Tag Archives: homebrew

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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Making beer at home, again.

It’s been too long. Way too long. Last brew day for me was on 1 September!  Over a month between brews. Just over six weeks!

In my defence there were a lot of things going on. The bottling day that was meant to include a brew was just bottling as I couldn’t sort out a time with Ian. Plus the only brew I was set up to do would of been another 23L batch and that wasn’t smart as I had just run out of bottles.

Then a whole lot of important-life-things happened. This isn’t really the place for that stuff, so I’ll just say home brewing had to take a back seat.

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale on the stove.

Anyway, I finally got back to brewing and there’s nothing like something relatively easy to get you back into it. I ordered a couple kits from BrewSmith. The was the IPA which have done before, and is good as it has dry hopping. Also picked up the new Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, for this brew.

Kit was simple enough but still managed to make a couple mistakes. We kind of jumped in a little to quick into this. Which is odd because I prepared a whole lot of stuff before Chas turned up. Kit contained:

  • Dry Malt Extract
  • Grain (mixture of stuff) for steeping
  • Wattle Seeds
  • Hops x3
  • Yeast

First mistake was not adding the Wattle Seeds to the grain when we put that into steep. Just clean overlooked that. Only missed a few mins, so hopefully that doesn’t change things much. Used a grain bag and tried to shake in the seeds, not sure if that really did anything.

Next up, the grains steeped longer than the 30 mins. This was two fold. One, it went on early and the boil wasn’t ready as quickly as I though. Second, we didn’t put the steeped liquid into the boil when we were meant to. Again, oversight by not reading the instructions from top to bottom.

So, Wattle Seeds went in late. But steeping was longer, about 50 mins rather than 30 mins. That meant it only had 5 mins in the boil rather than 15 mins. My gut tells me that this will make a difference as the (middle) hops didn’t have as much to be absorbed into . This might mean a lighter hop flavour and more aroma hops. But that’s just a guess.

Finally there was the cold break. I’ve been reading up a lot on brewing lately. Will be sharing some of that stuff once I get back into the 101 pages. Yes, I know they’re well overdue. I might move to fortnightly rather than weekly as there’s only a few more ‘basics’ to cover before diving into heavy detail.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the cold break. To really get a good break without fancy equipment I decided to step up the work on the cold bath. Yep, still doing that as don’t have any funky equipment. First up was two 1.25L soft drink bottles that were full of frozen water. These acted as giant ice cubes in the ‘bath’ water to cool it down. Then also dropped in a tray of ice direct into the wort, it’s okay the water was filtered. Still did the second bath, but no extra ice into the wort. After that transferred the wort into the carboy, while straining out the hops.

The temperature was still up a bit so put the carboy in the big boil pot and filled with ice cold water, from those bottles that were used as ice cubes earlier. After about 10 mins half the carboy was cold and the rest warm. Pitched the yeast and shaken up, for airation.

The OG came in at 1.042 which was a little lower than I expected for a BrewSmith kit. That might be due to the stuff up with the steeped grains going in late. Or maybe too much water added. But it could just as easily be the right OG.

The day was a pretty short with no bottling to do. And that was really nice for a change. Final thing for the day was getting the temperature control set up, but I’ll cover that in another post.


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Brewsmith Honey Bomb Wheat Beer


Mikey and I finally got around to making the Brewsmith Wheat Beer last weekend.  Mikey isn’t usually a wheatbeer fan, so he’s been avoiding this one.  I finally made the executive decision to get the kit.  I told Mikey I was going to make it with or without him.  Although it was a wheat beer, we were still making beer so Mikey decided to join in.  It was a good choice.

This was the standard Brewsmith kit, except unlike the other kits they do, there weren’t any specialty grains to steep.  The kit was:

  • What looked like dry malt extract, but there was probably some other stuff in there too
  • Bittering hops – 60 minute boil
  • Taste hops – 20 minute boil
  • Aroma hops – at the end of the boil
  • Honey (not supplied) at the end of the boil was optional

The good and the bad of this kit is that it was very simple.  I like Brewsmith kits because there is enough to do, but it’s still simple and easy.  I think its the grain steeping that does it.  Unfortunately with no speciality grains, it may make things a little too simple.  Simplicity isn’t a problem in a larger batch, because there are other concerns there, but on a smaller batch it is possible to make things too simple!

