…This month, wow. Started out with some fresh bourbon barrels, then a slew of new beers, keg only stuff, the session beer challenge, double batch of 802#8, moved house, got published for the first time, won some awards from SOBA and…
The next seasonal to come out is our Shoemaker Rd Irish Stout, named after a road in Waipu, not to be confused with kitchen lingo; for a shit cook. It is a rich roasty, chocolaty and a little nutty (from the roasted wheat) smooth as…well with carbonation coming via nitro it is silky smooth, I think I compared it to Adam Sandler’s character Scrappy Coco aka the Zohan, yep that smooth. Available early March, I recommend a nitro tap for this, or a high pressure regulator. 4.3% abv
Yeah baby six freshly emptied Four Roses Bourbon Barrels arrived. Our friends Fritz and Maria were bringing over a container from the states, so they said what the hell let’s put some barrels for folks in it! After some slow progress through customs they arrived in good shape.
I quickly filled three with Traders Scotch Ale, and brewed a double batch of Pioneer Porter for the other three. They will then hold some Maple Oat Stout and Blackwatch before retiring to the sour program…
A few leaks in one, easily stopped with a candle and water on the outside. Clean the area first, rub hard over the leak, if that doesn’t work, heat it a little first to melt it, then quickly dab it on. If your attempts fail, wash down the barrel daily of files. They carry acetobacter and other souring organisms. Keep them away until the barrel settles in. Repeated water should help.
Their will be a few 30 liter kegs of each, the rest will be bottled. Available through events in March and April. The bottles will be released in late March early April.
Hate to admit it, but we fucking nailed this one. Been trying really hard to get the malt balance and the hopping ratio, and a few other little details to make it rounder and more resinous. This one with the trio of hops worked great. So good, I have brewed a second double batch. Early reviews, stunning…6.6% year round potential…high…Get it while you can they disappear fast.
I have previously mentioned our filtering. Well low and behold I fucked up. Well not fucked up but just understood wrong. Our 20-10-5 set up was actually a 20-3-5. The 5 kind of being redundant, except to collect the dissolving lenticular. So I thought about our process and tried an alternative. It fucks with the schedule but has increased the speed of clarity and time of filter runs. Honestly has cleaned up the flavors as well.
Currently we have been uni-tank. Meaning we do everything in one tank until filtering. We trialled moving from primary onto dry hop but still had poor results with clarity. Our latest is primary and dry hop in one tank, then harvest yeast, dry hop and crash. Then rack to a purged tank and add finings. This has sped up clarification from 7-10 days or more to 3-4 sometimes better. We prefer to condition longer as it is better for long term stability, but we have near bright beer within days of fining and cooling. Some might laugh at that, but considering our hopping rates, methods, and the lower flocculation rate of our yeast, I am very happy with the results. Using the same method with US05 or 001 would produce bright beers within a day or two.
Filter times and DO levels have dropped too. All good news. That doesn’t change the filters though. The 20 micron needs a huge amount of pressure to push through, and our tanks can’t handle that. So we have used it as a polish then the lentic takes the load. the five now is just in the way. The 3 micron, filters bright beer easily, but any haze they block up really fast and will fail completely within a few thousand liters after. Bright beer we have seen as much as 10-12 thousand liters before having to change the filters. That is about 4c per liter, not great but easy and with low DO rates and stable beer. The cartridge filters last for about 100 thousand liters or more. We bought some Pall “back flushable,” filters we are trailing them again. Maybe with less loading they will last longer. Time will tell…
The list came out already, so I can spoil it, I think I already did last month any way. We brewed a Vienna Lager, with disturbing amounts of Hallertau Blanc. A true German brewer would reel in disgust at the volumes of green matter we threw at this lovely classic lager.
Our friend and hospo stalewart Lindsy, formerly of Uptown Freehouse and freelancing at Wood street, all part of the Evan Empire. She is fondly known in social media circles as @lindsydoesstuff. Anyway she wanted to snoop around and see how we do things. So I did my best to muck it up proper Bathgate like, and it proceeded as follows.
