Now Brewing: Hip Hop – Nelson Sauvin

OK, not quite “Now Brewing”, but I do have an excuse for not blogging. Here she is with me, Sam and Charlotte at the Bristol Beer Factory stout day.

This is a brew that we did a couple of weeks ago and bottled on Friday. We decided to do a SMASH (single malt and single hop) to try out some Nelson Sauvin, which we’d never brewed with before. We settled on “Hip Hop” as a name to use for this and future SMASH experiments, so this one is qualified with the name of the hop.

The recipe is a simple one with just Maris Otter malt, and three additions of the Nelson Sauvin.

Recipe Overview
Wort Volume Before Boil: 25.00 l Wort Volume After Boil: 19.00 l
Volume Transferred: 19.00 l Water Added To Fermenter: 2.00 l
Volume At Pitching: 21.00 l Volume Of Finished Beer: 21.00 l
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG Expected OG: 1.053 SG
Expected FG: 1.009 SG Apparent Attenuation: 81.9 %
Expected ABV: 5.8 % Expected ABW: 4.6 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 57.2 IBU Expected Color (using Morey): 9.3 EBC
Ingredient Amount % MCU When
UK Pale Ale Malt 4.500 kg 100.0 % 5.4 In Mash/Steeped
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
NZ Nelson Sauvin 12.6 % 20 g 31.1 Loose Whole Hops 90 Min From End
NZ Nelson Sauvin 12.5 % 50 g 26.1 Loose Whole Hops 10 Min From End
NZ Nelson Sauvin 12.5 % 30 g 0.0 Loose Whole Hops In Fermenter

The result is really tasty. It’s a great showcase for the hops, a dangerously drinkable for a 5.9% beer. I’m looking forward to trying some other fancy hops in this way.


Now Brewing: Winter Beermalade

The second brew I made, and the first with extract rather than a kit, was a witbier to which I added a big dollop of homemade marmalade. This was christened “Beermalade”. This weekend we brewed a winter warmer, and decided at the last minute to spice it up with some marmalade. I still have several jars of a very dark marmalade I made a couple of years ago, which also had a little rum in it. In the end we just added a whole jar, so we had to call it Winter Beermalade, to distinguish it from the wheat beer which I’ve renamed Summer Beermalade (and will try to recreate next year).

We’re gradually trying to get our brewing setup just right, and our previous bottleneck was chilling. Frozen Coke bottles may be simple, but aren’t quick. We gaffed around for a few weeks working out the cheapest way to get the bits for making an immersion chiller until we realised it’d only cost about a tenner more to buy a ready-made one, which is bound to be better. So Sam ordered one, and it fantastic. We got from boiling to about 15C in ten minutes, which was an amazing improvement. Overall our brew day took five hours: around 90 mins quicker than our previous one. The next upgrade will be hop filtering. A sheet of muslin really doesn’t cut it.

The brew itself is going really well. A winter warmer is a great traditional British style. A relatively (but not massively) strong ale, with good sweetness and loads of body to warm you up on a cold winter’s night. Unlike some other winter beers, it’s not normally spiced, so our marmalade addition is not traditional, but is delicious. For our grain bill, we used lots of crystal malt for sweetness and body, with Munich and amber malts for more body and a biscuity flavour. We added oat malt and terrified wheat to give it good head retention and hopefully even more rich body. We don’t want the beer to be too hoppy, so it’s a simple combination of Challenger for bittering and East Kent Goldings for aroma.

New immersion chiller

Straining the last of the wort from the hops. Not the best system.

WInter Beermalade fermentation progress

OG: 1.056. Predicted FG 1.010. Predicted ABV 6.2. IBU: 32.7. Colour: 26 EBC (but that doesn’t include the dark marmalade).

