Oct 29, 2013

Having a go brewing rice wine

I can't stand up long enough to brew beer but that hasn't stopped me fermenting things. I’ve been brewing soft drink and kombucha for several months, more recently I've been brewing milk kefir and last week I started a batch of rice wine. The great thing about these fermented goods is that they are no more difficult to get started than a cup of tea.

Rice wine at the beginning

I was inspired to make the rice wine by a thread on homebrewtalk.com, part of it's beauty is that it only uses two ingredients, cooked rice and rice yeast balls (generously delivered by a mate from Sydney). The method is very simple:

  1. Rinse and cook 2 cups of rice, it needs to be fairly glutinous type. Let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Pack the rice into a large, clean jar, layering rice and a crushed up yeast ball. Cover the jar with a loose fitting lit or gladwrap/aluminium foil secured with a rubber band. You want some air to be able to escape but keep it protected from other bugs.
  3. Give it time in a warm but dark place, mine lives under a cloth at the top of a cupboard. 
  4. After 3 or 4 weeks at room temperature the wine should be ready. Strain the remaining rice solids through some cheesecloth and bottle it. The wine should be stored in the fridge as it may continue to ferment. Plastic bottles are probably a good idea to avoid the potential of exploding glass bottles.

Look for these at Asian supermarkets

That's it! Over the time in the jar an enzyme produced by the mould from the yeast balls will break down the rice, and the yeast will ferment the sugars produced by the enzyme. Mine is 4 or 5 days in and the rice in my jar is floating on top of 3cm of liquid. It’ll come out somewhere around 20% ABV. You can try different kinds of rice, different methods of preparation, and addition of fruit post fermentation. There's lots more fun to be had with this I think.

Oct 28, 2013

Competition Results

My brewing and posting has been put on hold again thanks to stupid CFS but I'm trying some voice recognition software so I can actually post. Looks like it's working!

The Saison
I got my results back from the ACT Amateur Brewing Championship. Tasmanian brewers get to enter through the ACT competition but get judged separately. So there is an embarrassing scoresheet for the Tasmanian portion of the competition which lists all the entries: Simon's and mine. Next year I hope we can round up a few more Tasmanian entrants.

Overall I was very happy with how my beers went. The big news is that my Leichtes Weizen scored 132/150, it was the highest score of any of the low alcohol beers in the competition by a decent margin. I've sent it off to the national competition, the Australian Amateur Brewing Championship, and we'll see how it does there. I'm not expecting very much though as an extra three weeks of age will certainly hurt it.

The other beers didn't do as well but I was not expecting very much from some of them. Simon's very good Altbier (112/150) was the next best of the six we submitted between us, Then came my Tripel (103.5/150) then Saison (103/150), then the Export Stout (93.5/150) and as I expected, my Blonde Ale (82/150) came last of the lot. I may review each beer and include the feedback from the judges if I can manage that sometime soon.

Overall it was a really good experience and I'm glad I entered. I've learned quite a bit and will work hard to make my entries next year of a more even and higher standard. One thing that let me down this time was my use of poor quality dried yeast. The dried yeast I used in the Blonde Ale and Stout left a sulphur aroma and other off flavours from fermentation. I've learned my lesson and will not be getting yeast from my LHBS again. The other big thing I will try next year is brewing further in advance. I brewed 8 beers in the month before I had to send off the entries and I think this compromised the quality of some of the beers because I was rushing and because some of the beers didn't have enough time to mature.

I was pleased that my thoughts on the beers generally lined up very well with the judges impressions. It was encouraging having them point out f lavours and aromas that I detected but couldn't necessarily put a name to. I'd like to get the BJCP judging qualification or do some other kind of training in beer evaluation so I can do a better job of brewing.
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