Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Memories of Amato's Beer Tasting - Part III

Where was I?  Oh, yes...

Next along the heavenly path was the Little Creatures stand, however as much as I like these fine Australian brews, i am familiar enough with them to skip them and seek more mysterious ales and lagers.  No, not you, Fosters, stay overseas as far away as possible from our shores - there is a reason we export you.

Standing out like a beacon in a sea of pale ales was the White Rabbit White Ale.  An Australian craft ale that was not a pale ale?  Well, pickle me in alcohol and call me Irish (oh, please!), but my eyes were not deceiving me.  Here was something a bit more adventurous than the ubiquitous pale ale, an attempt at something beyond the ordinary.  It sounded suspiciously like a Witbier, which means both white beer and wheat beer, and can mean either.  They're a confused lot, the Belgians.  Probably something to do with producing over 600 beers in country a third the size of Tasmania.  Upon asking the keen custodians behind the stand, they assured me it was indeed based on the Belgian style in the manner of Hoegaarden, but in addition to the usual coriander and orange peel, juniper berries were thrown in for good measure.  Hell, i didn't even know juniper berries were real, let alone thinking of adding them to beer.  Ballsy.

I was pleased to find that they had avoided the temptation to reduce the volume of ingredients to being of no consequence.  They'd never get a job working for Carlton Cold, putting flavour in beer, no way, man.  I'm not sure what the value is of the juniper berries apart from differentiating it from Hoegaarden, but at least they were trying.  The result was a refreshing ale with a lingering, subtle aftertaste, worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as its inspiration.  This deserved a few more tastes, and some hearty discussion with the boys behind the stand regarding the merits of beer and other great profundities.  I think you blokes should crack another one.  Right on cue.  Cheers!

I may well have stayed there forever, but one of the world's great beers was calling me, so i tried a token Rogers beer due to its marginally lower alcohol content and the fact i'd never tried it before.  As a nod to traditional English ales, it was more distinct by its familiar Little Creatures hop profile, which is not a bad thing, but it is not Franziskaner.

Speaking of which, it was a callin' me from across the room, but standing in the way was a nasty looking beer from the old dart called Hobgoblin.  What harm could possibly come from such a beer?  At 5.2%, it seemed harmless enough, but packed a punch (thank god i proof read before publishing.  It originally said "packed a lunch"), less subtle than Fullers London Pride or Old Speckled Hen, but just as obviously drunkenly named.  It wasn't holding back, but what really promised to do me in was the Innis & Gunn  from Scotland, not so surprisingly aged in whiskey barrels.  Don't get me wrong, i like my whiskey, and my beer, even on the same night, or even alternating, but whiskey beer?  Really?  It sounds like some godawful idea dreamt up by some uni students after twenty schooners.  It's the beer equivalent of a deep-fried Mars bar.

Moving right along, i spy an old friend.  A very old friend.  1397 to be precise.  Mmmm...Franziskaner Weissbeer!  But wait! I've run out of time.  Part IV soon!


Happy Memories of Amato's Beer Tasting - Part II

Finally I resumed my mission to rekindle my love of Lord Nelson Brewery beers, although to be honest I approached with some trepidation. You see, my memories were so fond, yet so blurred that I was possibly mistaken, or under the influence. Well obviously I was under the influence (1/2 dozen pints tend to have that effect), and my expectations ma
y well have been too high.

The trepidation was undeserved, as the Three Sheets Pale Ale exceeded my already high expectations. Fragrant, full-bodied and with an excellent head, the lingering aftertaste was a pleasant reminder of what had just passed my lips, and what needed to pass again and again. It was that good. In fact, it was so good I'm seriously considering piping it directly from the pub to my house. Tenders are currently being sought, so feel free to submit your bid! I bought a couple so I can do a proper beer review, and just because it was so damned nice.

Next was the locally made Arvo Australian Lagers, which came cleverly in a six-pack with three stubbies from two separate batches. Clever marketing, to be sure, but it was following in Lord Nelson's giant footsteps.