We have no “guest” gumboots, as we haven’t really had any ‘guest’ brewers yet, my mate Jim holly exception as he brought his, and Andrew and Hannah didn’t do that much to need them. So she, with shoes on, stepped into Geoff’s (6ft 5+ something) gum boots…classic clown shoe thing. A pretty girl in clown shoes at a brewery. Off to a bad start. She had a great sense of humor about it. I was a bit embarassed. She rocked them though. Then the stuck mash…haven’t had one in a while but with all the chit-chat I wasn’t focused, and the silicon seal around the screens has needed replacement for the last few mashes, I have procrastinated that. Shit. So a 7 hour brew turned out to be 10 ish. She had to bail just after the boil. It got better. I had to dilute the wort as it was just over gravity. I had over filled the hot liquor and cooled it down too much so when I added the water it dropped my whirlpool temp, fuck! So sitting at 90c, and no bittering addition yet! 5kg wouldn’t cut it even with a long run off. So I dumped in 10g per liter. Let it stand for 20 minutes and ran off. Ferment was sweet, but I got crazy again at dry hop and should have just done the 5kg, but no, had to go for it, chucked in the other 5kg. Another 10 grams per liter dry. This is not a fruity hop, pretty grassy, turns out. A few days on dry then I crashed it and racked it to condition with finings for a month or so. I filtered it too so the grassy character faded a bit. The base beer is super clean, fermented at 10c for 10 days. Proper lager like, malty and rich. Should be a stand out from a field of pale ales, good or bad. We will also we launching a keg of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Traders at CBD the week lead up to the festival. I always look forward to Marchfest.
Session Beer Challenge
Sadly we really wanted to go to this event. We had a tentative reservation through Air bnb for place just out side of the city, it would’ve been just a quick uber ride to cbd we figured. We would be in for a fun night! Country mouse in the big city stuff. Reservation never confirmed…shit, so the last places in the city were all booked and asking rates in the $300+ range for shit holes. Fuck!
Well they managed to carry on with out us, and Sawmill took the cup! Brilliant. Mother fuckers keep making great beers! Hallertau coming in a solid second, the beer sounded great. Boric Plum sour on Nitro fuck yeah!
I smell some new passion in that place…just sayin’
I heard later from one of the judges that we made it to the final round, only to be just nipped by Sawmill.
I can’t wait for next year, we will all try to come in for it!
The faithful assistant has stepped away for some much deserved time off. The best time for me to review process and tighten up a bit. I have an obsession to organize and focus on efficiency. Having to do others tasks is a good reminder to the steps and looking at it with a fresh set of eyes is great. I saved three sheets of paper and three extra steps in dispatch with one simple piece of paper that tracks all out going orders along with tracking numbers per parcel. Easy to go back when something goes missing, as they do.. a lot. NZ courier companies are deplorable at delivering cases of beer. I am tired of broken cases and missing items. Tired of filling out insurance claim forms. Get your shit together, get chiller/temperature controlled vans and handle boxes properly! It is the future!
Same in brew house, process smooth, and fuck, I clean like an old feline cleans its tail. I love a clean brew house and fermenters. I am one of those people that clean the out side when I clean the inside of the tank. The floor, walls, legs etc. Feels good after, really good.
Brewed a heap of beers and have staged a tank for blending barrels for bottling…
I had gotten an email mid month from SOBA Auckland, they asked if we were coming to the awards night, and mentioned that two awards would be for us. Shocked, but excited we booked a room.
The 28th of the month came round and we made the slog into the city. We all met at Galbraiths, and started off with some small talk and a few beers. Gailbraiths beers were tasting better then ever. Turns out the manager Teddy is now the brewer, bringing back the old recipes. Well done, more on that later.
So a few nibbles and we got into it. A quick round of thank yous and into the awards. The first one we got was actually for the Pizza Barn. I was able to accept it on behalf of Clayton and Geoff. I don’t have anything to do with the Pizza Barn aside from eating lunch and drinking our beer there. They ended up taking best Beer Restaurant in Auckland. I know you may be asking yourself, aren’t they in Waipu…Northland? Thats not Auckland? Thats what I said too. In order for that to happen everyone had to actually write us in on the ballot. Holy fucking crappers right! The first time ever a restaurant from outside of Auckland took the award, we de-throned Hallertau after two years with the title. The boys were over the moon, as were the rest of the staff.
Next was the national awards…”The beer of the year is…Paradise Pale ale from McLeod’s!” I sat for a moment in my chair stunned and not sure what to do. I got up, and the lovely SOBA president Maree handed me the award. I simply couldn’t find any words, I felt some tears of joy and slight embarrassment coming, so I said a quick thank you and headed back to my seat. It took a while for it to really sink in, as we had just unseated Panhead from the top spot, they too had held it for two years running.
