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.

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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Fresh Hops Pilsner

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Marchfest Porter

Brewed at MarchFest 2019 along with Karl Summerfield. The recipe was a slightly modified version of ‘Nick Danger Porter’ by Denny Conn (celebrity home-brewer and brewing author who was one of the speakers at NZHC 2018).

One new technique I tried out here was ‘No Chill’. Since we were just after experiencing a drought and were under water restrictions I though it would be appropriate to help conserve water and give No Chill a go. Not only does it save water but it saves on time and clean up so if this beer works out ok, I think No Chill might become a regular part of my brewing process.

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Reddish iPA

I took some influence from the Red IPA that I brewed back in October 2018 but was going for something a little bit lighter in colour, bitterness and AVB. I also took some influence from the recently brewed NE IPA and Lazy Hazy by including some of my new favorite hops – Mosaic. Is it a Pale Ale? Is it an IPA? Is it a Red IPA? I think it’s somewhere in the fuzzy area where these pseudo-styles overlap, so let’s call it Reddish iPA! (note the lower-case ‘i’)

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New England IPA

Equanot lupulin powder! 25% oats!

Lazy Hazy, which was loosely based on the delicious hazy IPA that I had at Cameron’s, turned out great and got demolished in record time so I decided to have another go at it. But this time I followed the recipe specs a bit more closely. I originally couldn’t get my head around 25% oats in the grain bill so went with a more restrained 9%. This time though, now knowing that the recipe was supposed to be in the New England IPA style, I took a chance on the original recipe specs and went with 1.75kg oats instead of the original 0.5kg. I also upped the flaked wheat a little and the pale malt, so with an extra 1.6kg of grain, this will be a bigger beer.

I tasted the sparge runnings and it was the nicest tasting wort I’ve tasted! Normally wort is a ok for a few sips but, seriously, I could drink this wort by the pint! And it was so silky from all those oats.

The hops too have been upped significantly. I loved the Mosaic in the Lazy Hazy but this time I also added Chinoook and Equanot which were actually in the original spec (although not in Cameron’s version). The Equanot came in the form of lupulin powder so I made a paste and mixed it with water (to prevent clumping) and added it at flame out. With the equivalent of 300g of pellets, the total hops has been increased by 130g so I’m expecting this to be a big hitter!

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Lazy Hazy

Inspired by Cameron’s Hazy IPA, this is a mid-strength (5-ish %) version featuring Mosaic hops and using up some Nelson and Waimea that I already had.

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Marchfest Kaffir Chili Saison

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Hops Harvest 2018

Over 2kg or wet hops, the entire harvest, ploughed into one batch of beer in hopes that it will be ‘hoppy’!

Brewing notes:

  1. Big mess-up! I forgot to install the bazooka screen in the kettle (for filtering the finished wort off the hops) before the mash. To recover from this situation I had to transfer the almost boiling wort into an empty fermentor, install the bazooka screen and transfer the wort back into the kettle and bring back up to the boil. It cost me an hour extra in the brewing process plus added risk of hot side aeration which I hope I mitigated by pouring as gently as I could.
  2. Batch sparging the grain was made a bit difficult by the size of the grain bill (almost 8.5kg). Definately the upper limit for the smaller pot that I use for batch sparging.
  3. Cooling went very slowly due to the volume of solid hops material in the kettle. I got it just below 30C and refrigerated overnight to get to pitching temp of 19C.

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Restock Pale Ale

A straight up basic mid-strength pale ale to restock my dwindling supplies.

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Dark Times III

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Nelson Pale Ale

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Whiskey beer 2

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Rule-breaker Ale

This one is a bit of a mix-up not following any particular style guidlines – a Belgian, amber/pale ale. Although having said that, it’s along the lines of an APA/IPA as it’s a fairly hoppy beer. Brewed with a Belgian trappist ale yeast, Safale BE-256, but fermented at 17°C for a cleaner profile. Gladfield Redback and Shepherds Delight malts add an amber/red hue. 230g of hops (Willamette and Nelson Sauvin) make it a fairly hoppy beer.

Higher boil-off rate resulted in higher OG and reduced volume into the fermentor. I added 2L of dilution water after fermentation to compensate and take the ABV from around 6.7% down to around 6%.

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Dark Times 2

This attempt to re-create my previous Dark Times beer went a little awry – the gravity came in much lower than expected, 1.042 instead of 1.050. At first I put it down to the no-sparge process instead of my usual BIAB with sparge process. But when I was crushing grains for my next brew, I noticed that the crush was very coarse – there must have been some slippage of the gap between the rollers. So now my suspicion is that loss of efficiency had more to do with the crush of the grain than the no-sparge process. The beer came out lacking the body of the original Dark Times and overly bitter which entirely makes sense due to the lower gravity. Still a drinkable beer though, but not even close to the original which was really good.

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Fining beer with gelatin

This is my process for using gelatin to help clear my beer:

  1. Beer should be chilled to between 0° and 5°C (so that if chill haze occurs the gelatin will help remove it)
  2. Clean and sanitise pyrex jug, temperature probe, long handle spoon
  3. Measure out 2/3 cup cold water (can be pre-boiled and cooled) in pyrex jug
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of gelatin and stir and cover with cling film
  5. Optionally, leave for 20 minutes to bloom/rehydrate
  6. Microwave in 10-30 second bursts, stopping to stir and check temperature
  7. Aim to heat the gelatin to between 65°C and 70°C and hold for around 15 minutes in that range. Try not to go over 75°C.
  8. Dump the gelatin mixture into the beer. Gently/lightly stir, and return fermenter to fridge for at least 48 hours.