Winter months and fermentation

Things slow down at Suburban Brewing over the winter months, with temps in the garage to low to allow for steady fermentation.

If you face this issue also you have a couple of options: look for a yeast strain that can ferment your brew within the ambient temp ranges you’re experiencing (this can be challenging in some areas - maybe a lager yeast that can handle up to around 12 C might work depending on your circumstance), or utilise some sort of temp control.

Controlling fermentation temp is actually one of the key areas you can focus on to improve your consistency. One head brewer once told me they think a consistent fermentation temp is more important than sanitation in home brewing. While I’m not sure I agree with that statement, I do think it’s a highly important area.

The first kind of fermentation temp control I ever saw was a mates grampa zipping up an insulated jacket around a plastic fermenter. This might stop some of the smaller fluctuations, and despite its daggy look, isn’t that far off the mark in term of insulating a fermentation vessel.

I’ve tried various positions in my house, including in my lounge room near the heater over the winter months. These can solve the ambient temp issue to a degree, and with some form of insulation (I used sleeping bags), can keep you in a reasonable fermentation range. What this approach can’t do though is keep a “consistent” temp (the issue that brewer was so concerned with).

There are also cheap heating mats and belts that can offer some degree of warmth if that’s all that is needed. I’ve never gone down this route, mostly because I question the safety of these cheap imported products and don’t want to leave them switched on I my house. If you don’t share these concerns, then by all means, this will probably help over winter. If I was to buy one of these products, I’d perhaps look at the mats used for germinating seeds, these strike me as a slightly more robust piece of equipment.

The high end solution, and in my opinion most likely to yield positive results, lies in the large range of automated temp control units: either with a coil or spear submerged within the fermenter, or controlling a fridge/modified freezer that contains a fermenter.

These automated units have temp probes and in some cases can keep your fermenting beer to within +/- 1 C of your intended temp. What’s more, some of these units can actually heat and cool, so are perfect all year round.

Is a temp control system a big expense to lay out for something you arguably can do without? Yes. Will it pay you back in far more consistent and ultimately better beer? In my opinion, absolutely.

Venom Golden Ale Review

Sweet with just a hint of bitterness, this Venom Golden Ale is so refreshing that it puts Solo to shame in thirst quenching

The Good: Venom has a perfect recipe with this Golden Ale, it is not too bitter and it is not too sweet with subtle malt and yeasty flavours that make it a delight to drink when you are hot and sweaty and in need of an immediate thirst quenching.

The Bad: Bad is such a strong adjective to use, instead I will point out the noticeably disappointing thing from this beer: it’s scent. I really tried to pick up the hops and other aromas that you usually associate with a Golden Ale but really struggled on this front. It was there but it was just underwhelming with its presence.

Enjoyment: This beer was far too easy to drink, its sweetness is a huge plus for Venom as well, making it a good entry level drink for non beer drinkers to get behind (I am always an advocate for encouraging people to drink beer, legally of course!). I personally have had Venom before and I can earnestly say that it is a dependable beer to choose when you are out and about. Whether you are just going around to a friends house or heading for a night out, this is the drink you should be choosing.

Bodriggy Speccy Juice Session IPA Review

Bodriggy Brewing have produced one of the easiest drinking session beers in Speccy Juice that it ought to be outlawed!

The Good: I will be the first to admit that I love a good IPA, that collection of flavours that usually dance across your tastebuds is an amazing thing and always a welcomed delight at the end of a long day. Bodriggy Speccy Juice most certainly delivered on giving me a welcomed hit of goodness, hitting me with the usual hop flavours that you expect from a good IPA. What is great with this beer is that it is not an overwhelmingly powerful hit, it is the subtleness, providing you with a great scent of tropical and fresh scents (it reminds me of walking through a nursery after a cool morning, with the sun beaming down, the air is crisp and the scents that emerge are amazing). This is a very nice all rounder.

The Bad: Admittedly I struggled to find anything wrong with this beer. It hit all the right notes and was on point, however if I had to be picky then I would say that the carbonation of this beer was excessive. I know that is such an inconceivable concept to grasp but when you are drinking this beer the heavy carbonation can be a bit off-putting.

