Archive for July, 2009

Whisky Live 2009

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

whiskeyAqua Vitae in Latin means “the water of life”, of which the Gaelic Scottish translation is “uisge beatha” which gives the shortened word Whisky. Whisky is a broad term covering all alcoholic spirits distilled from grain mash. Whisky was first invented not long after the process of distillation was introduced to Europe around the 12th century, with the earliest known written account of the drink being from 1405, in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise.

Whisky is normally aged in oak barrels for extended periods before bottling with an estimated 60% of a whiskeys flavor contributed by the wood and the toasting inside the barrel it is aged within.This is not to say Whisky is a simple liquid before aging either, far from it. Whisky has between 200 – 300 flavoring compounds easily detected by chemical analysis after distillation.
For the novice or experienced Whisky drinker interested in finding out more about Whisky in its many forms the Whisky Live Expo is coming to Sydney this September. Whisky Live is an International event taking place in 20 cities located in 15 countries across the globe. The event was born in London 9 years ago, and this year will mark the events first time in Sydney.
The Whisky Live expo will be held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, in The Rocks from Friday the 4th, to Sunday the 6th of September. Giving Sydneysiders the chance to broaden their drinking horizons with over 120 different whiskeys from all over the world to sample.
Tickets are $85 for a 4 hour session on Saturday and Sunday, and $95 on the Friday for a 5 hour session with the expo opening. The ticket price includes:

  • A Whisky Live tasting glass
  • 10 Whisky sample tickets
  • 4 beer sample tickets
  • Food, water, soft drink and coffee
  • An expo show bag

If your interested and would like to find out more details on the expo be sure to check out the official Whisky Live website.

Brewing Ginger Beer

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

gingerGinger is a tuber of the Ginger plant, Zingiber officinale. One of the oldest spices known to man Ginger has been widely used by man throughout the ages for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Ginger has numerous health benefits some of which include, the improving peripheral circulation, lowering cholesterol and reducing naseua. Although in the western world Ginger is used primarily for its unique taste in food and drinks.
Like most wonder plants, Ginger is great for brewing booze with too! So good in fact there have been times past in American history where the consumption of ginger has even surpassed that of standard hopped beers. Ginger Beer originated in jolly old England back around the 1700’s and reached its peak of popularity in the early 20th century, its popularity has since waned, at least in its original alcoholic form.

Fortunately for the home brewer it is extremely easy and cheap to make a batch to enjoy. Coopers and Brigalow both sell Ginger beer extracts in kit form, although some people have told me they find the finished product’s taste a bit funny on the palate. Personally I haven’t tried either, i have never seen the point when the ingredients to make your Ginger beer from scratch can be located so cheaply and easily at your nearest supermarket.
If you don’t have some already, you will need to get yourself some brewing gear to make Ginger beer. A fermenter, hydrometer and some sterilizing powder is about all you need to get started, these can be purchased from any home brew store (find one near you here), and will cost you around $40 all up. Another option is buying a Coopers brew kit from Big W these are around $70 last time i looked, contain a few extras and have everything to get the budding home brewer up and brewing in no time.

Once you have the necessary equipment you will also need to get:

  • 1 Packet generic ale yeast or ginger beer yeast
  • 3 Lemons
  • 2 Limes
  • 60 grams Cream of tartar (baking section of the supermarket)
  • 2kg Brown sugar
  • 150 grams of freshly grated Ginger root

Making the beer:
First zest the lemons and limes (thinly cut off the very outer coloured edge of the skin) in a pot with 3 liters of water on the stove. Bring the pot of water to the boil and then add the cream of tartar, the ginger and the sugar. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved then turn off the heat and pour into your sterilized fermenter. Juice the lemons and the limes and add to the fermenter along with 15 liters of cold tap water.
Stir the mix in the fermenter thoroughly, sprinkle your satchel of yeast on top stir again.
Seal up your fermenter and put it somewhere in the house that is around 18 – 25 degrees Celsius. The temperature where the fermenter is going to be doesn’t have to be spot on but try and avoid places where the temperature is likely to fluctuate a lot during the day i.e near sunny windows etc.
The airlock on the fermenter should start bubbling around 16 – 32 hours later, and will continue to ferment happily for around the next 8 days (exact time will vary depending on the ambient temperature and exact yeast used). When the airlock appears to have stopped bubbling take a hydrometer reading wait 48 hours and then repeat if both readings were the same you are now ready to bottle. If your hydrometer readings differed wait a few days and repeat the testing process again as your beer is still fermenting.

Bottling your brew:
Bottling is easily the most time consuming part of the brewing process and for one fermenter, sterilizing the bottles, filling, priming and capping will take around 1 1/2 – 2 hours of time.
First you need to sterilize enough empty bottles (375mL Stubbies or 700mL longnecks work best) to hold your brew. You now need to add some more sugar to the fermenter so your beer will end up fizzy. If you stuck to the recipe and have exactly 18L of beer you will need to dissolve 150 grams of sugar in 500mL of water and cool add to your fermenter and stir.
Fill all your bottles and cap, then put them aside for 1 – 2 weeks to prime before chilling and drinking.
I personally prefer this brew better when the ginger flavours are nice and fresh with some bite so don’t worry about leaving it to age for an extended period before drinking.

