Brewday 36: Jasmine IPA

Brewed 01/07/2016

The restocking mission completes with another re-brew. The Jasmine IPA from Brewday 30 went down so well that this time around the plan is for this beer to also be one of my competition beers for 2016. There were a couple of minor alterations to the recipe for this version, the biggest being different bittering hops and a new yeast, but hopefully the results will be just as spectacular.

The recipe for the Jasmine IPA is:

  • 5.5kg Maris Otter
  • 0.25kg Munich Malt
  • 0.15kg CaraPils Malt
  • 0.15kg Crystal Malt (100EBC)
  • 50g Northern Brewer Hops @ 60 mins
  • 45g Dried Jasmine Flowers @ 10 minutes
  • 45g Amarillo hops @ 5 minutes
  • 15g Dried Jasmine Flowers @ 0 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1tsp Irish Moss @ 10 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M44 US West Coast Yeast
Mash underway!

Mash underway!

Hop/Jasmine schedule ready to go...

Hop/Jasmine schedule ready to go…

Dried Jasmine flowers

Dried Jasmine flowers

Oddly it appears I chose not to take any photos of the boil or the end of the process, probably because I was watched Wales vs Belgium on the TV in between boil additions and cooling! Either way, somewhere in the mental arithmetic of measuring the strike water for the mash I made a simple counting mistake and ended up with way too much volume in the boil. This time I can only blame myself and not my Beersmith settings though! Fortunately another vigorous boil helped to partly rectify the error but I still ended up with 25 litres in the fermentor. If the yeast works it’s magic as it should then the final ABV should be around 6.0%, just slightly down from the target ABV of 6.3%. Not the end of the world (plus I have an extra 2 litres of it!)

Brewday 35: Steam Beer

Brewed 18/06/2016

The restocking mission continues with a revisiting of the Steam Beer I brewed way back on Brewday 7 (and failed to rebrew on Brewday 28!). The recipe went under a few modifications for this version to increase the caramel taste and bring a bit more hop flavour into the mix.

The recipe for the Steam Beer is:

  • 4.5kg Maris Otter
  • 0.5kg Munich Malt
  • 0.25kg Crystal Malt (100EBC)
  • 0.25kg Crystal Malt (200EBC)
  • 0.25kg Victory Malt
  • 35g Northern Brewer Hops @ 60 mins
  • 25g Northern Brewer Hops @ 20 mins
  • 25g Northern Brewer Hops @ 5 mins
  • 15g Northern Brewer Hops @ 0 mins
  • 1g Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M54 Californian Lager Yeast

NEWSFLASH!!! This time there are pictures!!!

Grain Shot

Grain Shot

Mash on!

Mash on!

(Very) Vigorous Boil

(Very) Vigorous Boil and hops additions ready to go!

All done!

Into the FV, nearly done!

The brewday was a general success but the overly vigorous boil meant that I ended up with just 21 litres in the fermentor and a slightly higher OG than expected. To correct this I added some extra (cooled) boiled water to the wort to water it back down and once corrected the final volume was 22.5 litres and bang on target OG! The yeast was pitched, and following the explosive nature of the last brew day the fermentor was tentatively moved into the fermenting fridge and left well alone!

Fortunately this strain of yeast was much better behaved and after two weeks fermenting, and no unplanned explosions, the finished beer was bottled and kegged ready for conditioning. The final ABV was 6.0% which is a little big for a Steam Beer to be honest but no so much that I’ve created an Imperial Steam Beer by accident!

Brewday 34: Hefeweizen

Brewed 20/05/2016

Disaster struck last weekend… The beer supplies in the kegerator ran out! Only one thing for it, an emergency brew of a quick conditioning beer to get at least one of the taps up and running again! The Hefeweizen from Brewday 20 was the perfect solution, although I would be making a few tweaks to the recipe this time around.

The recipe for the Hefeweizen today:

  • 1.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 3kg Wheat Malt
  • 100g CaraRed Malt
  • 200g CaraPils Malt
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1packet Mangrove Jacks M20 Bavarian Wheat yeast

These aren’t typical hops for a Hefeweizen however as they are in such low quantity I hoped they wouldn’t be too bitter (plus I didn’t have anything more suitable in stock come brew day!)

There are no pictures from this brewday but everything went to plan until dropping the beer into the fermentor to find the tap hadn’t quite sealed properly and leaked! I fortunately didn’t lose too much and after a mild panic the Hefeweizen was snugly tucked away in the fermenting fridge but it wasn’t finished with me yet… the yeast was so vigorous this time that by the next morning the airlock had been blown off and there was yeast trub splattered all over the fridge! Joy!

