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Category Archive Beerducation

A revival of the Breheny family brewing in Australia.

With new breweries constantly opening across Australia it’s hard to keep up with them all, so you tend to look out for ones that stick out. When you see a post about a beer company claiming to be from “The most influential family in Australian brewing history”, that does prick your attention. That is exactly what happened when I heard about Breheny Bros Breweries.

A quick online search turned up the website which touted claims such as “18 Breheny men working in dozens of breweries from 1850 – 1950.” Now this isn’t your usual back story for a new brewery where “3 mates quit their jobs in IT to follow their passion for beer” and launched their new Brewery called “Bro, Bro and Bro Co”. (Credit for that name goes to Tiff an Linds from Crack the Ceiling Podcast). This is a serious back story that claims that Breheny Bros are Brewing Royalty and that was something I needed to find out more about.

You can watch my interview with James Breheny, Managing Director of Breheny Bros Brewries or keep reading.

The website was quite informative with detailed stories about the families brewing history and their involvement with several major breweries including Abbotsford and Geelong which both ended up being owned by CUB. The history spanned over 100 years and there were still Breheny decedents working in the brewing industry today, most notably at Grand Ridge Brewing in Victoria. It became quickly apparent that this was no marketing hype, but a genuine story about a family that made significant input into the Australian brewing industry.

As much as I love my beer history, I also wanted to know more about the beer and again, the website provided plenty of detail. There were numerous “old labels” of beers with “classic” style names like Sparkling Bitter, Royal Lager, Queensland Bitter, and Superior Stout. Of course I had to put my style Nazism aside knowing full well that the BJCP style guidelines didn’t exist in the 1850’s so the real question was, “How can they brew beers that were as authentic as the labels?”

Then I read “Descendants of the original Breheny brothers discovered the original Breheny Bros Breweries recipe books from the 1920s “. Imagine the excitement of coming across a recipe book of beers over 100 years old. My head started spinning, first thinking about holding a significant piece of history and then dreaming about what that beer would taste like.

That’s where James Breheny found himself in 2021 in the middle of covid, when his cousin John Breheny lent him one of the original beer recipe books used at the family Breheny Brothers breweries. James was subsequently lent further copies of family beer recipe books by other family members and he understood how rare these were based on his 25 year career at CUB. James is a 3rd generation Breheny and now Managing Director of Breheny Bros Brewing.

In my interview with James I asked him what the strategy was moving forward for BBB. Where they going to keep releasing “new” beers based on old recipes? Were they looking for National Distribution? Are they looking to collaborate with CUB, or do they have a buyout strategy over the longer term?
He said they may look at their own brewery at one stage but for now they were happy with their arrangement with Burnley Brewing. One thing was clear, that the Breheny name was their greatest asset and what ever happened, they wouldn’t be selling that.

So at this point you might be saying, “Cool story bro’ but what about the beers?
Here is my take on the beers that I sampled.


Non Alch- Original name – NON-INTOXICATING

Non-alcoholic beers have come a long way even in the last 3 years. Initially they just tasted like watered down versions of full flavour beers, but modern brewers have done wonders and some of them have so much flavour and mouthfeel, they would be hard to pick in a blind tasting against full strength beers.

But imagine trying to brew a non-alc beer in the 1920’s. Who would attempt that, and why?

Well as for the “why”. The temperance movement started in 1830s in Australia and early closing pubs were first introduced in South Australia in 1916. This lead to what was called the 6 o’clock swill where patrons would grab as many beers as they could, and down them before being kicked out on the streets. Whilst this might have been the motivation to produce non-alcholic beer at the time, it still would have been a brave brewer who attempted to brew one, and even more challenging, the skills to brew one. That’s what makes this, at least in my mind, one of the best NA beers I have ever tasted.

Considering this is the original recipe, my first whiff transported me back to the 1920’s with the aroma of sticky carpet and sweet. That is not a bad thing, because that sticky carpet aroma comes from lots of beer spilt on it, and it’s probably fermenting down there. Which leads to the next aroma. Wort! Yes it smells look a brewery or brew day, with that sweet wort filling the room. It was so noticeable that once again, I felt like I was transported to the brewery where it was being made.

With my mind wandering and my nasal receptors firing messages to my brain, I tucked in and got the full experience and I was hooked. This was like no other NA beer that I had tried, and I loved it. You could taste the history, you could taste the wort, and you got a flavour experience like no other.

As for the other beers, some times I like to talk about my tasting experience with a beer, sometimes I like to let the brewer do the talking. In this case, I will leave to the brewer because I think they nail it.

Sparkling Bitter tasting notes

● Bitter is the perfect knock off beer.
● Smooth/soft with a balance of esters, hops, malts and yeast. Quite complex flavours for a simple beer, allowing the drinker to find something new with each sip.
● This beer is made for the drinker to sit on and relax.
● Moderate hop bitterness is balanced with bready malt sweetness and light yeasty esters.
● Yeast esters are low, however most noticeable is sulfur and a light apple/pear.
No diacetyl is to be present.
● The drinkability of this beer must be high.
● As light and bright as possible without filtration.
● Important that this beer presents a firm foam.
Tasting notes
● Sweet/bready Australian malts.
● Hints of floral hops and yeast esters.
● Smooth bitterness.
● Medium bodied.
● High drinkability and sessionable.

Quick Summary

Is the Breheny family ““The most influential family in Australian brewing history?”
It is a claim that could be well and truly made considering their contribution to so many different breweries. The only other one that would come close is the Coopers Family which have been continuously brewing since 1862 with 6 generations of brewers.

Where is the beer being brewed and who is brewing it?
Burnley Brewing – Brewer Michael Stanzel

Where did the recipes come from?
Descendants of the original Breheny brothers discovered the original Breheny Bros Breweries recipe books from the 1920s. They are brewin the beers today from those recipes which are over 100 years old.

What do the beers taste like?
I believe that taste just like they were intended to taste like, over 100 years ago by Breheny Brewers, and that’s enough for me, BUT, on top of that, I do really like them.

You can watch my interview with James Breheny here or visit their website for more information.

What is the difference between a Stout and a Porter?

It’s often said that not all Porters are Stout, but all Stout’s are Porters. Confused? Well most people are, so like all good stories, let’s start at the beginning, and have a look in to some history.

History of Stouts and Porters

  • Porters emerged from England in the18th century
  • Porter – Mixed drinks – invented by a barman in the pub, made by blending lighter, hoppier beers, with older aged ales
  • The name originated due to its popularity with street and river porters. (workers)
  • The popularity of porter was significant, and it became the first beer style to be brewed across the world
  • During the Industrial Revolution, low-cost brown malt was arriving in London from Hertfordshire and was quickly adopted as the standard malt.
  • With the hydrometer, brewmasters at the time discovered that their inexpensive base brown malt was mediocre at best in terms of sugar yield, so they began adding slightly higher priced pale malt into their grist
  • The move towards pale malt at the end of the eighteenth century, however, led to a great disparity in beer colour, so brewers began experimenting with the addition of burnt sugar. Not only did this alter the flavour of the beer, it was also considered illegal by the English government due to the perceived evasion to the malt tax. In 1816, the use of caramel colouring was banned by Parliament.
  • Brewers started brewing with Increased alcohol content, and thus the stout was born. That’s right, all a stout technically is, is a stronger – or stouter – version of a porter.
  • Names developed like “extra porter”, “double porter”, and “stout porter”.
  • The stout really took off when a brand named Guinness became a household
  • Guinness Extra Stout was originally called “Extra Superior Porter” and was only given the name “Extra Stout” in 1840.
  • Porters use malted barley and stouts are primarily made from unmalted roasted barley, which is where the coffee flavour most people associate with stout comes from.
  • Guinness is made using roasted barley, flaked barley, and pale malt, but other breweries don’t necessarily use roasted barley; they can use chocolate or other dark and specialty malts.

Style Variations (BJCP 2015)

13C. English Porter – ABV: 4.0 – 5.4%
Simply called “Porter” in Britain, the name “English Porter” is used to differentiate it from other porters described in these guidelines. Overall Impression: A moderate-strength brown beer with a restrained roasty character and bitterness. May have a range of roasted flavours, generally without burnt qualities, and often has a chocolate-caramel-malty profile.

Became a highly-popular, widely-exported style in the 1800s before declining around WWI and disappearing in the 1950s. It was re-introduced in the mid-1970s with the start of the craft beer era.

