Monday, 29 July 2013

Homebrewing: 50th Birthday Pale Ale

Hey all, a quick update on our latest brew. My Dad's 50th birthday is coming up, and we're having a little get-together with some close friends, so to celebrate, Mello and I are brewing up 20L of Pale Ale just for the occasion.

Reasonably complex malt/hop bill. Time will tell if it's good

The recipe can be found here. With an IBU of 40, it's roughly on par with the bitterness of a Little Creatures Pale Ale, and at a flat 5% ABV, it's low enough to be sessionable, but high enough that you'll know you're drinking real beer.

BIAB brewing, everything in a single bag!

We've just finished cooling, poured into primary and pitched the yeast. Once it's done fermenting, we'll keg it and force carbonate it in time for the party. Hoping it all turns out well!

Coming soon, a brewery roundup for one of the Breweries we visited on the Road Trip, including a couple of other breweries owned by it... Stay tuned!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Homebrewing: Chocolate Oatmeal Rye Oatmealless Porter

After debating for a while about what our first proper dark beer should be, we came to the conclusion that we needed to make an Oatmeal Porter, the one that they have on tap at Flat Rock Brew Cafe being a key element in the decision. Having decided this, on Tuesday we headed north to Country Brewer and purchased Chocolate Malt, Pale Malt and some LMEs. We also grabbed a half kilo of Rye malt, with plans to use it in a Future Brew

Rye Malt and Chocolate Malt... Wait a Minute
All seemed good when we were about to start brewing on Thursday... Until we realised that none of the malts we were planning to use had any Diastatic power... Oops. This would have left us missing out on a whole lot of sugars from the grains, which made up over 10% of our sugars, a fairly major hit. So the last minute decision to swap out our Oats for Rye malt, which has a decent DP, in order for us to get conversion of the other malts used.

The result was our chocolate oatmeal porter becoming a chocolate oatmeal rye oatmealless porter... Or a chocolate rye porter for short, similar to the Little Creatures Mr. Obadiah, which in fairness we both love.

So we brewed away like usual, with the only major changes being a full sparge, which previously we hadn't had the patience for, and the addition of some bittersweet cocoa to the boil, which we believe should make the beer have a moderate to strong chocolate taste.

Porter on the left, Lambnesia on the right

While the wort was cooling down, we racked Melo's last brew, a Roast Lamb inspired herb beer with the working title of 'Lambnesia' into secondary, then poured the COROP into our primary and pitched the yeast.

Now we play the waiting game... If it turns out well, this beer is getting kegged and served at our Beer SpecTAPular on the 26th. Time will Tell, and I'm hoping it tells us the story of an awesome chocolate porter, not a gross failure, but we'll see

Next time: Not sure what we'll do next, wait and see I guess?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 7: Last Day and Homeward!

Realised I'd forgotten to write up the last day of the trip, so here goes nothing. Woke up after a long night by the fireplace, then cooked up a brekky of Bacon and Eggs to start the day well. Headed down the track to Harry's place for a coffee and to check up his homebrewing setup, then in the car on our way to the Jamieson Brewery

Fairly Unassuming from the Outside to be sure
Arriving at a brewery/pub at 11:15 am is normally not the best idea in the world, but they were open and ready to serve, so we happily obliged and grabbed a couple of schooners, Mello the 'Beast' IPA and I grabbed their seasonal beer, an Irish Red Ale

Forgot to photograph the beers, so you get the taps
Both were great, so we picked up a Mixed-6 each and jumped back in the car. While driving we had a debate about whether we were stopping in Nowra and camping for the night, or powering through straight to Sydney. After realising it would take as long to get to Nowra as it would Sydney, and remembering with horror pitching tents in the dark back on school camp, we decided that the only sensible option was to power through.

90% of the day was comprised of this... Not too bad
We DID make a sneaky stop at Holbrook for a pie (at the famour Holbrook Bakery no less!), then one last Brewery stop, making it our second time as Bridge Rd. Mello really wanted to grab a few more of their beers, and it was his turn to drive, so I took advantage of that and tried one of their new brews, the Imperial Honey IPA "Hop to it Honey". Really smooth and sweet, you wouldn't have known it was imperial without reading the label!

Finally, we made the last leg through in to Sydney. Ended up at my place for one final night of drinks, but first we had to unpack the car... The result:
All the empties, full bottles, glassware, food and kegs we brought back
In summary, a hell of a lot of beer, bottles and kegs. The kegs will later become a Brew Kettle, a Mash tun and a Hot Liquor tank/Fermenter (We haven't decided which). The rest of what we brought back will be... Used appropriately.

