Brew #80: Rambler’s Resolution Bitter

December 6, 2014 Comments off

This beer was going to be my final one but I never got to brew it – all my brewing gear and books were on sale and they sold very quickly. I really loved my Speidel BM, 98% of the beers I brewed with it and the hobby itself. Not living in a free country and commercial beers being quite expensive and limited in range, BM saved me a pretty penny even when factoring in the high cost of the initial outlay. Should I ever pick up the hobby again I’ll get the BM again but for the time being I will be limited to commercial beer, which should be no problem in England where I’ll be returning to some time next year, earlier the better.

I assume this blog and its recipes will stay open for future reference for anyone interested, I have lost the password and also the other password for the email address linked to it so when those get erased from my laptop it all goes into the cyberspace. I hope some people found the blog useful, thanks for reading, new life new hobbies, onwards and upwards,



I want to drink a very hoppy lowish gravity beer at Christmas.

OG 1046°, IBU 61, EBC 19, yeast MJ British Ale


Pale Ale 4.2kg 90%

Wheat malt 150g 3%

Crystal malt 120g 3%

Carared 100g 2%

Flaked oats 100g 2%

Black malt 10g for colour


Herkules AA 15% 25g 60min IBU37

Admiral AA 13% 25g 20min IBU20

Admiral AA 13% 15g 5min IBU4


Mash in at 55°C, 60min at 65°C, 15min at 77°C.

Categories: Brewing

Tasting Impressions #79: Rambler’s Ruin Bitter

November 23, 2014 Comments off

This 1054° ESB got as high as 5.4 per cent abv.


Aroma is malty and fruity. mouth feel is reassuringly full. Nice tingling hop presence, Herkules seems very clean as a bittering hop and Cascade aroma addition is spot on – providing that lift in the end but still barely keeping the beer “English”. It’s on the brink, just keeping away from the colonies.

This beer totally redeems my faith in brewing a cracking beer after the disasters of late.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting Impressions #77: Arse over Tit

November 18, 2014 Comments off

So at barely 7 per cent abv not a barley wine. Which in itself is not that important to me, the beer goes off-site for safekeeping until my 50th birthday anyway. I had a glass at bottling and the sample showed promise but also indicated a long time ahead for it to mature. What interests me mostly at the moment is the level of carbonation. Let’s crack one open, shall we?


A small hiss on the opening, no head but when I move the glass in a circular motion there is some lacing and I can clearly see microscopic bubbles rising up to the surface. So very gentle carbonation. Beer is not far from being bright, some murkiness still exists and the colour is reddish russet mahogany.

Aroma is sweet boozy malt. Some dried Christmas fruits like prunes and raisins. Taste is sweet, almost sickly, like bittered dried sugar-coated cherries. Bittering is quite harsh, coarse, and gets in a way of potential fortified wine character. The alcohol is evident in the taste too and together with the hops need to mellow out. Feels heavy too, none of that Belgian drinkability.

The carbonation level is absolutely bang on. Interesting that the bubbles seem to start their upward journey about half an inch below the surface, not from the bottom. And although they are very small they are very dense and almost nitro-like.

All this beer now needs is a quiet and dark place of constant cellar temperature – and time to lose those rough edges.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Tasting impressions #78: Green Wild Hop Ale

November 10, 2014 Comments off

This one finished at 1013° and 5.1 per cent abv.


Aroma is sweetish grass with red berries similar to Kohatu and Jade hops so might be due to the yeast. Not much bitterness up front, I’d estimate 18 IBUs or thereabouts, that would make the AA% around 1.2 or less. So very smooth, slightly sweet and lacking the hop bite as expected. I’ve brewed a generic beer. Technically sound but lacking character. It’s OK if one likes beers bland. No disturbing vegetal or cabbage flavours.

Not worth the effort trying to nurture these unknown and old Finnish country hop varieties, easier just to buy Hallertau and the like and get more flavour and aroma out of the low alphas.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Brew #79: Rambler’s Ruin Bitter

November 2, 2014 Comments off

Continuing my Rambler’s theme, this time with a bit higher gravity brown beer. Using some Cascade at the end for that flavour lift. AKA Rambler’s Ringworm Bitter.

name Rambler’s Ruin Bitter
“style” ESB
brewlength 24 litres
IBU 51
EBC 24
IBU to OG ratio 0.94
brewing date 2-Nov-14
yeast British Ale M07
OG 1054
fermentables grain kg %
grain 1 Pale Ale 5.100 92.4%
grain 2 Carared 0.100 1.8%
grain 3 Crystal150 0.100 1.8%
grain 4 Flaked oats 0.100 1.8%
grain 5 Wheat malt 0.100 1.8%
grain 6 Black malt 0.020 0.4%
total 5.520 100%
hops gram minutes ibu %ibu
Herkules 15% 15 60 21 41%
Keyworth Early 7.9% 28 30 16 31%
Keyworth Early 7.9% 28 15 10 20%
Cascade 7.6% 28 5 4 8%
total 99 51 100%
mash schedule minutes °C
step 1 – mash in 5 55
step 2 – maltose rest 40 63
step 3 – dextrinisation rest 50 70
step 4 – mash out 15 77
Categories: Brewing

Bottling of Brew #77: Barley Wine

October 27, 2014 Comments off


I bottled #77 today having kept it 31 days in the fermentor. Second and last time I used Mangrove Jack’s Burton Union M79 dry yeast. First brew with this yeast the abv hiked to 6.4 per cent from 5.5 per cent in the bottles resulting in dangerous gushers, beer being Duvel-like dry and thin (but packing a punch so not a total disaster). This time the beer dropped from 1094° to a mere 1040° (~7 per cent abv) and that was it. I roused it with a sanitised spoon with gay abandon. Panicking I even pitched Nottingham into it. No joy.

I carbonated the 20 litre batch with slightly less than 1/2 litre of gyle (speisen) which shouldn’t give me more than 1.5 volumes CO2. This beer is mostly for keeping, to be aged and matured, and I don’t want any explosions in case Burton Union decides to wake up again in the bottles.

As usual, I saved the last pint from the fermentor to be sampled. Colour is mahogany and only murky in this sample, otherwise it went into the bottles pin bright. Aroma is sweet and malty. Taste is sweet and the alcohol burn tingles the throat (I have twice checked the gravity with the hydrometer and the figures confirmed what I got with my refractometer. I even checked it just now again, numbers seem solid). There is also a hop bite and the mouth feel is reassuringly full, as expected. Quite promising really, this could still be a good beer.

First proper bottles to be opened at Christmas. Hopefully the beer will gently condition by then. But barley wine it ain’t.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Chicken and Mushroom Leek Pie

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Basically just one of my favourite dishes, chicken in tarragon cream sauce but with a puff pastry lid. Would have preferred shortcrust pastry as it’s stodgier.

Sweat some onions, leek and garlic in butter, avoid colour in the leek. Add pieces of chicken breast and after a while some button mushrooms. Bit of pepper, bit of thyme, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Then some flour and after a while a chicken stockpot and enough water (a splash of white wine or blonde beer) to make a sauce. Keep cooking to reduce a bit. Add cream, nutmeg, a bay leaf or two and tarragon, keep cooking gently to reduce the sauce and thicken it. Should end up with something like this:


Pour it all into a casserole dish after picking out the bay leaves, like thus:


Cover with pastry, make a couple of holes for steam to escape and egg wash it:


Put it into an oven for 30 minutes or so until golden brown, 200°C:


Enjoy the crappy photo!


Categories: Cooking