Tag Archives: Hops

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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Back with more everything, and the Secret

Enough feeling sorry for myself, time to brew. Back on Saturday 9th we had a brew day at my place. It was a huge fun day, even if the brew we made was only four litres.

I finally managed to get my good mate Ian around for a brew day. Chas made it and my friend Michael was able to join us as well, which made four on the day. More than needed to bottle the cider and the new brew. So, plenty of mucking around was had.

First order of business was bottling the Sneaky Cider. Was another bulk priming job, I don’t think I’ll go back to individual bottle priming. Cider from carboy into the small fermenter with the sugar. Then bottled straight from there. I decided to continue my experiments with soft drink bottles. We filled two 1.25L bottles and the rest filled six stubbies.

Gravity came in at 1.004 which I’m really happy about. Was trying to keep the sweetness low on this. Bulk priming was done with possibly a bit too much sugar, will see. End result should be a cider of 7.8-7.9%. That’s a big kick for such little effort. Nice.

Onto the beer. Due to the mess that is Melbourne weather, I wanted to make sure this brew could be kept cool like the cider. That meant another small batch in the carboy. So, picking up from where I left off it was time for another Australian Pale Ale experiment.

A bit of a side note, I’ve been a little obsessed the last six months or longer with a new Australian hop variety. It’s called Vic Secret (or Victoria Secret, depending on who you ask) and first time I had it in a beer I was blown away. This popped up back in 2012 in a collaboration beer simple called Victoria’s Secret by Beer Here and Northdown (now Edge). A single hop beer. I only had one bottle and really liked it. The beer has just been re-released under the Edge name, with a slight tweak to the recipe. Since then there have been a few other breweries bring out beers with this new hop type. Anyway, I have been trying to get my hands on this stuff so I can make a single hop beer. It’s been very hard to find with a lot of home brew shops not even aware it exists. Then finally a friend found a place that has some. And now I have some.

Australian Pale Ale 4

Australian Pale Ale 4 in the carboy (with ice packs) after 3 days

Australian Pale Ale #4 is a single hop beer. That hop is Vic Secret. The hop is quite high on alpha acid, the bitterness. I was using the same base, light dry malt extract, as I did for the last two Australian Pale Ales. Hop additions were done at 30 mins, 15 mins and 1 min. Nice and simple.

  • 3 litre boil, topped up to 4 litre batch
  • 500 grams Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 3 grams Victoria’s Secret hops @ 30 mins
  • 2 grams Victoria’s Secret hops @ 15 mins
  • 2 grams Victoria’s Secret hops @ 1 mins
  • 1 Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast

Michael suggested that the middle hop addition isn’t needed. He’s been doing a fair bit of research into brewing, does a bit of home brewing and has been helping out at some breweries. The idea behind not doing the mid point hop addition is that you’re not really adding any flavour. You can get this from the last hop addition. And you get more bitterness from the first addition. Or that’s the theory. Might give it a go. Expect a post dedicated to this, at some point in the next few months.

Chilling was a quick one. Having these small batches makes it a lot easier. This time there was a lot going on. Two trays of ice and an ice cream container of half frozen water went straight in. The pot sat in it’s bath to chill with ice packs.

Gravity came out at 1.038. Was originally disappointed. There’s a good chance that the sample taken for the reading wasn’t the best. After pouring the wort liquid into the carboy I top it off with water. You’re suppose to shake it before taking a sample so you get something mixed. This wasn’t done. Comparing it to both Australian Pale Ale #2 (1.044) and #3 (1.046), this was low. To put that in a bit if context, the difference of 0.008 in gravity is approximately equal to 1% alcohol. That alcohol helps give the beer a better body. Hope #4 turns out fine.

Like the last few brews the yeast was rehydrated. Somewhere around 1-2 cups of boiled water was put in a glass jug, covered and left to cool. Not sure what it got down to, maybe as low as 25°C. Then a teaspoon of yeast was put in. And to speed things up a teaspoon of the dry malt was also put in. That’s a very small yeast starter. By the time it went into the carboy there was already a bit of a krausen, yeast head.

Yeast in, airlock on, carboy into the big pot of water. Done.

This was a really fun day. Great company, lots of drinks (review of the Iron Curtain Imperial Red Ale within the week), BBQ chicken for lunch, some really dodgy music, and not a tricky brew. Hoping there’s a lot more days like this in the future.