Next time: Back home and back to brewing! We make our first dark beer

Monday, 8 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 6: Into the Countryside we go!

Day 6 of the road trip, and we were nearing the end of our journey, finally heading North, back towards Sydney. Started the day with a quick stopover at Moon Dog to collect some equipment that we hadn't been able to fit on a tram. 


We then headed up the Maroondah Highway to our first stop for the day, Coldstream Brewery

Was one of the first things we saw on entering town
Mello picked up a pint of their Imperial Porter, while I opted for the tasting paddle, figuring 5 x 50 mL tasters was a better option considering the long drive ahead of us

Road Trip? That's a paddlin'
Having not realised beforehand that Coldstream even made beer (I'd only had their cider before), I was pleasantly surprised by them, and took home a few of their ciders and porters. Back on the road, we decided to make a less beery detour and head to Coldstream Hills Winery. Mello had a full tasting and came away with a bottle of Merlot, while I listened on eagerly but had to take one for the team and not taste.

After chatting with the winemaker, he recommended a brewery in Yarra Glen to us, so we decided to stay in the Yarra Valley a while longer and add that to our itinerary. But first things first, we headed to Healesville to grab a pie and hit the White Rabbit Brewery

Bigger than expected
The Brewery itself is a pub of sorts, so we settled in and grabbed a pot each of one of their limited releases, "Kai's Dark Matter", which seemed to be a modified version of their Dark Ale, but with extra hops added for some more bite and bitterness. Very nice overall, and a good winter warmer considering how bloody freezing it was out.

Next up, we headed west to Yarra Glen, to try out Hargreaves Hill Brewery

Hard to snap a good photo surrounded by 800 tourists

When we arrived, the place was packed out with people out the door queueing up. Turns out we'd arrived about 5 minutes after a couple of tour buses. Oops. Ended up grabbing a pint of their Admiral Nelson IPA, a British style IPA that's pretty melt driven, but still packs a fair wallop of hop bitterness. Thoroughly enjoyable.

As the sun started to go down, we made the last leg of our trip for the day, passing through Yea and Mansfield on our way to Jamieson, or more specifically to the bank of Lake Eildon, to "The Outlook", a property owned by my Aunt and Uncle. Met up with my Uncle Chris and his mate Harry there. All packed into the car and headed out to the Kevington Hotel for a couple pots and a Parma, classic pub dinner, before heading home to watch the Wallabies get slaughtered and drown our sorrows in Bourbon.

Next time: The final day! Jamieson Brewery and a return to a previous favourite!

Melbourne Trip Part 5: Moon Dog and Mountain Goat

Day 5 of our trip, we got up mid morning for some quick coffees before heading off to the tram. Waited 20 minutes for a Number 25 tram before examining the schedule and realising it doesn't run during the day... Oops. Swapped to a 109 and 10 minutes later we were in Abbotsford at the Moon Dog Brewery

The Moon Dog Brewery in all it's Glory
Inside, we met Josh and Carl, who were hard at work in the office. Introductions done, we headed through to the back of the brewery to check out the setup. Chandeliers adorned the roof, starkly contrasting their industrial surrounds. 5 Stainless steel fermenters, all filled with various brews filled the majority of the room, with an area down the back for the mash tun and kettle. In the kettle, we got to see a sneak preview of a new 'dark lager with chipotle'. 

Moon Dog, in all it's glory

Next up, we moved to tastings. First cab off the rank had to be the Love Tap double lager, the only non 'limited release' beer they do. A strongm hoppy lager with a good amount of hop flavours out of the bottle, tasting it straight of the fermenter was another thing entirely. Huge hop flavours, and a slightly reduced ABV from 7.1 % down to 5.9%, in order to make it a more sessionable beer. Overall very enjoyable.

A couple we tasted, a couple we didn't

The next few tastings we went through their Mr Mistoffeelees, a sour, fruity wild ale, The Black Lung III, the latest release of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and the Great American Challenge, a "Shiraz-barrel aged funko-trappist beer", which was at once funky like a belgian pale, and also distinctly reminiscent of a nice Shiraz... strange combo yet an exceptional beer.

The final beer we scored for tasting was a bottle of their newest (not in stores yet) release, their Nogne O collaboration that had previously served as their GABS beer, the Selvmordstokt, a "100% Wheat Porter with Sour Cherry Wine". Wow. The closest flavours I can describe to what I tasted in this beer were Cherry and Coconut... Something like a Black Forest Cake. Just exceptional, and totally unexpected from a beer. Completely Obscure.

