Market Gallery Pub – This Friday

Just a quick reminder, the Market Gallery Pub is this Friday at 6pm.  I had a look inside the gallery yesterday and it’s looking awesome.  It is a little on the small side, but I think Eric has made the most of the space and it has a great vibe.

I have three beers in, a Vienna lager, Rauchbier and Hefeweizen. Some of the other beers look great – I’ll be having some of that vanilla oatmeal stout. Due to a shortage of bottles, I kept the hefeweizen in a keg. Keg users know that the dynamics of carbonation, temperature and beer line length is an art in itself, so I had no choice but to build a smallish kegerator.  Time was not on my side so I did a bit of a rough job on it, but it certainly does the job.  The tap is one these from More Beer in the states. I now have two kegerators-come-fermentation chambers, which will make my summer lager brewing a whole lot easier.

The pub school events have been great fun. The brewing demonstration Owen and I led was shambolic to say the least, with elements cutting out left, right and centre. We managed to save the day in the end by splitting the wort between the kettle and the HLT and doing a dual boil. Even up to this point, it was a relatively smooth brewday. But it all went to shit after that, when we pumped the hot wort into the HLT (without a hop strainer) to chill. Of course, the pump got blocked and Owen, Robbie & myself had to lug the thing onto a step and tip it into the kettle, just so we could filter the hops out and pump the wort into the fermenters. Oh, and we forgot the whirlfloc. The enduring lesson of the day? Don’t drink Imperial IPAs on an empty stomach for lunch.

I missed the readings, but the WEST tour was a great success.  I only just realised that those two copper columns next to the bar are a mash cooker and brewing copper respectively. They have a very impressive automated German brewhouse, steam jacketed coppers, mash filters and so on. It reminded me a little of the Paulaner Brauhaus in Munich.  I was impressed to see a full range of Weyermann speciality grains and i’m sure I saw a few handfulls of acidulated malt and cara-wheat being pocketed by enthusiastic homebrewers.


Brewing Demonstration – Today @ 5pm

Just a quick reminder that myself and another homebrewer will be giving an all-grain brewing demonstration from 5pm until 9ish at the Market Gallery, Dennistoun, Glasgow.  The Gallery is about a 20 minute walk from George Square; it’s a nice day, walk it! More details here. Bring some food and beer for yourself!

Beers from Portland, OR.

Thanks once more to Eric for bringing over a great selection of beers from the West Coast of America for us to try.  We hear so much about these breweries but availability here in Scotland is thin on the ground so it was a rare treat to try some of these.  We also tried a couple not pictured (Deschutes’ The Abyss, Yeti from Great Divide and Ebulum, an Elderberry ale from Williams Bros) and a couple of homebrews from the guys at Jim’s.  And maybe a couple of others?  My memory is fairly shot after those Russian Imperial Stouts.

I won’t try and give you tasting notes, I’ll leave that to Barm who had his ticker notebook and could probably wax more eloquently about them.  That said, my top 5 (out of the American beers) were:

1) Hopworks Brewery – Secession Black IPA. When I heard about this one I thought it would be my least favourite.  How wrong was I, a great beer in every way.  It’s black, but it doesn’t taste black!

2) Laurelwood Brewery – Organic Free Range Red. Fantastic fresh American hop character and in perfect balance. I could happily drink this by the pint.

3) Dogfish Head – Indian Brown Ale. Another one that slipped down the throat with barely a hint of the substantial 7.2% alcohol content. Lethal!

4) Bear Republic – Racer 5. Not what I was expecting from this beer but very pleasant nonetheless. Not a substantial bitterness but a spicy hop flavour and aroma.

5) Ninkasi – Spring Reign. A pretty faultless pale ale.  Their website describes this as a ‘session beer’ which at 6%, from a British perspective, is pretty hard to get my head around. However, I’m not complaining. It was delicious.

