Category Archives: brewing network

Evil Twin, a beer by Jamil

About 5 years ago I started brewing. Around the same time I started listening to the Jamil Show on the Brewing Network. This was two guys John and Jamil going through every beer style in-depth and giving a recipe. Back then I was all about getting the recipe, thinking that was the secret to brewing good beers (all the recipes were aware winning ones) but through listening to two blokes on the other side of the world, sometimes drinking coffee, sometimes half cut I learned that the recipe was far from the most important bit. Temp control, water chemistry, yeast health, and don’t worry about all the bullshit that doesnt really matter. These guys really helped my brewing, I think Jamil was the main brewing influence here.

I still listen to the Jamil Show, but now it focuses on recreating beers from commercial breweries, with a blind taste test to verify the recipe. I’ve also met Jamil a couple of times, and had him taste one of my beers. This resulted in him having a story about how using the right malts is important (I was using Australian malts to substitute US and UK malts, worlds apart) and I got my stout recipe sorted out (got a medal in a home-brew comp with it). He’s a good guy and he has helped my beers out immensely.

Anyway he has now done what all homebrewers at one stage or another hope to do, he’s opened his own brewery. Well not exactly, he’s brewing in some sort of venue share arrangement, but he’s making his own beer – Heretic.  I’m happy that he’s living the dream, but I’m also a bit jealous. So when I heard they had some of his beers at Grain and Grape it was a no brainer that I wanted to try them. So far I’ve only heard good things about them, mainly from the guys on the Brewing Network. They are his mates but they wouldn’t blow wind up his arse, if they didn’t like them they wouldn’t talk them up.

I’ve just cracked open a bottle of Heretic Evil Twin, “A Bold West Coast Red Ale”. So what do I think? Its dark, darker than what I’d expect from a red ale, it almost looks like a brown ale. On the nose I get a bit of malt and a bit of a citrusy hop aroma, definitely an American beer. The taste, well its hoppy, but not crazy bitter, more of a tasty mouth coating hoppy but without that puckering bitterness that can come from some mega hoppy beers. I think I like this beer. No I know I do. It’s great to have a beer that’s traveled from the other side of the world arriving so fresh.  Its a really vibrantly flavored beer, and I really like the hops in it, I’m guessing its a mix if the C hops (cascade, centennial, chinook….) not really sure but I like it.

I also like the lableing. Cool evil head. Looks like some kind of computer game devil head. And look at all the crap in the background? what am I doing, yes thats an Easter Egg with no ears and a Humpty Dumpty egg still unopened.

If you go to the Heretic website it says “This blood-red ale may not be what you might expect from a malty and hoppy craft beer. Evil Twin has a rich malt character, without being overly sweet. It has a huge hop character, without being overly bitter. It is a great example of a bold, rich, balanced craft beer, without being heavy and hard to drink in quantity. Our Evil Twin is only bad because it is too good to resist“. I tend to agree.

Grab yourself one of these if you get the chance, I’m not sure what I’d pair this beer with. Its pretty bold and dominating so I guess it’d need something that hits the same spot. I think the name red ale is a little off for this beer, it kind of understates it. Its more of a red IPA, a bit like the 8 Wired Tall Poppy. Bloody good beer though, well done Jamil. Thanks for the beer, and all the help with my beers, from my first all grain recipe to me figuring out how to manage yeast properly. Keep cranking out beers like this and I’ll keep figuring out how to find them in Australia.

There is a large part of me loving this beer just because its a home brewer gone pro. Thats what I want to do. Time for me to get serious about that dream again. I need to sell some beer.

Cheers D



Green Flash West Coast IPA & Popycock

I went to Costco on the way home from work tonight. It was convenient, well sort of as I had a work car for the night and needed some clothes washing detergent, and figured I may as well get it in a massive container.

It turns out that going there was actually a bad idea. I’m a touch tired, got stuck at work late yet again and there is always something confusing about trying to do the maths on if this massively oversized container of X is actually a good deal and cheaper than X would be in the local supermarket. You also have to walk past a bunch of stuff that you don’t need, and probably never will want to get the stuff you need (OK or want). The problem is there are a shit load of unhealthy interesting sounding products in massive packet sizes that seem like a good deal. 2kg of cheese stuffed deep-fried chillies you say? 2 kg of that weird american orange cheese you say? a container of Popycock, what is that I say?

