Australian Pale Ale with Stella / Ella Hops

I haven’t been posting much here recently about my home brewing activities. Actually I haven’t been posting much here about anything. But nevermind. I’m posting now because I just filled up my good old pen and paper notebook and the last half dozen or so brew days are about to be consigned to an archive box so I figured I should really start logging things online again so I can look back at my brew logs more easily.

26 November 2016

Australian Pale ale with Stella / Ella Hops

This was a leftover/bitsa brew. I had a whole packet of Stella / Ella hops (14.6% AA) I wanted to use up. A goal was to keep the grain bill simple, use a single hop, and produce an easy drinking ale.

12.5L BIAB

2.6kg Barret Burston 2 Row Ale
0.14kg Crystal Pale 100
US05 SAFALE yeast

15L strike water at 70C with 68C target mash temp. Stir every 20 minutes of mash. At the end of the mash the temperature was 66C. At that point I squeezed the bag and rinsed it with 4L of cold water. This resulted in 18L of pre-boil wort with an SG of 1.027 at 48C. Temperature corected to 1.035.

45 minute boil

5g Ella @ 30 minutes
5g Ella @ 15 minutes
15g Ella @ 5 minutes
1/2 whirlflow @ 5 minutes
20g Ella @ Flameout

No Chill. As usual for my no chill brews I’ve considered all additions later than 10 minutes as 10 minute additions. At the end of the boil I put the wort, boil pot and all into my fridge and let it cool for 18 hours down to my target fermentation temperature of 18C. I cleaned and sterilised my trusty fermenter, dumped the cooled wort into it, at this point I had 14.5L of wort with a measured gravity of 1.046. I aerated the wort with my big old spoon, sprinkled my yeast, put the lid on and put the fermenter back in the fridge to do it’s think for a couple of weeks. I plan to let it ferment out for a week, fine with gelatin, chill for a few days and then bottle.

Fermentation Log

27/11/16 – Set temp of 18C.
28/11/16 – Fermentation appears to have started.
7/12/16 – Fined with Gelatin
9/12/16 – Cold crash to 3C.
11/11/16 – Bottled, bulk primed with 130g of sugar and total yield was 12.2L of beer.

Opened a bottle 7 days later and it was almost fully carbonated with a creamy pale cream head that last nicely and gave good lacing. Aroma was slightly fruity, and colour was a dark amber, quite a bit darker than I expected. The beer was also quite bitter, perhaps slightly out of balance with the malt character. There’s a couple of reasons why it might have seemed bitter, firstly it might be because it actually was, my no chill method sometimes leads to overly bitter beer especially with lots of late hop additions like this one. Alternatively I might have just perceived it as being more bitter because I’ve been drinking beers with lower IBU’s like Munich Helles (IBU 14.2) and Bohemian Pilsner (25 IBU) while this Ale had a predicted IBU of 33. Anyway, I only noticed the bitterness for the first glass, by the second glass my palate had adjusted and I enjoyed it immensely.

Ella Pale Ale

Ella Pale Ale

If I was to make this beer again I’d probably drop the late hob additions by 5g each.

Managing Bulk URL Exclusions in Adwords

The Google Adwords online interface is horrid. Just abominable. I am sure they all went to iOS UI design school and said, well Apple’s UI is shit but I am sure we can make our stuff shitter. And so they did. Anyway, I manage a very long list of URL exclusions for one of my Display Network campaigns and there’s (apparently) some limit to the number of URL’s you can exclude directly from the campaign placement report. When you exceed the limit (whatever that is) and you try to exclude a URL (using the Edit->Exclude (campaign) option) you get this (fucking) useless error message:


Thanks. A. Lot. You useless pack of dickheads.

Anyway after trying Google’s live support (useless), and their online forums (which only dream of one day being merely useless) I finally worked out that my list of exclusions had gotten too long. So, now I got to dig around in the online Adwords UI looking for a way of having a longer list. There is a way, but oh my goodness, finding it makes Indiana Jones’s quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant look like a stroll to the local shop for a carton of milk by comparison. Again. Fuck. You. Google. Anyway, you manage the list from within the Campaign->Display Network tab of the Adwords system. Click on the TARGETING button, then look in the PLACEMENTS box (second from the top) and click the stupid little pencil icon to edit the placement list.


