Tag Archives: Australian Home Brewing

Another brew day – Imperial Red Ale

We’ve had a bit of a heat wave lately so I’m not sure why I decided to brew up a kit of Iron Curtain Imperial Red Ale from Brewcraft, but I figured by the time it’s done the weather should have cooled a bit.  It’s a 23 litre batch as well so it will last me into the autumn when it’s a little more appropriate.

Anyway, we started out bottling the Red Dog Pale Ale that we made a couple weeks ago.  For those who remember, we didn’t get the sugars out of the mash that we were hoping for, but things turned out OK.  A lot of fermentation happened and we got quite a low FSG, so the beer should be of a decent strength and quite sessionable.  It did taste a little thin and a little over hopped – simply not enough malt in there I suppose.  The previous batch tasted a little thin though so hopefully it will beef up with some conditioning.

So, back to the Imperial Red Ale brew…

This was a pretty good extract brew.  Not too simple but fairly cruisy which amounted to a good brew day over all.  The kit contained:

  • Mangrove Jack’s British Series IPA
  • Can of liquid malt extract
  • Light dry malt extract
  • Crystal grain
  • Fuggles hops
  • US 05 ale yeast – the Mangrove Jack’s kit came with yeast but I don’t usually use kit yeast

We kind of jumped right into it so I forgot to take measurements of everything… oops!  I guess I was excited about this brew.

As I mentioned, this one was pretty simple.  The crystal was steeped for 30 minutes then a quick boil was started.  With the boil going the hops were added for five minutes.  After the cold break we threw it in the fermenter, added the Mangrove Jack’s, the LME and DME, topped it up to 23 litres and we were done!

I like kits like this.  While a partial or a full mash is a little more in depth, these are easy enough to spend a couple hours on over the weekend, but a little bit more than just pouring a can of concentrated wort into a fermenter, adding water, and then being done.

The wort tasted great.  There were lots of hops in there and, with an OSG of 1.057, I think this is going to be a really robust beer.  Mikey thinks I should dry hop it but I haven’t decided yet…  I need to decide soon though!

We’ll report back in a few weeks to tell you how it is!

-Chas

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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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Blondes and Browns, big brew day

Sunday was another brew day at my place and it was big, in many ways.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale ingredient list and instructions

First up was a trip for supplies from Australian Home Brewing, aka Liquorcraft, aka Brewcraft, aka something-something. We have done a fair few porters lately. They are pretty awesome and good over the colder months, but time for something else for the cold. An English brown ale was what I wanted. Ended up with a Newcastle Brown Ale kit, plus a basic stout kit for another day.

Then back in the Mikey mobile (aka ‘car’) and back to brew headquarters (aka ‘home’) for brew day.

First order of business. Bottle the lager. Final gravity was 1.012 which means the beer will only be 3.8% alcohol, after bottle conditioning. That’s a fair bit lower than what I was going for. Rather than just a cup of dextrose we should if put in half a kilo. That aside, the sample we took was quite promising. Should be a good session beer.

We have been having some over carbonation in a couple of my beers. Nothing horrid, but the IPA and coffee porter (only a couple sample bottles) have overflowed when opened if shaken even slightly. I’ve been using caster sugar for priming and a few people have suggested this might be the reason. That said there’s not a lot of info on the internet about different types of cane sugar. To test this I primed some bottles of the lager with caster sugar and others with carbonation drops. Had a mix of different bottle sizes as well.

After bottling the lager it was time to start brewing. Cracked open one of the Summer Citrus Blonde Ales and got stuck into it. Chas is going to get a review up soon, so I’ll leave it to him.

The brown ale was a mixed kit. There was chocolate malt (200g), a can of light liquid malt, a can of Nut Brown Ale, some Fuggles Hops, and Safale S-04 yeast.
The malt was left to steep for about 45 mins rather than the 20-30 recommended. Mainly because we were trying to do to much at once.

Chas got the liquid light malt in a pot and brought it to the hot break. And I cleaned the fermenter. Hops were added with the steeped grains. The recipe said an optional 400 grams of brown sugar could be added. Only had 300, but it went in. I finally finished cleaning the fermenter just in time for the fresh wort to go in. Last was the can of Nut Brown Ale. Like the lager, we found the liquid a bit to hot. Was a lot more manageable this time round. Finally, yeast went on and airlock.

  • Black Rock Nut Brown Ale – 1.7kg
  • Black Rock Light Liquid Malt – 1.5kg
  • Crushed Chocolate Malt – 200g
  • Soft Brown Sugar – 300g
  • Fuggles Hops pellets – 15g
  • Safale S-04 yest – 11.5g

Have to say that this was a bit of a hectic brew day. Started late and had a huge amount to do. Tried to do too many things at once. Even spilt some of the strained hops back into the fermenter. Luckily it wasn’t much.