I call it Bunnings for fat people (please note I love Bunnings). The meat at Costco is great, and that’s from me, a fussy bastard about meat who has done a little bit of meat judging and knows enough about it to be fussy. Costco, it’s the answer from America to a question that Australia never really asked, still its just down the road from my place, and as long as I don’t buy the Popycock I’ll be OK.

And what the fuck is Popycock?

Now to something else from America, Green Flash Brewing Co. West Coast IPA. Firstly I do not believe that this beer is any relation to West Coast Coolers, a premixwine soft drink combo that I remember grown ups drinking when I was a kid. I think it may have come in prima or tetra packs at some stage. I think my Mum used to drink them?

Green Flash West Coast IPA, approved by the lego man from space

Firstly this beer simply smells like hops. A bit like when they hit the boil kettle, that first fresh bit. As the label says this beer is extravagantly hopped, I like that. I also like that they take the time to call the beer a “West Coast IPA” then write India Pale Ale under it. The 7.3% ABV is really well hidden in this beer. I could see myself getting into some serious trouble if left to my own devices with a bunch of this beer, a bit like a fat kid being left alone in Costco. hmmmm

I really like this beer. An excellent example of the West Coast (of USA) IPA. Hoppy, resiny, foursome but not crazy bitter. It’s also not too heavy of a beer. One thing that IPAs of this type are not really known for being is ballanced, but this one is. The malt adds a sweetness that just makes it all ballance out. Its great, I could have this beer for desert, some citrus, some bitterness, some sweetness.

This is my kind of beer. Drink it with another one.

They dont really say much about the beer on the bottle so try their website Green Flash Brewing if you want any more info. Also the Brewing Network Can You Brew it show did a clone of this, I may just have to brew my own version of this beer. Click here to find the podcast, I highly recomend the recipes these guys give out. Also if you are trying to get a reference beer to set your beer compas as to what an American IPA should be like, this beer is the one you want. Extravagently hopped and excellent.

I’m glad that the US has more to offer than just Costco.

It is also important to remember that hops have a certain relaxing quality to them. After a long day a beer like Green Flash West Coast IPA is just what you need. As I have a booking with Ebony the Personal Trainer tomorrow I may need another tomorrow night.

Cheers D

 PS – no really what the fuck is Popycock?



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Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel (fridge aged)

I’m home from work. The dishes are done. I think I know what I’ll have for dinner (chops and salad). There is bugger all on TV. What should I do? (other than blogging, which I am doing, but thats not all that I’m doing. I digress)

This was decided some time earlier thanks to an amazing series of coincidences.

  1. I like coffee. Lots. Most people who know me would agree with this. My standard mid morning coffee is a large long mac. I think it has about 5 shots of espresso in it.
  2. A few months ago I purchased a bottle of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, a beer with coffee in it.
  3. Today on the train the Brewing Network guys were talking to Jeff Bagby from Pizza Port Brewery and tasting his Coffee Monster – a beer with coffee.
  4. Last night I drank one of the beers (sorry cider) that had been sitting in my fridge for months.

So now I’m drinking Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, a big stout with rare coffee. So what does the somewhat excentric Mikkeller say about this beer –

This imperial Oatmeal stout is brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civet cats. The fussy Southeast Asian animals only eat the best and ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive system help to break down the bean. Workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet or Weasel Coffee. The exceedingly rare Civet Coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma.

Thats right, a Vietnamese cat has eaten and shat out the coffee in my beer, and I do not have a problem with this at all. This is one of the most expensive coffee’s in the world. I’m not sure if the same process works if you can get your moggy to eat some coffee beans, and since coffee probably wont grow in Melbourne I doubt I’ll get to find out myself. It’s also known as Kopi Luwak.