It was clean and crisp, but subtle in a watery kind of way. Certainly worth a try, and would make a good session beer, but lagers compliment their lightness with aromatic hops and/or fragrant yeasts, both of which were in short supply. Not bad, but in a crowded market it lacked differentiation. Still, it is worth a second try and may get a gong down the track with a full review, and of course it suffered from following Lord Nelson...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Memories of Amato's Beer Tasting - Part I

I thought it important to share my happy memories of Saturday, lest i forget the taste of each of the 50-odd beers on display that fine afternoon, so following is a brief overview of the beers as tasted by The Beer Whisperer.  Even 50 small beers will write off your average beer taster, but throw in a few strong ones (and repeated tastings just to be sure) and your average beer taster will lose not only one's ability to walk, but also to talk of oneself in the first person.  Still, it's a long way since those heady days of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder pub crawl, where 50 beers were all full size, and even then we had extras and it took some dastardly alcoholic slurpies to deny me entry to the last pub.  Curse those evil slurpies!

First cab off the rank was the James Squire stand, which i presumed was vacant thanks to Chuck Hahn selling out once again at the expense of taste and quality, although i was assured he still held quality control as head brewer.  That was good enough for me, so unto the breach I go!  It is a pleasure to say that they have not gone the way of Hahn Premium, which eventually tasted suspiciously like Tooheys Red.  Maybe they got a batch wrong.  Or a brewery.  Whatever.  Anyway, the clean taste remained, along with the delicate aromas from the quality hops and yeasts, although the body of the beer seemed to have miraculously disappeared, a suspicious sign of sugar substitution for malt.  Ye old cost-cutting doth sour thou reputation, methinks!  Shame, Chuck, shame.  Still, they weren’t Hahn Premium, so there’s a tin lining there somewhere.

Next off the rank were a couple of famous pommie ales, strangely enough on the same stand as Samuel Adams from Boston.  If I was cruel (and I am when it comes to American beer.  Thanks, Bud), I could say they all tasted like the Atlantic between them, although to be fair they were a class above, which is a compliment for American beer, at least.  The Fullers London Pride was worthy of its fame, smelling distinctly of toffee, but fortunately not tasting like it.  Clear and clean with a smooth maltiness that was worth more than a mere tasting, it explemplified the best of British ales, and would have made for far better memories for the old man than the putrid Newcastle Brown Ale that followed him around England like a bad smell in the 70’s.  Drinking that stuff would do that to you, y’ know!

Still, the Old Speckled Hen arguably bettered that, with a more subtle yet complex flavour that demands another try.  Or three.  Anyway, I spy Lord Nelson commanding me to battle ye old ale, so I must continue my quest and pursue my destiny forthwith!

Making a beeline for the Lord Nelsons, an Italian gentleman materialised in front of me to distract me from my mission with some oxymoronic Italian beers.  Fortunately they turned out not to be at all moronic, although twenty of so of the strong ones could certainly turn me that way.  The Oro di Milano came in three strengths in the Belgian tradition of single, double and triple, as Pure Malt, Double Malt and the 8.5% "Reserva", Italian for "triple drunkenness".  In what can only be assigned to temporary insanity, i found myself preferring the standard strength Pure Malt, which had the distinctive Italian flavour of Peroni and Menabrea, but with more subtlety which would put it ahead of its famous peers.  What next, a German viniculturalist?  An Uzbek tequila master distiller, perchance? Nope, a genuine, you beaut, dinki di, true blue Aussie beer brewer of great fame and notoriety...

On to the Lord Nelsons and destiny!! In Part II.......

Friday, October 19, 2012

Amato's Beer Tasting Beer Preview!

Just getting a little practice for the taste testing tomorrow at Amato's Liquor at Leichhaardt In Sydney , and the beer isn't quite quenching the thirst created by the photos of beers to be tasted tomorrow.  As can be seen below, there is a wide range of beers for tasting tomorrow (there are others as well), of which quite a few demand attention.

The one that lit up my face the most was the Lord Nelson Three Sheets Australian Pale Ale, due in part to me drinking about twenty of them on my buck's night.  Oh, who am i kidding?  Ten years after that hazy night, i have no idea what i was drinking, only that it was a Lord Nelson beer, and that it was damned nice.

This will certainly top the list of beers to try, although the Endeavour 2011 Reserve Amber Ale sounds enticing, if only for the fact that it is not yet-another-pale-ale, of which all are desperately trying to "be different", by being precisely the same.  Would-be professional craft brewers take note - come up with beer style before getting maggoted in brainstorming session.  After all, it's not called a "brain-stupifying" session now, is it?  Maybe it is.  Besides, it works for me.

The Franziskaner Weissbeer is a traditional German wheat beer from 1397(!) which I have had before, but unfortunately do not much remember.  Alas, due to the intervening years beers, my memory is somewhat hazy, so i have little choice but to try it again, dammit.

