Posts Tagged ‘home brew’

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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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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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Suburban swappers

May 26, 2010

Every few months – tired of the ‘same-old’ every night – groups of people meet in suburban garages, spare bedrooms and even on outdoor decks to swap their most prized possession after chatting on an Internet forum. And so  it was on Saturday that nine Nelson home brewers gathered at my house for an afternoon of mashing, tasting and beer swapping.

I’m a bit biased but I think everyone had a great time with some very tasty beers on offer. These gatherings are a great opportunity to share knowledge and hone your brewing skills, plus simply drink some good beer and have a chat about the weather! The unofficial godfather of Nelson home brewing – I’ll call him the Big D – also brought round his gear so two newbies could have a go at a ‘mini-mash’ brew.

Being relatively new to the game myself, the Big D left his gear at my house so I could have a go at all all-grain brewing on Sunday. I chose to brew one of my favourites – NZ pale ale – and stole a recipe from the Yeastie Boys, which was pretty easy as it’s just sitting on their website. Everything went pretty well until transferring into the carboy at the end, which got a bit messy. It was an enjoyable experience but quite different to what I had expected. It turns out brewing can be bloody hard work and after my nearly six-hour brew I was exhausted. Of course, you learn a lot on your first try and there are many things I would refine next time round. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be drinking my first all-grain beer – which I’ve named ‘Attack of the Nerdherder Clone’ – can’t wait!

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Pale Ale über alles

July 31, 2009

It’s my Birthday and what better way to enjoy such as occasion than road test two new NZ Pale Ales.

First up was Green Man’s IPA, a new addition to their permanent line up. Worth buying for the label alone – it looks like the Jolly Green Giant took a stash of Andy Warhol’s acid and ended up on the set of the Brady Bunch. The beer itself is quite light is colour and therefore, the malts are quite restrained. There is a nice, assertive hop bitterness and the beer is quite quaffable, though lacking the rich malts that I really appreciate in a pale ale.

Next up was Renaissance’s Marlborough Pale Ale – an 8.5% Imperial India Pale Ale showcasing of the new Rakau variety of hops. What an absolutely amazing beer this is – the hops are stunning, full of sweet tropical fruit flavours. Like all great beers, there are tastes that you recognise but can’t quite pin down – maybe some Juicy Fruit chewing gum. These hold nicely against the well balanced sweet pale malts and robust alcohol content.

To be fair to the Green Man IPA, there is a large differential in both price and alcohol content between these two beers – so it is understandable that these are two quite different products.

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Inspired by Pale Ale battles in other parts of the country – tomorrow night is the Nelson Pale Ale battle featuring my latest two home brews:

wreckinghop

Vs

Sauvinator2

It’s still cold so I recommend you get jerseys like these:

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My first Lager

June 10, 2009

Now that winter has turned my abode into an ice cave, it’s the perfect time to try my hand at home brewing a true Lager. The first step was to purchase a glass carboy for secondary fermentation which will allow the beer to cold condition over several weeks without introducing oxygen. These aren’t cheap with the current exchange rate but I figured it would be a good investment to improve all my beers through secondary conditioning and dry-hopping.

After lots of reading on Lagering, I settled on a plan that would utilise the temperature around the house rather than a temp-controlled fridge which I don’t currently possess. The plan was to initiate and undertake primary fermentation around 10 degrees (spare room), increase to around 20 degrees for a 48 hour diacetyl rest once primary is complete (hot-water cupboard), then transfer to the carboy and lager at around 4 degrees for several weeks (icy water bucket).

I also decided to do a 11.5L half-batch in case things don’t work out. Experimenting is great but hasn’t been entirely successful lately – the sleepout cupboard is full of dodgy wheat-beer and pale ale. The latest is a batch of mouth-puckering, bitter pale ale thanks to my over-zealous addition of too many Super-alpha hops.

The malt-kit I selected is Mac’s 1.7Kg ‘Late-hopped Lager’. I tried this a few times several years ago in my first home brew phase. The taste was pretty good but I had some over-carbonation problems, including a couple of exploded bottles when I arrived home after a few pints on the town one evening. It wasn’t until a few years later that I tried brewing again. I figured with increased knowledge and different yeast, I could avoid the bottle grenades.

For my yeast I used the dry S-23 strain as it’s readily available and seemed like a good place to begin. There’s some debate over dry yeast being capable of true bottom-fermenting lager brewing but this variety has reasonable reviews. I made a yeast starter the day before brewing to ensure an adequate pitching rate at low temperature.

The kit goes on about how greatly hopped it is but by my definition, it’s probably pretty tame so I added some Super-alpha and Nelson Sauvin for bittering; Motueka, Pacifica and Nelson Sauvin for flavour / aroma and will be adding these 3 varieties again into the secondary for dry-hopping. I don’t have a wort chiller so the hops were boiled in water, cooled and then added with the malt and cold water into the primary fermenter to quickly reach a low temperate before pitching the yeast starter.

I was a bit nervous but things started bubbling after about 16 hours. Now it’s time to sit back and wait. Hopefully I’ll be enjoying my first crisp lager around spring-time.

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Beers for the budget

May 28, 2009

The 2009 budget has been delivered and it’s pretty grim. But that is absolutely no reason to curb your beer appreciation. Now that we’re all doomed financially – here’s 5 tips to survive the recession:

1. Specials: With the range of beer now available in Supermarkets and their penchant for discounts there is absolutely no need to pay full price for beer. The puritans may finger-wag but simply follow the specials each week and save yourself piles of cash. It’s also a good incentive to try something new, rather than your regular favourite. My best deal in the past 12 months would have to be Hofbräu Münchner Weisse for $2 per 500ml bottle which was on special for several months at the local New World. I also kept the bottles for my next tip.

2. Home brew: Yes, that filthy stuff your Grandpappy used to brew during the last depression. However, it’s an obvious progression that a beer fan will want to have a go at producing their favourite drop and it can be a big money saver. At the basic level, you can be producing your own tasty brew for an investment of $100 – $150 on equipment and then $15+ on ingredients thereafter. Of course, you do get what you pay for so for $15 you’re likely to be drinking watery cat pee. For a good basic brew, get a can or two of Mac’s Pale Ale, throw in some hops and you can’t go wrong.

3. Beer as food: Who needs to spend money on food when you have beer – everyone will have heard of the nourishing qualities of Guinness and the accompanying Guinness baby the next morning. Milk Stout used to be given to nursing mothers. Then there’s stout with actual food in it, as in Three Boys Oyster Stout, packed full of real Bluff Oysters. Treat yourself and the Misses to a nice beer meal out at the local pub – she’ll thank you for it.

4. The rigger: Another classic from your Grandfather’s day, the glass half-G (maybe that’s a flagon but whatever). Now we have cheap, plastic versions far less likely to break when you trip over the curb on your way home from the pub. Forget aluminium or glass six packs and their asset inflated prices. Get a cheap 2 litre refill of beer from your local pub or bottle store. Brewpubs will often provide you with the same quantity of fresh, great quality beer at around the same price as a six pack of mainsteam fizz (and much cheaper than buying their product by the bottle).

5. Forget all of the above: start a confidence-lead recovery, avoid the paradox of thrift – go ape-shit and buy any and every expensive beer you can find! Keep craft brewers the world over in employment. Perhaps some imported Belgian Lambic as suggested in Geoff Grigg’s latest column. You could die tomorrow so why not enjoy life to the full. Best example to show your disdain for cheap beer – Green Man’s organic 14.6% Enrico’s Cure – at least $30 per bottle.

And because it’s NZ music month, I better finish with an appropriate song: