Tag Archives: homebrew

The Friedlieb, Coffee Porter IV – Review

The Friedlieb is a beer Chas has been working on for a while. Back in the middle of 2015 he made the fourth version of this beer. No write up on the brew day, but I can say that the changes to the recipe were more of a slight alteration rather than any significant.

The Friedlieb IV for drinking

The Friedlieb IV ready for drinking and review

Before starting the review, I need to admit I had this beer for about eight months. Got it in June 2015. Drank it in February 2016. The flavours had settled down a fair bit and the forward hops softened to almost nothing. Now that’s out of the way, onto the review.

This is a big coffee porter. It comes in at 10.2%, the strongest version of this beer yet. You can see from the photo it’s very dark. You can’t quite see that it’s not very cloudy.

There’s a smooth coffee aroma. Has a push of smoke towards the end and slight very soft rounded yeast aroma.

The beer starts with plenty of smoothness. Dark malt from start to end. Smoke and coffee giving this lots of complex flavours that keep it lively and interesting. The yeast flavours are present the whole way from the middle. This yeast is a bit Belgian in style, rounded and with some slight tropical fruit to it.

There’s heaps of flavour here and character. Body is good with only a tiny bite from the alcohol.

For food matching this would go well with big winter food. Think mixed flavour stew. Or rich tasty sausages. Or super slow cooked red meat, lamb or beef. Anything hearty and deep flavours with pleanty of protein would work a treat.

This beer has heaps of flavour, but not a big thick body. So you need something to eat with this, or you get overwhelmed by the end. Really good beer, with a slight tweak this would be a great beer.

Chas has been working on this recepie for a good few years. I’m hoping he’ll return to this and brew another batch. Would be more than happy to help give a hand in the quality testing of the final product.

-Mikey

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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

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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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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

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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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Wait, what hops was that?

Last Sunday was a brew day. Yay! Fun times with Chas. Let’s plan this, and then make lots of mistakes. Um, that’s not so great.

This brew day was a continuation from Australian Pale Ale 2 and my search for an easy to brew tasty Pale Ale. After bottling on Friday, and having a sample taste, I knew that the next attempt needed to be a multi hop brew. And that meant different hops at the same times.

As well as trying a new recipe, I wanted to use the brewing caps again. That meant upping the volume of the brew. That caused some issues I didn’t realise until Chas pointed out. I’ll get to that later.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in Carboy and bottles with brewing caps

The brew was based on the Australian Pale Ale 2 and was a 30 min boil with light dry malt extract. Given the bigger volume of water there was more ingredients. Measured out 800 grams of the dry malt for the base. As most of my Galaxy hops went in the last brew I picked up some new hops. Warrior hops for bittering. Crystal hops for flavour and aroma, to be topped up with the last of the Galaxy. All three hop additions were measured out and ready to go.

First up get water to a boil and add the malt. Then after the hot break in went the first hops. Then… Um, what hops was that? A quick review of the bowls with the hops… Yep, that was the aroma hops. Crap. Okay, now what?

After a bit of running around like a crazy person I did some recalculations. New schedule with a new set of aroma hops, being just Crystal. Back to the brew. Added the original bittering hops. Flavour hops went in. Then at flameout in went the aroma hops.

Moved the pot to the ice bath for chilling. Have got a lot better with the chilling of theses small batches. Four trays of ice cubes and about one litre of near-frozen water. Works pretty well.

Then realised the volume issue(s). Given this was a three hop brew I wanted to make just a little more. So, four litres fot the carboy, then 2.5 split into two 1.25 litres plastic soft drink bottles. And that’s where the problem started, there was too much for the carboy. Solution was to use the 30 litres fermenter. Poured all in and topped up with cold water to required 6.5 litres. Oops, forgot to strain the hops out. Poured back into pot. Added yeast. Oh no, forgot to take gravity reading. Do that.

