Category Archives: News and updates

How to brew a Mild

We were lucky enough to have Paddy and Matt from the brewery with us in this month’s meeting and being back in the boardroom almost meant we lost someone in the bar. In the end it was all good though and we enjoyed some great discussions about the beers brought, enzyme use and parti-gyle brewing.

Before we got to the beers though Paddy and Matt were kind enough to spend some time talking about the history and brewing techniques and recipes you need to make a ‘bostin’ mild. I’ve captured what I can recall here so feel free to use these tips and points to make your own ahead of our Mild May meeting based on CAMRA’s Mild month! (That’s a mouthful that sentence)

First the history, and this is where the excellent ‘Designing great beers’ by Ray Daniels shows its value. The chapter looking at Brown ales and Milds gives a real historical view of their origins but the take away for me is that time was the choice in a pub was between a bitter and a mild, two beers at opposite ends of a spectrum. The bitter end is obviously just that, bitter, and the mild end focused on the malty side of the street. A Mild is a beer designed to showcase everything malt has to offer without the sharp tang of the hops taking up too much space.

The low strength many people associate with a Mild appears to be a newer phenomenon maybe based on ‘value engineering’ of recipes by the brewers as their popularity dwindled and they had to maintain the margins. Paddy created some notes around the recipe and process build – including the strength and I’ll share and explain those here. So first what would you aim for in terms of gravity, colour and bitterness.

The gravity, colour and BU of a Mild

So here we have the specification from two breweries Mitchell & Butler and Highgate. You can see the gravity here would give you a beer of about 4.0%. The interesting aspect of this is the PG. This is the gravity that the beer was filled into cask meaning the beer was quite actively fermenting still when it was packaged and so it really was extremely cask conditioned. The bitterness of around 24 is on a par with a modern commercial lager, enough to balance the sweetness but not overwhelm it. The colour here is quite dark – as I’d expect a mild – but the range can be from a chestnut up to black, so a lot of scope there.

Mash ingredients for a Mild

What about the mash? This is a showcase for malt flavours and you can see here where they come from. The values relate to the mash tun at the brewery but the ratio would remain and then scaled down to your own mash tun size to yield 1035 or so. So a solid base of pale ale malt and then around 4% Crystal. This would probably be a medium colour crystal and then about half that amount of Black malt to get the colour up to where you like. Paddy’s tip was to aim low on the colour as you can always add more with liquid caramel (as per the recipes here) to increase it, but you can’t take it away. The 10% torrified barley and 6% malted wheat give you the body and thick head retention and then sugar as well. This is on top of priming sugar added into the cask. On top of the remaining gravity when filled that priming sugar would have made sure it was a real strong fermentation in the cask. I’ve no idea how it cleared. Note at the bottom Calcium Chloride. This should be added as opposed to gypsum to the mash liquor to emphasise the maltiness.

Additional info on a mild

And finally the process details. You can see a slight difference in the mash temperatures between the two breweries here but it didn’t have much difference on the FG. The boil at Highgate you see is aiming for a massive loss of volume, over 8%, and at M&B it’s still high so a long boil is important, I wonder if that helps with the caramel and Maillard flavour development in the beers? Not mentioned in the notes are the hops. These were discussed but used only for their bittering properties the type of hop used is less important. Traditionally they would be English hops so for authenticity Fuggles perhaps, but they’ll not be adding too much to the finished product. We did discuss the likelihood that in the US an American twist on this beer would definitely be hop loaded – so not traditional but something that could be interesting.

Fermentation was pitched at a normal 17-19C and left to rise naturally up to 23-24C as the yeast got going. The relatively low OG should mean this would probably be done in 3-4 days – less if you move to cask with all those point of gravity left. So this is a quick beer to turnaround and it was often gone so fast in the midlands that it would expected to be drunk young. This means you’ve plenty of time to get yours done before the Meeting on the 25th May when Paddy will judge your efforts and interpretation.

Beer tasting

Easy Tiger

Back upstairs in Unit 4 at the brewery for our March dive into easy drinking gave us a great selection of Pale ales, Saisons and some examples of technical difficulties.

Beer tasting

The March meeting theme was easy drinking and it was a good night of good beers and good company all too easy to enjoy. First though we were inundated with hops. A mistaken order quantity left Fran with a big box of ‘surplus’ hops to share. EKG and Summit were welcomed as any free hops would be despite there being just past their best before date everyone was very sure they could find a use for them.

Onto the main event – the drinking – we kicked off with a variety of pale ales showcasing some fruity and zingy hops. The variety of flavours that can be drawn out of a SMaSH pale is astounding. This coupled with solid, well conditioned malt bases allowed some beautiful beers to be sampled. As ever the questions about ingredients and process, the sharing of advice and isolating improvement opportunities is what the club is for.

