Saturday, July 26, 2008


In 1999 Neo Nazi David Copeland was terrorizing London with nail bombs, the world was looking forward with trepidation to the coming millennium, the absolute dross that is ‘Shakespeare In Love’ was taking out an Oscar, bombs were falling on Kosovo, Labour took control of the New Zealand Parliament, I was in my first year at University, Fulham achieved promotion to the Premiership and Fullers were brewing one hell of a beer.

My mate Pete was in the UK recently to attend a wedding. In addition to tracing his Scottish roots, catching a Radiohead show and doing some sight seeing he also managed a Fullers Brewery tour and a trip to the Ealing Beer Festival. From the Fullers shop be brought me a bottle of Fullers 1999 Vintage Ale. This, the oldest beer I have ever drunk, I imbibed with Sarah last night. It was extremely good.

Fullers Vintage Ale 1999 8.5%abv

Pours murky amber with a healthy white head. Aroma features a heady complex mix of stone fruit, particularly apricot, orange fruit, nutty chewy malt, barley sugar and a hint of fortified wine. On the palate there is a velvety smooth mouthfeel, nutty rich malt, reminiscent of Tom Hardy’s, dry barley sugar, orange fruit, a hint of warm Xmas cake spice all leading to an incredibly rounded smooth finish. Knock out beer!

Cheers Pete!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A new Merchant is born.

I’m sipping on a glass of my latest vintage of Imperial Stout as a reward for having bottled the 2007 vintage. Last years batch of the Merchant was brewed last November, since then it has been sitting in a corny keg in my cellar. Today I primed the 9.4% abv black beast with some sugar and ran her into 50 nip bottles. I think last years vintage is the best yet, roasty, bitter with hints of raisins and chocolate. After 4 or 5 years of brewing this style I think I am starting to get there. Fine tuning a running beer is easy, it takes a hell of a lot longer to perfect an imperial recipe.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Winter 08

Ah what a weekend! It started with the West Coast IPA Challenge on Thursday. Epic Brewing Co and Hallertau Brewbar both brewed an American style IPA Epic using imported ingredients, Hallertau using local ingredients, the results were put to the test back to back at the Malthouse. Then Friday saw International Brewers Day Celebrated with the unveiling of the commercially brewed SOBA Homebrew Champion Bock again at the Malthouse.

Saturday was the big day and despite heavy rain we still had a house full of punters. The beers were flowing and the food disappeared in record time (note to self, more grub next year!) Thanks to all who helped out by brewing, working bar, designing menus and to all who came to drink. A fantastic night. Right I’m off to lull my hangover with an episode of The Power of Art.

p.s. the sparkler seen on the beer engine was for Stanley Green a pale ale from pro brewer Invercargell Brewing Co. The beer was served from a plastic bladder in a cardboard box and was totally flat requiring the 'bling'.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Manning the Taps…

…Well we will be in a week’s time. I have spent today rearranging the bar for next weeks festival and setting up the extra beer engines that I have borrowed for the event. 6 of the seven engines that will be used next week are now in place. Time for a pint of Revival Stout to reward me for my work I think. There is something very satisfying about running a beer festival, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Lapsed Catholic

For sometime now I have been using Saf US-05 after becoming dissatisfied with my old yeast of choice Saf S-04. In the same period I swapped from fermenting in plastic jerry cans to fermenting in stainless corny kegs, as any brewer knows changing two variables at once is never a good idea but what’s done has been brewed. Recently I have been most concerned with the high ester character that my beer has shown. US-05 is renowned for being reasonably clean and neutral although there were murmurs from certain quarters about it having a potential acetal aldehyde problem. Certainly when used in my system with narrow tall fermentors with limited surface area the ester character has been significant and green apple has been a problem. And so I decided to dabble with S-04 again, many of the brews I did for the Winter Ales Fest were double batches with ½ fermented with US-05 and ½ fermented with S-04, S04 has won hands down. While the S-04 displays a little diacetyl post primary fermentation and if the fermentation gets to warm a little iso-amyl acetate (banana ester) the over all character of the beers fermented with S-04 is much cleaner. Like any Catholic its time for me to lapse I’m back in the S-04 camp.

