Beer-Off: Beer from a can

I’m not a beer connoisseur by any means. I like it, but fancy variations like schmancy wheat waved over the spring of sacred waters tends to be a bit lost on me. So I chose to make my go-to beer when faced with too many options on tap, the good old pale ale.

The guy in the home brew shop Moonah’s ‘Brew By You’, didn’t bat an eyelid when I told him my sister were having a beer-off, but he did enthusiastically give me advice for a reliable pale ale for a novice beer brewer (or maker as we’ve been advised by Glenn) to make. I walked out of there with a tin of Coopers Australian Pale Ale, a pack of Half and Half (consisting of 45% dextrose, 45% light malt and 10% corn syrup), and because I’m indecisive, a pack each of black and green bottle lids.

Eight plus years of cooking together has made Dave and I pretty harmonious in the kitchen  – I plan the elaborate meal and Dave cooks it.  So for us this was a reversal, where Dave had to patiently instruct me and try not to take over when my technique was not up to scratch.

Our house method was to find the equipment carefully stashed under the desk in the study, fill up the barrel and leave for a few hours sterilizing, empty and leave to dry. Warm the can in some hot water for easy dispensary into a quarter barrel of hot water to dissolve with the Half and Half  mixture. I made this first part a little too hot so even after adding cold and ice water, then had to wait for it to cool down to get between the recommended 21-27 degrees before adding the yeast. This is where I wished we’d started earlier in the day as we ended up waiting over night and had to heat it back up to 22-24 degrees before stirring in the yeast. I got anxious that the yeast wasn’t going to activate so when Dave called me into the kitchen later to tell me it was about to start, I had my eyes glued to the air bubble in the airlock s-bend for a good five minutes before I jumped for joy as it went ‘bloop’ for the first time. After that I kept thinking the kitchen tap was dripping.

I will admit I’m a little worried my conservative choice of beer isn’t going to be fancy enough compared to Lex’s choice of Indian Pale but only time will tell!

Dad used to wrap his barrel in a jacket, Dave wasn't so sure it needed one so I settled for a scarf.
I remember that Dad used to zip his barrel up in a jacket, Dave wasn’t so sure it needed one so I settled for a scarf.

Next up the bottling process in  ‘From barrel to bottle’


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