A good year for the Roses!

Carrying on with my 80’s theme. Elvis Costello may have been right about the roses but it was bad for the Hops. I took a stroll over to check out the Hops with the intention of picking them today. Unfortunately the council got there first and had trimmed the hedge. I was left with a large proportion of the hop flowers looking very brown and dry. I did manage to rescue some 144g (wet weight). These are now in my Luvelle drying. After maybe 3 to 6 hours I estimate I will have just under 100g of Hops. Something is better than nothing.

Having checked the Hops in the evening and weighed again after drying for 4 hours I have a total of approximately 60g of Hops now in the freezer ready.


I’d kill for a pinta porter!

The Sawdoctors aside, I decided this porter cannot wait. I tried it at a virginal 2 weeks secondary fermentation. Not surprisingly it was very lively. Normally I have the patience to wait it out but for some reason this one was a very important one for me. I needed to know I could make a porter I would love and strangely this one is a belter. Even in its youthful state it has a strong taste which I am sure will gown in its maturity on 16th. I took four bottles with me to my quarterly meeting with my gaming friends and we all agreed it was a good pint. Really dark like looking into the eye of a shark. A rich Chocolatey taste with a tiny hint of liquorice. So the Hedgerow hops still has some life in it and proving to be a pretty good worker. I guess I have another 50g left before its all gone. Continue reading

the following week!

I decided to take another look at the ailing hedge of Hops. I can happily say that there are a few flowers surviving; not as many as last year by a long shot but maybe enough to make a single brew. Moving away the still very green bracteoles and studying the Lupulin sacks there is still very little sign of that yellow tinge.  I will have some time yet before they are ready to harvest. Funnily a good friend of mine did point out that when taking the picture of the hop flower; I did manage get my foot in focus very well, oh dear.

I Hop(e) it’s a good year!

After a conversation with my friend Philip about his failing hop plant. I decided to take a stroll to investigate my local hedgerow and see how it was progressing this year. OK it is August and maybe a little early I say trying to convince myself all is well in the Hop garden.

The prospect of a good harvest this year seem very unlikely September/October is not far away and I see very few flowers. Still I shall check again in early September for any progress.

Walking back home I thought to myself there must be more of these hedgerows around and possibly local maybe some country walks are in order!

My first Porter!

Time for a challenge and Porter is on the list. I have had great success with Extract porter from Woodfords. My friends and I love this brew so I wanted to see if I could make my own however, designing a beer is always a case of hit or miss so instead of re-inventing the wheel I ploughed through the forums and found a recipe to try.

I kept to most of the recipe but true to my nature change a few items.

  • Pale malt 4.4kg
  • Crystal Malt 397g
  • Choclate malt 198g
  • Black Patent malt 198g
  • Roasted Barley 113g

When I went to buy the additional ingredients I forgot to purchase Kent Goldings hops. Luckily I still had some Hedgerow hops left so… yet another change to the recipe. I also used a new Yeast Bulldog Ale B4 rather than the recommended Superior Wyeast 1968 with its superior cost as well. And of course britewort for finings.

Different to all my previous creations I only had a 60 minute mash with 16.7litres. Not a bad idea as the sparge (15litres) took longer than usual so no time saved there. This time around I did not forget anything. I started the mash off at 7am. sparged at 8am and started the boil by 9.18am. I had hop additions 48g at start. 7g 15 mins before end and finally 7g 5 mins over a 90minute boil. I had to cool down to below 20°C as the yeast works best between 16 and 21°C.

SG: 1.050 attenuation of yeast was 65-70% simple calculation gives me expected FG as 1.16. Calculation is 1-((.65+.70)/2)*.050 = 0.1625 add back 1 gives you expected FG: 1.01625. The 0.50 is the 2nd half of the starting gravity.

After 10 days the yeast had finished at around 1.016 I was happy so all bottled and ready for secondary fermentation. I had a quick sip well why not. Chocolate and a little hint of liquorice interesting we shall see once it has finished in September. Very excited to find out what my drinking buddies will make of this one. Until the next time!