Black Forest Cake: The Beer

After a couple of hours at Moon Dog, we said our Thankyous and our Goodbyes, and we set our to grab some lunch. Not 10 minutes later we found ourselves at the Royston Hotel, for some light grazing and a couple more beers, including a fantastic Three Ravens English Ale on Hand Pump. Ace.

Next stop, we made our way down Bridge Rd to Slow Beer, Australia's first dedicated Craft Beer store. We were after a couple of Moon Dog's rarer brews, and they definitely didn't disappoint. Left carrying armfulls of Moon Dog, as well as a couple of other notable beers such as the Bridge Road Aurora Borealis, more a liqueur than a beer.

The entrance to Slow Beer
Our last stop for the day was the Mountain Goat Brewery, which was just around the corner from the Royston Hotel. An unassuming warehouse from the outside, the inside was quite the shock.

Warehouse Outside
Awesome Bar Inside

Tried a couple of Seasonals, the "In Randy", an Eastern Brown Ale with Nutmeg and Cinnamon, and "Mike's Third Nut", a delicious Nut Brown Ale. Grabbed a couple more to go, and headed back to the apartment to call it a night.

Next Time: Into the Country we go!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 4: To Wood End we go!

Day 4 of our trip began with a super lazy start, slowly crawling out of bed before jumping in the car and hitting the highway on our way out to Wood End. After about 90 minutes of solid driving, we pulled into town, and literally the first thing we saw was the Holgate Brew House

The Brewhouse Proper
Headed inside to find the typical, Australian country pub layout, with a big bar that faced 3 sides, as well as a restaurant and hotel upstairs. Sat ourselves down at the bar and blew through a few pots, trying their Temptress (chocolate porter) and English Special Bitters, both specially modified to be served on hand tap through a spritzer. 

Taps of Joy

A few pots later, I picked up a pint glass and their 2013 Beelzebub Quadrupel, and we were on the road again back to Melbourne. Stopped through Brunswick on the way in the hopes of seeing Temple Brewing Co, but turns out they were mysteriously closed

The firmly closed doors of Temple Brewing

Instead we grabbed a pot of Thunder Road's Brunswick Bitter, before heading back to the apartment. A couple rounds of dumplings later we ended up in Prahran, having pints in the Lucky Coq, where I tried the Thunder Road Pacific Rye, and the Cheeky Rascal small batch Honey and Ginger cider, both of which were absolutely stellar.

Finally, caught the last tram back to the city and vegged in the apartment the rest of the night

Next time: We visit Moon Dog and Mountain Goat!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 3: Little Creatures's Birthday and Beer DeLuxe

Hey everyone, back again with the third installment from our Melbourne Trip. Awakening from our dumpling coma on Wednesday morning, we set out to hit the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy for Lunch. After a decent walk, because paying for Trams is insanely expensive without a concession Myki, we arrived at the Dining hall proper

Had to walk a mile through Fitzroy to find the place

Turns out it was their fifth, birthday, and to celebrate they had balloons and party hats out everywhere, and were selling pints for the price of pots. We took advantage of this to grab a couple of pints of their fantastic Mr Obadiah Rye Porter.

Balloons and Party hats everywhere!

We also nabbed some lunch, tasty tasty burgers to go with our pints. Chatted to the bartender for a bit, and he recommended a couple of places we should visit, including a bottle shop just down the road. We set out to find it: McCoppin's bottle-o.

When we arrived, we were very impressed. Huge fridge full of a vast range of craft beers, ranging from the Garage project beers from NZ, to the Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 and 2, and just about every Trappist beer you can get. Ace.

Next up, we jumped on a train and headed down to Glenferrie. Had a quick coffee in the record store cum coffee shop that was playing house music in the middle of the day. Then 2 minutes down the road to Beer DeLuxe, the beer cafe of kings

On approach. Hilariously, the place is over the road from another pub, yet the street is supposedly an 'alcohol free zone...'

