montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 15th, 2014 07:18 pm)

The grain
Is a combo of three recipes, then further tweaked in Brewsmith to better match a Vienna lager profile. So many changes, silly me. It includes a small amount (100g, around 2%) of a very dark malt just for colour (carafa special I). One of the brew shop chaps raised his eyebrows at this and this inspired me to panic. So I spent some time last night trying to pick out the darkest grain. In half an hour I had managed to collect a whole 2g of
that 100g, and an achy arm. Bother it. I will leave out that 2g but the rest will have to stay. Brewsmith says it will be ok!



The hops
All the hops in my eventual recipe are out of my fridge*. The bittering hops are a mix of three leftovers- Magnum, Warrior and Williamette, plus a little Centennial to make up the IBUs. The flavour hops are reasonably close to the original recipe. Two of the original hops couldn’t be got easily locally. However, looking them up, both are variants on Hallertauer. So that is a reasonable substitution and I had some. So the mid and late hop additions will be an elegant 50:50 mix of Cascade and Hallertau Mittelfruh. I’ve weighed them all out ready to go for tomorrow morning. And now there are four less hop packets cluttering up my fridge 

I must think on an insulating layer for under the urn. I lost too much heat from the mash last time. Wooden chopping boards perhaps? Or a folded towel? I’m also going to change the suspension rope end, the current arrangement is way too fiddly. Oh and when I next get to a decent hardware shop, I want a length of heavier rope, the current one is too narrow and tends to jump off the pulley.

*this is also good on cost. Hops are not cheap. This brew cost ~$18.50 in grain (paid for in advance in the grain book) plus $8.90 for yeast, plus a little in steriliser, yeast food, irish moss and bottle caps. Say no more than $5. So $32.40 plus a several hours of my labour for 5+ dozen stubbies. Hmm, plus electricity. One would normally also need to spend $10 or more on hops.
montjoye: (Default)
( Jan. 19th, 2014 03:34 pm)
Erudito asked last night "what is the different between stout and porter?" . I wasn't sure but I thought stout was the heavier of the two.

I’ve since read a bit of stuff. I conclude that Stout is darker than Porter. Different sub styles of both have varying levels of sweetness, bitterness and alcohol %. On average, Stout is “bigger” than Porter, but not necessarily in all those measures. Below are extracts from the BJCP* style guidelines. Text in brackets are my comments. There are a couple of interesting historical notes. Having written this to try to answer the question, I thought I'd post here for general interest and possible comment.


Brown Porter(or London Porter)
Overall Impression: A fairly substantial English dark ale with restrained roasty characteristics. (I find this style too sweet)
History: Originating in England, porter evolved from a blend of beers or gyles known as “Entire.” (Hey, this is curious!) A precursor to stout. Said to have been favoured by porters and other physical labourers

Robust Porter
Overall Impression: A substantial, malty dark ale with a complex and flavorful roasty character.
(this one is drier, and the style Renzo was drinking last night- of my brewing)

Baltic Porter
Overall Impression: A Baltic Porter often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors.


Dry stout
Overall Impression: A very dark, roasty, bitter, creamy ale.
(eg: Guiness)
History: The style evolved from attempts to capitalize on the success of London porters, but originally reflected a fuller, creamier, more “stout” body and strength. When a brewery offered a stout and a porter, the stout was always the stronger beer -it was originally called a “Stout Porter”. Modern versions are brewed from a lower OG and no longer reflect a higher strength than porters

Sweet Stout
Overall Impression: A very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty ale. Often tastes like sweetened espresso

Outmeal Stout
Overall Impression: A very dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale with a complementary oatmeal flavor.

Foreign Extra Stout

Overall Impression: A very dark, moderately strong, roasty ale. Tropical varieties can be quite sweet, while export versions can be drier and fairly robust.

Russian Imperial Stout

Overall Impression: An intensely flavored, big, dark ale. Roasty, fruity, and bittersweet, with a noticeable alcohol presence. Dark fruit flavors meld with roasty, burnt, or almost tar-like sensations. Like a black barleywine with every dimension of flavor coming into play.

*Beer Judge Certification Programme

montjoye: (Default)
( Nov. 3rd, 2013 12:41 pm)

I’m behind in brewing posts. So I’ll offer a few pics and make some date related notes as a minimum

Two Mums- the American wheat beer was bottled last Sunday Oct 27th. I think that was at the 2.5 week mark after start of ferment.

