Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Its been a while

Queue life getting in the way yet again I've neglected the blog, really should stop doing that!

Xmas Stout
Here is the Xmas Stout in all its glory. Very dark as you can see, not much sunlight is getting through there! The head itself sticks around a little, the lacing seems to stick around for longer.
There is not really any aroma, just smells like beer I guess. I wasn't expecting anything since its a stout, but I like having aroma, so might look at a hopped up stout in the future.
Its like no other beer I've ever had before, very tart from the aciduated malt, roast from the roasty goodness that went in and coming in at 4.8% its very quaffable. I don't think I will brew this particular recipe again, just not quite right. Might need more time to sit and condition in the bottle. I don't think many will make it through Christmas.

Orange Cascade Pale Ale
I don't have a photo of how this one looks, but its a pale ale by all accounts. There is a tiny amount of orange, not as much as I would like and there is no coriander at all. Aroma is nice, little hop and a little orange. Should be a nice summer beer. Even one to brew again!

Rhubarb Saison
Had to try at least one! Temptation got to me. It is amazingly good for what was a slap together beer. One I will definitely continue to brew, might even become a staple seasonal brew. More rhubarb is coming through so I might even get a chance to get another beer in before winter 2013.

They growing like wild fire. Mystery German has the two main vines and more have started shooting up from the rhizome. The Smoothcone is doing ok now its shot up. I've given them something to grow on now, some bailing twine from the in-laws. I'll try get some photos up next post.

Tis the season, so the updates might be few and far between until 2013 and things settle down, cheers for reading, prost! 

Monday, 3 December 2012

National Crate Day, Extract & Time

National Crate Day has come and gone. Some good company, some good beers and some not so good beers.

I managed to brew a Vienna/Centennial SMaSH albeit in between drinks, but it came out at 1.062, higher than the 1.057 I was aiming for - good efficiency again! I don't recall too much more than that for obvious reasons...

Onto the not so good beers....Its been a while since I've had a kit n kilo beer, but Brian brought around a couple of beers, a Pilsner, an IPA, Bock, Yorkshire Bitter and a bottle of Wheat Pilsner. I think the common feeling was kit and kilo beers should be drunk fresh. I don't remember much about the Pils apart from gushing bottles, the IPA had no hops in it at all, tasted more like how I remember Lion Red tasting, the Wheat Pils was ok being a partial mash, but just to much malt, not enough hop. A stray ESB made it which I'm trying now. Very much about the malt, similar to what I recall it tasting like fresh, but just no hops, no bitterness. I guess that's how we learn as brewers, our pallet gets used to what we've been brought up on. Second beer in is a Bock, its a little newer than the ESB, but still the same "extract twang". Fresher is better.

We had an impromptu tasting on the day, we had a Pilsner vs a Munich Lager vs the MPA. Two kit n kilo's vs a BIAB.To be honest, it probably wasn't going to be a fair fight, but we headed in full steam. The MPA came first, followed by the Munich then the Pils. One down for the MPA!!!

The star of the night for most of us that where left over was the Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter. Brian's done a brilliant job of this beer. The one we had was with Jim Beam Honey as the Bourbon part. Fantastic beer, albeit maybe a little young for such a big beer, but still, was a very good drop. The vanilla comes through, but I think it could use just a touch more, the mouth feel is like velvet, very very smooth beer. Be good to see how its tasting after some time in the cellar, if it can last that long.

Next up will be a BIPA for the brother in-laws birthday, then a double batch of MPA - gotta build up the stocks!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Milestones - One year on

Well, its been a year since we fired up the blog. Its been a whirlwind adventure, from the start, using kits n kilo, partial mash and now BIAB. I've enjoyed the trip, I hope you have as well. Here's to many more beers!
Kit beer - gotta start somewhere

Some thanks to some people before I carry on rambling:

Steph - gotta thank the wife for putting up with the time I spend drinking and brewing. Thanks for coming on random trips to the bottlo, trying all the beers I buy, even though you might not like them, at least you found Rekorderlig!! 

Brian - shot for being the other half of ManawaBrew, albeit a silent partner at the moment, you're here/there but no posts....pretty sure you exist. Teri, cudos for letting Brian play beer with me.

In laws - thanks for the tasting, thanks for the opportunity to brew for you and allowing me to throw beers your way for critique. Gordon, if you read this, you're in here!

Shady - cheers for the use of your immersion chiller, cheers for organising me one, although I'm yet to pay, cheers for coming and being a part of brew day #1 and the rest!

The Online Brewing Community - check my links. If its there, its helped me get where I am. So much advice and such a friendly bunch. Huge shout out to RealBeerNZ for the huge amount of traffic the blog gets!

Any and all craft breweries and brewers in New Zealand - cheers! Putting the beer back into beer albeit in small 500ml increments, but it's happening and the big two are noticing!

APA show down!
Last, but not least, Luke Nicholas - I have never met you, probably never will, you and Epic Pale Ale are the reason I brew beer, not make beer, but brew beer. My first BIAB was an Epic Pale Ale Clone, the ManawaBrew Pale Ale uses the same base as the Epic Pale Ale, cause its that awesome, I just threw my type of hops at it. I remember my first trip to Beervana in 2011, I saw a beer called Hop Zombie. That was the first beer of my Beervana trip and I was hunting to find something as good the whole night. The last beer of the night, was Hop Zombie. Awesome beers, I've just about tried em all, but I keep going back to the Pale Ale.

The Cascade Orange Pale Ale has been bottled. It come out to 1018 FG, but it tastes a lot drier than that, might have been my off taste buds, but it gave a real dry mouth. Not a lot of orange comes through in the taste, but the aroma is very orange. Not much coriander in there, just a slight hit of spice on the end of the pallet. If it comes out OK, might look at a side by side of this one and the ManawaBrew Pale Ale to boost up summer stocks.

