Marchfest ’23 Porter

Based on the LOB adaptation of the ‘Nick Danger’ porter recipe (original by Denny Conn) which I previously brewed at Marchfest in 2019. This turned out to be a really nice porter when I made it before so I thought it was time to do it again. My main deviations from the LOB version are hops, yeast and mash temperature. I used a smaller amount (50g) of a higher alpha hops, Waimea, instead of  the low alpha Tettnang hops for the first 2 additions. For yeast I chose Voss Kveik because it’s ideal for Marchfest brewing as it’s not possible to get the pitching temp down to ideal pitching temps for the usual ale yeasts by water cooling alone. I went with a very high mash temp, ~74°, as that worked out great in my previous low alcohol brew as a strategy for reducing alcohol.

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Little Hazy

This is an attempt to brew a low ABV beer that tastes like a proper beer rather than a watered down version of a beer. My previous low ABV batch was a decent effort but a bit on the watery side despite being almost 4% ABV. Having tasted an Eddyline EddyLite which at only 2.5% tastes like a full proper beer, it inspired me to take another crack at low ABV brewing. My approach this time is to go with a fairly small grain bill and mash very high and ferment with a low attenuating yeast (Windsor), hopefully ending up with a low abv beer but with enough body left behind to make it taste and feel like a full bodied beer.

In researching low alcohol brewing, I cam across Lallemand’s article  ‘Best Practices Low Alcohol Brewing‘. They recommend a mashing temperature between 82-86°C, but that is for targeting under 1% ABV and I don’t need to go so low (2.5-3.5% would be around what I’m hoping for). I would be inclined to suspect tannin extraction would be an issue when mashing that high. I played it safer and went with a less extreme mash temp of 75° which is still 5 or 6°  higher than I’ve ever mashed before.

I also went with no sparge and a shorter 20 min boil. I could have got away with a short mash too but I was multi-tasking (cooking dinner) so it ended up been a longer mash.

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Session Pale Ale

Attempt at a lighter (by ABV) beer. Kept it in and served it from the Fermzilla. By some weird magic it didn’t require any CO2 for serving (after the original charge up to 15psi)! It held enough pressure to pour until the last drop. How did it maintain pressure? As it was a low gravity brew, I wouldn’t have expected any additional fermentation action generating more CO2. And it didn’t change in taste so no signs of any infection which could generate CO2. So this appears to have been a magical beer!

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Irish Red

I had a can of ‘Leprechaun’s Belle’ by Deep Creek and really liked it. Although it aims to be an ‘Irish Red’, I’d say it was much better than a typical Irish Red, more of a ‘craft beer’ take on the style. It’s a lot darker and more roasty so I reckon that it has more than the typical amount of roast barley. For my Irish Red recipe I went with a generous (for the style) amount of roast barley and a bit more than the typical amount of hops.

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MotCrossTai IPA

I thought the malty base of my previous beer, Hops Harvest 2022, was so good that I kept the grain bill exactly the same and paired it up with a trio of hops pellets –  Motueka, Southern Cross and Taiheke.

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Whiskey 2022

strike water: 22L @ 73.5°
mash start: 66°
mid mash: 65.5°
sparge water: 10L
30 L in fermentor (to the brim!)
OG: 1.084
No boil – left in fridge to cool

Fermented for 2 weeks (still had solid airlock activity in 2nd week)
FG: 0.999
ABV:  11.35%
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Hops Harvest 2022

This years fresh hops stew brewed with a total of 1.8kg (1.1 C, 0.7 N) of hops picked the night before. Hops measures for recipe divided by 5 to get approx weight in dry hops.

– Mash: start temp 68° (66.5° after 40mins), 1.5hrs
– 32L in kettle @ 1.053
– Added final hops over last 5 mins of boil (needed that amount of time to mix them in)
– 25min hops stand (100° -> 84°)
– OG: 1.062
– Chilled to 21° and further cooled in fridge
– Rehydrated yeast (29.5° -> 24°) and pitched @ ~ 16.5° est, set temp controller for 19°

Day 1 (Sun, 20/3) ~ 17°
Day 2 (Mon) ~ 18-19° – signs of fermentation, a little bit of pressure building
Day 3 (Tue) – 19° – up to almost 40psi!!! Spunding & pressure gauge were not properly seated. Hooked up keg to gas out. A bit of a mess up because the posts were not tight and sealed; it released too much pressure too quick so it foamed up and got some liquid into line and keg. Had to clean out keg and line before hooking up again. Back on track after extra clean up.
Day 4 (Wed) – pressure built back up to 30psi overnight, gradually reduced to 13psi
Day 5 (Th) – reduced to 11psi
Day 6-9 (Fri-Mon) – let temp rise to 20-20.5 and pressure up to 15psi
Cold crashed for ~1 week
Kegged on 11/04/22


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She’ll Be Right NZ Pilsner

Last minute thrown together recipe, hence the name.

20 Feb 2022 – Brew day
Mashed higher than planned due to low battery in thermometer causing it to stick on 74° when measuring strike water temp, but was a few degrees higher. Ended up mashing at around 71° – too high???? Gravity after mash 1.052 – pretty spot on, so conversion seems ok.

