Tag Archives: Pale ale

Helping the grain, and back

Back in late July last year I went around to Chas’s place and helped with an all Grain pale ale. Chas is now focused of his site Brew In Review and I wanted to do a write up. I’ve finally done it, here we are.

Chas had done a few brews back around middle of 2015. You might remember I mentioned he gave me a bottle of The Friedlieb IV back in June 2015. Review of that is in draft and I’ll get up soon. Then there was an all grain pale ale. That turned out too strong. The next brew day, 25 July 2015, was about redoing the all grain with less fermentables.

The equipment used was from one of Chas’s mates, a big esky/cooler box converted into a mash tun. Nice and easy to use. Didn’t get a photo on the day, but here’s a pic of it from another day after it got cleaned out.

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

Esky mash tun, clean and dismantled

16 litre batch
4 kg traditional ale malt + 40 g malted wheat + 40 g dingman’s biscuit malt + 20 g rye.
Mashed at 67.5°C for one hour
16 g chinook + 8 g fuggles for 1 hour.
16 g cascade for 20 minutes
16 g Citra + 8 g Willamette for 2 minutes.
US 05 yeast
OSG 1.045

Mash was an hour, target of 67.5°C and landed pretty much there. That was easy. Next was the sparging. Drain the liquid and some hot water poured over the top of the grain. That took ages, about an hour or more. Finally pressed the grain to get extra liquid out.

Next up, bring to a boil and keep going for an hour. Three hop additions: 60 minutes, 20 mind and 2 mins. Next, the pot moved to ice bath. Then drain and fill bath a few times. Maybe 40 minutes or so to bring down to low 20’s. Finally into the fermenter and dry yeast pitched straight in. Gravity sample came in at 1.045 which was in the range Chas was after.

It was a long day. Chas started the mash about 10:30 before I arrived and we finished up around 3:30. That’s a long brew day and a one of the reasons I still haven’t moved to all grain brewing.

Fast forward two weeks to bottling day. Woo! This was a real easy bottling session. Chas bulk primed the beer in the fermenter before I got there and the whole lot was bottled in about 15 minuets.

2015.08.08 - bottling doneThe final gravity reading came in at 1.006 and will be a 5.5% beer after bottle conditioning. The sample tastes great. Plenty of body and citrus hop flavour.

Chas gave me a four pack to take home. The test batch seamed promising and I was really looking forward to seeing how these turn out.

This beer has been reviewed and I’ll get a post up in the next couple weeks.

Worth noting, this recipe was an early version of what became the Priestly Pale Ale. You can read up all about that recipe on Chas’s site Brew In Review.

-Mikey

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New roof, new brew

Back brewing, finally. Last brew was in January and ran out over two months ago. After over 18 weeks, it was time to brew again. That’s exactly what I did a couple weeks ago on a quite Thursday night.

I could rattle off the big list of reasons why I haven’t brewed for so long. But let me simply say: we started looking for our first home, bought a place, moved and settled in. Like all change it takes a bit to get use to.

Lazy House Ale hops

Hops ready for measuring before going into the Lazy House Ale

Knowing that I have no home brew, and wanting to put something on for the housewarming, a brew needed to happen sooner than later. All the same there wasn’t a lot of free time. So I came up with a simple and quick extract brew for 12 litres. The idea was to make a low hopped beer that was easy to drink. I didn’t have a huge amount of time and also tried to finish off a few ingredients that had been around a while. Lazy House Ale #1:

  • 300 grams Briess Sparkling Amber dry malt extract, boiled for 30 minutes
  • 13 grams Citra hops, for 30 mins
  • 4 grams Motueka (Belgian Saaz) hops, at flame out
  • 1.5 kilograms Briess Pilsen Light liquid malt extract, directly into fermenter
Lazy House Ale hot break

Hot break of the Lazy House Ale

I was meant to dumped the liquid malt into the fermenter and the hot wort at the same time. But, by default, I started chilling the wort straight after the boil. As a result when I put the liquid malt in later it didn’t dissolve as intended. That meant I didn’t get a realistic gravity reading. Original Gravity only came in at 1.022 but was calculated as 1.048. I’ll be using calculated OG for the purpose of calculating final alcohol, even though I rarely hit calculated OG.

