April 2014

Now that I have a Mash Tun, I can brew all grain again – yay! Not an easy task as my kettle is too small for a full sparge, even for a half batch, but I got there in the end.

Back to All Grain Pale Ale

1.044 OG → 1.012 FG → 4.3%ABV
111 IBU

Maris Otter 1.75 kilograms
Munich 0.5 kilograms
Crystal 20L 0.15 kilograms
Crystal 60L 0.15 kilograms

Zeus 17.4% 15g

Amarillo 8% 15 g
Centennial hops 10.1% 15g
Chinook hops 15.6% 15g
Simcoe hops 13% 15g

Amarillo 8% 15 g
Centennial hops 10.1% 15g
Chinook hops 15.6% 15g
Simcoe hops 13% 15g


Hops bagged and ready






15m hop addition boiling away




A hop at the top!




Squeezing the hops


Yeast sprinkled


In the makeshift fermentation chamber. The plan is to place bottles of ice in here to keep the temp right. Need to drink several litres of Coke Zero first though!


It’s a long time since I’ve bottled anything but I don’t have the keg space and this Coconut Pils was such a tiny brew. In the end I discarded a couple of litres because I didn’t have any more bottles.

Turned out far more drinkable than I expected. All the kit-sweetness disappeared, which is excellent – I was on the verge of discarding the kit before deciding to try it with coconut. It’s a little over-bitter however, but that carries over from the kit. All in all it proves a light toasted coconut beer can work. I just need to think of the perfect recipe now.



Testing watertightness now.

I was hit by tax – 1400yen – in some calculation which I can’t even pretend to understand. What I do know is that 200yen of that was the Japan Post fee. Had this been in the UK, the Parcelfarce fee would have been 2000yen by itself. Probably more.

So I’m the proud owner of some hops, from Freshops. Here they are:


Centennial – 16oz
Simcoe – 16oz
Citra – 8oz
Mosaic – 8oz
NB – 4oz
Golding – 2oz
Amarillo – 16oz
Chinook – 16oz
Zeus – 12oz
Magnum – 16oz
Saaz – 16oz

A total cost of $255, including $70 delivery.

Here they are from another angle:


And in the freezer:


Ooops, not enough room there. Better use the small freezer too:


All those hops are making me thirsty. Here is one of the best imports that’s come into Japan for a while – Lagunitas Little Sumptin.


All in all, it works out about 770yen per 100g for these hops, with postage and tax included. In comparison, 100g of Pellet hops from Sakeland works out at 500yen (when you buy 500g) – which makes Sakeland’s price look damn good. An equivalent 100g of Pellet hops from Advanced Brewing is about 800yen. But these are leaf, not pellet (pellet would be cheaper to ship). And they are varieties you can’t get in Japan.

I can’t wait to get brewing with these. It’s an absurd amount of hops. And I intend to make some IPA’s and Pale Ales with absurd amounts of hops in them.

Even though I’ve twice imported hops to Japan with no problem, my heart has been pounding the last two days when the tracking suddenly showed:

04/22/2014 09:10 Held by import Customs KAWASAKIHIGASHI KANAGAWA

And then was updated to:

04/22/2014 09:10 Held by import Customs KAWASAKIHIGASHI KANAGAWA
04/22/2014 16:50 Held by import Customs KAWASAKIHIGASHI KANAGAWA

I’ve never seen anything with “Held by import Customs” shown twice.

I know bringing dried hops into Japan is perfectly legal, but that didn’t stop my mind screaming maybe something was wrong – maybe now they’ve tightened up the laws on dried plant products; maybe they found a bit of soil in the hops (a big no-no); maybe they’ve gone for analysis; maybe they’ll be sent back or destroyed!

As the clock ticked 5pm on the 23rd and nothing was updated, I was really starting to suspect the worst. “You might need to call customs tomorrow,” I told the better half.

Imagine my surprise and delight then when I received a USPS update mail saying my order had delivery customs close to 7pm – woohoo! Totally unexpected as Import Customs close at 5pm.

I still don’t yet know whether I’ll be whopped with tax – but even if I am, at 4.3% for hops (assuming it hasn’t changed), it should only be 1000yen plus change. Far preferrable to a $235 delivery of hops being destroyed!

It’s common to combine toasted coconut with a porter but I have been wanting to try it with something lighter for a while.

A few weeks back I bought two cans of Black Rock Export Pilsner. One I used already and – sadly, but as expected – it has a bit if a sugar twang to it.

Rather than ditch the second can or waste good hops on it, I’ve decided to experiment with it. I’ve taken the second can and fermented it by itself (13L, no extra malt or hops) with the plan to add coconut at the end – the hope being that the unsweetened toasted coconut will offset the sugar twang.

Today I added the coconut.

It will probably all end in something horribly undrinkable but hopefully only because it’s based on a Black Rock kit rather than because coconut doesn’t work in lighter beers.


Picking up the bones of a new mash tun from a fellow brewer. Now I just need the stainless steel ball valve and fittings.


Next Page »