresh box of home brew supplies to find your malt all over the place, and the rest of your ingredients all sticky.  When I moved it, some of the extract managed to drip through the box as well, getting malt throughout the house.  The dogs were quite pleased with this and helped with the clean up though.

Well, I sent a quick email off to Australian Home Brewing and they sent me a replacement malt right away.  They also threw in some liquor mix for the trouble, which was extra nice of them.  I would have been happy with just a replacement malt extract!

To make things even better, I managed to recover a little bit of the malt, probably just enough to throw into a small experimental batch in my 5 litre carboy.  It’s not enough for a full 23 litre batch, but enough to play with.

Moral of the story? When God gives you ruptured malt packages, make beer out of it!

Oh, and course the replacement was mailed to me as well, so I had the pleasure of coming home to another package.

– Chas

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