The Gose from Upright Brewing was very interesting too and gets an honourable mention.  I love to see breweries tackle rare and unusual beer styles and come out with something good.  This basically tasted like a Saison Dupont with a teaspoon of salt stirred in.  A great ‘palate cleanser’.  Not something I would drink on a regular basis however.

There you go, I’m surprised that my two favourite beers of the lot were both organic and from breweries I had never heard of in Portland.  The black IPA in particular is a style which just seems wrong to me.  I’ve never enjoyed a beer with strong roasted flavours and citrussy US hops; the flavours clash.  This was a great IPA that just happened to be black.  Consider me a convert!

There is still time for home brewers to get their beer brewed and entered for the Glasgow Beer and Pub Project on the 30th of April.  I’m supplying 100 pints, a third each of my Vienna lager, Rauchbier, and a Hefeweizen I’ll brew next week.  I hope to see some of you there.


I brewed a Rauchbier to serve in Glasgow on the 30th. The recipe is here. I went with a fairly restrained one third of the grist Rauchmalz. The stuff is the genuine Weyermann Beechwood smoked malt from Bamberg which you simply could not do without when making this beer. The hops are Northern Brewer and Hallertau Hersbrucker.

The mash smelled amazing. A good amount of smoke flavour carried through into the wort but it wasn’t overpowering. I wonder how smoky it will end up. As far as I’m concerned, the smokier the better, but I want other people to enjoy this one too so it should be fairly restrained.

Here’s a collection of random end of brewday clips. I pitched in some Czech Budejovice yeast which is either Budvar or Pivovar yeast. There is no better lager yeast in my opinion. It gets the job done quickly and reliably with a very clean flavour and no diacetyl. It is a bit of a sulphur producer but this dissipates quickly. I finished off the day with a few of my single hop (Columbus) IPAs. Still a little green. Still very orangey/piney.

All-Grain Brewing Demonstration

Eric mentioned on his Glasgow Beer and Pub Project project blog that myself and another local homebrewer will be doing an all-grain brewing demonstration on April 7th.

This will be a hands on demonstration from water treatment and mashing the grain through to pitching the yeast.  The plan is to start at 5pm and hopefully be finished, or nearly finished, by 9pm.  There should be plenty of time to throw back a few beers and ask questions.  I want to see you there whatever your experience, if you’ve never drank a beer in your life or if you’re a seasoned all-grain brewer.

The best part about this is you will get to try the finished beer which will be served on draft at the Market Gallery Pub event on April the 30th.  The beer we’ve chosen is a traditional English best bitter, which is best enjoyed fresh, hoppy and young.  It will be hopped with Kent Goldings hops and dry hopped with Styrian Goldings.  Bitter is beer how it’s meant to taste: floral, aromatic, and highly drinkable.  It will also be served through my traditional Angram beer engine.  If you come on the 7th, you will be able to say: “I helped brew this beer from scratch!”

Rob @ Self Store Depot has kindly agreed to help out the homebrewing community by offering to supply the malt and hops for this event free of charge. Show your appreciation by taking a look at his products here.

I have ordered from Rob before and the hops were with me within 24 hours at a great price and superbly vacuum packed.

See you on the 7th!

The Market Gallery is on 334 Duke Street, Glasgow, G31 1QZ, Scotland

Single Hop Series #3 – Nelson Sauvin

They’re coming thick and fast, and today it was time for an exciting new(ish) variety from New Zealand: Nelson Sauvin.

I remember trying this hop just over two years ago in a beer I brewed for a new years party, and I didn’t care at all for the ‘Ribena’ flavour it imparted.  The beer that changed my mind was Brewdog’s Chaos Theory.  I loved that beer.  I miss it.

Chaos Theory had that heavy blackcurrant flavour, almost to excess, but it worked very well in a big, boozy red ale. The most surprising thing was the aroma – I’m guessing it must have been dry hopped – a big, fruity, ‘catty’ aroma that is surprising, and almost offensive at first.  But like a good piece of music, it draws you in and the nuances become more apparent with every taste.

