Category Archives: beer

Something sexy in french….another Saison

OK so its summer again and its bloody hot, that means I’m back to brewing saisons again. My search for the perfect saison recipe continues. Some old recipes can be found here and in other posts on this blog.

Yes OK I know there is no such thing as the perfect saison recipe, but I’m trying to get to the point where I have a couple where I say “yep that’s it”. A couple of the paler versions brewed last season fit that bill, my favorite being the 100% pills and styrian goldings version with the belgian saison yeast. It took a while to come into its own and for the spicy complexity of the yeast to come through but when it did I really struggled to fault it. Love that yeast but it does take a while to do its thing.

I think simple is best with saisons, that said I did a couple of versions with palm sugar, got to love that dirty sugar. I’ve also used the Wyeast Farmhouse ale yeast a couple of times. It does a great job and is much more forgiving than the Belgian saison but it just isn’t quite as exciting. Great quick saison but in the long run it’s just not quite there.

Last year I also figured out that I dont like the use of Stella (or Ella now I think) as a dry hop in a saison. Tasted like petroleum. I may have been a little to heavy fisted with it but its put me off the idea. The old school Noble and Euro hops just seem to sit better with the esters and phenolic. Pearl, Halertau, Styrian Goldings. I am keen to try something tropical and fruity like Pacific Gem though, maybe even Galaxy. Should prove interesting.

So what did I brew for my first 2013 saison? Its a blend of what I learned in 2012 with a yeast i havent much experience with, the French Saison (by all accounts a more civilised yeast than the Belgian). So mostly pills, some palm sugar, mostly Styrian goldings, mash at  63 deg c and start the ferment at about 22 then let it go in an old farmhouse. I thought this beer needed a name, something sexy in french seemed a good idea. However I don’t know any french appart from being able to lip sync to Plastic Bertrand, so I’ll just stick with calling it “Something Sexy in French”. Heres the recipe –

Batch Size: 23.00 L
Boil Size: 28.00 L
Boil Time: 45 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00


Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.00 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 70.39 %
1.00 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 17.60 %
0.40 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC) Grain 7.04 %
0.15 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 2.64 %
0.05 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC) Grain 0.88 %
10.00 gm Warrior [16.70 %] (45 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 21.4 IBU
45.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (30 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 11.2 IBU
10.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (10 min) Hops 0.9 IBU
40.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.40 %] (1 min) Hops 2.9 IBU
0.08 kg palm sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 1.46 %
1 Pkgs French Saison (Wyeast Labs) Yeast-Ale
Measured Original Gravity: 1.050 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.42 %
Bitterness: 36.4 IBU

No idea how this will come out, but should be OK, really looking forward to seeing how this yeast behaves, and the wort tasted great. Next saisons in the gun are an all pills and Belgian saison yeast rebrew from last year, just a little hoppier, an amberish version, and I really want to do a batch of the porter I brewed for Christmas but with a saison yeast, that could be interesting. I’ll probably have to throw some fruit in a saison too, but then again its probably a distraction from getting my saison recipe dialed in.

Cheers D


Making better beer 2

Recently a couple of friends have started home brewing so I decided it was time to refresh my “how to make sure your home brew doesn’t taste like arse”. I was also prompted by a post from Glen at Beer is your Friend who has run up a list of things he’s figured out in year 1 of homebrewing. This started as something to email to people that ask “oh I’d love to do homebrew, what should I do”, either for themselves or a friend. It kept things simple for me and has hopefully helped a couple of people out. I think its time that I updated it though, it has been a couple of years and stuff like brew in a bag and no chill, that didn’t sound quite right to me then make a whole lot of sense now (yes even though I don’t use them).

Again this is what I call the basics on making your homebrew a little bit better. It is not the bible, and its no guarantee, but I think it’l help, after all most hobbies are all about figuring out  how to sort the important bits out from the irrelevant. This is not always obvious but can make life easier.

I won’t take you through my process as I do all grain and that’s not where I recommend starting. I did however skip the middle ground, going straight from kits to all grain (and made a lot of fuckups on the way). All grain is making beer totally from scratch, malted barley, hops, yeast, and whatever else I feel like throwing in.

