Category Archives: bodgey

Footscray, my home of offal awakening (or reawakening??)

Unknowingly I’ve always liked offal. This is not something that I always would have acknowledged. Offal is collectively known as the bits of the animal that most Australians (and lots of other nationalities) refer to as being dog food. The goodness of offal is something that I have rediscovered in Footscray, a place of excellence that is on my back doorstep.

Let me take you back to where I discovered my love of offal, not that I knew what it was. I grew up on a farm where we grew and butchered our own lamb. Killing and cutting up the sheep was something that I did with my Dad from an early age. I loved it, great fun and I kind of learned a skill, although I doubt my butchery skills would be good enough for anyone to give me a job doing it for a living. I also know the whole thing of appreciating where meat comes from.

But I digress. Lambs fry and kidneys, my first offal. My Dad doesnt and never did eat eggs (and I still dont know why?), he does however love a cooked breakfast. This means meat and toast, an excellent combination (I do however love eggs, just with meat and toast) . Killing a lamb always meant a set menu of offal for breakfast. The day after the kill there would be lambs fry for breakfast. This is liver. No my Dad is no gourmet chef, I think he may have dusted it in flour and sometimes it would have been accompanied by bacon (always a good thing) but it was still a great start to the day. A few days later there would be kidneys. I have always loved to eat kidneys, meaty and extra strong flavored fryer in a pan these little buggers are hard to beat (I have some in the freezer, might need to defrost some for breakfast). Breakfast with Dad was always good, seldom healthy, but good. Not offal related but still healthy, his other favorite is thickened cream on corn flakes. Try it, it’s still good.

So there is the history of me and offal. But I never would have called it offal. It was just breakfast meat. I think I then stopped knowingly eating offal for some years (I went to boarding school so they no doubt snuck some in). Then I moved to Melbourne and started partaking in Pho, otherwise know as asian noodle soup in Footscray. There you start with the chicken and beef combo soup, and over time progress through all other unknown cheap bits of animals. My favorite Footscray Pho joint – Hung Vuong Saigon, has all manner of offal available in their Pho, the most hard core has bits of everything, liver, tripe, fat, who knows, I think it’s called the combination soup? Its good but a bit hard-core. My favorite and most surprising bit of random animal in soup is tendon. The beef and tendon Pho and Van Huen is awesome. No sensible person would think that tendon should be a good thing to eat. All sensible people are wrong. Good god that shit is good. And cheap.

For more expensive tastes in offal, I’ve indulged in sweetbreads at Bar Laurinda on Little Collins st in the city. That place can make most anything taste awesome, but sweetbreads, hypothalamus glands i think? cooked with bread crumbs, currants and some kind of booze. That is one good thing. A simple, cheap, good thing. Not in Footscray but a good thing, not sure that they are a regular on the menu but they can do offal.

So tonight I continued my Footscray offal adventure but in a less offalcentric place, the Station Hotel. I caught up with a friend for dinner and we both chose the pigs trotter with sweetbreads (and a mash that had more butter than potato). The place is famous for steaks but who can resist pigs feet. OK lots of people, but neither of us had it before, but definitely will again. That was a truly excellent dinner. As with most of my offal experiences I don’t think it was healthy but it was really good. Damn it was good, and it went really well with the Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. Go there and try it if you dont believe me. If you are a bit soft, have a steak instead, still a great feed, but the pigs trotter wont dissapoint.

So now as I sip glass of my Stella Farmhouse ale and consider all the butter and fat, and how much I like offal I’m thinking about tomorrow when I meet a lady called Ebony. Ebony will be my personal trainer at the Gym I joined on Monday. This could end badly. I’m not certain how the combination of a love of offal, beer and a gym membership will go. Hmmm, be nice Ebony.

Cheers D

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Mystery wardrobe keg beer

Last night I was cleaning some kegs in preparation for Dazzapalooza and found half a keg of beer in the back of my wardrobe. I have no idea what it is but its probably been there since about Christmas. I thought it was a keg of sanitiser but when I went to tip it out it was amber. Not sanitiser at all. So as the fridge was empty I resealed the keg, chilled it down and am having a pint of it right now.

Again I have no idea what it is, I think it may have been a pale ale or a wheat beer but all the hops have dropped out of it. Its not sour and way past its prime but its not terrible. There is a funny fruit tingle type taste to it that I cant quite put my finger on.

So Mystery Wardrobe Keg Beer? not sure if I’ll keep drinking this or not so leave a comment if you have any ideas on what to do with this random beer. I think I’ll at least keep it until I need the keg space, so a week or so perhaps.

Also if you are reading this (and like it I guess) could you please see your self clear to follow my blog (if you arnt already) I am currently losing in the race for followers against Mark Dapin and his blog by the same name. While I do like his writing and think he would be a top bloke to have a beer with, he has a regular spot in The Age Good Weekend magazine. This gives him an unfair advantage so please follow my blog and tell your friends!

OK enough begging for followers, more mystery wardrobe keg beer for me.

Cheers D

PS – was a bit sad to see some people get hurt by the cyclone in Auckland, all a bit close to home as I was there on Sunday. Hope not to many people are hurt.

PPS – more info on Dazzapalooza to follow soon!

The brew day

"Do not drink too much beer"Image via Wikipedia
So brew day done and how was it? where was it?? what happened???

Well it was good. Not telling you where it was and we made 1200l of beer, I washed and filled a few kegs and had a snitchell sanga. Thats a prety good day as far as I see things.

I wont say where I brewed as I’m not sure that the brewers would be ok with that. I will say that I rate their beer as being a good thing. And that the brewer did beer school with me. Other than that all I can say is that typing in the dark a few beers and bourbons in is not so easy. Using the back space button way too much.

Brewing on a big or small scale means the same proces, mash sparge boil ferment. The buckets get bigger and the need to be consistend gets greater. Home brewing is great as the buckets are small and the need for consistency is small. A brewery ggets bigger and the need to be on the money every brew grows. I’m not sure how I feel about this, its the world where a hobby becomes a job. I can make good beer anywhere. I just dont know what cost that will come at.

I love making beer and want to make that the thing that I do. After a day in the brewery I still see that, just that it may take a lotto win to make it a brewing world that I want to be in. thats not all the practical or real though. Funny that others have more faith in me getting  there than me. Realy dont know why? I’m not that shy or retiring.

Baby steps for me in the tracks to brewing, unless a wealthy preson wants to play santa.

I am sounding so bumbed out right now. Appologies for sucking so much

wedding beer

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 19:  A man wears a...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Ah finally brewing I’m doing this blog as I brew so it’ll be a little disjointed, right now I’m a little over half way through the sparge of the Pale Ale, the first wort hops are in and still have a long brew day ahead of me with another batch to brew and a batch to bottle. Right now its 11am. Oh and I have to drop Dad into bowls I think.

Right now it is blowing its guts out outside, we had some rain last night, about 30ml, and this seems to be some kind of storm following through. It felt almost tropical last night, warm but raining, and frogs everywhere. I escorted six of the little buggers out of the back porch last night. I’m not a frog guru but I believe that we have some pretty rare ones around home, namely the growling grass frog. Anyway frogs are supposed to be an indicator of the world being healthy so I guess having them around is a good thing. They are living on the edge hanging around near the back door of my parents place though; getting stepped on is apparently bad for frogs. To hear what these frog sound like, a noise I grew up with and never really knew what it was click here. The sound pretty cool.

In addition to the frogs the rains that are major pain in the arse for so many right now are doing good things. Most easy to spot is the lakes near my folks place starting to fill up – the likes of Lake Corangamite, Gnarpurt and Roseanna have all been empty for about 10 years. Not so any more. The smaller lakes are more or less full and the bigger ones, like Corangamite are getting close. The trees are also growing. In the last six months I think most of the trees have put on about a foot in height and gotten greener.

For farming though generally the rain has been a pain in the arse, at least short term, causing a large downgrading of the wheat and barley crops, and giving general headaches for livestock (feet and flies). The wheat I’ll be using in the Witt today will be of questionable quality but that’s just part of the fun of farmhouse brewing. I doubt the old school Belgium brewers ever had the wheat tested or didn’t use it if it the season was a little off.

Anyway the brew day is going well apart from the wind that’s going to make getting a boil going slow work.
Time to go find some wheat.

It’s now just a bit after 1pm and saying the brew day was going well was a bad idea. Firstly I had the drill running backwards. This runs the rollers that mill the grain to make the beer. I could not work out why it wasn’t working. I kept tightening the gap on the mill yet no difference. Had me stuffed until I looked at the rollers. Problem solved, wheat milled. Now to the wind. It if funnelling through the shed making a boil near impossible. After waiting over an hour and a half to get the boil going I moved the kettle and burner setup inside and it now looks like the boil will get going. Eventually. The day will be a long one, but I will get there.
As for the saison to be bottled after a taste I’m less than inspired to bottle it. There is the usual saison twang or funk, but also a hint of lacto. Not really sure where it will end up. It was a kind of screwed up batch anyway, big on the abbey malt and not at all the recipe I was after so I guess it being a little lactic is just going with the trend.

The boil appears to be getting closer to a reality rather than an ideal. The difference shutting a door makes. Time to start the Witt mash shortly.

Witt mash on, 30 minute hops added to the pale at 20 minutes (shortening the boil time by 10 minutes here to balance out the time the first wort hops had in the beer – oh that may be interesting how that goes??) bottles sanitised for the lacto-abbey-saison. Sanity returning as the brew day comes together. It’s still windy as buggery.

The Witt went by with more or less no issues; I didn’t bring enough coriander, but pinched some camomile tea from Mums weird tea stash to add some more spicy twang to the beer.

I also bottled the abbey saison, I tasted it again and with no real hint of lacto. Must have been a bit of sour stuff living in or around the tap. The beer will certainly have a saison twang, but not like a malt vinegar.

The recipes – both based on 70% efficency and a 22l to the fermenter

Wedding Pale.
This beer is based on the Brewing Network CYBI Firestone Walker Pale 31 recipe, with Goldings instead of Fuggles, and the boil shortened to 60 minutes.
4.00 kg Marris Otter Pale (5.9 EBC) Grain 80.81 %
0.60 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 12.12 %
0.25 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC) Grain 5.05 %
0.10 kg Wheat malt (5.9 EBC) Grain 2.02 %
23.00 gm Cascade [5.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops
8.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.80 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 5.7 IBU
23.00 gm Centennial [9.70 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops –
8.00 gm Chinook [11.40 %] (30 min) Hops 6.3 IBU
23.00 gm Cascade [5.00 %] (1 min) Hops 2.6 IBU
23.00 gm Centennial [9.70 %] (1 min) Hops 5.1 IBU
4.11 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale

Berrybank Witt
Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.45 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC) Dry Extract 7.96 %
3.00 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) US (3.9 EBC) Grain 53.10 %
1.90 kg Wheat Raw Grain 33.63 %
0.30 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 5.31 %
11.00 gm Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 20.0 IBU
1 Pkgs Belgian Witbier (Wyeast Labs #3944) Yeast-Wheat
Also 45g of fresh orange zest, 4g of coriander seeds crushed, a pinch of camomile tea, all added in the last 5 minutes of the boil.
I’m tired now. Having a beer. James Bond is shooting someone on the telly and it’s a bit too hot. Oh and here are some pics of my brewing setup, a collection of bits that are in no way connected.

my getto brew rig, a plastic fantastic in the woolshed smoko room

The boil bit of the brew rig, again very flash, wort transfer from the mash to the boil kettle occurs by bucket and foot

Cheers D

Cooking Lager Tribute

Aldi Süd, TrierImage via Wikipedia
I have some awesome beers in my fridge right now, some Mikeller, Cantione, Duvel, Orval just to name a few but I’ve been reading (and enjoying) a blog called Cooking Lager for some time now. Its all about Cooky, an English guy and his love of what he calls cooking lager. I’m not sure exactly what the definition of cooking lager is but beers like Fosters are in there and places like Aldi are choice purchasing locations. As best I can tell its cheep quaffable beer. Beer Uni students and tight arses like. He also writes about the UK beer scene, legislation and some stuff that seems to matter. I really don’t get a lot of it (the serious stuff that is) but still like the blog.

Anyway I was in my local IGA tonight and ventured into the bottle shop section. They had a bunch of cheap looking beer which formed the inspiration of my Cooking Lager Tribute. I selected 4 cans of beer, the 2 cheapest domestic and the 2 cheapest imported (full strength of course – got to draw the line somewhere). I chose cans as they keep beer fresher longer, and are generally a better package for beer. This has left me with the following beers;

Tooheys Red $1.99 Australia 375ml
ICE beer $1.99 Australia 375ml
Gosser Beer $3.99 Austria’s Finest Beer 500ml
Furstenbrau Beer $3.99 Greek (I think) 500ml
A bottle of chilli sauce from Belize (I was having tacos for dinner)

These reviews are for you Cooky, or perhaps more appropriately in tribute to you.
I started with the Gosser as it has the words “Gut Besser” on the can. I have no idea what this means. The beer is pale and yellow, not too fizzy, tastes like a generic European lager. I’m getting no hops and stuff all malt. Still I could drink it from a plastic cup at the footy.

Next was the Furstenbrau. I thought by the look of the can it was German. Wrong I guess. As best I can tell its Greek, a country not known for their brewing heritage. Upon pouring I’d say this is paler than the Gosser. It tastes of even less too. This beer has nothing going on. On the can it says ‘Quality Product”. What the fuck were they thinking. In favour of this beer is that it has a high wetness factor. And its very clear. On the can it also says ‘best before end” I’m going to assume that means that the last mouthful will taste bad. I doubt I’ll finish this beer. Perhaps this beer would be best used instead of water for boiling hotdogs in. The can is attractive though.