This is my attempt at something more or less in the same style.  Moloko Velocet Red Ale, hopped to oblivion with Nelsons.  It could be a disaster.

The hops themselves were highly aromatic out of the bag and the aromas coming from the brew kettle were sublime. Wave after wave of blackcurranty goodness that you could smell several streets away.

Edit: 27th April 2010

The initial aroma shortly after bottling was not at all pleasant. Kind of a damp rot, wet dog,  musky aroma, which made  me thought I had an infection from somewhere. After a month in the bottle, and the unpleasant aromas have subsided, leaving the familiar nelson character. I still get pretty heavy blackcurrant, and grape this time. Same with the flavour, like someones slipped a few glugs of Welches red grape juice in the beer. Not bad, but it’s not sitting entirely at ease with the roasted character from the chocolate malt. I think it would be more at home in a blonde ale. This beer is also needing a good hit of bitterness. I think my hop calculation (Tinseth) underestimates bitterness, or perhaps i’m losing hop bitterness to trub and yeast. I would kick it up by another 20 IBU.

Single Hop Series #2 – Columbus (Tomahawk)

I found some ’09 crop whole flower Columbus at a good price, a hop I’ve been meaning to try for a while, so I decided to make this the next entry in my single hop series.

One of the famous “three C’s”, sometimes referred to as CTZ (or Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus) has been a mainstay in American craft brewing for a while.  Why the three names? As far as I can tell, Columbus and Tomahawk are synonymous, they are simply proprietary names for the same cultivar.  The Zeus hop seems to be similar or identical.

The only beer I’ve knowingly had with these hops is Flying Dog’s Snake Dog IPA, which I seem to remember was one of their best offerings.  The single hop beer I made with them looks like it might be similar to Snake Dog.

My recipe (Double McTwist IPA) is pretty standard, mostly base malt to a gravity of 1.062, a little crystal and Munich malt, around 61 IBUs and a massive dose of hops in the final minutes of the boil.  California ale yeast.  Fermentation is more or less finished now, I will wait a day or two before crashing the yeast out and dry hopping with another 100g of Columbus.  The beer was brewed on the 23rd of February ’10.

The hops themselves were fantastic, 16% AA, sticky, pale green and an intoxicating citrussy, spicy aroma.  I will report back with the finished beer.

UPDATE 02/03/10: The beer has attenuated around 80% down to 1.012.  The hydrometer sample is thick with orange zest and piney, evergreen aromas. I will go ahead and dry hop this today or tomorrow.

UPDATE 04/04/10: I posted what I thought of these hops on JBK forum: The dry hop aroma is fantastic, predominantly orange with some pine. Flavour is similar but it’s slightly sharp, with a noticeable acidity, like a squeeze of grapefruit juice has been added. Also a bit of something spicy/earthy like some cloves. And pear maybe? It’s a ‘C’ hop all right with a lot in common with Centennial. The bitterness is very clean and crisp and doesn’t linger too much. I get what Whorst says about tobacco but this is not a flavour I would have picked out had he not said it.

It’s a pretty good hop. I like it more for aroma (dry hopped) and bitterness more than flavour I would say. It’s a little one dimensional as far as the flavour goes. The orange flavour is a little artificial, like drinking a can of tango. And pine and orange don’t go particularly well together. Not bad just needs something to compliment it. I would like to use it with something like Amarillo or Nelson.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale “clone” Mk II

I had another shot at cloning this beer on Saturday.  This time, I just did a 5 gallon batch.  I’m finding 10 gallons is a little much to have on hand seeing as I’m – more or less – the sole drinker.  The recipe is here.

The problem with the last effort was primarily fermentation, the clone I made had a slight, musty alcohol aroma and was not as clean overall.  It was also slightly darker.  I substituted the medium (120 EBC) crystal for a lighter variety (60 EBC).  I also used some top-cropped California ale yeast from a previous batch which I got active in a 1L starter before pitching.  I’m keeping the ferment at a subdued 17C.

