Sunday, April 25, 2010

New World Pale Ale.

The Republican Stout has been bottled, and so now it's time to move on to the next project:  New World Pale Ale.  This little delight is done in the style of the classic American pale ales, that is, big floral notes on the nose, a medium body, with a solid bitterness and lasting, but not overpowering, astringency.  I have used Amarillo and Chinook hops in the main stage of fermentation for this one, owing to the impact that the Mikkeller Amarillo IPA has had on me!  I think the Chinook works well with the Amarillo, too, and I am using Cascade to dry-hop when racking to add another dimension of complexity without making the flavour too busy.  See below for the malt combination, but needless-to-say I have bumped-up the alcohol content merely to act as a good bridge between the malt and hop flavours, rather than for any less salubrious or unwholesome reason.

New World Pale Ale (approx. 6.5% alc)

1 x Malt Shovel Pale Ale Kit
1.5kg Black Rock Light Malt Extract
300g crystal malt grain
250g pils malt grain
500g dried light malt
150g dried corn syrup
10g Amarillo hops (10 minute boil)
10g Chinook hops (3 minute boil)
1 x Cascade finishing hops (added after racking)
11.5g Safale US-05 yeast

See below at the Republican Stout recipe for the method.  This one pretty much follows the same course, with the exception of the steeping of the grain - for this recipe I steeped the malt grain for 120 minutes.

Safe and happy brewing!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Koops Checks Out His New Home, Or, Acknowledging The Legacy Of Bucky Fuller.

(click on above image for full pic)

This morning I had the pleasure to attend the exclusive Members' Open Day at the new Swan Street Stadium, otherwise known commercially as AAMI Park.  The new stadium is the shared home of the local A-League franchises Melbourne Victory and  Melbourne Heart, rugby union's Melbourne Rebels and the much maligned and damaged rugby league team Melbourne Storm.  What a delightful venue it is.

As I wandered through the soon-to-be-hallowed-corridors, and the soon-to-be-smelly bars, I couldn't help but notice that it seems to be the done thing these days that when one attends this sort of event there are no servers up, or the computer system has crashed, or no one really has any information that you are actually needing, or one is given the wrong directions to one's seat and so on and so forth.  Thankfully, the staff working this event did not disappoint.  Although they were all very polite, none of them seemed to really have any idea what was going on - apart from the courteous security staff at the entrance that informed me that no camera lenses greater than 200mm were allowed to be taken in by patrons.  (I asked the security guard why this was policy and he was unable to give me an answer.  I can't help but think this to be idiotic beyond comprehension.  There are no TV rights to infringe, no exclusivity of advertising to violate, no press deals to compromise.  Why, Victory?  Why?)  Luckily, I was armed simply with my 18-55mm Canon workhorse.  Anyway.   The stadium attendants seemed to have only a rather approximate knowledge of the layout of the stadium, and the club officials present had zero information on seating allocations and were only guessing about membership packages for next season.  Clearly either they were all sleeping through the club's staff indoctrination, or it never happened.  No matter.  The place looks amazing, and as I entered the stadium proper I was covered in goosebumps, imagining the game-time atmosphere.   I had the chance to inspect the view/perspective of my seat (pic above at right), and despite being in the corner of the pitch I witnessed first-hand that there is not a poor seat in the house.  BRING IT ON!!!  The vibe of the place for the derby matches versus the Heart are going to be simply incredible.  I believe that the Heart are attempting to organise a match against Everton for late July 2010, and I admit that I am tempted to go just to see a team like the Toffees play at such a ground.

To any fan of either the round-ball game, or either of the two codes of rugby:  get yourself a season ticket to the team of your choice and get down to this stadium to participate in this experience.  It is going to be brilliant!

I have heard AAMI Park referred to as a 'boutique stadium'.  This cute - and slightly patronizing - term does no justice whatsoever to the stadium's design, where patrons are not just close to the action but virtually on top of it.  Whereas with the stadium at Docklands, where football fans are merely spectators (and this includes the fans of Australian Football), here at AAMI Park the fans are direct participants.  With a capacity of 30,500, I suppose in the context of the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground across the road a bit it is 'boutique' (I shudder to think how many AAMI Parks you could fit within the confines of that awesome arena), but I expect that this new building will garner quite a reputation within the football world that will belie the tag.  Having seen it this morning I offer my honest congratulations to the architects, Cox Architects and Planners.  It's always lovely to see any work of Buckminster Fuller first-hand, and to see this (I can only assume) homage to his original  idea of the geodesic dome literally in front of my eyes is wonderous indeed.  Now far be it for me to suggest  that football fans would necessarily appreciate this fact any less than the average architect, or indeed the average futurist, but I suppose that it will be enjoyed more simply because of the roof's similarity with the shape of the round-ball.  At any rate, I, Bucky Fuller, acknowledge your contribution, even if the architects may not.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My New Favourite Beer...

Actually, it's not the ABSOLUTE favourite, but it's up there.  Mikkeller (Single Hop - Armarillo) IPA (pic on left).  Tasted at The Local Taphouse, East St Kilda.  Now, it's not a beer for everyone - this has a MASSIVE hop start and finish, initially on the nose as very floral, this wonder ends with an amazing crunchy and refreshing bitterness. A superb grainy starter, this one.  It's not too alcohol-ly at 6.9%, and I could have had several of these, but there was more tasting to be done...

