Tuesday, 13 October 2015

2015 Bayside Brewers Oktoberfest
Home Brew Competition

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Oktoberfest 2015 Results

Here are the Top 3 place getters each category from this weekend's 2015 Oktoberfest:

German Ales
1st Light Weizen      Bryce Van Denderen  Bayside Brewers  129 pts
2nd Weizenbock        Darren Plasente     Independent      125 pts
3rd Hefeweizen        Grant Morley        Westgate Brewers 124 pts

Light Lagers
1st German Pilsner    Grant Morley        Westgate Brewers 127.5 pts
2nd German Pilsner    Andrew Clark        Bayside Brewers  115 pts
3rd Munich Helles     Daniel Gilmore (N)  Independent      111.5 pts

Dark Lagers
1st Munich Dunkel     Peter Yelland       Bayside Brewers  132 pts
2nd Schwarzbier       Clint Bee (N)       Independent      131 pts *
3rd Munich Dunkel     Craig Ditcham       Bayside Brewers  131 pts
* - Decided on countback

Bock Beer
1st Traditional Bock  Michael Bowron      Westgate Brewers 122.5 pts
2nd Maibock           John Hayman         Bayside Brewers  115.5 pts
3rd Maibock           Grant Morley        Westgate Brewers 112.5 pts

Champion beer :    132 pts, Peter Yelland, Munich Dunkel
Champion brewer : Grant Morley (Two 3rd place and one 1st place)
Best Novice :          Clint Bee (Independent)

A big thanks to all entrants, judges, fellow club members, and others who just came along to enjoy some great German-style beers.

Follow the link below for full results:

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Beer Style Corner: German Pilsner

Mikko Pludra

German Pilsner is one of the few beer styles available to buy everywhere in Germany, and one of my favourite beers. Although the BJCP style guidelines list no fewer than 19 German beer styles, your typical supermarket or petrol station (yes, that’s where we buy our beer) will only have a selection of Pilsners and some regional specialties (in my home region of south-western Germany, you can always find several Hefeweizens and other wheat beers; in Munich you can of course grab a Helles anywhere; and if you buy anything else but a Kölsch in Cologne, you will certainly be outed as a tourist). Some regional specialties will only be available on draft, like Wiess, Kellerbier or Zwickelbier – the BJCP needs to catch up on those!

Pilsner was brought to Germany in the 1850s from Bohemia, where German brewers had pioneered the style and were very successful with it. It is a straw to light golden, bottom-fermented beer with noble hop aroma and flavour complementing the maltiness from lightly kilned Pilsner malt in perfect balance. The process of long cold storage before packaging is called “lagering” from the German word lagern, meaning storage. This allows the beer to clear, while slowly finishing fermentation and maturation. It is said to produce a rounded flavour and give the beer a longer shelf life. Today, Pilsner is one of the most popular beer styles in the world.

My journey to brew a good Pilsner beer began shortly after I first arrived in Australia, with my first Kit & Kilo brew – a can labelled Black Rock Pilsner Blonde. Not knowing anything about brewing except for the instructions on the can, I dutifully added a kilo of sugar to the water and can contents, gave it a stir, sprinkled the contents of the tiny yeast packet on top, and let her go, for a few weeks.
Suffice to say, the results were not what I expected and I didn’t do much homebrewing for a while! Fast forward about 7 years, and my (much improved) Pilsner wins Best of Show at our Oktoberfest! To say that I was stoked would be a vast understatement. This style of beer is so hard to get right, and to do it justice is a great achievement for me. In this article, I will detail my process and recipe for you – guaranteed no cans of extract or bags of sugar involved!


OG 1.049                  FG 1.010                  IBU 30                                    3 SRM                                    5% ABV
To make 23 Litres at 70% efficiency:
92% Weyermann Premium Pilsner Malt (4.7 kg)
5% Weyermann Carahell (0.26 kg)
3% Weyermann Acidulated Malt (0.15 kg)
Mash times: 5 min @ 57°C, 40 min @ 61°C, 30 min @ 71°C, 10 min @ 78°C
Boil time: 80 minutes
29 IBU German Magnum @ 75 minutes
1 tsp yeast nutrient and 1/2 Whirlfloc tablet @ 15 minutes
20g German Hallertauer Mittelfrüh (3% AA) @ 5 minutes
WLP 838 Southern German Lager (420 billion cells)


