Sunday, 20 October 2013

This Week in Beer - October 14th to 20th

Hey everyone, and welcome to another "This week in beer". In preparation for Sydney Craft Beer Week, Melo and I branched out and headed to a new Bottle-o we hadn't been to before, Sydney Wine Merchants, who not only have a great range of craft beers, but 8 growler taps too!

So to start off this week's lineup, here's what I got on tap there: The Ekim Berserker Amber IPA

Finally got myself a squealer!
Clocking in at 7.2%, we have a fairly heavy IPA on our hands. Intense sweet, passionfruit aroma, then a very full body, a mixture of bitter hops and a strongly sweet, malty body. A great combination IMO.

Next up, we have Red Duck's "The Gruitest", a beer made without any hops whatsoever. Rather, a mix of spices and herbs that together make "Gruit", a mixture that was previously used in medieval beers!

Tasted totally Gruit

The Beer itself tasted far from what you'd expect, something more like a mulled wine or cider than a modern beer. Very fruity and tart, with a dry, cider like finish. A very interesting experience.

Following that, we have the Renaissance Brewing "Elemental Porter Ale". Clocking in at just under a pint's worth, it's a smooth porter with chocolatey and aniseed notes, the closest flavour I can compare it to being that of dark chocolate licqorice bullets. Delicious through and through

Wish it came in a full pint

Next up, I tried one of Moon Dog's previous releases, the Black Lung 3, a "Rum Barrel Aged Smoky Stout". It certainly lived up to it's name, with flavour sitting somewhere in the middle of a triangle between a traditional strong stout, a dark rauchbier and a glass of smooth rum. A great combination that we hope to replicate something similar to in a couple of month's time.

After tasting this I'm immensely excited for the "Jumping the Shark"

And Finally, I tried the Brew Cult "Can't Fight the Funk", a "Farmhouse IPA" that I'd say had more in common with a summer saison than any other variety of beer. Golden coloured and smelling distinctly of horse blanket, the CFtF is a great, funky saison, with all kinds of complex yeast flavours backed up by a reasonably malty backbone. Highly recommended.

Harvested the yeast from this, might try a clone

I did try a couple of other beers this week, but these were definitely the standouts. One other thing I did try this week was the Brew Dog "IPA is Dead" 4pack, which I'll be doing a full review of in the near future. Tune in next time for either the Brew Dog Review, or writeups of various events from Sydney Craft Beer Week!

Monday, 14 October 2013

This Week in Beer - October 7th to 13th

Hey everyone, welcome to another "This Week in Beer". Didn't get time to brew anything this week, so all I have to show is some of the beers I tasted, and what I thought of them. Lets get started. 

First up, we have something that you can find in a lot of Bottleos nowadays, 4 Pines' Kolsch.

Drinking said beer in a pool strongly recommended

I actually spent a day this week in at 4 Pines, helping one of their brewers do a 5000L batch of the Kolsch, and it left me with a hankering to drink a couple of them, so the next day (a horrendous 38 degree day) on the way to a mate's for a BBQ I grabbed a 6pack of them. 

Sweet and slightly floral, the nose doesn't give much away about the flavour. A light, crisp body with just enough hop fruityness to make it very pleasant gives you a great beer for a stinking hot day.

Next up, we have something very different to the normal beers I drink, a Hite Ice Point

Appropriate match to Korean BBQ
Can't say much about it other than it was served cold, and was... crisp? A think, watery lager that was only ordered because it brought back memories of being in Korea.

Next, a couple of beers from Jamieson brewery that I bought all the way back when Melo and I were in Melbourne. Found them down the back of the fridge and decided they needed to be drank ASAP.

Both were fairly solid, although neither was particularly hoppy. Not sure if that's age, or if they weren't meant to be very hoppy to begin with. 

Finally, the Vintage Cellars round the corner from my place recently got in a couple of cartons of Founders All Day IPA. I happily went down and bought one of the cartons, as I knew from previous experience that the All-Day is great.

As per expectations, the All Day is great. Really fruity and crisp, it's also not too high ABV wise so you can sit and work your way through a number of them. Really great stuff

Thanks for reading guys! It's looking like I'll finally get around to reviewing the Brew Dog IPA is dead collection this week, so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Homebrewing - Down the Hatch Pale Ale

Hey everyone, posting about the brew we did today, and doing a write-up about our (moderately) new all-stainless steel system!

