Brew Hui Meets: Søren Eriksen

Brew Hui.

I’ve noticed a commonality amongst high-achievers: it’s their perpetual dissatisfaction with the status quo. Simply-put, high-achieving types are never f**king happy with the way things are – instead believing that they can always be better. I reckon it’s the chase – the never-ending pursuit of perfection – that groups the truly exceptional.

Case-in-point: fifteen seconds after meeting Søren Eriksen – founder of 8 Wired – at his new fledgling brewery north of Auckland, he was already whinging.

We were talking about the size of his new brewery: I’d said that it was cavernous – and at 400-plus square metres, it’s nearly twice the size of the space he’s left behind in Blenheim – but in Søren’s mind, the currently-empty space was already fit-to-burst. He described – three-dimensionally – exactly what was going where, and how every cubic metre already had a thing to fill it. Production will, in all…

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DIY Mild Ale using a Coopers Lager Beer Kit

It is the end of the day on Friday and I am enjoying the fruits of one of my DIY Flash brew sessions. This is the DIY Steam Beer that I made back in April. If you like Anchor Steam this is the beer for you. It goes well any time of the year. And it hits the spot perfectly in this moment where the temperature is 75 F and the sky is an idyllic blue.

Cali Common on Deck

Earlier today I put together another DIY Flash Brew. I wanted to make a quick and easy brew that was mild and ready to drink reasonably quick. Looking at the the database of DIY Flash Brewing recipes I came upon the Coopers Mild Ale.  However, I was unable to source the Coopers Australian Pale Ale beer kit locally. So I decided to modify the recipe by using the Coopers Lager beer kit. I used 2 pounds of dry malt extract instead of 1 and I used 2 ounces of Saaz hop pelts instead of a 1/2 ounce. I did culture the Coopers commercial yeast — from Coopers Sparkling Ale beers (packing date January 27, 2013 — 17 months old). The Sparkling Ales were great! But I also bought a Safale 05 yeast sachet for insurance.

Mild Ale using Coopers Lager


The first step was sanitizing the fermentation vessel  — FV.  I use 5 star sanitizer but I also keep a bleach solution in a spray bottle handy.

The next step was making the 15 minute Saaz hop infusion. I didn’t have a coffee press handy so I just steeped the hops for 15 minutes in a pot.

Hop Infusion

Then I added the 2 pounds of dry malt extract to the fermenter.

Dry Malt Extract

Strained the hop infusion into the fermenter and vigorously shook the fermenter to dissolve the dry malt extract.

Strained Hop Infusion

Added the can of Coopers Lager. Topped up with water to the 23 liter mark. Stirred vigorously. Added the Coopers commercial yeast. 4 hours later I added the Safale yeast.

Now I just have 2 weeks and then I’ll keg it.

Have a great weekend!

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Mother’s Day Ale

DIY Sunkissed WeissSunkissed Weiss glass

It’s a little late to make a beer in time for Mother’s Day, but if you want to make a great beer with your mother in mind, try the DIY Sunkissed Weiss beer recipe. The name itself should inspire your mom.

I put together this easy recipe yesterday (see the picture of my ingredients below).


I made some slight modifications to the original recipe. I substituted Wheat malt extract for the Light malt extract. Knowing that the
Wheat malt extract is not 100% wheat and the Coopers Wheat Beer kit is not 100% Wheat, I wanted to include more wheat malt (flavor) in the beer. I also substituted Red Wheat Malt for the Crystal Wheat malt. I am not sure but I think this will have better result. Crystal malts are roasted malts and thus are not fermentable but more of a dextrin malt adding sweetness and body. The Red Wheat malt that is used I mashed using a muslin bag by steeping for an hour. My last change to recipe was my addition of 1 more ounce of Perle hop pellets.

1.7 kg Thomas Coopers Wheat Beer
1.5 kg Thomas Coopers Wheat Extract
10 oz red wheat malt
2 oz Perle Hop pellets
11 grams dry Munich yeast

I followed the procedures on the the recipe sheet almost exactly. After about 26 hours, the fermentation was proceeding perfectly at 22 degrees Celsius (see picture below). A quick simple taste revealed a nice hefeweizen in progress. Cheers!!



