Monday, July 15, 2013

Homebrew therapy.

Recently i started realising that a lot of problems i have in life are to do with stress. I worry lots, stress out quite easily and have some anxiety issues. Not extreme like other people have, but enough to make me feel pretty shit. I also work as a Barista in a pretty busy Cafe which is quite stressful, and a lot of my life i spend worrying about whether or not the art that i make is good or not, or whether i make enough, which is normal for artists... I think.

I had these realisations around the time i started seriously homebrewing. Anyone who has done all-grain brewing at home probably remembers their first couple of solo encounters to be quite stressful. It requires a lot of patience, multitasking, organisation and hands on work, all while worrying whether you are doing something wrong. In a lot of ways, it isn't much fun.

But then it flips completely. Everything that was stressful, becomes stress relieving. The thought behind all of the processes becomes second nature and you only really think about things if you are trying something new. Knowing what you are doing, and having everything organised is very relaxing. The hands on approach, even though sometimes requires a lot of effort, gives a sense of satisfaction, and using all of your own equipment over and over again has a nice sentimental feel to it. You really let the practical part of your brain take over, meaning you can just do the required tasks without much thought, but just enough so that it is almost like you are thinking about nothing. This especially comes into play when you brew on your own, but also adds to the social aspect when brewing with your friends.

Then once you have finished a batch, you get to taste it, and on one hand you say "this is fucking fantastic" but the other is "i think i know how i could make this better". Constantly improving your methods and thinking up new ideas means that, most of the time, your next beer will be better than the last.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Collaborating with Nathan Fillion.

Killing me softly with your cancellation...

Nathan Fillion is a great guy, some might say the best guy, and i wish he was my friend... I wished so much that the next beer that i brewed was an Imperial Stout that i decided to name after him. I present to you:

Or the 'If You Haven't Watched Firefly Go And Watch It Now'

This brew was also a good occasion because it was my first time doing an all grain with other homebrewing friends: James and Alex. There was really no way this beer could go wrong considering the circumstances. Me and James decided upon a recipe a few nights before, this is how it went:


Nathan Fillion
Imperial Stout:

Joe White Pale Malt   - 6kg    (13.2 lbs)
Crystal 60                  - 600g  (1.3 lbs)
Brown Sugar              - 300g  (0.6 lbs)
Chocolate Malt           - 200g  (0.4 lbs)
Crystal 120                - 150g  (0.3 lbs)
Roasted Barley          - 150g   (0.3 lbs)
Black                         - 100g  (0.2 lbs)

40g of Columbus at 60mins  (1.4 Oz)
30g Fuggles at 30mins          (1 Oz)

Reused S-04 from a previous batch.


I basically wanted the biggest, most epic beer that you could have. It was planned to be a 8 or 9% ABV (alcohol by volume) beer. That's why we put 7kg of grain, and 300g of brown sugar into it to make 15 litres.

You may be thinking.

To put that in perspective, i put 6kg of grain into my Pale Ale to make 30 litres of beer, which also had a much lower alcohol %, meaning even less grain was needed.

I'd been obsessing over big dark beers for a while before this was brewed, the 8wired iStout was one of my favourites, but mostly any beer that traded freshness/hoppy-ness for big malty/black fruit/coffee goodness was my friend.

Brew day was a breeze. We drank a lot of beer, made a lot of sandwiches, and had a lot of laughs. It made me realise how much it helped to have people around who also knew what they were doing, so that you didn't have to do all the worrying. If you are finding brewing is getting boring or you are losing motivation, then definitely find some people to brew with. Considering how much time is spent waiting on brew day, it makes it a very social activity.

The only trouble with it was that i forgot to take many pictures...

One of the things that i found most interesting when i got into all grain brewing was that in dark beers, the majority of malt (by far) is base malt (Pale Malt). As you can see in the picture above, and in the recipe i posted, there is only a very minimal amount of dark roasted malts being used, even in a beer recipe that is considered really fucking dark!

If you look hard enough, you can see your soul.

Definitely the best photo of the day.

The original plan was to put only 150g of brown sugar in, but i like to improvise while brewing so i upped it to 300g, upping the alcohol content and adding some more alcohol warmth, for that cold Melbourne winter coming up. We figured that why not go all out on a beer that is meant to be served to Imperial Russian Czars?

This picture is titled "Catherine II - as drunk as a turtle"

We also put more hops than we'd planned, and probably put about 45-50g of bittering hops, and about 40g of flavouring hops, but that's something everyone does... Right? 


Best beer i've made yet for sure, only wish you guys could all taste it... If you know how to brew, i suggest trying it, and then commenting and telling me how it went.