Category Archives: witt

Some meanderings on NZ beer

Catching your own fush makes the chups taste better!

Well I’m back from NZ now after a week of wandering around North of Auckland. NZ is as the locals say “choice bro”, nice green places, quietness, fush and chups and strangely it seems a lot of guys wearing girls jeans in Auckland (I may have been in an overly trendy area).  I need to add that we actually caught our own fush to accompany the chups. All good.
NZ is a great place for making sure that you are as far from work as possible, I think the North bit of the North Island may just be the best place for doing this. In my oh so short break I managed to find plenty of good places to eat, most notably Moo Chow Chow in Auckland, some bloody big Kaouri trees, a winery and a spot of snapper fishing. I also checked out what NZ has to say for its self about beer, bars and breweries.
I probably need to mention that Moo Chow Chow was really bloody good. Its only been open for a few weeks and we fluked upon it, scoring a seat at the bar. Excellent food, nice and relaxed. possibly the best restaurant in NZ. Living near this place would be bad for my health as the pork was so good. Go there. No really, go there.
Bars included offerings from the major NZ breweries;

    Northern Steamship Co. Mac’s bar lamps on the roof.
    Would this make me feel better or worse if I fell over?
  • Macs – kind of NZ’s James Squire, they have an excellent bar on the Auckland bay in the old Northern Steamship Company Building. I think this is kind of their flagship bar, had a Witt and a red ale (best I can guess is some kind of English mild?) both really good. The lamps hanging from the roof and comfy chairs were also pretty good. This is a real nice bar and I could see my self making it a regular haunt if I lived a little closer.
  • Speights and Lion Red – more or less CUB and Lion Nathan I think, think Carlton Draught or Tooheys New beers. Good honest beers that the guys from Once we were Warriors would have drank warm from a longneck. OK to drink cold too though.
  • Montieths – good beers, really liked their original and black beer but the summer ale I had was more like a ginger beer (might have to drop them an email about that). The original is an interesting beer, as for the flagship beer it was darker than you would have expected, kind of a brown looking ale.
  • Tui – apparently an IPA. Not a hope in hell that was an IPA.

And now to the breweries. I only visited two, both of which I had not tried the beers. I’d heard good things about Halletau, nothing about Brauhaus Frings.

I’ll start with Brauhaus Frings in Whangarei. Firstly Whangarei is pronounced Fungarei (bloody Maori spellings) and its not the prettiest place in the world, just a basic little town that’s more of a travelling through place to other places on the way further north, beaches, Forest’s etc.

The Lonely Planet gave this place a pretty good write up but I’m guessing brew pubs are not their specialty. It was a sad and tired looking joint that was dead quiet when we dropped in. OK it was a Monday night but this place was dead and looked well past its glory days. Have a look at their website, it sounds like the current owner has worked to turn the place around (he makes it clear that the look of the place isn’t his design) but I think he still has a fair bit of work ahead of him. The guy at the place we were staying told us after we went there that it was a biker bar (when we said we were going in there he just raised his eyebrows and said OK).

On to the beers, nothing amazing here I tried their draft a brown beer, it was fairly flat and I think well past its prime. I also tried the seasonal, a Marzen. It was a bit hoppy for my take on a marzen but still a much better beer. The guy behind the bar told me it was triple hopped. No idea what that means. The guy obviously can make OK beer (and apparently has some experience with one of the big German breweries?), I just think he has a lot conspiring against him with this venue. As someone who would like to own a brewery its a bit of a reality check.

Now on to Halletau, a whole nother world to Frings. A nice place in a nice area with nice food nice staff and what appeared to be nice customers. The setting of this place was kind of like Red Hill Brewery on the Mornington Peninsular, kind of a brewery in a wine area. I heard about this place on the Brewing Network when the head brewer was on with the guy from Epic. The Epic beers are great and I liked the way the the brewer (Steve I think?) spoke about beer so seemed well worth a try. I did get to say a G’day and cheers to the brewer but he was busy talking to some home brewers and I think tasting their beers. My kind of place.
I grabbed a tasting paddle, not really my thing as I like to have a pint to really get to know a beer but as I wouldn’t likely be there for a while I broke my own rule. Thankfully the beer didn’t let me down, all good beers. The paddle contained;

the tasting paddle at Halletau

Hallertau Luxe (Kolsch Beer)  Kolshe tends to be but not really my thing, this didn’t change my mind from this but not not a bad beer.

