Friday, October 29, 2010

Brew Day: hefeweizen with homemade toasted malt

The results of the my recent hefeweizen were mixed.
Sweatshirt Black " Hefeweizen Is Health " Drinks X-LargeThe brew day went fairly well, and the plate chiller work superbly. However I think the resulting beer is too light in body, probably due to some oversparging and not enough boil time.

And an ounce of Perle seemed to create quite a bitter presence in the finished product, so will cut back on that in future.

So for today, I've got the remaining 2.5kg of Pale Malt and 2.5kg of Wheat Malt. But I've taken a tenth of each, mixed together, split into two, and toasted in a 175C oven.  The first went for an hour, and has come out nutty and darker than when it went in. The second got a soaking in hot water, then went in for a similar time. This produced some caramel, which seemed inclined to stick to the tray. Baking paper next time, I think.

German Wheat Beer (Classic Beer Style Series)Needed some quick repair on my mash tun (esky). The pipe through the outlet hole seems to not be sitting in the grommet as nicely as it used to, so as I was adding hot water pre-dough-in, I reckon most of it leaked out onto the ground. Quick trip to the hardware shop, and I picked up a long brass nipple, a couple of cistern outlet washers, and two brass nuts (all 15mm).  That settled it.

Mashed at lower temperature this time, doughing-in at 73.5, (opposed to 75.5).  Incremental batch sparging (8 litres hot water into the wort, lauter, then a 6 litre batch, and another). Brought the pre-boil volume to about 25 litres. Half ounce of hops, and an hour boil.

Spiegelau Beer Classics Wheat Glasses (Set of 2So, it's now in the fermenter, with yeast from the last batch. Should start up strongly, and with the current temperature in the low-mid 20's (C), should also kick off some good hefe aromatics.

I snuck in a quick taste, and there are distinct toasty, nutty flavours, over and above the wheat characteristics. This is reassuring, and possibly opens a new dimension in DIY brewing..... homemade crystal & toasted malts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Endeavour Beverages Reserve Ales

I recently received another sample pack, this time from Endeavour Brewing, a newly formed beer marketing company based in Macquarie Centre, Sydney.

The beers on offer being:

2 x 2010 Endeavour Reserve Pale Ale
2 x 2010 Endeavour Reserve Amber Ale

Very attractive packaging, and fancy bottles. The media release states that these beers will develop of 2-3 years..... hmmm..... not so sure about that.

Darren dropped in for a quick taste, and we determined that these beers were, on the main, average. The claims for cellaring are dubious to say the least.

But, the gesture from the company is appreciated.

In the spirit of constructive criticism, I offered my thoughts back to them. They are as follows (no reply as yet):

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the tasting pack. I shared it with a beer loving mate, and we took down some notes.

In the spirit of providing frank and fearless advice, I wish to provide you with my feedback before I publish it on my blog.

Pale Ale
Looks good and has a wonderful fruity aroma, typical of its hop varieties. But it seems to go missing on the palate. And the mouthfeel seems quite dry and quick finish; for me it's not really that satisfying (but hey, I drink Russian Imperial Stout and Double IPAs, so maybe I'm desensitised !).

It seems to a have a foot in two camps: American pale ale fruitiness, and Dry/Blonde styles popular with Gen-Y. In this sense, it will be popular with this crowd, and maybe with the females, with the fruity perfume on the nose appealing, but the palate light, dry, crisp, and 'contemporary'.

If that's your target market, well done.

Amber Ale
Again, looks appealing. Aromas seem quite focused on chocolate & caramel. Touch resinous as you describe in your media release. I can't really pick up the distinctive Pride of Ringwood metallic/spicy profile, but the resin note is evident. Taste is again quite chocolaty, but seems a bit 2-dimensional. Perhaps you should throw in some English noble hops e.g. East Kent Goldings or Fuggles.... give it a third dimension and some interest.

I detect an attempt at appealing to the Gen-Y drinkers; give them a "different" style but not overburden their distraction-driven minds with complexity. So, give them chocolate, give them alcohol.... and give them a bottle that appears very sophisticated.

I seriously dispute your claims about aging these beers. The pale ale is too light on alcohol, and has no malt or hop structure to support change over time. The amber may take up some raisin/sherry notes as it ages.... but again at 5.2% doesn't have enough 'preservative' to see it into a second year. I'm happy to be proven wrong .......

Overall.... hats off to your packaging. Looks good, and assuming I'm correct regarding your target market, you're probably onto a winner. Price is a challenge, but not for the wanna-be-seen trainee stockbroker crowd. Just remember how fickle these guys are.... you'll be history in 3 months.

Again, thanks for the taster, and best wishes,

Michael Vanderlaan

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Declining beer sales: the good news

Interesting read in Monday's Sydney Morning Herald:

The opening sentence:

AUSTRALIAN drinkers have turned their backs on beer at an unprecedented rate, shunning both traditional brands and new hip labels, to post in August one of the biggest volume declines in recent history and threatening the earnings of Foster's, Lion Nathan and smaller players such as Coopers.

But..... a few paragraphs later:

Mr Bowley said these drivers included consumers dumping beers such as VB or Tooheys for imports and boutique beers.  ''Step-up brands and premium offerings typically have smaller bottle sizes [355ml and 330ml] than regular mainstream brands [375ml]. The recent acceleration in the shift from mainstream to premium will contribute to reduced consumption,'' he said.