I use Beersmith 2 for recipe formulation and the Brunwater spreadsheet v1.16 for water calculations.
At least 3 days before brew day, make a starter big enough to create about 420 billion yeast cells. Using a stir plate, I use the following process:
-        Day 1:                  Make a 1.5L starter with 1 fresh yeast vial. Don’t forget yeast nutrient.
-        Day 2:                  Chill starter to settle yeast
-        Day 4:                  Decant spent beer and add 1.5L of fresh chilled wort with nutrient to yeast
-        Day 5:                  Chill until brew day
-        On brew day, decant spent beer off the yeast, and take 1 litre of wort from your boil (can be mid-boil) and chill it down in an ice bath. Add this to your yeast a few hours before pitching to wake up yeast. Make sure this final step is done at or close to fermentation temperature, about 10°C, e.g. by keeping the flask in your fermentation fridge. Now you can pitch your yeast at full kräusen, when the cells are in optimum condition. The yeast and a healthy fermentation make this beer!
Heat your strike water. In lighter coloured lagers, I aim for a water to grist ratio of 3.8 L/kg.
Add salts to your grain (not to your water!) for the following final water profile: Calcium 60 ppm, Magnesium 7 ppm, Sodium 5 ppm, Sulfate 75 ppm, Chloride 65 ppm. In my system using filtered soft Melbourne water, this is achieved with 2.2g of calcium sulfate (gypsum), 1.6g magnesium sulfate, and 3.3g calcium chloride in the mash; and later on 1.7g calcium sulfate, 1.3g magnesium sulfate and 2.6g calcium chloride into the boil kettle.
Dough in for a protein rest temperature of 57°C, and rest for 5 minutes. Ramp up your temperature to 61°C if you have a recirculated mash system. For non-recirculating mash systems, e.g. Esky cooler or similar, add enough boiling hot water to reach 63°C. (This is due to the increased enzyme degradation in recirculated mash systems.)
Check your mash pH and make sure it is at pH 5.4 in a cooled sample or pH 5.2 when measured at mash temperature.
Hold this beta-amylase rest for 40 minutes. Then increase to 71°C and hold there until starch conversion is complete, about 30 minutes. Finish with a mash-out step at 78°C for 10 minutes to halt enzyme activity.