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DIY Steam Beer

With the outside temperatures rising the ability to use natural refrigeration to brew a Lager has diminished. That is why I am brewing a Steam beer.  Steam beer is an effervescent beer made by brewing lager yeasts at warm fermentation temperatures.

In 19th-century California, not only ice, but even sources of naturally cold water, were probably unavailable to brewers. California brewers were forced to use lager yeast at higher ale temperatures.

Final flavors of beer are influenced by the strain of yeast and the fermentation temperature. Lager yeast is best used at temperatures from 48 to 58 °F (9 to 14 °C).  Ale yeast is best used at temperatures from 55 to 75 °F (13 to 24 °C). Fermentation by ale yeasts produces a beer that has a distinctive ale flavor.  Steam Beer uses bottom fermenting lager yeasts at ale temperatures, which results in a very distinctive flavor profile that includes both ale and lager characteristics.

The recipe that I based my brew on came from this blog, Steam Beer. The actual ingredients that I used were:

  • 1.7 kg Coopers Real Ale beer kitReal Ale
  • 2 lb Briess Pilsen Dry Malt
  • 4 oz Dark Crystal Malt Grain
  • 1 oz US Northern Brewer Leaf Hops
  • 23 g S-23 Lager Yeast (2x 11.5g)

The day before I actually made the beer I steeped the 4 ounces of crushed dark crystal grain in 3 quart saucepan with 2 quarts of cold water using cheese cloth. This saucepan was covered and stored in a refrigerator overnight.

Cheese Cloth

The next day I removed the grain from the liquid of the pan and mixed in a 1/2 pound of the Briess pilsen dry malt extract. I brought the mixture up to a boil. Once it was boiling I added the ounce of Northern Brewer leaf hops and boiled for 10 minutes. If you are using this method, watch for a boil over as it can get quite messy.


Boiling hops

Remove pot from heat and place in a sink of cold water to get the temperature down.  While waiting for the liquid to chill, I added the remaining Briess pilsen dry malt extract to my sanitized fermenter. I then added 2 liters of hot water to the fermenter. I immediately picked the fermenter to dissolve the dry malt extract (This method works great as dry malt extract is extremely hygroscopic and can get clumpy).  I then strained the chilled grain/hop mixture into the fermenter. and mixed in the Real Ale brew can.

Straining hops into ferment
I then top the fermenter up to the 23 liter mark with cold filtered water and stirred vigorously.  When the temperature was at 18 C I added the 2 sachets of Saflager yeast.

Beer is topped to 23 liters
I took a sample of the beer and measured the specific gravity using a hydrometer. The original gravity reading was 1.042 which is lower than I wanted. I probably should have used another pound of dry malt extract.

Original Gravity Reading
I checked on my fermenter yesterday morning and was delighted to see a nice layer of krausen. All is proceeding nicely. The temperature on the fermenter says 16 C.

24 hours later

For a video demonstration of my brew day, you can watch it on Youtube here.

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Fruit Salad Ale Using Coopers Australian Pale Ale

Last Friday I put together a brew. The brew that I put together was a modification of the Fruit Salad Ale recipe that is shown on the DIY Flash brewing recipe page.

1 can Australian Pale Ale KitRecipe Ingredients - Fruit Salad Ale
1 can Coopers Unhopped Light Malt Extract
1 lb. Briess Dry Malt Extract
2 oz. Cascade Hop Pellets
1 oz. Amarillo Hop Pellets

Coopers Commercial yeast Coopers Pale Ale bottles – Watch a video demonstration.

A few days before I put together the brew I purchase a six-pack of Coopers Pale Ale.  I was able to reuse yeast from 4 of the bottles.

Coopers Pale Ale

I began brewing @ 10:25 AM.  I brought the light dry malt extract to a boil. Boil was achieved @10:48 AM. I let the dry malt extract liquid boil for 3 minutes. I added both additions of the hops @ 10:53 AM and turned off the heat.  The hop/dry malt liquid was simmered for 30 minutes.

The liquid malt extract from the cans of the Coopers Australian Pale Ale and the Coopers Unhopped Malt Extract were added to the fermenter and completely dissolved with hot water. This was completed at 11:11 AM. After 12 more minutes the hop/dry malt liquid was added to the fermenter.  I topped up the wort to the 23 liter mark with filtered water.  After was finished at 11:30 AM. The gravity reading I got using a hydrometer was 1.052.

