Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Classic: The Baron's Home Brew Lager

So I have a little story. More for appreciation of something so close to whisky in contents but that takes a different road. Beer! Well more importantly Home Brew. Barley is malted and brewed in a very similar way between beer and whisky. In fact whisky can be classed as beer prior to distillation so I only think it is appropriate to add this post to the site.

I have been making beer on and off for just over the last 10 years. Sometimes great and sometimes not so good at all. In moving to Sydney 7 years back I have been met with minor success on the brewing front and prior to the move I was living in Brisbane. In Brisvegas I have had great success almost consistently. On more than many occasions friends would arrive at my door for dinner and would be trading a premium 6 pack for a couple of bottles of my Home Brew Lager.

Over the years I have brewed many a batch and tipped almost just as many down the sink (there is no place for bad beer). Recently I had a batch left for no less than 1 year in the black hole under the house for a slow and extensive maturation period.

Now, a year is a long time for beer and most beers you buy off the shelf cannot be stored for any period. This is simply because the yeast and excess sugars have been filtered out leaving nothing to continue to ferment in the bottle. Home Brew on the other hand is chokers full of yeast and additional sugar is added as it is bottled to give the effervescence. A combination of the yeast and sugar allows for aging but it has to be slow and at a consistent temp the whole time in the dark. Ultraviolet light is bad for beer hence why traditionally it comes in dark green or brown bottles and never clear. Lucky for me the 'hole' stays at a constant 18 degrees all year round.

So where is this story going you are asking? Getting back on track, I have been opening a bottle of this Lager every month for 12 months in hope of this batch will mature to a state of drink-ability. A year back I was about to tip it all down the sink but felt this time it had some potential. Last month I cracked a bottle and was meet with a contents that is finally at a standard I have not seen in a long time. The image you see above is that bottle. Again 2 days ago I opened another bottle and again held another super chilled glass of frothy Lager. Unfortunately I am now down to 10 bottles left out of 24.

Welcome to 'The Classic' (Lager)!

Overall not too dark and not too light, not too hoppy and not too malty. Crystal clear with virtually no sediment in the bottle (mostly used up in the long maturation process), no waxy bubbles (a sign of under fermentation), frothy head with foam retention until the bottom of the glass.

Lager is quite bubbly, light in color and body and generally the easiest to brew. On average a good well fermented bottle of Lager can be drunk 6 weeks after bottling.

Why did I not open any at D.T.W.C? I just was not ready.

So why was Brisvegas so much better than Sydney? I put it down to a few things in combination. Firstly, though it is of note that the cleaning and sterilising of bottles and barrel is always at the highest I can achieve, plus I always filter the water.

Sydney water is very hard and generally has a mild taste of chlorine (even through filtering I have still found it a difficult water to use), temperature fluctuates way too much so the beer needs to sit in the barrel longer in a cool place. It has to be watched almost daily, sometimes taking 3 days just for fermentation to start, and waiting for fermentation to complete taking anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks.

In Brisvegas the water is softer and generally cannot taste the various additives in the water supply. Though the temps are higher they are much more stable and because they are higher fermentation can start as a general rule within 2hrs and take a week to complete. You know as soon as the bubbles stop flowing through the airlock it is time to bottle and almost no need to take the gravity readings.

P.S. - a good home brew, using tap water rather than bottled, one can keep the cost of a tallie (700ml bottle) down as low as 30 cents. Indeed when you have success it is well worth it.

Now 10 years on the barrel is at it's end and it is time to upgrade. So for all interested in Home Brew go forth but remember you need time on your side, impeccable attention to cleaning and sterilising and a dark cold location to store the barrel and bottles. 24 glass 700ml bottles per barrel are need so get out there now and buy a few cartons on tallie/long neck cartons of beer in preparation. $60 will get you a base kit at any Woolworths or Coles or get to your local home brew outlet such as

Cheers from the Uber Baron