Tag Archives: Chas

Off topic, on beer

There has been a slow down in content the last two months. Hasn’t been a brew day for all of February or March! I’m going to address that over the next two months. To start with I have a beer related, but not homebrew, piece for you all.

Followers of We Make Homebrew will know that it has been Chas and I taking turns in writing up brew days, bottling days, reviews and other homebrew related pieces. Chas has been very busy with another site Brew In Review over the past six months. If you haven’t checked it out, then I recommend doing so. Especially now, as I’ve finally finished my piece on my conversion beer.

This piece is the story of how I came to becoming a bit of a beer lover, not just drinker. These pieces are about moving from someone who drinks beer, into someone who enjoys tasty (craft) beer.

I hope you like my piece. And check out the other Conversion Beer stories as well as a bunch of the other content.

-Mikey

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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

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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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Super Stout Review

DSC_0414So we finally got around to trying the Super Stout made way back in May!

Unfortunately there was a bit of an accident during the bottling process when Mikey poured some of the beer, not only spilling some but also aerating it. We were fearful that this would affect the taste somewhat, and it did a little bit, but oh well! This beer also spent more than a month in the fermenter as Mikey tried to get as much fermentation out of the brew as possible after experimenting fermenting at a lower temperature.

Anyway, the beer poured nice and black like it should, but unfortunately there was really much head to it. I was hoping for a nice stouty head, but it just wasn’t there. Let’s put that down to the aeration problem.

The aroma was pretty good, but once again not all in all stouty. Quite fruity with peaches and flowers in the nose, and, of course, a bit of licorice once things warmed up a bit. Along with the licorice was chocolate, which went with well! I would have liked to see a bit of spice in there, as it’s what I like in a stout, but instead there was a bit of a sticky and sweet smell, which may be coming from the fermentation problems Mikey had.

Once drinking the beer, there wasn’t quite as much body as would be expected in a stout, especially something called a “super stout.” It was thicker and fuller than paler beers, but not enough for a stout.

The lack of body meant that there was little in the front, but the licorice came through in the middle which was great. This licorice thickened things up a bit, and a really nice flavour to have. The beer ended with a nice sweet and sour. Some of the sweetness seemed like a mistake and slightly out of place. Once again, probably a problem with the fermentation and the aeration.

To get more stouty goodness, this beer simply needed to be maltier and to be thickened up. This beer has potential, especially because of the licorice flavour.

All that being said, the lightness makes this an easy drinking beer that can be sessioned on with no problems.

 

-Chas

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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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Australian Pale Ale 4 – review

Mikey continued his experiment with different hops with the Australian Pale Ale #4, and this one was pretty tasty.

The beer was a single hop using the Victoria’s Secret hop variety, a really good, relatively new variety.  The hop was used for aroma, taste, and bittering.

In the smell, there were some great subtle aromas: mild citrus and a bit of cut grass.  There was a bit of stone fruit in there too.  On the malt side, there was a bit of sweetness to the smell which tends to be a theme in the Mikey’s Australian Pale Ale series.  The whole point of the series is to keep the same malt and simply show off the hop after all.

In the taste, while it’s called the Australia Pale Ale, it’s closer to the American style, albeit with a very Aussie hop.  Vic Secret is a pretty bitter hop.  There’s a quick build and the bitterness kind of goes “whoosh” into your mouth and sits in the back.  Behind this, at the end, is a little bit of lemon zest as well which is a nice twist.

Other than that, it’s all pretty standard.  It’s a great beer made with a great, versatile hop.

Due to the bitterness, this may be a difficult beer to enjoy with a lots of foods.  It would go well with saltier snacks rather than a meal.  Pop corn or cheddar cheese (not too sharp) would work.

-Chas

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Mikey’s Sneaky Cider

Way back in February, Mikey made a really quick cider called the Sneaky Cider, and I finally got around to tasting it!

Firstly, it had a great colour.  Nice and clear, with the colour of a basic sparkling apple juice – not surprising considering it was just sparkling apple juice (with some alcohol!).

Sneaky ciderThe first impression was that this was a very dry cider, but not overly so.  Strangely, the whole drink resembled a Chardonnay.  This isn’t a bad thing, as I’m quite fond of the grape.  I usually like a drier cider, and, to my taste, this could have been even drier, but I acknowledge this isn’t for everyone.  All in all it was quite well balanced and, at 7.9%, the alcohol was well hidden.

On the flavour, initially there wasn’t a lot of apple flavours, but the drink was certainly refreshing!  As the drink warmed up, however, the apple flavours start to come through.  The flavours start off quite laid back, then a bit of aroma comes through, and, before you know it, the apple becomes the dominant flavour.  While the name of this cider came from the fact that Mikey made it quite quickly, the flavour is just as sneaky.

I like that this cider was on the dry side.  Popular ciders today are often to sweet and they take away from the natural tang of the apples.  This cider still had tang without feeling like you were biting into an apple: it tasted like apple, but not too much so!  Basically, it was different from what the commercial ciders are doing.

I really liked this cider.  I’d do this with some pork chops!

-Chas

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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

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    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.

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Tucked up and ready to go

-Chas

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Malted Cider 2 – let’s try this again

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s been awhile.  Mikey hasn’t stopped reminding me.  It’s mostly Mikey’s fault I haven’t been around in awhile.  As Mikey mentioned, brewing slowed down a bit over the summer, so there wasn’t much to write up.  Although I pushed through the heat and still did a couple a brews, giving Mikey an opportunity to write reviews for things like the Red Dog Pale Ale 2, since Mikey was slack, I had nothing to review.  Unfortunately I just got out of the habit… because of Mikey.

Anyway, nearly a year ago I mixed some apple juice with some liquid malt; I called it a malted cider, some call it a graft.  Either way it’s pretty tasty.

20140208_113144The recipe was about the same as last time, just with different apples this time.  Last time I got some organic apples, this time it was just a whole bunch of Pink Lady apples, they worked out pretty well.

I also changed up the method somewhat…

  • First, all the apples were chopped and let to sit for a few hours.  This just softened them up a tiny bit and I’ve been told this gives a slightly sweeter cider (otherwise it’s way too dry).
  • Next, we juiced all the apples, as would be expected!  In the pot and since there is a bit of froth (and eventual evaporation), it’s hard to tell how much juice there is.  So we didn’t add the malt right away.
  • We gave the juice a 10-15 minute boil to kill any nasties.
  • This went into the fermenter.
  • Golden light liquid malt was then added at a ratio of half a cup per litre of juice.
  • We then topped the fermtenter up with cold water at a ratio of one litre of water to one litre of juice.
  • Pitch some wine yeast and done!

It’s a pretty simple recipe!  All the chopping and juicing of the apples took a fair while.  It also made one hell of a mess but it was a bit of fun.

In the end we got a OSG of 1.053, which we were pretty happy about!  Considering we’ll probably get a pretty low final gravity, since the fructose in the apples will ferment almost completely, this cider should have some kick!

Let’s see what happens…

-Chas

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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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