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Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday - Brew Day

Today I attempted to brew a clone of Cameron's Strongarm. Started the process by dissolving 2250 grams of light dried spray malt in 10 litres of water at 40C. Followed by topping up the boiler with 8 litres of water. Into this I placed 210 grams of crystal malt and 93 grams of black malt. This was brought to the boil and 37 grams of Challenger Hops were added. The boil continued for 45 minutes when 420 grams of white caster sugar was stirred in. After 80 minutes 12 grams of Target Hops were added along with 3 grams of Irish moss. After a further 10 minutes the boiler was switched off and the trub allowed to settle. A further 1 hour passed until I poured 4 litres of bottled mineral water into the sterilised fermenting vessel. The wort from the boiler was then run off into the fv and stirred. To this was added a further 6 litres of bottled water and the yeast pitched.

Once again the goblins were not present. The brew is beginning to ferment and starting to bubble. So I declare another successful brew. It is likely that this brew will not make it to the 2nd Annual Orchard Road Beer Festival as it would be about 5 months old by then. However, at least 6 other beers will. Hooray!!!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Thursday - Curry Night

I travelled with Jim, Pete and Duncan to the Staple Hill Oak for our traditional curry night. I started off with a pint of Old Hooker 4.4%. A light amber bitter with nice fruity tones. Seeing I have forsaken the Weatherspoons currys I ordered a Chili Con Carne. It was quite tasty and was not too spicy. I also had a pint of Chuffin Ale 4%. This dark amber ale had a light head but not much lacing. However, it made up for that with a good malty finish. After finishing our meal the Old Gits went into full ranting mode. Ranging from Gadaffi to bankers and back to the middle east. A more sobering and quiet discussion then took place concerning the terrible earthquake in New Zealand. Another drink came up. This time a pint of Great Western 4% from Cottage Brewing Company. A dark amber beer with a medium head and light lacing. This was quickly followed by a pint of Silly Billy Bitter 4.3%. A light golden bitter and very drinkable. This ended our evening and we made our happy way home.

Thursday - Barrelling Day

I ran off the wort from the Burton Bridge Bitter into a sterilised pressure barrel that contained 65 grams of dried sprayed malt and 6 grams of white sugar. I took a sample of the beer. It tasted nice and bitter, just how I like it and will be in the barrel for about 3 months. It should then be very drinkable. The final gravity was about 1.009 and this should give an ABV of about 3.8%. So the goblins were not present this time and I therefore pronounce another successful beer has been made.

Monday should be another brew day. This time I will be attempting a clone of Camerons Strongarm. This beer should have an ABV of 4.4%.  I have to ramp up the beer brewing a little to ensure that there are a sufficient number of different beers available for the 2nd Annual Orchard Road Beer Festival.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Wednesday - Out With Pete

Keynsham was in our sights for this Wednesday's pub stroll. I caught the number 318 bus. Good job that I checked the time table as this service now runs about 10 earlier than the last time I visited Keynsham. Thinking that I would have some spare time before going to the pub I decided that I would exchange two gas cylinders and buy some faggots. Before I could get to the brew shop I bumped into Pete. I scurried off to the brew shop while Pete strolled majestically to the butchers for to buy some faggots. I purchased a float for one of my King Keg barrels that does not have one. A special treat because it has been sitting patiently in my brewing shed without any complaint or moaning. I also exchanged my CO2 cylinders. Scurrying out of the brew shop I made my way to the butchers where Pete was still waiting in the queue. Pete volunteered to get me my faggots as well as his own. We got our faggots and proceeded in a northernly direction and then a easternly direction and then a westernly direction straight into the Old Bank pub. Here we studied the beers on offer and settled for a Barnstormer 4.5%. A dark bitter with a medium head and good lacing down to the last drop. It was then onto the Ship Inn a nice pub with friendly staff and good selection of real ale. The Ship had about 5 real ales on offer. We zoomed in on the Lions Roar 3.8% a Banks Brewery creation. This amber bitter was served with a light head but had good lacing. A pleasant pint that went down well. We decided to stay put for the next pint which was a Wychwood Dirty Tackle 4.0%. A dark amber bitter with a hoppy somewhat spicy aroma and hoppy taste. It recalled the taste of Hobgoblin and so was very enjoyable. On then to the Trout Tavern another pleasant pub but not a lot of choice. Only Marstons Pedigree or Marstons Bitter. We settled on the Bitter 3.8%. A nice amber bitter without that Pedigree sulphur aftertaste that I don't like very much. It had a small head and very little lacing. A decent enough beer but would only drink it if nothing else was available. However, we were getting towards the end of our beer and my bus was at least 40 minutes away. So we decided to have a half each of the Bitter. Oh well, needs must and all that jazz.