Seeing as Halloween is in a few weeks, that means it's time for a party in a few weeks... Which in turn means it's time to brew up another big batch of beer!

Enter ridiculous amounts of malt
We decided as usual the best party beer should be interesting enough that we're happy to drink it, but not hoppy enough to melt the average beer drinkers' face off. Melo devised the "Down the Hatch", a nice simple American style Pale Ale with lots of Simcoe, Chinook and Nelson Sauvign hops. 

Some Grain, some Hops and some Potplants. Perfect

Started our brew nice and early this morning, deciding we'd try out a new brew spot because the weather was too good to be under cover. Set up in a little rock alcove next to the house. Set up our new system, heated the mash tun up and started the mash.

Mashy Goodness
Left the mash to sit for a minute and checked on our hops out the back. They're growing like crazy! Melo is going to write a blog post on them once they're a little more grown, but here's a sneak preview of their progress in the last 3 weeks:

They're climbing!

Once we finished the mash, sparged from the tun into our kettle, a process that sadly ended up with nearly 2L of wort stuck in the dead space in the bottom of our Mash tun... We've since attached a new piece of tubing to the false bottom, in the hopes that it'll reduce the dead space to near 0. We can only hope

Sparging steadily and soaking up some sun
Next up we got a solid boil going, threw in the first hop addition (along with some gypsum for extra snap), then took a break to enjoy the sun and have some lunch while the kettle boiled away.

Again, look at dat weather
A couple of hop additions later, we popped the cooling coil in, turned the burner off and chilled the beer down to about 30 degrees.

Pretty "Cool". Hah
Finally, transferred the sweet sweet wort over to a fermenter, pitched in some yeast, recited the required prayers and whatnot and left her to ferment for a couple of weeks

Obligatory pic of the fermenter in the garage
And it's as simple as that! Now that we have a solid, sessionable pale ale made for the party, our next big brew will probably be something a little more... out of the ordinary. But what exactly remains to be decided. We will see.

Next time: We drink IPAs and talk about them. Or maybe we brew another beer. Or we make the world's worst pumpkin beer. It is a mystery

Saturday, 5 October 2013

This week in Beer - September 30th - October 7th

Hey all, just a quick roundup of the Beers I've had and what we've brewed in the last week.

First up, homebrew. This week we decided to do something a bit bizarre. Enter the "Rauch around the Clauch", a beer comprised mainly of smoked malt, with a whole lot of cracked pepper added for some extra spice

The whole house smelt of pastrami after the boil
We currently have 5L bubbling away in a demijohn, hopefully to be ready in the next couple of weeks.

In terms of drinking this week, we have four standout beers that definitely deserve to be talked about. 

First up we have two beers from the latest class of beers released by Moon Dog. Fresh out of the postage carton from Melbourne we have the "Mummy Have a Bite" Toffee Apple Amber Ale, and the "Bock Naked" Chipotle Dark Lager.

Excuse the mess, the brewing process going on the background lent itself to messiness
The foamiest of head
Both are fantastic in their own right, the amber with it's fantastic flavours of toffee and apple that are perfectly balanced to give a beer that's not too sweet, despite what it sounds like, and the Bock Naked with a good bit of chipotle chilli coming through, but not too much to turn it into a gimmicky Chilli Beer. 

Next up, we have a Mikkeller, the "Wheat is the new Hops", a hoppy, bretty wheat beer

I may have poured it slightly terribly
Sweet and fruity, evoking a flavour that I decided was closer to Gummi Bears than anything else in recent memory, it's a very unique beer that's definitely a recommended pickup if you can find it!

Finally, I got my hands on some Delirium Nocturnum

This was fantastic, as expected. Tremens is a great strong Belgian pale, and Nocturnum is a fantastic strong dark Belgian ale to match it. Fruity and Caramelly, with a well-rounded mixture of herby and spicy notes under the main body create an amazingly complex ale that you could nearly have as a dessert beer!

Overall, a great week of beer, with one brewed and a number more drank. Hopefully we'll be doing a full sized batch of Saison on Monday, when I can give a write up of our new brewing system in Action!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Homebrewing - New Brewing Rig Sneak Peek

Courtesy of Melo, a sneaky preview pic of our new mash tun/keggle, made with a keg courtesy of the boys at Moon Dog!

