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.

Feb
22
2012

Working my way through a 28kg bucket of malt extract!

I found a local guy in Nelson that sells home brewing ingredients, Bill Fennell (website – ThatBeerPlace.com). I had a look through is his lists of supplies and the bulk malt extract caught my attention because it cost a fraction of what I usually pay for malt. The only snag was that it came in such large quantities, 28kg of malt extract is a lot of homebrewing! And liquid malt extract needs to be used up while it’s fresh so it’s not ideal to leave it hanging about for many months. Too much malt for me to handle in a short timeframe I thought.

Then some friends of mine decided to get into home brewing after tasting some of my beer. So I figured if we split a bucket between us it would be doable to use it up while it’s still fresh. Four batches each would see it all used up. So we ordered a bucket of Maltexo All Malt Light. I have 2 new batches in the fermentors now so I’m half way through my half. Here’s what I have brewing: Continue Reading »

Dec
04
2011

Time to ramp up production!

I slacked off on the brewing during the winter, it seemed like I had an endless supply built up, but that ‘endless supply’ dwindled and was gone and I was spurred back into brewing action in October, brewing Batch #8. Then I brewed up Batch #9 last weekend, my first partial mash. But the thirsty days of summer are upon us already and so I had to do something about the pace of production. So time came to recommission my old extra fermenter, which I picked up earlier in the year to brew a sugar wash for distilling and a feijoa wine. And now for the first time I’ve got 2 fermenters going at the same time. Here’s what I’ve got brewing: Continue Reading »

Oct
18
2011

A review of my first 7 brews

I’ve documented the process of making my beers here but haven’t yet reported on how they all turned out so it’s high time for a bit of a review.

Batch 1 – Kit Brew – Mangrove Jacks Munich Lager

A special one because it was my first, but actually I think it was one of the best, if not the best, of the 4 kit brews that I’ve done. As with most kit lagers this is a ‘pseudo-lager’ as it’s brewed with an ale yeast, so, although not true to style, it is still a good beer and got very good reviews from friends who tasted it. Being a kit brew it is lightly hopped but none-the-less very tasty.

see also: process writeup, tasting writeup

Batch 2 – Kit Brew – Blackrock East India Pale Ale

This kit would disappoint anyone looking for an IPA because it is most definitely not an IPA in style. It is more like a lightly hopped kit pseudo-lager than an IPA. I brewed it with beer enhancer and made it up to 18 litres instead of the usual 23 litres to make it more concentrated. I would describe it as more malty than hoppy and none of the bitterness you would expect from an IPA. That said, it still was a good tasty beer, just a bit daft that they call it an IPA.

see also: brew night writeup, mishap writeup

Batch 3 – Extract Brew with Speciality Grains – All Cascade APA

My first attempt at extract brewing was a real winner. It tasted like a good beer that you would get from a micro-brewery. I think this might just be my favorite one to-date.

see also: recipe writeup, brew night writeup

Continue Reading »

Oct
17
2011

Batch No. 8 – Cascade & Amarillo American Pale Ale

Despite being over 6 months since I brewed an extract batch, brew night went more smoothly and efficiently than any of the previous extract brews that I’ve done (I must be getting the hang of this home brewing thing!).

This time I used the blender to grind up my steeping grain (Crystal 60) – not totally ideal as it gives an uneven grind (pulverises some of the grains and leaves others almost untouched), but I reckon good enough for steeping grains and a lot faster than pounding with a pestle.

The other interesting thing this time is that I uesd yeast that I harvested 6 months ago. It’s stretching it a bit in terms of how long yeast stored in the fridge is good for. I prepared a starter Friday night with the intention of brewing Saturday night but come Saturday there was no signs of any action out of the yeast. Continue Reading »

Feb
22
2011

Batch No. 5 – Nelson Amber Ale

I’m calling this one ‘Nelson Amber Ale‘ because it features Nelson Sauvin hops and I’m brewing it in Nelson. I used the handy Kit & Extract Beer Designer spreadsheet to work out the recipe quantities. It’s basically in the style of an American Pale Ale or an American Amber Ale, but more towards amber than pale since I used all amber malt plus a little medium crystal steeped grains. I used US-05 yeast harvested from batch no. 3. Fermentation started very quickly, within a few hours, and is still amazingly active – it’s been bubbling like crazy for 3 days.