Finally ready to transfer into the bottles. Filled both, not quite to the top. Then filled carboy, and there was too much! Because the bottles weren’t filled to the full 1.25 litres there was well over 4 litres for the carboy. In the end we filled up the carboy to a few centimetres from the top and only threw out a tiny amount of the wort. Thank goodness for blow off tubes.

  • 4 litre boil
  • 800 grams Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 1 gram Galalxy & 2 grams Crystal hops @ 30 mins
  • 4 grams Warrior hops @ 25 mins
  • 2 grams Galaxy hops & 6 grams Crystal @ 5 mins
  • 2 grams Crystal @ flame out
  • Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast

The Australian Pale Ale #3 ended up tasting quite grassy with some really well rounded spice. A fair amount of hops left after even after filtering. I’m happy with this. The gravity came in at 1.046 which is exactly what was calculated. Mind you, that did include the yeast, so we’ll wait and see.

-Mikey

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Bulk and Pale, finally there

Whoops, this was meant to go up a couple days ago! Anyway, here it is…

Last Sunday was another brew day at my place. It was a bit of a milestone date as I finally got around to doing bulk priming. Was also able to kick off what I hope is a series of pale ales. Chas made it over and we did a number if tastings through the arvo.

First up was bottling the Baltic Porter #2. As I promised, this was to be my first bulk priming attempt. There was about 15 litres of useable beer. Problem was that I didn’t have another vessel that could hold that much. Ended up using the 9 litre pot that’s normally reserved for the boil. Did two lots of 6 litres and one lot of 3 litres.

Bulk priming set up

First attempt at bulk priming with fermenter, scales, pot and sample in the back.

Used an online calculator to work out how much sugar to add. Sugar was put direct into the pot and beer was released over the top. Then stirred slowly to dissolve the sugar completely. In hindsight it would of been good to dissolve the sugar in some water first. Having just one vessel with one transfer would of been a lot easier. Bottling 15 litres with a syphon wasn’t fun. Most was done into 500 ml bottles which saved a fair bit of time.

The final gravity came in at 1.032 which is a lot higher than expected. After bottle conditioning it should be 5.6% alcohol. That’s a lower than was hoping for. Really wanted this to be above 6%. That said it tasted pretty good when we sampled it. Time will tell.

After bottling was finally done it was on to the brew. Plus there was a few brews up for tasting. The Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, Hoppy Heart IPA 2 and the two apple ciders I made. Chas will be posting about those over the next few days.

I’ve been wanting to build out a range of lighter beers that can be enjoyed on the warmer days coming up. Not everyone in the house likes IPA’s and I’m not ready for doing a proper lager. Pale ale was the only good option. Given the failure of the last attempt I decided to avoid using liquid malt. So, dry malt was used and hops kept tame. As I used up a few things last brew this ended up as a single hop beer. That’s pretty exciting and will be a great benchmark, if it ferments out well.

Before the brew started the yeast and a teaspoon of dry malt extract were thrown into a cup of water for rehydration. Realised after that should have waited before putting in the DME. Hopefully that doesn’t make much if a difference.

Basic brew this one. Only a thirty minute boil.

Australian Pale Ale #2
Boil size 3 litres
500 grams of Light Dry Malt Extract
3 grams Galaxy hops at 30 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 15 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 1 min /flameout.
1 & 1/2 teaspoons if US 05 yeast.

Australian Pale Ale #2

Australian Pale Ale 2 in the carboy after one week.

As this was a small boil it was a lot easier to lower the temperature. Three trays of ice and some half frozen water went into the wort while sitting in the water bath. In less than 20 mins we were already down to 24°C and ready to pitch yeast. Last bit of water put in to get it up to four litres then given a good shake before gravity reading done. Original Gravity came in at 1.044. Airlock on, and done.

Day was a good one. Had a late start and didn’t think it would be a long one. Turns out the bulk priming and bottling took a fair bit longer than I thought. Looks like I’ll need a proper vessel for the priming when I do it again.

Really happy to finally get around to these two things. Next few brews will also be pale ales. But might need to slow down as we come into Christmas.

-Mikey

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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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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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