Tag Archives: Grain

Seven brewers, seven beers and seven chillies

There’s not much home brewing going on at Chas’s or my place. Chas is heading overseas soon and won’t be around to bottle anything he brews. I’ve got the Super Stout in the fermenter but haven’t got around to bottling it yet. That’s because it’s Good Beer Week here in Melbourne.

It all kicked off on Saturday 17 and goes through to Sunday 25. Heaps of stuff on lots if beer tasting, dinners, talks, tours, and of course brewing. Originally I wasn’t going to put up anything on this blog because it’s about home brewing. Then I realised the first event I went to was about home brewing!

The brewers

The brewers for System Wars – Iron Brewer

At the un-fun hour of 9 am on last Saturday morning the System Wars – Iron Brewer event officially started. It was hosted down at Grain and Grape in Yarraville. The idea was fairly straight forward, seven professional/near-professional brewers bring their own home brew equipment and make a beer. The catch, there’s one ingredient everyone needs to use and showcase in their beer. Plus, the have to commit to the base malt before finding out what the secret ingredient is.

Checking out chillies

Couple brewers talking about the chillies and what to do

Most brewers got in early and started around 8-8:30. So, by the time it started at 9 there was a lot of grain already converting to malt sugar. As the brewers had their own equipment there were a range of techniques going on. Each one was all-grain but with wide range of methods.

Chatting to one of the brewers he was talking about how he and another brewer had decided to do a saison. Both were working on the idea that the style works well as it really absorbs the flavour of whatever you throw at it. As long as the secret ingredient isn’t chillies they’d both be fine. It was only another 10-15 minutes later that chillies were announced.

Adding Candi Syrup

Adding Dark Candi Syrup to the brew

Rather than have the same type of chilli for everyone, there were seven types, one for each brewer. Those that started first got first pick. And the brewer who started after 9 got last pick.

A few brewers had picked a dark base to start with and the general feeling was that they were in the prime position to make a great beer. Of the seven there was a chocolate chilli brew, a smoked chilli and an Old Fashioned inspired brew which looked really interesting.

This was a fun day. Talking to people who do brewing at a much higher level and picking their brains on everything brewing related. There was a band and a BBQ going to keep things lively. I’m thinking next year I’ll be back.

 

-Mikey

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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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New and old, recipe and brewer mix up

Saturday brew day was a long one, nearly 5 hours. I wanted to have another crack at the Baltic Porter. Chas wasn’t available so my mate Kilan came over to give me a hand.

Kilan has done a bit of home brewing over the last few years. Most of his equipment is in storage. He’s still been able to make some cider and brought over a bottle to share. Will talk about that later.

Was fun to have Kilan over for the arvo. We worked on a few things that neither of us had done before. Had a couple near misses and a whole heap of improvisation. By the end of the day we had bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA and brewed what we felt would be a really good beer.

The last time I did the Baltic Porter it was a 10 litre batch. The beer came out nice enough but lacked some body. The beer had a little too much sweetness. There was room to adds more complexity. In short, there was a lot that could be tweaked.

Baltic Porter #2 Mash

Baltic Porter #2
Grains in bag, in pot and mashing

Given the relative ease of the full grain mash at Chas’s last week I thought of trying a mini mash. The recipe was upping to a 17 litre batch and ingredients to match. That meant a lot more grain. Last time the recipe only had Crystal grains, which can’t mass by themselves. With advice from Chas I decided to include some Chocolate malt, which I believe can mash. So all 2kg of the grain went in to mash.

Kilian was a champ and crushed the chocolate malt grain. The only thing I had was a mortar and pestal which meant some grain got crushed. Hope that doesn’t make much difference.

The Crystal grain went into a grain bag and into the pot. The Chocolate grain got thrown into the bag then all was stirred in. Mash was done at 68°C and had 5 litres of water. Wow, that grain soaked it all up and expanded like a balloon! Mash went for a full sixty mins.

