Category Archives: fuck

The Session #75: The Business of Brewing – Semi Pro

The Session (aka Beer Blogging Friday) is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.

This month’s session is hosted by Chuck Lenatti at Allbrews who is interested in hearing from “bloggers and others who have first-hand knowledge of the complexities and pitfalls of starting a commercial brewery”.

Now this is one I can get into, on ya Chuck. Well sort of at least, I’m not starting a brewery, more a brewing company. I’m not purchasing a whole brewery, but I am buying some stainless. I’m not quitting the day job, more a brewing company on top of my day job. I think I can call it going Semi Pro.

I also need to flag that I chose not to go the path of being a brewer for someone else first. I’ve got a farming background and have done labouring type jobs. Dont get me wrong I love them, but other people are prepared to pay me more to do other stuff. I guess this will leave some people thinking I havent “paid my dues” to get into brewing. Thats part true, but I like to think I’ve invested my time in other areas, experiences in beer, relationships and education. They all go hand in hand and have been part of my beer journey (oh fuck now this is sounding like one of those fucking singing or dancing reality shows. Fuck Fuck Fuck).

Basically I’ve been looking at trying to get into doing some beer at a commercial level for a number of years now. Finding a way to do it with out a heap of capital, or taking a huge risk, and giving up my day job, to start with anyway, has been a challenge. There are a range of really small systems that don’t fit with the time I have available. There are a range of contract bigger brewers available, but the scale and type of beers they could do didn’t really click with me. Also they somewhat limited how close I could be to the beers. I also found that the places that I’d like to have beer contract brewed either didn’t have space or didn’t want to know me.

So that left me back looking at small systems in a shed on my parents farm, something that I could afford, not an ideal setup for a number of reasons; distance from home, small brew length relative to brew time, and leave it at the farm someone could something or a possum would die in the tank or god knows wha other issues would happen. Basically the I felt compromised on it.

Or looking at commercial contract breweries where I could afford it but the batches were just to big for me to feel safe about. Getting 700 slabs of beer you don’t even really like yourself is a scary idea.

I was stuck. Little progress, frustration, lots of thinking about ideas that I knew weren’t really good for me right now.

Then shit happened. Not one but two small breweries said yes to me brewing in their facilities. Not perfect offers, but good ones. Progress, but hang on it gets better. An opportunity to own fermenting space in a new brew house where I could hands on make my own beer. Perfect. And thats what I’m doing, the offers from the two small breweries have been parked for the moment. A fermenter is being manufactured in China. I’ve completed my RSA and licensees first step course. I’m trying to figure out a company name and what the hell I’ll brew.

This is a story of good luck not good planning. Well sort of. The investment in relationships, education and beer experiences helped me figure out what I didn’t want, and realise when I’d found it. And to say YES. The timing wasnt perfect, my day job is mental right now and I’m getting married in 2 months, but its good to be busy right? The opportunity was right and I took it. A big part of this was right place right time.

Anyway I’m yet to make a beer, or even decide what my first beer will be. Thats a fun thought process, but one that makes you think a bit. Firstly I can make any beer I want, but I have to sell it. Also I need a company name. I had one, have had for about 4 years unfortunately someone else in the US already has that name (it seems for a year or so now). World wont end though, I’ll find another name.

One thing I didn’t expect was how excited everyone else is about this, my friends, family and even people I only know through social media. People are lining up to buy beer (or getting their friends lined up for it) and I havent even made a drop yet. And they want to invest in a company that doesnt exist! Blind faith?

I am also extremely lucky in the support that Jacqui, my fiance has given me on this. It is me chasing a dream, at perhaps a time when we have more than enough going on. Couldnt do it with out her support, and she is also my marketing department.

So there’s more paperwork ahead of me, label design, billing, logistics, websites, ordering, financials and then maybe I get to make some beer. The key thing about this is it’s not about making beer, it’s about running a business (well setting one up at this stage) and about selling beer (when I get to it). Being a good homebrewer doesn’t really add up to much when you go Semi Pro, time will tell how I go.

