Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brew update 101

The latest batch of Beer Bloke Beer is the experimental first attempt at a constructed brew. Still using a can kit but with the addition of a “beer improver kit” containing extra malts, grains and hops. We chose a Czech Pils kit because, in line with our earlier brewing philosophy, we will both have a fair inkling of what the stuff SHOULD taste like, having downed commercial quantities of most available pilsners. Plus the style is a favourite of mine. So there.

The basic concept of these kits is that the tinned stuff is great for convenience and for economy of shipping and shelving at the retail end, but they are made to made easily and for the enjoyment of many types of drinkers. They can tend, then to be a little light on the aroma, flavour and bitterness scale desired by some drinkers. Drinkers like us. And you, too, hopefully. So to the beer improver kit.

The recipe is simple. And, put simply, if you read twenty books and twenty articles on home brewing using these kits or similar purchased ingredients, you will find twenty different methods. No two experts seem to agree. Which is why you don’t hear the words ‘beer’ and ‘expert’ in the same breath very often. This is, however, a great advantage to brewers like the Beer Blokes. You just cook it all up and chuck it all in and then add the can and then add water and then add yeast and then look for the text that says you have done it all perfectly correctly well.

The method we employed was to boil up a couple of litres of water, add the malt, grains and bittering hops and simmer for 30 minutes. With a couple of minutes to go we added the aroma hops then let it cool a bit, strained the liquid into the fermenter and continued as usual. The kit indicated that this would result in higher SG readings and a slightly longer fermentation time. Before adding the yeast we checked the specific gravity only to find that it came in at only 1035. The three previous batches were between 1040 and 1046 so we panicked a little at this point. But, such is the relatively unwarranted confidence that we have achieved by getting this far and not blowing anything up, we soldiered on and boldly decided to chuck in a half kilo of brewing sugar and see what happened. After a bit, we had powered it up to 1036 and patted ourselves on the back.

I have to say that, despite the stumble, the beer smells really good - very naturally floral and sort of herby - and has a lovely, if bright, bitter edge to it. I will let you all know in about a month.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there has a recipe that exactly mimics our method, feel free to send it on. Cheers.

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