Saturday, 22 December 2007

It's official it's Christmas

I like a few cans of pedi at christmas and this is going down well tonight!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Brewing Blockade

Christmas preparations have effectively put a stop to brewing at the fledgling brewery. I have four kegs to go at over the holidays - Milestone Lions Pride, Hookey Street, Big Kennys Scottish Ale and Glasshouse Porter so it should be a merry Christmas.

Saturday, 15 December 2007


Just drinking a mile stone lions pride

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Brewday: Glasshouse Porter

This evening I brewed a 25L batch of Glasshouse Porter. Thanks to fellow home brewer John for the recipe.

Grain Bill
4450gm Pale Malt (Fawcett MO) 74%
720gm Crystal Malt 12%
360gm Torrified Wheat 6%
300gm Chocolate Malt 4.5%
220gm Roasted Barley Grain 3.5%
Hop Schedule
40gm Challenger 6.8% (90 min) ~25 EBU
42gm Fuggles 4% (15 min) ~7 EBU
26gm Challenger 6.8%] (5 min) ~3 EBU

1 Whirlfloc at 10 min

Fermenting with Safale s04

The brew went well and I ended up with 25L of pitch black wort at 1.058 so this one should be 5.8% - 6.0% - It might even be good to go for Christmas week.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Something to put away for Christmas

I like Christmas it's for the kids really and it's great watching them enjoy everything about the festive season, for me though when they have flaked out and gone to bed from a cocktail of over excitement, loads of racing around and loads of food I want to sit down with a good 'fireside' pint, some walnuts or some cheese and put my feet up.

This year thanks to fellow all grain brewer John, who's blog you must read (here) this Christmas my dark beer will be 'Glasshouse Porter' I knew as soon as I tasted and reviewed this beer that I'd have to brew it so tomorrow I am!

I have scaled & rounded the recipe up from 23L to 25L and replaced the First Gold with Challenger due to availability, this is what I'll be going with:

Grain Bill
4450gm Pale Malt (Fawcett MO) 74%
720gm Crystal Malt 12%
360gm Torrified Wheat 6%
300gm Chocolate Malt 4.5%
220gm Roasted Barley Grain 3.5%
Hop Schedule
40gm Challenger 6.8% (90 min) ~25 EBU
42gm Fuggles 4% (15 min) ~7 EBU
26gm Challenger 6.8%] (5 min) ~3 EBU

1 Whirlfloc at 10 min

Fermenting with Safale s04 (DFS stylee)

Target OG 1.053 at 75% BHE
Target EBU ~35
25L Batch
90 min 68 deg C Mash
90 min Boil

Monday, 19 November 2007

Beer Labels & Bottling

I have decided this evening that I hate (with a passion) bottling beer, I'm no good at it, it annoys me removing labels and sterilising and rinsing the damn things, it's a necessary evil though as in a couple of days I will be posting my beer out for review by other craft brewers. The brew that I bottled is Big Kenny Scottish Ale (x8 bottled - the rest I will keg) it had finished fermenting and was sat at 1.012, making it a quaffable 4.4% beer - good for mid-week Christmas drinking I think.

A sample at bottling is encouraging, lots of complex malt flavours with an a bitterness that I am happy with.

So that these bottles do not go out 'naked' I have spent an hour knocking up a couple of labels, one for this and one for Hookey Street.

Tomorrow I will be preparing for a Wednesday evening brew, I'll be brewing Johns Glasshouse porter. - Looking forward to it.

* Apologies for the label image quality, they don't seem to like being converted from Powerpoint to JPEG's

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Evening Brew - Big Kenny Scottish Ale

Tonight I brewed a Scottish Ale and have named it after one of our relatives from Glasgow who sadly recently passed away.

25L batch
90 min mash (67degC) & boil
Based on BHE 75%
Target OG 1.044

4800gm Pale Malt (Fawcetts MO) Grain 97%
70gm Crystal Malt Grain 1.5%
50gm Roasted Barley Grain 1%
25gm Chocolate Malt Grain 0.5%
80.00 gm Fuggles [4.00 %] (90 min) Hops 31.4 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.30 %] (15 min) Hops 3.0 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.30 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 min) Misc

Fermented using Safale s04

Brew Review - Glasshouse Porter

This evening I have been lucky enough to get to sample/review a beer which had been posted to me by a fellow homebrewer; John. The beer in question was his Glasshouse Porter.

