Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beer Review: XXXX Summer Bright Lager

Guide to review scoring is on the post Beeradvocate Ratings Systems
Unless otherwise specified, these reviews are my own.
XXXX Summer Bright Lager
American Adjunct Lager 4.2%
C- / 2.75   look: 2.5 smell: 2 taste: 3 feel: 2.5 drink: 4

Disclaimer: I received this beer as a gratuity from the brewer's marketing team.

Pours a pale straw yellow, not much bubbling. White rocky head that doesn't last long.

Innocuous aromas, macro sulfur. Some grain. Goes skunky in the glass pretty quickly. Therefore drink it from the bottle, not the glass.

Flavour is light and innoffensive. Neutral grain flavour that I find common across Asian lagers, Mexican beers, and Aussie "dry" styles. Slight green apple note. Doesn't have that cardboard character I tend to observe in other dry-style beers, so good for its class.

As expected, a very light mouthfeel, crisp finish. Almost like softdrink.

This beer will appeal to the wanna-be-seen crowd. Those who prefer more assertive flavours and mouthfeel should look elsewhere.

Serving type: bottle

Additional review notes, from Libby, Jono, Natalie:

Tasty, refreshing.... nice with a slice of lemon or lime perhaps.  Great beer to have with a curry, or on a hot summer's day. "I could drink this" say non-beer drinkers Libby & Natalie.

My initial blog entry for XXXX Summer Bright Lager is here

The New Kegerator

As Libby and I surveyed the bar area, we considered what we should do with a couple of bar fridges and empty space. After some deliberation, she advised that I "should" buy a kegerator.

Well, not one for arguing with my wife, I decided to do as I was told. For about $600 including freight (from Ballarat), found the following on the interweb-thingy:

After quick delivery and installation, here it is:

Dual-tap font, drip tray and railing. The column is not cooled; I think there are instances of people getting some sort of glycol circulation, but for the moment I'm happy to leave it as is. The temperature range is 2-8C, which also makes it a good fridge for lagering if needed.

The tap handles are screw-on, which allows changing. I have read about tap handles made out of blackboard; this is handy for any bar that changes what's on tap.

I've used paper wine bottle tags to identify the contents.

The fridge has room for a 50L brewery keg, which requires CO2 cylinder to sit outside the unit, feeding the gas through an inlet at the back. However, for the corny keg user, there is room for two 19L kegs plus a D-sized CO2 cylinder.

It's fairly easy to install, however it should be noted that one cannot easily find line clamps and crimping tools. My local Bunnigs doesn't have it; I think gas fitting supply outlets are needed. I made do with a few old clamps and an electrical wire stripper.

I currently have Dave's IPA and Double Coopers Ale on tap. It's just way too easy to get a beer these days.

Friday, August 27, 2010

XXXX Summer Bright Lager

Disclaimer: I received a 6 pack of XXXX Summer Bright Lager and some paraphenalia (hat, sunglasses, thongs), courtesy of the XXXX Summer Bright Lager team.

Was pleasantly surprised to be asked by "The XXXX Summer Bright Lager team" if I wanted a complimentary 6-pack of their latest brew. As I have not received any gift, gratuity or payment since starting blogging, I reckon it's about bloody time.

The Pack
According to the invitation, the beer was released last year in Queensland, and they're now making a foray south of the border. My colleague in Brisbane, Matt Kirkegaard has some things to say already about XXXX Summer Bright Lager, here: BeerMatt and here: Brews News.

A nice pack arrived yesterday, with some great Gen Y gear in it (white rimmed glasses, colourful baseball cap, and some oversized rubber thongs). But, it didn't look all that good on your Gen X correspondent, at least not in his wife's eyes. So I'll have to find some tattooed metrosexual to donate it all to..... any offers ?
The Gifts

I did advise the XXXX Summer Bright Lager team that I was not going to compromise my objectivity, in spite of their kind largesse.

It comes in a clear glass bottle, with thin plastic labelling. It looks as if it's directly competing with Sol.... whites and yellows and summer sun. Matt Kirkegaard does mention that it is targetted at the Corona drinker, so the packaging makes sense. Now, I don't generally like anything served in a clear bottle (some Brit Ales excepted), and I'm no fan of Mex Lager.... nor a fan of Low Carb lager.... so things aren't starting off too well.

The Beer
But.... it's actually not that bad. My wife even described it as "having flavour". I'll review it more formally in due course, but it's got some reasonable malt flavours, and some crisp fruitiness like green apple. Very light body of course, and dry finish, as per the style. At 4.2%, it's definitely for summer sessions.

XXXX Summer Bright Lager

An interesting curiosity is the inclusion of nutritional information on the bottle. I think this is the first time I've seen any such thing.

