The Beer Recipe Formulation Cycle

As I tried to formulate a recipe for a brew I plan to do on friday my other half pointed out that I was going through an anger stage rather like the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle.

Shock/Immobilisation stage: This is when I am confused and completely unable to decide what beer to brew next. Fruit beer, wheat beer, IPA? All the options seem attractive and I am powerless to choose between them all.

Denial stage: Having finally decided on a beer to brew I find a wonderful recipe on the net or in a book and think I will be able to emulate it. I go into denial that I actually have the ingredients and expertise to brew the beer. Wheat beer? No problem I reason, I'll just figure out this all grain stuff and get some liquid wheat beer yeast from somewhere.

Anger stage: This is when I realise that no I have no wheat beer yeast and I really don't want to make an all-grain beer this time. I then become angry at the lack of ingredients in my house and the only good suppliers are mail order so I'd have to order even more stuff to justify the expense.

Bargaining stage: I start making up schemes of how to solve my problems. Maybe if I made an IPA I could substitute ingredients and it would turn out ok.

Depression stage: This is where I realise the inevitable, I will brew a beer using ingredients I already have because I'm too poor to buy new ones at the moment.

Testing stage: At this stage I make up my own recipe using a mish mash of recipes.

Acceptance stage: Finally I find the way forward and come up with my own beer recipe. In this case an IPA.

Small Scale Brewing

I did an article about Small Scale Brewing for the Irish Craft Brewer website. Have a read...

Clutch Bag

A while ago I made a clutch bag as a present for my cousin. I made the bag but it stalled when I went to make it up and realised that it would need to be lined.

Last weekend I finally got round to sewing it up. My Mum has been teaching me how to use the sewing machine for the last while. I made some cushions and stuff and so a bag lining was now not beyond me. I used a piece of plastic from a shopping bag cut to size to give the bag shape as a clutch can't be sloppy.

I'm very pleased! Now I hope my cousin likes it.

Franciscan Well Beer Festival March 2008

Over the easter bank holiday weekend the Franciscan Well Brewery runs a beer festival. This year the OH and I decided to go. The Franciscan Well is a lovely brewpub on the banks of the river Lee on Cork's North Mall. On the way in we bought some beer tokens and set off around the beer garden on a tour of the available beers. The hosts, The Franciscan Well, had some festival specials available on cask. Their normally available beers come from large tanks behind the bar which I thought was a good idea. You could also see into the brewery and of course I spent a while checking that out. The Rebel Red was a very good example of the irish red. I didn't like their Shandon Stout as much, I thought it was a bit chemically but maybe it was just an odd batch. The best of the lot though was the Purgatory Pale Ale on cask. A lovely balanced beer with great flavour. This deservedly won the beer of the year award from Irish Craft Brewer.

From the Hilden Brewery I tried the lager and silver ale which were both nice refreshing beers.

From the College Green Brewery I had Molly's Chocolate Stout which I liked a lot, great chocolate malt flavour.

I spent a while chatting to Aidan from the Galway Hooker Brewery and tasting their Irish Coffee Porter. A nice beer which really tastes of coffee though I think a little more caramel flavour from the malt would improve it. The Galway Hooker Pale Ale continues to impress though, it's a beer I couldn't get sick of drinking. It took the second runner up for beer of the year. In the photo above Aidan seems pretty happy about that.

Then I had some Druid's Brew from the Carlow Brewing Company. This wonderful stout won beer of the festival and deserved it. I didn't try the others as I have had them before and was too busy giving all my tokens in to get more of the Druid's Brew. Below you can see the Beer Nut making the presentation.

Then there were beers from the UCC Pilot Brewery. Frithjofs lager which I thought was like a Belgium Wit as it tasted grassy and fresh and was cloudy. They also had the UCCinator Bock which was strong tasting stuff.

Messrs Maguire had a selection of beers which included the MM Imperial. This beer was loved by many but I didn't like it that much. I thought it tasted like play doh but maybe I need to try it again. It won the first runner up for beer of the beer so my opinion didn't count.

After all this tasting we marked our cards and voted in the beer of the year and the beer of the festival. My skills as a calligrapher were called upon and hopefully I did an ok job of putting the beer names on the certificates. It was a great if rather boozy day out. I'll definitely be back next year...


These handwarmers are from the spring edition of Knitty and they're called Spirogyra. I had some Manos del Uruguay yarn left over from the Moebius Cowl and I decided a pair of handwarmers would be nice with it. I had just started a different pattern when the spring knitty came along and changed my mind. Luckily I hadn't got very far so I ripped it back a bit and started these. It's a lovely pattern, very easy and I made them in less than a week.

Convalescent Porter

Style: Porter
Volume: 4 Litres or 1 gallon. Just multiply to get amounts for larger volumes.

560g Dry malt extract (Extra Light Muntons)
50g Crystal malt
50g Chocolate malt
12g Fuggles hops
Safale S04 yeast

Mash\Steeping Schedule:
Steep chocolate malt and crystal malt for 30 minutes @ 66 deg c

Boil Schedule:
Bring to rolling boil
60 minutes: 6g Fuggles hops
30 minutes: 3g Fuggles hops
5 minutes: 4g Fuggles hops

Yeast\Fermentation\dry hopping:
Cool and ferment with Safale S04 yeast in 5L demi-john.