The Aussie Beers are old friends from my uni days.
ICE beer which I’m guessing is the old Hahn Ice. I think there was some story about it being ice brewed or something. I remember drinking this at the end of exams with my mate Crackas listening to Roxet and watching Flash Gordon. Ah the good old days. I think the ice brew thing got us in to that beer, it also may have been slightly higher alcohol. I don’t know that this is the same beer. OK on pouring this beer is clearer than the others. I can pretty much watch TV through it. It has a bit of a nose on it, not sure what it is (but it has a scent which puts in front of the Greek offering) and upon tasting it has more of an Australian lager taste to it. I put this down to less DMS, this is basically that canned corn taste that a lot of euro lagers have. Its still not much of a beer though. 3 cans in this is kind of a bad idea. What have you don’t to me Cooky?

Tooheys Red. I remember this beer being $20 for 30 cans. How could you beat this? Awesome. I also remember thinking that drinking this beer from a glass somehow made it taste better. It was always an economic decision rather than a go to beer. Has a bit of colour and a stronger nose that the others. This also has a bit more flavour. But not much. This would be my pick of the domestic cooking lager. I remember the add for this beer having something about a German back packer asking for 9 of them. Bugger that I say. This beer may be say 4 IBU with the Ice beer being 2IBU.

I’d really forgotten how bad these beers were, or perhaps wasn’t aware how far my beer tastes have gone. From today’s Cooking Lager Tribute I have learnt that if nothing else. And not to buy the cheapest beer at the supermarket if I want to enjoy a beer. These are not bad beers, they are faultless, and consistent. They don’t make me smile though so although I will enjoy a cheap mass produced lager at family gatherings and sporting events I don’t think I’ll be going back to them. Cooky I’ll hand this space back to you, time for me to have a home brew, a brown ale I think.

Cheers D

Time for a brew sculpture – suggestions??

Pipes and fittings made of stainless steel.Image via Wikipedia
Right now I brew (ok not very often) in what appears to be a series of buckets, eskies and keg cut down into a boiler. It mostly runs by gravity using benches in the woolshed kitchen and an esky, and I cart wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle in a plastic bucket. It is pretty ghetto but it does the job more than adequately, enough so that I have brewed some beers that received awards using this bustard arse system. This is more or less how I have been brewing for the past 4 years, bodgey balancing stuff, mainly using gravity.

Time to change I think and get something that I can refer to as a sculpture rather than the stuff I make beer with. This new system will also see me up the brew length, from about 30 to about 50 litres. This may get me to a higher level of brewing zen.

I have a march pump, a couple of stainless false bottoms, a plate chiller and a bunch of taps and fittings. Recently I purchased 3 60l stainless steel kegs from the Bridge Rd Brewers in Beechworth (cheers for picking them up Stu). These were on eBay and more or less a “shit I should buy them” type thing that has led to me thinking more about a brew sculpture. Now I have 3 60l vessels and 1 50l one. Three of these in some type of setup will be my new brew sculpture, the other will become a fermentor for buggy beers. Question is I can’t figure out what the best way to configure them is.

I don’t want to have to buy to much new stuff (within reason) and I’m not wanting to go all gravity as that will make the thing about 10 feet tall and not all that friendly to move. This leaves me thinking that it will be a 2 level system using the march pump to either move the sparge water or the wort out of the mash tun. Listening to a guy from Great Northern Brewing Co on the Brewing Network Sunday Session about his 3 story tallest building in town brewery has me still thinking that I would love a gravity system if not just for the simplicity.

There are a bunch of different configurations have a look at the sabco or morebeer websites. I like the look of the more beer tippy dumpy systems from more beer but the whole thing looks to get a touch tall. The sabco system is about the right height but I’m not sure I like the idea of pumping the wort out of the mash tun. I still like gravity and since its free and constant I figure its worth using.

Going single would level would need another pump, not sure I want to spend that cash. I think there will be $ spent on a digital temp controller for the hot liquor tank. Digital is much nicer than analogue. This will also test my welding skills that have been unused for a long time. That will be interesting.

Some of the planning will be no doubt happening tomorrow night at Biero where I will be drinking biero with Nik and Dan. There may well be a plan on a napkin. Actually there may well be a really shitty plan with a rather large spoiler and a chrome petrol cap drawn on a napkin.

So anyway ideas or suggestions are welcomed. This may be a long planning phase and a relatively simple build. Or not still I can’t figure out what I want as I’ve only ever brewed on my ghetto contraption that has moved from shelf to cupboard to esky to woolshed. Time for some brew sculpture bling.

Cheers D

PS – I’m having a pint of saison right now, done with the Grain and Grape pale ale fresh work kit, the Belgian saison yeast and 40g of Striesalspalt hops. Not bad, not excellent, but good for this hot weather and for a beer that was mainly made to grow yeast. Need to go now Californication is on soon, lets see what Hank can fuck up (or who he can fuck) tonight.

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