Back to brewing


About a week ago I put down my first homebrew in more than two months. There were a couple of reasons for that gap – which is the longest brew-less spell in my almost two years of homebrewing.

Firstly, I got a little disheartened that my last few brews turned out to be less than ideal. Well, in the case of the Snake Plissken – my attempt to replicate True South’s Killer Python Kolsch – it’s borderline undrinkable. While it has gotten less lolly-sweet with age, it still tastes quite a bit like lolly snakes (which is not what the True South version is like – that tastes like a beer first and foremost).

Secondly, there was talk around our place about moving house. So I didn’t want to get a brew started and then have to worry about lugging a full fermenter around. Or a few crates of full bottles.

Two things happened to get me brewing again (as you can see from the brewing bits and pieces in the above photo)
Firstly, we’re not selling and moving, so I can fill fermenters and bottles to my heart’s content. Secondly, summer is coming up. Which means I have to make my annual summer beer – Summer Girl.

It’s my attempt to make a Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and this brew marks the third time I’ve made it (and it’s also the only brew I’ve made more than once). The first one was a straight kit and kilo while the second included some specialty grain and a bit of boiling on the stove. The result was a very tasty beer – easily the best I’d made so far.
So after a few less than ideal efforts, it made sense to go back to a recipe I’d made before and was pretty comfortable would turn out a decent beer. It’s an effort to give me a bit of confidence.

Another reason I keep making this beer is to keep the wife happy. She likes this beer – she’s the ‘‘girl’’ in the beer’s name – so I figure I make one for her then I can make a few more other styles that she mightn’t like.

Having not brewed for a while, I plan on making up for lost time. Once the Summer Girl is out of the fermenter, I’ll finally be trying my hand at a hefeweizen (for a guy who loves that style I’m at a loss to explain why I haven’t tried to brew one). At the same time, I’ll finally use one of those spare fermenters I got my wife to pick up at the university for cheap. They’d been used to hold cereal and were going for $10 a pop. I got her to buy two and had the idea of using them to try a few 10-litre experimental batches.

But that was a year ago and I’ve done bugger-all with them. Until sometime next week, when I’ll take a Coopers Pale Ale tin, some malt extract and a hop tea and see what happens when you make it to 10 litres rather than the recommended 19 litres.

I’m kind of hoping it’ll turn out to be an IPA-like creation, but we shall see.

5 replies »

    • Here it is:
      Mash 300g of carapils at 70C for one hour
      After sparging add enough water for a 7L half-hour boil
      30mins: 0.5kg Light DME and 10g Galaxy
      15mins: 15g Galaxy
      5mins: 15g Galaxy
      Flame out: 15g Galaxy
      Cool and pour into fermenter. Add one can of Coopers LME and one can of Morgans wheat malt.
      Yeast: US 05.

      Dry hop with 35g Galaxy

  1. Looks like a good recipe. If your last beer wasn’t what you wanted and was too sweet you may have had a yeast problem. Lots of things can go awry with yeast. I’d suggest the following tips to try and avoid getting a sweet beer:

    * Never use yeast that comes with a K&K, get your yeast from your LHBS.
    *Refrigerate your yeast until the day you want to use it.
    * Rehydrate your yeast before pitching it (US05 will have activity on the top of the water after 30 minutes or so if it’s healthy. If it all just falls to the bottom it might not be so good).
    * Check your gravity at the start of fermentation.
    *Give your wort a good swirl when you pitch the yeast, or mix it with a sanitised spoon.
    * Gravity readings tell you when the yeast has finished fermentation, not airlock bubbling or your calender.
    * For most ale’s fermentation is best between 18-21C. If there’s a cold snap or your yeast stalls swirl your fermentor around and wait for it to ferment to your expected gravity target.
    * Only dry hop once primary fermentation is finished.

    • Cheers for the tips. I reckon the reason the last one was too sweet was one of the ingredients was about 4kg of lolly snakes (Snakes Alive). I think the yeast got overworked from trying to convert all the sugar from the malt AND those snakes.
      If I had a do-over I’d pitch two sachets of yeast.

  2. I’d never heard someone describe their beer as tasting like lolly snakes before but I guess 4kg of them will do that. I’d hazard a guess that the lolly snakes had long chain sugars that the yeast weren’t able to eat so well, like what happens when you mash your grains at a higher temperature.

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