RECIPE FOR 5 GALLONS:
- 6 lbs Pilsner; European
- 1 lbs 8.0 oz Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil]
- 0.75 oz Cluster [7.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min
- 1.0 pkg German Lager (White Labs #WLP830)
While TV ads might want you to believe that Foster’s is Australian for beer, actually the most popular beer style served in Australia is VB, Victoria Bitter.
I’m going to brew one up and compare it to a real can of VB, and I’m going to talk about it while sampling beers here at the Hops for Hope Festival, including my own team’s beer. Let’s do it.
Victoria Bitter was a first brewed by Thomas Aiken in 1854. The website describes the beer as a full flavored full strength beer with a fruity aroma, sweet maltiness, and a clean hop bitterness. In the real world, not everybody is quite so charitable.
Ultimately, despite its name Bitter, a VB is actually an Australian Lager, clocking in at a sessionable 4.9%. The only thing in here is 100% German pilsner malt, but that is not the full amount of fermentables. That makes up 80% of fermentables.
The other 20% is going to come in the form of corn sugar mashed at 150 Fahrenheit, 66 Celsius.
Hops for Hope Beer Festival
So, Hops for Hope is a beer festival where they pair up local businesses. So, the business I work for is paired up with a local brewery. We got paired up with Barrel Culture which is just an awesome option for a brewery, and we’ve built a beer together.
Our beer actually is a sour beer that contains actual pieces of cheesecake. This one I thinks going to be pretty awesome. And we’re here in Raleigh, and we get basically sample all of the beers that all of the teams have made.
So, there’s something like 30 different tents here. We get to vote on which beers we think were the best. I don’t think we can vote for ourselves. And then there’s some money, but mainly it’s a charity thing, and it’s just a huge amount of fun to do it every year.
So, I’m really excited to try this year’s beer. So, our beer also comes in ice cream form, which is just pretty incredible…. We didn’t win, but we did raise nearly $4,000 in donations. Thank you to everybody who donated.
Back to Brewing Victoria Bitter…
Now, VB is purportedly hopped with an Aussie hot variety called Pride of Ringwood. At the time of its release in the ’50s, it had one of the highest alpha acid contents in the world, which is a little surprising by today’s standards giving that AA content was only around 10%.
But I don’t have a Pride of Ringwood, so I’m going with Cluster. And look, this is the bittering hop. So, I don’t really think it’s going to make a huge amount of difference. This is still a really good choice for bittering hop.
Oh, it almost seems a waste to use this just for the bittering hop, floral, fruity, this is a good one. So, I’m going to add in half an ounce of this at the start of the boil. This will give about 22 IBU of bitterness.
The yeast I’ve gone with a German Lager strain, WLP830, this is happiest fermenting at 50 to 55 Fahrenheit, or 10 to 13 C. Still a little warm, so I’m going to put this on my glycol chiller to cool this down to 55 Fahrenheit or around 12 Celsius, then add the yeast.
Now, let’s see how that VB Clone came out.
Okay. So, it’s time to try these beers. I have my version of the beer here and the actual real VB my dad brought over from Australia. I’m serving out of a can because, well, my keezer has broken.
I had someone come to the house to have a look. It was the compressor that had gone, and they told me it would’ve cost more money to fix it than to just get a new one. So, I am sweaty. I’ve been outside drilling holes into my new collar that I’m adding onto my new chest freezer.
I’m ready for a beer. Let’s see how this guy did in the can. I mean, if you just look at the color on this, it’s so clear, so pale, such a light, bullied color. I actually think this may even be a little too light. I’m not sure that real VB is this color.
Now, just in terms of aroma, not going to get much. Not picking up much at all. Little bit of malt sweetness, no hot character at all. But you know what, that’s not half bad. That’s not bad at all. It’s basically a simple smash beer, at least the version of it, that I made, and I really enjoy this. They’re simple. But this is a really nice hot weather. Been outside drilling too much kind of drink.
Okay, so that is my version of it. See, how this compares to the VB. Yeah, so this one is a little darker in color, a little bit more of a golden color. So, I’m a little bit too pale in terms of aroma. The same, which is to say basically nothing. Yeah, not picking up much on the aroma, but I’ve got my schooner of VB, so let’s give it a try. Cheers.
Well, they’re both very close. Honestly, really, the only difference that I can taste is that this one is a little more carbonated than the other one.
One of my first trips to Australia, I’m on the A Qantas flight and I see the drinks’ trolley coming. So, thinking, “Well, I’ll order a Fosters because I’m going to Australia.” And that’s when I found out that Fosters in Australia is not quite as popular as the advertising would make you believe. And I drank quite a lot of VB down the years in Australia.
And I’ll be honest, I know that a lot of people are not big fans of this. It’s like the Budweiser of Australia, I guess, but I like it. I really like it.
And I don’t know, there’s something about these commercial bits that really do have very good head retention often and really maintain the bubbles in the glass, and that’s definitely what I’m seeing with this.
Whereas this guy now that I’ve poured it, is looking moderately carbonated. But with a beer like this, I think having that real carbonation in the mouth will makes quite a big difference because there’s so little going on with the flavor.
But look both the refreshing beers and perfect when you’ve got to do a little bit of DIY on, I don’t know, a keezer.
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.