Mash profile for light lagers
Acidify your sparge water to pH 6 if you can, and then slowly sparge at 78°C until kettle full. You can fire up the boiler at 1/3 kettle full to speed up the process.
You will have to adjust the sparge volume to your system and verify your pre-boil gravity according to your calculations. I get about 35.5 litres pre-boil at a gravity of 1.038. Ensure your runoff gravity does not drop below 1.012 to minimise tannin extraction from the grains. Add remaining salts to your boil kettle.
When the boil starts, let the hot break come up and subside, then add your bittering hops. This is your 75 minute mark! I aim for about 30 IBU (bitterness ratio 6.2 IBU/SG) in the finished beer, so calculate your bittering accordingly. This is on the low end of the BJCP range but I find it results in a much smoother and more balanced beer, more akin to German commercial examples.
15 minutes before the end of the boil, add yeast nutrient and Whirlfloc. 5 minutes before the end, add your flavour/aroma hops. At the end of the boil, stir gently to get a good whirlpool going and cover the boil kettle. Let stand for 15-30 minutes to settle hops and break material.
Chill wort and transfer into fermentor. If you can, remove your cold break material before pitching. My equipment (heat exchanger/plastic fermentor) does not allow this to be done easily without transferring to another vessel, but with an immersion chiller it should be as simple as leaving all break material behind. Clear wort makes clear beer!
A note on yeast: My favourite lager yeast is the Carlsberg strain, available as Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager or White Labs 830 German Lager. As this yeast was unavailable at the time, I used WLP 838 Southern German Lager. Fermentation and pitching temperatures are 1°C lower when using Wyeast 2124/WLP830 than the numbers given for WLP838.
Oxygenate wort thoroughly. I use a steady flow of pure oxygen for about 60 seconds. If you don’t have pure oxygen available, you must ensure enough available oxygen during the growth phase, by repeating your usual aeration regimen multiple times over the first 6-8 hours after pitching. Make sure you keep everything sanitary when opening the fermentation vessel!
It is normal to see little to no activity when fermenting lagers cold. Your airlock might not even bubble for the first week! This is due to the fact that colder liquids hold more dissolved gases, so the CO2 is not escaping as readily as with ale fermentations. The amount of kräusen on top of the fermenting beer is also much lower than with typical ale fermentations. If you want to make sure you are indeed fermenting, check your gravity with a hydrometer. The strong sulfur smell will also give it away – but don’t worry, this smell will disappear during fermentation.
I like to pitch my lager yeasts 2°C below fermentation temperature and let it rise over 48 hours to fermentation temperature. For WLP838, I pitch at 8°C and ferment at 10°C. Increase your temperature every 12 hours by 0.5°C, so that you are at fermentation temperature of 10°C after 2 days. Hold this temperature for 7-10 days or until you are within 5 points of your desired terminal gravity. Now you can increase the temperature slowly about 1°C per day, until you reach 16°C.
Check for diacetyl: get a small sample from the fermentor into a cup and heat it in the microwave. Smell it. Can you detect popcorn or buttery aromas? If you do, hold this diacetyl rest for 2 days and check again. When no more diacetyl is detected, slowly decrease by 1-2°C per day until you reach as close to 0°C without freezing the beer. I usually stop at 0.5°C, just to be sure I’m not making Eis-Pilsner…
When you are ready to package, take a tablespoon of powdered unflavoured gelatine (from the supermarket’s baking aisle) and add it to 150 ml of cooled, boiled or bottled water. With a sanitised spoon, stir gently and heat it in the microwave to 65°C, stir again to dissolve. You should have a clear, slightly yellowish liquid. Add this to your keg while transferring your beer at lagering temperature and it will speed up the clarification process. Lager your keg under serving pressure for at least 2 weeks, then draw off a glass or two of cloudy liquid. The remaining beer should be bright and clear. Remember to add your finings at below drinking temperature to eliminate chill haze. Flush all transfer lines and kegs with CO2 to keep oxygen away from the beer as much as possible.
To package from keg into bottles, ensure your beer is clear first. Then use a counter-pressure bottle filler or the Blichmann beer gun (which I use) and ensure the beer is as cold as possible while packaging to preserve carbonation.

Possible variations and tweaks

Feel free to use a different lager yeast, Chris White and others say favourable things about WLP940 Mexican Lager. Try a different aroma hop or first wort hopping, said to improve hop flavour from bittering additions. I would like to try one of the modern German hop varieties like Saphir or Mandarina Bavaria. Adjust the mash schedule to suit your system – a single infusion rest at 65°C could be a good compromise. But don’t skimp on the malt! This is the keystone of the beer. Without that typical grainy, graham-cracker-like flavour and aroma of continental Pilsner malt, it’s just another lager beer. But I could image using regular Weyermann Pilsner malt, or Best Malz, or even Dingemans Belgian Pilsner malt. For a northern German variation, substitute Vienna malt for Pilsner malt, increase beta-amylase rest to an hour, increase bittering to 40 IBU and the aroma addition to 25g.
Have fun brewing this challenging beer and enjoy drinking it. Nothing better than a crisp, refreshing Pilsner on a hot summer’s day. Make sure you save a few bottles for the next brewing competition and of course, one for me!


Overcoming beer spoilage contaminations

Mikko Pludra

In the last five months or so, my beers were persistently contaminated with a beer spoiling organism, which caused an off flavour that can be described as Band-Aid or medicinal. As a result of that, I poured out about 5 kegs of beer. The first beer that I discovered this off-flavour in was the single hop pale ale I brewed for the Xmas party. Although it hadn’t manifested itself at the time it was served, I noticed it in the keg a few weeks later, and the bottles which Barry filled for a later tasting were contaminated as well.
The technical term for this type of off-flavour is chlorophenolic. It can be caused by chlorine/chloramines in brewing water, using bleach for sanitising, or bacterial contamination (commonly known as “infection”).
When I discovered that my beers were spoiling, I had already brewed 4 more beers, and the latest one, a German Pilsner, was showing the chlorophenolic off flavour in the fermentor, at 9°C. Previously the beers were clean out of the fermentor, but as I tasted them, one after another went bad. Now I had to find out what was causing it.
I ruled out a chemical source for the contamination, as I had used filtered water or let the water stand overnight to eliminate any chlorine/chloramines in the source water. I also don’t use bleach in the brewery. That left a bacterial contamination as the only explanation, which also fit the picture of the beers getting gradually worse over time.
Where in the brewing process can bacteria have an impact on beer? Anywhere on the cold side of the process, i.e. after the wort is chilled. As a first measure, I replaced my plastic fermentors. No luck, the next beer went bad as well. Next, I looked at other equipment that the wort and beer came into contact with: oxygenation wand and plate chiller. My oxygenation rig is stainless steel, so in the oven it went – 2 hours at 180°C should kill anything, especially as there were no visible soils.

