Oct 242011

Brew Pal App 

It was only a matter of time before someone made an app for the home brewer. I can plug my electric guitar into my phone and sound like Hendrix, I can put up a shelf  straight with the spirit level and even find my car in a large car park, all with my phone, oh I nearly forgot I can even call someone! The brew pal app can help you formulate and make your own beer recipes with relative ease and without using a program on your PC, for the tidy sum of 69 pence.

The blurb reads “Brew pal provides the all-grain or extract home brewer easy access to the most used calculations and statistics in an attractive, easy-to-use package”.

Grain Bill

Enter your grain bill (including sugars and extract) by selecting from the editable grain/extract list and quickly estimate your SRM (color), original and final gravities, as well as alcohol % given your brewhouse efficiency and yeast attenuation. 

Mash and Sparge

Calculate the amount and temperature of strike and sparge water you will need to hit specific temperatures. Supports calculations for batch, infusion and decoction with mashout. Start the mash timer, and get audible and vibrating reminders of important steps.

Boil/Dry/FWH hops

Enter your hop additions by selecting from the editable hops list and quickly estimate your IBU (bitterness). Supports dry- and first-wort hopping.

Flavor/Fining additions

Enter flavorings and finings by selecting from an editable list. Supports boil and fermenter additions.

Yeast pitching rate

Given a volume and original gravity (from your grain bill or measured gravity), get the number of yeast cells to pitch, conveniently translated into liquid packs and grams of dry yeast. Pick your yeast from a predefined list.

These are just some of the features of this App. I mostly use it for checking recipes and making my own subtle changes to taste. It is a great App and is handy to use during the brew day as its on a phone. My favorite feature is the style feature, where the app compares your recipe to BJCP guidelines for standard beers. If you want to make a stout it will tell you how close you are to the standard and you can tweak your recipe to suit. Its a definite buy if your a home brewer with a smart phone.
Brew pal by David Parker is available from the apple app store.

Oct 222011

Chocolate Porter

I found this recipe on askthebeerguy.com and liked the look of it. The recipe is an extract version of a show winning all grain beer made by Jon Griffin. I made the beer following the ingredients and method exactly with the only exception being i used molasses sugar instead of syrup.


1.4kg (3lbs) Light Dry malt extract £11.48 for 1.5kgs

1.4kgs(3lbs) Dark Dry malt extract £11.48 for1.5kgs

113grms (4oz) Crushed Chocolate malt £1.62 for 500grms

500grms (1lb) molasses sugar £1.00

226grms (8oz) Coca powder £1.79 for 250grms

85grms (3oz) Kent golding hops £4-20 for 100grms

1 packet Safeale 04 yeast £2.35

Irish Moss £2.35

Total £35.92 which works out at 89 pence a pint

OG  1.050

FG 1.016

ABV 5.05%


I followed the method exactly as found at the link above. First i heated up 2 gallons (10 litres) of water up to 160°f (71°c) and added the chocolate malt in a grain bag. The grains were left to steep for 30 mins. The grain bag was then removed and the brew brought back to a boil. The pot was then removed form the heat and 500grms extract (250grms of light and dark) were added with the first hop addition (1oz) and the 1lb of molasses, the brew was left to boil.  The second hop addition(1oz) was added 30 mins into the boil. With 15 mins left of the boil 1tbs of Irish moss was added to the pot. With 10 mins left the Cocoa powder was added. After an hour of boiling the final hop addition of 1oz was added and the heat turned off. The pot was then left for 10 mins.

The pot was then placed in an ice bath in the sink and left to cool. While this was cooling 2 gallons of cold water was added to a sterilised fermenter. The cooled wort was then strained into the fermenter. Further cold water was added to bring the beer up to the 23 litre mark at 70°f. The specific gravity was taken at this point. The yeast was then sprinkled onto the wort and the lid put on. The fermenter was then left in my brew cupboard at 22°c and left to ferment.

The fermentation was vigorous and lasted 5 days. The beer was then kegged and primed with 100grms of dry malt extract.

Taste and conclusion

I did expect alot from this beer and boy did it deliver. The beer was well carbonated and had a thick creamy head which remained to the bottom of the glass. The taste is a classic english porter, with a nice slightly bitter taste and malty chocolate after taste. The chocolate taste is very slight which is pleasantly suprising as i expected it to be a bit heavier. At 85 pence a pint it’s not too expensive and price wise is on parr with premium kit beers.  To be honest you can see why this beer has faired well in shows, its a very nice drop. Conclusion very nice english porter with a slight chocolate tinge- well worth the effort.

A big thanks to Jon Griffin at askthebeerguy.com

Oct 092011

Brewfirm Kriek

This kit is a belgium cherry beer.I bought this kit purely on impulse. I have never tried the bottled version of this beer but have heard off several people that it is not to be missed. This kit is expensive as it is £25 and makes 12 litres at 5.5% abv and also requires 500 grms of dextrose at £2.10 for a kilogram. This works out at a whopping £1.23 a pint. The reason for the high price is because the kit is made using 3kgs of cherries according to brewferm. The kit come with the usual packet of yeast and destructions.


This kit is very easy to make. with the only exception being that following the instructions you have to rehydrate the yeast. The can is heated up in some hot water and left for 10 mins, and then emptied into the sterilised fermenter. The can is then rinsed out with hot water and this is also added to the fermenter. Then add another 2 litres of hot boiled water to the fermenter and the 500grms of dextrose, mix thoroughly. The smell of cherries at this point is amazing! The fermenter is then topped up with cold/hot water to the 12 litre mark and a temperature of 20°c. To rehydrate the yeast let half a glass of boiled water cool to 25°c and add the yeast. Let this mixture sit for 10 mins then add to the fermenter, put on the lid and air lock and leave to ferment.

Once the fermentation is complete (around 10 days) batch prime with 100grms of dextrose and bottle.

Taste and conclusion.

The beer should be left for 6-8 weeks in the bottle before it is tasted. The beer when made is a red tinged copper colour and has a fruity aroma. The carbonation is good with a decent head. The taste is very nice with a sweet cherry taste which an acidic bitter after taste. This beer is strong, after one pint it started to take affect, after two I did feel a little merry. This kit is expensive, but compared to buying an off the shelf beer it is still cheap. To be honest its not really to my taste but other people who have tried it really like and enjoy it. Conclusion- expensive but a fruity gem of a beer.


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