I plan to bottle the Rhubarb Saison tomorrow. It was at 1016 FG when I checked it and threw in the rhubarb. Last taste it was odd. Smelt like rhubarb, tasted like rhubarb with a faint hint of pepper and spice. I guess that's from the yeast, but I'm not to sure. It's only a little beer, 15 litres, so I plan to cellar, or bottle condition most of it until the winter. I think it'll be a really good winter beer, perhaps pair well with a crumble? Hope it works out, if its does, there's a seasonal brew!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

500ml the new stubbie

I've been thinking for sometime about going exclusive to 500ml bottles. At the moment, I try to bottle as much as I can in 500ml bottles and the rest into the 745ml quart bottles. Has or is the 500ml bottle becoming the new stubbie in New Zealand?

I was at the in laws for dinner last night and was drinking Steinlager Classic in the normal 330ml bottles. They just seem so small! Maybe its my giant hands? Maybe they just are that small? Either way, 500ml has become "my" stubbie. I'd rather a couple of 500ml bottles, albeit with decent beer in it, than have 4 or 5 stubbies with 'normal' beer in it. Upside of going to 500ml bottles is the joy of drinking craft beer to get the bottles!

For whatever reason the beer isn't as good as I recall it before it went Classic, Pure and Edge. Are the 330ml bottles throw backs to the 6 o'clock swill days? Just get as much into you before closing and she'll be right? I dunno, I'm a little young so I don't remember the 6 o'clock swill days but to me it makes sense.

What do you prefer? 330ml, 500ml, 650ml, 745ml or a good old fashioned jug?

ManawaBrew Pale Ale
Still my best beer yet, it just keeps getting better and better every time I try it! Quite proud of it to be fair. I even had a go of it as my "lawn mowing" beer and it won at that as well, definitely a brilliant beer. It seems to be loosing the caramel nose on it though, more hop notes are coming through. Apricot, mango, passion fruit and a slight hint of pine. Beautiful!

Christmas Beers
The stout is in the cupboard, I've tried a couple of bottles and the first one was roastier than the crispy bits left in the an when ya cook a roast, so was a bit of a struggle. The second bottle had mellowed and was just about right. Good roast after taste, the acid malt was coming through for that "sour" taste. Little bit more time in the bottle and she'll be right on.

The cider is conditioning. Tried a bottle the other night and it taste weak, strong alcohol, but just watery I guess is the term. No mouth feel. Strong tart after taste. More time I think, it did say 6 weeks in the bottle, but ya gotta try these things right?

The Orange Cascade Pale Ale is cold crashing after throwing 31g each of Motueka and Cascade at it. I'll cold crash for 5 days then bottle it.

Rhubarb Saison
I threw in the Rhubarb yesterday. Sitting in the linen cupboard smelling, well, not bad, but my first time with T-58 and wow.  Tried the gravity sample and its pretty good so far. Lots of biscuit flavour, toffee and due to the yeast, some peppery notes. All in all it will be beer at the end of it, just depends if its a nice beer.
Orange Cascade PA on the right, Rhubarb Saison on the left

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Orange Cascade Pale Ale

Well, there she is, excuse the cold break on the bottom of the glass, but there is a sneak peak of the Orange Cascade Pale Ale.

I did manage to stuff up by forgetting to put the orange and coriander in at I ended up making a 5 litre tea of orange peel and coriander, boiled it for 15mins and threw it in the fermenter. At the end of the day, it'll be beer right?

I also threw some Motueka at it, just cause Cascade and Motueka together is an intense flavour combination!
Here's the mash in - excuse the feet. 4.5kg of Maris Otter, 500g Vienna and 500g of Pale Crystal. Simple recipe, easy mash in.

16 litres of water to 76 degrees, dough in and what do ya know, 67 degrees. Off the burner, kept in the sun lid on and let it rest for and hour. Note the really cool mash paddle? Queue an old BBQ fish slice and a hammer to make it straight. Works a treat!
Took a little while to hit the boil, but once she was there it was nice and consistent. Yes, those are pegs. They're holding the hop bag in place. One thing you can't see is the first wort hops I ended up doing. I put the first 27g Cascade into a muslin bag and threw it in the boil kettle before I gathered the wort. That means the hops have been sitting in the cooler wort right through to boil and right through to chilling. I'm interested on how this will go.

Next was the chilling. Went real quick, I assume due to the Manawatu wind picking up. At this point, I clicked that I had forgotten the orange peel and coriander, so I raced inside and made up the tea I mentioned earlier.

Now, the fermenter is inside, cooling down as much as it possibly can inside so I can throw the yeast in. I think I'll cold crash this one as well, after fermentation has ceased, or slowed down, 5 day cold crash with 30g each or Cascade and Motueka.

ManawaBrew Pale Ale
You would have seen in my last blog that I've cracked a bottle and had some notes there......well, here it is. Nice full head, lacing stays with it right through. Aroma is dried apricots, mango, passion fruit and a tiny hint of pine and wait for it, caramel.

Taste is insane. I wasn't sure how well Cascade and Motueka would work together, but they work really well. You get the same sort of tastes as in the aroma, dried apricot, mango, passion fruit and caramel.

I gave out a bottle to Shady, who said it was pretty good and wanted the recipe, gave in the in laws a taste last night, one is an avid wine drinker and she said she liked it, the other is a staunch Steinlager, Guinness and Whiskey drinker and even he liked it.

I think it missing a couple of things, one it the abv is excessive, 7.5% is too high. I think something in the 5.5 to 6% would be ideal. I think it needs more hops, maybe more of a combination of Cascade and Motueka all the way through, who knows, I'll keep playing and once its ready, I'll throw it at some competitions and see how we go. All about experimenting right?

As I said in the last post, the Mystery German is reaching for the sky, stoked! The Smoothcone is awake and climbing, but the Mystery German is by far the biggest. I'll throw up some photos later on, so check back!
Tomorrow I'll be brewing the rhubarb saison with Steph, so watch this space for some more blogging and pics!!