Differs from an American Porter in that it usually has softer, sweeter and more caramelly flavours, lower gravities, and usually less alcohol; the American Porter will also typically have more of a hop character.

Irish Beers

While now termed Irish Stout, it was originally called Dry Stout and it came about from attempts to dodge the malt tax bill in eighteenth century London. As unmalted barley was not taxed the same as malt, brewers began using more in the grist. Still used in modern recipes, this raw, unmalted barley lends a sharp coffee bitterness and a creamy mouthfeel.

15B. Irish Stout (Or Dry Stout) ABV: 4.0 – 4.5%
Examples – Ohara’s and Guinness Draught
Overall Impression: A black beer with a pronounced roasted flavour, often similar to coffee. The balance can range from fairly even to quite bitter, with the more balanced versions having a little malty sweetness and the bitter versions being quite dry. Draught versions typically are creamy from a nitro pour, but bottled versions will not have this dispense-derived character. The roasted flavour can be dry and coffee-like to somewhat chocolaty. medium-low to no fruitiness, and medium to no hop flavour (often earthy)
Appearance: Jet black to very deep brown with garnet highlights in colour. According to Guinness, “Guinness beer may appear black, but it is actually a very dark shade of ruby.”

15C. Irish Extra Stout ABV: 5.5 – 6.5%
Appearance: Jet black. Opaque. A thick, creamy, tan head is characteristic.
Style Comparison: Midway between an Irish Stout and a Foreign Extra Stout in strength and flavour intensity, although with a similar balance.


16A. Sweet Stout (Milk Stout) – ABV: 4.0 – 6.0%
History: An English style of stout developed in the early 1900s. Historically known as “Milk” or “Cream” stouts, legally this designation is no longer permitted in England (but is acceptable elsewhere). The “milk” name is derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener. Originally marketed as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers.

16B. Oatmeal Stout – ABV: 4.2 – 5.9%
History: A variant of nourishing or invalid stouts of the late 1800s using oatmeal in the grist, similar to the development of sweet stout that used lactose.
Most are like a cross between an Irish Extra Stout and a Sweet Stout with oatmeal added. Several variations exist, with the sweeter versions more like a Sweet Stout with oatmeal instead of lactose, and the drier versions more like a more nutty, flavourful Irish Extra Stout. Both tend to emphasize the body and mouthfeel

16C. Tropical Stout – ABV 5.5 – 8.0%
Overall Impression: A very dark, sweet, fruity, moderately strong ale with smooth roasty flavours without a burnt harshness.

16D Foreign Extra Stout – ABV: 6.3 – 8.0%
Originally, this style was a strong stout and was considered a luxury item. Once copious amounts of Extra Stout began being exported to British territories at high rates, it garnered the name Foreign Stout.
History: Stronger stouts brewed for the export market today, but with a history stretching back to the 18th and 19th centuries when they were more heavily-hopped versions of stronger export stouts.
Style Comparison: Similar in balance to an Irish Extra Stout, but with more alcohol. Not as big or intense as a Russian Imperial Stout. Lacking the strong bitterness and high late hops of American Stouts. Similar gravity as Tropical Stout, but with a drier finish, higher bitterness, and less esters


These beers all evolved from their English namesakes to be wholly transformed by American craft brewers. Generally, these styles are bigger, stronger, more roast-forward, and more hop-centric than their Anglo cousins. These styles are grouped together due to a similar shared history and flavour profile.

20A. American Porter ABV: 4.8 – 6.5%
A stronger, more aggressive version of pre-prohibition porters and/or English porters developed in the modern craft beer era.
Style Comparison: More bitter and often stronger with more dark malt qualities and dryness than English Porters or Pre-Prohibition Porters. Less strong and assertive than American Stouts.

20B. American Stout – ABV: 5.0 – 7.0%
Overall Impression: A fairly strong, highly roasted, bitter, hoppy dark stout. Has the body and dark flavours typical of stouts with a more aggressive American hop character and bitterness.
History: A modern craft beer and homebrew style that applied an aggressive American hoping regime to a strong traditional English or Irish stout. The homebrew version was previously known as West Coast Stout, which is a common naming scheme for a more highly-hopped beer.
Style Comparison: Like a hoppy, bitter, strongly roasted Extra or Export Stout. Much more roast and body than a Black IPA. Bigger, stronger versions belong in the Russian Imperial Stout style. Stronger and more assertive, particularly in the dark malt/grain additions and hop character, than American Porte

20C. Imperial Stout – ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%
While stronger than Extra Stout, the term “Imperial” came about in the eighteenth century due to this style’s popularity with the Russian monarchy.

Overall Impression: An intensely-flavoured, big, dark ale with a wide range of flavour balances and regional interpretations. Roasty-burnt malt with deep dark or dried fruit flavours, and a warming, bittersweet finish. Despite the intense flavours, the components need to meld together to create a complex, harmonious beer, not a hot mess.
Flavour: Rich, deep, complex and frequently quite intense, with variable amounts of roasted malt/grains, maltiness, fruity esters, hop bitterness and flavour, and alcohol.

History: A style with a long, although not necessarily continuous, heritage. Traces roots to strong English porters brewed for export in the 1700s, and said to have been popular with the Russian Imperial Court. After the Napoleonic wars interrupted trade, these beers were increasingly sold in England. The style eventually all but died out, until being popularly embraced in the modern craft beer era, both in England as a revival and in the United States as a reinterpretation or re-imagination by extending the style with American characteristics.


The lines are extremely blurred between these styles, especially due to the variations of the names, mainly the use of the term “Stout Porter” which just refereed to the higher alcohol content.
It appears that most styles are derived from the original English Porter which became the first beer style to be brewed across the world. London-type porters often use brown malt as a characteristic flavour and should create a flavour without burnt qualities.

The Irish adaptions of the Stout display a unique “dry” characteristic, and the iconic Guinness brand creates it’s own version, which breaks the mould of Stouts by using roasted barley, flaked barley, and pale malt, when other breweries don’t commonly use roasted barley in Stouts.

The Sweet (Milk) and Oatmeal stouts have were created to entice people to drinking “healthier” versions, although that health advantages are unlikely, but modern craft brewers use these versions to create a point of difference and attract new drinkers to the style.

The American variations, seem to be just brasher versions of the styles, with more hops and higher ABV’s. Even here the ABV in the guidelines overlap a lot with the American Porter ranging from 4.8 – 6.5% and the American Stout ranging from 5.0-7.0%. The Imperial Stout (or common term RIS) just indicate a higher ABV again, although they tend to have more complex flavours.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, a Porter, a Robust Porter, a Stout Porter, and Imperial Stout or a Russian Imperial Stout, they are all just names. What matters is how you enjoy them.


BJCP Guidelines

You can also read more about it from Black Hops here

New England IPA

When is a “style” not a style? When it’s a NEIPA!

2018 will be remembered as the year of the Haze Craze here in Australia with the explosion in popularity of the New England IPA (NEIPA). Brewers were pumping out new versions of the style weekly, with beer lovers lapping up the “juicy” style and brewers pushing the boundaries to make them juicier and hazier than the rest. But where did this all begin?

History of the style

Well you can trace the styles origin back to 2003 to an IPA called the Heady Topper, brewed by The Alchemist brewery in Vermont, a small state in the New England region of north-eastern United States, from which it draws it name.

Head brewer John Kimmich, experimented with an IPA recipe, deciding not to filter nor pasteurise the beer – both common methods used to extend a beer’s shelf life.

In this article published on Thrill List he is quoted as saying “I’ve always brewed beers to be the way I wanted them to taste. Haze is not the goal, it’s a by-product. You’d be amazed at how many years we had to defend those beers against people that would just trash us. For 10 years, we had to educate beer consumers that a hazy beer is not a bad thing. Of course now I feel like it’s totally been run in the opposite direction.”

The Haze Craze changed all of that and brewers indulged the haze to the point that you couldn’t see through some beers, but it wasn’t the haze that consumers were craving, it was the juiciness that came from some of the beers.

You see before the NEIPA came along, the trend in IPA’s was toward aggressive bitterness like those common in West Coast IPAs. It was a race to oblivion with brewers creating beers with an IBU of a 100 or more, which frankly didn’t leave anywhere to go with your palate. That’s why this new softer, fruiter style was allowed to emerge and grab it’s place as a new world IPA.

