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!


* 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!

The First Brew

The First Brew:

Early Summer 2013.

Beer making! First off let me say, I am pretty new to this. I have over the past two and a bit years made a few beers from kits, with the results varying from good to great. In a similar time frame Kim’s dad, Graham, has also been making beer from kits. Being retired he has a bit more time than me to take things a little bit further, as evidenced by the fact that he now has two hand pumps fitted in his kitchen which are fed from barrels in their cellar.

As we have both thoroughly enjoyed the results of our kit brews we decided that it’d be a good idea to try a brew `from scratch’. Now, Graham being a man who likes to get the right equipment for a job has over a few months acquired a mash tun, an electric boiler, a gas ring and stainless steel boiler and other requisite items for brewing from scratch. All we needed to do was pick a recipe and get brewing… and that we did!

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Following a recipe provided to us by the very helpful owner of Morley Home Brew Centre (a great shop) we proceeded to make an IPA. I shan’t give the recipe as it is not ours… Anyway…

The steps were as follows:

1) Heat up enough water for the mash (11.5L), then mash. Basically soaking the malt in hot/warm water for 90 mins to get the sugars out.

Mashing in the mash tun

Mashing in the mash tun

2) After pouring the wort (the name of the sugary water from the mash) into the boiler the next step is the Sparge. Rinsing the drained mash grains with hot water to get more sugars out of the malt and into your boiler.

3) The Boil, for 5 gallons we boiled for 90 minutes adding the various hops at designated time intervals to achieve different the flavours and aromas to be present in the final beer. To be honest this ‘when in a boil to add different hops’ is the bit of brewing magic I am yet to get my head around.

During the boil, hops just added

During the boil, hops just added

4) Cool. Really this should be done with some sort of cooling device but we didn’t have one so we left it overnight. (Be sure to take out the hops and any irish moss used! See below).

5) Add the yeast and ferment.

6) Barrel for second ferment and allow to settle.

7) Drink!

This being the first brew we made perhaps a few mistakes. I think we used too hot water for the sparge and not sparging enough meaning the expected ABV was a bit low (3.8% instead of 4.1%) and as at the time we didn’t have a cooler for after the boil we left the hops and Irish moss in a bit too as if cooled down, this gave the beer a bit of a funny taste on first mouthful. But other than that I’d deem the first foray into full mash brewing a great success.

Here’s what the end product looked like. I’d drunk a bit before I remembered I needed a photo of it!

The end product, with my co-brewer reclining in the background

The end product, with my co-brewer reclining in the background

Suffice to say, we were happy with the product and it didn’t put us off the idea of brewing from scratch!


FolkSideProject: The Return

Welcome Back!

After a long hiatus, during which the very wonderful Kim Lawler creative redesigned and built my blog for me*, FSP is back! Look at how awesome it  looks now!

With the new design comes hopefully a renewed vigour for blogging, particularly seeing as my extra workicular activities in beer making have shifted up a gear. More about that in the next post**!

Coming soon there will be some further design tweaks including a new side bar feature to see what is currently brewing. Here is an example:


Anyway this was just a short message to say things are going to be going on here again and inviting you to join me***!


*(All in between doing the billions of other web designs and builds she does for actual paying customers!)
** (Just to note that a few of the next posts were written during the hiatus and so will have a date stamp to say when the events described actually happened.)
***(I love footnotes… Blame Terry Pratchett)

Braggot… Mead with a beer-y twist.

We’re down to the last bottle of the Something Pink raspberry and cranberry mead so there is only one thing to do… Make more mead!

This time I have decided to try making a Braggot, which is a mead with some of the Honey replaced with malt. In addition to malt, the recipe I have followed (read looked at then largely ignored) includes some hops… Hops + malt + water + yeast = beer, the same equation + Honey (in sufficient quantities) = Braggot. The recipe I based the quantities on came from the very excellent brew book ‘Home Brew‘ by Doug Rouxel & Sara Paston-Williams.

To the local brew shop! (Which is here FYI).

So following the mead recipe from an old post of mine replace just less than half the honey with dried malt extract. (So about 300g honey to 500g malt). The process too is slightly different the malt plus about 30g of dried hops needs boiling up for 15 mins before following the recipe as before.

This will make you kitchen smell awesome! Sieve and siphon you mead into a demijohn, allow to cool, add your yeast and wait… just like I am doing!


Having found the following mess I suggest using a little less honey! Eep! It’s lively!

Observing in Sweden

Check it out I’m in Sweden! Right now I’m sat under the 20m dish in its radome at the Onsala Space Observatory. This particular telescope works at mm-wavelengths and currently we’re observing molecular lines toward AGB stars. These are old stars of low- to intermediate mass (a bit less to a few times the mass of the Sun) which have moved past the hydrogen burning stage of their lives and are red giants on their way to becoming white dwarfs. This isn’t my field of research but I’m here with Christina (a JBCA PhD student) whose field it is because these observations are running for 78hours straight, so we’re observing in shifts.

Its pretty foggy right now, not ideal for mm- observations, but yesterday I got some pictures… and here they are!

25m Telescope used for VLBI over looking the beachThe beach

Next I’ll, as usual, apologise for the long absence from blogging but it has been for many reasons:

  1. I’m helping organise the UK ALMA stand at this years Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.
  2. The National Astronomy Meeting is in Manchester next week and I’ve been doing bits for that.
  3. I’ve been playing with some seriously cool data recently.

So as I think I’ve done before I’m going to list what I intend to blog about soon so that I actually do it.

  • Experiences in homebrew beer,
  • Another innovative mead recipe
  • A beer walk of Huddersfield*
  • Some bits of music I’ve been working on and…
  • Hopefully start working on building another guitar.

… oh and Kim might redesign this blog for me too!

*any excuse!