And so the pub stroll came to an end without too much ranting. Caught the next 318 bus to Kingswood just in time for moussaka and chips with mushy peas. Lovely.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Thursday - Curry Night

There was a surfeit of Old Gits last night for the traditional curry. We all met up at the Staple Hill Oak. I started the night off with a pint of Heritage 4.2% from Three Castles Brewery. This is an amber beer with a thin head but with good lacing. A nice fresh aroma. I liked this beer very much. I ordered a Lamb Rogan Josh from the curry night menu. Wetherspoons currys have definitely gone down hill in my opinion. The portions are smaller. My poppadoms were covered in pools of oil. Although the lamb was tasty and tender the whole taste of the curry was disappointing. This curry was a stark reminder of why I have not had one for the past 5 weeks. I shall not be having one again. Anyway, I would have stayed on the Heritage had it not been for the Golden Hare 4.4%. Although it the beer had a very slight haze about it  was just as I remembered it. A light yellow to slight golden in colour. Very good lacing with a medium head. All in all a very good beer. I had three altogether but managed once again to stay off the wine. Who's a good boy then? Apart from the curry it was a very enjoyable night talking bullocks with good friends and drinking good beer.


Wednesday - A non pub day

Pete had to cancel todays pub stroll and as there were not any other old gits available I stayed at home and completed some odd jobs.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Monday - Brew Day

This Monday I started off my first attempt to brew a clone of Burton Bridge Bitter. Because I was having trouble with the original gravity of my latest brews I upped the dried malt extract (DME) from 2610 grams to 2700 grams and the sugar from 170 grams to 180 grams. I went the usual route and dissolved the DME in 10 litres of water at 40C and then topped up with 8 litres of water. Added 22 grams of Challenger and 15 grams of Target hops when the wort came to the boil and added the white sugar after 45 minutes of boiling. After a further 40 minutes I added the Irish moss and boiled for a further 10 minutes. I allowed the wort to cool to 80C and added 7 grams Styrian Golding hops. After another hour or thereabouts I added 10 litres of bottled mineral water to the sterilised fermenting vessel and ran the wort off into this. I then topped up to about 22 litres with bottled mineral water and pitched the rehydrated yeast. I took an hydrometer reading which came out at 1041. This should give an ABV of about 4.2%. The FV was then placed in my fermenting cupboard and the lid and air trap screwed on.

The brew was bubbling away very nicely this morning so I claim a success with the brew. Goblins were noticeable by their absence. I will test the gravity in about 1 week when I will also taste it. A rotten job but someone has to do it. I will probably put the brew into a pressure barrel next Thursday.

Next brew day will more than likely be next Monday 21 February 2011. Watch this space.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Thursday Once Again

Thursday once again and Wetherspoons curry night. Met some of the old gits and Tina at the Staple Hill Oak. Started off with a Ramsbury 4.1%. A golden beer with a thin head and a little lacing with a nice bitter bite in the aftertaste and smooth in the mouth. After eating my Moroccan meat balls with cous cous I tried a Corn Dolly 4.7% of which there is no reference on the Three Castles Brewery site. Another golden bitter with a medium head, nice fruity taste but a bit gassy in the mouth. Once again bottles of wine appeared and once again I saw sense (damn this sense thing) and stuck with the beer. Another pint of Corn Dolly and a bit of unofficial, unregistered ranting and it was time for home.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Wednesday - Pie and Pub Day

The pieman was missing yet again when I visited St Nicholas farmers market. So I tracked another stall that is a permanent feature of the St Nicholas market and bought my pie from them. It was here that I spotted the pieman making himself a cup of tea. Nothing wrong with that but what is wrong with taking a flask and selling a few more pies and more important keeping your customers happy. Oh well, service is one of the biggest selling areas and you just don't get it in this country.