As this type of beer gained popularity, it begun to be identified by the geographical location from which it came, earning it the name New England IPA, which started to appear commonly in the US from about 2011. The name started to appear on brewers labelling, but despite its growing popularity, the main associations and bodies that control the Craft Beer industry had still not recognised it as a style.
In fact at this point, the NEIPA was still seen to be a variation of the American IPA, but the NEIPA deemphasized the hop bitterness, which was a key trait of the American version and the cloudiness or haze didn’t really sit well under the American IPA style either, so something had to give.

2018 – A Style is Born

In this article published on CraftBeer.com on March 20, 2018 called “A beerstyle is born”  They announced that the official birth of the “style”

The Brewers Association, publishers of CraftBeer.com and the trade organization to protect and promote small brewers, has released its 2018 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines. The release includes a trio of beer styles identified in the guidelines and Brewers Association competitions as “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.” These styles represent what some beer geeks and brewers popularly refer to as New England IPAs or Hazy IPAs.”

Initially, the Style Guidelines Committee had not considered three separate styles when considering the new style.
What we discovered and verified was that there was a wide range of alcohol content for what was being perceived in the public as just one style,” explains style guide developer, Charlie Papazian. “After evaluating appearance, aroma, bitterness, hop characters, mouthfeel and overall balance these beers gave a consistent impression that helped frame the Brewers Association’s inaugural guidelines for three styles of Juicy or Hazy ales.”

New Styles Emerge – Hazy and Juicy

With the emergence of these new styles, the names Hazy or Juicy replaced the geographical name of the beer, with the styles now clearly defined. No longer a version of the American IPA, these new styles adopted the name of the key elements that defined the style, which was the Juicy Fruitiness and the Hazed colour. At last the style could be clearly identified.

The Style Guidelines

There are a number of bodies that represent the (Craft) Beer industry both in the US and here in Australia with the main ones being
1. (American) Brewers Association (BA)
2. Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP)
3. (Australian) Independent Brewers Association (IBA)

Below are a list of their guidelines for the styles and the date they were recognised

Brewers Association 2018 Beer Style Guidelines

February 28, 2018 – The Brewers Association is recognised at the peak body for American Brewers

You can see thee full style guidelines set here

Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale

Color: Straw to deep gold
Clarity: Low to very high degree of cloudiness is typical of these beers. Starch, yeast, hop, protein and/or other compounds contribute to a wide range of hazy appearance within this category.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Low to low-medium malt aroma and flavor may be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium-high to very high hop aroma and flavor are present, with attributes typical of hops from any origin.
Perceived Bitterness: Low to medium. Perceived impression of bitterness is soft and well-integrated into overall balance, and may differ significantly from measured or calculated IBU levels.
Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium fruity-estery aroma and flavor may be present, but are usually overwhelmed by hop fruitiness. Diacetyl should not be perceived.
Body: Medium-low to medium-high. Perceived silky or full mouthfeel may contribute to overall flavor profile.
Additional Notes: Grist may include a small amount of oat, wheat or other adjuncts to promote haziness. Descriptors such as “juicy” are often used to describe the taste and aroma hop-derived attributes present in these beers.
Original Gravity (°Plato)1.044-1.050 (11-12.4 °Plato) • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)1.008-1.014 (2.1-3.6 °Plato) • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)3.5%-4.3% (4.4%-5.4%) • Hop Bitterness (IBU)30-50; may differ from perceived bitterness • Color SRM (EBC)4-7 (8-14 EBC)

Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale

Color: Straw to deep gold
Clarity: Low to very high degree of cloudiness is typical of these beers. Starch, yeast, hop, protein and/or other compounds contribute to a wide range of hazy appearance within this category.|
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Low to low-medium malt aroma and flavor may be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium-high to very high hop aroma and flavor are present, with attributes typical of hops from any origin
Perceived Bitterness: Medium-low to medium
Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium fruity-estery aroma and flavor may be present, but are usually overwhelmed by hop fruitiness. Diacetyl should not be perceived.
Body: Medium-low to medium-high. Perceived silky or full mouthfeel may contribute to overall flavor profile.
Additional Notes: Grist may include a small amount of oat, wheat or other adjuncts to promote haziness. Descriptors such as “juicy” are often used to describe the taste and aroma hop-derived attributes present in these beers.
Original Gravity (°Plato)1.060-1.070 (14.7-17.1 °Plato) • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato)1.008-1.016 (2.0-4.1 °Plato) • Alcohol by Weight (Volume)5.5%-8.5% (6.9%-10.6%) • Hop Bitterness (IBU)50-70 • Color SRM (EBC)4-7 (8-14 EBC)

Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP)

The BCJP is recognised at the peak body for American Home Brewers and their guidelines are designed to oversee entries in sanctioned Home Brewing competitions. The last set of guidelines were released in 2015 Beer but on February 21, 2018 the BJCP announced.

The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has identified and defined four new provisional styles. These provisional style definitions address additional styles that have emerged since the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines were introduced.
Provisional styles are drafts created in between producing new sets of official style guidelines, but they may be used by competitions as official styles. Competitions should allow for these styles to be mentioned in the comment field and judges should reference the style definitions during judging.

One of the four provisional styles was announced as Style 21B – Speciality IPA: New England IPA. Interestingly BJCP still recoginse this as a sub style of the American IPA

Style 21B – Speciality IPA: New England IPA

Overall Impression
An American IPA with intense fruit flavors and aromas, a soft body, and smooth mouthfeel, and often opaque with substantial haze. Less perceived bitterness than traditional IPAs but always massively hop forward. This emphasis on late hopping, especially dry hopping, with hops with tropical fruit qualities lends the specific ‘juicy’ character for which this style is known.
Intense hop aroma, typically with fruity qualities (stone fruit, tropical fruit, and citrus are most commonly present) reflective of newer American and New World hop varieties without being grassy or herbaceous. Clean, neutral malt in the background, potentially with a light bready sweetness without caramel or toast. Absence of any malt character is a fault. Neutral to fruity fermentation character that is well-integrated with the hops. A creamy, buttery, or acidic aroma is inappropriate. Any perceived alcohol character should be restrained and never hot.
Color ranges from straw to yellow, sometimes with an orange hue. Hazy, often opaque, clarity; should not be cloudy or murky. The opacity can add a ‘shine’ to the beer and make the color seem darker. Any visible floating particulates (hop matter, yeast clumps, etc.) are a fault. Medium to rocky meringue white head with high to very high retention.
The hop flavor is high to very high, and reflects the same characteristics as the aroma (emphasis on fruit, with ripe tropical fruit, stone fruit, and citrus being most common). The perceived bitterness can be somewhat low to medium-high, often being masked by the body and finish of the beer. The hop character in the aftertaste should not be sharp or harsh. Low to medium malt flavor, generally neutral, sometimes having a bready, grainy, lightly sweet flavor. Noticeable toast or caramel flavors are a flaw. Fermentation character is neutral to fruity, but as with the aroma, supportive of the hops. Off-dry to medium finish. Creamy, starchy, or sugary-sweet flavors are inappropriate, although a high ester level and lower bitterness may give the impression of up to moderate sweetness. A moderate, supportive alcohol character is acceptable but should never be hot or dominating.
Medium to medium-full body with a smooth character. No harsh, hop-derived astringency. Alcohol warmth may be present in stronger versions, but should never be hot. Medium carbonation is standard. The beer should not have a creamy or viscous mouthfeel, an acidic twang, or a raw starch texture.
The style is still evolving, but this style is essentially a smoother, hazier, juicier American IPA. In this context, ‘juicy’ refers to a mental impression of fruit juice or eating fresh, fully ripe fruit. Heavy examples suggestive of milkshakes, creamsicles, or fruit smoothies are beyond this range; IPAs should always be drinkable. Haziness comes from the dry hopping regime, not suspended yeast, starch haze, set pectins, or other techniques; a hazy shine is desirable, not a cloudy, murky mess.
A modern craft beer style originating in the New England region of the United States. Alchemist Heady Topper is believed to be the original example and inspiration for many other interpretations that grew in popularity in the early to mid-2010s. Brewers are continuing to innovate and evolve the style, with the style trending towards a less bitter presentation to the point of making a mockery of the term “IPA”.
Characteristic Ingredients
Similar to many newer American IPAs but often with more oats or wheat in the grist, and less caramel or specialty malts. Restricted hop choice to American or New World varieties with a tropical fruit, stone fruit, or citrus character. Neutral to estery yeast strain. Water ranges from balanced between sulfate and chloride to using more chlorides. Heavily dry-hopped, partly during active fermentation, using a variety of hopping doses and temperatures to emphasis hop depth of aroma and flavor over bitterness. Biotransformation of hop oils during fermentation may add to the fruit character.
Style Comparison
Compared to American IPA, New England IPA has a fuller, softer mouthfeel, a more fruit-forward late hop expression, a more restrained perceived bitterness balance, and a hazier appearance. Many modern American IPAs are fruity and somewhat hazy; if they have a dry, crisp finish, at most medium body, and high perceived bitterness, these examples should be entered as American IPAs. Noticeable additions of fruit, lactose, or other materials to increase the fruity, smooth character should be entered in another category defined by the additive (e.g., Fruit Beer, Specialty Beer).
Vital Statistics
IBU 25 – 60
SRM 3 – 7
OG 1.060 – 1.085
FG 1.010 – 1.015
ABV 6% – 9%
Commercial Examples
Hill Farmstead Susan, Other Half Green Diamonds Double IPA, Tired Hands Alien Church, Tree House Julius, Trillium Congress Street, WeldWerks Juicy Bits

