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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Thursday Night is Curry Night

Travelled with Geoff and Alannis to the Staple Hill Oak for our usual curry night. Pete was already there and he stumped up for the first round. I had a Box Steam Chuffin Ale 4% if you will excuse the expression. Quite a nice beer but a little too dark for me. I prefer the lighter, golden ales. I once again forsook the Weatherspoons Thursday Curry Club curry and went instead for the Chili Con Carne with rice. It wasn't too bad but once again it had been hanging around and there was a sort of thin skin over the chili. The sour cream was not very sour and was straight out of the fridge. However, my second sampling of ale for the evening was Cottage Brewery Western Glory 4.7%. A few rants were indulged in mainly breaking up and scrapping of the Nimrod fleet. Greedy bankers. And although the subject of selling off of our forests to the private sector was raised it was quietly ignored and a rant did not breakout. Thus the scene was set for a pint or two of Milk Street Amarillo 4.4% a very enjoyable ale which I shall be having again if, that is, I come across it again. And so with Jim away and no wine to quaff it was off home and so to bed.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Barreling of the Latest Brew

Thursday and it was time to put my latest brew, McMullen Country Best Bitter (you know the one that the goblins tried to sabotage), into a pressure barrel. After sterilising the barrel I put 45 grams of dried malt extract and 30 grams of caster sugar into the bottom. I than ran off the brew from the fermenting vessel directly into the barrel. The operation went quite smoothly and there were no signs of those pesky goblins. I took a final gravity reading and was surprised to see that it was at 1.008. This gives an ABV of about 4.7% not a bad strength and about .5% higher than it should be.

The next brew day should be Monday 31 Jan 11. This time I will attempt a clone of Brakspear Special which should come out at about 4.9% ABV if I can get the Original Gravity right and there are no ruddy goblins about to scupper it.

Pub Trotting with Pete

Another Wednesday came along so I met Pete at the Commercial Rooms after securing my usual Pieminister PM pie from Simon the pieman. There were quite a lot of customers crowding around the bar but surprisingly I got served a lot quicker than I had anticipated. I ordered a pint of Blindmans Siberia 4.7%. A tasty beer with a different aftertaste. It was also a little too dark for me. However, we finished our pints and headed on down to the Bridge Inn. This is a very small one room pub. Although it was packed to the rafters we quickly got our pint of Castle Rock Harvest Pale 3.8%. Unfortunately this beer was slightly cloudy. However, the taste was good so we persevered. Determined to continue our search for the best Bristol pubs we quickly put the world to rights after a very mild rant and made our way to the Stag and Hounds in Old Market. Peering through the windows we could see that the place was empty, not even a bar person. There didn't seem to be any real ales on offer so we headed over the road to the Punch Bowl  also in Old Market. The only real ale on offer was Courage Best Bitter 4% This is not normally a beer I would choose but being the only one I took a chance. Surprisingly it was OK. A very drinkable beer in fact. Moving swiftly on we drank up and visited the Old Market Tavern just a few doors up. Here we had a Wadworth Swordfish 5%. Not an unpleasant beer but not really to my taste. We had a quick rant and then headed off home. I managed to catch a number 43 without waiting too long. Pete apparently just missed his number 1. Perhaps the balance of bus catching is changing in my favour!

Monday, 24 January 2011


Those pesky goblins have struck again. This time they opened the doors of the fermenting cupboard. This cupboard is temperature controlled and is idea for holding the fermenting wort at about 20C. However, with the door open the temperature dropped to 13C. This is maybe just cold enough to kill the yeast dead. I took a hydrometer reading. I was surprised by the reading which was 1.008 because the brew had been fermenting for just a few hours short of one week. I was prepared to add some more yeast and get the brew fermenting again. I decided not to do this and just shut the door. The hydrometer reading will give the brew an ABV of about 4.5% which is not bad and just the strength I was looking for. I will probably transfer this brew to the pressure barrel on Thursday.

Although the goblins tried their hardest to upset my latest brew they did not succeed. Ha Ha!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Curry Night

Attended the Royal Oak Staple Hill for our customary and traditional curry night in the company of Jim, Geoff and Alannis. I started off with Cottage Brewery Golden Arrow 4.5%. However, it was cloudy and did not taste very good. I took it back and got a pint of Sharpes Doom Bar 4%. Much better and it went down well. Duncan, Mary and John then turned up quickly followed by Pete. Food orders were given at the bar. I opted for a Thai Noodles and chicken and very nice it was. I think that I am gradually going away from Weatherspoons curry's. Other menu items are just as tasty if not tastier. No rants about the service this time. But we did have a few rants as the evening progressed and then strangely the rants turned more mellow and finally petered out.

