Reason for celebration

Amber Pint

Finally bottled the Cascade Draught I started fermenting back in August. It was quite a dark amber in colour but the flavour was hard to describe. Once it is carbonated and rested another month or so we will see what it’s true character is.

I hereby declare you to be: Honey Longbrew

Brewhouse Lalor Park

I went out to a pub last night with some friends. Nothing special, it wasn’t an Irish pub, or a German one, really just a local tavern. But it had some redeeming features.

Hunter Lager and steak

Firstly, for Tim, it had bargain steaks. $7 for a cook-your-own 300g porterhouse with a big pile of salad was pretty good. The marinate was nice, though perhaps we were a bit enthusiastic looking at the mess we left on the BBQ.

Secondly, for Priscilla, it was local. Not too far out of the way and a courtesy bus if you are so inclined.

Thirdly, for Graham, it had free lemon squash. Part of a ‘responsible service of alcohol’ program, they supply water and soft drink for free.

But most importantly for me, they brew their own beer.

The Brewhouse Lalor Park is part of a new chain of pubs in Sydney operated by the Premier Venues Group. They also have pubs in St Marys, Doonside and Belmore.

An important part of the group seems to be the Hunter Beer Company. This is the “in house” boutique brewery that provides the rather delicious beer available at the Brewhouse.

Regular Australian commercial beers are available bottled and on tap at the pub as well, but why have hamburger when you can have steak? On their website they detail four beers they make:

  • Hunter Kolsch
  • Hunter Lager
  • Hunter Ginger
  • Hunter Bock

All of these are European style lagers with alcohol percentage by volume of 4.5-5.5%. At Lalor Park they had the Lager and Bock, but the extra two beers were “Hunter Blonde” and “Hunter Oktoberfest Lager”.

Hunter Blonde was a very pale beer that was fresh and easy drinking but compared to the others a little on the bland side.

Hunter Oktoberfest Lager was the best beer available, in my opinion. It was a little darker that the regular Lager and had a much stronger hop flavour. It wasn’t really bitter, but quite fruity actually. Easy to drink and I was relishing every mouthful.

The great thing about these beers was that although you could describe them as a craft beer or even boutique, they were priced the same as any of the better known Aussie beers available at the bar. The Oktoberfest seemed to be the most pricey but even it was only $3.40 a schooner.

If you live near one of them and enjoy a tasty beer, I recommend visiting your local Brewhouse.

Boutique breweries in the news

Beer Tuesdays’ SMH had an article in it’s Good Living section titled It’s no small beer.

The article tells of the many seachangers setting up their own breweries. For people who are only accustomed to beer that needs a marketing department there is some excellent info about lesser known ales and lagers to try. Mostly it talks about the companies making the beverages, rather than the beers themselves, though.

At the end of the story there is a list of some of the different craft/boutique/micro breweries and their products. See how many you have tried.

I’ve previously had:

Let me know which you’ve tried. If you haven’t tried many, or are keen to, a lot of them are available at your local Dan Murphy’s or similar.

Cascade Draught

Cascade Spicy Ghost Draught

Fermenting: 20/08/2006 Bottled: 18/01/2007

Priscilla smuggled this can of Cascade Spicy Ghost Draught back from Tasmania during her trip back home in March. I’ve made it up into a batch with some Ultrabrew (500g light malt extract, 250g maltodextrin, 250g dextrose) and added some Goldings hops. In a couple of days, after the vigourous initial fermentation, I will add some honey to the brew.

Cascade’s marketing doyens describe it like so:

A zesty wheat inspired draught with balanced hopping creates a refreshing spicy beer with a smooth yet slightly tart palate.

Which pretty much tells us nothing except it is really a wheat beer, despite being labelled as a ‘draught’. Goodness knows what they think draught is supposed to mean as a style of beer – it is a method of storing and pouring. I guess they are implying it is the same as the mass produced bland lagers you can get on tap in most places in Australia, whether they are branded bitter, lager, draught or even pale ale.

