I was gifted this Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout by a mate at work. The brewer behind this beer is Todd Kitchen, an award-winning homebrewer. Todd headed up brewing this mega beer with a couple of close friends who took on the project of a monster RIS.
A rich malty Russian Imperial Stout that was aged in a Whiskey barrel. The rich roasted malt flavour and smooth hop profile with good bitterness allow this beer to highlight the lovely oak flavour of the Whiskey barrel and the hints of butterscotch from the whiskey remanence in the barrel.
Let the Tasting Begin
This is a beer that makes you nervous to crack open and why not, at 14% ABV your now sitting at the big boy’s table.
This RIS pours black in colour with a 1 finger beige fluffy head that slowly settles down to a small collar. That small collar of foam retains extremely well for a stout.
Upon taking my nose to the glass I expect to be hit with a large whiff of alcohol fumes, I was wrong, this puppy delivers chocolate and roasted coffee aromas.
I take my first mouthful and immediately I am hit with a taste of whiskey, raisins roasted malts and dark chocolate.
The body is extremely full and there is a hint of alcohol on the back end, it’s like drinking silk.
Overall I am extremely pleased with this beer and how well its balanced against such a high ABV. It’s hard to believe this come from a couple of avid homebrewers which no doubt you will hear about in the future because these guys have a talent worth bottling, literally.
Keep an eye out!
The boys behind this beer are working on some big things behind the scenes so expect to be hearing from them soon for something exciting.
Subscribe below and throw us a comment about your thoughts on barrel aged beers or Russian Imperial Stouts.
Prancing Pony Mixed 6 Pack
Cheers to the friendly staff at Pakenham Bottle O who were kind enough to provide me with a Prancing Pony mixed 6 pack. If you’re in the South Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne I highly recommend checking out this store. It really is a hidden gem that has a surprisingly unique range of craft beers you would expect to see in a boutique store closer to the city.
Prancing Pony is a husband and wife owned brewery located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia that came about in 2011. If you wish to find out a bit more about this brewery they were featured in a Beer & Brewer magazine advertorial.
Prancing Pony – Sunshine Ale
Sunshine AlePrancing Pony
This lovely golden Sunshine ale pours slightly hazy and pale golden in colour with a good level of carbonation. There is a nice tropical and citrus aroma on the nose and the taste is slightly spicy, this beer is very much like a pilsner that prances actively on the tongue. There’s a moderate bitterness which makes this the perfect beer to enjoy laying on the grass in a soul-warming autumn sun.
Commercial Description: A refreshing and thirst-quenching Summer Ale made from 100% pilsener malt and hopped six times with only citrusy hops, producing lychee, mango, pineapple, orange and melon characters. Straw coloured, light malt sweetness, moderate bitterness with a citrus kick and dry finish yet long in flavour.
Prancing Pony – Pale Ale
This clean easy drinking Pale Ale that pours hazy and deep golden in colour with a medium white head that retains well. The aroma and taste are both quite earthy with a generous hit of biscuity malt and a slight hint of citrusy hops.
Commercial Description: A rich, dark-golden colour with lots of head, malt aroma and big hop flavours. The emphasis is on hop, malt and fruity flavours. A full flavoured, rich ale without the high bitterness of some more assertive American Pale ales. Definitely a ‘bigger’ ale than the ‘Blonde Ale’ and favoured by those who appreciate a fuller but balanced flavour profile. Also four-times hopped with more late hop additions in the boil and fermented with American Ale style yeast for more fruity notes. This goes well with full flavour Asian dishes, fish, seafood and chicken dishes.
Prancing Pony – Amber Ale
I expected this Amber Ale to be bitter and sweet but it’s actually easy drinking with some citrus flavour and light caramel coming through. It pours deep amber in colour with a thin white head. Amber ales are not typically a style I would usually drink but this has me keen to explore more Ambers in the future.
Commercial Description: Rich amber colour with lots of malt aroma and hop flavours. The style is based on ‘American Amber’. A malty Amber ale with citrus and resinous hop characters. Designed to have good body yet light and easy with ‘long’ flavours and lingering late bitterness. This ale is six-times hopped with American and Australian hops and fermented with ale yeast. The perfect ale to share with pasta and steak or hearty home-style cooked meals.
India Red Ale
Prancing Pony – India Red Ale
Pours a dark amber brown with a small white head. There is some nice coffee coming through along with spicy and resinous hops. Sitting at 7.9% no wonder it packs a punch, a well balanced red IPA that perfectly compliments steak and chips, this beer has balls.
Commercial Description: This ale is based on ‘American Imperial Double Red Ale’ according to the British Ale Style Guide. With a dark red brownish colour, a firm creamy head and lots of fruity aromas on the nose, this ale has a big, malty body with late bitterness. The Red has been crafted with big dry hop aromas coming through from citrusy and tropical fruity hop varieties. With late lingering bitterness, it is in perfect harmony with the fruity hop aromas. This Thoroughbred goes well with Asian and Curry dishes and presents well when matched to blue cheeses and smoked meats.
