The Goatshake


I love a chocolate stout and I really love chocolate milk stouts.  Sadly, they do not love me as I am lactose intolerant.  I picked up a Dark Revolution Velveteen chocolate milk stout AG recipe from Brew UK and decided to experiment. Big thanks to Brew UK for sending me the recipe after I managed to be a complete numbnut a throw the one that came with the kit away without punching it into Beersmith.

I can tolerate goats dairy products but I have not been able to find a UK producer of goats lactose. I can get a 500g bag shipped from the US but it’ll cost £40, fuck that!  I did find some goats whey protein powder and thought, hey Omnipollo have been putting this whey crap into everything why the hell not?  Whey contains lactose so it should, theoretically, work


The AG kit came with the following:

3250g Marris Otter
500g Carafa Special III
500g Oats
475g Brown
240g Crystal
240g wheat
26g Magnum
44g Fuggles
500g Lactose
1 bag of cocao nibs

 swapped out the 500g lactose for a plain flavoured goats whey powder.

Mash schedule (for Braumiester) 

Mash with 23L of water at 65c for 60 mins. Raise temp to 77c for 10 mins then remove malt pipe and top up to 27L. Bring to boil then follow hop schedule.

Hop schedule

Total Boil time:60 mins
Start of boil: All Magnum Hops
10 Mins from end: 21g Fuggles + 500g Lactose Sugar
End of Boil: Balance of hops then cool.

 4 days after fermentation add cacao nibs
I used US05 to ferment. 


The initial wort without the cacao or yeast added tasted wonderful, I am very likely to use this as the basis for a stout recipe again.

A few notes about adding the whey powder. After adding I instantly thought I should have dissolved it in water first.  Some of it, as you would expect going into a boil, clumped up into weird rubber balls . which made transferring the wort to my primary tricky.

When I transferred to my bottling bucket the yeast cake at the bottom of the fermenter was very odd.  It was a strange, rubbery honeycomb like structure which you could just pick up in one lump.  Made clear up a lot easier!


only added the cacao nibs for a few days as I have learnt from previous experience that it can impart a very tannic bitter flavour if left in for too long.

have no idea on what the ABV is as I forgot to take a picture or note down my O.G., according to the recipe kit it should be around 4.8%, I think mine turned out slightly higher which may be due to the whey powder. 

It has taken an age for it to start carbonating which I suspect is because it’s bloody cold.  6 weeks in and it’s finally nearly there, it has a creamy mouthfeel and a lovely chocolate tone but then it gets a bit goaty. Might have been nicer with a vanilla flavoured whey powder.  Some experiments just do not work and I’m unsure what to make of the result of this one.  Maybe I should stick to taking lactase pills when I drink normal milk stouts and leave the goats alone.



12 beers of xmas

This year I have decided to forgo the advent calendar and join the Beer O’clock Show’s 12 beers of Xmas.  I will be starting mine early (ie tomorrow with my 12th beer being on Christmas day) as the normal dates don’t fit in my with Christmas plans. Basically you pick 12 really special beers and have one each day. I can’t decide which ones to pick (It’s like picking your favourite child I’d guess) so, to make it fun, I am going to draw my beers from out of a santa hat.   I’ve picked 60 beers which I think are worthy of being part of it and have numbered them accordingly. I’m actually very excited about this. I’ll be posting little videos of the draw and revealing the bottles behind the numbers on Instagram (KatrinnaSewell) and updating this post everyday with the results.  You can also follow the hashtag #12beersofxmas on Twitter. 

Get involved! 


Beer 1 – Owa Brewery Ume Lambic

So I pulled out number 15 from the hat which was Owa’s Ume Lambic.  Owa are based in Belgium brewing Japanese inspired lambics. The Ume is a variety of plum which are a lot more tart than traditional plums,  they are usually pickled in Japan.  I came across Owa when I was looking into places in Brussels where my friend Emmy could kill some time (other than Cantillon).  Emmy attempted to get me a bottle from Delices and Caprices but alas they were closed.  A few weeks later I found them online.  

This is stunning,  you get a syrupy plum at the start then the acidity washes over you.  I will endeavour to seek out more of their beers. 

Beer 2 – Dugges Jamaica 2000

I got this beer from The Beer Shop in Nunhead a few weeks ago.  It’s a big,  spiced rum heavy,  barleywine with a lot of wood up front. Very much a sipper. 

