Boddingtons Bitter Clone Recipe

I’d not done a brew day for a while after the Green Hopped Munich Dunkel (and an Imperial Stout which needs it’s own write up) as we’d had quite a lot of building work going on over the lead up to Christmas and into the new year which had prevented any brewing.

The Dunkel had just run out on keg (I have 6 liters lagering in a demijohn for bottling still to do) and my thoughts in January generally turn to new beers and replenishing the home brew stock.

I was very tempted to brew my stock lager but i thought it might be fun to try brewing a beer with close ties to me historically and geographically.

I’m a little too young to have drunk Boddingtons Bitter at its best on cask – but growing up in Manchester, it could be good in the mid to late 90s if kept well and it was one of the first beers I had when I embarked on my drinking career.

I’ve had half an eye on brewing a clone of the classic 1970’s cask version for a while, but since 2018 is going to be the year of heritage brewing (brew them and it will happen) I cast around for some information on replicating what had been quite a celebrated beer back in the day (insert stories from my Dad of a coach load of drinkers turning up en mass at the Packet House in Eccles from some far flung corner of the UK to sample the cask Boddingtons here). I found some great information from various sources (Ron Pattinson’s shut up about barclay perkins blog was a great inspiration – as was the Boak and Bailey beer blog) on historical records and other brewers attempts to replicate it and January seemed like a good time to brew a pale lower ABV bitter.

Boddingtons Bitter Clone

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 29.60 l
Post Boil Volume: 27.60 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 l   
Bottling Volume: 21.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.041 SG
Estimated Color: 11.6 EBC
Estimated IBU: 32.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 85.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
3.68 kg               Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (5.9 EBC)           Grain         1        87.6 %        
0.20 kg               Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (118.2 EBC)   Grain         2        4.8 %         
0.12 kg               Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC)               Grain         3        2.9 %         
0.10 kg               Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC)             Grain         4        2.4 %         
0.10 kg               Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (2.0 EBC)         Sugar         5        2.4 %         
30.00 g               Northern Brewer [8.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop           6        24.9 IBUs     
20.00 g               EK Goldings (EKG) [5.00 %] - Boil 30.0 m Hop           7        4.8 IBUs
0.30 tsp              Irish Moss - Boil 10 min                 Fining        8
25.00 g               Fuggle [4.75 %] - Boil 5.0 min           Hop           9        2.3 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               British Ale (White Labs #WLP005) [35.49  Yeast         10        -             
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.20 kg
Name              Description                             Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In           Add 12.19 l of water at 72.3 C          66.7 C        60 min        
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (7.47l, 15.55l) of 76.0 C water

A fairly standard brew evening really, but I feel like I could do with a bigger hot liquor tank and mash tun somehow!

The Mash

The Mash temperature was bit overshot, but a slight addition of some cold water brought it back down into the correct range.

I do think I need a sign in the cellar home brewery that reads: “Not less than a 90 minute mash” as my efficiency took a hit with only a 60 minute mash. Grain crush could come into it but from experience a 90 minute mash just seems to do the trick for my system.

The Run Off

I had treated myself to some new tubing! This made a big difference to transferring the wort compared to the old stuff I had. Much more sturdy and heat tolerant. Seems to clean up a lot easier too.

The Boil

As ever, I was a little over the pre-boil gravity and I thought that this would have impacted the reduced efficiency in sticking the planned 60 minute boil.

The Hop Additions

I thought a mix of classic English (ish – excuse the Northern Brewer for bittering) hops would work well. The hopping schedule was fairly classic in the 60, 30 and 5 minutes aiming for a pretty robust 30 odd IBUs.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this base recipe would be great with the hops substituted for my left over New Zealand hop stock and loads of late additions and dry hopping!


I did however seem to more or less hit the final post boil volume which probably lays the blame for the reduced efficiency on the mash rather than the slightly larger pre-boil volume or vigour of the boil.


I ended up with a FG of 1036 rather than the expected 1040 ish – so my hope is that the WLP005 does the trick of attenuating a bit lower to get me closer to the expected ABV – and the table sugar in the recipe to dry it out should help with that.

First samples of the wort the next morning had a good bitterness.

As I pitched the yeast without a starter – it did take a day or so to get going. Again, past experience tells me that even a very quick starter made up just a few hours when the brew days begins ensures a really vigorous start to fermentation.

Hopefully this will turn out to be a fair approximation of the target beer. Hopefully it should be a quick beer to finish and condition ready to review very soon.