Once you’ve done that you’ll see something like that below. Click the LISTS button


Once you’ve done that you’ll be given an option to CREATE AND MANAGE LISTS. Once you’ve clicked on that option you can create a new URL exclusion list which can contain a very large number of exclusions. What is the very large number? I have no clue as the Adwords documentation sucks seven different types of ass. But my list is several thousand URL’s long and it seems to still be working OK.

Anyway, after spending several hours working this out you can probably sense my frustration with the Adwords management system. I get similar levels of frustration when I am forced to use iTunes but I have to say that the Adwords UI has taken it to a whole new level. Congratulations you asshats.

Running a PHP Script on a QNAP TS-431

I needed to setup a persistent cron job on my QNAP TS-431 that would run a PHP script (actually the script that let’s me always know what the IP address of my home router is from anywhere in the world). However, the QNAP has the php executable buried and the directory is not in the $PATH environment variable. It’s not too hard to find though, if you need to run a PHP script just do this:

mnt/ext/opt/apache/bin/php /path/to/some-php-script.php

Specify a SSH Key for rsync

If you use rsync with the -rsh=ssh option it looks for a private key called id_rsa in the ~/.ssh folder. If (for whatever reason) you want to specify a different private key from the default then you can do it with:

-e ‘ssh -i /some/path/some_key’

This can be useful if want a key per host. Or, if like me, you idiotically created the keys with a different name than the default.

Persist crontab Entries on QNAP TS-431

QNAP helpfully explains how to add items to crontab on one of the NAS machines on their wiki here. Less helpfully they don’t explain that adding jobs with crontab -e and then restarting the cron daemon won’t persist through a reboot. Yay. However, you get around this by adding jobs directly to /etc/config/crontab. Once you’ve done that reload the crontab file and restart the CRON daemon with:

crontab /etc/config/crontab && /etc/init.d/ restart

Thanks fellas.

Brew Day 14 – Sweet Stout

It seems counter-intuitive to be brewing a stout on only the fifth day of Autumn in southern Australia as the weather is still hot, not exactly the best weather for a stout. Stouts, I am told, do benefit from a month or two in a secondary so if I want one to drink during the cooler weather now is the time to be be brewing it. Last year I brewed a “two can” stout using a can of Cooper’s Dark Ale and Cooper’s Stout and some dark malt extract and it turned out very nice but the ABV was above 8%, too much for a two pot screamer like myself. I’ll brew one of these again this year but I wanted something a bit easier to drink as well, something along the lines of a Guinness Irish Stout. The recipe on this page looked interesting so I decided to give it a go. I had to scale it down to 3 gallons (12L),to account for my BIAB efficiency (65%) and for the 5.7%AA East Kent Goldings hops I had on hand. I also wanted to add some flaked oats to the recipe for a bit of a silkier mouth feel. My trusty BIAB spreadsheet was given a workout and I arrived at the following:

Ale Maris Otter 2.4kg
Roasted Barley 0.24kg
Flaked Barley 0.16kg
CaraPils 0.16kg
Acidulated Malt 0.16kg
Flaked Oats 0.16kg

EKG 23g (5.7%AA) @ 90 minutes
EKG 8g (5.7% AA) @ 45 minutes
1/2 Whirlfloc @ 5 minutes

Nottingham Ale Yeast

Brew Type : 12L All Grain (BIAB)

OG: 1.049
FG: 1.013
ABV: 4.7%
IBU: 37.7
EBC: 76.5

I am doing no-chill again here and seeing that the hops additions are very early I am not making any hop adjustments to allow for the no chill. Given the cascading series of errors I made in the last brew I took some more care with this brew with regards to the mash volume and sparge volume. Working from my previous brews I allowed for a mash absorption of 0.7L/kg of grain. Given I wanted 12L of beer I allowed for 0.25L of fermenter loss and 0.5L of kettle loss meaning I wanted a post boil volume of 12.75L. My typical boil losses are 3L/hr so I wanted a post mash volume of 17.75L which meant a pre mash volume of 20L, split into a 15L mash and 5L sparge.