Enjoyment: This beer was unbelievably easy to drink, thus making it the perfect session beer and at 1.1 standard drinks it is perfection. With that mix of tropical and citrus flavours that you get hit with and an unbelievably great aroma it is an amazing concoction to drink. In fact I enjoyed this so much I downed it in practically record time, making it one of the hardest reviews to complete but almost making it one of my picks for 2019.

Burleigh Brewing Co. 28 California Pale Ale

The Good: It is rare for me to actually do my research on a beer but this one was such an enigma that I actually had to visit the website to determine what was actually in this beer. Turns out that this beer is only malted barley, hops, yeast and water, yet the fragrance that you get from this beer is elusive, giving you the subtle hints of citrus fruits, most likely attributed to the Citra Hops. As such this Pale Ale is a subtle medley of flavours, something akin to a session beer and very very easy to drink.

The Bad: The ONLY thing I didn’t like about this beer was the malt and yeast scents I picked up when testing this beer. For me it was just something that didn’t really tie into the way this beer actually tasted.

Enjoyment: This beer was a relaxing beer to have after probably one of the most frustrating days in my professional career (literally anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong), so naturally in situations like this I tend to completely adopt something that is way out of usual area of expertise and adapt to my creative side (Suburban Brewing and Beers typically). Drinking this beer provided an overwhelming sense of relaxation (this isn’t the alcohol talking either by the way), but more the fact that the flavours were subtle and the drink was very easy to drink and especially on a day that was slightly warmer than I was used to I was most definitely in a sort of “holiday” mode. Overall Burleigh nailed this beer, being subtle yet enjoyable and most definitely a beer that could be sessioned, so don’t beat around the bush, grab a slab and enjoy.

Fixation IPA Review

The Good: It smells like a gloriously hopped beer and what an IPA should smell like and after a small sabbatical that Stu and I have taken this is exactly what was needed… An IPA that smelled like an IPA. For an IPA, Fixation did not disappoint, it was strong, very bitter and as the label stated it was quite balanced.

The Bad: I personally struggled to smell or taste any of the pine or citrus notes that was claimed on the label as the bitterness and intensity of the hops pretty much overpowered any other flavour that you could pick out of the beer.

Enjoyment: Despite my noticeable absence of the citrus and pine flavours I was expecting to taste I was still delighted by this beer. See for me a beer is more than just the some of its flavours, sure there is an expectation that you will be treated to a melting pot of flavours, but ultimately for a beer to be considered good (or great) then it needs to transport you to a better place (and no I am not talking about getting absolutely hammered). Fixation does this and then some, when I was enjoying this beer I immediately went from the humdrum of my day to day work to a time when Stu and I were literally sitting at the outdoor setting, Stu was smoking a brisket and we were treating ourselves to vast array of different beers. Now whilst I cannot remember what those beers were the flavour and bitterness of this Fixation IPA immediately transported me to that memory and for me personally a strong bitter IPA is a brilliant flavour to be had. Whilst this may not be for everyone I sincerely enjoyed the experience of this beer and ultimately I gotta say that Fixation Brewing Company nailed this one!

Rogue Honey Kölsch

The Good: This is quite a sweet beer for a German styled beer, I mean it becomes blatantly obvious from the first taste that it is a result of the honey that has been added to the brew. However despite that it is refreshingly smooth (I mean most German Ales are), it isn’t like a cider or a sour beer where the carbonation becomes so overpowering that it is difficult to drink.

The Bad: The sweetness for me is a factor, I typically don’t like sweet beers instead opting for stronger happier flavours and citrus type flavours. For me this isn’t something that I feel I could session, instead it would be more akin to a dessert beer or a beer that I want to have just one or two of before moving on.

Enjoyment: This is not a heavy beer, it sweet but it is not to the point where it is undrinkable. Overall I found this beer to be interesting, the beer was refreshing yet it didn’t really wow me. I mean I enjoy a German beer sure, I really enjoy drinking Steins at Munich Brauhaus and Hofbrauhaus, it is a beer I most often associate with good times and heavy heavy carb laden meals. But that being said I don’t think I could session this beer, it may be because whilst it has the sweetness, it is the only thing I focused on when drinking, I struggled to pick up any of the other flavours. In essence this beer will appeal to non beer drinkers most, it is something that is. good introduction and is not overly bitter that we could win a few more people onto our team.