Monday, 5 November 2012

Rhubarb Saison anyone

I've got some malts and hops that I wanna use up, I'm getting itchy feet and I wanna brew! Randomly barbecuing last night I saw my rhubarb plant and thought, rhubarb + beer = nice.

I thought long and hard. I even did some research on rhubarb beer/wine/cider. Most recipes seem to be a wheat based beer. I'm not sold on wheat beers, just no flavour to me. I'm keen to experiment, this being a pure me beer, with some input from Jonanthan and Chris, the former happened to win two Bronze medals in the SOBA NHC 2012 competition - well done Chris!
So after some playing, so advice and a 'just going with it' attitude, I've got a recipe down:
Bitches Saison
Recipe Specs
Batch Size (L): 15.0
Total Grain (kg):  3.595
Total Hops (g): 40.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.056
Final Gravity (FG): 1.014
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.50 %
Colour (SRM): 8.8 
Bitterness (IBU): 23.2
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 75
Boil Time (Minutes): 60
Grain Bill
1.039 kg Pale Ale Malt (28.9%)
1.036 kg Maris Otter Malt (28.82%)
0.729 kg Golden Promise Malt (20.28%)
0.428 kg Caramalt (11.91%)
0.289 kg Carahell (8.04%)
0.074 kg Carapils (Dextrine) (2.06%)
Hop Bill
20.0 g Willamette Pellet (4.9% Alpha) @ 45 Minutes (First Wort)
20.0 g Motueka Pellet (6.8% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes (Boil)
Misc Bill
936.0 g Rhubarb @ 5 - 7 Days (Secondary)
Single step Infusion at 66°C for 60 Minutes.
Fermented at 20°C with Safbrew T-58

So, a couple of things. First time using rhubarb and thought why not try my hand at first wort hops. I'm planning to buy the last Christmas brew ingredients this week, so all I need to do is throw in a T-58 yeast and we'll be sweet.
As usual watch this space!
Bottled 33 bottles of cider on Sunday, got bored and it'd finished but hydro readings. Now sitting in the warmth of the garage for at least 5 weeks. No tasting notes at bottling, wasn't as good as I was expecting, so time will tell.
ManawaBrew Pale Ale
10 days in the bottle and I had to try it. I didn't think it would be carbonated so was a little cautious. Without chilling, I popped the cap and low and behold, I had carbonation! Feeling pretty happy with myself, into a glass it went - in my excitement, no pictures just yet, they'll be coming in the next blog post along with tasting notes! I will tell you that its going to become the house ale!!
Despite the atrocious Manawatu winds, The Mystery German is reaching for the sky and the Smoothcone has started doing the same! It amazes me how fast a plant grows in such a small amount of time, again, sorry for the lack of pics, I'll throw some up next time!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pale Ale bottled & Cider made

ManawaBrew Pale Ale test batch 1 has been bottled. Bottled it today. All 22L of mango, dried apricot, pine, passion fuit smelling heaven. Motueka & Cascade seem to be a match made in beer heaven!

Cold crash, albeit ghetto, seems to have worked a treat. I've never bottled a beer that has been so clear. Maybe that crossed with the KoppaFloc? Either way, I'm taking it as a positive. Cold crash every beer maybe?

Since its so clear as in not much yeast in there, I'm thinking a three week stint before I even take a chance of popping a bottle of it. I say that now, but more than likely, I'll be trying it within two.
Cider time. Bit the bullet and brought a BrewCraft kit. Comes with a Black Rock Cider tin, CopperTun brew blend #15 and a bottle of apple schnapps. All in the fermenter with 2 litres (I did 5) of boiling water, a nice good stir, top to 23, add the yeast, walk away. Original gravity was 1.040 and according to the instructions I got with it, should finish at 1.008. Well see in a couple of weeks I guess.

Second Christmas beer has been decided. An Orange Cascade Pale Ale courtesy of blacklab over on HBT. Recipe calls for Cascade hops, orange and coriander. You'd think it was a wheat or witbeer with the orange and coriander, but its a simple Pale Ale from all accounts. All the noise about it seems to be a good summer beer, exactly what I'm after for summer and Christmas! Brew day set for the 10th November!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Coffee, Stout and efficiency

Queue a windy chilly day in the Manawatu and an early start to brew day!

Two brews this time, a stout and an Epic Pale Ale clone.

This was a little different than last weekend, different venue for a start and this time, there was a chilly bin mash tun in use. Shady was a little concerned about his efficiency with it, so I took along my trusted bag.

Mash in was a success, bag was first, managed to hit 66 on the button, threw all the grains in and gave her a good stir up. The recipe called for 480g of roasted barley, I ended up throwing in 500g instead. The hit of roast came pretty quick from the barley, smelt like a black coffee, exactly what I like in a stout.

An hour later and a couple of degrees lower than 66, sparge time! We recirculated the wort through the bag and then 1 litre a at a time, sparged the grains in the bag - slow process, but I managed to get the target of 26L in the kettle.

52g of East Kent Goldings after the hot break, broke, and that was me set, an hour boil, no more additions. Simple beer really.

Shady had his Pale Ale clone all set and ready to rock in the mash tun, double sparge, 90min boil and a boat load of Cascade!

Brew house was smelling awesome, queue a couple of guests, chocolate chip bikkies and steak n mushroom pies (cheers to Shady's ladies) and the beer was brewed, cooled and in the fermenters.

I calculated the efficiency of my BIAB setup to be 83%, based on 24L of 1.052 wort post boil, 2 litre loss. That's the second brew that's been so high. Pretty happy with such a high efficiency, do I really need to move to a proper all grain setup, or should I just stay with BIAB? At the moment, BIAB is where its at for me, albeit with some changes to my pots - taps/valves and sight glasses would be good additions!
I also threw more hops at the Pale Ale and have now got it in my ghetto cold crash "system". I was looking at putting it in my beer fridge, but alas, the bucket is to big to fit, so here's my ghetto setup - fermenter, water, ice.