Final thoughts on doing this? figure out what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do. Surround yourself with the right people/info/environment and keep your ears/eyes open and be ready to jump on the opportunity when it pops its head up. Now who wants to buy some beer (in the future of course when I have my licence and have made some beer)

Cheers D

PS – on the Semi Pro thing, I’ve had people say you cant do it part-time. Cant comment if they are right or not just yet but I’m giving it a go anyway. I would say that you most definitely can do it part-time (fact) its more a matter of how well you can do it part-time, I guess thats up to me and how much sleep I need.





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

No Zen

So I brewed yesterday. An English IPA, lots of East Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops, English malt, all the good stuff. I hadn’t brewed for months si I was really looking forward to it. I needed to get my Zen on.

Little did I know that it would fail so well.

So I got away a little later than I wanted to, no real stress, just meant I’d be late home.

Then I discovered that one of the large plastic tubs that I keep some of my brewing gear had a hole in it. I discovered this by finding mouse shit everywhere. It had been moved and somehow a hole got knocked in it. That let the mice in, and that’s why I had to spend a bunch of time cleaning mouse shit of brewing gear. That was -1 on the zen scale.

Next bit of fun was my plate chiller seems to be blocked. I found this out mid way through chilling. I also had to first check that my hop back wasnt blocked, it wasnt but the added resistance meant that my pump wouldnt handle both it and the plate chiller. So I got to deal with hot wort, wasted hops, and a really slow runoff time. It should have taken 25 minutes, it took over an hour. Really not fun.

But the next bit was perhaps the most entertaining. All cleaned up, everything put away, just had to hook up the temperature control gear and pitch the yeast. All was going well, I was in the clear until I plugged in the digital temp control unit. This is a simple digital thermostat that I wired up myself several years ago. Somehow in moving I must have loosened a wire, not sure how but it had a less than desired effect. I switched on the thermostat. Nothing happened. I shook it. Then sparks, crackles, and flames. Needless to say I switched it off.

I then pitched the yeast, and simply plugged the heat pad in. The beer is fermenting in a cold shed, the farm workshop where we park the truck and generally fix stuff. I have no idea of the ferment temp, it’ll average out at something like 18-22 I hope but I really don’t know. After the brew day I had I kinda don’t care. The only problem is that this will probably be one of the best beers I’ve ever made and I’ll never be able to replicate it. Or it will suck.

For the benefit of the few readers that may come across this blog I have omitted the large amounts of swearing that occurred in this brew day. At one stage I had to ask my Dad to leave so I don’t think it would be ok to share that kind of language with the blogosphere. Fuck I was cranky.

So that was my brew day. Very little zen, no good at all, at least the beer still has a hope of being ok.

Such a shit brew day, so little zen yet I still hit all my numbers more or less. How strange.

Looks like I’ll be buying a new plastic storage tub, a new thermostat controller, and a new place chiller. And perhaps and Enya CD.

Cheers D



To throw up, or not to throw up?

To throw up, or not to throw up?

That, good sirs was the question I had to ask myself at the end of todays PT session.

A combination of work, a cold and the easter break has seen me not get to the gym as often as I should have in the past 2 weeks or so. Add to that the evil mind of Ebony the Personal Trainer, just slightly ratcheting up my effort level each week, somehow sensing which exercises will hurt me the most, usually something with a lunge involved. This resulted in me hurting today. A lot. However I was coping until the last bit, the cool down. Usually this is 500m on the rowing machine, that is until today. Now I don’t recall hearing anything from Ebony about doing 1000m so I pushed through the 500 fairly hard, thinking the sooner this is done the better. This saw me well under 2 minutes for the 500, faster that I’d normally do it. I stopped at 500m, in my mind the work out was over, only to get “C’mon we’re going to 1000m!” WHAT??? the next 500 hurt, I made it under 4 minutes.

And that was how I came to considering throwing up today.