Hallertau Statesman  (Pale Ale) nice hoppy pale ale, I’m thinking this is mainly Kiwi Hops – perhaps some Nelsin Sauvin? nice beer though. Drinking this beer made me really want to try the IPA and double IPA, unfortunately they went on tap.
Hallertau Copper Tart (Red Ale) this was my least favorite beer of the line up. It just didn’t pop for me.
Hallertau Deception (Schwarzbier) I think this was my favorite of the lineup, a really nice Swartz beer. Smooth and easy drinking, chocolate and coffee. Definitely pint worthy.
Seasonal – Belgian Pale (apparently the recipe is from a home brew comp winner) Didn’t have enough of this beer to get a good handle on it, but there was a bit of a yeast and hop clash happening for my taste.
The other seasonal was a barley wine, kind of an English style, about 9.3% ABV, warming but not hot. Would like to try this one with a bit of age on it but it was good all the same. I think I may have saved the best for last with my bottle of Pinot barrel aged Porter that is currently sitting in my fridge for drinking at some appropriate time. Uncertain when this will be but I’m looking forward to it.
So Halletau gets 9/10, losing a point for not having a t shirt in my size. Great place, go there. Not that I really want a bar attached to a brewery, if I end up with one it should look like this.
So that’s my little bit of NZ beer thoughts. Its Choice Bro.

Cheers D


Labels on beer – scmancy!

As I’ve previously blogged I’ve brewed some beer for my little sisters wedding. Ez and Brent are getting hitched this Saturday so it was well and truly time to make sure they were ok and bung on the labels. Apart from some issues with what the label company website promised and what they delivered that resulted in free labels (the labels look different to as promised and there were some postage issues) they actually look pretty good. The beer also tastes ok, with the bride and groom both approving the beer.

I like the witt, its nice and soft with the zest and spice not so in your face so as to upset the many non craft beer drinkers that may have a crack at one. The Pale I’m not as excited with, its good but I used a Cal ale (Wyeast 1056) rather than an English one (Wyeast 1098) this has left it a little cleaner as was the plan but I miss the english yeast character. The pale has a strong tangarene scent thanks to the Centennial dry hop.

Anyway the recipes are back in another post somewhere, Wedding Beer I think, or something like that.

The beer should all be gone by the time we reset our clocks for the end of daylight savings.

Finally, not that you’ll need it good luck for the wedding Ez and Brent.

Cheers D

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

Brewing this weekend – finally

Its been to long but finally I’m brewing again this weekend, I’ll also (if all goes to plan) finally bottle that saison thats been sitting in the old farm house at my folks place for some time, the one with the abbey malt.


The brew list is a Pale Ale (based on the CYBI Firestone Walker Pale 31 recipe) and  Witt for my little sisters wedding in April. Looking forward to brewing again but 2 batches in one day will stretch me a bit. Will be an extended period of zen.

Cheers D

SpecTAPular – what did I drink?

I had a few beers at SpecTAPular, an all round excellent day. I shared some beers with Dave, Lachlan, a dude from Slow Beer (one of the owners I think) and I also fitted in a chat with a couple of the guys rom Westgate Brewers and Simon from Hargreaves Hill. When I got there I was some what suprised that there was a que at 1.30pm. The last time I stood in a que to a bar in the afternoon was in Calgary to a bar called “Cowgirls” in stampeede week. That bar was quite different to the Local Taphouse with any waitress who worked there for more than 6 months getting 50% of a boob job being paid for by the house. No offense intended but the staff at Cowgirls were way hotter than the Taphouse staff.
On to the beers, thought I’d give my 2 cents worth on what I thought of them. I didnt get through them all as that would have near killed me, and I wasnt up for drinking those tasting glasses. Not enough beer to get a real taste so it was pots of the following for me. Looking at the list its no wonder I was a touch slow the next day. I need to add that I didnt have a badly brewed beer all day, just some that I wouldnt have again, which is entirley diferent to a beer being bad.

