Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Tale Of Two Fermented Lovers, An Auto-Siphon From The Eleventh Dimension And Core Brewing Concepts (or Where Did Everything Go Wrong)

Hello there lonely traveller, stay a while and listen. I have tales of fruitfulness and .. fruit and ... Stuff.

Sorry it's been a while since my last post, this thing called 'life' has been getting in the way, but I'm back, and I know you're all pulling your hair out to hear more.

What's new.

Well, firstly I bottled the Pinot-Noir Oak Aged Belgian Raspberry Chocolate Stout, (you can read about what I was trying to achieve here), basically I was trying to clone a beer I really liked.

I made a super low gravity Belgian chocolate stout to blend with the first beer, which was a really intense Pinot Noir Oaked Raspberry Imperial Stout.

Before transfer

Bottling day was insanely stressful. Since it was the first time using a carboy, it was also the first time using an auto-siphon. No one at my local home-brewing store told me that you need a very specific sized hose for the auto-siphon. So here I am, spending most of the day trying to hose clamp on some vinyl tubing to the end of the siphon, panicking that the beer is being oxidised and ruined every time I pump and just get bubbles...

After transfer

Well, eventually I got it all into the one fermenter, as you can see, it only just fit.

So, the question you're all OBVIOUSLY dying to have answered...

Did it turn out good?

Well, does the pope shi -


The answer is: yes of course it did.

The reason I say 'of course' is because, to be honest, this wasn't a hard beer to make. One of the things that I learned early on in my home-brewing career is that anyone can make a decent imperial stout, not anyone can make a decent pale ale.

Sure, it took a little bit of knowledge (AKA: google) in regards to how many raspberries or oak chips to add and when, but it was all still pretty vague. The amount of different flavours in this beer mean that if there are any problems with the base beer, it's not really going to show. As you all probably know, making a light ale or lager is much harder because there's nothing to hide any of the small off flavours that very easily occur if you don't know what you're doing. I still don't think I've made a pale ale yet that I'm completely happy with, but I've made a LOT of flavoursome beers that I could find almost no faults with.

So, how did this beer taste?

Well, as mentioned earlier, I did decide to put oak chips in after all. Pinot Noir soaked oak chips in fact (which was part of the original Boatrocker recipe).

The beer is amazing. It's all sweet raspberries and wine up front, a little acidity, then a nice malty hit of chocolate and the vanillins from the oak followed by a dry finish with a little of the acidity hanging around. It's ridiculously smooth. I had no idea that blending beers could actually be a thing I could achieve, and considering the problems had during bottling, I'm actually surprised it turned out this well.

Another really interesting thing that's happened recently is this run in with a company called Core Brewing Concepts. I'm not going to go into details about what happened, but you can read about it here and there is also an interview with the person in question here.

I'm helping a good friend start up a small brewery in Melbourne called Bale Worker Project Brewery, and he's had a really hard time with the company supplying him equipment. The guy who he was getting things from was being flaky, not replying to emails or calls, and ended up not getting the fermenters to him. This is after about a year of trying to get the equipment.

At the time I thought that this was just my friend who was having these problems, turns out it's not. Someone from Temple Brewing contacted my friend recently and told him they were also having problems with Core, and that they were doing a fundraiser brew with a bunch of other small start up breweries from around Australia who'd had similar problems.

I'm the ugly one, second from the right.

It was an amazing day, I met a lot of incredibly nice people, stood around and drank a lot of beer, it's just a shame it had to happen under such sour circumstances. Some of these people have put around 20 - 30k into equipment, relying on it to get things started, and have gotten nothing. Knowing how much red tape and how brutal the tax office can be on top of that makes this problem so much worse.

Speaking of Temple, I had an amazing beer of theirs recently when me and Becky went and had burgers at their brewery bar (the burgers were pretty good, but the bacon aioli they served with the chips? oh my). It was called the New World Order.

It's an American Style stout, so basically a really big hopped up stout. It sent me back to the days when Southern Bay Brewing's Metal Head and the Holgate Temptress were actually good dark beers. When it's cold you get a big mouthful of Vegemite, cranky roasted malts and big hop bitterness with some nice fruity hop aroma on the back end, and as it warms up it completely smooths out, bringing the hoppiness down a notch and letting the roasted and caramel malts shine. I definitely recommend getting a bottle or a pint at some point.

Until next time we meet...