Black Freren Gate Stout

There I am hard at work to make another all grain brew. Last saturday I was supposed to go hill walking but then it got called off which I happy about as I wasn't feeling great. I decided to brew up the stout I had been planning. The recipe started as a Beamish/Dry Irish stout clone from Brew Your Own Magazine. I added in some other bits of malt I had about. I wanted a bit of nice malt character to beef it up a bit. I think a lot of stouts just have a roast barley taste with nothing else going on. This is going to be my winter warming stout.


Pale Ale Malt 2.7kg
Roast Barley 500g
Chocolate Malt 265g
Medium Crystal 530g

Perle 7.1%AA 30g @ 60 minutes from end of boil
Goldings 4.5%AA 14g @ 15 minutes from end of boil

Yeast: Safale US 05

Mashed 66-67 degrees celsius for an hour.

The gravity was about 1.037 so it should turn out at about 4% ABV. I think I have been taking the gravity of my beers at too high a temperature. The hygrometer works at 20 degrees but my wort would usually be at 25-28 degrees before I pitch the yeast. This might explain my wheat beer. I thought it had an ABV of about 5% but on tasting it was much stronger. I would have one bottle and feel pretty woozy. So maybe I've been underestimating the gravity. In future I'll take the sample and let it cool down and then read the gravity.

The name is taken from the Black Freren Gate in Kilkenny city near the Black Abbey Church. I used to live between the gate and the abbey. On a cold foggy night you always wondered if maybe the past and present would collide and you might glimpse a monk wandering the old cobbled streets. Hopefully some day I will get back to living in Kilkenny.

SeptemberFest, Farmleigh, Dublin, September 2008

On the weekend of the 14th and 15th of september Bord Bia hosted a national independent drinks festival at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park. I think nearly all the craft brewers, distillers and liqueur makers of Ireland were in attendance.

Those taking part were Beoir Corca Dhuibhne, Boozeberries, Bunratty Mead, Carlow Brewing Company, Cooley Distillery, Double L Cider Company, Franciscan Well Brewery, Galway Hooker, Hilden Brewery, Hot Irishman, Kinsale Lager/Johnny Jump Up, The Porterhouse, White Gypsey/Mssrs Maguire, White Water Brewing Company.

All in all a great selection of small Irish drinks producers were present. Dave and I cycled down to the Phoenix Park. We got there early just as everyone was setting up. We did a quick whip round the marquee and stopped off to get a half of Clotworthy Dobbin for breakfast. It was early but we decided we deserved it after the cycle. It's a lovely dark ale that tastes of toffee.

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

We also said a quick hello to Ronan of Galway Hooker. His enthusiastic demeanor may be related to the fact that the brewers were out the night before and he was still waking up. The Hooker tasted lovely as always. It seemed to be very popular throughout the day and rightly so.

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

After having beer for breakfast we decided some real food was in order. I ended up covered in salsa from a tasty hot dog. Then it was back into the tent to have a look at Beoir Corca Dhuibhne a new microbrewery who have set up in two pubs near the small village of Ballyferriter in Co. Kerry. Dave gave them a cupla focal and they gave him a half of their pale ale from the cask. I liked the ale it reminded me of the tasty session ales you get in the UK. I'd say this would go well with food. Hopefully we'll get to go visit sometime and try it out in it's home environment. The brewer said it's selling well so far and that the locals have been converted. Great to see and hopefully we'll start seeing more brewpubs around Ireland.

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

Look at that happy smile and the reason? That's MM Imperial Smoked stout from the cask in my hand. The last cask in existence. This beer is lovely, the smokey taste reminds me of the taste of play doh, I don't know why but it's not a bad thing. There was more good news from the brewer Cuilan Loughnane. He's setting up White Gypsy brewery and hoping to start production soon. So hopefully there'll be more real Irish beer on the market. He had also brought along some oak barrels that he hopes to use to age some beer in. There followed a long and geeky discussion of the use of oak over a pint of plain. I was chatting to a few people at the stand who home brew or used to and told them to check out Irish Craft Brewer. The more converts the better.

A few friends of ours arrived and checked out the cider. Johnny Jump Up was well liked. The Double L cider is nice, it really tastes of apples. I preferred the dry cider.

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

I also checked out Boozeberries, this is berries preserved in spirit so that the liquid tastes of berries. I really liked this stuff and bought a bottle of the blackcurrant. It would be lovely in cocktails, in champagne or poured over ice-cream.

