So pale, extra pale 2 bottled

Monday was Australia Day and doubled as bottling day for the Extra Pale Ale #2. It was a very quick session and I knocked it over myself in a bit over half an hour.

Extra Pale Ale 2 bottled

Extra Pale Ale 2 freshly bottled and all cloudy

Skipped the bulk priming and put a tablespoon of white sugar to prime each bottle. Should have done it with the Extra Pale Ale #1 as it was much quicker than the bulk priming for small batches. Ended up with twelve bottles and a gravity sample as well.

Extra Pale Ale 2 FG

Extra Pale Ale 2 final gravity reading

Gravity came in at 1.025 which means the beer will sit at about 8.7% alcohol after bottle conditioning. Was a bit surprised the gravity wasn’t lower, much lower. I realised the Malto Dextrin had a bit of effect, plus it was probably a bit much to ask that kit yeast to chomp through so much sugar. That said, I was hoping to get down to the 1.009 calculated, or at least around 1.015. Not to be.

As usual I tasted the gravity sample. First up it was bad. Lots of apple sweet flavour and not nice yeast. After it sat for about 20 or so minutes the taste was a lot better. Still not great, but I could finish drinking the small sample. This one will take a while to condition properly probably a month or more.

Nothing brewing at the moment. Thinking of doing a couple really small batches. Maybe cider with the brewing caps. Maybe finally getting around to those ‘not beers’. Will keep you posted.

-Mikey

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

New year brew, extra pale two

Hello and happy new year. Apologies for the break between posts, nearly four weeks! Back on board and, more importantly, back to brewing. Sunday the 11th was the first brew for the year and Chas came over to lend a hand. Always a fun day when Chas makes it.

Extra Pale Ale 1 bottled

Extra Pale Ale 1 all bottled and capped

There was some tasting of the Pale Trial Zwei beers and bottling of the Extra Pale Ale #1. Although only four litres, we still bulk primed. In hindsight that might have been a bit over the top for 10 bottles.

Gravity reading came in at 1.010 pretty much smack bang on what I was aiming for. Alcohol calculated at exactly 8% after bottle conditioning. Nice and strong.

The flavour was a bit of a mix. There was some some apple aroma and other fruit. Taste was much the same with a slight round, but clear, yeast flavour. Quite possible there’s some acetaldehyde and the yeast was stressed out by being forced to work so hard. Plus it was kit yeast, and that’s not usually good.

Extra Pale Ale 2 OG

Extra Pale Ale 2 original gravity reading

The brew for the day was straight forward. Almost identical to Extra Pale Ale #1. This time added more sugar and some malto dextrin. The sugar should push up the alcohol towards the 10% region, while the malto dextrin should help it hold together.

  • 4 litre boil
  • 300 grams Pilsen Light DME @ 40 mins
  • 200 grams Malto Dextrin @ 5 mins
  • 500 grams raw sugar @ 5 mins
  • 2 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ flame out
Extra Pale Ale 2 ready to go

Extra Pale Ale 2 in the fermenter in the pot and ready to go

Ice was dumped directly into the pot during the ice bath. That helped cool the brew and topped up for water lost in the boil. In the end it was a bit too much liquid and the fermentation vessel was fuller than I would have liked. And, yes, it did cause a blow out in the air lock.

The wort was dumped straight onto the yeast cake of the last brew. There should be plenty of yeast to eat through the large amounts of sugars there. Gave it a very good shake up, going to need all the oxygen it can get.

The gravity reading came in at 1.087 which is exactly what I calculated. Nice to finally hit a target OG for the first time ever, even if there was to much water.

It’s been nearly two weeks already. Bottling will be soon, maybe end of the long weekend. Should get some idea how it will taste. Hoping that the Malto Dextrin gives it some body to help balance out the large amount of sugar added.

For the next brew? Not sure yet, but likely this year will continue the experimentations and small batches. Temperatures are still pretty hot in Melbourne and it’s hard keeping fermentation vessels cool enough.

-Mikey

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Happy Present Day 2014!

Wanted to wish a Merry Christmas for 2014 to all our followers. And for those who don’t celebrate Christmas, happy holiday season!

Wherever you are in the world we ask that you stay safe, have a great time and raise a glass of home brew. Cheers!

-Mikey & Chas

Tagged , ,

A little Christmas, extra pale ale

I couldn’t let December go by without doing a brew. So, decided to brew up a nice dry light body pale ale. Really simple and really easy. Knocked it over in about an hour.

Extra Pale Ale OG

Extra Pale Ale original gravity reading

After the Summer Ale turned out to be bigger than expected, I wanted to go basic. The best option was a simple malt base, simple hops and simple yeast. I deliberately aimed for something that would be dry and low in flavour. Welcome the Extra Pale Ale. In theory this will be the Summer beer that the Summer Ale wasn’t.

