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Sunday, 31 October 2010

Brew Day - Saturday

Another brew day to keep my supply of real ale up to acceptable stock levels. I decided on a bitter beer this time. Mainly because I still have some target, goldings and styrian golding hops to use up. This beer will not turn out to be anything special. However, it will help to use up surplus hops and will be a decent enough session beer at just 3.6% ABV. When these hops are used up I will try more exotic brews and try to expand my repertoire. However, I had to start quite late due to the last of the shelves being fitted under one of the work benches in the shed. These shelves are not a very pretty sight but they do serve a practical purpose and keep the work surfaces clear of clutter.

The brew process went extremely well. No major disasters or upsets and the brew is bubbling away very nicely in the fermenting cupboard. Barrelling of this brew will take place in 7 to 10 days time. I will probably start another brew next Friday or Saturday so the fermenting cupboard will be full.

Saturday Night - Oh Dear!!

On getting my second pint of Timothy Taylor Best Bitter from the garage last night a rather horrible thing happened. Let me explain. I use King Keg top tap pressure barrels with a drum tap. These taps come apart for cleaning. They can also be very stiff in operation requiring quite a bit of turning. They also can wear, as I found out last night. The tap on the barrel was indeed very stiff and unknown to me obviously worn. I turned it, rather to much as it happened and the top bit came off. This resulted in a free flow of beer of about 1 pint into my glass and another pint on the floor. I could not turn the tap off and as you can image I was in a bit of a tiss. I rushed to the kitchen to grab a bucket not wanting 40 pints of beer all over the garage floor. By the time I got back to the garage the plastic cup, which I use to catch the drips from the tap was nearly full but the flow had thankfully stopped. All the pressure in the barrel had escaped and the level of the beer was below the tap. I sterilised a spare drum tap and with difficulty took the naughty one off and fitted the spare. This activity caused the beer in the barrel to be disturbed quite a bit resulting in a cloudy beer. It may also have got too much oxygen in it. I will have to leave it now for 3 or 4 days to see if it clears and remains drinkable. If it is still cloudy I will put some fining's in and fingers crossed I will manage to salvage some good beer from it.

However, I will also have to rethink the type of tap that I use on my barrels and this will have to be investigated. Oh well! These things are sent to try us or so they tell us. I personally think they are sent to blight our lives and make us waste beer. Is there some sort of anti-beer god zapping us with plagues of beer spillage and cocking up beer production. If there is it is living in my shed with a secret door directly into my garage.

St Georges Hall

I joined Jim, John and Duncan on the shortish bus ride to St Georges Hall where we met Pete. Jim, Pete and Richard will shortly be deserting their bestest friends and emigrating to New Zealand. So it was a good opportunity to say farewell and bon voyage. On arrival the Weatherspoons real ale and cider festival was in full swing. We started with a Pendles Witches Brew 5.1%. A little strong but very drinkable. Such a shame that they soon ran out which I suppose is bound to happen if one beer proves to be popular. So it was onto Palm Steenhuffel Blond 4.6% from Belgium. A discussion broke out about the New Zealand trip. Ranging from keeping teeth brushed and clean on the aeroplane to whether or not to take a bead trimmer. The latter prompted by a mobile text from Richard who was sadly not in attendance. The next beer we tried was one from Brewdog Brewery, Edge 3.2%. This is a dark beer and very quaffable. We finished with another Palm Steenhuffel Blond. Pete gave us a lift to the Community Centre but I in my wisdom trudged home in the company of Will Power and thence to an early bed.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Old Spot At Dursley and More

