Melbourne APA Wetpak

We’ve been at our new house for 4 months now, most of that with a very empty beer cupboard, but I’ve been loathe to put a brew on as the quality of the water is so shocking. Apparently the problem is galvanised steel pipes which are clogged up. The water that comes out is discoloured, tastes bad and is at a very low pressure. We asked the landlord to fix it but apparently the cost of replacing all the pipes in the house is more than he is willing to spend, so we just have to cop it.

But the lack of cheap, tasty beer has been getting to me, so I’ve bitten the bullet and put a batch on. Before I left Sydney in 2008, I made sure I had a kit of my favourite homebrew with me — the American Pale Ale wetpak from The Country Brewer. Looking at the history of this site it appears I have not made this kit for 4 years!

Previous brews recorded here:

TCB Wetpak

Fermenting: 02/08/2010 Bottled: 06/11/2010

Ingredients: 3kg can containing light malt extract and hops, 150g of crystal malt, 20g of cascade hops and 10g of Safale s-04 yeast

Add the hopped malt to 3L water, simmer for 1 hour. Steep & sparge grain, then add to pot. Add hops and wait 10 mins.

Pour the hot wort into your fermenting vessel, then top up with water to 22L and add the yeast. Leave it alone to ferment for a week or so, then bottle.

Coopers Lager 2009

Fermenting: 10/10/2009
Bottled: 07/11/2009

Coopers Lager

I needed to make up another brew as the cupboard is getting bare. Made up a basic Coopers Lager with some slightly better ingredients.

1.7 kg can Coopers Lager
1 kg Coopers brew enhancer 2 (500g Dextrose / 250g Maltodextron / 250 g Light Malt)
Lager yeast left over from Blackrock Export Pilsner
24g Nelson Sauvin hops

Was a bit worried about this at the start – I checked the yeast was active before I pitched it, but no bubbling came through the airlock for 7 days. I was starting to think about chucking in the Coopers ale yeast that came with the can when it started fermenting about a week later.

Surfies Delight II

Fermenting: 05/09/2008 Bottled: 26/12/2008

The last beer kit I bought before i left Sydney was a Surfie’s Delight package from the Country Brewer. I previously made this beer back in January 2006 and it came out pretty well. With the cooler temperatures if Melbourne in early spring I’m expecting this version to be a cracker. I also learned from my previous mistake and added the aroma hops after 3 days of vigorous fermentation.

1.7kg Wals Pilsner beer concentrate24g Saaz hops 1kg Light liquid malt 150g Vienna Grain

Ingredients:

  • 1.7 kg can of beer concentrate – Wal’s Pilsner — a light crisp Australian pilsner.
  • 1 kg light liquid malt — made from 100% quality malting barley.
  • 150 g Vienna malt — steeped in hot water for 20 minutes then strained into the wort
  • 24g Saaz hops — spicy and aromatic — steeped for 5 minutes then added to fermenting wort after 3 days initial fermentation.

This should be a great beer come November February when I anticipate it will be ready for drinking.

Melbourne (beer is too) bitter

I’ve managed to try a few different beers since making it down to Melbourne.

James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale – a dark, spicy ale. Chocolate in colour and flavour, quite bitter, not really a session beer but nice to warm up with.

Bells Brewery Black Ban Bitter – Bells Hotel is a brewpub near work, this bitter is their flagship beer. A coppery ale, very bitter without much hop aroma. I was a little underwhelmed, especially as a middie was $5. Nice to support a small brewer, but a beer has to have more going for it that just bitterness.

Coldstream Brewery Lager – another brewpub, this one on the way up the Yarra valley past home. Again, a bitter beer without much aroma, but this one was supposed to be a lager. Another disappointment, unfortunately. Perhaps next time I’ll try the bitter or pilsner and see if they are a bit more true to type. It was pale in colour, but also pale in flavour, other than the excessive bitterness.

So, I guess in summary, I’m finding craftbeers all to be a bit too bitter recently. Hopefully spring will bring with it some more hop aroma and flavour, meaning better tasting beers to enjoy as the weather warms up.

Mozzie Ale

Wals BitterWillamette HopsChocolate Grain

Fermenting: 26/02/2008 Bottled: 10/05/2008

The first batch of beer I’ve brewed at my new residence, I’m having another crack at making a bitter beer, something I’ve not done since June 2005. This extended gap was partly due to other interests I’ve discovered and the fact that I didn’t seem to like these bitters very much.

Anyway, I’m making up one of the Country Brewer’s seasonal recipes – Mozzie Ale. This beer contains a can of Wal’s bitter, 1 kg of Brew Booster (500g Dextrose / 250g Maltodextron / 250 g Light Malt), 150g of chocolate grain and 12g of Willamette hops.

The mix went okay, but a little too much grain made it through my strainer into the fermenter. It is summer and therefore hot, so the yeast was pitched a little warm at 26°. The wort appears quite dark in colour – very brown on it’s way to black. Should be interesting to see how it comes out in a month or so.

Heritage Lager

Fermenting: 05/09/2007 Bottled: 27/09/2007

Thomas Coopers Heritage Lager

Having such good memories of the previous time I made this beer, I decided to do it again.

Ingredients:

  • 1.7kg can Thomas Cooper’s Premium Selection Heritage Lager
  • 1 kg Ultrabrew (500g malt, 250g dextrose, 250g maltodextrin)
  • 24g Hersbrucker hops

Can you believe it? It was 3 years ago almost to the day I started brewing the last one. I guess that also means this site has been going that long, given I started it to track my brewing progress and recipes. This batch is the 39th lot of beer I have made since that first one back in June 2004. Not including another 6 non-beer drinks (3 cider, 2 ginger beer and 1 forgettable lemonade).