Anyway met Pete in the Commercial Rooms and had a pint of Coyote 4.3% from Wolf Brewery. A nice bitter with a good head, golden yellow in colour with good lacing. The aroma was not there but it was slightly sweet with a good bitter aftertaste. It felt a little gassy and smooth in the mouth. Pete and I talked for a while mainly about his ceiling which I was glad to hear Pete had sorted out. Onward then to the Bank Tavern. Here we tried a pint of St Georges Worcester Sauce 4.3%. An amber beer with a light head and light lacing. There was a slight hoppy aroma. It was slightly gassy in the mouth and the first couple of mouthfuls were definitely but very slightly taste of Worcester sauce. In our endeavour to find as many pubs as possible that sell good real ales we entered the Drawbridge. This pub only had two real ales, Greene King IPA and Brains SA. There also about 25 other taps serving lager and smooth beers. The IPA and the SA were probably keg as opposed to cask beers. So we decided to leave without sampling anything. Next stop then was the 3 Sugar Loaves. A decent pub at the bottom of the Christmas Steps which looked as if it had recently had a refit. We tried a pint of Betty Stogs. I don't know what the ABV is supposed to be but it felt like a 4% to me. It is an amber beer with a small head but good lacing but a bit heavy in the mouth. With one more pub left we opted for the White Lion which was near to our bus stops. Here we had a pint of Wickwar Rite Flanker 4.3%. A ruby beer with a nice head. However, I still think that the beer is served too warm.

I finished my beer and waited until I could see my bus approaching and ran out to get it. However, I heard a voice behind me calling my name. It was Pete holding my bag of goodies which contained my pie. Which was eagerly devoured for lunch. I had a little nap on the bus and got home in time for an excellent cottage pie and fresh peas. Tasty!

Monday - Checking the Latest Brew

Checked the gravity of the brew for Brakspear Special and it was 1.008. Also checked the taste. I expected a somewhat bland taste seeing that the goblins had struck during the brewing process. However, much to my surprise it tasted quite good. Nothing else to do to this brew until Thursday which will be barrelling day.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Curry Night Once Again

I travelled with Tina, Alannis, Michelle, Geoff and Jim to the Royal Oak in Staple Hill where we met Pete, for our traditional Thursday curry night. Ordered a pint of Brewsters Hop A Doodle Doo 4.3% an unusual name even for a real ale but extremely enjoyable and true to its name very hoppy in taste. Whilst ordering the beer Jim spied a notice offering Haggis, Neeps and tatties for just £3.99. This was probably a left over from the Burn's night week held in most Wetherspoons to celebrate the great mans work and life and just possibly to generate sales of haggis and whisky. Jim and I ordered the Haggis. When it arrived it looked a bit dry and I felt a slight pang of disappointment. However, my fears were unfounded and the whole thing was delicious, tasty, moist and very, very nice. And so onto our second beer of the evening. This time I had a Between The Posts Whippet Special Ale 4.6% from Cottage Brewing. We were just getting stuck into this when Jim began the evenings rant with having to pay compensation to prisoners who are refused voting rights. Under a new indexing system this rant was given the number: 001P (001 being a serial number and P indicating that the rant was politically motivated). Most of us joined in the rant and expressed our points of view. Generally agreeing that the PM must do something and prevent prisoners being allowed to vote and not being able to gain any financial benefits, in the form of compensation, from the hard pressed tax payer. The most sensible comment came from Jim who said that part of the sentencing of criminals should include the phrase 'voting rights withdrawn'. Anyway the ranting died down long enough for a pint of Slaters Premium Bitter 4.4% to be purchased. This time it was Pete who started a new rant about MPs expenses. I allocated a serial number of 002P. Ranters must remember their rant index number or voice a new one before being allowed a full bodied rant. The rants were coming thick and fast at this point. Pete chipped in with one about GCHQ 003R (can't remember what the R stood for). On how it is bigger and employs more people than in the days of the cold war. Quickly followed by one on credit cards 004C (C for credit). Although a couple of bottles of wine appeared on our table I stood my ground and stayed with the beer. A pint of Cains FA 5% was next on the agenda. The evening was going well. Everybody was becoming very intelligent with their arguments and with their physical looks improving all the time we ended with a rant about Combi Boilers 005T (T for technology). With no more beer in the offing and the time speeding on we made our way home.