If you don’t want to go from kits (i.e. the supermarket kits like coopers) then try a fresh wort kit. Fresh wort kits are great, basically they are a big bottle of wort, more or less the extract can with the water left in. You can add your own twists to any kit by adding some specialty grain (like crystal malt or black barley) and some hops. This can be done with little more than a sauce pan and a sieve.

You can also do a full extract kit, by steeping/boiling up some specialty grains and malt extract to make your fermentables and adding hops. Most of this can be done in a big pot on the stove. A good home brew shop should be able to get you going on this.

Up to this point you are able to do more or less the whole process except mashing. This is not a complex process but you do need some more gear. Something to heat the mash, something to strain the sugars from the grain, something to boil the wort, and a way to chill the whole lot. Traditional this takes a whole bunch of dedicated gear (and it’s what I do). However if I was starting now I’d get an urn, a big mesh bag and a cube, and do brew in a bag no chill. This will get you going on all grain much quicker and cheaper than any other way. And yes it will make good beer without a number of expensive and sometimes complicated gear to figure out. It also gives you the ability to set your mash temp and therefore have some more control over the fermentability of your wort. A good thing. It’s not perfect, and you do lose some control but its a great way to start all grain.

I’d recommend listening to some pod casts from the brewing network (probably the Jamil Show, heaps of free recipes) and getting yourself a book by John Palmer called “How to Brew” it’ll point you in the right direction. As for homebrew shops in Melbourne I recommend Grain and Grape in Yarraville, the blokes there are awesome.

I did used to recommend for starting off get a kit, something like the coopers one that comes with a fermenter and bottles all ready to go (plastic ones are good to use and you can reuse them if you wash them properly but don’t use boiling water – the bottles shrink!). However after getting a mate set up with a starter kit at Grain and Grape recently I think that better deals can be found. All of the kits you get from the supermarkets or homebrew shops are ok. My recommendations on these would be use the kit but get a better yeast (for dry yeast get the safbrew 04 (UK) or 05 (US) will cost about $5) and ferment them at about 18-20 deg C rather than the 28 deg C the kits tell you (I’m not certain that they still recommend this?).

Stick with ales rather than larger. Standard ales ferment at 18-22deg C. Larger needs to be fermented at 12-16 deg C to get the right flavours (they ferment like champions at higher temps but the flavours go all over the shop). Stick with a standard ale (pale or amber) or most of the dark beers are easy (stout or a porter, there pretty easy to get drinkable) the wheat beers are ok but can be a little more fickle in getting the flavours right.

When your bottling if you want to use glass bottles get a bench capper, the hammer things don’t work that well.

If you want to spend a bit more cash try a fresh wort kit (grain and grape has them). The next two areas you can spend cash on are;

  1. getting setup so that you can boil 30l – going to a full boil setup will let you make your own extract and hop selections, essentially create your own beer. If you go all grain (as I do) you will be able to use this. I have a an old keg with the top cut out fired by a gas burner. You can use an electric urn also (I’ve done this but don’t like it)
  2. or some kind of temperature control for your fermentation – temp control on the ferment = better beer

General tips to make your beer not shitty;

