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Taking Inventory

As mentioned in my last post, I’m back from my trip!

I meant to do an inventory last weekend, as mentioned in my last post, but jet lag got the better of me.  I had a ton of other stuff to catch up on as well so there was no beer related activity.  Fortunately, Mikey and I got back into it with an easy kit IPA; I’ll be writing this up later.  We also managed to taste a couple brews.

I did this inventory because I had a lot of home brew floating around the house, stored in different places.  I also had stashed empty bottle in various places.  It was good to pull everything out, get everything organised, and see what I had left.

What I found was:

inventory

That’s 58 bottles of beers (including the Little Creatures) to work through!

I have a habit of avoiding drinking the last few beers of batch, so they get put into the back of a cupboard and forgotten about. Unfortunately I’m going to need about 60 bottles for the brew I did yesterday, So it looks like I have some work to do in order to get more bottles!  Fortunately there is plenty to choose from…

Finally, let us all take a brief moment of silence for all the tasty home brew that was so good I drank it rather than saved it.  It will be missed until I make it again.

Anyway, I’ll be posting up yesterday’s brew soon, and there are some reviews coming as well.  Stay tuned.

-Chas

 

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Drinking Home Brew With Jet Lag or I’m Back!

Well, I’m back from my holiday!  A special thanks to Mikey for looking after the blog and updating everything while I was away.

I am currently extremely jet lagged but trying to stay awake, to move through it.  Thankfully, I still had a bottle of The Friedlieb handy; it’s a nice refreshing porter, but still has a caffeine hit!  This went nicely as an after work pick me up.

Being away for so long, my beer had some good time to bottle condition, and I hope to try a bottle of the IPA we made a little while ago this weekend.  This will be before the official taste test that Mikey and I will get around to in time.

Coming back to my home brew collection with fresh eyes, it’s also apparent that I need to do a bit of an inventory…  I have a habit of wanting to save the last bottle of a batch, “just in case.”  I don’t even know what I have anymore or where it is in the various cabinets and places i stash my beer.  I think this weekend will call for a bit of an inventory.

You know you have a home brew problem when you have to take inventory.  This is a good problem to have I suppose.

Then: back to brewing!

Anyway, the holiday was great.  I managed to try some great craft beer in Scotland and Sweden.  I even had a Norwegian Brown Ale.  Hopefully it’s given me some inspiration!

-Chas

Australian Pale Ale # 1- Review

So, the Australian Pale Ale was ready for drinking.  Kind of…

This brew was Mikey seeing what would happen if he added a full can of malt (usually for a 20 litre brew) to only four litres of waterAus pale ale.  It didn’t turn out too well.

Firstly, it was very dark for a pale ale.  The malt hadn’t been diluted enough so it was still fairly dark.

In the smell, it was very sweet and very malty.  A few floral smells managed to make it through, but it was tough to find them through the sweetness.

This continued on through the taste, which was extremely overpowering.  As mentioned, this was a whole can of malt for a very small batch.  The beer was excessively malty and very sweet.  It was also very thick.  It was not unlike cordial when not enough water is added; still much too concentrated.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to say about this beer.  The malt and sweetness was so overpowering, there just wasn’t much else there.  Mikey insists that he was able to find some hops tastes in there, and granted, there is a little bit of bitterness coming through, but not much.

Anyway, adding way too much malt  does not bear the best results.  Sorry Mikey, this isn’t the best creation…

– Chas

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Brew day shenanigans and birthday presents

As per the Rules of Home Brew, while we were making a Double IPA today (recipe coming), we were drinking home brew while making home brew.  Also, as mentioned in our Wildly Inaccurate Facts About Beer, there can sometimes be a bit of down time during brewing, so we get a bit stupid.

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This is what happens when you have a spare grain bag and a few minutes to kill during the boil.  I was quite surprised at how hot I got in there.  I didn’t expect a grain bag to be so well insulating!

Anyway, I’m trying to start a new brewing fashion…

Oh, and for those who are a bit more observant, the metal contraption behind me is the brand new fruit press that my mom bought me for my birthday!  I haven’t been completely satisfied with how much juice I’m getting out of my juicer, as I mentioned when making some hopped cider, so hopefully this will do the job better.  It will surely get some use soon.

The press may not be robust enough to press full apples, but since the juicer ends up with so much pulp, it will come in handy for pressing any remaining juice out of the pulp.  I have found that the pulp holds a lot of juice, but it’s impossible to squeeze this out.  And obviously I can press other things as well!

That’s it from me until I finish off the new Double IPA recipe that we made today.

-Chas

PS.  Thanks again to my mother for taking me to the home brew store and basically letting me go nuts!

PPS. Sorry dad for not thanking you directly, but as awesome as the angle grinder is, this ain’t no power tool blog!

PPS.  My dad got me an angle grinder by the way… Thanks dad!

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The worst thing ever…

Quick post from the tram to Mikey’s for BREW DAY. A horror story if you will.