Hopwork Orange – American Pale Ale
Prancing Pony – Hopwork Orange American Pale Ale
Pours medium amber with a small 1 finger white head. This punchy IPA has caramel and orange on the nose then when you drink it you can savour the spicy citrus and piney flavour along with a decent amount of bitterness.
Commercial Description: The unmistakable pony brand of the infinite long flavour. An exceptionally smashable APA with uncanny blend of hops, oozing aromas of oranges, followed by an excursion through the fruit orchard. Intense tangerine flavours, hints of honey melon, mango and pine. The hop bitterness raises and lingers smoothly for a thousand years.
Pagan’s Empire – Imperial Pale Ale
Prancing Pony – Pagans Empire Imperial Pale Ale
An Imperial pale ale, whats that? I’m assuming it’s the equivalent to an India Pale Ale but if I’m wrong please correct me in the comments below. It definitely falls into IPA territory with a citrusy aroma along with a spicy, piney and resinous taste.
Commercial Description: A single IPA with rye in the malt bill and a resinous hop blend, with a nose of spices, pine, hay, grapefruit rind and passion fruit. A smooth malty backbone, rounded, but assertive bitterness, lingering for a crisp finish. We can hear the drums rumbling in the distance and see the ‘early’ stone dudes dancing around the fire.
My pick of the bunch would have to be the India Red Ale, by Australian standards, it’s quite a big beer, so too many of these would see you falling off the pony.
Have you tried of these beers from the Prancing Pony range? I would love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments below.
Cleaning and Sanitising for homebrewers is the essential process of removing any bacteria, wild yeasts and microorganisms that may be living in your equipment. While it may not be the most exciting part of brewing it is definitely the most important. We all suck it up and do a really good job of it, otherwise, there is the risk of getting an infected batch of beer. Touch wood, I have never had an infection but I have seen an infected batch get dumped down the drain and that’s a sight which could make a grown man cry.
Everything that comes in contact with your wort needs to be sanitised, but before that, you must clean. (For those beginners wort is what we call beer before it’s fermented.) Below are the methods and products I use for cleaning and sanitation. Sure there are others out there but these work for most.
Products that can be used to clean your homebrew equipment
All your equipment needs to be cleaned free of any dust or residue prior to sanitising! This includes your fermenter, airlock, stirring spoon, can opener, scissors and thermometer for brew day. Then there are bottles, bottling wand, kegs and racking cane on bottling/kegging day. There are various products available from your local homebrew store or online but I use Sodium Percarbonate. It’s not recommended to use dish washing detergent especially if it’s scented because that can carry through to your beer if all the residue is not removed, but if you have nothing else at the time you can use it with care as explained below.
OK let’s say you can’t get your hands on Sodium Percarbonate yet, you could use dishwashing detergent and elbow grease, but what you may have in your laundry could surprise you. Napisan Oxiaction for example actually is Sodium Percarbonate and there is no problem using this to clean your gear but be aware it’s generally not 100% Sodium Percarbonate. All this means is you will need to use a bit more depending on the concentration.
Another option which I would use as a last resort is an unscented bleach. I don’t really feel comfortable using bleach as it can be quite hard on your equipment and leave a chlorine smell but it’s up to you. I have only ever used it once when I recovered all my homebrew gear from storage and I wanted to make sure it was all super clean. In saying that, it’s the go-to cleaner for a lot of homebrewers because its cheap.
So now I have touched on some of the cleaning products available I will briefly describe how to clean with them. Before I start, please read and follow the safety precautions or instructions on the label of the product you are using.
Place 2 tablespoons of Sodium Percarbonate in your fermenter along with all your equipment that will be coming in contact with wort, then fill it all the way to the brim with hot water. I usually do this in the bath because if you ask my wife I like to make a mess and get water everywhere. Once you have filled your fermenter place the lid back on and let it sit for a couple of hours or preferably overnight. Once the Sodium Percarbonate has done its job, open up the tap at the bottom and let the fermenter start draining. I like to do this to flush out any nasties that may be hiding in the tap. At this point, I get a soft cloth or sponge and wipe down all the surfaces and equipment inside the fermenter to make sure all foreign matter is removed. After you have finished cleaning and the fermenter has drained, proceed to thoroughly rinse out all the cleaning solution with water. You are now ready to sanitise. This is where I get my Sodium Percarbonate.
Napisan or Equivalent Clothing Stain Remover.
Follow the same steps as per cleaning with Sodium Percarbonate above but use twice the amount as Napisan Oxiaction Gold only contains 330g Sodium Percarbonate per kilogram. Different brands tend to contain different amounts, but I’m sure you can use the correct judgement on this. Just remember if you have any questions or not sure about something, ask us in the comments below.
