Feb 072013

hopocalypse This beer when was originally going to be another batch of my ghost rider IPA, but when I went to the local homebrew shop they didn’t have any simcoe hops in stock. I decided to substitute the simcoe with citra and cascade and go mad with the hops, hence the name. I kept the grain bill simple by using Marris Otter and a little roasted barley to give the beer a red hue, hopefully.





OG 1.061 sg
FG 1.011 sg
6.6% ABV

48 IBU

9.9l colour

BJCP 14B American IPA


6Kg Marris Otter 99.5%

28g Roasted Barley

25g Chinook 1 hour 12.5% alpha, leaf

25g Cascade 30 mins 6% alpha, leaf

25g Citra 15 mins 11% alpha, leaf

25g Cascade 0 mins

25g Citra 0 mins

25g Citra 4 days dry hop

25g Cascade 4 days dry hop

Irish moss last 15 mins of boil

Wyeast Thames valley ale, washed and made into a  starter with DME.




Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16 litres of strike water at  76 °c which gave a mash temp of 68 °c. The grain was mashed for 90 mins and then fly sparged with 18 litres of water at 77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops as above. The brew was cooled and then the starter was added and the beer left to ferment. After four days the two dry hop additions were added and left in the primary for a week. The beer was then transferred to the secondary and left to clear for a week. The beer was then transferred to a keg and batch primed with 180g of dextrose.

Hopocaypse IPA in the boiler


The beer when poured was nicely carbonated with a thick white head which stayed to the bottom of the pint, the red hue which I was aiming for was barley noticeable. The aroma of the hops was really nice with a great citrus tone. Taste wise it hit the spot for hopheads as it was like a hop explosion of citrusy delight. To be honest it was very similar to the Ghost rider but subtly different, it seemed less harsh and more rounded which was a suprise as the two beers are have very similar ingredients and exactly the same brewing method. Conclusion – a great beer which was surprisingly good.

Dec 072012

Recently I have been drinking Brewdog’s Punk IPA and have got a bit of a taste for it so as ever wanted to make my own version. The Brewdog website gives some information as it lists the ingredients, so I decided to give it a go. I wanted to do a SMASH (single malt single hop) beer but brewdog list four hops used which are Chinook, Simcoe, Ahtanum and Nelson sauvin. I could not get hold of Ahtanum and Nelson so decided to try a brew with Chinook and Simcoe. The grain bill lists only Marris Otter so decided to go with that and add some wheat malt that was leftover from a previous brew. Using my trusty Brewpal app I came up with this gem of a beer which is 55 IBU’s and 6.5%ABV. SG 1.060, FG 1.010.



6KG Marris Otter pale malt 96%

250g Wheat malt 4%

25g Chinook hops 60 mins

25g Simcoe hops 30 mins

25g Simcoe hops 5 mins

25g Simcoe hops 1 min

25g Simcoe hops (dry hop 4 days primary)

25g Chinook hops (dry hop 4 days primary)

Irish moss last 15 mins of boil

1 tsp Gypsum (depending on your water) to water in mash tun

Yeast starter using DME and washed Thames valley ale yeast


Using a single infusion mash the grain was mashed with 16  litres of strike water at  76 °c which gave a mash temp of   68 °c. The grain was mashed for 60 mins and then fly sparged with 18  litres of water at   77°c. The wort was put into the boiler and a boiled for an hour adding the hops as above. The brew was cooled and then the starter was added and the beer left to ferment. After four days the two dry hop additions were added and left in the primary for a week. The beer was then transferred to the secondary and left to clear for a week. The beer was then transferred to a keg and batch primed with 180g of dextrose.


The beer when poured was nicely carbonated and had a nice white head. The only thing was that it looked a little hazy, I put this down to the wheat malt and will leave it out when I next make this beer as it is all about the hops. The aroma was very hoppy with a citrus note due to the dry hopping. Taste wise it was amazing, with a strong citrus taste. It hit the mark with what I wanted to achieve, it isn’t a direct clone of Punk IPA but very similar and the keg did not last long. I originally brewed this for some light relief during christmas but now have to make some more!! Conclusion – a very nice hoppy citrus beer that is refreshing and strong, a definate will make again!

Oct 242012

Fursty Ferret is brewed Badger ales (Hall and Woodhouse) in dorset and is described as an ale of character. The aroma is spicy hops, orange and malt. The taste is like the aroma, gentle malty, spicy hop and slightly fruity. The taste is not strong and has a very nice hoppy malty balance that is quality. I have wanted to make this beer for a while as its my number one session ale, so time to see if I could emulate this ale of character.


