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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.

-Mikey

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Malted Cider – Review

Malted Cider

Malted Cider in glasses

A while ago Chas ordered some malt for a brew and it exploded in the mail. A replacement of malt was sent, and about half of the original malt was still left. What a great opportunity to add malt to something, like a cider.

I’m no fan of ciders. I’ve made that view quite clear. But the rhubarb and apple cider Chas made was nice and enjoyable. So, I went into this with an open mind.

The first thing I noticed with the cider was an unpleasant off egg smell. Chas ensures me that the other bottles are fine and don’t have any eggyness.

The flavour was okay. Apple sweetness right up front, then a slight sour taste. After that the malt comes through a bit. There’s a bit of egg taste at the end which isn’t nice. The body holds well and if it wasn’t for the egg I might enjoy this.

Not sure what food to match this with. The dud bottle makes it harder. I’m thinking Italian, maybe a spicy and/or greasy pizza. Might work with a red meat Mexican dish like tacos or burritos.

I would like to have another one of these ciders. I think this could be tweaked to make it quite nice. As long as the bottle is good.

-Mikey

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A malt explosion!

So I ordered a home brew kit from Australian Home Brewing.  I love ordering stuff online.  I don’t get much mail apart from bills, so it’s great to come home to a package on the doorstep; this is even better when the package contains home brew supplies!

Anyway, with much excitement, I opened my package, and, to my horror, found that the liquid malt container had broken in transit!  There was malt everywhere throughout the box, a total sticky mess.

Liquid malt everywhere!

Thankfully malt cleans up pretty easily with hot water (there’s a tip), so the other contents cleaned up pretty well. Unfortunately much of the malt extract was lost.

These things happen I suppose, but of course it’s disappointing to open a fresh box of home brew supplies to find your malt all over the place, and the rest of your ingredients all sticky.  When I moved it, some of the extract managed to drip through the box as well, getting malt throughout the house.  The dogs were quite pleased with this and helped with the clean up though.

Well, I sent a quick email off to Australian Home Brewing and they sent me a replacement malt right away.  They also threw in some liquor mix for the trouble, which was extra nice of them.  I would have been happy with just a replacement malt extract!

To make things even better, I managed to recover a little bit of the malt, probably just enough to throw into a small experimental batch in my 5 litre carboy.  It’s not enough for a full 23 litre batch, but enough to play with.

Moral of the story? When God gives you ruptured malt packages, make beer out of it!

Oh, and course the replacement was mailed to me as well, so I had the pleasure of coming home to another package.

– Chas

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