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.