White Carpet Bavarian Weiss

A while ago I brewed a Bavarian Wheat Beer. I had it in a pressure barrel which was acting as a secondary. I decided to check the beer and found that the newspaper on which the barrel was resting was soaked as was the carpet. The barrel was leaking! This barrel had leaked before but at that time I had thought it was the seals, this time the seals were perfect. So an emergency bottling was performed which I wasn't in the mood for. I did some tests and found the barrel is actually leaking out the bottom.
So I've tasted the now named White Carpet beer. I'm not massively impressed. It tastes of wheat beer alright but it's maybe a bit thin. Also due to the emergency bottling I think I didn't put enough sugar in so it's under carbonated. I think this may be why it doesn't taste as nice as it should as I expect wheat beers to be carbonated. I think it may be a bit oxidized due to air getting in while the beer leaked out.

Up Hill And Down Ale, Coniston, The Lake District, UK

Location: Coniston, The Lake District
12-13th of August 2008

On the morning of the 12th it was raining so before we moved to stay in the village of Coniston near Hawkshead we went for a drive up to Cockermouth. We ended up passing the Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre, I wonder how that happened... They had a show where you got to see different sheep which was quite entertaining. However their giftshop ony had some bog standard aran knitting wool, nothing at all special. It seems there are rare breed sheep in the UK but getting hold of their wool is difficult. In Cockermouth we found a wool shop where I bought some beautiful Noro blossom which will be a bag eventually.

We also went to Jennings Brewery where we bought some on sale ale. Unfortunately the brewery tour was booked out.

Arriving at Coniston we booked in to Lakeland House guesthouse which while not as nice as Merlin House had a fantastic view.

Pub: We checked out the local pubs and found one of them is a brewpub The Black Bull Inn home of the Coniston brewing company.

Naturally we went in. It's a lovely pub serving great food. That night we had the veggie options, a nut roast with goats cheese and a vegetable curry. Both were lovely and I can highly recommend either Oliver's Light Ale or the Bluebird Bitter to go with them. The Bluebird bitter is named for the boat used by Donald Campbell in his ultimately tragic attempt to break the water speed record on Coniston Water. It's a lovely english bitter which won beer of the festival at the Great British Beer Festival which is high praise. Oliver's Light Ale I really liked. It's a light golden ale which is quite low in alcohol at 3.4%. I like these light english session beers since you can have a few pints without falling over.

Walk: Coniston Coppermines
Map: Walk 2 on Footprint Walks Around Coniston
Harvey Lake District Outdoor Atlas

This was a slightly longer and harder walk from Coniston. We had a good day on the wednesday (13th august) so decided to start the walk early in the day. Our guesthouse made packed sandwiches so armed with a ploughmans and a raincoat off we set.

The walk up follows Levers Water beck up past the old Coniston Coppermines and youth hostel. Then it becomes steeper going up the hill where you can see the still working mines. The walk on the map goes up to the right of the beck to Levers water. We however crossed at a footbridge and made the steep climb on the left of the waterfall to come out on the wonderful view of Levers Water.

The route then wends it way down past a gigantic rock called the pudding stone.

A track then leads past fine views of the Old Man of Coniston. We decided not to go up as the weather was starting to close in.

Instead we messed around taking photos of some mushrooms one of my favourite things to photograph. They look like strange alien cities.

Pub: Black Bull Inn

Food: Bangers and Mash. This was the nicest bangers and mash I've had I think. The sausages were local cumberland ones with chilli and lime in. The mash has spring onions in and the sweet chilli and roast pepper sauce was perfect with it.

Ale: Well after that walk it would have to be the Old Man Ale named for the hill we'd just been to see. It's a rich dark complex ale rather like the hill itself.

More photos can be seen here. I can recommend Coniston as well. I'd like to go back when I'm fitter to do more walking there. The Black Bull Inn is well worth a visit as well.

Up Hill And Down Ale, Hawkshead, The Lake District, UK

The Up Hill And Down Ale Trip
9th - 17th August 2008

This august me and Dave went on a trip to the Lake District in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales. The idea was to go up lots of hills and then after down lots of real english ales. I'm going to recommend a walk to do and then a pub to go to afterwards where you can get good ale and food.

Location: Hawkshead, The Lake District
9-11th of August 2008

Hawkshead is a great little village in the Lake District. We stayed in the lovely Merlin House guesthouse which has lovely rooms and did a great breakfast.

Pub: Queen's Head

Food and Ale: A nice pub serving a good local menu. The portions were big and hearty with lamb being a specialty. This was washed down with one their guest cask ales which I can't remember the name of. It was a nice hoppy brew which went well with the food.

Walk: Latterbarrow from Hawkshead
Map: Walk 14 on Footprint Walks Around Coniston
Harvey Lake District Outdoor Atlas

To start off with an easy walk which started from our B&B in the village of Hawkshead. It's a nice walk through fields, country lanes then up onto Latterbarrow where there is a great view of Lake Windermere.

The walk then descends through Claife Heights forest. It was drizzling when we set off and this turned into proper rain so we decided not to extend the walk to Sawry which would make it into a longer pleasant day. Not too taxing for most but if like me you haven't been walking in ages and been sick it was a good start.

Food and Drink: For lunch we headed to Poppi Red Cafe where I got an amazing hot chocolate and a cake to heat myself back up.

Walk: Tarn Hows
Map: Walk 15 on Footprint Walks Around Coniston
Harvey Lake District Outdoor Atlas

This was a nice easy afternoon stroll around the beauty spot of Tarn Hows. There is a footpath the whole way so it's nice and easy. It's easy to see why this place is so famous.