While waiting for the mash to finish we bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA. The final gravity came in at 1.019. With the carbonation drops it will be 6.4% alcohol. And before you ask, yes I will move to bulk priming soon.

We opened the apple cider that Kilan brought. That was an interesting drink, and I mean that in all ways. We chilled it right down and was cold most of the time. First up it tasted like alcoholic orange juice, not like apple. Sort of super sweet and slightly tart. The smell was pretty bad, almost like something off. As it warmed up the cider became more like apple and more dry. Much better cold. I think something might have gone wrong with the yeast and / or fermentation. Let’s see euchre same thing happens to my cider.

Back to the brew, and mash was done. Only problem now was how to sparge the grain. And there was a huge amount. Was fortunate that the kettle we have at home has different temperature settings with the lowest being 75°C. So we used that and poured the water over the bag of grains. Each time we tried to press out as much liquid as possible, but we didn’t really have the right set up. After a few kettle’s worth of water at said temperature there was a lot of volume for the boil. I would have liked to do more sparging, but the boil pot just wouldn’t hold it all.

Baltic Porter #2 Grains

Baltic Porter #2
Grains ready for more sparging

So onto the boil. Earlier I realised that I didn’t have the exact amount of hops to do what I wanted. There wasn’t as much Warrior and that was suppose to be the bittering. As a compromise I moved some of the Fuggles from aroma stage to taste. By moving them earlier it should add a bit more bitterness, and hopefully balance. Will have to wait and see.

Once the boil started we re-hydrated the yeast. It’s the first time I’ve done this. It was pretty easy. The only problem is the water that was boiled so early on it cooled down too much. A quick zap in the microwave brought it back up to temperature. The yeast sat in the water while we dissolved the tea spoon of dry malt in half a glass of boiled water. Then waited half an hour before adding that in and gave it a mix.

I held off on adding the dry malt for a bit. Have been getting advice not to add all malt at the start of boils and wanted to try it out. As a result we didn’t get a hot break, it just came to a boil. Bittering hops went in at start, then taste hops at thirty minutes with the first 800 grams of dry malt a five minutes later. Another fifteen minutes later added in the last 400 grams of dry malt. Five mins after that the aroma hops. Then only five more mins before flame out.

Pot was transferred to an ice bath. Some ice cubes went directly into the wort, water previously boiled before frozen. A second bath for the pot. Then into the fermenter. Added a little more sparged grain liquid, that might not have been the best idea as I’m not sure if that could have lead to contamination. Too late now! The liquid malt only went in at this stage, note that it wasn’t part of the boil. Not sure if that will make much difference. Let me know what you think with a comment below.

The wort was still quite hot. That was even after adding about four litres of very cold water. Will need more ice if I’m going to do something this large and this method again. After a couple hours the temperature was down to something close to what I wanted. Yeast was pitched at about 25°C. I forgot to put the yeast nutrient in at the same time. So, went back an hour later and put in four heaped teaspoons and sealed back up.

 

Baltic Porter #2 Yeast

Baltic Porter #2
Re-hydrated Yeast in the jug

60 min mash at 68°C

– 1.5 kg of Crystal 120
– 500 grams of Chocolate Malt 600

Boil wort from mash
60 min
add 8 grams of Warrior hops
30 min
add 14 grams of Fuggels hops
25 min
add 800 grams of light malt extract
10 min
add 400 grams of light malt extract
5 mins
add 5 grams of Fuggels hops

Into ferment:
– wort
– 1.7 kg of Amber liquid malt extract (Black Rock)
– water & ice to bring to 17 litres

Once at 25°C
add 7 grams of yeast, 5g Windsor & 2g kit yeast (previously re-hydrated)
add 4 heaped teaspoons of yeast nutrient

A bit of a strange brew. Some new techniques and processes. Some corrections from previous brews. Some ingredients just thrown together, like hops and yeast. The final gravity came in at 1.071 which is pretty good given the calculated was only 0.002 higher than that. If fermentation can take it down to 1.025 that will mean about 6.5% alcohol before bottling. And this one will be bulk primed.

-Mikey

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