My next pint was a Bath Ales Gem 4.1%. This was followed by another Doom Bar. Geoff and Jim turned to the wine but I being by this time extremely wise (and some say good looking) declined the wine offer. Preferring to stick with the beer.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Thursday Barrelling Day

Today I decided to empty the Brakspear Bitter into a pressure barrel. This brew was made on the 10 Jan 11 so it had 10 in the fermenting vessel which was in the temperature controlled fermenting cupboard. The Original Gravity should have been 1.035 but I could only manage 1.032. The final gravity was 1.006 and should give an ABV of about 3.4%. I still can't figure out why the original gravity of my brews has been dropping. Could it be that the mineral water I am using to top up the wort to the final volume of about 23 litres is somehow effecting the OG. I can't see how but am open to suggestions. Ran off the wort into the pressure barrel on top of 77 grams of light dried malt extract powder. The recommended way is to first dissolve the malt extract powder in about 250 mls of boiled wort. However, I find this unnecessary and can discern no difference in taste, colour and clarity. I then put the barrel into the fermenting cupboard where it stay for 2 or 3 days before moving it to the garage for conditioning. The first tasting is very promising.

Wednesday Again and Out and About

Done the usual and caught the number 42 bus to St Nichol's Farmers Market and purchased my usual Pieminister PM pie. Simon the pieman was there and the transaction went quickly. Made my way down to the Commercial Rooms and order a pint of Cottage Hornet 5%. This was after the three bar staff and only two customers managed yet again to completely ignore me and served some lady way out of turn. Ah well Weatherspoons when your profits start dropping and you can no longer afford to add new pubs or hotels to your already huge estate watch out. There are up and coming pubs who have taken your early model and making it their own. In several pubs recently I have noticed curry nights with a drink for between £5 and £6 and other promotions. These pubs have no televisions, music or children. Beware Weatherspoons you have been warned. OK rant over. The Hornet was a bit darker than what I was expecting but was not too bad. Pete joined me and after a bit of a chat we made our way to the Shakespeare Tavern for a pint of Old Speckled Hen 4.5%. I seem to remember that this beer was brewed quite a bit stronger in days gone by. However, the beer went down well as did the customary rants. We came to the conclusion that if the government were to employ Pete and I as advisers all the troubles presently faced by the country would be sorted out. We worked out a consultation fee which came to £1000 per day with real ale supplied. All we had to do was place some kind of voice recording device on our table and the record the rants. We would then post the tape, disc or whatever to the PM's office and await our cheque. Yesterday this sounded quite reasonable and affordable when you consider the 100's of millions of our tax money the government so wisely spends each year on useless consultants. We would do the same job and provide the same service for a fraction of 1% of the this huge annual bill. Sorry slipping into rant mode again.

So we drank up and pressed on to the Ostrich. This is a good old fashioned pub. We had a pint of Marstons Ashes Ale 4.1%. However, due to the lack of cask marque signs, any mention of real ale and the appearance and taste of the beer I can only conclude that this beer was not cask conditioned and will put it in the same league as John Smiths smooth. Although to be fair it tasted much better than that. I also do not agree with the tasting notes provided on the Marstons Guest Ale site. Not to be defeated and due to the lateness of the hour. We stayed put and had a pint of Brains Bitter 3.7%. Although this beer was a slight improvement on the Ashes Ale I cannot really recommend it. The Ostrich pub was, however, very nice and I expect we will revisit sometime in the future. Perhaps in the summer when it would nice to sit outside and look at the boats.

So it was a quick walk back to the Centre where my bus the good old number 42 was slowly pulling away from the bus stop. I was not close enough or sober enough to make a run for it so I had to wait. The next bus should have been the number 43. This did not turn up but 20 minutes later the number 42 put in an appearance so I boarded. A little nap and nearly 45 minutes later I arrived home to a huge steaming bowl of beef stew. Lovely and delicious. Thursday is curry night but before that I have a fermenting vessel to run off into a pressure barrel.

