Category Archives: grain and grape

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



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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Trade secrets: wheres the brewer???

Reading The Age Epicure section over lunch today I noted that a huge (and I think obvious) omission was made from the story titled “Trade secrets: The butcher, the baker, the food and drink makers“. The article begins with “Loving the idea but lacking the skills? Five of the Epicure team set out to do something about it by returning to the classroom, of sorts”.

Its a good article and covers butchery, baking, cheese making, jams and cocktails but where is the brewing??? I don’t doubt that all of the classes are first rate, and I am drawn to the idea of having a crack at refreshing the very rough butchery skills my Dad taught me many years ago but I’m guessing all of these classes come at a cost. You can learn how to brew for free at Grain and Grape in Yarraville about every other weekend.

So here’s what the article should have continued with;

Hidden away in the shadow Westgate bridge in a more or less unremarkable warehouse malt, hops and yeast are brought together to form beer. However this isn’t a commercial brewery, its the Grain and Grape Home brew Shop all grain brewing demonstration. All the info needed to do this is available in books and online but seeing the process in action is often the best way to get your head around all grain brewing.

The session isn’t very hands on, and its more of an ongoing Q&A rather than a lesson, with the added bonus of the smells of brewing.

Whether you want to make a pale ale or a Belgian triple an experienced home brewer (yes they may have an odd beard and a strange fashion sense) will be able to help you out. The sessions take place about every second Saturday, from about 9am to 1pm. There’s no need to book, its free and there is usually a beer on tap for tastings.

Anyway now you know why I’m not a journalist, but guys at The Age missed an easy and obvious one there. Get there and lean how to brew some beer if you haven’t already. That includes you Mr Writer guy from The Age.

Cheers D

a little clarification part 2

Ok so I’m back from a trip that took me to Warrnambool, Hamilton and back again with a stop at the Mortlake Roadhouse for what I believe are the best potato cakes in the world. We also had to make short stop to help the bloke on the yellow Ducatti who hit a puddle and ended up in the table drain just a few km out of Mortlake. His waterproofs were worse for ware and there was a bit of damage to his helmet and bike but he seemed ok. We gave him a push, got him back on the road and I’m guessing now he’s sitting in a pub in Mortlake waiting for repairs to happen.

Anyway I digress, back to the beer. Right now I’m having a Coopers Sparkling, a beer that has to be listed in any reference to the best beers in Aus. Its an oldie and a goodie. I prefer to have it poured into a glass un rolled, some people may disagree with that but it is a sparkling ale, so get it off the yeast and give it a chance to sparkle!. I love its slightly fruity nose, and the alcohol forward flavor of the beer. Yes be warned its a falling down beer, but a favorite all the same.

OK this is more digressing, to what I had intended to write about, clearing up a few things, mainly that Dazzapalooza is not Pig-a-palooza 2, and that while Good Beer Week has no connection to Dazzapalooza officially, I am going to claim that it is a warm up event for Dazzapalooza. How could it not be?  Also an update on the brewing session from the weekend. It was so uneventful and to plan that there is little other to do than post the recipes. As Hanibal from the A Team says “I love it when a plan comes together”

Pig-a-palooza 2
This sounds like a celebration of pig and beer. Throw in a BBQ and we have what I call a good thing. I know nothing else about this event and it is in no way affiliated with Dazzapalooza. Sounds good though.

Good Beer Week
An excellent sounding week that runs from May 16 to 22, its a celebration of beer that lasts for 7 days. The only thing I see wrong with this festivus of beer is that it only goes for 7 days. I really must book myself in for some events, so far I have an invite from Damien at Purvis Beer to some tasting type events. As I have never been to Purvis Beer I really must get there, apparently they have plenty of good beer. Also I’ve had a beer with Damien and he was a top bloke. Will have to look into some other events also, tastings, pub nights, beer launches. All good stuff.

My Weekend brewing

I did two batches on the weekend, both for Dazzapalooza, they are as follows;

British Pale Ale/Premium Bitter (it’ll be served on tap so I guess its a bitter?) This recipe is based on the “Brewing Classic Styles” by Jamil Z and John P recipe for the same style (page 119 if you have the book).
OG: 1.045
Batch Size: 23.00 L

Boil Size: 29.00 L
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: My Equipment
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00
Notes: the mash was a bit cool I think, more like 62, bugger

4.50 kg Crisps Marris Otter Pale (5.9 EBC) Grain 82.57 %
0.40 kg Raw Wheat 7.34 %
0.22 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC) Grain 4.04 %
0.22 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC) Grain 4.04 %
0.11 kg Special Roast (98.5 EBC) Grain 2.02 %
35.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) (First Wort Hop) Hops 25.0 IBU
14.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (20 min) Hops 3.1 IBU
20.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (1 min) Hops 2.2 IBU
Wyeast Labs #1098 British Yeast-Ale