Drink: On the way back we popped into The Drunken Duck Inn for a quick half pint. They brew their own beer here, the beers being named after dogs that the owners have had. This was fitting as dogs are really popular around here. Every pub has a dog bar for water. I had the Cracker Ale and Dave had the Westmorland Gold. I liked the Cracker but Dave wasn't as keen on his.

Pub: King's Arms, Hawkshead

Food: The specials are great here. Dave had venison in a berry jus which was lovely. I had bangers and mash which was really good too as they use local Cumberland sausages. Also while in the village you should try out the Hawkshead Relish.

Ale: Lakeland Gold from Hawkshead Brewery

This is a lovely golden ale that goes very well with food. It's a bit more hoppy than some english ales and has the wonderful aroma of cascade hops. We also tried the bitter but didn't like it as much as the Lakeland Gold.

Walk: Rydal Water And Nab Scar
Map: Guided Walk 8 in Lakeland Explored
Harvey Lake District Outdoor Atlas

This walk went along under Nab Scar through a forest with great views of Rydal Water and Grasmere before descending into Rydal village. We then walked along the track by Rydal Water to finish off a very wet but satisfying walk.

Food and Drink: We ambled around Grasmere village after the walk where the weather cleared up a bit. After all that walking we treated ourselves to a proper cream tea in the garden centre. I love scones with jam and clotted cream. Also they know what they're doing with tea in this part of the country. They always give you a small pot of hot water so you can have an extra cup.

It was wet that afternoon so we decided we'd had enough hiking. We went into Windermere and Bowness to have a look around. This really isn't worth it as they are both packed with tourists even though there isn't much to see. In hindsight we probably should have stopped in Ambleside as this looked nicer. We did however find some Lindisfarne Mead in an off license. We tried it out and agreed it was a very strange drink. I liked it but it was odd as I've never had anything quite like it before. I think my taste buds were struggling as they had nothing to compare it to. The only thing I could think of like it was Sauternes white wine from France. We also sampled some Damson stout from the Hawkshead brewery. This I really liked. There was a lovely sharp damson taste coming through and balanced up by the roasty stout.

Ale: That night it was back to the Kings Arms. The guest beer was York Brewery Peaches and Cream ale. I loved this beer, it had a real refreshing fruity taste without being cloying like many fruit beers are. Lovely stuff. There was also some real cider being served in what was a home brew pressure barrel. This was great stuff and very different to the commercial cider most of us are used to. The barman said he drives down to a certain junction on the motorway to where the guy sells the cider. I also got some knitting done in the pub which got some funny looks from people.

I would really recommend Hawkshead as a great base to explore the Lake District. There are loads of things I didn't get to do and I'd happily go back.

More photos of this part of the trip are here.

Oz and James at The Bull and Castle

Oz Clarke and James May are filming a beer based version of their Wine Adventure show. They are travelling around the UK and Ireland filming mostly concentrating on small producers of beer. While in Ireland they wanted to sample some home brewed beers which is where Irish Craft Brewer came in. We all turned up with our beers to the Bull and Castle pub for them to taste. I even went mad and made labels. I also hoped that the beer was ok, it would be a bit embarrassing to have them describe my beer as muck on telly.

The slot they filmed with the home brewers was a competition. We gave them our beers to taste and then said why it was the best Irish beer. I gave some blather about it being a great summer beer brewed by an Irish girl in Ireland. The beers were marked on taste and on blarney. My blarney wasn't great but I got top marks for taste. Afterwards we got to talk to the two guys. Oz Clarke said he really loved the taste of my beer. He rated it as his favourite for taste along with the winner. High praise indeed. They liked all the home brewed beers and seemed impressed with the quality. Thom's lovely Centennial Ale was crowned best home brew helped by The Beer Nut who gave it some top class blarney. It was a lot of fun. After the tv people went the ICB members all sat down and got on with tasting some beers and eating the food kindly provided by Geoff of the Bull and Castle.

Me and James May

Me and Oz Clarke

Wedding Photos

I know I know, who wants to see my wedding photos? Well there actually was one request from Worsted Knitt. So here's a photo of the big day.

We had a great day. The Caves was the perfect place to get married in and to relax in after. Other photos can be seen here.

I did manage to knit a wedding garter!

Works In Progress

Lest people think I haven't been knitting I better post here about it. I've been knitting away but mostly on the same projects. The Tempting jumper is nearly finished.
The body is done plus one sleeve and I'm nearly done on the other sleeve. After that I just have to join them and knit the yoke. It's looking really nice I think. The yarn is lovely to work with. Whenever I do get a chance to work on this it goes quickly.

Going slightly slower is my first pair of socks. Actually calling them a pair is ambitious. It will be something if I even finish the first one. They seem to be going very slowly and if I'm honest I'd say the first sock has had more knitting time than Tempting but I don't seem to be getting anywhere. Second sock syndrome? More like first sock syndrome!

After tempting is finished I'm finally going to get started on a crochet shawl. I may however abandon the socks.

Knitting New Mittens And Gloves - Robin Melanson

Knitting New Mittens and Gloves by Robin Melanson. I love this book! A lot of knitting books have a selection of patterns which can be annoying. If say you love the sweater pattern and the hat pattern and buy the book you end up with patterns for things you don't want. So I really like this approach of having a book that is about one thing, you know what you're getting. The patterns in this book are great really different and not just standard gloves, mittens and handwarmers. I especially like where the author introduces each project with a description of the glove and what inspired it and the name. I haven't knit a full glove before and so as part of the Ravelry Olympics I'm going to knit a pair of gloves from this book. I hope to make the Ceangaltas mittens during the summer olympics. I bought some lovely Lamb's Pride wool today in two different shades so hopefully it'll turn out well.