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)

Golden Pints 2014


I have imbibed some most excellent and desirable beer during 2014. The quality of beer available to me from both licenced traders and amateur alchemists has been encouraging and extremely tasty.  Despite quality, taste and aroma, my faculties may let me down while attempting to recall even the most impressive of beers. To those forgotten heroes I say, you enhanced a moment in my life and for that I grant all breweries a hearty “cheers!”.  Where I have chosen more than one, I have cheated and have no backbone. So, without further ado…..

Best UK Cask Beer
Hawkshead Windermere Pale Ale
Rat Brewery White Rat

Best UK Keg Beer
Magic Rock Human Cannonball

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
A close run thing, between:
Brewdog Dead Pony Pale Ale
Wiper and True Quintet IPA

Best Overseas Draught
Anchor Porter

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Orval (bottle)
Flying Dog Easy IPA (can)

Best collaboration brew
Magic Rock Lervig Aktiebryggeri Farmhouse IPA

Best Overall Beer
Magic Rock Human Cannonball

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label
Outlaw Brew Co.

Best UK Brewery
Magic Rock Brew Co.

Best Overseas Brewery

Best New Brewery Opening 2014
Indy Man Brew Co.

Pub/Bar of the Year
North Bar, Leeds
Friends of Ham, Leeds

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014
Cap & Collar, Saltaire

Best beer and food pairing
Tool Mine is Bigger than Yours Barley Wine + Mince Pie(s)

Beer Festival of the Year
Indy Man Beer Con.

Supermarket of the Year

Independent Retailer of the Year
Beer Ritz, Leeds

Online Retailer of the Year
Southwold Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Store

Best Beer Book or Magazine
Designing Great Beers – Ray Daniels

Best Beer Blog or Website
Joint honours to:
The Beer Cast
Port 66

Best Beer App
Craft Beer London

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer

Best Brewery Website
Burning Sky Artisan Brewers & Blenders


Water goes in, beer comes out…

A few thoughts.

When I started homebrewing I was a procrastinator.  Recipes would be developed through an iterative cycle of uncertainty and self doubt. Brewing forums constantly presenting me with reasons to tweak the 30 minute addition of hops by 2 grams so that the bittering units would form a nice round number.  How many grams of gypsum should I use? 3 grams or 3.2 grams?!  My kit would be set out hours in advance, and family members banished from the house.  Every detail of the brew day had to be written down, step-by- step-by-tedious-step.  I loved those days. I got some good results and I got some bad.

After brew #25 something changed. Things became more complicated, busy, bastardised. Brewing became a chore.  I didn’t brew as regularly, and when I did brew it was all about taking shortcuts, shoehorning the process in.  Beer was brewed, but this beer had an aftertaste of resentment.

My last five or so brewdays have been a joy. I decide to brew, I turn the HLT on, check what ingredients I have available to me, weigh some grain and mash in. In goes a teaspoon of gypsum and a measure of “I don’t give a flying duck” about getting things exactly right.

I get some good results and I get some bad.

BrewBarrel – Homebrew Kit


I was contacted by the guys over at Brewbarrel – a German startup which has just launched its business in the United Kingdom – and I accepted their offer of a kit, in exchange for my thoughts.

The kits cost £25 but the packaging is well presented and the instructions are clear and were true to their word when stating “preparing your Brewbarrel takes about 10 minutes”.


Brewbarrel offer”customised” beers to brew, with a choice of Pilsner, Lager, Wheat Beer, Pale Ale or Dark Beer. You can then choose a “hop profile” to your tastes with either “mild, standard or bitter”; before pimping your brew with one of “lemon, lime, grapefruit, mango, oak timber or bourbon timber”.  I received the required; malt extract, hop oil, mango essence and dried “Hefe” yeast, to brew a Mango Pale Ale. Not sure of the % abv.


The aromas from each of the ingredients were promising, and after following the simple instructions, the combination of the parts worked too.


If you’ve brewed a beer kit from the large cans of malt extract before, then you’ll be familiar with the routine. Add malt extract, then use boiling water to make sure all of the malt extract is removed from the bottle. Cold tap water is then added, before the hop oil, yeast and any other additions (recipe specific).


The yeast is a 4g sachet of Brewbarrel dried yeast.  Everything is easily added without the use of a funnel (if you take your time, and have a steady hand!).


The instructions then take you through sealing the keg; returning to it after 24 hours to agitate it, before leaving for a 4 day fermentation. On the fifth day I’ll be putting the keg in the fridge to condition for a further 2 days. Simple and fun. All that’s left to do is to taste it in a week’s time.  I’ll update this post with a thumbs up, or a thumbs down.


