Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday 16 February -- Things get busy in the brewery

"Go big or go home", they say.

I don't know who they are, or what they do, but if they make beer, then they have no idea what they are saying. We had a big day today. I was in the brewery for over 8 hours, and I don't even live there.

Maybe we were a bit ambitious.
Maybe we tried to do too much.
Maybe we just want a lot of beer.


But who doesn't?

So our plan today was to try to juggle three beers at once. A Pale Ale, a Brown Ale, and an Amber Ale. We got there and now we're gonna have loadsa beer! Hooray!!!!

That's a lot of ale. Hope you like ale. We do. If you're reading this blog and you'd like a bottle, then ask us for one. We'll give you one. Put it in the fridge and open it on Friday.

The plan today was to do three things. Move the Pale Ale that had been fermenting for four weeks into bottles. Then get the Brown Ale from last week into the fermenter to let it bubble for a month. And finally, brew another beer -- the Amber Ale.

We got there! We did it. We are the best brewers in the world (footnote -- we may not be the best brewers in the world)

We thought the easiest way to start today would be to get the big pot on to boil 
And then we'd start to clean some bottles as the pot was boiling.
It usually takes about 45 minutes to get the pot boiling so we'd have loads of time to clean bottles
An excellent start to the day. It was only 9:30am and we were off to a good start.
But then, tragedy struck!!
The 'bobbing thermometer" that is supposed to bob, didn't bob too well, and hit the bottom of the pot, and exploded all through the water, just as the water was hitting optimum temperature. 
If you look closely, you can see the little specks on the bottom of the pot. This is the inside of the thermometer. You probably don't want this shit in your beer. So, we had to tip all this water out.
... and start again
Look how happy I look about refilling the pot again with cold, cold water.
At least I got to wear my space-suit again 
Fuck you, cold, cold water that isn't at 75 degrees!!!!! 
But eventually we got the pot to 75 degrees.
which means we can tip in the grain
... and boy did we order some good grain this time. And then the boys at "Grape and Grain" realised that our order was too weird and then changed it into something that looked a lot closer to Amber Ale. Bless them! We still are getting used to building recipes using BeerSmith.
... but we got a good malt, and the plan was to let it steep at 69 degrees for an hour. Michael assured me that it was at 75 degrees when we added the grain,
So, in it went.
And give it a good stir
But, unfortunately, the temperature had 'dropped' to 50 degrees.
Or we (Michael) had measured it incorrectly. We spent another 45 minutes getting it back up to 69  degrees and it stayed there for a good hour. The doona around the pot really helps keeping it steady. We find that we never have to heat it once it's in. But you got to get it at the right temperature to start with.
And then onto the next job (we've probably had three beers in between these stages)
So now we've moved onto the Pale Ale. 
It was fermenting for about 4 week. And then we Cold Crashed it at 4 degrees for four days to harden the cake. 
This meant that we were able to move it into the keg without a lot of the sediment coming through.
We put in 285 grams of sugar syrup.  
And this time we remembered to stir it with the big spoon.
Hopefully all the sugar was moved through the wort.
Look at that good stuff flow!!!
Go you good thing. I love Pale Ale. We're excited about this beer!!!!
We'd been listening to Classic FM all morning. Time to change it up to something a bit more soulful.
Now, that's soulful.
Get the last dregs in the keg!
Back to the Amber Ale, and it's Mash Out!
Not so easy this time with only two of us. 
Where are you, Ben?
Tying it off is the easy part. Lifting it out might be harder.
Can you carry it? 
I bet you can't?
We got there. We needed a few heavy objects to tie it onto. Some sandbags. A dodgy box from Michael's old drama classes. A rock from the garden. It all helped. The pot under the bag is catching all the extra beer. It all went back into the pot to make lovely, lovely beer.
Meanwhile, the hops needed to be measured out. For the Amber Ale, we needed three types of hops. Horizon. Cascade ...
... and my favourite, Centennial.
Then Josh turned up. A good bloke, but we could have used him 20 minutes ago when we were struggling to lift out the mash. Get off your phone Josh, we have beer to make!
Look how full our bottle tree is. Lots of sparkling, clean bottles
And onto filling them with Pale Ale.
We used probably one and a half full trees of bottles today.
And then it was lunch. Lucy made Okinamayaki. We love Lucy!
Gotta get the last drops of the Pale Ale into the bottles 
And boyo, did we fill some bottles today! Didn't count them, but that's 50 litres of Pale Ale all bottled up there. And that Cube, well, that's some cooking stock for the winter and your slow cooker. Hit us up of you want a jar of it for your stew!
The fridge is full! We've got all the Pale Ale ready to bottle condition. And the keg is full of Brown Ale and has started the fermentation process. That should be ready in four weeks.  
I don't know what's happening here. Maybe we should open that 10.2 percent beer in your fridge!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday 9 February, 2014 -- A Brown Ale