I also wanted to talk to the people at Bunratty mead given my mead obsession. The lady I talked to wasn't very knowledgeable so after telling her Bunratty was actually a pyment I decided I might annoy her if I asked any more odd questions.

The hall really filled up as the day went on. It was a rainy day so that probably drove people inside. For some mad reason the guys in the tiny tent across the field kept playing music even though there was nobody in the field to listen to them. It was a good mixed crowd, lots of families and foodies. Hopefully they might think about buying some Irish craft beer next time they're out and about.

From Septemberfest, Farmleigh, September 2008

Hearing in Colour and Crochet

I have been thinking about designing my own knitting and crochet patterns recently. I used to have a lovely hand knitted hat which I lost. Since I knit now I'm going to design something similar since I can't find a pattern like it. I also want a crochet shrug and haven't seen one I really like so the obvious answer is to design one.
I got The Crochet Stitch Bible which should help with this as it has loads of stitch patterns, edgings, lace and blocks to choose from. It's a great reference book for any crocheter. I especially like that all the designs are done using crochet symbols which I find much easier to understand than written crochet instructions. Crochet is 3D so the symbols suit it much more than written instructions.
Anyway that was what I was thinking about this week. I was at Kraftwerk on saturday night and had a rather strange experience. I've always seen music as colours and shapes. But the other night I started seeing the music as crochet stitch symbols with colours. It was kinda strange and I've never seen music like that before. And before anyone gets any ideas, I wasn't drunk or under the influence of anything. I think it might be good to try listening to a song a load of times and see if I can write down what I see in crochet symbols and colours and then make it. Certain sounds to me always have certain colours and shapes. Like drums are usually brown and quite squiggly and guitars are spiky and sometimes green or yellow. It could be a pretty interesting project.

All Grain Brew, Lightening Bolt Ale

I have a shiny new mash-tun. I decided to brew up a simple english ale style beer, it would be a bit hoppier than the average ale.

From All Grain Brewing

Pale ale malt: 3.6kg
Medium crystal malt: 400g
Pioneer (9.2%AA): 19g @ 60 minutes
Centennial (8.2%AA): 16g @ 20 minutes
16g @ 10 minutes
16g @ turn off

Safale S04 yeast

Mashed at 66 degrees celsius for one hour.
OG: 1.034
Volume: 20 Litres

The mashing wasn't so difficult but it did take time. Good excuse to get some knitting done. I brought 11 litres of water to 76 degrees celsius. I poured this into the (pre-warmed) mash tun and added the grain. I stirred it in using the mash paddle and checked the temperature was 66 degrees celsius throughout.

From All Grain Brewing

From All Grain Brewing

I left it at it for an hour. During this time I heated up another 11 litres of water to 76 degrees. I then recirculated some of the wort. I ran off about 6 litres of wort. I used about 10 litres of water to batch sparge the grains. After that I used another 10 litres to batch sparge again. I got about 20 litres of wort in all.

From All Grain Brewing

After the mashing it was the same as any other extract brew. The OG came out at 1.034 which was close to the target. I've been trialling Beer Alchemy brewing software for my Mac. It seems pretty good and takes a lot of work out of calculating amounts and ingredients for recipes.
Mashing certainly adds time to the brew day but hopefully it'll turn out to be a tasty beer. While making this beer I was watching the olympics and saw Usain Bolt's incredible 200 metre run. So in honour of him I called the beer Lightening Bolt.

I wanted to use the spent grain for something. I couldn't just throw out all that grain without using it for something. I found a thread about making spent grain bread so I decided to give it a go.

Spent Grain Bread Recipe:
1.5 cups white flour
2 cups spent grain
1.75 cups of milk
2 tablespoons mixed seeds
1 teaspoon bread soda

Oven: 190 degrees celsius for 50 minutes

I was skeptical that this would be nice. The next day I went hiking and had the bread with butter and mature cheddar cheese. It was totally delicious. Lovely and moist. I'd recommend pumpkin seeds as they seemed to really add something to the bread. I only made one loaf but next time I do an all grain brew I'll make loads of the bread. It would be nice to have a beer and cheese evening where I brewed the beer and made the bread to go with some fine cheeses.

Up Hill And Down Ale, Helwith Bridge, Yorkshire, UK

Location: Helwith Bridge, Yorkshire
14-17th of August 2008

We headed off from Coniston on the morning of the 14th of august to pick up Ed from Leeds/Bradford airport. With Ed on board we set off to see if we could possibly squish more into the car by visiting a home brew shop.