Brewday 33: Amarillo & Orange Saison

Brewed: 19/02/2016

The January Meet of the Cheshire Brew Crew homebrew club saw the setting of our Spring competition ‘Recipe Roulette’! Each brewer picked a ‘Hop’ and an ‘addition’ from a random selection in a hat, and then had free choice to brew whatever style of beer they felt fitted their ingredients best. The only rules set were ‘The final beer must taste of the two ingredients’. I have to say I got pretty lucky with my picks, amongst the cries of “Fix!” and “Stitch Up!” from the other contestants (and me offering to re-draw I should add) I pulled out Amarillo as a Hop, and Orange Peel as an additive. Both ingredients compliment each other really well, and both fit perfectly to a Saison (which I just happened to be planning to brew next anyway!) – RESULT!!!

Saison is a Belgian style, light in colour and traditionally relatively low in ABV at 3 – 3.5% more modern versions of the beer are usually between 5 – 7%. My version will be aiming for c. 6%

The recipe for the Saison is:

  • 5kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 500g Munich Malt
  • 25g Amarillo hops @ 60 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 15 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 25g Bitter Orange Peel @ 5 minutes
  • 1l yeast starter White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison Yeast

Saison’s generally ferment at warmer temperatures than regular ales and I plan to put the temperature controlled fridge to good use on this brew by starting fermentation at 20C and gradually increasing this to 24/25C over the course of two weeks. The beer will then be lowered back to 20C to finish for a week before bottling. This may be a little quick as Saison yeasts have a habit of stalling half way through fermentation but hopefully I will be able to get this fermented, bottled and have at least two weeks conditioning time before the competition is judged at the end of March! Fingers crossed!

The brewday went to plan other than a higher than expected boil off rate due to the freezing cold evening brew session and I ended up with 22 litres in the fermenter and an OG of 1.064. If the yeast ferments all the way down to target this will come out at 7% rather than the target of 6%! I could have watered this back to closer to the original planned beer but didn’t think about it until too late so decided to stick with what the beer gods had given me! The beer is now tucked away in the fermenting fridge at 20C and bubbling away contently to itself. I’m looking forward to this one!


Brewday 32: Pilsner

Brewed 22/01/2016

One of the benefits of now having a STC-1000 temperature controller hooked up to my spare fridge is that I can now ferment at any given temperature as I see fit. For the most part this will just allow for consistent fermentation for my ales however it does also mean I can now brew a Lager and ferment it at the optimum temperature for the yeast of 12C. As a result of the cooler fermentation temperatures Lagers need to have significantly more yeast cells pitched than an ale and as just opening the packet and pitching it in wasn’t going to cut it, a yeast starter would be required. This was started two days before brewday and placed on the Stirplate to stimulate the yeast growth from c. 96 billion up to around 175 billion cells. Beersmith suggested I would be better using a 2l starter at nearer to 250 billion cells however as I only have a 1l Erlenmeyer flask it would have to do!

The recipe for the Pilsner is:

  • 4.5kg German Pilsner Malt
  • 350g Carapils Malt
  • 50g Saaz hops @ 60 minutes
  • 50g Saaz hops @ 30 minutes
  • 20g Saaz hops @ 15 minutes
  • 30g Saaz hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1l yeast starter White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager Yeast

This time I am aiming for 4.8% ABV and a clean light bodied lager. Although there are 150g of Hops in the recipe the Alpha Acid (AA) of them is only 3.07% so the end result won’t be too bitter!

The brewday went impressively smoothly, and despite being freezing in the brewery today all target numbers were hit and we ended up with 23l of 1.046 Lager in the fermenter. The yeast was pitched and into the fridge it went! 12C for 14 days to ferment and then two months lagering at 5C.


Bang on target!



Brewday 31: Black Jai-P-A

Brewed 02/01/16

Off to a flyer in 2016 with a brewday on the 2nd! Hopefully this will distract that nothing has been brewed since August!!

Anyhow, this recipe was a combination of two of my recipes that had gone before it. The malt bill is loosely based on the Black IPA from brewday 19 but with a couple of small tweaks to fit what I grains I have to hand, and the hops are from my Jaipur clone from brewday 23. A little bit lazy on the design front I suppose but that’s what you get for designing a beer on New Years Day!

