Saturday, 23 May 2009


I had a lemon which was looking a bit tired and some tomatoes to use up, so I decided to have a light lunch with houmous (using the lemon juice) and salad. While rooting around for salad bits in the fridge I found one of the last bottles of my Mint Beer and it occurred to me to try that as an accompaniment. It was meant to be reminiscent of Moroccan mint tea, so I was hopeful it might work.

The mint character has faded quite a bit since I made this, leaving just menthol spiciness that you might not recognise as mint if you didn't know. It almost merges with the hops and you might well think it was some weird new hop variety.

The beer itself really brings out the bitterness of the salad leaves, and the menthol cools the heat of the garlic and chilli in the houmous. Lovely.

Dreaming of 19th century breweries

I dreamt last night I was having an argument with someone about whether Truman's brewery was in Manchester (it was actually in Burton-on-Trent). What does it mean?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Smokebeer #2, and new poll

The last poll I had asked what kind of beer I should brew next. The winner was Smokebeer with one vote. Good luck that I just bought a bag of smoked malt at the weekend and I brewed this last night. It's nice to know that I can get a full-mash brew done on a school night – one of the advantages of doing small batches.

Brewlength about 9L

1.9 kg Rauchmalz
40g black malt (for colour only)
25g Northern Brewer 12%

The original gravity turned out at 1052 and I used Safale S-04 yeast. There seems to be an awful lot of trub, which happened the last time I used smoked malt too. I think I may have over-hopped it slightly, but we shall see. I've noticed in the past that the smoked character doesn't really appear until the beer is finished.

So I also have a new poll, which already has twice as many votes as the last one, and there are still five days to go! Please vote for which mad additive I should put in a beer. Remember, you don't have to drink it.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Barm and Porter musings

I have been pondering why bakers, apparently around 1800, stopped just using yeast from the brewery and switched to barms.

Everything I have read on the subject of barms suggests that hop bitterness was considered a necessary evil by bakers at the time. They didn't like it, but the hops were needed to stop the barm spoiling.

I had in my mind that there must have been some significant change in the way beer was brewed that forced bakers to switch.

I don't know whether there was a sudden shift to using more hops around that time, which would have increased the bitterness.

The only other idea is that at that time porter was the dominant brewing style, in London at least. Porter had already been popular for decades prior to 1800, but it was made with brown malt. The much more highly roasted black patent malt was invented in 1817, and the porter brewed using this might have given the yeast a burnt, toasty flavour that bakers didn't want in their bread.

Could there be something in this theory? I think it is most probably rubbish, but someone else may know something I don't.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Odd pale beer

I woke up early this morning and since I'm recovering from a heavy cold and not planning to go anywhere, I thought I might as well get a brew on.

It's a simple recipe, all pale malt, as that's all I have left.

0.5kg Belgian pale
1.7kg Maris Otter

Mash at 67ºC
1/2 tsp gypsum in the mash.

Batch sparging at 72ºC
Forgot the gypsum.

Added another 1/2 tsp gypsum. Filled my brew pot, sparged too much so had to split over two pots. This eventually all boiled down enough that I could combine back into one pot.

20g Northern Brewer 90min
10g Styrian Goldings 90min
8g Styrian Goldings 0min
8g Styrian Goldings -10min

OG was 1062, but I think this might be a bit off as there's a fair bit of crud in the sample glass.

I don't know how to classify this. If I'd used C-hops it would be run of the mill american pale ale, but I used Styrians and Northern Brewer.

It's pretty odd brewing when you have no sense of smell. I hope it turns out all right.