Brew 3: The W3, ‘Wet Weekend Wheat’

- October 2013

In October Kim’s mum and dad went off to Florida for a couple of weeks. Them being away meant we really ought to nip round and check on the house, and what better way to check than spend the afternoon down there, watching a movie and brewing a beer?

But what to brew? Well long before, but particularly since our trip to Munich at the back end of 2012 Kim and I have been partial to a weißbeer and as the last beer recipe I came up with (Stouter) was aimed firmly at my favourite type of drink, my intention for this brew was to have a go at one of Kim’s favourites.

So armed with my two faithful beer books (here and here) and the beer engine, I sat out in the garage* and combined a couple of wheat beer recipes to get something the colour and ABV I thought would see us through Christmas. I was aiming at something around 4.6% but a measurement after primary fermentation said 4.2%, ultimately however I think it ended up somewhat higher.

As Kim’s folks left the weather in the UK took a turn for the worse** and brew day was particularly wet and wild outside, thus I’ve christened this recipe the W3 beer, wet weekend wheat.

For the recipe here is what I used:


Malt: Weight
Wheat Malt 2.5kg
Marris Otter 2.0kg
Munich Malt 0.5kg

Hops: Weight Time in boil
Goldings 31.0 grams Start of boil (90 mins)

Original Gravity: Errm?
Bottled at Gravity: 1.011. Meaning it should be about 4.2%.

Total Liquor 33L / Mash Liquor 12.5L / Mashed at 66oC for 90mins.

Wheat beer after the boil.

Wheat beer after the boil.

They say that a lot of the flavour for this style of beer comes from the yeast and they’re not wrong, this brew didn’t taste of much after the boil but after its first fermentation the clovey-banana-ness was definitely coming through, I used the Bavarian Wheat yeast from Mangrove Jacks’ Craft Series. Rather than barreling this we bottled them and they lived in the garage for a while then moved inside.

A Stein (almost) full on New Years

A Stein (almost) full on New Years

It took us a while to get through them (into January) and at the end, maybe because we’d had the central heating on and the little yeasties got over excited, we were having to open the 500ml bottles over a 2 litre jug to catch all the explosive froth that would spurt out upon opening. Tasted great though!*** I understand that a second brew of this will be taking place to be barrelled and left in the cellars of the Lawler taps, so we’ll have to come up with an occasion to drink it!

Cheers!

====
* not in exile, I was doing some laser cutting for Kim in preparation for the Christmas rush!

**and seemingly has no intention of turning back anytime soon!

*** At one point (after a couple of W3) I was ready to call Germany to let them I’d perfected the wheat beer recipe and they could stop. As I say, I’m not sure about the final ABV, 4.2% seems a bit low.

The Year in Beer

What an interesting and varied year 2013 has been*! Looking at the photos I’ve taken in the last 12 months it seems I can recap this year by the interesting and varied beers I’ve partaken in**. Of course that means my review is biased to things where I had a beer, but you wouldn’t want to know everything about my year, would you?

January

Before I headed back to work after Christmas, we took a quick trip to York. Not our usual York Trip (see April), but it did end with a drink in the York Tap. The York Tap is York stations on platform pub, recently restored with a great selection of beers served from its central circular bar, check it out if you’re ever passing through and have a longish connection***.

Pint at York Tap

February

At some point in 2012 (or maybe before) the Flower Pot in Mirfield was remodelled and refurbished inside. This was a pub which I’d been passed hundreds, maybe thousands of times, being right round the corner from where my Grandmother, Aunt and Cousin live, yet I’d never been in. Well that was remedied in February with a nice pint of a Red ale by Ossett Brewery.

Pint in the Flower Pot

Pint in the Flower Pot

March

Early in 2013 the people of Geek & Sundry instigated International Table Top Game day, a day for all those worldwide who enjoy board games etc to play games together… So on the day (30th March) Kim and I played a couple of games of Settlers of Catan whilst enjoying a Weissbier in front of the fire.

Table Top game day

Table Top game day

April

Every year Kim, her parents, my parents, occasionally one of the two James’s plus partner and myself head to York for a bit of a causal pub crawl/light shopping. This year we were also joint by my Uncle. Below are a couple of the drinks we had, the first a ‘Hoptimus Prime’ by Robinson’s which accompanied a late breakfast at the Punch Bowl Wetherspoons on Mickelgate.  The second is a pint of Jever pilsner over lunch at the House of Trembling Madness on Stonegate. This is a great bar serving a good selection of international beers located above an excellent bottle shop.

During this pub crawl I was keeping note of the drinks I had had, but for some reason around drink 8 or 9 my notes end and are replaced with a quote from Milton’s Paradise Lost. “A shout that tore hell’s concave and beyond“. Enough said.