SOBA is a national organisation of volunteers, people whom just love beer, homebrewers drinkers, the lot. Every region around the country votes; Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin etc…so for us to win means we had the most votes from each region around the country, well at least combined! I didn’t even know that many people knew about us! Then to beat out Liberty and Panhead in the Pale ale category, wow. I am dumbfounded. I am proud of our beer for sure, and we get better at what we do, our yeast is healthier and happier, and it has been making our beers better and better. All the sleepless nights I have had and the stress around wondering if people really like our beers…well this one feels good, really good. Being a consumer driven award it has a really good feeling compared to the brewers guild. That is pretty special too, but this one for some reason feels even better.
A huge congratulations to everyone else who took home an award and a huge thanks to SOBA and its members for voting for us.
You just made it that much harder for us, as we now have to work just a little bit more to keep making better beer.
Yeah I know I have been writing this dribble each month but, this month saw my very first article or ‘rant piece,’ published on printed paper. I had a piece published in the Pursuit of Hoppiness, the official magazine of SOBA. I have had plenty written about me or the businesses I have been with, but my own words, never. It felt weird and un easy reading it. I hope people enjoyed it. I really detest Untappd, it is like a panel of judges on X-factor or some other stupid fucking show I never watch. That people can just sit down with their phone and publicly degrade or compliment, your product openly is a rather odd thing. It is like a three legged dog though, you cant help but look at it. Anyway I made my point in the piece. Michael has asked me to write some more for it (POH) Unfortunately for you all, I have some more shit to throw down, so sit back and watch me dig a hole!
The entire month of February we moved house, or shifted as they say here. Whenever I hear shifted I think of the scene in the Usual Suspects when they said they shifted someone, killing not moving. Anyway we ‘shifted,’ from the sea side bach in Pakiri, to the infamous Waipu. I now live 4km from the brewery, good or bad. My commute normally one hour ten minutes (41 minutes on the MTC) now is 4 minutes by car, 18 minutes by pedal bike (not sure why they call them push bikes?) or 45 minutes walking. The house is old and still a rental, as we have been pushed far outside of the “buyers” market by the JAFA’s. Not sure we will ever be able to afford one around here. Pretty fucked up really. Anyway the new place has a paddock for sheep, a small orchard (that needs serious help), but full of apples, pears, figs, organges, clementines, lemons, kaffir limes, cherries, feijoa a small garden area with a heap of different herbs, and some old vines that I think are Pinot Gris, we’ll find out. Most over grown, but we are excited to have some plants to mess with. A lot of little sheds for shit and my motorcycle now has a happy warm garage to sleep in. The valley is not as breezy and cool as the hill, and it doesn’t have the great kitchen or the hot tub. However the short commute and the quiet sounds, aside from the cicadas is brilliant. A good guest room for the lucky or unlucky few, depending on how you look at it, can have a great place to sleep when the visit. It has been a treat to finally have a few beers after work at the Barn, then just a skip home.
My one last rant for this post.
Why do no houses in NZ have screens on the windows? Every home I have ever lived in the states has screens on the windows. Essentially they had three windows in every window. A screen that moves up and down, then a storm window that comes down on the outside. So in winter you don’t freeze to death. Simple design and cheap as chips. Aside from Lake Rotoroa on the south Island I have never seen screens on any windows here in NZ. You had to there as they would eat you alive during the night, every sand fly is armed with a knife and fork. Yet every other house I go into has a huge fly and moth problem. Apparently spraying a chemical mist in the air is better though.
The slam of the screen door was a familiar and now nostalgic feeling. This house is like every other house, screen free, so every night is a scramble to close all the windows so every bug in the neighborhood doesn’t come in and join us for tea and a movie. Then sit through a stuffy house all night and the fans don’t make it better, the humidity is legit, and stays for the summer. Anyway NZ get some fucking screens for the windows, once they are in you don’t notice and you don’t have to breathe in chemicals, crazy I know, who woulda thunk it!?
Judge New World awards, attend Marchfest, launch some Bourbony goodness, blend some sours, submit our GABS beer, do a couple of events with Fine Wine Delivery, set up a few more for April and May, and I am sure a whole bunch more…
Thanks for reading