My formal review of XXXX Summer Bright Lager is here:

** EDIT 10 July 2011 **
I notice that there has been a lot of traffic to this post, particularly from India. I assume that this beer must now be available there. If you're reading this, and from India, feel free to post a comment.
Have you just seen this beer ? Have you tried it ? What are your thoughts ?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some progress on the Northern Beaches - Some......

In today's Manly Daily there is an eight page advertorial on the newly-renovated Collaroy Services Beach Club, now called "The Beach Club, Collaroy".

According to the advertisement, there are 18 beers on tap, and plenty more in the fridge.  I nearly fell off my kitchen stool. Draught deers include James Squires Pilsener, Porter, Sundowner and Matilda Bay Dogbolter, Fat Yak, and a 7% Mad Brewer Noir Stout. Little Creatures Bright Ale is on tap too, and among the bottled beers are Big Helga and Knappstein Reserve Lager.

Amazing selection for what used to be a Coopers-only kind of place (on top of the usual macro suspects).  So I dropped in, and sure enough, good beers for $5-$6 a schooner range for non-members. The club remains pretty much the way it was (I had to look hard to see what was renovated); the usual clique of smelly, hard-swearing racists, and a bistro that has never quite lived up to its potential.

Worth popping in for a slightly different beer range; I contemplated renewing my lapsed membership, but decided I wouldn't be there often enough to recoup my membership via discounted beers.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Double Coopers - The Result

Thanks to Hampers for reminding me to comment on this. And sorry for taking so long to read the comments.

As inferred in another recent post, I had a little secret I wanted to keep from my mates until a party last Sunday... I recently acquired a dual-font kegerator.

I have hooked up the Dave's IPA and the Double Coopers, and am particularly enjoying the latter. Some slight over-carbonation issues, but that's where a drip-tray comes in handy (included with the kegerator thankfully).

Dave's IPA has some nice malt backbone and bitterness. There is also a slight paperiness that I am worried might be oxidation at my end, but then again could be a hop character expressing itself. Not 100% sure.

As for the double Coopers, it has turned out very well. Definite Coopers Pale profile, maybe a touch more dextrinous body, and certainly a hint of alcohol. I recommend giving it a go.... 2 x tins of Coopers Pale Ale tins, 500g dry malt extract, and some healthy yeast. Cooler ferment, some time to settle, and onto the keg.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beer Review: Little Creatures Single Batch Brown Ale

Guide to review scoring is on the post Beeradvocate Ratings Systems
Unless otherwise specified, these reviews are my own.
Little Creatures Single Batch Brown Ale
American Brown Ale 5.4%
B+ / 3.95 look: 4 smell: 4 taste: 4 feel: 3.5 drink: 4

Best By 18 Mar 11.

Pours a pale beige, rocky head, which lingers and leaves a nice lace. Very little bubbling. Haze-free copper/chestnut with olive green highlights. Looks good in my Squires half-pint glass.
Nose initially very American: tropical fruit, guava, grapefruit, some kiwi also. Warming to a gamey funkiness reminiscent of the marsupial enclosure at the zoo. This is not a bad thing; simply indicative of the spicy volatiles. Quite appealing in fact.
The flavour is a complex experience. Up front, the hop continues to work the tropical theme, adding some stonefruit and honeydew. Follows this up with some biscuit & bread, and some caramel. After this comes a good hit of fresh, late hops. Warms into spearmint notes. Quite a journey, and rounded up with a reasonable bitterness.
Gently smooth up front, but with a distinct sherbetty tongue tingle. Proceeds smoothly, with the late hop giving a mid-palate sharpness. Not unattractive, mind you. Seems to end a bit short, with the front palate still zinging but nothing much happening at the back.
A high-brow offering. Lots to discover and discuss. I would have liked a touch more dextrinous back palate, but beyond that is a decent ale, worthy of a few pints.
Serving type: bottle

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dee Why Hotel - A lost opportunity

After being a construction zone for several years, the Dee Why hotel reopened over the weekend. Thought it wise to take a look.
The term "beer barn" immediately springs to mind, although prefixed with "modern"..... A large, dark, multi-space cavern, with distinct areas for gaming, sports TV, dining, drinking, smoking.... Lots of hard surfaces - cement, wood, brass, mirrors.
But what about the beer ? You would think that in the modern age, with micro breweries popping up everywhere, that a new establishment would grasp the nettle and try something different. And what are the better beers of Dee Why hotel ? On tap, Coopers Pale Ale and James Squire Golden Ale. By bottle, Little Creatures Pale Ale.
The pub is almost identical to the Belrose Hotel and (in beer range), the Newport Arms. No wonder, as they are all members of the Bayfield stable.
And what a disappointment. It goes to show two things 1) the beer-barn culture is alive and well and 2) Sydney's Northern Beaches remains a barren wasteland for decent establishments serving decent beer.
Given the choice of spending a sunny Sunday afternoon sitting in a dark, noisy hall, drinking ubiquitous beers, listening to a three-piece try-hard garage band slaughtering Fleetwood Mac & Womack v Womack covers (hard to do, admittedly, but carried out with aplomb yesterday).... or sitting on a deck at home, sipping home brew and listening to one's own musical preference, I know what I would rather.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Back into All-Grain

Having just kegged & chilled my two extract beers (more on that in a week's time), my interest in all-grain brewing has rekindled.

