A Beer Odyssey

I like beer. Unfortunately in Ireland most off licenses have very little choice in beer. My local off license like many in Ireland has a huge range of wines. It has the usual selection of spirits but I'd say if you really know your spirits it's not actually got a great selection. As for beer it has all the usual suspects but nothing much out of the ordinary. Though it's not the worst as it does stock one or two Belgian beers, some nice English ales and some Czech and Polish beers. Some off licenses don't even stock that much. So to get some new and interesting beers to drink of an evening the other half and I set off on a Beer Odyssey...

First off we went to Gibney's of Malahide. This is a lovely little off license which specializes in fine wines, they also have a really good beer selection. I got my beloved favourite beer of the moment Goose Island IPA.
Franziskaner Hefe Weisse
Goose Island IPA
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
James Boags Lager
Kasteel Cru
Maine Root Beer
Kriek Boon

Then it was off to McHugh's off license on the Kilbarack Road. This is a great off license for beer. There is a large fridge full of beers I haven't seen before. So naturally we went mad and bought quite a few of them as you can see.
O'Hara's Celebration Stout
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada ESB
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2008
Anchor Steam Beer
Hercules IPA
Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale
Black Sheep Riggwelter
Wychward Beewyched Honey Ale
Black Sheep Emmerdale
Fuller's 1845
Edelstoff Augustiner
Edelstoff Helles
Well's Banana Bread Beer
Hardcore Hard Cider
Kingstone Press Cider
And a six pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager for good measure, cheap too!

And so alcoholism approaches :-)

Brewer's Birthday

It's my birthday soon so I got an early present today, new brewing kit! I got some new equipment to make my brewing life easier. Most importantly of all is a wort chiller. I have had trouble cooling wort before and I hope this will make life easier and give a good cold break and make sure no nasty off flavours or infections get into the beer. I also got an auto siphon. Previously with my traditional siphon I've had trouble getting it to work and typically splashed beer all over the place. There's also a siphon clip to keep it secure on the side of the vessel which means it turns siphoning into a one person job. Being replaced by a clip eh? There's also a little bottler which will hopefully make the awful task of bottling beer easier. Or maybe I'm being optimistic...
I got some ingredients as well. I want to make some type of wheat beer maybe a Belgium Wit so I got some wheat malt. There are some perle and tettnang hops there too which might be nice in the wheat beer. I have far to much yeast in the fridge already but added some more to it. Some Safale WB 06 which is a wheat beer yeast, some brewferm blanche wheat beer yeast and some Safbrew s33 which I might use for a trappist style ale.
I like yeast, I think it's cool that this one small cell produces such great excrement as part of it's metabolism :-)

Jump Up, Hop Back IPA

Jump Up Hop Back IPA
Extract plus Partial Mash

The Recipe:

Partial Mash Grain Bill:
485g Pale ale malt
65g Amber malt
Mashed in 4.5L of water at 70deg for 40 minutes
Sprinkle sparged with 4L of water at 82deg

2.5kg Pale Dried Malt Extract

Hop Schedule:
45 minutes: 14g Cascade
10 minutes: 14g Cascade
5 minutes: 7g Hallertauer
At end of boil 5g Cascade
15L Boil Volume

Final volume 20L
Starting Gravity: 1.040

Pitched with Safale S04

For this beer I decided to do a partial mash plus extract. Now that sounds pretty complicated but look at the picture. Does that look complicated? Or does that look like a pot with the grains mentioned above plus 4.5L of water at 70 degrees celcius stirred around and covered with a lid and a sleeping bag? Well that's what it is and that's partial mashing. It's pretty simple and it hopefully will make the beer taste better.

So while I left the pot to mash for 40 minutes I weighed out the hops and this being an IPA there were plenty of them. Cascade hops are the ones you find in most of the american IPA's that are so tasty so hopefully that flavour will come out here.

So after the grains had mashed I poured them through a strainer into my larger brew pot. I heated up 4L of water to 82 degrees celcius and poured this very slowly over the grains imitating the process of sparging. After this I increased the volume in the brew pot to 15L and noted the volume.

While all this was going on I made a yeast starter using some malt extract boiled up to sterilise it all. When it cooled I added a packet of safale s04 being careful to keep it all sterile.

I added 2.5kg of pale malt extract.
I added the hops in four additions.
45 minutes: 14g Cascade
10 minutes: 14g Cascade
5 minutes: 7g Hallertauer
At end of boil 5g Cascade

The starting gravity was 1.040. It took this a long time to cool down as the volume was bigger than my usual small 5L batches. I put the pot in the sink with icy water but still it took ages to cool. My next investment is a wort chiller so I get a good cold break. So I fretted about the formation of off flavours while it cooled down. I then poured the wort into the fermenter and increased the volume to 20L. When it eventually cooled down I pitched the yeast.
Six days later the gravity had dropped to 1.016 so I'll put into a secondary barrel soon. It was very tasty at this early stage so hopefully it'll improve even more with time. I'm thinking about dry hopping it with some cascade in the secondary to give it a real IPA taste.

Vibes and Scribes, Cork

Vibes and Scribes, Cork

I stumbled across this great craft shop while at the Franciscan Well beer festival in Cork. My friend noticed the beads in the window and we went in. Despite the best efforts of our other halves to extract us we stayed for ages. It's a general craft shop that stocks beads, yarn, painting supplies, books, felt, paper craft stuff and lots more. The yarn selection is small but very good. They do artesano, kilcarra and some crochet cotton. The artesano is yummy and I got two balls of 4ply alpaca which will be turned into gloves or socks. The hummingbird is gorgeous but I didn't splash out. They kilcarra was in loads of lovely colours. They had a nice selection of books too. I also got some brittany double pointed needles which are great. There was a great range of crochet hooks in plastic, bamboo and wood. The brittany ones were lovely but I couldn't justify the price. I got a bamboo hook but it isn't great as the yarn sticks a bit too much on it, this doesn't happen on the plastic or metal ones.
We left after my friend got enough beads for a necklace or two. So impressed were we that we both said we'd love to set up a shop like that. Maybe someday...

Springwools and future projects

Springwools, Walkinstown, Dublin

I went here one saturday on the way to a friends house. It's quite a big shop and they stock many different brands of yarn, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Sublime, Patons, Sidar, Rowan, Kilcarra, lots of books and patterns and even some stuff for felting. So a great selection of stuff. I got enough yarn to knit tempting from knitty. It's Sublime merino silk cashmere aran in a lovely light brown colour, it's soft with a nice sheen. I also got 2 balls of multicoloured Regia sock wool to start my first pair of socks. Then I spotted some Kilcarra irish tweed in this great green colour. I got three balls and hope to make it into a felted bag. The service wasn't great in this shop, they are pretty old school and not so helpful to a new enough knitter like myself. I had wanted some cotton for a summer top and had the requirements from a pattern written down but as the wool was english and the pattern american I couldn't work out how much I needed. I asked the lady for some help and she was quite rude to me. She could have just told me to buy more than I needed, helping her sales but instead she left me not wanting to go back to this shop. It's a pity really.