I’d say the best thing about home brewing is being able to try some of the great flavours of the world, right at home. I can try a new beer from Belgium, Brazil or Poland, then try to make it at home. It can be expensive to buy a case of these beers – have a look at how much a single bottle of Chimay costs – but create the same thing in your living room and discover how much flavour and history there is in a simple beverage.

I guess that’s what “Thomas Cooper’s Heritage Lager” is about as well – flavour and history, recreated in a barrel next to my lounge.

Bottling notes: Straw yellow in colour, pretty clear already, should be good to drink in 3-4 weeks.

Beer and Brewer Magazine

I spotted a new magazine in the newsagent a couple of weeks ago and thought I would buy it. It is called Beer and Brewer Australia and is aimed at the “beer enthusiast.”

Magazine cover

This is the second edition, apparently it comes out quarterly. There is a small (4 page) section at the back of the book related to home brewing, but more space is devoted to cooking with beer or cooking food that goes with beer than brewing itself.

A greater proportion of the book contains articles and features about Australian beers, breweries and pub with some international content (mostly travel) thrown in. The advertisements are quite large and the articles feature big glossy photos, compared to the written content.

The cover article Women in Beer tells a little of the history of beer brewing and how it has been long regarded as a gift from a Goddess and how women were the original brewers. The main part of the article is a Question and Answer session with 8 prominent women in the Australian beer industry (or 7 prominent and one bar staff). It has some great advice for women looking to try beer that are coming from a wine background as well as explaining what women are looking for when they drink beer compared to men – apparently they are more discerning and appreciate the complex flavours in boutique and craft beer.

The magazine generally stays away from the blokey stereotypes of beer drinkers. Some of the photos of women are a little suggestive I guess, but no more so that in Dolly or Cleo magazine. It’s just here the girls are holding beer steins. Beer is celebrated as a complex, flavourful drink chosen by discerning consumers rather than the bland, branded, ‘means to an end’ beers that you see at your local.

There is a companion website at beerandbrewer.com that has some of the content from the first edition if you’d like to try before you buy. At $6.95 the magazine not an inexpensive purchase, but I guess it’s not too bad once every three months. Especially if you have a friend or two to read it after you.

Homemade Irish Cream

Baileys shot

Mixed up a batch of “Irish Cream” on the weekend as well. Got the recipe off the Internet – hard to pick one amongst the many, but this is the one I went with, modified from the original for quantity purposes.

2 tins condensed milk 2 tins evaporated milk 600ml thickened cream 250g blocks milk chocolate 4 teaspoon vanilla essence 700ml Irish whiskey Optional – 1 teaspoon instant coffee

  • Melt chocolate in a double saucepan. Heat condensed milk and gradually stir into melted chocolate.
  • Mixture will become lumpy, don’t worry, just blend until smooth in an electric blender. Allow to cool.
  • In a very large bowl (I used a punch bowl) mix chocolate with remaining ingredients.
  • Pour into empty, cleaned, scotch bottles and refrigerate at all times.

Makes 3-4 x 750ml bottles

Dad has been drinking it, apparently it is quite delicious, nice and thick.

Special Lager

Fermenting: 04/08/2007 Bottled: 05/09/2007

Wals Lager

Finally started brewing a new beer. This one is made from a can of Wal’s Lager, 1 kg Euroblend, which is 600g light malt extract, 200g dextrose and 200g lactose, and added 24g of Nelson Sauvin hops.

I think when I bought the ingredients I asked for a malty European style lager which wasn’t as bitter as the usual pilsners I make and enjoy. The custodian recommended the ‘Nelson Sauvin’ hops as he had just got them in, special order, from New Zealand. The name come from the region they are grown, near Nelson on New Zealand’s south island, and the Sauvignon Blanc grape vines found in the next field which have influenced the flavour of the hops. They smell delightful and hopefully will make an excellent beer.

Bottling notes: This beer had a fantastic aroma as soon as you opened the lid of the fermentor. It was also a lovely golden/orange colour – closest to a James Squire Golden Ale in colour perhaps. Tasting the (flat) beer while bottling – wow, this looks like being one of the best flavoured beers I have made in a long time. Other than the American Pale Ale wetpak, probably the last one that smelt and tasted this good was the Dry Lager of almost 2 years ago.

Coopers Pale Ale 2007

Fermenting: 19/01/2007 Bottled: 04/08/2007

Coopers Pale Ale can

Thanks to a kind donation from Danny Haynes of the Haynes family for the ingredients of this brew.

A can of Coopers Pale Ale, 1 kg of Brew Enhancer 1, which is 600g dextrose and 400g Maltodextrin boiled in a pot with some water. Added some tettnanger hops for flavour and aroma just as I took it off the stove top.

The previous night I had made up a yeast starter for this beer. I added a tablespoon of brewing sugar to a cup of water. I also added a small plug of honey I had in the cupboard, a couple of teaspoons worth, maybe. I mixed this together until it was dissolved. I then got the yeast out of the bottom of a couple of long necks of Coopers Pale Ale and added it to this water/sugar mixture. Once the wort was in the fermenter I added the yeast, a little worried it may or may not be active and a good idea.

But it was bubbling 24 hours later so I guess it worked fine. The terribly high temperatures in Sydney at the moment aren’t going to be the best for the beer, but I guess we will find that out in a months time.

Also, apologies to all those who got excited by the title of my previous post. I didn’t think about all the different ways that ‘a reason for celebration’ could be misconstrued.

Bottling notes: Finally got some energy and bottled this beer – seven and a half months in the fermenter. It seemed a little bland when I did a taste test – not sure if all the hop flavour escaped during the long ferment or if that’s how this Coopers can comes out.