Green Hop Brewing Competiton

(This is an historic post as the competition closed on the 7 September 2020)


Those of you regularly reading the monthly Bromley CAMRA Branch newsletters would have been following the growth of Bob’s hops from planting through to flowering. They will be ready for harvesting in early September, so now is the time for me as the beneficial brewer to think about what beers to make with this magnificent crop. The three hop varieties to be used in the brewing are Fuggles, Target and Cascade.

In our very own local version of CAMRA’s “Brew2You”, we want to get our Branch members involved in how we are going to use these hops, so the hop farmer (Bob) and the brewer (me) thought it would be a good idea to run a competition for the branch members. So what we are inviting you to do is to give us your suggestions on what we should be brewing.

Fresh beer and green hops

The plan is to use the hops in their green state, fresh after picking, and not dry them out for later use, which is the normal procedure. Several factors make fresh hops beers uniquely challenging for brewers. Fresh hops are less concentrated, so it takes more of them to achieve the same flavour as a beer made with dried hops. Fresh hops also provide distinctively grassy, plant-like, and “green” flavour profiles without the extreme bitterness we associate with IPAs and other beers featuring copious dried hops. Additionally, fresh hops expire extremely quickly and need to be used roughly within 48 hours of harvest.

Just to get your brains thinking, let me tell you very briefly about typical beers made from the three hop varieties that Bob has grown.

Fuggles is a very traditional English hop and is used to make classic British ales and milds, giving the beer an earthy and grassy aroma, especially when used both for bittering and aroma. It is also used for porters, lambics and winter seasonals. Well known beers include Blacksheep Best Bitter, White Shield, Shepherd Neame IPA, Fullers IPA, Adnams Broadside, Theakston Old Peculiar and Young’s Special (some combined with other hop varieties).

Target is a more modern English hop with a floral flavour. With its high alpha acid content it is very suitable as a bittering hop, although some brewers also like the hop’s floral notes for dry hopping. Target can be used for almost all beer styles, although it is considered too harsh for light lagers. It is particularly popular as a bittering hop for stouts and porters. Used with discretion in combination with fine aroma hops, however, excellent Bitters and Pale Ales can be produced. Beers made with this include Dark Star Imperial Stout, Fuller’s Imperial IPA, Fullers ESB, Murphys Irish Stout, as well as being often used in Saisons.

Cascade is considered by many the quintessential American Hop and with good reason. It has become an essential hop addition in many American Pale Ales and most West Coast IPAs. Today there are also New Zealand, Argentinian, and Australian varieties of Cascade – as well as found in Bob’s UK garden! A hop with unique floral, spice, and citrus qualities, with the citrus elements often running toward a strong grapefruit character. Here are a few examples of beers with Cascade hops: Anchor Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dark Star Hop Head, Founders Pale Ale, Kelham Island’s Pale Rider and Adnam’s Ghost Ship.

So get your beer thinking hats on and tell us in one or two short paragraphs what you would like to see brewed. We will probably have enough hops to brew three distinct brews. The brews you suggest can use one, two, or even three of the hop types for really imaginative ideas. All three winners will be given two bottles from the three brewing batches – six in all.

Further more, if you want to, the winners will also be able to come along to one of the brewing sessions and watch the beers being made.

The brewery

Due to the need to use the hops in their freshly picked state, the opening and closing dates for your suggestions will be very tight. The Branch newsletter will be delivered to your email boxes on the 1st of September. The hops will start to be picked, weather permitting, on the 5th of September.

The closing dates for your recommendations will be Monday 7th September and the brewing will start the day after.

Send your submissions to: Beohha’s Brewhouse

Brewing Jennings Cocker Hoop

A golden pale ale with a creamy white head and malty flavours. You can almost taste the Lake District in this – it’s so fresh and crisp with a slight citrus aftertaste. It’s not too fizzy and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth but a frown on the face when it is finished!

The original Jennings Cocker Hoop is an award winning golden bitter which won gold in the World’s best beer Awards (European) 2013 and a silver medal at the International Beer Challenge 2014. It has also won the best bitter bronze award at a past CAMRA GBBF.

It’s a bitter beer of great character, appealing to those drinkers who really appreciate their beer and are looking for a traditional English Bitter with a more modern flavour twist.

Cocker Hoop Pump Clip

First launched in 1995 as ‘September Ale’, Jennings Cocker Hoop became hugely popular, particularly with Lake District tourists in summer. The name is derived from ‘Cock-a-Hoop’, an old custom of removing the cock (or spigot) from a barrel and resting it on the hoop of the cask before commencing a drinking bout, but was changed to reflect the brewery’s location on the banks of the River Cocker. The original has an ABV of 4.6%, but mine is a little stronger at 5.6% just to make the brewing of it worthwhile!

The weekend that I brewed the beer had very fine summer weather. It meant that it was a very enjoyable brewing day and I didn’t need to erect my brew-gazebo. Getting the 12 foot by 8 foot gazebo up can sometimes be a PITA, so it was very nice just to pull the brew-bench out and do it all in the open in the patio garden. Once again, I used my 50 litre Braumeister one-pot brewing system, which meant setting up, brewing, cleaning, and taking down was much easier. To provide the hot water for the sparging I used my converted 10 litre Baby Burco tea urn as a Hot Liquor Tank or HLT. Pic of equipment set up and ready to go:

Braumeister and HLT

The recipe I am using is one derived from Graham Wheeler in his book “Brew Your Own British Real Ale” 3rd edition 2009. Graham unfortunately passed away in November 2017, but he wrote many great home brewing books that are still readily available. His recipes of well-known commercial beers were based on considerable research. Although simplified for home brewing, they always produce excellent results.

Let’s first talk about the hops. Graham’s recipe and the original Jennings one, calls for the use of Styrian Golding hops and Challenger hops. Styrian Golding, or Savinjski Golding as it is commonly known, goes by a multitude of sometimes confusing aliases. Confusing still is the fact it actually doesn’t come from the Golding variety at all, but is rather the result of the clonal selection of Fuggle, and as such exhibits many Fuggle-like characteristics. It was considered a major crop in the 1930’s in both Styria, a state in Austria, and across the Savinja river in Slovenia (former Yugoslavia). Its staying power has been attributed to its disease resistance, specifically, its resistance to mildew. It is now a world-renowned hop and in high demand. From a brewer’s perspective, Styrian Golding is a lovely aroma hop and exhibits resinous, earthy flavours that are perhaps considered slightly more refined than Fuggle. It has also been described as imparting subtle aromas of white pepper to a brew.

