Homebrew trilogy: Chocolate bars, wort kits and a Yeastie Boys rip-off

This is what I hope will be an award-winning beer. It's in plastic bottles because I racked onto fruit for the first time and would like to avoid bottle bombs.

This is what I hope will be an award-winning beer. It’s in plastic bottles because I racked onto fruit for the first time and would like to avoid bottle bombs.

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Humphrey B Beer brewhouse. And by “brewhouse” I mean the laundry at home and the fermenter in the cupboard under the stairs. In this space of time there’s been three beers brewing.

BEER #1: Cherry Ripe stout

After feeling a bit meh about homebrewing for a while I got inspired after hearing about a homebrew contest being run by local bar 3 Chimneys. The best beer in each of the three categories gets a batch brewed by either HopDog or 4 Pines and then it goes on tap at 3 Chimneys. So the chance to have my own beer on tap somewhere is too good to pass up.

I chose to make a stout that resembles a Cherry Ripe, so it features chocolate malt, cocoa, coconut and cherries. It was a beer I’d been planning to make for ages; I even brewed a choc-coconut porter last year with a view to getting that right and then adding cherries to a later version.

I’d won the only previous homebrew comp I entered – the Australian pale ale class at the 2013 Nowra Show. That was easy to enter – I just put in a few bottles of a beer I’d brewed recently for my own use. But making a beer FOR a contest is rather more stressful. There’s a bit more riding on the result so I fretted about any little thing that could go wrong. Which of course meant things went wrong.

* I used dessicated coconut instead of shredded, and plenty of tiny flecks made their way through the sieve and into the fermenter.
* After pureeing 1.5kg of cherries and putting it in at flameout, I filtered them out of the fermenter. Only to later realise the 15 minutes the cherries had been in contact with the wort was probably not going to be enough.
* For the first time I had to use a secondary, both to try and filter out the coconut floaties and rack on top of more cherries for flavour. Fortunately that didn’t seem to go horribly wrong.
* But the attempt to filter the beer through a kitchen wipe and remove the coconut did go badly wrong – the wipe tore almost immediately.
* When bottling the beer, the spigot got jammed up by cherries on three separate occasions. That forced me to tip the fermenter back and balance it with one hand while unscrewing the spigot with the other and removing the blockage.

But fingers crossed it’ll turn out okay. It was still tasting good before it went into the bottles.

Here is Beer #2 and Beer #3 - both rugged up against the cold.

Here is Beer #2 and Beer #3 – both rugged up against the cold.


Beer #2: HopDog Anzus IPA

Oddly, despite the stresses of this beer, it inspired me to brew some more. But I went for the easy option and picked up a HopDog wort kit from my local homebrew shop. Just adding water and doing a bit of dryhopping sounded like a whole lot less hassle.So I’ve now got two beers fermenting – and I’ve never brewed more than one at a time before. Which it is, except for the sudden cold snap, which had made my heatpad-free fermenter struggle to get to ale-brewing temps. I had to wrap it in a blanket AND a retro tracksuit top to keep it warm. It seems to have worked, the fermentation is down to 1010, which I reckon is a decent effort for ale yeast in the middle of winter.

Beer #3: A Yeastie Boys rip-off
Like the long gestation of the Cherry Ripe beer, I’d been toying with making a version of the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta – an IPA infused with Earl Grey tea. So, with my recent burst of enthusiasm for homebrewing, I decided to steal a page out of their book.

Except, instead of an IPA, it’s a blonde lager. And instead of an ale, I’m taking advantage of the cold weather and using lager yeast. And I’m probably not going to be using Earl Grey, either. Instead I found a juicy, tropical-fruit flavoured tea called Green Rose which I think will work better.

So I guess it’s not really that much like Gunnamatta.

Which is why I named it Doesn’t Matta. Ha, I slay me. I’m mixing the citrus notes from the tea with the orange citrus of Amarillo hops. The trick will be working out how much of each to add. This helpful post from Ale of a Time says they used 4g per litre in a dry-hopping kind of deal. Given they made an IPA and I’ve got a blonde lager, I’m assuming I should go for less than that because the flavours will have more of a blank canvas to work with.

At this stage I’m thinking 3g per litre, along with 15g of Amarillo. Just waiting for the fermentation to tail off before adding tea and hops for a few days.

4 replies »

    • I ended up not entering that home brew contest, because they were doing dodgy things. Like letting a late entrant put his beer straight into the final.
      But the beers themselves were good. Particularly the Cherry Ripe stout.

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