Tag Archives: Chas

Return of the Red Dog Pale Ale

Back in October we made a small batch of the Red Dog Pale Ale and enjoyed it so much thought we might up it to 12 litres.  It was a good brew day and a great way to get back into it for the new year, but I think we bit off a bit more than we could chew.  The main lesson: we need bigger pots if we’re going to try an all grain above about six litres…

The recipe we did is the same as what was posted the first time, so I’m not going to both to re-post the recipe.  The first time we did it we only did four litres, this time it was twelve litres, so we just did three times as much of everything…

This resulted in a total grain bill of about 2.4 kilos, so we wanted plenty of water to mash in.  Unfortunately the biggest pot I have is about nine litres so we were only able to mash with 7.8 litres of water without filling the pot too much.  As with the previous recipe we mashed for 90 minutes at 65 degrees, which seemed to work well last time.

After an hour long boil with hop additions, we were left with an OSG of only 1.034, which was much lower than last time’s 1.042 (which had been watered down by mistake!).  I think that due to the pot size we were unable to get adequate water to all the grain; we were still attempting the brew in a bag technique which was probably inappropriate for this sized grain bill.

Red Dog IIShould we try this again I think we’ll need two things: at least one bigger pot to do the boil in and probably a proper mash tun.  This would really make things a whole lot easier and we’ll be able to use much more water for mashing.

The other problem we ran into was during the cold break.  By the end of everything we had about eight litres of boiling water, and we wanted to get it cold fast.  Our usual method of giving it a bath in the sink – even with some ice added – failed to get the temperature down in a reasonable amount of time.  We’ve had trouble with this before, even with smaller batches.  I think I have an excuse to buy a wort chiller now though!

All in all it was a great brew day, and as mentioned a great one to get back into it for the year – with no bottling, a long mash, and a bit of time between hop additions, there was plenty of down time!

We’ll report back in a couple weeks to see how the beer turned out, but I’m not too optimistic!

– Chas

 

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Matt’s Pumpkin Ale – review

So it’s a new year and it’s time to get brewing again, and reviewing some new brews.  My mate Matt made a pumpkin ale awhile ago and gave me one to try.

Matt gave me the beer well before Christmas and told me I wasn’t to drink it until after the New Year, this was tough at first but then I forgot that it was in the cupboard conditioning.  I remembered it a couple days ago and put it in the fridge and forgot about it again!  Then I remembered it today while at work and dreamed about tasting this beer for the rest of the day.  I was not let down.

I was a bit worried at first because there was very little carbonation and no head when I poured it.  I had trouble at first getting any real aroma…

After giving the beer a minute to breath, the scent really came through though.  The beer was sweet and fruity with quite a bit of apple; it almost smelled like a cider.  I had to look hard but I found a little bit of pumpkin in there too.  The smell of the beer was very crisp.

This crispness continued in the first sip.  For an ale this was a very crisp beer, it was almost like a lager in its crispness.  That being said there was still a lot of body in the beer and it was surprisingly thick and full.

In the flavour, I still had trouble finding finding pumpkin but the fruit flavours continued, especially the apple.  The beer was quite sweet and this interacted well with the hops.  The bitterness had a long feel to it and sat nicely at the back of the mouth while I was sipping the beer.  The sweetness would come through while the bitterness just sat there to counteract it.  Because of this the beer was really pushing towards feeling like a pilsner rather than an ale, but the body gave it away.

The overall hoppyness was great and quite big, which is only to be expected from someone like Matt: he loves his hops.  It was very well balanced between outright bitter and fruitier flavours.  Hints of floral were in there as well.  Matt really selected his hops well and I think he’s got a talent for it.  The hops seemed very intentional and well thought out.

I think this beer would be very sessionable, even though it is fairly heavy and surprisingly bitter after knocking back a bottle.  I was also amazed at how refreshing it was; I think this was due to the beer being just bitter enough to have a bit of a zing but not being overpowering.  Given the style, I was quite surprised.

The only criticism I have is that the sweetness could be dialed back a little bit.  Perhaps the pumpkin contributed to the sweetness, but unfortunately I couldn’t find much pumpkin.  Maybe if the pumpkin was prepared a different way it would make all the difference.

I’d like to try this beer with pork belly and apple sauce.  It would go well with any heavier white meat really, or a gamey white meat as well.  But pork would be optimal!

-Chas

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Baltic Porter II – review

Last weekend Mikey had another brew day with a few tastes, one of which was a take two of the Baltic Porter, and it turned out quite well.