(Australian) Independent Brewers Association (IBA)

Meanwhile in Australia, in March 2, 2018 Brews News announced in this article
The New England India Pale Ale (NEIPA) has been introduced to the style guidelines for AIBA 2018
The Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) has introduced a New England India Pale Ale (NEIPA) subclass to this year’s style guidelines. http://brewcon.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/5970-IBA-2018-BREW-CON-Style-Guidelines-v5-060418.pdf
But AIBA is still ahead of the curve in creating style guidelines for a beer that has its origins in the United States, but has not yet found its way into the Brewers Association’s guidelines.

How other Platforms treat the style

Rate Beer is the worlds biggest beer rating site. The site lumps all of the names together, simply categorising them as IPA/Hazy/New England

Untapped which is the biggest beer rating app in the world still shows it as New England IPA but also has a category called Milkshake IPA’s which is an even newer version of the style. Milkshake IPAs are described as those brewed with lactose — are becoming distinct from versions brewed with oats, or versions that achieve their appearance through extravagant levels of dry-hopping.

Wikipedia has failed to keep up with the craze and doesn’t refer to the style at all, although it does refer to sub categories of IPA’s


So in summary, whilst there is evidence that this type of beer dates back to 2003, the name New England IPA was just a name that identified where it’s origin was from, and it wasn’t until early 2018 that the “style” was actually born. Given that the (American) Brewers Association are the most respected world wide body when it comes to beer styles, their recognition of the style and their guidelines are the ones which are most commonly accepted. Going forward that means the styles will now be known as

  • Hazy or Juicy Pale Ales
  • Hazy or Juicy IPA’s of
  • Hazy or Juicy Double or Imperial IPA’

The (Australian ) Independent Brewers Association (IBA) have already accepted and included these guidelines in their documentation, and it appears the BJCP are still the only body that recognises the NEIPA as a subcategory of the American IPA. I expect that might change before the next set of guidelines are updated.

So get ready to enjoy your Hazy or Juicy Beers !


Update January 2022.

On 29 December 2021 the BJCP released their updated guidelines for 2021.

The new guidelines recognises the style as Hazy IPA and notes it is “Also known as New England IPA or NEIPA

21C. Hazy IPA

Overall Impression: An American IPA with intense fruit flavors and aromas, a soft body, smooth mouthfeel, and often
opaque with substantial haze. Less perceived bitterness than traditional IPAs but always massively hop-forward.

Aroma: Intense hop aroma, with stone fruit, tropical fruit, citrus, or other fruity qualities; not grassy or herbal. Clean,
neutral, grainy, or lightly bready malt in the background; no caramel or toast. Absence of any malt character is a fault.
Neutral to fruity fermentation character. Esters from yeast and hops should not clash. A creamy, buttery, or acidic aroma is inappropriate. Light alcohol aroma optional.

Appearance: Color ranging from straw to very light amber, sometimes with an orange hue. Hazy, often opaque, clarity;
should not be cloudy or murky. The opacity can add a ‘shine’ to the beer and make the color seem darker. Any visible floating hop matter, yeast clumps, or other particulates is a fault.  Medium to rocky, meringue-like white head with high to very high retention.

Flavor: High to very high fruity hop flavor, same descriptors as aroma. Low to medium malt flavor, same descriptors as
aroma. Low to medium-high perceived bitterness, often masked by the fuller body and soft, off-dry to medium finish.
The hop character in the aftertaste should not be sharp or harsh. Neutral to fruity fermentation profile, supportive of the hops. Should not be sweet, although high ester levels and lower bitterness may sometimes give that impression. Background alcohol flavor optional.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Smooth. No harshness. Light warmth optional.
The beer should not have a creamy or viscous mouthfeel, an acidic twang, or a raw starch texture.

Comments: Also known as New England IPA or NEIPA. An emphasis on late hopping, especially dry-hopping, with hops with tropical fruit qualities lends the ‘juicy’ character for which this style is known. Heavy examples suggestive of milkshakes, creamsicles, or fruit smoothies are outside this style; IPAs should always be drinkable. Haziness comes from dry-hopping, not suspended  yeast, starch haze, or other techniques; a hazy shine is desirable, not a cloudy, murky mess.

History: A modern craft beer style originating in the New England region of the United States as an American IPA
variant. Alchemist Heady Topper is believed to be the original inspiration as the style grew in popularity during the 2010s. The style continues to evolve, including a trend towards lower bitterness and using the style as the base for other additions.

Characteristic Ingredients: Grist like an American IPA, but with more flaked grains and less caramel or specialty malts.
American or New World hops with fruity characteristics. Neutral to estery yeast. Balanced to chloride-rich water.
Heavily dry-hopped, partly during active fermentation, using a variety of hopping doses and temperatures to emphasis depth  of hop aroma and flavor over bitterness. Biotransformation of hop oils during fermentation adds to the depth and fruit complexity.

Style Comparison: Has a fuller, softer mouthfeel, a more fruit-forward late hop expression, a more restrained perceived
bitterness balance, and a hazier appearance than American IPA. Many modern American IPAs are fruity and somewhat
hazy; examples with a dry, crisp finish, at most medium body, and high perceived bitterness should be entered as 21A
American IPA. Noticeable additions of fruit, lactose, vanilla,  etc. to increase the fruity, smooth character should be entered in a specialty category defined by the additives (e.g., 29A Fruit Beer, 29C Specialty Fruit Beer, 30D Specialty Spice Beer).

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.060 – 1.085
IBUs: 25 – 60 FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 3 – 7 ABV: 6.0 – 9.0%

Commercial Examples: Belching Beaver Hazers Gonna Haze, Hill Farmstead Susan, Other Half Green Diamonds
Double IPA, Pinthouse Electric Jellyfish, Tree House Julius, Trillium Congress Street, WeldWerks Juicy Bits


Update BA Guidelines January 2022

There are now 4 different categories for this style

  1. Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale – 4.4%-5.4% ABV
  2. Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale – 5.6% – 7% ABV
  3. Juicy or Hazy Indian Pale Ale – 6.3%-7.5% ABV
  4. Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale 7.6-10.6 ABV

Converting VB Drinkers to Craft Beer

CraigVB drinkers are probably the last people that you would expect to like Craft Beer, but guess what?  Some of them actually like it !

Meet Craig Windred. He is a genuine Aussie Bloke who is a factory work and hails from the Central Coast in NSW . Up until about 8 months ago Craig was a VB drinker, but then one of our members Daniel Pankhurst introduced him to Craft Beer.

I meet Craig at one of our recent Meetups in Sydney for Craft Beer Week and we got talking. Out of the 20 or so people that were there, most of them were Craft Beer “nuts” like myself and whilst I really enjoy talking about beer with these people, I just loved listening to Craig talk about his (short) beer journey.

I asked him about some of the beers he had tried and he said ” I tried that Hop Hog, that’s not bad and the Nail Stout was pretty good”. He went on to mention an amazing range of beers which spanned across a surprisingly wide range of styles. He must have rattled of about 20 of my favourite beers from great Aussie brewers like the Bridge Road Pale Ale, Big Shed F-Yeah, Pirate Life IIPA, Riverside 777, Feral Karma Citra and even some from new comer berwers like Akasha. What was even better, was that he had also started sharing them with his dad, who had also been a VB drinker most of his life, and his dad had taken a liking to them as well.