Ooooh Shiny

In action! Check out the sweet brick stand, courtesy of Melo's back fence

And it only took 3 melted drill bits and several moderate cuts to various body parts to make! Success! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I'm not dead, I promise - The last 2 months in Beer

So it turns out I haven't written on the blog for a long time... Roughly 6 weeks. Didn't really plan to stop writing posts, just got busy with having a full time job and suddenly the time where I used to write posts having to be rationed out to seeing people and going out. The horror.

Anyway, lunch breaks at work toward the end of the week are very quiet, so I figure I can write blog posts in them. So what's happened in the last six weeks that I haven't written about?

The answer is: A fair amount. In that time, we've made our own Candi sugar, brewed 4 or 5 beers, drank a good number of unique and awesome beers and purchased even more than were drunk. We also attended a beer festival, although the whole 'being in Willoughby' thing meant I had to drive, so not too much beer was had that day.

So I figured the best thing to do now would be to simply make a post about some of the awesome beers and beer events I've experienced in the last month or two, and promise that I'll write about our latest brews and the new brewing system we're building in the (not so distant) future.

So going in chronological order, back in early August, I discovered Founders Brewing, courtesy of Melo selling me a couple of their beers at Beer Cartel. While I enjoyed the IPAs and the Pale Ale I got, the real standout was the Breakfast Stout

Warning: Don't actually drink for breakfast

Coffee and chocolate flavours in a velvety smooth stout make for an eminently drinkable beer, a great warming beer and a fantastic beer to end a night on. Or start a night on. Up to you really.

Next up, we have a crazy Thursday night in Newtown, that involved not one, not two, but three beer events. First up, stopped into the Taphouse for their Pink Floyd themed dark beer night

Next stop was the Royal Albert Hotel, for the Illawarra Brewing Tap Takeover, which I didn't manage to get a single picture of, and finally to the Union Hotel for the 4 Pines 20-Tap-Takeover!

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable night, although I think next time, Three beer events in a single night might be slightly excessive.

Next up we have another beer, or rather a pair of beers, the Rogue "Voodoo Donut" series.

Big Pink Bottles that now live atop my beer-shelf
Although the bottles look near identical, the beers couldn't be further apart. The Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Ale was a delicious sweet, dark beer that matched up amazingly against a bowl of icecream with raspberry sauce. The Bacon Maple Ale... An overly sweet pale ale with smoked malt and artifical bacon flavour that was... Lets say not fantastic. But still interesting and quite bizarro.

Next up, a blast from the past, Hahn's Millennium Ale, brewed all the way back in 1999 (when I was 8 years old...).

Still in the original box!
I managed to acquire 3/4 of a case of this beauty, and had to taste a bottle to make sure she'd aged well. The answer is most definitely. Will do a full writeup of it later, it definitely deserves the attention.

Other great beers from the last two months include the Moon Dog Skunkworks IPA

Aged in Cognac Barrels, you can definitely taste it!
The Rogue Imperial Pilsener,

My Aunt wasn't as impressed with it as I was

And the Brewfist "Fear" Milk Chocolate Stout

Not sure what there is to Fear, the beer is tasty as anything
All three of which were fantastic beers that I'd recommend to anyone looking for something fun to drink.

Lunch is about to finish, so I'll wrap the post up. I'll be writing more regular posts again over the next few weeks, covering our new brewing system, the Brewdog "IPA is Dead" IPA series and more!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Brewery Roundup: Little Creatures and Co.

Hey all, welcome back. Been a long time since my last post, a combination of busyness, laziness and Melo not giving me the photosness. So today I'm doing a roundup of all the beers made by Little Creatures and their associated smaller breweries, namely White Rabbit and Pipsqueak. We tried to include as many of the Little Creatures seasonal beers as we could get our hands on, but they're definitely difficult to find, and we had to settle for the latest two. On to the roundup!

Ice included because we forgot to stick it in the fridge!

We started out with the Pipsqueak Apple cider. Sweet apple flavour to start off fades to a more dry, crisp body. With a super-light body and prickly carbonation, I'm sure it'd be great on a warm day... Shame we were doing the tastings on a cold night.

