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@hefevice

August 24, 2011

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m in retirement. But don’t worry – I’m back via Twitter. This solves 2 problems:

1. I’m too lazy to write this blog anymore.

2. I can stop spamming non-interested parties about beer on facebook.

@hefevice

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A holiday is as good as a change

November 2, 2010

I’ve had a bit of a holiday from blogging with not much going on in my beer world lately…but then when I look back I think I have enough to scape together a post, including a nice trip away on a real holiday. Getting ready for holiday is always a busy time, especially with a 1 year old. There was the job interview the day before, getting everything ready at work and home and then making sure that you get your bottles of beer sent away for the SOBA National Homebrew Competition. This was judged over the weekend and Grieg, the 2010 organiser (and judge) has a nice write-up here at his blog. I entered my Wrecking Ball Pale Ale – I have to wait till the 13th for the results but am a little nervous. It was a little different to the previous batch and sometimes I liked it, sometimes I wasn’t so sure + the judges probably hated the dark Crystal malt which started to come through more strongly as it aged.

Anyway, though preparing for holidays can be lots of work – once they’re under way, you realise what it’s all for. We arrived late afternoon in Rangiora for a nice catch up (and home brew) with my Grandparents. We conveniently missed an aftershock before heading to Kaiapoi and then Christchurch city. While there’s lots of evidence of the quake, much of the city seems generally OK and back up and running again (taking into account the clean-up so far and hidden damage) – it was quite different from the news which only shows the wreckage. Of course, you also start looking at everything and wondering if it was due to the quake or just general wear and tear and the ‘spot the collapsed chimney’ game gets old pretty quick.

Next morning we headed to Lyttleton and after a few tense moments in the tunnel, enjoyed a great antidote to the generic shopping experience of the city malls. I bought some Spelt grain from Piko Wholefoods for a brewing experiment and then a Mike’s IPA from a deli where we also had a nice coffee. From there it was into town and avoiding the CBD road works that have been in progress for the last few years as much at the quake damage, we did our bit of aid for the inner-city retailers. It looks like it was also ‘move your fermenter day’ as these vessels were being relocated at both the Dux de Lux and the Twisted Hop.

Next it was off to Banks Peninsula and after some stops at Little River, Barry’s Bay (for some delicious Peppered Havati and Maasdam cheeses) and Akaroa, we reached our ultimate destination – one of my favourite spots in the whole World – Le Bons Bay. After settling in at my Auntie and Uncle’s home, we enjoyed some home brew and home cooked food before retiring for the evening, when I experienced my only aftershock of the trip.

Saturday saw us back in Akaroa and then later fishing down at the beach, followed by a BBQ of our modest catch (1 Flounder and 1 Sole), amongst other goodies and some more home brew. On Sunday I whipped up a Spanish Tortilla for lunch using delicious and colourful free-range eggs and Purple Heart Potatoes and then it was off for a walk at a conservation project my Uncle is involved with. The trust has purchased a beautiful block of land incorporating re-generating native bush, a distinctive rocky peak and trampers’ hut. The perfect Sunday afternoon.

Catching tea

Dad and Bub enjoying a Sunday walk

On Monday we reluctantly headed back to the big smoke, but not before stopping again at the great cafe / gallery at Little River where I had an Epic Pale Ale with lunch – I noticed that a great range of craft beer is increasing available and high profile in Canterbury (far more so than when I lived there). That night we went to our old haunt, the Dux de Lux where I had to have Ginger Tom after smelling them brewing it earlier in the week. Unfortunately, my palate has been hoppified since I left Christchurch and I didn’t enjoy it like the good old days. Luckily, I was able to wash it down with a Nor’Wester Pale Ale.

After a few difficult days back at work, it was the long weekend where I brewed a Summer Ale using the Spelt. This went well, even though pre-mashing the unmodified grain was a bit of a chore. This was followed by a great day off on Monday where we checked out the finale of the Arts festival at Founder’s Park, including two great festival beers from the brewery.

Bring on Christmas!