And I’ll be bottling tomorrow. Exciting.

-Mikey

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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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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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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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Lesson learnt, a bit too late

On Sunday we had another brew day at my place. Was time to do another Porter and a using some grain for the first time since the Brewsmith kits.

There was bottling of the Australian Amber Ale and tasting of the Australian Pale Ale. Both are a lot darker than ‘amber’ or ‘pale’ and should be renamed ‘dark’ and ‘amber’. The tasting of the Amber was, how should I put this, bad. The idea behind the two brews really wasn’t thought out well enough. I had assumed the sugars in the liquid malt cans would mostly ferment leaving only a slight sweetness. I was very wrong. And I should have realised it when we did the gravity readings. Chas has a review that will be going up, but to summarise… it’s bad. The amber came in at lower gravity than the pale, so that might be worse. I’m not going to even attempt tasting the Amber Ale in two weeks. I think both beers need to condition for a number of months, maybe six or more.

So, with that in mind I’m very glad we did a brew of something that should turn out a fair bit better. Or at least in theory. The brew can’t be classified as a ‘Partial’ because the grains used were crystal. That means no enzymes to convert starch into sugar, aka a mash. This was Steeping of the grains, and therefore this brew should be classified as an extract. Plus a can of amber liquid malt extract was used. There was 500 grams of Crystal (ebc 115-145) used.

Baltic Porter #1

Grains for Baltic Porter #1 steeping in the pot

I wanted to get the most out of the grains so steeping occurred for a full 60 mins at around 80C. I say around 80C as the temperature wasn’t fully controlled the whole time. It dropped down to around 77C and was as high as 86C at one point. Not great. But, in defence it was only steeping and not mashing.

And so the Baltic Porter started.

After steeping there was a sixty minute boil. The can of liquid malt and the liquid from steeped grains were all thrown into the wort. Once the hot break occurred in went 7 grams of Warrior hops.

After 30 mins there were 3 grams of Fuggles added. Then finally another 2 grams five mins before flame out. This was then put in the big 30L fermenter and topped up to the 10L mark. Windsor hops were added and fermenter given a good shake to get more oxygen due to the expected high alcohol.

  • Crystal grain (ebc 115-145) – 500g
  • Black Rock Amber liquid malt extract – 1.7k (cans are now bigger)
  • Warrior Hops – 7g
  • Fuggles – 5g (split 3-2)
  • Danstar Windsor yeast – aprox 5g

The original gravity was calculated at 1.081, but only came in at 1.072. That’s probably a good thing considering what happen to the two Australian Ales recently brewed.

The day had some painful lessons. And they were kept to small batches so there’s not too much pain. If this Baltic Porter turns out bad I think it might be time to return to some kits for a little bit.

-Mikey

PS. Forgot to mention we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout and Gauss’ Law hopped cider. Review for stout is up and review of Gauss’ Law will be coming soon.

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Same-same, but different

Brewing day. Ah, nice to have one that doesn’t involve having to fill 80+ bottles. Due to craziness, ie doing other stuff, brew day was moved to Saturday. Plus there was no need to do a supply run which always saves a fair bit of time.

Australian Pale Ale #1

Australian Pale Ale #1 in carboy with separation after 2 weeks.

In the last brew we made the Australian Pale Ale #1. This was an experiment to see what could be done with just a can of liquid malt and hops. It was an attempt to make a very simple but still tasty home brew beer. Last time it was a can of light malt, this time amber malt. Rest of the recipe was the same. Same hops, same boil time, same yeast. Well, the yeast was slight different combination and I’ll explain a bit further down.

So, bottling the Australian Pale Ale #1 was quick. Only 12 bottles used, and the last one wasn’t a full one. There was a huge amount of sediment on the bottom and the brew looked like it had separated at the half way point. Not sure what that was about. There’s the pic to the side here. Anyway, we did a quick stir to mix the two half’s together before bottling. Due to the massive amount of yeast the bottles were very cloudy. I’m not sure how much sugar wasn’t fermented and this is the first time I’m a bit concerned about exploding bottles. Very interesting that the final gravity reading came in at 1.040. That’s high, very high. I’m thinking it’s mainly to do with the huge amounts of yeast. Anyway it means the beer will be 8.6% after bottled. Yay, finally a strong beer.

