Tag Archives: Beer

The Friedlieb, Coffee Porter III – Review

Way back on 29 July Chas made the third version of The Friedlieb, his coffee porter. This latest version is an all grain. And it’s pretty bloody good. All the relatively fresh coffee that went into this helps drive this beer.

The Friedlieb coffee porter III

The Friedlieb coffee porter III ready for drinking

The aroma is simply great. Big coffee and molasses hit in the nose. Good smoke end to the aroma, long and lasting but not harsh. This really draws you into the beer.

Up front this beer is a little deceptive. The dark malt feels somewhat light but the smoke is there. Plenty of peated malt. Chocolate is there at the start and coffee too. The rye malt is a little harder to pick up. Slightly overpowered, but giving some backing to the rest of the malt. The hops are not really there, but more to help balance.

There’s a big mouth feeling to this beer. Small bubbles give it a sort of creamy hint to it. After the first impressing the smoke and coffee take over. They’re mixing around and washing together. The alcohol in this is 6.8%, though you don’t really notice any of that anyway. The smoke and coffee cover it very well.

All the peated malt takes over and this does get slightly too much. That’s when it’s cold. Once this beer warms up there’s more of a slight sweetness to this. The chocolate malt comes out a bit and the brown malt flavour comes out a lot more. There’s a biscuit/toast flavour to it. But it’s the coffee that really becomes the king flavour and reminding you that there really was a LOT of coffee put into this beer.

The downside for me is the smoke from the peated malt. When I reviewed the second version of The Friedlieb I mentioned that Chas was really looking for this. It’s too much for me. Chas really wanted to push this, and I think it’s something he really likes. Don’t get me wrong, this is a well made beer with good complexity, nice body and long lasting flavour. For me one bottle is enough.

This is a beer for the end of the night. At home, settling in for the night and have next to a fire. Don’t need anything to eat because this beer is full of character and flavour. Maybe not the last beer, ‘cos the coffee will keep you going. But a good solid flavour hit to slow things down.

-Mikey

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Not Beer – Review

So, after a fair amount of time, we managed to try Mikey’s Not Beers. These were un-hopped “beers” that Mikey was experimenting with fermenting in some plastic bottles.

As Mikey mentions in his original post, technically these are not beers, which, I guess, is where they get the name. Mikey’s wife tends to like maltier beers, so we wanted to see how she would like something that was quite literally all malt and not hops!

Well, we got some back luck with both the bottles and they both turned out very very sour. It’s surprising that both bottles got the same contamination, but it’s possible the bottle caps, being stored in the same place, shared some bugs. With that, hops act as a natural preservative and the lack of them would not have helped in killing off the nasties.

Anyway…

Not Beer with Dark Malt

Not beer dark

As a sour, it almost worked.

Some malt remained in the aroma, and also had a sour element. This actually worked together OK.

In the taste, the sour punch came through in the middle and drops away quickly. There wasn’t a lot of body in the beer so there wasn’t much else to grab onto. It’s not too sour/extreme, and, if it was served extremely cold, it would almost be bearable.

Still, I didn’t get all the way through it.

Not Beer with Amber Malt

Not beer amberAs the malt here was lighter, there’s even less body and malt to cancel out any of the sour and unfortunately this beer wasn’t remotely drinkable.

According to Mikey though “if you don’t let your smell senses work at all, it’s not that bad…”

I’ll have to take his word for it.

 

-Chas

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Making the Friedlieb all grain

DSC_0410Back in October 2013, we made a second version of a coffee porter called the Friedlieb. It used malt extract and some specialty grain. Now we figured we’d try to make it an all grain.

We basically had to start again to try to adapt what was about 1.5 kilograms of liquid malt and 250 grams of dry malt (for 12 litres). The liquid malt was a golden light and the dry was a dark malt, so we decided to replace this with 2 kilograms of traditional pale malt and up some of the other darker grains as well (for 8 litres).

