montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 25th, 2016 12:56 pm)

I feel the Montjoye beer stocks are getting thin. So to help decide what next to brew, I've just been through the cupboards and done a stocktake. There is still a great deal of booze!

13 PET bottles of Golden ale. This is 49 x 330ml serve equivalents. I'll take this to parties and events in the prompt.
the rest are all in small glass bottles, 330ml or near that.
7 of Little Teapot stout- nice to drink in cold weather, and works well in a stew.
9 of Amiable Ale English mild- best drunk unchilled but I think this has gone too fizzy to take to parties now- like much of my brewing sadly
16 Twice Bitten dry amber lager. This has been very popular. I think it goes down better in hot weather, so this might sit for a while.
2 Free Falling pale ale (hopped with Cascade only, hence the name). Other people seem to like this. I think it's a bit boring.
7 Festival ale (English best bitter)
6 golden ale. This was supposed to be pretty much the same as the one above, but I think there was a mix up with the grain. It turned out weak and I added "adjunct" to strengthen it
36 Merry Measure brown ale. I like it, it's a lighter take on a brown. It wasn't hugely popular at the CF tasting, some thought it sat between styles.
So 83 serves of beer in glass. Plus the PET makes 132 serves (plus the few bottles in the fridge, which I didn't count)

13  of the 2015 apricot cider- likely the most popular thing I've made yet.
55 or so of 2016 apricot cider not yet bottled.
36 mulberry cider. Really too dry to be pleasant to drink. It might develop. Works fine in cooking.
56 a full batch of the new ciderry
Which makes160 serves of cider.

Or 292 serves of booze, not counting the various macerated spirituous things in the pantry, or the bits and pieces of mead and fruit wine.

Writing this confirms that what I am short on is pale ale. So the next brew will be a pale, hopped with Citra, which I haven't used yet but comes recommended by Rurik. I'll see how that tastes, but I have only a precious couple bottles of my favourite- a Nelson Sauvin hopped beer (this one is a lager, but I prefer it done as a pale ale). So I'll probably make one of those too.

I'd like to redo the brown ale that tasted AMAZING at 18mths old, and lay it down for... in 18mths time. This started out quite hoppy and sweet. The last bottle I drank had developed raisin flavours and was really smooth. Yum, I want more of that if I can manage it.

I'd also like to try something like the amber lager as an ale. I think that would land somewhere near a Little Creatures pale.

Well, that's four brews planned, that'll do for now.

montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 8th, 2016 08:43 pm)
2.5 litres apricot juice/pulp (yield from 4kg after freezing, defrosting and squishing through a brew bag, last year yield was 3L)*
(no campden or pectinase, first time without, lets see if we get haze problems?)
18 litres clear apple juice (Aldi)
4g wine yeast nutrient
champagne yeast

starting density 1.045, yeast pitched today.
27th April, 1.004.

*so in 2015 I think I managed two rounds of freeze and defrost. I also simmered the apricots a bit to help release the juice, but panicked that it would ruin the flavour or cause haze. Neither of these feared problems eventuated, I got an extra half litre of apricot juice and one of my best drinks ever. Lesson in that for 2017. 2016 fruit only had one extended freeze.
Some time ago, I aquired a refractometer in order to be able to measure brew densities more quickly and using less volume than the hydrometer needs. I was warned that refractometers only work for "density" (really a conversion of sugar concentration in water) when alcohol is not present. I was inspired to run a little test on the last three beers I made. The starting density measurements matched really well between the two methods, but further on in the process, not so much. My very limited test suggests that the two methods differ increasingly with increasing alcohol content results below. So I'll use the refractometer for OGs, but not use it at all after the ferment starts.

montjoye: (Default)
( Apr. 4th, 2016 01:29 pm)
I got sick of cleaning things, so I've broken that up with setting up my next brew. This is that 20L of apple and pear juice that I scored for $1/L. It's 37.5% pear juice 'cause I cleared the shelves of the 50:50 mix and had to buy some plain apple to make up 20L. It's Berri brand clear juice.

The yeast is Vintner's Harvest SN9 which several people on Lochac brewers recommended as good for cider, leaving a fuller mouthfeel. So I'm doing a very simple ferment to test it. My brew stash doesn't have any simple cider left so this is needed anyway. I do still have a few last bottles of strong home pressed "harvest" cider, about half a case of apricot cider and quite a lot of the very dry mulberry cider. The latter I'm thinking of as primarily cooking booze.

OG 1.043
April 12th, no gloop, 1.004, some spritzig
April 21st, still no gloop, spritzig faded, 1.005, 5.0% abv, bottled.

