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.

Getting the Christmas brew in early


I had planned to make this just before Christmas and then bottle it for a year but the mortgage process, as always, had other ideas and we were delayed in buying our house until the new year.

Now safely in and having got the house up to a reasonable fermenting temperature (it has been empty for a long time and was a cool 5oC when we moved in) it’s time to finally get on with it.


My first problem though is removing this bad boy!  Yes, all the taps in the new place are a bit style over substance annoying shits.  Kitchen designers: please spare a thought for people who want to water their gardens when you are designing these twatty things.  I got the other half to dismantle it and, success, it comes off but my hose connector doesn’t fit.  After locating one that does I set my chiller up so I could check it works as I don’t want to get to the cooling part and find I can’t do it.  Our water pressure is high and at first the water doesn’t run through and explodes all over the show at the tap.  After a bit of physics (ie gravity) I get it running.

The idea for this beer came about from my friend Emmy who just announced “OH MINCE PIE STOUT” very excitedly one day.  Now, you can’t just go throwing mince pies in to your boil due to the pastry.  Nobody wants fat floating around in their beer. I had to sit down and have a good think about it.  I know I wanted a whiskey element in so decided I’d soak some dried fruit in whiskey and put them in the boil. Next the spices, I don’t want to over spice it.  I’ve had a few Christmas beers and some of them are disgusting due to the spices just overpowering the beer and leaving a powdery taste in your mouth.  I should probably be adding cinnamon and ginger but when it came to it on brew day I decided against spices.  I just haven’t had a beer that wasn’t ruined by them.  I did add dried orange peel though and will add more if needed after fermentation. I’d like to also age the beer on more dried fruit soaked in whiskey to try and impart more of that flavour.

Hop wise I’m going for Bramling Cross to give me some deep blackberry and also some peppery notes to offset any sweetness.

I’d like to make this an imperial stout so I’m going for as strong as I can get it.  I have some scotch ale yeast which can tolerate up to 12%.  Malt wise I have a lot of stouty malts in the cupboard so have devised something with what I have got.  I do like Mikkeller’s Black Hole so had a quick nose at that to see how they got it so strong.  Turns out they had a fuckton of sugar and honey.  I’ve decided to add a bit to mine but not as much as that.

Out of the whole brewing process I’d say malt is the stuff I have the least knowledge about.  It’s the backbone to many a beer and with hop shortages malt forward beers may soon become very important.  I’ll certainly be doing more research into malts, I plan to get myself a smoker and smoke my own soon.

Malt bill

6.5kg Pale malt
500g Roasted Barley
350g Chocolate malt
225g caramel malt
200g flaked oats
200g Caraamber
200g Brown Malt
120g Special B

Other stuff

500g light muscovado sugar
50g honey

To accommodate this in my Braumeister I need to attempt a double mash as the Braumeister is only meant to have a max of 4.5kg of malt at a time.  Now I’ve never done one of these but it means to make it easier I’m going for a one step mash at 67oC.  If I did a stepped mash I’d have to use the chiller to cool down the wort at the end of the first mash ready for the second which I just can’t be arsed with to be honest. I split the malt bill into two equal parts of each malt.


The double mash is not as much of a pain in the arse as I thought.  I set the first mash up and after an hour I stop it, remove the basket, dig out the grains and then put the new lot in and set it to mash again at the same temperature.  I think I lost a few degrees which didn’t take long to recover.

It would be easier if I had a second malt pipe but y’know they’re like £70 a pop!

Mashing done, time to boil.  I add 100g of Bramling Cross at the start and the dried fruit, sugar and orange peel at 45 mins. I stick the honey in at 55 mins.

My chiller system is ace as the water that comes out of our taps is super uncomfortably cold at the moment so I think it chilled in less than 10 mins.  I was aiming for around 10% and the gravity reading says 1.10. I transfer it to my Christmas present (SS Brewtech fermenting bucket).

I popped out for evening and when I returned it was already bubbling away, hooray.

I plan to leave this for a few weeks then transfer it to a secondary on the dried fruit and orange peel and then leave it in the bottle until Christmas.  Anyone want a Christmas present?

