Tag Archives: homebrew

Gin and Hops

A little late writing up the October meeting so the hazy vague memories a night on the beer often leads to will be even more fleeting as I try and remember what we had.

We did start the night off with a little sensory training using Owen’s kit. The theme being hops – a lot more pleasant than the previous ‘off flavours’. We spiked samples of Republika with spikes of Myrcene, Geraniol and Linalool for aroma and with the dark brown liquid of Isomerised hop extract to boost the bitterness. It does not take a lot of that to make a tasty lager something that would strip paint.

The varying amounts (measured scientifically in ‘drops’ by me) that are needed to make the hop aromas easily noticeable, but not overpowering is a fine balance. It shows as well – the differences in amounts – that it’s nt always the highest oil content of the hop that will dominate. The balance and ratios of the oils are something that – as we see – offer a multitude of different overall aromas. This comes back to the blending ratios I mentioned before. It’s not alway more and more hops that improve a beer but the ratios of different hop types that can accentuate or dull the overall impact.

After all the sniffing it was time to get back to the drinking. As ever some great beers and we’re really getting a taste for the Gluten free brews. An interesting experiment looking at two similar pale ale style beers, one with Sorghum and one with added Buckwheat. As I remember I think the buckwheat softened the beer and maybe even added a little body. Getting body in these is something that is an important club to have in your bag when using enzymes that will make every sugar molecule in sight available for the yeast to devour.

Back with the malt based brews we enjoyed a great clone of the 5 points best bitter – maybe this is a theme / competition for later. Clone wars, who can get the closest to a beer they bring in in a head to head style comparison. Will put that on the back burner. Also a return of the Pale from the previous month that was a little under-carbonated. It was lifted by more gas that also had a slight detectable banana flavour. This led to an interesting discussion of yeast pitching techniques and the benefits of dry and liquid styles and building starters. 

A green hop IPA gave a seasonal feel to the drinks and is definitely the way forward to anyone growing their own hops. Something that should be in everyone’s brew schedule each year we can look forward to. We finished off with a copy of the ESB recipe from a previous meeting that had run away with itself. The Nottingham yeast Alan used munched through the wort and ended up with a brew that was packing 6.3% and had a lot of body to show for it. A lovely beer and an idea for adding body to gluten-free beers. The alcohol itself adds body to a beer, so even when there is no residual sugar there it will feel heavier.

In a change to the advertised programme we finished with a sophisticated G&T. There was a reason to this, at the recent BrewCon when speaking to Grainfather they gave a sample of a kit that allows you to make 19L ot tonic and the carbonate it in your Corny keg. I brought this is because it tastes amazing, surprisingly so. It’s now on draught in the shed and we will never run out of tonic again – this is a game changer. Next step distilling our own gin…

As a last point we agreed to a theme for the February meeting next year. January will be the Gluten free challenge and then Feb will be Stout month, so we can look forward to some warming drinks in the cold nights.

Three glasses of mild beer

Hong Kong Phooey

Number one super guy. I love him but didn’t get it, the karate kicking hound looked good on the beer bottle label and I thought that was enough. Then it was pointed out he was Henry, the mild mannered janitor. Mild see! It was mild night at Homebrew club and puns were rolling. Welcome to the mild west.

Five different milds and an amazing amount of variation for what is essentially a very simple beer. The variations in colour firstly were very surprising when lined up. Individually you’d probably mark them all as black – but lined up and compared you could see the subtle range from pitch black down to a deep mahogany.

The flavours and aromas too held quite some variation. Malty caramels were abundant but beyond those there were liquorice and aniseed and smoke and chocolates. What – I think – was most welcome was the fact we all agreed milds are a good beer. I know there were reservations about the style, it’s a little old fashioned and unpopular – but it’s a great style, a real contrast against the hoppy pales that prevail.

That said we did also have some additional beers to sample – Al’s great porter was just that. The malt experienced continued with a beautifully conditioned Altbier – the German ‘Old Beer’ style from Dusseldorf. And we ended with some hops to freshen the palate.

The final Rye pale made with Motueka hops to give a light citrussy lemony flavour. And this sparked the conversation about the July theme. Back towards hops away from malts we decided the theme should be ‘West Coast’. As usual make of the theme what you will – the obvious West Coast IPA or maybe a California Steam beer or maybe something from Bristol! I look forward to seeing the interpretations.