We then shifted up a gear to two super – but different – saisons. A very traditional one and one that was a raspberry bomb – the freshness of the fruit flavours being something else. The recipe for this wonderful beer can be found here.

Keeping it fruity we had an interloper of a cider that was light and zesty – a perfect palette cleanser before moving onto something a little more dark. Some great advice was shared regarding the importance of fermentation temperature and pitching levels will hopefully help the evolution of a Timothy Taylor Landlord and a Bass Red Triangle clone. Hygiene is another key factor in good brewing as was shown with a Hazy Jane clone that had been served from a dirty keg. So now we know what Brett tastes like – when it’s unintentional not good.

We saved a milk stout for last to try and erase the nasty taste filthy kit can leave and it delivered some excitement. She’s a gusher, thar she blows as it popped open it popped wasting a lot of a very tasty beer. Enough was salvaged to enjoy but we did ruin a couple or three copies of the CAMRA magazine.

Look forward to next month when it’s open house no theme bring what you have. May however is the month of Mild so start thinking about recipes to showcase malty goodness.

February change of venue

Our next meeting on Wednesday 23rd February has had a change of venue away from Unit 4 at the brewery to the Hop House at the George inn. https://www.georgeinn-eton.co.uk/hop-house/

The George in Eton


It’s not too far away from our normal venue and, having had a drink in their in the past, I think is perfect for us.
The reason for the temporary change is that unit 4 is hosting the Knightclub and launch of Windsor & Eaton’s platinum jubilee celebration beer Castle Hill https://shop.webrew.co.uk/products/castle-hill-12-x-500-ml-bottles
This means they are moving their regular quiz to Wednesday and I don’t think we could compete with pondering the longest river in Asia as we discuss the beers.
Everything else will remain as normal – 7:30 start and a bring anything theme. (Remember March theme will be Easy drinking)
Look forward to seeing you there.

Winter warmers

Our first meeting back after the Christmas break, and our first ever competition, saw some old friends making a welcome return back from the pre-Covid world meetings. The meeting was dedicated to judging the Winter Ale Contest but we also welcomed a few lighter palate cleanser beers as well to help with the concentration; an excellent dry hopped lager, a first spot on all grain attempt at a Landlord clone and a fruity Mosiac SMaSH

Judging the beers

We had four beers entered – which may not seem many but given half of them had an ABV in double figures it was plenty to get though in a session. There were two prizes on offer. The main prize was the Champion beer as judged by combining a carefully thought out and considered scoring system looking at Appearance, Aroma, Flavour, Desirability and Style. After some discussion and recalibration of what 10/10 would mean for a strong dark winter ale (Note – it is not “Could drink pints of this”) the judging commenced.

We were also lucky enough to have Head Brewer Matt Stead with us as well to offer advice and choose the Brewer’s Choice prize. So to the beers, quite a range two extra-strong dark beers in a Russian Imperial Stout and an Eisbock and a couple of relatively lighter beers – relative being key at around 7% – with a traditional spiced winter ale and a Belgian Dubbel style beer. After trying the beers I’ll admit the maths proved to be more of a problem than I anticipated. Adding up scores and working out the average was impaired by the strength of the beers.

Counting is hard

And so to the winner – a superb beer, perfect for sipping next to a roaring log fire with a cigar on the go. Congratulations to Iain M’s Russian Imperial Stout. A worthy winner and I’m sure he’ll turn the Maris Otter he’s won into a special beer.

A worthy winner

Embarrassingly – and certainly not a fix I swear – my own Belgian Dubbel “Radiant Orange” was chosen by Matt as the Brewer’s choice and the rosette is proudly displayed in the kitchen now.

Overall another great night of fine beers and good conversation. Looking forward to February (Wednesday the 23rd) and then the March (Wednesday 30th) meetings we agreed to a free for all tasting and beer swap next month and then a challenge for the March meeting. The theme of the challenge for March – something to get started now – is a light beer. Make of that description what you will. I’ll be most looking forward to Fran & Vincent’s effort after taking advantage of an amazing offer from David E who got in contact with the club to offer to donate his 25L all grain set up to someone looking to move up their brewing to the next level. I think this applies perfectly to Fran & Vincent a perfect home for the equipment.

Cheers!

Incredible India

I love the crash and bang of a busy pub, music playing people laughing and the feel of being back in raucous company as much as everyone. Also my hearing isn’t what it used to be, so while I really enjoyed last month’s meeting up on the mezzanine of unit 4 above the bar it did make discussion about the beers harder than normal. In all honestly we did sort of split into two groups at either end of the table because they were the people you could hear.