The colour of the mats makes these beers look bizarro

Next up was the Little Creatures Pilsener. Clocking in at 27 IBU and 4.6% ABV, it pours a clear, light gold with minimal white head. The nose is a mix of sweet, honeyish malt and the 'lager yeast' character that so many lagers exhibit. The taste followed suit, starting light and sweet and moving to a bready, classic lager body, with mild bitterness. With it's light, crisp body and strong prickly carbonation, it's a refreshing, classic pilsener, and a great addition to the Little Creatures lineup

Pay no attention to the magically appearing bottles

Thirdly, we had the White Rabbit White Ale. It pours a clouded, lemony colour, with a 'soapy looking' pure white head. The nose is a mix of banana esters and phenol, stemming from the Belgian yeasts used. The body is fruity and slightly funky with hints of phenolic spice, and floral notes throughout. The body is light and soft, with moderate carbonation, overall a mainstream interpretation of a decidedly non-mainstream beer style.

Overall a little light for me, but refreshing all the same

Fourth, we sampled the Little Creatures Bright Ale, a golden 'Australian Style Ale'. With a faint, caramelly nose, reminiscent of German beers, and a body similarly reminiscent with light floral hops and a pale German malt body, it's a refreshing, light ale that would do you well as a way to cool off after a long day in the sun.

The classic. Everyone should try this beer.

Next, we went with the classic Little Creatures Pale Ale. At 39 IBU, it's fairly bitter for a commercial beer, and definitely the most flavoursome beer you'll find in a lot of bars. Pouring a clouded golden-amber colour, the nose is sweet and fruity, a mix of crystal malt and American 'Big-C' hops. Flavours of citrus and pine blend with the honeyish malt in the body, and fade to a final acidic bitterness. Overall a great pale ale, and a great starting point for anyone looking to get into craft beer.

I want to meet this Roger character and tell him to put more hops in this beer!

After that, headed toward darker beers with the Rogers Beer, an English style Amber Ale. Pouring a partly-clouded deep amber colour, the nose is a mix of caramel and honey, giving away it's malt bill of crystal and caramalts. A reasonably light taste with slight citrus and floral hop notes, a light to medium body, and a comparatively low 3.8% ABV, you end up with a very sessionable beer of which you could easily knock down a lot.

Can't really see it in this photo, but the colour of this beer is absolutely gorgeous

Next step was the Little Creatures 'Shepherd's Delight' Red IPA, the first of their Small Batch beers I had the pleasure of tasting. Pouring a burnt orange colour with frothy, off-white head, it sports a punchy, fruity nose, hinting at its high hop content. Flavourwise, on first sip it's a bittersweet mix of malt and hops, leading to a sweet malty middle with distinct notes of grapefruit and pine, ending in a lingering, 'marmalade' bitterness. With its full body and light carbonation, it's a delicious IPA, though most definitely not sessionable.

Our second foray down the Rabbit hole

Landing squarely in dark beer land, our next drink was the White Rabbit Dark Ale. Pouring an opaque, deep brown colour with lightly browned head, the aroma is of roasty dark malt, with hints of dark fruit. Flavours of raisin and dark malt blend together nicely to deliver a rich, smooth beer experience. With a full body and only the tiniest amount of carbonation, it's a true dark ale, almost straying into porter territory. Delicious.

Smooth and Creamy you say?
Yes Robert, Smooth and Creamy

Finally, we rounded off the tastings with a favourite of ours, the Little Creatures 'Mr Obadiah' Rye Porter. This beer was actually the inspiration for one of our beers, the Chocolate Oatmeal Rye Oatmealless Porter. Clocking in at 6.9% ABV and 55 IBU, it's a serious heavy-hitter of a beer. Pouring a deep brown/black with deep brown head, it's aroma is rich with nots of bittersweet cocoa and espresso, and a backbone of rye spice. Through the body, there's a smooth, chocolatey flavour, with a strong note of spicy rye malt and hints of coffee and bittering hops to cut through the richness of it all. With an almost syrupy body and a 'milky' mouthfeel, this is a truly opulent beer, and it's absolutely my favourite beer from Little Creatures to date.

Meet the whole crew!

Now in wondrous animated form!

That's all folks! Hope you liked the reviews! Hoping I can do some more roundups like this in the near future. I have a complete range of Stone and Wood beers in the fridge, as well as a near complete range of a couple of other breweries. If you have a beer or brewery you'd like reviewed, leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Homebrewing: 50th Birthday Pale Ale

Hey all, a quick update on our latest brew. My Dad's 50th birthday is coming up, and we're having a little get-together with some close friends, so to celebrate, Mello and I are brewing up 20L of Pale Ale just for the occasion.