Cucumber Sandwich – Summer Ale (Mountain Goat, VIC, 4.2%)Served with a chunk of cucumber coctail umbrella style. I really liked this one, the beer was light and hoppy and the cucumber added a nice dimension to it.
Organic Blueberry Hefeweizen (Otway Estate, VIC, 5%)
Way too much of an unnatural fruit flavour that was kind of a rasberry cordial type thing. The fruit flavour faded as I finnished the beer, made it easier to drink, still Dave couldnt finnish his.
Fanny Gertrude’s Anzac Bickie Beer – Oats, coconut and vanilla ale (Burleigh Brewing, QLD, 5%)
I really liked the beer, the oats gave a fantastic mouth feel, almost stout like to this beer that was dominated by the vanilla flavour. Think I had 2 of these.
Red Relief (Stone & Wood, NSW, 4.7%)
Nice red beer, kind of an Irish Ale. This one may make the shelves but was a little out of step with the beers of the day and lacked excitment
Cherry Bomb – Cherry and coconut porter (True South, VIC, 5%)
Nice enought porter but wheres the cherry?? have had this issue with mint in one of their beers before. Need to say this beer was late in the day so the taste buds may have been fatigued.
Quince Ale (Lobethal and Brew Boys Collaboration, SA, 5.6%)
I love quinces so was looking forward to this beer. It was more hops than quinces, and a nice pale ale at that, I could just make out the quinces adding some tartness.
Zephyr – Double White Ale (Doctors Orders Brewing, NSW, 5.6%)
I’m not sure where the double aspect of this White Ale is, I think a double anything needs to be at least 7% but thats just me. I remember picking the spice in the beer – anaseedish I think??? but really cant remember now. It was a good witt though, I’d drink it again.
2 Hills Maibock (Collaboration between Hargreaves Hill and Red Hill Breweries, VIC, 6.8%)
Now this was a nice beer, not extreeme at all just a nice soft lager. I spoke to Simon from Hargreave Hill about it and it was great to hear him being excited about lager brewing, somehting that we dont see too much off in the craft beer world in Aus. Its also something that I dont have the patience or setup for brewing myself. I think something along the lines of this beer will hit the shelf from Hargreaves Hill, and Red Hill already make an excellent Chech Pills.  I had 2 of these.
Karma Citra – Black IPA showcasing the Citra hop (Feral, WA, 5.9%)
A black IPA with that tangarine citrus taste. good beer.
Lemon Myrtle IPA (Jamieson, VIC, 7%)
Anaseed! I liked it though.
Big Red Rocket – Imperial Red Ale (Bridge Road, VIC, 9%)
This was my last beer and I was a little gone by then. It was fermented in a muscat barrel and I remember tha being a big part of the flavour, cant remember a whole lot more than that.

If you look at the above photo from teh Aussie SpecTAPular you can see my mate Dave with the glases and the back of my head, my best angle!

I then left. Not sure what time it wsa but I do know that I was home early enough to order fish and chips so it was before 9. I woke up a little dusty the next day but not too bad, perhaps this was testemant to the good brewing skills and clean ferments. Maybe it was the 10 hours sleep and some panadol?

Anyway congrats to all the brewers and to the StKilda Local TapHouse for an excellent day of beer. More beers and a bigger venue next year please.

Cheers D

How does my Witt stand up? and a tedious link to the Hoff

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21:  Zoe Naylor pos...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Ok too many posts today, admittedly I wrote one earlier in the week and the other has been bouncing around in my head for a week or two. Ah Hamtopia, I love that I invented a holiday.
But now on to this blog, its not beer wars 2 just me seeing how my Wit, brewed some months ago stands up next to a commercial example, another beer from the Otway brewery, the Prickly Moses Wheat Beer. Now I didn’t actually buy this beer, it was a gift, and I didn’t know it was a Wit until I had one with my lunch today before heading off to the driving range to again prove that I am shit at golf. The beer was given to me by my cousin Jane, she crashed at the van for a night and had an interesting evening at the pub with us that involved her convincing one of the guys from Bondi Rescue (Hoppo?? I think he’s the one on the right in the photo??)to buy her a drink. Following that I ended up having a bit of a yarn to him and he showed me the photo on his phone of him with the Hoff. Now he may have been an old uber tanned guy wearing makeup but he had met the Hoff and that makes him OK with me. Still I’m glad he didn’t pick up my cousin, perhaps Jane wasn’t.