Ginger mead- is still going but slowly. It’s now been in the fermenter 3.5weeks. My old notes say the hopped mead took four weeks to ferment. This isn’t ready yet, but maybe by next weekend?
Nup   3wk density=1.008. 5wk density =1.003 7wk density=1.001, still bubbly very slowly (Nov 27th)

Robust Porter
- was mashed last Saturday Oct 26th. Then put to the fermenter the next day after cleaning up from the wheat beer bottling. It’s nice and dark. My fear is that it will taste too burnt for my preference. My hope is that it comes close to the Sierra Nevada porter. Fingers crossed, gotta start with some recipe! The ferment took off really fast but the temp has been kept in the right range. A week later and it's slowed right down.
Starting density 1.061(target 1.064). after 2.5wks ferment, 1.021. Looks finished but density says not. I reckon it needs to sit for another week before bottling.
(Nov 27th) 4wk density=1.021 but the ferment seems to have started up again. Should be 1.015.

This is just as the boil was starting on the porter. I'd put some of the 60min hops in as the grain bag drained (an approximation of FWH- First Wort Hopping). That's the green bits. I thought the shapes and textures were so hoopy I just had to take a photo.


Full rolling boil achieved. Nice chocolatey colour eh?


and here is the lovely dark wort in my wort "cubes" (after the inevitable dribbly mess had been cleaned up- spills sure show up when the wort is this dark).


All that style musing and I've decided I DO want to brew an English ale. The coming weekends are getting a bit full though!

I also feel i ought give more thought to the best way to keep a brewing diary. I've got notes in at least three different places plus the inevitable scraps of paper. Need to start putting it all together but I haven't decided in what format. BeerSmith is good but it's a bit clunky. Whereas recording things here is good for date order and tagging but is laborious to write out all the details. Mayhap I need to do both?

montjoye: (Default)
( Oct. 20th, 2013 09:23 pm)

Two more tastings, possibly the last for a while. At least until I buy more to try anyway! Lots of beer in the house but it's all of my making. These two are all from memory. The bottles are already washed and stashed.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout.
Ruddy delicious I reckon. Very much a treat, not your average beer. Rich, slightly sweet, high alcohol (10%). Tastes like a beery version of very high quality dark chocolate.

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
I liked this one too. It's described as semi sweet. Yes it's sweeter than I would usually go for but there is enough bitterness and flavour to balance that. I'm interested that one can get this much flavour into a beer without it being high alcohol. This is ~5%. I'd certainly drink this again. Might even try to brew one but I reckon I'll have a go at the porter first.

Pale Face II (my latest American Pale Ale)
was bottled two weeks ago, is at least mostly carbonated and very tasty. It's quite fruity while still being bitter. I like the change of hops. I used less Willamette and introduced some Amarillo. I also tweaked the specialty grains but might have gone too far on the wheat, the beer has ended up a bit cloudy.

I'm planning to mash again next Saturday, which amusingly is two days before the anniversary of my first ever full grain mash. It will be mash #8, and possibly #9 too if I get keen and efficient.

The current two ferments are still happily glooping away. I'm feeling impatient for them to finish but they have only be going 10 or 11 days. Patience grasshopper.

Heretic Gramarye -Rye Pale Ale
A pretty classic APA. Fully bodied and hoppy. I like it. I read that rye gives a spicy flavour. I *think* I could taste that? but it could have been something in the hop character? hard to tell. IF I like the American Wheat when it is done, I might later try a version with rye in it.

Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
as I've written several times, this is supposed to the most classic of the brown porter style. It had some nice flavours but it's too something for my preference, sweet?

I'm concluding that I like nice clean, dry yeasts best, at least at the moment. No surprise given my general aversion to too much sweet. Which, simplistically, means more American ales and less English ones for me. Irish and Scottish ales are on the dry side too, so there is plenty of choice.

So the revised plan for my next couple of brews, is that I will do an Irish red ale rather than an English bitter, and an American robust porter instead of an English brown. Both of the revised choices are done with a clean yeast. I'll plan to do an English ale next autumn.
Righto. Mash for my attempt at a Knappstein clone is done.  Fingers crossed! It smells promising which is a start. It's my first time using pilsner malt.

details for my reference, unlikely to be interesting to anyone else unless they plan to copy :-) )

Ferment three weeks. temp ~13 for first week-10d. Couldn't keep it any cooler, wet towel technology. bubbling slowed. Heat to 16-18deg, then slow ferment for further 10d, bubbling to one in 1.5min? left to cool for the last 3 days or so. then no bubbling. Reckon I put the heat on too soon.
Bottled 13th Aug.

montjoye: (Default)
( Jul. 19th, 2013 10:16 pm)
I figure that rather than make a Vienna lager that tastes like an APA, I'll make an actual APA later. For this winter's lager I'll attemp a Knappsteinish one. I am reassured that my thoughts of using pilsner malt and just sauvin hops are supported by opinions in a brewing web forum. So I'm going with the Bohemian Pilsner recipe from my trusty book. I've just ordered the grain and I'll work out the hop additions in the morning when I have more brain.