Quite apart from this great range of beers that he had been trying, he had gathered some great knowledge about beer along the way, often dropping casual remarks like “That stout was good, but it got better as it warmed up.” He could identify flavours that he liked in beers like “coffee and chocolate” or “citrusy tastes” in hop heavy beers. Now to most of us Craft Beer lovers, this is all common knowledge but to hear this guy talking about craft beer like a pro, was amazing considering his short journey and where he had come from.

It was really exciting to hear his enthusiasm and I wanted to video him, but I probably would have spent a lot of time editing out all the F Bombs and other banter we were having. The best part of it was it reminded me why I started this group and it wasn’t just to talk to other “beer nerds” like myself. It was to help other people discover that there is something better out there than what they are drinking and to help educate them about Craft Beer. As we all know, it’s a journey and that journey has to start with an introduction, and as Craft Beer lovers we all should be trying to introduce new people to the journey.

Of course we don’t want to go to far and become the Craft Beer Wanker that won’t shut up about it and tells everyone he meets, that VB is shit, or Corona is “cats piss” (even if it is). You need to take a more subtle approach and introduce them to it gradually. Don’t start them of with a RIS, get them to try a Gateway Beer  like a Pale Ale or Wheat Beer and let them work up to it from there. If they don’t like strong hops flavours, give them a Lager or a Malty Brown, or if they are a coffee lover maybe give them a Porter to try after dinner. The main thing here is we need to remember to keep encouraging them to experiment, because they aren’t going to like every beer they try.

As you know there are plenty of Beer Festivals on around the country and these are great places to take newbies, because they can try a wide variety of beers, in smaller quantities, which make sense especially if you don’t like them. One such festival is the Bitter and Twisted festival in Maitland and in the lead up to this, The Commercial Hotel pub manager Matt Dickman, conducted an experiment with 2 other VB loving larrikins at the Morpeth Brewery. So what happened? Well watch and see, but all I can say is that I hope these guys are talking like Craig in 8 months too. Hopefully we can convert all the VB drinkers to Craft, one lost soul at a time.

Cheers in Beer !

The history of the IPA style of beer

This is a story of commercial treachery, imperialism and an arduous journey that would cross the equator twice.

No other beer has had such an impact on the craft beer industry as IPA’s have. It seems you can’t be called a true craft brewery without having at least one IPA on your tap list with most having more. The big bold flavours and in-your-face bitterness are what brings people back for more every time. Tropical, citrus, pine, and even gunja are just some of the aroma and flavours you’ll find in this “pet” of the craft beer industry. Without doubt IPA’s have been a driving force behind the boom in craft beer over the last twenty or so years, but like most popular beers of today IPA’s have their roots solidly set in history and the style is far from new or revolutionary. So with that said, lets delve into some IPA history without getting too caught up in the myth busting that has plagued this style recently.

Jumping into the Alechemist “DeLorean” essentially just a 1979 TD Holden Gemini covered in home brand Alfoil with a digitally controlled mash tun in the back seat. I’m going to set the Brew-Flux Capacitor (the mash tun) for the early 18th century or 66.4 degrees Celsius, and our destination? The mother country “England.”

IPA’s much like the Alechemist are around 170 years old, the Pale in ‘India Pale Ale’ is much older. Although not pale as we know them today they were somewhat less roasty than the popular Porter style of the day. They were usually called Bitter’s to differentiate them from other beers. By the mid-18th century most breweries were using malt that was kilned using coke, this new process produced less smoke and was easier to control the heat, producing a much lighter malt and a true Pale beer.

East India CompanyIn 1757 the battle of Plassey was won, with this started the British rule in the Indian sub-continent and by the 19th century most of India was under British rule. The East India Company had originally been set up for trade with…… well the East indies although they mainly traded with China. The trade mostly consisted of commodity’s such as Tea, Coffee, Silk, Cotton and above all “Opium”, yep Opium! The East India Company probably still holds the record for being the biggest drug mules in history. With this new lucrative market in British India the company set their focus on the fact the British in India wanted beer and the British breweries had beer to freight. The first brewer in London to send beer to India was George Hodgson of Hodgson’s Brewery in Bow. The brewery itself was close to the East India Company’s port and so became the beer of choice to send to the thirsty Brit’s away from home.

The beer being sent by Hodgson was an October beer or old beer but dubbed India Pale Ale for the new market, it typically aged in oak barrels for a number of years. When it arrived in India it was met with great approval and became instantly popular. By 1811 Hodgson’s were sending around 4000 barrels a year to India. Soon George’s son Frederick and a dapper young chap called Thomas Drane were running the now moved and new brewery at Bow Bridge. The two businessmen thought it time for a coup! They quickly set about cutting Ties with the East India Company and started to ship their beer to India themselves, then retailing it themselves once it arrived, taking 100 percent of the profits. At the same time, they ended the long standing agreement of giving 12 or 18 months credit on beer they sold to the company’s employees, raised prices by 20 percent and refused to sell on any terms other than cash. No prizes for guessing the EIC and the merchants in Calcutta and Madras were not happy with this arrangement. Hodgson’s beer had formed one of their primary articles of investment. From then on, whenever the EIC tried to import someone else’s beer they were undercut by Hodgson and Drane so severely it scared anyone away from the market.

Fast forward to 1806 and some short French bloke has created what came to be known as the Continental Blockade. This stopped around 60 to 70 percent of all trade between mainland Europe and Russia and brings the brewing industry in Britain to its knees where it all but collapses.

While this is happening small brewery in Burton/Trent owned by the brewer Ben Wilson, was struggling with the blockade and ended up selling out to a chap called Samuel Allsopp for 7000 pounds. Hearing of the takeover the East India Company invites Allsopp to a dinner to discuss a trade agreement, legend has it the EIC offered to beat any trade agreement they had in Europe and Russia. They also wanted a new pale beer, one that could rival the success of Hodgson’s October style Pale Ale. Allsopp signed on the dotted line knowing nothing of the beer legend he was about to be involved in. The beer created was Pale in colour and more hop driven than other beers of its time. It’s about here where some of the history of IPA’s becomes hotly contested, was the beer brewed strong and hoppy to stop spoilage on the long sea voyage or was it brewed to strengths similar to the porters of the day? Brewing records suggest that to begin with at least, it was no more alcoholic than porter and the simple fact is, porter was being shipped as far away as Australia without any detriment to the product.

So how about the hops? Was the intention of the brewer to add a ship load of hops to create an antibacterial property to the beer? Brewing records are sketchy at best from this period and I guess we’ll never know, but I’m sure the flavours and big bitter hit we crave today was appreciated just as much back then. Just how different the two beers were is also a hotly contested issue.
This new beer continued with Hodgson’s India Pale Ale style name and was an instant hit among the Brits in India and at home. Hodgson and Drane fobbed off this new beer and alliance and were supremely confident in their product and that they were just a small time competitor, but what they hadn’t accounted for was “mother nature”.

The water in Burton/Trent was high in calcium sulphate, it wasn’t known at the time but this was perfect for naturally increasing flavour and bitterness in beer and was far superior than the water in stinky old London. It wasn’t long before Allsopp knew he had the better product and it would be years before water chemistry would allow other breweries to “Burtonize’ their water. Two other Burton breweries “Bass and Salt” were both keen to cash in on this new beer and their magic water and so the three breweries set about chipping away at Hodgson and Drane’s market dominance. The once great Hodgson brewery slowly fell into obscurity and in 1933 the mighty brewery was demolished to make way for council buildings.

Well there you have it my beer brethren, a story of commercial treachery, imperialism and an arduous journey that would cross the equator twice.

The AlechemistSo what about the current styles of IPA. Well perhaps that is a story for another time but you can find out more about the current style of IPA’s by reading through the style guidelines from BJCP   or  the American Brewers Association

If you are interested in brewing your own IPA, you can also check out own of the Alechemist’s recipes

Stay tuned for more beer history and education

Drink up and brew strong!
Cheers (Swannie) The Alechemist

5 Reasons the beer you are drinking today has changed, or not!

Gateway BeersI was reading a recent article about the Story of Little Creatures Pale Ale and how it is one of the most popular Gateway Beers around which is no surprise. It’s a really interesting read and the writer asks the question “is it the same beer” that people fell in love with when they first drank it all those years ago or has it changed? The brewer basically replies “It is absolutely the same”.