Ostensibly a bad news article (it was, after all, published in the Business section). However, it's good for supporters of quality beer. Notwithstanding the implication that beer consumption is down due to bottle size, the shift from "mainstream to premium" is a positive sign. Note the "blame" is bottle size, not the cost thereof.

What also interests me is the writer's implication that "new hip labels" are different to premium brands. The former is on the decline with the macros, while the latter is increasing (relatively, I expect). It would be interesting to know what constitutes "new and hip", and what constitutes "premium".

A downside is the inclusion of Coopers in the list of decliners. I find this difficult to swallow, considering the amount of Coopers that's consumed these days at my local surf club.......

Perhaps we can correlate certain Coopers lines with the "new and hip"..... read Coopers Clear and Coopers 62 Pilsner. How would Coopers perform if they did not have these Gen-Y pleasers in their stable ?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Beer Review: De Molen Porter

Guide to review scoring is on the post Beeradvocate Ratings Systems
Unless otherwise specified, these reviews are my own.
De Molen Porter
English Porter 5.8%

B+ / 3.95  look: 4 smell: 4 taste: 4 feel: 3.5 drink: 4

Picked up at Platinum Cellars, North Strathfield, Sydney.

Plain black-on-white label, giving me lots of information about the beer: original and final gravities, colour, bittering units, hops etc. Mentions that this is an "Original 1914 Recipe London-Style Porter", and that it will be good for 5 years.

Brewed February 11 2009. Bottled March 14 2009. Bottle number 090.

a) Tan, rocky head. Very dark brown with ruby highlights when the light passes through.
s) Rich caramel and chocolate. Hint of age, with some raisins and preservd fruit coming through.
t) Significant malty-complex flavour profile. A touch of ash, and what also appears to be a slight lactic sourness. Nicely balanced bitterness.
m) Fairly light body, with a touch of astringency.
d) The flavour is quite a talking point, and the slight sourness and dryness makes this very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

Hefe Brew Day

A lovely still-ish day in northern Sydney, so a good time to kick off a brew. I haven't yet tried my plate chiller, so plenty of interest today.

I'm brewing a hefeweiss, as it's my wife's favourite (mine also). This is arguably the simplest recipe I've brewed to date:

2.5 kg Pale Malt
2.5 kg Wheat Malt
28g Perle (60 minutes)
Safbrew WB-06 wheat ale yeast

One thing I like about hefe is the mouthfeel and slight semblance of sweetness. Most recipes call for a touch of Munich for colour & biscuity/bready notes, or a little crystal/cara for some caramel sweetness. But this recipe will produce a pale beer, with some mechanical adjustments needed to get more mouthfeel and sweetness.

I normally mash my grains at 65-67C, which generates a higher proportion of fermentable wort than higher temperatures. Since I want some more body and sweetness (provided by more complex carbohydrates), I'll mash at 69C, which requires a strike temperature (today) of 75.5C. This results in a "thicker" beer, and not as much alcohol post-ferment.

So, I'm at that stage. 15 litres of hot water has been put into the mash tun, stirred to cool to strike temp, and the grain stirred in. I'm now sitting back, catching up on some blogging, and gaining inspiration by having a taste of the benchmark: Weihenstephaner.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trip to Canberra

G'day all, long time no chat, mainly due to an inconvenience known as employment.

Just returned from a long weekend in Canberra, staying in a winery guesthouse just off the Barton Highway near Hall. Although a lot of wine was tasted and purchased, I always ensure a brewery visit or two when in Canberra

Firstly, on Friday got into my favourite place in the ACT - the Wig and Pen. Had a brief yarn with the brewer, Richard Watkins, learning a couple of interesting things. He has a Flemish Red ale underway, not unlike Rodenbach he says. Still needs another 6 months in wine barrels, but sounds fantastic.  He's pretty keen on the old Brettanomyces, so is also planning an Orval-style Belgian Ale.

Bock (Classic Beer Style Series ; 9)While chatting he scrounged me up a sample of the Russian Imperial Stout. Still this country's best example, in my opinion. Other than that, I feasted upon the W&P pale ale, the Brewer's IPA, Belgian Blonde wit, Bulldog Best Bitter, and the Aviator double bock, which is rich in fancy dark malts (I thought I picked up Special B, but Richard had already returned to work so I couldn't ask him). After these tasters I returned to the Pale Ale, which is fresh as a daisy and drinking so well.

Had a Ploughman's Lunch for $12.90, which was the perfect accompaniment for a pint of bitter.

Yesterday, paid my first visit to Zierholz Premium Brewery, located (as with many breweries) in the industrial part of town. Fyshwick has pretty much everything for the discerning gent, so a brewery is just what you need among the porn factory outlets and full-body massage parlours.

Beer Tips and AdviceThe place was jumping. Barely a table remained in the bistro, but the family managed to squeeze into a spot next to a familiar-looking bloke.... a barman from the Wig & Pen.
As with all good breweries, you can order a flight of the beer range, including the Schankbier (low alcohol), German Ale (kolsch), Pilsner, Hopmeister, Amber Ale (Alt bier), Porter, and Weizen.
Libby enjoyed the Weizen, as I did too. I think it was the stand out of the range. The kolsch was pretty good too. The food wasn't to shabby either, with a Weisswurst and sauerkraut just the thing to accompany the wheat beer.

I wouldn't say that Zierholz beer is outstanding; I would say , however, that it is of high quality, and very brewery-fresh.

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