1.042 OG

1.010 FG

4.3% ABV


Style 8B special/best/premium bitter


3.8kg Marris Otter (84.8%)

300g Carapils (6.7%)

300g Wheat malt (6.7%)

80g Chocolate malt (1.8%)

12g Target 13IBU 11%a 60 mins

25g EK Goldings 7IBU 5%a 20 mins

20g Styrian Goldings 6IBU 5%a 20 mins

Irish Moss 15 mins

1275 Wyeast Thames valley ale yeast (washed/ starter).


I used an infusion mash with a mash out. The 11.6 litres of strike water was heated up to  72°c to give a mash temp of 65°c. The grain was left to mash for 75 mins during which another 8 litres of strike water for the mash out was heated up rot 100°c, for a target temp of 78°c. This was added after 75 mins and left to mash for a further 10 mins. The grain was then fly  sparged with 13 litres of water at 77°c.


The 26 or so litres of wort was boiled for one hour with the hop additions as above, with Irish moss added at 15 mins to help clear the beer. After yet he boil the wort was chilled to pitching temperature and the yeast starter added.

The fermentation was vigorous and after seven days the beer was kegged and carbonated with 140g of light dry malt extract.


The beer cleared very quickly in my king keg top tap and was ready to drink after a week. The beer when poured had a amber colour with a nice tight white head. The aroma was of sweet malt with spicy hops. I did detect an estery note in the aroma, hmmm. The taste was like the aroma with a nice fruity malt flavour with a gentle hop taste. I could detect the ester taste in the beer, which was not a major problem as it is not uncommon in this style of beer. I wanted to make a clone of Fursty Ferret so was a bit disappointed with this, I suspect it was down to a high fermentation temperature (it had crept up on a warm day).  I decided to leave the beer to age for a couple of weeks longer and this did the trick. When I tasted the beer after two more weeks the taste was perfect, the slight ester was not detectable and it was a great copy of the original.

Oct 042012

When I started brewing I used to look for kits that would possibly taste like my favourite beers. One of the reasons I moved on to partial extract brewing was so that I could tailor beers to my taste. So with an air of inevitability I ended up all grain brewing. It goes without saying with all grain brewing you can make any beer you like. So what to make next? Well I love Spitfire ale from Shephard Neame and always pick up a bottle or two when in the supermarket. Spitfire is an English pale ale 4.5%ABV with a nice earthy hop aroma with a hint of caramel malt and citrus. The taste is like the aroma with a taste of caramel up front then a nice bitter hoppy after taste. The body is medium with a light carbonation.

The challenge with making this clone, as with most, was to get the distinctive aroma and taste of this famous Kentish ale. I searched for a recipe in the usual places and as usual ended up with a hybrid recipe of my own.


3.75Kg Maris Otter

400g Crystal 100L

400g Torrified wheat

250g Amber Malt

200g  Wheat malt

30g Target hops 90 mins

28g Kent Goldings 60 mins

10g Kent Goldings 15 mins

Irish moss 15 mins

Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale Yeast


To start I heated up 13 litres for a strike temp of 72°c and mashed for 75 mins. Mashed out with 9 litres at 100°c for a target temp of 78°c and rested for ten mins. The mash was then sparged with 12 litres at 77°c.
The boil was then carried out for 90 mins with the hop schedule as above. The kettle had to be topped up before the boil. The wort was then cooled and added to the fermenter. The yeast used was previously washed and a starter made the night before which was then added to the wort after aeration.The fermentation was vigorous and the beer was bottled and kegged after being batch primed with 140g of DME. The OG was 1.049 and FG 1.011 which gave 5.0% abv and the beer should of been 39IBU.


Well the first thing you have probably noted is that the ABV was a little higher than the original but i think most of us can live with that. The beer cleared and looked in the bottle a very good clear amber colour and identical to the original, which I was pleased with. On pouring into the glass the beer was nicely carbonated with a white head. The aroma was bob on with nice earthy hop and caramel toffee notes, which again was very pleasing. The taste was close, very close but not exact, damn. It did have a sweet malty taste with a bitter hop after taste.  A number of friends have tried it and agree that it is an exact copy of spitfire, maybe I’m being too picky, who knows? The bottles and keg didn’t last long as it is a really nice ale and one I will make again. Conclusion – Cracking ale that emulates the original and is as close as damn it.