A popular feature of the last Cascade beer I made was the ripping yarn. Here is the one for the Spicy Ghost:

In the dead of night, it is believed a solitary, mischievous figure struts the granite halls of Tasmania’s Cascade Brewery, Australia’s oldest continually operating brewery.

According to legend, he lurks in dark corners, taking cover in the cool, cavernous cellars and materialising now and then. Here the ancient stone walls whisper of the past, of colonial times when life in Hobart Town was rough and ready.

This wheat-inspired draught brew is ghostly pale with a spicy edge that hints at a frisky character. The flavour is haunted by orange and coriander with quenching tart shadows and a mysterious underplay of rum.

An intriguing beverage… for true believers.

Update 04/09/2006: Added 800g of Blue Gum Honey on 27/08/2006. Still bubbling slowly 2 weeks after fermenting started.

Update 18/01/2007: Finally bottled this beer. Yay!

The Beer Factory

Pilsner in glass

Driving past the old Transfield site on Station Road, Seven Hills, a friend of mine noticed a sign on the side of the road saying “Brew your own beer here” and asked if I knew what it was all about. Was it just another home brew shop, or something different?

Definitely something different. The Beer Factory is like a commercial grade microbrewery, where consumers like you and I can walk in off the street and make a batch of beer. Continue reading “The Beer Factory”

Vitamin G

Guinness Draught Bottle

Yesterday, I bought some Guinness. Until recently the only Guinness you could buy here in Australia was brewed locally by Lion Nathan.

But I bought some of that Guinness Draught in a bottle that they had those fancy ads for. It has a “rocket” widget inside it to replicate what you drink in a pub in Ireland, and which may be some trouble to get out.

The great news is that this stout is actually made in the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin, then shipped around the world to us. I personally haven’t done a back to back test, but I am assured by others that the local concoction is a shadow of the true Irish stout.

Rather surprisingly, this bottle had the nutritional information on the side. In order to make this post educational, I will reproduce it here.

Servings per package: 1 Serving size: 330mL

Average QuantityPer ServingPer 100mL
Energy122.1 Cal
511.5 kJ
37 Cal
155 kJ
Protein0.99 g0.3 g
Fat0 g0 g
Carbohydrate9.9 g3.0g
— sugars0.33 g0.1g
Sodium6.6 mg2 mg

To give some perspective, here is the info from the apple, grapefruit & guava juice I had in the fridge, normalized to 330mL.

Normal Serving size: 200mL

Average QuantityPer 330mL ServingPer 100mL
Energy132.5 Cal
610.5 kJ
44.2 Cal
185 kJ
Proteinless than 1gless than 1g
Fatless than 1gless than 1g
Carbohydrate34.3 g10.4 g
— sugars33.7 g10.2g
Sodium13.2 mg4 mg

I hope you are all now suitably educated on the benefits of beer. I also bought some Little Creatures Pale Ale yesterday, but I don’t have as good a story about that.

APA Wetpak

TCB Wetpak

Fermenting: 29/05/2006 Bottled: 17/07/2006

I finally got around to putting on another batch of beer, and it is my favourite. The American Pale Ale wetpak from The Country Brewer has turned out fantastic both times I’ve made it. I finished the last bottle of this back in February, which feels like a while ago. I’ve actually had the can sitting there since early April and just struggled to find the energy and time to make it.

A wetpak is a kit of ingredients that you put together at home to create your beer. Country Brewer has just added another variety, Classic Oak Ale, so there are now 7 flavours available.

You get a 3kg can containing light malt extract and hops, 150g of crystal malt, 20g of cascade hops and 10g of Safale s-04 yeast. You then simmer it for about an hour, dilute it with water and add the yeast. This makes a beer containing very fresh ingredients with stacks of flavour, particularly the American Pale Ale.

We’ll probably be able to drink it around the fire sometime in July.