For the record I didn’t, and the Vietnamese pork meatball roll I just had for lunch was awesome.

I’m getting fitter, my back feels good, but it seems I’m not immune from getting my arse kicked.

Cheers D


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

Dazzapalooza and the beer fountain

As Dazzapalooza is only 2 sleeps away I’m just putting the finishing touches on the beers (& cider). Doing this basically involves tasting the last two beers (quality control is such a chore) to make sure that they taste OK and everything else is good, carbonation, clarity etc. so I am all good to take them to Ged and Fizz’s tomorrow. This involves taking out the dry hops from the Aussie wheat (it needs a better name than that) and the IPA. I really should have know better than to put dry hops into a carbonated beer but it needed more hops.

There are probably plenty of explanations as to why the keg became a fountain. I’ll give you my ideas as to what happened. Adding the dry hops added a bunch of nucleation sites, these are spots that bubbles start from. Perhaps I had the keg a tad over carbonated. So when I tried to vent the keg so I could remove the bag full of hops I struck a problem, the nucleation sites kicked the bubbles into gear which shot a bunch of beer and a bit of the mesh bag holding the dry hops into the relief valve. This resulted in a beer fountain that actually shot high pressure beer into my face.

Luckily I had a feeling about this keg and the wholeprocedure took place in my bathroom, which needed mopping anyway. I also needed to wash my face with beer, this is something that I usually do every night so no big deal. Good thing it tasted OK.

Anyway I’m tasting the German wheat beer right now, its all good, and the dry hops are out of Aussie wheat keg. All that is left to do is some keg transportation tomorrow and some drinking on Saturday.

Also I need to name the Aussie wheat. you have until tomorrow night to name the beer. Sugestions people?

I need a shower now.

Cheers D

IPA – Yesterdays brewday

I brewed yesterday. Any day that I brew is generally a good one, I get to my Zen space. It was a good thing I found my Zen space yesterday as I had a few fuckups throughout the day, some I can clearly identify, some I am still scratching my head over.

The day started with breakfast out, followed by a trip to Grain and Grape to pick up my malt bill. The shop was mental, as busy as I’ve seen it for a non sale day. But that was ok, Zen. Did a few other jobs (got my new pocket wifi and a t-shirt) and hit the road.

I brewed the following recipe, kind of based on a Stone IPA recipe from Brew Your Own Magazine, changed the bittering hops, shortened the boil time and added some wheat malt. This beer is intended for Dazzapalooza.

Dazzapalooza IPA (to receive a better name once I think of it)

7.50 kg Crisps Pale Malt 88.24 %
0.50 kg Joe White Crystal 5.88 %
0.50 kg JW White Wheat Malt 5.88 %
30.00 gm Centennial [8.90 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops –
15.00 gm Chinook [13.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops –
30.00 gm Millenium [14.40 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 47.6 IBU
60.00 gm Centennial [10.00 %] (15 min) Hops 16.0 IBU
1 Pkgs British Ale (Wyeast Labs #1098) [Starter 125 ml] Yeast-Ale

Mashed at 64deg C, intended to be a 25 litre batch at about 1.072, instead I ended up with a 29 litre batch at 1.065. I’m not 100% what happened here, guessing I transferred too much wort from the mash tun (1 bucket too many??).
I also had some boil issues. I ran out of gas. Twice. This gave me a somewhat interrupted boil but the beer shouldn’t suffer from that. I doubt I could make this beer again with any sort of consistency though.
The other “issue” I have with this beer is the colour. Its too dark. When I last made this beer I didn’t specify which JW crystal malt I used in my notes but I remember the beer being much lighter than this wort. When I ordered it I also didn’t specify, so I’m thinking I have the dark crystal (maybe) but definitely not the pale crystal. None of this will really matter, just not quite what I was after, the beer however will be nice and hoppy, just a little dark for style. Must pay more attention. If you look to have a crack at this recipe go with a pale coloured crystal malt.
So the upside? on the white board list on my fridge is a list of stuff that I said I would do this year. One of them is “interesting beer”. Accordingly I have taken 4 litres of wort from this batch and pitched a Belgian Witt Yeast into it. Interesting beer, check.
So the result of yesterdays brew day, more beer than I was aiming for, nice day out of town, trialing a new recipe for a darker than style IPA(unintentionally) and a Belgian IPA fermenting. That’s not quite what I was after but by no means a bad effort.