While juggling everything to get on the tram, I dropped a perfectly good bottle of Friedlieb Porter for today’s tasting! Luckily I had two with me, but things are not going well…

Now I’m that guy on the tram who smells like beer. All my stuff is covered in beer.  I smell the wonderful aroma that was my coffee porter, but alas, it’s not because I’m drinking it.

Worst thing ever to happen in the history of the world? I think so!

-Chas

Journey to home brew – Part 3, The Brewing

In this post I wrap up my story on how I came to making home brew. This follows on from post 1 and post 2.

In my last two posts I mentioned the slow journey to beer appreciation. In this post I’ll talk about the tentative steps, then plunge, into home brewing.

After the 366 Days of Beer challenge I knew that tasty beer is the only type of beer I want to drink. And I knew that only by trying new beers could I find some if the really good beers. There.were a lot of good and some bad craft beers. Surely that was the same with beers made out side of breweries, right?

During 2011 my good mate Ian had done some “on premises brewing” out at U Brew It on the north-west side of Melbourne. He decided to do his own brew and invited me along to help. It was fun. The set up was open and the people friendly. Plus the range of beers you could make was huge.
When we did the bottling there were a whole lot of others doing the same. You get chatting, sharing a couple glasses, and even swapping a six pack of beer or two.

In December 2011 I did a brew with my wife with a view to keep three slabs for our engagement party. The brew turned out quite well. We enjoyed three slabs over the next coupe months. But the three we kept in a cellar weren’t cold enough, and went off.
I made a quick return to U Brew It at the start of May 2012 to brew a golden ale. Then returned again just a day before the engagement party to bottle. The beer went down very well. Nearly all six slabs went in one night!

The intention was to return and do anyone one. But as 366 Days of Beer started taking off there wasn’t a need, or space, for that much beer.

Ian found out about a beer show called The Beer Frontier that use to be on Channel 31 here in Melbourne. The episodes were, and still are, on YouTube. Had some interesting segments including home brew. That opened my eyes up to what home brewing was all about. They were showing the full grain and full boil process, which was a bit daunting.

Then, on 2 November 2012 Crafty Pint sent out a the weekly newsletter with info about BrewSmith. For those who live in Australia and like great beer I can not recommend enough getting on board with Crafty Pint. The weekly newsletter alone is packed with fantastic information about what’s going on with craft beer.
The newsletter on that day included information on, and a competition, for BrewSmith. Now if you’ve been reading the blog you’ll know that we did a lot of BrewSmith beers. And we’ll probably keep doing a few more. Back in 2012 this was a real eye opener for me. I wanted to make good beer but didn’t want to spend massive cash on a set up. The BrewSmith set up allows minimal upfront cash and great beer.

It was around September-October that I decided that moving into home brew was a good idea. My birthday is in the middle of October and I thought it might be a good present. I considered the typical home brew kits such as the one from Australian Home Brewing (link might die in a month or two). I knew the importance of a bench capper so this is the one I was looking at. The alternative was a BrewSmith kit (again, link might die). After a lot of time, I spent over a month thinking about the two, I chose the BrewSmith kit.
Lucky for me my wonderful wife bought me both.

In January 2013 I started my first home brew. And ever since then it’s been fantastic.

I hope you have enjoyed my little story. For some people home brew was originally about saving money. For others it started with a “that’s a cool idea/gift/thing-to-do-one-day”. For a few it has been about trying to replicate or make something better than a beer they know. And for those like me, it was all about the appreciation for great beer.
So far we haven’t made anything bad. The first lager was average, and the second one is better. We’ll keep brewing, sharing our knowledge and letting others know about the awesomeness of home brew.

-Mikey

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Handy Sections Added!

Have you ever come to this website and thought “I love We Make Home Brew!  Getting regular updates on different home brews is great, but if I want to find an older recipe, kit, or review, I have to scroll back through every thing, it’s just a whole lot of no fun that takes away from the otherwise enjoyable experience of reading about home brew.  I mean, hey, I like reading about home brew as much as the next guy, but who has the time?!”

Well, firstly, thank you for taking so much time to think about this humble site, and wanting to read older stories.  Secondly, we’ve got it sorted for you!

There is now a recipes section, a kits section, and a reviews section with listings by style to relevant articles.  Links to these sections are above with all the other sections.

So have a browse and check back regularly.  It will be fun to see the list grow!

– Chas

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Journey to home brew – Part 2, The Challenges

This is the second in a group of posts on how I got involved in home brew. It follows up from part 1. This second part outlines where my beer appreciation took a big step up.

After drinking a lot of lager for many years the discovery of beer with flavour was like a breath of fresh air. What was to follow was like a hurricane.

Ian introduced me to a pub in Melbourne called Mrs.Parma’s. They are famous for two reasons: a big range of parmas, and having only Victorian beers. The only mainstream beer they had on tap was Carlton Draft (earlier this year they finally removed that as well!). All the other 15 taps had craft beer.