A new, clean plate chiller cut open (image from www.hardware-360.com)


Then I turned my attention to the plate chiller (a Blichmann Therminator, copper and stainless steel plates brazed together), which I suspected to be the main culprit. Plate chillers are notoriously hard to clean properly. In professional breweries, plate chillers are taken apart on a regular basis, and even though they are cleaned with hot caustic after every brew, there is still a significant amount of crud and organic soils left in the small crevices of the plates.
To clean the chiller, I ran a boiling solution of PBW cleaner through it in both directions. Afterwards, I gave it to Barry to autoclave in his pressure cooker. I then repeated the cleaning process with boiling PBW. After the first round a significant amount of dirt was dislodged, but after the second round the cleaner came out the same colour as it went in. It had now been about 3 months since I had brewed last, and my kegs were running low! It was time to pick up the mash paddle again.
Two weeks later, my Rye Pale Ale came out clean, tasting of beautiful fresh hops and luscious malt. No Band-Aid phenolic to be found! The spoilage organism was successfully eliminated. But how could it get a foothold in the first place? I was determined to not let it happen again.

Inside a freshly opened plate chiller after extended use (image from www.wortomatic.com)

My previous cleaning and sanitising regimen of the plate chiller was as follows: During the boil, heat up water to 70°C and recirculate through the chiller for 15 minutes. After the wort was chilled, I would run tap water through in a reverse direction, followed by warm PBW and Starsan as a final rinse.
I redesigned the whole process, based on the assumption that somewhere along the line, hop debris, break material and sugars were not getting rinsed out properly, and that pasteurisation temperature was not hot enough to kill all organisms during the recirculation. This is my new cleaning and sanitation process, which so far has been successful in keeping the bugs out:
1.     During the boil, run boiling water from the HLT through the chiller for about 20 minutes. This should be enough to kill any beer spoiling organisms, provided that the chiller is clean in the first place. I tie a hop sack around the return hose, so that any dislodged chunks of matter will not be sucked back into the chiller.
2.     After the wort has been chilled and transferred, I mix PBW into the hot water in my HLT (at a rate of 5g/l), and run it through the chiller in a reverse direction. The initial outflow is discarded, as it contains the bulk of the hop matter, trub and break material left in the chiller. Once it runs clear, I start recirculating for about 10 minutes, with the hop sack in place to filter out any chunks.
3.     The flow direction is then reversed, to run in the same direction as the wort during chilling.
4.     After a further 5-10 minutes, the flow is switched off and I use the PBW solution for cleaning my boil kettle and hoses etc. After everything is cleaned, I run tap water through the chiller, followed by a quick rinse with Starsan.
5.     Every 3 months I clean the brew house thoroughly: take valves and pumps apart, give the kettle a good scrub, and also immerse the chiller upright in a hot PBW solution for a few hours.
Cameron suggested that the chiller could be stored in a sodium metabisulfite solution, which inhibits bacterial growth while not corroding copper, even with extended contact time. As my chiller is currently mounted on the brew stand, I have not gone this extra step, but if my current cleaning regimen turns out to be inefficient, I will consider it.
This aspect of cleaning and sanitising is of course only a small part of the whole process of guarding yourself against beer spoilage. Anything the wort touches after it is cooled needs to be rigorously cleaned and sanitised with suitable chemical agents. I use the products that I mentioned previously, PBW and Starsan, which are available at most homebrew supply stores. PBW is a non-caustic alkaline cleaner that can safely be used on copper and will not melt your hands off, if you happen to get some on you. Starsan is an acid based sanitiser, and will kill any beer spoilage organisms with a contact time of only 1-2 minutes. The key aspect to remember is that neither of the agents can do the other’s job, so clean with a cleaner first and then sanitise with a sanitiser.