Carbon Hop Print

Living at the arse end of the world we can’t afford to get to wound up about carbon miles. Our economy relies on exports and my beer passion relies on imports. Still while our clean green image is mainly fiction it is true that New Zealand’s non-intensive farming does in many cases use less carbon including the shipping than Northern Hemisphere farming does just down the road from the market. Anyway what has got me rambling about food miles? well Boak and Bailey and Pete Brown have both recently written about an American Beer Festival that’s been running at the Sloany Pony, it interested me that the second beer in the list was a cask conditioned version of Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, one of the first American beers to come out of the new interest in the states with Kiwi hops. It’s quite a globe trot from Nelson, to Chico to London but if I was in London I would certainly be getting a pint.

Beer List – Winter Ales Fest 08

Here is the beer list for the Winter Ales Fest

O-Street Brewing:

Revival Stout 5%abv

Winter Brew

Oatmeal Stouts stemmed from the desire to make beer more nutritious with the added oats giving a smooth mouthfeel a hint of nuttyness. Revival Stout blends maris otter pale malt with roast barley, rolled oats, patent, crystal, and wheat malts and is hopped with fuggels.

Kingston XX 4.6%abv

Occasional Brew

Named after the suburb of Kingston that sits at the top of the hill Kingston XX is loosely based on Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, one of my favourite beers. Brewed with Golden Promise pale malt and a hint of crystal malt XX is heavily hopped with Fuggels, and Goldings throughout the boil with a healthy addition of Styrian Goldings at flameout.

Berhampore Best Bitter 4.4%abv

Regular Brew

The stronger of my regular session beers 3B”s is a malty deep copper best bitter with a firm bitter finish. 3B’s is brewed with Maris Otter pale malt, dark crystal, and light crystal malt and is hopped with the classic English combination of Fuggels and Goldings.

Hall St Porter 4.6%abv

Autumn/Spring Brew

Hall St Porter is named after the Street in Newtown near the O-Street that gives the brewery its name. A brown porter crafted for session-ability it combines maris otter pale, crystal and patent malt with Fuggels providing the bitterness,

Ridgeway Ruby 5.8%abv

Winter Brew

A winter warmer as it should be, flavours of rich nutty malt, dark spicy sugar, and vinous fruit. Ridgeway Ruby is brewed in the style of English draft old ale such as Theakston’s Old Peculier or Black Sheep Riggwelter. Ridgeway Ruby combines Maris Otter pale malt, dark crystal , light crystal, chocolate malt, brewing sugar and Fuggels and Goldings hops.

Brooklyn Bitter 5.5%abv

Occasional Brew

Brooklyn Bitter is an Extra Special Bitter combining a rich malt character with a firm English hop character. Brooklyn bitter combines Maris Otter pale, dark crystal and light crystal malt with Goldings, Fuggels and Styrian Golding hops.

Festive Tonic Ale 4%abv

Festive Special

As a festive brew I decided to delve into the past and make a contemporary version of a Victorian oddity. Beer historians the Durden Park Beer Circle describe Tonic Ales as “a Victorian fad. These were light beer heavily hopped and drunk young. Drinkers were assured that the bitter flavour was doing them good.” From that description I crafted a pale 4%abv beer from pilsner and pale ale malts and then mercilessly hopped it with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin and American Willamette hops. Known tongue in cheek around the brewery as the ‘Pale Mild’, Festive Tonic Ale is a seriously fruity, bitter low gravity beer. Don’t let the winter get you down, take your tonic!

Front Porch Brewery

Front Porch Pipkin's Pumpkin Ale 6%abv

Festive Brew

With Pumpkin added to the mash, cinnamon and cloves added to the boil and a Trappist ale yeast used for fermentation this is a truly experimental spiced winter ale, like pumpkin pie in a glass!

Front Porch Blue Flag Wee Heavy 8.7%abv

Festive Brew

Front Porch Wee Heavy - coming in a little lighter than I had thought at 8.7% it has an FG of 1.028 and nice malt flavours. A little age would definitely improve this beer but, hey, time waits for no man. I highly recommend the Whitelabs European Ale

(WLP500) yeast for these and other low ester style beers.

Brendon’s Brewery

Brendon's Brown Porter 4.5%abv

Chocolate, nuts, caramel - basically this is a liquidised Picnic bar.

Brewaucracy Brewery

Brass Monkey ESB - 5.4%

A very full bodied, and slightly non-traditional beer, loosely based around the ESB style. This is currently too young to have tasting notes, but contains Maris Otter, Dark Crystal, and a touch of Munich and hopped with East Kent Goldings. Early samples show it promises to be rich, slightly chewy, and with a gentle earthyness.