Tag Archives: other brewers

Dark American Ale – Review

Way back earlier this year I helped out someone make some home brew. I got a bottle of it a few weeks later. It’s been in the fridge for months. And now I’ve tried it.

Dark American Ale

Dark American Ale ready for drinking

This was a beer I made with my wife’s boss. We were away for a weekend at their holiday home. Plus we made a kit beer. I was able to provide some really good advice to speed things up and get better results. It was a fun couple hours.

The beer is a kit called Dark American Ale and comes from Brewcraft/Liquorcraft. Ingredients included cans of liquid malt and some steeping grains. Nothing too complex. And looks like it turned out well.

The aroma is a nice hint of sweetness and slight dark nutty malt. A slight hint if burnt caramel. Exactly what you would expect. It’s a good set up for a beer of this style.

First taste has the dark malt come out. Next follows a bit of dark caramel sweetness. Finally the hop bitterness at the back.

For something that’s ‘just’ a kit, there’s plenty of mouth feel. Lots of flavour at the start and middle. The flavour isn’t thick, but you’re not expecting or wanting that here. While the beer does get thin the flavour doesn’t completely drop off.  That said the hops at the end take over, with the malt only just holding it all together.

The only real downside us a slight metallic taste. It comes at the back, and lasts long after the beer. It’s a drawback on a nice beer which is a real downer.

Food wise, this could work with a stew meat thing. Maybe a casserole or think sauce meat pie, something gutsy and rich.

I like the flavours at the start. Good and balanced. The finish really let’s it down. Overall nice but not great.


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Another APA – Review

Another APA ready to drink

Another APA in the glass and ready to drink

As promised, I’ve tried Another APA from my good mate Ian.

Plenty of stone fruit aroma. Mix of peach and nectarine that’s been stewed for a few hours. That big, but not sweet, fruit hit on the nose. Plus this is a smell that doesn’t drop away.

Flavour wise the first thing to note is the exact tastes you would expect from the aroma. Stewed fruit from start to end. Some sort of spice/earth flavour in there. It kind of builds but then doesn’t come out fully. There’s a bitterness towards the back which is welcome. The beer is slightly tart at the very end which isn’t what I expected. Not a huge amount of body, about what you would expect from this type of Pale Ale

As the beer warms the stewed flavours settle a fair bit. The bitterness builds and the tart finish becomes more metallic. There’s even a hit of dryness as the body drops away. Not sure of the alcohol percentage in this, mainly because Ian doesn’t measure it. My guess would be around 4.5% to 5% as it’s quite easy to sink it quickly.

Food wise, not sure what to match to this. Initially I thought some roast pork. But the more I have it makes me want to have something both light and spicy. Maybe Thai or Vietnamese food.

This is an easy to drink beer. Except the finish. Not sure why that is but a quick Google later and I think there might be some DMS (Dimethyl Sulfides) issues with this beer. Ian, fix that and you’ve got a very nice beer.


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When you don’t brew, go brew

Chas is still overseas having fun and tasting beers. I’m still naively waiting on the Super Stout. So… what to do when not brewing? Help a mate with his brew!

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparge

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparging away with hot liqueur pot, mash tun, pump and boiling pot

Last weekend here in Melbourne was a long weekend thanks to Queen’s Birthday public holiday. No, it’s not her Birthday, the holiday is about something else. Anyway.

On Saturday I went around to my mate Michael‘s place. He’s been doing all grain for a while. Last time I was there I had to leave early and missed a few things. This time I was there from start to (nearly) the very end. This was a very long day. Started at 10:30 am and at 5:15 pm both the airing of the wort and pitching of the yeast were still left to do. That’s one very long brew day for a home brew.

Like last time Michael was doing a Belgian quad, which didn’t work out that well. This time a Strong Belgian Golden Ale, which hopefully turns out well. The process was mainly the same. Fist heat the water for the mash and then put that in the mash tun. Grain goes in, stir and wait. Recirculate the liquid to settle the grain bed. Next was a bit different. Fly sparge rather than batch sparge. What you do is slowly drip water over the top while letting the liquid drain out the bottom. Apparently, if done right you get a better conversion (getting sugars from the grains) than batch sparing.

