BrewUKA bit like your local brewery, you should always hold your favourite home-brew suppliers dear.

As you probably know I tend to get my malt and hops locally (from Rob the malt miller as he’s local and has cut me a few favours on occasion)

But, for all my exciting sundries: kegs, pipes, buckets and all that jazz (and Wyeast!) I tend to go to Greg at BrewUK.  His prices are hard to beat and his range is pretty much unsurpassed.

The biggest draw to the BrewUK online presence, however, is the BrewUK forum…  I must admit that I wouldn’t be half the home-brewer I am today if it wasn’t for Saracen, Hamish and co.  They and the rest of the the community were the folks that set me off down the wort-splattered path of all-grain brewing.

I haven’t posted to the forum for ages, but feel I ought to if only to say “Hi” and also to ‘fess up to buying a Braumeister…will they ever forgive me?

So here’s the tip(s):  If you want some decent gear (including a *huge* range of extract/all-grain kits) go to the BrewUK store; however, if you need help, advice, or just a shoulder to cry on when you experience your fifteenth boil-over, you can’t go far wrong than join the BrewUK forum.


I have just logged on and said “Hi” – let’s hope there’s some Braumeister users on there.  I could do with some good recipe tips!

Speidel Brewmaster: First Brew (mishaps, gotchas and some solutions)

When my BM arrived on Friday, I couldn’t wait to get brewing.  Unfortunately what with everything going I did have to wait until Sunday evening…

Saturday evening did allow me a little play-time, where I tested the pumps and set up the mashing schedule program for the following evening.  After reading loads of conflicting suggestions I decided to go with the following (bear in mind that this is an American IPA style beer and I’m still getting my head around more than one available mash temperature!)

Dough-in at 38C
5 minutes protein rest at 53C
70 minutes Maltose rest at 66C
5 minutes Alpha Amylase rest at 73C
5 minutes Mash-out rest at 78C


I filled up the BM with 25 litres of filtered water, set the pre-programmed program going and waited.  I got some beeps after about ten minutes – meaning that the dough-in temperature of 38C had been reached.  So I stirred in my malt bill, locked down the malt pipe and screens with the retaining bar, put the lid on and left it to it.

(yeah, right…I actually spent a good half-an-hour watching the recirculating mash.  My wife got tired of it waaaaay before I did.)

Everything went swimmingly, the mash recirculated and I did some clearing up, and some other things that needed doing.  I remembered to weigh out the hops too.

20130901_212605Smashingly clear wort.  You can even see the filters through it

After the cycle was complete, more peeping alerted me to the fact that the BM wanted me to do something…and that something was remove the malt-pipe for the “sparge” (yes, I even remembered to separately get 8 litres of water up to 78C in the meantime…)

I undid the retaining bar, put the angled rod across the rim of the BM and lifted the pipe.  Hell, it was heavy – especially as, even though I’m a good 6’2″, it was quite a challenge to lift it up when it was on already on a kitchen worktop.

BM Error No. 1:  Have the BM on a lower surface.  It will make things easier to lift in future…but make sure that it’s still high enough to drain into a fermenter

Then, for some reason unknown to me, I decided to try and work out how much sparge water was required by lifting the malt-pipe and screens clear of the BM to see how much wort was in there.  BIG MISTAKE.  Holding a full malt-pipe (5Kg grain and probably 5 or 6 Kg of water) at the almost full extent to my arm’s reach while trying to relocate it (unsighted) back onto the central spindle of the BM is a fools game.

I had to call my wife away from whatever it was she was doing to put some lengths of wood across the BM rim to take the malt-pipe while I sparged – whilst watching some of the delightfully clear wort piss all over the kitchen floor and worktops

BM Error No. 2: Don’t lift the malt-pipe off of the central spindle until you want to remove it completely when you’ve finished sparging.  If you want to work out how much to sparge, think about the volume of water you put in and what you want your pre-boil volume to be, and then work it out based on that – bearing in mind that the volume loss to grain absorbtion is usually about 1 litre of water per kilo of grain.

So after that comedy caper, and lots of swearing, topping up with some filtered water, etc. I got a pre-boil volume of around 26 litres.  Once it got going, the boil went like a steam-train, I’m glad that I got the insulating jacket as that must have helped it crank along so well.

20130901_222457Lovely boil.  Note the central spindle that I had trouble with

I added a total of 125grams of hops in stages throughout the boil and they all surged about nicely and everything smelt lovely.

