Aug 132010

Well the Celebration Lager I brewed last month seems to have failed miserably and it’s my fault for pitching tired old lager yeast.

What happened was I pitched a smack pack of Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager with a manufacturing date of July 2009 without making a starter and without smacking the pack. I left it at 20 degrees Celsius with the intention of dropping it down to 10 once fermentation started.

3 days later I finally saw some signs of fermentation and dropped the temperature down before heading off on holiday for 8 days, upon my return I pulled out the trusty refractometer and nada, the gravity hasn’t moved. Interestingly the slants I made from the yeast smack pack show no/limited signs of life also.

Theory: Whatever started the fermentation was not the yeast but something else that stopped working at the lower temp.

Regardless I have pitched a starter of Wyeast 1335 British Ale II that I had in the fridge as a contingency plan and bumped the temp back up to 20 degrees. We’ll see what happens.

I don’t see this one being suitable for the wedding though so this weekend I’ll put down a new brew “JP’s Pale Ale” using a similar hopping schedule that should be a great substitute.

Big, healthy starters for all future lagers (and ales for that matter!)… not like I didn’t know that already but we all get disorganised sometimes. If only I didn’t have a full time job to get in the way of the brewing ;-).

Jul 242010

Brewing today and I’ve been asked to brew a beer for the upcoming wedding of my fiancées sister, as neither of the couple are really beer drinkers I’m thinking light, fruity, crisp, refreshing… something between a Knappstein and a Mac’s Hop Rocker.

New Zealand hops seem like a no brainer for this one – Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka flowers should do the trick.

A simple grain bill, mostly Pilsner malt with a touch of crystal malt for colour and subtle flavour.

A nice lager yeast, it just so happens I have a smack pack of Wyeast 2124 sitting in the fridge that should do nicely.

So, the recipe:

23l Batch

5kg Weyermann Pilsner
0.4kg Weyermann Carahell

Single Infusion, Batch Spage @ 68 deg C for 60 minutes

90 Minute Boil

22g Nelson Sauvin Hop Flowers (11.4%AA) @ 60min

15g Nelson Sauvin Hop Flowers (11.4%AA) @ 15min
15g Riwaka Hop Flowers (5.4%AA) @ 15min

15g Nelson Sauvin Hop Flowers (11.4%AA) @ 0min
15g Riwaka Hop Flowers (5.4%AA) @ 0min

Ferment something like:

10 days @ 10 deg C
1 day @ 14 deg C (diacetyl rest)
20 days @ 0 def C (lagering)

A bit of an experiment but on paper it looks delicious! I just hope I can resist drinking it until the wedding in October!

Jul 232010

I can’t say too much but I’m excited to report that the concept plans for the new site are looking excellent. Lots could change between now and when the ground is broken to start the building but at this stage it’s looking like a perfect layout… this will be worth the wait!

Jul 072010

Bad news. It looks like the proposed brewery site is not going to work out.

Along with a number of technical challenges (no mains water, lack of 3 phase power) it looks like bureaucracy might win out with the key sticking point being that the area has some special environmental rules due to it’s use as a water catchment zone.

So, the hunt is on for a new site with the best option so far being a new development down south that’s current in the planning stages. The site has some definite advantages over the old one:

  • Will be a retail outlet (bar/cellar door & restaurant) where the old site would have been brewery only
  • Located in a populated/growing area
  • Mains water/3 phase power will be available
  • New development so it can be fit out to the specs required for a brewery and council approval should be simpler
  • Being built/developed by family so leasing options etc. should be easy enough

It’s definitely got potential, but the downside is it’s around 3 years away from being completed.

Still, time has the advantage of allowing my partner and I to better organise ourselves. I guess for now though it’s back to the home brewery…

May 132010

Did you know hops can be fatal to some breeds of dogs?

This is something I already knew but it’s worth repeating for all those home brewers out there who also own dogs.

I read a post over on reminding me of this a couple of days ago and there’s also an anecdote on from a home brewer who’s dog was lucky to survive getting stuck into some hops.

Personally I always dispose of my kettle trub containing the spent hops in my green “garden waste” recycling bin. That way there’s never a danger that these guys will get into it:

May 032010

Had my first bottle bomb ever this morning.

The cause? An infected batch of Heffe I brewed a couple of months back. I knew it was infected because I’d already thrown a keg off the vile stuff onto the orange tree a week or two ago but for some reason I’d neglected to empty the contents of two long necks I had left conditioning in the dining room. That could have been a very costly mistake.

The bottle explosion was triggered by my partner brushing one of the bottles with her foot while walking past it. The explosion was loud enough to hear upstairs under the running water of the shower and big enough to send glass and beer a good 6+ metres in every direction all of which somehow managed to avoid hitting her.

I won’t be making a mistake like that again, if any of the glass had of hit her, or a child or one of the dogs had of set the bottle off it could have been much worse.

Who would of thought an unidentified microscopic organism could do so much damage?

Apr 252010

Just mashed in for what will be a late night brew session. It’s time for a Dunkelweizen.

Not having brewed one before I checked out The Jamil Show archives and found their Homebrewing Dunkelweizen episode which contains a pretty good description of the style and a good sounding recipe.

A little bit more research revealed a tip from experienced home brewer Tony over at advising to drop the Munich malt and instead use around 60% dark wheat for the “true dry maltiness character” that’s part of the Dunkelweizen style.

Although this advice seems to contradict at least the BJCP style guidelines which specifically mention the flavours that Munich malt imparts on the style I’ve decided to give it a go regardless (who needs style guidelines anyway, this one isn’t for competition it’s for enjoying). So, here’s what I’ve ended up with:

60% Weyermann Dark Wheat
33% Weyermann Pilsner
3% Weyermann Carawheat
2% Weyermann Carafa Special II
2% Weyermann Caramunich II

90 minute boil, 25g of Hallertau Pacific Flowers at 90mins (16 IBU).

And, becuase I love it, I’m using Wyeast #3056 – Bavarian Wheat Blend.