Mashing In

Mashing In

The Mash

The target mash temp was 68C and I heated 15L of strike water to 71C in my bag lined pot. Once I’d reached the temperature I poured in my crushed grains and mixed it thoroughly for a few minutes. The lid went on the pot and I wrapped it all in a thick doona. At this point the mash temperature was 68.9C. Last brew I had an awful mash efficiency which I suspected was due to not mixing the mash enough. I resolved to mix this mash every 20 minutes which I went ahead and did at 20 minutes and 40 minutes into the saccharification process. At the 40 minute point I returned the pot to my gas burner for a few minutes to bring the temperature back up to 68C. At the same time I heated 5L of sparge water to 70C.

When 60 minutes was up I collected up the edges of my brew bag and holding it with rubber gloves spun it tight to extract as much of the sweet wort as possible. Once that was done I topped my pot with a holed pizza tray that happens to fit perfectly into the opening and pressed down on the bag to extract more wort. I then put the bag straight into the 5L of sparge water and pressed down on it again to rinse off the remaining sugars before squeezing the bag again on my pizza tray topped pot and tipping in the sparge water.

Expended Grain Bag

Expended Grain Bag

Hop Additions

Hop Additions

Boiling Wort

Boiling Wort

The Boil

At this point I had 19L of wort in my pot, 1.25L more than I had expected. I took at gravity reading (1.031 at 53C) and brought the wort to the boil (which took about 45 minutes) before making my first 23g East Kent Goldings hop addition. The second 8g addition was made at 45 minutes and finally half a Whirlfloc tablet went in with 5 minutes remaining. At the end of the boil there was 14L of wort in the pot. The pot with lid in place was then put into my temperature controlled refrigerator to cool to pitching temperature overnight.

Taking a Gravity Reading

Taking a Gravity Reading


At 10AM the next day (6 March 2016) the wort was sitting at a steady 18.5C. I sterilised my fermenter and poured the wort into the vessel, took a gravity reading (1.051) and aerated thoroughly with a large sterilised plastic spoon. I pitched the Nottingham yeast, put the airlock in place on the fermenter and put it into my fermentation chamber with a set temperature of 18.5C. Funnily enough just two hours later I saw signs of fermentation in the airlock and the next morning it was bubbling vigorously.

Yeast Pitched

Yeast Pitched

Taking another SG Reading

Taking another SG Reading

Mash Efficiency

It appears that the steps I took to improve mash efficiency worked as I managed 75% on this brew. I did my usual calculations in Excel to arrive at the mash efficiency:

Kg Potential Pounds Potential Points
Ale Maris Otter 2.40 1.038 5.28 41.8
Barley Roasted 0.24 1.025 0.528 2.7
Barley Flaked 0.16 1.032 0.352 2.3
CaraPils 0.16 1.033 0.352 2.4
Acidulated Malt 0.16 1.038 0.352 2.8
Oats Flaked 0.16 1.037 0.352 2.7
Potential 54.82
Actual 41.00
Efficiency 74.8%

Brew Day 13 Reddit Collaboration APA Batch 2

Last brew day I made a short boil no chill version of a collaboration brew that was suggested on the /r/homebrewing on Reddit. You can read the full report of that day here. It turned out beautifully and for the first time I felt like my usual 12.5L brew size was too small as I drank through most of the delicious hoppy APA far too quickly. Planning was put inplace to brew another batch but and my lovely partner splashed out on a fantastic 33L stainless steel boil kettle for me so I seized the opportunity to make a bigger batch of 20 liters. I cracked out my handy brew in a bag spreadsheet, scaled the recipe up and arrived at the following:

Ale Barret Burston 2 Row 3.26kg
Ale Maris Otter 0.93kg
CaraPils 0.22g
Caramalt Malt 0.22kg
Oats, Flaked 0.22kg

Magnum 14g (12.7%AA) @ 30 minutes
Amarillo 8g (9.5% AA) @ 5 minutes
Citra 8g (13.2% AA) @ 5 minutes
Amarillo 15g @ Flameout
Citra 15g @ Flameout
Amarillo 40g Dry Hop 3 days
Citra 35g Dry Hop3 days

British S04 Ale Yeast

Brew Type : 20L All Grain (BIAB)

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.015
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 23.2
EBC: 11.4

As this is a no-chill brew again I’m treating the flameout additions as 10 minute additions meaning that the 23.2IBU is low and it’s likely that this beer will be 40-45IBUs. Other changes include using harvested S04 yeast instead if US05, and toning down the dry hopping somewhat because, well, hops are expensive.