June 8th
Reporting in on how this went. I call it a success. Nice soft mouthfeel, definitely less dry than with champagne yeast. Fairly light flavour, but it is only cheap commercial juice. I under dosed the carbonation sugar so it's low fizz. Must remember that my ciders don't have the same late ferment issue that many of my beers suffer.

montjoye: (Default)
( Jan. 29th, 2016 01:56 pm)
This is the damson vodka after 16 days. Something about the colour inspired me to look up whether making gin by steeping is a thing. Turns out it is! So I went mad and added 10g juniper berries, about 1/2t coriander seed, 1 cardamon pod (these all crushed a bit) and a fingertip piece of cinnamon. I should try it in a week to see how it tastes. 'Speriment!

Apparently traditional pink gin is just regular gin with a dash of angostura bitters.


strained a week later on 5th Feb


take the booze soaked fruit, wipe off the gin botanicals, pop into a saucepan, barely cover with water, bring to a simmer for 10min. Moule to remove stones.

take the resulting 500ml of slush back to the saucepan. Add 300g sugar. Stir to dissolve, bring to a boil for 10min, bottle.


In early March, the liquor tasted wonderful. Very fruity and the juniper and vanilla were nicely obvious. It was better cut with soda water than straight.
In July, these pleasant flavours had faded away, leaving sharp flavours. I've just (10th July) added some vanilla bean bits from the vanilla sugar jar, and another 10g of juniper.

and strained two weeks later. oops. The recipes I've read suggest infusing between a day and a week.
I'm so pleased with what I've done today that I have to write it down

-cleaned the fermenter and associated gear from the mild ale (bottled yesterday)
-labelled the bottles and got them neatly into the cupboard
-woman handled a bunch of beer cartons into more sensible arrangements
-weeded the front garden
-cut and assembled(minus hem) a simple frock out of very pretty fabric. I think it needs jazzing up but I'll sleep on that thought.
-swept down* the front of the house including both doors.
-swept down the back verandah area including both doors.
-put a coat of varnish on the back step**
-put two coats of decking oil on the old saw bench**

Hmm, I probably should have swept the floor out the back before I started with the varnish. Too late now until it dries.

*the dirt around my place is black clay and my house is painted cream. So it gets coated quite heavily with dark grey dust. The main road doesn't help matters.
**it's only taken me 8 years to get around to doing these
montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 26th, 2015 11:46 am)
A attempted repeat of a successful 'speriment

3 litres apricot juice/pulp (yield from 4L after freezing, defrosting and squishing through a brew bag)
treat apricot with campden and pectinase for 36hr at ~12deg *
18 litres clear apple juice (Aldi)
4g wine yeast nutrient
champagne yeast

starting density 1.049, yeast pitched today. I'm concerned about the health of this yeast. It sank and didn't foam on hydrating. I can always repitch if it doesn't take off. (it was fine, and champagne yeast since then has behaved like this for me)

*1 campden tablet, 1/2t pectinase. 24hrs in a warm place-except like last time it was more like 35hrs in a cool place.

Fermented at ~16C. Only took ~11days.
FG 1.005
ABV 5.7%
montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 24th, 2015 09:57 pm)
I should be sewing, for a certain value of "should", but my brain has turned to brewing. I bottled and labelled the Vin Lager on  Monday. Now both fermenters are now empty and clean. I now have three brews in development (yeh, I shall have to borrow a fermenter to do all of them at once).

-I've claimed the ~3kg of overripe apricots that 10B had picked and was storing for me in his freezer. These turned into 4L of defrosted volume that I then heated to a bare simmer, said heating might have been a mistake. That has now been separated into ~2.5L of mostly juice and ~1.5L of mostly pulp. The juice is being treated with campden tablet and pectinase* prior to being combined with a bunch of apple juice and being fermented into apricot cider. The pulp I reckon would be good in crumbles and pies, so that is back in the freezer.

-I've done the design, ordering and grain collection for a new lager. This will be a version of Brooklyn Brewery recipe for what they call a pre prohibition lager. I'm doing a bit of hop cupboard clearing again but the malts follow the recipe closely. Last time I combined this with a Vienna lager recipe. This time I'm going with Brooklyn's design. It has a combination of German and American hops.

-The new and third plan is to make a small beer off this lager. This would augment the 2 remaining PET bottles of small beer that is all I have to offer at the next tavern night (along with 5 bottles of "big" beer). Should I experiment and use the German hops from the lager brew? Thus far all my small beers have had English hops. This small beer plan meant that I didn't mash today because I couldn't start early enough. I think I'm going to save the double mash exercise for Friday and go button hunting tomorrow.