The beer might not turn out “portery” enough, but this is just the start of things, so if we need to up the dark malts a little more, we will. All that being said, this has always been a fairly light porter, so we’ll see.

We also upped the peated malt to try and bring out even more smoke in the brew. Some would say we’re pushing it too much, but it’s hard to get the peat to come out above the large amount of coffee we’re putting in there, so…

The ingredients were (for an 8 litre batch):

  • 2 kilograms of traditional pale malt
  • 180 grams dark crystal
  • 100 grams chocolate malt
  • 150 grams peated malt
  • 100 grams melanoidin
  • 120 grams rye malt
  • 6 grams Willamette (bittering) – 30 minutes
  • 6 grams Fuggles (taste) – 15 minutes
  • 6 grams Fuggles (aroma) – 0 minutes
  • 16 shots espresso
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Windsor style ale yeast

All the grains were mashed for an hour in eight litres of water at 65 degrees. We were able to keep the temperature pretty constant, and this seemed like a good amount of water for the grains.

DSC_0413We played around with the pots a bit to do everything right. Basically, we just let the grains mash in the biggest pot we could get (about 12 litres) without a bag or anything like that. After the mashing process, we strained all this (through a few bags) in a couple smaller pots. With the grain now in a couple grain bags, we transferred all the wort back to the big pot and sparged. It worked pretty well! But we still need a bigger pot…

From there, it was pretty standard.

The brown sugar and coffee went in with 5 minutes left to the boil.

Cooling was pretty easy and we were left with about 7 litres of liquid, so there wasn’t a whole lot of topping up to do to get it up to 8 litres.

The original gravity was 1.063 which isn’t bad considering we were approximating the grain from a previous extract brew with an OG of 1.073. Depending on how things turn out, we may up the malt a bit and/or mash the grains for a bit longer to bring that original gravity up a little bit.

Anyway, the beer is currently bubbling away and should be ready to bottle pretty quick. I’m eager to see how it turns out and modify further!

-Chas

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Bottling Super Stout, with a mistake

I finally got around to bottling the Super Stout. I’ve been waiting for some extra fermentation which hasn’t really happened. I was by myself and made a mistake. I knew at the time that maybe it wasn’t a great idea and did it anyway.

Super Stout bulk prime

Bulk priming the Super Stout from fermenter to pot

The gravity reading on the stout hadn’t really dropped from the reading I took three weeks ago. Back then it was 1.031 and it finally ended at 1.028. That’s not a lot of movement over three weeks. The extra temperature may have helped ferment a bit more, but not sure if it was really worth the extra wait.

Bottling 18 litres of beer by myself was never going to be fun. That’s one of the reasons I had put it off for so long. I wanted to put most of the beer in 330 ml bottles as well which was going to drag it out longer. My bottles are washed and clean before I put them in storage. All I needed to do was sanitise them and put them on the bottling tree to dry a bit. Pretty straight forward once I put the rest of the bottling tree together.

I’m use to bulk priming I didn’t want to go back to individual priming. That meant I needed to measure the take sugar and dissolve it in a little bit of water. That was simple. I had the dissolved sugar in my new(ish) 19 L pot and racked off the beer from the fermenter to the pot. That went really well.

Now I had all my beer primed and ready to bottle. And in a huge pot. How to bottle from here? I could syphon it out one bottle at a time. That would take forever and I didn’t have the time. I could transfer to one of the fermenters with a tap and use a bottling wand. Not the big one as I don’t have time to clean. Little one is good to go, but a bit small. Split it into two lots would work. What’s the easiest way to move it from the pot to the small fermenter? A siphon us a smart choice. But what did I choose? Pour it in. What was I thinking?!

Super Stout bad idea

Pouring the pot to fermenter? That’s a bad idea

There was a but of a mess when I poured the beer out if the pot. Most went into the fermenter. Lost about 500 ml to the floor and side of the fermenter. Second lot was less messy. The real problem is that by pouring the beer it got aerated. And according to John Palmer’s book How To Brew that it’s likely going to produce diacetyl flavours. Not good.

