Mar
24
2014

Marchfest Waimea Saison

Taking part in the Marchfest Brew Zone brewing demonstrations

Taking part in the Marchfest Brew Zone demonstrations

I brewed this at the Marchfest Nelson Beer Festival where I was one of twelve brewers brewing up a batch of beer in the Brew Zone brewing demonstration area. What a great day out that was! I really enjoyed chatting and sharing my knowledge with the people interested in home brewing.

The Waimea hops were assigned to me at random as the theme of this Marchfest was a random hops draw. We had the range of Mangrove Jacks dried yeasts to choose from. I picked M27, a Belgian Ale/Saison yeast strain, since I figured we’d be dealing with warmer temperatures and lacked a temperature controled enviornment for the beer’s first night. So that lead to me trying out the Saison style for the first time. This style ferments out to a very low gravity – some sugar is included in the ingredients to assist with that goal and fermenting temperature is very warm (from high 20s up to 32C).

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Mar
21
2014

2014 Hops Harvest Ale No. 2

I should have called this brew Hops Stew!!!  1.75kg of fresh hops in this brew – pure hop madness! I had to work hard just shove all those hops into the kettle, stuffing them down into the thick hops/wort porridge either side of the imerssion cooler coils. No bag this time, there is no way I could have fitted them in if I used a bag in the kettle due to the constriction of the wort chiller. Instead I sanitised the bag in starsan and used it to line the fermenter when I dumped in the hoppy wort, then pulled out the bag to remove the hops material. Of course there was a serious amount of the precious hoppy wort soaked into the large volume of hops cones so I had to get a bit unorthodox and get my hands (washed in starsan) involved to squeeze out the wort which I added back into the fermenter.

I was a little concerned at the lenght of time my rehydrated yeast was sitting for before pitching (it had started to expand), so in addition to the rehydrated yeast I sprinked some more dry yeast on the wort as a fermentation insurance policy.

I racked it to secondary carboy after 5 days because I needed my main 30L fermenter for the Marchfest brew up, gravity was already down to 1.012.

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Mar
04
2014

Craft brewers to share secret to a good pint

The following article appeared in the Nelson Mail newspaper on 4th March 2014. It’s about the upcoming Marchfest beer festival, where I’ll be one of 12 home brewers giving a home brewing demonstration.

Marchfest-homebrewers

The home brewers who will be doing brewing demonstrations at Marchfest 2014 (I’m 3rd from left)

In what might be described as a beer lover’s heaven, 12 home brewers will make beers simultaneously at Nelson’s MarchFest.

Organiser Mike Stringer isn’t sure if it has been done before but he’s not short of volunteers.

While the craft beer and music festival will have 16 regional craft breweries offering their beers to festivalgoers at Founders Heritage Park, the 12 home brewers will show enthusiasts there how they, too, can make good beers.

Mr Stringer said he started out using a homebrew kit and it was only when he searched on the internet trying to get better results that he saw others taking brewing to the next level.

“Some people are used to what their old man did or what they did at university unaware that they can take a different approach. We’re trying to get that awareness out there.

“If you really get into it you can spend thousands on equipment but you can just as easily and effectively improvise solutions and still make fantastic craft beer,” he said.

Eleven Nelson home brewers will each do an all-grain brew, using malt, barley and hops in the same sort of process that commercial breweries use, and another will do a partial mash using a malt extract, some grain, adding hops then doing a mini-boil.

Mr Stringer will also demonstrate making beer using fresh wort kits from Mapua’s Golden Bear Brewery.

At the last MarchFest he and a few others demonstrated home brewing and had beer enthusiasts dropping by looking for ideas on how to get started and find out what was involved.

This time the home brewers will be in the centre of the event by the Granary with their demonstration going between noon and 4.30pm.

He said home brewing was growing in popularity.

“It’s incredibly popular and getting more so. We have Nelson as the craft brewing capital in New Zealand, and people are well aware hops are grown in this region.

“The fact I am able to put a shout out asking 12 people to go to the effort of bringing their kit and making a brew shows how keen they are to share their knowledge.”

MarchFest, Saturday, March 22, Founders Heritage Park, information and tickets online marchfest.com

Feb
24
2014

2014 Hops Harvest No. 1

My mash temperature started off lower than anticipated. My strike water temperature was 71C but my mash ended up around 62-63C instead of the 65-66 I had expected based on the calculator. So I added 1.5L of boiling water after 15 mins which brought it up to 64.5C and another 1.5L after 60mins which again brought it back to 64.5C. I gave it a long mash time of 110 mins. Temp was 63.5C at end of mash. The lower temperature longer mash should result in a highly fermentable wort which, accourding to the theory, will help enhance the hops flavours.

I used a bag to facilitate removal of spent hops flowers. The bag was restricted to a small area inside the wort chiller. I’m wondering if this overly restricted their movement in the boling wort and reduced amount of oils extracted into the wort? I’m trying to think of a better approach. Last year I dumped them straight into the boil and strained them out when transferring into the fermenter. It took awhile dealing with the sheer volume of hops material so may not have ben most ideal solution. Maybe next time sanatise the grain bag, and insert into fermentor, then pour in wort and lift out hops? Definately worth a try!

