Tag Archives: Brewsmith

Brewsmith Aussie Wattle Pale Ale – review

Mikey and I were quite excited to try Brewsmith’s new recipe, the Aussie Wattle Pale Ale that we made a few weeks ago.  This was a new recipe of theirs, and we usually like what we get out of a Brewsmith kit, so we were expecting something good.  All in all, we weren’t disappointed.

The smell was pretty malty with a hint of citrus, and the wattle really came out.

Aussie WattleBecause of the smell, I was expecting a much maltier beer, but it was actually quite bitter, more bitter than I anticipated from the style and the initial sniff.  Of course it wasn’t an IPA bitterness, but there was definitely a hoppy kick.  The wattle remained obvious throughout the taste.  Wattle is a hard taste to describe to those who haven’t had it… I tried to find some tasting notes for wattle seed in general but I didn’t agree with any of the descriptions!  All I can say is that it interacted well with the hops and the two flavours work together well.

The bitterness tended to build up a little bit, which is more typical of an IPA.  This wasn’t unwelcome or over the top and went well: really it was just a regular pale ale that happened to be on the more bitter side of things.  Other than the bitterness, the body and flavour was very typical of the style.

The only real criticism I have is that there wasn’t much finish to the beer.  I prefer a beer with a long flavour and this one was a little short; it lacked complexity.  This added to the sessionability of the beer as it made for very easy drinking, so that’s a plus.

Most basically, this was a good, easy drinking beer.  I’d do this with something just as basic and standard like a sausage sizzle or a burger.  Enjoy.


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Brewsmith Hoppy Heart II – Review

A few weeks ago we revisited Brewsmith’s Hoppy Heart IPA.  We originally did this one way back in May, but we wanted to try it again, so we did!

All in all, it was a pretty similar beer to before, but it wasn’t exactly the same.  This can happen sometimes if we did things at different temperatures, especially the fermentation.  Every brew is different!  While commercial breweries take a lot of care to make sure each batch is exactly the same, we didn’t…  Seasonality can often affect raw material flavours as well, so an autumn brew can be different from a spring brew.

Hoppy HeartCompared to my review of the previous batch, this beer was a bit more laid back in terms of the hops.  The smell was great: sticky and malty with a bit of a metallic feel, not a lot of hops though.  From the beginning, the beer felt very malty.

This continued on through the initial taste.  There was a great long bitterness, characteristic of an IPA, but there wasn’t much interaction of different hop flavours.  It was a nice single bitterness.  This was behind the sweetness and malt, which was primary, at least at first.  I would have preferred a little more spectrum in there, but it was still a great beer.

I’m not sure why this batch was generally sweeter than before.  It possible it’s just how we steeped the grains as well as fermentation temperatures.

Towards the end, the bitterness did start to take over a bit more and the sweetness got pushed out of the way.  I usually find this happens in an IPA; the bitterness builds up in your mouth.  I quite enjoyed this, and it was in no way overpowering.

All in all this was a fairly sessionable IPA, but maybe a little heavy for too many.

I always enjoy an IPA with curry, and I’m going to maintain this opinion.  So get some curry and pop open an IPA.-Chas

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Honey Bomb Wheat – Review

Honey Bomb Wheat #1

Honey Bomb Wheat #1 ready for tasting

On Sunday we did a brew at Chas’s place. It was fun and you can read all about it. As well as having another attempt at The Friedlieb Coffee Porter we also got to taste the Honey Bomb Wheat that we bottled a couple weeks ago.

When we brewed this about a month ago we were surprised that there wasn’t any speciality grain. Normally the BrewSmith kits include some. But it doesn’t seam to have been an issue here.

After pouring the first thing you notice is a sweet light aroma. Hints of apricot and peach smells coming out. Overall it is soft.