The rest of the bottling went pretty well. I did under estimate how many bottles I would need. Total count was 35 stubbies and eleven 500 ml bottles, a total of just over 17 litres.

After bottle conditioning the alcohol should be 5.2% which is below what I would like for something called a Super Stout. Would expect something close to 8%, but I knew from the original gravity that want going to be possible.

I didn’t taste the beer when bottling. I had tried it a few times with the gravity samples over the past few weeks. Quite dark and the liquorice flavour changed enough for me to notice between sample one and the last one. There was a good hint of apple aroma from the beer once primed and in the open pot. I really hope that doesn’t come through in the beer.

I’ve included what temperature settings were used. You can see that I raised the heat a fair bit in a futile attempt to ferment more sugar. I’m fearful that it might have caused a negatively effected the beer.

  • OG 1.064 (3/5/14)
  • ferment at @ 16 C = 1.031 (to 28/5/14)
  • then @20 C = 1.030 (to 1/6/14)
  • then @ 24 C = 1.029 (to 9/6/14)
  • still @ 24 C = 10.28 (to 14/6/14)

If you’ve got any feedback on the above is love to hear it. Both the temperature changes and the pouring/aeration of the beer.

-Mikey

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Really dark, and still not ready

Super Stout gravity reading

Super Stout gravity reading at 1.031

It’s been three and a half weeks since the brew day for the Super Stout. I deliberately left this to ferment at a lower temperature, 16 degrees Celsius. There were two reasons for that. First, Good Beer Week was on last week and there was no time over the weekends to bottle. Second, wanted a really clean yeast finish to the beer.

Fast forward to now. Went out and took a sample of the beer. Gravity reading came in at 1.031! What? I’m pretty sure that’s no where near where I thought it would finish. Yeah, there’s all sorts of stuff in there like lots of super dark malt and liquorice. But I really thought this would drop more. And I still do.

Rather than wait another 2-3 weeks I’ve set the temperature to rise to 20 degrees Celsius. I’m hoping the yeast will wake up and have another crack at eating some of that remaining sugar. If that doesn’t work, I might need to pitch some more yeast in. Which is something I’m not took keen on.

The sample tastes quite sweet still. And that should mean there’s still more sugars for the yeast to eat up. There’s also a really strong molasses taste which ends with liquorice taste. Now I know what the liquorice does. The sample is also super dark, just as the name suggests.

So, temperature up and give it another week and a half. Hope it’s ready by then. If not… well, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

-Mikey

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Australian IPA review

A little while ago, Mikey made his first trial of the Australian IPA, lots of different hops, and then some.Aus IPA

It was a great beer, and pretty hoppy, but not quite as hoppy as one would expect given what was thrown in there…

The aroma was great, with sweet caramel and biscuit smells.  Some lychee was thrown in for good measure as well hints of vanilla.  I was expecting a little bit more in there given all the hops.  It’s possible that it was too much and things simply got confused.

All in all, it looks and feels light for an IPA.  It has a good body, but not as heavy as would be expected.  The hops don’t come creaming out, but the bitterness is there and sits at the back as you would expect.  There are some great citrus and sour notes in the taste.  However, it’s fairly mild for an IPA.

Adding to this, finding any malt in the flavour was difficult.  The biscuit and caramel was great in the smell, and some malt in the taste would have been great.  This is a very hop driven beer, yes, but it needs some malt to wrap around.  Alternatively, it could have been good just to push the hops further and leave it at that.  In my opinion, that’s the two general directions an IPA can go.

-Chas

All that being said, this was a good, easy drinking beer.  It could easily be a nice session beer.

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Back to black, brewing Super Stout

Back from holidays. Back to brewing. Back to black.

Yep, Saturday was the first weekend back from a two week holiday overseas. It seamed like a perfect idea to get Chas over and brew again. Plus we were able to do another dark brew. Super Stout was the brew for the day, and is was very dark brew indeed.

