Archive for May, 2014

Tasting impressions #70: Bramling Cross

May 29, 2014 Comments off

This single hop beer conditioned in mere three days and the yeast is very neutral so let’s have a taste while it’s still fresh – four days after bottling.


On the nose there are red berries, redcurrant comes to mind. Reminds me of NZ Pacific Jade, only toned down. Grist bill and mash schedule were same old same old so there is the usual firm malty backbone. Finished at 5.2 per cent, not that much heavier to the taste than #69 golden ale, in other words, with this mash schedule any similar beer between 1040° and 1055° seems as “strong” as the other. I cannot bang on enough about the mash schedule – simply works.

The hopping schedule 6o mins / 0 mins / -15 mins for 15 mins works just fine compared to say 60/15/5/0/-15, probably not much difference there either way but the former seems more practical the way I sanitise, clean, etc – nowt to do until the last 15 minutes when I can have this burst of activity at one go prior to chilling the wort.

A very nice and drinkable beer and Bram X again shows that it can be used as a single hop – not one-dimensional at all.

Still waiting for my capacitor to be fixed, the sparky at Speidel Germany was on holiday, so I designed the recipe for the next beer: pale ale malt and porridge oats, EKG as a single hop, same hopping schedule as here, 1047°. So will be after a silky smooth mouthfeel. But now, back to the beer at hand…


Categories: Tasting my brew

Surrey Hills Brewery in Dorking

May 24, 2014 Comments off

I spent a week in Dorking Surrey rambling in the Surrey Hills, did quite a few walks despite the cracked heels and naturally needed a roborative every now and then in order to keep going. Surrey Hills Brewery’s beers seem to be almost everywhere in the area.

Years ago I used to drive down to Shere, where the brewery used to be located, on Fridays or Saturdays to buy cask ale to take home. Now, having brewed myself for three years and having bought 2-pint containers from Cobbets Real Ale shop and pints from the brewery itself now located at Denbies Vineyard, I can honestly say the beer I was sold from the old location prior to 2010 was always green.

I had the brewery’s beers everywhere I could find them and every single one of them was well conditioned and at proper temperature. One pleasant place to drink was Barley Mow near Horsley:



All Surrey Hills beers had a very firm bitterness up front, Ranmore having clearly more lemon/citrus than Shere Drop. One day I went for a walk towards Ranmore Common and conveniently the brewery happened to be on the way. Before 11am brewing was in full force, Simon and Duncan were in the middle of mashing but still had time to serve a thirsty pilgrim two pints of beer. A chair was provided and it was very pleasant sitting in the sun and smelling the brewery aromas.

Simon was very puzzled when I told him it would be illegal in Finland for a brewery to sell beer on the location. While I was drinking beer there must’ve been a few customers who came to buy beer, one nice old chap came to chat and said he would like to just stand there all morning and smell the aroma. A happy customer no doubt.

The brewery is behind the Denbies wine shop:


Some of the spent grain. What a smell. Lovely. I think there were another two at least of these tubs:



Simon hard at work. I tried to ask on the sly which hops they use but these guys are very secretive. Apparently the hops they use are about 90 per cent English hops and 10 per cent American.


30 barrel brewery:



Later that week I walked to Leatherhead along the River Mole:


and was enjoying a lovely pint of Surrey Hills beer when the brewery owner Ross drove in to deliver a few casks and take away the empties.



A very nice chap who always has time to have a few words, this time it was about Finnish drinkers and nanny state alcohol laws and exorbitant beer prices.

The weather was nice all week, beer was well conditioned and the walks were invigorating. It was good to see the brewery’s beers in so many pubs and the people who work at the brewery so friendly. Well, who wouldn’t when the views are like this:




To think about it, a direct train from Gatwick Airport to Dorking takes about 20 minutes and Travelodge charges £30 per night, very good value indeed.

Categories: Trip reports

Tasting impressions #69: May Gold

May 20, 2014 Comments off

While I was rambling in the Surrey Hills and sampling Surrey Hills’ and Hog Back’s beers my golden ale was conditioning nicely. Finished at 4.4 per cent abv and bottled ten days ago it was just the ticket after a busy day in the garden.


Malty and grainy aroma with some oaky wood character. Mouth feel is soft and crisp, soft and round in a way that I now associate with oatmeal, flaked oats, in the grist.

What a co-incidence, my first beer at the Dorking Beer Festival last Friday was a golden ale from Hogs Back, HOP Garden Gold, in cask, at 4.4 per cent abv, not a bad beer at all. I believe mine is tighter and crispier, the kiwi hops giving the slight lift in the end.


Easy drinking and sessionable but also quite moreish.

Categories: Tasting my brew

Brew #70: Bramling Cross Single Hop Pale Ale

May 5, 2014 Comments off

Too wet to go outside and practise the therapeutic art of repointing a brick wall so best to stay in and get a brew on. Trying a new hopping schedule in order to see what 15, 5 and 0-minute additions contribute so this time I put in a quarter of hops at boil-off, wait 15 minutes and then add the last quarter for the remaining 15 minutes. Almost a year ago when I had a single hop Bramling Cross on I got a lot of citrus aroma instead of blackcurrant Ribena.

Target gravity was 1048° which means 1044-5° target just before the boil starts, I’d already rinsed with 6L into 26L and I still had 1049°…stopped rinsing at 8L mark, had 30L at 1047° just before the boil with 4.85kg of grain at around 307.6L°, indicating 95 per cent mash efficiency and being a testament of Speidel Braumeister’s brewing prowess…

name Bramling Cross Single Hop Pale Ale
“style” Pale Ale
brewlength 24 litres
IBU 41
EBC 17
IBU to OG ratio 0.79
brewing date 5-May-14
yeast Nottingham
OG 1052
fermentables grain kg %
grain 1 Pale Ale 4.400 90.7%
grain 2 Crystal150 0.200 4.1%
grain 3 Wheat malt 0.150 3.1%
grain 4 Oats, flaked 0.100 2.1%
total 4.850 100%
hops gram minutes ibu %ibu
Bramling Cross 7.6% 50 fwh/60 41 100%
Bramling Cross 7.6% 25 0 0 0%
Bramling Cross 7.6% 25 -15 0 0%
total 100 41 100%
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
Hop-stand for 30 minutes
1/4 tsp gypsum
Categories: Brewing