I checked the fermenter next morning @ 7:00 AM. The temperature was at 26 C (79 F) — too warm.  I immediately attempted to bring the temperature down.  I checked the temperature again at 9:00 AM. It was sitting at 24 C (75 F) – which is my desired temperature for initial fermentation. There was nice layer of krausen.

Fermenter - Fruit Salad Ale

I put together a video of me making this brew. You can find it here.

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Mardi Gras and Beer

It’s Mardi Gras season! There’s so much more to Mardi Gras in America than many people realize.

It’s Mardi Gras season! There’s so much more to Mardi Gras in America than many people realize.

Here we are. It’s almost March. And next Tuesday is Mardi Gras! As someone who lived in New Orleans for 4 years while attending college I take great pride in the one of the great festivals/celebrations that New Orleans is famous for.

Most of the rest of my blog here comes from the Mardi New Orleans website.

The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional revelry of “Boeuf Gras,” or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies.

On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, and named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. Bienville also established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America’s very first Mardi Gras.

In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile), similar to those that form our current Mardi Gras krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the “Boeuf Gras Society” was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull’s head pushed alone on wheels by 16 men.  Later, Rex would parade with an actual bull, draped in white and signaling the coming Lenten meat fast. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.

New Orleans was established in 1718 by Bienville. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today. In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.

The earliest reference to Mardi Gras “Carnival” appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.

By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. Dazzling gaslight torches, or “flambeaux,” lit the way for the krewe’s members and lent each event an exciting air of romance and festivity. In 1856, six young Mobile natives formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus, invoking John Milton’s hero Comus to represent their organization. Comus brought magic and mystery to New Orleans with dazzling floats (known as tableaux cars) and masked balls. Krewe members remained anonymous, and to this day, Comus still rides!

In 1870, Mardi Gras’ second Krewe, the Twelfth Night Revelers, was formed. This is also the first recorded account of Mardi Gras “throws.”

Newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance, and they even printed “Carnival Edition” lithographs of parades’ fantastic float designs (after they rolled, of course – themes and floats were always carefully guarded before the procession). At first, these reproductions were small, and details could not be clearly seen. But beginning in 1886 with Proteus’ parade “Visions of Other Worlds,” these chromolithographs could be produced in full, saturated color, doing justice to the float and costume designs of Carlotta Bonnecase, Charles Briton and B.A. Wikstrom. Each of these designers’ work was brought to life by talented Parisian paper-mache’ artist Georges Soulie’, who for 40 years was responsible for creating all of Carnival’s floats and processional outfits.

1872 was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival, Rex, to preside over the first daytime parade. To  honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, the businessmen introduced Romanoff’s family colors of purple, green and gold as Carnival’s official colors. Purple stands for justice; gold for power; and green for faith. This was also the Mardi Gras season that Carnival’s improbable anthem, “If Ever I Cease to Love,” was cemented, due in part to the Duke’s fondness for the tune.

The following year, floats began to be constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France, culminating with Comus’ magnificent “The Missing Links to Darwin’s Origin of Species,” in which exotic paper-mache’ animal costumes served as the basis for Comus to mock both Darwin’s theory and local officials, including Governor Henry Warmoth. In 1875, Governor Warmoth signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is.

Like Comus and the Twelfth Night Revelers, most Mardi Gras krewes today developed from private social clubs with restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by their members, New Orleanians call it the “Greatest Free Show on Earth!”

