Brewing beers NOT like those you buy…


I know the title of this article is a bit of a cheeky play on the title of this famous tome from Dave Line: but it’s entirely appropriate. 

I tend to brew beers that are completely unlike anything that I can buy – at least in the UK: when was the last time you found a Grapefruit Belgian Saison, or a Citra and Nelson Sauvin India Pale Ale in Sainsburys?

Trying to get beers completely to your taste is fun, at times irritating, and at other times completely bewildering to others when they taste it.  After my attempt at a massively over-the-top hopped interpretation of Thornbridge Kipling (, I was asked “Is that really metallic taste the hops in it?” and dear old Jim was right, it was. 

Double the quantity of aroma hops and half-as-much again of flavour hops did tend to produce a metallic note in the taste, a taste that took at least three weeks to a month to iron out – after that it was a thing of beauty and is now one of the most hit recipes on YIMB.  It’s one of the few recipes that I intend to make completely unmodified again.  When I do brew it up, I’ll save a couple of month-old bottles so that Jim can enjoy the mellow taste when the beer eventually comes right.

But it just goes to show how difficult it is when trying to get things just so

I’m currently agonising over whether to “dry-hop” another grapefruit’s worth of zest into the Saison.  It’s been fermenting for just over ten days now and a considerable bubble is still coming through the airlock every 15 seconds.  Will it ever stop?  US-05 would have killed that wort to 1009 in four days, no worries.  But I’m patient, and the taste of the small amount I stole from the fermenter was good (and 1014, so a bit to go) – but will it benefit from more grapefruit zest?

Likewise, my Citra and Nelson Sauvin Universal Sanction IPA (which I’ve yet to properly evaluate and rate) tastes kinda like it should; but would it have been cleaner and more hop-shiney with US-05 instead of S04?

The S04 ripped through the wort in extraordinary time but has left me with quite a different IPA experience, which is good but maybe not what I was looking for.  Dave says it’s quite nice, and he’s a seasoned ale drinker, so maybe it is.  Next time I’ll try another liquid yeast. 

Maybe I’ve had it with dried yeasts and am looking for something more complex, that only Wyeast and White Labs can provide?

If you’re wondering what prompted all this noodling, it’s the latest blog entry by Derek Dillinger on his Bear-Flavored site:

On other blogs and in other news, this piece: by Michael Tonsmeire on his The Mad Fermentationist blog has reminded me that I need to get brewing something dark for the Winter. 

And Michael’s method of dumping coffee beans directly in the fermenter sounds like a good, hassle-free, way of getting a Breakfast Stout (Coffee and Oatmeal) on the go.  I quite fancy some vanilla pod-action in it too. 

That’s the great thing about home-brewing, you’re always on the look-out for the next recipe idea that could produce yet another beer that you couldn’t ever hope to buy…

Bad Beer and Lemonade…

Have a read of this:

What do you reckon to that, eh?  I reckon shandy has it’s place, but only if it’s made with rubbish beer.

As a brewer I couldn’t bear to think of someone making a shandy up with one of my creations…surely that’s what Fosters, Carling, John Smiths and all the other mass-market stuff is there for?  They’re the beers to have Lemonade “tops” in – especially if you don’t like the taste of beer…

If you want to drink sweet fizzy stuff with a tiny bit of alcohol in why not try WKD, alco-pops, alcoholic ginger beer and all that other stuff?

I guess you could mix quality beers into some sort of godawful beer cocktail, but what’s the point?  I know Lambic and Gueze are blended, but that’s just because they have to – for quality control.

You wouldn’t have a Laphroaig single malt and coke, would you?   (Please don’t tell me you do.  That’s just not on…)

The joy of blogging

Let me just start off by saying how happy I am to have you folks as an audience.

It’s good of you to come along.  Pull up a chaise longue, stay awhile…if you’re a fellow blogger with a beer-based bent, or just have an interest in these things, a very warm welcome to you.

But some of you aren’t are you?

Some of you are hoping that I’ll just automatically follow or like your self-absorbed lifestyle, entrepreneurial or new-age religious taradiddle – just because you’ve followed or “liked” some of my articles.

Well it doesn’t quite work that way I’m afraid.

You see this blog is about beer, yeast and bread.  Not about ways of improving my blog’s readership through some hare-brained SEO bullshittery, it’s not about making a fuck-load of money before breakfast or finding some higher spiritual awareness – although heaven knows it and I could probably do with all these things.

While we’re on the subject: “Likes.”  I don’t believe for one minute that a teen girl group from Columbia actually gives a flying toss about my inane ramblings on IPA styles – even if I am devastatingly handsome, can write like Wilde and wield a rapier-like wit.

Please don’t “like” things in the vain hope that I’ll come over and start “liking” your vacuous shit.

In short: please don’t follow me in the hope that I’ll automatically follow your blog.  Chuck as many “likes” as you like; I “like” something when I like something – not because I’m hoping to get into some mutual “like” daisy-chaining.  (Don’t get me started on LinkedIn endorsements FFS)

If your blog is interesting, funny or about beer then fine, I’m interested, I’ll definitely follow, like and enjoy your work.  If you’re just fishing for a readership and self-aggrandizement then you can do one.


To quote from The Young Ones…

…I am bereft of ribs

Boner Beer bottle - HicksCan you believe that this was originally a fictional beer, that ended up being made into a real beer.  FFS.  Mind you, the side-splitting comedic possibilities are endless:

Watch some football and pop a boner

Why not give the one you love a boner?

Why not get a boner down your throat?


If you really have to have some boner you can go here:

(at least the “Fucking Hell” beer wasn’t quite so contrived…)


Free Kudos and Admiration…

…to anyone who can lay their hands on a bottle of this and send it to me:

The website is here

Yes: It’s a real beer, and yes F**king is a place in Austria.  Marvellous.  Natives get short shrift in other countries:

Where are you from, mate?

I’m from F**king, Austria

I only asked.”