Couple of days in there and I'll bottle it up. Tasted another sample before I threw in another 29g of Motukea and wow, it's still a magic beer! Can't wait for it to get in the bottle and condition!

Next up - Cider!

Ninja edit

Check out the Mystery German, 8 days since the last photo!!!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Gravity, Dry Hoppin' & Hops

Just a small update. I tested the Pale Ale tonight, massive smells from the Cascade and Motueka hops!!! Peach, mango, slight hint of apricot and pine......smells awesome.

Gravity has dropped from 1.072 to 1.020 pretty quickly, so I've gone ahead and thrown 29g each of Motueka and Cascade. That'll be in there until my ghetto cold crash is ready. Queue a couple of 10L water containers half full, frozen and swapped out every 8 hours. Should be good enough right?

I'll leave it for as it is now for a day, test the gravity again, maybe throw more hops in, another 29g of Motueka.....Can't hurt, or can it? Once the cold crash gear is ready, 7 days at cold crash temps, then bottling time.
Checked the hop plants tonight as well, huge winds in the Manawatu so wanted to make sure they were OK. The Mystery German has exploded with new growth and the Smoothcone has now sprouted! Two hops plants on the go! I've get some pictures up when the weather settles down.
Brewing a Xmas Stout this weekend with Shady. Just a Guinness Clone from HBT with one slight change - the yeast will be Wyeast 1335 British Ale II, not WLP004. Second attempt at a liquid yeast. My last attempt didn't go so well. Decided against an Imperial Stout, just to close to Christmas and I'm not 100% sure it would be ready by Christmas time. Figured a lighter stout would be, so I'll get it under way now and see how we go.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Brew Day - Done

Big brew day number two, done and dusted. Three brews done, I did an American Pale Ale, Brian did a Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter and we helped some guys pop their brewing cherries with a Munich lager kit.
We started with the Porter, since I forgot my recipe. Mashed in and we had a very full pot! I was a little worried the massive amount of chocolate malt wouldn't fit, but it did, just! I think the thick mash helped insulate everything, she held temp pretty well.

We started to sparge, pulled out the bag and a fair amount of wort over the side of the pot all over the nice clean garage floor. Queue stopping the sparge to clean up and moving outside! Back sparging and the nice Manawatu weather decided to rain, so we moved back into the shed. All in all, we sparged, gathered the wort and got it to a boil. The garage was smelling like a cross between a cereal factory and a coffee house!
Next was the Pale Ale. Mashed in on target, 64 degrees. This time the temp fluctuated more than the Porter, figured because the mash was fairly thin there wasn't much insulation, so I flamed on a couple of times to get the temp back up. The last 15mins of the mash I got sidetracked, so the mash ended up being a tad hotter than it should have been (sac rest perhaps), but we sparged and collected the wort and got the boil going.

I threw 140g of hops at it during the boil and 57g for a whirlpool addition, which I did, but didn't whirlpool since I used a hop bag I just left the hop bag in the wort while the chiller was running. I ended up with 19L of 1.079 wort, much higher than the 1.052 I was aiming for. IPA instead of an APA style wise. I'm ok with that though, I'm a fan of both! I still have a 57g addition of hops to dry hop with, but depending on how sweet it could still be at FG I may boost that up. We'll see in a week or so.

At the same time as the APA we got a boil on for the boys and their Munich Lager kit. The boil was simply 30L of water with 7g of Willamette for a little bittering. Removed from the boil at 20 to go and threw in the Munich Lager can, Amber LME and the brew enhancer pack, brought to a boil and boiled for 5 mins then chilled it.
Below are some random shots from the brew day and a picture of the Mystery German hops. Enjoy.
Massive grain bag being pulled out the mash tun
 Subsequent mess from the wort spilling

Recirculating, the cheats way

 Left over from the mash - black gold

Mystery German hop shoots

Monday, 8 October 2012

Christmas is coming...

Sorry for the bad news, but Christmas is coming....

As you can see, I grabbed a couple of brews and gave them a whirl. Yakima Monster a Pale Ale from Liberty Brewing and Black RIPA a Black Imperial Ale, part of the Enlightenment series from Renaissance. Both brilliant beers. The Yakima Monster is a beast of a beer, using hops from the Yakima Valley in the States. Hops hops and more hops. Beautifully balanced with the malt back bone - if you like hops, go hit it. The RIPA was for me the best out of the two. Its black, looks thick, yet there are none of the roast, chocolate or coffee notes you'd expect from a Stout/Porter you'd expect - why? Because it's an "Indian Pale Ale" but it's black. Insert mind over mater here. Beautiful beer, for me more caramel notes did it for me. Both good beers though, get down to your local and have a browse for them!

I've been asked to brew some beers for the family for Christmas. My initial thought was yep, APA, Red Ale and maybe something darker for night time or should the weather pack in.

I've since out some thought into it and I think an APA, since they're refreshing and an Imperial Stout, should the weather pack in or for a night time tipple. Craft wise, think an Epic Pale Ale and an 8 Wired iStout. Both beers I personally rate, but I guess at the end of the day its not about me (yeah right). APA is staying, that's a definite, but the other one (or two) I'm not to sure about. The Imperial Stout is a BIG beer, coming in at about 9% all going well and I'm not 100% sure that it'll be in its prime come Christmas, might not even be fully primed knowing my luck!

Brian then said something about a proper Christmas beer. So I've been jumping about on HBT trying to find a recipe and to be fair, since the forums are based in the good ole US of A most of them are based on stouts, porters and brown ales, which are 'winter' style beers. I guess I was/am looking at a 'winter' style beer as well with the Imperial Stout. There are some spiced beers I could look into, but they don't sound right to me. The closest I came to spice was coriander in the Chubby Highlander.
Then there is cider, a good summer tipple if you find the right flavours. I love Bulmers (albeit made in NZ) thanks to an unsuspecting bottle left in the fridge at a party. So I could brew an Irish Cider from a kit and see how we go with that.