Yesterday was a good day. It involved beer. Jim, John and I caught the bus to Wotton-under-Edge. It left slightly early and arrived about 4 minutes late. This was due to a mum, kids and a granny not being able to buy the ticket they had budgeted for. The driver was Polish and although his English is very good it took nearly 5 minutes to sort out. The mum, kids and granny eventually got off to await a bus run by a different company. Why oh why can't the public transport in Bristol (and surrounding area) get their act together and issue tickets that can be used on any bus no matter which company actually operates the route. Rant over. On then to the day out. Arriving in Wotton-under-Edge we immediately headed for the pasty shop. Purchased the same from the warm oven and scoffed them whilst heading for the Falcon Inn. John also purchased a doughnut but don't tell Beryl. Started off with a Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3%. A nice, tasty and refreshing beer. Before leaving to catch the bus to Dursley we tried a pint of Laurie Lee 4.5%. A debate was then held. Did we have enough time for another pint or even a half. Well, Will Power came into the pub and sat at our table. He raised several points but then clouded the issue with facts. The result was that we left the Falcon Inn without the benefit of a further drink and headed for the bus stop. Will followed us out of the pub, onto the bus and into the Old Spot.

Got to the Old Spot at about 14:15 hours (or 2:15 am in old money). Went to the bar got an Old Ric 4.5% and joined Ken, Richard, Phil and Roger. Ken raised an interesting fact. He thinks that Old Ric and Laurie Lee are in truth exactly the same beer. Just with different names. It was about this time that Will Power
decided that he would fare better away from our company. So he just up and left. Thus leaving us at the mercy of some lovely beer. Good old Will! The conversation soon got around to Jim's, Richard's and Pete's forthcoming trip to New Zealand. Richard admitted that he had had a very bad week. Not being able to sleep due to worrying about not packing an essential bit of kit, clothes, electronics, hair laquer, foot powder, elbow grease or any one of a countless number of things. Jim and the rest of us tried to reassure Richard that he had nothing to worry about. As long as he remembered his passport, tickets and money all else could and would be overcome. After 30 minutes or so of this soothing talk Richard brightened up (nothing to do with the beer of course) and agreed that he had nothing to worry about and a small smile spread across his lips. Almost immediately Richard started to worry that he had nothing to worry about. A sad state of affairs that resulted in the nameless man ordering a GRAZING BOARD. A Selection of meats, cheeses and fish served with olives, oils and breads. Great to share! I didn't have any myself so can't testify as to the quality. It looked good though and it seemed to soothe Richard's brow. By now it was time for another beer. Tried a Durdle Door 5%. I was now beginning to enjoy myself very much. Ken had brought John a new contraction thingy that he had invented. It is designed to fit around water pipes in the loft. It produces a very weak current that in turn heats up a wire wrapped around the offending pipe thus preventing the water in the pipe from freezing. Apologises to Ken if I got any of that wrong. As always I am willing to update any of my posts with more accurate info.

The next beer to try was a Dark Star Bitter 5%. Followed by some more conversation in which lots of things were put to rights. Why can't the government hire us as consultants. Our fees would be nowhere near the astronomical prices charged by some consultants. All we would require would be a few beers, a grazing board or two and  a free bus pass. Oh! Forgot we have bus passes. However, we would require one for Richard who got caught up in the great age related pensions disaster of 2009. Now that Will was nowhere to be seen we finished up with a Elmo's Fire 4.4%. Beryl arrived shortly afterwards for a glass of wine and to drive Jim, John and myself home. Good old Beryl. A true star and saviour of the beer drinker. Perhaps we should get her a sainthood. Although, I rather think that John would have something to say about that! The last time we all visited the Old Spot it was Richard who forsake his normal beer ration and drove Jim and myself home. Perhaps it is not too late to get a sainthood for Richard also. But thinking about it saints can only be created once the incubant is dead. And that way Richard would never get his free bus pass. Oh well back to the drawing board.