The recipe for the Black Jai-P-A:

  • 4.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 400g Rauch Malt
  • 150g Roasted Barley Malt
  • 200g Chocolate Malt
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 60 minutes
  • 12g Chinook hops @ 60 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 60 minutes
  • 12g Centennial hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Ahtanum hops @ 30 minutes
  • 10g Chinook hops @ 30 minutes
  • 40g Centennial hops @ 0 minutes
  • 40g Chinook hops @ 0 minutes
  • 30g Ahtanum hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet Mangrove Jacks British Ale Yeast

This should come out around 5.5% all things considered, and this time I even had an assistant brewer to help me out on the day, though for some reason this meant I took even less photos than normal!


Obligatory Grain Shot!

During the brewday we hit the mash numbers pretty accurately ending up with 500ml up volume and 2points down on gravity however by the end of the boil it ended up 1l down on volume and 8 points down on OG. Perhaps the boil was particularly vigorous on this one but more likely this seems to be down to my boil data input into Beersmith so I need to investigate this more to try and iron out this issue in the future. Fingers crossed for a good fermentation to hit target ABV!


New Brewing Resolutions: 2016

There’s nothing better than making plans for the coming of a new year and currently on the cards is:

  • Brewery Upgrades!
    • A slight increase in capacity (40l to 56l) will need to come with a shiny new control panel and a host of smaller upgrades along the way. Expect a lot of build posts for this process!
  • Brewing!
    • I’ll be aiming to return (and maybe even stick to this year) one Brewday per month. January’s is already pencilled in for the 2nd so I am at least starting as I mean to go on! There will be some revisiting of old recipes but also a few new styles that I want to brew too.
  • Yeast Storage!
    • Once all the hardware upgrades are complete in the brewery I plan to start splitting and storing liquid yeasts. Lots of posts to come on this process too!
  • Competitions!
    • This year I’ll be entering as many competitions as I can find… these will definitely include the Brewdog NorthWest Homebrew off in July, the Waitrose/Thornbridge GB Homebrew Competition around the same time and the UK National Homebrew Competition in September. Wish me luck!


2016 is going to be a busy one it would seem!

DIY STC Fridge Controller

One of the most important elements to improving your home brewing is being able to control the temperature of the fermenting beer. If the fermentation gets too hot the beer may not clear properly and the yeast can produce esters and other by-products that create nasty off flavours in your prize brew, or if it drops too low the yeast can go dormant and fermentation can stall or stop completely. Some beer styles call for hot or cold fermentation however you really want to be able to control this process so you can accurate hit the temperatures you are looking for. In the last couple of brews I made the FV’s were left to the mercy of the natural air temperature in the brewery and as the English summer kicked in and temps hit 25C (and occasionally even higher) they both fell foul to the symptoms of stressed yeast.

I vowed this wouldn’t happen again and therefore it was time for another DIY project! It is common practice for homebrewers (or aquarium owners it seems) to use a STC-1000 to control their temperatures. Without going too much into the detail as to how they work, an STC-1000 will monitor the temperature through it’s probe and if too cold will power a heater circuit or too warm will send power to a cooling circuit. It was up to me to build those circuits though!

The shopping list:

  • 220V STC-1000
  • 3 20mm IP68 Weatherproof Cable Gland
  • Plastic Electronics Project Box (216 x 130 x 85mm)
  • 2 Trailing Mains Extension Sockets
  • 15 AMP Block Connector Strip
  • 13 AMP Fused 3 Pin Plug
  • 1.5mm 3core Flex Cable
  • 1ft Electric Tube (Greenhouse) Heater
  • Under-counter fridge


  • Wire snips/strippers
  • Dremel/drill & hacksaw
  • Small Flathead Screwdriver
20150827_195205 a (800x450)

The bits

The total cost of the bits above was about £70 but this included the £20 fridge from ebay and the Tube Heater. The cost of the STC box and cables etc was more like £35 and again I used UK based ebay sellers so with a little more research or waiting it would be possible to bring this cost down further.

  1. Cut the holes in the project box and fit the STC and three Cable Glands. I also drilled a 6mm hole to pass the probe through. The Dremel made this job a doddle compared to the drill and hacksaw approach I took to the DIY Stirplate!

20150827_204144 b (800x450)

2. Pass the 3 core cables through the glands into the box then remove the outer cover to allow easier wiring. I used the following wiring diagram off the internet however take care because on some STC models the Heating and Cooling circuits are the other way around!

STC-1000WiringDiag (800x612)

The instructions!

20150827_222819 (800x450)

All wired up!

3. Close up the box, assemble the plugs and sockets on the cables and plug it all in!

20150828_180116 (800x450)


4. Once the build is complete the probe itself needs to be calibrated against a known temperature such as boiling water or in my case I used a thermometer that I had already verified as accurate.

The STC has 4 settings:

  • F1 – Temperature Setting
  • F2 – Temperature Variance Setting
  • F3 – Compressor Delay
  • F4 – Probe Calibration Value

I won’t go into too much detail here as you will really need to set this to your own personal setup and preferences but in brief the settings are as follows:

  • F1 is set to the temperature you require (19C in my case for fermenting an IPA).
  • F2 allows you to define how accurately you want the STC to get to that temperature. For example a setting here of 0.5 degrees will send power the cooler when the temperature reaches 19.6C, a setting of 0.2 will turn the cooler on at 19.2C.
  • F3 controls the delay in turning the fridge compressor on and off. Rapid switching the compressor on and off can reduce its working life, a setting of 3 minutes is pretty standard here it seems.
  • F4 allows you to calibrate the probe. I found that the default probe was reporting 3.5C lower than my trusty thermometer so if I set my STC to 19C with no corrections I was actually only holding a temperature of 15.5C inside the fridge! Not ideal for fermenting beer! This was corrected by setting F4 to -3.5 and now 19C is actually 19C!

And that’s all there is to it! Other than the wiring which was a little fiddly this is a very simple project to build and should make a big difference to the quality and consistency of beer I produce.



Again I should point out that I am not a qualified electrician! Please be extremely careful if you chose to follow these instructions and remember beer/water and electricity don’t mix!




Brewday 30: Jasmine IPA

Brewed 28/08/15

This brewday was inspired by the Additives for Flavour page on and also because I really wanted to brew a special beer in tribute of my new daughter! As soon as I saw the dried Jasmine flowers I knew it was a sign and after a little interweb research the Jasmine IPA was born!

The recipe for the Jasmine IPA:

  • 5.5kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 250g Munich Malt
  • 150g CaraPils Malt
  • 35g Chinook hops @ 60 minutes
  • 41g dried Jasmine Flowers @ 10 minutes
  • 45g Amarillo hops @ 5 minutes
  • 15g dried Jasmine Flowers @ 0 minutes
  • 15g Amarillo hops @ 0 minutes
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet US-05 yeast

I was aiming for around 6.3% deep golden American IPA and hoping for the Jasmine to come through on the nose. I had read that too much Jasmine could make the beer taste like washing up liquid however there was no indication as to just how much was too much! Let the guess work begin!

This time I even remembered to take some photographs of the brewday!!!

20150828_180120 (800x450)

The brewery!

Mash completed.

Mash completed.

Jasmine flower additions at 10 minutes

Jasmine flower additions at 10 minutes

Boil completed.

Into the FV. 1.5 litres under target volume.

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1.054 OG, 8 points under target OG

With both OG and volume under target this time around there is some definitely amiss with my Beersmith settings. This’ll need tweaking before brewday 31!

Looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks!

Brewday 29: Brewers Gold II

Brewed 10/07/15

For this brewday I followed the current trend in Hollywood and decided to re-brew a previous recipe with a few tweaks rather than coming up with a new one myself! This time it is my Brewers Gold clone, but with different hop timings to try to really bring out the flavours without using the hopback (as this was a last minute brewday!)

The recipe for the Brewers Gold:

  • 2kg Maris Otter Malt
  • 2kg Lager Malt
  • 270g CaraGold Malt
  • 30g Brewers Gold hops @ 60 minutes
  • 30g Brewers Gold hops @ 15 minutes
  • 40g Brewers Gold hops @ 1 minute
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • 1 packet Nottingham yeast

Again this write up is another brief one but as this is the last one of this blog amnesty normal service should be resumed from brewday 30!

This one also was over-sparged and volumes were up while OG was down. I will need to check the figures I use in Beersmith as this is becoming a recurring issue! Fortunately the Nottingham yeast used here is very reliable and got the FG down to 1.006 and therefore was bang on target ABV at 4.3%.

Again this one was a little cloudy going into the bottles and keg just as the (not a) Steam Beer in brewday 28 was. It was fermenting in the same area as that brew so I suspect this one was also on the warm side for the yeast. There are no off tastes in either so hopefully this is purely a cosmetic issue for these beers. STC Fridge Controller is the next job before brewday 30!