Thursday, December 27, 2012

Adventures in All Grain Brewing. Boring description of what I did follows.

So all grain brewing is a new and terrifying experience, I bought some software, Beer Alchemy, but honestly it isn't helping. I found a well recommended yet basic recipe on the net and went from there.
Centennial Blonde Ale calls for 2 row malt, which we don't see much of here. After reading up on the forums it seems that Americans use it as a base malt because its cheap, available and doesn't add a lot of flavour. We have access to a lot of UK pale and NZ pale malts here. Apparently they have a little more flavour so you don't need to add as much speciality malts. But once again, thats only what I could glean from reading online forums.

I didn't want to make a full 5 gallon batch as my pot is only 30 litres and I had no idea if I would get boil over  and foamy wort going everywhere or a wave of mashed grains spilling out the sides. Oh the paranoia when starting new things it was very high. So I toned down the recipe a little using Beer Alchemy. It is Alchemy cause I have no idea how to get the software to work really well for me. Must work on magic and lead beans. Once again due to paranoia I had a kg of DME standing by incase I got really bad efficiency of stuffed up the amount of grain completely

Anyway I had 4.05kg of grain total and about 20L of water preheated to 70. I turned off my flames and dropped in my cake rack (round made of sturdy wire to stop the bag hitting the bottom) lined the pot with my grain bag and tipped in the grain. Mmmmm smells good. Had to stir for a bit to smash up some dough balls. I was aiming for a mash temp of around 66 and I got about 65.8 (HAH yeah, my thermometer is THAT accurate....not). So I wrapped the pot up in an old polar fleece blanket and left it for an hour. 

When I got back the temp had only dropped a degree so that was cool. 

I turned the heat back on to warm it up for mash out, The I pulled out my bag and twisted the top until I had a nice tight ball of grain at the bottom, this was set over to pot on a wire rack to drain into the pot and 4L of approx 70 degree water was poured through to rinse out and remaining sugar.

So after all this I think I only had about 17L of wort. Pre-boil gravity was around 1.046
I did my boil and added hops (via hop bag) at all the right intervals, even added some Irish Moss for clarity and chilled it down with my wort chiller. I though I had at east half a pot of wort there but when I poured it into my fermentor I only had 12L! (I did leave most of the sludgy stuff behind) But the gravity was up to 1.06 I was aiming for 1.04 so I topped up to 18L with water and was bang on. There is so much more gunk when going all grain. I need to probably whirlpool and siphon to leave more crap behind. 

Yeast was a new strain to my homebrew shop, BRY-97. Yes yes, give the newbie the unknown performer for her first all grain batch. I'm a sucker. Anyway I rehrydrated them and left them to their beer making business. Its a bit of a slow starter but to be honest I really could have aerated my wort more thoroughly. The home brew shop guy said this yeast is supposed to be quite flocculant so maybe it'll help stick all the gunk to bottom of the fermenter. I'll definitely be racking to secondary with this batch

Of course I decided I had things under control in the last 45 mins of the boil and decided to have a beer or two. That did not leave me very motivated for clean up, but grains and hops are in the compost and everything else is rinsed out.

My Chinese market three ring burner had left carbon all over the bottom of my brew pot and I even up with greasy black fingers after pouring the wort out. But at least its grunty enough to get it up to a rolling boil. I think it was boiling a bit too vigorously though, I had it fine tuned about halfway through to a nice gentle boiling instead of the erupting boil. 

The wort tasted good though and thats the main thing.

Some brew day pictures.
Wort just starting to boil.

Wort boiling away with my hop bag clamped to the side.

Wort chiller added 15 minutes before turning off flame to kill any bugs. Fish bin for chucked the spent grain and used bits of brewing equipment till clean up time,

Wort Chiller is go.

Wort Chilled.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Croucher, Galaxy IPA.

Bottle of Croucher's Beer, Galaxy IPA. Taken on my deck.

puh-chiiiiiiiiiiiii Hello bubbles and wafting aroma, already an active beer its begging to be poured. First aromas are spiced apricot, nectarine, ripe honey dew melon and some kinda funky herbaceous tree smell. Pours a sumptuous old gold colour with a bubbly head that dissipates leaving me with a lasting ring of white foam around my glass. The aromas are pretty complex and begging me to drink.

Its bitter baby and you'd better like it cause there's no namby pamby super sweet malty backbone to hold your hand afterwards. Superbly dry and refreshing it may however be too much to handle for the non hop heads. Its like drinking a tree. Sure theres a hint of biscuity malt as it first hits your tongue but don't expect them to hang around. Its quickly replaced with brain tingling resinous bitterness that is beautiful in its own way.

As the beer warms you can expect a bit more sweetness to come through but for the main part this is a beer for hop lover. I am such, this beer is for me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Emerson's Bird Dog IPA

Mmmm bottle conditioned goodness. This beer is withheld or cellared till the brewer is happy with the way the flavours have developed only then is it sold! Small batches being released from September through to march so get it while you can.

Well hello hops, hello hello hello! Before I can even appreciate the golden amber hues of this attractive beer I find myself being assaulted by hops punching their way out of the bottle. There's an astringent note to these sappy hop aromas, it gives a real feeling of freshness and zestiness. Its almost like a sour fruit smell. Refreshing!

Lively carbonation starts us off with a puffy head that falls to a well retained thin white head, not much lacing observed in this pour.