  1. Remember its only beer. No matter how badly you fuck up its only beer and beer is very forgiving. Wrong yeast, wrong temp, boil cuts out part way, to many hops, not enough hops, I’ve done it all and with the exception of an infected batch its all pretty much ok. You may swear a lot (as I do at times) but at the worst you tip the batch out and have a beer. So relax and enjoy the process.
  2. Keep everything clean get some no rinse sanitiser and use it all the time (mix some up in a spray bottle). Its heaps cheaper than throwing out a batch of beer. Don’t forget to clean you bottles properly (I rinse with boiling water then rinse in sanitiser). Also don’t use the kitchen sponge for cleaning brewing stuff, those things are full of nasty bugs.
  3. Use your hydrometer, write everything down, measure everything properly. This helps with repeatability and lets you figure out where you stuffed up. Nothing worse than making an awesome beer and not being able to do it again.
  4. Give the fermentation time to work. At about 3- 5 days it’ll probably be done on most beers but give it 7-10 in the fermenter to let the yeast finish the job off.
  5. Keep the fermenter out of the light, hops go funky in the light and make the beer taste skunky (that’s why beer in green bottles can taste shitty). This is done by putting the fermentor somewhere dark or throwing a towel over it. Again don’t use green bottles.
  6. If you are using a dried yeast hydrate it before you put it in the unfermented beer (the wort). Put about one inch of water in a coffee cup, cover with cling film and put it on high in the microwave for 2 minutes. Put this aside to cool to room temp (do this hours before you brew). 15 minutes before you want to put it in the wort gently pour the yeast into the water in the coffee cup. Do not stir it. it will hydrate and look kind of gooey. You then add the whole thing to the wort. I often do 2 cups of water at the same time then use the second one to rinse the remaining yeast out into the wort.
  7. Actually use liquid, its only a little more expensive and the choice is way better.
  8. Fermentation is the most important bit after the sanitisation.
  9. The recipe is not the most important thing, process is king, a good recipe helps but wont fix bad process.
  10. To keep the beer a bit cooler wrap a towel around it and keep it wet.
  11. Read John Palmers book and do what he says!
  12. Dont just follow the bloody internet (yes I know this is on the internet) there is so much shit on the internet about homebrewing. Also have a think about which home brew shop you get advice from, not all are great.
  13. Share your beer with people, the best way to get genuine feedback, if you get a little confidence give competitions a go.
  14. Use anti foam, I love the shit and hate boil overs. Really good for when you start doing starters, but that’s a little down the track.
  15. Write everything down. When you get into all grain get some brewing software, it makes life easier. I use Beer Smith.

That should get you started and remember there is no excuse for bad beer. Also go wander around in your local homebrew shop, sus out if its any good. I learned the basics from the guys in my local home brew shop, then figured the rest out myself from books (with a fair bit of help from doing a brewing course at Ballarat Uni).

I hope this helps, but mainly remember that brewing should be a process you enjoy that will make beer you can enjoy and share. So with this info go brew something, you should have enough to be sort of ok (and you should also be reading Palmer right now) otherwise if in doubt ask someone you trust. Remember there are no stupid questions, only stupid questions.

Cheers D

Brewers and Drinkers

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that brew and those that don’t.OK well that’s technically correct, but it’s also bullshit, and not really on topic of “Brewers and Drinkers”.8055045283_f19683a3f3_o

So before I launch into the topic a quick brewing and stuff update. The pale ale and porter that I brewed for the family boxing day party went down fantastically. This is always my favorite thing to brew for as I get to enjoy my beer with family. The most memorable part was my mum and aunts (none of them really craft beer drinkers) getting stuck into the robust porter. It had a nice chocolate and coffee to it and it was over 6%ABV. I guess they slept well.

I also brewed my first saison for the season, this time using the french saison yeast rather than my usually go to the Belgian one. I was going to knock out a batch of pale ale also but with the heat wave we are getting right now in Melbourne it was just better to leave it alone. More brews to happen in the coming weeks.

A_mXac7CEAI6kj2Now to the wheat harvest that usually gives me some home grown grain for brewing. Not so awesome this year, the harvest which is all done now went pretty well but the wheat has ended up being “shot”, that is it has started to take up moisture and think about growing. Not awesome for storing and I’m not too sure how it’ll go in the beers this year. If I want to use any it’ll need to be early in the year I think.

Now back to the topic of the Session – Brewers and Drinkers

What is the difference between brewers and drinkers, not a lot I’d say. Firstly I need to state, for fairness, that I am both a brewer (homebrewed) and a drinker. Both brewing and drinking take me to a zen place. Probably more so with the brewing, my 4 hours of zen providing everything works properly.

I think that in general brewers are a subset (sub species?) of drinkers. If I can recal year 8 maths I think a ven diagram would be the best way to put it in a picture. There would probably need to be subsets of both drinkers and brewers, but in general I think the brewer circle would sit 100% within the drinker circle. So in general all brewers are drinkers (I think, although I have heard of a former pro brewer who prefered wine to beer, or perhaps just his beer).This is a non related Venn Diagram just for the hell of it

I think that it should also be noted that neither brewers or drinkers can really survive without each other. I think you call that a symbiotic relationship.