Added some of the post-boil hops after flameout and then dropped temp to 90° and added remainder and let stand for 20mins.

Chilled to 21.5° then transferred to fermenter and left in fridge overnight to reach 11° before pitching rehydrated yeast.

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Summer Hazy

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The Bruce Session NZPA

Based on my recent beer Zythos Session APA but with a few tweaks:

  • NZ hops blend (The Bruce) instead of US hops blend (Zythos)
  • 0.5kg more malt – 1kg of Vienna instead of 0.7kg and 0.2kg of Sour Grapes malt
  • German Vienna and Munich malt instead of NZ
  • Medium crystal instead of light crystal malt
  • Chill instead of no-chill
  • US-05 instead of Mangrove Jacks Empire Ale yeast
  • Fermented under pressure

Again I’m aiming for a lowish alcohol beer that tastes like full on APA, so mashed high at around 69°C (70-68°).

Here’s a blurb about “The Bruce”, an NZ hops blend created by Freestyle Hops:

The Bruce is a vibrant, aromatic and concentrated blend of Freestyle Hops created in honor of Bruce Eggers. To make The Bruce they’ve used early Nelson Sauvin, early Motueka, late Pacifica and mid Pacific Jade (that’s the picking times). The aroma has fresh gooseberry, citrus peel, ripe tropical fruit and orange blossom. When brewed, the complex aromatics remain true to rubbing.

Pressure ferment – I’ve now got a spunding valve so will attempt a pressure ferment.

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ZAPPA – A hazyish NZ/APA

Brewed this with Kveik yeast hotter than intended – got up to about 35°C! I had mistakenly left the temp probe OUTSIDE the frementation fridge and my hairdryer heat source was cranking up the temp for awhile before I noticed on first day of fermentation. I thought I had messed it up, but no, it turned out great! Kveik thrives at those high temperatures. With the combination of a warm Kveik ferment and half a kilo of oats in this, it naturally turned out quite hazy even though I wasn’t particularly planning to brew a hazy. But turned to be a very nice hoppy beer.

I re-introduced my immersion chiller for this one (instead of the usual no-chill) since it has a lot of hops – worked out well and found it wasn’t really any extra work.

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Riwaka Resurgence

Recipe kit from League of Brewers. Turned out very nice!

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Zythos Session APA

My plan here was to brew an APA/IPA with a lower ABV (around 4%) but tasting like a full-bodied tasty pale ale. I found a recipe on Brewer’s Coop that looked in line with what I had in mind so I went with it for the malt bill and used 200g of Zythos American hops blend and picked Mangrove Jack’s M15 – Empire Ale yeast for it’s lower attenuation. Being a recipe for a lower ABV beer, the grain bill is on the small side but features more flavoursome malts – Maris Otter, German Vienna and Munich malts, light crystal. Also included is half a kilo of flaked oats to add body and texture. I mashed high to help keep the finishing gravity on the higher side and leave more body with less alcohol production.

3/4 of the hops went in after flame-out. Because I’m doing a pressure ferment in the Fermzilla, I decided not to do any dry hops addition, Instead I did a ‘cube addition’, So the post flame=out hops were divided into 3 addition – right after flame-out, whirlpool addition after 10 mins hops rest followed by another 10 mins hops rest and finally the ‘cube addition’.

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Guinness Clone Mark 3

Same recipe as previously. The difference here was fermenting in my new Fermzilla fermenter. I had intended to do a pressure ferment but when I went to keg it, I discovered that there was no pressure in the Fermzilla – I had accidentally left the pressure release open! I did my first attempt at a (semi-)closed transfer from fermenter to keg. I pushed out some sanitiser out of the keg and gave it a bit of a purge. The pressure in the keg was enough to get the flow started and gravity took care of the rest. Transfer was fairly slow and came to a halt at one point. I noticed the sides of the Fermzilla were sucked inwards so I opened the pressure release and the flow started going again. So it wasn’t a totally closed transfer, for that one would need to feed some CO2 gas into the Fermzilla from fully purged and pressurized keg. But in any case I reckon the oxygen contact in this transfer would have been way lower than the usual open transfer with auto-siphon.

Marchfest IPA (based on Cameron’s)

Brewed at Marchfest, based on an IPA I had at Cameron’s place. His used Nectaron hops which was not available at LOB so I used Amarillo which was on the original recipe that he sent me.

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Cry Me A Loral, APA

I cobbled this recipe together while picking out some ingredients from the League Of Brewers website in a bit of a rush so that I could pick up the ingredients before they closed on Saturday. I hadn’t brewed in about 3 months and both my kegs had run dry and I even finished my last bottles of pale ale the night previous so I needed to get some beer brewed quick. I was going for a middle of the road American Pale Ale – decently hoppy but not a big beer. I went with about 5kg of malt and mashed high to help keep finishing gravity a bit higher and alcohol a bit lower.