After that was all done it was onto making the Australian Amber Ale #1. Yes, I know the names are basic and Chas comes up with some great ones. I just can’t be bothered until I get one that I’m happy to continually remake. Plus, the name says what it is.

Started with three litre boil and threw in the can of liquid amber malt. Start of boil added 3 grams of Warrior hops. Twenty mins latter added 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Then 15 mins later another 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Five more mins then flame out and into the sink for a cool bath. Once temperature was close to what was needed it was pored into the carboy and topped up with cold water. Chas got shaking with the carboy and gravity readying was done, 1.097. That’s less then the Australian Pale Ale #1 and I think it’s because a bit more water went into this at the end.

Australian Amber Ale #1

Australian Amber Ale #1 in carboy.

Yeast for the last beer was an issue. There was too much left and the SN9 wine yeast was only put in after 10 days which didn’t do much. So, for the Australian Amber Ale #1 there was a change in what was done. Only half of a kit yeast pack was put in, and the SN9 wine yeast was put in at the same time.

  • Black Rock Amber Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 2.5g
  • ‘Premium Wine Yeast’ SN9 – 1g-ish

A good brew day was had. We busted out the Newcastle Brown and had a couple. Chas put up the review yesterday. Had a couple of the lagers, but one bottle was flat (no sugars in the bottle?). And opened a stout, but it’s not ready yet.

-Mikey

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Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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Gauss’ Law – Hopped Cider

As mentioned, I made some cider this weekend!  Mikey doesn’t believe in cider so I had the aid of my friend who shall be referred to as the Cider Minion.  Although I’ve done brews on my own before, having a second pair of hands is always helpful, and Cider Minion was no exception.

I had originally wanted to do a proper batch of the Apple and Rhubarb Cider I made awhile ago.  The original brew was a bit haphazard so I didn’t do a recipe write up of it.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any rhubarb, but I did have some left over hops from a porter we made, so I decided to make a hopped cider.

Judging from the Apple and Rhubarb Cider, this stuff was going to be strong; I was aiming for at least 10% alcohol.  I wanted to make this cider stronger than the previous version because I thought a little alcohol burn would add to the taste and feel of the beverage.  So I’ve decided to call this cider Gauss’ Law based on a really bad pun that I’m not going to go into.  Puns are awesome by the way.

Ingredients

  • 7 kg of Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 cup dextrose
  • 4 grams Fuggles hops (bittering)
  • 2 grams Fuggles hops (aroma)
  • SN9 wine yeast

This was for a (what was supposed to be) a four litre batch.

Bring half a litre of water up to a boil and start steeping the bittering hops for 30 minutes.  At the 25 minute mark, add the aroma hops.

My juicer isn’t the most efficient machine in the world, so a better juicer or an apple press would probably require fewer apples, but I managed to get 3.5 litres of apple juice out of the apples, which is what I was after.  This 3.5 litres needs to be added to a separate pot from the hops and brought to a boil for about 15 minutes.  This will kill any bugs in the juice.

Once the hops are done, strain them into the juice.  Also add the dextrose (this can really be done at any time).

I was surprised this time around.  Previously I’ve gotten a pretty decent hot break out of boiling apple juice.  This wasn’t the case, even though I’ve used Golden Delicious apples before.  Oh well…

Once your juice has boiled for at least 15 minutes, put a lid on the pot and let it sit in a sink full of cold water for at least 20 minutes, changing the water regularly.

Throw all of this into a 5 litre fermenter and pitch the yeast and it’s done!

Unfortunately this process only left me with about 3.5 litres all up, even though I started with half a litre of water for steeping the hops and 3.5 litres of apple juice.  I guess I underestimated how much I would lose to evaporation in the boil, or I under measured things.

The OSG I got was right on 1.070, which wasn’t quite as high as I was hoping for.  The OSG on the Apple and Rhubard Cider (which didn’t have added dextrose) was 1.064, I was probably a little conservative with the dextrose.  The previous cider managed to get a FSG below 1, but I don’t quite expect that with this one because the hops are adding to the specific gravity (although only slightly).  My prediction is an alcohol content of about 9.5% after bottling.  It’s not quite what I wanted.

Anyway, that’s going to take at least two weeks in the carboy, then bottling, then tasting.  We’ll see how it turns out!

-Chas

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