On tasting it aggressive marmalade grapfruity hoppiness very intense and bitter, but the bitterness isn't lasting. There's some honey malty goodness and the mouthfeel is thinish but it all feels fairly balanced. The bitterness almost runs rampant, but it fades nicely after each mouthful so the overall feeling isn't too intense.

Its a beer that any hop head will love but perhaps not the best beer to use for introducing your lager loving mates to craft beer.

Its 6.5% and a bottle is equivalent of 2.6 drinks and I'm certainly feeling it. The alcohol blends in nicely with the bitterness. Not a beer to be rushed its well enjoyed at the end of a long day of christmas shopping.

This has instantly become a favourite and is a try before you die kinda beer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Its hump day, feeling the downward slide to Friday in my bones and relaxing on the deck with a beer.

So this beauty is very golden and once you wipe the condensation off the glass its clear. Interestingly there's no instant "smash your face in" aroma, rather gentle. Bottled in May but long travelled may have diminished the nose somewhat. I get hints of lemon, astringent spice, citrus, vegetation, a little sweet malt or fruity hops in the background maybe. Its all very subtle.

As I try appreciate the subtle aromas an amazing thing is going on with the carbonation, thousands of tiny bubbles are continuously forming at the bottom of my glass creating a very fine super lasting creamy white head. Champagne bubbles, its beautiful! This is some masterful carbonation.

I was expecting more hoppy aroma, but a large portion of this hops have turned to bitterness. Citrus pith and grapefruit dominate in the mouth, but it balanced with some pretty competitive caramel maltiness. Overall mouthfeel is however fairly creamy yet light and lively with a dry finish.

Alcohol at 6% is adding a bit of spicy heat but can't out compete the bitter hops.

It's a sweet little beer and maybe I drink too many ridiculous IPA's these days because it was a little less than I was expecting, but I would be happy with a 6 pack of this for a weekend.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

My nearest Glengarry has jumped on the craft beer bandwagon and is importing butt loads of American beer. The youthful Glengarry workers were keen to talk beer and recommended some excellent beers, but mostly I had my heart set on America.

Finally I'm able to taste a Sierra Nevada beer. This staple of quality American beer is always popping up on my untappd feed (Beer bragging site) even Whil Wheaton drinks it.

Pour is a golden orange with a medium off-white head, carbonation is adequate but leaves me wondering just how well this 12FL.OZ bottle travelled to New Zealand, was it a long arduous boat ride or high altitude air freight, or simply set adrift on the ocean with a message to call me as soon as it reached out shores?

Aroma is hoppy, nothing too piney though, its mostly fruit and flowers. Slightly green nectarine, tangy pineapple and sticky sap notes.

You can smell and taste the dry hopping in this little bottle. In the mouth it's delightfully bitter, with an oiliness that not only coats your tongue but the whole inside of you mouth leaving you tasting it for some time after. A nice lingering moreish bitterness which is satisfying on its own making the enjoyment of the brew last even longer. The hoppy bitter notes remind me of grapefruit and bitter orange, aka the usual suspects. Plus the pine finally comes through.

Malts are in there, sweet and caramel blending in nicely with the fruitier hop aromatics to round out the bitterness.

The alcohol on this is 7.2% adding a little heat and spiciness to the flavour but is well blended with the other flavours and I could have mistaken the beer for being lower in alcohol.

Overall an enjoyable IPA that was easily lingered over in the hour before dinner.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Epic Zythos

Today is brew day and as I toil in the kitchen a cold beer is required to keep the joints well lubricated for such a strenuous task.

My beer of choice is Epic Zythos, because after yesterdays disastrous tasting of Mayhem I figured I need to give epic another chance.

The wort is happily boiling away so I'm taking a moment to really savour the beer.

I like the colour, its a lot lighter than the Mayhem, and the head is a little whiter to.  Pours with a nice head and leave loads of lovely lacing and maintains its carbonation. I'm starting to feel like the mayhem was really let down by the lack of carbonation, it really didn't work too well as a flat beer. So I'm delighted with the staying power of the Zythos.

Aroma is grapefruits and fresh crushed green pine needles. Sappy and sweet a nice light refreshing balanced aroma.

The flavour of Zythos is something else, I want so say wintergreen, buts its not quite as a strong as that. Its light a pine flavoured malt candy. Very very tasty. Hints of grapefruit and citrus zest. Its got a resinous syrupy finish. Great mouthfeel with a comforting sensation of fully coating the tongue with flavour. Some lovely biscuity malt notes in there too.

I much prefer Zythos to Mayhem, its moreish and better balanced. The carbonation is more on target and remains tasty to the last drop.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Epic Mayhem

So I've spent the afternoon spreading homebrew joy at the work Christmas party. Two hits and one so - so. Not bad for the novice homebrewer and its good to note that not everyone loves hops as much as I do.

But dammit, my love for hops is all consuming, so on the way home I had to stop at Forest hill liqourland and shout myself some kind of hoppy craft brew as a Friday treat. I really wanted a Green flash West Coast IPA but there was none in stock, so I happily purchased my second choice. Epic Mayhem.

I want the mayhem.

So the label states 'Best in Class BrewNZ 2006' well that was six years ago, we're come a long way since then with brews in New Zealand. I wonder how it holds up.

The colour on this brew is astounding! Beautiful dark copper/amber, very clear. Lacy off white head, big big bubbles, that quickly settle down to almost nothing. The head disappears fairly quickly and leaves a clear beer with slight carbonation.

A hoppy aroma, upfront dominant overripe tropical fruits,sweetness,hints of citrus and a little pine or resin at the back.