I could also look at a cider that's even more refreshing than Bulmers, like a Rekorderlig anything really. The wife is a big fan of their cider so I guess any flavour pairing would work. Cinnamon and apple is always a good combo, making an apple crumble flavour, is that summer though? For me Rekorderlig is far to sweet for me, so I'm not the one drinking it.

So some decisions to make, what's your favourite tipple in summer apart from wine and top shelf?

Got any tips on making cider?

Made a kit cider, how'd it go for you?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Special Best or Premium Bitter

So, I've decided the Bubble Tea Porter is now in fact a Special Bitter. I say this due to having a play around in BrewMate and having a look at the different styles this beer could potentially go into. I thought I'd pop one while I was playing, just to see if it was finally carbonated...and finally it was.
So, some tasting notes, now that it has some fizz!
Aroma - its very sweet. Initial hit of Cascade hops dies off quickly to a malty and a slight hop sweetness as well, not sure since there really wasn't that much thrown at it. Its not an overly bad sweetness, its actually pretty pleasant. It's definitely one of the sweeter smelling beers, couple of factors there, yeast, lactose and maltodrextrine. 

Look - Its a lot darker than the software states. Its very deep brown with some really nice red hues. Very dark. I guess it is almost a porter, perhaps a brown porter? Might have been the way we ended up having to make this beer, two separate bags, one for the base grain and one for the speciality grains that's given it such a dark colour.
Taste - hard one to explain. I've never tasted anything like it before. The initial taste is bitter, Cascade bitter, then the milk sugar kicks in. Think like you've just had a glass of milk - that's the taste. Its really odd and I think not really suited for what I ended up making, more roasted malts needed I feel, or mmmmm maybe more hops!
Manged to find another 30 litre pot, so that's the three I've been wanting, mash tun, hot liquor tun and the boil kettle. Slowly but surely building up the brewery. Ordered some hops from Liberty Brewing, they're on holiday, so gotta wait a couple of weeks for them to arrive. Next week will come the malt order, then its onto brewing!
For anyone out there that is following that happens to be in Palmerston North and wants to meet like minded brewing folk, jump on Facebook and check out the Palmy Home Brew Crew.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Stop.....Hop Time

After some pretty unpleasant weather in the Manawatu, i.e. rain, I was getting a little worried about the hops I planted last week. The Mystery German had a couple of shoot when I planted it and the Smoothcone was still dormant.
I went out today on a pretty decent spring day and mowed the lawn, did some gardening and check the hops like a caring father - we have a shoot on the Mystery German!!! Stoked! Smoothcone is still dormant from the looks, hopefully the warm spring days will wake her up. I didn't get any photos since it hard to see, but once its out and shooting for the sun I'll throw up a picture.
I'm on the third bottle of JD SMaSH for the day, popped one this afternoon over some discussions of PC parts and distilling. I think this beer needs to be served warm. I know that sounds odd and most people will be disgusted reading that, but when its cold, or chilled, the flavour from the Jack Daniels just does not come through, the vanilla, the oak, the char....but when its warms, it like drinking a warm whiskey. I guess, if you're into it, you're into it. Personally, I'm more than into it! There is also a slight pepper/spice after taste. I"m not sure if its the Styrian Golding's coming through, or if its the Jack Daniels, either way, its pleasant.
I'm surprised as the colour, its picked up so much colouring from the Jack Daniels and the Jack Daniels Oak Barrel chips I used. Remember this is a single malt beer, I didn't use any malt for colouring, I used 8kg of a base malt and when I bottled it, there was nowhere near that depth of colour.
I'm surprised that for a single malt beer, it's actually got a decent head, as you can see and it stays there, it doesn't dissipate when drinking the beer, yay for Maris Otter malt!
So the question now is, would I brew it again? Answer is yes!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Next brew - American Pale Ale

I've decided on the next beer, brew day to be the 13th October.  I'm going to make an American Pale Ale, loosely based off Epic's Pale Ale, but I'm using different hops.

I while ago I brewed a Fat Yak clone, called it a Chubby Highlander and people went nuts over it. I said at the time I would brew it again, but I haven't, mainly because I haven't brewed extract since I moved into BIAB. I pretty much fell in love with Motueka hops. Such a great hop, flavoursome, and oh such an aroma.

I then moved onto brewing a clone of Epic's Pale Ale for my birthday. My first attempt at all grain brewing and BIAB. Seemed to run alright, so I've stuck with BIAB ever since.
I wanted to brew the Pale Ale again, but thought this time I'd throw some Motueka hops at it. I've read that Cascade and Motueka go well together, even had a read of some hop bursting. I figured, I'll stick with what I know for now and see how it goes - basically, get a recipe I like, then start tweaking.

So, here she is:

ManawaBrew Pale Ale V1
American Pale Ale
Recipe Specs
Batch Size (L): 23.0
Total Grain (kg): 6.200
Total Hops (g): 254.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.059
Final Gravity (FG): 1.015
Alcohol by Volume (ABV):  5.80 %
Colour (SRM): 8.4 
Bitterness (IBU): 34.2   (Tinseth)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Boil Time (Minutes): 90
Grain Bill
5.000 kg Golden Promise Malt (80.65%)
0.600 kg Caramalt (9.68%)
0.400 kg Crystal 10 (6.45%)
0.200 kg Carapils (3.23%)
Hop Bill
7.0 g Cascade Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 75 Minutes
14.0 g Cascade Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 30 Minutes
34.0 g Cascade Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes
42.5 g Cascade Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes
42.5 g Motueka Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 5 Minutes
57.0 g Motueka Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 5 Days Dry Hop
57.0 g Motueka Pellet (7.3% Alpha) @ 7 Days Dry Hop
Misc Bill
Single step Infusion at 64°C for 60 Minutes.
Fermented at 21°C with Wyeast 1272 - American Ale II
So there's the recipe, guess we'll see how we go in a couple of weeks!
Oh yeah, got the hop plants out into the garden today - bring on the bines!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hops, hops and more hops

HOPS! I ventured out today and brought a couple of plants from the Fragrant Garden in Feilding. As you can see I managed to get a Smoothcone and a German vareity that most people on RealBeerNZ call Mystery German.