Hopefully, this account of my encounter with a persistent bug will inspire you to review your cleaning and sanitation process as well. It is easy to get complacent and take successful brewing for granted, but it takes only a small oversight to allow beer spoiling organisms to ruin the brewer’s hard work.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Member's Profile - Scott

Wolf In The Willows 
Interview by Craig Ditcham
With Wolf of the Willows being found in good beer stores I thought it worthwhile to ask Scott McKinnon about his new label and his involvement in homebrewing. 

How did you get into brewing?

It all started with brewing ginger beer with my dad as a teenager. The first time I actually brewed beer was when I was a poor uni student, typical kit and kilo stuff. I had some wins and some, well, pretty terrible outcomes. I then went to Colorado to take up the prestigious role of ‘ski bum’ for a few years and that’s where I really fell in love with beer. We’d go to breweries such as New Belgium and try weird and wonderful beers such as double IPA and sour beers. This was before 99.9% of Aussies knew beer other than the big boys. Even in the states ‘craft beer’ was still pretty young. Unfortunately when I came back the need to make actual money and living in small apartments meant that my homebrewing went by the wayside for a few years. About eight years ago it kicked again after my wife seriously encouraged me to get back into it. Renae was working in the wine industry at the time so was a good fit.

If you were in a good beer store what 3 beers would you buy?

First and foremost, I look for a local brewery that has some fresh stuff. We’re massive believers ‘think global, drink local’. Of course we have vested interest here ;-). I then look for a ‘true’ sour that I have not tried before. I would then pick a random beer that I would not normally gravitate to. I think consumers as a general rule go for what they know. The beauty of craft beer is that you can break this mould and challenge yourself. As homebrewers we have that luxury of finding a beer we love and taking this, tweaking it, and aiming to make it as good as or better than the commercial version.

Your Smokey Porter was a good drop in last year’s Case Swap – was it something you’ve been working on?

You’re too kind Ditch. Yes, the Johnny Smoke Porter has been a long-time favourite at home in the winter months for a few years now. Smoked beers are polarising, you either love them or hate them. I’m a massive fan and I think they’ll start to get a bit more attention in Australia. It’s an interesting beer to brew as smoked malt can age poorly and there are pretty big differences in smoke flavour and intensity between malts from Best Maltz, Weyermann, etc. To me smoke needs a sweet balance. This allows the drinker to either just consume and not be blown away by the smoke or dig between the layers and find the smoke, chocolate and coffee. The beauty of smoked beer is that they go through a definite aging process. I find they also show oxidisation terribly so if there’s an issue with your packaging process you’ll know it.

Regarding becoming a professional brewer, tell us about the moment when you said ‘Yes, I am going to do this’:

Professional by definition means earning money so unfortunately I don’t classify ;- ) Apart from that, there are so many better qualified brewers who have worked in the industry for many years who I respect too much to even consider myself even in their company. I’m more of the ilk of "I absolutely love this, and fuck it, I’m going to back myself to give it a crack". I’ve made sure that I have surrounded myself with some pretty awesome people who have provided support and been very generous with their time. In answer to your question, Renae and I had been full on planning for this for about four years, i.e. looking at various business models, forecasting, etc. Obviously I’d been brewing small batches at home as well. The actual moment we decided to pull more debt from the mortgage was on a business trip to the US in March 2014. We saw that craft beer was booming over there and yet the coffee, food and wine was pretty damn ordinary compared to Australia. Australians have, and are keen to, train there palates. The fact that people pay $5 for a coffee and watch MasterChef religiously is a good benchmark. The ‘righting of the ship’ in terms of beer was/is occurring and we wanted to be part of this. From that moment, we worked non -stop for eight months and then we launched the XPA in November 2014.

Tell us about Wolf of the Willows:

Wolf of the Willows is the English translation for the original Latin phrase for hops - lupus salictarius. We wanted our brand to be different to the typical masculine brand names coming out. We wanted it to be a throwback to the origins of beer. Hops are a huge part of why Renae and I love beer. Not just because of IPA’s etc. but because they are something that every brewer can grow and include in a brew. To me this is the beauty of brewing, and beer in general. We live in such a prefabricated, gentrified world. Taking something that you nurture, watch grow, care for, harvest, and then use in a productive way is what we as human beings have being doing for the majority of our existence. Only in the last few hundred years have we worried about having the newest phone or similar bullshit. Beer is still something that has been produced in the same way for millennia, well, craft beer anyway. The whole ‘paddock to plate (or glass)’ is something that I want my kids to know about. Planting a hop rhizome, watching it sprout in spring, stringing it up, trimming the shoots, choosing the right moment to pick the hops, and then brewing with them is a pretty damn cool thing. We also love dogs.