Other Notes:
I brewed up this beer as a celebration of being well again. Hopefully beer is good for you and this will help with recovery! I'm looking forward to tasting this to see what the crystal and chocolate malt character will be like.

Mathematical Knitting

What? I hear you cry in response to the title of this post. Yes mathematical knitting really exists. And there have even been serious papers published about it like Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane which I think is the best title I have ever seen on a scientific paper. And yes I do plan on making one nerd that I am.
I'm not ready to study hyperbolic geometry at the moment so decided to content myseld with making the moebius cowl from Cat Bordhi's website.
You cast on in a slightly odd way and then something strange happens.

You realise that this is truly a moebius in that it only has one edge and stranger still the knitting appears in the middle and doesn't fall off the needles like usual. The wool is Manos del Uruguay silk blend which is amazingly soft and beautifully coloured.

So you end up with a moebius at the end which makes a very nice cowl as the twist in it makes sure it sits really well around your neck. More mathematical knitting is in my future.

Ipod Cosy

Technology and Crochet: I like it.

Hat, Scarf and Handwarmers Set

I decided it was high time I learned how to knit in the round on double pointed needles so I decided to make the Fetching handwarmers from knitty. I decided to make the Berry hat from Emma King's Fun and Funky Knitting to match them. I got some Noro Silk Garden wool from This Is Knit and got started. When I started using the double pointed needles it felt like wrestling with a hedgehog but it got easier as I went on.

They ended up turning out really well. The Noro Silk Garden is a cool wool as it self stripes. It was a bit rough at first but after I blocked the gloves and wore them it softened up and is much nicer now.

This is the Berry hat. I was really pleased with this. The lace on the bottom of the hat is pretty and the colours striped in just the right places. The beading was surprisingly easy to do.
After all this success I decided I'd do a simple spiral crochet scarf in a colour that mostly matches the hat and gloves. This pattern is really simple, you crochet a long chain then treble crochet into each one along the chain, then the next row you do two treble crochet into each and the same again on the next row so you end up with a spiral.

Ancient Fermentations

One nice thing about being sick was people sent me nice presents. Luke sent me the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation by Stephen Harrod Buhner. I'm interested in gruit ale and using herbs and unusual ingredients in beers so was keen to see what was in this book.
This book starts off with a rant that goes along the lines of what has science ever done for us and how wise and wonderful ancient people were and how they understood the natural world much more than any of us do now. I skipped over a lot of that, I'm a scientist who does appreciate the natural world, the two are not mutually exclusive. The author of this book is very into the power of plants to heal and American Indian wisdom which you can take with a pinch of salt. As you get into the book proper it gets more interesting with descriptions of ancient brewing methods, recipes, poems and beliefs. It seems that making alcohol has been a long time obsession of the human race.

There is a chapter all about mead and honey and the health benefits it may have. This is pretty interesting though I'm not sure mead has all the benefits claimed for it here. It is a pity that mead isn't more widely available. There are many recipes involving various cacti found in America which aren't very relevant in Europe. However the final half of the book is devoted to herbs and herbal beer. He talks about nettle beer, birch beer and dozens of other herbs which can be used in beer. He talks about bog myrtle, yarrow and meadowsweet all of which can be used instead of hops to bitter beer. There are many old recipes to try, some at your peril... Wormwood ale anyone?

All in all an interesting book if you ignore the hippy stuff and concentrate on the herbs and recipes.

Hospital Hats

From the end of october to the just before christmas last year I ended up stuck in hospital. Now there isn't much to do at the best of times in hospital and when you're there long term you get very sick of tv and while books and magazines are great you can't read all day. I had my crochet brought in and I decided to make some stuff lest I go mad altogether.

I made this bookmark as a present for my doctor. It didn't take very long to make.

Pretty Puffs Crochet Hat

Next up was a lovely hat made from a lovely merino, cashmere and silk blend wool. Silk blends are fast becoming my favourite yarns.

Heart Monitor Bag

When I was in hospital I had to wear a heart monitor all the time. Being bored I decided to make a bag for it so I didn't have to carry it around. And so I made this bag with a pink heart on the front. It's in a lovely cotton yarn as well.

I also made a hat for my fiance which he wears a lot so I assume he likes it. I made two cute little baby hats for my friend's new babies. And also a clutch bag which I still haven't finished due to problems with lining it. So all in all I avoided being bored.

Sweetness and Light Honey Ale

450g dried malt extract
270g honey
11g coriander
6g orange rind
11g Hallertau hops
60min 5g
30 min 3g
5 min 3g
1 sachet Danstar Windsor Yeast

This was a light honey ale I brewed up in a small five litre batch. I got a big tub of honey from a farmer in Wexford who keeps bees. A batch of mead was made with some of the honey. This ale was made with some of the rest. I wasn't happy with the yeast as it didn't settle out well. A combination of bottling too early and using varying amounts of honey in the bottles meant this was very fizzy. The fizz meant the yeast rose up and made the beer very cloudy. If I was doing this again I'd use a better flocculating yeast. Apart from that it was a tasty brew and the spices and orange were tasty.