Tryanuary tales

It was New Year’s Eve (my birthday) and as I was making my way through the 5 10%+ beers the Buxton Tap House had on that night the other half made a suggestion. “Why don’t you only drink beer 6% or below in January as your Tryanuary challenge?”  Through the fog of imperial stouts I agreed and drank a farewell Tsar Bomba.

Tryanuary is a great concept, a big fuck you to the deluded dry crowd who think they are somehow healing themselves and gaining some sort of smug enlightenment by not drinking for the whole of January.  It doesn’t help you, you go back to drinking how you usually do in February, and sometimes more to compensate. Just learn moderation and stop being so extreme you dicks.  Tryanuary is also about trying new things so for me this means a lot of pale ales.  I don’t usually drink pale ales that much, preferring dark beers or sours.   It’s also about visiting new places, extending your beer love money to new faces and generally supporting the beer industry.

I started on New Year’s Day in Buxton.  We visited some pubs we hadn’t been in and I drank a few beers which I usually avoid and describe as “old man beers”, mainly bitters and red ales.  Tribute Extra was one that stood out to me. I was quite taken aback by how much I liked it. I also had this in a great little micropub in Buxton called Ale Stop. They only have three taps but they are pretty good and have a fantastic bottle selection. They had beers from Torrside and Tempest on whilst we were there.


Some examples of the beers that Ale Stop have had

Back in London I popped into Hop Burns & Black for drinks for a friend’s birthday, I searched the shelves for something under 6% I hadn’t had and came across Wild’s Epic Saison in the bin ends box.  It’s the last one so surely I need to rescue it!  And so I did and I was rewarded handsomely, how have I not had this before? I suppose it got overshadowed by Wild’s more exotic sounding offerings (winey beast, bibble, ninkasi, sleeping lemons etc). I will definitely be having this again, tryanuary success!

Going through my Untappd I can see I’ve had quite a lot of flavoured beers. Not sure if this is the in thing, I’ve seen all sorts of weird abominations (Jester King’s – Snorkel, an oyster mushroom and sea salt farmhouse sour) is this going to get a bit silly?

I’ve had To ol’s Releaf Me which is a refreshing blonde brewed with keffir lime leaves. Black Market’s Blackberry Berliner. Thornbridge’s Charlie Brown (Peanut butter Brown Ale) needed more peanut butter but their strawberry pale (I love you will you marry me) was spot on and reminiscent of Campinos.  My favourite was Lindeman’s Pecheresse at only 2.5% I could drink it all night. I have a major sweet tooth so this suited me down to the ground.

I’ve tried a few things I would definitely never go for. Such as Weird Beard’s Faithless Spreadsheet Ninja. I’m not a pilsner or a sorachi ace fan but, I have to hand it to them, this was fantastic. I have another bottle waiting in the fridge already.

But , as they say, you win some you lose some. I tried a can of Adnam’s Crystal Rye IPA after spotting it in Morrison’s and, although it was perfectly drinkable, me and crystal are just not going to ever get on.

I also picked up a Theakstons Distillers Cask which reminded me of Innis & Gunn but without the sweet sickly taste. For 79p it was worth it and I’m sure it would go lovely in a cake.

Beer of Tryuanuary for me though is Mad Hatter’s Brunch Club.  It’s a pale ale at 5.4% but the flavour hit is ridiculous.  The word juicy banger gets banded around a lot but this certainly deserves it. I just need somewhere local to stock it now. It’s borderline whether I prefer this over Magic Rock’s Cannonball. Shock, horror.

I’ve not done too well on the visiting new places front mainly due to moving house halfway through.  My new location is Peckham and I’ve not been to The Hope before so I popped in there for a Sunday roast and a pint of Brick’s Peckham Rye. They have a great selection of beers on cask, keg and in bottle. The Sunday roast was fantastic with a choice of beef, pork, lamb, duck, chicken or a veggie.

I also managed to pop into The Beer Shop in Nunhead for a bottle of Cloudwater Ardbeg. I didn’t get to sit in and drink but I’ll be returning on Friday.