Has it been hard juggling brewing, your primary job and family?

t’s been an absolute nightmare. I kid you not when I say that I work at least 70 hours a week at the moment. Brewing is the easy and fun part. What takes the time is the admin, such as sourcing ingredients (don’t ask about hops), having your logistics company completely stuff up, processing orders, chasing debtors etc. etc. Add on top of this the old saying of "making good beer is the easy part, selling it’s the hard part". On that front, I’m lucky enough to have a wife who worked in hospitality and wine sales/marketing for over ten years so we had a big head start. Without this we would have been in dire straits. If you can’t sell your beer it ends up costing you money because of storage etc. and of course then spoils. All this aside, the hardest part has been parental guilt. I love my kids to death and obviously you never get back the moments you miss. Chasing a dream at the possible expense of those ‘once in a lifetime moments’ is an interesting thing to grapple with. Renae just reminds me to ‘be present’, i.e. if I’m with the kids, or her for that matter, then give it 100%. The short answer is, if you’re thinking of making the leap just make sure you are ready to have zero time for yourself.

Any advice for other home brewers thinking of taking the big step?

You really need to make sure you understand where you want to be in five years. Yeah its cool to think that you can have a beer being served at a bar but the reality is that if you don’t want to waste your kids inheritance you have to think of it like a business. Brewing is only 20% of it. That may sound too capitalist for a few people but it’s the truth. The margins in beer are small compared to a lot of industries. Add in a product that sells rather quickly and has relatively small order volumes from individual customers means it’s logistically challenging. It’s really a case of toe in, all in. This said, it’s also damn satisfying when you see that first pint of beer ordered by a complete stranger. You need to make sure this satisfaction is what you are seeking as it’s this that will keep you going. I know for us we have found this to extremely rewarding.

Do you have any philosophies in life that guide you or you live by?

"Be present" "Think global, drink local" "What goes around, comes around" "No pain, no gain" "When you dig be careful where you throw the dirt" "Wisdom is the ability to choose the lessor of a number of evils" "Quality over quantity"

Final thoughts 

I may have painted an interesting picture for a few people but I’d prefer to give the reality - it’s tough. However, the soul satisfying reward you get from it means that it’s all worthwhile. We wouldn’t change a thing.

And of course… drum roll…we’re building a brewery on the corner of Reserve and Bay Rd in Cheltenham. We’re sharing this with another brewing company called Bad Shepherd. Brewer/Owner Head shepherd is a fellow home brewer you may know from competitions - Dereck Hales. It will be a 100 seat bar/restaurant, smoke house and full production brewery. Hopefully open around Sept/Oct. I’m really keen to do some Bayside Brewers / Wolf of the Willows collaborations so watch this space.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Member's Profile Cameron Part 2

HIX Beer

By Craig Ditcham

For my second ‘interview’ I thought we’d like to know more about the man behind those award winning beers from Hickinbothams.

Tell us about yourself:
I’m a forty year old virgin! Not really I’m actually soon to be a dad for the first time.
I’m originally from Sydney and moved down here 10‐ 11 years ago. Soon after joined the brew club, and the rest is history.

How did you get into brewing?

Travelling overseas opened my eyes to a world of beer I didn’t know existed. After a year of travelling I landed a job in London working in a bar as a live in. The pub (The Bull &Last) had 2 real ales on tap, London Pride, and Greene King IPA which sparked my THIRST for knowledge about these beers. I went to many CAMRA events tasting amazing real ale across the country side, including the big one in London which had literally hundreds of the freshest real ale you could imagine, even so fresh that some were still fermenting out of the breather bung. I started doing kit brews in the pub and tried them on some of the locals, they were recipes that had come out of a book which I
bought in America which was recommended to me by a guy on the Machu Pichu trail I was travelling with (The Joys of Homebrewing, by Charlie P.)

Please tell us how you ended up being the Hix brewer?

I heard that Hickinbotham’s were looking for a full time employee and that they were in the genesis stage of starting to brew their own, so I turned up with an esky full of homebrew to which they said when can you start.