Anyway Jane gave me some Prickly Moses Wheat Beer so I’m doing a side by side with my Wit. To look at the beers they are nearly impossible to split (mine has the red dot) perhaps mine is effervescent? I think we used the same yeast (Wyeast Belgian Wit) and the beers are pretty similar in body, perhaps the Otway beer is a little softer on the pallet, maybe they didn’t forget to throw in the oats. Taste wise there is more coriander in mine, that makes it a little less OK to the general public but the VB drinking relatives seemed to like drinking it at Christmas so it cant be that to extreme. The recipe is in an older post of mine The Summe Wheat/Witt experiment . I think all in all I did ok with this beer, may have to brew some more for my little sisters wedding.
OK there you go, Prickly Moses Wheat Beer, a nice Belgian Witt thats not too overbearing and a recipe for something that has a little more spice punch in it. My guess would be if you want to brew a beer like the Prickly Moses Wheat, use my recipe with less corriander. I think I’ll stick with my coriander levels though for now.

3 posts in one day, thats a record for me. Enjoy peoples.

Cheers D

PS – Oh I’m back to work tomorrow so the posts in the comming weeks will be less happy 😦

The Summe Wheat/Witt experiment

Specific Gravity of WortImage by Croixboy via Flickr

After one of the guys in the home brew shop told me that he didn’t make wheat beers because “wheat tasted sour” I decided to have a bit of a play with a whit beer recipe and prove him wrong. To do this I tinkered with a Witt beer i was planning to make, essentially adding US rather than spices and zest.

The recipe was made up of raw wheat from the silo on the folks farm, some skanky malt that’s gone slack and I really should throw out (and will throw out thanks to my Vicbrew score sheet feedback) and a bit of wheat malt I had hanging around. There was also meant to be some oats in this recipe but i forgot to throw them into the mash, making the resulting beer a little lighter in body. I mashed it at 68deg C and the beer worked nicely with no headaches despite there being a bit of stuffing around with the split wort procedure. Its not really an experiment as that would need to be repeated excetra but its as close as I can be bothered to getting to an experiment for now.

Summe Wheat/Witt
38litre batch

5.50 kg Joe White Pale Ale Malt 56.99 %
3.50 kg Raw Wheat, 36.27 %
0.50 kg Joe White Wheat Malt 5.18 %
18.00 gm Magnum [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 19.8 IBU

To the Witt half add coriander and orange zest at 5 minutes. This half gets a witt yeast (the wyeast Belgian Witt)

To the Summe Wheat half add 15.00 gm Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (1 min) Hops 1.7 IBU and 15.00 gm Simcoe [13.00 %] (1 min) Hops 2.6 IBU. This half got an English yeast, wyeast 1098. Then dry hop with more of the same hops to taste (about 10 grams of each for about 5 days in the keg. I drained this half into a fermenter before adding the spices and zest to the other half.

OG 1.046
FG 1.009
About 24 IBU’s

So what did I end up with? two similar looking nice clear beers that taste vastly different. I think I like the Summe wheat better, there is a bit much of the zest pithy flavour in the Witt, and it really needs the oats to round it out. The dry hopping was the trick with the Summe Wheat. And there is no sour taste. The beers also both dropped really clear, not really what I expected but it is in line with Stan Hieronymus’s book “brewing with wheat”. I like that book and it seems that Stan is on the money. The Witt yeast has had a couple of brews so I may have selected the flocking part of the yeast sample out.

Now for the name, my inner dyslexic didn’t put an r on the end of the word Summer on the keg. So its Summe wheat.

So there you have it Nik, both are ready for tasting and not sour.

Cheers D

PS look at the related articles, they really are not related

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