Tag Archives: IPA

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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Bottling before leaving, with a tasty beer

Sunday at my place was a very quick one. Only four litres of the Australian IPA #1 to be bottled. Plus sat down for a taste test of the Australian Pale #4. No brewing because in two weeks I’ll be on holidays. I don’t want to leave something in the fermenter too long. Will pick things up once I’m back.

Australian IPA 1

Australian IPA 1 in the carboy and ready for bottling

The bottling went very well with 13 stubbies sanitised, filled and capped super quick. The bulk priming works a treat. Getting the hang of tipping the priming vessel so you get the right angle to help liquid flow down the bottling wand.

Gravity came in at 1.015. At first I was a little disappointed, then realised I had dry hopped (see the photo with the hop bag). Plus the original gravity was 1.058 which means after bottle conditioning I’m looking at about 6.1% alcohol. That’s good for the style.

The sample we tried was very bitter. That’s somewhat expected for an IPA. I’m hoping the flavour and aroma comes out a bit more. I’ll sneak in a taste just before holidays, then we’ll do a proper tasting in about a month.

As I mentioned, we did a proper tasting of  Australian Pale Ale #4. Chas liked it and will write up a review soon-ish. Personally it’s my favourite pale ale I’ve made. And sits next to Baltic Porter #2 to battle it out as the best beer I’ve made. Not much left, might need to make some more once I’m back.

-Mikey

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Shopping, bottling, brewing, and not-beers

Was very keen to get this write up done early. And now it’s Thursday. Oh well.

Saturday was a funny sort of brew day. Had the Australia Pale Ale #4 to bottle and another 4 litre batch to produce. Then there were the not-beers, I’ll get to that later. Unfortunately there was no Chas. My good mate Ian stepped in again to help. That’s two brew days in a row, after not getting him over for the whole of last year!

Before any brewing or bottling a supply run was required. I headed around to Ian’s place. Then, after a coffee and breakfast, we headed off to Grain and Grape in Yarraville. I’ve been wanting to go to Grain and Grape for a while. For home brewers in Melbourne it’s a sort of institution, party because they’ve been around for ages, partly because they’re dirt cheap, and partly because it’s a bit odd. The place is small. Really small. And packed to the brim with stuff. Lots of equipment. And quite a few odd characters both in front and behind the counter. My only piece of advice, don’t go on Saturday unless you absolutely have to. It’s packed on Saturdays.

After leaving Grain and Grape we dropped some stuff at Ian’s place. Then I realised I didn’t pick up any speciality grains. So we went to Cellar Plus. It’s just north of the Vic Market. A lot more laid back place than Grain and Grape. Staff don’t know much about home brewing and the range isn’t the best. But you can pick up essential supplied, like the Crystal grain I was after.

Once done with supplies it was back to my place. First order of business was working out what to brew. Yep, left this one a bit late. Brew for the day was going to be one of three options; the next pale ale, an amber ale or an IPA. Ian was a last minute ‘yes’ to help out. If he was coming it would be something a bit more complex. If he wasn’t it was going to be something very basic. So, as Ian was there to help I decided on doing an IPA with Crystal grains. Had a look in the freezer and knew I had a lot of different hops. After playing around Kit & Extract Beer Designer spreadsheet I came up with an IPA recipe. Decided on a mixture with Warrior for bitterness then Aramilo, Citra and Simco. I’ve never used the last three and looking forward to tasting these. So, here we have the Australian IPA #1.

The steeping grains was the first order of business. Into a grain bag. Then Ian crushed them by rolling them with a rolling pin. Brought two litres of water to a bit over 70°C and chucked in the grain bag. Then we left it to go bottle.

 

Australian Pale Ale #4

Australian Pale Ale #4 all bottled.

Bottling the pale ale was straight forward. Another bulk priming job from carboy to the small fermenter with sugar then using the tap to bottle. Nearly got this process down pat.