A Green Hopped Munich Dunkel

I faced a couple of problems at the end of this years hop harvest: what to brew with them and how to store the hops.


I had tried drying my hops last year, but this wasn’t very successful. I had read some articles and forum posts on alternative storage methods and freezing seemed to provide the solution I was after.

I finally settled on brewing a Green Hopped Munich Dunkel – just as the temperature started to get into the perfect cellar range for brewing a lager.

I don’t really grow hops to replace the dried hops that I can readily get from the local homebrew shop or online (as I can’t dry or store them in quantity); nor do I grow multiple varieties to provide both bittering and flavour/aroma hops. I set out to grow hops to get access to green hops to get the freshest and unique hopped quality that only a green hopped beer is supposed to provide.

With that in mind I took the 2kg or so of hops that I had harvested and froze them in 1kg bags. Since I am growing Hallertauer Hersbrucker I needed an opportunity to brew a larger to see how a green hopped larger would work out.

I could have gone for the stock Kellerbier / Munich Helles recipe, but with the need for dark beers increasing with the decreasing temperatures, I thought a Munich Dunkel would be the way to go.

Green Hopped Munich Dunkel Recipe

Boil Size: 30.60 l
Post Boil Volume: 27.60 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 l
Bottling Volume: 21.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 42.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 28.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 85.3 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

3.50 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 56.9 %
2.15 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 2 34.9 %
0.25 kg Melanoidin (59.1 EBC) Grain 3 4.1 %
0.14 kg Black Malt (1160.0 EBC) Grain 4 2.3 %
0.11 kg Carafa I (663.9 EBC) Grain 5 1.9 %

80.00 g Saaz [3.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 22.3 IBUs
0.30 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 7 –
400.00 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [0.50 %] – Steep Hop 20 min 5.1 IBUs
18.00 g Hallertau [2.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 20 min 1.2 IBUs
1 pkg Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.15 kg
Mash In Add 17.55 l of water at 72.6 C 66.7 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (4.67l, 16.05l) of 75.6 C water

The Mash



I managed to hit my mash temperature at dough in bang on. Total mash time was close to the 60 minutes before sparging (twice in my case since my HLT only holds about 18 Ltrs) and I ended up with close to 29 Ltrs in the end with a pre boil gravity of 1.045 meaning I had undershot the expected pre boil gravity of 1.053. I’m starting to suspect that a 90 minutes mash and a better grain crush might be the way to go to get a better efficiency!

The Boil


Since this was a 90 minutes boil the first 30 minutes are without any hop additions – just watching to avoid any boil overs!

The hops were some ‘old’ Saaz I had left over for the 90 minute addition and for flavour at the end, 18 g of Hersbrucker just to use them up.

Adding the Green Hops


I wanted to preserve as much of the green hop quality without extracting too much vegetal / chlorophyll so I opted for a large whirlpool addition at flame out.

I could not see any green hop additions in the BeerSmith brewing software that, I use so I ‘guestimated’ that since green hops can need anywhere between 4 – 8 times more to get the same Alpha Acids as dried hops – would calculate based on a quarter of a low alpha acid content for my home grown hops to account for this.

It was a large addition, and I was surprised how 400g of green hops wasn’t so ridiculous that it left too much wort back in the kettle after the end of the boil. Having said that, 400g might not have been enough – only time will tell. It certainly seemed to have a hoppy aroma and bitterness when I sampled some of the cooled wort.



I made a small 1 liter starter overnight from some of the cooled wort left in the kettle that didn’t get transferred via the plate chiller and added this back in the morning (I tend to leave the beer overnight with a lager to get it to a cooler temperature than I can presently work too with the plate chiller).

The finished beer is happily fermenting away in the cellar in the 10-12 centigrade range and has produced a nice krausen: not perhaps as thick and pillowy as I get with some of the light Helles largers.


Whilst it is a bit early to tell, the green hops were not too difficult to work with and freezing them seems to be a very viable way of keeping them for a (probably) short period after harvest to extend the period that you can brew green hopped beers from one harvest. The hops cones were still fresh and green, they had not broken down or imparted anything other than the hop qualities you expect. Having said that something is likely to be lost in storing them this way for an extended period and I might well have underplayed or overplayed the green hops in this beer.

But then that is what a green hopped beer is all about: unpredictability and seasonality producing a beer that is a bit outside of the norm.