This month was different – we’ve moved again. Thanks to Will for helping us set up space in the shop – we were fully equipped and supported as usual and had the added benefit of being able to hear each other’s feedback and questions. Another really nice surprise was seeing Paddy again. His help initially setting up the club is still very much appreciated.

And so to it – in our audibly improved environments what did we taste and share? In all honesty this was one of the strongest selections of beers I can remember us having and a really wide range of beers, but pair of styles to help with direct comparisons.

We started comparing two versions of the same beer; a sessionable pale ale – the question posed which should be the house beer A or B? Obviously we’re never going to answer in that manner and it ended up being a little from pot A (A malt balanced easy drinking hoppy pale) and a little from pot B (A more typically assertive bitter pale). That said I’d happily have sat around drinking either of them. Recipe C ideas shared we moved onto a subtle & delicate Belgian wit and a couple more pale ales. All of exceptional quality.

But the night just kept delivering – a fine example of a traditional ESB (who’s recipe is now in heavy demand) with some fancy Dan artwork on the bottles lifted the standard again and led us into the battle of the stouts.

This was a great comparison that showed the different takes you can bring to the recipe when making a big stout. In the red corner we’ve the sweet malty chocolate monster and in the blue corner his emphatically hopped American style cousin. Both beers were of excellent quality but used a similar malt bill and yeast – the tunes you can play on beers with ingredients and process were highlighted amazingly and gave great food for thought on what a stout could be.

Then the weird beer! An experimental recreation of an ancient Indian beer painstakingly recreated from 7000 year old texts. As you’d imagine it was hop light but flavoured with 11 plants and spices (Or is that Colonel Sanders?) to give a complex, but surprisingly drinkable, brew. The beer had layers and trying to pick out the flavours; earthy, ginger, fragrant, curry leaves was very difficult. They just kept coming. A fantastic successful experiment that put me in mind of what you might call an Indian Wit – fascinating.

A fantastic meeting again and we ended with the exciting news of the January meeting Homebrew competition (Details here) having a prize on offer. Get your beer brewed and ready for our next meeting in 2022 to have a chance to win 25kg of Crisp Maris Otter malt.

Cheers

January Winter Ale Competition

Our January meeting is planned for Wednesday 26th January 2022 where we’ll be holding the Winter Ale Challenge. Excitingly the winner will take home (Or pick up later…) a beautiful 25kg of Crisp Maris Otter. A biscuity malt that imparts a lovely colour to your beers.

Winter Ale

So how can you win this amazing prize?

Bring your take on a Winter Ale to the January meeting where it will be judged by your fellow club members (and you’ll be judging their beers). The judging system will be explained on the night but what criteria will you be judged on? What is a Winter Ale?

Your Winter Ale should be a big bold beer that evokes dark evenings in front of a log fire while the snow falls heavy outside. Think red leather armchairs and cigar smoke, candle light and sleeping dog at your feet. These are the intangibles your beer should conjure up when tasted. Of course on top of that it has to be technically sound as well. From the colour and clarity through to the taste and aroma. There should be no faults and the recipe should be balanced as we’ve come to expect from our members.

You’ll need to provide at least two 500ml bottles for judging which we’ll serve and judge anonymously.

Please get in touch with any other questions via email or on the facebook page.

The prize

Bigger than ever

The second post COVID-Disaster-World WEHomebrew meeting took place at the amazing looking Unit4 WEBrew venue. Sat up on the mezzanine gives a great view down on the busy bar where a busy Wednesday night crowd enjoying the huge range of beers available.

There was a big variety of beers on offer from the club members as well. A really eclectic set of ales. From Saisons (including a surprise mystery beer I found in the shed) through to a lovely Belgian strong dark ale packaged in some fancy half champagne bottles. Along the way we sampled, IPAs, Mild and Stouts all great examples prompting in depth discussions about every technical aspect you can imagine.

Aside from the good beer it was great to catch up with members new and old. It’s been a long long time since the unexpected last meeting and it’s good to see some familiar faces. It’s also brilliant to see so many new faces, introductions and hearing about people’s set ups and what they love brewing is what this is all about. It’s a growing community of knowledge we can all share and learn from – and more free beer to try every month!

And so to what’s new. From next month (Next meeting will be Wednesday 24th November) we’ll be trying a new Beer Swap feature. So as well as the usual couple of bottles you’d bring for group tasting and discussion for Beer Swap you can bring a separate bottle labelled with your email address or other contact details (Maybe your Untapped Homebrew account) and someone will take home your beer, sit down one evening and give it the time and contemplation it deserves. Then contact you with their thoughts and feedback. This means you’ll get thoughts about it’s drinkability and not just the immediate impact our tasting sessions offer. Help overcome the Pepsi-paradox.