Mashing In

Mashing In

Post Mash Gravity

Post Mash Gravity

S04 British Ale Yeast Starter

S04 British Ale Yeast Starter

As usual I shot for a 60 minute mash, I chose 20L of strike water heated to 72C to which I added my grain. Rather than use a brew bag I used 4 square meters of white Swiss Voile fabric. I hit the strike temperature exactly in my shiny new 33L pot, added the grains, stirred for a few minutes before putting the lid on and wrapping up the pot in an insulating doona. There it sat for an hour varying very little from the initial mash temperature of 69.6C, dropping just 1.6C to 68.0C. It’s at this point where I started to mess things up. The first mistake (I think) had already happened as I hadn’t mixed the mash at all during the hour of rest and my mash efficiency was crap. Second, I chose to sparge with too much water (10L) for two reasons. Firstly I’d done my calculations assuming there was a 60 minute boil, but of course there was only a 30 minute boil, and I’d assumed a too high evaporation rate during the boil. As a result I ended up with 26.5L of pre-boil wort with an SG of 1.025 at 64C (corrected to 1.040).

The boil itself went fine, I made my hop additions and at flameout allowed the wort to stand for 10 minutes. I did make use of some new stainless steel hop balls to try to improve wort clarity. At the end of this process I still had 24L of wort left in the pot. The pot, wort and all went into my refrigerator and was brought down to my final pitching temperature of 26C nearly 24 hours later. At that point I took a gravity reading (1.036???) and pitched the S04 yeast that I’d put into a 600mL starter the day before. It all went back into my temperature controlled fridge where fermentation started within 12 hours.

Hop Balls!

Hop Balls!

Pitching the Yeast

Pitching the Yeast

Initial Gravity

Initial Gravity

What Went Wrong

So much went wrong with this it’s embarrassing. Firstly my mash efficiency was up the shit, secondly my pre-boil volume was way two high, third I think I got my 10 minute hop additions wrong (they should have been 5 minute additions), and finally there’s something screwy with my SG readings. A corrected pre-boil SG of 1.040 cannot become a gravity of 1.036 post boil. Not actually possible, SG has to go up if you’ve removed water. My post boil volume of 24L is too high, which means the ABV is going to be down, given my usual mash efficiency the final gravity should be about 1.043. The final thing that went wrong was the sheer size of the batch. Everything was too heavy. I did manage but I was nervous handling 30 kilograms of stainless steel and near boiling wort as I lifted it from the ground to my stovetop. And speaking of the stovetop, it struggled to maintain a good rolling boil.

So what will I do different next time? Not sure yet, let’s see how this mid-strength hoppy ale turns out. If it’s crap I will re-evaluate my whole process. If it’s good I might see if I can repeat my mistakes on a smaller 15L batch.

Bulk Priming and Bottling

One of my daughters helped me bottle this brew. We ended up almost exactly 30 full 740mL PET bottles (22L of beer) and batch primed with 184g of white sugar dissolved in about 200mL of boiling water. Final gravity (prior to bulk priming) was 1.008 (see below), quite a bit drier than I would have expected.

Final Gravity Prior to Bottling

Final Gravity Prior to Bottling

Dual SHA256 / SHA1 Windows App Code Signing

I wrote about digitally signing programs for Windows a few years ago. Microsoft announced last year that windows would no longer trust files signed with the SHA-1 algorithm after 1 January 2017. This causes some problems with older operating systems (like XP SP2 and Vista) as they do not support the SHA256 algorithm for certificates used to sign programs/apps. To maintain compatibility with ealier versions Microsoft suggests dual signing with both the SHA1 and SHA256 certificates. It turns out my certificate (from Comodo and issued in mid-2015) supports both the SHA1 and SHA256 algorithm so it’s not a big hassle for me. However, some older certificates (that have not expired) may need to be re-issued by the issuing authority, some certificate issuers such as K-Software are issuing replacements for free.

Here’s what I had to do to sign my EXE files with both SHA1 and SHA256 versions of my certificate.

1. Download an up-to-date version of the signtool.exe file from Microsoft. Such as this one from the Windows 8.1 SDK.
2. My certificate was installed automatically by Comodo when I purchased it so it needed to be exported to a PFX file. You’ll need to know what the password for your certificate was when you purchased it. There’s a decent tutorial covering this process here.
3. Work out the new commands to dual sign your EXE files. In my case they look something like this.