It travelled very well, to say that it was bottled straight from Keg it kept it's life extremely well. It was a lovely coloured beer deep brown/red.

Great tightly beaded head which stayed to the end, I got lots of strong coffee and dark chocolate flavour a great big dry/malty aftertaste which lingers. Some hop aroma but not overdone, just about right for this beer I would say. Bitterness was perfect too. I'd describe this as a BIG beer.

I'd pay good money for this and will be brewing it myself - well done that man.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Kegged - Lions Pride & Hookey Street - Amarillo musings

Tonight I kegged the 2 brews that I did last week, the kit brew Milestone - Lions Pride started at 1042 and finished at 1012 so thats a 4.0% abv beer and the all grain brew 'Hookey Street' that I brewed last monday went from 1048 to 1010 so thats a nice 5.1% abv. Just got to wait a few weeks for them to condition...luvly jubbly!

I'll be brewing again this week using Amarillo hops but haven't settled on a recipe just yet. One of my favourite bottled beers Darwin Brewery - Rolling Hitch IPA uses them, it's a citrus, spicy orange flavour hop I think i'll do a version of a beer I did a while ago (Toecutters Twist) but just replace the Styrians with Amarillo. Brewnight will probably be Tuesday this week.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A brew from a fellow All Grain Homebrewer

This evening I had the pleasure of sampling a bottle of Porter which a fellow all-grain brewer sent to me by post. Here is what I made of it : To say that this was bottled from keg upon opening the cap there was a pleasing 'Hish!' which meant that the master brewer of this beer had done the business and it had travelled well and kept its carbonation, the bottle had been filled within a 1cm of the rim which I think helped. The immediate aroma was one of sweet coffee, when poured it had a nice head, much better than most commercial bottled beers, the picture above doesn't do it justice it had fallen by the time i'd fannied around with the camera. The beer is lovely and clear (when held to the light) very deep dark red/black. It was well carbonated, a little too much initially for my taste, but hey who am I! The flavours I got were a sweet coffee/liquorice a slightly dry aftertaste the flavour really lingers, I have a feeling i'm going to have this one in my throat in the morning. It tastes very 'clean' though and has a definate kick, but at 6.5% thats no surprise.

All in all, if this were a commercial bottled beer i'd buy it on a reasonably regular basis, it's a good old fireside pint this.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Monday Night Brewing

To try to get a good balance between family time, work and brewing I decided to have a go at an evening brew last night, with a bit of preparation the day before I was able to switch the boiler on at 5.45pm and dough in by 6.20pm.

After the excellent results I had with Hookey Street I decided that I had to brew it again, there are two changes from the last time I did this, the first is the bittering hop, using Oregon Fuggle rather than Northdown (as I forgot to pick them up) the second is the addition of Cara-Pils to aid head formation/retention.

Grain Bill
5000.00 gm Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (5.9 EBC) Grain 90.3 %
410.00 gm Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (19.7 EBC) Grain 7.4 %
130.00 gm Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC) Grain 2.3 %
260.00 gm Cara-Pils (3.9 EBC) Grain 4.4 %
Hop Schedule
70.00 gm Oregon Fuggle [4.70%] (90 min) Hops 30.1 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (15 min) Hops 2.6 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Whirlfloc Tablet (10 mins)
11g Gervin English Ale yeast starter

25L Batch
Target OG 1052 (75%)
Estimated EBU 31

The brew evening was a success with the yeast pitched and all put away by 11:40pm I missed my target OG by 4 points and ended up with 1.048 rather that 1.052 so it will be a 4.8% beer rather than a 5.3% beer, I can live with that, I think that I rushed the sparge so next time on an evening brew I'll up the grain bill to accommodate for the brewhouse efficiency drop (75% to 69%)

This morning the yeast seemed slow to start but by the time I got home this evening it was well on it's way. Monday night brewing it is from now on then!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Milestone - Lions Pride

As time is tight at the moment I've started to mix kits brews into the schedule along with all grain brews to make sure I've got a healthy stock of available ale. As I've also managed to lure a couple of friends into having a go at home brew I thought I'd try to document a kit brew as best I can.

I've gone for a Milestone - Lions Pride kit which is fairly new on the market and certainly wasn't around when I was last brewing from kits before going all grain.

The blurb reads

The lion is the symbol of power,courage and confidence and also acknowledged as the king of the jungle. As the box shows the 3 lions have long been used as a crest for the Kings and Queens of Europe.