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Wimmin and beer

September 22, 2010

I was taking suggestions from my co-workers today on what style of beer I should brew in the weekend (as you do) and was taken aback by one of my female colleagues asking ‘beer is beer isn’t it?!? After recovering my composure and explaining about the numerous styles of my favourite amber liquid, I wondered – ‘are women missing out on beer and if so – why?’

On one hand, this is someone who frustratingly drinks wine every time we go to the Freehouse – a beer candy store if ever I saw it – but then on the other hand, seems pleasantly surprised when sampling my home brew. While I also work with some European ladies who love their beer and either home brew or bring me back bottles of Weihenstephaner after trips home – what makes the average female more often than not, choose wine when not under obligation to sample a colleagues latest garage creation?

There are the biological explanations – woman’s tongue’s have more taste buds than men’s so are not as amenable to the bitterness of hops but I’m sorry, this seems like BS to me. I gave my wife a home brew today and while she thought it was a bit too bitter, I’m pretty sure that any pantywaist male who thinks that Tui makes Pale Ale; Southern Cross is a bunch of stars rather than a high alpha New Zealand hop; and who hasn’t had his tongue obliterated by tons of hops would say the same thing (grrrr, hops are manly!!)

To me, the issue is a cultural one. As my wife explained – beer is perceived as first and foremost, a man’s drink; is highly carbonated so may lead unfeminine belching; and is altogether perceived as a more risky option than safe wine. There is also the perception that beer is a singular and uninteresting entity (an opinion still common amongst many males) which tastes like crap – and this makes perfect sense, given the offerings of many mainstream brewer’s (though said males have learned to enjoy these, again for cultural reasons).

So, like some crazy Pastor who has seen the big JC, I’m keen to spread the gospel of hops (and malt if I have to) – these ladies are missing out and need to see the light! What’s your opinion? Are ladies really biologically wired to  hate hops?; should we leave them to their primitive vinous beliefs?; am I really just a misogynist?

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Jools Holland female medley:

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All brewed out

September 13, 2010

Phew, I’m exhausted after a beer-filled weekend (and it didn’t even involve much drinking) – first was the brew gear building man-fest on Saturday morning, followed by gear cleaning on Saturday afternoon, beer bottling on Saturday night, brew preparation on Sunday morning and finally brewing on my new set-up on Sunday afternoon.

Here’s some pics of my new all-grain gear. The hot-liquor tun is a 37L stainless pot – I’m currently heating this on a 3-ring burner but will soon be putting in an electric element. Mash-tun is a 10 gallon Rubbermaid drinks cooler – picked up half-price (though still quite expensive). It currently has a looped piece of braided hose which may be shortened to a single loop depending on performance. My kettle is a 54L stainless pot heated on the 3-ring burner. And last of all is the massive immersion chiller made from 15 metres of copper with stainless barbs simply hammered in the ends and hose fittings – no brazing required.

A few more bits and pieces and it will be all be complete – thanks to realbeer.co.nz members Dale, Greydog and Evan for your help in getting this set-up. The recipe is a NZ Pale Ale which may be entered in the SOBA 2010 Homebrewing competition, all going well.

Ready for mashing

Grist + some green things


Mashtun with braided hose

Polystyrene cap to keep mash at temperature

Mash ready for sparging + more green things

First run-off

Filling the kettle + even more green things

Hops!

60 min boil under way

The beast - 15 metres of 15.88mm copper

Chilling (+ doing the dishes)

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I love beer!

August 13, 2010

I haven’t written a post in a while – I’ve had some beery ideas but then I get too lazy to bother writing a full post – this is usually after sampling a couple of my latest home brews and wasting time on Facebook. So anyway, here’s a summary of some beer stuff I love.

  • I love vouchers – the perfect birthday present. As a result I now have Pete Brown’s ‘Man Walks Into A Pub’. A while back I got his ‘Three Sheets To The Wind’, which was a great read on global beer culture so I’m looking forward to getting into this one. I also have a spend up at McCashin’s pending thanks to my sister – they’re now making beer and I had a couple of samples of their lager trials last time I visited. Also on the cards is a visit to Founder’s as I recently won their e-newsletter beer quiz. You can sign up for this on their website. It’s their 10th Anniversary and have some celebratory brews coming out. I’ve tried and enjoyed the Blonde, plus a barrel-aged Stout is also now also available.
  • I love all-grain home brewing. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the use of a friend’s all-grain gear for the past few months and popped out five brews – all rather good if I do say so myself. It’s a bit hard to go back to malt kits after that so I’m investing in my own gear which should be up and running soon. Just in time for the SOBA 2010 Homebrewing Competition, which begs the question is – is the World ready for Wrecking Ball Pale Ale or Pacific Gem Golden Ale?
  • I love local beer. I don’t buy that liberal, middle-class guilt that buying local is the solution to the World’s social and environmental problems but I’m quite happy to celebrate good quality, local beer. For the past month, the Moutere Inn and the Free House have had only local beers on tap as part of the Nelson Ecofest Challenge. While it might be a dubious decision to allow in riff-raff from Marlborough, I’m prepared to be flexible considering the calibre of beers coming out of the Renaissance Brewery. I managed a trip over there recently and had a great hand-pumped Elemental Porter and some delicious pizza from the Dodson Street Bistro. Last night, I picked up a bottle of the 2010 batch of 8 Wired’s Hopwired (contract brewed at Renaissance) and am prepared to say that this is the best beer I’ve ever had (yes, it’s true)! I was a bit apprehensive as the bottle I picked up last year didn’t compare to the freshness of the pint I had from the pub. However, it’s hot off the bottling line and just as good at the moment – I just can’t get enough of the amazing Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops. Brewer Søren reports that this year’s crop of NZ hops are a little different from last year’s and I picked up similarities to the 2010 Sauvin flowers I’ve used in my home brew. The Moutere Inn and Townshend Brewery are also holding an IPA challenge on 19th August featuring three versions of Townshend’s JCIPA on hand pump- the favourite one will go on to be brewed as a springtime release.
  • I love contract brewing. Hopwired is proof of the great things NZ’s contract brewers can achieve and Yeastie Boys discuss this successful business model further here on their blog. Of course, Yeastie Boys have been up to great things themselves lately – their ‘Return to Magenta’ Belgian Pale Ale impressed me greatly – it doesn’t get much better than enjoying a pint of this on a clear and warm autumn day, sitting outdoors at the Moutere Inn while taking a day off work. There was also the battle of the NZ and US pale ales – Motueka Monster vs Yakima Monster. Eric at Offsetting Behaviour puts an economic spin on the discussion here. I like the idea of micro economics, as in micro-brewing far more than Alan Bolland and his weapons of macro destruction!

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Beef & Lamb vs Beer

June 29, 2010

So, beef & lamb* and other assorted ‘high-powered kiwis’ think they can reform NZ’s perceived binge-drinking problem through Prohibition. Well, to add balance to these intellectual heavy-weights and defenders of the common man, I’ve assembled a rag-tag bunch of infamous drinkers who say that alcohol is actually quite awesome. They include:

Homer J. Simpson (Common man and father of 3, Springfield): Symbolising America’s working-class love of domestic beer, Homer’s beloved Duff is really a subtle and nuanced critique of American modernity. Drinking wisdom: “Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

Vincent Van Gogh (Painter and recreational surgeon): This guys paintings are really quite messy (probably because he was boozed) but there’s something quite nice about them all the same. Check out The Starry Night – depicting a view from his sanatorium window (no doubt off his chops at the time). Drink of choice: Absinthe.

The Queen Mother (Queen’s Mother): Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon lived to 101 years old. Gin may taste horrible but it sure does have life-extending properties. Drinking tribute: fans placed bottles of Gin amongst the Flowers at her funeral.

Jimmy McNulty (Detective, Baltimore Police Department): The Wire’s Irish-American Jimmy likes the good things in life – Jameson Whiskey, Women – and he’s proof that being a hard-boiled, homicide detective doesn’t have to turn you bad – he made it through several episodes of series 3 & 4 without much self-destructive drinking and whoring around at all. Drinking buddy: Bunk Moreland.