Mardi Gras Traditions

Mardi Gras is about music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement.  It’s one big holiday in New Orleans!

random Mardi Gras photo

Everyone is wearing purple, green, and gold, and adorned with long beads caught from the beautiful floats. You’ll see a lot of crazy costumes, kids everywhere, and both locals and visitors having a great time.  People sit on the ground, throw balls, play music, eat great food and watch the crowds walk by between parades.  During Mardi Gras, all of the businesses and roads are practically shut down.  People walk everywhere and meet new friends. Mardi Gras Parade float Parades are a major part of celebrating Mardi Gras, and what’s a parade without some really great floats? Ever since krewes began parading through New Orleans over 100 years ago, parade floats have played a major role in Mardi Gras history.Some floats are elaborate and beautiful, while others are funny and satirical. Many krewes have a theme to their parade each year, and so floats are created to reflect those themes. Thousands of dollars are poured into making these floats, and they’re not made overnight.  Krewes work on these creations year-round, often at secret “dens” around the city.  We’re not exaggerating when we say krewes take their floats seriously.On parade day, dozens of krewe members will ride on the floats, tossing beads and home made “throws” to cheering crowds. Seeing what the krewes come up with each year is never boring, and makes each parade as exciting as the next.


Each Mardi Gras Parade Krewe has a unique history and theme. Some have been around for decades, while others have been in existence for just a few years.

Featured Parade Krewes

  1. Krewe of ZULU Home page of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, well-known for its interesting history and “golden nugget” (coconut) parade throws.
  2. Krewe of Bacchus – Krewe of Bacchus features national celebrity monarchs each year, and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors.
  3. Krewe of Rex  –  This parade krewe is the origin of many traditions of Mardi Gras, including the Carnival colors of purple, green and gold, as well as the collectible doubloon coins (introduced by Rex in 1960).
  4. Krewe of Endymion – Endymion quickly emerged as one of Carnival’s ‘Super-Krewes’ in 1974 with the inclusion of more floats and celebrity guests.
King Cake

king cake

King Cakes are a vibrant part of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans. As part of New Orleans’s Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called “A King’s Cake.”

Inside every king cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved over time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

Originally, king cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s king cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.Jan. 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is the day our Mardi Gras season, hence king cake season, begins. Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday, is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (the day before Ash Wednesday).

So, in Louisiana especially, Mardi Gras and King Cakes go hand in hand, and literally hundreds of thousands of king cakes consumed at parties, offices and in homes every year. Watch how King Cake is made here.

Mardi gras traditional anthems and great performers of the past.

Follow this link for a classic Mardi Gras medley .

I put together a Rhapsody playlist of the following songs. You can load it into Rhapsody if you’re a member or you can sign up for a free month trial.

