Friday, 18 January 2013

Homebrew Review - Homegrown IPA

Due to adverse weather, that Deuchers I was planning to brew this week will have to wait. Half a foot of snow and a frozen water supply have closed off that little avenue of pleasure.

As I've got behind with some of the tastings, perhaps it's a good time to review some of last year's brews. I'll kick off with the IPA I threw together with my homegrown Bramling Cross hops.

I have to confess, that despite not knowing the alpha content of the hops, this beer has turned out remarkably well.

As usual, I bottled half the batch and kegged the other. The picture is from the keg.

The 10% of Carahell I added to the Pale Malt made the beer a tad darker than I originally envisaged, but on the plus side, it does help to provide a decent malt backbone against the hops.

That's not to say this is a malty beer, far from it. But the balance is good, with the hops dominating as they rightly should. And the Bramling Cross are superb. My concerns that amateur drying techniques and storage would ruin them, failed to materialise. Perhaps it's because I used them relatively quickly after drying. But, surprisingly, I don't get the 'blackcurrant' that is often attributed to this variety. I'm getting fruity, spicy hop notes with a decent edge of bitterness, plus a hint of lemon.

Head retention is good and it laced the glass to the end. To be quite honest, I'm not sure I could have crafted a better beer, had I known the acid contents of the hop. If I'm being fussy (which I usually am) I'd prefer the colour to be slightly paler, but changing the malt would change the beer and I wouldn't want that. It's not completely clear, either, but that may be down to a hop haze.

Frankly, this is a lovely beer and I'd brew it again, just as it is. Granted a decent hop harvest in 2013, that's exactly what I'll be doing come September. It's a belter.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Brewday - Deuchars 18/01/2013

Having sorted through the hops in the freezer and having looked at what I’ve got sitting in kegs and bottles, I’ve decided my next brew is going to be something akin to a Deuchars IPA.

After a porter and a few strong beers, a light, easy-drinking, yet hoppy beer seems the perfect call.

British drinkers will no doubt be familiar with a pint of Deuchars, having won plenty of awards including the Champion Beer Of Britain. It’s also a favourite of Rebus, the fictional detective created by Ian Rankin.

Pale, fruity, with a citrusy nose and very sessionable at 3.8% abv

From the gravity, it’s not an IPA in the traditional sense, but a decent enough pale ale when it’s on song. 

My recipe is not intended to be a clone. Using grist made up simply of Pale Malt and a touch of wheat, I’m upping the gravity to about 1.046, but using what I believe is a similar combination of hops (although substituting Fuggles for Progress, as it’s what I have in stock).

Providing outside temperatures don't drop too low, I've pencilled in Friday as the brewday.

Deuchars 10G
Special/Best/Premium Bitter
Type: All GrainDate: 18/01/2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 50.00 lBrewer: Mark
Boil Size: 61.39 lAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 75 minEquipment: Elite Brewery
End of Boil Volume 55.12 lBrewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 50.00 lEst Mash Efficiency 77.4 %
Fermentation: My Aging ProfileTaste Rating(out of 50):
Taste Notes:
9500.00 gPale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC)Grain195.0 %
500.00 gWheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC)Grain25.0 %
28.00 gAurora [4.90 %] - Boil 75.0 minHop36.8 IBUs
18.00 gProgress [6.00 %] - Boil 75.0 minHop45.4 IBUs
145.00 gCeleia [2.60 %] - Boil 15.0 minHop59.8 IBUs
50.00 gWilliamette [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 minHop67.1 IBUs
0.50 ItemsWhirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)Fining7-
2.0 pkgNottingham Yeast (Lallemand #-) Yeast8-
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.046 SGMeasured Original Gravity:
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SGMeasured Final Gravity:
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.7 %Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 29.1 IBUs
Est Color: 8.4 EBC

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Old London Boozers

With homebrew stocks still quite high, even after the Christmas festivities, it might yet be a week of two before I fire up the brewery for the first brew of 2013. I also need to do a proper stock-take of all the hops I've got sitting in the freezer, so I can plan ahead.

Anyhow, before all of this, I took some time out to visit a few old pubs and thought it might be good to do a quick post of those I visited.

The journey centered around the City of London, the financial heartland of the capital. The first port of call was the Counting House.
Counting House

Formerly occupied as a bank, the Grade II Listed building has been considerately converted with the main banking hall now a modern bar. The conversion won the City Heritage Award for being one of the finest examples of building refurbishment in the City.

Owned by Fuller's, all the usual suspects were available, plus their Black Cab Sout and Jack Frost. The beers were in good shape and the stout was my first beer of the morning.

A large glass dome formed part of the ceiling. We returned here for more beer and pies later in the day.

The Jamaica Wine House

Our next watering hole was The Jamaica Wine House, which is also known as the Jampot.

The history of this pub dates back to 1652. I understand that shares were traded here long before the stock market was set up. It's also understood to have been the market place for slave transactions too.

Once again, the beers were good, allowing for the fact it's now owned by Shephed Neame. I've had many a bottle of Spitfire in the past, but never on draught, so that was my beer of choice on this visit.

Of all the pubs we visited during the day, this one felt the most 'comfortable'. Whether it was the size, the partitioning, or the fact that it was just very old, it made for a good drink.

From here we moved on to one of the smallest pubs in the City. The Swan Tavern. And what you see is what you get. The inside shot of the narrow bar is all there is.

The Swan Tavern

Lamb Tavern

Visually, the Lamb Tavern which followed was very impressive. Shame the beer wasn't equally as good. Tired and lifeless - with the majority of these pubs catering for the City trade, they tend to close at weekends and I'm wondering whether on the Tuesday, we were drinking last Friday's beer?

A few doors along was the next pub on our list, The New Moon. The beer here was better. I downed a nice pint of Old Speckled Hen.

The last hostelry before departing homeward was a Weatherspoons, the Crosse Keys.

A Massive building, with huge marble pillars, this was also a former bank. Built in 1912 for the Hong Kong & Shangai Bank it was apparently named after a nearby Inn which was lost in the Great Fire of London.

Crosse Keys
As a 'spoons pub, the beer was cheap and I opted for a pint of Salopian Oracle. Full of American hops, perhaps a tad bitter for my palate, but a nice enough pint to end the day with.

So there you have it. Six old London pubs with a bit of history. I'm off now to do that stock-take of the freezer to see what hops need using up. All this talk of beer has got the brewing juices flowing again.

Happy New Year to you all.