Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A quick update

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

I realise I’ve neglected this blog a bit lately, it’s been a couple of months since my last update.  To be honest I have no idea if anyone’s reading along, so it’s hard to get motivated to update it all that often!

Anyway, a quick update…I have upgraded my equipment recently, with a 40 litre ‘crab cooker’ style alum pot, into which I’m about to install a 3-piece stainless ball valve, once my step drill bit arrives.  I’ve done a few more brews, including a full volume batch of my Frau Farbissina dunkelweizen, which has been a huge hit amongst my wheat beer drinking mates…so much so that one of them asked me the other day if he could pay me to do a 20 litre hefe version for him.  Great way to offset some of the cost of my brewing equipment I guess…but it does mean tying up my brew-fridge for 2 weeks to make a beer that’ll go straight to someone else!  I think I need to increase my fermenting capacity…

I’ve also knocked out another heavily hopped pale ale, in the style of Carnie Pale Ale 5 (which I’ve nicknamed Mojo btw, as it’s the first beer I’ve made that I feel is worthy of a name directly related to Austin Powers), but this one was single hopped with Galaxy, as I was keen to see what Galaxy would do for a beer on its own.  It’s pretty full on, at just over 2 weeks old it’s still quite harsh, but with a terrific solid bitterness, and great aroma/flavour.  I think it’s going to age really well.

And I finally got around to brewing the Belgian ale I’d been wanting to do for ages.  I was planning a Dubbel, but ended up backing it off a bit to just being a Belgian Pale Ale.  It’s got munich and Belgian candi sugar in it, with Wyeast 1214, fermented via daily temp rises from 18 through to 21 degrees.  I have to let it carbonate for a couple of weeks, then I’ll lager it in the fridge for a month before drinking…so it’ll be a while before I have anything to report on that beer.

I haven’t been updating the “Carnie Brews” page…to be honest those recipes aren’t much good without tasting notes…there’s some beers on there that didn’t come out all that well, such as some of the early wheat beers fermented at high temps, and the pale ales (e.g. 3 and 4) that I just didn’t late hop enough.  Although some of that is my taste threshold…Feral’s Hop Hog has ruined me on lightly hopped beers I think.  My missus loves the Pale Ale 4 I brewed, whereas I find it really bland and boring.

That’ll do for now, will try and update again in a month or so.  Oh, I’m also growing my own hops, which is probably worthy of its own page on this blog, so I’ll add that at some stage too.

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I go (dry) hopping mad!

Posted: July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

As you surely know by now, I’ve been on a journey of discovery for my ‘house’ pale ale since I started home brewing back in 2012.  That journey, as you will have seen from my last post, has also led me from kit brewing, to full extract, and now onto partial mash brews.

I’ve also been learning a LOT about hops.  There’s clearly a massive surge in the usage of hops in beer going on around the world now, and it’s not just about making beer more bitter, although the proliferation of IPA’s out there these days might beg to differ.  It’s about flavour, crazy, fantastic, in your face hop flavour.  I started to really notice this at the 2013 “Melbourne City Beer Cup“, one of the events I attended during Good Beer Week.  It hosted a number of Melbourne’s craft brewers, all displaying their wares, with a view to each attendee voting for their favourite drop.  One of the last beers I tasted was Sideshow Brewing’s “Ticket Booth Pale Ale”.  Sideshow is new on the scene, and this is apparently their first commercial release.  The beer was outstanding….massive hop flavour and aroma, without any kind of alcohol heat, or even any major bitterness.  When I asked the brewer what he’d done, he confessed to dry hopping it at a rate of 5 grams per litre.  5 grams!  That’s 100 grams of hops in a 20 litre brew, more than I’ve seen in pretty much any beer recipe in my time brewing, and a hell of a lot more than any dry hopping I’d done up ’til then.  As I was leaving, and putting in my vote for Ticket Booth PA as my fave, I got chatting to the guy who runs Carwyn Cellars, Ben.  He had his own home brew there as well, and again it was full of hop flavour.  He too told me he’d dry hopped at 5 grams per litre.  Wow.  So I stored that away in the back of my brain for a later date.

To this point I had only dry hopped one of my beers, my Carnie Pale Ale II.  I think this was because I’d read posts from a number of home brewers saying they preferred large flameout additions of hops, as in their opinion dry hopping could contribute grassy/raw notes to a beer, and the hops can get pretty messy in the fermenter/keg.  And the one beer I did dry hop, I actually wrote in my tasting notes that it tasted vegetative/raw early on.  So I did a few beers with flameout additions, and they were ok, but nothing like I recall the two beers from that night.  Then a discussion appeared one night on AHB, talking about using Warrior hops late in the boil.  Warrior is my ‘go to’ hop for bittering.  The poster was asking if anyone had used Warrior in anything other than 60 minute additions.  I didn’t believe I had, but when trawling through my brew list, I spotted something.  In Carnie Pale Ale II, not only had I dry hopped for the first time, I’d also only boiled for 40 minutes, using Warrior.  It’s the only beer I’ve done where I’ve boiled Warrior for less than 60 minutes.  I think this explains the harshness of my beer, as Warrior is not favoured for late additions.