York Beers

York Beers

Later in April I attended the Modern Radio Universe conference in Bonn, Germany. A very interesting conference held in the Landesmuseum covering all facets of radio astronomy as it is today. I presented a poster on some work I continue to do with methanol masers by day. Out of conference hours a few beers were consumed, Kölsch being the brew of that region of Germany. In one bar, which was the German equivalent of what I’d call an ‘old man pub’ a few of us sat for a while discussing the finer points of the word ‘Sitzpinkler’ whilst drinking beer from tiny 20cl glasses, which were a revelation.

Beers at MRU conference

Beers at MRU conference

May

More work travel in May with a visit to Bologna, Italy, for a workshop on a project concerning a future receiver band for the ALMA telescope. Over two days of the workshop myriad applications of such a receiver to do cutting edge astronomy were discussed. As is required a meal and a few drinks were had between the two days of the workshop, being in Italy we quickly switched to wine but prior to that I had a pint of this weiss style beer of unknown name and origin, but gladly received after a days astronomy.

Beer in Bologna

Beer in Bologna

June

Travelling again, this time to the Isle of Skye for the annual ALMA Regional Centre retreat. This is where everyone who does my job (or at a more senior level) in the EU gets together to discuss the previous year supporting ALMA and plan for the coming year.

Despite being technically in the same country as the one I live in it took a *lot* longer to get to Skye than either Bonn or Bologna. That being said the scenery was well worth it, Skye is beautiful and I fully intend to go back, I’ll drive rather than take the train next time though! It was also worth getting eaten alive by midges**** to hang out in the converted barn that makes up the bar at Skye’s gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and drink some of the local beer from the Isle of Skye Brewing Company, my personal favourite being the Black Cuillin (Sorry the middle image is so blurry, I blame the midges, but you can see their line up here).

Black Cuillin (left), Skye Brewing Company list (middle), Red Cuillin (right)

Black Cuillin (left), Skye Brewing Company list (middle), Red Cuillin (right)

On the weekend of the 22nd of June, it was my Grandparents Diamond wedding anniversary, so as a celebration that entire side of the family, (my Grandparents, my parents, my brother James, his girlfriend Bertie, Kim and myself, Aunt and Uncle, two cousins, and their dog!) descended on a great big cottage in Litton, in the Yorkshire Dales. The evening we arrived was gorgeously sunny and we all sat around the gardens chasing the Sun and having a beer or two followed by a big meal. While we were there we went walking at Malham Cove, then spent the rest of the time reading and lazing about the cottage, it was a great couple of days

The Sun through a Cockerhoop in Litton

The Sun through a Cockerhoop in Litton

On June 24th we got a new addition to the household, namely Scout the Dog… but as this post is a year in beer she won’t appear in photograph until she has her first pub trip.

July

Yet more work travel in July, back up to Scotland. This time to St. Andrews for the annual National Astronomy Meeting. We had an ALMA stall in the poster room and also held a session of talks on the final day. I borrowed on of the Jodrell cars and drove up all the gear, I really want an Astra van… is that weird?  Only a couple of beers at this years NAM and only two photos. The Claverhouse Red was pretty good.

Two scottish beers in St Andrews

Two scottish beers in St Andrews

This was a pretty stressful week away from home, where I learnt the one big lesson of the year… Don’t get a dog a week before going away with work for 5 days and abandon your partner to 24 hour-a-day puppy care, it is really not fair.

Suffice to say I got back to an exhausted Kim, took over puppy watch so she could sleep a lot and after that we slowly got used to our new pet. As the summer was pretty excellent we managed a few trips to our usual eating pub the Nag’s Head at Ainley Top where we could sit out with the dog and have a beer and something to eat. This picture is from Scout’s first trip, she loves beer and has done from an early age!

Scout loves BEER!

Scout loves BEER!

The full story of our early days with Scout is summed up much more eloquently than I could put it herehere and here on Kim’s blog.

August

August saw the end of the transformation of a bunch of notes in my brew book into a drinkable beer known as Stouter, the tale of its creation can be found here.

Stouter ready for drinking in August

Stouter ready for drinking in August

August also saw a summer student we had in the ALMA office complete his project with us. By way of a thank-you he very kindly got me some beer. I can really recommend the Iron Maiden beer, another Robinson’s brew, it is almost as good as the song it is named after. The Ashes beer was also pretty good, but I guess with the recent result they aren’t selling much of it right now*****.

A nice surprise selection

A nice surprise selection

September

I could only find one beery picture from September, and that is of the selection of Nook brewhouse beers we picked up at Holmfirth Food and Drink festival. I’ve never seen Nook beers outside of the Huddersfield postcode area but if you ever see one, get one they are brilliant. Red is easily my favourite with the Oat Stout a close second. Better still if you’re visiting Holmfirth for any reason (following a Whippet perhaps?) then go to their pub, the Nook which is pretty close to (if a little hidden) the Last of the Summer Wine cafe.