People who only drink are just the ones who havent figured out how to DIY, just like people who watch Jamie and Nigella yet never pick up a pan or knife (or do speed cooking or lick the spoon with cleavage showing). That said all drinkers can be brewers (yes I know I am making a huge assumption that by drinkers we mean beer drinkers, but economists get to make assumptions and they never get things wrong, right?). All becoming a brewer takes is a trip to Kmart and the purchase of a home-brew kit. Its

easy, I got a mate going on this in mid December and he was drinking homebrew on Christmas day. Easy.I’d like to think more on the end of the drinker and brewer brackets who focus on good beer, craft, boutique what ever you want to call it, just not industrial lager.

Drinkers of good beer are all about making choices in beer that give them a high level quality experience that enhances all things around them. It is not simply a refreshing booze delivery device (but yes they are excellent attributes of beer, especially today when its 40 deg C in Melbourne). Brewers of said beer often start as drinkers of said beer who ask the questions like “why is x beer different to y beer?”. This leads to questions like “can I make x beer?”. Thats pretty much how I became a brewer. I do have to add that I have a background in science and agriculture, and love tinkering so the process and engineering that goes on in brewing is right up my alley. However so many brewers have backgrounds that in theory should make them completely unqualified to brew (all these bloody IT people), yet they still do.

Thankfully many drinkers realise that they cannot brew and get the beer they want. Both for them and their friends this is probably a good thing.

So Brewers and Drinkers. Where am I heading, I don’t really know but I told James (Beer Bar Band) that I’d post something.

When looking at the subsets these are my findings;

Drinkers only – essentially lazy or skill lacking people.

Brewers only – very strange people, I recommend that you show extreme caution when dealing with these people.

Drinkers who brew – very well-rounded people who are highly skilled and generally awesome.

And that my friends is the post, a rather biased one, and none of it factual in any way. It actually felt a bit like doing a Biology exam at Uni. I usually did quite well at them.

I’ll post some more saison recipe updates in the coming weeks as my search for the perfect saison recipe continues (and yes I know there is no such thing).

Cheers D

What have I been doing…..or thinking about

Hello there, its been a while. Have I been somewhere or really busy? No not really, just not blogging much?

Well sort of busy, lots going on with work, silly season upon us, trying to fit in some beer related stuff, all that. Oh and I joined twitter (@idreamofbrewery). Twitter is a wonderful, it gets you free beer, lets you know where important things like taco trucks are and puts you in touch with tons of ideas in tiny bites, kind of like mind tapas. It is distracting me from blogging though.

So to blog!

What have I been up to in relation to beer. Still planning some kind of beer company thing for 2013, love the concept but am still a little intimidated by the actual delivery bit. I need to put some stuff on paper, which I will do when I’m on hols at the beach over Christmas. Sorted.

I’ve also been doing a bit of recipe thinking, and part of the research for that is knocking through a few old homebrews, mainly different version of saisons (of which I happily have a good stash). Damn these beers age well. As I think I’ve concluded previously, less is more when it comes to recipes for saisons. IPA’s on the other hand, more is more :).

The harvest has started at my parents farm, barley being harvested right now I think (that is if they have fixed the harvester, broken shaft I think) so I’ll put down a few harvest beers, mainly saisons. I love to throw some fresh wheat, oats or barley from the farm in the mash. I’ll also have some fresh hops on the go too. I think I’ll also do some fruit beers, well chuck some fruit in a saison. I may also need to brew some beer for my brother in-laws 40th in January. I really should be focused on beers that I’d like to take to market but the creative juices want to flow! ah well compromise may need to kick in.

Oh and what should my first beer release be? let me know if you have a suggestion, I’m thinking a saison and/or and IPA.

I’m still trying plenty of new beers, not really saying a whole lot about them though as I don’t really see the need to write about the ho-hum, so so or terrible beers any more. As they say if you can’t say anything nice….. Some IPA’s have let me down a little lately, many excitable releases from breweries are just not giving me what I want in an IPA, that is to be a hop delivery device. Perhaps I’m just getting beers that are past their best or I expect too much? Of recent times I’ve been impressed by beers from MoonDog, Mountain Goat and Heretic, and of course good old Saison DuPont and Cantilion.

This trend was bucked last night 8 wired Superconductor Double IPA. I’m not going to go into the “it tasted like…” but it tasted like a double IPA should, hoppy with a good malty booze backbone. Great tropical citrus nose and flavor, with a firm bitterness. Soren, again you’ve hit the nail on the head, great beer.