So, when I brewed my Random Task IPA, I used Warrior @ 60m as usual, then used Cascade & Amarillo at 10, 5 and flameout in various combinations, totalling 60 grams (in a 14 litre brew).  I then dry hopped it on day 5 with another 40 grams of Amarillo and Cascade.  The result at bottling time was extremely promising, much more hop aroma and flavour than ever before, although it had a big malt/alcohol hit, as this is a 6.8% beer after all.  So while the IPA was conditioning, I did my first BIAB partial mash brew, my Carnie Pale Ale V.  On this brew I upped the hops even more, doing 70 grams of hops between 20 and 5 minutes (18 litre brew), then dry hopping with 50 grams of Citra and Galaxy.  This was less than a week ago, but last night I had a fellow home brewer drop around, someone I’d met via AHB.  We swapped a few bottles, sampled my dunkelweizen (he’s a weissbeir nut like me), and then tried the IPA.  It was fantastic, great hop flavour, and the malt hit had started to mellow really nicely (it tasted a bit like a barleywine on my first try a week or so earlier).  I then opened one of my Pale Ale V’s, one of the bottles that had been filled last, as they normally carbonate first (due to having a little more priming sugar in them from my bulk prime).  It started to fizz up hugely, so I got it into the glass, and immediately a massive hop aroma hit us both in the face.  Huge citrus and passionfruit notes that took me straight back to my first Ticket Booth Pale Ale.  And it was there on the tasting too, a terrifically fruity, hop-forward beer that suits my palate perfectly.  The search for a Carnie Brewing house Pale Ale may well be over!  And I am forever a big dry-hopping convert.

The last few weeks have seen me get a little more serious about this ‘hobby’.  I had a builder in to complete my “brewcave” in the garage, into which I’ve installed a 75,000BTU 4-ring gas burner, workbench and steel shelving.  I’ve now moved all my brewing gear out there, and decided it was time to find out what all the fuss was about by performing my first ‘mash’.  For any non-brewers out there reading along, a ‘mash’ is simply the soaking of malt grains in hot water, to convert the starches inside the grains into fermentable sugar.  The mash is very temperature dependant, as different temperatures result in different amounts and types of fermentable sugars, changing the final profile of the beer.

My interest was probably piqued by a brewday I attended last week, where a pub-owning friend decided to have some home-brewing mates along to brew a couple of beers, and invited me to join them.  We spent the day making a honey porter in a 20 litre Braumeister, along with a Steam Ale done using the ‘Brew in a Bag’ all-grain method.

So, still only having a 20 litre pot myself, I had two choices.  I could make a small volume beer using only grain, or a larger volume as a ‘partial mash’ brew, using both base grain and malt extract.

I decided to do the latter, as that way I could correct any gravity guesstimate issues by either topping up with extract, or conversely water if I overshot (not likely).  Ok…and I wanted more beer.

I had bought myself some Joe White Traditional Ale to use as my base grain, and knocked up a recipe for “Carnie Pale Ale V” on Beersmith, which is partial mash brewing friendly.  It helped me determine that 2.8kg of base grain, along with 300gm of crystal/specialty grain would suffice for my kettle size, with a top-up of 1.2kg of extract at the end, along with enough water to get me to my target OG of 1052 (and a volume of around 19 litres).

The mash went well, I heated the pot to around 72 degrees, turned off the heat and wrapped the pot with three towels.  Slowly added the grain, stirring all the while, then lid on, towel and jacket over the top and 75m mash timer started.  I stirred a few times during the 75m, and the temperature only dropped a little over 1 degree during the whole process.

I removed the grain, and using a couple of old fridge shelves, squeezed and drained the bag of grain back into the pot.  Once complete, I topped up with some water to get me to a boil gravity in the 1040’s and started the boil.  The rest from then on was the same as any of my full extract brews.

I’ll report back in a few weeks when I’ve had a chance to try the beer.  Oh, and while I’m at it, I discovered a 750ml bottle of my first ever full extract beer in the garage fridge while I was doing this brew…my Goldmember Ale.  It’s now 7 months old, so I cracked it with great interest.  If you’ve been following along since last year, you might remember I over-hopped this beer significantly while working out what hop adjustments I needed for my partial boil volumes.  I’m happy to report it’s aged brilliantly, with a fantastic clean malt profile, and big hoppy bitterness.  It really does show how well big hoppy beers can age.