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Feb
11
2014

Restrained APA

The last 2 beers were intense hoppy IPAs with quite dark malts so for this one I went for something lighter along the lines of the APA recipes in Brewing Classic Styles. I kept hops basic with NZ Cascade for flavour and aroma and Pacific Gem for bittering. I had to restrain myself to only put in 100g of hops into this batch (the last 2 had more like 300g per batch), hence the name ‘Restrained APA’. This is my first beer brewed with my new gear – I’ve moved from the kitchen to out on the deck with a propane burner and 50L pot. My BIAB bag was made for a smaller pot but it did the job fine. In fact I found it an advantage having a smaller bag when it came to sparging in a smaller second pot.

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Jan
14
2014

Working Title IPA II

My last batch turned out so good that I decided to make more of the same, but of course I had to make a few tweaks. Hop profile is modified a bit, I scaled back on the Citra a bit to allow some of the other hops to come through more. I also upped the Rye malt to see if I can notice what it does. And I took the extra step of rehydrating the yeast instead of sprinkling it dry.

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Jan
07
2014

Alas, no plum wine this year either!

After having my crop of plums demolished by the birds (and my procrastination) last year I was determined to harvest enough plums this year to make another batch of plum wine. So as the plums were starting to ripen I had the idea of putting up some netting over part of the tree that I could access by climbing up the tree. Unfortunately I decided to take action on this idea after a few ciders had diminished my sense of caution. So up into the tree I climbed with netting in hand. I was up fairly high in the tree, about 15 ft, and I attempted to cross over onto another limb. As I committed to cross over, the stump of a branch that I placed my foot on gave way and down I went. Time slowed during the fall, it felt like a couple of seconds, enough time to think oh shit this not going to be good and how stupid of me. I whacked my back on a wooden fence before hitting the ground. I didn’t hit my head so remained concious and was able to call out for help but unable to move although, to my relief, I could wiggle my toes. I got taken by ambulance to the emergency department and spent the night in hospital. Fortunately there were no obvious serious internal injuries or bone breakages so I came off lucky from what could have been a whole lot worse. So the birds got all the plums again this year. Maybe next year I’ll come up with a safer strategy to beat the birds to them.

Jan
07
2014

Working Title IPA

This was a cobbled together kinda recipe. I chucked in a tin of Coopers instead of struggeling with a larger mash/boil size on my limited equipment capabilities. I have some Rye malt to experiment with so I just added a very small amount to see if it would do anything noticible, maybe impart a hint of spiciness. I used pilsner malt as the base grain because I have a quantity of it on hand. I went with fruity hops, Cascade, Citra, Nelson Sauvin, Motueaka. I used the Citra more sparingly this time as I learned from my Citra Pale Ale that Citra can be quite over-bearing.

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Aug
24
2013

Southern Cross Pilsner

This was my first time doing a lager. I mashed for 8o mins because a longer mash time is recommended at lower mash temperatures. Temperature at start of mash was 65.7C and at end was 63.9C with no heating during mash.

Did a 90 min boil instead of the usual 60 since pilsner malt needs extra boil time to help reomve DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) which is more of an issue in pilsner malts as they are kilned at a lower temperature.

This was also my first time rehydrating dry yeast. Normally I just sprinkle the dry yeast directly on the wort. Yeast count is more critical for cooler temperature fermentations so I decided to give rehydration below. I rehydrated in cooled boiled water at around 37C. I had read an online guide to rehydration suggesting to rehydrate at 40C but not over 40 as it kills the yeast. After I was done and dusted I checked the Fermentis spec sheet and noticed they recommended a much lower 23C for rehydrating S23 – quite a big difference! That got me a bit concerned but fermentation was active the next day – sooner than for most ales that I’ve done – so all looks to be fine. Next time I stay closer to manufacturers recommended rehydration temperature.

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Aug
17
2013

Citra Pale Ale

This is my first brew with my new BIAB setup. I went for a small batch as a sort of trial run.

I intended to dry hop this beer but forgot. Anyway it had plenty of hop character at bottling.

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Aug
17
2013

Hops Harvest Ale

Brewed with fresh picked green hops. Came third in Nelson SOBA Homebrew comp.

I used a lot of hops so there was a lot of wort absorbed into the hops. As a result target gravity came out considerably less than calculated. But still ended up being one of my better beers.

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Feb
14
2013

Slutty Red III

My third variation on the Slutty Red recipe. I dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin instead of Motueka this time.

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Dec
27
2012

Brown Porter

A variation of the Brown Porter recipe in Brewing Classic Styles

 

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Dec
09
2012

A bad batch, a good batch and a change of plan

My Amarillo Ale is not tasting good so far, it has a harsh astringent taste, not really drinkable, at least at the moment. I did get a bit of this type of taste from the Hope Ale that I brewed previously, but with a bit of time that taste disappeared and beer became quite good (actually managed to get a bronze award in a local homebrew competition). In this case though it is much more severe, but still I’m not dumping it yet, I’ll give it a chance to see if time will heal it. I had one of the more experienced local homebrewers who is also a beer judge try a sample and she thinks it may be an infection. She also detected something in the Hope Ale so we came to the conclusion that my harvested yeast may have been to blame. The yeast I pitched in the Amarillo Ale was harvested from the Hope Ale. So, for the moment, I’m giving up on the yeast harvesting and sticking with new packets of yeast for each batch.