As regards the second specified hop, Challenger, this was released to the public in 1972 after development by Wye College in Kent. Challenger hops were derived from varieties Northern Brewer and German Zattler. It accounted for a significant percentage of the hops grown in the UK during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but not so much now. Challenger features decent bitterness and a floral aroma and as such are considered fine for bittering or for dry hopping. Its flavour is smooth with balanced floral characteristics, some citrus and a dash of spice.

Having spoken about the wonders of the hops I was supposed to use, I have to say I had neither in my inventory! But what I do have is a large stock of Fuggle hops grown locally by a CAMRA friend in his garden, and as they gave rise to the origins of Styrian, they are a perfect substitute.

By way of history, the Fuggle hop originates in England and was first discovered in 1861 in a hop yard owned by George Stace in Kent. Some 14 years later it was officially named and introduced by Richard Fuggle of Benchley in 1875. Similar to a Styrian Golding, is noted for its distinct European aroma and has enjoyed a long, versatile run. At its peak nearly 100 years ago Fuggle was known as a dual-use hop. Today however, as other higher alpha acid varieties have become more prevalent, it’s now more prominently used for its aroma.

Now turning to what I could use instead of Challenger, again my hop friend came to the rescue as I also had a good quantity of Cascade hops from his miniature hop farm. Historically, it was pioneered in the 1950’s by Oregon State University, and was originally developed through open pollination of English variety Fuggle and the Russian variety Serebrianka. It is named after the Cascade mountain range that runs from northern California all the way north to British Columbia, Canada. The hops have since gone on to become one of the most popular American hops of all time. Cascade now represents around 10% of all hops grown in the United States. Released in 1972, it is grown extensively in the New World, as well as to a lesser extent in the UK. When used, it exudes a distinct spicy citrus aroma with hints of grapefruit. It thus has similar characteristics to Challenger in that respect.

Turning to the malts in the recipe, the malt bill is relatively simple consisting of Pale Malt, Torrified Wheat, and a small amount of Black Malt.

The Pale Malt I am using is Minch Hook Head Pale Malt. Minch produces malt from 100% Irish origin 2-row spring barley, exclusively grown in the Ring of Hook Peninsula, Co Wexford. This malt is malted in the Minch Boby Malting plant to achieve a deeper colour and sweet biscuit flavour, and is particularly suited to small-batch craft brewing.

Torrified Wheat has been heat treated (kind of “popped”) to break the cellular structure, allowing for rapid hydration and allows malt enzymes to more completely attack the starches and protein. Torrified Wheat can be used in place of raw wheat in Belgian style Wit-Beers, also very good for adding body and head, especially to English ales. Since it has not been malted, you can’t sub it for malted wheat. Because it’s not malted, it needs to be mashed with diastatic pale malt in order to convert the starches to sugars ready for fermentation.

The black malt is used in very tiny quantities in this recipe, and is there merely to provide colour to the beer. Used in small amounts, a likely very yellow beer can be turned into light amber without affecting the desired malt flavour outcome.

One of the extra fermentables I am using this time in #1 Brewer’s Invert Sugar. Invert Sugar is a brewing adjunct (unmalted source of fermentable extract). It is manufactured by converting sucrose (derived from cane or beet sugar) with either acids or enzymes to produce a mixture of glucose and fructose. It is called invert sugar because the sugar solution before the conversion (called inversion or hydrolysis) rotates the plane of polarized light in one direction and following inversion rotates the solution in the opposite direction. Fructose and glucose are monosaccharides and are rapidly used by brewer’s yeast strains. Liquid invert sugar can be stored at higher solids content than liquid sucrose or sugar, making it easier for brewers to handle. In the UK, where it is widely used, it is usually delivered either as a syrup or in brick-like loaves. Invert sugar can be supplied at different colour levels for use in different beers. For example, “black invert,” with a colour of 500 European Brewery Convention units (EBCs), can be used for brewing stouts. Brewer’s invert sugars can lend beers unique caramel flavours that are particular to many British bitters and other ales. They are delicious to nibble and not surprisingly, you end up picking off little bits to eat before you put the sugar in the boil!

Size: 32.5 Litres (post-boil @ 20C)
Mash Efficiency: 90 %
Attenuation: 83%
Calories: 48.3 kcal per 100 ml
Original Gravity: 1.054 (style range: 1.048 – 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (style range: 1.010 – 1.016)
Colour: 18 EBC (style range: 15.8 – 35.5)
Alcohol: 5.6% ABV (style range: 4.6% – 6.2%)
Bitterness: 40 IBU (style range: 30 – 50)

5 kg Pale Malt (Minch) 5 EBC (85.5%)
0.55 kg Torrified Wheat (Crisp) 4 EBC (9.4%)
0.05 kg Black Malt (Crisp) 1300 EBC (0.9%)

Mash pH 5.46

90 min boil
60 g Cascade leaf hops (7.0% alpha) – added during boil, boiled 70 min (36 IBU)
250 g Ragus Brewer’s Sugar #1 – added during boil, boiled 20 mins (4.3% of total fermentables)
1 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
0.27 g Yeast nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10 mins
20 g Fuggle leaf Hops (4%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min (11 IBU)

15 g Fuggle leaf Hops (4%) – added immediately after boil for aroma, stirred in and left for 10 mins (1 IBU).

2 packets of Fermentis US-05 dry yeast, rehydrated
(299 billion yeast cells)


  • Add 200mg potassium metabisulphite to 45 litres water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water treated with brewing salts for a hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275).
  • 5 L/kg mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 66C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 76C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • Fly sparge 5.8 L water with 5.6-5.8 pH (measured at mash temperature). Collect 39.79 litres.
  • Boil for 90 minutes, adding Protafloc, invert sugar, and hops per schedule. Add hopstand hops at boil end. Start chilling after 15 mins.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 20C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. I use pure oxygen from a tank at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 90 seconds per 19 litres.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 20C (wort temperature).
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 19 litres of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to cornie kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this beer is best consumed fresh, so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 hour period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.

Some pictures of the brewing day follow.

Samples of the grains before milling and the bulk after:

Left: Pale malt; Centre: Black malt; Right: Torrified barley
Milled grains ready for mashing

The mash process underway in the Braumeister:

Mashing the grains in the malt tube

The hops ready weighed for the boil:

Fuggles & Cascade hops

Vigorous boil underway:

Boiling away

This is what a lump of the invert sugar looks like:

No. 1 Invert sugar

Half-way through, I stopped for lunch with a wheat beer and freshly baked homemade focaccia bread filled with Italian cheese. My dog was eager to get a bite!

Giv’us a bit!

After the boil, the wort is cooled down to 20C for the fermenter:

Hitting the right temperature for cooling

The hops left in the Braumeister after the boil:

Draing the last bit of wort off the hops

Transfer into the fermenter via the counter flow chiller:

Wort transfer

Here’s a view of the yeast working away in the fermenter after three days:

Yeast munching away at sugars

After crash cooling and clearing, this is what the beer looked like before packaging. The colour was just about perfect:

Here comes the sun!

When the beer was finally packaged I had 1 x 18L cornie and 12 x 500ml bottles. Total 24L. This shows the front and back bottle labels:

Front & back labels

Whether the original meaning of ‘cock-a-hoop’ was ‘turn on the taps, let the liquor flow and cast off all restraint’ or ‘stand on the barrel and crow with exaltation’ (or something else entirely) we aren’t ever likely to now know. Suffice it to say, if you come up with and publish a theory of your own, someone will believe it. Meanwhile, all I can say is that my clone turned out really delicious. Drinking it takes me right back to my long hikes in the Lake District and the glorious pints I have had with good friends there.

A Special Day

Today is our wedding anniversary, the 50th or Golden, and my wife and I started the day in style with smoked salmon and champagne.

Tonight we are dining with our family to celebrate.

Just to amuse you, here is a picture of Jan and I at our wedding all those years ago outside Poplar Town Hall in London’s East End. My wife is as gorgeous today as she was then. As for my thick black hair, I still have a little, but not where I can show you!

Thanks to everyone who has wished us well and sent us presents.

Now for the next 50 years!

And here’s a picture taken today of us enjoying ourselves.

Can’t quite work out why my wife looks 20 years younger than me!

Brewing an English IPA

The very first IPAs started off in England as strong Pale Ales characterized by an increased helping of English hops coupled with higher alcohol. English yeast lends a fruity character to the flavour and aroma, offering a contrast to the earthy and floral English hops. Different from its American counterparts, the English style strikes a balance between malt and hops for a more rounded flavour. It is vastly different from many of the modern American IPAs that we know, and perhaps, enjoy today.

There is an age-old incorrect story that the English IPA style was invented in the late eighteenth century by English brewers who discovered that increased hopping rates helped their beer survive the long sea voyage to India. While it’s true that hops have a natural preservative quality, it isn’t true that the style was specifically created for shipment to India. What was being sent was simply a Pale Ale beer that was already being brewed in England at the time. The dryer style proved to be popular due to the hot Indian climate and eventually (more than 50 years later) in England the beer started to be advertised as “Pale Ale as prepared for India”, which eventually morphed into the “India Pale Ale” name we know today. For details about IPAs and more, read the first few chapters of the book IPA: Brewing techniques, recipes, and the evolution of India Pale Ale by Mitch Steele (former brew master at Stone Brewing). This is a must-have book for any IPA lover.

English base malts add biscuit flavours, instead of the more flavour-neutral Domestic 2-Row malts preferred by American brewers that want the hops up front and centre. English IPAs tend to be more on the balanced side with a distinct, often bready, malt character to compliment the hops. While English IPAs are still hoppy up front, they often have a caramel malt body with a smooth, dry finish.

The Heritage Crystal Malt is a classic kilning taken from the original Baird’s Greenwich roasting house in London. This classic slow matured malt produces sweet caramel and toffee flavours from traditional methods used in the 30s and 40s. Amber Malt gives a dry, biscuity flavour to ales and provides a red hue. The Pale Wheat Malt main characteristics are to provide head retention and lacing. The Black Malt is there to provide just an additional level of colouring to the beer. Lastly, you will notice I have used a small amount of Pilsner malt – this was only to use up the last bit of that malt before it went off. It could be replaced by the equivalent weight of pale malt.

English yeasts tend to throw more esters and flavours than the classic American counterparts. This line has certainly blurred over the years with the introduction of new (American) IPA sub-styles such as New England IPAs, which often call for the use of fruity English yeasts. I enjoy the crisp mineral qualities that Wyeast 1028 London Ale adds when coupled with higher sulphate water adjustments. The result is dry and thirst quenching.

English hops such as Target, Fuggle, and East Kent Goldings add subtle earthy, spicy, peppery, and floral flavours. They are much more delicate when compared to the bold pine, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon, and citrus flavours that American and other New World hops bring to the table.

Size: 48 Litres (post-boil @ 20C)
Mash Efficiency: 92.9 %
Attenuation: 95%
Calories: 284 kcal per 500 ml
Original Gravity: 1.061 (style range: 1.050 – 1.075)
Terminal Gravity: 1.005 (style range: 1.010 – 1.018)
Colour: 25 EBC (style range: 11.8 – 29.6)
Alcohol: 7.4% ABV (style range: 5% – 7.5%)
Bitterness: 56 IBU (style range: 40 – 60)

5.1 kg Extra Pale Propino Pale Malt (Muntons) 3 EBC
2.7 kg Pale Ale Malt (Minch) 5 EBC
0.625 kg Pilsner/Lager Malt (Minch) 3 EBC
0.60 kg Heritage 1823 Crystal Malt (Bairds) 140 EBC
0.35 kg Amber Malt (Crisp) 50 EBC
0.35 kg Pale Wheat Malt (Crisp) 3.5 EBC
0.09 kg Black Malt (Crisp) 1300 EBC

Mash pH 5.46

100 g Bob K Target Hops (8.0%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min (39 IBU)
1 Protafloc Tablet (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
120 g Bob K Fuggle Hops (4%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min (11 IBU)

120 g UK East Kent Goldings Hops (5.9%) – added immediately after boil (6 IBU)

2 packets of Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast
(2 litre starter using 200 g dry malt extract, roughly 500 billion yeast cells)

120 g UK East Kent Goldings Hops (5.9%) – added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3-5 days


  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulphite to 75 litres water to remove chlorine / chloramine.
  • Water treated with brewing salts for a hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher’s ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less Sulphate).
  • 2.6 L/kg mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 65C for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 76C mashout temperature and hold for 15 mins.
  • 90 min fly sparge with 5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature). Collect 53 litres.
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Protafloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at boil-out, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 19C (I use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. I use pure oxygen from a tank at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 120 seconds per 19 litres.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 18-20C (wort temperature).
  • Add dry hops once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from terminal gravity) and raise the temperature to 21-22C. Steep hops for 3-5 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over 3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally crash cool to around 6C and rack to a bright tank that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatine dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 19 litres of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. Gelatine may “round off” some hop flavour and aroma, so I tend to skip this step with hop forward beers like this.
  • Package as you would normally. I rack to cornie kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. After 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this IPA is best consumed fresh, so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 hour period, and then turn back down to serving pressure.