In addition to this new idea we agreed the Winter challenge – our informal homebrew competition. In time for the January meeting (Currently planned for Wednesday January 26th) think up, brew and package your interpretation of a ‘Winter ale’. It’s a broad category with plenty of scope for interpretation – so make of it what you will and surprise us with your innovation and skill. There’ll be more details on how it’ll work soon, but there’s no time like the present to get started on that recipe.

Back at it

It’s been a while but I’m really happy to announce a comeback. While still in the midst of this depressing cold lockdown we’re following the rest of the world and joining the Zoom revolution.

taken from online - no one we know...

On Wednesday 24th February at 7:30pm we’ll be hosting our inaugural online meeting. Even better to get the brain firing on all cylinders again it will include a talk on water chemistry from brewing guru Hugo Anderson.

Hugo has many years managing huge breweries and ensuring the quality of some of the world’s biggest selling beers, and he’s happy to share some of his wealth on knowledge with you. So if you want to know if the ingredient that makes up 95% of your beer is important this is the night for you.

After the discussion and questions it’ll be open season to show and tell about a beer you’ve brewed and are enjoying on the night. Maybe you’ve brewed a killer Kölsch or a brilliant Bitter. Maybe its a disappointing Doppelbock or a lousy Lager either way lets talk about it.

Really pleased as well that the Zoom facility will be kindly shared by Dave and Windsor’s best bottleshop and purveyor of every type of beer you could ever want A Hoppy Place.

Please contact through the facebook group here or twitter here if you’d like to join and I’ll send the log in details closer to the day.

Post-meeting update

Water chemistry lessons all round

Big thanks to Hugo for the time and vast amount of knowledge he imparted to the group. It was a really engaging walk through the importance and practical aspects of brewing water chemistry. He’s been kind enough to share the slides which can be found on the resources page here.

March Meeting Cancelled

As you probably can guess due to the ongoing virus situation, advice from government and in order to protect the brewery and its business I am cancelling the March meeting that was planned for next Wednesday the 25th.

Like everyone else I can’t know what the next few months will bring so I’ll update the website with any news or plans as I have it.

With respect to the Champion brewer 2020 – this was planned for the Knightclub event in May and so is a couple of months off. I’d recommend making your entry – what’s the worse that could happen other than you’ll have to drink it all yourself 🙂

Have a beer next Wednesday evening and look forward to things getting back to normal in the future

WEHomebrew Champion Brewer 2020

On the evening of the 19th May 2020 at Windsor & Eton brewery we’ll be holding the inaugural WEHomebrew Champion brewer competition for WEHomebrew members.

This is a large format, public vote, competition the winner to be decided by members of W&E Brewery’s KnightClub. In addition there will be a Brewer’s Choice awarded for the best technical execution of a beer.

The rules and guidelines for the competition are given below. Use the contact form, add a comment below or connect on our facebook group to get any more details or ask any questions.

Competition rules

  • There will be a maximum of nine entries in the competition. One from each of the nine boxes as below. Once all boxes have been allocated no more entries will be accepted – there will be a ‘waiting list’ if required to step in if an entrant can no longer compete.
9 box competiton
  • Entrants can contact the organiser with a descending list of their preference for the box they’d to enter. Boxes will be allocated on a first come first served basis after 12pm on Friday 28th February 2020.
  • Aside from % ABV and Colour of the beer all other parameters are the choice of the Brewer. Any style, any ingredients.
  • Brewers will be expected to give a short description of their beer to display at the event. no more than one paragraph.
  • Brewers will need to commit to providing around 20L (5 gallon) of their entry – it is expected that there will be around 180 KnightClub members attending eligible to vote.
  • Beer can be submitted in any format the brewer prefers. There will be provision for gas and a water bath to chill Corny kegs. Logistics for this will be determined nearer the event date.
  • Beer samples will be served to KnightClub members as they request them. There’s no mandatory attendance by entrants but we will be looking for volunteers to set up, serve and clear up on the night.
  • Each KnightClub member will be given 5 votes in the form of sticky dots. They vote by sticking the dots to a poster featuring details about each of the entries. They can distribute their votes as they see fit.
  • At the end of the voting – as decided by the organiser on the night – the votes for each beer will be counted. The beer with the most votes wins.
  • The Brewer’s choice will also be awarded by Windsor & Eton Brewery for the beer with the best technical execution.
  • Any disputes will be settled by the organiser.