Returning To Service

Well now, it has been a while…9 months more or less since my last post, a lot has been happening in life that had somewhat got in the way of things and brewing in general, however, with The Homebrew Festival looming it is time to pick up the slack.

The new equipment is working well but is still undergoing some tweaking and simplification as changes in work have necessitated reducing the set up and cleaning down times of each brew day, I got the chance to play with the new Chevallier Heritage Malt a couple of times and it is a truly outstanding malt to use, very rich in its sweetness it allows you to juggle around with your normal routine to create something different.

If you are looking to use the malt I would suggest a lower mash temperature of around 62/64°C and the extended mash time of 3 hours, a very slow sparge is also handy for flushing out those determined to remain sugars.

I have already brewed the Chevallier Porter for the festival and as an additional bonus I will be doing a repeat brew of Ridley’s Mild served from the wood with a little bit of luck, once I get back into the swing of things I shall post more regularly again as a general purpose brewing blog, but for now I need to tidy up, sort out and find my brewing notes!

Until next time, Cheers!

Beginning again.

Good morning to one and all!

It has been several months since my last post but they have been busy! The Home Brew Festival has been and gone, all round it was a success. 

Things at the brewery have been on the up since the move at Easter to the new premises and the majority of my time has been spent volunteering and increasing my knowledge base, I am proud to say my beers are getting better and better under the guidance of the Head Brewer, Phil Wilcox.

I have sold my Braumeister in favour of going back to a grass roots brewing system with several improvements over it’s original build.

The principal will be the same, a 50 litre copper and a 35 litre mash tun, the main differences being the addition of bottom drains, a mounted pump, copper pipe work and a simple control panel.

The pots have been delivered and the bits for the bottom drains have been ordered, so for now I shall leave you with a picture of the new shiny stuff:


My dispense system will also undergo another over haul based on a continued learning experience.

Until next time,


The Ongoing Journey

Hello everyone,

Again it has been a little while since I posted but things keep getting busier and busier! I have continued to brew albeit in a reduced capacity and trying to allow the beers more time to condition. I have also been spending some of my free time doing volunteer work down at Wibblers Brewery in Essex, this has begun to improve my knowledge and practices tenfold and the resulting beers are starting to become living proof of my progress.

Whilst I haven’t made anything Ridley’s for since the last Mild, I have been experimenting a fair bit with Porters and a Milk Stout. The Stout turned out O.K. at best, but that is down to inexperience of brewing Stouts in general, I made one nearly 3 years ago!

However, I have been making good use of the Theakston wooden pin I picked up for Christmas, they are perfectly happy for me to keep and will also have the returns available for sale in February. The most recent beer to go into it was my first (?) attempt at the Durden Park 1850 Whitbread Porter, except, as usual, my mathematics let me down a bit and I got some of the amounts wrong, but, it should still be relatively close!

The main reason of this post was to share some of my learnings from the recent work I’ve been undertaking down the Brewery, here is some of that knowledge:

Finings: Whilst not really necessary in the home brewing environment, it is always worth having access to a source as if you decide to exhibit your beer at a festival or a competition, the level of clarity that they can offer is worth the effort. They need to be refrigerated and have a shelf life of around 4 weeks, be sure to find out when the expiry date is if using liquid Isinglass, dried Isinglass will last longer but is a pain to mix up, the newest alternative I have started exploring is Gelatin, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet but I will be sure to post my findings.

Sanitisers: There are plenty of these knocking about on the market, but, not everyone is aware there is a better alternative to StarSan. As much as most would love access to Peracetic Acid, it is difficult to keep in the home, it requires somewhere that is cool and well ventilated at all times as the container lid is designed to vent off the excess gasses to stop the container swelling. It must also be diluted and keeping a container of undiluted Peracetic in the home is asking for trouble!

The best alternative I have used is Videne, it costs around £11 from Boots for a 500ml bottle but it will last you ages, it is the Iodine based antiseptic stuff that surgeons use to sterilise themselves, at a diluted ratio it makes an excellent no rinse sanitiser, If I recall, it is 1.25ml/l to dilute and as long as it is kept away from the sun, it will last a week or two (it will stain the container).

Recipes: When making beer at home, we can make beer anyway we like as it is just for us, however, having an understanding of how the big boys do it does help, it gives you a better understanding of getting the balances in flavour right for the beer you are trying to create, It is also good to enquire about the water chemistry of the beers to see what you should be aiming for in relation to your local water and your own brewing.

Understanding even the most basic water things and how to put your recipes together with the knowledge of what each individual ingredient contributes will infinitely improve your beer.

Sanitation: There really is no cutting corners on this one, sanitation is paramount! If you think it’s clean, clean it again, it is one thing to lose a single brew, yet alone 2 or 3, but to lose 14 barrels worth of beer is not an option, having the opportunity to experience this thought first hand put it in perspective of just how sloppy my sanitation regime had become, no wonder I was having trouble keeping things healthy!

Yeast: Liquid or Brewery yeast is King, if you have a local brewery, don’t be afraid to ask them for some yeast, it will be fresh and healthy, most of them are washed every so often, top cropped or renewed from a single cell, cropping and storage is relatively simple contrary to what people say!

It is best to be used within 4 days, 5 at most, any longer than this and it will need to be grown and harvested. Use a good size airtight container and keep it at around 2 to 3 degrees if possible. Local yeast is very well established to your local water and will give you a much better result that any Wyeast, Whitelab or Dried yeast will.