Right, now for some pictures of the brewing process. Before the brewing day starts, I have to make sure that there is sufficient yeast for the fermentation. The best way to do this is with a yeast starter. A yeast starter is simply a fancy way of saying that you’re going to grow more yeast cells. A starter is simply a small unhopped beer, whose sole purpose is to allow the yeast to reproduce. You cultivate this yeast and then throw away the resulting ‘beer’, keeping only the yeast. This is usually done by making a small batch of lower gravity (1.036 – 1.040) wort in a flask by boiling dry malt extract (DME) and allowing it to ferment to completion. Lower gravity is best as it maximizes healthy yeast growth. The more yeast you need, the larger the starter you need. Here is a picture of two packs of the liquid yeast made to a 2 litre starter:

I put the starter flask onto a stir plate and run it for 24-48 hours at high speed. You want a nice vortex to make sure the yeast gets plenty of oxygen, as in this video:

Here we’re grinding the grains for the mash:

With grains inside the Speidel 50L Braumeister malt tube, I start the mashing process. Here’s a video of the wort rising up the malt tube and recirculating by running out of the top plate and down the side of the malt tube:

After the mashing is over, the malt tube is removed and the wort is heated to boiling point. When the wort is a little way from boiling the hot break forms. This ‘foop’ is skimmed off with a large sieving spoon:

While waiting for the boil to start I get all the hops ready:

When the boil is over, I pump the boiled wort into the fermenter via a counter-flow chiller to cool it down to yeast pitching temperature:

The temperature I need is 18C:

After draining, this shows all the spent hops left in the boiler:

Great for the compost heap!

Here’s some shots of the conical fermenter before being filled and in its resting place under the stairs. Once under the stairs and out of the way, I connect the heating and cooling pipework up. The aim is to keep it at around 19C for about 10 days. After the first 5 days I add the dry hops to give the beer a typical English hop aroma.

This is what the beer looks like in the fermenter. Just the right colour and nice and clear ready for the yeast to eat the luscious sugars:

Once the beer has finished fermenting it will be crash-cooled to 6C and packaged into two 19L kegs. There will also be about 12 pint bottles.

And finally, the back and front labels I will be using:

Lock-down delights

Believe it or not, one can take some pleasure from the current COVID-19 crisis. In my case, it has given me the opportunity to set up and use a hand pump that I refurbished. A neighbour gave it to me courtesy of a pub clear-out and a skip. The hand pump cast iron base was badly rusted and the pump cylinder was full of old, caked beer. Here’s some pictures of before and after of the hand pump.

And how it looks now after being cleaned, re-varnished and repainted.

I’m going to use it to serve my English IPA that has just finished conditioning. Here is where the hand pump is going to sit in my cellar bar.

The hand pump now in place ready for connection to the cornie keg.

A ‘cornie’ is the abbreviated name for a Cornelius keg. This is a 19 litre stainless steel canister originally used as containers by the soft drink industry. They can be pressurised and used to store and dispense homemade sodas and home brewed beer. They act like a rather giant bottle and beer can stay fresh in them for up to two years. Here’s a picture of two of mine in my cellar bar.

I bought this demand valve to use with the hand pump.

The unit is used in the beer line just before the beer engine to stop the beer flowing forward through the beer engine when there is no demand (pump not being pulled).

Demand valve screwed into position under the shelf.

A view from the back of the shelf showing me at work setting up the pipework.

Connections made and showing the 3-position valve I am using.

The beer line runs through a 3-way valve then to the demand-valve. One side of the valve runs to the cornie keg, the other side to a bit of pipe that I will use to pull water through to clean the beer out from the valve and pump after a session.

And here we are – the first pint through the engine. Delicious!

A view of the pump clip label and a picture also of the rear label I used on the few bottles I packaged.

Whilst I was working in the bar, I also thought it was time to put the Baltic Porter on tap in the kegerator as well. Pictures of the beer and labels.

While I have my own beer on tap the Coronavirus lock-ins doesn’t seem too bad. In the words of my brewery motto “Vires Cervisiam” (Strength through beer).

Brewing a Belgian white beer (or Witbier)

In spite of the really foul wet and windy weather, I decided to brave the elements and brew a beer over the leap year weekend – after all, I did have an ‘extra’ day in the year to do it!

English Ales are all very well, but once in a while it’s nice to brew something different, so I decided to brew a Belgian Witbier. To make the brewery day slightly easier I used my Braumeister 50L (BM) one-pot brewing system – less equipment to wash up at the end of the day!

Belgian white beer (or Witbier) has a unique cloudy-white appearance with very little bitterness, some spiciness, and a slightly sour/tart finish. There is a very light sweetness with soft, creamy feel that is not cloying or heavy. None of the flavours or aromas stand out, making for a light refreshing beer with a moderate alcohol level usually hovering around the 5% ABV mark. Wit beers are usually quite cloudy from starch haze, with a very light straw to light golden colour. It’s a refreshing beer for hot summer days (or even horrible winter ones!)

Arguably the most popular commercial version of this beer is Hoegaarden, named after the village near Tienen in Flanders, which was the modern birthplace of witbier. Records of brewing in the village date back to 1445, when the local monks were enthusiastic brewers, but the tradition died out in the 1950s as consumer tastes moved towards different styles.

Ten years later, Pierre Celis, a milkman who had grown up next to the brewery and sometimes helped with brewing, decided to try to revive the style. He started a new brewery, called de Sluis, in his hay loft. He used the traditional ingredients of water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander seed, and dried bitter (Curaçao) orange peel. In the 1980s, with demand for the product continuing to grow, Celis bought a former lemonade factory, to expand his brewing operations.

Things changed after a fire in 1985. As is traditional in Belgium, several brewers offered their help to keep the business going and Interbrew (now InBev) lent money for the purchase of other buildings to rebuild the brewery. Over time, Celis felt very strongly that the company used the loan to pressure him to change the recipe to make the beer more “mass market”. So Celis decided to sell them the brewery and moved to the United States where he set up the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, to continue making witbier to what he described as the ‘original’ Hoegaarden recipe. It was later acquired by Miller Brewing who eventually closed the brewery and sold the equipment and brand names.