Add this was a bit of a finish-off-what-I-have-brew things were changing right up to brewing. The amount of Citra hops was more than I would have liked. I thought I might get away with it… until I tasted the sample. A fair bit hoppier than I was aiming for. We’ll wait and see how it balances out.

Lazy House Ale in fermenter

Lazy House Ale done and in fermenter

It’s been over two weeks since brew day. Going to bottle tomorrow. Then onto more brewing. A dark beer is needed so it can be aged and appreciated during winter. A two litre apple cider is required. The next “not-beer” really needs to be done. I’m going to be busy.

-Mikey

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Extra Pale Ale #2 – Review

Been a while between posts. Sorry. Very busy with everything not brew related. That said, here we are at the review for the Extra Pale Ale #2. It’s been over five weeks since this beer was bottled and absolutely ready for a tasting review.

Extra Pale Ale 2 for review

Extra Pale Ale #2 ready for tasting and for review

First thing to note is the look. Was very clear in the bottle before heading into the fridge. You can see from the photos it’s very cloudy. Not that look means much to me, but a lot more than I expected. Feels like it’s more pronounced that the Extra Pale Ale #1 cloudiness.

Aroma on this is big in apples. Yep, that’s acetaldehyde giving that green apple smell, and some banana esters too. What caused that? High temperatures and poor yeast. Sure, this got piched onto reused yeast. And that should have eatten the sugars quickly. But, some bad quality control on keeping temperature down was the main factor here.

These two characteristics of acetaldehyde and esters come out in the beer flavour as well. It’s a bit disappointing as they take over a from what would otherwise be a really good beer. Behind these flavours there’s a nice light malt flavour with plenty of body. Yep, that Malto Dextrin is working a treat! Will be using that a lot more.

At 8.7% alcohol you would expect bite and harshness, not the case. The alcohol is hidden very well. Partyl with the big fruit flavours, but also the body. Have to say it again, the Malto Dextrin is a great addition to a strong pale ale. If you’re an extract home brewer and not using the stuff in your bigger alcohol beers I urge you to give it a go.

The beer finishes with plenty of fruit. Sure the acetaldehyde and esters dominate, but the hops from the amarillo come out to say ‘hi’ and have some fun. Is it better than the Extra Pale Ale #1? Overall, no. But there’s elements that work better like body. Plus if feels a bit smoother.

Food matching is hard. Probably something greasy like fried food or fish and chips. Yeah, that sound good. Could also be match with a burger or chicken parma.

Next time use some US-05 yeast will be used, and ferment at a lower temperature. The good news is that Summer is finally over and brewing can be done without crazy chilling techniques. But that also means needing to get in front of the darker beers so they’re ready for the cooler months. Better get cracking!

– Mikey

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Extra Pale Ale #1 – Review

Back a couple weeks back I tried one of the Extra Pale Ale #1 beers. I was expecting it to be a bit rough, especially being 8%, using a chunk of sugar and using kit yeast. I was surprised with what I got, in a very good way. And now it’s time for a proper review.

Extra Pale Ale 1 for review

Extra Pale Ale #1 ready for tasting and for review

First thing to say is that I was hoping for something drinkable, and that was about it. Very cheap to make with half dry malt extract and half sugar. Plus only a touch of hops and some old kit yeast. What I was really trying to do is get something thin and dry to fill in the gap that my Summer Ale failed to do.

There’s still an apple hint to the aroma that I got from bottling. Slight smell of yeast there as well. First taste is light with hint of apple sweet. That is from the yeast and drops off pretty quickly, which is good. Then the orange floral flavour from the Amarillo comes out. This is really nice here. While quite subtle, as not much is used, it still is clearly there with no much else going on. The orange flavour lingers on, especially once the beer has warmed up after coming out of the fridge.