Super Stout 1

Super Stout 1 in the fermenter waiting to be topped up with water

Last dark brew I did was the Baltic Porter #2. That was back in November, nearly six months ago. That’s running very low and will likely be all gone by the time the Super Stout is ready to drink. The weather is getting right for stouts and porters, it has already gotten pretty cold here in Melbourne. But that might have more to do with the temperature difference between the holiday overseas verse back home.

The brew day was a simple and easy one. Did a kit from Brewcraft / Liquorcraft / Australian Home Brewing… I’m always getting confused by their name. I’m just going to continue to refer to that company by their official company name, Australian Home Brewing Pty Ltd. Anyway, the kit was their Super Stout. Got this one as a gift for Christmas. Didn’t want to wait much longer before using the ingredients. Apparently liquid malt can go a bit funny if it’s been in a can too long. Yeast was fine as I kept in the fridge since December.

The kit comes with everything you need.

  • 1.7kg can of Black Rock Miners Stout
  • 1.5kg can of Black Rock Dark Liquid Malt Extract
  • 500g Corn Sugar
  • 10ml liquorice extract
  • Safale S-04 (whole 11g pack)

A fairly simple kit and very easy to make. The liquorice was unexpected. I’ve seen it as an ingredient in home brew shops before but wasn’t game to try myself. Given that it’s included in a lot of stout recipes I’m sure it’ll be fine. We’ll wait for the tasting review.

Process for this brew is very simple. Boil 2-3 litres of water. Heat off. Add both cans of liquid malt. Add corn sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add to fermentation vessel. Top up to 18 litres. Add licorice. Stir up really well. Gravity reading. Pitch yeast. Done.

The whole brew was all done in about an hour. Topping up the water was nearly the longest process. There was plenty of ice and ice cold water ready to chill. The delay was getting the rest of the water filtered. The water quality isn’t the best here due to the pipes. There is only one filtering jug and it takes time. Might need to prepare that better next time.

Gravity came in at 1.064. That’s pretty good. The instructions pack said final gravity would come in around 1.025 – 1.030. If that’s the case I’m looking at a beer that will be around 5.0% to 5.6% after bottling. That’s okay, but was hoping for something a bit higher for a stout. I drank some of the gravity sample and it tasted great. Dark and sweet, exactly what you’d expect.

There was some beer tastings as well. Cracked open a bottle of Chas’s basic pale ale. Also tried my Australian IPA. Both reviews should make their way up over the next week or so.

Overall it was a relaxed brew day. Nothing complex. Nothing boring. Nothing special. Two guys making a beer and taking it easy. Nice.

-Mikey

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Bottling before leaving, with a tasty beer

Sunday at my place was a very quick one. Only four litres of the Australian IPA #1 to be bottled. Plus sat down for a taste test of the Australian Pale #4. No brewing because in two weeks I’ll be on holidays. I don’t want to leave something in the fermenter too long. Will pick things up once I’m back.

Australian IPA 1

Australian IPA 1 in the carboy and ready for bottling

The bottling went very well with 13 stubbies sanitised, filled and capped super quick. The bulk priming works a treat. Getting the hang of tipping the priming vessel so you get the right angle to help liquid flow down the bottling wand.

Gravity came in at 1.015. At first I was a little disappointed, then realised I had dry hopped (see the photo with the hop bag). Plus the original gravity was 1.058 which means after bottle conditioning I’m looking at about 6.1% alcohol. That’s good for the style.

The sample we tried was very bitter. That’s somewhat expected for an IPA. I’m hoping the flavour and aroma comes out a bit more. I’ll sneak in a taste just before holidays, then we’ll do a proper tasting in about a month.

As I mentioned, we did a proper tasting of  Australian Pale Ale #4. Chas liked it and will write up a review soon-ish. Personally it’s my favourite pale ale I’ve made. And sits next to Baltic Porter #2 to battle it out as the best beer I’ve made. Not much left, might need to make some more once I’m back.

