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.