I have my fingers crossed for an EOFY sale at the brew shop. I have a proto list ready just in case. I think they did one last year but they don't advertise their sales in advance, for obvious reasons.

Next beer plans are I think for a new Scottish ale and some sort of English ale. More reading and thoughts required. I ought do a bottle review. Bottle stocks might not be up to my production plans.

At some point I should write up my thoughts and web search bits about early malt.

*to kill any wild yeasts and bacteria and remove haze compounds.

Further adventures in blue:

-The blue hood is now wearable, even worn. It still needs a tablet woven border on the buttonhole edge to be considered finished.
-The blue frock just needs the buttons sewn on (tonight is the plan), and probably a similar border.
-I hope to aquire thread for these borders tomorrow.
-I’ve made a few changes to the belt design and done the first stage of warp preparation. The buckle still hasn’t arrived but I can usefully thread the cards before it does. Green has morphed into grey, simply because the grey is a better match for thread weight. Blue has changed places with green/grey and now also has a red dot in the middle. It also has contingency for needing to drop cards to manage the width. Late breaking news: the buckle has arrived!
pics )

In other news:
-I didn't have patterning brain available this morning, so no brown jacket progress.
-I’ve been attacked by a sudden design for a loose coat for the small length of coral coating from Job warehouse. That fabric is now found, washed, dried and pressed.
-The latest beer(Vin Lager) is ready to bottle. Maybe that is the next task.
-I will go to midwinter, to see the visitors if nothing else. If I have a bad enough time, I shan't go to further investiture events (I'm "allergic" to court these days)
-I do have a wearable warm german frock, so i shan't plan to make a new one for the good food feast. It's not maximum spekky but it will do. Of course I may yet suffer a rush of enthusiasm and make one anyway.

Brew chores needed todayish. Writing them down to help with prioritisation.

Bottle apricot mead. I'm pretty sure it's finished. It's been fermenting for two weeks and pressure has equalised.
Clean that fermenter. and bottling gear
Find out if the fermenter owners want it back, or if I can use it for one of the tavern worts

I think the lager ferment can just sit for another week. It's also had two weeks so far. It still has positive pressure but is barely bubbling if at all. This one is in mrsbrown's fermenter.

Set up the tavern beer to ferment-my fermenter
Set up the small beer to ferment
- japester's (who kindly said I should hang on to this so it gets to make brews :-), so I can give doushkasmum's one back.
Clean cooling cubes from these two

then I need to do a general tidy, and recombobulate cutting table into guest bed
montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 30th, 2014 11:08 am)
Golly, there are 17 different types of alcoholic beverage of Montjoye construction in Montjoye Manor stocks at the moment. Admittedly this is counting the two still only partly fermented. 6 beers, 2 small meads, 3 ciders, 2 fruit wines, 4 spirit based fruit things. Some of these are close to full batches, some halfish, some with very little left. I wrote the list to help direct my thoughts to sensible choices for next brews. I must check my list of beers and brews from the beginning. It would be nice to note milestone points as they pass. … Ah, I’ve finished 32 ferments, with two more underway and 2 mashes planned for tomorrow.

Drinking now or soon
Amber lager(still fermenting)
Brown ale
Small honey beer
Scotch Ale
Antipodean vPA
Wier Bine (my favourite!)
Apricot sparkling small mead (still fermenting)
Piquant ginger small mead
Aged harvest cider 2yrs (Son of Jethro)
Aged harvest cider 1yr (Livery)
Apricot wine
Damson wine

Not ferments but still alcoholic:
Damson Gin
Damson Sherry
Apricot Brandy
Orange Bitters

Brews planned to mash tomorrow

(Tavern Red) if any leftovers
(Tavern Small) ditto

Thoughts for next brews?
Wier Bine II –higher mash temp, more late hops, but still smaller than the Pilsner version
Trad APA –full bodied, lots of hop flavour
Antipodean very pale II- aim for less bitter?
Vienna SMASH of some kind?- to learn the grain- maybe half batch experiment?
Munich something- to learn the grain- maybe half batch experiment?
Medjeeval beer+small (more thoughts on malt mix, above two would be educational)
Chocolate Stout (maybe not until autumn)
French/Belgian ale?- find some tasting examples first.

But before I can do any more brews, either a bunch needs to get drunk or I need to collect more bottles.
montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 27th, 2014 09:14 am)
While slightly under the influence last Friday night, I volunteered to make beer for an event. Mrsbrown asked "what would make this event fun for you", or words to that effect. My first answer was "clothes that fit", closely followed by "making a brew for it". So... a few days later, I have done more reading, decided on a brew and ordered the grain.