-Mikey

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Back to Basics – Basic Pale Ale (take 1)

Oh the humble pale ale!

While it is in fact lager that is the most widely made and consumed beers, it’s probably the pale ale that has the most variants and allows itself the most experimentation – at least according to me.

Because of this, the pale ale is great place for experimentation and a great way to learn more about the craft of beer making.  While Mikey and I have done quite a few brews, of course we still have quite a bit to learn.  So it’s been decided to make the most basic of basic pale ales and work our way up from there.

Keep in mind, yes, Mikey has been been experimenting with “basic” pale ales.  His is an exercise in playing with different hops, seeing how they go as a single hop, and seeing how they interact.  This is an exercise in making a very basic recipe, and building on that very same recipe.

Yes, this is a basic one – just some traditional pale ale malt and some hops.  What hops to use was an educated guess.  We’ll see how it tastes and develop from there.

The Basic Pale Ale

The following is for a four litre batch.

  • 1 kg traditional ale malt

    20140329_130047

    Mashing some grains!

  • 4 grams Chinook (bittering – 60 minutes)
  • 4 grams Cascade (taste – 20 minutes)
  • 4 grams Citra (aroma – 2 minutes)
  • US05 Ale Yeast

The malt was mashed at 65 degrees in five litres of water for 90 minutes.  We felt this was a pretty good rule of thumb to start with.  As mentioned, this recipe will be the skeleton for what will be developed into a unique recipe.

After the initial mashing, we sparged with another 1.5 litres of water.

This left us with 6.5 litres at the start of the boil, noting that this is a recipe for 4 litres!  Unsurprisingly we lost a fair bit of water in the boil and ended up with about 3.5 litres when it was added to the carboy.

We were aiming for an American Pale Ale style of hopping.  According to our calculations, the IBUs came in on the top end of the style, which is fine, especially as there will be some other great fruity, tropical, and pine flavours coming through with the hops.

I’m really keen to see how this turns out. I’m sure there will be some more flavours that we’ll want to add in there, but we’ll let the first batch tell us what those are and go from there.

20140402_192724

Tucked up and ready to go

-Chas

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Shopping, bottling, brewing, and not-beers

Was very keen to get this write up done early. And now it’s Thursday. Oh well.

Saturday was a funny sort of brew day. Had the Australia Pale Ale #4 to bottle and another 4 litre batch to produce. Then there were the not-beers, I’ll get to that later. Unfortunately there was no Chas. My good mate Ian stepped in again to help. That’s two brew days in a row, after not getting him over for the whole of last year!

Before any brewing or bottling a supply run was required. I headed around to Ian’s place. Then, after a coffee and breakfast, we headed off to Grain and Grape in Yarraville. I’ve been wanting to go to Grain and Grape for a while. For home brewers in Melbourne it’s a sort of institution, party because they’ve been around for ages, partly because they’re dirt cheap, and partly because it’s a bit odd. The place is small. Really small. And packed to the brim with stuff. Lots of equipment. And quite a few odd characters both in front and behind the counter. My only piece of advice, don’t go on Saturday unless you absolutely have to. It’s packed on Saturdays.

After leaving Grain and Grape we dropped some stuff at Ian’s place. Then I realised I didn’t pick up any speciality grains. So we went to Cellar Plus. It’s just north of the Vic Market. A lot more laid back place than Grain and Grape. Staff don’t know much about home brewing and the range isn’t the best. But you can pick up essential supplied, like the Crystal grain I was after.

Once done with supplies it was back to my place. First order of business was working out what to brew. Yep, left this one a bit late. Brew for the day was going to be one of three options; the next pale ale, an amber ale or an IPA. Ian was a last minute ‘yes’ to help out. If he was coming it would be something a bit more complex. If he wasn’t it was going to be something very basic. So, as Ian was there to help I decided on doing an IPA with Crystal grains. Had a look in the freezer and knew I had a lot of different hops. After playing around Kit & Extract Beer Designer spreadsheet I came up with an IPA recipe. Decided on a mixture with Warrior for bitterness then Aramilo, Citra and Simco. I’ve never used the last three and looking forward to tasting these. So, here we have the Australian IPA #1.

