Brewing my first beer

Posted on November 27, 2016 in Brewing.

Sitting in the spare room right now, in the dark, slowly bubbling away is my first ever homebrewed beer. It's a Chestnut Brown Ale to be precise. I've had a Brooklyn Brewshop Kit for two years now, it was a Christmas present from Laura's Mum and Dad. Somehow I've not managed to get around to brewing it until now.

Sanitising

According to the instructions the first and most important step of brewing is making sure everything you need to use is well sanitised. So I got started by making up a sink full of sanitiser and soaking everything in it.

Mashing In

Check me with the fancy words!

This is where the fun begins. I heated 1.9 litres to 71ºC (160ºF), and added the grain (this is the oaty stuff that makes the bulk of the mash). This is where the dark colour and most of the flavour comes from.

Then I had to cook the mash for an hour somewhere between 63 to 68ºC (144 to 152ºF). During this time it was important to keep stirring and measuring the temperature, as keeping an even heat throughout the pan would help to prevent overheating the mix.

After that first hour I had to heat the mash up to 77ºC (170ºF) while stirring constantly. My instructions kindly inform me this step is called "Mashing Out".

The Sparge

Yep, "The Sparge". Seriously that's what it's called. I don't know what it means. Yes it does sound like something from a bad horror movie.

Anyway... This is the bit where we add loads of extra water and get rid of the mash. This will leave us with all of the liquid, called wort (my instructions kindly tell me this is pronounced "wert"). The wort is the stuff that will become our beer.

I had to strain the mash and collect all of the wort in a big pot below the strainer. Once I'd done that I needed to pour 3.8 litres of 77ºC (170ºF) water of the mash to get the rest of the sugars and flavours out. I now had about 4.75 litres of wort. I poured all of this back over the mash one more time to really pull any remaining goodies from it.

This is the step where I discovered just how messy and sticky beer making could be!

The Boil

Now I had my wort, and I needed to boil it for an hour at a light boil. I also got to add in 2/3 of the hops. They smelled fantastic. In the kit were vacuum sealed packets of East Kent Golding hops. The smell reminded me of Brewdog's Dead Pony Club.

Dead Pony Club doesn't use East Kent Golding hops, but it does "contain an insane amount of US hops".

About 40 minutes in I added the rest of the hops, enjoying that incredible aroma once again. You can buy the hops online for about £3 or so. Go get some and give them a sniff!

After the hour was up I had to switch off the heat, and put the pan of wort in a sink full of ice to drop the temperature to 21ºC (70ºF).

Fermentation

The hard work was over, now I just needed to put it in the demijohn. To do this I had to place the strainer over the top of a funnel and pour all of the wort through them both.

I'd lost of a fair bit of wort to evaporation during the boil, so I had to top up the demijohn to the 1 gallon mark with some cold tap water. Don't worry the instructions said that it's normal to have to top it up.

The reason I had to drop the temperature down in the previous step, is that it was now time to add the yeast. I had to put 4 grams of instant dried yeast in to the demijohn and give is a good shake. This helps to activate the yeast, and get extra air in the wort.

That was it. I added the cap and pushed a rubber tube in to allow air to escape into the a mug of water. This "blow off tube" is only needed for the first couple of days as that's when the yeast is at its most active.

My trusty instructions told me it must be kept in the dark, so I put it up in the spare room with the blinds closed.

For the first two days there was a lot of bubbling happening! After the bubbling had calmed down (about two or three days in) I removed the rubber tube and put the airlock in place. The airlock allows gas to escape out from the demijohn, while preventing air and bacteria from getting in.

After two weeks of fermentation in the demijohn, it can be bottled. It's almost been two weeks, I can't wait!

I'll post an update here when that's done :)


We're getting married

Posted on November 10, 2016 in My Life.

Laura (@plebbinebbi) and I have been together for over 9 years now, and the day we get married (the 25th of June 2017) will be our 10 year anniversary. What’s more is we’re planning to get married at a stone circle! I’ll probably put up a post about that after the big day.

Of those 9 years we've been living together for 7. Our first place was a little cottage we rented when we first moved to Scotland, and it was wonderful having "our own place".

Read more…


Our trip to Italy and France

Posted on November 10, 2016 in My Life.

This year Laura and I took my little sister Elizabeth (better known as Stinky) to Italy for her 18th birthday. I won’t bore you with a thousand holiday snaps, but I’ll tell you some of the highlights.

We drove down from Scotland to Sussex, before heading to France a few days later. We drove through France, stopping at a few little places on the way to Italy.

We stayed in a house owned by Laura’s Aunt. It’s nestled in the middle of the mountains in a village called Cecina.

Read more…


The Diamond DofE challenge

Posted on November 10, 2016 in My Life.

If you’re over 25 you can now take part in the Diamond DofE challenge. This is effectively a fundraising exercise for the Duke of Edinburgh Award program, but it’s also a good excuse to challenge yourself.

Laura and I both decided our challenge would be climbing the White Mounth wearing kilts. This is a collection of 5 Munros around Glen Muick. The walk highlands website estimates it should take between 9-11 hours, but with some heavy fog, and hailstones it took us about 13 hours.

Read more…


An 18 month update

Posted on November 10, 2016 in My Life.

It’s been 18 months since I wrote my last blog post. A year and a half, for an android that’s nearly an eternity!

I’ve not blogged mostly because I’m busy, but also because it’s easy to get out of the habit. I’ve not had any problem coming up with an ideas for blog posts, but finding the time to write them is another story (no pun intended, though notice I left it in :D). As of writing this I have twenty drafts waiting for some love.

Read more…