Through the beer there’s a bit of roundness to the flavour with that extending to the end. It’s almost butter-like, similar to a good Chardonnay wine (yeah, been tasting quite a few of those over the last couple months). Sure there’s not much body, you could go as far as saying nearly no body. But the finish isn’t a dry or harsh end. So you don’t feel like you need to go back for more straight away. And at 8% alcohol it is probably a very good thing. And that’s another point, the alcohol doesn’t come out in this beer which makes it that bit more easier to enjoy.

Hard to say what to eat with this beer. It’s very light body with only a hint of orange and light sweetness. Good to have on a hot day with some snacks. Maybe a cheese board or dips. Keep it cold and have it by itself.

Very happy with how this turned out. Looking forward to how the Extra Pale Ale #2 turns out. Then, next spring or summer make adjustments with hops and yeast for a better brew.

-Mikey

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Pale Trial Zwei – Review

It has been just over five months since Pale Trial Zwei was brewed, back on 31 August last year. The review is long over due. So, here it is.

A bit of a recap. Pale Trial Zwei was a follow on from Pale Trial Ein, one large batch split into five fermenters. Each fermenter had a different combination of yeast nutrient and with/without Campden tablet. For the Zwei batch this was pitched directly onto the yeast of the Ein batch after bottling. You can go back to the review and see that there was a wide range of flavours from the same original wort.

Pale Trial Zwei 1-5 for review

Pale Trial Zwei 1-5 ready for tasting and for review

There was some slight issues with the labelling and I’m not 100% sure if each of the batches, one to five, was recorded properly when bottled. Although there was an the ideas to do a comparison of the Ein beers to the Zwei beers, it isn’t possible.  We just have to compare the Zwei beers against each other.

Pale Trial Zwei #1
Plenty of melon, lime and grass aroma to this. A promissing start to the first beer. Flavour starts off with a smooth/sweet melon taste. Then there’s some stone fruit and a touch of sweetness with the melon flavour coming out more. The beer finishes off with a smooth end.

Pale Trial Zwei #2
If the first one had some good mixture of melon, lime and grass then this one takes it a bit further with more of the grass aroma. The melon and lime flavours come out at the start with a slightly lighter melon and more lime than #1. Soft flavours in the middle then finishing of with some slight amber malt and a touch of lime flavour.

Pale Trial Zwei #3
Clear melon and lime aroma from the start and a hint of rust. The flavour starts with the melon and rust from amber malt. Then the amber rust malt flavour builds a bit. Finally there’s a bite with some melon and dry finish. Clearly this has more going on than the rest and is the better one for it.

Pale Trial Zwei #4
Aroma is a simple mixture of melon and rust. At the start there’s a melon and bitterness to this. Hints of rust amber malt comes in then the flavour drops off at the end. Lighter and simpler in flavour than the rest.

Pale Trial Zwei #5
Not a great start with a banana aroma to start with. Some mellow melon flavours fist up. Then banana flavours come in and build to the end. Also has a bitter and tart finish which is not nice.

Summary
Was very impressed with these beers. Well, all but #5 and I think that might be infected, or something. The melon and lime elements from the Galaxy hops were the main players here. But interesting to see a rust amber flavour from the malt. Wasn’t expecting that and it was a pleasant surprise. For matching with food anything from simple fried fish to Vietnamese or Thai would work great. Anything with a bit of light spice or grease.

If I was to rank these the worst is the easiest, #5. The top two are #2 with the most melon smoothness and #3 with the most complexity. The rest are a bit harder. After a bit of back and forth I came up with the following from first to last: #3, #2, #1, #4, #5.

Was strange to see how these beers differed so much. Just like when I reviewed Pale Trial Ein, there was  a lot of variation. And again, it highlights how little changes in something like yeast nutrient or a campden tablet can impact the final flavour on a beer. There’s plenty more to learn about brewing. And that’s pretty exciting.

-Mikey

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So pale, extra pale 2 bottled

Monday was Australia Day and doubled as bottling day for the Extra Pale Ale #2. It was a very quick session and I knocked it over myself in a bit over half an hour.