So what is the beer like? Big, Thick, Rich. It kind of poured like a milkshake, really had a vicious look to it. It also leaves an iodine coloured cling on the glass. And its black, really black with a thick chocolate head. It has a strong yeast and roast character, and I can’t really pick the coffee out as a single flavor, I’m guessing its melded in with the roast and black malts, that often have similar flavor characteristics to coffee thanks to the roasting process. The coffee may add a little bit of an acidic backbone to the beer. There is a strong boozy nose on the beer too, its 10.9% ABV so no surprise there. Actually as the beer warms up a little the coffee flavor is coming through a little more strongly.

I have heard that beer geeks all round the world have collectively lost their shit over this beer. I’m probably not going to be one of them. Dont get me wrong I do lile this beer, but I’ve had better big stouts, like the 8 wired one for example, but it was over hyped to me and perhaps that’s what has swayed my thoughts on this beer. What I will always like about this beer, and all others that Mikkeller makes is Mikkeller. The guy is crazy, has no brewery and makes great beers. Lets call him one of my brewing heroes.

So here’s to more crazy beers from Mikkeller, not that I need to toast to that, he’s not likely to stop.

Cheers D

PS – oh I need to note that I may have committed a somewhat of a fo par as I did not drink the Beer Geek Brunch at Brunch time. I do not understand or like brunch, I like both breakfast and lunch, but not brunch. It’s a made up thing, still apologies to Mikkeller if this is a problem.


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Congrats to the Brewing Network – US Homebrew Club of the year

 The Brewing NetworkImage via Wikipedia
Just found out that the Brewing Network took out the club of the year title at the US National home brew Conference. Well done to the BN Army. Basically this means that BN member entries in the US National home brew comp had the highest total score. Again well done fellas, had I been in the states I would have put my entries under the BN.

Apparently there is a bit of controversy over this as they don’t have a club house, or meet in one town etc. Its a load of crap, with all this social media stuff and Skype you don’t need to all be in the same town to meet. Nobody likes a sore looser, they won it on the score board, and I think that should be applauded.

Some thoughts on this are covered here at Word Salad. I think JP has said it well so I don’t need to repeat his words.

Again well done BN Army.

Cheers D

Things of stout and wood

I remember the band Things of Stone and Wood had a song called “Happy Birthday Helen” I loved that song. It was little more than a collection of Melbourne cliches and a chorus that was surprisingly full of happy birthday Helen and a bunch of na-na-na-na’s. If you dont know the song click here, I loved that song. And The Late Show take off of the same song is here. I loved that show, ah when Mick M and Tony M were still speaking.

Ah memories. The song is however nothing to do with putting oak cubes into a keg of stout. That’s what I just did with no singing what so ever.

I like the idea of oak in beer. Depending on what sort of oak you use it can add all sorts of flavors, say like the vanilla hit in bourbon, and textures, like you get in a big oakey shiraz to a beer. However to know what flavours you will get you need to know what kind of oak you have and how heavily it is toasted. I don’t know this but the wood is in the beer.

Why do I have such poor info? Generally Aussie home brewers are restricted to using oak chips stave’s. They come in a few different types, or combinations of oak type (usually french or US) and toasts (light medium or heavy). I’ve used chips before but they kind of look like pencil shavings and I just don’t like the look of them, all dodgy and uneven. Stave’s look to be a better thing, they are just too big (and the bag of them just looks too big).

The happy medium appears to be the oak cube but these are not readily available in Australia. I heard about them on the BN and they sound spot on for thowing in a keg. I tried to get Grain and Grape to stock them, but apparently they are a bit expensive (and they have a bunch of chips and stave’s in stock) so no bingo.

Thats them, oak cube samples in little plastic boxes

Thankfully I am a annoying bastard and that is how I came to get my samples of oak cubes. Apparently they got some samples in and Chris (the great man) let me have them. So that’s how I got the cubes. However there is a catch. The labels are really not all that helpful, they tell me nothing about the oak or toast. Instead they say “Red Fermenting”, “White Finishing”, “Red Ageing”. So I figured that since the beer was in the keg, effectively finishing I went with the red and white finishing cubes into my US/foreign Extra stout that dis tasting OK, but not as good as the UK stout.

So stout with wood is int he making, depending how it goes I may throw in some bourbon. Or not? I also got some coco nibs in the mail today, don’t know what I’ll throw them into, perhaps a porter?