When a link to the story was posted on social media there where a chorus of people who said it was all a lie and that the beer had undoubtedly changed, which got me thinking. What leads us to think a beer has changed, when it hasn’t? So here is what I came up with.

5 Reasons the beer you are drinking today has changed, or not!

  1. You forgot !
    Do you have a photographic memory? Can you recall the EXACT way the beer tasted 5 or 10 years ago when you had it? I doubt it. Sometimes I can’t remember what a beer tasted like the next morning, so I am damned if I can remember what it tasted like 5 years ago.
  2. Your tastes have changed
    One thing I know for sure is that your palette changes over time. I remember the first time I tried a stout about 20 years ago and I thought I was drinking boot polish. Now I love them. When it comes to hops, what I used to consider a hoppy beer, I would now consider bland because I’ve tasted so many beers with a high IBU now. Little Creatures is a great Pale Ale, but when you compare it to some of the new bolder varieties, it can be quiet bland
  3. Your mouth has changed
    Try this. Take a mouthful of your favourite beer, then eat some nuts and have another mouthful, then eat some salami and have another mouthful. Do they all taste the same?  Try the same beer the next day afterwork, or after a meal. Does it always taste the same? I doubt it, and this is a beer you know hasn’t changed.
  4. It’s the location
    Ever had a Bintang in Bali? I haven’t but people reckon they taste great. It’s not because it’s a great beer, but there is something about being in that place, on holidays, in the sun and sucking back a cold one, I believe. For me it was Lowenbrau in Germany, that beer never tastes the same as it did back there.
  5. It’s nostalgia
    You have heard this before in many conversations. Your parents said it was better back in the “good old days”, or your favourite rock band sounded better on vinyl than it does on your Ipod. This one is full of emotion because it really does take us back to something we loved.  So if Little Creatures was your epiphany beer, that moment in time was special, a bit like your first kiss (or other romantic moment). As time goes on and you have lots more great beer moments (or girlfriends) but the first one holds a special memory in time.

So what ever the reason, if in your mind you believe it has changed then for you it probably has, but brewing is a science and if the brewer tells me it hasn’t changed, then you really got to ask yourself, what has changed?

If your head is full of memories of a great tasting beer, then hold on to those. If you don’t enjoy the same beer today, that’s fine, move on and enjoy something else, but for most people Little Creatures will still hold a place in their heart, much like their first girlfriend. Cheers !


What is a Gateway Beer?

Have you heard of the term Gateway Beers but not sure what it means? Well it is really quiet simple. A Gateway Beer is a beer that opens the gate (metaphorically of course) to a whole new world of beers to someone who wouldn’t normally drink craft beer. What that means of course is that there is no clear set of rules that make a beer a gateway beer, it could be literally any beer, as long as it is the one that sparks the interest for you to start on your craft beer journey.

So where did it start for this beer lover? Well it all began with every Australian 20 year olds right of passage, a trip to Europe and like the spirit of the great Australian adventurers that went before us, our goal to drink our way around Europe, one pub at a time. We soon learned that when we hit a new country we just needed to learn the phrase “One beer please” in what ever the native tongue was, because what ever we ordered tasted pretty good and we didn’t really know what we where ordering anyway. This made it so exciting because every town, pretty much had it’s own local beer, especially in countries like Germany, with centuries of beer making culture. This lead to my first true love of beers being German Lagers. They where so interesting compared to our Australian Lagers.

Well it was the eighties and there was a very sparse offering of beer in Australia. Pubs pretty much just served “their states beer” which was Resches, Tooheys or Carlton in NSW, VB and Fosters in Victoria, XXXX in QLD and good old Coopers in SA.

So when I returned to Oz, I started trying to seek out “Imported Beers” although there wasn’t much available. Back then you could only get beers from big International Brewers like Heiniken, Stella, Peroni and my favourite, Lowenbaru.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and the range of beers available in Australia are amazing. Of course the big commercial brewers are still around, but the Australian Craft Beer scene has taken off and there are literally hundreds of local craft beer breweries and thousands of them world wide. Today an independent bottle shop might carry a couple of hundred different types of beers, with some of the big ones carrying up to a thousand, so with so many options available, where do you start?

Well let’s be clear, there is no correct place to start your beer journey, and there is no single gateway beer that will open the door for you, it is very much an individual matter of taste. Having said that, there are a few styles of beers that might make your journey from Mainstream Beer to Craft Beer easier and the list below is a good starting point.

Gateway Beers

Gateway Beers

Probably the most important thing to consider is the STYLE of beer. The American Brewers Association list of 150 styles of beer and other associations list more. Some of the more subtle styles to seek out in the beginning might include

  • Lagers
    • Young Henrys Natural Lager
    • Mountain Goat – Goat
  • Pilsners
    • Pilsner Urquell (Czech)
    • Prancing Pony Indie Kid
    • Nomad Brookie Pilsner
  • Pale Ales
    • Little Creatures
    • James Squires 150 Lashes
    • Fat Yak
    • Coopers
    • Stone and Wood Pacific Ale
    • Sierra Nevada (USA)
  • Kolsch’s
    • 4 Pines
    • Wicked Elf Kolsch
  • Golden Ales
    • Jindabyne Brewing Golden Ale
    • 2 Birds Sunset Ale
  • Hefeweizens
    • Four Pines
    • Jindabyne Brewing Heffe
    • Weihenstephan (Germany)

These styles are not far removed from the large commercial beers that are available in tap at local clubs and pubs. The above list of styles and examples of the beer, are by no means conclusive, they are just a small sample of beers that might be good gateway beers, if you are new to the craft beer scene and want to try something different to your normal draught beer.

Of course the best way to find a beer that you like, is to try lots of different ones until you find one (or more) that you do like. Once you find a style that you like, experiment within the style and try and find more beers in that style to try. When you get sick of that style, try a different style and then so on.

Finally, we also polled the members of our We Love Craft Beer Facebook Group to see what their Gateway Beers where. You can see the results here and of course we invite you to be part of the conversation in the group too.

The Chemistry of Beer – Part 2

Malting and the Brewing process.

It is said “he who brews knows of hard labor and good cheer, for when one brews many drink.” 

Welcome back for part – 2 of the Chemistry of Beer. In part – 1 we looked at the basic ingredients used in brewing beer and what they bring to the table, in this the second installment we’ll be having a look at how Grain becomes Malt and we’ll jump into the brew house for a lesson in brew science and the brewing process. Once again this is not intended to be an in depth article but more of an overview that all levels of knowledge can take something way from.


In part – 1 we looked at how grain provides the carbohydrates used by yeast to create alcohol in beer. For grain to do this it needs to go through a process called malting. In the malting process grain is germinated by being soaked in water, this is called the “wet side.” Once the grain starts to germinate the Maltster (person responsible for malting grain) will then stop it from germinating further by drying it with hot air. Doing this develops the enzymes required for modifying the grain’s starches into carbohydrates during the mashing process. At this stage it’s referred to as “green malt” it is then taken to be kiln-dried to the desired colour and specification in what’s referred to as the hot side. Malts range in colour from pilsner or pale, through crystal and amber, to chocolate and black malts with many varieties in between. Our malt is now ready for making beer. 

The brew house

When the grain arrives at the brewery it is taken to the milling room to be cracked. Cracking the grain releases the starches from the husk although the gains are not pulverised like wheat for bread, instead they are for the most part left intact but cracked, doing this helps to release the carbohydrates after mashing and allows the grain and husk to work as a natural filter during the sparge process.  The brew house traditionally consists of three brewing vessels and they are-

  1. The hot liquor tank or “HLT”. This is essentially a very large boiling vessel used to heat the water used in the brewing processes.
  2. The Mash Tun. This is where our Milled Malt is mixed with heated water to form the mash that produces the wort.
  3. The Kettle or Copper. This is where the wort is boiled and hops are added for bittering, flavour and aroma.

The mash

Water is heated to a specific temperature in the HLT in readiness for mixing with the Malt. The temperature of the mash is dependent on how much body is needed for the style being brewed. The reason behind this is related to the enzymes living on the grain we talked briefly about earlier. The two main enzymes active during the mash are alpha and beta amylase. Alpha amylase, is most active around 67-74C and creates longer sugar chains that are less fermentable, this results in a beer with more body and malt sweetness. The Beta amylase, is most active between 55-66C produces single maltose sugar units which are more fermentable, this helps with a more complete fermentation (higher attenuation) and a cleaner beer with a thinner, dryer body. These temperatures are referred to as Saccharification rests. The mash can be stepped up gradually through different temperatures called “rests” in what is known as a step mash or held at one temperature known as a single infusion mash for a time period from 60min to 90min or more but for the most part with today’s highly modified malts, 60min is all that is needed to convert the starches into sugars.

