Almost a whole year since my last brew (which has worked out great, BTW). Inspired by a colleague’s homebrew at Friday afternoon drinks, I’ve dragged a kit off the shelf to start another brew. This time it’s a Cooper’s Heritage Lager, with 600g Dextrose and 400g Maltodextrin. Nothing fancy. O.G. is somewhere around 1.042 to 1.044.
Archive for the ‘Homebrew’ Category.
Something to do with all the mandarins from our tree – a Hoegaarden-inspired mandarin-and-coriander wheat beer. Cooper’s wheat beer kit, light dry malt, peels from 6 mandarins, and 2.5 tblsp coriander seed. (All a guess – let’s see how it turns out.) O.G. is 1.040.
After a busy year, I’ve finally had a holiday. Mostly at home, but we also went to the spectacular Jenolan Caves for a couple of days. Before I head back to work again, I’ve time to start another beer. It’s been more than six months since my last batch (which worked out OK, but has a vicious head). Stocks are running low.
Just over four weeks ago, I started brewing a Coopers Wheat Beer kit, with Safbrew WB-06 Wheat Brewing Yeast, and a kilo of dried wheat malt, all from the Asquith homebew shop a little way up the road. Two weeks in the primary, racked for two more weeks for bottling. It’s been a little chilly recently, so fermentation was slow. The ingredients all up cost almost twice as much as normal – will it taste twice as good? Time will tell, but so far it smells like fresh bread, which is a good sign!
The day after Christmas is Bottling Day! Laying down the Dark Ale for Autumn and Winter. I had racked it 4-5 days beforehand. Final gravity was 1.01, so it will be just under 5.5% ABV.
It’s been a madly busy year, with barely enough time to drink beer, let alone make any. But on the weekend I managed to find an hour to put on a new batch. Hopefully when the Christmas holidays come around in a couple of week I’ll find time to bottle it!
I said I’d report back on an experiment I started last November. For the Chilli Lager I made with a 3kg malt kit, I primed half the batch in the normal way, and didn’t prime the remaining bottles. The theory is that when using a full malt kit, after primary fermentation and bottling, there should be enough residual dextrins left to be slowly enzymatically converted into simple sugars and then be digested by the remaining yeast. I’ve had a request to report on the outcome of the experiment. So here is a status report.
A month ago I would have said that the unprimed bottles were basically flat. My problem is that I don’t how long I should wait for these enzymes to act! I had basically given up on the unprimed bottles, but last night I tried another sample, and there was some definite fizz going on. It wasn’t nearly as active as the primed batch, but it certainly had more sparkle than some English beers I’ve had. So, I’ll wait and see. In the past I’ve had home brew improve over the course of a year in the bottle. Perhaps that improvement was due to a similar process.
Nonetheless, my plan for future batches is to keep adding priming sugar before bottling.
Last weekend was bottling day for the full malt chilli lager. Normally when bottling, you add some “priming sugar” to each bottle. This is a small amount of extra food that the residual yeast will consume. Yeast produces two important by-products in fermentation – alcohol and carbon dioxide. The former is the goal during primary fermentation, but the latter is the goal when adding priming sugar to the bottle. That’s what makes homebrew fizzy!
However, I have a fantastic homebrew book from CAMRA which contains an intriguing suggestion. It says (p142) that “the priming of beers made from the 3kg kits is optional”, because there will be more residual dextrins than a brew made with cane sugar. It notes that there is a tradeoff – “the best beers, particularly bottled beers, are usually not primed”, but that to bring the beer “into drinkale condition in the shortest possible time” priming sugar is required.
I am using a 3kg kit this time, so it’s an interesting idea not to add priming sugar. But if I tried it and didn’t pan out, I’d be left with 20 litres of flat lager! So I’ve tried an experiment – some bottles with priming sugar, and some without. I’ll let you know how it goes…
Now I’ve settled in a little to my new place, I’ve had time to put on a new brew. On the train every day I pass a homebrew shop at Thornleigh, and recently I managed to visit. A homebrew shop is a different experience to buying homebrew kits at the supermarket. There’s all sorts of specialist paraphernalia and ingredients. For example I finally managed to buy a test tube for my hydrometer, and a bottle filler.
I also bought a “full malt” kit – a 3kg tin, to which you just add water (and yeast) The result is supposed to be a richer more rounded taste than the more common 1.5kg kits which require the addition of sugar and/or “brew enhancers”.
It’s a lager kit from a local company called X-tract Brewing which I’d never heard of before. I threw in a half dozen small hot chillis, split lengthwise. Original Gravity was 1.041 to 1.043 on 2nd November. (Adjusted for temperature.) It was transferred to a secondary container (“racked”) a week later, with the specific gravity 1.011. I also removed the chillis then. Tasting showed a nice heat – noticeably tingly, but not overwhelming.