Time to watch some TV, oh and have a little more stout.

Cheers D 

Stouts away!!!

Bottling beer is my least favorite part of the whole proces. All the washing and cleaning and filling and washing and capping and washing and blearg…….I’ve just finnished bottling and kegging the 2 batches of stout I brewed a couple of weeks ago. They could sit there for some time but as I need at least two bottles of it for the Westgate Brewers “Stout Extravaganza” (I love the word extravaganza) it needed to be bottled and kegged ASAP. Entries are due into Grain and Grape next Saturday, June 26, that gives them about 8 days in the bottle under my control, and a few more sitting in a bre shop awaiting judgement.

From tasting them I think they are ok, they need a bit of time in the bottle to properly wake up though. The bottle conditioned portioned will be a close fit time wise, the keg portion will be too, as I thought I had another full week up my sleve. However I think I’ll have them in ok shape for the comp.

So what am I entering (if they pass muster?)

Oatmeal Stout
 4.40 kg Crisps Marris Otter Pale 71.66 %
0.45 kg Oats, Flaked Grain 7.33 %
0.34 kg Bairds Amber Malt  Grain 5.54 %
0.34 kg Simpsons Chocolate Malt  Grain 5.54 %
0.23 kg Simpsons Crystal Malt  Grain 3.75 %
0.23 kg Simpsons Roasted Barley Grain 3.75 %
0.15 kg Simpsons naked golden oats (5.9 EBC) Grain 2.44 %
20.00 gm Millenium [14.40 %] (50 min) First Wort Hop
Wyeast 1098 English Ale yeast

Thats for a 28l batch at about OG 1.055 FG 1.016 , I threw some chalk in the mash.

US Stout (entered as a forign extra stout)
5.30 kg Crisps Marris Otter 67.79 %

0.27 kg each of Simpsons Crystal, Pale Crystal and Dark Crystal Malts 10.23 %
0.80 kg Simpsons Chocolate Malt 10.23 %
0.80 kg Oats, Flaked 10.23 %
0.12 kg Simpsons Roasted Barley 1.51 %
40.00 gm Northern Brewer [11.40 %] (60 min) Hops 52.9 IBU
40.00 gm Cascade [7.80 %] (1 min) Hops 6.0 IBU
1 Pkgs American Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1272) Yeast-Ale

Again for a 28l batch, OG 1.064 FG 1.017, again I threw some chalk in the mash. This recipe is the same as the one I got 3rd place in Vic Brew with last year, only not with the Pac Man yeast. The buggers at Wyeast just wont make it again and its a real shame as its an excellent yeast.

This beer is also the recipe that I grew out of a conversation with Jamil Z. If you ever hear him speaking on the Brewing Network (the most recent time was here in CYBI at about the 37 minute mark, apparently I’m a real nice guy) about talking to a guy in Australia (at Grain and Grape) about the Shapespear Stout clone and figuring out that it wasnt black enough thanks to the Australian domestic character malts. Not all character malts are created equal what ever teh numbers say, the Joe White Roasted Barley is almost a pale ale next to the Simpsons Product. Anyway it amuses me to hear Jamil speak about the story as a teaching tool, each time it gets a little more stretched out. Some time in the future the beer in question ( it was kind of black but lacked the roast character) will according to Jamil look like a witt beer. Makes me laugh anyway, and it did help me figure out (or get a little closer to figuring out) stouts and character malts/grains.

I also have a bottle of smoked porter from last years Vic Brew that has more or less no smoke flavour left in it. That will be one for the porter section.

I’ve plugged it before but if you have a stout and you are in Melbourne put it in the comp, the Westgate Brewers guys are good fellas and run a good comp. But more importantly enter your beer as feedback can only help your beer. However don’t enter something that you know is a dud! The judges do it for free and really dont need to drink your drain pours.

Well thats about it for me tonight, I’m buggered. I am having a Coopers Forigen Extra Stout though, got a little bit to go. Bed following that I think.

Cheers D

Brew Sculpture Ideas 2 – Electric?

I was listening to the Brewing Network Sunday Session on the train this morning with Kal from the Electric Brewery talking about (surprise surprise) setting up an electric home brew system.