The Sparge

Once the conversion is complete the temperature of the mash is lifted to around 75.5C and held for around 10min to stop the enzymes and increase the viscosity of the mash. Its now time to draw off the sweet sugary liquid to the Kettle this is now called “Wort” (pronounced Wert). As this is happening we also want to wash all the excess sugars from the grain. To do this 75.5C water is slowly sprayed over the top of the grain as wort is drawn from the bottom of the grain bed, the brewer is very careful not to disturb the bed of grain as it naturally acts as a filter for the wort being drawn off. The brewer will stop sparging when he has collected the correct volume and by measuring the specific gravity of the wort collected in the Kettle.

The Boil

Once the collection is complete the wort is then brought to the boil and hop’s are added. Typically hop’s that are added at the start of the boil are for bittering, the longer hop’s are boiled the more Alpha acids isomerized into our wort but the more volatile aroma and flavonoid oils boil off so its for this reason that hop’s that are added at different times and intervals give different things to the beer. Hop’s added near to the end of the boil add their flavors and those added at the end and after the boil give their aroma to the finished product. The boil typically lasts for between 60 and 90min, after which the brewer will again measure the specific gravity to obtain what is known as the “opening gravity”. The wort is now rapidly cooled to a temperature the yeast being used will ferment best at, oxygen is also added as it’s transferred to the fermentation vessel.


This is where our wort becomes beer! After the wort has been transferred from the Kettle to the fermenter it’s time to add our yeast. Once in our wort the yeast quickly multiply and get to work converting the sugars into alcohol  (ethanol) this can take from two to six weeks depending on style, yeast strain and alcohol content of the finished beer. The brewer once again measures the gravity and this is known as the “final gravity” he can now determine the alcohol content by using the opening and final gravity. We can now call it beer for the first time. The beer or “green beer” is now chilled close to freezing temperatures to help drop the yeast out of suspension before being transferred to a “bright tank” (large cooled holding tank) for lagering and carbonation, this further filters and conditions the beer and can take up to three months for Pilsner’s but usually around two to three weeks for Ales. After this the beer is then ready for packaging and consumption.

Beer is many things to many people, from quenching a hard earned thirst to having fun with your mates or even making a living. To me beer is the beautiful coupling between science and art, it’s about understanding how and why so you can stand in front of the canvas and express yourself freely. It’s about watching others enjoying your heart and soul, it’s about taking people to new places and letting them experience new things. I truly love beer and the journey it’s taken me on and I hope with some knowledge I impart here over the coming months, it helps you on your journey in beer.

Well there you have it my brethren, a quick insight into the Chemistry of Beer. So next time your lifting that glass… spare a thought for the Water, Malt, Hop’s and Yeast and drink something that “doesn’t” spare the Water, Malt, Hop’s and Yeast!

Cheers, Swannie

The Alechemist

The Alechemist


The Chemistry of Beer – Part 1

Beers Basic Ingredients

The Chemistry of Beer

“Beer” we all know it, we all love it, we all know it tastes great and makes us feel good. We all know how it’s made in big oak barrels being carted around behind Clydesdale’s and some of us even know how it’s made from boiled wheat with hops in it…Right?            

Uh nah!

It’s funny how a country so entrenched with beer culture can be so ill informed when it comes to what beer is and how it’s made. I’ve always found it difficult to understand how the majority of beer drinkers couldn’t care less what goes into their beverage of choice “just knock the top off it and drink it”! Well luckily this mentality has been changing over the past 10 year’s or so and slowly but surely the days of drinking a particular brand because “that’s what my father drank” are dying out and a new beer drinker is emerging from the depths of Australia’s lake of Lagers.

This new beer drinker is equipped with a thirst for knowledge and wants to know what goes into his or her glass. It’s become trendy to know hop varieties by name and aroma and to brandish the term crystal malts between sips, but still the majority of beer drinkers couldn’t tell you what beer is made from or indeed how it’s made. 

One of the first things people ask me when they find out I’m a brewer isn’t “how do you make beer”? but it’s “how long does it take before you can drink it”? Unfortunately this says a lot about the Aussie beer drinker. 

So to that end let’s talk a bit about beer, what goes into your glass and how it made it there, so that way you’ll be better equipped to lock horns with that beer nerd down your local,  impress the opposite sex with your new found super power and watch them go weak at the knees with your beer knowledge. I don’t want to “nerd out” too much but enough to help you understand how beer goes from “Grain to your Brain”  So lets talk ingredients.


(Chemical formula: H2O) it’s a transparent fluid that forms the world’s rain, rivers, lakes and oceans, and is the major constituent of fluids in us and other stuff… yeah probably didn’t need to go there but it does make up on average around 95% of your beer so it’s very important. Water chemistry is vital even at a home brewing level. Adjusting how hard or soft (the ph level) the brewing water is can have a big impact on the beer body and flavor, Pilsner’s are historically brewed with soft or alkaline water’s and IPA’S benefit from harder or more acidic water which help lift hop aroma, flavors and bitterness. Hardness and softness also refers to the amount of sulfate, calcium and other ions in the water which can be adjusted and be used to mimic water profiles of famous brewing areas from around the world. All in all water is the body of our beer.


It’s the source of the carbohydrates that yeast use to make the alcohol and it’s where the majority of beer’s flavor comes from (dependent on style). There are many forms of grain used in beer production and it’s style dependent to which is used, but they include, Barely, Wheat, Rye, millet, sorghum and cassava, Secondary sources of fermentable carbohydrates or (adjuncts), can include maize (corn), rice, or sugar. For the most part Barley is the main grain used in beer, it goes through a process called malting and is referred to as Malt when used for brewing beer, we’ll talk more on malting in the second part of this article. The grain is also kilned to various roasts not unlike coffee is, the darker the roast the darker the flavors. All beer recipes use what is referred to as a base malt, one that’s been lightly kilned, and this forms the main source of the fermentables the yeast will use to produce the alcohol. Added to this the brewer will use what are termed as specialty malts (malts that have been kilned to various levels) to produce the flavor and colour he or she desires. Grain is the engine, nuts and bolts of our beer.


The flowers or (cones) of the “Humulus lupulus” plant. If grain is your main ingredient then hop’s are your spices to add that zing to your recipe and bring it all together. Hops actually bring more than one thing to the table. Firstly  they impart bitterness into our beer through the release of isomerized Alpha acids, secondly they give beer flavor and aroma through the release of essential oils and flavonoids and last but not least they help to preserve beer, hop’s have an anti bacterial property that helps to ward off infections and pathogens that might otherwise infect and ruin our beer. There are literally hundreds of hop varieties and each have their own flavor, aroma and bitterness. Primarily used in the boiling process, however they can also be used during later stages of fermentation in a process called dry hopping as well as during the Mash, we’ll talk more about how hops are used in part 2 of this article. Hop’s are the bling, the custom paint job of beer.


These little guy’s are freaking awesome! Oh the life of yeast, swimming around in carbohydrates (in this case wort but more on that in part 2) eating them up and pooping alcohol. Yep it’s good to be a single cell organism. It wasn’t until the invention of the microscope followed by the pioneering scientific work of Louis Pasteur in the late 1860’s that yeast was identified as a living organism and this was closely followed by the ability to isolate single strains and culture them for brewing. Before this the brewers were at the hands of the winds and relied on air born or yeast living in the wood of the cool ships (fermenters) to inoculate their wort. There are currently around 1500 species of yeast identified and of those it’s the Saccharomyces cerevisiae family that are mainly used for brewing. There are many types of brewers yeasts, the type used is dependent on the style of beer being brewed. Yeast can have a huge impact on the flavor and body of a beer and changing just the yeast type in a recipe can give you a completely new beer. Yeast consume carbohydrates produced by the grain and convert them into alcohol and c02. They are the interchangeable wheels that get everything moving from W to B.