Most Witbier recipes will call for crushed coriander seed along with the zest of fresh (or dried) oranges. I find that much of the spicy flavour behind a Belgian Wit already comes from the yeast (White Labs WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale or Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier) so I will often completely leave out the coriander and orange peel. Try it either way and see which you prefer. You can also use sweet dried orange peel, which is what I have used in this brew. Some witbier recipes will also call for chamomile flowers as a reportedly “secret” ingredient that Celis used in the original Hoegaarden recipe. He debunked this in later interviews, indicating that coriander and bitter orange peel was all that he ever used.

As well as the more usual Pilsner malted barley malt found in this beer, I used flaked oats and flaked wheat (both unmalted). I did a short cereal mash at 50C to help the flaked grains along. A cereal mash step is used with unmalted or low enzyme grains such as rice, corn or oats to gelatinise the sugars before continuing with a traditional mash. To avoid a possible stuck mash with all the flaked grains, I used some rice hulls to help break-up the grain bed and allow the mash liquor to properly circulate during the mashing process. Flaked wheat and oats do not have a husk, so the natural filter bed in the Mash/Lauter Tun is greatly reduced. Brewers with systems that are prone to stuck sparges should add rice hulls at a rate of about 20:1 wheat to rice hull ratio to avoid stuck sparges.

A pretty standard BM brew really, but I used a new Bacbrewing top extender filter with a cross tension piece of my own making. The Bacbrewing plates are supposed to be used with the supplied wing nut on its own, but I found that this did not clamp the plate tight enough to prevent grain seepage out of the malt tube. So I used my cross piece with the wing nut. This worked perfectly.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 55.77 L
Post Boil Volume: 50.52 L
Batch Size (fermenter): 45.00 L
Bottling Volume: 43.00 L
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Colour: 6.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 15.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.4 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Water and treatment
75.0 L Thames Water tap water
18.5 L RO Water (from the Kingfisher’s Aquarium in Beckenham and used to dilute the tap water mineralisation)
500.0 mg Potassium metabisulphite (adding to the bulk water to remove chlorine and chloramines)
13.0 ml Lactic Acid 80% (used in sparge water only)
80.0 ml Hydrochloric acid 1M (used in mash liquor)
13.0 ml Sulphuric acid 2M (used in mash liquor)

0.6 kg Rice Hulls (0.EBC) 5.0%
5.0 kg Wheat, Flaked, Unmalted (4.EBC) 41.3%
5.5 kg Pilsner (Weyermann) (3.3 EBC) 20.7%
0.5 kg Oats, Flaked (Instant/Ready Oats) (3.EBC) 4.1%
0.5 kg Brewing Sugar (Dextrose) (0.EBC) 4.1%
100.0 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker hop pellets 3% Alpha (Boil 60 mins) 15.7 IBUs

100.0 g Dried Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.mins)
30.0 g Crushed Coriander Seed (Boil 5.mins)
0.5 Items Protafloc Tablet (Boil 15.mins)
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient WLN100 (Boil 10 mins)

4 packets Belgian Wit Ale yeast (White Labs #WLP400)

Mash Schedule:
Total Grain Weight: 12.1 kg
Mash In: Add 52.87 L of water 50C 15 min
Mash Step: Heat to 68C for 90 min
Mash Out: Heat to 76C for 10 min
Sparge: Fly sparge with 15.00 L water at 76.C

Brewing Notes:
Water treated with brewing salts to: Ca=50, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=70, S04=7
(Hit minimums on Ca and Mg, keep the Cl:SO4 ratio low and equal).

Mash liquor pH no grain after acids was 2.98. Sparge pH was 5.3.
Mash pH at 68C was 5.68, then 5.47 after 4mins.
pH in boil kettle was 5.47. Post boil volume in kettle was 54L.
48L into fermenter at pH 5.3.

Cool wort to 20C and aerate well. Wort was aerated with pure oxygen using a wand for 60 secs at 1L pm flow.

Start fermentation at 20C and raise to 23C for the last third of fermentation.

Now for some pictures of the brewing underway

Summary of water additions using the Bru’n Water app:

A video of my grain mill in action:
Pilsner milling

The flaked oats and flaked wheat:

“Mosaic” shot of the grains before going into malt tube:

Unfortunately, at my age, a few aids are needed to help get the grains in the malt tube!:

Malt tube top filter in place:

And a video of the top plate performance showing the mash recirculation just starting to rise:
BAC top filter with my spreader

Mash pH:

Hops, ground coriander and sweet orange peel ready for the boil:

Final appearance of beer as it went into fermenter. Looks just the right colour and cloudiness:

Package as you would normally. I rack to 19 L Cornelius kegs that have first been purged with CO2. I chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a keg conditioning fridge. After about 1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. If you are in a hurry to drink it, this beer is best served fresh, so raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Carbonate this beer to higher than normal levels, around 2.5 to 3.0 volumes of CO2.

Brewing a London Porter

I love my dark beers, and if I’m honest, prefer them to many of the cloudy, hop milkshake, American type IPAs that you seem to get everywhere today. So here is how I brewed an old fashioned style London Porter derived from a Fuller’s 1880 recipe. The recipe I have used is based on one from Graham Wheeler’s book called “Brew Your Own British Real Ale”, 3rd Edition, and was published by CAMRA in 2009. As well as using traditional English hops, this will be an all-grain brew using kilned malts only. No additional sugars or adjuncts are used. The brewing method is as pure to traditional English brewing as you can get in a home brew setup!

The origin of how ‘Porter’ got its name is an unsolved mystery subject to much speculation. The usual explanation is that it was named after the London street porters of the 18th and 19h centuries. This has never really been proven. Originally, when this beer was made it was stored for some time to mature. Graham Wheeler suggests that the name may come from the Latin “potare”, which was probably chalked on the wooden casks when the beer had matured enough and was fit to drink in the sense of being potable.

A word on the ingredients
The Fuggle hop originates in England and was first discovered in 1861 in a hop yard owned by George Stace in Kent. Some 14 years later it was officially named and introduced by Richard Fuggle of Benchley in 1875. Similar to a Styrian Golding, it is noted for its distinct European aroma and has enjoyed a long, versatile run. At its peak nearly 100 years ago Fuggle was known as a dual-use hop, used both for bittering and aroma. Today however, as other higher alpha acid varieties have become more prevalent, it’s now more prominently used for its aroma. In this recipe it is used for both.