Here’s the recipe: Continue Reading »

Jan
14
2011

Third Batch Fermenting – first foray into hops and grains

This one is going to be interesting, I’ve got my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. That’s because when I tasted the wort, it was a bit, well, scary. I totally realise this may not mean anything but the wort from my previous two batches actually tasted good but this time I tossed out my OG samples after a little taste. But the first two batches were pre-hopped kits so it might not be a good comparison. This time the wort was very bitter and had a very concentrated hops taste. So I’m hoping this is normal and that the fermentation process will turn it into a nice tasty American Pale Ale. Otherwise I’ll probably be more inclined to stick with the pre-hopped kits, they are a lot less work and I have already got great results – my first batch is a very nice drop and it hasn’t even fully aged yet. Continue Reading »

Jan
06
2011

My very first bottle of my own beer!

This evening I cracked open my first bottle from my first batch (Mangrove Jacks Munich Lager). All I can say is WOW, I’m impressed. This hobby is going to be with me for a long time. I’ve had some previews of what it might taste like – all those SG samples, and my mate Andy’s batch of the same beer. And it was nothing like any of them. The gravity samples were interesting and I actually enjoyed them but they were heavy from all that yeast (not to mention flat and warm). I found Andy’s batch kinda like a good malty lager – I compared it to a Macs Gold. But my was nothing like a Macs Gold, it was much more crisp and bitter, more along the lines of a Steinlager Classic only much more dry and bitter. I think if there was any complaint it would be that it is overly bitter, but I like bitter and I think that will mellow a bit with age. Interestingly my wife commented that she liked it but it seemed a bit one-dimensional to her and I think I know what she means – I reckon it’s because it’s so crisp, dry and bitter. (In all honesty I think the fact that I brewed it myself adds a bit to my enjoyment of it.) But it is also much more of a lager type beer than I thought it would be, having brewed it with the kit standard ale yeast and considering that it’s looking a bit darker/redder than typical lager. Continue Reading »

Jan
03
2011

Planning my first extract batch

I am now planning my 3rd batch with batch 1 bottled and batch 2 still in the fermentor. I have yet to taste any finished beer but it is time to get prepared to brew my next batch. (As I mentioned in the previous post, brewing beer is a bit like growing a garden). And my next batch will be another step in the learning process as I take on an extract batch. The difference between extract brewing and kit brewing is that you use unhopped malt extract and do a boil to add in bittering and finishing hops at different times during the boil. I will also use some speciality grains to add an additional dimension and fresh flavour to the beer. Continue Reading »

Dec
27
2010

A new batch brewing

Brewing beer is a bit like growing a garden – it takes time, so you need to plan ahead and then wait patiently for the fruits of your labour. So even though I’ve just bottled 20 litres of beer, it will be weeks before it’s ready for drinking and months before it reaches it’s prime, so in the meantime I’ve got to sow the seeds for next batch. While my first batch was fermenting I had already purchased supplies for my second batch. I went to Bin Inn (the only place in Nelson that sells home brewing supplies) to pick out something to brew next and got a can of Blackrock East India Pale Ale and some BrewCraft beer enhancer (English Bitter No. 70).

The night after bottling batch 1, I got to work on getting my IPA kit brewing. Despite having absorbed a lot more information and tips about brewing since the first time around, it did not exactly go as smooth as I’d hoped. Continue Reading »

Dec
23
2010

First batch of home brewed beer – from can to bottles

I just bottled my first batch of home brew the other night, a lager made from a kit – Mangroves Jacks Munich Lager. Actually technically it is probably an ale as it was brewed with ale yeast but as long as it tastes good who cares what it’s called. And I have tasted it, and I can tell you that even at this premature stage it actually tastes quite nice. I even had a glass of it while I was bottling and I’ve also tasted all my hydrometer samples – yum! Definitely an incentive to take lots of readings. After the bottles have carbonated and conditioned for a few weeks, I’ll get to taste the final product. If it tastes this good already, I reckon it should be pretty damn good by then!

Brewing from a kit is very easy but there are so many different ways of doing things that it can get confusing, especially for a beginner with a perfectionist streak who wants to get the best results. Continue Reading »