Its creamy and syrupy on the tongue then I get the typical grapefruit bitterness from the hops. There's a little toffee in there, malts are right upfront and a little cloying. The after taste is a little metallic. Its okay, but it feels a little off balance.

The alcohol is 6.2% and fairly noticeable adding some "spice" to the mix. Some higher alcohol beers I've tried are a little more subtle somehow. Once again it comes down to balance and this beer is slightly off kilter.

Is it just me or is every beer from epic starting to taste the same or am I simply not drinking enough to appreciate the nuances? This beer felt a little one dimensional, it was good, but not great. I've really enjoyed all my epic beers to date but this one just made me feel tired and at 10.99 for the experience a little jaded too.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

8 Wired - Super Conductor

This very special brew has been in my fridge for two weeks waiting for me to sample, MADNESS. But I've had loads of quality home brew to get through and I was saving it for a special occasion!
That special occasion being a Saturday afternoon after sitting through a conference (mostly interesting) that contained a talk I've already seen 3 times and ended with a very PC patronising talk on workplace well being.

Speaker: "Does anyone think resilience is a good thing to foster in the work place?"

Me: "No, I like the weekly mental breakdowns! Stress does amazing things to ones ability to throw tables through 3rd story windows!"

And my least favourite, when people reference the dictionary.

Speaker: "The Oxford English dictionary defines team as.........

Me: "ARGGGGH kill me now"

Events such as this is why its so important to have a stash of high quality high alcohol craft beer in the fridge at all times.

Superconductor, great name, great beer. Pours lovely warm orange amber with a thin head. Carbonation is fairly light.

Super sweet on the nose. Honeysuckle, fruity, slight hint of pine, shortbread? caramel? some kinda warm toasty biscuity note in with the sweet aromas. If you haven't tried a craft beer yet, you don't know what you're missing. Try doing an aroma comparison side by side, in the glass of steinlager, becks, heineken v.s any craft beer. Even if massive hops aren't to your taste I still think anyone will appreciate the aroma. Just like non-coffee drinkers still find the aroma of espresso appealing.

The beer is sweet and syrupy in the mouth with an instant grapefruit bitterness on the swallow. I love the sweet/bitter interaction in hoppy beers. It excites the taste buds and leaves you lots to ponder between mouthfuls. The oily hop flavours certainly hang around giving the brain something to dwell on removing focus from the long tiring day.

Overall I love it, I would have liked a little more carbonation. But otherwise delicious.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Brewery Tour at Hallertau - Your chance to brew with a Brewer.

Label from the 20L jerry can of wort we were given.
Hallertau was a great choice for the first in hopefully a long series of brew evenings with Mangrove Jacks.
Steve (Hallertau brew guy) started out as a home brewer, and most home brewers I've met also love craft beer. So it was a great chance to sample some Hallertau ask loads of questions and get some get advice for home brewing.

I also got to try some guest beers on tap at the bar including Liberty Evil burning monster and Garage project Day of the dead. Also I was really impressed by Hallertaus Minimus, an excellent summer beer. Lowish alcohol at 3.8% but loads of hop flavour. Wish it was sold as six packs in the local supermarket.

I was also surprised to find out that the beer isn't force carbonated  All the beer from the bar is served straight from a tank and the beer is kept under its own pressure  Did lead to some beautiful heads on those beers, so its working wonders. The big bonus of the night was of course the take home wort pack and yeast. The wort was brewed that day at Hallertau. Its a coriander and orange wheat beer. The yeast is a bavarian wheat beer strain, provided dried by Mangrove Jacks.

Start gravity is 1.0525, we were supposed to add 1 litre of water to the pack but I forgot. Lids already on!

SG 1.0175

SG 1.0175

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making the same IPA - Experiments! Fallen 2.0

So I'm making my same IPA, no bastard mash of carapils this time though.

And for this batch I'm changing the yeast. I'm going with some Safale US-05.

I just bottled my first version of this, first version split into two batches, one will ridiculous dry hopping (Fallen 1.5) and the other without. (Fallen 1.0)

I can't get over how fruity this beer smelled though. This was my first downstairs brew, where the temp is between 16-20 degrees but usually constant 18. So I wasn't expecting too much in the way of fruity ester formation. But the smell of apples coming off the yeast cake was pretty intense. I just read that If you leave the beer longer the yeast will clean up some more of the acetaldehyde (green apple aroma cause by this). So this batch must be left for 3 - 4 weeks instead of 2-3.

Previous batch bulk primed with DME (which was pretty messy) so we'll see how that goes. 4 weeks till a test brew.
Ack it takes so long to taste the fruits of one's s labours!

OG 1.05 Waiting for wort to hit 18-20 degrees before pitching yeast.

SG 1.0175 Still fermenting Fair airlock activity. Sitting at 4.3% really want to dry hop soon! Plus OMG Krausen that hasn't fallen yet. I don't think its infected.Tasting good. better than Fallen 1.0.

SG 1.010 wow, still so much krausen and airlock activity. Long live US-05!

Dry hopped the bastard.

Dry hopped for too long maybe, but damn I was busy lol. Bottled, FG still 1.01 30 bottle woohoo!

Pitch Black Boysenberry Stout - Invercargill Brewery.

Hello stout, its a stout worthy day and I've just mixed up a batch of beer. While I wait for the wort to cool, I need to wait for the stout to warm up. Straight out of the fridge probably won't do it justice, so let wait while it warms up.