Maris Otter Ale Malt is a traditional, two-row, low-protein, winter barley variety with deep roots in English brewing. It is today considered the keystone malt for authentic British ale flavors. It was first bred in 1966 by Dr G. D. H. Bell, the director of the British Plant Breeding Institute (PBI), which was then located on Maris Lane, in Trumpington, England. Maris Otter is considered a very “malty-tasting” pale base malt, which has made it a favourite among traditional cask ale brewers for decades. Using Maris Otter, brewers are able to create beers of relatively low gravity and alcoholic strength, such as “ordinary” bitters, while retaining a genuinely malty flavour profile. After its introduction, Maris Otter quickly became popular with brewers because of its low nitrogen content, excellent malting homogeneity, and good enzymatic strength, which makes it easy to malt and mash.

Traditionally Brown Malt was produced on a special kiln which was heated by wooden poles and faggots. Hornbeam faggots were the most commonly used, cut to 5 foot lengths, and burnt to give the malt a harsh, smoky and biscuity flavour. Because of the lack of availability of these specially prepared brushwood faggots, all Brown Malt produced in the UK is now made in the roasting drum. It is sometimes referred to as ‘drum-brown’ and is cooked at a low temperature to impart a dryer and less sweet character than Crystal Malt of the same colour. Its uses are generally restricted to specialist bottled beers, brown ales and sweet stouts.

Crystal malts are specialty grains that add flavour and colour to any brew. These malts are used in many beer styles, from pale ales to porters, and are the most widely used type of specialty grain. You can use crystal malt no matter what type of homebrewer you are — extract, partial mash or all-grain. Adding crystal malt is a common way to add a sweet flavour to beer. The sweetness of crystal malt has distinct caramel tones to it. Crystal malts also add body to your beer.

Special B Crystal Malt is the darkest of the Belgian crystal malts. This malt will impart a heavy caramel taste and is often credited with the raisin-like flavours of some Belgian Abbey ales.

Black malt primarily gives a highly roasted flavor, that carries some bitterness and acidity. But it can also show a deep fruity character reminiscent of currants, blackberries or sultanas. It gives deep contrast to a round malty beer by giving it some elbows, without being pushy. Most importantly, even in very small quantities, it provides a drying quality that brightens up the finish of any beer.

Carafa Special III dehusked chocolate malt is a dark-roasted specialty malt made from high-quality spring barley. It’s carefully roasted to add an espresso-like bouquet, coffee and chocolate flavors, and a mild but noticeable roasted aftertaste.

Here is the recipe:

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 42 L (into fermenter)
Boil Size: 52 L
Boil Time: 90 min
End of Boil Vol: 44 L
Final Packaging Vol: 39 L
Brewhouse Efficiency: 91 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 94 %

Original Gravity: 1.058 SG
Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.6 %
Bitterness: 33 IBUs (International Bittering Units – how strong the hop bitterness is)
Colour: 60 EBC (The colour of beer is measured in EBCs. EBC stands for European Brewery Convention)

Mash Ingredients:
6.65 kg Maris Otter Ale Malt (5 EBC) 73 %
1.10 kg Brown Malt (105 EBC) 12 %
0.9 kg Crystal Malt (140 EBC) 10 %
0.24 kg Carafa Special III dehusked chocolate malt (1400 EBC) 3 %
0.10 kg Special B Crystal Malt [Steep] (300.0 EBC) 1 %
0.10 kg Black Malt [Steep] (1300 EBC) 1 %

Mash Steps:
1.) Mash In. Add 47 L of water at 70 C, hold at 67.0 C 90 min
2.) Mash Out and Vorlauf. Add 0.00 L of water and heat to 77.0 C over 20 min, hold at 77.0 C 15 min
3.) Fly Sparge. Sparge with 13 L water at 76.0 C

Boil Ingredients:
125 g Fuggles leaf 3.8 % Alpha – Boil 90.0 min – 29.7 IBUs
40 g Fuggles leaf 3.8 % Alpha – Boil 10 min – 3.2 IBUs
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)

2 pkg — Wyeast Labs 1968 London ESB Ale (aka Fuller’s yeast)
Ferment at 18C – 20C for 10 to 14 days

Water adjustment:
You may remember in my last article I wrote about the need to get the water right for brewing purposes. When I brewed the English Pale Ale we needed water that was high in sulphates and low in chlorides. When brewing a porter the salts need to be the other way round. This helps to give a porter the roundness of flavour and the smoothness we expect from a dark beer. So in parts per million (ppm) this is what the brewing water (liquor) looked like after my adjustments:
Calcium (Ca) 113
Magnesium (Mg) 5
Sodium (Na) 27
Sulphate (SO4) 70
Chloride (Cl) 174
Thus giving a chloride to sulphate ratio of 2.4:1.

Now for some pictures of the brewing equipment and the process.

For this brew, I am not using my normal 3 vessel setup as shown in the November posting, but using a one-vessel system called a Braumeister. This is really a large, stainless steel version of a simple BIAB system (Brew-In-A-Bag). You still need an HLT (Hot Liquor Tank) for sparging. Here’s a picture of the setup:

This is the home made control panel that I use to control the Braumeister and the HLT:

Here’s what the grains look like after crushing and before adding to the mash process:

After the mash is underway for 20 mins, it’s time to check that the pH is right for the conversion of the malt starches to fermentable sugars:

This is a view inside the Braumeister showing the mash liquor rising up the inner tube:

Once the mashing is over, the inner metal tube containing the malt grains has to be raised to do the sparging (grain rinsing). Full of soaked grain, this tube can be very heavy and needs some kind of hoist to lift it. I use a small car engine hoist:

Pumping the finished wort after the boil into the fermenter via the cooling coil:

This is a view of the spent hops left after finishing the hop boil and draining off the wort to the fermenter:

Well, that’s it for now. This beer turned out really well for me and I won second prize with it in a recent national brewing competition. For further explanation of the brewing terms have a look at the end of this article “Brewing an English Pale Ale” on my HOME page. If you do make this beer, drink it slowly and give a thought to Graham Wheeler. Thank him for the rich brewing knowledge that he so willingly shared in his lifetime.