The beer was intentionally lower in carbonation, as per the style, which was quite nice, felt good to drink and was nice to look at.

Baltic Porter IIThe initial impressions of the smell were quite interesting.  There was a bit of banana and yeast up front, which may be a sign of the fermentation being a bit warm, but it wasn’t an off putting smell at least.  With the banana were hints of honey and a bit of apple too.  This all interacted very well.  The banana was a bit too up front, so if we try this again, I’d like to make sure the temperature is better controlled.

Body was interesting and creamy, but a little bit confused.  As a porter the beer should be a bit heavier, but there are a lot of lighter porters out there that are great.  This beer couldn’t seem to make up its mind exactly how and where it wanted to sit in your mouth: it was heavy and light at the same time.  This added an interesting, albeit a little confusing, element to the beer that I quite enjoyed.

In regards to taste, there was a little bit of sourness in there that I usually associate with a stout, but it seemed to work well here.  Fruit flavours continued throughout with a bit of sweetness as well.  There was some hop bitterness as well, but it was well hidden; it could have been the Warrior hops pushing through as it really sat in my mouth after awhile.  The hops were nice, but a little unexpected for the style.

All in all, this was a great beer.  A little confusing, but still nice to drink!

-Chas

 

 

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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.

-Chas

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Mikey’s Cider – review

So, Mikey was trying some new fancy screw on plastic bottle caps for making cider.  He made two lots of cider with different OSGs and we were excited to see what happened.

Well, the caps worked great.  There’s a little valve in them so the fermentation happens in an old plastic bottle; let that sit for a couple weeks and the cider is done!  Unfortunately I don’t think it was allowed to ferment for long enough…

The first bottle had an OSG of 1.089, which is pretty high!  I believe the final gravity was around 1.035 (I didn’t write it down, oops!), which is still much too high, and the sweetness was still there in a big way.

Mikey CiderUnfortunately the sweetness really took over and didn’t allow anything else through.  I was able to find a little apple tang at the back, but it was difficult.  The sweetness kept building up over a few sips and was quickly becoming difficult to drink.  It was tasting pretty close to straight cordial.

The second bottle, which had more sugar and an OSG of 1.111 was even worse!  There was no apple flavour to be found in it, just sugar.

We’re going to try and let it ferment a week or two longer and see if things can be recovered.  Mikey seems pretty confident but I’m a bit skeptical.  Let’s see if he can prove me wrong!

-Chas

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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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When is it cheating?

Hi all!

Yes, I haven’t written anything in awhile.  Since the fifth of November to be precise.  Don’t worry, Mikey has had stern words to me.  I haven’t done a brew in a few weeks either!  Once again, Mikey has had stern words to me.

Since I haven’t brewed in awhile, I figured I’d share some thoughts.  This comes from a conversation Mikey and I had a few weeks ago.

With a variety of brewing methods available: extract, steeped grains, mini-mash, all grain, and combinations there of; when is it cheating?  At what point can you no longer say “I made this beer”?

Purists will probably say all grain is the only way to go.  If you’re not mashing the grains yourself, and therefore not making your own malt, you’re not actually making your own beer.  I’m sure there are even those who say one must even mill their own grain!  But then you should also be growing your own grain and therefore your own hops… you should have your own lab to culture your own yeast.  Where does it end?

However, the steeped grain process offers a great opportunity to experiment with the flavours from various (unmalted) specialty grains.  All this process is doing is freeing the brewer from the “burden” of mashing their own grains.  And mashing isn’t terribly difficult; while it’s possible to “get it wrong” or do it well/badly, it’s actually a simple process.  So, at the risk of being extremely controversial, it’s not the be all and end all of home brewing.

Even with extract brewing, the brewer has the opportunity to add their own hops for extra flavours.  Either the brewer is inexperienced and still experimenting, wants something simple for whatever (completely valid) reason, or that’s simply the brew they want to do.

So I guess the real question is: is extract brewing cheating?  Is the idea of a kit and kilo a little too easy?  The process is extremely simple: dump some pre-made stuff in a bucket, add water, and you’re done.  Ignoring the fact that this is a great way for people to learn the basics and realise the importance of sanitising, it is a bit like ready to eat cake mix.  If you just add water and stick it in the over, can you still say you baked a cake?

