Archive for the ‘Homebrew’ Category

Seville Orange Season

2012-07-22 1 comment

The season for Seville oranges is over in a flash – probably a couple of weeks at most, so I was lucky to get a bag of beautiful big Seville oranges and a couple of lemons last week from the mother in-law in Mogo. I am pretty hopeless in the kitchen (good job Amanda is excellent) but last year I made Marmalade on a whim and everyone loved it, so I have decided to make it an annual thing. Commercial marmalade is never quite as good as home-made; it’s usually too sweet and lacks the bitterness and zesty flavour of the real stuff. The recipe I use is a simplified version of the Ultimate Seville Orange Marmalade recipe from BBC Good Food:

  • 6 large Seville oranges
  • Juice of one lemon
  • about 2kg sugar

Put oranges in bottom of pot and just cover with water and the lemon juice. Put a plate over the top to keep the oranges submerged.
Simmer for 1.5-2 hours until skins are soft and easy to pierce with a fork.
Remove oranges and cut in half. Scoop out flesh and pith and pass through a sieve back into the pot. Push as much through as possible for the pectin.
Slice the skins thinly and return the sliced skins to the pot.
Add the sugar and return to heat.
Boil for a further 15-30 mins or as long as it takes to reach desired set.
Test set by putting a teaspoonfull onto a saucer and placing in the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms readily on the marmalade it is ready.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it keeps all the seeds and stringy pith out of the marmalade resulting in a nice clear jam (apart from the peel of course) while still retaining plenty of pectin. It’s also much easier to slice the soft cooked orange skins instead of raw. This year I made double quantities to hopefully last a bit longer after giving away a few jars. First taste on toast was great! Now if only I could find a recipe for good old British Marmite!

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Nut Brown Ale

2012-05-22 Leave a comment

And so the brewing production line continues…. I racked the American Pale Ale into the second keg after the half-marathon on Sunday afternoon (FG 1016, 4.5% ABV) and I’m giving it a couple of days at 31PSI to carbonate. There was quite a bit of sediment to settle out (mostly loose dry finishing hops added to the wort) so I’m guessing I’ll have to chuck out the first glass or two. After cleaning out the fermenter I got another brew on straight away. This one is ESB’s Nut Brown Ale (Newcastle Brown Ale drinkalike) – recommended By Dave’s Home Brew. It comes with a good ale yeast (Safale S-04) which seems to ferment OK down to at least 18C. That means I can leave the heat pad off. Hopefully the cooler temperature will keep the beer clear and clean tasting even if it takes a few extra days to finish. The only problem is I’ve run out of kegs! Might have to resort to bottles again.

I’ve also invested in some reading matter to plan future brews. Looks like a good read:

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Tuesday Tempo

2012-05-15 Leave a comment

Running catch-up:

On Sunday I ran the Striders “Emerald Excursion” STaR with JB, Ray & Co. Lovely morning to be out around the harbour. John kept pushing the pace (despite telling us he was under strict instructions to keep it under 4:30s – we were doing 3:50s around Barangaroo). I’d run from home to the start so I peeled off at the Domain and headed home at more relaxed pace for 33km total (121km for the week).

As often happens after a solid Sunday long run, Monday’s run felt fantastic. I almost took a rest day as I was feeling crappy at work but as soon as I got moving I had a spring in my step. I filled my lungs with sweet brewery smells as I passed the Malt Shovel on Bridge Rd. They must have got a mash on the go as there were clouds of malty steam floating down the road.

Today, Tuesday, was the HuRTS 45-min tempo. I caught up with Macca on the jog over the bridge and we started at a comfortable, relaxed pace. I’d planned to go a little easier today and it seems everyone else was doing the same. Tom led the way until Tongey chugged past. I turned with Tom & J-Fen at 6.25km and made it back to the pillars with 10 seconds to spare (3:35 avg pace). With the warm-up and cool-down it’s a 22km session so I’ll probably cut the mid-week long run and do something shorter instead tomorrow – maybe even rest. The tempo felt great which I guess is a good indication for the half-marathon. I just hope I can keep my legs fresh. Plan is to try to hold 3:30 pace although the first 3km (downhill) are bound to be quicker.

On the brewing front I had my first taste of the porter tonight. It’s a bit unusual, too fruity for a porter, but I reckon it will mature well if the hops mellow out a bit. Amanda likes it so it can’t be too bad! Meanwhile the Pale Ale is too cold (18C) and is fermenting at a snails pace so I put a heat pad underneath it to help it along.

Categories: Homebrew, Running Tags: ,

American Pale Ale Wetpack

2012-05-14 Leave a comment

Over the weekend I got the keg fridge installation completed. I had to drill a hole for the gas line in the back of the fridge (carefully avoiding the coolant pipes) and modify the cupboard under the laundry sink to accommodate the CO2 bottle and regulator. Hopefully that will keep little hands off the dials! I still have to fit a lock to the fridge door to keep Mr. 2-yr-old out. He has been known to piss into the salad crisper before so god knows what damage he could do with a beer gun and a keg at forced carbonation pressure! Anyway here’s how it all looks:

I spent a while giving the 2nd hand cornelius kegs a good clean. Both had the remnants  of soft drink in the bottom so I gave them a good soak in keg cleaner and then foced it throught the dip tube with some CO2 before sanitising. Then it was time to keg my first beer – the porter! OG was 1062 and FG 1018 making it 5.7% ABV. I’m a bit worried because the hops are a tad overpowering. Turns out the guy who suggested them had meant them for the Pale Ale and we’re both unsure how it’ll turn out with the porter. Anyway, I’ll give it a week or two to mellow.