Reasonably complex malt/hop bill. Time will tell if it's good

The recipe can be found here. With an IBU of 40, it's roughly on par with the bitterness of a Little Creatures Pale Ale, and at a flat 5% ABV, it's low enough to be sessionable, but high enough that you'll know you're drinking real beer.

BIAB brewing, everything in a single bag!

We've just finished cooling, poured into primary and pitched the yeast. Once it's done fermenting, we'll keg it and force carbonate it in time for the party. Hoping it all turns out well!

Coming soon, a brewery roundup for one of the Breweries we visited on the Road Trip, including a couple of other breweries owned by it... Stay tuned!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Homebrewing: Chocolate Oatmeal Rye Oatmealless Porter

After debating for a while about what our first proper dark beer should be, we came to the conclusion that we needed to make an Oatmeal Porter, the one that they have on tap at Flat Rock Brew Cafe being a key element in the decision. Having decided this, on Tuesday we headed north to Country Brewer and purchased Chocolate Malt, Pale Malt and some LMEs. We also grabbed a half kilo of Rye malt, with plans to use it in a Future Brew

Rye Malt and Chocolate Malt... Wait a Minute
All seemed good when we were about to start brewing on Thursday... Until we realised that none of the malts we were planning to use had any Diastatic power... Oops. This would have left us missing out on a whole lot of sugars from the grains, which made up over 10% of our sugars, a fairly major hit. So the last minute decision to swap out our Oats for Rye malt, which has a decent DP, in order for us to get conversion of the other malts used.

The result was our chocolate oatmeal porter becoming a chocolate oatmeal rye oatmealless porter... Or a chocolate rye porter for short, similar to the Little Creatures Mr. Obadiah, which in fairness we both love.

So we brewed away like usual, with the only major changes being a full sparge, which previously we hadn't had the patience for, and the addition of some bittersweet cocoa to the boil, which we believe should make the beer have a moderate to strong chocolate taste.

Porter on the left, Lambnesia on the right

While the wort was cooling down, we racked Melo's last brew, a Roast Lamb inspired herb beer with the working title of 'Lambnesia' into secondary, then poured the COROP into our primary and pitched the yeast.

Now we play the waiting game... If it turns out well, this beer is getting kegged and served at our Beer SpecTAPular on the 26th. Time will Tell, and I'm hoping it tells us the story of an awesome chocolate porter, not a gross failure, but we'll see

Next time: Not sure what we'll do next, wait and see I guess?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 7: Last Day and Homeward!

Realised I'd forgotten to write up the last day of the trip, so here goes nothing. Woke up after a long night by the fireplace, then cooked up a brekky of Bacon and Eggs to start the day well. Headed down the track to Harry's place for a coffee and to check up his homebrewing setup, then in the car on our way to the Jamieson Brewery

Fairly Unassuming from the Outside to be sure
Arriving at a brewery/pub at 11:15 am is normally not the best idea in the world, but they were open and ready to serve, so we happily obliged and grabbed a couple of schooners, Mello the 'Beast' IPA and I grabbed their seasonal beer, an Irish Red Ale

Forgot to photograph the beers, so you get the taps
Both were great, so we picked up a Mixed-6 each and jumped back in the car. While driving we had a debate about whether we were stopping in Nowra and camping for the night, or powering through straight to Sydney. After realising it would take as long to get to Nowra as it would Sydney, and remembering with horror pitching tents in the dark back on school camp, we decided that the only sensible option was to power through.

90% of the day was comprised of this... Not too bad
We DID make a sneaky stop at Holbrook for a pie (at the famour Holbrook Bakery no less!), then one last Brewery stop, making it our second time as Bridge Rd. Mello really wanted to grab a few more of their beers, and it was his turn to drive, so I took advantage of that and tried one of their new brews, the Imperial Honey IPA "Hop to it Honey". Really smooth and sweet, you wouldn't have known it was imperial without reading the label!

Finally, we made the last leg through in to Sydney. Ended up at my place for one final night of drinks, but first we had to unpack the car... The result:
All the empties, full bottles, glassware, food and kegs we brought back
In summary, a hell of a lot of beer, bottles and kegs. The kegs will later become a Brew Kettle, a Mash tun and a Hot Liquor tank/Fermenter (We haven't decided which). The rest of what we brought back will be... Used appropriately.

Next time: Back home and back to brewing! We make our first dark beer