A selection of Nook beers

A selection of Nook beers

October

In October Kim’s parents went on holiday, so we took the opportunity to pop down to their house one afternoon and brew ourselves a wheat beer. I won’t go too much into detail as the recipe for that brew is another blog post in itself, but it worked out well and has seen us all through this Xmas holiday. Here it is after the boil.

Wheat Beer Brew

Wheat Beer Brew

November

November saw us travelling for work again, but this time for Finest Imaginary Kim’s jewellery business, who were selling at Renegade Craft fair which was on the 9th-10th of November. We spent some frantic weekends before hand getting ready, laser cutting ALL THE THINGS! But as it always is, Renegade was great******, we got to visit Five Guy’s burgers with some crafty friends, popped into a Ripper pub and took a day to wonder round London, making for an awesome weekend. So it was rather sleepily that we embarked on the train ride home that Sunday night. As a reward we got a beverage each from M&S for the train, mine being the London Porter pictured below.

London Porter on the train home.

London Porter on the train home.

At the end of November, Kim’s brother James became a Dad for the first time! I know this has nothing to do with beer so to keep on theme, Kim and I did open the Port barrel conditioned Glendronach whisky we’d been saving for a special occasion to celebrate (and whisky and beer start out the same really).

December

Exhausted from big deadlines in ALMA astronomy land and from big sales in Finest Imaginary land the Christmas break couldn’t come quickly enough, but eventually it did. Once it had we managed to achieve a nice goal which was, now that she’s old enough to walk that far, walking Scout down to our favourite pub, The Grove******* and sat for a couple of drinks. Scout has been in and out of the Grove since she was old enough to go outside, as we’re slowly turning her in to a good pub dog, but being old enough to walk there means there is no need to stick to the low ABV beers and small measures. The picture shows Kim finishing off her Ringmaster and me about to start my Chipotle Chocolate Porter, both by Magic Rock brewery (which brews less than a mile from my house). The porter has as the name suggests a bit of fire to it and the Ringmaster is a great session beer, both recommended but I’d get the porter as a half to make sure you like it first.

Beers at The Grove

Beers at The Grove

Finally for beery pictures look what we made with the laser cutter that lives in our garage!

The Lawler Taps pump clip

The Lawler Taps pump clip

This is one of three we made with changeable beer names for the three hand pumps which live in Kim’s parents kitchen, (now known as The Lawler Taps). They formed part of Graham’s Xmas present and were ready and installed for the three beer barrels he’d brewed for over the holidays!

Final words

Well that was 2013, as viewed from the beers I’ve tasted. Hopefully 2014 will provide as much tasty beer and a few less stress inducing days, most of which I have left out of this post anyway!

Cheers!

====

*’Interesting’ in the Chinese proverbial sense sometimes.

** This time interesting in its usual sense.

*** Or if your first train is delayed soooo much that you miss your connection entirely. Its happened to me more than once… grrr trains… grrr!

**** We were near the water at the height of midge season and apparently I am irresistible to the little buggers!

***** This summers result was much better, especially as an Aussie friend and colleague was visiting Manchester.

****** and profitable!

******* I occasionally feel heavenly music should play when the words “The Grove” are spoken aloud.

Blackberry Mead

- Brew started: 08/09/13

Since we got the Dog (Scout), Kim and I have wandered up and down all kinds of paths, snickets and ginnels around our house which we have never ventured down before. On one such trip at the end of August we found ourselves walking through some woods and when we emerged into the open again we were surrounded by blackberry bushes. They were almost ready for picking…

The next week we were back, twice, the first time Kim made an awesome crumble. The second time I made this:

Mead in the Demijohn

Mead in the Demijohn

The rough recipe for which is:

1.5(ish)kg blackberries, freshly picked.
1.5kg honey.
Water to make up 8 gallons.
Yeast

The blackberries were smushed up and boiled for a bit. The honey was then added and the mix simmered for awhile to ensure it was mixed thoroughly before emptying into the demijohn. I attempted to sieve out the bigger bits of the blackberry smush, but a few seeds made it through.*

Blackberry Pan

Blackberry mix in the pan

In bottles it looks rather nice, I’d hope you agree.

Bottled Blackberry

Bottled Blackberry Mead

Finally, a bottle of the Mulled Mead made it to the works Xmas do, split 7 ways it didn’t last long but I think it went down fairly well. The cloves from the mulling spice gave it a really nice earthy flavour and it had quiet a good honey flavour despite it being so pale.
Cheers!

====

* Luckily these seeds remained behind during the bottling process.