Pretty stoked I've got the plants. Plan is to clean up the back section, move some planter boxes we currently have and chuck em in the ground. I plan to hook some guide rope to  the fence you can see in the background (on the right) then up to a couple of silver birch trees so they've got something to climb up.

Time will tell I guess. Ian at the Fragrant Gardens they grow real quick once they get going. Lets see if horticulture when I was in college actually did any good!

Got hops growing yourself, have any tips for me?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The past and the future

As I sit here on a chilly Thursday Manawatu evening, its been a big week in ManawaBrew world.

I've looked into a domain name for the site - figured its easier to market than hey, check out, had a chat with a guy about a logo as well and I have had some chats with the lads about a place in town that could be interested in some home brew tastings. More on that when I actually pull finger and have that chat, watch this space though!
I also finished reading a book by Micheal Donaldson called Beer Nation: The Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer. Very hard book to put down, highly recommended to anyone in New Zealand, or overseas for that matter that wants to know the history of beer and brewing scene in New Zealand.
A couple of things I found really interesting, Speights as we know it, used to be dry hopped. Yes, dry hopped beer way back when Jesus was a Cowboy. Something I never knew. Could explain why the father in law never liked Tui! I guess I may have known that should I have done the tour all those years ago I was there, instead of the chocolate factory.
Another thing I found interesting is why, now, I understand why there is such flavour (sic) in "New Zealand Draught" beer (Tui, Export Gold, DB, Lion Red), a secret ingredient.....sugar. Plain old sugar. Now it might not come as a suprise to some, but it makes sense to me now why on the label for Macs Gold you see 'all malt lager'.
The 6'oclock swill gets a good mention and I agree with what Micheal is saying. I maybe a part of the generation of young (sic) males who are still entwined in the mindset of the 6 o'clock swill and I'll admit I probably have passed it onto young males coming through my local rugby club, but its New Zealand right? It's how we roll. Well, once you've read the book, you might understand why it is that way, can we change it though?
So, go buy the book, buy the beer that Epic also brewed for it, Message in a Bottle IPA and let us know your thoughts. Pretty sure we tried the beer at Beervana as well, although the Epic stand was towards the end of the night so can't quite recall...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Captains log...

Its been a while since my last post - life has certainly got in the way.
I went over to Masterton for a weekend away with Steph. On the way we stopped in at the Tui Brewery. I've been on the tour before, but its a little hazy on what exactly happend - was for Brian's stag do.  
A couple of things:
Eating a hop pellet = a free beer. I did this last time I was there, except the hops were fresh, this time they were a little on the brown side and very stale, hopefully they don't chuck them in the beer!
DB - seriously consider getting the Brewers Reserve out into the public, not just an onsite beer. I think you'd be surpised how well it would sell. Its probably the hoppiest beer from DB and for me, its a pretty good beer. 

To Kava or not to Kava?

I was having a conversation with my boss at work about the Pohutakawa Cerveza and he asked me about kava. I've tried it, I liked it, its not illegal in New Zealand, so a kava beer?
The taste of Kava is pretty strong and dirty/muddy, so I think you'd need a pretty strong malt backbone to hide the earthy notes, or throw a truckload of hops at it.
A quick Google and I found some stuff. A Porter recipe over on HBT, I'll wait and see how that turns out before I progress, if I do. It's got me interested though. 

Next Brews

I've made the decison to re brew the American and I'm going to call it a KPA, or a Kiwi Pale Ale. While its not an offical style, home brewing is all about experimentation...
And in between now and brew day (13th October) I'll try and get the Pohutakawa Cerveza done.
So some questions for you, my loyal followers:
1. Would you drink a kava beer?
2. Would you drink a Pohutakawa Cerveza (think Corona with a slight salty aftertaste)

Monday, 3 September 2012

A President, a porter and some port

Well, if you're into brewing and you're following anything like this blog at all, you'll know that Mr President, Barack Obama brews beer.
Rumour has it that the Pres brought a home brew kit and like most of us caught the bug. Unlike most of us who continue to brew, he's got his staff to brew and they use White House Honey.
Full article can be found on the White House Blog.
White House Honey Porter
  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light unhopped malt extract
  • 3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
  • 6 oz black malt (cracked)
  • 3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 10 HBUs bittering hops
  • 1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
  • 1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
White House Honey Ale
  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract
  • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
  • 8 oz Biscuit Malt
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
Pretty standard beers really. I have had some conversations with some people about the porter and instead of using White House Honey, throwing in some Manuka Honey. I've toyed with the idea of honey before and still might go ahead with it.
Also thought about a Mexican Cerveza with some Pohutakawa Honey hoping some of the saltiness from the Pohutakawa comes through. Might do a small batch and see what it comes out like, it'll be a cheap extract kit:
Pohutakawa Cerveza
  • 1.5kg Mangrove Jack's Mexican Cerveza LME hopped kit
  • 1.5kg Coopers Light LME
  • 1kg Pohutakawa Honey
  • Saflager S-23 Yeast 
Not sure if I'd follow a "normal" extract brew, or if I'll do a full boil and throw some more hops in there. I'll put some thought into it. Maybe even some speciality grains as well, can't hurt. Although, I guess what hops does one put into a Cerveza? Saaz baby, all the way!! Might be out of style, but then again that's the joy of brewing right?
Port Porter/Stout
I got offered a bottle of Port, which I gracefully agreed to grab, which brings me to my next brew. A port based porter. Now it might sound odd, it might sound funny to some, but if you imagine a strong porter, let it ferment then throw it into in a barrel that has been used to store port, then cellar it for about 6 months...If you like port and if you like Porter, then it'd be a beer for you, or in this case me.
A couple of points to note:.
  1. I don't have a barrel
  2. The barrels I have found are pretty expensive ($NZ220 for a 5L)
  3. Will it be worth it?
I'm keen to have a goo and to be fair, should this little hobby become something more serious, I'll have a 5L Oak Barrel to play with - who wouldn't want it right? Experimentation anyone?
I'll sleep on it, dream about it and hopefully save some money to actually do it! Pledge Me account time maybe?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Bubble Tea......?