Oh I also had a KFC Double Down, the breadless sandwich. This is not a good thing. Let it lie in the KFC fryer. Back to my self imposed no KFC unless drunk ruling. Nuf said.

Cheers D

Posting 100 – not very interesting

Hello folks, nothing awesome for my 100th post. Its Sunday evening, I’m having that one to many drink that I really don’t need for tomorrow morning when I will be starting a consultancy, interviewing a potential new employee and meeting with a politician about things I don’t find all that inspiring. Its down to me and Sushi here since Pirate Steve passed away (they are fish) and things just feel a little heavier than they need to right now. Ad to that I think I had mild food poisoning last night – Middle Park restaurant you shall remain nameless cos that wouldn’t be fair.

Anyway the catters one today and I brewed yesterday so that’s OK, got some zen time. 100 posts that’s at least showing that I’m sticking with something, and perhaps doing OK. Anyway the beer is for Dazzapalooza – here’s the recipe for Ded Red Ged. (25 litre batch, 70% efficiency)
6500 g Crisp Pale Ale
500 g JW Light Munich
500 g JW Light Crystal
250 g JW Amber
250 g JW Dark Crystal
80 g JW Chocolate
43.00 g Horizon [10.90 %] (50 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 55.7 IBU
35.00 g Cascade [5.00 %] (10 min) Hops 4.0 IBU
35.00 g Centennial [9.20 %] (10 min) Hops 7.4 IBU
35.00 g Cascade [5.00 %] (0 min) Hops –
35.00 g Centennial [9.20 %] (0 min)
Wyeast 1056
Mash it at about 67 deg c, ferment it at about 21 deg c.

I made this beer years ago when living in Port Melbourne, I liked it then and have been meaning to make it again. Some things just take a while to get around too.

Baring some kind of major fuckup it will be on tap at Dazzapalooza.

Enjoy your Sunday, or the next 66 minutes of it.

Cheers D

Tokyo apology

Location of Tokyo within JapanImage via Wikipedia
I am sad to have to tell you all (OK not very many of you) that I was wrong. Unlike Andres Bolt I am OK with saying when I have got it wrong, my research is off and I just have an unreal view on what is happening. I said there would be Brew Dog Tokyo on tap tonight at Bireo and there was not. Sorry if you went there expecting it and it wasn’t there. I know I was disappointed in myself.

However they still have a shite load of awesome beers on tap and Tokyo is on tap tomorrow night at a charity thing they are doing for the Tsunami in Japan. Go there. Drink. Give some cash to the people in Japan who got a hiding from the big wave.

As for beers other than Tokyo which you must drink, don’t have the Bling IPA it is an over satiating beer that is not what I want an IPA to be, they need to be a hoppy drinkable yet not gut busting beer. That’s just my opinion though. Still go there and drink. It is a good beer and a good cause. Have the Mornington IPA instead. Much more digestible.

Anyway drink beer, give money to charity and forgive those who blog not quite the most accurate info. dont forgive Andrew Bolt thought. He is a douche.

Cheers D

Boo to being crook

Viral pharyngitis. The oropharynx is swollen a...Image via Wikipedia
I seem to be coming down with some kind of flu or cold. Basically feeling crappy, sore throat etc. This leaves me with compromised taste buds and therefore the new beers from NZ and Japan will be staying in my fridge unopened and untasted. Bugger.

Boo to being crook. There should be a law against anything that prevents the sampling of what could be excellent beers. Oh well they will still be there when I can taste things again, but for now I think it some kind of chili infused soup may be on the menu tonight.

Have a beer for me.

Cheers D

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