I think this kit would be a good introduction to the Brewsmith kits, especially for those who have only done can and kilo style kits and want to slowly move to something more complicated.  Since this kit has hops additions, it’s a good halfway between steeping and the whole kit and kilo thing.

Tomorrow Mikey and I will be trying the new Brewsmith recipe (hopefully!), so he’ll report in soon.


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Baltic Porter – Review

Mikey made his Baltic Porter while I was away, and luckily enough, it was ready for drinking as soon as I came back!

It definitely looked like a porter!  Nice and dark, good head.  That’s where the porteryness ended though – although it still turned out to be a great beer!

baltic porterOn the nose, there was a ton of apple and a bit of honey along with a bit of malt.  I’m not sure where the apples were coming from, but the honey was probably coming from the added Crystal grains.

This continued through with the taste, along with the apple.  This was right up front and very refreshing.

With that, there was a good amount of body, just not as much as I usually like to see in a porter.  So while it looked like a porter, this beer was very quickly moving away from what I’d consider a porter.  I’d classify this closer to a dark ale.  The good news is I love dark ales, and this was a good one, so I’m not complaining.

On the porter side though, there was a hint of the typical porter tang/bitterness at the very end, along with a very minor hint of smokiness, but the beer was so light it was still hard to call a porter.  It was a bit creamy like a porter, just not robust like a porter.

The surprising part about this beer is that it was 7.2% alcohol, which you’d never know by drinking it – until you’ve had a couple that is…  it’s a pretty smooth beer with only the slightest hint of dryness from the alcohol.

Overall, great beer, regardless of what you call it.  I’d gladly drink more.  Mikey wants to add some chocolate, which I’d welcome.

Given the sweetness and apple/honey tastes, this beer would go well with either apple or pumpkin pie.  It’s a desert kind of drink…


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Back to brewing after a holiday

I’m finally getting around to writing up last week’s brew!  It’s been a busy one for me…

After taking inventory last week, I’ve been spending all my down time trying to get through my collection; I need bottles for the batch that I made last week!

Anyway, as mentioned by Mikey, the Beagle Double IPA turned out to be a big beer.  It was great, but big.  Like most beer drinkers, I’m a big IPA fan, so although I like something like the Beagle, having a lighter and easier IPA on hand (especially for the upcoming summer) seemed appealing.  Since I hadn’t been brewing for awhile, I also wanted to get back into it with a really simple kit.

So Mikey and I went down to Brewcraft in Richmond to see what was available.  We picked up a bag of Mangrove Jack’s IPA wort and a kit converter.  Of course you put Mikey and me in a home brew store and we also both end up walking out with a bunch of other stuff that we “need just in case.”  This is why I have so much sanitiser.  But hey, we all know the Rules of Home Brew.

Anyway, it was a pretty simple brew containing:

  • Mangrove Jacks India Pale Ale
  • Blend of light and dark DME
  • Cascade hops
  • American West Coast Ale Yeast – BRY 97

Pretty simple stuff here.  Note that the Mangrove Jacks wort came with yeast included, but I generally prefer to buy yeast separately because you never know the quality of the included yeast.  The wort was also on sale because it was near its use by date, so once again, you just don’t know…

All we had to do was boil two litres of water, add the malt, and let that dissolve.  After that, we threw in the hops and let that steep for about 15 minutes.

This was then strained into a 30 litre fermenter with the Mangrove Jacks wort added as the fermenter was topped up to 23 litres.

Done and dusted!

The Cascade hops is a pretty middle of the road all rounder.  Plenty of spice in the smell with a bit of grass (at least for me).  I can sometimes find a little bit of chilly in there as well.  Of course there are also the typical florals found in a lot of hops as well.

I considered dry hopping, but then couldn’t really decide what to dry hop with.  Plus I want this to remain pretty light…

In the end, the wort smelled and tasted great.  It should turn out to be exactly what I want through the summer.

We’ll bottle next weekend and then see how it turns out a couple weeks after that!


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“The Beagle” Double IPA – Review

As Chas mentioned a few days ago, on the weekend we did a brew of an IPA. Chas will be posting the write up on that sometime soon.