Barry's Birthday

It is Barry's birthday and the Old Git is 70, my god there is hope for us all! Barry invited a group of his friends and other Old Gits for a curry at the Supreme House. First we all met at the Staple Hill Oak for a quick pint, or two, before the big event. I  started off with a Lomond Gold Blonde 5%. Not a bad beer but not really for me. Followed up with an Abbot 5%. At the curry house I opted for the Lamb Kahari. Which came in a sizzling iron bowl on a small wooden tray. It was delicious. I also had a pilau rice. After the pompadoms I fear that it was a little too much. However, Jim mopped up a some of the left overs. To wash down this lovely curry I had a couple of bottles of Bangla 5%. Then it was back over to the Staple Hill Oak a a couple of pints of Abbot and then home. Thank your Barry a perfectly good evening.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Its Monday and Its Brew Day

Attempted a clone of McMullon Country Best Bitter. Went the usual route and dissolved 3000 grams (instead of 2540 grams) of light dried malt extract in 10 litres of water at 40C then made the volume up to 20 litres with warm water. Brought this to the boil and added 22 grams of Bramling Cross Hops and 22 grams of Progress Hops and stirred in. This was then left to boil for 45 minutes when 250 grams (instead of 215 grams) of caster sugar was added and stirred in. Again left to boil for a further 35 minutes when 15 grams of Fuggle Hops and 3 grams of Irish moss was added and stirred in. Left to boil for a further 10 minutes and then the boiler was turned off for 90 minutes to allow the trub to settle to the bottom of the boiler. Four litres of cold bottled mineral water was added to the fermenting vessel and the wort run off into this. After giving the wort a good stir the volume was made up to 23 litres with cold mineral water. The wort was still too hot at the bottom of the fv to allow the pitching of the yeast. So I ran off about 6 litres from the bottom of the fv and poured it back in to the top. This seemed to do the trick and I pitched the re-hydrated yeast into the wort and gave it another jolly good stir. I adjusted the quantities of dried malt extract and white sugar because the original gravity of the last 3 or 4 brews have been too low. I took a hydrometer reading and found the OG to be 1.044. If the final gravity turns out, as planned, to be 1.008 the brew will have an ABV of about 4.7% instead of 4.2%.

Fermentation has started so it seems that the goblins were not present this time. My goblins traps probably frightened them off. However, I will have to keep my eyes, ears, nose and throat open in case they return. I hope that the Hobgoblins don't gang up on me again.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

New Brew Day

The next brew day will be on Monday 17 Jan 11. I will be attempting a clone of McMullon Country Best Bitter. This should come out with a final ABV of about 4.2%. However, because I have been having trouble getting the original gravity right I will be using 3000 grams of dried malt extract and 250 grams of white sugar instead of 2540 grams and 215 grams respectively.

I also laid my goblin traps very carefully. This proved fruitless. So I have had to rethink my strategy. I am beginning to think that goblins are not, after all, responsible for all my mishaps. Perhaps, it is hobgoblins. Now this is another kettle of fish entirely. Goblins, although a ruddy nuisance are not evil. They are mischievous and a pain in the neck. Hobgoblins are, however, quite evil and to be avoided. One or two Hobgoblins are not too bad. Three of them and you could be starting to get into trouble. Four or more at the same time will play all kinds of wicked tricks on you. At this stage they will make you believe that you and your companions are extremely good looking, irresistible to the opposite sex and very, very intelligent and witty. This is just to lull you, the Hobgoblin victim, into a false sense of security. After about five or six the Hobgoblins will take away the use of your legs and turn your intelligent witticisms into incoherent gibberish. Anymore than this and you will end up talking to god down the great white telephone and wake up with an evil headache among other things.

So you think that the 3rd Annual Orchard Road Beer Festival is a long way off. However, it all takes planning and organisation and this takes time. This year there will be a slight deviation from previous years. I will shortly be sending out emails to all likely or in some cases unlikely attendees asking them to choose six beers, in order of preference, they would like to taste this year. If you want a sneaky preview click here.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Wednesday's Pub Stroll

Once again the elements, although rather nasty, were braved and another sortie to Bristol Farmers Market was undertaken. The pieman, whose name has just got to be Simon! Was present and correct so I purchased today's lunch and made my way to the Commercial Rooms. No one at the bar and three members of staff could be see chatting quite busily around the coffee machine. It was obvious after a few minutes that no one had see me come in so I attracted their attention by saying 'Anyone at home'. It was all good natured and I ordered a pint of Trident 5%. However, the barman started to pour me some other beer. I pointed out his mistake and he poured me the correct pint. However, he did offer the wrong pint of beer to the guy on my left (who was waiting to be served) at half price. Oh well, I did have a 50p off coupon from Camra.