Brewing an English Pale Ale from local Beckenham hops

I was most fortunate in September in that I was the happy recipient of some very fine hops from Bob Keaveney’s garden. Harvesting the hops themselves was a great deal of fun on a very hot late summer day. Besides me, a good crowd of fellow CAMRA Bromley branch members turned up to give a helping hand. Here is a picture of us all hard at work:

The garden was like a hop jungle and it looked as if they were taking over Bob’s house!

After much hard work and plenty of refreshing beer, as well as fine food from Bob’s cuisine, we had a bumper crop of fresh Cascade, Fuggles, Target and Goldings. Here is a picture of some of the Cascade.

I took my share of the hops home and duly dried them out over 7 days on large trays in my loft. The late September weather was perfect for drying as my loft was very much like a warm oven. In a way, the conditions were very similar to the traditional oast house, but without the fire and smoke. The smell of the hops wafting through my home was wonderful.

After drying, the hops were carefully packed in 100 g bags and vacuum sealed. Stored at near zero temperature in my Brewing fridge, they will keep their usability for 2 or 3 years at least.

So, having picked and dried all these fine hops, I decided to brew a traditional English Pale Ale. For the technically minded, under the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) this would be classed as “11C Strong Bitter”. More well-known commercial varieties of this style would be Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Shepherd Neame Bishop’s Finger, Shepherd Neame Spitfire, or Young’s Ram Rod.

As well as using traditional English hops, this will be an all-grain brew using traditional kilned malts and adjuncts. The vast majority of the hops used will be “Bob’s” hops – Target, Cascade and Fuggles. However, to give the beer slightly more hop complexity, some additional hops from my own stock will be added in the boil. These will be Challenger, Northdown, Hallateur Blanc and Epic. Recipe details now follow. (For those of you who enjoy drinking beer, but may not know how to make it and the brewing terminology used, a short explanation is given at the end of this article.)

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 45.00 L
Boil Size: 56.5 L
Boil Time: 90 min
End of Boil Vol: 49 L
Final Packaging Vol: 44.00 L
Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 80 %

Est Original Gravity: 1.066 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.5 %
Bitterness: 49 IBUs (International Bittering Units – how strong the hop bitterness is)
Est Colour: 23 EBC (The colour of beer is measured in EBCs. EBC stands for European Brewery Convention)

Mash Ingredients:
11.50 kg Extra Pale Propino Pale Malt whole (3 EBC) 89.4 %
0.60 kg Heritage 1823 Greenwich Crystal Malt (10 EBC) 4.7%
0.60 kg Flaked Maize (1.0 EBC) 4.7 %
0.10 kg Special B Crystal Malt [Steep] (300.0 EBC) 0.8 %
0.06 kg Black Malt [Steep] (1300 EBC) 0.5 %

Mash Steps:
1.) Mash In. Add 39 L of water at 70 C, hold at 67.0 C 60 min
2.) Mash Out and Vorlauf. Add 0.00 L of water and heat to 77.0 C over 20 min, hold at 77.0 C 15 min
3.) Fly Sparge. Sparge with 29.58 L water at 76.0 C

First Wort Hops:
34.00 g Target 14.0 IBUs
32.00 g Cascade 11.5 IBUs
32.00 g Fuggles 6.6 IBUs

Boil Ingredients:
35.00 g Challenger pellets – Boil 60.0 min 10.7 – IBUs
35.00 g Northdown leaf – Boil 5 min – 2.1 IBUs
55.00 g Hallauter Blanc – Boil 2 min – 1.8 IBUs
23.00 g Epic pellets – Boil 2 min – 0.4 IBUs
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)

Steeped Hops:
50.00 g Fuggle leaf – Steep at boil end – 15 min – 2.3 IBUs

4 pkg Safale English Ale S04 yeast (aka Whitbread yeast)

Water adjustment:
The biggest ingredient in beer of course is water. Water direct from the tap is often not suitable for brewing. My water is from the Thames Water Company. Although perfectly drinkable, and better than many bottled waters, from a brewer’s perspective it has several faults. Namely, it contains chlorine/chloramines for sanitation, the acidity (pH) is too neutral, the minerals in it are not in the right proportions, and lastly the alkalinity is too high.

For brewing a Bitter type beer the sulphate to chloride ratio needs to be about 2:1 or more to accentuate the bitterness. The pH of the mash and sparge water needs to about 5.2 to 5.6, as opposed to 7.5 or so from the tap. Lastly, if the chlorine/chloramines residue is not removed the beer can have a medicinal, TCP like, taste.

The total volume of water needed for this brew was 70L. So the first step is to add 500 mg of Potassium Metabisulphite to the bulk water to remove the chlorine and chloramine residues. Thames Water has chloride and sulphate mineral salts that are roughly matched at 50 ppm (parts per million) each. To change the sulphate to chloride level, careful and measured amounts of Sulphuric Acid are added to give a final ratio of around 200 ppm of sulphates to 50 ppm of chlorides. This also has the effect of changing the pH of the water to 5.4, which is ideal for the mash and sparge water. Once the water is treated and ready for brewing use, the water is no longer called water but mysteriously acquires the name of ‘liquor’.

Now for some pictures of the brewing equipment and the process.

All set up and recirculating water in the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT). The HLT is where the treated tap water (now called liquor) is heated up to the required mash temperature:

A view inside the HLT showing the heating elements and the recirculating coil:

Transferring the liquor to mash tun prior to adding the grain:

A close up on the ‘Mission Control’ centre:

A view inside the mash tun showing the sparging hose and the false bottom that holds and strains the grain bed:

Here the grains are all ground up and ready for scooping into the mash tun:

Stirring the grains in the mash, or “doughing in” as the Yanks would say:

Changing the hoses around for sparging and running off into the boil kettle (BK):

A diagrammatic view of how the mashing works:

A view into the boil kettle showing the hop filter and whirlpool arm fitted:

A view of the run-off into the boil kettle from the mash tun:

What a boil!

Have a look at the video as well on Youtube

After boiling, the wort is pumped via a Counter Flow Chiller (CFC) into the fermenter
Exit temperature from the CFC at 20 C was just perfect:

It’s a long way from the CFC to the conical fermenter! The Chugger pump handles it well:

The boil is over and the BK has been drained into the fermenter via the CFC. The whirpool arm and hop filter really worked well at keeping the hop residues back and the BK was drained practically dry:

Now the beer is happily in the fermenter and the yeast is pitched or added:

Fermenting and allowing the beer to condition takes about four weeks. Then it’s time to bottle it and keg it:

After about three weeks in the bottle it’s ready to drink. Cheers!