Troubleshooting your brew

The fermenter airlock never started bubbling:
Check the temperature where the fermenter is the yeast may just be dormant due to the cold, try moving the fermenter somewhere warmer.
Did you add the yeast to the fermenter after adding the cold water? The Yeast will be killed if its added while the temperature is too high. If you suspect you have killed the yeast buy another satchel and add it to the fermenter, if your lucky you can recover from this mistake.

Beer not fizzy when you open a bottle:
Did you remember to prime your brew with sugar? Secondary fermentation in the bottle is necessary to gas your beer. Not much that can be done to fix this mistake as the beer is already in the bottles. It is still alcoholic and perfectly fine to drink so its not a total loss.

Bottles of beer exploding:
You either primed with too much sugar or didn’t wait until the fermentation was completely finished before bottling. Be sure never to bottle if the hydrometer reading is above 1.012.

Ginger beer smells and tastes bad:
When it comes to brewing cleanliness is number one! Some sort of bacteria has no doubt made itself at home in your brew. Throw the beer out and start again making sure everything your ginger beer comes in contact with is sterile first.

Audreys Wish

Monday, July 13th, 2009

The much loved Manly local Audrey Myrden in March this year was delivered the devastating news that she was suffering from Glioblastoma Multiforme (an aggressive brain tumor). Audrey’s case is unfortunately considered terminal and very rare. But despite the odds Audrey is determined to fight it. Afraid of leaving her young boys to grow up without their ‘mummy’ and her husband a widower she has shown an immense amount of courage in her battle. To find out the full details of the families plight, you should read Audrey’s story posted over at her blog on the Audrey’s wish website.
I have personally known Audrey for around 9 years and had the pleasure working along side her at the Barking Frog Cafe, in 2001. She is a fantastic lady with a heart of gold, who in this case has unfortunately been dealt a rough hand. To help ease the financial burden on the Myrden family covering medical bills and the upkeep of the young boys a couple of fund raising events are coming up, which need your support!

July 30th Golf Day: This may fall on a weekday, but if you love your golf this is a rare opportunity to play the Manly course not to be missed! The fun kicks off at 10am on the green, and is followed by a cocktail reception at 5pm. Tickets are $185 per person for the full day or $75 per person for just the cocktail reception, check out the site for the full details.

August 15th Benefit: A fashion parade and cocktail evening at the International College of Management Sydney in Manly. This black tie evening should be great with fashion, entertainment and silent auctions! Tickets are $75 per person, bookings can be made along with the full details of the event over at the Audrey’s Wish site.

Donations can also be made at the Audrey’s Wish website, for those that can’t make the events but would like to show their support for this well loved Manly family.

Bright Fainters Dubbel – 8.5% Alcohol

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

fainters_dubbelAfter tasting tasting the Bright Staircase Porter i was very impressed with the effort from Bright Brewery and keen for more so i promptly rushed out and brought a bottle of their Fainters Dubbel to try.
Pouring the bottle into a glass revealed a slightly hazy dark ruby colour beer with a head around 2 – 3 cm high. This subsided rather quickly to a lacing around half a cm thick. On the nose i was blown away by this beer the smell was packed with the odour of raisins which instantly made me think of port wine.
On the palate this beer had a nice creamy body with the flavour mostly dominated by raisins, plum and hints of spice. The taste finished pretty dry, with a noticeable warmth provided from the alcohol content.

Verdict: Very unique in flavour and at 8.5%, it packs quite a punch, definitely a beer for sipping. It’s not something i would like to drink everyday but it made a pleasant deviation from the norm.

Score: 7.8 / 10


Knappstein Lager 5.6% Alcohol

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

knappstien_lagerToday is the last day of June and in preparation for “Dry July“, which supports adults living with cancer, i decided to have one last beer while i was still allowed. I had a hard decision to make, after all the beer chosen would have to keep me satisfied for the next 31 days till August 1st!
Finally after 5 minutes of umming and ahhing i settled on a Knappstein reserve lager, it had a nice looking bottle, at 5.6% packed a tad extra alcohol in and being a lager i figured worst case scenario it should still be pretty smooth to drink.

Emptying the bottle into glass only helped reinforce in my head i had made the right choice. The beer was lightly carbonated, crystal clear with a brilliant golden colour. On the nose the aroma was bursting with fresh tropical fruit smells, the most predominate to me being mango.

On the palate the beer was light, full of tropical fruit and lemon flavors accompanied by a slight bitterness from the hops which helped offset the sweetness from the fruity tastes. The aftertaste was very clean bar a slight lingering fruit flavor.

Verdict: This beer was extremely easy to drink, and i definitely wont pass up the opportunity to try it again.

Score: 8.3 / 10


Where to buy: I am not currently aware of any retailers in the Sydney area. Although you can buy it online from the wineries online store. It’s fairly expensive at $58 for half a case but well worth a try at least once.
If you just want to try one, Knappstein Lager can also be found behind the bar at The Australian Hotel located in The Rocks.