First taste, sweet up front and light. A bit of citrus is there. Then the sweetness, which is clearly from the honey, builds. This is slightly creamy, maybe due to the honey used. Around mid way the apricot flavour comes in. This works pretty well with the honey sweetness. At the end there it’s a dryness that creeps in. It is strange as the sweetness doesn’t drop away. Overall it leaves an odd dry sweet finish.

Food matching, maybe some fruit or cheese. Great for a beer at a picnic or to kick off a party where there’s sweet snacks.

I was never going to make this kit, as I’m not a fan of wheat beers. But I’m glad Chas decided to do this. While there is no clear wheat beer flavours in this, and it being a nice light beer, I’m not likely to want to get one of these kits myself. Tasty beer.


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Return of an old kit, now colder

Sunday was brew day at my place again. Yay! I’m enjoying the small batches and this was another one.

First up was bottling the Australian Wattle Pale Ale. Got pretty carried away and nearly forgot to take a sample for the final gravity. Was happy with the final reading of 1.014 which means it will be 4.2% ABV after conditioning in the bottles. The sample for gravity was also our sample. Have to say it was very rough and bitter. Might need more than the regular two weeks conditioning.

Worth nothing that this was the first beer that I’ve had proper temperature control. The sensor was attached and set at 22°C. There is one degree buffer range on the sensor. This meant brewing temperature was kept between 21.0°C and 22.5°C. That top range estimate as I wasn’t constantly checking. I wasn’t even checking that often. Anyway, point is that there was some control on this fermentation.

After all the bottling was done it was time for the next brew. This time it was a return to the BrewSmith Hoppy Heart IPA. I quite liked the last batch and wanted another lighter flavoured beer before trying the Baltic Porter again.

Hoppy Heart and Aussie Wattle

Hoppy Heart IPA in carboy in blanket and Aussie Wattle Pale Ale in bottles.

Had fun with this brew. Read the instructions before starting, after the mess that was the Pale Ale. The kit was straight forward and everything went to plan.

Did a couple extra things. For the steeped grains did a sparge to rinse out more flavour, colour and sugars. Thus gave a slightly darker beer but should be more flavour.

Also played around with the cold break. Used two 1.25L bottles with frozen water as ice blocks to cool the original water. This worked well. Also added about a litre of chilled water direct to the wort. After ten minutes changed over the water. As part of this I poured the near-frozen water into the sink for the bath, and topping up the bottles with tap water to continue the chilling effect. The wort wasn’t chilled enough enough after another 10 minutes. So a third bath was required. It was only now that I realised there were two trays if ice specifically prepared. They were thrown in. As a result the temperature dropped too much and there was too much wort.

The wort only just fit into the carboy. A lot of shaking later, for oxygenation, we took a sample for gravity. It came in at 1.064 which is quite alright. Yeast was pitched and put away with temperature set at 21°C. So, should ferment at 20° to 21.5°.

The day went well. Bottling and brewing on the smaller scale if things is nice. Plus return to a nice beer that was chilled, and will be fermented, cooler than before.

– Mikey

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Making beer at home, again.

It’s been too long. Way too long. Last brew day for me was on 1 September!  Over a month between brews. Just over six weeks!

In my defence there were a lot of things going on. The bottling day that was meant to include a brew was just bottling as I couldn’t sort out a time with Ian. Plus the only brew I was set up to do would of been another 23L batch and that wasn’t smart as I had just run out of bottles.

Then a whole lot of important-life-things happened. This isn’t really the place for that stuff, so I’ll just say home brewing had to take a back seat.

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale on the stove.

Anyway, I finally got back to brewing and there’s nothing like something relatively easy to get you back into it. I ordered a couple kits from BrewSmith. The was the IPA which have done before, and is good as it has dry hopping. Also picked up the new Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, for this brew.