Mulled Mead

-August 2013

I started thinking about a highly spiced mead a little while ago, but I tend not to make mead during the first half of any given year*, so I waited until well into August. To test what I wanted out of this spiced mead and get an idea of the flavours I might get I tried a few small glasses of hot water, honey and a few different spice mixes.

Though not entirely representative of the final taste, I figured it was a good starting point . So after a couple of testers glasses, the final one I concocted was rather nice, consisting of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. On deciding it was the spice mix I was probably going to go for, the following conversation then occurred in our kitchen (approximately) .

Adam: “Kim try this.”
Kim: *Tries the tester* “Nice, thats mulled wine spicing isn’t it.”
Adam: “Oh yeah.”
Kim: “You should get some of those mulled wine tea-bags and use them in the water when you make the mead.”
Adam: “You. Are. A. Genius.”**

So that I did. Heres the recipe.

3lb honey
6 x mulled spice tea bag things… I got mine from Sainsburies
4.54 litres of water
yeast

Demijohned and left to ferment as usual. But thats when the panic set in!  To start with this mead was a totally disgusting, murky opaque greeny brown colour, as can be seen here in front of the much nicer looking latest batch of ‘Something Pink’.

Spiced mead in the demijohn

Spiced mead in the demijohn

The yeast I used in for the mulled mead was the new sachets they have started selling at Wilkinson’s and I’m not sure if it is that, or the particulate nature of what was in the mulled spice bags but overall the mead cleared pretty quickly and ended up a pale straw yellow colour. Bottled here is how it looks (next to the less clear Something Pink).

Bottled spiced mead

Bottled spiced mead

The run off was potent and tasted amazing. Can’t wait until its matured a bit. Probably taking a cheeky bottle to the works Xmas do and see how its getting along!

Cheers!

====

* Since I’ve been making mead since before I was old enough to drink it I think I can make that statement with some accuracy.
** My usual reaction to Kim whenever I am trying to reinvent the wheel and she points to the obvious solution.

Brew 2: ‘Stouter’

- July 2013

The first beer being such a success it was time to make a second*. This time it was my choice of recipe, and I thought I’d give making my own recipe up from scratch a go. My preferred beers are typically porters, stouts and dark milds. After many years of student-esque ideology I also now appreciate a beer with a lower percentage. So my target was something in between a stout and a porter but with a percentage of around 4.0%. Thus the concept for my first beer recipe was born and its name “Stouter” coined.

But how to create the recipe? Well, a number of brewing books I own provide a few useful equations for calculating the expected original gravity and from the final gravity** the ABV percentage. Suffice to say I messed around with numbers (it was like being at work) using typical stout and porter ingredients gleaned from some brew books, plotted some data (see the up coming Beer Maths post) and came up with the recipe you see below. I figured I’d end up with a 4% beer.

At our latest visit to the brew shop the owner had introduced me to Graham Wheeler’s beer engine. This is a free downloadable Windows program which does all of the maths for you once you decided what ingredients you want to go in your beer. Even better, if you want to make a smaller batch or increase/decrease the percentage you can change these values and the recipe will auto adjust the quantities of each ingredient accordingly. It is genius, shame its only on Windows, a free Mac/Linux equivalent would be awesome***.

I input my recipe into the Beer Engine, to see if my calculations were correct, and with a smug grin saw I was within 0.1% of what I thought. The beer engine gave an ABV of 4.1%. Perfect. So without further ado here is what went in it.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

The Recipe:-


Malt: Weight
Pale malt/Marris Otter 3.6kg
Torrified Wheat 0.3kg
Dark Crystal Malt 0.3kg
Chocolate Malt 0.3kg

Hops: Weight Time in boil
Challenger 35.0 grams Start of boil (90 mins)
Goldings 15.0 grams 15mins
Irish Moss teaspoon 15mins

Original Gravity: 1.030
Final Gravity: 1.00…Something? Whoops, missed noting that down.

It did come out at about 3.9-4.0% I remember.


Boiling away in the electric boiler

Boiling away in the electric boiler

With the lessons learnt from the first brew we proceeded to make the Stouter. Little over 3 weeks later it was ready… And, it was good! I would remake the above again without hesitation or use this simple recipe as a base for similar beers. Maybe increase the chocolate malt amount or try some different hops**** (and *****).

It was a sad day when Stouter ran out at the Lawler Taps but alas onto the next brew!

First pint of Stouter

First pint of Stouter

The next beer will be a collaboration with Kim, expect something great!

Cheers!


* Because numbers work like that, you know.
** I’m planning a post on Beer maths which will cover a number of what these terms actually mean so panic not.
*** If I get suitably bored one day I might start writing one.
**** Privateer Brewery has a great 3.5% dark beer called Tarantula which uses Armarillo hops so I might give these a bash.
***** Stouter is being brewed again for Xmas 2013!