Need another name, bubble tea it is not!
After mowing the lawns and fluffing around the house, I figured I deserved a taste. Cleverly I put a bottle in the fridge before I started doing anything this moring!
On a nice warm Manawatu day, watching Canterbury vs North Harbour in the ITM Cup, I popped a bottle. Sorry - no pics this time, I'll make sure I've got one for next time.
No carbonation. I'm not to worried for a couple of reasons:
1. You'll remember that I had some issues with bottling. This bottle was the bottle i was bottling when it happened, the bottle was pretty much full to the brim, so there wasn't any headroom for anything - silly me should have tipped some out.
2. Its only been a week since I bottled. Simillarly with the JD SMaSH it eventually took 3 weeks to carbonate. So I'll leave this one - again another reason to bottle with 500ml bottles, not really wasting that much beer.
Onto the beast itself....
Taste - very malty, the chocolate malt comes into its own now and its pretty good, decent roast there. Hops are not there really, might've needed more? Yeah, more, definately needs more HOPS! There is a slight hop after taste, similar actually to the I.R.A I brewed for my birthday. Not a bad taste.
Aroma - all but nothing there, there is a malt nose, not sure if it the buscuit or the chocolate malt thats doing it, but its surprinsingly pleasent. I'll lleave the rest of the notes for when it's carbonated, something tells me it might be different.
Look - Dark brown with a red hue. Obviously no lacing or head to speak of since its not carbonated.
Finally manged to get some Star San as well. Pretty stoked. I'll be honest, I was being lazy in not getting any, but after seeing the stuff in action on the Brewhemoth Brew Day I thought, bugger it, I'm getting some! Pretty cheap and should last me a long time!
Keep an eye out for more tasting notes!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bubble Tea?

Time to bottle the Bubble Tea Mild. First, a final "gravity" test. Still at 1.020 and well, it'd be rude not to have a taste right?

Still tasting good! Still has that initial sweet hit then a slight roast from the chocolate malt (which is a new flavour) and the final taste bud sensation, HOPS!
So there it is, in all her glory, brown, not fizzy yet and for now, rather tasty. Not the yeast still in suspension (white specks).
I got the kistchen ready for bottleing, gave it a nice clean and hunted through my bottles to get as many 500ml bottles as I could. I'm liking the smaller bottles, more so for tasting. I grabbed some bombers (650ml) bottles that I had from Stoke and the usualt 750ml suspects from those other breweries.
I did have a slight mishap when I was bottling though, didn't waste much and I have one 500ml bottle that might not be so good...

I was filling a 500ml bottle, and the end of the bottling wand come off in the bottle! So I had beer splasing all over the floor and then end of my wand in a bottle. I managed to turn the tap off on the fermenter and after about 10mins of mucking arojund, go the end out of the bottle. Resantitised and carried on. Am I worried? not really. Should I be? Probably...

Had a chat with Brian about some upcoming brews. He's keen to do a vanilla porter and I think I'll have a go at a black IPA. Have you brewed or tried either a Vanilla Porter, or a Black IPA? Leave us a comment below.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wednesday Brewskies

Well, its hump day and I felt like a beer. All I had in the fridge was some left over brewskies from our brew day a couple of weeks ago.

Sitting amongst the beers are a couple of bottle of the JD SMaSH. I thought I would give it another go, see how its changed.

Into a 2012 Beervana glass it went.

Aroma: Its got a slight nose of the Jack Daniels and when I say slight I mean slight. There is more vanilla in the nose, but apart from that its pretty bland.

Look: Its very golden, compared to how it looked when I was bottling it, its done very well, ver clear, very bright. Its got almost a golden hue to it, from the chips and Jack Daniels I'd say. No head to speak of, it disappears quickly, not to worried since it was a single malt beer.

Taste: Well, it has mellowed in the last two weeks in the fridge. The Jack Daniels is not as harsh as it was, in fact its become very drinkable. Its got a beer taste now, before it was like having a shot of Jack. Now, now its a beer. Now it has mellowed just enough. You still get the heat from the Jack, but its hard to explain, you just want MOAR!
I think I'll still cellar some, if not most of it. Its coming into summer and this certainly is no summer beer. I don't think I'd want to smash back one of these after mowing the lawn! Its more of a tuck up next to the fire sort of beers. Very warming.

Still thinking about my next brew. I got some ideas from Beervana, but I dunno. Not sure I want to spend money on experimental beers, but I guess thats all I've really been doing since I started brewing right?

I have put some thought into the American again, such a good beer and truth be told, most of it went at my birthday so I never got to really give a good go. Only real downside is the cost of the hops, they cost $20 per 100g here in NZ and I need at least 300g. I guess I could make a 10L batch though, scale everything down...? Needs more thought and more beer!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bubble Tea Mild Ale

Bubble Tea Mild chillin'
Its been just over a week since the Brewhemoth Brew Day and my failed attempt at a porter. Never fear though, I have decided it will now become an American Mild Ale. Its an American because it has more hops than an English version of the same style of beer. In staying with the name of the original, Bubble Tea Porter, I've now named it, Bubble Tea Mild.

Its currently siting at roughly 5.2% abv, which to me is a sessionable beer. The gravity samples I've tasted have been pretty good, hoppy nose, sweet front, hop bitter back and a velvet mouth feel. I guess the lactose and malto-dextrine have done their job.