For hops I went with 100g of Zythos American hops blend and 100g of Loral Cryo Hops – Lupulin N2 pellets! Cryo Hops contain concentrated Lupulin and are close to double the potency of regular hops pellets, so they should have a big impact on the beer. As a result of the concentration, these Lorals packed a massive alpha value of 23.2%. I used half of them them at flame-out and in the cube and reserved the other half for dry hopping. Most of the Zythos went into the boil, flame-out and cube with just a tiny amount left for dry-hopping. I had intended to reserve more for dry-hopping but the bloody scales I was using must have been a bit error prone!

Loral Aroma Profile:
The aroma profile of Loral™ has been described as a “super noble hop” with its wonderful floral and herbal notes followed by a backdrop of citrus and earthy character. A touch of sweet fruity aroma rounds out this well-balanced hop. In beer, the floral notes are accentuated yet complemented nicely by fruity and citrus with just a hint of herbal. Don’t expect an in-your-face fruity character with Loral™ as seen with some recent U.S. variety releases – this hop is approachable and balanced. Great for distinctive IPAs and pale ales but perfect for sessionable and lager-style beers.

Zythos hops:
Created by Hopunion LLC, Zythos® is a proprietary hop blend created specifically with IPA’s in mind. It features notes and aromas of tangerine, grapefruit, pine and even pineapple. Its high alpha acid content means it can be useful for bittering but is largely intended to shine as an aroma hop.

Fermentation Notes:
Started off at 18C and allowed to go to around 19C. On day 3 the temp probe which was taped to fermenter came off and was sitting outside the fridge. As a result the fridge kept cranking all day long and beer was was cooled down to zero or below but I caught it before it actually froze and let it slowly warm back up to fermentation temps and fermentation carried on. I’m not expecting any ill effects other than about a 2 day delay in the fermentation process. Dry hopped on day 6.

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Mosaic & Nectaron Red IPA

Grain bill based in LOB Red Rooster/Little Red Rooster

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The Big Squeeze NEIPA

I named this beer from the big squeeze I had to do to the brew bag to get the juice out! All that oats and flaked wheat sure retains a lot of water and requires some extra effort to squeeze out the liquid. This beer has a similar malt bill to my 2018 NEIPA just with the exception of 0.25kg of pale ale malt swapped for 0.25kg of flaked barley. The hops bill and yeast is different though. I had a Southpaw ‘Say Hey Kid’ IPA recently when I was in Christchurch and I really liked it – thought it was a perfect hoppy IPA for my tastes (or actually more like APA since it’s more hops forward and not so bitter). So I went with the hops that they use – Amarillo, Waimea and Moutre. I don’t know their ratios but I used 100g of each. I did a small first wort addition, a small 5 min addition and the bulk of the hops post flame-out. For yeast I went with S-04 as that is a popular dried yeast choice for NEIPAs. Fermentation action was well underway within 12 hours of pitching re-hydrated yeast.

Dry hopped after 4 days, just after primary fermentation slowed down. Reserved second charge of dry hops for the keg.

Early transfer to keg after 1 week in primary. Fermentation was still visibly active upon transfer. The beer was quite thick and sludgy, slow to siphon. The early transfer / secondary fermentation in keg may help with reduction of oxidation since still active but a concern is that there may be too much trub in keg. Fingers crossed that there will be no blockages when pouring. I added a second dose of dry hops to keg in a mesh bag with spoon to weight it down (it still appeared to float near top while transferring, but I think it should sink.) I’m not set up for closed transfer yet but I purged the keg with CO2 before transfer to help reduce oxygen exposure.

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M&M Session Pale Ale

My plan here was to brew a lowish ABV beer that I could drink plenty of without too much consequence. Initially I was thinking maybe 3% ABV or even lower but then I decided to aim more for around the 4% mark as it’s easier to make a decent tasting beer at that level. However my efficiency turned out much better than expected and I ended up with an OG of 1.047 instead of the 1.041 that my recipe calculator forecast. So it’s looking pretty close to ‘normal’ PA levels.

To maximise flavour in a low ABV beer I went with Munich malt as the main base malt to get a bit more malt flavour from the small malt bill. I mashed high (70C) to get more unfermentable sugars from the mash and reduce alcohol while maintaining body. I kept the mash shortish, 30 mins. I noticed much more heat loss than usual with the thin mash so although starting the mash at around 70C, it ended up in the low 60s.

M&M = Munich & Mosaic

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Dry Irish Stout Mark II

A second attempt at a Guinness style Dry Irish Stout. The one I brewed at Marchfest went down well and fast so I just had to do another one to refill the keg. Pretty much the same recipe as the Marchfest one apart from an extra 100g of base malt, but I crushed the grains again myself to get better efficiency from the mash. It made a big difference in the extraction and I came out with a gravity of 1.050 compared to 1.040 on the Marchfest one. So the beer came out stronger than planned at 4.85% ABV whereas the other one was weaker than planned (around 4.0% ABV). Another tweak was to cut down on the amount of lactic acid – I went with 2ml instead of 4ml. Still could taste it it so I think I would reduce even further next time for an even more subtle lactic bite.

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