Although this is primarily a Cascade hopped beer, I can’t really include it in my single hop series of beers because I used Northern Brewer for bittering.  I did, however, do a beer single hopped with Columbus last week which i’ll update about soon.

Glasgow Beer and Pub Project

Portland based artist Eric Steen is holding what he calls “a six-week socially engaged art and field-research project into Glasgow’s beer industry and pub culture.” Not being artistically inclined – in the slightest – I’m not quite sure what this means.  I do, however, intend to find out.  I have more or less committed to producing 100 or so bottles of beer for his Market Gallery Pub event on April 30th, basically a one night showcase for homebrewed beer, which does sound like a lot of fun.  If you’re in the area and feel like dropping by, I will look forward to meeting you and sharing a pint.

I was mulling over what to brew at the weekend, which is generally just by whim and what I feel like drinking at that moment.  Here’s what i’m (probably) going for.  Some of these will fit in with my single hop experiment.

– Single hop IPA (Columbus)

– Some kind of strong hoppy red ale/ipa, possibly with a single hop like Nelson Sauvin or Amarillo

– Vienna lager (maybe with a single hop, either traditional noble or a NZ Saaz type like Motueka)

– Traditional Rauchbier (never brewed one of these… looking forward to it!)

– Hefeweizen (easy to brew…most people like drinking them)

I am starting tomorrow with the IPA.  Lots of work over the next few weeks but it’s all about the art!

Single Hop Series (SHS) #1 – Aurora (Super Styrians)

I’m going to start a series of single hop beers this year, to be brewed alongside my regular beers. Brewing with a single hop is just about the best education a brewer can give himself. The craft of mashing, sparging, boiling and fermenting is fairly easy. Recipe design is all art.

The basic idea will be to brew a hoppy summer ale, or pale ale. I’ll keep the recipe more or less the same, 90% extra pale Maris Otter, 5% Caramalt and 5% wheat. 100g of the hop in question with 15 minutes of the boil to go and another 100g in the whirlpool, left to steep for half an hour before chilling. The quantity of bittering will depend on the hop (and my mood). Nottingham yeast.  Where it seems appropriate, I may swap out the wheat for some darker crystal malt or use a lager yeast. When doing a 10 gallon batch, I’ll probably keg one half, fine with gelatin, and serve immediately. The other half i’ll stick in a secondary fermenter and go in with some dry hops. The gravity will be variable between 1.043 – 1.065

The idea will be to evaluate the aroma, flavour and bitterness that each hop brings to the beer. I’ll also be on the lookout for any subtler effects, such as tannin contribution, haze and mouthfeel. Where i’m doing a 10 gallon batch, i’ll be able to compare the aroma between the dry hopped beer and the regular, late hopped beer.

No hops are off limits! I hope to try some new ones and revisit some old friends. I still don’t know what an all Fuggles ale tastes like. Or how about an all Motueka ale? What will happen when I late hop and dry hop with hops that are not traditionally considered aroma hops, like Northern Brewer or Target? There’s lots of experimenting to be done with the New Zealand hops and newer US varieties like Citra. I won’t just be using new hops either, i’ll be making sure to cover the bases with classics like East Kent Goldings, Cascade, Styrians, and so on.

First of the year was Aurora. These hops are grown in Slovenia and are part of the ‘Super Styrian’ family. I can’t find much information about this hop, apart from that it’s related to the Northern Brewer hop. These had an AA% of 8% and a surprisingly deep, green colour when I brewed with them. The beer straight from the FV had a fantastic pineapple flavour and aroma.

I sampled the first pint (above) 10 days after mashing. The hop gives a great, mellow tropical fruit flavour and aroma, along with a slight herbal, marijuana flavour. Pineapple and mango, but without any of the sharper citrus notes I get from similar US hops. It has a mellowness and approachability I associate with Slovenian hops.

Overall a very pleasant and impressive hop that I will be adding to my arsenal and using regularly. Great for a summer ale and with enough character of its own to stand up in a single hop beer.

NEXT HOP: Northern Brewer … Coming February ’10