Plan is to bottle on Saturday since I now have Saturdays back post rugby season, although the ITM Cup is staring this week and the All Blacks are playing Saturday night, maybe Sunday for bottling day. All going well in the bottle, in two weeks time, we'll have a taste.a

Side note - I have also decide the JD SMaSH is going to cellar over the summer and I'll see how it goes in the winter. I'm not sure if I'll keep it in the house or in the garage over summer, I think the house, since it'll be cooler.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Two days later and I've finally got around to writing something about Beervana. We took the day off work and headed to the Friday night session. 

On our way down we stopped in at the Thorndon New World and mecca for the craft beer scene, the mighty wall of beer. We grabbed a couple of brews to try out before Beervana. I grabbed an Old Speckled Hen from Greene King and a world famous Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery, I'll get onto those brews soon.

We got to the flat, dumped our gear and went to find Hashigo Zake by far one of the best bars I've been to in years. The place is a mecca for craft beers from New Zealand and beyond. The bar itself was hard to find, but we found it on our second drive passed. I had a pint of DeadCanary from ParrotDog a VERY tasty beer. Right up my ally. Brian decided to go for his name sake, a Brian IPA from Emersons and Steph tried out a blackcurrant cider from Peckhams.

Cider Kir from Peckhams @ Hashigo Zake

Back to the flat for more pre drinks. I tried the Old Speckled Hen. I have heard lots about this beer, but to be honest, wasn't quite up my alley. A nice beer, but I'm not sure I would have more than one in a session, personal preference.

Onto Beervana we went. We decided this year we'd hit things a little different than 2011, mainly because we all tried the same beers last year, this year, we actually did some research and got beers we individually wanted to try then sampled each others. Worked out really well, we certainly tried more beers!! 

We started at the festive and real ale stands and started with a beer called Festivus from 8 Wired Brewing. Good beer and pretty much what you'd be expecting from a lambic beer, sour. At the same time we tried a beer called Marmalade from The Twisted Hop. If you like marmalade, then you'll like this beer. Also tried a beer from Aoteroa Breweries called Mata Carrot & Orange Cake another good brew.

We moved up and down the concourse and hit some other breweries, downed a curry, bratwurst and the finale was an Alpaca pie.

Best beer for me, had to be Funk Estates Black IPA followed closely by the 17% Stout from 8 Wired Brewing called Bumaye. A beautiful stout that has been aged in a barrel. Very smooth beer and just what you'd need at the end of a session like we had.

More than likely not the best idea but I tired the Hobgoblin after Beervana and again, not my cup of tea. I will definitely need to try it again, without so many beers under my belt!

All in all a good session, next in line is The Great Pacific Beer Expo in October. Tickets go on sale 1 September from

We had the normal day after feed and went to find ParrotDog a newly founded brewery in Wellington. I tried there BitterBitch last year and as above, tried the DeadCanary. From all accounts, they were closed, but I found out after the fact, never mind, they were a lovely bunch and the dude we spoke to seemed to be a little miffed we were there, but all good. We will be back to visit them and Garage Project at some point in the near future.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Brewhemoth Brew Day

Well, with Dropkick Murphy's pumping we finally got around to the brewhemoth brew day. We ended up just doing three brews, Centennial Blonde, Stone Arrogant Bastard clone and what was supposed to be a Black Pearle Porter isn't anymore....we'll call it a mild ale for now. Pretty happy with the day, we started a little later than planned, but it all worked out in the end. Shady brought over his new toy, an immersion chiller. Worked really well, got the wort to 30 degrees from a rolling boil in about 20mins. My backyard is now officially a swimming pool with the rain we've had over the week and cooling three beers on top. The things we do for beer.

20g of Cascade and 4oz of Lactose for the "Black Pearle Porter"
I thought I had enough chocolate malt, turns out I only half of what was required. So its not as dark as it should be and wont be as roasty as it should be. Due to that fact I ended up using Fuggles for bittering and NZ Cascade for aroma and flavouring. Give it fiveish weeks and we'll see how it turns out.
"Black Pearle Porter" at a rolling boil
Shady and Brian both popped their All Grain cherries with us all doing BIAB. We had two three ring burners as you see above and one 2 ring burner. Since Shady and I were onto it and here first we nabbed the three ring burners and got up to strike temps quickly. Brian came and joined the race soon after. Three mashes in and it was time for a beer.

Stone Arrogant Bastard with a rolling boil
We left it a little lat to get the sparge water on the heat, so all three brews were left mashing in for longer than expected and at lower temps than expected. None of us are all that worried about it, beers, beer and at this stage is just a hobby (yeah right).

We mashed out and got onto the boil. Shady was first to hit a boil and man, once the centennial hit the boil, my backyard smelt like a brewery. Brian was next with his 1.5oz Chinook hit, yet again a massive wave of hops filled the air. Next was me and the fuggles.....not much aroma there...

Centennial Blonde with the IC
Along we went with all the hop and other additions then onto cooling. The immersion chiller worked really well, especially on a coldish day, the water was fairly cold. It hits about 30 and tends to plateau for a little before hitting pitching temps.

Into the fermenters went all three beers, Shady and Brian are usignUS-05 and I'm using US-04. Give us at least 5 weeks and we'll see how the beers taste!
"Black Pearle Porter" cooling
And just as a teaser....the JD SMaSH in the glass....its still VERY dominated by bourbon on the nose and taste. Definitely one to cellar! Next time, I need to find a stronger beer. I just don't think a SMaSH has enough of a malt back bone to compliment the Jack Daniels. I think a Porter wiould be better and perhaps toast the chips as well. Might make that a project beer, 5L at a time.

14/08 edit

Tested the gravity, down to 1.020 from 1.060 in three days!!! She was sitting at 22 degrees which is on the high end of S-04....Tasting the gravity sample now and wow, lots of hop nose, soft sweet taste with a kick in the back. Even SWMBO liked it....Litte watery mouth feel, hope it fills out. The maltodextrine should give it some mouth feel, little lacking at the moment. Give it 7 more days and see how it goes before I decide when to bottle.