Oct 122016

A bit over 3 weeks ago (18th Sept) I brewed my second attempt at an approximation of one of my favourite beers; Beavertown’s Black Betty, a 7.2 roasty, hoppy, black IPA. My first attempt was made almost a year to the day ago, and I called it Broonhilda. It was good, but not as roasty, and at 6.7%, not as strong either. This time I wanted to see if I could get closer, so I tweaked the hops a bit to add some Columbus (which BB has), upped the strength, and added the black Carrafa III malt for the whole mash instead of a cold steep added at the end, to give more a more roasty flavour.

It has finished fermenting at about 1.012, giving it an ABV of about 8.2%. A bit high this time! I added 120g of dry hops yesterday, so it’s going to be another hop bomb! Bottling day on Saturday, in 330ml bottles given its strength.

Full recipe and logs here.


 Posted by at 6:35 pm
Oct 012016

Today I brewed a Scottish Ale for a change. It is part of a yeast trial run by Scottish Craft Brewers, where several of us make the beer with the provided identical ingredients, with only the yeast differing between them. You can see the recipe here, and my one uses Whitelabs Edinburgh Ale WLP 028 liquid yeast. With Munich, Crystal, Chocolate wheat and wheat malts, and a fairly low attenuating yeast, it should have good body and some sweetness, very low bitterness, and end up around 4.3%.

The brewday went well, with a pre-boil efficiency of 96% and brewhouse efficiency of 76%.

 Posted by at 6:35 pm
Sep 112016
1.072 OG
1.019 FG
22 IBU
36 SRM
7.0% ABV

Wow, I can’t believe it is over 3 1/2 years since I made this. I just cracked open one of the last 2 330ml bottles I have of this (most of it was kegged), and it is still delicious! A slight marmitiness as you might expect from the age (yeast autolysis?) but the sweetness, body, chocolate, coffee etc are all there. Carbonation good, nice tan head that is reasonably persistent. Time to make another batch I think 🙂

 Posted by at 10:53 pm
Jul 242016

Announcing Quantum Cat- a deliciously citrussy American Pale Ale heavily hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe, with a touch of Citra and a good bitterness. Perfect for summer.

Quantum Cat APA

Tasting at the beginning of August: drinking very well, really tasty, and one of my best brews yet I dare say. Definitely one to make again.

I deliberately added less bottling sugar to this batch (1/4 heaped tsp) to avoid the over-lively bottles of some of my recent batches with a scant 1/2 tsp. So far it is fine, but at this early stage could do with a little more carbonation; however, it is about fresh real-ale levels, which is very nice indeed.

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Jul 232016

A new batch of Hoppity Hip underway! This should be ready by the end of August, ready for entry to a number of competitions, including the Nationals. This time it is fermenting in my plastic fermenter as I plan to use my conical for a rhubarb and raspberry Saison in a few days when I have bottled Quantum Cat.

Update: This is now bottled, with 100g sugar batch priming. It’ll be ready to drink around the 20th Aug.

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Jul 072016

This evening I transferred a batch of semi-sweet stout to a Corny keg and a few 2L plastic bottles, all for force carbonation. This was a batch I made on the 19th June from a Brewstore all-grain kit.  This was the prize I won for my Hoppity Hip at the Usher’s Homebrew comp on the 25th of May.

It has only fermented out to 1.017, resulting in a 3.8% beer instead of ~5%, but it tastes really nice, and not too sweet. With a bit of carbonation it is really tasty. The WLP04 British Ale yeast has completely dropped out, leaving a crystal clear beer.

The main excitement of the evening was when, having jammed the keg into the corner cupboard, I attached the tap hose and immediately got a jet of foamy stout all over my leg and the floor, as I’d forgotten to turn off the tap! What a mess 2 seconds of beer ejection can make!


My portable tap for a Corny keg, now pouring a 3.8% stout.

My portable tap for a Corny keg, now pouring a 3.8% stout.



Mmm, a lovely glass of off-dry, chocolatey Stout.

 Posted by at 10:11 pm
Jul 072016

Today I finally got round to labelling up my Eldercat. Early tasting shows a nice English IPA character with some grassiness and a bit of spiciness from the Fuggles and Goldings, and a subtle but distinct elderflower note. It has quite a good hop bitterness. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few weeks; I suspect the grassiness and bitterness will recede slightly and it will generally improve. It’s very different from last year’s version made with Cascade hops and neutral American yeast, which was a simpler citrussy pale ale. I just drank the last bottle of it and it was still very drinkable.


Elderflower-infused golden ale


Eldercat bottles

Labels all stuck on.

 Posted by at 9:35 pm
Jun 122016
Transferring the wort to the fermenter

Transferring the wort to the fermenter


Today I brewed my annual Elderflower ale, now that the flowers have started to come out. I aim for a pretty simple sessionable golden ale, not too hoppy so the elderflowers come through, and am aiming for about 4.5%. Nice for a few on a summers day in the garden!

Last year I just used Centennial for bittering and Cascade for all the flavour and aroma, but this year went for a more British ale. I used the same malt bill (3.5 kg pale plus some wheat and a little caramalt and crystal) but used Pacific Gem for bittering (no centennial left), and a mixture of Cascade, Fuggles, East Kent Goldings and Amarillo. I added 3 heads of de-stalked freshly picked elderflowers at the 75C whirlpool stage for 15 mins, before pumping the wort through the cooler into the fermenter. I can’t say I could really smell or taste any elderflower in the wort, but I’ll be adding more at the secondary stage after fermentation, and that is where I’d expect to get more flavour from them.

Once again I was amazed at the efficiency I can get with the Grainfather: 97% pre-boil efficiency (only 0.001 off 100%!), and about 82% brewhouse efficiency. One thing I do wonder about is how the efficiency calculators allow (if they do at all) for the volume change of the wort between boiling and 20C, which is about 1.5L out of 28L pre-boil.

 Posted by at 9:48 am
Dec 222015

Brewed Dec 22nd 2015

I made this from a recipe for Fuller’s London Pride in Dave Line’s book ‘Brewing beers like those you buy’, for the ‘Ordinary Bitter’ category of the January Scottish Craft Brewers competition. That, and I wanted to make a good lowish ABV bitter to have on tap. It came out at 4.2% and I kegged most of it.

I squeezed it in just before leaving to go on holiday to California for Christmas, and left it fermenting till I got back in early January. It was probably a bit young for the comp, at only about 3 weeks in the bottle, and it did not score highly, though at a subsequent tasting a few weeks later one of the judges thought it was pretty good.

Come June 2016, it is still pouring nicely, and I really like it. I’d happily make it again.

August 2016: all gone! Need to brew again to refill the keg…

 Posted by at 11:29 pm