It pours with a thin brown head, very dark in colour, plum wine black sums it up.
Aroma heavily features tart boysenberries and unripe plum, some roasty malt notes hiding in the mix.

Its a very velvety drink however the boysenberries come shouting through and a mouthful finishes with singing berries tartness and sweetness. There is hints of medium roast coffee. Warmer is definitely better for this beer, the flavours melt together better and the beer becomes very moreish. Hints of chocolate start to come through and the boysenberry flavour subdues. Carbonation is very light, but a slight effervescence on the tongue.

It sits at 5% alcohol and I think its pretty noticeable in the flavour profile.

Boysenberries stout is an interesting experiment, feels like a dessert matching kinda beer and is best served warmer than you think.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Epic Lager.

Okay lagers, you and I have an issue. I kinda don't like you. You are boring and sickly, too sweet and dull of flavour. But damn if you ain't good after a hot afternoon in the garden. You are my booty call beer. I only call when I need you and as soon as you're done I want you out of my life.

The over abundance of lager has also conditioned generations of New Zealanders into thinking that its either good and the way beer should taste, or they hate it and therefore hate all beer. Both options depress me.

Now if you hate lager it doesn't mean you don't like beer.  It just means you don't like lager.

And if you think lagers are the be all and end all of beers, thats fine, but its like thinking chardon is the be all and end all of wine. There's just so much more out there.

Granted lager is uncomplicated and unchallenging to the palate, refreshing and easy to drink a lot of. But a pilsner is just as crisp and refreshing with a little bite of hops for flavour and a regular english bitter makes for a great session beer and won't get you too wasted either. Both options are not heavy on alcohol or "weird" craft beers. So if you're in the mood for expanding the palate give those styles a try.

So Epic, what can you bring to a lager? She pours a very pale golden straw yellow with a thin white head then even a heavy hand can't overcome.

The aroma is very bready with maybe a hint of of hops, a slight sweet fruit aroma too. A dancing mouthfeel, well carbonated. Crisp. A little spice and bitterness. The finish is a bit malty, bitter from over boiled hops and musty. Its okay. I don't think I can fairly critique this unless its next to another lager. For some reason lagers leave this funky taste in my mouth that makes me dread the next mouthful.

I won't be buying this one again, but to be fair I can't really judge this beer impartially.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Invercargill Brewery - Sai!son

Ah Invercargill, I've never been, but I've been to some of your beers. I'm a fan of the Pilsner. So with spring being rather disappointing so far, hopefully this summer styled farmhouse ale will be the thrilling pick me up to get me in the summertime mood.

This brew pours a gorgeous hazy burnt orange with a thin white head. A persistent carbonation sustains keeps that foam a going. Now I don't need my beers to be crystal clear to enjoy them. Thats mostly aesthetics and I'm only slightly impressed by good looks. 
First nosey impressions are winegums, yeast and peaches. Gotta love the saisons, certainly a mixed bag of aromas but Invercargill brewery have made an appealing brew here. Fantastic aroma  and my tastebuds are crying out so down the hatch!

Hmm a well rounded syrupy mouthfeel  some decent bitterness to tame the brew and a sweet yeasty aged finish. Just enough bitterness on the tongue to leave you wanting more and maybe a hint of citrus sourness. Its certainly a playful brew with flavours bouncing all over the place and some may find the sweetness too much. But it certainly has the rich ripe feel of summer in a glass.  

I'd love to pair this beer with some roast pork and kumura. Or a thick slice of ham off the bone. A delicious brew, bit too heavy on the alcohol to be a refreshing summer beer (6.8%), but certainly an end of the day, finished gardening, lets have some leftover christmas ham sandwiches kind of beer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Emersons 1812 - Hoppy Pale Ale.

*Please note, its a pale ale, sure its "hoppy" but it doesn't claim to be an IPA.

I probably wasn't the only one to rush out and buy some Emersons today. The big news in craft beer today is that Lion has bought Emersons out 100%. Not an investments stake, but full on, bought the whole shebang.
I am in two minds. A part of me is sad, Lion has a history (macs anyone) of destroying a good thing. However this reminds me of the software business (bare with me). Its a good thing when a small software company is bought out, they get a nice payday! I hope Richard Emerson got some nice cash, he deserves it after 20 years. Also publicity and distribution that a bigger company can offer. Maybe I'm naive and optimistic to hope that Lion will use its clout to promote Emersons. I also think that it's a sign that the big guys recognise the force that is growing in craft brewing. They want an in, they want a share of our dollar. Long term maybe this can only be a good thing for craft brew. Some may want to abandon Emersons seeing as for some, supporting craft brew isn't just about flavour, its about ethos and supporting the underdog. For example, Hashigozake have their own ethics to follow and this means saying farewell to Emersons.

Emerson's are not my stand out special favourite, but this bottle is a stand up tribute to quality and balance in a beer. Beautiful amber pour with off white large bubble head. Sweet hop aroma, spicy caramel malts and lingering tasty citrusy finish. ABV 5% which is lovely bang on alcohol content for me. This would be a great restaurant beer, it refreshing moorish and not too dominating with alcohol or hops. It would pair nicely with a lot of meals and even some desserts.

It was a good run Emerson's. Here's to the future, I'll be watching with interest.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

John Bull London Porter - Vanilla Bomb

So I'm still extract brewing and my IPA is still in the fermentor, but I have second barrel so I couldn't help but lay another beer down. This time in the style of a London Porter.