A well balanced light and refreshing copper coloured session ale.

No sugar Required for this 3Kg kit

Makes 40 pints at an ABV of 3.8%

The first thing I noticed about this kit is the fact the the instructions are very clear and go into much more detail than any kit I'd brewed before, ideal I'd say for anyone starting out.

Equipment used :

500ml PET Bottle - for the yeast starter
Large Stock Pot - used to hold the cans to warm them up
Can Opener
Plastic Brewers Paddle
Fermentation Bucket with tap

The kit comes in a box which contains 2 cans of the wort reduction, a packet of Gervin English Ale yeast (small silver packet) and the all important instructions.

The first and most important stage is to sterilise everything that you are going to use and is going to come into contact with the beer.

Once you've done that it's time to make up the yeast starter, I did this by adding 50ml of cooled boiled water (30 degrees C) and 1/2 tsp of sugar to a sterilised 500ml PET bottle, to this you add the contents of the yeast packet and gently swirl around, loosely fit the lid and wait for it to rehydrate.

Next Boil the kettle and stand the two unopened cans in a large stock pot and pour the boiling water around them, this is to soften the contents so that they are easier to pour, this takes around 10 minutes.

After the cans have been warming for about 10 minutes wipe the lid with a sterilised soft cloth and open with a sterilised can opened and pour them both into your sterilised fermenter.

Next you will need to rinse out the cans to get all of the 'goo' out and into the fermenter, I do this by boiling the kettle (twice) and filling each can and waiting a couple of minutes, then using oven gloves (hot cans) empty ONE into the fermenter then pour the contents of the other can back and forth from one can to the other until the cans become clean inside then add this to the fermenter.

Using your brewers paddle stir the goo and hot water together until it has completely mixed in. Once you have done this top the fermenter up to the final volume, for this kit that was 22.5L. I attach a large tube to the tap and hold the end over the bucket and make sure that plenty of air gets mixed in so that the wort it thoroughly aerated, snap the lid onto the fermenter for a bit.

Remember that yeast starter, well that should now look like this, with the yeast nicely re hydrated and hungry for some wort! Add 250ml of your wort to this via the fermenter tap tighten the lid and shake it like mad for 30 seconds,then loosen the lid sightly to let the air escape as the c02 builds up.

It will take a little while for the yeast starter to get going, this one took around 45 minutes.

At this point I took a hydrometer reading, it came out at 1042.

Once the yeast starter is chomping at the bit it's time to pour it into the fermenter to get going on the bulk wort, I pour it in then refill the bottle from the fermenter tap and swish around and add to the fermenter to make sure I get all of the yeast in there.

To keep the light from getting to the brew I 'black bag' the fermenter, this should avoid off flavours caused by 'light strike'.

12 hours later a nice yeasty head had started to appear and the airlock was very active.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Hookey Street - The Finished Product

I brewed Hookey Street a while ago, this is the finished product it's 6% and a proper dark winter warmer.

Thursday, 18 October 2007


This morning the kitchen is very noisy, all four airlocks are going crazy - everything that I brewed yesterday has got off to a flying start, the krausen on the AG brew is nice and clean, hopefully a sign that I managed to avoid too much trub getting in there.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

The Storm After The Calm

Well after not brewing for a while, I got stuck in today and did an all-grain brew, a kit brew and two wine kits.

The AG brew was Grumpy Bum, I altered my usual recipe to add in some carapils which should give the finished beer a bit of a better head and head retention, I also went back to using Oregon Fuggles rather than Northdown I preferred the taste from the Fuggle.

The Grain Bill & Hop Schedule was as follows :

4130gm Pale Malt (MO) 86.40%
410gm Crystal Malt 8.58%
240gm Cara-Pils 5.02%
85gm Oregon Fuggles [4.70 %] (90 min) Hops 40.3 IBU
35.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.30 %] (15 min) Hops 5.4 IBU

I also mashed a little hotter this time, targeted 68 degrees got 67.5 this is to try to give the brew a little more 'body' and maltiness, previously I'd mashed at 65 degrees and it may have left the beer a little 'thin'.

I also got my head around hot and cold breaks with whirlfloc today, boiling hard with both elements when the whirlfloc tablet went in at 10 mins from the end then chilling right down to 20 degrees to get a good cold break, there was lots of trub left behind and the wort that I transferred to the fermenter was quite clear.