Hop leaf

Hop leaf in a hop bag

Boil was next. A long boil as Michael needed to reduce volume. After that was done a hop bag with loose leaf hop flowers went in. I’ve never seen loose leaf hops before. Most people I know use pellets. Had a taste and wasn’t sure what to think about them. Interesting, but not sure if it’s for me.

The chilling was very cool (pun fully intended). Michael has a counter flow plate chiller. Brew goes in one end and out the other, while cold tap water goes in the reverse direction in a different channel. Long story short, lots of liquid moves really quickly and your brew gets chilled a lot.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled with pot and plate chiller

Like I said, had to leave before the brew was aerated or the yeast pitched. But, you can get an idea from the photos how much goes on. Lots of steps and lots of equipment. I have to say, I’m slightly jealous of all the equipment. But that’s offset by the idea of having to (a) take so long to make a beer and (b) that thought of cleaning all that equipment.

Then Monday went around to my good mate Ian‘s place. He wanted to do An American Brown Ale. Something nice to have over the cooler months. And, to be completely different to the all grain brew, it was an all extract brew.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done, except aeration and yeast

For this brew I was there from the very start to the very end. Plus it was a lot quicker. Dry malt extract and hop pellets measured out. Boil the water, first addition of dry malt, hot break, add hops 1, add hops 2, add hops 3 and the last of the dry malt. Then onto chilling, which went a lot quicker than expected. We chilled it so well that it was almost too cool to pitch the yeats. But before the yeast went in I made Ian take a gravity reading. Hopefully this means we’ll known the alcohol percentage on his beer.

An American Brown done

An American Brown done and ready to start fermenting

Thinking back on the long weekend, I’m not sure which brew day I enjoyed more. They were both laid back in their own way. Ian’s was pretty easy, but a fair few things on one after the other. And once it was all done we hung out for a while which was fun. The brew day at Michael’s was a lot longer. And as a lot of steps took a chunk of time there was plenty of down time. That said it was also a lot more complex and a few things were nearly missed. One thing I know for sure, brew days are fun.


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ESB 2014 – Review

UPDATE: 10 June 2014.
Whoops, I originally thought this was the Another APA. I’ve recently found out this was actually the ESB 2014. Review updated to reflect that.

ESB 2014 ready to drink

ESB 2014 in the glass and ready to drink

My good mate Ian made few brews earlier this year that he wasn’t so happy with. Then in March he made some more beers that he was happy with. The second one that I’ve tried is the ESB 2014.

Really nice tropical smell to this beer. Hints of pineapple with nice floral sweetness.

Smooth up front. Sweet and rounded. Good fruit salad tastes. Bitterness isn’t that strong as the hops are more about the fruit and wood flavours. Malt is a light pale and helps support the malt. Sort of caramel hints. Very easy drinking.

This is a very good beer. I’ve liked it from the start. As it’s warmed up it became softer and smoother, making it even easier to drink. Not sure if I’d call this an ESB as there’s a lot of fruit and isn’t that bitter. That said once warmed up it is a lot closer.

Food matching, I would say some kind of lightly grilled or barbecued meat. Something like lamb with herbs. The sweetness of the lamb would match the soft sweet flavours of the beer.

Good beer. Ian, make more of this.


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2014 APA – Review

UPDATE: 10 June 2014. Whoops, I originally thought this was the ESB 2014. I’ve recently found out this was actually the 2014 APA. Review updated to reflect that.

2014 APA ready to drink

2014 APA in the glass and ready to drink

My good mate Ian made few brews earlier this year that he wasn’t so happy with. Then in March he started made some more beers that he was happy with. The first one that I’ve tried is the 2014 APA. That stands for American Pale Ale.

First thing I notice is the aroma. There’s a bit of egg smell in there, but also the soft malt with a hint of earth smell and hint of stone fruit.