I read the web page about how to kick up your extract kits to the next level so I bravely did a mini mash of 500g chocolate malt, 250g smoked and 250 carapils cause I likes it! And of course two cans of malt, john bull london porter and Muntons medium malt extract. 

My mash tun is just a medium sized pot with a towel wrapped around it but I think it did the job okay. Temp didn't drop too much. Then I boiled my wort and added 100g of lactose at the end (unfermentable for a bit of sweetness).

I've also got two vanilla pods soaking in a wee bit of Bowmores legend whisky to add in at some end stage.

This will be my fifth batch of beer and I haven't followed instructions to the letter since the first batch. It may have been more sensible to postpone experiments till I had mastered making a basic kit. But wheres the fun in that!? Also, these kits, some of them are pretty bland. They need some jazzing up. AND MORE HOPS!

OG 1.0575 (1.058 corrected for temp) whoops a bit high but there is bound to be some unfermentables in mix. Sitting at 22C need it to cool a bit before I add yeast.

SG 1.025 or 1.0275

SG about the same as last time, so sitting on 4.4% ABV

SG 1.025 or 1.0275 man my hydrometer sucks. I want a better one.

SG 1.0225 Bottling day! 30 bottles, 750ml

Second batch underway
500g Chocolate malt
300g Smoked Malt
200g Carapils
100g Lactose
1 John Bull Porter kit
1 bucket (1.8kg) of muntons medium malt extract
1 sachet of yeast rehydrated and proofed. (Safale s-04)
2 vanilla pods soaking in 1/2 cup of whisky till bottling day

8.12.12 OG 1.0525
13.12.12 SG 1.0200
23.12.12 SG 1.0175
27.12.12 SG 1.0175 add clearing agent

Friday, November 02, 2012

Three Boys Brewery - IPA

To Christchurch I go, via a sample of beer anyways. Three boys brewery is run by a scientist, Ralph Bungard, PhD no doubt. An expert in plant physiology. As a scientician myself I cannot wait to sample the brew.

On popping the cap I get instant fresh hops aroma, not hops that smell fruit or tropical flowers or what not, but nice oily authentic hops.

It pours with a generous head of foam, ah I may have over poured it, the last few beers have needed a bit of coaxing so too heavy a hand with the pour. But the head is a nice off white, full of bubbles of all sizes, the smaller ones lasting down to the last mouthful. I like the staying power!

Colour is a not too bright amber and as it goes down I get load of lovely lacing on the sides of my glass.

Excellent mouthfeel, biscuity malty goodness. 5.2 percent alcohol, so just a little extra oomph to give a nice warming finish along with those resinous hoppy notes.

Its weird, but I want to say something in this reminds me of tobacco, a sweet dried leaf type aroma. So not an ash or burning, but something a little edgy. Maybe its weed? After all Hops are of the same family as marijuana. Whatever it is we'll say its a hard to describe hop flavour. It certainly adds to the complement of flavours and pleasant in nature.

The empty glass aroma reminds me of home made ginger bread. There is something lovely about the grains in this beer. They are nicely balanced with the bitterness for a truly enjoyable easily sessionable beer.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Baroona Original - Waiheke Island brewery

Its an odd name for a beer, but its named after an old ferry that serviced the island.
There's also another oddity in the label. Its called a Pale Ale, but the Waiheke brewery website says its actually a kolsch style beer.

On pouring its a lovely golden hazy colour with a thin white head. Carbonation is fairly light.
First aromas are sweetness, citrus and cereal. Its made with NZ grown saaz hops which apparently give lots of citrus flavours.

After a hectic 30 minutes of weed pulling I was eager to taste and its an excellent post gardening beer. The body is light and bitter crisp with a pleasantly dry hoppy finish which really reminds me more of a pilsner.

It feels like an everyday quality beer, the alcohol is 4.7% so you won't be too incapacitated after just the one and can head back to the garden for more tedious weed pulling.....yay. :-/

While not the massive hop bomb I usually like to drink it was still very pleasant after some hard yakka.

Friday, October 26, 2012

8 Wired - Hopwired

As a reward for actually finding some sort of costume for tonights dreaded halloween party ( I find costume parties immensely stressful) and also for cleaning up the kitchen after last nights brewing I have shouted myself 8 wired's hopwired.

So this brew has all New Zealand malt and all New Zealand hops. Plenty of local flavour to be had then.

The beer pours with an almost syrupy consistency into the glass and forms a nice white head. I love the way the higher alcohol brews pour. I'd describe the colour as dark old gold, hint of amber, beautiful in the spring sun. First aromas are surprisingly sweet with passionfruit, fruit salad, ripe pears and honey. This is the New Zealand hop aromas really shining. I'd say the Nelson Sauvin is driving a lot of these fruity aromas. It's wonderful.

Taste is quite different, the bitterness tingles the back of the tongue straight away. Very full mouthfeel, sweet malt, loads of bitterness all at the same time, finishing quite sweet then evaporating to dry bitterness. This is an extremely pleasant beer, some of the malts have a caramel or candied? sweetness desperately trying to balance the hops and the interplay is blowing my mind. I love complexity of flavours!

As the brew goes down we get some lovely lacing and more sweet malts coming through as it warms up. Temperature seems important for this beer, it goes from being hoppy to balanced to almost sweet as it warms up.

Very drinkable for a friday afternoon. Would definitely buy again.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making the best IPA I can

Okay, time to stop bouncing around with styles. I LOVE IPA's,  bitterness, yum, floral hops yum, massive  biscuity malt base yum. Thats my idea of the perfect beer.