The wort smelt great. Gravity reading was only 1.045 which is a bit below what I would expect for the style. Hopefully this yeast brings the final reading right down. Anything less than 4.5% and I’m going to be disappointed. So, a final gravity from about 1.012 or lower will be good.

-Mikey

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Moving, from small to big

Back when I started looking into home brewing I didn’t know where to start. In my first post I talked about the two types of beer kits I got. I started with the smaller, and slightly more complex kit from Brew Smith. The beer was good, really good. So I stuck with it and made a few more.

Finally time came to do the other kit. The bigger kit. The simpler kit. And I’m worried about the quality. Chas picked up exactly the same kit and the lager turned out rougher than I would have liked.

To try and make sure my version turns out a bit better I decided to replace the dextrose with some liquid malt. Got some advice at Aussie Home Brewers and picked up some Light Pilsner Malt Extract.

The brew was done on Sunday the 2nd and went pretty smoothly. A little too much heat, which wasn’t a huge problem as I really wanted a good original gravity and had to play around a bit. The gravity reading wasn’t exactly where I wanted it, so a cup (75 grams) of dextrose was thrown in at the end.

First few days the beer has been fermenting away as expected. Has slowed down the last 4-5 days and plan to bottle this weekend.

-Mikey

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Dark Dead Guy Ale

Well…

It has been an exciting week!  It was Good Beer Week, which meant lots of great stuff to try around Melbourne.  I’m not quite as hard core as Mikey, but I still managed to get more than a few brews under my belt.  Although this site is technically home brew related, if we get lucky Mikey may talk about Good Beer Week.  We’ll see!

However, I still managed to make some home brew: Dark Dead Guy Ale from Australian Home Brewing.

This kit was pretty cruisy, but quite fun.  It called for a 30 minute boil of some hops and then just mixing that in with a kit can and some malt into a 30 litre fermenter.

The Hops

The kit included two hop varieties: Perle hops (alpha 6%-10%) and Saaz Hops (3%-4.5%).

Now, I’ve still got A LOT to learn about hops, but it was great to be able to smell the difference.  I’ve included the alpha acid levels above mostly so that when I do learn more about hops, I’ll have a reference!

The Perle was the taste hops, and about 14 grams of that was thrown in for the 30 minutes.  Much to my housemate’s displeasure, this filled the house with the lovely smell of hops.  Perle has a great spiciness about it, and it was a pleasure to stand over the stove breathing in it.

At the 25 minute mark, I threw in anotheLast five minutes of the boil - all hops added!r 14 grams of the Perle as well as 10 grams of the Saaz.  These late additions were for aroma.

Last five minutes of the boil – all hops added!

It was amazing how the Saaz changed up the smell entirely.  I found that although I found the Perle a bit spicy, it had a lot more bitter to it in smell.  The Saaz, on the other hand, was much spicier, and less bitter than the Perle.

They had their own complexities too, and now, upon writing this, I realise I should have taken some notes… Anyway, it was very interesting how the aroma changed quite abruptly upon adding the Saaz.

Following that was steeping for 20 minutes.

The Rest of It

While all that was going on, the contents of the two cans went into my (sanitised) fermenter and were stirred together with some water.

The rest of this is child’s play.  Pour the hops through a strainer, top up to 21 litres, getting the temperature into the 18-24 degrees C range, take a gravity reading, then pitch your yeast.

For those who are curious, the yeast that was supplied with the kit was a BRY97 American Westcoast Ale Yeast.  No surprises that I used an ale yeast to make an ale…

20130526_155852The original specific gravity was 1.040, so, as with the last big batch, we should get something between 4.5%-5% after bottling.  Maybe something a bit higher.  Although the OSG is a little higher than the lager, I don’t expect to get as low an FSG as I did with the lager since this one is generally just a thicker beer… we’ll see.

The wort was a little interesting in taste.  The hops was quite bold, and, I have to say, a little confronting.  Not confronting in “oh wow, that just opened my eyes to a new world,” no, it was confronting in a “oh wow, that hobo isn’t wearing any pants” kind of way.  Maybe not that bad…  I think it will settle down in the fermenter.  Then I want to give it at least a month in the bottle.

Finally, I was a bit worried at first because things didn’t start bubbling for quite a while.  I gave the fermenter a squeeze and things were definitely sealed up, so I was a bit concerned.  To my pleasure when I got home from work today, it was going nuts!  Probably the most energy I’ve seen in an airlock since I’ve started.

This is an excitable brew…

-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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