New Zealand Brew Day


A sack of malts and a brewing machine.

While in New Zealand, I brewed a batch of beer. The conference organizers wanted the speakers to each brew a beer at Marchfest (the yearly Nelson, New Zealand craft beer celebration). The beers will be judged in a contest later. We were each given a Grainfather (a combination mash tun/lauter tun/kettle for all-grain brewing) to use, and someone familiar with the machine to help us. (Thanks for the help, Cameron!)

The malts for the beer all came from Gladfield malting, a New Zealand maltster. The hops, of course, were all New Zealand grown and the dried yeast we used was from Mangrove Jacks. Having never used a Grainfather, I went with a fairly middle-of-the-road recipe — 5.7% ABV, single infusion mash, not too hoppy, etc. The beer is essentially a New Zealand ingredients version of my Copper Ale (which is similar to a German altbier). The recipe is mostly Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malt. There’s some biscuit malt and aromatic malt (Aurora) for tweaking the malt flavor. There’s a very red crystal malt (Redback) and a little darkly roasted malt to get the color right. And there’s a bit of acidulated malt (Sour Grapes) to counter the carbonates in Nelson’s water. All the specialty malts add up to about 1.5 lb. (660 g) in a 6.0-gallon (23-L) batch.


Beautiful hot break in the boil.

I ended up collecting a little more wort than I planned on, but extending the boil a bit took care of that. (The volume problem at least, I’ll have to wait and see if the beer shows any astringency.)

I also had a funny mixup after the wort was collected. With about 30 L in the kettle, Cameron and I decided to take a refractometer reader. It was ludicrously low. I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong until we stirred the kettle and tried again — this time, we were actually a little over the expected mark. We had read the gravity of the late sparge water sitting on top of the much thicker first wort below.

With a little over 30 L of wort in the kettle (at an unexpectedly high SG), we decided to boil the wort down to about 27 L, at which point we would hit the target OG. I increased the hop additions to account for the larger wort volume, and the rest of the brewing went smoothly. (We got nice hot break, which is always an encouraging factor to me.)

So, somewhere in New Zealand, my beer is fermenting. I hope that I can taste it someday. After the contest, each of the presenters engraved our names on our Grainfather and the machines are going to be auctioned off for charity. (I can imagine some Kiwi bidding on mine, then discovering that some dumb American had scratched his name into it.)

I’ve got ingredients for two more batches of copper ale beer here in Texas. I’m going to be testing two ingredient variants, so soon I will have brewed slight variation on this beer three times in a row.


A pump recirculated wort through the mash. I mashed at 64 °C (147 °F) for a highly fermentable wort.

Copper Ale

All-grain; metric units

by Chris Colby 

Ingredients (for 23 L)

Malts (for an OG of 1.057 and 22 SRM)

2.5 kg Pilsner malt

2.0 kg Vienna malt

550 g Munich malt 

170 g Biscuit malt  

140 Sour Grapes malt 

140 g RedBack malt 

100 g Aurora malt 

110 g Dark Chocolate malt 

Hops (for 26 IBU total)

9.0 g Green Bullet hops (60 mins) 

9.0 g Pacific Gem hops (60 mins) 

20 g NZ Styrian Golding hops (0 mins) 

15 g Nelson Sauvin hops (0 mins) 

15 g NZ Cascade hops (0 mins) 

Yeast (for an FG of 1.012 and 5.7% ABV)

20 g Mangrove Jacks M44 “US West Coast” dried yeast 


8 g gypsum (mash) 

7 g calcium chloride (mash) 

4 g calcium chloride (boil) 

1.2 tsp Irish moss or whirlfloc (boil)


Mash at 64 °C for 60 minutes. Boil wort for 90 minutes. Ferment at 20 °C.




The Chris Colby signature model Grainfather. Available only in New Zealand.


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