Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Ale

So, it's Christmas Eve and time (at last) to crack open the Christmas ale!

On opening the Groslsh-style bottle top (something in itself very satisfying) I am greeted with a sweet candy floss aroma which takes me back to my childhood, of hanging around the fairground rides - what a start!

The first sip has an unexpected hint of roasted coffee but a taste that isn't experienced again at any point thereafter. What follows is a very rounded, smooth caramel/toffee flavour that stays throughout the rest of the glass (think bonfire toffee here).

Further on I am greeted with a very pleasant marsh mallow taste but a marsh mallow covered in caramel or treacle - very smooth and delightful. There's even a slight hint of a very expensive chocolate in there too.

If I could choose my favourite style of beer, this wouldn't be far off perfection. Not too sweet to be sickly and not too bitter or insipid. The character stays throughout and has me chuckling with joy as I approach the end of the bottle!

Time to open another, me thinks! A very well done to Head Brewer John and those that assisted in this brew - a very fine job indeed!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Some Antwerp photos

They can’t even spell Antwerp properly!

Some old building or other


John posing

Now, I’m sure there’s an interesting fact I can tell you about this spot…”

The cellar bar

Lunch time

Is the pub this way?

No idea what they were looking at here!

"I swear, they were this big"

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How to Brew Beer

The beer was based on a recipe for Ringwood Old Thumper.

Brewing day started bright and early on 20 November 2010 (well 9:15 was as early as I could manage).

First step was to put the water on to heat up and eat a bacon sandwich.  The boiler is the large white object to the right of John, the bacon sandwich is the smaller white object in his hand.

Sterilise everything.

The grain needs to be weighed out - for this brew mostly pale malt but with some crystal malt and chocolate malt for flavour and colour and some torrified wheat for head retention.  It is a good idea to keep your head on brewing day.

Now the tricky bit - mix the grain with hot water while keeping the porridge-like mixture at 66C.  This is the real test of the brewers art.  The lid then goes on the mash tun and we gave it 90 minutes for the alchemy to happen.

The now sweet liquid is drained off and the sparging can begin. It is time for the first beer of the day and Chris and Paul take turns at sparging, rinsing the last of the sugars from the grain.

Time for lunch and pint number 2...

 the wort was boiled for 90 minutes.

Challenger hops are added as bittering hops with more hops going in with 10 minutes left and after the boil for flavour and aroma.

The now bitter wort is crash cooled by running cold water through a helical copper tube.

The yeast is started with a warm sugar solution.

The now hoppy wort is strained to take out the solids

The gravity reading is taken.  It is spot on.

The yeast is pitched into the unfermented beer.

Then we all go home to carry on our lives as we let nature take its course.

We'll meet again in January to drink it.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


We did go to Antwerp.

Here is a picture of Antwerp station to prove it.

I am still hoping for lots more pictures and a full report.

Apple Press

We now have a share in an apple press.

You can use any available woman to press on the apple pulp as in the picture, or use the car jack provided for exra pressure.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Nottingham Beer Festival - Advance Party

I was sent to work in Nottingham on Thursday 14 October so I felt compelled to pop in to the festival.

It is bigger and better than before.

Standout beer for me was my last one, Thornbridge Murmansk Baltic Porter.

It had a rich rounded fortified wine smoothness (it is 7.4%) with chocolate and a dark roasted coffee underneath.

Worth going to a festival for.

Did you hear?

Apparently Bonnie Tyler is recording a new song in my honour. It's called Lost In Ghent...

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Good Beer Guide Belgium

I now have a copy of The Good Beer Guide Belgium, lent to me by Mark Edwards who some of you will know.

It has sections on breweries, beers, bars and cafes so we will know some places to go and some local brews to look out for in Antwerpen.

I will be reading over the weekend in preparation.

Anyone who wishes to browse it on the train next Saturday is welcome to do so.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Thought I'd post the latest figures so you can see where we are financially (and gives me a go at playing with the blog).

Cash in bank £114.52
Collected at the symposium and non-attending members £60.00
Total £174.52

Monday, 27 September 2010

Great Central Railway Beer Festival - The Pictures

I picked up the train at 12:00. First Stop Rothley.

The train dropped me off just outside the beer tent

There was a diminishing but still acceptable choice of beers.

John & Louise must have drunk them all on Saturday afternoon.

Ready to settle down in the early autumn sunshine with my first beer and the Sunday paper.

The last train home over Swithland reservoir

Home again in time to make Sunday dinner

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Great Central Beer Festival

I made it & am just enjoying my first beer.

I only have my Sunday paper to keep me company but the beer is good & the sun is out.

I hope I enjoy it as much as John & Louise obviously did yesterday.

Updates & photos to follow.

Monday, 20 September 2010

New blog

How about this for an idea?

We can write about our activities, keep a record of symposium notes and add recommendations of beers, festivals, etc.

It might be a bit of fun.