That’ll do for now, didn’t really go anywhere with this post. Well no I had a bit of a winge and dumped some of my thoughts down. Ah well, perhaps a more productive post next time.

Cheers D



Zen and free beer

Despite the heat my levels of Zen are sitting at a higher than normal level this week.

My weekend brewing session went well (yes I remembered the yeast and hops) seeing me punch out two batches in 6 hours. Thats pretty damn good and I managed to keep my efficiency up. And thanks to a phone conversation with Hendo distracting me from where I was up to I ended up with more beer than I was shooting for but it still made the gravity targets ( I transfer wort in a bucket 5 litres at a time, I lost count). Sometimes it pays not to have things go to plan.

Brewing these two pretty simple beers, a porter and a my old pale ale also reminded me of how good some simple things. Firstly my pale ale uses Chinook hops, a hop I havent used much for a while. It might just be this particular batch but damn they smelled great, just an awesome punchy smell. Loved it. And the smell of a porter mash, all coffee and roast and blackness, fantastic!

Might have been my mood or what I had for lunch or just the high levels of zen I was experiencing but these two smells just relly made me smile. Must make more porters and use more chinook. Perhaps chinook mash hopped in a porter?

The zen continued past the brewing. I got some free beer from twitter. Thanks to the guys at Renegade Brews I got a free glass of Bayrischer Bahnhof Berliner Weisse at Slow Beer. This was a great beer, really complex, sharp and tart with a great nose (even though my first thought was a feet like smell, piedo I think?). It also gave me a chance to have a chat to one of the guys from Renegade (whose name now escapes me, that’s a tad embarrassing). Anyway good beer, good conversation. Cant go wrong with that, and I’m looking forward to some more interesting imports from these guys, based on the Berliner Weisse I expect good things.

Add to that my humble little attempt to get some beer made commercially sneaking along a bit more and I’m off fishing on the bay tonight, all in all it was a very zen week. Even if I don’t catch a massive snapper this evening I think its going to round off as a good week.

Have a Zen weekend everybody.

Cheers D



So it’s the weekend, and I’m in the office again. No need to sympathy this time I’m here on my own terms doing my own thing, web searches for brewery and beer names.

At this rate the idreamofbrewery blog name will be defunked, well I may not have a brewery for a while but I may have a beer or two for sale. Feeling really up about this, but also a bit daunted. Paper work, licensing, branding, packaging, names. Bloody hell this is like a job or a business. Who would have thought 🙂

Better get back to it.

Cheers D

PS – brewing last weeks beers tomorrow, fingers crossed. Not real impressed with this hot weather

Tripple Hightail

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In my last post I had a good whinge about my epic brewday fail. It is true it was a massive failure that meant I got no Zen. However I have some lightbulbs on the drive. Ideas for new tweaks on saisons, beers that I’ll brew in the coming months, and a bit about getting some beer made that I can actually sell. I’ve had some awesome conversations about this recently, everything from finding people who will actually talk to me about doing beer on a contract basis, people I think can make good beer, and do it in volumes I can handle and where I can play in the brew house. Also my folks are OK with the idea of me pinching part of the farm workshop with a small brew house (a nano brewery).

Embedded image permalinkIt’s still all just talk, but its good talk. Now I need to look more into the boring paperwork side of things. This is probably something that the guys at Mountain Goat did 15 years ago. Those lucky (read hard-working) bastards have made it to 15 years in the brewing industry. They are the Sierra Nevada of the Australian brewing industry. I don’t love all their beers, don’t get me started on the Steam Ale, but a their stout and a bunch of their one offs are great, as is the original Hightail Ale. These guys are the You Am I of the Australian beer scene, without them we wouldn’t have breweries like Moondog, Feral or even Little Creatures.

Trailblazers and trendsetters.

Anyway to their beer that I’m drinking while I’m contemplating the mountain of paper work that lies in front of me – Mountain Goat Triple Hightail. It’s a bigger version of its little bro, it has the same chewy flavor but its kind of sweeter. That might be due to the bumped up booze content. The beer has a definite belgo feel to it, again I think it’s the chewy boozy thing. I like it. After drinking Hightail for a few years this is a nice change, a boozy less hoppy version. Actually I can’t work out how many years I’ve been drinking Hightail for, probably 10 at least? its just one of those always there beers.