When I woke up at 7:30am this morning, hangover raging through my blood vessels, it was 31 degrees in the shade. It is on a morning such as this that a young man's thoughts turns to beer. Beer is what got me into this mess in the first place, and beer is what will get me out of it again.

So, with a projected temperature of 41 degrees looming, we thought we'd get back into the shed and stand over a boiling pot for 5 hours. Brilliant!!

The plan was to make a Brown Ale. Michael had tasted one during the week. I had also. It's a good beer. Cavalier make a tasty one. Ours would be good, we thought.

The summer break had not been kind to our bellies. Too much good living, hearty meals, and loads of calorific beer had made our guts poke out like monuments to all things excessive. This beer promised to be a mild 3.5% alcohol volume. Good news for the waistline.

The plan was to have the pot boiling by 10am. When I arrived at 10:05am, this was the sight that greeted me.  
Michael's excuse for these shorts is that he can't actually see them over the girth of his belly.
The rest of us, unfortunately, had to look at them all day.
Michael had been busy and boxed up all the empty bottles. Good job, sir!
And he had stacked the fridge with water (and beer)
So here's today's recipe. "Nutty Man Brown Ale"
And here's the grain. It was a really small bag and it caused us to stop and check the recipe again. But no, Michael was right. It just looked like a small bag compared to some of the other bigger ones we had used.
The pot is boiling. 
Hooray for new gadgets. This one is a floating thermometer.
Drop it in
Gently ...
and away it bobs. 
Wrap Lucy's doona around the pot. We want to get it to about 75 degrees
Thought we'd check the temperature of the grain. It was 32 degrees. I don't know what this tells us, but it is kinda interesting I guess. #redhillbrewerywankers
In with the grain.
tip it in
and get stirring
The last bit
almost there
The paddle is useful here
brotherly teamwork
That's just silly
So while the mash is steeping, and sacharification is occurring (cool word, huh?), time to move into another job for the day. Let's look at getting a few bottles cleaned up.
And Michael has been reading about a good idea on the blogs
We're going to attach the bottle scrubber to the power drill (yep, what could possibly go wrong?)
I duuno why we don't just use this one??
Ben's had enough
We couldn't get the end off the bottle scrubber. 
But it gave us an excuse to use another power tool
So here it is.
Into the bottle
flush it out
Tip out the water
Job done! 
Ben and I had the shit job!
In the midday heat
double rinsing and taking off the labels 
What a great job we did?! 
So back to the mash 
It's been at 67 degrees for an hour. We didn't have to heat it at all.
Time to lift out the mash. 
We accidently spilled some grain into the wort.
But it was a nice, small mash out this time
not a lot dripping out
so give it a squeeze
get all the fluid out
with most of it running down Michael's arms.
We need 54g of Goldings Hops. Not a lot of hops for this brew, and they went in at the start of the boil. 
They smell pretty good
Lunchtime. Steak sandwich with a side serve of steak.
And this crazy beer using the hops harvested from the beard of the brewer.
We wanted to get our beer clearer and the way to do that is by using Irish Moss
Break up 2 tablets into some water
Time to move the wort into cubes 
Michael kinda looks like an old fashioned sheep-shearer in this photo.
"Tar here, Jackie" 
and 3.000001 cubes of wort. 
Clean the pot