Well… ultimately who cares?  For a hobbyist, it really just matters that you’re enjoying yourself.  Home brewing is a great hobby not only because it’s excessively fun, but you also get a great product at the end that you can share with your friends.  And friends always enjoy sharing beer with each other.

I was at a mate’s party a few weeks back and he asked me to bring some home brew.  He didn’t give me enough time to make a batch just for the party so I just brought what I had on hand: and extract brew.  Everyone loved it!  Of course I said it was an extract brew – I wasn’t going to take credit for a brilliant all grain – but people were still interested in it and interested in the process.  I enjoyed making that beer and I enjoyed drinking it with friends.

So really, it’s never cheating.  Do what you enjoy!

-Chas

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Friedlieb Coffee Porter – Second Trial

Back in June, Mikey and I made a coffee porter that I named The Friedlieb. It turned out great, but I was after a little bit more peat smoke in there, and Mikey found some of the sweetness “distracting”.

Coffee!

Coffee!

So we modified the recipe a little bit.  First off, we were doing twelve litres this time around, not the four we originally did; mostly we just multiplied everything by three.  We also added a bit more peated barley, a bit less light liquid malt extract, and, as there were some malted grains in the grain bill, decided to mash the grains rather than just steep them.  Hopefully this achieves the desired affects.

Anyway, before I go into the recipe, as mentioned, this is a coffee porter.  When we made the first batch, we were only using eight shots of coffee, which isn’t too difficult or expensive.  Upping things up to twenty four shots of coffee wouldn’t have been too expensive or difficult, but there’s always a better way!  So, a big thanks to my good friend from Husband Cafe for supplying his wastage.

So the recipe (for 12 litres) was:

  • 1.5 kilograms golden light liquid malt extractFried 4
  • 270 grams dark dry malt extract
  • 270 grams dark crystal
  • 150 grams chocolate malt
  • 180 grams peated malt
  • 150 grams melanoidin malt
  • 180 grams rye malt
  • 9 grams Willamette hops (bittering) – 30 minutes
  • 9 grams Fuggles hops (taste) – 15 minutes
  • 9 grams Fuggles hops (aroma) – 0 minutes
  • 24 shots espresso
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • Windsor style ale yeast

As mentioned, we decided to mash the grains.  The right mashing temperature can change depending on what you’re after and what grains are being used, but we were winging it a bit and just decided to mash at 65 degrees C; it’s nice and middle of the road.  The mash time was 60 minutes in 5 litres of water.

Unlike the all grain pale ale we did a couple weeks ago, we didn’t have as much trouble keeping the water temperature steady.  This was probably because we were using much more water.

So the grains sat there for an hour while Mikey and I bottle the pale ale.  It tasted great by the way, but we think it will need quite a bit of time in the bottle to calm down.

With the mashing done, we threw in the malt extracts and got everything to a boil.

Once the boil started everything was pretty standard.  The bittering hops went in at the start, fifteen minutes in came the taste hops, and the aroma went in at flame out another fifteen minutes later.  Along with the aroma hops we threw in the espresso and the brown sugar.

A little tip on ingredients: always double check that you have the ingredients.  I assumed I had enough brown sugar but I didn’t!  Thankfully I was able to steal some from my housemate.  Also, let’s see if my housemate actually reads this blog, because she doesn’t know I took it!

Fried 1Getting the wort cold was difficult.  We ended up with about seven litres of liquid: five litre mash, a couple litres for sparging, coffee, etc.  We got it coldish pretty quickly with some ice and cold water, but even in three ten minute water baths it wouldn’t drop below 30 degrees.  I need to start taking a cue from Mikey and preparing lots of ice and cold water.

Anyway, we poured everything into the fermenter, topped it up to 12 litres, and took a quick break on the homebrew couch while we let things cool a little.  The wort was about 27 degrees by the time we topped up the fermenter, but we wanted a few degrees lower.

After that, we pitched the yeast and gave it a good stir to aerate it.  The gravity reading was 1.073, which is quite high, so we wanted to get plenty of oxygen in there.  I’m quite excited about this high gravity.  The mash obviously added quite a bit.  If we’re lucky and get the final gravity down enough, hopefully we’ll end up with quite a strong beer!

I’m really excited about this beer.  It’s going to be about two weeks in the fermenter, and then quite a bit of time in the bottle.  We’ll report in after that.

-Chas

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Let’s do this! Red Dog Pale Ale

Well, another weekend another brew day.