Ingredient Amount % MCU When
UK Pale Ale Malt 4.500 kg 78.0 % 4.6 In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 0.500 kg 8.7 % 10.2 In Mash/Steeped
UK Oat Malt 0.200 kg 3.5 % 0.1 In Mash/Steeped
UK Torrified Wheat 0.200 kg 3.5 % 0.1 In Mash/Steeped
UK Amber Malt 0.110 kg 1.9 % 0.7 In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 0.110 kg 1.9 % 0.2 In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 0.050 kg 0.9 % 7.7 In Mash/Steeped
Marmalade 0.300 kg End Of Boil
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
UK Challenger 9.5 % 30 g 27.4 Loose Whole Hops 90 Min From End
UK Golding 5.5 % 30 g 5.4 Loose Whole Hops 10 Min From End

Bristol Beer Factory

Now brewing: Indian Summer autumnal IPA.

For our second St Agnes brew we decided to do a continuously-hopped IPA with a difference. In honour of the “Indian summer” we were having at the time we thought of it, we decided to give it an autumnal twist. We took it darker than an IPA would usually be, and with richer maltiness from crystal and Munich malts. The hops we chose were English Fuggles, with a total of 20 additions!

Checking the temperature of the mash. I wasn't really that bored: I'd just noticed we were being stalked by a cat.

After the temperature fiascos of the last brew, I bought a new thermometer. It did us well.

First runnings

Bags of dry hops

We added hops every five minutes during the boil, plus at flame-out. We also added 30g to the fermenter. Unlike previous dry-hoppings, we put these into muslin bags, to avoid the bottling stick getting all jammed up with bits of hop. Hopefully the flavours will still come through.

Loads of hops

We used 220g of hops in total!

We hit the target OG on the nail. The yeast was the remains of the stuff I’d got from Bristol Beer Factory a few weeks ago. The brew day was on Saturday, so it’s been in the FV for a few days now. It seemed to get stuck at 1.017 with no change for 24 hours and no bubbles from the airlock. Remembering how it came back to life last time, I roused it a bit this morning and it immediately sprung back into life. When I say immediately, I mean the airlock was bubbling again within seconds of putting the lid back on, and had dropped to 1.015 within a few hours. I’m guessing it’ll be done by tomorrow.

Recipe Overview

Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG Expected OG: 1.055 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG Apparent Attenuation: 81.9 %
Expected ABV: 6.1 % Expected ABW: 4.8 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 64.6 IBU Expected Color (using Morey): 24.7 EBC


Ingredient Amount % MCU When
UK Pale Ale Malt 3.200 kg 68.1 % 3.8 In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 0.900 kg 19.1 % 2.0 In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 0.500 kg 10.6 % 15.4 In Mash/Steeped
German Melanoidin Malt 0.100 kg 2.1 % 1.0 In Mash/Steeped


Variety Alpha Amount IBU When
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 9.2 90 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 9.2 85 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 9.1 80 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 9.1 75 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 20 g 8.9 70 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 4.3 60 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 4.2 55 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 4.1 50 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 4.0 45 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 3.8 40 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 3.6 35 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 3.3 30 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 3.0 25 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 2.6 20 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 2.1 15 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 1.6 10 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 0.9 5 Min
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 10 g 0.0 At turn off
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 30 g 0.0 In Fermenter

Yeast: Bristol Beer Factory

Now Brewing: Triple A – Highly Rated Amber Ale

Note our brewery logo.

Exciting times in brew land for me. I’ve just moved 100 miles back to Bristol after two and a half years in Cornwall. In addition to all the obvious things to think about, brewing is taking a new turn for me too! For one, despite being smaller, the new house has a much better space for brewing than my old place. Secondly, my friend and one time brew buddy Sam now lives 92 seconds walk around the corner, which means there’s two of us to brew. I thought that this means it’s time for this brewery to get a name. Welcome to Saint Agnes Brewery, named after the tiny area in Bristol in which we live. In between all the unpacking that’s taken over my life, I took a few minutes out to draw a logo, based on St Agnes church just down the road from my house.

My new house has a conservatory which is a perfect space for brewing.

The other thing to consider in our new brewery is the fact that the extremely hard water in Bristol is completely different from the soft moorland water from my area in Cornwall. This will require a bit of getting used to. Luckily I have some help, in the form of the excellent Bristol Beer Factory. I popped in to have a chat with Brett, one of the brewers there. He was kind enough to give me a jar of their yeast, as well as a bit of info on the water. Seems they just use a bit of lactic acid, and he has no trouble when brewing at home in using no treatment at all, so that’s the approach I took.