Anyway cheers for 15 years of beers MG! good luck for the next 15. For now I’ll be happy if I can get something to a 1st birthday, and thanks to my dud brew day I maybe have an idea of an 1st b’day beer 🙂

Cheers D


Brew day epic fail

Firstly this is nothing to do with a new beer from Epic, although I’d probably be up for buying a beer from Luke Nicholas called “Epic Fail”. This is about my brew day that was not.

I was really looking forward to brewing today. I’ve been busy at work and some other personal things, nothing terrible but time-consuming and it was wearing me down. I get my zen back by brewing. Todays two batches, one of pale ale, one of porter was going to give balance to the world of Darren, bring back the zen.

The recipes were concocted late Thursday evening. Long day on Friday but its OK, brewing on Sunday. Saturday pick up the hops, malt and yeast, a few jobs and some time in the office, but its OK I’m brewing on Sunday.

Now to Sunday, brew day. As I’ve mentioned previously I have a 2 hr drive to contend with before I can brew. About 1 hr into the drive, just going through Bannockburn and I remembered I havent smacked the yeast packs (Wyeast). Next I remembered that I hadn’t packed the yeast. FUCK, or the hops, FUCK FUCK.

Beer has 4 ingredients (well most of the time) and I forgot two of them. That was it, my brew day was done. By the time I turned around and got the yeast and hops, and the extra 4 hours of driving the day would be buggered. Instead I went and visited my 6 week old niece Olive (OK and her parents). She didn’t seem to get why I was pissed off. I guess that’s why babies dont make beer.

So what was I going to brew? nothing too interesting, just some beer for a family gathering on boxing day. The recipes are as follows;

Hammer Time Porter

6kg Marris Otter pale ale

0.8kg JW wheat malt

0.4kg Simpsons Crystal

0.25 Simpsons Chocolate Malt

0.25kg JW chocolate malt

0.25kg Carrapills

20g Warrior first wort hop

10g Cascade 30 min

10g Tetnanger 0min

Wyeast 1272 American Ale 2 yeast

Target OG about 1055

Pale Ale (yeah I can’t be bothered with a better name)

5.5kg Marris Otter Pale Ale

0.3kg Wyerman Carran munich

0.3kg JW Carra

0.3kg JW pale munich

0.15kg Victory malt

0.2kg wheat

18g Chinook first wort hop

24g Cascade 15 minutes

5g Simcoe 15 minutes

35g Cascade 0 minutes

5g simcoe 0 minutes

I think I throw some hops in the hop back to, can figure that out later

Wyeast 1098 Brittish yeast

Target OG about 1047

So that’s what I was going to brew today, which has not been held over until next weekend. Well at least I have all the ingredients. Let there be zen next weekend.

I’m going to have another beer now.

Cheers D

Sour experiments and the Wig and Pen

Firstly let me start with “ALL HAIL KING RICHARD!”, I’ll get to that in a bit. Na bugger it, I’ll cut to the chase.

Following a work trip to Canberra and a visit (OK 2) to the Wig and Pen pub I am inspired to do more in the way of brewing sour beers. Richard Watkins is making what I think are Australia’s best sour beers in a very unassuming pub, that from the outside has almost a shopping centre feel to it. The beers though. WOW.

I tried a few of the beers, a pale ale (hoppy and malty, well worth trying), a steam beer (I liked it but don’t really know the style), something through a randall (??) and an english IPA on hand pump (probably the best beer I’ve had on hand pump ever), and a stout that was roasty, chocolatey, coffee, smooth goodness (it was stout day after all). And then I tried the sours.

Thanks to the world of twitter I was able (with the assistance of some mates – Dan thanks) to actually ask the brewer (whom I have never met in real life) what should I drink. The message was Sour Blonde then Armpit then LPG! Enjoy.

Sour Blonde – an under 5% ABV bright blonde beer with a complex yet under powering sourness that make this the ultimate gateway beer for getting people onto sour beers. BUT this is still a beer that you could happily drink all day and still keep finding new things in. Awesome beer, if this was my local, this would be my 1st pint every time.