So homeward bound. Had too much beer to comtemplate a trip to the Staple Hill Oak for a Thursday night curry. So I stayed in and just had time to have a nap before it was time for bed. The boys are visiting St Georges Hall tonight so I just might go along. After all I have a bus pass. Sorry Richard. Thus ends this story of Allan the Blog. Watch out for more exciting tales of beer drinking and beer abuse. Only kidding about the beer abuse.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Wednesday a Non-Beer Day

If you listen carefully you will hear quiet but heartfelf sobbing. Due to Pete having to work and a few odd jobs needing to be done at home. This weeks Wednesday pub stroll has been cancelled. However, I intend to make up for it with tomorrows trip to the Old Spot at Dursley.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Curry Night

Visited The Staple Hill Oak last night. They were serving the new curry menu but due "to a printing" error the printed menus were not available. I reckon that someone forgot. However, I tried the new Lamb Chettinadu.This dish originates from the Chettinad region of India. Pieces of diced lamb are cooked with traditional Chettinad spices, in a tomato & coconut sauce, with fennel, cinnamon and black pepper. It was very nice, tasty and not too spicy but at 946 calories you wouldn't want to eat it everyday. Back to the beer. Started off with a Wickwar Breweries Autumnale (yes all one word) 4.6%. Then onto a Snowy Owl 5% as the free drink with the curry. Nice curry which I have already mentioned. However, then had a pint of Abbot Reserve 6.5%. A truly lovely and very drinkable beer so I had another. But at 6.5% it really is too strong.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wednesday - A Day Out In Bristol

After catching a bus to St Nichol's farmers market and purchasing my usual pie and also a piece of topside beef from Moorland Farm, Axbridge, Somerset I met Pete in the Commercial Rooms. Suffered the usual wait at the bar although this time when the bar person started to serve some late comers they very kindly pointed out that it was me that was next. Fair play to them. I got a pint of Ringwood Huffin 4.4%. Ever mindful of trying new beers we finished our pints and headed to the Cornubia a delightful pub run by an extremely nice couple. They also offer a good discount to card carrying members of Camra There is the usual decoration and a tank with some turtles swimming about. The landlady told us that there were getting a bigger tank so the turtles would have more room. I suspect that the resident turtles will just get bigger or it will provide an excuse to introduce more wild life. We shall see. Here we devoured a pint of Lord Nelson 4.2% from the Cornish Brewing Company  Anyway, our second choice was a beer brewed for the Cornubia called, wait for it, Cornubia 3.8% a copper coloured ale with a nice hops to the nose and a hoppy aftertaste. After that we tried a pint of Old Higby 4.8%. A really enjoyable afternoon quaffing beer and putting the spending review to rights.

I managed to catch an earlier bus than normal so got home in time for a couple of bowls of really scrummy, really delicious lamb stew.

Its Thursday and can you guess what that means. Yes, curry night at the Staple Hill Oak. There is a new menu for the curry club. Mainly old favourites but some new ones. I hope that they have not taken the opportunity to raise their prices. Se shall see tonight.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Another Barrelling of the Beer

Transferred the fermented wort of Donnington Best Bitter to a pressure barrel and primed with 75 grams of castor sugar on 16 Oct 10. A final gravity of 1.006 gave an ABV of about 3.51. This should be a nice easy drinking session beer. Tuesday 19 Oct 10. Its raining hard and I am reluctant to grab the barrel from the brewing cupboard and lug it the 5 metres into the cold of the garage. Though its got to be done and I struggle through the pouring rain and finally manage to lift it up onto the 4 foot racking. Job done and I leave the garage. Bloody hell its stopped raining and the sun has come out. If I had waited another 2 minutes I wouldn't have that soaking. Oh well! Thats Life. And don't you forget it.

Meeting with Pete tomorrow at the Commercial Rooms for our usual Wednesday jaunt around Bristol. I hope the weather will be a little kinder.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thursday Night is Curry Night (well almost)

Joined Jim, Pete and Geoff at the Staple Hill Oak for our weekly curry night. However, they had a special offer on Chile Con Carne with rice or chips and tortilla chips with sour cream for £2.99. A bargain. So we ditched the curry in favour of the chili. Good choice it was very nice indeed and came with plenty of tortilla chips, potato chips and sour cream. (click here for a couple of chili recipes).We ordered 4 of them. Unfortunately they only had three left so Geoff ended up with the 5 bean chili and a side order of onion bhajis. He does like his bhajis. Started off with a Yellow Hammer 4.2%. This ran out quite soon so our second drink was a Rucking Mole 4.5%. All this washed down with a couple bottles of Hardy's Shiraz. Though Geoff had to leave early and Jim was forced to drink nearly a full bottle by himself. It was another successful night and very much enjoyed.