One of the superb offers they have at The Local is the tasting paddle (pic on right).  For a measly $13 you get a selection of 5 beers (either of your choice or decided by the barkeep) complimented with a bunch of palate-cleansing water crackers.  The beers are served in tasting glasses and top out to about 150mls per glass. This is the perfect way to sample a variety of the tap beers on offer, and it gave me the chance to discover a couple of real gems.  Chevalier Saison, Hargreaves Hill ESB, and the Franziskaner Hefe Weizen were a few of the stand-outs for me.  My tasting partner and I had two of the paddles each, and still only sampled about half of the beers available on tap.  Also, in true Belgian style, I also had a bowl of mussells to complement my tasting experience - lovely!

Now I would like to say that this is less about a free plug for a pub than it is about expressing my love for the noble drink.  I had the opportunity to go to Germany, Belgium and Holland a couple of years ago and sampled many, many of the local brews off the tap and was blown away by the quality, the flavours and the sheer variety of beer in that region.  As a home craft-brewer I was inspired, and as a consumer I was revelated!  And so, as a brewer, I celebrate this love in my blog...

And on the subject of brewing, my Republican Stout is about 5 days away from being bottled.  I have decided to not rack this one, instead keeping all of the essence of the first fermentation intact to retain as much of those big flavours as possible - and I'm not interested in making this any more complex flavour-wise with dry-hopping.   I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wetting Of The Head

We have in our society a strange ritual that takes place after the birth of a child.  I would like to think that the idea of the 'Wetting Of The Head' came about as some kind of secular alternative to christening, or some such other archaic tradition, but I suspect that it has more to do with a new father's need to get blind drunk in the face of continued hardship (this doesn't apply to this father, of course!).

So anyways, there will be a WOTH ceremony to celebrate the birth of my newest son.  Details as follows.  You are all invited to attend and buy me a glass of my choice of fine ale.

Wetting Of The Head
Thursday, 15th of April
1600hrs until approx hell freezes
The Local Taphouse
184 Carlisle St
St Kilda East

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You - Rated NRC.

A   T   T   A   X   A   S
Work on my ATTAXAS project continues.  So far I have 3 songs fully tracked and ready for vocals, with a further 14 songs in development (half finished).

ATTAXAS is an electronic-based project, a bit of a first for me, with a lot of hip-hop, pop and 'techno' influences mixed with my love of stoner and metal.  It will be interesting to hear how it all sounds once it's finished!  I have also been developing a number of tracks based around the "Shit Raps" concept, with some terrible and turbo-charged loops, which is proving to be awesome fun!  In fact some of the "Shit Raps" tracks are so good that I have 'stolen' some of these ideas and used them for ATTAXAS songs...

Hopefully the ATTAXAS material will be ready for outing by the end of June.  Otherwise, if you make it over to my joint I am happy to play you a quick selection...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Republican Stout

Over the last few years I have been conducting a great deal of experimentation with home craft brewing.  As you would expect, there has been some spectacular successes (Belgian Trippel, Double Bock/Dunkel, Chocolate Stout, American Lagers, Czech Pilseners, and many more) as well as some incredible failures (Rasberry Ale, double strength ginger beer, Honey Ale).  It was suggested to me recently, after a tasting of my latest Belgian Trippel which, after a couple of hours ended being a bit ga-ga, I should start posting my recipes on my blog.  So here it is.  The first blog-brew.

Republican Stout (approx. 8.4% alc)


1x Coopers stout kit
500g chocolate malt grain
250g dextrose
500g dark malt extract
1000g light malt extract
250g honey
100g golden syrup
5ml liquorice extract
10g Fuggles hops (5 minute boil)
10g Hersbrucker hops (1 minute boil)
Safale 04  yeast (11.5g)


  • In a large steel pot (at least 10L), steep grain in 3L of water heated to 70degC for 60 minutes, then strain and rinse grain with 1L of 70degC water.  
  • Add another litre of (cold is okay) water, add kit malt, and other sugars, liquorice and syrups, stir to dissolve, then boil for 30 minutes.  Usually as the wort starts to boil there will be a large amount of foamy build-up on top of the mixture.  Stir regularly, as this will help dissipate this froth, which should go by around the 10-15 minute mark of the boil (this moment is referred to as 'boil-over').
  • After 30 minutes, add the Fuggles and stir in wort.  Fuggles add a lovely flavour to the stout, with only a mild bitterness which complements darker styles.
  • After 5 minutes add Hersbrucker and stir in wort.  Hersbrucker is a European hop variety usually reserved for lighter-style lagers and pilseners, but as we are only boiling for one minute, we are looking more for aroma than bitterness here.  Hersbrucker is spicy and flavoursome, and this little addition will add a fantastic but subtle complexity to the astringency (after-taste) of the stout.
  • After boiling with Hersbrucker for 1 minute, remove from heat and put pot in very cold (icy) water for 20 minutes.  This will rapidly reduce the temperature of the the wort to a much more yeast-friendly level.
  • Next strain wort into fementer, and top up with cold water to 20L.
  • Pitch rehydrated yeast when wort is at 18-20degC and gently stir.

When ready to bottle, a little hint:  only add half of the regular amount of priming sugar to bottles.  This will help create a terrific body to your Republican Stout!

Allow to condition for 6-8 weeks (12 weeks is ideal!).  The wait will be well worth it!