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.

Marchfest Rye Pale Ale

Brewed at Marchfest 2017 Brew Zone.

Brewed this as a home brewing demo at Marchfest 2017 in Brew Zone. It deviated considerably from the plan but the resulting beer was a top notch pale ale that I was very happy with. First major deviation was I ended up with an extra kg of base malt! Next deviation was a probably a counterbalance to the previous one – my efficiency was way below expected – my mash temp ended up low (around 64 instead of planned 67) but I stuck to my schedule of a 45min mash. Another deviation was I forgot to bring my bittering hops (20g of Waimea) so I had to scavange some of my late addition and dry hops for a bittering addition. Never-the-less it turned out to be a quite hop-forward tasting brew with a mere 150g of hops. I used the American hops blends Zythos and Falconers Flight – hops character was excellent so I might just try those blends sometime again. And that wasn’t all as far as deviations from plan are conerned, I ended up with a different yeast than planned – US-05 instead of Nottingham, but you can’t go far wrong with US-05 when making an American Pale Ale so that was all good!

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Hops Stew 2017

Split batch at bottling time, added hops tea made with the dried homegrown hops to one batch and bottled the other batch without any additional hops. I was a bit unsure about the hops tea, hence the 2 batches, but it worked well and imparted the hops character that I felt was missing in the regular batch.

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Workhorse Blonde

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Dark Times

A dark ale for dark times…

Based on a beer that I made in 2014 – Fuggles Gem Dark Ale (which was based on Hobgoblin). Similar base but with Willamette hops (the American version of Fuggles) instead of Fuggles and Pacific Gem. Came out good, can’t remember if it was as good as the Fuggles Gem though.

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Kaffir Chilli Saison

A Saison with a hint of kaffir lime and chilli.

Got this one really clear by racking to secondary, then racking again at bottling time. Made a tea with 7 kaffir lime leaves and added to secondary after some taste testing to make sure it wasn’t going to be too over-powering. Soaked a chopped up thai chilli in hot priming sugar solution to get the chilli. Aimed to keep kaffir and chilli subtle.

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An American style pale ale featuring a combo of Waimea and Willamette hops plus a little Dr Rudi.

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An easy drinking lager-like blonde ale for summer.

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Does full volume mash affect maltiness and body of the beer ?

I came across a very interesting discussion on the effect of full volume mash on the fermentablity of the wort and resulting maltiness and body of the beer in BIAB brewing on HomeBrewTalk.

My approach is to mash with about 2/3 of the water with 1/3 reserved for sparging. I have considered doing a full volume mash, which is the more traditional BIAB approach, but haven’t tried it yet.

Original poster, Bassman2003, who switched to full volume mashes noticed some beers lacking maltiness or body and asks ‘Do you think BIAB results in more fermentable wort? Do you find the need to mash a little higher? if so, how much higher?

The first response, from dmtaylor, is interesting – ‘If you find your beers are lacking in body, perhaps your efficiency is too high? Or your water too hard? Your mill gap too tight? Mashing too long? I’ve been mashing for only 40 minutes for the past 10 years with no ill effects because it’s a waste of time to mash longer than that for most styles (except maybe Belgians). If you mashed for much longer, like 75-90 minutes, this would certainly hurt body.’ His theory that mash length and efficiency affects body/maltiness is interesting. I am aware that the temperature is a major factor with a lower mash temperature producing more simple sugars and hence a more fermentable wort, but hadn’t considered mash length as important in this regard. My thinking was that mash length and/or efficiency was just about getting more sugars out of the grain and hadn’t considered whether the additional sugars tended to be biased towards complex unfermenatble sugars or the simpler more fermentable sugars.

Gavin C, chips in, ‘No alterations to recipe/mash profile other than the obvious slightly altered mash pH considerations are needed if doing full volume mashes’. He cites an experiment by Braukaiser on the topic of fermentability and mash thickness – ‘Contrary to common believe no attenuation difference was seen between a thick mash (2.57 l/kg or 1.21 qt/lb) and a thin mash (5 l/kg or 2.37 qt/lb). Home brewing literature suggests that thin mashes lead to more fermentable worts, but technical brewing literature suggests that the mash concentration doesn’t have much effect in well modified malts’.

Another fellow, wilserbrewer, mentions an approach that I think might be very practical and worth a go – ‘Another approach I have used, mainly to save heating time while making large batches, is to mash in with around 60% of the total water, then after 40 minutes or so add the remaining water to the mash at say 160 – 180 degrees, stir well, wait a few minutes, stir well again and remove the bag.’ I like the idea of this approach, it eliminates the sparge but does not alter mash thickness. Also this is very practical for me because I have to lift the pot onto the gas burner after the mash and this approach makes the weight that I have to lift more manageable.

On the subject of mash PH Gavin C notes ‘Thinner mashes are more dilute meaning all other parameters being equal they will have a higher pH than a thicker mash’ and ‘an often overlooked method to increase a mash pH is to mash thinner’.

Brulosophy also has done an experiment on sparge vs no sparge. The results of this were somewhat inconclusive. The sparged beer was noticibly more hazy and 14 out of 26 testers were able to detect a difference. 7 out of the 14 preferred the sparged version. Overall though it seems the differences in the final beer were quite minor.

There are so many variables in brewing but luckily I’m not too much of a perfectionist or it would drive me insane. I tend to go with the practical, easy, approach that gets good results and as a result of this discussion I will be trying out the approach mentioned by wilserbrewer, that is to mash with usual volume but add the extra water towards the end of the mash in lieu of sparging.

Swamp Monster

First use of new grainmill and new grainbag. Big gain in efficiency: 93% mash efficiency compared to typically around 80% with old bag. Old bag was under-sized for pot, new one is plenty big so better able to mix grain and water, also temp appears more even.

Retroactively named this one ‘Swamp Monster’ due to it’s murky appearance. A lot of sediment and it being a bit over-carbed churns it all up. Not the prettiest but tastes pretty good.


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Red Rocket


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Oatmeal Stout


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