A Beer shared!

Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with my brother in law Des and his brother Step. Tasting my last two brews. It is always interesting to hear another persons comments and to identify the subtle differences between recipes.

Apart from being a very nice evening of conversation our deliberations on the two brews was good too and surprising. We drank the ‘Hedgrow hops’ and the half and half WGV and Hedgerow hops Beer; interestingly enough we preferred the hedgerow hops beer deciding that this beer was more drinkable and we would go for another pint whereas the slightly stronger one did not have the same effect. More interestingly the Hedgerow Hops beer used less malt and so was a cheaper brew to produce.

Another more comical side was that all the beers were strangely lively – now this could be partially due to it being a very hot day but we did chill the bottles before pouring. Earlier I have been drinking the same batch with no trouble but as the weather warms up so the beer livens. I wondered if the secondary fermentation and the amount of primer could be the reason; that and the heating up of the weather finishing off any possible fermentation in the bottle. When checking the forums I found an interesting point ‘Cold liquid is capable of holding more gas in solution than warm liquid’ – hence why chilling before drinking stops the ‘Vesuvius’ effect but the chilling alone may need time for the gas to be absorbed back into the water.

It’s been a while!

It has been some time since my last blogg and yet a lot has happened – I have made two more beer recipes and drunk many pints.

The last two recipes are based on a previous clone recipes but I have used different hops. Like they say “if it ain’t broke!”.

It has been some time since my last entry and yet a lot has happened – I have made two more beer recipes and drunk many pints. The last two brews are based on previous clone recipes but I have used different hops. Like they say “if it ain’t broke!”.

The first recipe I used a mixture of WGV and Hedgerow hops for bittering and in the last 10 minutes WGV for aroma ( I wasn’t sure just how well the Hedgerow hops would perform for aroma). The second was completely from my friend Philips Garden which he assures me is Goldings variety.

4.31kg pale malt
.425kg crystal malt
WGV 27g
Hedgerow 27g

last ten minutes 18g WGV
3g Irish Moss
Mangrove Jacks Liberty Ale Yeast


Second I am calling this one Barnes Beer obvious reasons that’s Philips name.

3.5kg Pale Malt
60g Black Malt
487g Sugar
50g Bittering
26g Aroma
Britewort finings

Mangrove Jacks Liberty Ale Yeast

I tried one of these 10 days earlier expecting it not to be quite ready. I was still impressed with the taste and so pleased with myself having yet another success but then a successful recipe being changed only slightly that is a pretty safe bet. This will be ready to drink on 30th June.

A beer shared!

Finally I had a chance to swap beers with a friend who has just dipped his toes into the mystery of brewing. His first attempt, a recommendation of mine, ‘Woodfordes Nog’ extract beer.

Sitting down to a sausage and mash dinner; a perfect excuse to taste this dark beer. An exciting time for me; tasting another persons venture on an extract beer.  I noticed it had the same colour and flavour although a little weaker than mine. This is not a bad thing at all; just an observation. I presumed he had added a little more water than I had. This is a very good first brew that showed me the quality of the extract was good enough to deliver every time which is my experience from my endeavors.  I take my hat off to Pete for an excellent first brew and my thanks for sharing. I wait in anticipation for his next brew another from Woodfordes catalogue ‘Wherry ale’.

Excellent Brew day!

It is a wonderful feeling when everything you planned just comes together. That is what happened on Saturday 18th March. I made a Marstens / Youngs special clone but using a different yeast ‘Mangrove Jacks Liberty Ale’ I say two different types as I was again clearing out hops that neede to be used namely WGV which I usualy use for the Marstens but keeping the crsytal and pale malt of the Youngs recipe so a little bit of a hash but not much. All the timing was on schedule I even remembered to turn the Tea urn on 30 mins before sparging so the temperature was bang on 75 degrees right when I needed it. I started the process early at 7.35am and was packed away and fermenter resting with yeast pitched by 1pm. I filled the fermenter up to the 5 gallon mark just under 23 litres. Hydrometer reading of 1.042, Brix 11. A good day!

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