What awards have your beers won?:

In 2011 the first AIBA (Australian, International Beer Awards) we had entered, we won gold in the Pale Ale alongside Feral Hop Hog, as well as silver in the Brown Ale. I can’t tell how exciting it was, we were just hoping for a little feedback from the judges score sheets. Since then we have received medals every year, with our Brown being the most

What do you (and the Hickinbotham’s) aim to achieve with your brewery?:

To make the best possible beers for the punters. We are always looking for ways to improve our beers whether it be technique or process, or ingredients.

Tell us about your setup at Hix:
It is unlike any other commercial brewery out there! All the components have had a second life. It’s a philosophy that the Hickinbotham’s have built their lives around. Even the brewer use to be a Motor Mechanic, then a commercial skylight supervisor!! The basics are that it’s a single infusion gravity system, the mash tun is a double walled dairy vessel, the kettle is a steam jacketed unit and the brew size varies between 1000L‐1200L, and the fermenters are 1100L stainless flat bottomed cubes.

I’ve read recently that you love your job – what is it exactly that you love about it?
That’s why we are here Yeah? I love the fact there are so many different elements to enjoy about beer brewing, there is an intimate relationship between the science, art.
Not only does your understanding of the process from go to whoa has to be solid, but also your senses, taste, smell, visual. It’s a very personal expression and when it comes

out right there is no better feeling, especially when friends and customers appreciate it.

If you were in a good beer store what 3 beers would you buy?

Tooheys Old, Tooheys New, Tui, Not really, Tsjeeses Reserva from Belgium – a 2002 10% quad that has been aged in a bourbon barrel, it was so well balanced it produced a WOW moment. Weltenburger Dunkle and any other great example of any style…

Do you have any philosophies in life that guide you or you live by?
Do things that make you happy!

Thx Cam









Beer style corner: Bohemian Pilsner

By Mikko Pludra

Cold fermentation with bottomfermenting yeast has been known in Bavaria since about 1380. Due to the low temperatures required, brewing was limited to the colder season: as soon as temperatures started rising in spring, brewing with bottomfermenting yeast had to be suspended until autumn. A ducal edict from 1553 allowed brewing only from St. Michael (29. September) to St. George (23. April).

In order to have the popular, thirstquenching brown beer available in summer, barrels would be stored in large cellars or caves cooled with glacial ice from the Alps: this is the origin of the name lager beer, which means stored beer.

In the mid19th century, two new lager beer styles were introduced, which would have a profound impact on worldwide beer development. In 1841, Austrian brewmaster Anton Dreher used the Bavarian fermentation method together with golden Vienna malt to brew the first pale lager beer – Vienna Lager. Only a year later, in 1842, the newly founded Burgher Brewery in Pilsen, Bohemia, became birthplace to the Pilsner beer style, which would play a dominant role in the worldwide beer market for over a century. The original beer was, and still is today, known as Pilsner Urquell, as Bohemia was then part of the German speaking AustroHungarian empire.

The raw materials available in Bohemia are part and parcel of this success story; Moravian brewing barley is low in protein, Pilsen water is extremely soft and low in minerals, and Saaz hops is well known for its delicate aroma and flavour.

According to beer writer Michael Jackson, Bohemian Lager should be between 4 and 5% alcohol by volume, have a herbal, flowery hop aroma and a long, dry and hoppy finish. He also provides us with an overview of the historic brewing method at one of the most famous Bohemian breweries: Budějovický Budvar, the original Budweiser brewery. At Budvar, the brewers used 100% Moravian floormalted Pilsner malt, a double decoction mash and lauter lasting 6 hours, a 2 hour boil with whole Czech hop flowers and a 3 month lagering period after fermentation with Czech lager yeast. This provides the characteristic smooth mouthfeel, full body and creaminess that is so typical of the beers of the region. Brewing Bohemian Pilsner at home With the 2015 revision of the BJCP guidelines, the style Bohemian Pilsner has now been renamed Czech Premium Pale Lager.

