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.