Bobs Armpit – this was a bigger and more complex beer (7% I think?) great drop, became more excellent with each sip as it warmed.

LPG – I think this was kind of Belgian golden strong with bugs (again 7%? or I could be mixing it up with the Bobs armpit) what I do remember about this beer was the aroma, it smelled fantastic. People who tell you sour beers smell like horse blankets, well perhaps they havent tried this beer. It was amazing.  The other amazing bit was that thanks to the power of twitter and the generosity of the brewer who was in Perth at the time I had it shouted for me. Cheers for the beer Richard, most generous.

The beers were big, and took their toll on me a little, I should have taken notes, but that would have been a mood killer. Great beers and I’ll be back, perhaps for a cellar tour if the hosts generosity permits. I want to see these barrels!

Also its worth noting that the staff at the Wig and Pen were excellent, the barman I got talking to (Ian I think) was great, new his beer, had time to talk to the punters and was a great ambassador for the beers. So when in Canberra I now drink at the Wig and Pen, do yourselves a favor and do the same.

Drinking Richards sour beers has reignited my desire to make some of these beers myself. Well more to master them. In the past 10 months or so I’ve had a tiny crack at making some sour beers. Sour beers seems to be the general designation that has been given to any beer that isn’t 100% clean. However the term sour seems to cover a whole world of flavor. Think sour and you go straight to a vinegar (yep even they have a massive range of flavors) or lemon. It’s not that simple.

In beer depending on what you start off with, what bugs (this is my generic term for non traditional brewing yeast) and where and how you age it.

My experiments to date are;

1. Buggy Harvest Ale

Amount Item Type % or IBU
2.25 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 43.52 %
1.25 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) US (3.9 EBC) Grain 24.18 %
0.50 kg Barley, Raw (3.9 EBC) Grain 9.67 %
0.50 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 9.67 %
0.50 kg White Wheat Malt (4.7 EBC) Grain 9.67 %
0.15 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (157.6 EBC) Grain 2.90 %
0.02 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC) Grain 0.39 %
25.00 gm Crystal [4.30 %] (60 min) Hops 14.6 IBU
25.00 gm Crystal [4.30 %] (30 min) Hops 7.4 IBU
20.00 gm Crystal [4.30 %] (1 min) Hops 1.9 IBU
1 Pkgs Wyeast 3789-PC Trapppist Blend Yeast-Wheat

I made this beer back just after Christmas 2011 and its been ageing in a demijohns ever since, when I tasted it months ago it had a hint of Orval about it. The OG was 1.045. The inspiration for this beer was a Brewing Network CYBI show on a Jolly Pumpkin beer. To be honest I havent really done much with this beer and it’s probably oxidised. I really need to taste it and get it in a bottle, but dealing with these dirty beers is just a little intimidating. The word “unclean!” springs to mind.

2. Buggy wheat with grapes

5.00 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 50.51 %
2.00 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 20.20 %
2.00 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 20.20 %
0.40 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 30L (59.1 EBC) Grain 4.04 %
0.20 kg Acid Malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 2.02 %
40.00 gm Warrior [15.00 %] (50 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 48.6 IBU
10.00 gm Nelson Savin [11.30 %] (50 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 9.2 IBU
20.00 gm Cascade [7.30 %] (10 min) Hops 2.3 IBU
30.00 gm Nelson Savin [11.30 %] (10 min) Hops 5.3 IBU

Wyeast 3789-PC Trapppist Blend

wyeast brettanomyces claussenii

1.5 kg of unwashed red grapes hand squashed into the fermenter

This beer was the result of wanting to make 2 beers at once, a hoppy seasonable IPA type wheat beer, and something more buggy and experimental. The OG was 1.050. I split the batch as outlined above with about 12l of the 37l total going to the sour fermenter, and the rest getting a shitload more hops thrown at it in the hopback and dryhop, it also got the rather tame 1056 yeast (more on this beer when I taste it).

Here are some photos from the brew day

So what has happened with the buggy grape? its tasting sour, has a nice purple hue from the grapes and is mostly sitting in a demijohns getting a little more time before bottling(its full so there shouldnt be an oxidation issue). Not really sure what I’ll do with it at bottling? should I carbonate it, or leave it flat? don’t know. As an experiment I have got 3 PET bottles, 2 primed with sugar, one left alone. I don’t want bottle bombs and I’m a little hesitant about the bret causing me issues down the track. Will see how it goes.