Beer DeLuxe in all 12 taps worth of glory.
We'd heard on Tuesday from Mike, who'd had a beer there that he sword tasted like Bacon. Always up for an unusual beer, we took up the challenge and purchased the Wheat Rauchbier to give it a spin

Pictured: Dirty Hippie stealing my beer

Smoky, almost small-good like aroma, with a body that's amix of smooth, amber malt and smoky, salty characters. Closest flavours I could describe it as would be either Serbian ham or double-smoked bacon. Really odd, but in a good way

Our plans for the night consisted of heading to my Cousins's place for dinner with my Aunt and Uncle, then heading out with my cousin Mike. A prolonged pre's at one of his friend's places later, we ended up in the Harp of Erin hotel. The only photographic evidence I have of the night is this:

Just a few casual straws

Which I think speaks for itself.

Next time: We go to Wood End to visit the Holgate Brewhouse!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 2: Hanging out in the CBD

After a fairly late Monday night, we had a long sleep in and a very lazy morning, with bacon and egg rolls and coffee to help wake us.

Next up, we headed out to explore the CBD. After a couple of hours of wandering and perusing, we stopped in to Young and Jackson's to grab a pint. Seeing that they had their own brew on nitrogen tap, we couldn't say no, and grabbed a couple of glasses of the Young and Jackson's Naked Ale
Custom Pint Glasses. Ace

A crisp, smooth, slightly wheaty ale, perfectly sessionable and would be a great refreshing beer in summer, although isn't bad in winter either!

Next up, we headed over to beer DeLuxe, but turns out they weren't open, ruining the carefully laid plans we had to stay near Fed Square half the day. Instead, we grabbed some Lord of the Fries for lunch, then headed to the James Squire Brewhouse/Portland Hotel to try a few of their brews.

The Brewhouse in all it's glory
At the brewhouse, they had all the regular Squire Beers on tap, along with four seasonal beers: The Portland #250 Galaxy Single Hop IPA, the Portland Cast of 1000s Hefeweizen, Mad Brewer's Wee Highlander Scotch Ale and a special 'Lion's Share' Kolsch

Melo opted to try their Galaxy single hop IPA, while I went for the tasting paddle. All four of the seasonals were decent, but the standout had to be the Lion's Share Kolsch, with a great balance between fruity and floral tones to create a fantastic, refreshing beer.
The paddle... emptied

After our day of running around between pubs, we decided we quieter night was in order. Popped past Dan Murphy's on the way back to the apartment to check their range of beers... It did not disappoint. So many more craft beers than any Dan's I've been to in Sydney! We loaded a mixed 6-pack each and headed back to the apartment via Shanghai Dumpling House... Mmmmm dumplings....


 Next post: Little Creatures and More!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Melbourne Trip Part 1: Beechworth

Hey everyone, a quick post about the first day of our road trip, with a post about the second soon to follow.

Up early on Monday morning, over to Mello's place for a quick coffee, then headed out of Sydney via Maccas (Every road trip needs a sneaky McMuffin). Headed out down the M3 and M5, onto the Hume highway. Powered through the first part of the drive until a bit after midday, when we stopped in Gundagai for a pie

Mmm Pies

After that, we took a straight shot down to Beechworth, the town where Ned Kelly was incarcerated after his last stand, just down the road at Glenrowan. But we weren't there for the heritage; we were there to visit Bridge Road Brewing Co., the first scheduled stop on the roadtrip.

Pictured: The Beechworth Courthouse... I forgot to take a photo of the brewery

After a short wander around the town, we found a little alleyway leading down to the Brewery proper. As we walked in the door, the first thing we noticed was how busy it was. This place was packed... And it was 3pm on a Monday!? Over to the bar, where they had 10 of their beers on normal taps, as well as their seasonal collaboration on a hand pump. 

We decided to opt for tasting paddles, Mello taking the full 10 while I as the designated driver ran with 4.

So many Beers, so little time!

All of their beers were ace, as expected. Tasting notes for all of the above can be found in the album Here. We also managed to grab a taster of their hand pump beer, the Aurora Borealis, a Barrel-aged Quadrupel clocking in at a whopping 15% ABV. Rich and thick, it was like drinking a fortified wine, and would have paired amazingly with a cheese platter or desert of some kind. 

We picked up a mixed 6pack each, making sure to cover almost every beer they had in stock, before heading out into the state forest in an attempt to make camp. We found a nice, cleared campsite and considered setting up camp...

Click to see a Photoshere!
However... after intense deliberations, and the discovery of a bunch of spent shotgun shells just casually lying around in the dirt, we decided to bail from said national forest, and make the final leg of our drive into Melbourne.

Arriving late at night, we dragged our luggage upstairs, had a couple of our previously acquired beers, and crashed for the night.

Next up: Tuesday shenenigans!