First flavour hit is an earthy malt bite with a touch of sweetness. The bite is clearly from the hops and comes in on the side of the mouth rather than the front. The eggy smell comes out a bit in the flavour. This isn’t something you would expect in an APA. The hop flavour here is both a mix of earth and spice. No real big bitterness feel, but sort of still there. Some very soft sweetness from this as well. The flavours are a complex mix.

Early on, this beer wasn’t doing much for me, but the impressive thing about this beer is what happens when it warms up. It gets a fair bit better. For an APA that’s not necessarily a great thing. The complex mix settles down a fair bit and becomes a lot easier to drink. There’s even an soft apricot flavour finish on this. This is hard for me to match to food. I would have to say Sheppard’s pie or similar big pub food.


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Alive and brewing, just

Hi. You’re probably wondering why there hasn’t been a post for over two weeks. No, we’re not dead. No, we haven’t stopped brewing. But things have totally slowed down. It’s the heat.

Summer in Melbourne has been a real stinker the last 8 weeks or so. Plenty of days above 32°C. Chas had a little trouble controlling temperature with the second Red Dog Pale Ale. Beer turned out good, review up soon. Chas keeps everything inside and that means when he cools his place the beer stays cool. At my pace I’ve got the brew shed, AKA the garage. No air-con, no fan, not even an ice pack. No cooling means no brewing. I’m not going to leave another brew ferment at high temperatures, or worse kill the yeast.

I’ve been thinking about some work around solutions. Might try something if it’s going to look like we’ll have a whole week under 25°C. Good news is we’re going to have four days in a row under 25°C. Bad news is it might be another month before we’re consistently under that. I’m also looking at a long term solution. I need to get my act into gear and get rid of some stuff first.

Michael's mash tun

Michael’s mash tun with recirculation draining out the wort

As I’m not brewing I’ve gone to visit some others who are. Three weeks ago, on Australia Day, I went and visited my friend Michael. He’s a super keen brewer and looking to make it pro. He has gone all grain brewing and has plenty of equipment. You can read about his brewing journey on his blog twistnstout. The day I visited he was brewing his Triple. Was great introduction to what all grain brewing is like. I wasn’t able to stay the whole day but did get to check out a lot of the gear. Man, he has heaps of cool stuff. Things like counter-flow chillier, pump for his mash tun and a brew fridge for fermenting & conditioning beer! We haven’t talked about all grain brewing much, so a few of those things probably look like made up words. Might update some of the sections here so we can talk about that stuff more. Anyway, good day.

Michael's pump for recirculation

Michael’s electric pump to do the recirculation. Next to the mash tun.

Just over a week ago I went and visited Justin, Carnie Brew, and his mates for a brew day. They had four sets of equipment and were doing four brew-in-a-bag all grain brews when I got there! Then they did a fifth! Four big, and I mean really big, pot/kettles/urns all heating the grain made for a very hot room. It was a long day as they started at 9am and the last brew wasn’t done until about 5pm. Very interesting that they all did no-chill. It’s where you put the hot wort in a vessel, squeeze out the air and leave to chill over a few days before starting fermentation. Was a lot of fun hanging out. Was a bit of a contrast to the all grain brewing at Michael’s place only two weeks before. And, good comparison to the brew-in-a-bag all grain brews with Chas.

Michael's boil pot

Big pot for boiling the wort. Note that there’s a tap for easy draining.

When will I brew again? Hopefully soon. Have a few things I’m keen to try. Some more pale ale trials, a super stout and my first all grain brew are on the cards. Until then there’s a few write ups to be done, including one that’s well overdue.



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Fook Mi/Fook You Belgian – Review

My friend from Carnie Brew gave me a bottle of his Fook Mi/Fook You Belgian a few months back. It’s been in my fridge a long time. The beer was brewed and bottled in August last year. So, it’s been in my fridge about four months. That’s a long while.

