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

12/1/20
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.

13/1/20
Added 5 tsp pectinase and wine nutrient.

14/1/20
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.

Sugar:
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.

20/1/20
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.

26/3/20
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.

ABV
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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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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Red IPA

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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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