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Having Completed Brew in a Bag Number Fifty

Published on June 10th, 2021

Over the last decade I’ve made an awful lot of cider, mead and fruit wine. I’ve been making beer for a similar amount of time. But it was only when my partner gifted me a grain mill three and a half years ago that I started making beer with basic grain over gas flames on the front porch. Like a lot of people wanting to economise on brewing equipment, I’ve been using BIAB (Brew in a Bag) equipment for making beer. And most of the time it’s pretty good beer.

The equipment you need for BIAB brewing is pretty simple. You need a heat source (gas or electric), a brew kettle (I have 36 litre and 95 litre kettles, but you only need the smaller one), a filter (you can buy a BIAB specific bag, or use a mesh filter), some form of chiller to cool your wort (unless you do the no-chill method, of course), and a fermenter (preferably with temperature control) in a dark space. The rest is just buckets and a stir paddle & some elbow grease for cleaning things.

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Historical Brewing Techniques (Book Review)

Published on May 25th, 2021

Historical Brewing Techniques by Lars Marius Garshol

About twelve months ago a brewing book was released by Brewers Publications called Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol. In fact, I’d call this an extremely well referenced text book that could be used to teach the subject in a University environment. Lars spent many years travelling and investigating this subject with the help of archives, translators and the friendliness of farmhouse brewers in Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Denmark and Finland. This isn’t just a book about Norwegian kviek yeast, although along the way Lars almost single handedly brought that yeast back from the edge of oblivion to become a home brewing obsession; it’s about a much broader subject – farmhouse brewing traditions across Europe.

What I found most interesting and inspiring about Historical Brewing Techniques were the wide array of solutions created by farmhouse brewers in the past. Some people threw hot rocks into the mash or the boil; some boiled their mash; some mashed in the oven making loaves of grist; others never boiled at all. The same goes for using hops: into the mash, into the boil, boiled in water (or wort) alongside the mash or boil. It’s a horrible saying, but there are many ways to skin a cat and there seems to be nothing more true in this regard than the history of brewing.

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Every Beer has it’s Summer, Autumn & Winter

Published on May 8th, 2021

Beer is an agricultural product and we probably lost sight of that as large beer producers in the late Twentieth Century convinced us this crisp amber liquid simply appeared on shelves and poured out of hotel taps without variance. The beer industry mastered production, distribution and branding. However, things changed a bit as we moved into the world of microbreweries and small scale home brewed beer.

The difference, of course, is we don’t have a nationally accredited cold chain process in a distribution channel that an industrial scale brewery might entertain. What we have at a smaller scale are beers where the shelf life (and all beer has a shelf life) dramatically reduces. It makes me cringe, for example, to go into premium craft beer retailers only to see an IPA at room temperature and six months (or more) older. That’s a terrible example of beer.

What we’ve learned along the way about small scale production is that beer needs to be kept cold and consumed fresh to be at it’s best. We’ve learned that ingredients like grain and hops have seasonal variance. We’ve learned that beer, in and of itself, has it’s own seasons. It begins in the Spring of the beer, the process of designing and building that beer, conditioning it before release and the packaging for distribution.

Next comes the Summer of the beer, where the beer is at it’s most glorious and fresh and the nuances of flavour and aroma are at their premium quality. The Summer is the beer as the brewer intended. This is the time all beer should be consumed (although Summer depends on the beer style, of course).

Then comes the Autumn where ageing begins to take a toll as flavours drift away from that intended product. The beer is still drinkable, but not at it’s best. The beer has peaked and begins a decline. During this season the hop aromas begin to fade and the type of sweetness changes. The rate of change is relative to the beer style and the handling in distribution of the beer. For example, how consistent was the cold chain? Exposure to light over time? And the further in time you go into the life of the beer, the more chance that a few microbes are in there chewing away and breeding inside the package.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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