Frank Sinatra (American Crooner): Ol’ Blue Eyes was a great singer but to be fair, he had a lot of help from his production assistant – Jack Daniels. Drinking quote: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

David Boon (Australian Cricketer, 1984 – 95): Boy, those Aussies take their drinking seriously and ‘the keg on legs’ is evidence that drinking and sport do indeed mix. Drinking achievement: World record for beers consumed on a flight – 52 cans between Sydney and London.

Shane McGowan (Lead Singer of the Pogues): Simple proof that drinking enthusiasts are far more talented and interesting people than teetotalers. Drinking Lyric: “When the world is too dark, And I need the light inside of me, I’ll go into a bar and drink Fifteen pints of beer.”

Sir Robert Muldoon (Prime Minister of NZ, 1975 – 84): Who says you can’t be wankered and still make decisions affecting millions of peoples lives pretty-much no worse than a sober politician? Drinking moment of glory: calling the snap election of 1984 while pissed as a chook.

Now, tell me – who do you trust?

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* (not sure if I have these in the right order)

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Black is the new Black

June 18, 2010

It’s winter and a stereotype might suggest that this is the perfect time for dark beers. Of course dark beers can be perfect any time of the year but there’s certainly an element of truth that they become very appealing at this time of year along with rich, warming food.

Early in my beer drinking career I was a big fan of dark beers such as Monteith’s Dark and Black Mac but then as my interest in beer grew, my taste for dark styles waned. It’s only now that I’m getting back into dark beers and my tastes are quite particular.

Stout in my mind is highly overrated, in particular a certain well-known brew from Ireland. I will grant you that the Pogues and Jameson Whiskey are two of the very best things in this World, but Guinness – please!?! This was a beer that originally used Roasted Barley simply because it had less tax applied to it than malted grain – a cheap adjunct in the same way we beer snobs now think of rice or corn. On the other hand, Stout’s cousin Porter can be amazing. And then there is Dunkelwiezen – proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy if ever I saw it.

My top dark beer recommendations to get you through winter are as follows (some liberty taken as to the darkness of beer):

Renaissance Stonecutter: Anyone who knows me or reads this blog is probably well aware by now that I worship at the Stonecutter altar. This Scotch ale is truly one of the finest beers in this World with its dense layers of rich mahogany and a touch of smoke. Perfect winter nightcap beside a roaring fire (or heat pump).

Invercargill Brewery Pitchblack: Even though I just had a go at Stout, this one is enough to change my opinion. Dark, full-bodied, slightly sweet and displaying just the right amount of that delicious dark malt character, this is an extraordinarily good beer. Nothing at all to fault here.

Three Boys Porter: I haven’t had one of these this year but have fond memories of a couple of pints of from 2009. A very drinkable beer that makes you sit up and think – ‘damn, that’s a good beer, I think I’ll get another!’

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black: Dark beers are all about the malt – or are they? Pot Kettle Black is for the hop loving, dark beer connoisseur. Call it an American Porter, call it a Black IPA, call it whatever, this beer will change your perceptions about dark beer.

Townshend Old House ESB: A local favourite of mine, the complex flavours of this estery English ale include fudge and cidery fruit – perfect for a quiet night at home by the fire.

Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue): A bit like Champagne for the beer World, a 750ml bottle of Chimay Blue is going to make you feel special during those cold winter months. A bit like drinking spritzy, liquid cinnamon. Proof that beer brings happiness as if you needed it.

Mac’s Sassy Red: Every beer lover without a gold-plated pay packet and family to support needs a good domestic beer to tide them over. For me, this is Mac’s Sassy Red. I wasn’t always a fan – every second one was good but now I’m a total convert to the deliciously fresh, waxy, nutty malt character and spicy NZ hops. Proof that Mac’s can still deliver the goods.

Schneider Weisse Aventinus: Incredibly rich and luxurious, a perfect display of what a combination of wheat yeast and sweet, dark malts can achieve.

Which reminds me, NZ craft brewers need to release more dark wheat beers! And consider more sessionable examples around 5% abv without the hot alcohol flavours that make my tongue itch. I’ve even had a go at this at home (astute readers with an interest in 90’s ‘grunge’ music may even recognise the album I ripped-off this concept for my beer label from):

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