Category Archives: CYBI

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


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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a beer blog post for 2012

OK so its 2012 now and as has been the case for the past few months I still feel slack for not having posted enough. Its kinda silly as there isn’t a required number of posts that I need to do, no contract or monthly quota. However I do enjoy writing my posts, as pointless, wandering and generally ill-informed as they are and I’d like to do more of them (or at least make them more regular). So here’s no.1 for 2012.

I’ve done a bit of brewing in the past few weeks, I’ll add some recipes in a separate post. My recent brewing has involved a some playing with my hop back, whole leaf hops, a new farmhouse yeast (they didnt have the Belgium Saison yeast when I needed some) and I have finally deliberately made a beer with bret in it (even though the yeast was way past its best).

The hop back,  the Blichman Hop Rocket is a great bit of gear, does what it says it with no real hassle or stress. I still havent quite gotten the measure of how it comes out in the beer. I’ve done a couple of beers now with only bittering/60 minute hop additions, with the hop back giving all the late hop character. One with Galaxy is in my glass right now in a pale ale that was thrown together on spot, the other with Stella is in the fermenter with a farmhouse yeast right now.  I’m just putting a full pack of whole hops in (Grain and Grape in Yarraville sells them in 100g packs), havent tried more or less and the flow rate is a bit up and down thanks to the temp of my chilling water. Still I like it and I’ll keep on using it. Perhaps the best part of the hop back is the whole leaf hops, all resiny sticky and stinking of hop goodness.

Now to the farmhouse yeast (it’s a Wyeast limited edition one), its my substitute for a saison yeast, Grain and Grape were out so it seemed like the next best thing. From the one beer I’ve made with it so far its throwing some banana type notes. Not sure if this is a fermentation temperature driven thing (I treated the yeast just like the belgium saison, lots of temp), but I’m not sure that I love it in my saisons. Its not giving as much of the funkyness either. Will have to see how it goes with the Stella beer, and I do need to add that the beer that I have bottled right now is a good drop, just not as saisony as I like (or want).

Now to the funk, the bret beer. I’ve had Wyeast packs with bret in it in my fridge for some time now. I finally manned up and used one in my post christmas brew. Its fermenting right now in an old farmhouse at my folks. Not sure how it’ll do as the yeast, the Wyeast Trappist blend (blend = plus bret) was about 11 months old. I threw in a touch of fresh farmhouse yeast just to make sure that the damn thing ferments. The beer is a CYBI inspired brew, crystal hops, some oak cubes in the ferment along with some raw barley and wheat freshly harvested from the farm.

Well that’s it for now, for 2012 I’ll endeavor to post and brew more, not off to a bad start though.

Cheers D


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2 Foot Tex IPA – 2011 reboot

Hello punters, its finalls season almost for AFL (one day in September that will actually be in October) and for VicBrew.

Last year I got first place in the VicBrew IPA category with my 2 Foot Tex IPA recipe, a recipe heavily based on the CYBI Union Jack clone. I loved this beer, so hoppy so not crystally, so drinkable. Getting a medal was pretty nice too. Although freshness is the key to this beer (it tanked in the nationals) I did manage to find an old bottle only a month or two ago that was wonderful. The hops had dropped and more of the yeast and malt flavor had come through. I’ve said it before, but I love the flavor of aged American hops with UK yeasts.

I’ve only really entered beers in competitions like VicBrew and the Westgate Brewers Stout Extravaganza for the past couple of years, previously thinking them to be a bit like cake shows, and they are to an extent. BUT you get really good feedback (OK from some of the judges). Each beer judged receives 3 written score sheets with fully independent reviews of the beer. It’s easy for your mates to say “mate that beer is fucking awesome” as they neck their 7th for the evening but an independent unbiased perspective is, well I think welcomed by anyone who is proud of their craft. Not all the judges are awesome, but then neither are all the beers. Some people enter some really shit beers, I’m not a fan of entering something that you wouldn’t drink yourself or serve your mates.

So closing date for VicBrew 2011 is September 10. As today is August 16 that is really close, which means I need to brew this beer this weekend so I can have some hoppy entries. I have not been brewing anywhere near enough this year. It kinda sucks bit I do have some beers in the can for entering. Stout, Porter, and Tripple along with a beer or two pimped out with oak, coco nibs and there may be a bit of bourbon thrown into a beer, just for good measure. There is a old english pale ale (from Dazzapalooza) perhaps a really dark saison I have but no idea what category I’ll enter that in. Really like the beer though. Still I need some hoppy beers, and thats what I’ll brew this weekend. So on to 2 Foot Tex rebooted, or 3 Foot Tex or what ever the hell I’m calling it. Oh and I need to bottle that fucking barley wine, will be young, very young but will see how we go.

Las years beer had an OG of 1065 (bit lower than the target of 1070) for a 23litre batch with a calculated IBU of 82. This year I have a hop back, still in the box untried but it will be part of this beer. Its time to tweak things up for 2 Foot Tex Rebooted to have a crack a reclaiming the prize (or at least getting myself some good beer) 

But maybe its time for a new name? 3 Foot Tex perhaps? I’m not really sure how tall he is (Stu any help here? ). basically I’m bumping the hops up a bit and kicking in some galaxy through the hop back. Drinking Hop Zombie earlier this year just made me want to throw in more hops.

So target OG is around 1065-70, with a boil length of 70 minutes and a 20 minute whirlpool once the gas goes off. The yeast will be the same, 1098 from Wyeast with a low starting ferment temp to keep any nasty hot booze out of it. This beer probably falls in between single and double IPA. I’ll just call it an IPA. So heres the recipe, the hop back amounts may change as I dont know how much it holds?

2 Foot Tex rebooted

83% Pale Ale Malt

10% Munich

5% Carapils

2% Simpson’s Crystal

Mash at 64 for 60 minutes with a teaspoon of gypsum, and throw some in the boil too perhaps

25 gm Warrior at First Wort Hopp

20 gm Centennial at 30 min

20 gm Cascade at 30 min

55 gm Centennial at Flameout, steep 20 min

55 gm Cascade at Flameout, steep 20 min

40 gm Galaxy Hop Flowers through the hop back

Dry Hop #1 – 3 days in primary at end of fermentation

44 gm Centennial

44 gm Cascade

Dry Hop #2 – 3 days in the keg

30 gm Centennial

30 gm Cascade

14 gm Amarillo

14 gm Simcoe

I might as well brew a Pale Ale as well, got to keep the hat thrown in the ring. Just need to invent a recipe now???

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

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

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