Brewing Bohemian Pilsner at home
With the 2015 revision of the BJCP guidelines, the style Bohemian Pilsner has now been renamed Czech Premium Pale Lager.
The vital statistics are:                 
• OG: 1.044 – 1.060
• FG: 1.013 – 1.017
• IBU: 30 – 45
• SRM: 3.5 – 6
• ABV: 4.2% – 5.8%

There are two possible approaches to recreate an authentic Bohemian Pilsner at home: use a classic recipe and method with decoction mash, or apply modern brewing techniques with modern ingredients. Most modern breweries use the second approach for economic reasons, however there are still breweries like Pilsner Urquell that brew using traditional methods.
Soft Melbourne water is well suited to brewing Pilsner style beers. Use minimum salt additions (preferably calcium chloride) to achieve a concentration of max. 50ppm calcium.
Traditional floormalted Bohemian Pilsner malt, but a good quality European Pilsner malt will do in a pinch. About 5% of Acidulated malt ensures good mash pH. Double decoction method. Sparge very slowly. Alternatively, use a modern malt bill with a regular temperature step mash (50°C62°C72°C78°C).
Example: 60% Bohemian Pilsner malt, 20% German Carapils, 15% light Munich malt, 5% Acidulated malt.

Best quality Saaz hops, preferably whole hop cones. Two to three additions to approx. 3540 IBU; the final aroma addition should be around 1g hops per litre. First wort hopping is traditional: place the first bittering hops charge into the boil kettle before starting the lautering process.
A healthy pitch of of Czech lager yeast like Wyeast 2278 or White Labs WLP800. Cold fermentation at 10°C13°C and a long (min. 6 weeks) maturation period will provide the right flavour profile and mouthfeel. Use a pitching rate calculator to determine the right starter size.

Sources: H. Hanghofer: Gutes Bier selbst brauen; H. Dornbusch: Weyermann Ultimate Almanac of World Beer Recipes; M. Jackson: Beer Hunter; BJCP Guidelines 2015

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Member's Profile - Cameron

The following article has been taken from the August 2015 edition of the Mornington Life Magazine

By Kristy Martin



Cameron Turner has a job most guys would kill for.
As the head brewer at Hickinbotham of Dromana, his days are spent creating and refining (and, of course, tasting) the perfect beer. But while it may seem cushy, Cameron says it is actually hard work and long hours,but his passion and dedication to his craft pays off.

Hickinbotham's Hix Brown Ale recently received the top score in its category at the Australian International Beer Awards. The local brew scored a silver medal, triumphing over 30 other entries from breweries around the world.
The Australian International Beer Awards is the second largest beer awards in the world, outside the World Beer Cup. The 2015 AIBA, conducted by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, attracted a record number of entries with more than 1700 submissions from across 35 countries. Cameron says beer brewing is very scientific, but also relies a lot on the senses.

Hickinbotham has six permanent beers on tap, plus a range of seasonal beers. “We do very small and experimental batches and we prefer to focus on quality rather than quantity, supplying locally on the peninsula and also the Melbourne area."
The Hix Brown Ale is Hickinbotham's most awarded beer since the company first entered the AIBA in 2011. The Hix Summer Ale was awarded a bronze medal in the Pale Ale category at this year's competition.

But Cameron admits he wasn't always such a pro when it came to the art of beer brewing. In fact, when he first applied for the job at Hickinbotham eight years ago, he showed up to the interview with a ”slapdash resume and an esky full of home brew”.
Still, he got the job and the rest,as they say, is history. “It was a bit different going from 50 litre batches to 1000 litre batches. Every day I am learning new things."

Cameron still loves his job as much today as the day he started, and admits people are jealous when they find out what he does.“A lot of home brewers wish they could do this for a living. It's long hours and it's hard work, but I wouldn't do anything else."
Cameron says he's now got his sights on the trophy (the highest accolade) for next year's AIBA .

Saturday, 22 August 2015


The inaugural Great Old Mornington Pubcrawl was a great event. Thanks to Ditch for organising and to everyone who came along. Here's a couple of photos I managed to get.

We started off at Bar Exile (formerly Mercs) which had an average beer list, but gave us an opportunity to soak up a little sunshine. 

Second was Fika German bar and restaurant, where many 0.5L beers were consumed as well as some nice food. When we left here we discovered that Mr Paul's was closed, so we returned to fika to fortify ourselves for the long walk to the brewery. Luckily there was also a conveniently located Thirsty Camel half way to the brewery ;p

When we finally made it to the brewery, we were rewarded with some great beers - the red ale was definitely a favorite.

Great day - can't wait for next year!