For our first brew we decided to go for a variant on an American amber ale. Unlike its homeland, this is triple A-rated. Partly this was based on the fact I had various random stuff left over from brewing the Coal Porter and Red Top which would go well in this style.

Our first hop addition, of Citra.


Ingredient Amount %
Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt 3.200 kg 83.9 %
Amber Malt 0.400 kg 10.5 %
Munich Malt 0.100 kg 2.6 %
Medium Crystal 0.075 kg 2.0 %
Chocolate Malt 0.040 kg 1.0 %


Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
Citra 13.0 % 20 g 34.2 Loose Whole Hops 90 Min From End
US Willamette 4.5 % 30 g 6.0 Loose Whole Hops 10 Min From End
US Willamette 4.5 % 30 g 0.0 Loose Whole Hops At turn off
Slovenian Styrian Goldings 4.5 % 20 g 0.0 Loose Whole Hops At turn off
Expected IBU: 40.2 IBU Expected Colour: 19.8 EBC

At turn off we seemed to have hit the target OG of 1.045 right on the nail, but at pitching it was reading as 1.040 which was a little confusing as the refractometer is supposed to adjust for temperature. Perhaps boiling point is too high to correct for?

This morning, about 16 hours after pitching, gravity was already down to 1.028 1.020. That BBF yeast is certainly hard working.

It's been bubbling away like crazy overnight.

We did plan to add some hops to the fermentation vessel, but hadn’t decided which, and in the end completely forgot. Still may, though at this rate the fermentation will be over soon. We’re planning on bottling, so no dry hopping.

Now brewing: Red Top Best Bitter

In honour of the most entertaining news story for ages, this is Red Top Best Bitter. The trouble is, it’s not actually that red. It’s a lie!!!! Actually, I had this brew planned for ages and didn’t have a name for it. I also thought of this name, so not letting the facts get in the way of a good beer, this is the name I gave it.

Anyway, it’s a semi-clone of St.Austell’s Tribute, which is one of my favourite local beers. They brew it using “Cornish Gold” malt, which is produced for them by Tucker’s. I thought I’d give it a go, and emailed the maltsters, but as expected they said it’s onyl for St Austell, so no go there. The advice is to substitute Munich malt. I added some melanoidin malt as well. The hop schedule is accurate, though they use an interesting variant of a hop back: another mash tun with a bed of aroma hops, into which they run off the boiled wort. I just used post-boil hops as usual. These hops are American Willamette and Styrian Goldings, with the bittering done with lots of Fuggles.

For the yeast, I used some captured from a bottle of HSD and of Admiral. I may have under-pitched, as I’m not sure I built up the starter for long enough. We shall see. Target OG was 1.048, with predicted ABV of 4.8%. I hit that pretty much right on the mark, despite losing more to evaporation than I expected, as my pre-boil gravity was a bit low. I’d lost my thermometer, so had to use a BBQ thermometer, so I’m not too confident of the temperatures, which may have affected the efficiency. Of course I found my thermometer just after I’d finished brewing.


  • Maris Otter Pale malt: 3.5 kg (85%)
  • Munich malt: 400g (10%)
  • Melanoidin malt: 200g (5%)


  • 90 mins: 50g Fuggles (3.8% AA)
  • Post-boil: 30g Styrian Goldings (4.3% AA)
  • Post-boil: 30g Willamette (3.6% AA)

Yeast: St Austell. OG 1.048

Malted pigs

As an aside to yesterday’s brew, I think I’ve found some more fans of my homebrew – or at least the malt. These are our (or rather our co-op’s) pigs, just arrived on Sunday. We took the spent malt and hops up to them this morning to see if they liked it. No doubt about that: they went crazy for it. Let’s see if they like the yeast next week (I’ll kill it first to avoid making them ill). Who knows: this might give some interesting flavours to their meat.