The Old Speckled Hen and Fullers London Pride are famous beers which I have never tried, so I must of course do the honour and taste them.  Repeatedly.

Estrella Galicia is a spanish beer (I had to look it up), so that will be an interesting take.  The italian beer, Menabrea, is surprisingly good, and distinctly italian but still very much european, so it will be interesting to see what the spanish do with their cerveza.  See?  Ich spreche espanol (or is that yo hablo deutsch?  Damn, too many beers.  Again).

The White Rabbit White Ale sounds interesting too.  I'll just have to follow that one down the rabbit hole.  Ooh, the big one at the back must be tasted too, if only to have an excuse to drink yet another big beer.  Not quite a Darwin Stubby, but i like...big...beers.

Who am i kidding?  I intend to taste all of them!  Happy drinking tasting!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Saison Ale Ingredients - Youtube Debut!

Check out The Beer Whisperer's debut video on Youtube!  This is the first video, of which i may add other videos taken on making the beer.


Please visit and feel free to comment!  (I need all the help i can get)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Memories of Orange Beer...

Looking back through my blog posts (all of a month), i read with reverence the legendary orange (for all the wrong reasons) beer. I became inspired to consider brewing it once more, but perhaps this time with the wisdom of hindsight.

I realised upon reading how to make the legendary Hoegaarden, that the coriander seeds are supposed to be  crushed prior to adding to the brew.  Who would have thought?  Next they will be telling me i need to cook the potatoes before mashing!  Oh, yes, my first potato mashing was something of a disaster, although i was a teenage boy all of 15 blessed with the infinite wisdom that blesses all 15 year-olds.  But i am renowned for my persistence, otherwise known as stupidity for expecting a different result, if only i had tried harder.

Apparently, the flavour of the coriander seeds are contained inside the seeds, not the outside hard shell!  Talk about counter-intuitive, but then again by this time i was much older than 15, so clearly my infinite wisdom had waned considerably by this time.

However, in acceptance of my declining wisdom, i will take the advice of so-called "experts" and crush the damned things before adding to the brew.  Well, if it imparts the flavour contained inside the coriander seeds, i will only have myself to blame.

As for the orange peel, it is supposed to be curacao orange peel, from some distant land, but my navel oranges did manage to impart enormous orange flavour the last time, so why would i change?  Oh, because the orange peel provides the extra bitterness of the beer, while the coriander seeds impart the fruitiness of the great Hoegaarden.  That is utterly counter-intuitive, so how the hell am i supposed to know that? By taking advice from experts?! Please!!

Okay, i'll try, but the result will be all their fault!  Curse you for your great tasting beer!  Oh, wait...

Free plug for Hoegaarden - http://www.hoegaarden.com/en-au/home.html

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Only Reason I Wake Up Every Afternoon...

Saison Yeast Starter


In preparation for my Saison Ale, i have created a yeast starter so it can both start fermenting straight away, and have yeast left over for a future brew! Usually a yeast starter is about twice the size to create enough for
 two batches, but i chose a smaller container to ensure sterility. Besides, much bigger and i'm likely to drink it.

As can be seen from the photo, there is yeast on both the top and bottom of the glass. Ale yeasts are top-fermenting, which explains the yeast on the surface, while the bottom contains a large amount of yeast slurry as a result of yeast already finished fermenting.

The fermentation is almost complete, as indicated by the lack of foam on top, however the beer is full of active yeast as indicated by its opaqueness. After fermentation, the yeast will all settle to the bottom and the beer will become clearer, however the volume of yeast (enough for 11 litres not including the reproduced yeast) is all included in about 250mls, so this may not become clear until fermented in a much larger volume of liquid. I'm just going to have to make 23 litres, dammit. Oh, how will i drink all that beer? Woe is me!

The test is ensure non-infection is by smell, which is strong and fragrant due to its concentration. It smells very good, however i may skim any remaining yeast off the top with a sterile spoon to ensure non-infection.

This yeast starter was created using half of the Saison liquid yeast, so there is enough to make a second batch. This starter appears to have bred sufficiently to use in an entire batch, which is important as yeast can suffer from stress if given too much work to do. I know the feeling, my babies!

Steal at Own Risk!

Beer tank. Pure awesomeness.

Beer Poetry

Some might say that this blog is, well, somewhat lowbrow. Well, we take such criticism constructively 'round these parts, so i've decided, bugger it, i'm going all hoity-toity and cultural like, by raising the standard of this site for youse all (cue grandma rolling in grave).

"Beer Poetry"

There you have it. I'm going to post some poetry. Okay, it's just a limerick, but i like limericks! Th
is has taken a great deal of effort, all of five minutes searching the net, and even that was interrupted often enough by my beer. Hey, it's thirsty work, don't bug me. I've actually made one up myself, but it's not suitable for this site, as it has nothing to do with beer. Ribald, perhaps, but beer-free, and this ain't no beer-free zone. Some sins are simply unforgivable.

On the chest of a barmaid in Sale
were tattooed the prices of ale,
and on her behind,
for the sake of the blind,
was the same information in braille.

There. Culture at its finest. That's it? Yep, the rest were crap.

Okay, now for something interesting. My yeast starter is going gangbusters! Saison here we come!

No, Heineken, no!

Next Brew Down to Two Choices

The choice for my next brew is down to two. I went to The Brew Shop http://www.thebrewshop.com.au/ in Peakhurst on Saturday and let the yeast decide!

Being a cheapskate, i went straight to the fridge and picked out the most recently expired Whitelabs liquid yeasts to help pick my next beer. Okay, they can't talk, but i'll talk to them all the same. Does that make me the Beer Whisperer? Anyway, i asked the experts there and with kindly advice i ended up with the following

Saison Ale yeast (WLP565) with Mangrove Jack's Munich Lager, plus 1kg extra light liquid malt and 1kg dextrose. I will probably use only half that to get to the mandatory 5% alcohol by volume (unless Raul is behind me egging me on to pour the lot in).

Saison, french for "season", is a non-specific style of Belgian beer originally brewed for farm workers for harvest season in the 19th century in the Wallonia region of the southern French-speaking region of Belgium. It is traditionally brewed in autumn or winter to prevent spoiling, and farm workers were entitled to five litres per day during harvest season (was that the best job of the 19th century? I think so!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saison .

It was also a lower alcohol beer due presumably to its use as a thirst quencher. This style of beer was considered to be a dying style, but has recently had a revival, particularly in the US, however they typically brew Saison at a higher concentration of alcohol. As much as i appreciate the higher alcohol content, why would i copy a copy? If i was going to do that, i might as well mime some Milli Vanilli while i was at it.

While having some variety in its characteristics, it was commonly a light-coloured ale, of low to medium bitterness and characterised by spicy and/or fruity complexity. The use of the Munich Lager provides the low bitterness and light colour, allowing the Saison yeast to define the beer. Oops, i'm drooling again.

The second beer is using the Whitelabs Abbey Ale yeast (WLP530), of which Coopers Sparkling Ale was chosen for its pure awesomeness!! Again, this yeast requires a darker malt with not high bitterness to allow the yeast flavour to shine through. It is also well-suited to higher alcohol beers, of which Coopers Sparkling Ale is a specialist.

I bought 2 kgs of amber liquid malt to provide the right level of colour, reflecting the malt's level of roasting. This will put the alcohol level up to 5.5 to 6%. If it's a bit low, i will add dextrose to obtain the appropriate original gravity.

The Abbey Ale yeast should add an extra dimension to the Coopers Sparkling Ale, which in my view is by far the best mass-produced Australian beer bar none. A good yeast can turn an average beer into a good beer, and in this case, a great beer into a sen-bloody-sational beer!

Due to the mystique of the Saison which i have never brewed, i think it will be my first choice, but first i have to culture it to preserve the yeast for future brews! My next post will be about this process, and quite frankly, is much more fun (and practical) than growing vegies, which, let's face it - is like watching grass grow! Stay tuned...


CRISIS AT DAVE'S HOMEMADE BEER BLOG! I am at my fattest EVER!! What shall i do to address this situation? Please note that as the blog owner, i have infinite votes, so don't bother voting for option 1.

Eat one broccoli head for each beer (longnecks, of course)
Increase car washing to bi-annually
Drink more beer (like!)
Drink marginally less beer
Male light beer
Eat the guinea pigs
Reignite my love affair with golf
Bug wife to make more salads

Why taste is more important than hearing.....

Democracy Reaches Dave's Homemade Beer Blog!

Dave's Homemade Beer Blog ditches tyrant, goes democratic! Which home brew kit should i brew next? Majority rules, drunkards!

Apple Cider
Brewferm Kriek (Belgian, lambic, cherry beer!)
Mangrove Jack's Belgian Ale
    Coopers India Pale Ale (strong, 6%)
      Morgan's Ironbark Dark Ale
        ESB 3kg Hoegaarden Style Witbier (gods, nectar, etc)

        Heaven Smiles Upon Thee!

        Our lager
        Which art in barrels
        Hallowed by thy drink
        Thy will be drunk (I will be drunk)
        At home as in the tavern
        Give us this day our foamy head

        And forgive us our spillages
        As we forgive those who spill against us
        Deliver us from incarceration
        But deliver us from hangovers
        For thine is the beer
        The Bitter and The Lager
        Forever and ever

        Home brew review - Mangrove Jack's Pilsner Supreme

        Back by popular demand...

        Home brew review - Mangrove Jack's Pilsner Supreme!

        1.7kg tin Mangrove Jack's Pilsner

        Coopers Brew Enhancer I (dextrose/maltodextrin) 1kg
        Saaz Finishing Hops 12g
        Whitelabs Liquid Czech Budejovice Lager Yeast WLP802

        For the uninitiated, pilsner is a beer originating from Pilsen in the Czech Republic, invented in the 19th century as a revolutionary beer which was characterised by its lightness, bitterness and aroma, utilising techniques new to the art of beer making.

        Pilsners are defined by their hoppiness, which translates into drinker happiness! Yay! Light and bitter, but aromatic from the characteristic saaz hops, a noble hop variety, pilsners are a favourite the world over. The original Czech beer is Budejovice, which was utterly bastardised by the yanks in producing the vomitous Budweiser, a pigswill imitation of the original but with absolutely nothing in common as far as i can tell. I'd rather drink straight from the Yarra. Come to think of it, where is my VB?

        This was bettered, arguably, by the first Pilsner, the famous Pilsner Urquell, first produced in 1842, from Pilsen. This was both the original Pilsner, and the first pale lager beer. In an amazing fact, 9 out of 10 beers produced and consumed in the world are derived from the original Pilsen beer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilsner_Urquell).

        Having tried to be true to the original by adding the appropriate finishing hops and similar yeast, there is seemingly little excuse for the beer not to resemble the original. The result is that while it is distinctly a pilsner, to me it is not quite there. Sounds like an excuse to get a Pilsner Urquell and do a taste test! I will post an update following the test.

        Interestingly, the beer is cloudy, which was unexpected, however i do not do secondary fermentation, which is used to produce a clearer beer and arguably better taste. This may have also contributed to the eventual flavour of the beer. After the earlier success making the excellent Mangrove Jack's Bavarian Wheat, i had high expectations. It appears a little less hoppy than expected, although this may be partly due to the yeast used, which is different to that used in Pilsner Urquell. A repeat of this beer might involve more infusion of the Saaz hops in preparing the malt from the kit to increase the bitterness of the beer.

        The beer ultimately comes up short of the hop profile of Pilsner Urquell. Still, it's about 20 lightyears better than Bud.

        Final rating: 4/5 stars.


        The real reason women should not drink during pregnancy...

        Blogging Cop-Out

        Lazy bloggers post random photos when they couldn't be bothered writing something worthwhile!


        The Nectar of the Gods

        T'is the nectar of the gods!!

        Home Brew Review - Coopers Pale Ale Supreme

        Home Brew Review Time!

        Coopers Pale Ale Kit 1.7kgs
        Coopers Brew Enhancer 1 - dextrose/maltodextrin
        White Labs Belgian Ale Liquid Yeast

        The last time i made this beer i was not impressed, so i thought it was time to up the ante. I had in the past added extra malt or added a hops bag, but the last time i just made the kit straight and i was rather bland. 

        So this time i thought i'd
         try a genuine, you beaut yeast to see how much it could improve it. I went the whole hog and bought the top shelf White Labs yeast (although the tight-arse kicked in and i bought it just out of date for half price, yet it was barely 6 months old).

        It fermented in April, so the temperatures were quite ideal, optimised by my underground brewery (aka "the garage") where the temperatures are constant throughout the day, between 20 and 22 degrees C.

        To reduce the yeast downtime, i woke them up with a bit of malt in a glass in advance of adding them to their veritable feast - all 23 litres of it!

        By the following morning, the brew was bubbling away, with the yeast on an orgy of alcohol-creation!

        It took a couple of weeks, but then had to wait many weeks more the beer to debut.

        Well, it was worth the wait. What was revealed was a light, refreshing beer with a smooth, fine beady head and an aroma of pure delight! The taste was superb, but i can't take the credit. Ye reap what ye sow and thou sowed some of finest ingredients available.

        Soon you will just have to take my word for it as i can't stop drinking it and there will be nothing left!