So whats next? planning on getting some barrels. Dan the brewer, this plan it very loose so far. I might also just leave a batch out coolship style at the farm. Not sure what that will bring. And there will be a gosse.

Plenty to do and brew.

Thanks again Richard, you’ve reignited the sour bug started by Cantillon and Orval.

Cheers D

ANHC & AABC wrap

So its Sunday evening, I’m back from my Mums birthday lunch, I’m on the couch and my hangover has mostly subsided. Dinners cooked and I’m thinking a beer could be an option.

Well maybe, if I do it will be a beer that almost got a place at the Australian Amateur Homebrewing Competition (AABC). I am however conflicted about having a beer though, as the hangover was a pretty solid one. This hangover is a 100% Australian National Homebrew Conference (ANHC) hangover. Club night was awesome but brutal, well the brutal bit was this morning. 5 coffee’s, 4 Panadol, 4 neurofen, a beroca and a toasted cheese sandwich. And I still didn’t feel right after all that.

So back to ANHC, and how AABC fits into it.

ANHC 2012 was great. I heard some great speakers. met some great brewers who shared their knowledge (and beer) freely. I hung out with some great people, most of whom are excellent homebrewers who also shared their knowledge, beer, bad ideas, good ideas, and terrible beer jokes (Dan that is aimed straight at you).

It was a great vibe, really positive, really inspiring, really fun. We did have a beer in our hands by 9.30am on both days, and there was more or less free beer 100% of the conference (good beer too) so that may have given me rose-coloured glasses but I got a hell of a lot out of the speakers. Barrel ageing, extreme brewing, foam stability, Belgian yeast, contract brewing, hops, hops and more hops, sour beers, just to name a few. I even now have an idea of how to make sake (but I’m not going to)

My personal favorite bits of the conference were;

  1. Matt Brynildson’s talks on hops and barrels, great info shared so generously. I also got to share some of my Tex the third IPA with him, a particularly proud moment for me as my beer is based on a recipe for his Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA. Thanks Matt, I will now be putting more hops in my beers and getting an oak barrel.
  2. Stu McKinlay – get obsessed, stay obsessed. Yeastie Boys crank out some great beer even though Stu does look like Murray from Flight of the Concords (awesome checked pants). Stu’s 10 commandments of home brewing were great, focused and realistic. They also made me realise that I need to get back focussed on getting some beer made. I’ll post his 10 commandments at some stage, right now I’m just glad I got to hear him speak, have a yard with him and also share a bit of my peach saison with him. Oh and I’m stealing your wine candy sugar idea – ha!
  3. Good people make good beer. Club night was awesome, great beer shared among strangers with nothing in common but brewing, and friendship. Some say booze causes problems, fights etc. There was a hell of a lot of booze on hand last night, all free, and not one hint of a blue or a cross word. I put it down to the good people 🙂
  4. Sake – it sounds interesting to make but I want nothing to do with it.
  5. Sharing knowledge in a humble way. It’s good to let people know what you know, even better to do it in a nice way. Well done to the conference organisers and speakers for making it an open info sharing forum.

There’s more I can write about, but not now. Plenty of ideas still floating around in my head that need a chance to settle before I do anything with them. They need to ferment a little and age a bit. More to come though.

And that gets me to AABC, it links in with ANHC as the judging is done and announced at the conference. I missed the dinner where the place getters for the classes were awarded, but had I been there I would have got to go up on the stage to pick up a second place for my English Barley Wine (woo hoo for me!! I got a score of 132, third highest in the total comp). I entered 6 beers in VicBrew, 4 of them made it through to AABC, all with third places and I got a second place at AABC. Those are strike rates that I like. But it was so close to being 2 places, I missed a place with my Tex the Third IPA by 1 point! bugger, so close. Ah well something to aim for next year.

So now what? Get obsessed, stay obsessed. I am and I will. Time to focus on improving the quality of my home brew, and on getting a beer on the shelf somewhere. Thanks ANHC and AABC, now I have something to focus on for the next 12 months.

Cheers D

PS – Bring on ANHC 2014, and no I didn’t get have that beer tonight

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