The gravity for the Australia Pale Ale #4 came in at 1.011. I was expecting a low reading if the original reading was right. But it came in a bit too high. I’m even more convinced that the original reading was wrong. Anyway, from the readings I have this should be 4.0% after bottling. It had a very pronounced grapefruit bitterness and dryness. Going to be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Once bottling was done it was back to the brew kitchen. The grains had sat for more than the thirty minutes, but that didn’t matter. An extra litre if water went in and we brought it up to a boil. About a third of the dry malt went in. After the hot break the fist hops. Next hops 15 mins later. Rest of malt went in with 5 mins to go. Then final hops at flame out. Not trying the “no flavour hops” method, yet.

  • 3 litre boil, topped up to 4 litre batch
  • 700 grams Light Dry Malt Extract (275g at the start, 425g with 3 mins to go)
  • 4 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ 15 mins
  • 3 grams Citra hops @ 15 mins
  • 2 grams Amarillo hops @ 0 mins
  • 2 grams Citra hops @ 0 mins
  • 3 grams Simcoe hops @ o mins
  • 1 Teaspoon of re-hydrated US-05 yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon of yeast nutrients

Dry hopping

  • 4 grams Amarillo hops @ 3 days
  • 3 grams Citra hops @ 3 day
Australian IPA #1 & not-beers

Australian IPA #1 and the two not-beers ready to ferment

Chilling went very well. The two litres of half frozen ice and just over half a tray of ice cubes went straight into the pot. The pot also sat in the ice bath to help further. When it came to getting the wort into the carboy I tried something extra. Used a muslin bag for extra filtering. Put this at the bottom of the funnel. So, pot into sieve on funnel in muslin bag in carboy. Should have got a photo.

Shook up the carboy before taking a gravity reading. Was a respectable 1.058, just shy of target. Yeast was pitched, yeast nutrient put in, carboy given another shake, and airlock put on. First brew done.

Onto the non-beers! Let me give you some context. My wife loves malty beers and doesn’t like hoppy beers. The question was raised “could you make a beer without hops?” Well, you could technically make a brew without hops. Not sure if you would still call it a beer. Not sure if it would taste any good. Anyway, I decided to make two very small batches of no hop beer.

Australian IPA #1 with hop bag

Australian IPA #1 after three days with the hop bag

The first batch was with dry amber malt extract. Very easy. Boil water. Chuck in malt. Bring it to a hot break. Heat off. Cool in an ice bath. Put in fermentation vessel. Pitch yeast. Add yeast nutrient. Shake. Seal with airlock. Done.

Second batch was done with dry dark malt extract. Both were about 1.2 litres. Both went into soft drink bottles with Pat Mack’s Home Brewing Caps. Perfect set up for these super small experiments. After fermentation I’ll put these in glass bottles to condition.

After three days I went back to the Australian IPA. Time to dry hop. Was planning a 4 grams addition of Amarillo and Citra with a 50/50 split . Worked out a lot closer to 4 grams Amarillo and 3 grams Citra. Whoops. Hope that’s not too much. Ah well, I can just leave it a month to settle before drinking a bottle.

Was quite a good day. Great to have Ian around again. Glad to do a brew with some grains again. And happy to get the not-beers fermenting, even if I’m dreading what they’ll taste like. Talking of taste, the wort for the IPA was very hoppy and undrinkable. Good a sign. Will let you know how that one develops.

-Mikey

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Brewsmith Hoppy Heart II – Review

A few weeks ago we revisited Brewsmith’s Hoppy Heart IPA.  We originally did this one way back in May, but we wanted to try it again, so we did!

All in all, it was a pretty similar beer to before, but it wasn’t exactly the same.  This can happen sometimes if we did things at different temperatures, especially the fermentation.  Every brew is different!  While commercial breweries take a lot of care to make sure each batch is exactly the same, we didn’t…  Seasonality can often affect raw material flavours as well, so an autumn brew can be different from a spring brew.