Perhaps freezing green hops is also a way of extending the time you can get to enjoy these beers outside of what is otherwise a very narrow window of production normally.

Only time will tell.


Munich Kellerbier Recipe

By way of a follow up to my Saufbruder / Homebrew Expo post, one of the earlier iterations of that beer was entered into the Welsh National Homebrew Competition 2017. It placed bronze in the Amber Beer category and the judging notes provided me with some much needed critical feedback.

This Munich Kellerbier was brewed in January 2017 and a portion for entry in the competition was conditioned in the fridge in a demijohn with some dry hops for a few months before bottling.


I went with a fairly simple grain bill with some Munich and Melanoiden Malt to give it more malt character.

I used Bohemian floor malted pilsner malt and my efficiency was a lot higher than the recipe worked out as I mashed for longer than the 60 minutes I had planned on. I ended up with a OG of 1052 and landed on a FG of 1004 – giving an ABV of about 6.3%! Thankfully the balance with the hops was just about right although it was undeniably a big beer.

I kegged the majority of the finished beer but I could not bottle from keg, so to bottle the entries, I had reserved some for fridge conditioning with a few grams of the same hops used for bittering in a demijohn.

I bottled used carbonation drops which resulted in quite a high carbonation in the bottles for it to be appropriate to style.

I packaged the entries and waited nervously for the results.

On the night of the results, I logged onto the scores and could not believe that it was scored a 35 and 31 by the two judges and had come in third place in Amber Beers.

The comments definitely reflected the reality of how the beer was brewed and how it ended up:

“Nice bread / grain flavour”

“Nice refreshing flavour, with good balance of grainy malt and floral hop”

“Carbonation a little high for style. Crisp finish as expected”

“Some good malt and the citrus hops work okay, but perhaps too much alcohol”

“More alcohol warmth than expected”

So all things considered the judging was spot on: I’d overshot my gravity, the dry hops had extracted some citrus notes and the beer was not carbonated to style and these flaws were obviously noticeable. However, the feedback also showed that this didn’t detract from this being a good beer that with some minor adjustments / keeping on track it would have resulted in a higher score.

A lesson in learning to stick to the original plan!


Style: Munich Helles (Kellerbier)
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 32.60 l
Post Boil Volume: 27.60 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 l
Bottling Volume: 21.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Estimated Color: 9.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 19.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.10 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 84.2 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

5.00 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) 90.1 %
0.35 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) 6.3 %
0.20 kg Melanoiden Malt (39.4 EBC) 3.6 %
52.73 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [4.00 %] – 19.2 IBUs
0.40 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.0 pkg Southern German Lager (White Labs #WLP83)


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.55 kg

Mash In Add 15.97 l of water at 75.6 C 66.7 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (6.64l, 17.05l) of 75.6 C water


Don’t forget to string your hops!

It’s that time of year again when I nearly forget to string my Hallertauer hops at the allotment.

Looks like I only just managed to catch then this week before they got a bit too keen to work their way up the posts. The weather has really seen them shoot up:


There are far too many bines so the aim is to train 2-3 bines per string. Time to rope the string up:


The rope is coir, a natural coconut by-product, which has the right strength for providing support to the hop bines and plenty of texture for them to cling too on their way up (and across in my set up). I always forget to soak the coir so that it doesn’t slacken in the wet when it rains next, but I can always tie off the end again to take up the slack.

The coir is best fixed using really secure galvanized hooks to tie the ends off to:


When the coir is tied off with a (very un-boy scout style) knot, these pegs can be screwed into the soil to get a really good purchase. The advantage with these is that you can tighten the coir if it does slacken in the rain, but you have to leave enough to screw in later, or you can reposition the peg further away before screwing back them back in.


So that’s the stringing finished. It took about half an hour for this arrangement. Which allows for the right amount of growth height, but in an area where a 6-8 metre post is a problem.

There are plenty of bines this year so I hope to train 2 or 3 up each string and I “should” get an even better crop than last year.

It’s important to select 2/3 that are healthy, but will allow for the right amount of growth through the season to reach harvest. I may have to select two or three of the shorter bines, and sacrifice the first shoots to make sure that those chosen get the maximum number of days growth.

They grow clockwise, so over the following weeks I’ll train these up and across and keep nipping any unwanted shoots out.

Drying or using them up can be problem for me, so this year, weather / disease / pests / yields permitting, I aim to offer these as a “green hop” for any of the local home brewers (or commercial brewers for that matter) to use.