Cheers

Alan’s Raspberry Saison recipe

Alan’s Raspberry & Lemon Saison

BrewerAlan MolloyStyleFruited Saison

Beer details

This beer was brought into the March 2022 meeting and was an instant hit. Fresh, fruity, zesty and bright it was a real summer drink that sings out with the raspberry flavour perfectly balanced against the Saison base.

OG1.034FG1.002
ABV4.0%IBU28
ColourRaspberry pinkBrew size40L

Mash ingredients

IngredientsWeight
Extra Pale Ale5.4kg

Boil additions

IngredientsWeightTime
Target Hops 10.5% AA25gStart of boil
Protafloc tablet1 tab50min
Lemon zest60g55min
Celeia 4.1%AA48gFlame out for 20min

Yeast

Type2 x Wyeast 3711 (French Saison)

Fermenter

IngredientWeightTime
Frozen and crushed raspberries4.0kg5 days
Mash:
On my set-up I required 11L at 78C to give a starting mash temp of 65.2C & ending at 62.4C, after 90mins I sparged with 35L @ 80C.This gave me 35L @ 1.036, which I diluted with 3L treated brew water to reduce OG to 1.032. 

Boil:
38L in the boil for 60mins with Target hops. Protafloc added 10mins before end of boil. Lemon zest added 5mins before end of boil. (TIP: peel the rind of the lemon & chop it up in a food processor, much easier). Celeia added @ switch off & left to cool to 80C stirring twice. Took 20mins. 

Fermenter:
Run wort through plate chiller to reduce temp to 30C & collected 32L @ 1.034.Agitation with a sterilised paddle. Pitched yeast direct from “Smack Pack” into wort @ 28C. (TIP: Spray outside of pack with steriliser before opening). This yeast ferments better at higher temp – 28 to 32C.After 5 days reached 1.002 & dropped temp to 8C overnight. 24hours later I added 4,000g of crushed raspberries in a fine muslin hop bag into the fermenter. The wort was now @ 14C. left them to soak for 5 days. 

Bottling:
31L bottled in 330ml & 500ml bottles. The final gravity was 1.003 giving ABV of 4.1%.I prime each bottle with normal white sugar, 330ml=<1/8tsp, 500ml=1/8tsp.
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.

Funky funky

Well that was an unexpected delve into funky sour beers. February’s meeting threw curveballs in both the location and the selection of beers on offer.

Firstly thanks to everyone at The George for the (very) warm welcome and help setting up. The Hop House was a great venue for the meeting, plenty of space and quiet enough for easy conversation and sharing of beer details. I think if we set up more talks or presentation this will be an ideal location.

The Hop House at The George

Then to the beers – without any prompting this session turned into an exploration of funky sour beers. A pineapple sour, a Flanders red, a lambic and a cherry lambic. Quite an exploration of the sour palette and some amazing examples of the layers of complexity fermenting with something other than saccharomyces cerevisiae. The night was topped off with a super Ginger stout that reminded me heavily of Dandelion & Burdock from the Pop truck.

One other difference was the later closing time of the pub – which meant a lively discussion about everything beer and not lasted quite later than usual. A great night all round.

Cheers

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.

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

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.

Lets get started

So this is the first post on our new website. Thanks to Gren for doing the internet technical wizardry that got this up and running. Cheers.

My name is Ian and I’m a home brewer.

I got back into this way of life again last year after several years of buying beer like a mortal. One of the things about making your own booze that I’ve realised is that as much enjoyment comes from talking about the process as comes from drinking the output. After watching people’s eyes gaze over as I start banging on about mash temperatures or fermentation temperatures it became apparent that we needed somewhere like-minded people could bang on together in Windsor.

Thanks to the support of Paddy at Windsor & Eton brewery we’ll be lucky enough to host this actually in the brewery surrounded by the stainless steel tank we all dream about.

I can’t wait to get this up and running – our first meeting will be on 25th September 2019 – and see what it evolves into.

Thanks to Steve, Alan & Ben who have given me the confidence that there is a desire out there for this and have helped get us to this point now. It’s going to be great.

Cheers!