Recipe

  • 2.5 litre boil, topped up to 4 litres at end.
  • 300 grams of Pilsen Light dry malt extract @ 30 mins
  • 300 grams or raw sugar @ 10 mins
  • 2 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ flame out
  • Bit over a teaspoon of kit yeast
  • Teaspoon of yeast nutrient

The original gravity came in at 1.069 which is a fair bit higher than the 1.059 calculated. Most likely due to loss of water / not adding enough water at the end. That doesn’t worry me.

The colour turned out a lot closer to what I wanted than the Summer Ale did. Very light straw colour. Hope it thins out a bit more. Will be fine if there’s very little body in this.

Extra Pale Ale staying cool

Extra Pale Ale carboy in pot of water staying cool

The sample tasted pretty good. Yep, there was a lot of sugar in there but that doesn’t take anything away from the yummy Amarillo flavours. IBU should be around 16 which should help make this drinkable. I have seen a few of my beers turn out a lot bitter than planned. I’m hoping I’ve gone low enough on this one.

Big challenge now is keeping it cool. The carboy is sitting in water and the next couple days I can keep replacing ice packs in there. Fingers crossed. Will find out in the New Year.

-Mikey

Tagged , , , , , ,

Flotilla Pacific Pilsner – Review

About a month and a half ago Chas made picked up a beer kit for a pilsner. Went around and we brewed up what was hopped to be a refreshing light flavoured beer for summer.

Don’t have much details on the brew day other than it was back on 5 October. Plus Chas has been focusing on his site Brew In Review. There’s a while bunch of beer reviews, mainly Australian. Also has some bits on festivals, pubs & bars, conversion beers and other beer related things. There’ll be a piece from me my conversion beer in the next couple weeks.

Flotilla Pacific Pilsner tasting

Flotilla Pacific Pilsner ready for tasting

Enough cross promotion, onto reviewing this beer. And it’s a big flavour beer.

First thing you notice is that it has plenty of citrus aroma. Huge amounts of lime and good serving of mandarin as well. The the taste, heaps of that citrus comes out in the flavour as well. Big lime and mandarin. Grapefruit as well, along with the bitterness towards the back. Hints of peach in there too.

I had this really cold, around 4° Celsius. As it warmed up the grapefruit and bitterness really started to come out. There’s also some stone fruit flavours that start popping up towards the end.

For food matching I would go for something like Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese. Just about every dish from the fresh to deep fried would work. The fruit keeps things moving and the bitterness cuts through.

This is a good beer. Nothing mind blowing, but quite enjoyable. It’s not really a pilsner as it was made with ale yeast. But it is zesty and fruity. Will be enjoying these over the hot days of summer.

-Mikey

Tagged , , ,

Summer Ale – Review

Summer has hit us. But after the last week in Melbourne you could be excused for thinking otherwise. Enough about the crazy weather, it’s time to review the Summer Ale.

Wow. That didn’t turn out like I thought. Even after trying the sample from bottling I wasn’t expecting this. The Summer Ale is not what I was aiming for. Wanted light, refreshing and something that could be enjoyed cold. This beer doesn’t do any of those very well. That said, this isn’t a bad beer. It’s simply a (very) different beer.

To start with there was probably too much malt. The colour is much darker than planned for, like an amber ale. The flavour reflects this as well. The wheat isn’t a strong as I thought. Not sure if that’s because there’s a really low percentage of wheat in the liquid extract I used, or the hops took over.

Summer Ale 1

Summer Ale 1 ready for drinking

The aroma is of strong stewed fruit and grapes. Yep, grapes and it comes from the Nelson Sauvin hops. Strange aroma this one the more you smell the beer the more complex it becomes. Some spice and earthy aroma comes out later, from the Belgian Saaz (aka Motueka) hops.

Fist taste is a mixture of a few things. Plenty of stewed fruit and tropical flavour. Some of the spice and grape of the aroma comes out, but not much. The spice builds a little, but the big fruit flavours drive this. The wheat base is there the whole way along and holds out quite well to the very long finish. It’s quite enjoyable.

Food matching? No idea. Something not too strong in flavour. Lightly fried meat like chicken or other bird would match this. Fish would work if not too powerful, maybe even pork. The beer has a fair bit of flavour, but could be overwhelmed by anything to spicy.

Is this beer a proper Summer Ale? No. Is this beer good? Yes. Not sure what style it is, maybe a pale ale or even an amber ale. But the fruit flavours throw it out a bit. There’s not much I can really compare this with.

This was the first time I used these two hops. Might have been better to try on a more familiar and simpler malt base to taste the flavour profile. I had issues trying to work out what was giving some of the flavours. The stewed fruit probably coming from the hops rather than the wheat/malt base. Fermentation wasn’t temperature controlled, ranging from just under 20°C to mid 20’s. With that range using US-05 yeast there shouldn’t be much flavours from yeast. The beer is a tasty one, and I’ll enjoy drinking this one. Now I need to make a proper summer ale.

-Mikey

Tagged , , , , ,

Testing the tester, hydrometer check

Been a bit quite around here. Sorry about that. Chas is taking it easy on the brewing front and I was away interstate for a nine day holiday. Back now.

As I mentioned in the write up of the bottling day of the Summer Ale, I cracked another hydrometer. That’s three dead in two years. Lucky for me I have a spare, but it’s still a pain. My preference is to have one really good hydrometer that I can use, and keep.

Over the last few days I was thinking about this, and feeling sorry for myself. I was also concerned that all the gravity readings for the Summer Ale might be wrong. What could I do? Then I realised I could check it against the good hydrometer. Get a reading with the broken one, and check what it is with the working one. I still have an older one with with a missing tip (where glass broke off) and thought it would be good to see what its readings were.

So, using water and a whole lot of table sugar that’s exactly what I did. I filled up a tube, added some sugar, stirred and shook it up, then took a reading with all three hydrometers. Then added more sugar tested with all three again, and repeated.

Gravity readings as follows:

Testing equipment

Testing equipment with tubes and hydrometers

  1. Not Broken = 1.000
    Cracked = 0.997
    Missing Tip = n/a (not enough to float in)
  2. NB = 1.005
    Cr = 1.001
    MT = 1.008
  3. NB = 1.025
    Cr = 1.021
    MT = 1.029
  4. NB = 1.048
    Cr = 1.043
    MT = 1.052
  5. NB = 1.060
    Cr = 1.055
    MT = 1.064

Overall it looks like the cracked one is 0.003 to 0.005 below what it should be. The one missing its tip is 0.003 to 0.004 above what it should be. Both of those are pretty close. The variations in the difference could be put down to me not reading the gravity correctly and/or sugar still dissolving into water. In theory I could continue to use these broken hydrometers and adjust by +0.005 or -0.004 each reading. That’s not ideal, so I’ll still buy a new one.

What does this mean for the Summer Ale? Not much. As original and final gravity reading would have been out by (about) the same degree, it’s still 3.3% alcohol. And it will be time to try it very soon.

– Mikey

Tagged , , ,

Bottling Summer, in the cold

Sunday was bottling day for the Summer Ale. Was a fairly straight forward affair with just me doing everything, and all done in about an hour. The best thing was that I didn’t stuff the beer by acidently oxygenating it, like I did with the Super Stout.

Summer Ale 1 bottled

Summer Ale 1 all bottled

Given there was 14 litres of beer I decided to bulk prime. First time I’ve done it since making the mistake with the Super Stout. I took my time and planned it out better. The only hiccup I had was when the end if the bottling wand feel off into one of the bottles. Learning from that time that happened, I quickly turned off the tap before losing to much. No other problems.

The sample I took had a gravity reading of 1.005 which is lower that I had hoped. But in a good way. After original reading was so low I wanted the final gravity to be under 1.010, and here we are a bit under that. Happy with the outcome.

Summer Ale 1 sample

Summer Ale 1 sample for tasting after gravity reading

There was a nice tropical and earthy flavour to the sample. The colour was a fair bit darker than I thought it would be. Both those have me thinking that I’m sure if I would call it a Summer time beer. After a couple weeks I’ll crack open one and find out.

On a side note, have found that my hydrometer has a very fine crack in it and some liquid has got in. Not sure if that was before the reading of the original gravity, final gravity or just in clean up. Needless to say, I’ll be using the spare one for next brew and buying (another) new one.

– Mikey

Tagged , , , , , ,

Pale Trial Ein – Review

The five beers that make up Pale Trial Ein are more different than I expected. Time hasn’t softened them into a similar flavour. Rather the opposite. The difference is more pronounced after a couple months conditioning. A couple Sundays ago Chas was over for a brewing day and we did a side-by-side review of all five.

Pale Trial Ein 1-5 for review

Pale Trial Ein 1-5 ready for tasting and for review

Before going further into the review a recap is called for. These five beers were all brewed from the same batch. One boil with liquid malt and Victoria Secret hops, and the same yeast (US-05). The only difference was the yeast nutrient and if a Campden tablet was added. That’s it. All fermented at the same temperature, same amount of sugar for bottle priming, same again for bottle conditioning. All of this done to learn. And what was learnt? Let’s find out…

Common characteristics
All five come from the same base. There is a clear dark stone fruit flavour up front. Solid amber malt in the middle. Then finishes with a sharp bitterness with the malt background.

The descriptions below are slightly exaggerated to highlight the differences.

Pale Trial Ein 1
The “control” of the beers. With the modern yeast nutrient only.
Aroma is of dark fruit and still subtle. Body is straight forward. The bitterness comes in quite sharply at the end. It is the most aggressive with hop bitterness. Bitter beer.