Explanation of brewing terms:
Mashing – The goal of mashing is to produce wort (pronounced ‘wert’), a sugar-laden liquid extracted from the starches in the grains. Hot water and the milled grist (malt, adjuncts and grains) are mixed so that the enzymes in the malt can convert starches into sugars for later fermentation.

Mash Out – After the mash sugar extraction is complete, the mash temperature is raised to around 76 C and held for 15 minutes. This helps decrease the viscosity of the wort and improves sparging performance. It also stops the enzymes from further starch conversion and ‘sets’ the sugar level. This is often combined with Vorlauf –see below.

Vorlauf – This is a German brewing term; recirculation is the equivalent English term. During this process the wort is recirculated over the grain bed, or mash, in the mash tun to establish the grain bed as a filter, which removes large particles and clarifies the wort before transfer to the boil kettle. At the start of the Vorlauf the steeping grains, which are kept out of the main mash, are added. Using the dark grains and crystal malt in this way reduces the harshness in a beer since the husk materials are exposed to hot water for a much shorter time.

Sparge – Fly sparging involves spraying water gently on top of the mash while adjusting the runoff rate to the boil kettle to match the sparge rate, so as to maintain a constant level of water on top of the mash. The goal of this step is to have clear, sweet wort with good flavour in sufficient volume for the boil kettle. Sparging is stopped once the boiling quantity is met. Care needs to be taken to avoid unwanted tannins being flushed through if the sparge water is too hot or too much sparge water is used.

First Wort Hops – A special form of hop boiling, where hops are added to the boil kettle before the boil begins. They are typically added as the first sparging runoff flows into the kettle. This method provides a smoother, cleaner bitterness with significant hop flavour.

A walk from Maidstone to Rochester 15/06/2019

I thought it was some time since I did one of my long distance pub hikes, so on Saturday 15 June I did a 15 mile walk from Maidstone to Rochester. First pub stop was as soon as I left the train at Maidstone East. A nice pint of Ruddles in the Wetherspoon “Society Rooms” at 09:48:

Maidstone is a quaint town, but I didn’t have time to explore its streets:


I followed the path from the station to the River Medway and was greeted with this view looking southward as I walked down the steps to the river tow path:

But this isn’t the way I wanted to go as I was walking north towards Allington Locks.

As I walked along the tow path some fine old Thames barges were spotted
And soon enough my second pub came into sight, The Malta Inn:
I find the lock machinery at Allington quite fascinating:
As did this cute swan family of mum and dad with eight signets:
I soon reached the fine old stone Aylesford Bridge
…………. and my next pub right next door, The Chequers.

I quickly walked through the picturesque old town with its noisy traffic and entered the flat river meadows and marshes:

I was now approaching nearby Burham, which nestles between the Medway and the North Downs. It felt about right for another pint, so I diverted slightly off route to The Butcher’s Block at Burham and a nice pint of Old Dairy:
Walking past the ancient church of St. Mary’s at Burham, I was soon once again in the riverside marshes.
Walking through the desolate marshes I came across the memorial stone, set up as a monument to the Battle of the Medway in 43 AD, when British tribes under the command of Caratacus tried to halt the advancing Roman legions and failed.
The wide sweep of the river 20190615_132117soon brought me to the new dwellings of Peter’s Village.
Lovely houses, but no pubs here I’m afraid. Still it was a good place to sit and eat my lunch – a large chunk of homemade cottage pie.

A quick tally of my pints so far revealed I had only managed to sink four – hardly my normal pint per mile. So I hastened on towards Wouldham, where I knew two good pubs awaited me.

Sure enough, the first pub at Wouldham was The Medway Inn and a good pint of London Pride:

Only a short hop from here to the the next great Wouldham pub, The Waterman’s Arms, and a gorgeous pint of Spitfire Gold:

From Wouldham, I took the high ground up to the North Downs ridge and then my descent towards Rochester:
passing some old square oast houses on the way:

As I passed through Borstal, I remembered The White Horse on the way and was pleased to see it still thriving:

And this is where I met my new friend Frank – a rather gorgeous French Bulldog puppy whose coat colour is known as ‘blue’:

Two pints were swiftly downed here as Frank’s owner and I swapped experiences of owning French Bulldogs.

And now the final sweeping approach to Rochester and its famous bridge, still privately owned would you believe!

Rochester Castle soon came into view, followed quickly by my first pub in Rochester proper, The Crown:
I fought hard in Rochester, but the pubs came thick and fast and I was unable to beat them off:
First two up, right next to each other so I had no chance, were The Jolly Knight and The King’s Head:
Followed swiftly by Ye Arrow:
and a pint of St Edmunds
I realised now I was not going to win this battle, so after a quick glimpse of Rochester Cathedral for divine guidance,
I dragged myself into The Smoke Liquor for a bottle of smoked porter – gorgeous!
Now having decided I was truly defeated, I finished off at The Two Brewers and The Eagle Tavern:

I fought a good battle, but decided to yield at this point having imbibed a total of 15 pints during the day. So eventually I did meet my pint per mile target. I got home at 21:30, was kicked about a bit by SWMBO, and went off to bed to have a fine sleep. An excellent day out. Soon to be repeated I hope by going along the Medway in the other direction southwards from Maidstone to Tonbridge, but that will be another tale!

A late tribute to Graham Wheeler

I have just brewed two beers as a personal remembrance to Graham Wheeler. The first was a German Pilsner style beer modelled on Graham’s recipe for ‘Jever Pils’ from his book “Brew Classic European Beers At Home” (1995). This beer has rich aromas of malt and hop. With a delicate and refreshing balance of malt and hop in the mouth, leading to a dry finish with a pleasing blend of hop and honey sweetness. Here is my pump clip label:


The second was taken from Graham Wheeler ‘s “Home Brewing” book (1990) and modelled on his recipe for an old style porter. This black beer has a biscuity, nutty flavour with a chocolate and roast coffee background. The hops are quite pronounced and give a fruity and spicy character. Pump clip label:


If you are wondering about the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ image above, Graham was rather camera shy and used this particular silhouette as his on-line avatar in brewing forums.

I will sup these two beers slowly and give a thought for Graham, who inspired so many to brew their own quality beer in defiance of commercial blandness. They are brewed in commemoration of his life and with thanks for the rich brewing knowledge that he shared.  Sadly, he left this world to become ‘Supreme Beer Cicerone’ on 30/11/2017. RIP.