I paid a quick visit to Dave's Home Brew, picking up some pale malt, some wheat, and some Munich. Uhmed and aahed about the hops, but settled on some Amarillo for an American influence. Also got some Corny keg disconnects... but more on that in a week.... I'm trying to keep a secret until next Sunday.

Anyway, played around with different recipes, hoping to scratch out two brews from my total grain & hop supply.

The first brew will be an American Pale Ale:

3.00kg Pale Malt (base grain)
1.00kg Munich Malt (for some colour and bready/biscuity flavours)
0.50kg Wheat Malt (mainly for head retention when serving)
0.45kg Cara Malt 30L (for some more colour, and caramel/toffee flavours)

28g Perle (8.2 IBU - 60 minutes)
14g Amarillo (8.6 IBU - 10 minutes..... not after too much hop flavour... looking for hoppy nose, malt palate upfront, and bitterness at the back)
28g Amarillo (flameout)

Safale US-05

Copper Manifold
I use an esky for mash tun, with a copper pipe grid as the manifold for lautering the wort from the grain bed.

Sadly, I don't as yet have a devoted "hot liquor tank" aka boiler. I need to generate 15 litres of hot water using a 2 litre kettle. Painfully slow......

Mashing of the grains takes an hour (plus 25 minutes or so to add the water, and another 10 to cool it to "strike" temperature: 74C). Then it's the opening of a tap on the other side of the esky wall, and out pours, maybe, 5 litres of hot wort. The rest is still retained in the grain bed.

Mash to Boil Setup
So, need to sparge. There are many different approaches; I choose to simply boil another 8 litres of water and add to the grains, then drain off. And repeat this until I have 25 litres in the boiler.

It seems my destiny to brew on windy days.... I needed to hook up a protective shield with a couple of plastic tables. Even still, I don't think I got the heat up that was needed.

At the end of the boil (60 minutes) I had 23 litres (should have lost more water than that), but an Original Gravity of 1052. This means I had a brewhouse effiiciency of 81%, which is, on the face of it, outstanding. I think there might be something wrong with my calculations. Efficiency is a measure of how much fermentable wort was successfully extracted from the grains. The higher the better, of course.

Then in with the immersion chiller (the copper coil in the photo).  This is really awkward; I am seriously considering a counterflow chiller instead of having to use this cumbersome, messy, and unreliable method.

From the boiler I then syphon the cooled wort into the sanitised fermentor. Again, another risky inefficiency which I have subsequently improved by installing a ball-valve tap into the side of the boiler. Then in with the yeast, and she's off !

Now to plan the second recipe.... I plan to reuse the yeast cake in the fermentor, hence obtain a strong, vigorous ferment. So I will need to do another mash on the day I rack the beer from primary to secondary.

2.00kg Pale Malt
0.50kg Wheat Malt
0.27kg Special B Malt
0.19kg Chocolate Malt
1.50kg some specialty dark sugar.... I need this to bump up the volume of the fermentale's bill... I have barely 3kg to begin with..... I could in theory do a small batch...... don't know yet.....

28g home-grown Tettnang...... (60 minutes) IBUs unknown....Used these as dry-hops in another brew some time back. Hop to eek out any bitterness that remains.
14g home-grown Tettnang.......(10 minutes)
14g home-grown Tettnang.......(dry-hop)
My grain bill suggests a dark, malty beer. I think holding back the hops a bit may be a good plan.

We'll see anyway.......

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Crown Ambassador Reserve 2010

The third release of this remarkable beer is underway.

Matt Kirkegaard has a good yarn about a recent tasting, involving some notable folk and a range of Riedel glasses.

I enjoyed his appreciation of a certain descriptive phrase.....  it may also be found here:

The 1st release was $52.  The third release is $90.  I guess some of this can be attributed to the inclusion of some oak barrel-aged 2009.

But also, the last couple of years have seen a significant increase in the demand and supply of international super-premium beers: Nøgne Ø, Mikkeller, De Molen, Rogue XS to name a few.

It would appear Fosters are attempting to ride this wave. 

As with previous years, I expect the beer will appear at Dan Murphy's. I'm not sure how quickly the 2010 will move at this price point.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Article: Boiling Your Brew - The Reasons Why

My tenth obligatory article for the Suite101 site is a no-brainer: the many reasons for boiling the wort.
Slightly ironic considering one of my recent home brews was boil-free....

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Aussie Beer Blog