I don’t really need to go on about this one too much because it’s not recommended, but if you need to use it just give your fermenter a good squirt of detergent which is preferably unscented and proceed to follow the same steps as you would using Sodium Percarbonate. Rather than soaking overnight, I would just soak for a couple of hours and then use elbow grease with a soft cloth or sponge to clean everything. Just make sure you rinse everything afterwards extremely well.
Place a half cup of unscented bleach in your fermenter along with all your equipment that will be coming in contact with wort, then fill it all the way to the brim with warm water. Once you have filled your fermenter place the lid back on and let it sit for a couple of hours. Once you have let the bleach soak in, open up the tap at the bottom and let the fermenter start draining. Once the fermenter is just about drained put on some rubber gloves and with a soft cloth or sponge wipe down all the surfaces and equipment inside the fermenter to make sure all foreign matter is removed. After you have finished cleaning and the fermenter has drained, thoroughly rinse out all the bleach with hot water. You will need to rinse everything multiple times to ensure there is no strong chlorine smell. You are now ready to sanitise.
Products that can be used to sanitise your homebrew equipment.
Now that you have got the hard part out of the way and your equipment has been cleaned and rinsed thoroughly its ready to be sanitised.
As I touched on above, sanitising is the process of killing any bacteria, wild yeasts and microorganisms that may be living in your equipment. Sanitising is not guaranteed to kill 100% of everything inside your equipment, so if you were to try to achieve a 100% kill rate sterilisation is required, however for homebrew this is not required. Hospitals for example use sterilisation methods.
As there was with the cleaning products there are multiple options and methods on the market, including Sodium Percarbonate, Hydrogen Peroxide and an acid mix containing Phosphoric and Sulphonic acid (otherwise known as Star San). Hands down Star San or the equivalent generic brands are the number one choice of sanitiser for homebrewers.
Whatever product you are using be sure to follow any safety precautions or instructions on the label. I’m only going to explain the use of Star San or Equivalent because that’s how highly regarded it is in the homebrew world.
Star San or Equivalent
This acid sanitiser is made up of 50% Phosphoric acid, 15% Dodecylbenzene Sulphonic acid and the remaining 35% is an inert ingredient. The reason why this type of sanitiser is so popular is that a little bit goes a long way, the contact time to sanitise is extremely quick and there is no need to rinse. As the saying goes NEVER FEAR THE FOAM! This is the Sanitiser I use.
To sanitise your equipment simply follow these steps:
- Add 6ml of Star San or equivalent to your fermenter along with 4 litres of water or 1.5ml for every litre of water.
- Place your mixing spoon and airlock in the fermenter then attach the lid.
- Give it a quick shake ensuring all surfaces get contact with the sanitiser.
- Give it another quick shake after 5 minutes.
- Once you are ready to do your brew or the sanitiser has had a minimum of 10 minutes contact time, drain it into a clean bucket along with the airlock and mixing spoon then place the lid back on until its ready to add your wort. Remember there is no need to rinse the sanitiser.
- Place any other equipment such as the scissors, can opener, and thermometer into the bucket while you do your brew.
I usually keep some diluted sanitiser in a spray bottle that I use from time to time. EG; to spray inside the tap after taking a gravity reading.
Have you held a Viking burial for a brew gone wrong from infection or you’re still not sure about something? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below or via the forum!
Introduction to Home Brewing.
So you want to start brewing beer but you’re asking yourself, where do I start? How much will it cost? How long does it take? These are some pretty common questions that I will cover below. When I first started brewing I had to fly by the seat of my pants through the first few beer making attempts but with time and knowledge, I’m nearly ready to get a nice white lab coat to complement all the scientific research that goes into making a perfect beer. There are a few different methods when it comes to home brewing, which are kit and kilo, extract brewing or all grain brewing but today I will just be talking about kit and kilo style brewing.
Where do I start?
First of all, you need to get some equipment, I suggest that you go to your local homebrew store if you have one in your area. Pick up a beginners kit which would typically include the following as a minimum to start brewing:
- Some kits may also include a kilo of brewing sugar, beer kit can, carbonation drops, crown seals and PET or glass bottles.
Basic Homebrew Starter Kit
If you don’t have a local homebrew shop you could simply order a Keg Land Beginners Kit or stroll into your local Big W for the a similar thing. This kit includes everything to brew and bottle your first batch of delicious beer. The only items not included in some of these kits are cleaning and sanitising solutions which you will need to source. If you’re near Melbourne, KegLand or KegKing are also good options. My next post with cover the importance of cleaning and sanitising, as this is the most important process when it comes to brewing beer.
How much will it cost?