Having racked the porter I couldn’t bear to leave the 2nd keg empty for long so I put on the American Pale Ale tonight. It’s a “wetpack” which is still a fairly simple kit but involves a 60-minute boil, soaking and sparging some grain and finishing hops. Just enough effort and involvement to give a sense of satisfaction without being too onerous. This one is supposed to be rather like Little Creatures – if it’s even close I’ll be a happy drinker.

After the 60-min boil I chilled the wort for 15 mins in iced water before filling the fermenter to 20l. Pitched the yeast at 21C and measured OG (1050). Looks good. Hopefully it might be ready to keg by the weekend.

Categories: Homebrew Tags: , ,

First Porter

2012-05-06 2 comments

When I bought my kegging gear a couple of weeks ago I picked up ingredients for a Porter and an American Pale Ale (wet-pack). I put the porter on this weekend and hopefully I’ll start the Pale Ale next weekend if I can rack the Porter on Saturday and figure out all the CO2 plumbing. Timmy keeps going on and on about the so-called “HuRTS home brew night”. Jeez – talk about inviting yourself around! Anyway, stocks are running low so if I’m going to be entertaining I need to get brewing. I might even pull out the old dartboard too…


  • 1 can Wal’s Bitter (Country Brewer)
  • 1.5kg dark liquid malt
  • 150g Crystal grain
  • Nelson Sauvin hops (tea bag)
  • Ale yeast 514

I’m a bit uncertain about the Nelson Sauvin hops – they smell fantastic and are described as excellent for “big punchy ales” but they don’t seem to be a classic porter hop. It’s a bit of an experiment so we’ll see how it goes.

Steeped the grain in 1l boiled water while cleaning and sanitising the fermenter. Poured in the can, malt and a litre or two of hot water. Strained the grain and sparged with another litre of hot water. Lovely smells…

Steeped the hops in a mug while I topped up the wort to 20l with cold. Added the hops and left it to cool to 25C before pitching the yeast. OG is 1062 and smells delicious: caramelly malt, gain and very fragrant hops – yum! Lovely dark colour too. I’m excited about this one.

Fairly vigorous fermentation 24 hours later with the wort at 18C. If it gets much colder I might need the heat pad but seems to be doing fine without it so far.

Categories: Homebrew Tags: ,

Running, kegging and painting

2012-04-16 1 comment

Friday: 17km from North Sydney to Breakfast Pt. Nice run except for a knob-end in a ute screaming at me.

Saturday: I took a trip to the Country Brewer and got a bit carried away: ended up buying a kegging system. No more bottle washing – hooray! Will post pics of the plumbing when it is all set up. I stocked up with ingredients for a Porter and an American Pale Ale. I’d better get brewing as the remaining stocks of the Yorkshire Bitter and Dark Ale are running low. Started painting the shed in the afternoon. Rest day from running.

Sunday: 21.5km Striders River Run STaR (with shortcuts). Felt harder that it should – might just be the hill session catching up with me. Spent the rest of the day painting the shed which, combined with the 5am start, left me feeling thoroughly knackered by sunset. When I finished Amanda said “I hate to say it, but I’m not sure about the colour now!”

95km for the week which would be fine if I was coming off a month or two of decent mileage but I’ve averaged something like 80km/wk for the last 6 weeks. Not sure how much to do in the last few days before Mt. Solitary. I guess I’ll see how I feel and try to freshen up the legs as much as possible.

Categories: Homebrew, Running

Yorkshire Bitter and Not So Dark Ale

2012-01-18 2 comments

Just started drinking the last two brews from late 2011: a Yorkshire bitter and a “Dark Ale” that turned out not so dark in the end.

Munton’s Yorkshire Bitter

(start 2011-09-20)

  • Muntons connoisseurs range Yorkshire bitter
  • Replaced sugar in recipe with can of Morgans Pale Lager Malt
  • Added Fuggles finishing hops (Morgans)

Chucked in the yeast at 26C (against advice of 18-21 because it was late and I was knackered). Vigorous fermentation started within 12 hours and appeared to stop after 3-4 days. FG: 1018 (a bit high? but SG not recorded and fermentation had stopped for 2-3 days).

Tastes pretty good after a decent period in the bottle. I should have followed Dave’s advice to reduce the amount of water added to the wort as it’s not as strong as I would like, but I guess that makes it more of a thirst-quenching summer ale. End result is very drinkable and even the father-in-law likes it (as long as it’s cold!).

Dark Ale Experiment – the “Not So Dark Ale”

(start 2011-09-27)

  • Black Rock Pilsner Blonde (Nelson Hops and Malted Barley)
  • Morgans Caramalt Amber
  • Cascade finishing hops

SG: 1040. Caramalt smells great! FG not recorded.

After a few months this is a pleasant enough drink but rather disappointing. I was hoping for something a bit closer to White Rabbit’s Dark Ale but it’s really like a dark coloured lager with some of the hops showing through. Like the Yorkshire bitter I’m not too fussed as it’s a good drink for a warm summer evening. The search goes on….

I’m still tossing up the idea of setting up a kegging fridge in the laundry. Now that the garden is finished the procrastinating baker has given her approval so I just have to convince myself that I’d brew enough to make it worth it. Another round of sterilising bottles will probably tip me over the edge.

Categories: Homebrew