We decided to step it up a notch this weekend and go for an all grain batch.  It was a relatively small notch though.  While the batch was an all grain, it was kept to only four litres and the mashing was done in a bag using the brew in a bag (BIAB) technique.  No malt extract was used though, so it wasn’t a mini-mash.

Anyway, the recipe we used was courtesy of jyo on the Aussie Home Brewer Forums and can be found here.  You’ll note that the original recipe was for a 23 litre batch, however we modified the quantities to only make four litres.

The modified recipe was:

Brewing in a bag!

Brewing in a bag!

  • 782 grams Joe White Traditional Ale Malt
  • 7 grams Crystal
  • 5 grams Weyermann Carapils
  • 7 grams Cascade hops (bittering) – 60 minutes total boil
  • 5 grams Cascade hops (taste) – 15 minutes total boil
  • 5 grams Chinook hops (aroma) – 1 minute total boil
  • DCL US 05 American Ale Yeast
  • 4 grams Cascade hops (dry hopping) – after 2 days

Mashing temperature was called for 65 degrees C.

The recipe called for a 90 minute mash, which is what we did.  The BIAB technique is pretty simple.  First we calculated the strike temperature which was pretty simple and got three litres of water up to this temperature in a pot.

This technique is called brew in a bag because the grains were kept in a bag while submerged in water.  While this was easy, keeping the temperature at exactly 65 degrees was fairly difficult.  The pot seemed to keep heat fairly well, but there were large discrepancies in different areas when we took temperature readings.  If anything we probably should have used more water.

For those more interested in the procedure, Craig from Craigtube does a great demonstration here.

While we waited for the grain to mash, Mikey and went ahead and bottled the Honey Bomb Wheat Beer we made a couple weeks ago.  There was a fair bit of time to kill during the mashing process, so between checking it and adjusting the temperature we bottled and knocked back a couple home brews on the Home Brew Couch.

About to get the hot break

About to get the hot break

With the mash done, it was sparged with another couple of litres of water and we started the boil.  During the sparge we could really tell that the sugar had come out of the grain.  We were left with a great, thick liquid that was a beautiful brown colour.  And it smelled amazing.

From there it was pretty much the same as any other brew.  The hops were added for bittering, taste, and aroma.  Two days later I added some more hops as a dry hopping.

When we were all done, we got a OSG of 1.042.  Unfortunately the recipe stated an OSG 1.053, so we were a bit off…  I attribute this not only to our temperature difficulties with the mash, but also because we ended up topping the carboy up to four and a half litres rather than four; so it was watered down a little more than it should be.

I’m expecting quite a bit from this brew.  I think it should turn out to be a fairly decent American Pale Ale.  The wort tasted great and full of grain, but it should be fairly well combated by the hop additions.  We’ll see how it is in a couple weeks!

– ChasRed Dog1

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Mangrove Jack’s Mildy Dark – review

While I was on my holiday, Mikey did a brew of Mangrove Jack’s Mildly Dark all on his own.  This was a simple extract kit with a few other things thrown in to make it a dark.  Judging from the recipe, Mikey threw a couple extra malts in here, and, if I remember correctly, Mikey mentioned he had trouble getting everything to ferment.

Because of this, the beer took a little longer than usual to condition in the bottle as well.  We tried it a couple weeks ago and it wasn’t quite ready.  We tried it again over the weekend and it was definitely ready.

mildly darkOn the colour, it was a good dark brown with a bit of red when held up to the light.  Dark, but not murky.  It was almost a brown ale in colour, but I’d consider it over the line to be a “dark” ale.

The smell was great and interesting, with quite a bit in there.  The main things in there were toffee, citrus, and apple.  The interaction of the apple and the citrus was great, and really complimented the toffee smells well.  When I really stuck my nose in there, I also was able to find a little bit of chocolate in there too.

The taste was great and easy.  The beer was quite obviously hopped, but mildly so, with the malt really taking the foreground.  Gladly, the apple came through in the taste as well, which interacted with the malt quite well.  Mixed in among this was a bit of a licorice taste  with a tiny bit of molasses as well.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot at the end to really round out the flavour, which I would have really liked to see; just something to round everything out.  I think if an additional taste hop had been added, a little bit of complexity could have been added in the finish.  The kit that Mikey made didn’t call for any additional hopping, but had he added something mild, it would have been welcome.

I think this beer would go well with a nice hard cheese.  It’s a fairly sweet beer, but not overly so.  A hard, but fairly mild cheese would be a great way to accompany this beer.

– Chas

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