Beer incommunicado

I haven’t blogged in a long while, mainly so that I could write this post and remind you all that I haven’t blogged in a long while. I’ve had to be patient so as to achieve the maximum impact. A poignant tale.

I write to you at a time when there’s never been a richer tapestry of beer makers, distribution shakers, publicans, bloggers, vloggers, curators and all-round beer communicators.  The payoff? …as any artificer will tell you, you can’t achieve a complicated weave without a few warping errors.

Warp, for those of you not fluent in weaver jive, are the strings that go across the loom and form the structure on which one weaves. Warp needs to be threaded carefully, because if it isn’t, you will have trouble that lasts and lasts and lasts.

I’ll leave this here.


I’m the yeast starter, punk beer instigator.

I’m the hop addicted, danger illustrated.

I’m a yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter,
you’re the yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter.

I’m the batch you hated, malt infatuated.

Yeah, I’m the drainpour you tasted, fell intoxicated.

I’m a yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter,
you’re the yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter.

I’m the self-inflicted, skunked-beer detonator.

Yeah, I’m the one invented, twisted ale-curator.

I’m a yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter,
you’re the yeaststarter, twisted yeaststarter.

starter… starter… starter…

Sour Beer Project


They say that you’re more likely to achieve your goals if they’re written down.  I can neither confirm or deny this hypothesis, but I’m still going to use it as my opening line.

I’m going to brew a few batches of sour beer, yes on purpose.  I read today that sour beer is “so last year”, which appeals to me. I like to stay a couple of steps behind the pioneers.

Further research needed on the choice of methods/ingredients, but I’m definitely going to use my 10L stove-top BIAB kit.  Small batches, experimental, and hopefully a learning experience.

Sour to the people!

A Measured Approach to Ordering a Beer

“Pint please”.

Two words that everyone understands.  Uncomplicated.  Universally measurable.  Sort of.

It’s not always that straightforward these days.  I found myself on the receiving end of a complicated bar-transaction last night.  It went something like this…

“Two thirds of [beer name] please”

“Is that two 1/3rds or one 2/3rd?”

“One 2/3rd

“We also do pints”

“Just 2/3rds please”

It was a little awkward and I guess we both saw the funny side of it, but secretly we both knew this was an issue.

I’ll order a pint next time.

Bike-Friendly Pubs

I follow Pure Mountains on Twitter.  They’re good eggs.  I particularly enjoy their weekly feature #MTBMonday, when followers and interested parties can join the mountain biking community to chat and share experiences.  You also get the chance to win a prize or two.  Last night’s theme was “bike-friendly pubs”.

It’s sometimes nice to end your ride with a pint.  Post ride pints taste exceptionally good.  If you’re anything like me then you won’t mind standing in a car park, or perching your pint on a fence post; but the taste of a pint can be enhanced when you and your fellow riders can enjoy the full amenities a good pub can offer.  This works both ways; bikers want to feel welcome and able to enjoy their drink without the dirty looks; but equally, the landlord and non-riding customers should be free to enjoy their drink without the (sometimes) dirty visitors.  I thought I’d take a note of the pubs recommended by Pure Mountains’ followers, and here’s the list so far.  Please let me know your top bike-friendly pubs, and I’ll add them to the list.  Amazingly, there are no Scottish suggestions, yet.


North West & Lake District

Britannia Inn, Elterwater (suggested by @HaworthBantam)

Eagle & Child Inn, Staveley (suggested by @onlinebully)

Hawkshead Brewery Tap, Staveley (suggested by @marcprill)

The Kirkstile Inn, nr. Buttermere, (suggested by @Knight_ems)

The Pooley Bridge Inn, Pooley Bridge (suggested by @SupernovaDarren)

The Orange Tree Hotel, Kirkby Lonsdale (suggested by @KLBrewery)


Yorkshire & Dales

The Wheatsheaf Inn, Gomersal, Dewsbury (suggested by @ianstreet67 & @ChasinSheepMTB)

Tan Hill, Swaledale (suggested by @PureMountains)


Derbyshire & Peak District

The Little Mill Inn, Rowarth (suggested by @chris39sheldon)

The Fox, New Mills, Nelson (suggested by @psidgwick)



The Diggle Hotel, Saddleworth (suggested by @chris39sheldon)

The Jolly Sailor, Waterfoot, Rossendale (suggested by @TransAlpUK)



The Whitcombe Inn, Aberdare (suggested by @AberdareMTB)

Royal Ship Hotel, Dolgellau (Snowdonia National Park & localish to Coed y Brenin)


South West

Plough Inn, Holford, Somerset (suggested by @feralmarmot)

The Black Horse, Clapton, Bristol (suggested by @PureMountains)

Five Bells, Buriton, Petersfield, Hampshire, (South West-ish) (suggested by @QECP_Collective)