The initial outlay is around $120 which I assure you it will pay itself off in no time. For example, a coopers pale ale kit and kilo brew as it’s often referred to, will cost you around $23 and yield around 21 litres of bottled beer. At the time of writing this, a slab of Coopers original pale ale would cost $55 for 9 litres. I don’t really need to break this down any further because you can already see the difference brewing your own beer will make just from that. Plus brewing your own beer is so much more rewarding than buying someone else’s.
As you progress!
Once you decide to step up your brewing operation the options are endless. There is other equipment and more ingredients that can be used to immensely improve your beer. I started to progress after just doing 2 batches. Let’s face it, once you start playing around with adding more hops and speciality grains you’re completely addicted to raising the bar on the next brew.
The extra optional equipment you will require is the following:
19-litre pot, Hop Bag and Strainer.
The next step to kit and kilo brewing; is boiling or steeping hops to add extra flavour or bitterness and addition of speciality grains for flavour profile. The first advanced step people try is dry hopping to add aroma. Dry hopping is adding hops to your beer when fermentation has finished to take your beer to the next level. This is when the fun starts because once you start developing your own recipes and flavour profiles, you’re hooked. Brewing will be extremely rewarding and you will ask yourself, why didn’t I start this sooner.
How long does it take?
One thing I hear from my friends is that they are way too impatient to wait for beer to brew. They don’t have the time so they just buy beer from the shop when they need it.
The reality is that the initial process to put on a brew can be done in under 2 hours. The fermentation period is 2 weeks and once you have bottled your beer it takes another 2 weeks to condition and carbonate.
If you constantly have a batch of beer fermenting just like I do, then you should be able to build up a stockpile. Having an arsenal of different beers means that they will have a chance to age and get even better over time. You will never have the problem of running out of beer which is every mans dream. If you do this, never admit to your friends that you have an unlimited supply of beer or they will forever be on your doorstep empty handed begging for some of your liquid gold.
If you’re new to brewing or yet to begin and you have any questions or comments about what I have discussed so far I would love to hear from you in the comments or the forum. If you would like us to put a beginners kit together for you to suit your needs feel free to Contact Us.
If you have been brewing for a while, what would be your best bit of advice to a beginner?
I am a married father of 4 young children, yes that’s right 4……. Let that sink in for a minute because you probably think that’s a handful and there is no time for brewing, well let me tell you it sure is a handful but with the necessary organisational skills or simply a delegation of duties to the wife, I can happily find the time to research, brew, drink and talk about beer. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. There is a lot more I could add to this which is part of the reason for starting this blog which I will bring up another day down the track.
For a long time my interests in life have been camping, fishing, 4 wheel driving, shooting, watching Aussie rules football and listening to music. With a young family its a bit hard these days to keep going off on the weekends now I brew at home so I can bring my two new loves in life together; family and beer. What I love about brewing beer, is that I can research what beers I am going to concoct when the kids are asleep for the night and on the weekend have a batch on before lunch. This leaves me plenty of time to spend with the wife and kids, as you know ‘Happy wife, happy life’.
I grew up in East Gippsland, Victoria Australia, where I spent the first 25 years of my life around great family and friends before moving to Traralgon with my new wife to start the great Australian dream. I’m not talking about 2.3 children, a Holden Commodore and a house, I’m talking about a beertabulous adventure!!! Who am I kidding, now that I was married, I just did as I was told by my father-in-law on our wedding night, which was just say “Yes dear”. After a couple of years, I got sick of drinking the same old beer from the shop and introduced myself to home brewing beer. I actually found a photo of my first ever brew, where I was intending to churn out a Carlton Draught clone from a recipe kit that I picked up from the local homebrew shop.
My first ever brew in 2007.
Anyway long story short, I don’t remember producing a great beer like I do today, which I’m sure was down to not having the online resources we now have available. In my upcoming posts, I will address all the issues I had as a beginner so you don’t have the same problems which I encountered. I started brewing in 2007 and finished in 2008 after only 4 or 5 batches due to taking a job in the city and moving into a shoebox in Melbourne’s South East.
All systems go.
Fast forward to 2016 where it’s a world of craft beer, hipsters, beer snobs, hop heads, really crappy pop music, memes and selfies. Leading up to this point I had evolved from drinking Carlton Draught during the footy season and VB during the summer of cricket (no I’m not swayed by the sponsors at all am I? Those damn beer ads got me good) to regularly sampling the James Squire range and branching out to trying anything new or different. This got me thinking to start brewing again so I recovered all my homebrew gear from storage where it sat in my garage again for another couple of months until I met an inspiring beer master that come over to Australia from the US. It was now time to dust off the brewing gear and rekindle myself with this obsession we call home brewing.
Strap yourself in and hit the subscribe button as I open your eyes to a whole new world of craft brewing and hopefully a few laughs along the way.
Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below and tell me how you got into homebrewing and why you love it so much!