Beer 3 –  Oud Beersel Bersalis oak aged Tripel 2015

From what I can remember of the blurb, this is a tripel aged in oak chateauneuf du pape barrels which goes through a secondary spontaneous fermentation.  It’s incredibly balanced for its complexity. You get a lovely tripel flavour which changes into an apricot and lemon laden geuze.  The surprise is the 10.5% abv,  definitely doesn’t feel like it when it goes dpwn.  I bought this at De Hop Duvel in Ghent because it was quite cheap and sounded interesting.  I will definitely pick up more if I see it again. 

Beer 4 – Windswept Brewing Co Wolf of Glen Moray Port Cask Finish

The original version of this beer is my favourite scotch ale. So when I found out they’d have this one at Craft Beer Rising, buying it was the first thing I did when I got there.  I find a lot of scotch ales have that alcohol burn but this has none,  it’s got a strong vanilla finish and just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. My Scottish ancestors are from Moray going way back to the 1700s, perhaps I should go visit sometime.

Beer 5 – Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake double barrel

If you’ve ever smelt this beer you’ll understand the above photo.  Never has a beer bought me so much joy just from the smell alone.  It always makes me giggle. Noa is one of my favs and this is the double barrel version. I purchased this in The Bottle Shop.  I’m getting more of the Cognac barrel since I last drank it,  along with some acidity and berry notes.  It’s a bit like when you have raspberries and dark chocolate. 

Beer 6 – Prairie Gold

Prairie Gold is a saison fermented with ale yeast, wine yeast, lacto and brett.  Considering its contents, it is a masterclass in balance and harmony. If only all sour beers were like this.  It’s dry from the saison but you can definitely pick out the acidity from the lacto and the brett characters. There’s lemon, grape and wheat notes and I bloody love it.  Only let down was that it was a bit too eager to get out of the bottle and onto my kitchen floor.  I bought this bottle from Beergium in their Black Friday sale. Not usually into Black Friday but hey cheap American sours!

Beer 7 – De struise Pannepot Grand Reserva 2009

I bought this beer last time I was in Belgium. De Struise’s beers were hard to come by (except the fuckoff overpriced Black Damnation series) but I was tipped off that I could get them in Ypres (thanks whoever that was).  Sure enough, in an unassuming chocolate gift shop in Ypres, were Black Albert, Blue Monk and copious versions of Pannepot at very very good prices.

 This is the Grand Reserve version from 2009. It’s aged in oak for 24 months with 10 months of this being Calvados barrels.  It’s probably the best Pannepot I’ve had, bursting with dried fruit, vanilla and boozy calvados goodness it was a proper Christmas treat. Yum yum.

Beer 8 – Siren Maiden 2014

So today I pulled a Siren Maiden out of Santa’s hat.  This is 2014’s edition and I have absolutely no idea how it got in my house, it just seemed to appear one day (ie I probably bought this when I was hammered).  Basically, Maiden is a barleywine which is split into many different barrels then reblended after a year.  I heard mixed things about this but time has been kind to it.  There’s no big alcohol burn, just sweet brandy snaps filled with whiskey cream flavours. A lovely drop, well done drunk me.

Beer 9 –  Brekeriet Sour Brown 

This one got mixed reviews amongst the people I shared it with. I personally was not a fan as I found it had an almost mushroom, soil type taste. 

Beer 10 – Mad Hatter Salted Caramel Quad 
Well this is tasty.  You get your usual quad with a lovely smack of salt and a caramel mouthfeel. I got this in the Imperial Beer Club box. I’m a fan of Mad Hatter and wish more places in London would stock them. 

Beer 11 – Alvinne/Insight Brewing Sour’ire de Mortagne

This is a sour barrel aged quad with smoked peaches. I bought this from etre gourmet at the same time as the Ume lambic because I couldn’t resist that description.  It’s initially sweet with vanilla and peach then smokey and then the acidity kicks in.  Very enjoyable. 

Beer 12 – Borg Surtur 30.1

I first had Surtur in a bar in Reykjavik. Simon paid £20 for the bottle and it was worth every penny. Surtur 30 is an imperial stout smoked in a traditional sheep dung house. I didn’t know this at the time but even still it was my favourite beer all trip.  Surtur 30.1 is aged in Brennivin barrels.  Brennivin is an Icelandic caraway spirit.  It’s very marmite but I happen to like it.  The smoke makes way for the booze in this one.  I bought this through 101 Reykjavik and you can now get more of Borg’s beers in Royal Mile Whiskeys in Bloomsbury. 

