Thursday, 6 December 2012

Changing Spaces


Quick post, just to let you know the blog is moving.

Work, in their wisdom, has decided to hijack my hobby and turn it into - well - work.

From now on, you'll have to head to to read about my brewing adventure. You should bookmark that page. Right now would be good.

Being on a 'real' website means there will probably be no swearing, but I promise to keep things fun and topical. I'll also try eat more chili.

You can still comment (albeit through Stuff's log-on system) and haggle me on Twitter.

But for now - see you on the other side!!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


So, in case you haven't heard yet, Emerson's - that brilliant small-ish brewery run by the brilliant Richard Emerson - has been sold to Lion.

I did a post a while back where I had a punt at which brewery would probably get brought out first by one of the Big Three. I didn't even give Emerson's a mention, and I don't think anyone else would have either (well, apart from Stu).

Twitter, somewhat predictably, filled up with messages along the lines of "fuck Lion" or "it won't be the same". Comments on the other news sites which covered the announcement are just as one-sided. And I can understand where people are coming from. While too young to have been a Macs drinker before that brand was sold to Lion in 1999, I've heard from plenty that the beers changed after the sale.

But I, for one, am excited. First, Lion has experience in owning successful craft breweries. They've always had a big chunk of Little Creatures' head company Little World Beverages - and got the rest earlier this year - and I very rarely hear a bad word about that brewery.

Secondly, there's a very important line in the official statement:

Emerson’s will remain as a standalone business unit within Lion and will continue to produce the same great beers from the same Dunedin brewery with the same great people. 

So, production will not be leaving Dunedin and - far more importantly - will still be run by founder/brewer/general G.C. Richard Emerson. Therefore, we should keep seeing his brilliant seasonal beers like hot-cross-bun-in-a-glass Taieri George and the stunning collaboration ale RSB.

Thirdly - and the biggest plus for me - Emerson's will become a Lion beer. So, all those pubs which have contracts with Lion (I'm looking at you The Celtic Inn) will hopefully be able to stock Emerson's without hiding it out back or behind frosted glass. And even have it on tap! Fresh Emerson's Pilsner omnomnomnom!!!

So, to sum up this short blog post - pull your bloody head in! Be excited for Richard and the team! More people will get to drink the amazing beer they make, and that can only be a good thing.

Friday, 2 November 2012

The joys of lawnmowing & lager

From the time I moved out of home, there has been one thing I missed more than anything - mowing lawns.

When I was just a wee Lagoosh, it always seemed to fall to me to mow the lawns. And sure, that sometimes sucked when all I wanted to do was go hang with my mates. But most of the time, I loved it. I would look forward to tanking up the mower, nicking my brother's discman, jamming some tunes in my ears and pulling the starter chord.

Mowing lawns is repetitive - up and back, up and back, whack the corner, up and back - but there was something oddly enjoyable about that routine. You knew after so-many up-and-backs that you would be done, as long as you remembered those whack-the-corners. And the smell! There's still nothing that compares to the reek of burning mower-oil fumes mingled with freshly cut grass. To this day I still get a weird kind of comfort from that smell, something like what an ex-smoker walking past a outdoor bar - or, if you're into menthol, a raging pine forest fire - must feel.

But when you live in a student flat, people mow the lawns for you. Brilliant at first, but it gets old fast - especially early on a Sunday morning. While I still got that smell, that scent, that haze of grass still floating in the air. But I couldn't enjoy it, because I hadn't worked for it. And there is something just wrong about enjoying something for free. At least you pay for good food at a restaurant. Or you can be genuinely thankful that the pressure is off the valve after Cindy from the classifieds has been and gone, along with half a decent chunk of your paycheck.

Finally getting a place with a lawn which wasn't mowed by some 50-something bachelor was like a dream come true, if only for the grass. Lush green lawns, pimpled with whitehead-like daisies and glowing buttercups. Ready to be torn asunder by the spinning blades of my mower.

Which is awesome when The Swamp turns on a 24C day in October. Seriously, it's very rare for the sun to even think about coming out here. So rare in fact, that I've seen more girls in short-shorts this week than I ever did while at uni in Wellington.

Upon finishing work at 4pm this week, I managed to get home fairly early. And I saw the lawn, which I had not taken the mower to in a month. The green blades were looking far too smug for their own good. Blame beer, blame fireworks, blame rain, blame all those combined - either way, the grass hadn't been cut for quite some time and it needed to be taken care of.

There's something completely futile about lawns. What do they even do? At least flowers look "nice" and vegetables a productive. But lawns are just dumb. Useless wastes of space which could be take up by broad beans, onions, flowers, graveyards, anything but silly blades of grass. But yet, it is still so much fun to mow lawns - up and back, up and back, whack the corner, up and back.

And when they are chopped down to size, and matching blisters form on the palm of either not-worked-enough hand, there is nothing quite as beautiful as sitting down with lawnmower beer. That crisp, clean sweet fluid which has just enough bite to soothe any parched palette. The fizz scrubs the sweat from the tongue while the cool clean flavour refreshes like nothing else could.

The perfect lawnmower beer has to be lager. Much-maligned by plenty due to it being the style of choice for the bigger breweries, there is good lager to be had. Green Fern, brewed at West Coast Brewing in the South Island, has to be one of my favourites. A pleasant grassy nose and some great biscuit flavour from the malt washes away with just enough bitterness. Clean, sharp and cooling - the perfect lawnmower beer.