The mash and boil were both 90 minutes. This beer should be around 4.2% and 45 EBU's and a nice deep golden colour. The OG of this beer is 1042. Fermented with Gervin English Ale Yeast.

The kit that I brewed was a Brupaks Almondbury Old, not tried this one before but have read good things about it, I replaced the kit yeast with Safale S04.

I also started off 2 wine kits both California Connoisseur, Liebfraumilch and Cabernet Merlot, these only took 10 mins each to do and produce great wine for about £1.50 per bottle.

This is a picture of the 'trub' that was left behind in the boiler, filtered out by the hop bed, I wonder if it is this that has been giving me chill haze problems with some brews?

The wort that went into the fermenter was nice and clear.

The end result of the day, from left to right, Brupaks Almondbury Old kit, Grumpy Bum AG brew, Cabernet Merlot, Liebfraumilch.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

It's been a while...

Well it looks like things might just be settled for me enough to do a brew a week tomorrow, i'm down to my last ~90 pints so to make sure I have some properly conditioned beer i'll probably brew an all grain, most likely "Mr Grumpy Bum" and also do a kit to turn it into a double brew day, just need to decide which kit to do...?

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Mr George Bateman

"Mr George" passed a way a little while ago now, on June 25th 2007 but I've only just come across this obituary written by Roger Protz, I met him on only two occasions through work and found him to be a lovely charming man, all of the staff at George Bateman & Son Brewery knew him affectionately as "Mr George".

A sad loss.

George Bateman - Obituary

Rolling Hitch IPA 5.2% abv

Last night I sampled a bottle of Darwin Brewery Ltd Rolling Hitch IPA and thought that it was the dog's wobblies, it's gone straight to the top of my favourite bottled beer list, beating St Austell - Tribute by a nose.

The Write Up

Rolling Hitch 1864: A Traditional shipping rope knot - of which thousands were produced and tied on Wearside's famous roperies and ship yards.

Darwin Rolling Hitch: An award winning classio style India Pale Ale, produced with only the finest British pale malts combined with rich Amarillo hops resulting in a refreshing fruit flavour and clean hoppy aftertaste.

This one did exactly what it said on the tin(bottle) very refreshing, nice fruit flavours but not massivley overpowering but the Amarillo hop aftertaste lingers for ages, I've emailed my local micro brewer to enquire about getting hold of some Amarillo to have a crack at making a pale Amarillo brew this side of the wallet emptying season.

I'm going to get a half dozen of these in and save them for a special event in the near future ;o)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Hookey Street - Winter Ale

A few weeks ago I took the advice from Delboy about what to brew and he came up with this:

5000.00 gm Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (5.9 EBC) Grain 90.3 %
410.00 gm Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (19.7 EBC) Grain 7.4 %
130.00 gm Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC) Grain 2.3 %
49.00 gm Northdown [6.50%] (90 min) Hops 30.1 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (15 min) Hops 2.6 IBU
20.00 gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -

Having never brewed a dark un before I didn't know what to expect, I got 25L at 1056 in the fermenter this went down to 1010 so it's 6%.

I'm well chuffed with the results, a nice dark beer which isn't too heavy and certainly doesn't taste like a 6%'er, I think i'll be enjoying this one in the colder months, next time I get a chance to brew I think i'll do another (maybe target 5% though)

Here it is

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Tamworth Beer Festival

We went to the Tamworth Beer Festival on Friday 7th, we all had a great night, can't remember too much but ended up getting an overpriced take away from a posh indian and a cup of tea in a taxi rank.

These pictures / flashbacks are from the night.

The smaller of the two 'walls of ale'

You can just about see all of the kegs on this picture, there was a bottled beer/cider table just behind me also.

Lee put a really brave face on being dragged along to a Real Ale Festival.

He...well...he....was having a close look at the beer!

Mick seemed pleased with his selection of Cumbrian Lad, nice drop!

Neil, who apparently had a really shiny left eye brow!

Me, with what appears to be 'The Beer Sweats' too early in the night!

A much, much happier Lee once he'd found the strong cider and bottled lagers!

Entertainment for the evening was TreeBeard, they were great, crazy folk music covers and ale!