Ah at least it is a decision. Bit of a challenging brew for my low levels of both experience and kit. It could go horribly wrong but nothing ventured eh? Melbourne's nice soft water will help.  Tomorrow's weather looks a bit confronting for mashing on my tiny verandah, so Sunday is more likely mash day. At least we have decent wintery weather forecast next week to keep the ferment temp down.

(avoiding thoughts of car locks and work)
montjoye: (Default)
( Jul. 19th, 2013 09:58 am)
Written in clipped shorthand style and all from memory

I’ve been meaning to brew a lager given it is winter, not that yesterday felt like winter! Problem is, I don’t much like lager, except dark versions. So I thought I’d get a few interesting commercial versions to try and help me decide what to choose to brew.

Feral – numbered lager on tap at the brewery* Flavoured with Sorachi Ace* hops and I loved it. Creamy lemon sherbet character

Brooklyn Lager – supposedly a “pre prohibition” version. Fanjollytabulous. Tasted like a full flavoured American Pale Ale**. It’s a Vienna style lager but with unusual hops- I remember Victory and Cascade. Victory is bred off the more usual Hallertau (again from memory), it’s the inclusion of Cascade that makes it taste like an APA.

Moo Brew Pilsner- I hated it. Tasted like raw hops and made me feel ill even though I only drank about a third. I think it uses German Spalt hops

Samuel Adams Boston Lager- another Vienna style. Uses more usual hops, Hallertau and Teffernang I think. It was better than a regular lager but I don’t love it

Knappstein Reserve Lager- paler, fruity. Uses a New Zealand hop called Sauvin, so named because the nose and flavor reminded the testers of Sauvignon Blanc wine! I love the smell and first front palate flavor, but the back flavor is still very lagerish.

So the front runners for a brew tomorrow are:
-an amber Vienna style but mess with the hops
-a pale pilsnerish thing with Sauvin hops
I’ll think about it through the day.

*Hmm. Reading up on Sorachi Ace- the only two breweries I can see that make a beer with this as a feature, have settled on a pale or golden ale style. Interestingly, those two breweries are Feral (Swan valley) and Brooklyn.

**which I’m out of, oh no!
montjoye: (Default)
( Jul. 18th, 2013 09:08 pm)
effity eff eff. I had just written a review on five beers with accompanying musings and then was stupid and lost the lot. I thought I had Lazarus installed for just these occasions but it doesn't seem to work. Boooo.
Stocks in the Montjoye beer cupboard are getting dangerously low. There are plenty of things that I want to make, but I only have equipment for one at a time. I am resisting buying more gear, not only due to cost, but I’d have to find homes for the extra kit.

Anyway, I bottled this year’s harvest cider on Wed May 22nd. It is pale and cloudy. Very strange. Density at bottling was 1.004 but neither I nor Weaver remembered to take a starting density. Is it pale because we used Campden tablets? I’ll be interested to see Weaver’s versions to compare. He used Camden in only the first batch. Flavour is still a bit sharp but no where near as acidic as last year’s batch. No crab apples this year, we didn’t have people to spare to go pick them. 25L starting volume – one shy of 6doz stubbies.

So the fermenter was free and I had an unbooked weekend. Thusly on Friday night late, I ordered the grain for the Scottish Ale I have been wanting to brew. I love that one can submit an order in the middle of the night and still go pick it up the following morning! I’m glad this is a simple brew, ‘cause I woke all hazy and work-hungover on Saturday. Went down to the brew shop and said “I’ve had two beers and still can’t wake up”. Of course I meant coffees, not beers, which just illustrates how hazy I felt. I’m still thick headed today actually.

details, details... )
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2013 05:15 pm)


Has been fermenting for a week and has slowed right down. It’s not quite finished but I’ve bottled it anyway. I figure it will carbonate slightly by the last of the ferment. No sugar charge, don’t want to overdo and we don’t need the extra alcohol. Density at this stage is 1.012, down from 1.027, so around 2% alcohol. I can test again later, no one is going to be too fussy about exactness in this measure at festi. I’m happy to report it now tastes pretty nice. The orange and spices have come through. It sort of tastes like beery dilute orange juice- but more pleasant than that sounds! Let’s hope it keeps well and doesn’t overpressure.