Thanks to Jan for the kit, and you can find more information about the beer and the company on their site, and you can follow them on Twitter.

Update 26/12/14
Tried the beer today and I wasn’t a fan. If you like a floral (very) sweet beer then this may be for you. It was like a cordial based drink. It had carbonated, and needed a lot of venting before it was possible to pour.

What Does Your Beer Say About You?

You may have noticed my Hoposcope tweets, or you may have chosen to ignore them. If you were one of the people who rolled your eyes…then keep on rolling….that’s it…all the way over there….good.

I read this tweet from Melissa Cole and found the content inspiring. The theme: What Does Your Beer Say About You?  I wrote some of my own:


Lambic: Your best day of the week is Thursday and your best colours are those of the sea: blue, green, lavender and silver.

ESB: You have an aptitude for healing & creating a better world. Along the way there are beautiful relationships to enjoy

Mild: Charming, elegant, stylish & romantic. Your best day of the week is Friday & your colours are gentle hues of blues, pinks and violets.

Saison: Mesmerising, insightful, determined, resourceful & focused. Your best day of the week is Tuesday & your colours deep red and black.

Black IPA: Quirky, determined, logical & eccentric. Your best colours are electric blue & anything metallic.You are ambitious & a good lover.

Old Ale: Mentally nimble, analytical, constructive, meticulous and often linguistically gifted. Your colours are Earthy greens and browns.

IPA: Bold, courageous, independent, enthusiastic, fun-loving & fascinating. Your best day of the week is Tuesday and orange is your colour.

Best Bitter: Persistent, appreciative, dependable, practical and passive. Your best day of the week is Friday and your best colour, brown.

Beer Blend: Funny, versatile, talkative, fast-thinking & sophisticated. Your best day is Wednesday & your best colours are yellow and lilac.

Helles: Sensitive, argumentative, imaginative & forthright. You do not recognise days of the week, you idolise Bono & your best colour is mint.

White Stout: You’re a maverick, misunderstood, you shoot from the hip & often too quick to judge. You love weekends and playing in the snow.

Lager: Your friends often tell you you’re quick tempered, you don’t suffer fools gladly & you have a potty mouth. You enjoy long walks alone.

Sour: In years to come your family will finally understand you. The flamboyant attire, erratic mood swings & pursed lips. Festivities bore you.

A Firm Favourite

I haven’t been this fresh for a while, not at this time of day, not this early in the week.

Well, not since Monday.

Earlier today I was sat in a bar in my local City, everyone should have one.

I drank a session lager beer, I drank a West Coast ideal and a Baltic dream.

I ordered a pizza which promised transatlantic origins and boasted ingredients from across the road.

I bought a bottle of beer from the fridge, a firm favourite.

I spoke to the brewer.

I contemplated the value of this transaction if I was to share it on social media.

I joked with the chef.

I knew there was no value in asking for a taster.

I talked about 100% cacao, provenance and Christmas.

I made an excuse to leave.

I listened to Paul Simon’s Graceland and smiled at the fellow forlorn commuters.

It’s an album I don’t listen to often enough.  A firm favourite.

I smiled all the way home.

AG#37 India Brown Ale

Original Gravity (OG): 1.052
Final Gravity (FG): 1.008
Alcohol (ABV): 5.8%
Colour (EBC): 48
Bitterness (IBU): 80 (Average)

4.25kg Pale Ale Malt
0.30kg Pale Wheat Malt
0.25kg Crystal Malt
0.25kg Chocolate Malt

20g Chinook (leaf) (12.7% Alpha) FWH
100g Ella (pellet) (15.0% Alpha) @10 minutes from the end (boil)
80g Bravo (pellet) (17.3% Alpha) dry hop
50g Pacific Gem (pellet) (14.8% Alpha) dry hop

Safale US-05 Ale Yeast (dry) 1pkt of 11.5g

Strike temp of 78C, 14.0L liquor for 5.05kg grain. Mashed in at 68C (single step infusion).   Mashed for about 9 hours but only because I went out on my bike…and was distracted by a couple of pubs.  Sparged at 78C 22L liquor. I over sparged because I was distracted by my beer fridge. The IBUs will probably be a bit much for the ABV, but not to worry. 60 minute boil.

I collected 24L of wort, post boil, with an OG of 1.052.  Pitched the yeast at 20C.


*token photo

I’ll be adding the dry hops to primary. Bravo and Pacific Gem.
Finished at 1.012 (5.2% abv)
Bottled 13/11/14 (19L 90g sugar batch prime).