Extra Pale Ale 2 bottled

Extra Pale Ale 2 freshly bottled and all cloudy

Skipped the bulk priming and put a tablespoon of white sugar to prime each bottle. Should have done it with the Extra Pale Ale #1 as it was much quicker than the bulk priming for small batches. Ended up with twelve bottles and a gravity sample as well.

Extra Pale Ale 2 FG

Extra Pale Ale 2 final gravity reading

Gravity came in at 1.025 which means the beer will sit at about 8.7% alcohol after bottle conditioning. Was a bit surprised the gravity wasn’t lower, much lower. I realised the Malto Dextrin had a bit of effect, plus it was probably a bit much to ask that kit yeast to chomp through so much sugar. That said, I was hoping to get down to the 1.009 calculated, or at least around 1.015. Not to be.

As usual I tasted the gravity sample. First up it was bad. Lots of apple sweet flavour and not nice yeast. After it sat for about 20 or so minutes the taste was a lot better. Still not great, but I could finish drinking the small sample. This one will take a while to condition properly probably a month or more.

Nothing brewing at the moment. Thinking of doing a couple really small batches. Maybe cider with the brewing caps. Maybe finally getting around to those ‘not beers’. Will keep you posted.

-Mikey

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New year brew, extra pale two

Hello and happy new year. Apologies for the break between posts, nearly four weeks! Back on board and, more importantly, back to brewing. Sunday the 11th was the first brew for the year and Chas came over to lend a hand. Always a fun day when Chas makes it.

Extra Pale Ale 1 bottled

Extra Pale Ale 1 all bottled and capped

There was some tasting of the Pale Trial Zwei beers and bottling of the Extra Pale Ale #1. Although only four litres, we still bulk primed. In hindsight that might have been a bit over the top for 10 bottles.

Gravity reading came in at 1.010 pretty much smack bang on what I was aiming for. Alcohol calculated at exactly 8% after bottle conditioning. Nice and strong.

The flavour was a bit of a mix. There was some some apple aroma and other fruit. Taste was much the same with a slight round, but clear, yeast flavour. Quite possible there’s some acetaldehyde and the yeast was stressed out by being forced to work so hard. Plus it was kit yeast, and that’s not usually good.

Extra Pale Ale 2 OG

Extra Pale Ale 2 original gravity reading

The brew for the day was straight forward. Almost identical to Extra Pale Ale #1. This time added more sugar and some malto dextrin. The sugar should push up the alcohol towards the 10% region, while the malto dextrin should help it hold together.

  • 4 litre boil
  • 300 grams Pilsen Light DME @ 40 mins
  • 200 grams Malto Dextrin @ 5 mins
  • 500 grams raw sugar @ 5 mins
  • 2 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ flame out
Extra Pale Ale 2 ready to go

Extra Pale Ale 2 in the fermenter in the pot and ready to go

Ice was dumped directly into the pot during the ice bath. That helped cool the brew and topped up for water lost in the boil. In the end it was a bit too much liquid and the fermentation vessel was fuller than I would have liked. And, yes, it did cause a blow out in the air lock.

The wort was dumped straight onto the yeast cake of the last brew. There should be plenty of yeast to eat through the large amounts of sugars there. Gave it a very good shake up, going to need all the oxygen it can get.

The gravity reading came in at 1.087 which is exactly what I calculated. Nice to finally hit a target OG for the first time ever, even if there was to much water.

It’s been nearly two weeks already. Bottling will be soon, maybe end of the long weekend. Should get some idea how it will taste. Hoping that the Malto Dextrin gives it some body to help balance out the large amount of sugar added.

For the next brew? Not sure yet, but likely this year will continue the experimentations and small batches. Temperatures are still pretty hot in Melbourne and it’s hard keeping fermentation vessels cool enough.

-Mikey

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A little Christmas, extra pale ale

I couldn’t let December go by without doing a brew. So, decided to brew up a nice dry light body pale ale. Really simple and really easy. Knocked it over in about an hour.