The Country of Belgium (suggested by @BeerBiker)


P.s.  I imagine that most pubs will welcome considerate bikers, but to avoid disappointment you could always check with a pub in advance.  That said, impromptu pub visits are better! …and there is always room in your pack for a cheeky beer! #DrinkResponsibly


AG#39 Fourth Dimension IPA

Original Gravity (OG): 1.044
Final Gravity (FG): 1.012
Alcohol (ABV): 4.2%
Colour (EBC): 8
Bitterness (IBU): 37 (Average

3.20kg Dingemans Pale Ale Malt
0.18kg Dingemans Pale Wheat Malt
0.10kg Crystal

10g Columbus (leaf) (14.5% Alpha) @60 minutes from the end (boil)
40g Ahtanum (pellet) (5.2% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (boil)
40g US Cascade (pellet) (7.1% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (boil)
40g Columbus (leaf) (14.5% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (boil)
40g Ahtanum (pellet) (5.2% Alpha) dry after primary
40g US Cascade (pellet) (7.1% Alpha) dry after primary

Yeah…the usual process. Collected 19L 1.044.

Safale US05 American Ale Yeast
19/01/15 1.034
22/01/15 1.014
24/01/15 1.012
26/01/15 1.012
26/01/14 Dry hops added:
Ahtanum (pellets) 40g
Cascade (pellets) 40g


AG#38 Strong Golden Ale – Damn Nation II


Original Gravity (OG): 1.068 (corrected after adding yeast starter / see below)
Final Gravity (FG): 1.006
Alcohol (ABV): 8.1%
Colour (EBC): 8
Bitterness (IBU): 24 (Average)

5.00kg Dingemans Pilsen Malt
0.12kg Pale Wheat Malt
1.00kg Belgian Candi Sugar (clear)

100g Savinjski Golding (pellet) (2.2% Alpha) @90 minutes from the end (boil)
50g Saaz (pellet) (4.1% Alpha) @0 minutes from the end (boil)

WLP 545 Belgian Strong Ale Yeast (liquid) 2.0L starter

I’ve brewed Strong Golden Ale before and it turned out well.  A few tweaks to the recipe, notably swapping WLP500 for WLP545, and substituting Styrian Golding for Savinjski.  Owing to the very low AA% of the Savinjski, I opted to stick with the hop variety but put all 100g in at the beginning of the boil and drop the 30 minute addition.  I worried about these changes for all of 30 seconds, quickly finding comfort in the words of Stan Hieronymus – in his excellent book, Brew Like a Monk –  “remember, brewing is about choices!“.  If you’ve read the book, or tried to brew from it, you’ll know that the recipes within only offer a range to work in.

It was a decent brewday, no drama.  I decided early on that I would brew to my recipe but not get hung up on temperature / volume / gravity / readings.  I’ve found that targets can detract from the fun of brewing a beer.  I know they can be important, but not today.  The usual bit:  For the mash: 5.12kg grain, 13.5L liquor at a strike temperature of 78C. This got me a 67C mash temp, which held for 90 minutes.  Sparged at 76C 18.3L liquor.  The copper I’m using isn’t calibrated, so I didn’t take a pre boil volume. Pre boil gravity was 1.052.

90 minute boil (added the candi sugar at 15 minutes from the end of the boil).  Post boil I collected 17L of wort, with an OG of 1.072.  As you can see from the photo, the Dingemans Pilsen Malt was good to its word “light in colour and low in protein”.


Pitched the 1.040 2.0L yeast starter at 20C.  I’m making a guesstimate at this point, as I know that I need to adjust my original gravity to include the yeast starter.  Feel free to correct me on this, but I opted to use an average gravity reading for the blend of starter and post boil wort.  I borrowed this from the internet:

( ( OG1 * V1 ) + ( OG2 * V2 ) ) / ( V1 + V2 ) = SG


  • OG1 is the original gravity of your starter wort (1.040)
  • V1 is the volume of your starter wort (2)
  • OG2 is the original gravity of your wort (1.072)
  • V2 is the volume of your wort (17)
  • SG is the specific gravity of the blend (1.068)

I’ll be sending a few bottles of this over to the good folk at the Beer O’Clock Show, and will be tasted and tested by the other participants in Season 6 of their homebrew special.  So there we have it….Take 2 of a beer I’ve enjoyed brewing, and fingers crossed, I’ll enjoy drinking!

Craft Sparge Monitor.  1 strike = 1 litre

Craft Sparge Monitor.
1 strike = 1 litre

Update 14/01/15 1.046
Update 19/01/15 1.022
Update 22/01/15 1.012
Update 26/01/15 1.008
Update 05/02/15 1.006 bottled. Batch primed 17L with 100g sugar. (6g/l)