Sep 202012

Well with the new DIY brewery finished what to make first? Which beer was I going to make to put my new setup through its paces? I decided on a Hobgoblin clone, an ale I like and drink quite alot of. For the uninitiated its a dark ruby red ale with a great bitter taste and a hoppy after taste that has a little kick, its very drinkable. I looked around the net and found a few different recipes and decided to use one that is on a number of sites in one guise or another. I changed a few things but the basic recipe is similar to a number on the net. Could i replicate the famous “mischievous character”?



SG 1.053

FG 1.012

5.4% ABV


8c ESB


4.8kg (89%) Marris Otter

0.25kg (4.6%) Crystal 100

0.2kg (3.7%) Carapils

0.15kg (2.8%) Chocolate malt

45g Styrian goldings   45g Fuggles

Wyeast 1275 Thames valley ale


The method used was a single infusion mash. I started the mash with 14 litres of strike water at 77°c. The water was heated up to around 85°c and put into the mash tun, the lid was put on and left for 10 mins. The temperature levelled of at around 78 so the grain was added. The target mash temp of 69°c was met and the mash was left for 90 mins. After 90 mins I checked the temp and the mash had lost a couple of degrees. I  I then fly- sparged the grain with 19 litres of water at 77° and around 26 litres made it into the boiler. During the sparge the first wort hop addition is added to the boiler, 15g of goldings and 15g of fuggles.


The brew day was going really smoothly and I was happy when the wort was heating up, my new set up was working great. The hot break came and went and I turned one of the heater elements off and after 30 mins added the second hop addition 15g goldings and 15g fuggles. After 60 mins the remaining element was turned off and the last hop addition was added of, you guessed it 15g of goldings and 15g of fuggles. This last addition stays in the boiler for an hour, which goes against everything I have done before. The usual brew lore is to cool the wort as quickly as possible to pitching temp and pitch the yeast, not with this bad boy. The wort is left for an hour then chilled and drained into the fermenter, I did not feel comfortable with doing that at all. That’s when the only hiccup of the day and chink in my new set up became evident. The hop filter blocked up after about 5 seconds and I had to use a sterilised spoon to move the hops from around the filter all this after the wort had already been stood for an hour. I started to lose my usual brew day confidence and laid back attitude.

The yeast was added to the fermenter and the ale fermented vigorously and I had to add a blowoff tube. I used this yeast as it can be used for many different English ales, and it has been washed and reused (with a starter) a number of times since this brew was made.

After two weeks in the fermenter the ale was batch primed with 120g of DME  and then  kegged/bottled.


After what seemed an eternity the beer was ready drink. I compared it side by side with a bottle of Hobgoblin. The carbonation was just right and both beers looked identical in the glass. The malty aroma from the clone lacked a toffee note of the original but was very similar, the hoppy smell of the goldings/fuggles was detectable but was very subtle in both beers. The clone tasted bitter and had a rounded after taste whereas the real hobgoblin was bitter with a punchy bitter hoppy after taste. I put this down to the first wort hop addition as this can make the hop taste more rounded. Conclusion – this clone is very close to the original with only subtle differences, it is a very nice ale and one I will make again. I definitely had a mischievous character after a few pints of this ale.

Sep 112011

Coopers sparking ale

Cooper’s sparkling ale is part of the premium selection from cooper’s, which is designed for the home brewer who wants to do more than add white sugar.  I made this beer quite by accident, the local brew shop didn’t have the kit I was after, so decided to make this. The cooper’s blurb reads “Thomas Cooper’s Premium Selection Sparkling Ale – The big brother of Coopers Original Pale Ale, displays fruity esters on the nose, full malty palate with a generously hopped clean finish”. The kit costs around £14, but there are a few extra ingredients needed. First you need 1.5kg of light liquid malt extract which is around £13, as well as 500grms of light dry malt extract at £4 and 300grms of dextrose which is around £2 a kilo. The total is £33 for all the ingredients which works out at 82p a pint.


The kit is easy to mix and all you do is as in the basic brewing pages and bung it all in the fermenter,mix with boiling water, clean out the cans with boiling water and top up with water to the right temperature, then pitch the yeast.The beer takes around 7 days to ferment. This beer is better bottled, so you can use your left over dextrose to prime the bottles. The beer was then left for two weeks to age and carbonate.