The trip to The Old Spot at Dursely has been postponed until the 28 Oct 10.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Wednesday Day Out

Journeyed to St Nichols Farmers market by bus. It was bang on time and it is still unnerving. However, purchased my usual Friday lunch pie (a PM from Pieminister). I also hunted around for a Sirlion joint but couldn't find one. So will order some meat from Donald Russell. They are a bit expensive but if you buy their special offers the meat is not much dearer than supermarkets and of a much superiour quality. Met Pete in the Commercial Rooms after a bit of confusion as to where we were meeting. After queuing and enduring a later arrival being served before myself, I had a pint of Roosters Bangtail 3.7%. A delicious bitter with a very distinctive taste. I do think that Weatherspoons should introduce some sort of ticketing (siniliar to what the supemarkets use on their deli counters) thus ensuring that customers get served in their proper turn.

Onwards then to the Penny Farthing for a pint of Malt of Hops at £3.10.I should have asked the barman about the beer because I can't find anything via google about it. However, a very enjoyable ale, malty and hoppy as the name suggests. They also had about 5 other real ales available including Henry's IPA 3.6% at £2.30 a pint. Which considering the location of the pub was a very good price indeed. We didn't stay as we wanted to go onto the Blackboy Inn. It was little bit further than we first thought but we bravely trudged up the hill and were rewarded with a pint of Betty Stogs 4% but quite expensive at £3.30. Also a welcome return to our traditional bowl of chips. The chips were very good and served with a small ramikin of tomato sauce and the usual salt and vinagar. However, at £2.50 I would have liked a few more chips. Considering other pubs can produce the same quality of chips and more of them with a wider selection of sauces for about 70p less per bowl.

Curry Night tonight at the Staple Hill Oak. Yummy, yummy.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Brewing Done For Now

The next brew day has not yet been decided but will probably be a week Friday 29 Oct 10. I will move the barrel of the latest brew, Darkish Knight, to the garage and leave for 2-3 months. Wednesday tomorrow and looking forward to trying a new pub or two around the Clifton area of Bristol.

Thursday curry night is rapidly approaching. Weatherspoons new menu does not start until 22 Oct 10. So I will now have to wait for another 2 weeks before I can try any new curries that may have.

Another visit to the Old Spot at Dursley is planned for Thursday 28 Oct 10. I hope they have a few new ales for some of the Old Gits to try.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Barrelling of the Beer

Took a final gravity reading of the Dark Knight which read 1.006 which makes a ABV of just over 3.6% and decided to transfer to a barrel. All went well but the Dark Knight is not quite as dark as I expected. This is probably due to the fact that I only steeped the black malt instead of boiling it along with the malt and hops. So I have decided to rename it the Darkish Knight. Is this classified as a mistake. Not really I think the correct term would be "learning curve".

The latest brew is still bubbling along nicely and should be ready for the barrel in another 8-10 days. Not made any mistakes yet. Fingers, legs and well as everything else are well and truly crossed.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Friday and its Brew Day

I decided on a simple single hop bitter this time around. Dissolved 1870 grams of light dried malt in 10 litres of water. Put this into the boiler and topped up with another 17 litres of water. Put 235 grams of crystal malt into a filter bag and turned on.  Added 51 grams of fuggle hops at the start of the boil. Will add 270 grams of sugar after 45 minutes of the boil. The Irish moss will go in after a further 30 minutes. The whole mix will then be allowed to boil for a further 15 minutes. The boiler will then be switched off and the wort allowed to settle for about 90 minutes. It will then be run off into a fermenting vessel and topped up to 23 litres with previously boiled cold water. After about 7-10 days in the fermenting cupboard it will be transferred to a barrel and allowed to settle and mature for a further 2-3 months. With various tastings along the way. Just to make sure that the beer is OK you understand.