We found a shop that was open called Things To Brew (Unit 21, Kershaws Garden Centre, Halifax Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6 2QD). Much fun was had buying ingredients and I ended up with a shiny new mash tun.

After this we headed to Helwith Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales. We stayed in the hostel of the Yorkshire Subterranean Society which is beside one of my favourite pubs The Helwith Bridge Inn. The pub is run by the great bar man Colin and is a mecca for cavers and train spotters alike. The cavers come from the YSS hostel which is a mere two minute stagger away. A train line runs behind the pub and there are a few more lines nearby (old steam trains can sometimes be seen on them if you're lucky) which explains the train spotters.

Walk: Malham, Tarn, Cove and Village and Gordale Scar
Map: Harvey Yorkshire Dales Outdoor Atlas

I've been coming to Yorkshire for years and had never gone to Malham. We decided to skip the underground attractions of the dales this time and go for a walk.

We started by walking by Malham Tarn which is one of the biggest bits of water you'll see in Yorkshire. It's pretty but not as picturesque as the lakes in the Lake District. It's all a bit more desolate but then I like desolation. While walking a path by a cliff we saw a family of four birds of prey flying around and having a fun time. I think they may have been falcons. It was an amazing sight. We then headed down a path which was headed for Malham Cove.

This led us down a dry gorge which kept getting larger. It then joined another gorge in what looked like a fossil waterfall.

We walked along and then came out on a great limestone pavement which drops off in a cliff. As we walked across the pavement and then down a load of steps the full scale of Malham cove started to come into view. It's a great sight and it's easy to see why it's a mecca for climbers, it's immense. It was formed at the end of the last ice age by glacier melt water eroding out the massive cliff.

We walked down to the village of Malham where we stopped for a spot of mid walk lunch. A nice cheese toasty was washed down with some Black Sheep Ale. The tea house we had lunch in also had some inquisitive ducks who tried to see if hiking bags and boots were edible. I also had cream tea, well I was walking so I could burn up the calories later!

After that relaxing lunch we cracked on towards Gordale scar. A road down from Malham leads up to Gordale campsite. A crazy man in camper van almost knocked us down as we tried to jump into a stone wall to avoid him. We walked through the campsite where we again encountered the camper van man but luckily he was going slowly through mud at this stage.

Gordale is a lovely gorge but I think I prefer the name scar. We had been told that you could climb up the fossil waterfall and then complete the walk by walking back to the car park at Malham tarn. When we got there a large waterfall was flowing. It was an impressive site as the steep walls of the gorge closed in and the rocks were covered with yellow white tufa deposits.

Dave and Ed climbed up the waterfall. I wimped out as I had hurt my leg earlier and didn't feel like climbing. I headed back to Malham in the rain. I got some tea and waited for Dave and Ed to pick me up. It was a great walk. The scenery was truly spectacular. I love limestone!

Pub: Helwith Bridge
Food: Giant Yorkshire Pudding filled with Chilli and Chips. This is a yummy filling after walk dinner.
Ale: Helwith Bridge Ale. Brewed by a local micro in Settle. This is a lovely light session beer.

Drive: Dentdale
On saturday the 16th Dave and Ed headed off to Gaping Gill to do some caving. I decided to drive to Dent. I had heard it's a pretty place with an interesting history. The drive to Dent was like a free roller coaster ride. It's a very narrow road with huge hills but it's all very scenic when you manage to take your eyes off the road. I visited the Heritage Museum where they recreate the life of Dent back in The Day. Of course I found the stuff about the cottage textile industry and the terrible knitters of Dent most interesting. The people used a special needle attached to a belt so that they could knit with one hand. They could then use the other hand to churn milk or whatever. I couldn't imagine doing anything else while knitting my brain just wouldn't have it.

We took a trip to Booths supermarket in Settle where the massive range of bottled beer astounded us. Naturally we bought a large selection to try. We also got some cheese and olives to make it look like a classy session.

The cheeses were Wensleydale with Cranberry, Blue Stilton and Applewood Smoked Gouda. I can confirm that beer and cheese go very well together. Hopefully following further research I'll be able to write an article with some recommendations on which beers and cheeses go well together.

Roisin Tayberry Beer from Scotland was my favourite beer. The Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry and gave a lovely fruity tang to the beer without it being too sweet tasting like many fruit beers. My other favourite was the Black Dog Ale.

The rest of the photos from this part of the trip can be seen here. On the sunday we packed up and headed back for the ferry. All in all the Up Hill And Down Ale trip was a success.