So while I am still a lowly extract brewer I have decided I will do my utmost to brew what I like and to make it awesome. No more bouncing around different style just cause I can. time to brew with purpose!

I professed my inexperience to the kindly gentleman at brewers coop and he said that the mangroves jacks british series produced a very nice IPA. Plus instead of brewers sugar (blah) I got directed to some light malt extract.

I recommend everyone to try malt extract at least once in their lives, its god damn delicious! whoops I spilt some on my hand?! oh noes, I better eat it! nom nom nom.

I used my lovely spring water and a little bastard mashing of carapils malt. It never ceases to amaze me how sweet the liquid gets. First time I mashed in a bag and I got a dry spot in the middle. I sampled. wow can still taste the sugar. Tonight however with my slightly modified bastard method I had no dry spots and now more sweet grain, got all those lovely sugars out. And for the first time eye witnessed the hot break. The magical moment when the boiling wort foam suddenly breaks down. I almost  feel like a real brewer!

I stirred for HOURS (minutes really) to nicely aerate so to give my yeasties a good head start in life. Sniff, those poor bastards will be giving their lives, and THEIR childrens lives in honour of making my beer. (yeah I don't recycle yeast yet.)

So while I lust after 30L stock pots, copper wort chillers, chilly bins with a bung for mashing, unlimited litres of gas and three ring burners from bunnings, extract brewing will be my main stay.
my wort a chillin
OG 1.05

My brew is downstairs where the temperature is constant and cool. Read out says 18 degrees all the time. Nice. Keep bubbling little yeasties.

SG 1.02 woo its fermenting fast, just a few bubbles now, few more days ought to finish it off. Taste test, hmmm we will see. Not quite the hop bomb I'm aiming for, but Its a good base to work from.

SG 1.015 nice, sitting at 4.58% alcohol. Tasting good, been kept nice and cool.

SG 1.015 excellent, fermentation is pretty much done. Might leave till next weekend to bottle. Another week for yeasties to work their magic.

Good god, I've split the batch. I am dry hopping one to extremes. 30g zythos. 30g, cascade, 30g hallertau wakatu and 15g amarillo. Jeebus.

Bottled. 17 days in the fermentor. Not enough? Bulk primed with DME. Messy scary stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is what happens when singles are on sale at the supermarket. For $2 I could buy a beer I've never seen before. Shiney gold can!

Investigation of the label reveal this to be brewed by no one, but a little internet digging leads me to DB breweries.

It pours a nice amber colour with a little head and moderate carbonation. Time to inhale the fine aromas... Its  a little musty, maybe a hint of egg. Definitely a grainy smell sort of like raw yeasty dough. This is a malt monster.

In the mouth its nothing  but sweet maltiness. Complex it is not. But it is beer and could be a standard DB brew under a different label. I don't drink enough to really recognise anything. Feels ale-ish with a few top notes, not really crisp enough to be a lager, but what do I know?

So I'm halfway through and its terribly blah. Its got a rank finish that makes you feel like you've already drunk half a dozen of them and you're ready to start drinking water now. The sweetness gets cloying as the beer warms in the glass. Can't say I'm enjoying the last mouthfuls.

Meh so a fairly average almost terrible all malt beer with not much going for it.

Coronado Brewing CO. Islander IPA

Another Californian IPA. I can't help myself, this style of beer is my absolute favourite. Coronado Islander IPA lets go.

Oh look, you could almost pretend its warm outside!
I can't find a production date on the bottle, bit disconcerting as I like my IPA's to be fresh but the importer has dated arrival in the country as September 2012 so can't be too old. The label is sweet because everyone likes topless mermaids with jugs of beer. I really like the printed on the bottle style of label too. Classy.

It pours a hazy dark orange/amber, theres a bit of munich malt in there. A lovely head, though not as creamy as the green flash ipa or as long lasting. The second pour with a little extra warmth provided a slightly higher head and loads of aroma popping from the foam.

The aroma is beautiful, its initially very sweet, which threw me for a bit, with memories of honeysuckle bouncing around I headed in for another waft, citrus, honey, flowers, slight hint of grapefuity floral bitterness, but otherwise a very sweet nose. The malt aromas come drifting through, theres some excellent malty biscuity goodness hiding under all those hops.

At 7% the alcohol is very warming, driving all those malty flavours in. It sits nicely in the mouth with a good malt biscuity body but is quickly overshadowed by a bitter finish. On the finish we get more grapefruit and pine notes which are not expected from the sweet aroma. It feels like the malt needs to hold a bit more of the limelight here, its good but so quickly overshadowed. Its a fantastic beer but a fraction more body would seal the deal for me.

Overall its a very good, complex IPA. Buy a big bottle to linger over.

Plus theres a nice little kiwi connection to Coronado.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus Review

Its the long weekend and Auckland has put on some fine rain. So with all gardening activities cancelled (YAY cause I fuckin hate it) its time to sample some beers. Time to turn the tardis on and put my feet up.

I've purchased Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus, if you feel like you need a latin lesson to decode that you're not alone.Hallertau is the name of the brewery and also a variety of hops. The "maximus humulus lupulus" means loads of  common hops. And loads there is. At 50 IBU it could challenge some new to the craft beer movement as most beer sold in New Zealand seems to be fairly bland lagers.