I'm going to have a second try at what I was attempting for last festival. This time I will order the correct grain and not mix it up with a second recipe. This is the Irish Red recipe from Classic Styles, with a few small changes. I've halved the amount of roast barley because the type I can get is darker than the one the recipe calls for. I've swapped out a little of the pale malt for smoked malt. I'm going very cautious on the smoked, don't panic. A proper rauch beer recipe has 33% beech smoked malt. I'm only using 5%.

Nods to 16/17th century brewing:
-Low levels of specialty malts. The old recipe I'm looking at just says "malt". I've read some things that suggest early malts were all dark. Others think it was paler but likely mixed in with some bits that got too hot. Wood smoke was almost certainly involved.
-a smallish amount of low alpha acid English hops, added only at the start of the boil.

I'm not using historical mashing technique though. I'm not set up for gravity mashing. So I'm aiming at a line somewhere between authenticity and a tested recipe. I also don't want to serve anything much higher than 5% alcohol for safety/health/limiting intoxication reasons. The old recipe has twice the malt, which would mean something less than twice the alcohol (efficiency of sugar extraction drops with higher grain to water ratio). Later, when not under pressure as the only brew for an event, I'll have a go with these ratios and see what happens. I'd like to know better how to imitate the old malt though.

I'm still evolving my plan for the small beer. I think I'll keep it simple and not use either honey or spices. If it comes out a bit tasteless, I can steep the orange and spice and add it in later.
Well, probably more like "Apricot Sparkling Small Mead". I'm still experimenting with alcoholic things to do with the annual apricot crop. The other inspiration this year is another kilo jar of Baggytrousers own honey. All home grown! including the lemons- juice gleaned over time from various sources.

The recipe is informed by three of my previous brews: Apricot wine, Apricot cider and Honey beer.

. IMG_4082

Proposed Apricot Champagne mead
3kg apricots
~half cup lemon juice ice cubes
Half cup strong black tea
Defrost, mouli
1 tsp pectinase
1 campden tablet
Combine, cover, wait 24hrs. (ready tonight)

~1kg honey
Say 3L water
Heat, boil 5min, skim, cool

All to fermenter, make up to 10L
2g? Wine yeast nutrient
Champagne yeast

While I wait for the campden tablet to do it's work, I have the honey sitting in a jar of hot water to aid in it's extraction.

Will need to rack before bottling, but the apricot cider worked well and that sat on the pulp for a couple weeks before racking. So doing this at the same time as a beer should be ok, hmm, except the lager may take longer. At the worst, I’ll have to buy or borrow another fermenter.

This all went to the fermenter first thing Monday 18th. OG 1.052 or a little higher, the pulp I think was causing problems getting a good reading.

Now ferment has started, the pulp is floating, borne by the bubbles.

Bubbling seemed to be inhibited by this pulp layer. Funny, I expected it to sink. After a week the ferment had slowed. Ran the lower clear liquid off to a clean fermenter (7.5L in 30L pot looks lonely).  Within a few hours that was bubbling slowly but more evenly. Strained the remaining liquid (~1L) through cloth to a PET bottle (not sure it is sterile). It can ferment there and get bottled if it seems ok

2 weeks ferment.
Finished at a gravity of 1ish so ~6.5% alcohol.
Bottled into 23 small stubbie bottles*, sugar charged. Very pale, not much apricot colour left.
Flavour rather strange. Not horrid but not pleasant either. Might have overdone the lemon juice? Let’s give it some time and see how it goes. There is hope. The apricot wine of 18mths ago started as evil rocket fuel and is now pleasant to drink.

*two bottle are from the PET secondary- lids marked with three dots

montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 16th, 2014 03:53 pm)
I did the Substitution Lager mash today. I do like mash day, it feels so purposeful. The colour seems to be at the dark end of amber to my eye. Brewsmith thought it would be at the pale end of amber. Hmm. However, mash temps were excellent, only lost one degree and the density came out pretty much bang on target. Yay me! Taste is fairly hoppy, bit of caramel. I'm feeling hopeful.

. .

I'm supposed to be out, but I finished up a bit late, and I'm feeling heavy headed and insular. Brewingly insular it seems. There has been an apricot mead plan floating about in my head for ages. I've finally settled on a recipe today, the apricots are out of the freezer and defrosting as I type.

Also as I type, I'm drinking the last of my "Time will tell" robust porter. In a week, the new brown ale should be ready to drink.

