Tag Archives: Pale ale

New equipment is fun, and some bottling

Christmas was good for me. Got a couple vouchers for home brew shops. Yay. Oh, and the Australian Pale Ale #3 needed to be bottled. Was a bit distracted, and a bit lazy, so only got around to bottling on Thursday.

Bottling Tree

Bottling Tree with just the first two levels and full of bottles.

As I had some hot vouchers in my hand I went down to Australian Home Brewing to pick up some new equipment. First thing was a bottling tree. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while. Will be using it for both bottling days, and cleaning bottles. So, this is something I’ll be using a lot. As you can see from the photo I’ve only put the first to parts on, it’s all I need.

Also picked up some hops, bigger capper with caps for big bottles and a small 15 litre fermenter. I’ll keep the hops under wraps until start brewing with them. Tried the capper on a wine bottle I had saved, didn’t quite work. Will be looking for the right bottles in the future. The small fermenter is really useful as I can use it for bulk priming, like for this brew, or other brews between the carboy and 30 litre fermenter.

Bottling took a fair bit longer. Partly because I was trying new equipment and partly because I kept getting distracted. The carboy was poured directly into the small fermenter which had the dissolved sugar. Hopefully I didn’t get too much air into it, I think I might. Hopefully I didn’t get too much trub transferred, I’m pretty sure I did. Again, I split the bottling up into some stubbies, a bigger 500 ml bottle and some plastic bottles.

There were also two 1.25 litre bottles with the brewing caps. Just to see what happens I’ve decided to leave one bottle as it for condition. The other bottle I transferred into a new bottle and left the yeast/trub behind. That second bottle is sealed and without any extra sugar for carbonation. Strange, the beer from the bottle that was transferred wasn’t that carbonated. So, this could go either way.

Australian Pale Ale 3

Australian Pale Ale 3 in original bottle, gravity reading and re-bottled.

Gravity reading was really good, 1.012 for both the carboy and 1.25 L bottle. That means the beer from the carboy will end up about 5.0% with the bulk priming, while the 1.25 L bottles will remain at 4.5%. That’s pretty good. Plus the flavour was good. Quite a bit of orange flavour with some other citrus and other fruit. Hints of some floral and grassy notes. Will be interesting to see how it all settles down.

Given the heat in Melbourne is finally starting to kick in there’s not going to be another brew at my place for a bit. That might change if I get my act into gear and sort out a brew fridge. Will keep you all posted.

-Mikey

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Red Dog Pale Ale – review

Moving from kit & kilo brewing to extract brewing was pretty easy. Moving from extract brewing to partial mash was a little bit of a jump. Moving from partial mash to full mash (all grain) was another jump. The Red Dog pale ale was the first full mash beer, and done by Chas.

Red Dog Pale Ale

Red Dog Pale Ale in glasses and ready for drinking.

I’ve had a few bottles of this lying around the house. But it wasn’t until Chas came over to help with the last brew at my place that we finally sat down for a proper taste test.

Was really impressed with the aroma. There was plenty of stone fruit aroma from the Chinook hops. Very good smelling beer.

Then onto the flavour, smooth creamy body and flavour. This is a really easy drinking pale ale. The fruit and malt flavours blend quite well without being wishy-washy. There’s a slight bitterness at the back. And, a hint of spice. Both of those don’t take anything away form the smooth creamy feel of the beer. Rather, they add some sharpness in places. Alcohol content came in at 6.9%. That’s a lot more than the beer gives away. It works to help keep the body big without punching you with that harsh alcohol taste.

Overall this is a very well built beer. There’s a mixture of clean and complex going on without being all over the shop.

Really nice beer to have with most foods. It would work great with seafood or fried food. Fish and chips would go great. Also good with fruit or salad, really anything that’s clean.

This beer was the first all grain brew we’ve done. And it turned out great. Expect a lot more all grain brews, especially from Chas.

-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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Brewsmith Aussie Wattle Pale Ale – review

Mikey and I were quite excited to try Brewsmith’s new recipe, the Aussie Wattle Pale Ale that we made a few weeks ago.  This was a new recipe of theirs, and we usually like what we get out of a Brewsmith kit, so we were expecting something good.  All in all, we weren’t disappointed.

The smell was pretty malty with a hint of citrus, and the wattle really came out.

Aussie WattleBecause of the smell, I was expecting a much maltier beer, but it was actually quite bitter, more bitter than I anticipated from the style and the initial sniff.  Of course it wasn’t an IPA bitterness, but there was definitely a hoppy kick.  The wattle remained obvious throughout the taste.  Wattle is a hard taste to describe to those who haven’t had it… I tried to find some tasting notes for wattle seed in general but I didn’t agree with any of the descriptions!  All I can say is that it interacted well with the hops and the two flavours work together well.

The bitterness tended to build up a little bit, which is more typical of an IPA.  This wasn’t unwelcome or over the top and went well: really it was just a regular pale ale that happened to be on the more bitter side of things.  Other than the bitterness, the body and flavour was very typical of the style.

The only real criticism I have is that there wasn’t much finish to the beer.  I prefer a beer with a long flavour and this one was a little short; it lacked complexity.  This added to the sessionability of the beer as it made for very easy drinking, so that’s a plus.

Most basically, this was a good, easy drinking beer.  I’d do this with something just as basic and standard like a sausage sizzle or a burger.  Enjoy.

-Chas

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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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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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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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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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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.

-Mikey.

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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.

-Mikey

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