There was 20L in the fermenter. That has been packaged up into:
10L carboy with tap
5 x 1.25L PET bottles
4 x 500ml glass bottles as pictured. These at least will not go to festi

I haven’t enough brain for a creative name. I did find enough brain to make labels that go the other way! This was to better cover the sticky patch on the PET bottles, but is a cute option that I may use again.
montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 14th, 2013 09:32 pm)
A day after filling the barrel, it sprang a leak again, same place in the lid. That weak spot just cant handle the pressure. I let off the pressure at the fill hole, bad for both carbonation and keeping. After much angst and a little discussion, that night I tipped it upright so the leaky lid is uppermost. The next morning, as I feared, it was spilling the ferment gas (CO2) from the leak. I wet it and put a weight on. Now I have found some beeswax, melted a little and poured it on the leak. Seems good so far, Yay. I think I’ll take that happy smile in the wax pattern as an omen for here on in.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 12th, 2013 09:00 pm)
You can't tell by looking but that there barrel is now full of beer.


density just before filling was 1.018. Only 3.5% alcohol it seems. It does taste like beer. I'll be very interested to see what it is like after two weeks in the barrel. I added < 1/2cup sugar- this is half or less of a normal sugar charge for carbonation in an attemp to avoid fountaining beer.

The process of getting the barrel ready for the beer was arduous and stressful.
argh )

Small beer
is now set up to ferment. Two 10L carboys of wort. One kept at room temp (pretty damn warm at the moment, 26deg or so), One in the fridge. Together we have a starting temp of 19C, density 1.027. Nottingham Ale yeast. The wort doesn't taste of much. I don't think those fuggles hop flowers were fresh enough to offer much. There is very little bitterness or even flavour from the orange and spices. Might be different when not masked by the sweetness? We will see.

montjoye: (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2013 12:22 pm)
gloops 2min apart
density 1.020. fizzy still. Not finished then. Should get to 1. 010-1.016.
tastes like beer though! rather nice actually, though not strong. I think this will be very quaffable.

I wonder if three more days will do it? or if I should wait to Tues 12th to barrel? I'll test again on Wed and decide then.
montjoye: (Default)
( Feb. 21st, 2013 07:45 pm)
I'm just home after a few days away and not really in the best frame of mind to be doing this, but time she is a ticking.

-um, one should close the ruddy tap before pouring the precious wort into the fermenter. Eejit. That frame of mind thing?

-so starting gravity came from the sponged up spilt wort, at least not a total waste and I sure wasn't going to run any more off!
1.069 +10L water gives1.045 or thereabouts. So likely finished alcohol of 4.4%. Should have been higher but maybe increasing the grain to water ratio of the mash doesn't work proportionally? Spilling a bit didn't help either.

-The weather is not cooperating. Ferment is supposed to be at 20C. Fridgeing half the wort has given me a starting temp of 20C- but I won't be able to keep it there :-(

-just waiting for the yeast to hydrate prior to pitching.

In other news- the apricot wine has been working again slowly since the weekend.
montjoye: (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2013 06:00 pm)

Extra Special Festival Beer, plus ‘sperimental small.
Ha, and wave to Batty. Now I realise what those initials remind me of  :-)

Much yabbering about details. Process, recipe, timing… )

Things I want before next time:
-a proper eye bolt for the shackle- it’s just tied up now, one day this will give way I’m sure
-a better arrangement for hooking the rope at different levels
-a better scale- mine struggles to make up it’s mind between 0-5g. Not good!

Tired now, and hot. It got to 39C on the back verandah, despite the tentish cloths I hung to keep most of the sun off. I've still to do the last of the washing up... but I have two new worts!

For 12th night, a scrap of wool fabric and some freezer bricks worked fairly well to keep my beer cool. But arranging the wool was awkward. So, though not exactly medieval, here is a more elegant and hopefully functional version. Two layers of dark navy wool gaberdine with wool batting between, quilted together by hand with silk, 'cause i could. All from stash.  It is sized to fit neatly inside my feast box. It takes up much of the box but is squishy so the ratio of beer to other stuff I can carry is fairly flexible.

and in situ )
2 days past 2 weeks since it went into the fermenter. I could have bottled any time over the last few days i think. Anyway, I now have 52 bottles of a new beer for the new year from the new world. Not sure if I'm happy with the name, but the labelling is done so it's too late now.
finished gravity ~1.012. She's a strong one. Book says 1.013, pretty jolly close. I had to substitute 2 of the hops* but I did that carefully and the resulting flavour seems good. I have hopes for this one. I'm glad there are a few things around to distract me for the next few weeks while I wait for it to carbonate.


