Friday, December 14, 2007

Brew Update December

Our first brewing year has come full circle and I thought that this would be a good chance to review the last twelve months and take a look at how the brews have travelled so far.

The Beer Blokes managed to produce a stock of fifteen brews comprising six lagers, three pale ales, two pilsners, a couple of draughts, a blonde and a wheat beer. We would have made lots more but Dr Lager was a slack tart. We have successfully stockpiled enough to last us through a long, hot summer and we hope to rip back into full scale production once the frenetic silly season is complete.

I am pleased to report that none of our batches exploded, soured or caught fire and that, despite a few small hitches, the brewing has all gone wonderfully to plan. Mainly because we didn’t have a plan to start with so, whatever the result, it was all expected. Of course, as with any new venture, the Blokes have had a couple of batches that haven’t quite gone to plan with the last two suffering a bit from under carbonation due to the yeast chilling down a bit for too long. Still full of hop and malt character and very drinkable, just not as fizzy. The pale ale can wear that but the lager is left lacking here and there.

It’s interesting to taste the few leftovers from our first four batches that were brewed when we were young and dumb about the whole brewing thing. We thought they tasted so good - and they did – for a first up effort. It’s only down the track when you taste a more professionally ‘constructed’ beer (still from kits and cans) that you realise how good the first ones WEREN’T by comparison. It just means we need to finish off the old stock before we get into the good stuff. Then we will play the same game with the brews we produce in the next twelve months. Provided our beers keep getting better. I reckon they will.

Some brews have been more pleasing than others and for different reasons. For example, the Australia Day Lager was a Toohey’s can with a bit of sugar and was our third effort. Looking back now, I guess we hadn’t expected a lot from it. It actually developed quite well as time went on, to the point where I have held a handful back to save for later. Very pleasing. The other particularly pleasing batch was the brew known affectionately as ‘The Beast’. It fermented out really well and strong and finished up with an alcohol content of 6.66%. This makes it a stronger brew than your average lager but still short of many Belgian specialty ales.

The Beast was a bit difficult to tame in the early months; a bit too harsh in the ‘warm alcohol kick’ department, so we pulled it out of circulation until it was tamed. And tamed it now is. It has mellowed and matured to the point where the ‘homebrewedness’ of the aftertaste is almost undetectable and the malt and hops are well balanced.

As we have become more attuned to the effect of the hops on the finished product we have become better able to judge the depth of the flavour and the strength of the bitterness in the final drink. As we have switched from sugar to all malt brews we have seen the later brews take on a more mature flavour. Some have even come close to imitating commercial beers in the main body of the taste with just that sneaky aftertaste the giveaway. Luckily we have also learned to put the beers aside to mature and develop.

We have added a couple of pieces of equipment to our list of brewing assets including a nice old banger of a shed fridge and a Magic Box. This last piece will be explained in a post next week. An over abundance of empties (from working our way through a large stockpile of fullies) means that the production line will need to crank up quickly regardless of how busy the Christmas season gets and I will keep you posted on the results.

The next few beers planned are a Bavarian Lager, a Canadian Blonde and a more full bodied wheat beer. Hopefully the New Year will see an attempt at a lager yeast fermented lager and some more adventurous creation beers. I also have a couple of ales planned including a Mountain Goat style flavour driven ale and a dark ale. We want to get these going soon because the warmer weather obviously makes the health of the ale yeast easier to ensure and then we get to store it to smooth out the edges by the time the wintry ale drinking nights come around.

Thanks again for visiting the site and for the support you have shown us through the year. In the New Year I might post a Hall of Fame listing all the ‘famous’ contributors we have heard from. From the worlds of sport and from old school yards and my personal favourite, ‘anonymous’, they have been the glass into which we have been able to pour the Beer Bloke’s special brand of lagered lunacy.
Prof. Pilsner
P.S. I had a table of good Blokes in at the restaurant last night and these boys are very receptive to trying new and different beer tastes and flavours - even if one still insists that Corona is an OK drop - and last night was their first opportunity to try some of the new beers on our list. Lucky these are good blokes, and patient, becuse the kitchen took about the same time to cook five meals as Dr Lager and I take to brew 23 litres of soon to be award winning lager! As promised, here in public, I am promising that the first round is on me next Thursday night - unless you choose Corona in which case you can pay double. See you then.

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