Kit was simple enough but still managed to make a couple mistakes. We kind of jumped in a little to quick into this. Which is odd because I prepared a whole lot of stuff before Chas turned up. Kit contained:

  • Dry Malt Extract
  • Grain (mixture of stuff) for steeping
  • Wattle Seeds
  • Hops x3
  • Yeast

First mistake was not adding the Wattle Seeds to the grain when we put that into steep. Just clean overlooked that. Only missed a few mins, so hopefully that doesn’t change things much. Used a grain bag and tried to shake in the seeds, not sure if that really did anything.

Next up, the grains steeped longer than the 30 mins. This was two fold. One, it went on early and the boil wasn’t ready as quickly as I though. Second, we didn’t put the steeped liquid into the boil when we were meant to. Again, oversight by not reading the instructions from top to bottom.

So, Wattle Seeds went in late. But steeping was longer, about 50 mins rather than 30 mins. That meant it only had 5 mins in the boil rather than 15 mins. My gut tells me that this will make a difference as the (middle) hops didn’t have as much to be absorbed into . This might mean a lighter hop flavour and more aroma hops. But that’s just a guess.

Finally there was the cold break. I’ve been reading up a lot on brewing lately. Will be sharing some of that stuff once I get back into the 101 pages. Yes, I know they’re well overdue. I might move to fortnightly rather than weekly as there’s only a few more ‘basics’ to cover before diving into heavy detail.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the cold break. To really get a good break without fancy equipment I decided to step up the work on the cold bath. Yep, still doing that as don’t have any funky equipment. First up was two 1.25L soft drink bottles that were full of frozen water. These acted as giant ice cubes in the ‘bath’ water to cool it down. Then also dropped in a tray of ice direct into the wort, it’s okay the water was filtered. Still did the second bath, but no extra ice into the wort. After that transferred the wort into the carboy, while straining out the hops.

The temperature was still up a bit so put the carboy in the big boil pot and filled with ice cold water, from those bottles that were used as ice cubes earlier. After about 10 mins half the carboy was cold and the rest warm. Pitched the yeast and shaken up, for airation.

The OG came in at 1.042 which was a little lower than I expected for a BrewSmith kit. That might be due to the stuff up with the steeped grains going in late. Or maybe too much water added. But it could just as easily be the right OG.

The day was a pretty short with no bottling to do. And that was really nice for a change. Final thing for the day was getting the temperature control set up, but I’ll cover that in another post.


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Brewsmith Honey Bomb Wheat Beer


Mikey and I finally got around to making the Brewsmith Wheat Beer last weekend.  Mikey isn’t usually a wheatbeer fan, so he’s been avoiding this one.  I finally made the executive decision to get the kit.  I told Mikey I was going to make it with or without him.  Although it was a wheat beer, we were still making beer so Mikey decided to join in.  It was a good choice.

This was the standard Brewsmith kit, except unlike the other kits they do, there weren’t any specialty grains to steep.  The kit was:

  • What looked like dry malt extract, but there was probably some other stuff in there too
  • Bittering hops – 60 minute boil
  • Taste hops – 20 minute boil
  • Aroma hops – at the end of the boil
  • Honey (not supplied) at the end of the boil was optional

The good and the bad of this kit is that it was very simple.  I like Brewsmith kits because there is enough to do, but it’s still simple and easy.  I think its the grain steeping that does it.  Unfortunately with no speciality grains, it may make things a little too simple.  Simplicity isn’t a problem in a larger batch, because there are other concerns there, but on a smaller batch it is possible to make things too simple!

I think this kit would be a good introduction to the Brewsmith kits, especially for those who have only done can and kilo style kits and want to slowly move to something more complicated.  Since this kit has hops additions, it’s a good halfway between steeping and the whole kit and kilo thing.

Tomorrow Mikey and I will be trying the new Brewsmith recipe (hopefully!), so he’ll report in soon.


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Chocolate Paradise Porter (with coffee) – Review

A little while ago, we modified the standard BrewSmith Chocolate Paradise Porter to contain coffee.  For those interested, the original Chocoalte Paradise Porter brew is here, while the review is here.