The Beagle

The Beagle, double IPA in glasses

As part of any good brew day there are tastings of recent brews. One of those was the previous IPA, and a double IPA, The Beagle.

This is a very big IPA, which is what you would expect from a double. There’s plenty of hops across the board. Big round orange fruit aroma from the Amarillo hops.

There’s a lasting and solid body as the back bone for this beer. The body is sort of a sweet caramel amber style. The bitterness is quite strong and full across the length of the beer. Initial hops are large and quite a hit. After a couple mouthfuls you get use to it and the tasty hop flavours come out quite a bit.

About mid way into the beer the bitterness really kicks up a notch. And overall the bitterness is almost too much. The strong sweetness balances it a bit and saves this from being too crazy to enjoy. With a couple minor tweaks this could become an amazing beer.

Really good beer over all. It does demands your attention and you can’t try to do much else, not that it’s a bad thing. Sit down, shut up and enjoy.

Food? Nah, don’t bother trying to match anything with this. Okay, if I was pushed to find something then I might suggest something strong and salty like BBQ pork.


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Taking Inventory

As mentioned in my last post, I’m back from my trip!

I meant to do an inventory last weekend, as mentioned in my last post, but jet lag got the better of me.  I had a ton of other stuff to catch up on as well so there was no beer related activity.  Fortunately, Mikey and I got back into it with an easy kit IPA; I’ll be writing this up later.  We also managed to taste a couple brews.

I did this inventory because I had a lot of home brew floating around the house, stored in different places.  I also had stashed empty bottle in various places.  It was good to pull everything out, get everything organised, and see what I had left.

What I found was:


That’s 58 bottles of beers (including the Little Creatures) to work through!

I have a habit of avoiding drinking the last few beers of batch, so they get put into the back of a cupboard and forgotten about. Unfortunately I’m going to need about 60 bottles for the brew I did yesterday, So it looks like I have some work to do in order to get more bottles!  Fortunately there is plenty to choose from…

Finally, let us all take a brief moment of silence for all the tasty home brew that was so good I drank it rather than saved it.  It will be missed until I make it again.

Anyway, I’ll be posting up yesterday’s brew soon, and there are some reviews coming as well.  Stay tuned.



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New 101 – brew types

Another Thursday and another 101. This week I’ve put up some information on the four brew types; Kit & Kilo, Extract, Partial Mash, and Full Grain.

A quick note. Some people think that Kit & Kilo (K&K) brews are just Extract brews. I’ve provided a bit of background as why we’ve kept them as different types of brew.

The 101 on equipment has been pushed back a week for this one to go up. I felt it was important to cover off the brew methods first as this impacts the processes, what ingredients are needed and what equipment you use.

This weekend there’s no home brewing as Chas is glob trotting. I’ll get one or two home brew reviews up over the next few days.


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Australian Pale Ale # 1- Review

So, the Australian Pale Ale was ready for drinking.  Kind of…

This brew was Mikey seeing what would happen if he added a full can of malt (usually for a 20 litre brew) to only four litres of waterAus pale ale.  It didn’t turn out too well.

Firstly, it was very dark for a pale ale.  The malt hadn’t been diluted enough so it was still fairly dark.

In the smell, it was very sweet and very malty.  A few floral smells managed to make it through, but it was tough to find them through the sweetness.

This continued on through the taste, which was extremely overpowering.  As mentioned, this was a whole can of malt for a very small batch.  The beer was excessively malty and very sweet.  It was also very thick.  It was not unlike cordial when not enough water is added; still much too concentrated.

Unfortunately there isn’t much else to say about this beer.  The malt and sweetness was so overpowering, there just wasn’t much else there.  Mikey insists that he was able to find some hops tastes in there, and granted, there is a little bit of bitterness coming through, but not much.

Anyway, adding way too much malt  does not bear the best results.  Sorry Mikey, this isn’t the best creation…

– Chas

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New 101 – beer ingredients

So, far so good. First 101 went up last week and a week later second one is going up.

This week we’re looking at the basics of beer ingredients. There’s a lot of detail behind it all, but really there’s four main ingredients  MaltHopsWater and Yeast.

Page is under the 101 section. Hope you like it. Let us know if you think something else should be added, removed or fixed.


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