Ingredients

Rebellion BlondeAfter a couple of years enjoying a few pints of Rebellion Blonde whenever I visit Marlow I decided to look into this category of ale in more detail. As is usual the style is there for you to interpret how you like it, but it is a bit like a Pale Mild in some respects.

I started out with the most suitable yeast I had at the time which was WLP 028. This is a great and balanced yeast that doesn’t mute the hops but still highlights some of the malt too. Next was the hops and malt and to be honest the Rebellion Blonde was my basis to put the recipe together. The malts were about getting the final ale very pale so it was a 50/50 blend of Lager Malt and Golden Promise supported by some Torrified Wheat giving the beer a final ABV of 3.8%. The hops, well I just went for all First Gold but keeping the IBU’s under 30 IBU and not over doing the aroma hops.

The end result was really impressive even if it was one of my own beers. But as a first time brew on a made Red Cow Blonde 2up recipe other drinkers commented on how good it was too. So on that basis I brewed it again straight away and that almost never happens. I brewed it alongside one of my recipes I was refining and it blew it out of the park so the other recipe is now ditched!

On a nice warm Summer’s day or evening a nice pint of Blonde is perfect and refreshing especially if you serve it a bit cooler than you would an ale.

I hope you enjoy the recipe which you can download here.

Yes that’s right I do love a Mild. In these times of Hop Bomb IPA’s I still turn to the classics and Mild is one I still really enjoy. Quite a while ago now I brewed Mild Cow, which is what I called my version of Barclay Perkins Boddington’s Mild. It turned out to be a stunning recipe and one I really enjoyed.

So taking this as my starting point I decided to see if I could brew a variant of it but this time a paler version so with less malts. If you have ever had Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best, this is kind of what I had in mind. golden-mildAnyway the best laid plans and all that it didn’t quite turn out as Golden as I expected as you can see it is more of a copper colour, still lighter than the original but definitely not Golden! The recipe sheet still says Golden Mild but for the bottle I thought I would just go with ‘It’s Mild’ to avoid any questions….

The big difference versus the Mild Cow recipe was the change of hops, I had lots of Fuggles so used those up instead and I even added a flame out addition too. I think to keep it Golden I should have only had a touch of Crystal in or even left it out all together. The yeast was West Yorkshire Ale – WYeast1469, which is one of my favourites especially for a beer like this.

You can download the recipe here.

It’s been a few months since I brewed version 2 of this beer but because of the house move there’s a back log of beers to report on and a shortage of home brew to drink right now! You can see version 1 of this brew here, to see how it has evolved. Having seen the accolades Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker has picked up it was one I was keen to try and emulate, especially after trying it firstly in bottles then on a trip to Yorkshire on draft.

Red Cow Best Bitter v2I have to say both are good but the bottle version just seems better to me, with more of that bitter malt aftertaste than the cask version.

For version 2 I removed the Mild Ale Malt and added more crystal to the malt base. It is still not right but is better than version 1. I think the solution in version 3 is to use some Aromatic Malt as well as crystal to achieve that Malty bitter aftertaste and aroma. I think the hop schedule is good as it is for now.

The only other thing I may change with this yeast is fermenting it at its lowest temperature which is 18 degrees C. I normally ferment at 19 degrees C which leaves me with some yeasty esters which whilst not unpleasant can be very notable. Whilst only a degree it may make a small difference to improve the beer.

You can download version 2 of this recipe here.

 

This is a brew I made a few months ago now but one I really enjoyed. I love First Gold Hops, having first really tasted them in the Badger Ales ‘First Call’. As I have been brewing a number of Single Hop recipes I thought I should make one using First Gold (I am also planning on growing this hop when I move house shortly). And I am glad I did. It turned out really well especially when combined with the simple malt base I put together and the WLP001 yeast, this recipe is all about the hops.

You can find the other Single Hop recipes here for: Cascade & East Kent Goldings.

First GoldThe one change I made to this recipe compared to the other Single Hop Pale Ales I made was to add a small amount of dry hops, just 1g per litre but it really lifted the finished beer. I think this is something I will do at the same hopping rate as I continue the Single Hop Series.

You can download the First Gold recipe here.

 

As I continue to develop my home brew blog I have recently launched my YouTube Channel. There are only 2 videos on there at the moment but I will be adding to this over the coming weeks and months.

The idea of the YouTube Channel is to enhance what is here in the blog, the videos will be posted here too but as so many people love video I thought it was about time I did something about it.

Moving forward the videos will be a mixture of what I’m brewing, How To Guides as well as reviews on products and ingredients.

 

OK so adding hops to your brew isn’t that difficult, but getting organised and planning ahead always was for me until I decided I needed to remove some of the stress and panic from my brew days.

The answer I found was in some used takeaway trays, using one for each addition to the beer. Simply mark each addition on some masking tape, then apply to each box. Then weigh each addition, add it to the box (or boxes if you have lots of hops) then put them in order they will be added to the brew.

 

AG Hillside Legend IPAThe Hillside Brewery is set in the Forest of Dean, as the name suggests on a hillside looking back towards Gloucester. On this cold but sunny clear day it was a great place to be.

In February this year I was invited to take part in their brewing experience day along with 8 other guys all keen to see and understand how the pros do it, some with home brewing experience and others without but all there ready to get their hands dirty. The idea of the brewing experience day is to brew one of Hillsides core beers. Today it was ‘Legend of Hillside’ their English IPA, named such to separate it from those mega hoppy, mega strong IPA’s that proliferate today.

As part of the day there was also a tasting session guided by Matt, one of the Hillside Brewing team.

The Brewery

We spent most of the day in the brewery itself going through the process of making the beer. Head Brewer, Will expertly explained each step of the process that Hillside uses to make their beer. The brewery has a 5 BBL capacity from which they brew about 3 times per week. On entering the brewery the HLT was already primed and waiting to pre warm the Mash Tun. At this point we stood well back as a hose of hot ‘Burtonised’ water was waved around prior to going into the Mash Tun.

The Mash – part 1

Once warmed we were then onto ‘Doughing In’ and adding the grains, assembled in large sacks, next to the Mash Tun. Most of the guys there had a go at adding some of the grains. The grain bill for this beer is quite simple consisting of Maris Otter together with Munich and Wheat Malts. Once the mash was on and at the target temperature of 68 degrees we left the brewery and headed inside for breakfast and a chance to hear more about Hillside Brewery’s story so far.

Hillside’s Story

The brewery was acquired by the current owners, in 2013 and they have turned it from a hobby brewery to a very professional one, that in 2015 alone won over 16 awards for its beers. Being set on a farm they are blessed with space and construction is currently underway for more cask storage space, a new bottling and conditioning room as well as a new bar, café and events space. By July this year it will not only be a bigger brewery but a tourist and leisure destination in its own right.

The Mash – part 2

Now back to the brew with the mash complete, the sparge arm was engaged to draw the wort from the Mash Tun. Interestingly Will always aims a good distance over gravity for the wort aiming to then liquor back both pre and post boil. At all points the wort gravity is checked with the Refractometer, each measurement is done 3 times and an average used.

The Boil

As the wort is added to the Brew Kettle First Wort Hops are added to deliver a smoother and more rounded hop bitterness to the finished beer, this addition uses Pilgrim Hops. The breweries location is very close to the Hop Farms of Herefordshire so in most cases they even know the farmer who grows their hops. As an added bonus they are able to work with them on piloting new varieties in their infancy. Brewing ‘Legend of Hillside’ today also requires late additions of Northdown, Goldings and Challenger Hops. The boil time is just an hour with the additions coming at 15 and 5 minutes from the end. You can get my version of this recipe here.

Beer Tasting

With the boil underway we headed to the veranda and its stunning views to enjoy the guided beer tasting with Matt, this also included eating some raw grains and hops to understand the flavours more in the finished beer. The beers we tried were: Legend of Hillside, Pinnacle, Legless Cow and Over the Hill, the latter being a Dark Mild and interestingly their second best seller after Legless Cow! The tasting was followed by a stunning home-made curry, Hillside also offer a Curry Experience day!.

Fermentation

At the end of the curry it was time to make the final hop additions and engage the plate chiller ready to take the wort to the new fermentation room and fermenter ready for its arrival. Once in there the SO4 yeast was added and it is left for 5-7 days to ferment. Hillside vary fermentation time depending on the beer being brewed.

Conditioning

Bottled & ready to sell
Bottled & ready to sell

At Hillside time is given to the beers for the flavor to develop. Once primary fermentation is complete the beer is chilled for 2 days to settle out any remaining yeast or hop pellets. After which it is then racked to casks for a further 7 days and then either primed and fined for distribution in casks or is primed and bottled. It will then spend at least another 7 to 10 days in cold conditioning before being released for sale.

The Legend of Hillside Recipe – download my version here

After enjoying seeing the ‘Legend of Hillside English IPA’ being brewed and enjoying a drink of it afterwards I thought I would put together my own version of it if you fancy trying it.

You can of course buy the breweries beers too here.

Yesterday Brew Dog kindly and unexpectedly published all of their recipes for every beer they have ever brewed and yes that includes Punk IPA, both the original and current recipes. In the article on their site that you can read here, it’s about their way of giving something back to the home brewers as home brewing is where Brew Dog started life.

Here’s a video of why they’ve done it and what’s included. Download ALL the recipes here.

 

This was my second attempt at a beer that I really like and that is Caledonian Brewery’s Deuchars IPA. I know it’s a beer that divides opinion and one that many say has changed from what it used to be. But what I like about it is the mellow hoppy flavour combined with the malts to make it a very tasty pint that I inevitably buy a pint of whenever I see it on draft. Download the recipe here.

Edinburgh Pale Ale v2 (1)This version of the recipe changed from the last in two aspects. The first was to change the yeast from WLP001 to WLP028 Edinburgh Ale Yeast which I understand is said to be the McEwans yeast. It doesn’t dominate the hops in this beer but does give the malts opportunity to come through too. Performance wise I can’t fault it, this was fermented at a constant 19 degrees C for two weeks prior to conditioning at 12 degrees C for a further 7 days. The second change was to halve the Hop Tea addition which I realised from tasting Version 1 I had doubled, the ratio being 1g (total hops) per litre of beer. You may also note I have brewed this a little stronger at 4.4% versus the original at 3.8% but I prefer some beers a little stronger!

The end result of this revised recipe has delivered a very tasty, very close version of Deuchars IPA that I would recommend putting on your brew list. It would certainly make a good addition to a BBQ this Summer. Download the recipe here.

Looking at my tasting notes here’s how it turned out:

  • See – Pale Straw with a haze from the hop tea
  • Smell – Mellow hop aroma
  • Taste – Tangy and sweet with a lingering maltiness
  • Sweetness – 6/10
  • Bitterness – 5/10

Number 1 Pale Ale (v7)
Number 1 Pale Ale (v7)

If you as a home brewer are anything like me, there are always new beers you want to try and recreate or new recipes you want to design and brew. Experimentation is half the fun of home brewing as we only have to satisfy ourselves, not paying customers. But there are always times when you want to have a beer you can brew and know how well it will turn out even before the first grain hits the mash tun.

On my brew list of just over 30 brews there are only 3 beers I have brewed more than once. Of those 3 I have brewed one 7 times and the others twice. It’s hardly consistent but that one beer has taught me a lot about my equipment, ingredients and my process. In fact it has taught me the value of really understanding those elements and how they combine to create a great beer at the end.

After all when we go to a pub or bar and order a new or regular beer we expect it to be good and that’s because the pro’s have honed their skills and often focus on just a handful of core beers.

So how do you go about creating a consistently good beers at home? These are my thoughts that may help you on your journey, some of the comments are generic but most are focused on repeating the same beers.

Take notes of everything – Always look back at what happened on your previous brews to learn My Brewing log bookwhat not to do next time and what to repeat or see what you could test. It’s a pain remembering to take notes but very worthwhile.

Know your kit – It’s going to take you a number of brews to understand how your kit performs whether it is a traditional 3 vessel system or an all in one like the Braumeister or Grain Father. But your kit also extends to cooling, fermentation and serving. Each step has its nuances, which you need to know and work with to optimize them for the best results.

Ingredients – This is one of the elements that changes frequently with recipe changes. However if you can keep some elements the same from one beer to another and vary Grains Readyothers you will learn more quickly. For example keep the same malt bill but change the hops or hop schedule or vice versa or brew the same beer but use a different yeast. I have used the same malt base on a number of different beers and it is really helpful when perfecting your brewing process, even down to using the same malt. I have also brewed the same beer with different yeasts. You won’t be disappointed with the results I am sure and it’s a more measured way of brewing a new beer.

Consistent process – Ultimately your process will define how quickly or easily you achieve consistency, from the Mash, the Boil, Chilling, Fermentation, Conditioning and Serving. This is where your notes really come in handy, knowing what happened on the last brew and reapplying the knowledge gained will really help hone your process.

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After a couple of years enjoying a few pints of Rebellion Blonde whenever I visit Marlow I decided to look into this category of...