To be honest though I'm not getting totally blown away with hoppiness. Maximus pours very cloudy and with little head, though does leave some nice lacing. Very orange in colour with moderate carbonation. Hop aroma is not overpowering but I get malt and maybe a little unripe apricot. In the mouth its a completely different story. Its starting to reveal its bitterness, its an almost chewy bitter, some grapefruit there and a floral bitterness that reminds me of jasmine tea. A hint of pine on the long finish.

I'd say the finish is where the flavour is on this beast. Deceptively chewy malty hoppiness going down, then a long lingering bitterness with heaps of flavours revealing themselves. This makes for an excellent sunday afternoon drop. Lots to ponder and enjoy in this complicated little bottle. I'm a little sad thats its all gone. As long as I don't drink anything else I can continue to enjoy me, it really does have a loooong finish.

50 IBU
Purchased from Liquorland Forest Hill, the best craft brew source on the shore.

Friday, October 19, 2012

West Coast IPA - Green Flash Brewing Co.

So I've been living in the land of home brew lately, my first batch was in the lager style and I've been missing my hops so for the Holiday weekend I shouted myself a hoppy import.

When you think of Californian beers hops spring to mind, and Green Flash doesnt disappoint  Before I even pour I like to deeply inhale from the bottle and I got a noseful of resinous tropical hops. Yum. It poured beautifully forming a fine bubbled creamy head with astonishing staying power. Its hazy a orange/gold, not crystal clear that for sure, but with all those hops, how could it be. Not overly carbonated, after the initial pour we get a few rising bubbles. Spectacular lacing and resistant head make it an aesthetically pleasing beer to drink.

It describes itself as "Extravagantly hopped", and maybe I would say decadently hopped. The resinous hops coat your tongue and biscuity malt wafts around the roof of your mouth, though its quickly replaced with almost piney and slightly grapefruit hop afternotes. A beautiful bitter finish that makes this beer so drinkable.

A few more mouthfuls reveal a spicy peppery note amid the floral aromas. Grapefruit bitterness still dominates but a lemon zest is trying to squeak through. After a while the malt struggles a little to compete with the oily hop flavours  but the beer has such an excellent hop finish we can easily forgive this.

The high alcohol content (7.3%) makes this a one bottle tasting/appreciation per evening. A full pint is a generous bottling size much appreciated and easy enjoyed over a couple of pours. The richness of flavour makes it easy to stretch out the enjoyment with slow considered mouthfuls. So while its about $12 here in NZ its certainly worth it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Right, third batch underway  I had a crappy day at work so I cheered myself up by brewing a beer. Or really just mixing extract with hot water. But I also did a teeeneeee tineeeeeee mash of some grains, in a muslin bag. AH it went okay. There are some subtleties I am yet to learn for the BIAB method, but I did get some nice flavours out of my tiny amount of carapils. I added 1kg of copper tun English bitter DME no.70. I kinda hate DME. I stirred the shit out of my brew and sooooo much DME is sunk to the bottom. Is that normal? Is it okay? I have no idea, I just taste the mix and carry on. Yeast pitched at 24 degrees. Can't wait till I have an all grain set up.

OG 1.0375 wow seems low, Still style notes suggest a regular bitter only goes as low as 3% and high as 4.1% after that its a ESB (extra special bitter).

SG 1.0150

Added 30 grams of hallertau hops, cause y'know..... I like em.

SG 1.0100

SG 1.01
Added finings removed hops

Bottled 28

We'll call it 3.7% alcohol with generous rounding. This is my first batch of beer made with spring water, but its been kept entirely too warm. So not anticipating great flavours.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Double pale ale

My double pale ale has been bottled. Not quite as high alcohol content as my label implies. I may have under pitched the yeast. Doh. The dry hopping didn't quite give as much aroma as I'd hoped so I will be adding more next time. Meantime all the home brew shops are closed on Sunday afternoons, so I'm left to ponder the next batch, what shall it be?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Hunt for Water

Ah water, its so free...... oh wait. NO ITS NOT. City council privatised water to "watercare" and now its about $70 a month.

Small price to pay for clean drinking water, first world problems etcetera

However, my new brew obsession demands chlorine free water, and perhaps something with a decent mineral content to emulate some old world brews.

But where can you find 23L of free artisan water in the city?

A bit of research leads me to the raw food meet up blog, where everyone so super healthy the ne'er a skerrick of chlorine passes their lips. But they pointed me to 15 Eden Cres in the heart of Auckland city. Its the current location of the Auckland University Law Library.

15 Eden Cres. There is a driveway by the telecom phone box but it has a barrier arm.
So far it looked less than promising. Concrete jungle surrounded me. Parking could be had for a short time  for a dollar, even though I didn't plan to be long I had to pay due to a hungry looking parking warden stalking the pavement.
The driveway did not inspire confidence.

No free parking at the spring!

But we persevered. I swear this spring had featured in "North", Marcus Lush presented, he wouldn't lie to us..WOULD HE?
Urban beauty, the interplay of orange and grey so so so frank!
Instructions were to head right under the walkway and  through the covered car park. I still felt as though I was on a wild goose chase, but beyond! Beyond! In the light a hint of green and the legendary brink wall!
There it is, a nice black plastic tap has been installed by some thoughtful person and its easy to fill your jerry can.
Not sure if vines poisoned or dead due to winter
This is what it used to look like (image by Phil Hanson)

So I grabbed my water and when I got home I did a bit more research. Auckland city history is well served by the timespanner blog and has load of knowledgeable commenters. From here I learned that the spring once served Grey and Menzies, a local soft drink producer.
From Interesting collectables of New Zealand

The spring also helped the city through a drought in the late 1840's. The spring is called Waiariki and originates near Albert park. It's also popular with Geocachers, but as its a popular site it keeps getting "muggled". It was also run down to the wharf at official bay to refill ships barrels, these days the overflow still runs to the ocean, but unused and unloved via stormwater drains.