Overall, the beer turned out great.  We only made twelve bottles, and by the time tasting day came around, there were only three bottles left because Mikey’s wife (AKA Manager for Change Management/Director of Art Direction for this blog) had made her way through the rest of it!  I think she enjoyed it…

Anyway, the original taste prior to bottling was encouraging, although there was a lot of coffee in there, and it was slightly overwhelming.  After the beer was allowed to condition for a few weeks in the bottle, the overpowering flavours calmed down quite a bit.

20130707_153019The coffee was still quite obvious at first, and it really sat in my mouth.  This died down after awhile though and I started to get used to it, which allowed the other flavours to come out.  As the coffee died down, the brown sugar (which was another addition to the recipe) began to come out, but only slightly.  The brown sugar was more of a tease than an actual taste: it never came to the front.

The smoke, which was apparent in the original recipe, added a great twist as well.  It really began to compete with the coffee and add some a great interaction of different flavours.

Unfortunately, all of this tended to mask the chocolate somewhat.  The chocolate was still, but hard to find, and didn’t come out until the beer was allowed to breath for a bit.

In regards to smell, the beer was nowhere near as fragrant as it was with the original recipe.  As I mentioned, the taste before bottling had quite a bit of coffee to it, but the strong coffee smell went away with conditioning; I was really hoping for lots of coffee and peat to it, but it wasn’t there unless you really went looking for it.  There was also a little bit of spice and brown sugar in there to.  Although very subdued, the beer smelled fantastic.  I would have liked the nose to be bigger though.

All in all, this beer was full of great things, and they all complimented each other well.  It was great that there were different layers of flavour, some very obvious, some very subtle.  Sometimes the taste of something would come out of nowhere, and then wouldn’t return on the next sip.  It was a great and surprising beer.

Finally, it was great to see how a few very simple modifications could dramatically change a beer.  The original was good, the modification was better.



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Summer Citrus Blonde Ale – Review

So the Summer Citrus Blonde Ale that we made a few weeks ago is done!  Once again, this one was from the guys at BrewSmith.

This beer was ready to drink pretty quickly.  Being a blonde, it was OK to drink without letting it condition for too long, although leaving it the bottle for awhile probably wouldn’t hurt it either.  It was a lovely light beer, so conditioning it longer wouldn’t have been of much benefit anyway.

First impressions on the aroma were great, albeit subdued.  The main thing that came out in the smell was citrus with a little bit of alcohol; although it’s possible my nose got a little confused and it was just the citrus.  Hunting for it, there was a bit of a smell of malt, but more of a lager smell than anything (although this beer was an ale).  Going further, there was the slightest hint of caramel, probably still from the malt.20130616_154041

As I mentioned, it was very light in feel, although not thin at all.  There was a good amount of body to it.  The citrus, which was dominant but not overpowering, gave everything a crispness that made the beer refreshing and not heavy at all.  Although lemon zest was used to give these flavours, it was definitively a general citrus feel rather than just lemon.

The citrus really cleared my head with every sip, making it extremely refreshing.  I was surprised at how much the coriander came through as well.  I was also surprised that I enjoyed the coriander!

Although the beer was not overly hopped, there was a slight amount of bitterness that interacted well with the citrus.  The hops gave no fruit or spice.  Some fruit would have been welcome (although not needed), although spice would have been inappropriate.

Being such a light beer, I’m sure this would be highly sessionable.  I didn’t get the alcohol content from Mikey, but maybe he’ll enlighten us in the comments.  I suppose the only problem I had with my tasting was that it was done during one of the coldest weeks we’ve had in Melbourne so far this year!  Having one (or five!) of these on a hot summer’s day would be no problem at all.

If I would change anything at all, I would probably add a little more bitterness to further compliment the citrus.  That, or a little more fruit in the aroma would serve the beer well.