Hoppy HeartCompared to my review of the previous batch, this beer was a bit more laid back in terms of the hops.  The smell was great: sticky and malty with a bit of a metallic feel, not a lot of hops though.  From the beginning, the beer felt very malty.

This continued on through the initial taste.  There was a great long bitterness, characteristic of an IPA, but there wasn’t much interaction of different hop flavours.  It was a nice single bitterness.  This was behind the sweetness and malt, which was primary, at least at first.  I would have preferred a little more spectrum in there, but it was still a great beer.

I’m not sure why this batch was generally sweeter than before.  It possible it’s just how we steeped the grains as well as fermentation temperatures.

Towards the end, the bitterness did start to take over a bit more and the sweetness got pushed out of the way.  I usually find this happens in an IPA; the bitterness builds up in your mouth.  I quite enjoyed this, and it was in no way overpowering.

All in all this was a fairly sessionable IPA, but maybe a little heavy for too many.

I always enjoy an IPA with curry, and I’m going to maintain this opinion.  So get some curry and pop open an IPA.-Chas

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Mangrove Jack’s IPA – Review

As you might remember, when Chas returned from his trip overseas we had a brew day at his place. Not sure what to brew he picked up a kit of the Mangrove Jack’s IPA, new yeast and a booster.

Mangrove Jacks IPA 1

Mangrove Jack’s IPA #1 ready for tasting

After two weeks in the bottle we tried a bottle. The beer was okay but still quite rough, even in the middle. The flavours were there but it wasn’t working all together. We decided to give it another week and try again. Over the weekend we did exactly that.

First up is the soft spice hop aroma. Very slight sweetness at the end. A fair amount of fruit aroma which is what you would hope and want from the style.

Taste up front is refreshing and light. Bit of stone fruit and grassy flavors are there. The bitterness picks up slowly and builds most of the way through. Around the middle the body drops away a bit. The beer gets dry and slightly tart. There’s a slight metallic flavour that comes in. This last part is the least enjoyable bit of the beer.

As the beer warms a little it becomes more balanced. The fruit flavors become more pronounced. The metallic flavour drops away to just be at the end. This makes the beer a lot eater to drink and enjoy.

Overall this is quite good for an off the shelf kit. Taste is good, body is alright and the finish is okay.

The booster really helped this beer. Extra dry malt was really needed here.The replacement yeast and extra Cascade hops also helped. Interestingly this beer only came in at 4% alcohol. That’s below what you would expect for the style, this should be 5.5% or higher. That said, it doesn’t really make much difference to the beer flavour or feel.

Food wise, this could work with a few things. Would work with anything with meat and sauce/marinated. That can including seafood all the way through to stake. The fruit side of the beer would play nicely. The meat should help sideline the slight dry tart metallic elements of the beer.

This is a good beer. It’s hard to work out what caused the elements I don’t like. Maybe it’s the base kit, maybe the fermentation or yeast. Really anything. That said, would be happy to return to this and brew again.

-Mikey

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Return of an old kit, now colder

Sunday was brew day at my place again. Yay! I’m enjoying the small batches and this was another one.

First up was bottling the Australian Wattle Pale Ale. Got pretty carried away and nearly forgot to take a sample for the final gravity. Was happy with the final reading of 1.014 which means it will be 4.2% ABV after conditioning in the bottles. The sample for gravity was also our sample. Have to say it was very rough and bitter. Might need more than the regular two weeks conditioning.

Worth nothing that this was the first beer that I’ve had proper temperature control. The sensor was attached and set at 22°C. There is one degree buffer range on the sensor. This meant brewing temperature was kept between 21.0°C and 22.5°C. That top range estimate as I wasn’t constantly checking. I wasn’t even checking that often. Anyway, point is that there was some control on this fermentation.