My wort chiller fitted perfectly into the BM and I even managed to remember the Irish Moss ten minutes before the end.  At boil end I took the thermal jacket off and set the chiller to work…

After a fair while (I wasn’t running the pump with that many hops in there – no chance – that would have been asking for a blockage) it was time for the run-off.

BM Error No. 3:  Don’t use the supplied tap.  It’s just too weeny to be any bloody use to anyone.  After standing there for bloody ages while it blocked up with hops and tiddled wort about like a potty-training toddler, I ended up spraying the tap with star san and physically unscrewing it and letting the wort run off through a sanitized sieve and funnel combination.

So far as I understand it’s a 3/4″ BSP female socket where the tap screws into on the BM, so I’ve just been onto the BES website and am ordering:

16830: 3/4″ Stainless Steel one-piece ball valve £8.70
14409: 3/4″ Stainless Steel Hexagon Nipple £1.91
14559: 3/4″ Stainless Steel Hose Tail Adapter £3.13


That should be a much better tap solution than the current BM standard item.  I will also fashion a hop filter of some sort too.

I did have to do a little careful tipping of the BM to get the last of the wort out, but in the end I got a fairly healthy 20 Litres of 1059 IPA into the fermenter.  I would have liked more – and the BM is certainly capable of providing more, but for a first shot I’m fairly happy.

Given the amount of wort I spilt/didn’t sparge properly/lost to hops and trub and the fact that it was only a 5Kg grain bill I could have done 23 litres at 1059 or higher with no problems…the efficiency on the BM is that magnificent and there’s still plenty of room in that malt-pipe!

Recipe details to follow in a separate post…

BES (Pipe Fittings):

BM Suppliers Extraordinaire:

Home-Brewed Chinarillo IPA: Tasting Notes

This tasting has been a long time in coming, so apologies for that.  The truth is that I’ve been sampling it from time-to-time, but this past spell of hot weather, and me with no kegerator, means that I’ve been mainly pulling pints of foam.

Fortunately a break in the heat has at last allowed to me to get some beer out and some notes down about it.

Straight from the cornelius keg we’re still getting a fairly monstrous head, but that will calm down as the weather cools.  The head is dense, long lasting and quite sticky.  Colour-wise it’s a hazy orangey-coppery, the haziness coming from a small amount of yeast still in suspension and the generous amount of Amarillo dry hopping.

The aroma that I get is bold, assertive and pretty much how I want it to be – zesty, grapefruity and really, really fresh.  There’s a little bit of minerality there too and a lovely malt ‘n’ alcohol underscore.

In the taste I get a truckload of BIG flavour: grapefruit, citrus peel and sweet malt – along with a very satisfying bitterness (about 50IBUs according to my calculations!)  The citrus and bitterness take turns to dominate before they fade to echoes of orangey citrus and malt, muted vegetative hops and a sublime bitter finish on the aftertaste…the mouth-feel is good, quite heavy, but good all the same.

I couldn’t be happier with the way that this turned out and I must have at least 15 litres of it left too!

When I make the next version (Chinook and Cascade) I may swap a little of the Vienna malt out for a small amount of Crystal malt (mainly for a colour difference and a slight spin on the taste).  I’m also thinking that I might drop some of the malt (500gms or so) to be replaced with dextrose or something just to dry out the body a tad…

Here are the other posts that lead up to this beer:

I need to plan another brew day soon, as this keg won’t last forever…I will post when I do.

Woods: Hopping Mad


Despite the slightly goofy label design, this is not a bad beer at all…but as an opportunity to showcase a single hop it does miss a trick.

A slightly sulphurous nose (from “burtonised” water, maybe?) is tinged with a suggestion of the Progress hops that this single hop variety beer is brewed with.

With the first taste there’s a good solid juicy dark (crystal?) malt flavour and mouth feel. The hops make their presence felt but really do struggle against the weight of all of the dark malt.  The earthiness of the progress hop character comes through, but any floral character is lost.

A pleasing, mouth-watering bitterness persists for a good long while and even though the malt plays along nicely beside, the sheer weight of it manages to contribute to a caramelly, almost burnt sugar note in the after taste…which is really not unpleasant, just a bit of a shame – as the use of lighter coloured malts would really help the hops to sing…as a true single hop beer should.

It’s not very complex as beers go, but it’s a nice drop.

Saying all, that it’s an interesting and very drinkable beer so it’s worth picking up a bottle or two if you see it on sale.

I got mine from the co-op in Woodstock for £1.80