  1. Professor Longhair “Go to the Mardi Gras”.  There are many different versions of this song: Fess himself even cut an earlier version called “Mardi Gras In New Orleans.” This is the one you want, however, the king of all Mardi Gras songs, the one with the breathtaking piano intro, the impossibly realized whistling solo, and God’s own shuffle beat. This song actually sounds like a parade coming down your street, which may be why, for locals, it’s completely impossible to imagine Mardi Gras without it.
  2. The Meters – “Hey Pocky Way”.  The strongest of several Mardi Gras classics by these masters of funk during their mid-’70s period. With a microscopically accurate second-line beat, boogie-woogie piano New Orleans style, semi-nonsensical lyrics, and loads of thick funk on top, this sums up the bohemian essence of the celebration. In fact, this adaptation of a traditional parade chant is so infectious in its joy, it’s hard not to grin while listening to it.
  3. Earl King “Street Parade”.  You may know blues guitarist King from his 1962 hit “Trick Bag,” or from his vocal on Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief,” but his career stretches out far before and after that; in fact, the LP of the same name is widely considered one of the great funk albums of all time, and not just because the Meters are there as back up, either. Not as well known as the other songs on this list, this track nevertheless manages to capture the loose feel of a second-line better than any other.
  4. Al Johnson “Carnival Time”.  Even in New Orleans itself, Al’s only known for this one song, which, like many on this list, feature the deathless piano of Professor Longhair. But it’s such a fine testimony to the season’s debauchery, not to mention a snapshot of a Claiborne Avenue scene destroyed by the Interstate highway system, that this one hit was all he needed to sustain a decades-long career: to this day, he bills himself as Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. This prime slice of Crescent City rock is just that hot.
  5. Sugar Boy Crawford and his Cane Cutters “Jock-A-Moe”.  You’ve no doubt already heard countless variations on the standard “Iko Iko” — more than likely the hit ’60s version by the Dixie Cups, which has been featured in several movies. That was bubblegum, however; this is what the song originally sounded like in the decade preceding it. Raw Fifties R&B that effortlessly skips back and forth between a parade-style rhumba and a hot jump blues, it’s also a field guide to the kind of (once violent) street warfare the Mardi Gras Indians tribes practice.
  6. Professor Longhair “Big Chief, Pt. 2”.  The man they call “Fess” was a legend, both inside and out of the city, and during his lifetime he created several timeless classics for the Carnival season. This one is actually the second half of an instrumental, yet with added vocals on the flip (a common practice at the time; Earl King handles the lead here). Fess’ playing defines New Orleans’ piano, and the lyrics are the best recorded tribute to the rich Mardi Gras Indian subculture — a whole article in itself, and then some.
  7. Rebirth Brass Bank “Do Whatcha Wanna Pt.3”.  Okay, this mid-Nineties cut is not an oldie per se, but Rebirth’s take on traditional jazz is timeless anyway, and certainly emblematic of the city’s rich brass-band tradition. This isn’t Dixieland, though (and, despite what they tell you, most New Orleanians don’t celebrate with that anyway); it’s street funk done with trad-jazz elements. And it smokes with the fire of a dozen street battles. Few people can resist the urge to shake… well, the song will let you know.
  8. The Meters “They All Ask’d For You”.  The Meters are responsible for three items on this list, all dating from the city’s fertile early ’70s homegrown funk period. This rather silly song has nothing lyrically to do with Mardi Gras — it’s practically a children’s song, when you get down to it — but the orchestration and especially the beat make it a perfect soundtrack to strutting down the street, and it’s therefore become much beloved by the locals. Also features authentic (that is, technically incorrect English) dialect.
  9. The Hawkettes “Mardi Gras Mambo”.  New Orleans is small as metropolises go, which is why so many of the songs on this list share musicians, vocalists, and songwriters. In fact, this high school group — which recorded the original version of this classic in the Fifties — would go on to mutate into the Neville Brothers. As a mambo, this isn’t one; as a living distillation of the holiday’s ethic, it’s undeniable. The lyrics are great, too: “Down in New Orleans where the blues was born, it takes a cool cat to blow a horn.” True.
  10. Stop Inc. “Second Line”.  To “second line” is to march/dance in a certain fashion during a Mardi Gras parade. (If you’re actually a part of the parade, you’re the first line; if you’re just drunk and dancing behind it, you’re in the second line.) Indeed, the march and the song are synonymous, and go back decades. When, in the ’70s, it was discovered that there were no existing recordings of the song, a group of session musicians stepped in and produced this, the most popular recording to date of this brass-band standard.

Now what kind of beer goes best with Mardi Gras? Well. When in New Orleans, go with the local brews. The 2 most commons beers in New Orleans are Dixie Beer and Abita.


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Authentic Anchor Bar Buffalo Chicken Wings

On Sunday, Feb. 2, about 1.2 billion wings are expected to be consumed. Fifty years ago, the first chicken wings as we know them — deep-fried and drenched in a sauce of melted butter and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, with a side of celery and blue cheese — emerged from the kitchen of the Anchor Bar & Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y. Thus the name: Buffalo Chicken Wings.

This is the original spicy Buffalo chicken wings recipe from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less cayenne and Tabasco.

There are many Buffalo chicken wing recipes out there, but if you want to taste the “real” thing give this a try. The chicken wings are deep-fried in the original recipe, but the hot oven works fine for the home version.

Makes 6 Servings of Buffalo Chicken Wings (6 per person)wings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

36 chicken wing pieces (one wing makes 2 pieces – the “flat” and the “drum”)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce (Frank’s is the brand used in Buffalo)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
celery sticks

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

If necessary, cut whole wings into two pieces. In a bowl toss the wings with the oil, and salt. Place into a large plastic shopping bag, and add the flour. Shake to coat evenly. Remove wings from the bag, shaking off excess flour, and spread out evenly on oiled foil-lined baking pan(s). Do not crowd. Bake for about 20 minutes, turn the wings over, and cook another 20 minutes, or until the wings are cooked through and browned.

While the wings are baking, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a pan, and over low heat bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then turn off.

After the wings are cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the hot wings and toss with a spoon or spatula to completely coat.

These are always served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing on the side.

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