After all the bottling was done it was time for the next brew. This time it was a return to the BrewSmith Hoppy Heart IPA. I quite liked the last batch and wanted another lighter flavoured beer before trying the Baltic Porter again.

Hoppy Heart and Aussie Wattle

Hoppy Heart IPA in carboy in blanket and Aussie Wattle Pale Ale in bottles.

Had fun with this brew. Read the instructions before starting, after the mess that was the Pale Ale. The kit was straight forward and everything went to plan.

Did a couple extra things. For the steeped grains did a sparge to rinse out more flavour, colour and sugars. Thus gave a slightly darker beer but should be more flavour.

Also played around with the cold break. Used two 1.25L bottles with frozen water as ice blocks to cool the original water. This worked well. Also added about a litre of chilled water direct to the wort. After ten minutes changed over the water. As part of this I poured the near-frozen water into the sink for the bath, and topping up the bottles with tap water to continue the chilling effect. The wort wasn’t chilled enough enough after another 10 minutes. So a third bath was required. It was only now that I realised there were two trays if ice specifically prepared. They were thrown in. As a result the temperature dropped too much and there was too much wort.

The wort only just fit into the carboy. A lot of shaking later, for oxygenation, we took a sample for gravity. It came in at 1.064 which is quite alright. Yeast was pitched and put away with temperature set at 21°C. So, should ferment at 20° to 21.5°.

The day went well. Bottling and brewing on the smaller scale if things is nice. Plus return to a nice beer that was chilled, and will be fermented, cooler than before.

– Mikey

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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!

-Chas

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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.

-Mikey

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Random Task IPA – Review

Random Task IPA

Random Task IPA ready for drinking

The third, and final for now, in my current run of reviewing CarnieBrew beers is the Random Task IPA. Again, the ingredients are on listed on his blog under Beer 15.

This is a pretty good IPA. The aroma is quite nice with the Amarillo hops coming out nice and strong. There’s Cascade hops as well but the Amarillo leads the charge here. For those not familiar with hops, or just not a huge beer geek like me, Amrillo hops gives beers a lot of orange citrus characteristics and subtle floral-ness. Amarillo is the stereotypical hops in American IPAs and that’s because it’s freaking great stuff.

On first taste this is amazing. Just what you want in a bit American style IPA. Big hop flavours, plenty of the citrus bite followed by the floral hints. The base is a malt that’s just turned from golden to amber, and still has some golden ale lightness. Unfortunately most of that drops away. The beer takes a nose dive as the flavour and most of the body disappears in your mouth. But, it’s still there on the tip of your tongue!

The beer gets quite dry before a final splash of hops and you get a bitter spike. Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make this beer a write off at all. Everything else works really well and still makes for a very enjoyable brew. If anything, it makes you want to go back for more and more to get that great up front taste. But it might not be the best idea to keep that up with something that’s 6.8% AVB.

Food? Stuff that, grab another bottle. I could forsake food all night if you just kept a supply of this stuff going. Maybe some tempura might tie me over.

CarnieBrew, you got a good one here.

-Mikey

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The Beagle Double IPA – First Trial

For those familiar with the story of the IPA beer style, you’d know it’s characterised by being higher in the hops and alcohol.  This trend started when the British colonised India and were unable to transport their beloved pale ale from England to India without it spoiling.  Fortunately, hops and alcohol act as a natural preservative: so increase these two important beer ingredients, and your beer can go anywhere!

A double IPA, or an Imperial India Pale Ale, is generally even higher in hoppyness and alcohol than a standard IPA.  This should last even the longest sea journeys…

So, in honour of one of the great scientific sea journeys of all time and the boat, the HMS Beagle, today we made The Beagle Double IPA.

And before I go into the recipe, hopefully readers will have noticed the general theme going on in my beer names.  At the risk of starting a flame war with Mikey, at least my names are better than Mikey’s “Australian Pale Ale”.  Take that Mikey.