Hops: A lot of hops have already been contracted for the 2015 harvest and home brewing supplies will be limited, however, consider looking for your desired hops in Pellet form as they are sometimes still available, for some reason tradition is still playing a part in using Leaf hops for everything, I recently however went exclusively Pellet, these enable me to recirculate during chilling, have a smaller storage consumption and a longer shelf life.

Pellet hops haven’t got the same variety as Leaf hops at the moment but I suspect that will change as demands increase. Always worth considering an alternative when looking for hops. I did and never looked back.

I hope this has been of some (if any) use to people reading, as things settle down in due time I shall return to posting some more of my findings on tests and things as I find them out. It is a fascinating journey really getting into the depths of brewing but your beer will thank you for it, as a sideline I have been doing reviews for home brewers I know, if you wish to send me a bottle and have one done, I’m more than happy to oblige, just drop me a message.

Until next time, Cheers!


Ridley’s Mild (again) Update

I have received my water analysis back and it is about as perfect as you can get for dark beers, useless for pales pretty much, I know the brewery use to treat the water with Sulphuric Acid, presumably to lower the alkalinity, so I shall be having a look around for some later.

I also got a chance to assess the beer at the weekend and I must day I was quite impressed, its the first time I’ve managed to get the malt forward flavour done right.

There is a strong brewing sugar flavour initially but this fades into a pale malt and slightly bitter aftertaste.

This attempt was unadulterated as I decided to leave out the cask hop and the brewers caramel addition, it has a wonderful colour, this beer is most definitely on my regular rota.

Until next time, Cheers!


Ridley’s Mild (again) Update

Good morning!

I took a hydrometer reading last night (dumbarse forgot to take a photo) currently reading 1007° but my current hydrometer reads +1° @ 20° and an additional +1° For water curvature, so it is currently 1009°.

Still a little cloudy but what can one expect for a beer that fermented in less than 48 hours! The STC has been set for the 13° for 24 hours period to slow the yeast down and help them into suspension before being lowered to 10° before racking.

It will drop an additional point at 13° and the final point in the cask.

With any luck I will get some cask washing done for tomorrow as it’s still sitting on top the fridge. I will take another hydrometer reading then.


Racked into the cask on 26-11-15, Hydrometer still read 1.007 so I’ve left it at 12° in the “Cold Store” and that will eat up the last 2 points nicely:

450eb5c827f48997045fb36180321bbd (1)


I also had some extra parts turn up for running a external pin on tap:



I am due to pick up my Theakstons wooden cask this coming Sunday, once it is nearly empty I will re-brew the Ridleys Mild and age it in the cask, this will probably be as close as I will get to the original. This time I will not be adding the aroma hop or Brewers Caramel just to get a good taste for the base beer.

Until next time, Cheers!

Updates to the blog:

Good evening!

As I had a little time to myself today, I decided to make some changes, namely the adding of a new ‘Home’ button in the menu and reformatting the recipe section now I have found a selection of Original Gravities for the recipes I have.

I have also made a new Facebook page to link my articles to a wider audience and make things a little easier, this can be found here:

Please like it and share it so I can get the blog ‘out there’.

I also made a small change to the description in the ‘About Me’ section, have a look at your leisure and let me know if you have any suggestions.

Until next time, Cheers!


Ridley’s Mild (again)

The time has come again to brew my house mild, a nice simple recipe for a nice simple beer:

Ridleys Mild
13A. Dark Mild

Recipe Specs
Batch Size (L): 23.0
Total Grain (kg): 2.997
Total Hops (g): 51.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.034 (°P): 8.5
Final Gravity (FG): 1.007 (°P): 1.8
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 3.54 %
Colour (SRM): 19.3 (EBC): 37.9
Bitterness (IBU): 24.2 (Tinseth)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 80
Boil Time (Minutes): 90

Grain Bill
2.565 kg Maris Otter Malt (85.59%)
0.297 kg Invert Sugar No. 3 (9.91%)
0.135 kg Black Patent (4.5%)

Hop Bill
20.0 g East Kent Golding Pellet (5% Alpha) @ 90 Minutes (Boil) (0.9 g/L)
17.0 g Fuggles Pellet (4.9% Alpha) @ 90 Minutes (Boil) (0.7 g/L)
14.0 g Styrian Golding Pellet (2.7% Alpha) @ Cask (Dry Hop) (0.6 g/L)

Misc Bill
1/2 Protofloc Tablet @ 15 Minutes (Boil)
30.0 ml Brewers Caramel @ Cask (Racking)

Step Mash for 130 Minutes.

Mash Profile:

Step 1: 60°C @ 10 Minutes.
Step 2: 68°C @ 90 Minutes.
Step 3: 76°C @ 30 Minutes.

Fermented at 21°C with Wibblers yeast for 3 – 4 days.
Lower to 13°C 24 hours after skimming yeast.
Lower to 10°C 24 hours before racking.

I doubt I’ll have my wooden pin in time for this brew but it may be here in time for the next, leaving to oak out of this one for a change.

The BM heating the liquor:


The grain shot:


The mash beginning:


Dissolving the Brewers Invert No. 3:


The mash with added Invert:


Coming up to the boil:


The hop addition:


Hydrometer reading @ 1034°:


Will update the rest later on this evening.

Until next time, Cheers!