The steeping grains was the first order of business. Into a grain bag. Then Ian crushed them by rolling them with a rolling pin. Brought two litres of water to a bit over 70°C and chucked in the grain bag. Then we left it to go bottle.

 

Australian Pale Ale #4

Australian Pale Ale #4 all bottled.

Bottling the pale ale was straight forward. Another bulk priming job from carboy to the small fermenter with sugar then using the tap to bottle. Nearly got this process down pat.

The gravity for the Australia Pale Ale #4 came in at 1.011. I was expecting a low reading if the original reading was right. But it came in a bit too high. I’m even more convinced that the original reading was wrong. Anyway, from the readings I have this should be 4.0% after bottling. It had a very pronounced grapefruit bitterness and dryness. Going to be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Once bottling was done it was back to the brew kitchen. The grains had sat for more than the thirty minutes, but that didn’t matter. An extra litre if water went in and we brought it up to a boil. About a third of the dry malt went in. After the hot break the fist hops. Next hops 15 mins later. Rest of malt went in with 5 mins to go. Then final hops at flame out. Not trying the “no flavour hops” method, yet.

  • 3 litre boil, topped up to 4 litre batch
  • 700 grams Light Dry Malt Extract (275g at the start, 425g with 3 mins to go)
  • 4 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ 15 mins
  • 3 grams Citra hops @ 15 mins
  • 2 grams Amarillo hops @ 0 mins
  • 2 grams Citra hops @ 0 mins
  • 3 grams Simcoe hops @ o mins
  • 1 Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon of yeast nutrients

Dry hopping

  • 4 grams Amarillo hops @ 3 days
  • 3 grams Citra hops @ 3 day
Australian IPA #1 & not-beers

Australian IPA #1 and the two not-beers ready to ferment

Chilling went very well. The two litres of half frozen ice and just over half a tray of ice cubes went straight into the pot. The pot also sat in the ice bath to help further. When it came to getting the wort into the carboy I tried something extra. Used a muslin bag for extra filtering. Put this at the bottom of the funnel. So, pot into sieve on funnel in muslin bag in carboy. Should have got a photo.

Shook up the carboy before taking a gravity reading. Was a respectable 1.058, just shy of target. Yeast was pitched, yeast nutrient put in, carboy given another shake, and airlock put on. First brew done.

Onto the non-beers! Let me give you some context. My wife loves malty beers and doesn’t like hoppy beers. The question was raised “could you make a beer without hops?” Well, you could technically make a brew without hops. Not sure if you would still call it a beer. Not sure if it would taste any good. Anyway, I decided to make two very small batches of no hop beer.

Australian IPA #1 with hop bag

Australian IPA #1 after three days with the hop bag

The first batch was with dry amber malt extract. Very easy. Boil water. Chuck in malt. Bring it to a hot break. Heat off. Cool in an ice bath. Put in fermentation vessel. Pitch yeast. Add yeast nutrient. Shake. Seal with airlock. Done.

Second batch was done with dry dark malt extract. Both were about 1.2 litres. Both went into soft drink bottles with Pat Mack’s Home Brewing Caps. Perfect set up for these super small experiments. After fermentation I’ll put these in glass bottles to condition.

After three days I went back to the Australian IPA. Time to dry hop. Was planning a 4 grams addition of Amarillo and Citra with a 50/50 split . Worked out a lot closer to 4 grams Amarillo and 3 grams Citra. Whoops. Hope that’s not too much. Ah well, I can just leave it a month to settle before drinking a bottle.

Was quite a good day. Great to have Ian around again. Glad to do a brew with some grains again. And happy to get the not-beers fermenting, even if I’m dreading what they’ll taste like. Talking of taste, the wort for the IPA was very hoppy and undrinkable. Good a sign. Will let you know how that one develops.

-Mikey

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