Pete arrived soon after. We finished up our pints and headed for the Shakespeare. Where we had a pint of York Brewery Yorkshire Terrier 4.3%. Beginning to warm up but still being very brave we drunk up and headed for Denmark Street and found the Bunch of Grapes. Here we had a Escape Claus 4%. Once again we put the world to rights but decided that we may be able to find one more pub. So we struck out and came across The Hatchet. The only real ale on offer was Butcombe 4% of which we had a pint. Although it was drinkable it was definitely not up to standard. So we made our way in the rain to our respective bus stops. My bus the number 43 was already there. I boarded and after a little nap I found myself at Kingswood shopping centre, got off and spent 10 minutes walking home in, yes, the rain. Oh well. Roll on the summer.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Monday - Brew Day

Yesterday I made a new brew a clone of Brakspear Bitter. I am trying to brew this at 3.8%. However, the first gravity reading was low at 1.032 instead of 1.035. A low original gravity seems to be happening a lot lately. I don't know the reason. My measurements may be wrong somehow? Using too much water? Losing some of the malt sugars by boiling in only 18 litres of water instead of 34 litres. Maybe, I just don't know. I think that for the next brew I will up the dried malt content and see if that solves the problem.

Boiled 2100 grams of dried malt extract in 18 litres of water. Added 45 grams of challenger hops at the start of the boil. Added 295 grams of caster sugar after 45 minutes and 4 grams of Irish moss after 80 minutes. Turned off the boiler after 90 minutes and allowed about hour for the trub to settle and the temperature to drop and added 9 grams of styrian golding hops. The wort was then run off into the fermenting vessel which contained 4 litres of bottled mineral water. Made the total volume up to 20 litres with bottled mineral water and placed in the fermenting cupboard. Safale s-04 yeast was reactivated with a little previously boiled water and added to the FV and given a good stir. The airlock was bubbling away nicely this morning. So another successful brew. However, as always a slight cock-up. I had forgotten to replace the hop strainer. So I placed a fine mesh stainless strainer into two muslin bags and ran the wort through that into the FV. There is always something! I keep blaming my age but I am beginning to believe that goblins are at the root of my brewing mishaps. I will set up a goblin trap and try and catch the little buggers.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Advance Information - New Brews Coming

Monday 12 Jan 11 will be the first brew of the new year. This will be a clone of Brakspear Bitter although I will try and brew it to an original gravitity of 1.035 and a final gravity of 1.006 giving an ABV of 3.8% and not 3.4% as in the original. The brewing plan will then be as follows and will be clones of:

2nd brew of the new year - Burton Bridge Bridge Bitter. This should have an ABV of 4.2% as in the original.

3rd brew of the new year - McMullen Country Best Bitter. This one doesn't appear to be on their website. However, I will brew it to an ABV of 4.2% or at least try to.

Other brews planned for later in the year will be sellected from: Follow this link to see list of brews. Watch this space for more information on the 3rd Annual Orchard Road Real Ale Festival.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday was a non pub strolling day. So enough said. Thursday though was curry night. Hooray! Together with Jim, Pete, Geoff and Alannis I attended the Staple Hill Oak. To start the evening off we sampled the Funky Monkey 4%. And well deserving of the SIBA award it was. Lovely beer. A curry was next and I ordered a Lamb Rogan Joss with the usual Nan bread, poppadoms and yellow rice. It was quite nice but I fear that I may be going off Wetherspoons currys. Perhaps next week I will try something else from their menu. Anyway I had a Cotleigh Barn Owl 4.5%. A nice darkish beer with a pleasant 'smokey' after taste. Finished most of my curry and tried Three Kings 4.5% I think from Three Castles Brewery. This beer does not feature on the brewery website and I forgot to write it down. No matter, in the middle of all this we had a pint of Red Nose Reinbeer 4.5%. So a regular Thursday night out with some of the Old Gits. Jim and Pete had several rants apiece. Some rants were new and some were already registered. All were taken very seriously. Well for a few seconds anyway. All in all another successful curry night.

Looking forward to next Wednesday and a pub stroll with Pete.

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