On a more positive note, I have high hopes for the batch that I bottled last night, a dark IPA that I call Shot In the Dark. It tasted quite amazing at bottling time, roasty, malty and hoppy all at the same time. The dark malts hide the hops a bit because there was a hell of a lot of hops in it but it didn’t taste super hoppy to me, just hoppy. I’m looking forward to trying it again in 3 weeks time.

I’ve been busier than usual with the beer production. After bottling last night, tonight I brewed up another batch. I had a porter planned, recipe and ingredients all ready to go. But at the last minute I decided I had a more urgent need to knock out another Skinny Blonde. Summer is upon us and this is just such a great thirst quenching summer beer, the porter can wait.

Dec
09
2012

Skinny Blonde II

I was all set to brew a porter but after downing one of the last few bottles of the original Skinny Blonde I figured I need to make some more of this easy drinking, fast disappearing, beer for the summer. As I liked it so much the way it was, I decided not to change much. The only changes are base malt is Golden Promise instead of Marris Otter and Pilsner malts, DME instead of LME, add a little bit of Carapils, and skip the dry hop addition but put the extra hops in the flameout addition instead. I’ve stuck with the single hops variety, Motueka, which tastes very nice in this.

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Dec
09
2012

Shot In The Dark

With this recipe I’m shooting for some roasty flavours from the chocolate malt combined with the hoppiness of an IPA. The style is sometimes known as Black IPA but that’s a bit of an oxymoron and it’s got bugger all to do with India so I prefer to simply call it a Dark Hoppy Ale (DHA if you prefer acronyms).

In researching this beer I found that there are 2 different schools of thought to making a Black IPA:

  1. use a dark grain such as dehusked carafa to turn an IPA black (in essence primarilly for the colouring effect)
  2. use more roasty dark grains such as chocolate malt whose flavors come though in the final beer

The former approach seems to be more popular as you can get it to taste more like a traditional IPA but I was more drawn to the latter approach as I don’t see much point in making it black in colur only. I was interested in how the hops flavours would combine with the roasty malt flavours. This is my first attempt at a beer like this and I’m not following any tried and tested recipe, hence the name Shot In The Dark.

NOTE: The recipe below is for a half batch (12L)

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Nov
16
2012

Amarillo Ale

On this recipe I went for a very small amount of bittering hops (only 5g at 60 mins and 5g at 30 mins), with fairly high amounts of late hops contributing more IBUs. My goal was a hops dominent beer with low levels of bitterness.

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Aug
23
2012

Freedom Of Information Act Invoked For Obama’s Beer Recipe

Did you know that they brew their own beer at the White House? The beers include White House Honey Ale, White House Honey Porter and White House Honey Blonde Ale. All three use honey from Michelle Obama’s White House garden.

A home brewer has formally requested recipes for the beers made by White House staff under the Freedom Of Information Act. Here’s a copy of the request: Continue Reading »

Aug
13
2012

First All Grain

I just finished my first attempt at an all-grain brew tonight. The process was similar to my partial mash process except no malt extract was used. Due to the restrictions of brewing on top of my stove and available pots, I went for a smaller batch volume of 13 litres. I think it all went fine but the proof will be in the drinking. It will be very interesting to compare this with my previous partial mash batch which was a similarly hopped pale ale.

I mashed 3kg of grain, which I crushed in my converted pasta maker grain mill, in a bag in my 20L pot with 9 litres of water. I was shooting for a mash temp of 68C but the temp had actually crept up into the low 70s by the end of the mash due to me leaving the inner ring on at the lowest setting. Next time I’ll leave it off and see how well the pot holds the temp wrapped in a towel and ski jacket.

I batch sparged in my 12L pot with 7 litres of water poured over the top of the grain in the bag. Then I mixed the runnings in the 20L pot and got about 14 litres. I split these between 2 pots for the boil. My SG was 1.049, giving me a brewhouse efficiency of around 73% which I believe is quite decent for this type of mashing process.

I had a little bit of trouble getting a good rolling boil in my 20L pot as the bottom of the pot has a concave center which I think makes it much less efficient on the ceramic electric stovetop. Later on in the boil, when the volumes had reduced, I ended up ditching it altogether and putting the extra wort into another 5L pot.

I cooled in ice water. It took 30 minutes to get it down to 16.5C, so I overshot a bit (22C would have been fine) and didn’t actually need to spend quite as long cooling.

I ended up with about 11L in the fermentor after evaporation loss so I topped it up with cold water to my 13L target. After giving it a good shaking to aerate, I pitched the US05 yeast that I had harvested from the previous batch.

Fermentation got off to a quick start – the airlock was bubbling and krausen had formed as soon as I checked it in the morning.

See the recipe and specs here.

Aug
12
2012

Nelmot NZ Pale Ale

This is my first attempt at an all-grain brew. Read about it here.

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