Trying a brew with riwaka hops and a tin of Golden Syrup + lager kit

Friday, October 27, 2023
There's a vibrant community of brewing enthusiasts online, particularly in homebrew Facebook groups. Amongst the myriad of posts, I've often come across novices asking for a straightforward beer recipe. 

Almost on cue, an individual chimes in with his recommendation:

"Trust me, combine a lager, Riwaka hops, and golden syrup, and you'll have something special."

This intrigued me.

Could such a combination truly result in a flavorful brew? 

My curiosity piqued, I probed deeper, and learned that he'd also incorporate a beer enhancer into his brews. This made sense, considering beer enhancers significantly elevate the quality of the beer in terms of body, taste, and mouthfeel.

Driven by curiosity, I embarked on my brewing journey with the following ingredients, christening my concoction the Golden Riwaka Lager:
  • Black Rock's Lager Kit along with its standard yeast
  • A full packet of aromatic Riwaka hops
  • 300 ml of golden syrup, which is distinct from molasses and maple syrup
  • A beer enhancer comprising both dextrose and DME (Dry Malt Extract)
Upfront, Riwaka is a hop from New Zealand so it may be hard to get your hands on in Souther California...

riwaka hops golden syrup lager beer kit recipie

After ensuring all equipment was impeccably sanitized, I meticulously followed the standard brewing procedures. The wafting aroma of the Riwaka hops was nothing short of intoxicating. Given that Riwaka hops evolved from the Saaz variety, one might consider Saaz as an alternative. However, my aim was to stay true to the online recommendation.

The fermenting drum, wrapped snugly in old sheets, found a temporary home in my shed. The next day, the shed was permeated with the alluring scent of hops, and the bubbly symphony of the airlock was music to my ears.

Bottling presented a modern-day brewer's dilemma: traditional sanitization versus efficient, practical methods. While I've advocated for meticulous sanitization, I've taken to rinsing and dishwasher-cleaning the bottles post-use. This method has served me well, but one should always be prepared for a comprehensive sanitization when needed.

After batch priming with 80 grams of sugar and allowing the bottles to mature in the shed, the moment of truth arrived. The result? A refreshingly delightful beer! The robust Riwaka hops lent a fruity undertone to the lager, making it a quintessential summer brew. The carbonation was spot on, and the beer's appearance was visually appealing. If I were to revisit this brew, I'd probably be more judicious with the hops, but that's entirely subjective.

In the spirit of experimentation some weeks later, I further ventured with a Cooper's Lager kit, adding 300 ml of Golden Syrup and 200 ml of maple syrup for fermentation. For a twist, I incorporated a hint of Green Bullet hops. The outcome, however, was underwhelming. The resultant brew was exceptionally dry, lacking the desired mouthfeel. This experiment underscored the importance of adhering to proven methods and the value of dry malt extract in achieving the desired body and taste.

In brewing, as in life, it's a blend of successes and learning experiences. While the Golden Riwaka Lager was a resounding success, the subsequent brew was a gentle reminder to stay rooted in tried-and-tested methods while allowing room for innovation. 

Cheers to the endless pursuit of the perfect brew!
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