An index, which will expand with time, of official Old Gits rants, will be published here.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wednesday - A Trip Around Bristol Pubs

Met Pete in the Commercial Rooms and opted for a Bullmastiff Welsh Pride 4.6%. This is a nice golden coloured beer with a quite pronounced bitter taste. Which I like. We talked awhile about aeroplanes and things to do with repairing them, whether they were broke or not. We then went on to the Bay Horse. Although this pub boasts a large sign attached to the entrance saying Traditional Ales and also has a Cask Marque the pint of Brains 4.2% we were served could only have been Brains SA. However, it not bear much resemblance to real ale. Although drinkable I would not have wanted to have another. The Bay Horse is obviously a food pub where you can get a good belly full of reasonable quality food at a low price. The beer on offer Brains and the one we didn't try here, Green King IPA. After a brief discussion about the unrest in the Arab world we left and crossed the road to the White Hart. A lovely pub and friendly staff. Tried a pint of Greene King IPA. Always a decent pint, if kept and served correctly, but on this occasion it was served a little too cold. A minor point and it soon warmed up a bit. After a very generous bowl of chips and a semi-rant we drank up and wandered down to the White Lion. This is a very small pub but a proper pub nonetheless. We noticed a new (to us anyway) Wickwar Brewery beer, Long John Silver 4.2%. A darkish beer. My pint was fine, Pete's pint was warm, too warm for my liking. However, after brief discussions with the barman, who offered a replacement, Pete decided to keep his as it was. The barman stated that the beer was served at 18C and he took the temperature of Pete's pint and declared it at the right temperature. However, I believe that real ale should be served at 12C. Whether this is the barman's interpretation or instructions from the brewery I know not. A nice winter ale but not really to my liking. I would have it again but only one pint at a time. Another successful Wednesday I think. Pete wasn't so sure but unless we try different pubs and different beers we could get stuck in a rut. A nice easy going furlined rut but a rut noneless.

Tonight is Thursday and Curry night. My how time flies. It only seems a week ago that I was looking forward to Thursday night curry!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Brew Day - Monday

Yesterday I attempted to brew a clone of Brakspear Special. I thought that the goblins were absent throughout the brewing process. They didn't make me lose things or spill vital ingredients. Starting at the top. I added 2700 grams of light dried malt extract to 10 litres of water at 40C. I topped this up with 8 litres of water to a final boil volume of 28 litres. I put 140 grams of crystal malt and 38 grams of black malt into a fine filter bag and added this to the boil. After 45 minutes of a rigorous boil I added 22 grams of challenger hops. And this is where the dreaded goblins struck. It should have been 59 grams of challenger hops. I didn't realise this until today. Well there is not much I can do. I will just have to wait until the fermention is over. Perhaps I will be able to add some hops to the pressure barrel to get back to the rich hop taste it should have. Oh well. Bloody goblins are everywhere. Anyway. After 45 minutes of the boil I added 380 grams of caster sugar. The boil continued for a further 30 minutes when I added 3 grams of Irish moss. I am not really sure this is necessary. Irish moss clumps together the protein molecules into heavier flocs which then settle out. This helps to clear the beer before it is run off into the fermenting vessel. It is probably a waste of time in the darker beers as protein haze will not be detectable. A further 15 minutes and I switched the boiler off to allow the wort to cool and the trub to settle to the bottom of the boiler.

An hour and a half later I run the wort off through a fine steel mesh covered in a muslin bag into a sterilised fermenting vessel containing 4 litres of cooled mineral water. I topped the fv up to about 21 litres with a further 4 litres of cooled mineral water.

My recipe was designed for 25 litres and to have an Original Gravity of 1.045 which should give a final ABV of 4.9%. However, I brewed it to 21 litres and the OG came out at 1.058 giving a final ABV of nearly 6.6%. This was too high so I added another 2 litres of water bringing the OG down to 1.042. This should achieve a final ABV of 4.5%. Not quite a session beer but not falling down water either. I added 12 grams of Styrian Golden hops contained in a hop bag to the fv which was then placed in the heated fermenting cupboard where I added 11 grams of reactivated Danstar Nottingham yeast.

On checking this morning I could see that the wort was bubbling away nicely. Apart from the hops fiasco caused by those pesky goblins another successful brew. I think that I will add some Target hops to the pressure barrel when this brew is casked, probably in about 10 days time.

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