Crochet Caving Helmet

This is a crocheted caving helmet hat which I made to look like a real caving helmet. I think it's the ideal woolie to put on after a days caving when you're cold and wet.


I started brewing when my boyfriend gave me a present of his brother's old home brewing gear. He got an ale kit from somewhere as well. We mixed up the kit as per the instructions but it didn't turn out very well. The beer smelled a bit suspicious and the foam on top didn't look so healthy. We got another kit which went well, unfortunately the barrel it was in leaked all over the place making the house smell of beer. So after those disasters I decided to give the brewing a rest for a while.

So over a summer I learned more about beer and bought Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher. This is a great book, it's a really entertaining history of brewing, explanation of beer styles and how to brew book. I had been reading How To Brew by John Palmer online and Mosher's book was very welcome light relief. Palmer's how to brew website is comprehensive and tells you everything you need to know but it's very serious and well at the end of it you will know more about the chemistry of brewing than many professional brewers. Brewing isn't that hard and I think Palmer's book can almost scare you off, you don't need to know what a maillard reaction is to brew great beer. Then I discovered Irish Craft Brewer while looking for homebrew information on This is a community of Irish home brewers who know everything from where to get homebrew kit to how to make a yeast starter. I joined called myself Bog Myrtle and used this recipe from the site to brew up a bitter.

It turned out really well and it was all gone all too quickly. Now the brewing bug had bitten and I had to do more. I really liked using malt extract and steeping grains, using real hops and doing a full boil. It felt like I had more control over what was happening and how the beer would turn out. The next step would be to use dried malt extract and try out some recipes from Radical Brewing.


It rained all last summer and I couldn't do many of my outdoor hobbies so I did a lot of crochet and it was only a matter of time before I started knitting again too. Since Debbie Stoller's crochet book had been so good I decided to get Stitch and Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook. For good measure I also got Stitch and Bitch Nation also by Ms. Stoller. Stitch and Bitch is a great beginners book with lots of clear instructions about how to do just about everything you will ever need to while knitting. I refer to it all the time whenever I can't remember how to do things like ssk. Stitch and Bitch Nation is more about patterns and how to make your knit clothes fit you. It's very good also. I haven't made any jumpers from it but the information is very useful. Now that I remembered how to knit I decided to try a jumper.

I found another wool shop in Waterford on Patrick St called Needles and Pins. They stock a good range of wool including Sirdar, Patons and Wendy. They also stock a great selection of crochet hooks, knitting needles and stuff for tapestry. I bought a Sirdar Denim Knits pattern book and 7 balls of Sirdar Denim Chunky. With my Mum's help over the next few months I finished a cardigan. It's really nice and wearable too.

Hats Off

Back in August last year I got this idea that I would crochet. I don't know why as I hated crochet when I learned it first when young. I made one granny square that was going to be a cushion cover. It was supposed to be two matching squares but I got half way through the second one and gave up. I still have it and maybe I'll finish it eventually
I bought Debbie Stoller's crochet book The Happy Hooker. I'd recommend this book as it has lots of funky projects and the instructions on how to crochet are the best I've seen. A lot of crochet books are old fashioned and feature awful stuff in bad colours but this is different. I then needed wool and crochet hooks. These were more difficult to find than you would imagine. In the pound shop I got a ball of white acrylic to practice on and I found an old crochet hook of mine and tried out some stitches. I found a wool shop in Blackrock, Dublin called This Is Knit. This is a lovely shop run by two nice ladies who knit themselves, they stock all sorts of lovely wool like Noro and Debbie Bliss. So now armed with wool I started making some stuff.

Spring in Winter Hat:

This turned out well although I haven't worn it too much since I'm not a huge fan of red.

Fat Bottomed Bag:

This bag is also from The Happy Hooker and it's lovely. I was on holidays when I made this and it made long car journeys pass quickly.

I also got some wool donated to me. I got a few balls of purpleish mohair and so I used that to make the Cold Shoulders Capelet from The Happy Hooker. This got left on the back burner for a while but it eventually got finished. It was much easier to make than I thought it would be.

Hello and Welcome

So hello and welcome to my new blog! This blog will be about my crafty hobbies of knitting, crochet and brewing.
I've been home brewing on and off with varying degrees of success for about a year now. At this stage I'm making some nice beers but want to do more. Irish Craft Brewer is the website for finding out all about the craft brewing scene in Ireland.
I learned to knit and crochet in school and made some stuff under duress until I gave it up. Last year I took them up again and surprised myself by not only remembering how to do both but actually making some nice stuff.

So this blog is to chart my progress and put up pictures of finished projects be they beers or jumpers! The name is a mix of an Irish style of knitting, aran and brew. I'm not sure there is any connection at all between knitting and brewing though I suppose I could knit some sort of beer cosy. This blog isn't about the connection between the two.