Sure, there's more interesting beers out there - IIPA, imperial stout, Belgian triples brewed with the long-lost bones of Jesus - but sometimes, especially after mowing lawns, all you want is something cool to quench your thirst. Something to soothe the bones. Some beer.

So, what's your favourite lawnmower beer? Your favourite lager? Do you have a certain beer for other activities (post-football game)?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Vlog #2: Batch #2 feat. mystery chilies

So, here's my second vlog. It all goes pretty crazy at one point, but bear with it (oh ha ha!), it's well worth the laughs.

So, the Batch #2 recipe is...

5.4kg Golden Promise
.61kg Crystal

60min mash @ 67C

20g Pacifica - first wort hopping
40g Pacific Jade - 60 min
30g Pacifica - 15 min
35g Pacifica - 5min
35g Pacifica - 4min
34g Pacifica - dry hop
66g Cascade - dry hop

Yeast = US05

OG = 1.052
FG = 1.010

All in all, pretty happy with my second brew. Should have thrown some Cascade into the boil to give some more interesting flavours, but that's something to learn from. Also should have fermented out a little bit more. I've learned to keep things going for at least three weeks now, so thing should be better from here on out.

I'm now a big fan of first wort hopping for pale ales. Just gives something different.

So, have any of you done some first wort? What were your results? Anything you would suggest?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Batches #3 & #4 - The Brew Shop Duo

So it's been a while, mainly due to work being quite busy. We've been a few people down, so it's been all hands to the pump. But somehow, I managed to work my way into having a five-day weekend. So, naturally, a bit of brewing had to happen.
Imperial Stout kit, and a camera lens cap...
While thinking of what to brew, I got an email from BrewShop. They're now doing all-grain recipe packs; if you have the right gear, you can order yourself a "kit" for making anything from an American Pale Ale to a California Common. They even have one made up for a Black IPA (as stupid as that style name is).

With my curiosity sparked, I quickly ordered a couple - the brown ale and imperial stout.

I didn't get any pics of the brown ale brewday, but it went fairly smoothly. I overshot the target gravity, got extra wort and it was the clearest beer I had brewed yet. All in all, a happy camper.

But while planning to brew the imperial stout, I saw some tamarillos. I thought back to the amazingness that was the Epic/Dogfish Head collab Portamarillo and I had to get some to throw into the brew. I figured I already had a recipe which should work, so why not screw around with it a bit?!

Clockwise from top-left: Tamarillos, tamarillos and brown
sugar, roasted tamarillos in bag, tamarillo juice.
So, I got my ten tamarillos and quartered them before popping them in the oven with a dusting of brown sugar. What I got was some sorta-crispy, sorta-mushy, quite juicy lumps of fruit. There was also a heck of a lot of juice left in the bottom of the roasting dish. I couldn't just waste this Ribena-coloured stuff, so into a glass it went.

And here's how the rest of the day went.

Grain bill:
8.5kg pale malt
.5kg oat
.25kg black
.25kg choc
.25 roasted barley

Target mash temp = 66C
Actual mash temp = 67C

Sparge until 25L in kettle.

Knowing my kit a bit better these days, I decided to go pretty big on the pre-boil volume. I tend to lose a hell of a lot of wort when I boil (no idea why still).

Pre-boil gravity = 1060

I was a bit worried about the gravity, so I ran and grabbed a cup of brown sugar to put into the boil at some point. Nothing wrong with giving it a bit of help, am I right?!

In with the hops!
60g Hallertau - 60min
18g Liberty - 60min
40g Goldings - 30min
Tamarillos and syrup - 20min
25g Goldings - 15min
1 cup brown sugar - 15min

Final volume = 17L
Final gravity = 1093

Yeast = Nottingham ale

I'm pretty happy with how the day went. My first runnings were the clearest I've ever had, so I'm very impressed with that. However, both BrewShop kits had lots of dough-balls in the mash that I had to clear out.

And that high gravity sure saw the yeast kick into action in a big way. The next morning they had managed to blow the top off the fermenting bucket! Talk about some intense krausen.

I'm pretty happy with these BrewShop kits. I would recommend them to people like me, who don't have a grain mill and don't want to waste those few hundred grams of grains they get sent pre-crushed.

PS: There has been a Batch #2 take place already (just another pale ale, nothing to go crazy about).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

VLOG: Batch #1 feat. chili shots

Like any good beer nerd in New Zealand at the moment, I love chili.

Therefore, I drank some of my first home brewed beer while doing something stupid with some chili sauce.

I would explain what happened, but watching is so much more interesting.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Batch #1 - nearly there

Typing this is a mission because my hands be FREEZING! Why? Because I have just bottled about 14L of my first home brew.

Opening the lid of the fermenter to prime it was an amazing experience - HOPS! Turns out dry hopping with 100g of cascade really adds aroma. But bottling went very smoothly, up until the point I realised I had done my math wrong and hadn't sanitised enough bottles. Cue frantic cleaning/sanitising of a few 1.5L PET bottles.

But everything is done. Now just to let it chill out for a bit, and then I can start drinking some (hopefully) awesome home brew.

When I start cracking into that crate in about two weeks, I'll be a happy man. Because I made that beer. In this capitalist world, it really is nice to be able to make something yourself. If you prefer to make clothes, or preserves, or even grow some herbs - cool, and all the more chur to ya.

The beer is looking and tasting pretty good at the moment. Lots of grapefruit and orange flavour before it settles out into a big resin bitterness. If I did everything right, I should have some very drinkable IPA sometime soon.

And with that should come a review video. Until then!

The bit that didn't quite fit into any of the
bottles. Is looking pretty chur methinks!