I Gose Back to Black


Simon was on his mate’s stag weekend in Lisbon so I decided to brew a beer and have some friends over.  I invited Mick and Si to pop over for a brewday (ie I brew beer whilst Mick and Si ask me silly questions and generally stand in the way).  A few weeks before, we entered into discussions as to what to brew.  Mick was after something funky and we decided on a gose. Si mentioned it was blackberry season so we ended up with a blackberry gose.  I then mentioned I had some black lava salt so we could use that to carry on the black theme and we could use midnight wheat malt to make it black. So a black blackberry gose made with black lava salt it is!

Si was determined to forage for the blackberries, however, he failed.  He turned up to brewday late and empty handed with a hangover.  Mick to the rescue, he foraged for blackberries in our nearest Morrisons and bought a bottle of Westbrook’s Mexican Chocolate Cake with him.  Gold star for Mick.

Grain bill

2.0kg wheat malt
1.2kg German Pilsner malt
900g acidulated malt
400g Midnight Wheat
15g Hallertauer hops at 60 mins
28g ground coriander seeds at 10 mins
20g sea salt at 10 mins
2kg Blackberries at 10mins

We mashed in at 65°C all of the grain apart from the acid malt and midnight wheat malt.  We mashed those in after 1 hour for a 45 min period. Was great to watch the wort change from pale to black.
During the boil we added the blackberries and the blackness disappeared. Should have guessed this really, you add 2kg of blackberries and it’s going purple whether you like it or not.  The addition of midnight wheat was pointless.  I let it ferment with WLP029 kolsch yeast for a few weeks.  Initial fermentation was very vigorous, I awoke to find the airlock had blown off across the kitchen and the beer had fermented all over my floor.  I had to put in my first blow off tube system in 5 years.  I moved it into secondary on a further kilogram of blackberries. After 2 days I bottled it and the colour has much improved.  Before the secondary it was quite wishy washy but now it is a definite purple. It’s come out a bit strong for a gose at 6% but I assume this is down to all the blackberries and I should have accounted for that in my grain bill. I tasted it before bottling and there was a definite blackberry taste with a yoghurty creaminess. 

After a week I noticed there was a pellicle forming in the bottles. Uh oh, in to the cold shed with you!  Not sure if the lacto was eating all the fruit sugars or if aceto was forming but they are lively buggers and it took a week for the pellicle to drop out. It smells and tastes very yoghurty and is cloudy as hell so I’m keeping this out in the shed for now.  I probably should have waited a bit longer before I bottled it for the fruit sugars to ferment out.  Lessons learned.

Got a few brewdays coming up.  I’m experimenting with a chocolate milk stout made with goats lactose instead of cows lactose as I’m sensitive to it.  Also brewing a strong dark Belgian ale which I’m going to pitch the Chorlton HS2 brett strain in the secondary.

Saisons in the Abyss has been bottled since September now, it’s tasting very winey. I’m incredibly pleased with it. I can’t wait to experiment more with sours.

Pellicle from Saisons in the Abyss



Pirate Juice – a samphire and dried Iranian lime gose

I have some very salty samphire in my freezer, too salty to actually eat so I had a brainwave that it might be good for making a gose.  I did a quick google to ensure I wasn’t going mad and low and behold St Austell have made one previously in collaboration with the Craft Beer Channel. 

I have recently discovered the joys of dried Iranian limes thanks to Persepolis in Peckham. I think their tart, sherbert qualities will go well in a gose so have decided to add them in too.
Grain bill
2.3kg wheat malt

1.5kg German Pilsner malt

900g acidulated malt

15g Hallertauer hops at 60 mins

28g ground coriander seeds at 10 mins

10g sea salt at 10 mins

500g samphire blended at 10 mins

15 dried Iranian limes at 10 mins

I mashed in at 65°C for an hour all of the grains except the acidulated malt. I then added the acidulated malt and mashed at the same temperature for a further 45 minutes then raised to 76°C and sparged.
I added the ground coriander seeds, salt, samphire and dried Iranian limes at 10 minutes and left the limes in during the chill too. It fermented for a few weeks with White Labs WLP029 Kolsch yeast and is now in the bottle. I’m very much looking forward to cracking one open in a few weeks.