Curry on a Thursday

It was a good turn out at the Staple Hill Oak last night for a Weatherspoon's curry. Jim, Pete, Geoff, Duncan, Mary, John, Alaniss and Channon and of course yours truely. I had the Chicken Jalfrezi (also jhal frezi, zalfrezi, and many alternative spellings). It was very good and not too spicey although on the menu it had three chillis on the hotness scale. However, enjoyed a couple of pints of Corn Dolly 5%. A really nice and drinkable pale ale. However, they ran out of Corn Dolly and had to go onto the Sneck Lifter 5.1%. A little darker than the Corn Dolly but drinkable. Then onto a couple of bottles of red wine. Los Romeros Merlot. A dark red fruity wine from Chile. Though I am sure the label said Produce of China. Chile is the place for Merlot, add into the mix a first-rate producer and you a have smooth, fruity, jammy little drop of heaven. Yes, a good night eating curry, talking bullocks with yer mates, drinking good beer and wine. Ah! What else is there except more of the same. Roll on next Thursday.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Its Thursday - Brew Day-1. Also Curry Night

I have decided that tomorrow Friday 8 Oct 10 will be another brew day. Although the ingredients that I have are a little limited it will be a good opportunity to use up some of the older ones. When I first started malt extract brewing last year I bought far to many hops. I didn't really appreciate the quantities that would be required. I have gradually working through them ever since. However, once again I digress. I will be attempting an amber bitter with an ABV of about 3.8%. So it is the usual routine. Boil about 23 litres of water today and leave to cool overnight. Tomorrow I will boil up the light dried malt extract with the crystal malt and hops. When the wort drops below 30C I will pitch the yeast and place the fermenting vessel in the cupboard and wait for it to do its thing. It is still fascinating to know that the yeast will eat the sugar in the malt and then belch CO2 gas and poo alcohol. How cool is that?

Curry Night I will meet some of the usual suspects tonight at The Staple Hill Oak and consume some sort of curry and a few pints of real ale. I expect we will talk our usual bullocks but we will have a good time. Don't know what curry I will have though. Their menu is changing on 20 Oct so I am looking forward to seeing some different curries then. Weatherspoon's will be holding a Beer and Cider festival from 27 Oct - 14 Nov. The beer will only be £1.89 a pint. With my Camra/Weatherspoon's voucher that equates to £1.49 per pint. Oh happy days!

Wednesday - Beer Never Sleeps

Grabbed a bus down to St Nichols market Bristol. Strangely the bus was on time. This is getting to be spooky. This bus, the 11.08 from Kingswood to Bristol has been on time for at least the last 6 weeks. Although welcome it is slightly unnerving. However, trawled the market and purchased Pieminister PM pie and some faggots. The pie will be wolfed down Friday lunchtime and the faggots will be treated thus:

Take off outer covering and break up faggots and place in a casserole dish. Mix in some onion gravy. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on top and bake in the oven at 160C or until the top is golden brown and the edges crispy. Serve with home made mushy peas, eat and enjoy. Yummy. I am looking forward to those. But I digress. Back to Wednesday.

Met Pete in the Commercial Rooms and drank a pint of Adnams Broadside 4.7%. Pete and I, ever mindful of spreading our wings (so to speak) caught another bus to Westbury-On-Trym. We revisited The Post Office Tavern (The POT @ WOT) and had a pint of Doombar 4%. It was a little bit on the cold side for my taste but quaffable none-the-less. There were a few more people in the pub than when we visited about a year ago. We talked politics with a very nice man but decided to move on to the White Horse. We asked for a pint of Butcombe but got a pint of Bass 4.4% instead. We didn't bother to make a fuss as the Bass was delicious. This pub, serving mainly cider and lager, was quite lively and a debate concerning the payment of overtime and why no one should work extra hours for standard pay or in some cases no pay was hotly contested. Pete and I did not take part but were quite amused with the strong feelings concerning this topic. Onward then to The Mouse. Here we had a pint of Caledonian Mellow Yellow 4.4%. An enjoyable and very drinkable beer. I enjoyed this pub because the landlady overheard us talking, about real ale, and gave us a rather nice colourful leaflet which detailed the different Caledonian beers that The Mouse would be selling and the dates that they would be available. We will probably return at some pint in the future (pun intended) and try the different beers.