So there is free spring water to be had in the CBD. Surprisingly easy to find and easy parking on a Saturday too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Batch Label

Second Batch of Home Brew

Experimental Double Pale Ale

So I dumped two pouches of Mangrove Jacks Pale Ale malt extract and topped up to 25L. No dextrose, that's what the second pouch of malt extract is for.
One sachet of yeast.

Two days later and I have huge krausen and bubbles every 7 seconds. Smells a bit fruity, not sure if that's good or bad.

Initial Gravity Reading 1.0425

Well its been a week, fermentation has slowed. Nice flavour developing, still considering dry hopping.
Gravity now 1.0175

Gravity 1.015 creeeeeeeping down. I want it under 1.01! tasting gooooood though!

Gravity 1.015 still. Hmmmmmmmm is it stuck or finished? I have no idea!

Gravity 1.015 heck it I'm bottling next chance I get.

Yeah I really could have bottle this last week. But its all done now! Dry hopped for two days with some hallertau wakatu in a mesh bag. Next time, more hops, more days.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Does My Beer Have an Internet?

When will I stop using shitty filters? NEVER!
So all over twitter and facebook, (because I follow the beers...) has been buzz about epic orcon. Now granted most of the buzz was due to the free beer being offered at O'carrolls, but this buzz is deserved.
Epic is known for its hoppy beers, hoppy to the point of madness. Take the hop zombie for example. Its like trying to scrape your tongue with a sappy pine branch. Which can be a good thing, but only for a moment. This beer however is more of a session beer, I popped the lid and heavenly sweet hops wafted from the bottle. Good start. Aroma is everything, at least 70% of everything, 50% at the anyway it smelled good. Also sweetness. The website calls it passion fruit, but my odd food pairing (sesame seaweed salad ooops) didn't let me come to that conclusion'straight away. But thanks to the power of suggestion as as the last drops go down, I can say that passionfruit is a fair call. There's a great balance with the malt here. Round smooth, exquisite mouthfeel. Very silky. Full body, not too much bitter after taste, beautiful balance, should have bought two and only $7.99 at Forest Hill Liqourland, which is the BEST craft beer stockist on the shore.

I pour to minimise head, cause I don't like sipping foam that much.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

First batch of Home Brew

I know my husband loves me because he pays attention to the things I love and encourages me to pursue my dreams.

Friday afternoon I found myself at the courier depot picking up a surprise parcel! It was a Coppertun home brew starter kit, everything you need (except bottles) to brew a batch of beer. Giddy with excitement I could barely drive home, so I drove to the home brew shop instead and picked up some 750 bottles in anticipation of bottling.

Its still pretty wintery here, so I was a bit concerned about fermentation but the brew shop lady was overflowing with knowledge and rest assured my brew will ferment even if it takes a bit longer than usual.

Is it just me or is the picture on the box somewhat misleading......

First I sterilised everything, even the can opener. No way in hell is my first batch of beer going to be contaminated with rogue micro-organisms only the sweet little brewers yeasties allowed.

Then I mixed up the malt, dextrose/hops mix (smells so good) and filled to make 23L of brown goodness.

Temperature gage indicates around 20C so all good for brewing, now I just have to wait a couple of weeks and I'll be ready to bottle.

Mangrove Jack's Munich Lager
27062-245-26-00 Best Before 28-06-14

Mixed with Coppertun beer essentials German lager.60 Malt, dextrose and hops dry mix.

And Mangrove Jack's supplied yeast sprinkled on top.

Gravity 1.012 (forgot to take initial reading DUH!!!)
Gravity 1.011 (its still bubbling away beer takes ages. the kit instructions LIE!)
Gravity 1.010 (still bubbling, COME ON BEER!!!)
Gravity 1.0075 (still bubbling and using a new hydrometer)
Gravity 1.0070 (seems slightly lower than yesterday, am I imagining things? maybe...maybe.)
Gravity 1.0075 ( I suck at reading hydrometers.)
Gravity 1.006 (definitely lower, and bubbling has slowed way down!)
Bottled! 27 x 750ml bottles.
10 days later and the beer is looking very clear indeed! really starting to mature. I'm think at least another 11 days till I test a bottle.
23L of beery goodness just waiting to happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brunch at Pear Tree

Eggs Benny $15.5
Mushrooms on toast $15
Flat White $3.9
Latte $4.5
Steinlager Premium light $7
Total $45.90 (A bit less than I pay for a breakfast out in Auckland at somewhere like the Papermoon cafe)

I only just found out that the house now know as the Pear Tree was previously owned by distant relatives and my mother used to spend nights there as a child. But now its a wonderful place to eat and if you're ever in Kerikeri stop by!

Its conveniently located at THE tourist hot spot stone store and Kemp house, but doesn't suffer from tourist trap prices and the food is excellent. Its so good I went twice, once for lunch and back again the next day for brunch. Who can resist sitting in the sun watching the water and perving at the tourists?

The seared scallop salad thing i had for lunch was perfect, the whole thing was deliciously, loads of different flavours all working together to make me wish I'd ordered two. They have Stoke amber and golden lager on tap, plus Guiness and a selection of reasonably priced wines.