Friday, 31 March 2017

Necessity - The Flower Vase of Invention?

I ran into a bit of a hiccup in preparing for a brewday this weekend. I had just finished preparing my starter and was getting it setup on the stir plate. After the usual jostling, I got the stir bar engaged to the magnet in the stir plate and turning slowly. Satisfied that everything was stable, I turned up the speed on the plate, producing the usual satisfying whirlpool in the starter. No sooner than I started my next task - checking my inventory of malt - did I hear a "ping"...followed by the sound of a slow drip of liquid.

Turning around I saw, to my horror, that the plate had thrown the stir bar and cracked the flask (you can see a bit of the crack, left-side of the image). The starter was too big for my smaller flask, so looking around I came across the only available container - a flask of flowers. Long story short, the flowers have been moved to a less visually pleasing container, and a bit of bleach rendered their vase clean and sanitary. The bottom is too thick for the stir plate to work, but it makes for a pretty starter!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Adam's Pale Ale (an APA...get it?)

I've done a poor job of blogging recently, so here's my first attempt to getting back on track. Back in February I helped a friend (Adam) learn to brew on my system. This beer was designed with his tastes in mind - hoppy but not too bitter. A classical-ish American-style Pale Adam's Pale APA (get it, that's a beer "joke", or maybe a dad "joke"...regardless, its some sort of a joke, I swear).

Appearance: Golden with a modest white head. Sightly cloudy, although not as cloudy as it appears in the picture.

Aroma: Peaches. Lots and lots of ripe peaches...but there are no peaches in this beer.

Flavour: Overall I am happy with this flavour, although I would tweak the balance of flavours if I rebrew this beer. Upfront is a fruity hop character with a slight catty bite - courtesy of the large late addition and dry-hopping with Amarillo and Simcoe hops. Behind this was a slightly sweet, but otherwise fairly neutral, malt backbone. The hop bitterness was low - to my tastes a little too low to properly balance out the malty sweetness and hop fruitiness. Either a lower mash temp, or drawing back on the Munich malt, would give a more pleasant balance of flavours.

Mouthfeel: Modest body, accentuated by a lower level of carbonation, made for a creamy feel to the beer. Aftertaste was malt-sweetness and hop fruitiness. No lingering bitterness what-so-ever in the aftertaste.

Overall: A pretty good beer. The balance of sweet and bitter is a bit more towards the sweet than I would prefer, but its easy-drinking, hop-forward and delicious - just what Adam ordered.

Recipe below the fold.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

New Mailer System!

Mailer showing dividing lines, numbering & yeast deposited
on spots 1, 3, 6, 8, 9 and 11. Click for larger image.

As many of my readers know, I run an extensive yeast bank and frequently exchange yeasts with other homebrewers from around the world. In the past I've used a simple mailer system that allows yeast to be sent by letter mail. While this system worked very well, it had two major drawbacks. Firstly, it was a lot of work to prepare the mailers, taking me about an hour to prepare enough mailers to exchange 48 or so yeasts. Secondly, they did not always pack nicely into envelopes, leading to a few envelopes being returned by the post for being too thick for letter mail.

For my last few exchanges I've used a modified form of this mailer system. It is much easier to setup than the old mailers (enough mailers for hundreds of yeasts can be prepared in the time needed to make enough of the old mailers for a dozen yeast), and packs very nicely into envelopes. The only downside is that it is a little more work on the end of the recipient, as multiple yeast are now packed onto a single card.

Full details of the new mailer system can be found below the fold.