Towards the end of the evening Mick tried one of Lee's strong ciders, i'm quite sure he didn't like it!!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

36 Pints of Goats Milk

On Bank Holiday Monday my brother & his wife purchased a 36 pint keg of "Goats Milk" from Church End Brewery for around £42 (bargain), it's a superb afternoon quaffer at 3.8% and ideal for the BBQ, it's a nice light tasting ale with a predominant Styrian Goldings aroma, it went down very well indeed, here's my brother making sure the keg was definetely empty. Cheers!

A good Barbie and Barbie-Brew!!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

The Bedford Arms - Toddington

Today we visited friends in Toddington and visited The Bedford Arms, I had a couple of Wells Eagle IPA which were a nice afternoon session bitter. This is the write up from the Charles Wells web-site..

IPA long-standing favourite within Charles Wells' heartland and famed for it's rare, notably dry-bitter finish, Wells Eagle IPA (Alc. 3.6% Vol.) is starting to emulate the nationwide success of its premium bitter stable-mate, Wells Bombardier.

“A complex finish of bitter hops, nuts and citrus fruits.”
Roger Protz
(British Guild of Beer Writers and Editor of The Good Beer Guide)
The popularity of this perfectly crafted pint is described by award winning beer writer, Alastair Gilmour:
“The aroma is of freshly sliced ripe apples. Its amber hue is emphasised by a tight rich head which set it up as an ale with real credentials.”

Cheers for a great day guys!

Toecutter Fermentation

Well fermentation got off to a flyer, this picture is how it looked 8hrs after pitching the yeast.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Brewday Friday 24/08 - ToeCutters Twist

Todays brew is this one : Toecutters Twist

5000gm Pale Malt (MO) Grain 98%
100gm Crystal Malt Grain 2%
26gm Fuggles [4.90%] (90 min) Hops 12.6 IBU
35gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (90 min) Hops 10.4 IBU
30gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (15 min) Hops 4.6 IBU
50gm Styrian Goldings [3.00%] (0 min)

Yesterday everthing that I'll need for the brew was given a clean and the grains were weighed out. I'm using 5kg of Crushed Marris Otter pale malt and 100g of Crystal Malt. This picture shows the colour difference between the two.

I got a nice early start today and had the boiler switched on by 06:30.

The steps here were:

Heat the mash liquor to around 78 degrees

Transfer the required quantity (in this case 12L to the mash tun)

Leave the tun to stand for 5 minutes to heat through

I then checked the temperature and found it to be too hot still, i needed a strike temperature of 72 degrees I added 2 L of cold water to get the temperature down to 72.

Once at 72 I doughed in (mixed in the grains thoroughly) I had to adjust the temperature to my required mash temp (65 deg C)by adding a further 1L of cold water.

1tsp of CRS was then added and mixed into the mash to get the PH to 5.2

The coolbox mash tun is then closed and wrapped for 90 minutes.

At the end of the mash the temperature was 64.5 so only a half of a degree drop over the 90 minutes.

Next I ran off the cloudy first wort runnings into a jug and returned them to the mash tun, the flow of wort from the jug was diffused using some foil with holes in it. The purpose of doing this is to filter the wort through the grain bed until there are very few or no grain particles coming through. .

The runnings were free from particles after 4 litres had been returned so sparging started, using water from an old FV which has now become my HLT. I use a spinny sparge are which sprinkles hot water (80 degrees) onto the grain bed the wort is then run slowly into the boiler.

I adjust the flow so that the input matches the output so there is a constant flow through the grain bed.

I collected 30 litres in total 25 in the boiler and another 5 in a seperate vessel, the 5L was used to top up the boiler to replace the wort lost through evaporation.

The wort was then brought to the boil and the bittering hops added (26g Oregon Fuggles and 35g Styrian Goldings.

While the boil was underway I made up a yeast starter (DaaB's flying starter) with Safale S-04 yeast. I rehydrated the 11g of yeast in 200ml of 35 degree water in a large PET bottle, then took 400ml of wort after 15 minutes of the boil and cooled it to 25 degrees then added this to the bottle, shook it like crazy and squeezed the air out.

15 minutes from the end of the boil I added the aroma hops (30g Styrian Goldings) then 10 minutes from the end of the boil I added a whirlfloc tablet to aid the coagulation of the protein break matter.

At the end of the 90 minute boil I added the aroma/steep hops 50g Styrian Goldings.

Then I dropped the immersion cooler in to bring the temperature down to around 28 degrees.

Once cooled the wort was transferred to the FV using grativy to help aerate it.

I hit my target OG (1046) and pitched the yeast, hopefully this should be fermenting away within a few hours.