The trend of naming my beers after famous science figures is thanks to the proprietor of my favourite cafe, Husband.  So I’ll give credit where credit’s due.

Anyway, the recipe!

A friend of mine, Matt, had had some success with a simple mini-mash (edit, this is not actually a mini-mash recipe.  I’ll go into it another time.  i have a bad habbit of just saying “mash” if i use grains.  cheers Stu for keeping me honest) IPA recipe that called for a small grain bill of crystal, some dry malt extract, and two types of hops for bittering and aroma, but no dry hopping…  I need to have a chat to Matt about this as well, because the recipe called for a total of 50 grams of hops for a four litre batch.  Now I like hops as much as the next guy, but this would have just been nuts…  Mikey and I modified the recipe to our taste and sanity levels accordingly:

  • 75 grams crystal
  • 25 grams dark crystal
  • 30 grams rye
  • 1 kilogram golden light dry malt extract
  • 15 grams Citra – bittering hops; 60 minutes total boil
  • 10 grams Willamette – taste hops; 30 minutes total boil
  • 15 grams Amarillo – aroma hops; five mintues total boil
  • 10 grams Citra – dry hops; after two days
  • Safale yeast US05

Steep the grains in 1.5 litres of water in a grain bag for a total of one hour, keeping the temperature between about 70 and 80

It begins!

It begins!

degrees C.  This needs to go in at about thirty minutes into the boil, so start this first.  Personally, I prefer a grain bag but they’re not mandatory, it just makes things a little easier.

While the grain does its thing, boil 2.5 litres of water with the kilogram of malt extract.  We got a huge hot break, but that was mostly Mikey’s fault for purposefully making bubbles when stirring in the malt.  I’m glad we used the big pot.

At the hot break, throw the Citra in for a total of 60 minutes.

After thirty minutes, put in the Willamette and the water from the steeped grain.  Sparge the grain with about 0.5-1 litre of boiling water to make sure you get all the goodness.

Thanks Mikey...

Thanks Mikey…

Finally, with five minutes left in the boil, throw in the Amarillo.

Put the pot in a sink of cold water or use a wort chiller to get it to temperature, throw it all into a 5 litre carboy and top everything up to 4 litres in total.  Pitch the yeast and you’re done!

Don’t forget, after two days, add the second batch of Citra for dry hopping!

Other Brewing Notes:

We got a final gravity of 1.076, which I was pretty happy about.  With any luck, this should give an alcohol content of at least 7.5% ABV.  Because of this (and the general hoppyness), this is starting to get into the Double IPA range, so that’s what we’re calling it.

In regards to the hops, this recipe has three types of hops.

The Citra had a typical bittering hops smell: lots of bitter and spice aromas, with a bit of a tropical feel to it.  I find Citra a little more laid back than other bittering hops, but it’s definitively still there!  When this was first added to the wort, it didn’t do much to combat the malt smells, which were quite milky.

The Willamette was far more laid back than the Citra, a brief description of Willamette can be found in the Friedlieb Porter recipe.  Generally drier in smell.  With the Willamette, the malt smells were finally getting put in their place and the hops were finally starting to come through.  There was going to be a lot of spice in this beer.

20130728_143554Finally, the Amarillo had less bitter than anything else in there.  It’s a typical fruity hop for aroma.  The citrus really pushes through and there are a few earthy smells to it as well.  With the addition of the Amarillo, the malt finally lost the battle and the true IPA scent filled the kitchen.  Everything was much more balanced.

The wort tasted great, albeit, very sweet thanks to the very high gravity.  Of course the hops hadn’t had time to settle, so rather than get multiple notes, all there was was one big blast of bitter and spice – it hit and it hit hard.  I’d like to keep some of that for the final beer, but a little more subtle!  We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, great brew day.  Afterwards we went out for Mexican.  So for those wanting to re-produce this recipe exactly, go out for Mexican afterwards to ensure the same results.

-Chas

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