The Chemistry of Beer

Water, Malt, Hops and Yeast! These four ingredients (and the Chemistry of Beer) are all that’s needed to make a great tasting beer. Indeed in Germany this is all beer is allowed to be brewed with. The beer purity law (Reinheitsgebot) stipulates that no other ingredients can be used. As for the rest of the world? Well in there lies a whole new topic and I’ll definitely be talking about the things that shouldn’t be in beer but I’ll leave this sensitive issue on the hook for now.

Well my beer brethren this concludes part 1 of The Chemistry of Beer. I hope this helps you better understand the four ingredients that lubricate your life. Next week in part 2 we’ll be taking a closer look at how grain becomes malt and delve into the brewing process.

So stay tuned, drink up and brew strong!

The Alechemist.

2016-05-01 21.21.41

Time to prepare your beer fridge for Winter

If you are anything like us your craft beer fridge tends to get pretty full during the summer months. The “singles” shelves tend to grow quickly as you find new variations to sample including Pilsners, Summer Ales, Saisons, Golden Ales and Pale Ales. These are great beers for the warmer months and make a good Beer O Clock beers. The slightly stronger IPA’s and even the Double IPA’s are also suitable for summer with their citrusy hops and biterness, as are the American Pale Ales if you like a more balanced beer. Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer of beer without the aptly named Lawn Mower Beers which are based on the Solo slogan where you can “Slam it down fast”. Then their is the Australian institution, the Sessional beer which you can take a 6 pack of to your mates BBQ or party.

But of course, all good things must come to an end and with summer behind us now, and as we move towards the colder months, Autumn is the perfect time to start preparing your beer fridge for winter. Here are out top 10 tips for getting your fridge into shape.

  1. Prune back your Pilsners.
  2. Lop off your Lagers
  3. Saw off any extra Saisons and Summer Ales
  4. Starting building your collection of Brown Ales
  5. Experience a couple of ESB’s
  6. Get Ready for some Red Ales
  7. Bulk up your Belgians (although they may not require refrigeration)
  8. Prepare for some Porters
  9. Stock up on Stouts
  10. When things get really cold, curl up with a Russian Imperial Stout

Of course there is the fridge itself to consider too. Once you have done all your pruning you should be able to swap over from your summer fridge to your winter bar fridge (see pictures below) and most importantly remember to adjust the temperature. Whilst your summer fridge needs to be running at around around 3-4 degrees (depending on how often you open it), the temperature of your winter fridge is probably better to be sitting around 6-8 degrees (depending on it’s content) to ensure  you get the most flavour out of your winter brews.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there now and start preparing your beer fridge for winter.

Beer Fridge






How to rate a beer

One question we often get asked is, “How do you rate a beer?” It is a good question and there are of course many different schools of thought on how this should be done. At the end of the day, no matter how you rate or judge your beer, the most important factor (if you are drinking for pleasure as opposed to judging) is DID YOU ENJOY IT?

Methods to Judge or Rate a Beer

  1. The 5 Star Happiness Factor
    This is a pretty simple method really. It is based purely on how much you enjoyed drinking the beer.  It is based purely on how much you enjoyed drinking the beer. Just drink it and then give it a star rating that suits your feelings about it.

    1. Would rather drink wine
    2. Not bad but had better
    3. Great lawnmower beer
    4. Loved it, want more
    5. Heaven in a glass
  2. Simple scoring
    Again, this one doesn’t take much effort. Give each beer a score on a sliding scale from  1-50 or 1-100. The advantage here is with a wider range you have more room to score similar beers a few points higher than another.   You can make this more interesting by making the score out of a topic, instead of just a number, like 5 canaries in a coal mine out of 7. Use the hashtag #randomratings
  3. Complex judging and scoring
    If you become a real craft beer snob like us and you want to be able to rate your beers, against other similar beers, brews you have tasted previously and also against the style, then you need to come up with something more complex (so you sound like you know what you are talking about). On We Love Craft Beer, we use what we call the Better Beer Rating Method. This rates a beer based on 5 different criteria but because it can be hard to remember what you are judging (especially after a few beers) we have tried to make it as simple as possible to remember. For that reason we have used the first 5 letters of the alphabet because if you can’t remember those, you are in BIG trouble. So this is how we rate a beer.

A= Appearance. What does it look like, what colour is it, is it cloudy or opac,  what is the head like?
B= Bouquet. What does it smell like, what can you pick up, what is the body like?
C= Characteristics and complexity. What can you taste, what flavours are dominate or lacking, what is the mouth feel like, is it well balanced?
D= Drink ability. How much do you like it? Would you drink it again ? (This is your happiness factor)
E= Equality. How does it Compare to other beers in this style that you have had before?

Each category gets a score out of 10 and you give it a total out of 50. (You can change these numbers to suit yourself)

One of the issues with the simple scoring method or happiness method is, you can give the wrong impression to others with your feedback. For instance if you don’t like Stouts and you where asked to judge the best Stout in the world, and you gave it a 3/10, most people would think it is not worth trying and the brewer would be disappointed to get that sort of review.

One advantage of using a more complex judging system is that you can rate the beer based on it’s qualities rather than just if you like it. For instance you could score it a 10/10 for Equality, which would indicate it is a good representation of the style, but give it a 5/10 for drinkability because it is not something you would normally drink.

If you want to rate and review your beers and keep track of them, then you should probably download the We Love Craft Beer App. 

The app will allow you to use the 5 star rating method or the more complex  DowBetter Beer Rating Method.

Not only can you rate your beers, you can also find out how other people are rating theirs, and the app will even recommend beers for you based on your ratings. You can even use it to find craft beer venues near you and access special deals from venues. So what are you waiting for? Download it now.

What ever way you decide to judge or rate your beer, you need to remember one thing. ENJOY THE BEER !


So what is beerducation?

Do we need to spell it out for you? OK, we will then,  B-e-e-r-d-u-c-a-t-i-o-n.  Get it?

Right, so it is learning about all things beer. See you have already passed your first test.

So what else do you need to know? Well believe it or not, you could write a book about beer, in fact many people wiser than us already have. There is heaps to learn, including:

  • Brewing Techniques
  • Styles
  • History
  • Drinking (yes you can learn more about drinking beer)
  • Glasses
  • Storage
  • Tasting
  • Food matching
  • and bucket loads more

The more you learn, the more you find there is to learn, so click on a link and get started now.

Get it right, or don’t brew it !

Beer Style NaziWhy the right beer style is important

I’m a Style Nazi and beer styles are important. I read the Beer Association or  BJCP  guidelines and if a brewer doesn’t brew a beer to  fit in the style guidelines, I’m grumpy as all hell. Why ?  I’ll tell you why.

I have worked in retail and marketing most of my life and both of these industries go under the microscope when it comes to delivering on your promise. For example, if you advertise or sell a watch and you say it is “water resistant” it must be able to be immersed in water without water entering the watch.

The sale of any product or service in Australia is regulated under Australian Consumer Law which protects the consumer and outlines the requirements of the manufacturer or supplier.  It covers a whole range of areas but in summary it says that goods must be:

  1. Of acceptable quality
  2. Fit for any specified purpose (like the watch)
  3. Match the description – It specifically says “Suppliers and manufacturers guarantee that their description of goods is accurate.

Whilst you could argue that some beers are not “of acceptable quality” (although unless it was off, it would be subjective), I believe you could argue that if a manufacturer called a beer a “Pilsner” and it didn’t match the official style guidelines, then their description of goods  is NOT accurate.

Now I am not going to suggest that if a beer which is called a Pilsner doesn’t match the style guidelines that you set about taking legal action against the brewer. After all this is Australia, not America. What I am saying though is that this is deceiving because the consumer is buying the beer based on the description that is given to it, and if the description is not correct then you have a right to be disappointed.

NOW, BEFORE YOU ALL GO OFF YOUR BRAINS ……… and say “If every brewer brewed to the guidelines we would get the same beer all the time” just take a chill pill and finish reading the post.

Two things. Firstly, there is plenty of scope within the style guidelines to brew different types of beer    AND MORE IMPORTANTLY .. I want brewers to push the boundaries with beer !

Yes that is right, go ahead and brew anything you want, use goat cheese or goat urine, whatever you want, just don’t call it something it is not.

Wine manufacturers do this all the time, they mix varieties and styles. If you want to brew a beer that sits somewhere between a Pale Ale and a Pilsner, call it a Pilsner Pale Ale, or a PPA, or just call it Nancy, I don’t care. Just don’t call it a Pilsner if it isn’t one !

End of Rant, but watch out for more rants from the Style Nazi