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)
( Aug. 9th, 2014 03:55 pm)
Thank you!
-to previous me! for writing and posting tasting notes on lagers last year. I now remember the lager I was tempted by then but didn't make, was some sort of clone of Brooklyn Lager.

"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."

-also to the generous brew master Mr Oliver who published the recipe for this!!

I've fiddled with the recipe, but at least I had a starting point. My brew shop doesn't stock one of the hops. Really, I wanted to use up all the bits of left over hops in the fridge. This should clean up my collection right well. Lets hope it also tastes ok. I've also tweaked the grain to deliver a mid range result on major measures for the Vienna Lager style. Hurrah for Brewsmith making this easier.  Having got that far, I've also now ordered the grain for pickup during the week.
montjoye: (Default)
( Aug. 5th, 2014 07:52 pm)

Oh my goodness. I actually managed to do useful things on a Monday night! I made up my bircher muesli for the rest of the week. Then I bottled the small beer and cleaned up both the bottling gear and the kitchen. This was all good. Following that up with reading until way too late was less useful, though fun.

Tonight I think will be less productive. I have managed though to print the labels for the latest two brews:

smugglers fancy      Wee Bee Beer

The last two are now drinkable. I'm pretty happy with the cider, as a not-really-cider drinker, and Wier Bine is posssibly the best beer I've made yet.

Ciderry      Wier Bine

and the previous two: Gloaming(Scotch ale) and Lightly Bright(APA) are also on the menu.

Plus some other bits and pieces from prior experiments.

I begin to think that perhaps some sort of brew tasting might be a good birthday celebration? I need to get some of this drunk so I can brew some more! Must think on that. A ploughman's platter, brew tasting thingo? there is chutney to eat too :-).

montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 8th, 2014 01:31 pm)
I've just put 10L each of pear and apple juice to a fermenter with a sachet of Nottingham Ale yeast.
OG 1.051
The density sample is pretty tasty, especially split with soda.

The pear juice was got cheaply from the Shep factory shop and is cloudy. The apple juice is clear and $1/L fromthe A store. Both full juice, no added sugar and preservative free.

I was originally going to combine the pear juice with apricots, but after thinking about their respective ripening/picking seasons, I ditched that idea. They are not natural partners. The apricots ripen at new year and the pears several months later in autumn. Of course with modern freezers etc we can put them together if we wish, but I decided not to. So the revised plan simply pairs the pears with apples :-). 'Tis my latest experiment, and if it turns out well, I'll try to keep some aside for MrsBrown at festival next year.

IMG_3717 IMG_3720

montjoye: (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2014 05:01 pm)
This is especially for Anti Ob, by request.

One newly cleared verandah. Yay. That little folding table doesn't even normally live there. Note the black metal chair neatly tucked under the work bench.

more pics )

And done. Does that satisfy your curiosity Ob? Any questions? I also do a sparge step that I didn't take pictures of. Basically pouring water of the right temp over the grain bag in the last stages of draining while the bulk of the wort is heating to boil.

Tonight I put the wort to a fermenter and pitch the yeast.

montjoye: (Default)
( May. 30th, 2014 10:01 pm)
Yay. I did all the beer things tonight that I hoped to.

Three things bottled:

Scottish Ale
4doz and 7. ~4.5% alcohol.
A nice, clean, not very dark, ale. Still suspicious that it and the festival big beer might have had their specialty malts mixed up in some random way. Maybe, maybe not. Still, this one seems to taste pleasant and we drank almost all the festival beer.

American (very) Pale Ale
5doz. 5.1% alcohol
This is a brew from scratch version of the American pale I once made from the G+G "artisan wort". I liked it lots. 10B made special mention that he liked that one too. The more true to style American pale ales are bigger, fuller. This is closer to what I think of an Australian craft APA.

Weird small batch small beer
2x500ml. <2% alcohol.
Made from 1L wort left over from festival brewing, with a hefeweizen yeast I didn't expect to otherwise use. Brew vessel was a 1.25L PET bottle :-). I haven't tasted this yet. I'll wait at least the 2wks carbonation time and then choose some brave fellow tasters.

I've also set up the new mash rig ready to go for tomorrow's brew. There is a new proper eye bolt for the pulley, new rope with an experimental detachable and therefore washable bit. This is to be able to clean off the sugary wort so the rope doesn't stay perpetually manky. There is also a new (to me) metal chair that will be used as the urn bench, so I don't have to carry out my medjeeval box, or get it covered in sticky wort.

Clean up and labelling can happen in between brewing tasks tomorrow. Too tired now.



montjoye: (Default)


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