Taste and conclusion

The beer cleared quickly and when I opened the first bottle it was sparkling. The taste was more malty than hoppy and to be honest was a little watery. I decided to leave this beer for longer to age and see if the taste improved. A couple of weeks later the taste had improved, but was still more of a malty flavour. I was a little disappointed with the results of this brew as it is quite expensive with all the required ingredients. I did find this a drinkable beer, and quite strong but was below my expectations. This beer would definitely be improved with a hop addition to overcome the malty taste. I dare say that some people would love this beer as people prefer different beers to others, but for the price i prefer other brews. Conclusion- easy to make and drink, but below MY expectation.


Aug 252011

Muntons smuggler’s premium ale

Well to give this kit its full title its a munton’s premium gold, smuggler’s special premium ale. The kit consists of two cans of extract which weighs in at 3.6kg and a sachet of yeast. The kit costs around £25 which works out at 62p a pint. Muntons blurb says “A light, malty beer balanced with choice aromatic and bittering hops. Muntons Premium Gold beer kits are produced from carefully selected and malted English 2-row barley, blended with hops supplied by England’s most renowned hop growers”. When this kit was bought  I had great expectations, for two reasons really. These were the fact that this kit is the most expensive I have bought, and any review you care to mention is a rave one.


This kit is another easy one to do. Empty the warm contents of the cans into the fermenter,mix with boiling water, top up with water to the correct temperature, pitch the yeast and your away. The fermentation on this baby was riotous, it started within a few hours and was off. The foam created on the brew kept expanding until it touched the fermenter lid. It stopped short of shooting out of the airlock which was a relief. The fermentation lasted five days. The brew was batch primed with light dry malt extract instead of dextrose, and syphoned into my top tap keg. After two weeks a little glass of beer was taken out of my keg, and the beer was cloudy. Two weeks further on another glass was sampled and the beer was still cloudy. The beer finally cleared the week after, so in total it took 5 weeks to clear. Not too bad I suppose, but as I have said before the hardest part of home brewing is waiting.

Taste and conclusion 

This kit does what it says on the tin , it is a premium ale. The taste is slightly bitter and malty, has a great body and is very smooth. It reminded me of some good ales you can buy off the shelf or in the pub. The carbonation and creamy head are fantastic. I will definitely be making this one again, um and again. I really was gutted when the keg was finished. Expensive, but worth it, you do get what you pay for.


Aug 252011

St. Peter’s Ruby Red Ale

This is a two can 3kg kit which is made under licence by muntons. The St. peters ruby red ale kit emulates the ale which can be bought in your local supermarket. The blurb states”  a tawny red ale with subtle malt undertones and a distinctive spicy hop aroma from Cascade”. The kit costs around £22 which works out at 55p a pint. This kit comes with 2 cans of extract, a sachet of yeast and a sachet of hops. There are two other kits in this range which are St. Peter’s Golden ale and St. Peter’s IPA. I am a fan of darker ales so i decided to try the ruby red ale first.


This kit does not need any extra sugar or malt extract. This makes this type of kit one of the easiest to make for the home brewer. The two cans were warmed in boiling water and added to a sterilised fermenter. The empty cans were filled with boiling water to dissolve the last remnants of extract in the cans, and this too was added to the fermenter. There was enough water in the cans to mix the brew adequately, so no further boiling water was added. The fermenter was then topped up to the 23litre mark to the correct temperature. The hops were then sprinkled onto the brew along with the yeast. The lid was put on the fermenter, and the fermenter put in my usual place in my “brewing cupboard”. I didn’t take a starting gravity for the brew, there was no point as the only ingredients were the kit.

The beer happily fermented over 7 days and the final gravity was around 1.014. The beer was batch primed with the correct amount of dextrose and added to my keg. I did bottle some in 4 bottles just to make a comparison of taste between the keg and bottle. The beer was left for two weeks to condition. The beer cleared quickly so i did have a few “testers” before the 4 weeks were up.

Taste and conclusion.

This beer tasted great! The taste is smooth with a great balance between maltiness and hop bitterness. Its hard to describe in words how much I enjoyed this beer. The carbonation on the beer was great. The head on the beer was like an ice cream and remained on the beer to the bottom of the glass. The beer looked more brown with a red tinge than pure red. The beer that was bottled was equally nice just a tad more carbonated. This kit is at the expensive end of the market and to be honest you can see why, it is a premium beer. I would of liked to compare this homebrew to the shop bought version, but I didn’t get chance. I would like to bet though the hombrew is very near the real thing. The only problem with this beer is that 40 pints goes very quickly, it is very quaffable. This is a kit I can recommend and one I will be making again. Easy to make- very very easy to polish off!


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