And so clutching my pie and faggots Pete and I bid farewell to the Mouse and Westbury-On-Trym and headed home. On entering the centre of Bristol I frustratingly saw my bus pull away and head for Kingswood. This meant that I had to wait about 20 minutes for another. This is doubly frustrating because that bus takes nearly an hour instead of about 35 minutes to reach Kingswood. At least this bus also picks up pretty young ladies as they finish shopping or working. At least I had something nice to look at as the bus stuttered and stopped from traffic jam to bus stop. Oh well. Next time I will just have to make sure that I catch an earlier bus or maybe I will just put up with it and enjoy the sights.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Brew Day + 3 and Brew Day +16

This brew is still bubbling away. I think that I will call it Dark Knight or maybe Dark Night because it will be kinda dark.

Took a gravity reading of the brew I made before on 24 Sep 10 it stood at 1.007 so that means an ABV just over 3%. Not very strong but early tasting is promising and should be a good session ale. I think that I will call this one Autumn Glory after all even though I had to change the recipe at the last minute. The next brew day will probably be this Friday 8 Oct although I may put it off for a week until 15 Oct. Will have to wait and see. No more tales of time travel or parallel universes this time. However, Wednesday will soon be here followed by Thursday when alcohol may trigger some baffling events.  Remember: Drink More Beer. Don't Spill Beer. Keep Calm and Carry On. Watch The Skies.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Friday - Brew Day

Decided to make a mild style beer this time. I done my best but I still made idiotic mistakes. I was undecided as to whether or not to fess up to even more mistakes after all who wants to admit that they are a bit of a plonker. However, my blog blurb does say that I would post the 'successes and maybe failures'. So here goes. Can you guess which part(s) was unintended?

Started off by dissolving 1720 grams of light dried malt extract in 10 litres of 40C water and put this in the boiler. I then topped up the boiler with another 7 litres of previously boiled cooled water. Turned on the boiler and waited for the magic to happen. Ten minutes later I realised that I had not connected the hop strainer to the inside of the boiler. Keep Calm And Carry On. So I emptied the boiler into a spare fermenting bucket, affixed the errant hop strainer and started to pour the wort back into the boiler. Curses and damnation I had left the tap in the open position and wort was pouring all over the floor. Quickly I closed the tap. All was not lost only about half a litre needed to be wiped up. After that it was all down hill. Added the first lot of hops when the wort came to the boil. Added 170 grams of caster sugar after 45 minutes. The second batch of hops and the Irish moss went in after 80 minutes. Although the Irish moss was not strictly necessary as this brew will be quite dark. After 90 minutes switched the boiler off and allowed the wort to settle for an hour. Transferred the wort to the fermenting vessel and topped up to 23 litres with the rest of the previously boiled cooled water. I am waiting now for the wort to cool to below 30C so the yeast can be pitched. It will then go into the fermenting cupboard for about 7 to 10 days until the the final gravity is about 1.008. With an original gravity of 1.034 this should give an ABV close to 3.5%.

Thursday and it's Curry Night!

Met Geoff, Pete and Jim  for our traditional Weatherspoons curry night at the Staple Hill Oak. I had a chicken bhuna and a pint of Wickwar IKB a very tasty darkish beer. I wanted to try a pint of Otter but unfortunately it was off. They put on a new barrel but there was something wrong with that as well so I stuck with the IKB. Apart from the quality of the company and the conversation there is not much more to say. Except that Pete voiced an interesting fact concerning the First World War and the reparation that Germany had to promise to pay as part of the surrender and the treaty of Versailles terms. It seems that this Sunday Germany will make the last of these payments. If you have the time you may like to read the relevant articles of the treaty. An interesting bit of information from Pete.

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