Now brewing: Coal Porter

I love a good porter in winter, and as porter is at its best when matured, now is the time to get brewing. Proper porters in the 18th century got their complex flavours from the fact that maltsters were unable to create pale, uniform malts. The malts they used were all different colours, so to recreate this brewers often use several different types of malt in their porter. Not a fan of doing things by halves, I decided to go for ten malts in mine. Some of these are old-fashioned malts like amber and brown, with a little smoked malt to recreate some of the smokiness brought about by the way malts were kilned. Others are modern, such as melanoidin malt, a German innovation which allows the brewer to get some of the rich, deep maltiness found in Oktoberfest beers without the complicated decoction mashing normally required. The base malt is still the good old Maris Otter pale malt. Despite this, the predicted colour was almost black – it doesn’t take a lot of dark malt to get a very dark beer.

Sam joined me for this brew, so about half of those pics were by him.

This is the first recipe that I’ve created using Beer Alchemy for Mac, which is really excellent. The spreadsheet calculator I used before was good, but this is a lot easier.

Ingredient Amount % MCU When
UK Pale Ale Malt 2.900 kg 47.5 % 3.2 In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 0.500 kg 8.2 % 1.0 In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 0.500 kg 8.2 % 14.1 In Mash/Steeped
UK Brown Malt 0.500 kg 8.2 % 10.3 In Mash/Steeped
UK Amber Malt 0.500 kg 8.2 % 3.6 In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 0.400 kg 6.6 % 65.3 In Mash/Steeped
UK Smoked Malt 0.200 kg 3.3 % 0.2 In Mash/Steeped
German Melanoidin Malt 0.200 kg 3.3 % 1.9 In Mash/Steeped
UK Oat Malt 0.200 kg 3.3 % 0.1 In Mash/Steeped
UK Torrified Wheat 0.200 kg 3.3 % 0.1 In Mash/Steeped
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
UK Challenger 9.3 % 35 g 33.1 Loose Whole Hops 90 Min From End
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 25 g 5.5 Loose Whole Hops 20 Min From End
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 25 g 3.3 Loose Whole Hops 10 Min From End
UK Fuggle 3.8 % 25 g 0.0 Loose Whole Hops At turn off
Other Ingredients
Ingredient Amount When
Cinnamon Stick 10 g In Boil
Protafloc 3 g In Boil
Coffee, Ground 20 g In Fermenter

Brewlab 1000-Thames Valley 3

Recipe Overview
Expected ABV: 6.4 % Expected OG: 1.063 SG
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 41.8 IBU Expected Color (using Morey): 69.1 EBC
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %

Summer Session in bottles

Two of them, anyway. Most of this is going into the cask, but I’ve filled two bottles to take on a trip. It’s cleared nicely, thanks to kieselsol and gelatine. It’s very refreshing with loads of Citra aroma, as I hoped.

Note the ABV has changed: it fermented more than I’d expected, and I can test it more accurately with my new refractometer.

Ten malt porter

It’s a beautiful sunny day down here in Cornwall, so it’s the perfect time to start thinking about brewing a rich, dark Christmas porter, right?  At the weekend I started working on a recipe for Coal Porter, the brew I’ve been planning to keep for Christmas, and ordered the malts that I’ll need for it. They arrived today and include:

  • Munich Malt
  • Dark Crystal Malt
  • Brown Malt
  • Amber Malt
  • Chocolate Malt
  • Peated Malt
  • Melanoidin Malt
  • Oat Malt
  • Torrified Wheat the Maris Otter makes ten. I also plan to add a cinnamon stick and some coffee, and hop it with Fuggles. I don’t have any free weekends for ages, so this will need to be a weekday brew. Let’s see how that works out! I’m just waiting on the yeast to arrive now. I’ve ordered Thames Valley 3 from Brewlab, which I believe is (or is similar to) the Fuller’s strain, and so should be perfect for porter.

Also in the delivery was some more Citra, so I’ve dry-hopped the Summer Session with 25g. It’s good, but I still want more of that Citra aroma, and hopefully this will do the trick.

Summer Session

After a (hopefully) false alarm where I thought a fruit fly had found its way into the fermenter, this has finished fermenting and is now in a secondary fermenter with some Polyclar while I decide whether to bottle or cask it. It’s tasting really good, and in honour of the lovely weather this weekend I decided to give it a new name: Summer Session. I made up a label, as is now traditional. Continue reading