Xtract Pilsner 2006

Fermenting: 24/04/2006 Bottled: 16/05/2006

Xtract Pils Label

I have very good memories of this beer. Last year I put it on in July, in the middle of winter, which helped this lager ferment quite coldly – about as cool as you can expect a yeast to stay active. We’ve been having a bit of a cold spell this autumn, so I thought it was a good opportunity to revisit an excellent beer.

The Xtract Pils is a 3kg can of nestle malt and saaz hops, which, when fermented using the included Saflager S-23, produces an impressively clear, flavourful beer with a great hop aroma. I think the thing that suprised me most about this beer last year was the fantastic head – thick, tightly packed and foamy. Much more than you could expect from a homebrew, even one with 3kg of malt.

The Xtract series are amazingly simple to turn into beer. Pour the can into the fermenter, top up with water, sprinkle the yeast. I’ve made cordial up at mission that was more complex.

This may take up to 3 weeks to ferment (current temp 16° C and falling), and another couple of weeks after that in secondary, but we’ll have a fantastic beer at the end.

Bottling notes: A lovely straw-yellow or pale-orange colour. Tasted so good it was worth drinking flat.

Cascade Pale Ale

Fermenting: 05/04/06 Bottled: 23/04/06

Cascade Pale Ale

In July 2004 Cascade started making their own homebrew kits. Brewery branded homebrew kits aren’t overly great – Coopers being the exception. Coopers is actually the largest single manufacturer of home brew kits in the world, exporting to 36 different countries and in five different languages.

But we aren’t talking about Coopers, who I have no trouble with. The real problem in Australia, as far as brewery branded homebrew products go, is Lion Nathan. Lion Nathan, originally a New Zealand company, owns a malt producing company called Maltexo. Maltexo produces homebrew kits (usually 1.7kg cans of hopped malt) and starter packs (including fermenters) under many different brands.

In Australia the main two are Tooheys and Malt Shovel Brewery. Visit their shop if you’d like. Other brands made in NZ by Maltexo are Black Rock, Brewiser, Wander, Brewtec, Mac’s, Beermakers and Goldrush.

The quality of these kits, though, is not great. Black Rock make some nice beers, as do Malt Shovel but all the rest are standard supermarket stuff – your Bilo or Franklins no-name kit is probably exactly the same. As an aside, about the only thing the malt shovel beers share with the James Squire range is the parent company, although they claim that brewing ingredients are selected by Malt Shovel brewers.

But on to Cascade Homebrewing – The CUB/Fosters Group’s entry into homebrew supplies. Fosters chose cascade as the branding for the hopped malt kits, but I’m not sure why. I guess Cascade comes across as a beer appreciators brand, as opposed to posers brands (Crown or Fosters) or bogun brands (VB, Melbourne Bitter, even carlton mid and draught don’t come across as posh).

The kits are made at the Cascade brewery in south Hobart, where Cascade premium, light et al is made. The marketing guru’s have made up some fictional twaddle to put on the labels. This is the blurb from the can of Cascade Imperial Voyage Pale Ale:

At day’s end, as guards muster convicts below deck and the captain retires to his quarters, a small band of sailors retreat to a dark cargo hold in the creaking barque’s belly.

By lamplight, they behold their illicit bounty – barrels and sacks of barley, hops and sugar. Encircling a makeshift fire, they brew a familiar beer: a pale, earthy ale with spicy aromas to magically carry them home to the comforts of England. Most evenings they laugh and sing and enjoy the fruits of their labour. The robust brew sees them through the four-month voyage to Van Diemen’s Land…and safely home again.

You can view the other ripping yarns at the Cascade Hombrew website.

Made this one up pretty simply with a bag of Coopers Brew Enhancer 2 – 500g Dextrose, 250g Maltodextrin and 250g Light Dried Malt. I might add some english hops for aroma in a couple of days. The Bohemian yeast is probably a bottom fermenting lager, so if the Lord would provide some cooler temperatures over the next week or so, we should get a very nice, crisp & clean beer.

Starting Gravity (SG): 1036 Final Gravity (FG): 1008 Alcohol: 4.2% by volume