Aussie Wheat (I’m calling it this for want of a better style descriptor). I got the idea for this beer from “Brewing with Wheat” by Stan Hieronymus, and is a further adaptation of a beer I did last year with a witt wort and an English yeast. This is kind of round 2 at this beer.
OG: 1.052
Batch Size: 24.00 L
Brewer: Darren Keating
Boil Size: 30 L
Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00
Notes: 2kg crisps pale ale, 2 kg JW pills, 1.9 torrefied wheat, mashed at 55 for 15, 62 for 30 and 67 for 15

Ingredients2.00 kg Crisps Pale Ale Malt (2 Row) US (3.9 EBC) Grain 33.90 %
2.00 kg Joe White Pilsner (2 Row) UK (2.0 EBC) Grain 33.90 %
1.90 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 32.20 %
15.00 gm Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 26.2 IBU
British Ale Wyeast Labs #1098
I’ll be dry hopping this beer with a bunch of Amarillo and Simcoe, not sure how much yet, will do it to taste in the keg.

All rather simple really, no running out of gas, no spilling stuff or other catastrophes. All I have taken from this brew session is that my mill is not working to full efficiency. I think I have it running too fast and am chewing up the barley husk too much, this gives me a floury grist and I think its hurting my efficiency. I’m not all that worried about efficiency on my home brew setup but it would be nice to get the same results from grain I’ve milled myself as grain milled at Grain and Grape. I’ve put an email through to the guy at Mash Master (where I got my mill from) and am after some advice. It does work and I love the build quality on the mill but I think I could get it to run better.
Time for some dinner now, by the way fuck its cold. Anyone else noticing this?

Cheers D

Unpronounceable beer from Haand Bryggeriet

I like to grab a beer from time to time that I have no idea about. Lateley there have been a bunch of Scandinavian beers kicking around, most have names that are near unpronounceable, letters with lines through them, some silent, some with little dots above them. At last years Australian International Beer Awards they had to get someone who grew up in a Scandinavian country just to pronounce the winning beer, Nogone (I know that’s not right but I cant put the lines through the o’s).
Anyway a week or so ago in Grain and Grape I spied some beer from Haand Bryggeriet. Right now I am drinking them. Both Dan and Chris said they were the goods and who am I to say they are wrong? no one.
So on to the Hesjeol, a Norwegian Harvest Ale. The label is pretty awesome, harking back to the days of my grandfather’s when they they had to stook the sheaves of wheat at harvest time. I also love the commentary on the bottle “Brewing was very much a part of farm life in old Norway. Indeed Farmers were required by law to make beer and could loose their lands if this duty was neglected” That is a fucking awesome law. My dad doesn’t make beer, neither did my grandfathers, nor my uncles (all farmers). This is perhaps why I make beer, to ensure they they all don’t loose their farms.

Deep down I would prefer to be farming than my actual day job so it makes sense that beer is something I also like making. Or at least it would be if I was from Norway. This beer is described as a hearty thirst quenching ale for harvest time. Its a bit late for harvest right now but it is hearty and thirst quenching. This beer is in my mind a Saison of sorts, fruity, hoppy and a with a nice skunky saison yeast background. It has a little more colour and malt sweetness than a Belgian saison normally would (think Saison Dupont) but its a nice beer that I could drink a lot of. I can see this fitting in nicely after a long hot day in the header (that’s a grain harvester). No idea where you’ll find this sucker, G&G of course, and I think Slow Beer had it on the shelves too.

This is a good honest beer, if I could make this I’d be a happy fella. Occasionally I make saisons that I like but getting the buggers to work consistently is just plain hard work. I will stick with it though.

Next to their smoke beer, once I finish the harvest beer, and perhaps have some dinner…..

First words (actually said out loud) upon tasting this beer “Oh yea, oh yeahhh that’s the goods”. This beer is called “Smoke Without Fire” or some other kind of collection of letters that I’ll just get wrong. So what is smoke without fire? no notes on the bottle but its fucking awesome. Its pretty much a smoked porter but a bit lighter in weight. This is the smoke profile I wanted in the smoked porter I tried to make last year. Mine was dialed in at about 5 out of 10. Mild. This is more like an 8. I’d like an 11 but this is good. Its kind of a chocolaty smokey bottle of goodness. Its brown but has ruby highlights. Did I mention I liked this beer?? perhaps not. There is a sweet backbone on this beer, suggesting not a whole lot of hopps but the smoke sits really nicely with it, kind of like the cream cheese in a smoked salmon sandwich.
I also love the label on this beer, kind of looks photocopied. Don’t worry about the elephant, he’s just hanging out, and as his trunk is up all will be ok.
Tasting the Obsidian stout the other day I thought “I need to brew some stout ” (and I will, Westgate Brewers stout comp is coming up) tasting the harvest Ale I think – why didn’t I make more saison in summer?? now I want to make more smoked beers. And I want to put a whole lot of smoke malt in a beer, maybe all of the base malt, that’s a shit load of smoke malt.
Good beer giving me good ideas.
Cheers People, go have some good ideas yourself. If it results in good beer all the better.
Cheers D
PS the smoke beer is really good
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