Tag Archives: home brew

Helping the grain, and back

Back in late July last year I went around to Chas’s place and helped with an all Grain pale ale. Chas is now focused of his site Brew In Review and I wanted to do a write up. I’ve finally done it, here we are.

Chas had done a few brews back around middle of 2015. You might remember I mentioned he gave me a bottle of The Friedlieb IV back in June 2015. Review of that is in draft and I’ll get up soon. Then there was an all grain pale ale. That turned out too strong. The next brew day, 25 July 2015, was about redoing the all grain with less fermentables.

The equipment used was from one of Chas’s mates, a big esky/cooler box converted into a mash tun. Nice and easy to use. Didn’t get a photo on the day, but here’s a pic of it from another day after it got cleaned out.

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

16 litre batch
4 kg traditional ale malt + 40 g malted wheat + 40 g dingman’s biscuit malt + 20 g rye.
Mashed at 67.5°C for one hour
16 g chinook + 8 g fuggles for 1 hour.
16 g cascade for 20 minutes
16 g Citra + 8 g Willamette for 2 minutes.
US 05 yeast
OSG 1.045

Mash was an hour, target of 67.5°C and landed pretty much there. That was easy. Next was the sparging. Drain the liquid and some hot water poured over the top of the grain. That took ages, about an hour or more. Finally pressed the grain to get extra liquid out.

Next up, bring to a boil and keep going for an hour. Three hop additions: 60 minutes, 20 mind and 2 mins. Next, the pot moved to ice bath. Then drain and fill bath a few times. Maybe 40 minutes or so to bring down to low 20’s. Finally into the fermenter and dry yeast pitched straight in. Gravity sample came in at 1.045 which was in the range Chas was after.

It was a long day. Chas started the mash about 10:30 before I arrived and we finished up around 3:30. That’s a long brew day and a one of the reasons I still haven’t moved to all grain brewing.

Fast forward two weeks to bottling day. Woo! This was a real easy bottling session. Chas bulk primed the beer in the fermenter before I got there and the whole lot was bottled in about 15 minuets.

2015.08.08 - bottling doneThe final gravity reading came in at 1.006 and will be a 5.5% beer after bottle conditioning. The sample tastes great. Plenty of body and citrus hop flavour.

Chas gave me a four pack to take home. The test batch seamed promising and I was really looking forward to seeing how these turn out.

This beer has been reviewed and I’ll get a post up in the next couple weeks.

Worth noting, this recipe was an early version of what became the Priestly Pale Ale. You can read up all about that recipe on Chas’s site Brew In Review.

-Mikey

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , ,

Long time coming, long time to wait

Since very early on home brewing I’ve wanted to make a good lager. After a bit of looking about, reading up on it and asking a few other brewers I decided to dive in.

The first attempt was as part of basic home brew kit. It was more of a very pale ale rather than a lager. The yeast was from a kit can and then it was fermented with out any temperature control. It turned out a bit rough and didn’t get much better with age.

Since that brew I wasn’t  in a rush to do another lager. Reading up on the process others use, strict temperature control and long term storage, really tuned me off. Then a fellow home brewer, Carnie Brewing, posted on his blog about his attempt and quick turn around. That got me interested again.

Pseudo Lager boil

Pseudo Lager boiling away on the stove

Yeast was the main sticking point. I didn’t want to do a big batch in case I stuffed it. So, I decided to do a trial run with US-05 at a low temperature. Due to using ale yeast, instead of lager yeast, I’ve decided to call this Pseudo Lager. If it turns out well I’ll look at doing a bigger batch with proper lager yeast.

  • Amber Dry Malt – 600 grams (60 mins)
  • Light Dry Malt – 300 grams (10 mins)
  • White Sugar – 1.1 kilograms (10 mins)
  • Victoria’s Secret hops – 5 grams (60 mins)
  • Crystal hops – 10 grams (flame out)
  • US-05 yeast – about 3-4 grams

This was a pretty basic brew. For a quite some time I played around with the idea of splitting out the hop additions into three, but stuck with two as I wanted to highlight the Crystal hops at the end. The 5 litre boil was for 60 minutes so was able to get enough bitterness (IBUs) from the little Victoria Secret hops at the start. All the amber malt went in at the start. The malt selection was based on what was in the house. Originally I thought there was more light malt, but that wasn’t to be. Light malt was added at the end with the sugar, which was there to keep the finish dry and alcohol up.

Pseudo Lager fermenter

Pseudo Lager done and in the fermenter

Before the boil started I re-hydrated the yeast. I added in a little bit of light malt to try and get some yeast starter going. As this was only for about one and a half hours I’m not expecting much.

Cooling went very well. The process I’ve got to dump a lot of ice directly into the wort seams to work well. Got a bit excited and poured the whole wort in without sieving out the hops. Whoops. Then I realised as I was filling up the fermenter that I forgot the Crystal hops! Uh Oh! So, I just dumped the hops into the fermenter and continued filling it up to 16 litres. I suppose it will be something like flame out/dry hopping. Hopefully.

The gravity reading came in at 1.049 which is exactly what the recipe said it would be. Due to all the sugar in there it should ferment out to finish with a gravity of 1.005. That would be about 6% alcohol after bottling. That’s exciting for a lager.

I deliberately left this in the shed with no heating. The temperature out there drops down a fair bit. Down to maybe 10 degrees Celsius, or less, overnight. Then during the day up to a maximum of 18 degrees Celsius. I’ve left this on purpose to help keep the yeast working at a larger-like temperatures. Not sure if this will do anything other than drag out the fermentation.

After two days the beer is bubbling away. It’s very slowly doing that, but it is happening.

-Mikey

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , ,