Monday, 24 November 2014

Hop Federation Beer Tasting

I was going to start this post with some information surrounding a special experimental beer I brewed yesterday, this was in addition to the IPA I brewed up for Xmas. But more on that in another post. It is a slightly longer term brew, so rather than make you wait until a taste test, I’ll write up some information on the process I used, and how it was done.

But for this post I want to talk about a prize I won recently, and some tasting notes on that.
The prize was a 4-pack of 500ml beers, and a t-shirt, from a Brewery in Riwaka called Hop Federation.
While the brewery itself has been around for sometime under the name of Monkey Wizard, it is only recently that the business was sold, and taken over by Simon Nicholas, the former brewer at Hallertau in Auckland. He made the move from Auckland to Nelson, and I personally think it’s a good move. I mean who wouldn’t want to live in one of the sunniest places in this country. Not only that, but they live very close to the hop growing region. (I personally picked the prizes up from the brewery, and got to drive past them.) This give away was for their first Birthday.

And what a prize, some brief tasting notes are below for you to read, and if you haven’t tried any of their beers, you should definitely get in there, they’re brewing some good stuff.

So first up was the Golden Ale.
Very nice, and won bronze? At the National beer awards here in NZ. Nice light colour, good clarity, light malt and light hop flavour, very much like a pilsner, but less crisp, due to the ale yeast I assume. A good introduction to craft beer for anyone new. Good on a nice warm day.

NZ Pale Ale: Green Label
Nice Light orange copper colour, good carbonation and head. Nice malt base, typical for a Pale Ale. Hop bitterness is good, the only real comment I’ll say is it lacks some hop flavour. It could do with more hop punch from the NZ Hops. But another fine effort.

Red IPA – Red Label
My personal favourite. Pours a beautiful red/amber colour, plenty of head. Malt base is perfect, caramel sweet ness and maltyness, with a smack of hops, plenty of hop flavour, some slight astringency, bitterness is around where it should be, it could probably handle more bitterness, but it certainly doesn’t need it.

Brown Ale – Brown Label
This one is slightly different, supposedly an American Brown Ale, but built more like a dark lager. (Breweries words, not  mine) Lovely brown colour, some ruby highlights. Lacks hop character, quite crisp, this is where I think they mention the lager style, which makes a bit more sense now.
In my mind, this fits much better with an English Brown Ale style. (A greatly under-appreciated style) Malt wise, very good, hints of chocolate and caramel, underlying with the nice crispness I mentioned before.

So, all in all, some very nice beers, this is just their core range of brews. They have seasonals, and other beers available, Check them out here:

A big thanks for the prize. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and Happy birthday of course.

On a separate note, I have an update on two things: 1- New Pot has arrived, for a system upgrade (I am possibly looking at a 3-vessel system, and this pot will be my mashtun, I will also be able to run BIAB with it if I feel so inclined.) and 2- My Pilsner has been returned to the Keg Fridge, and after a small taste test, the Diacetyl is still apparent, however after almost a week of D-Rest in the Ferm ?Fridge, beside my Black IPA, this has greatly improved. I'm still wondering about Hopping in the keg, and have a bag of hops at the ready, I will test again next saturday to confirm how it tastes, prior to deciding.

Primary1(Plastic): War Pigs IPA (Blind Pig Clone)
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Nothing}

Small Batch Carboy: Braggot/Honey Ale
Secondary1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison /100% Brett Wild West IPA / Black Sheep Yorkshire Brown
Keg1: Backup Plan III Belgian Pale Ale
Keg2: Dark Storm Black IPA II
Keg3: Promised Land NZ Pilsner 
Next Beer to Brew: The Clown Prince of Crime Belgian Blond (Brugse Zot Inspired)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

100% Brettanomyces - Side by Side

As promised, I've posted some notes below of my two 100% Brettanomyces Saison, to compare the differences between a plain version, and dry-hopped version.

Before I do, a little bit about the special yeast/culture that is Brettanomyces.  i've got a couple of links below to get people started.

All About Brettanomyces - Mad Fermentationist
What is 100% Brett Beer? - Bear-Flavoured Ales
Some really good insight into Brettanomyces and how it all works.

So, for my recipe formulation I wanted to remove most of the hops and have the yeast really shine. I found that with the Wild West IPA, now that the hops have faded, the yeast is shining, and i wanted that from the start, and as it ages, I'm hoping (through mostly cold conditioning) that I'll end up with a nice Orval type/Rayon Vert style beer. I added some rye, to give the beer a touch of spice, and NZ Hops, such as Motueka, are perfect for almost any style of beer. From Pilsners to IPA's. the recipe for those interested is here: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces Saison

Firstly the Standard Non-Dryhopped version: (Left)
Aroma: Typical Bretty Aroma, Funky earthy, Slight Hay/Horsey funk. Very Nice. I've had a few comments from friends who've tried the beer. I think I've even inspired some less experienced brewers.
Appearance: Light and bright Golden Colour, some haze, from the brettanomyces. I have found that brettanomyces beers never really clear up completely, they hold some form of haze, howeverthis is considerably clearer than Wild West.theres 2 reasons for this. 1 is the Longer Primary Fermentation, I ran a 7-8 week primary, and the other is kettle finings.
Flavour: Light malt flavour, a touch of spice, very very minimal though. No hops to speak of. The dominating part of the flavour is the yeast, plenty of funk. Nice dry finish
Mouthfeel: Light, not thin in anyway, nice dry finish, carbonation is good. I expect as time goes on, that the carbonation will increase.
Overall: Very nice beer, the dry finish and lightness of the beer works really well. I was told more malt backbone is required, and I kind of agree to a certain extent, pinch of aromatic would work well, and a possible increase in the rye malt, might be in order.

Onto review number 2: (Right)
Original Sin - 100% Brettanomyces Saison Dry-hopped version.
As these are essentially the same beer, I'll just note the differences between the two.
Aroma: Considerably more aromatic, theres two reasons again for this. (this is my observation, so not necessarily the case) A hit of Citrus from the Wai-iti hops i dry-hopped with, as this was only 25g in 10 litres of beer, I wasn't expect it to punch me in the face, nice and subtle. the yeast aromatics are increased as well from the hops, it seems the yeast and hops work really well, and as per the articles posted above, the yeast converts those aromatics to another enzyme and just adds to it.
Appearance: More haze from the hops, which gives a shade difference, but I would call them the same colour. Carb is good.
Flavour: Citrus and yeast. the hops have again added nicely to this. I like what Wai-iti hops offer, similar with less smack in the face than riwaka.
Mouthfeel: Light body, nice carbonation, almost heavier in body then the other one. I'll put this down to the hops.
Overall: Dry finish, nice hop character, subtle hop character, but its there. I do get some oxidation, which in Brett's case assists in the flavour.

If i had to choose which one I prefer, as they're pretty much the same beer. i would choose the standard plain, the reason is just because its plain, it lets the yeast shine, and keep things nice and clean. less phenols.
For anyone thinking about using Brettanomyces in their beers, I highly recommend it.

On a separate note, i have diacetyl. The Promised Land NZ Pilsner have some minor Diacetyl issues. I've put the keg into the fermentation fridge at 21 degrees, to try and clean some of it up. I don't have high hopes for this beer, but I won't give up on it.....yet.
Next up, Dark Storm II. which started 4-5 points higher than previous 1.066-67

Primary1(Plastic): Dark Storm Black IPA II (Mosaic/Simcoe)
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Nothing}
Small Batch Carboy: {Nothing}
Secondary1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison /100% Brett Wild West IPA / Shadow Liberation(SJPORR) Porter /Black Sheep Yorkshire Brown
Keg1: Backup Plan III Belgian Pale Ale
Keg2: {Nothing}
Keg3: Promised Land NZ Pilsner
Next Beer to Brew:  Not sure, Something has to go down next week, Most likely an IPA. I'm also toying with a California Common, or Smoked Scottish Export 80/-

Saturday, 1 November 2014

NHC2014, Sons of Liberty II

This weekend, was really good, very nice and relaxed, all except for the National homebrew Competition 2014. Plenty of beers were entered, including 7 by me. Given the disappointment from last year, I didn't hold high hope, and decided to take the whole thing less seriously.

The day started ridiculously well, with a Bronze ale from the first of my beers tasted.
Heres a snapshot off twitter:
Yep thats right my English Brown Ale, a really tasty beer, nice esters cleanly fermented, and nice dark fruit and coffee flavours. The only issues they had were head retention, which I know all about.
they also suggested it was slightly more Porter like, given the higher roasty flavours present.

Problem is that's where it ended, lol.
Followed on its coat tails by a 9/50.... Isolation: El-dorado. i entered it in Golden ale (thats where the malt bill sits, but slightly too hoppy for style.) the issues they said were mainly fermentation issues, which is helpful, it never really cleared up, and TBH I'm not a massive fan ofthe beer in general.
3rd off the rank was my Porter, which for those who pay attention to this blog will know this is a recipe I really enjoy. Some nice hop flavour, with plenty of roast character.
so onto the rating..... 8/50.
Whoops, some issues there. they said too estery too bitter and not enough roasty flavour, this is partly my fault for not putting notes in to say it was an american version. they also said too sweet, which i know, but I'm still trying to figure out how to fix the attenuation issues. (maybe a yeast like WLP090 would help matters?)

then the rest were as follows:
100% Brett Saison (Plain version of Original Sin) 28/50 I placed this in Belgian Specialty, they said not belgian enough, given it's 100% Brettanomyces, I'm not surprised. 
Original sin - Dryhoppedwith Wai-iti: 25/50, in American Brett Beer category. Lacks Malt character (I do want to go at this again, with a better mix of Wai-iti and Motueka) the changes that needto be made is probably an addition of something like Aromatic to the same percentage of the cara-pils used.
Shadow Liberation - Bourbon porter: 26/50 - Barrel-Aged Dark Ale. Said too thin for style.
Red Barron Amber - 20/50: Barrel aged Pale to Amber ale - Possible Infection brewing, I'd suggest it's from  bugs getting in while barrel-aging.

so that all the entered beers, a big thanks to the organiser and the entrants, here in Chch, some of the more regular members ofthe group got together for a BBQ, and to try some of the beers entered. a nice day, some great beers, and very interesting to see the notes involved.

Here is the Sons of Liberty II Beers, a small amount of tasting notes below, considering 8/50 I'm nothopefuly in anyone actually brewing this apart from me. lol.

Aroma: Sweet malt and Chocolate, some fruity hops/grapefruit.
Appearance: Clear Dark colour, good head retention perfect Porter colour.
Flavour: Chocolate malts and grapefruit/citrus flavour, plenty of bitterness, which is about where I like it. too sweet for style, this finished at 1.020 which I'm tryingto sort.
Mouthfeel: good mouthfeel, the Maris Otter change from ale Malt has done wonders with this.
Overall: I really like this beer, as does the mrs. but needs to dry out by 2 more points, Citrus/grapefruit is slightly an issue, but thats more of a hops thing than anything else.

I'll have a taste test up of the two version of Original Sin up soon. I'll probably not bother with the Isolation El-dorado beer, although I will say this, I like what this particular hop offer, lemon/lime/citrus notes, not a huge hop aroma, quite subdued.

Primary1(Plastic): Back-Up Plan III (WLP500)
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Nothing}
Small Batch Carboy: {Nothing}
Secondary1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison /100% Brett Wild West IPA / Shadow Liberation(SJPORR) Porter /Black Sheep Yorkshire Brown
Keg1: Sons of Liberty: Unfinished Business
Keg2: Isolation El-Dorado Golden Ale
Keg3: Promised Land NZ Pilsner
Next Beer to Brew: Dark Storm Black IPA II (Mosaic and Centennial)