//Code sign with SHA1
signtool.exe sign /f "c:\path\to\pfx-file\my-pfx-file.pfx" /p mypfxpassword /t /v c:\Path\To\File\somefile.exe

//Code sign with SHA256
signtool.exe sign /f "c:\path\to\pfx-file\my-pfx-file.pfx" /p mypfxpassword /fd sha256 /tr /td sha256 /as /v c:\Path\To\File\somefile.exe

It’s important to use the /fd and /td switches on the second call to ensure both the file and date/time stamp are SHA256 signed. I actually wrote a little batch file to automate the dual signing of files. I call the file from my various build scripts to sign both my program executables and installers. Here’s that file:

@echo off
echo ************************************************ 
echo Running %0
IF %1=="" GOTO InvalidParameter
IF not exist %1 goto InvalidFile  
echo Signing %1
echo Signing with sha1

"d:\code signing 256\signtool.exe" sign /f "c:\path\to\pfx-file\my-pfx-file.pfx" /p mypfxpassword /t /v %1

echo Signing with sha256
"d:\code signing 256\signtool.exe" sign /f "c:\path\to\pfx-file\my-pfx-file.pfx" /p mypfxpassword /fd sha256 /tr /td sha256 /as /v %1
echo Signing completed Successfully
goto eof

echo You must pass this script a file to sign
goto eof

echo %1 does not exist
goto eof

echo ************************************************ 

You can easily check if you’ve dual signed correctly from within Windows 10 by right clicking on your signed EXE file, selecting Properties and then clicking the Digital Signatures tab. If it’s done right it should look something like the screen below. Note that both the SHA1 and SHA256 certificates are present.

Dual Code Signed EXE File

Dual Code Signed EXE File

Copy Element to Clipboard Using Javascript

Over the years I’ve built a web based system that controls most of the sales and support aspects for my software. This includes tracking sales, editing sales, supplying customers with registration keys, prompting them to renew support, and so on. There’s also a search interface that allows me to find customer sales details, registration keys, and to check if they have current support. I use this search interface multiple times a day and when I need to find a registration key or need to remind a customer that their support has expired the system outputs the email text I need to send to the customer to the browser window. Then I select it, and paste it into my emails.

This morning I thought it would be really neat if I could cut out the select and copy steps and have JavaScript copy it into the clipboard for me. Last time I checked this (5 years ago) it wasn’t possible without Flash. Now it turns out you can use the Web API that most modern browsers support to do it.

I wrote this little JavaScript function that I can pass a HTML element ID to and it copies the contents to the clipboard.

function copyToClipboard(elem)
	//create a new range to hold the DIV to copy
	var range = document.createRange();
	//select the not containing the element to copy
	//clear the current selection
	//add the selected range to the current selection
	//run exeCommand to copy 
	//clear the selection

The key here is the document.execCommand(‘copy’) call which sends the contents of the element to the clipboard so I can paste it into my email tool. Triggering the function is pretty simple with something like this:


I found a couple of other solutions that copied to the clipboard by copying the element contents to temporarily created <textarea> but the issue with this was that the HTML formatting was not copied. I needed this so that my support emails maintained my standard CSS styling.

Pirate Life Brewing Pale Ale Review


Pirate Life Brewing are a craft brewer with their facilities in my home town of Adelaide, South Australia. They have a small range of beers available at a limited number of retail outlets. My partner went out of her way to find one of those outlets and bought me a can of each of their three products. The first of these that I’ve tried is their Pale Ale which uses ale malt, caramalt, pale crystal, cascade and mosaic hops. Poured into the glass the beer is a little darker than you’d expect a pale ale to be, being a dark amber, it’s not crystal clear (I am not a clear beer nazi) and it very attractive in the glass. The head was nice and white and fluffy but dissipated fairly quickly. The aroma of the beer was muted with passionfruit the strongest character and some pine in there too. The beer itself had an upfront breadiness and a good level of lingering bitterness, on the back of my palate I got some lemon in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel was nice and sharp and crisp, the sort of mouthfeel I’d like to achieve in my own brewing but haven’t managed yet. Overall, a nice beer but perhaps a little too bitter for it to be quaffable in larger quantities. Recommended.