As for food, a light BBQ (chicken perhaps) would be great, or something with a bit of spice.  The main thing I’d recommend though is steamed crab, especially with ample amounts of Old Bay seasoning.  That would be the way!


P.S. I also had one of the malted ciders I made awhile ago.  It turned out great!  My house mate went crazy for it and stole the whole glass when I offered her a taste of what would have been my second bottle…  I’ll give one to Mikey to do a proper review of later.

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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.


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.


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Hoppy Heart IPA – review

So we finally got to taste the Hoppy Heart IPA from Brewsmith that we brewed a few weeks ago. You can check out the post on the brew here.

The only problem with brewing is that it requires patience, which is something I don’t have.  You make your brew, wait while it sits in the fermenter, bottle it, then wait again!

Why not just go to the bottle shop and get something that’s already been made for you?  Well, that’s a whole lot less fun and you wouldn’t have the satisfaction of knowing it was something you’ve made yourself.  Also, home brew is tasty, and this IPA was no exception.

Hoppy Heart IPA #1

Hoppy Heart IPA #1

Firstly, I want to make a very loud shout out to the guys at Brewsmith.  It seems they stumbled upon this humble blog and posted an earlier review on their Facebook page.  I suppose it’s good for them to be showing potential customers that they make good beer, but it’s nice to be getting extra readers too, so everybody wins!  I know we refer to Brewsmith quite a bit around here, but just in case we forgot to give a link, here it is: http://brewsmith.com.au/ – that’s for all y’all who don’t know how to use search engines…

So the first exciting part of the weekend was getting some extra readers.  The second exciting part was trying the IPA while making some beer.

Well first of all, the colour was great: fairly dark with lots of body and head.  Mikey was doing a bit of a “yay we get to taste the IPA dance” prior to opening the first bottle, which made it get shaken up, so after dealing with that mess, we got to try the beer.

Getting ahead a little, but talking about the body of the beer, it seemed to have a bit of a creamy or oiliness about it.  It was a pleasant feeling, and I can only imagine that it may have come from the oils that come from the hops, but that is only a guess.  All in all, it added to the body of the beer.

In regards to smell, it was exactly like an IPA should smell like, fruity, hoppy, just generally nice. When drinking, I really got all the different levels of hops: aroma hops, taste hops, and bitterness hops.  The flavours were distinct, but together at the same time.  It was quite nice.

IPAs are most famous for their hoppy/bitter flavour, and this was no exception.  That being said, I’ve had some very bitter IPAs.  While I love lots of hops, this can be a little overpowering at times, and I can often only have one or two of these before I move on.  This was not one of those, rather, it was a bit more balanced and much easier to drink.

Adding to this was the fruitiness, which counteracted the bittering hops very well.  Sometimes one wins out, the fruit or the bitter, but this IPA had both at neither extreme.

As I finished the beer, I really began to notice the bitterness staying in my mouth, which is a lovely side effect of an IPA.  So the taste really stayed, which is great.

All in all, we were quite pleased with how this came out.  As with the Brewsmith porter we made a while ago, this beer was very easy drinking.

And finally, since the last review requested that I recommend food…  My first instinct would be to just enjoy this beer on its own.  It was very refreshing and good just for its own sake.  The bitterness in an IPA can push out other flavours, so it may not go well with something that’s less than bold.  So if you must drink it with food, drink it with something that will hit you just as hard.  Keep in mind that the beer also has fruit flavours as well.  A dry curry would go well, or perhaps something Mexican is what I’d go for.

– Chas

P.S.  and since this was an article about an IPA, here is a short list of hops related puns I wanted to include, but felt would be inappropriate in the main review:

  • We were very hoppy with how the beer came out.
  • When drinking the beer, I said “hip-hop-hooray, that’s good”
  • Something about rabbits?
  • Hop on the bandwagon, drink some IPA.
  • I got hopped up on some tasty home brew.
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