Pale Trial Ein 2
This one was with same yeast nutrient and a Campden tablet.
The softest flavours of the lot. Hop fruit flavours at the start. A nice easy amber malt body. Not very bitter at all… until the very end and there’s a kick. And that really kills the softness.
Okay, nothing special.

Pale Trial Ein 3
This is the one with the really old yeast nutrient only.
A much lighter beer than all the others. Light and fresh hop aroma. Lighter amounts of stone fruit up front. Body is a bit easier and laid back. The hops at the back are quite lighter and there is a subtle creaminess.
Easy and light.

Pale Trial Ein 4
This is the one with a Campden tablet only.
Very soft aroma. Starts with a solid stone fruit flavour, but not overpowering. There’s a mellow and big dark-ish fruit flavour. There’s a bit of bitter end to this which works quite well to offset the stone fruit flavours.
Creamy.

Pale Trial Ein 5
This is the one with the really old yeast nutrient and a Campden tablet.
Light and smooth rich aroma which is very nice. Starts off very smooth indeed, then the big fruit comes in and works a treat. Darker than beer #2, #3 and #4. Towards the end there’s smooth finish with a hint of bitterness working well with the body.
Smooth.

Summary
If I was to match these beers to something it would be a salty or spicy roast meat. Maybe barbecued. Or something fried with spice. You need something to work with the big bitter hops in the beer.

It’s a tough choice between #3 and #5 for best beer. Winner is #5 . Runner up is #3, in third place comes #4, forth is #2 and clearly in last place is #1.

It might seam like a wide range in flavours from the reviews above, and it does feel like that when they’re side by side. If you pick up a #1 or #5 first off, you still taste the same thing, stone fruit hops with amber malt. Then the bitterness takes over. I think there was too much hops. Victoria Secret hops have a big kick which I’ve see it in my all grain and here in the Pale Trial Ein series. Does this make these bad beers? No. But there’s room for improvement. And I’ll work on that.

It has been a really interesting journey with these beers. They’re the end of a mini story of finding my Dad’s old wine brewing equipment, cleaning, brewing, bottling and finally tasting. But the journey doesn’t end. The Pale Trial Zwie beers are ready for drinking. Will need to get into them and write up a review.

-Mikey

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Not a not, it’s nearly Summer

After a bit of a busy October I knew it was time to get back to brewing. And on Sunday last week that’s exactly what happened.

Chas came around to lend a much needed hand. Was good to be brewing again, even if it was ‘just’ an extract only brew. I was going to have another shot at doing the not-beers. I’ve been thinking about a couple options to get a better outcome than last time. But that’s for another day.

I got a request that to make a summer ale. We’re in November and summer is nearly upon us. If some of the 30° C days recently are an indication you could say summer is already here. Anyway, with the heat on it’s way, and me still not sorting out the shed for fermentation fridge, it was now or never.

I spent about a week here and there looking up info on Summer Ales. Quickly realised it’s not a style of it’s own. Sure there’s the English Summer Ale as a type, but was I was looking for war more of a feeling. Light, easy drinking, not too much alcohol, something that can be enjoyed cold… basically a drink to have on a hot day.

Summer Ale fermenting away

Summer Ale all wrapped up and fermenting away

I landed with a cross between an American Blonde Ale and English Summer Ale, with more wheat. I’m not a fan of most wheat beers, so this is a bit of a jump of faith for me. Lots of looking up recipes for all grains, partial and all extract beers. I’m pretty happy with what I chose to go with.

  • 1.5 kg of Liquid Malt Extract – Briess Bavarian Wheat, for 35 mins
  • 400 g of Dry Malt Extract – Briess Pilsen Light, for 5 mins
  • 5 g Warrior hops, for 33 mins
  • 3 g Nelson Sauvin + 3 g Belgian Saaz hops, for 13 mins
  • 3 g Nelson Sauvin + 3 g Belgian Saaz hops, at flame out
  • A bit over half a pack of dry US-05 yeast

Original gravity came in at 1.028 which was a lot lower than calculated (1.044). Maybe the calculations were based on something wrong, or maybe the measurements were out. Not sure.

Ended up with 14 litres rather than the 13 planned. So, the 15 litre fermentation vessel was very full. That wasn’t a problem at the start, after a couple days the fermentation was quite slow. But some time in the following few days (I rarely check until bottling) there was a blow out. Airlock changed and now bubbling away again. I hope there wasn’t an infection. Normally the fermentor is out of the way enough to keep it safe. Will wait and see.

Bottling next week. Should have a good idea how it turns out. Hope it ends up a bit dry otherwise going to be less than 3% alcohol. And that might make it a little too light on body.

Oh, and we finally got around to doing a review of the Pale Trial Ein beers. Expect that up within the week.

-Mikey

 

Tagged , , , ,