I also went along to The Bottle Shop for the Crafty Beer Girls monthly meet up. There were 17 of us when I left, a great turn out and fun to drink and chat beer with girls for a change. Plus the cakes provided were scrumptious. If you are a woman who works in beer in London get yourself along. They have a Twitter and a Facebook group you can join.

My challenge was all going well until 23 January.  For this was the day I was reunited with my one true beer love, Noa Pecan Mud Cake.  The Bottle Shop thwarted my challenge by having it on tap but the other half said I’d done well and that if I was going to fail it should be on my favourite beer.  So fail I did and it was a glorious failure as it was the barrel aged version!

Tryanuary has taught me a few things. I’ve learnt to like lighter beers, I’ve learnt to pair them with food.  I’ve also learnt that a good bitter can be a great warming friend on a cold day.

Next year when you’re feeling guilty about all the food and drink you’ve had just sit and think about all the food and drink you haven’t had.  Get out there and get trying. You might like what you find.

Happy Ølekalender


It’s the 1st of December which means I can finally start unwrapping my advent calendar beers from To Øl. Hooray.

I was thinking about putting one together myself this year until To Øl stuck one on their webshop, I believe I was the first to order it (to be honest I was checking the website quite regularly for it to appear). They arrived all wrapped up in tissue paper so I couldn’t see what they were and even though I am incredibly impatient and have for the last 2 weeks contemplated peeking at them I have been very good and left them alone.

This has made Christmas exciting again, I’ve always found it to be a bit of a let down as an adult. I think making my own would have no anticipation or excitement when I come to open it every day so I’m pleased I took the plunge and bought one. The plan is to unwrap the bottle each morning, stick it in the fridge and then it’ll be ready to drink when I get home from work and I can dream about it all day.

I’m going to update this blog every day with information and my reaction to the beers I get behind every number.

On the first day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

… one bottle of Sun Dancer


It’s a low ABV to kick off with which is handy as the average ABV in my fridge had reached a terrifying 10%.  It’s got a floral nose and a bitter sweet crisp finish, I imagine this would be lovelier in the sunshine but it is going well with my curry.


On the second day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

……a bottle of Hop Love Pils

Another summery beer. I think To Øl might be doing us a favour here by not giving us Christmas beer fatigue too early. This is a pilsner hopped with mosaic and simcoe I think and is part of their sessions range. Hopefully we’ll get some dark christmassy beers soon and a few more of the sessions range will pop up to break down the heavyness.

It pours Amber and is well carbonated. Taste is peachy and long lasting. Nice and crisp and easily drinkable, going very nicely with, you guessed it, leftover curry from last night. Shame I only have one as it is moorish. Guess I’ll have to dip into the 10% fridge of doom.

On the third day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

….. A bottle of Eurodancer

Upon opening this I started throwing some shapes in my living room pretending I was in a club in Berlin dancing to cheesey eurobeat. After reading the blurb on their website it appears that was the right reaction.

The other reaction I had was to have the words “hold me closer Eurodancer” in my head all day. If I could hold this beer closer all night I would, it’s a fantastic American Pale Ale exploding with centennial, galaxy, simcoe and citra hops. It tastes of orange, peach but with a honey/biscuit finish which may be from the melanoidin malt. The initial taste reminds me of Magic Rock’s Cannonball. It’s the stronger sequel to Summer dancer at 6.5%. Thoroughly enjoying this one. The balance of flavours is spot on.

Would go well with The Macarena after a few.

On the fourth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

….. A bottle of Nelson Survin


It’s Friday and I have a feeling To Øl had worked that out when compiling this advent calendar as they’ve given us a 9% Sour Nelson Sauvin DIPA to celebrate with. Wallop, ‘ave that sunshine!

I love nelson and I love sours and I love DIPA’s so I guess I’m going to really love this.  I’m a big fan of their Sur Citra so hoping this is along the same lines (and hoping for a Sur Citra at some point). I’m out tonight celebrating workmates’ professional exam passes so will try to get home at a reasonable time and in a reasonable state to enjoy this to the max.  Should have bought it with me really!

I’ve been reading descriptions of this beer all day and it sounds like a proper banger.  Tart, tangy, mango, pineapple, passionfruit, lemon, juicy and boozy have all been used.  I’m at danger of disappointing myself by getting too hyped about this beer before I drink it but i’m sure it won’t let me down.