Updates on other brews

The Blood orange bretted saison is nearly ready having been in the fermenter for almost 6 months.  I plan to bottle it at the end of September.  It tastes amazing, very fruity with lots of pineapple from the brett.  Here’s the sexy pellicle.

My Verbena and Thyme wit beers have finally carbed up! Imagine my surprise when I opened one to be greeted by a fountain of beer all over my kitchen. I think the hot weather we’ve had recently has kicked it in.

The Imperial Stout is still flat but tastes incredible. Have had a few sneaky bottles to catch up on progress.  Still not planning to drink properly until December and still planning to brew again next year and referment with champagne yeast.

I am taking delivery on Monday of a 10 litre ex-herb liqueur barrel.  My plan is to plonk a saison in it first and then do a wild cherry beer using the cherries from my garden.  The barrel will sit in my shed which is next to my cherry tree. If anyone has any other ideas I’m all ears.

My lovely friend Alex has discovered some 10l demi johns which have been in her family for a while. They are a bit grubby but she’s offered to clean them up and give them to me,  you’re a star. I can’t wait to make some experimental batches in them. Simon is getting me a short malt pipe for my Braumeister for Christmas so I can do smaller 10l experimental batches so that works out well. 

Next brew is a black blackberry gose, which is being brewed this weekend. Simon is away at a stag do so I’m having my friends Mick and Si over for brewday funtimes! 

Summer Summer Summer Thyme

I wanted to brew a wit beer for us to drink over the summer in our new garden, but, me being me, I wanted to flavor it somehow.

I’ve had a couple of beers using herbs this past year. Namely Borg’s Snorri, a wit beer using artic thyme and Colorado’s Wild Sage which is awesome.  Snorri is probably Simon’s favourite summer beer (but Brew By Number’s Saphir Grisette is a very close 2nd). So I’ve decided to go for a lemon thyme wit beer.  Well, that was until my friend Skully recommended verbena so I’m going to split the batch and do both.


2kg Pale malt
2kg wheat malt
15g Citra at 60 mins
20g dried  orange peel at 5 mins
20g lightly crushed coriander seeds at 5mins
Belgian Wit yeast

I wanted to keep this simple and not strong. I want a good session summer beer.  Using citra again as I still bloody have some in my freezer! Plus I’m not a fan of the traditional wit beer hops.

I stepped my mash starting at 50oC for the protein rest for 30 mins then up to 69 for 30 mins then up to 75 for the last 10 mins.

After 3 weeks fermenting I split into two 5l demi Johns (deciding to bottle 10l as plain wit as it was so nice) and put 40g of lemon verbena in one and a bunch of thyme from my garden in the other. The thyme was in for a day as it came across as quite strong but once bottled it has, sadly, mellowed a bit. The verbena was in for 4 days. It has given the beer a floral and lemon finish but I think it’ll be better if next time I make a hot tea with it and leave it to cool before adding as I think this’ll bring more flavour than just cold brewing.

Lessons learned.


Saisons in the Abyss

Being a bit of a Slayer fan I’ve always wanted to brew a saison and call it “Saisons in the Abyss”, so I’ve finally done it.  Originally it was just going to be a blood orange saison (blood…slayer..geddit?) but then the lovely boys at Chorlton Brewing sent me samples of HS1 and HS2, the bretts they have used in a yet unreleased version of their fantastic Brett Citra Pale (more info here: and after consulting the beer brains of twitter it was deemed necessary for me to plonk HS1 in for primary fermentation.


Before I could use it I needed to grow it to create a starter. This took approximately 2 weeks to get up to a 1.5l range. I added the sample to 500ml water and 50g of spraymalt (pre-boiled and cooled for sanitation purposes) in a flask and sat this on a stir plate.  My stir plate is American and I had a few plug/voltage issues (ie nearly set my kitchen on fire, whoops) which I managed to resolve but was still suspicious of so I only had the stir plate on when I was in which I don’t think made too much difference, there was definitely brett in there, I could smell it!  The first week it smelt very strongly of pineapples and the second week was full of the classic horse blanket/barnyard whiff.  I topped it up periodically with more pre-boiled water and spraymalt to enable it to grow.

The beer recipe:

2kg of Vienna Malt
2kg of Pilsner malt
1kg of Wheat malt
100g Orange blossom honey
150ml Blood orange juice plus 1.5kg pulp
15g Citra at 60 mins
15g Citra at 5 mins
White Labs Belgian Saison II yeast

I decided to use citra as I have some that need using up and don’t really see why not to be fair.  I assume the main character of this beer will come from the brett anyway not the hops.  I used the Belgian Saison II yeast as, in my experience, it ferments quickly.  The original gravity of this was 1.06 which is around what I was aiming for.  The initial taste is super sweet but I’m sure the brett will soon knock that in to touch.