*recipe called for Horizon, Centennial and Cascade
I used Magnum, Willamette and Cascade.

montjoye: (Default)
( Oct. 28th, 2012 04:11 pm)

So I bought a shiny new urn yesterday. It's a bit less shiny now, but it has done a full grain mash. Yay, happy dance. I stuck to my guns and set up for full grain rather then buying any more pre made wort. A few more pics would have been good for the photo diary attached, but these give you an idea of what I've been doing for much of today.

Method for an English Pale Ale, by BIAB informed by Geoff and Dan at the demo I attended back in Jan. Recipe from "Brewing Classic Styles"

-Put 27L water in the urn the night before. Bring to boil and leave until the next day (in an attempt to get rid of chlorine)
-heat to 72C
-put bag in and tie off
-add grain while stirring (3.63kg Simpsons Maris Otter,  230g Simpsons Crystal 120L, 115g Briess Special Roast)
-temp has dropped the expected 5deg to mash temp of 67C
-wrap in towel and blanket, leave for 1hr
-temp dropped to only 65.5C- should be good! (brew shop man said slightly lower mash temps can be good for BIAB but starting temp is most important)
-raise bag (on new vintage pulley, squee), drain, squeeze bag
-minimal sparge by pouring a kettle of near boiling water over the bag, squeeze again.
-take bag away, dump contents to compost when cool
-bring wort to boil
- add 34g East Kent Goldings hops at start of boil, 14 g at 30min, half teaspoon yeast nutrient and irish moss tablet at 10min to go, another 14g hops at end of boil.
-turn heat off. stir vigorously in one direction to form whirlpool. cover with lid and clean teatowel
-leave ~15min to settle
-run off slowly through tubing to 2x 10L sterilised "cubes". Use another clean teatowel as airfilter.

Normally only one "cube" (plastic carboy thing) is used. I couldn't get a 20L one and I struggle to lift 20kg in a controlled fashion anyway. I needed 1-2L more wort to fill the cubes, they should be totally full to exclude air. I just have to cross my fingers this time I don't get too much oxidation. Next time I need 1-2L more liquid prior to the boil, probably should scale up the recipe too as I seem to have ended up with pretty much exactly the target wort volume.

When the wort has cooled to 20C or less, I can proceed with the bit I'm used to doing- transfer it to the fermenter, pitch the yeast etc.

Monday evening:
transferred to fermenter and yeast pitched. Confusion about the tap being open when I thought it was closed led to the loss of a few hundred mls and a sticky floor. OG 1.042 at 19C, recipe says it should be 1.038. Wonder if higher is good? Means the mash worked anyway and I achieved decent "conversion".

Nov 13th
ferment slowed right down. density at 1.014. just past two week mark. 60 bottles. labels made but too tired to apply them. So 3.7%. more sediment than I would like in the early bottles, looked fairly clear after that.  Ferment temp mostly 20-22 with brief excursions to 24.

montjoye: (Default)
( Sep. 11th, 2012 10:33 am)

Papa asked me yesterday, "so do you drink all that beer you make?" Well, yes I do, with a little help from my friends. This led me to wondering, how many 'brews' *have I done over the last 2yrs(and a bit)?

I think the count is 12! **
In approximate order:

Harvest Cider 2010
Black Lager
English Ale- goldings hops
English Ale- bittering agent
Gold Lage
Hopped Mead
English Ale- styrian goldings
American Pale
British Ale
Harvest Cider 2012 (Son of Jethro)
Black Lager –mini mash
Rhubarb Champagne

Those crossed out are drunk and gone. There are a few left each of the next four, and the last three are new or newish. The black lager is now drinkable and rather yummy though there is more residual sweetness than I prefer. The new cider is still developing but is very promising and the Rhubarb is still carbonating of course.

and now there is a Witbier underway.
If this ends up tasting anywhere near as good as the spice bag smelled this morning- it will be great! I will say it is the first beer that actually tastes sort of good before the ferment. Mmm, fingers crossed. Starting density belatedly reporting in at 1.046.

*I think of them as brews, but most are really just ferments, at least thus far.
** It feels like there should be more, but I'm probably confused by my preserving adventures.


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