Will be back later to let you know if it has lived up to my hype.


I’m back after only having one pint due to the fact I’ve become one of those twats that doesn’t see the point in drinking something unless I’m enjoying the taste of it.

I can safely say I am enjoying the taste of tonight’s calendar beer. It’s malty then tart and then the Nelson hop’s grape notes shine through. There’s also a little tickle of pineapple at the end. Very impressed with all the beers so far.

On the fifth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…


Wish it was five. I was predicting this beer as the fifth one last night. The ABV has been rising (this is 12.2%) and the bottle was slightly bigger than usual. Just call me mystic meg.

Liquid confidential is a big imperial stout made with ancho, guajillo and chipotle chillies which gives it a light smokey undertone and not the harsh holy shit my mouth is on fire feeling you get with most chilli beers . It is then aged in rum barrels which adds a spiced boozy note to the beer which is initially liquorice in quality. It’s ideal for warming you up whilst Storm Desmond rages on outside. It feels very grown up but still a bit of a dude.

Goes well with The Big Lebowski

I sense a pattern here. Predicting the ABV to plummet tomorrow and to slowly rise again until beer 11 as its also slightly bigger.

on the sixth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

…. A bottle of frost bite

We are a quarter of the way through and we get our first Christmas themed beer, a 6% pale ale brewed with orange peel and pine needles. I think it’s more of an IPA myself. It’s incredibly marmaladey and has a very bitter pine finish. Would go well with an armchair after you’ve lugged home the Christmas tree.

I personally don’t lug home a real tree as I can’t imagine why you’d get a real one when you can get a fake one that means you don’t have to deal with the shedding crap everyday. Plus I hate the smell of pine. This beer smells a bit like one of those car air fresheners but the orange peel is saving the taste.

On the seventh day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

…. A bottle of Maj Pilsner

This is a pilsner hopped with Tettnanger, Mosaic and Amarillo. It is at first citrussy but this quickly makes way for a peppery finish. It’s light and refreshing but feels thicker in your mouth to normal pilsners and I don’t think it will last in my glass for long. Would go well with a pad thai or some fat salty chips fresh from the chippy down the road. Mmmm chips.

On the eighth and ninth days of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Fuck Art this is Architecture and a Sofa King Pale


I’m double parked tonight as I had my office Christmas do last night. Cheeky names aside these are both solid offerings and also at 5% and 4.7% respectively they are not a bad pair to be double parked on.

The first is a Belgian bretted table beer. You can smell the trademark farmyard whiff of the Brett a mile off and the taste is heavy on the horseblanket. Luckily I happen to like Brett. For those not in the know. Brett (Brettanomyces) is a strain of wild yeast which can be introduced to a beer to give it “funky” flavours although sometimes it gets in by accident and seen as a defect. This has a great musty Brett hit but also a slight banana hint at the end. It’s not going to be for everyone but I like it. I imagine it’d be nice with some brie.

The second is from their already mentioned sessions range. It’s a pale ale hopped with tettnanger, simcoe and citra. It’s large on the pine notes but with blood orange and pineapple thrown in. It’s very easy to drink which is its main aim really. Goes well with your sofa and some sport on the tv.

On the tenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

… A bottle of snowball saison


This is very crisp and refreshing and as the bottle states you can drink it whilst you wait for summer to come. It’s peppery from the saison yeast but there’s no Brett coming through which is probably because this bottle is too young for it to develop. Buy one and leave it for a while to funk up. I’ve absolutely demolished my bottle and just read it’s 8%, dangerously easy to drink this one.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

Another bottle of Liquid Confidence

Hooray. I think this one is the non-barrel aged version. I am out tonight saying farewell to a couple who are off out of this country on adventures (good luck Dan and Catriona) so won’t be drinking the advent beer tonight. Unless I fancy it when I get in which is quite likely as that 12.2% shitbag will be whispering and winking at me the filthy tease. So might be here later with sensational, garbled tasting notes, might not.

I was too tired to drink the Liquid Confidence and will fit it in tomorrow somehow.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

…a bottle of Sur Simcoe

I’m excited about this as I bloody loved Sur Citra, their single hopped sour. It’s defo up there as one of my highest rated beers of the year. This is nice but not quite got the edge of Citra. Commendable but just not quite as good.

On the thirteenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Reparationsbajeren

We are halfway through and after a day of Christmas pub crawling yesterday this is the perfect beer to get in the calendar. It’s a pale ale with punchy American and NZ hops designed as a recovery beer. It’s easy going and although I don’t get hangovers, I’m thankful it’s not a rich, strong number as I’m getting a bit of beer fatigue. Much better than any recovery green smoothie bullshit.

On the fourteenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

… A bottle of Sur Yule

I’m dreaming of a sour Christmas. Yum. Another great alternative to the traditional overspiced Christmas beers. A lovely tart cherry sour with a light sherbert like feel. Goes well with wrapping presents.

On the fifthteenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

…a bottle of Markedspils

Was a bit disappointed when I opened this one. It’s very similar to the two pilsners I’ve already had. Hop profile is slightly different as the tettnanger is coming through more but this coupled with a stressful day means I’m very unenthused. It’s an alright beer, could just do with something more exciting today.

On the sixteenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Music Non Stop Techno Pop

I’m in a funny mood this evening. I may, possibly, be exchanging on a house I m buying tomorrow so I’m really happy but also on the edge of my seat expecting some stupid shit to go down and for it all to go to pot. A bit similar to how I feel about this beer. Initially the taste is lovely, citrus, pineapple and marmalade but then I get a horrible mango aftertaste which I don’t like and it’s yet another pilsner which I’m guessing contains mosaic. I need some variety! Still it’s named after a Kraftwerk song so swings and roundabouts.

On the seventeenth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Cloud 9 Wit

We’ve exchanged, hooray. Let’s celebrate with a light, refreshing wit beer brewed with mango and orange peel. Lovely stuff and went really well with my fish dinner.

On the eighteenth and nineteenth days of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Jule Maelk and a bottle of Hardcore Maelk

Both of these sound amazing. The first is a heavely lactosed Christmas milk stout and the second is a black milk IPA collab with Brewdog aged in scotch barrels. Sadly I cannot drink either of these due to the lactose so in the spirit of Christmas I have given them to my lovely friend Emmy who is the biggest milk stout fan I know. I treated myself to a Double Axe from Buxton instead.

On the twentieth day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Mikropolis

This was brewed to be a house pilsner for a cocktail bar and uses Curacao Orange peel to keep with the cocktail bar theme. It has a lovely orange hit at first followed by a bitter citrus hop finish. I like it a lot.

on the twenty first day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A Mocchacino Messiah


I can’t drink this due to the dreaded lactose again but the other half relished the chance. He said it was very roasty, smooth but not overly bitter. It really smells of coffee and he is very much enjoying it. I treated myself to a Vocation Naughty and Nice instead.

on the twenty second day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Stalin’s Organ


This is a California Common, it’s a lot hoppier than usual and has an undercurrent of smoke on the finish. Not sure I could drink too many of them but it is interesting.

on the twenty third day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of LikeWeisse


I’ve had this beer before and couldn’t believe how much flavour it had for a 3.8%. It’s definitely one that can be enjoyed all day long. It’s incredibly juicy with grapefruit and lime bit not too sour with a slight breadyness. Lovely one to start off my Christmas drinking with.

On the twenty fourth vand final day of Christmas my To Øl Ølekalender gave to me…

A bottle of Shameless Santa

This is a big 750ml bottle of a 10% Belgian red ale. I’m going to put it away and have it as my Christmas dinner beer next year.

Looking back this advent calendar has been pretty good quality. Had a few missed bottles due to my lactose intolerance and maybe a few too many pilsners for my liking but other than that it’s been great. Would definitely recommend this if they sell it again next year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year


It’s Christmas Cake time!  I usually make my Christmas Cake with sloe gin but I haven’t got any this year but what I do have is a lot of beer. When choosing which beer to use I did, initially, decide to use Beavertown’s Heavy Water as I  thought the sweet/salt/fruit/stout flavours would be interesting but then due to the scarcity of it (you need enough supplies to feed your cake weekly) and the fact that the cans I do have I want to drink all of I went with Rodenbach Grand Cru instead.  I thought I’d still get the sour/fruit/sweet hit that I want and it’s readily available.  Plus I bloody love it and will have to drink the rest of the bottle every time I feed the cake.  Oh life is hard!

The main challenge is keeping your mitts off of this cake until Christmas. I’ll be taking mine hiking in Buxton over the new year.  Hopefully it goes ok with Yellow Belly.


650g mixed dried fruit
zest and juice of 1 orange
150ml of your beer of choice
225g butter/marge
250g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp of treacle
4 eggs beaten
250g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
100g nuts (walnuts preferred but I had pecans kicking around)

Put all the dried fruit, zest, juice and beer in a bowl and soak overnight

Preheat oven to 180c/gas 4 and grease a 20cm tin.  Line the base and sides with paper making sure it reaches around 5cm above the tin and also line the outside of the tin with baking paper and fasten with string

Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and toffee coloured and then beat in the treacle

Add the eggs a little at a time ensuring to mix well in between

Sift in the flour and spices and stir to a smooth batter

Add the fruit/beer mixture and nuts and stir until combined

Put into the cake tin and bake for 75-90 minutes until firm and a skewer put into the middle comes out clean

If your cake starts to get too brown on top cover it with more baking paper

Once removed from the oven make holes with a skewer all over and pour 2 tbsp of beer over it.

Once cooled, wrap in baking paper or foil and keep in an airtight container.  Feed with a quarter bottle of beer each week, sit back and enjoy the rest of the bottle






IPA jelly time

So I’ve bought you Kriek curd in the past, now I’m going to bring you IPA jelly!

I decided to boil down a bottle of IPA with some sugar to make a sugar syrup.  The result was very malty with a hop hit at the end. I mused over what I could do with this sugar syrup and thought about making jelly babies.  I didn’t have the mould or all of the ingredients needed so I just experimented and ended up with jelly.

I’d like to try this with single hop varieties to see if the differences are clear, or with fruit beers maybe even a gose.

Mine were cubes as I just used a silicone ice cube tray.  I had a thought on the bus this morning though and you could put it into beer glasses with some whipped cream on top to form a head.

IPA jelly


1 bottle of IPA
200g caster sugar
3 gelatine leaves
250ml water
Juice of half an orange or lemon

Boil down the bottle of IPA with the caster sugar, stir often and it’s ready when it turns into a thick syrup.  Decant into a tub and leave to cool.

Once cooled put the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins until soft.

Add the cooled syrup to a pan of 250ml water, gelatine leaves and juice. Heat on a low heat and stir continuously for 5-10 mins.

Once the gelatine has dissolved put into your chosen mould and leave in the fridge for 4-5 hours.


Next up stout fudge.

Antipodean delights

The big news from the Rainbow Beers Project 2016 draw was that the British breweries will be collaborating with some NZ breweries this year.  This excites me a lot. I’m hoping, firstly, for some proper style variety next year.  I felt this year was just too overly sour.  I love sours but in 2015 it seems everyone is jumping on the sour bandwagon and, in most cases, falling dead on their arses.  I’m also hoping they bring some of their lovely hops with them to the table.  I’m a huge fan of hops from New Zealand and Australia.  I find their flavours more delicate and subtle than the big American in your face hops which I find can be a bit harsh and one dimensional.

Here are the results of the draw (also excited to see Burning Sky are involved)

Violet – Partizan and Panhead brewery
Indigo – Siren and Garage project
Blue – Wild Beer and 8Wired
Green – Hawkshead and Yeastie Boys
Yellow – Magic Rock and Fork and Brewer
Orange – Burning Sky and Liberty
Red – Beavertown and Parrot Dog

Getting back to hops. I thought I’d detail some characteristics of some antipodean hops, my experiences with them and suggest some beers made with them.  No hops are native in New Zealand and Australia, most are a cross breed of various European hops such as Saaz.  There is a great breeding program in both countries which produces outstanding new hops quite regularly.  I love the variation and depth of flavours you get from these hops.  They are not just going to hit you with grapefruit.


These are probably the most recognised Australian hops, added late in the brew the big alpha acid hop gives passion fruit, peach and citrus aromas. They are dual purpose so can be used for early bittering too.


Ella (formerly Stella but changed for obvious legal reasons) is a hop which best suits pilsners and lagers as it is similar to the European noble hops.  When used in the boil it can give a beer a spicy finish or when dry hopped it imparts floral flavours and star anise.  Probably the most well known beer is Brewdog’s IPA is Dead series Ella single hop which is incredibly floral.


Enigma is just that, a bloody enigma.  I have used this in homebrewing to make a Black IPA.  It has many possible flavour profiles and I wasn’t sure what I was going to get.  I was hoping for a strong dark berry flavour but at first there was nothing.  It took 6 weeks in the bottle for it to eventually develop a melon flavour.  Other flavours reported are pinot gris and pineapple.


Ahhh lovely Rakau, I’ve made a Double IPA with this and it was deeeeelicious. Hailing from New Zealand this hop gave my beer a big juicy apricot tang. It has high alpha acids but low cohumulone so makes it great for making hoppy beers which are not too bitter.


I have used Motueka in a couple of saisons.  It comes across quite limey and I find the citrus quality plays nicely with the spicy saison yeast. It’s quite versatile, I’ve seen saisons, pilsners and big high gravity beers made with this hop commercially.

Nelson Sauvin

Anspach & Hobday make a Nelson Sauvin Sour Saison which I recommend to cider or wine drinkers.  Cider drinkers because the sourness of the beer is akin to a cider and wine drinkers because this hop was named after Sauvignon Blanc for a reason.  It imparts grapey, gooseberry type flavours similar to the wine. I find it tricky to get right and also don’t think it suits many styles.


Another New Zealand hop variety, this time with a low alpha content but high on mandarin flavor which best used as late as possible in the boil/dry hop and I feel best supported by another hop to get the bitterness up.

Pacific Gem

This is a great bittering hop imparting wood and dark berries, great for dark strong beers such as strong Belgian style ales. Not to be confused with Pacifica which is very marmaladey. I may use both Pacific Gem and Pacifica in a scotch ale recipe I’m thinking about.

Southern Cross

Great bittering hop delivering pine and lemon flavours, found in most NZ lagers.

Beer recommendations

Arbor Ales – Why Kick a Moo Cow


Named after Waikikamukau (which is a colloquial term in NZ for a small rural town) this beer is heavy on the NZ hops using Southern Cross and Rakau and then dry hopped with Green Bullet. I picked this up in my local M&S.

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale


This is one of my go to chill out beers.  This is made using Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops. It is golden in colour with a pleasant peach and lemon taste.  It’s not too in your face so great for a session.

The Kernal Pale Ale Motueka

I think I had this a few years ago now at their taproom and it was the first time I’d ever heard of Motueka. I loved the fruitiness prevalent in this beer and the dry resinous finish. They also produce a great Rakau IPA.

Renaissance – Marlborough Pale Ale (MPA)


I really dig Renaissance’s beers, this one in particular.  It’s a double IPA coming in at 8.5%. It’s their take on the big American double IPA’s but using NZ hops.  It’s a riot of apricot, melon, pine and pineapple but also has a great malt backbone.

Tuatara – Aotearoa Pale Ale


Another beer taking the American style of big hopping and using NZ hops.  They use  Pacific Jade, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade and Motueka.  It’s got a big marmalade smell and a lovely citrus and herb taste. The bottle is pretty cool too.

Yeastie Boys – Pot Kettle Black


I’m pretty sure when I first bought this it was marketed as  Black IPA which just didn’t fit as it was just too roasty but whatever, there’s a big debate about what makes a Black IPA a Black IPA.  It’s now labeled as a NZ porter, it’s rich with chocolate but with a slight orange finish from the hops.  I haven’t had many dark antipodean beers but I’m attending Hop Burns and Black’s All Black event tomorrow night which will be showcasing some dark beers from down under which I am very much looking forward to. This may result in me adding to this post afterwards.