I added both the brett and the saison yeast in for primary fermentation, I still want that peppery saison taste and after the initial fermentation stage it does have that classic saison taste but with a fruity brett undertone.  Lovely but nowhere near done as you can’t bottle brett too early, it’s a recipe for bottle bombs galore.  You have to kick back and let it do it’s thang, I’m going to kick back until 6 months’ time in October so into the secondary it goes.  I’ve had a taste after a month in the secondary fermenter and the brett is really going for it, it’s all a bit Siren All Bretts are Off tasting at the mo. I’ve got some blood orange puree to add at the end if I feel the blood orange has been lost so we shall see. I’m interested to watch this one evolve.

As for HS2 I’m concocting a bretted imperial cherry stout recipe for that with HS2 going in to secondary.

Next up I make a wit beer using lemon thyme and verbena!

Friday drinking problems

I’ve been toying whether to write this was a while. It came to me after reading a poll asking if the London beer scene (I hate that word) was too saturated.  My response “Fuck no! I still can’t get a decent beer near my workplace on a Friday night”.

My workplace is on Wigmore Street down the Self ridges end.  My workmates, unlike other places where I have worked, are really, genuinely, lovely people to be around.  I’ve been here for 9 years and enjoyed many a Friday whiling away the hours with them over a few drinks.  I’ve even managed to acquire the job of Friday drinks secretary which entails me emailing everyone on a Friday to say which pub we’ll be going to.

However, the more and more I am spoilt by the amazing choice of beers I have at home and at places close to home (I live very close to Bermondsey) the more and more I don’t want to go out on a Friday night with my workmates anymore.  This is nowt to do with them but to do with the pubs in the area and lack of choice when it comes to beer.

I know there are great places in Marylebone for beer (The Prince Regent, The Phoenix and The Globe up by Marylebone Station are a few examples) but my workmates, understandably, don’t want to have to walk far for their beers after work.  They are, on the whole, happy with their pint of Kronenberg or delighted with their pint of Doom Bar.  They don’t need to walk far for that, the Devonshire Arms across the road sells those, no need to travel.  The problem is the Devonshire Arms, like many of the pubs round here, only have token Punk IPAs in their fridge for people like me.  I know a lot of pubs are tied and can’t sell certain things blah blah blah but having to drink Punk IPA every Friday for months on end gets very very boring.  Not to mention sometimes the bottles are a bit too old.

It just frustrates me as I’ve travelled a fair bit and have found great beer readily available in every capital city I have been to yet you come to pretty much central London (Oxford Street is 30 seconds away) and there’s no decent London brewed beer being celebrated which I think is criminal.

Take where we are going tonight.  Tonight I’m not in charge of pub choice as somebody is leaving and having leaving drinks.  We are usually tied between two places for these due to space issues – The Coachmakers or All Bar One.  Tonight we are at The Coachmakers.  The Coachmakers have a pretty standard beer selection but they do sometimes have the odd guest cask bitter which is great if you’re into those, which I’m not really. I usually end up on the bottles of Affligem Blonde which at 6.8% you really can’t drink all night. On another note, in case someone from The Coachmakers is reading this, you’re website is terrible to use.  I’ve seen many a workmate frustrated over it.

All Bar One used to be bearable as they had a few surprising Siren bottles in the fridge but they’ve now disappeared and been seemingly replaced by Corona and Estrella.

There are a few glimmers of hope.  The Gunmakers normally has the odd thing on tap but the last few times I’ve been in it has been from London Fields which has tasted incredibly vinegary and just been totally undrinkable.  They also have Camden Pale and Hells on tap which I’m not a fan of but I credit the Gunmakers for it.  We also have a Sam Smiths pub near us which is great, I’m a big fan of their chocolate stout, the problem is it’s just too small to accommodate all of us.

I dunno, maybe my standards are just too high and I should get on with it. I’m just at the stage where I don’t think I should drink something I’m not going to enjoy for the sake of drinking and with the British culture of going out drinking on a Friday night to socialise that just doesn’t fit anymore.  Maybe it’s not you, it’s me.

If I’m wrong and you know a pub within 5 min walk of my office that has great beer let me know.