Extra Pale Ale OG

Extra Pale Ale original gravity reading

After the Summer Ale turned out to be bigger than expected, I wanted to go basic. The best option was a simple malt base, simple hops and simple yeast. I deliberately aimed for something that would be dry and low in flavour. Welcome the Extra Pale Ale. In theory this will be the Summer beer that the Summer Ale wasn’t.

Recipe

  • 2.5 litre boil, topped up to 4 litres at end.
  • 300 grams of Pilsen Light dry malt extract @ 30 mins
  • 300 grams or raw sugar @ 10 mins
  • 2 grams Warrior hops @ 30 mins
  • 3 grams Amarillo hops @ flame out
  • Bit over a teaspoon of kit yeast
  • Teaspoon of yeast nutrient

The original gravity came in at 1.069 which is a fair bit higher than the 1.059 calculated. Most likely due to loss of water / not adding enough water at the end. That doesn’t worry me.

The colour turned out a lot closer to what I wanted than the Summer Ale did. Very light straw colour. Hope it thins out a bit more. Will be fine if there’s very little body in this.

Extra Pale Ale staying cool

Extra Pale Ale carboy in pot of water staying cool

The sample tasted pretty good. Yep, there was a lot of sugar in there but that doesn’t take anything away from the yummy Amarillo flavours. IBU should be around 16 which should help make this drinkable. I have seen a few of my beers turn out a lot bitter than planned. I’m hoping I’ve gone low enough on this one.

Big challenge now is keeping it cool. The carboy is sitting in water and the next couple days I can keep replacing ice packs in there. Fingers crossed. Will find out in the New Year.

-Mikey

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Pale Trial Ein – Review

The five beers that make up Pale Trial Ein are more different than I expected. Time hasn’t softened them into a similar flavour. Rather the opposite. The difference is more pronounced after a couple months conditioning. A couple Sundays ago Chas was over for a brewing day and we did a side-by-side review of all five.

Pale Trial Ein 1-5 for review

Pale Trial Ein 1-5 ready for tasting and for review

Before going further into the review a recap is called for. These five beers were all brewed from the same batch. One boil with liquid malt and Victoria Secret hops, and the same yeast (US-05). The only difference was the yeast nutrient and if a Campden tablet was added. That’s it. All fermented at the same temperature, same amount of sugar for bottle priming, same again for bottle conditioning. All of this done to learn. And what was learnt? Let’s find out…

Common characteristics
All five come from the same base. There is a clear dark stone fruit flavour up front. Solid amber malt in the middle. Then finishes with a sharp bitterness with the malt background.

The descriptions below are slightly exaggerated to highlight the differences.

Pale Trial Ein 1
The “control” of the beers. With the modern yeast nutrient only.
Aroma is of dark fruit and still subtle. Body is straight forward. The bitterness comes in quite sharply at the end. It is the most aggressive with hop bitterness. Bitter beer.

Pale Trial Ein 2
This one was with same yeast nutrient and a Campden tablet.
The softest flavours of the lot. Hop fruit flavours at the start. A nice easy amber malt body. Not very bitter at all… until the very end and there’s a kick. And that really kills the softness.
Okay, nothing special.

Pale Trial Ein 3
This is the one with the really old yeast nutrient only.
A much lighter beer than all the others. Light and fresh hop aroma. Lighter amounts of stone fruit up front. Body is a bit easier and laid back. The hops at the back are quite lighter and there is a subtle creaminess.
Easy and light.

Pale Trial Ein 4
This is the one with a Campden tablet only.
Very soft aroma. Starts with a solid stone fruit flavour, but not overpowering. There’s a mellow and big dark-ish fruit flavour. There’s a bit of bitter end to this which works quite well to offset the stone fruit flavours.
Creamy.

Pale Trial Ein 5
This is the one with the really old yeast nutrient and a Campden tablet.
Light and smooth rich aroma which is very nice. Starts off very smooth indeed, then the big fruit comes in and works a treat. Darker than beer #2, #3 and #4. Towards the end there’s smooth finish with a hint of bitterness working well with the body.
Smooth.