Hmm never need to fill the gas bottles again, never run out of gas mid brew, never have the wind affect the boil. This could be a good idea for when I get around to rigging up my new brew system. It would be a change from the good old reliable roar of the burner but I have done a few batches like this in the past, using my hot liquor tank as a kettle. Boiling wort in a plastic bucket just felt wrong but maybe this could work?.

Anyway Kal has masses of great info on setting up an Electric brew system that can all be found at

He sounds like a good fella and is more than generous with his information, I haven’t read through it all yet (and there is a shit load of it so it’ll take a while) but it looks the goods. My only concern would be the cross over from the North American power setup (Kal is Canadian) to the Aus system. I think we have more volts and hence more danger!

Anyway there is some thinking for the start of Good Beer Week. Now go drink something.


a good day – soft shell crab, lamb, stout and David O’Doherty

Description unavailableImage by Zena C via Flickr
From starting of as a pretty dull day in the office with a toasty cheese sandwich for lunch and no fresh air between the 10AM coffee and the 5.45 PM escape from the office my day ended pretty well. So what did I do to make that dull lot end well?

Started with some emails about going to the comedy festival. And if we are going out we needed some food. So tickets were booked and then dinner discussed. Luckily the suggestions were all in my neck of the woods, the Paris End of Collins St. We ended up at Cumulus Inc. an easy walk from my office. I’ve never eaten there, just had a beer or two at the bar (usually a Kooinda Pale – good local beer) however that would change tonight. We needed to be in and out fairly quick so asked the waitress what our odds were of a speedy service. All good she said and recommended the slow roasted lamb shoulder and a couple of sides. Throw in some soft shell mud crab and who could be happier? not me. Two thumbs up to Cumulus In. and the helpful waitress (she had a bunch of tats, was very helpful and not pretentious at all).

Next to the show, David O’Doherty at the Forum. Funny Irishman who wears a cape and plays an electric piano (a Casio I think) among other things he made a joke involving an upside down calculator and the number 58008 (if you get it you are cool). Highly recommend going and seeing him. I am now thinking about getting a cape, but not a gold one, that would be copying. Must try and jam in another comedy festival show or two while its still here, I always mean to go to more shows each year but so often fail for no reason.

Now to the beer, Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout. I picked this up at Slow Beer a couple of weeks ago but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Its black black with a tan head, a roasty nose and a really smooth taste. This beer is silk, its 6.4% ABV, but soft and smooth. The best way of describing it is as an American stout, it reminds me of Rouge Shakespeare stout, and is more in the league of an Export rather than a Dry stout or Guinness.

Drinking this stout puts me in the mood for more stout, which means I should have brewed some stout by now. It always happens this way, about the time I would like a stout I should have made some about a month ago. Brewing for Dazzapalooza and the Belgian/buggy  beers I have planned may delay a stout for a while but I’ll get to them ASAP. I think there may be a CYBI Jamil Show (from the Brewing Network)recipe for this beer. If there is I’ll be having a crack at it.

That’s enough for now. Go have yourself a good night.

Cheers D

Gordon Biersch Exclusive! Hoppotamus Maximus Revealed

I love the BN, beer and taking the piss. This combines all three beautifully. Enjoy

Vic Microbreweries Showcase

LONDON - JULY 14:   Abhin Galeya (C) and Amber...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
OK so I went to the showcase as discussed yesterday and can now report back that if you are heading to the Vic microbreweries showcase tomorrow night try the Cavalier Wizen, the Bright Raspberry Iambic or the IPA or Saison from Peninsular. The other usual suspects were also worth a go, but if you’ve been there before you’ll know them so I wont tell you how to suck eggs. I’m talking about the usual array of US styled beers – APA’s, a stout or two and some porters. Really nothing of note and as they say if you cant say something nice about someone say nothing at all. Therefore that will be all I say.

Other comments on the event (other than its good). Get there early to avoid ques, getting a pre booked ticket does nothing to help this. The food is rubbish, try the quiche type thing or the Spanish style rice thing. They seem better than the pie or hot dog options. Other than that drink up and dont leave any tickets unused. Then if your still going head to Biero!

Cheers D

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