It was back in early 2011 that the first challenge was born. After another, somewhat regular, visit to Mrs Parma’s there was a story shared about one of Ian’s friends who ate 99 parmas in one year. What? 99? Surely he could of had just one more and hit 100. Hey, that’s less than two a week. We could do that! That’s a good idea, let’s do that.
And so, with that, the parma challenge started. Target was to eat 100 parmas in 365 days. Photo evidence required. Review strongly recommended. Any other information, like “out of five” score or cost, great to have.
At the end there were three of us who made it: Ian, his wife at the time, and me. I topped the list with 143.

The parma challenge started in Feb 2011 and finished in Feb 2012. As we got to the end of 2011 we started thinking about what we could do for the next challenge. As big fans of Mrs Parma’s we thought about their other offering, beer. Hey, next year is a leap year as well. Maybe we could do something about 366 days. One a day? Is there that many beers?

So we started looking. Where there that many beers made in the world? Okay, looks like that’s not a problem. Could we get at least 366 of those beers in Melbourne? Looks like it.

The rules were debated back and forth. Would it be one beer every day? Or seven in a week, allowing to cram in seven beers over a couple days and rest for the rest? How would we provide evidence of having the beer? How about some sort of “good” side to the whole thing?
Rules were agreed as follows:

  • One beer every single day. No excuses.
  • Photo evidence required with the date. Bottled beer has to be open/beer poured into the glass. Tap beers need to have the tap or description/name included.
  • Review is required. To include beer name, brewer, percentage of ABV (alcohol by volume).
  • No home brew. Beer has to be commercially available.
  • No ginger beer.
  • No cider.
  • For every beer $1 to go to the charity of your choice.

A test run was done in December. It went quite well.

Each month was going to have its own theme: Australian beers for January (Australia Day), American beers for July (Independence Day), German beers for October (October Fest), and so on.
Halfway through January it dawned on Ian and I that there was a crazy amount of Australian beers out there. We were discovering about one new brewery every day! Quickly we both agreed to stuff the themes and try to have Australian bees for the whole year.

Wow. What a year. 366 Days of Beer was a big success.
Technically I was the only one to completed the challenge successfully. Both Ian and I had holidays overseas. I packed my Australian beers in my luggage (which required a reshuffle of items to keep us under the weight limit). Ian was away for nearly two weeks and posted them over. They didn’t turn up. On returning to Melbourne he did two a day to catch up.
Leah was the other person to do the challenge properly. Major dental work took her out for a week and by end of year there were a few other days missing.
Ian put his reviews up on his blog. Mine are going up slowly on mine.

Throughout the year collectively we tried over 600 Australian beers from most of the Australian breweries. Despite that there were many beers, and even some breweries, missed. What was definitely gained was a much greater appreciation of beer, and a deeper understanding of what we do and don’t want in a beer.

-Mikey

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Journey to home brew – Part 1, The Beer

I mentioned in one of my first posts that there is story behind how I ended up wanting to home brew. Over the next few weeks I’ll share that story with you.

Unlike the stereotypical Aussie male, I didn’t get into drinking beer for a long time. I grew up in a household where wine was by far the first, second, third, forth and fifth choice of drink. Oh, and there was tea. The focus on wine was so important that family holidays tended to be based around visiting wine regions. At home there was a good small range of spirits, but no beer.

It wasn’t until the end of my first year of Uni that I really started drinking beer. I only had a few beers here and there in my first year Then I went on an Archaeology dig in Cyprus for two months from start of November to end of December. The wine was horrible. The spirits weren’t akin to paint stripper. And beer was amazingly cheap, especially when you return the empty bottles. There was a lot of beer consumed.
After that, there were many Archaeology digs where beer was the drink of choice. I remember one dig at Port Arthur in Tasmania. We worked out that between a small group of us we drank about a pallet of beer in three weeks!

Apart from that, beer still wasn’t my first choice when going out, or staying in, for a drink. I wasn’t excited about the stuff. Every beer tried seamed to be pretty much the same, mass produced tasteless lager.

Over a period of 8-9 years I would slowly learn about things other than lagers. Guinness, Kilkenny, Coopers and Mountain Goat were some of the first adventures into non-lager beers. Little Creatures and some of the more obscure ones would pop up from time to time.

A turning point for me was the very first Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park, maybe 2005 or later. There were a few micro breweries with stands, including Grand Ridge and Red Duck. It was here that I tasted for the first time, and feel in love with, Red Duck’s Golden Dragon, a Celtic ale.

Then in 2008 on holiday in Europe I met up with a friend in Bristol and discovered the amazing world of real (English) ales.

The following year I met a guy through work who was originally from England. Ian would become a great friend. Over the next couple years we would discover the wonderful range of quality beers in Australia.

-Mikey

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Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

A new name, a new home and a new look. Our blog has moved. The quirky, somewhat helpful information and brewers are the same.
As they say at bingo “Winner winner, chicken dinner”, or for all you corporate types “Win Win”, or for all you gamers “\/\/00+”, or for all… no, I think that’s enough.

So welcome all our old and new readers. Brews will keep coming and lots of stuff from us is on the way.

-Mikey

PS, A big “Thank You” to our Manager for Change Management, Suze, who did pretty much everything for the move!