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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Home Hops Ale

This year I didn’t have time to brew when my hops came ready so I picked them and dried them and then stuck them in the freezer until I was ready to brew with them. Malt bill was just base malt – Gladfield Pale Ale malt. It came out good and disappeared pretty fast!

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Dry Irish Stout

Brewed in Brew Zone at Marchfest 2020. Grain crush looked very coarse but didn’t inspect closely until had mashed in and wet the grains, so it was hard to tell exactly how bad it was. But efficiency was unusually poor. OG came out at 1.040 instead of target 1.043. (I had measured it at 1.051 but that was a false reading obtained from the bottom of the boil kettle after transferring the out wort. Then added 2 litres water to dilute – not a great move in hindsight). So I think I’m looking at ending up less than 4% ABV. Effect of lower gravity on bitterness will be to increase IBUs. Could end up more bitter than desirable.

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Rye Pale Ale 2020

I brewed two batches of this recipe, one for Cameron and one for myself.

My one came out pretty good but not quite as good as the one I did for Cam if memory of my tasting of it serves me well. I definitely can get the hint of ‘coconut’ from the Sabro hops and it doesn’t really rock my boat so I’m not sold on Sabro. But it was a decent APA style beer none-the-less.

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2020 Red IPA

Adapted from an extract recipe I got from my mate Dave, who got it from Dan Hags. Got water additions from another red IPA – League of Brewer’s ‘The Rooster‘ recipe. Interestingly gypsum and calcium chloride were added to boil rather than mash as mash pH is taken care of with acidulated malt. I also added a little citric acid to the sparge water in lieu of lactic acid. I’ve read it can add a slight citrus flavour which can be a positive if not overdone. I think this would not go astray in in this beer given the citrusy notes in the hops bill. I did no-chill on this one, i.e. put hot wort in a sealed container (cube) and left to cool overnight and next day. Before transferring to the cube, I let it cool naturally to around 85° before I added the whirlpool hops so as not to extract excessive bitterness while the wort slow cooled over night.

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Plum Wine 2020

13.75 kg plums
4 L water
3 kg sugar
Mangrove Jacks MA33 yeast
5 tsp pectinase
22g wine yeast nutriant
2 yeast activator tablets
3 campden tablets
3/4 tsp tannin powder

11.3 kg of fruit from big tree. Most of this had been picked for quite a few days and getting a bit soft. Picked additional 2.45 kg plums from small tree. This freshly picked fruit was firm. Placed fruit in 50L kettle with bazooka screen attached. Added 4 L boiling water and 3 crushed campden tablets. Took lazy approach – did not wash, cut or de-stone the fruit. In hindsight it may have been wise to cut up the firmer fruit. Left overnight.

Added 5 tsp pectinase and wine nutrient.

Added sugar, tannin and 2 crushed yeast activator tablets. Pitched rehydrated yeast (even though it said on packet that no rehydration required). Chose MA33 because it said ‘acid reducing strain’ and have previous plum wine seems to have been overly acidic.

Yeast Notes:
MA33 – Acid reducing strain excellent for fruity country wines – MA33 has the ability to metabolise between 30 and 35% of malic acid, and reduce total titratable acidity, making it the perfect choice for country fruits which are naturally high in acid. It is conferring fresh ‘soft fruit’ character to the wine. Ideal for early consumption with a balanced palate. Alcohol Tolerance 14% ABV. Ferment at 18 – 28°C.

Used chaptalization calculator to figure out how much sugar to add. Had added 850g earlier on. Checked brix at 12.5. Aiming for brix of around 23, so with volume of 18L needed to add another 2.15 kg (for a total of 3kg) to get it up to around 23. Granulated doesn’t dissolve and mix instantly in the must so not easy to measure the brix right after addition of sugar.

Transferred to glass carboy. SG was 1.032. Probably should have checked SG before transferring and waited until it was nearly done. Tasted good. Did not add campden tablet upon transfer – (it may have interrupted the fermentation?). But did accidentally interrupt fermentation by turning fridge on but with temp probe outside the fridge. But after turning off fridge it was back to fermenting within a day.

Removed approx 1.5L from carboy. SG was 1.000. Tasted sharp, dry and and harsh. Back-sweetened with 8 tsp sugar. This took it up to SG of 1.011.

Est OG: 1.094
FG: 1.000
Est ABV: 12.3%

Tips for next time

  1. Cut the fruit, especially if it is firm
  2. Use more sugar so that there is more residual sugar left at end and avoid need to back-sweeten. Maybe aim for a higher Brix than 23. Dissolve sugar to aid mixing with must and measuring of Brix.

American Pale Ale

Got some advise from Michael Rhodes at LOB to calculate water additions and make a few other tweaks to the recipe (add a little sour grapes malt to adjust PH and reshuffle the hops additions a little – get rid of 10min addition). I did a flame-out addition which I let sit for 5 minutes, then cooled to 85C and did another addition which I let sit for 20 mins before continuing with cooling the wort.

Water additions
Gypsum: 13g
Calcium Chloride: 3g

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Black Gold (an iStout Clone)

A Russian Imperial Stout following the 8 Wired iStout recipe which came directly from the brewer. Soren Eriksson gave the full recipe specs on The Brewing Network’s ‘Can You Brew It’ podcast (3 Jan 2011). I used a can of light malt extract to provide some of the fermentables and keep my grain bill to a reasonable 8kg. Also worked out really well using some of it as a starter to build up the yeast count from a single packet of US-05. Original gravity came in a little lower (harder to get the usual efficiency with the bigger, higher gravity brews), but still had a pretty decent OG of 1.098. The unhopped wort tasted delicious! Did no-chill (overnight cool in sealed vessel). Poring it into the fermenter next morning, it had a look and consistency of thick black oil, so I’m calling it ‘Black Gold’. The beer tasted great at bottling. My biggest beer brewed to date!

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Motueka Pale Ale

First beer for the keg! Overly bitter but drinkable. Made using almost 500g of dried whole leaf Motueka hops from Marchfest brew zone. Made a hop tea for dry hopping – I suspect this may have been cause of the harsh bitterness. Won’t do hop tea again.

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Fresh Hops Ale

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