Summary
If I was to match these beers to something it would be a salty or spicy roast meat. Maybe barbecued. Or something fried with spice. You need something to work with the big bitter hops in the beer.

It’s a tough choice between #3 and #5 for best beer. Winner is #5 . Runner up is #3, in third place comes #4, forth is #2 and clearly in last place is #1.

It might seam like a wide range in flavours from the reviews above, and it does feel like that when they’re side by side. If you pick up a #1 or #5 first off, you still taste the same thing, stone fruit hops with amber malt. Then the bitterness takes over. I think there was too much hops. Victoria Secret hops have a big kick which I’ve see it in my all grain and here in the Pale Trial Ein series. Does this make these bad beers? No. But there’s room for improvement. And I’ll work on that.

It has been a really interesting journey with these beers. They’re the end of a mini story of finding my Dad’s old wine brewing equipment, cleaning, brewing, bottling and finally tasting. But the journey doesn’t end. The Pale Trial Zwie beers are ready for drinking. Will need to get into them and write up a review.

-Mikey

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Yeast adventures, capping it for now

The second round of experiments with yeast are done. Over a couple evenings in the last week I bottled the Pale Trial Zwei.

Pale Trial Zwei - carboy 1-5

Pale Trial Zwei in carboy 1 to 5 (left to right)

From the first impressions it looks like the yeast characteristics from Pale Trial Ein have carried over. There’s a strange tart and dry-sourness, especially from the first carboy. Carboy 2-5 were bottled on a septate day, so I can’t do a five-way comparison.

The good news is that the Galaxy hop flavours have come out well. There hasn’t been the big bitterness that I was getting with the Victoria Secret hops. Nice tropical aroma and flavour at the front. One these condition for a few weeks they should be good for the spring sun.

Pale Trial Zwei - sample 1

Pale Trial Zwei the sample from carboy 1

The one thing I really wasn’t sure about was how healthy the yeast might be. I didn’t know if there would be too much yeast, grown from the last batch. Maybe it wouldn’t be healthy enough, stressed from the last brew. Or maybe it would need more nutrients, which I deliberately didn’t put in. Plus I didn’t keep an eye on the fermentation. That said, it looks like things went smoothly.

Final gravity readings ranged from 1.010 to 1.008 and I’m happy with that. The OG was 1.047 and after bottle conditioning alcohol should be between 5.6% and 5.4%. That’s very respectable for a pale ale. The cause for the range in final gravity may have been due to a few things. Possibly sediments in the sample, possible yeast health, or a number of other things with the yeast.

Pale Trial Zwei - samples 2-5

Pale Trial Zwei samples from carboy 2 to 5

The bottling by myself was a bit of trial and error. The first carboy I used the old hand siphon. That is, two tubes with a pump thing. Have been using it for a while but works as long as you’ve got the flow going and don’t stop-start too much. For the rest (done on another night) I was able to use the Auto Syphon as the other carboys have a bigger opening. Had a bit more trouble with this due to the seal between the top and the tube. After a lot of trial and error I worked out better to pull the end out of each bottle and fill the next without trying to stop the flow. Lost a little, but not as much as stop-start. Something to work on. In an attempt to try and reduce beer loss, I left beer in the Auto Syphon between carboys, so mixing left over from one with the start form the next. Bottles marked, but not expecting anything noticeably different.

Pale Trial Zwei bottled 2-5

Pale Trial Zwei all bottled with bottles from carboy 2 to 5

Looking forward to trying these brews. I’ve had a bottle of each of the Pale Trial Ein bottles. They’ve settled down a fair bit. I didn’t do a side by side comparison, but the differences seam to be there. Will do a proper review in a week or two.

Been a bit slow getting new content up. Few reasons for that. I’m letting my fermentation times run a bit longer, like this one for three and a half weeks. I’m brewing less, next one in a few days. Chas isn’t brewing, he’s got a bit of a stockpile. But might be fixing that this coming weekend. And a few reviews haven’t gone up yet. I’m going to try and get a few of them up over the next couple weeks.

-Mikey

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