Fook Mi-Fook You Belgian

Fook Mi-Fook You Belgian ready for drinking

Well, finally I’ve cracked it open. Before I get into the review let me just say this; thank goodness I left it sit for so long ‘cos it’s great.

Big sweet aroma. Almost like a toffee or caramel in richness, but a lot darker. Sort of a biscuit/toast smell.

Strong hit of flavour up front. First sweet then dark fruit quickly moving to biscuit-oat flavours. Slowly mellowing out with a dark and slightly dry toast taste crossed with stewed fruit flavour. This is a complex beer. So much flavour in here.

The body is really long. Well after the liquid is gone the flavour lingers. There’s no peaks or drop-offs in this beer, just solid ‘go’ from start to end. If I didn’t know that this beer was only 5.6% alcohol I’m sure I’d say it was closer to 8%, it’s that full.

The different flavours are hard to describe, I’ve tried my best above. I’m thinking the Amber Belgian Candi Sugar that was added might be the thing I just can’t nail with words. Needless to say it seams to have worked.

The beer is a slow drinking beer. Due to the big body and complex flavours I would be recommending this as a great beer to have with cheese. Pretty much any cheese from the basic cheddar all the way down to blue cheese, not that I’d have that stuff. Would go well with antipasto as well, pastes and figs comes to mind.

Well, I’ve finished writing this up and I still have half a glass. Guess that really sums up my review on this beer. You need to sit on it to really enjoy everything that’s going on.


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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.


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Carnie Pale Ale IV – Review

Carnie Pale Ale IV

Carnie Pale Ale IV ready for drinking

A couple days ago I put up a review of a Pale Ale from a fellow home brewer. The second beer I was able to take home was the Pale Ale IV.

There are a few similar traits that the IV has with the III. But, then there’s a whole lot more goodness. Over on Carnie Brews blog, brew 13 lists the ingredients that went in to this brew. There’s a slight change in hops and a wider range of steeped grains.

Aroma is similar to the Pale Ale III. Both apricot and earthy aromas are there but the vegetable-ness is barely there. The apricot is a bit tamed back as well. Overall nothing massive on the nose.

Flavours is where this all comes together. More body up front and lasting the whole way though. This gives everything else more of a base to work off. Apricot hop flavour comes out a bit and rounds out nicely. Not the same dryness of the previous version at all. Does still have a slight tart end to it.

This beer is definitely a step up on the last version. Seams to be balanced a lot more and easier to drink. While being strong in alcohol you can’t really notice, other than the bigger body. This is the sort of beer that says ‘yes, you can add more things and make it better’.

Food matching, this would go well with a lot of things. Any good pub meal or take away from your local fast food joint. Equally would work with any weeknight home cooked meal.


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Carnie Pale Ale III – Review

Carnie Pale Ale III

Carnie Pale Ale III ready for drinking

Just over a month ago I met up with a guy from work who also does home brewing. We shared some stories, had a few drinks and swapped some bottles. You should check out CarnieBrew’s blog.

The first bottle I’ve tried is the Carnie Pale Ale III. If you want to see some more info you can see the ingredients in Brew 11.

There’s a fair amount of Cascade and Amarillo hops that went into this beer. Plus a lot of liquid malt. The result is a bit of a mixture of flavours and characteristics.

The aroma plays around with the two hops. Giving both an apricot and an earthy smell. A hint of vegetable is also in there, which reminds me of some Moon Dog beers I’ve had in the past.

The initial flavour is light. Then things build up with a tart and dry body. The fruit/earth from the aromas comes on a little but the vegetable flavour is what I taste stronger. It finishes quite dry and with a bit of tang.

I think the parts that I don’t like might be due to the yeast or use of wheat liquid malt. I’m not a huge wheat fan myself. Then there’s a fair few things I do like here, the hop smells and flavours seam to be quite nice. And the beer hides the alcohol very well.

Overall this reminds me a lot of Moon Dog beers. And as such, I would recommend any food with a bit of kick to fit with this. Maybe a spicy stir fry or a gumbo dish.


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