Here’s hoping for a good 2017 harvest.





Fullers Porter Clone Recipe

As part of my submissions for the Manchester homebrew expo in Manchester Beer Week at Beer Nouveau I brewed a Fullers Porter clone recipe.

This is one of my favourite commercial porter beers with great malty flavours and a hint of chocolate.

I used quite a few sources to put this recipe together and tried to stay as close to the information from Fullers website. A few substitutions had to be made for the bittering addition but I thought this would still get close to the real thing.


English Porter
All Grain (23.00 l)  ABV: 5.71 %
OG: 1.058 SG FG: 1.015 SG
IBUs: 33.0 IBUs Color: 52.5 EBC

  • 4.50 kg – Pale Ale Malt
  • 0.67 kg – Brown Malt
  • 0.50 kg – Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L
  • 0.20 kg – Crystal, Medium
  • 0.15 kg – Chocolate Malt
  • 0.10 kg – Wheat, Torrified

Mash In (66.7 C for 60 min, 2 min rise)

  • Add 18.93 l of water at 75.3 C

1:02 hours – Mash Complete

  • Batch sparge with 3 steps (Drain mash tun, 9.88 l, 9.88 l) of 76.0 C water
  • 0 min – Add Ingredients

    • 42.9 g – Northdown – Boil 60 min (26.7 IBUs)

    50 min – Add Ingredients

    • 35.4 g – Fuggle – Boil 10 min (6.3 IBUs)
    • 0.30 tsp – Irish Moss – Boil 10 min

    1:00 hours – End of Boil

    1 pkg – SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis S-04)

    Ale, Single Stage(One Stage)

    Primary: 14 days at 19.4 C

    Tasting notes:

    Comparing mine to the real thing they were really close. The brown malt seemed to be the key factor. Mine had a bit more chocolate coming through and the commercial beer had a bit more caramel.


    At the expo we were very lucky to be able to put our beers through a commercial pop up tap system from The Travelling Tap.

    The Porter was named Feltham’s Threads and was on in between an American Amber I’d also brewed and the Imperial Stout from my earlier blog post. It was in good company with other beers from the Chorlton Homebrewers.

    All in all it was received well and it was great to take part in another event hosted by Steve at Beer Nouveau.

    On Imperial Stouts (or The Gratuitous Krausen Appreciation Society)

    In November 2017 I planned an Imperial Stout with a short brew length to see what the biggest beer was I could get out of the kit and mash tun (at that time).

    I’ve had some great Imperial Stouts over that year and Winter seemed just the right time of year to be thinking of brewing big roasty, toasty, viscous, vineous Stouts of that ilk.

    This was a bit bigger than anticipated…

    It needed Fruit….

    It needed Time…

    And now its on oak!

    I had half an eye on a few competitions in 2018 and the Homebrew Expo as part of the Manchester Beer Week.

    So I set down to plan the recipe.

    I like a roasty and toasty Impy, but I wanted something that had hidden strength to it: a softness that belied it’s strength, so opted for an oatmeal stout as the base recipe.

    The Recipe

    As ever, the Brewing Classic Styles book was a good yardstick for my recipe formulation.

    • 3.40 kg – Pale Malt, Maris Otter

    • 0.12 kg – Black (Patent) Malt

    • 0.12 kg – Chocolate Malt

    • 0.12 kg – Roasted Barley

    • 0.14 kg – Oats, Flaked

    • 1.00 kg – Munich Malt

    • 0.10 kg – Wheat, Torrified

    • 0.12 kg – Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L

    • 0.12 kg – Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L

    • 0.50 kg – Light Dry Extract – (7.7%) – 15.8 EBC
    • 0.25 kg – Brown Sugar, Dark
    • 60.0 g – Northdown – Boil 60 min (52.0 IBUs)
    • 20.0 g – Fuggles – Boil 30 min (11.0 IBUs)
    • 20.0 g – East Kent Goldings (EKG) – Boil 30 min (9.5 IBUs)
    • Steep Aroma Hops 20.0 g – Flyer – Steep 20 min (8.2 IBUs)

    1 pkg – Dry English Ale (White Labs WLP007)

    The Process

    Nothing particularly unusual: a big grain bill with some dried malt extract and various simple sugars sugars to provide more easily digestible food for the yeast to get a lower final gravity but keeping some complexity from the darker sugars.


    Here are the first runnings. It was like engine oil!

    After vorlauf and sparging I collected enough for a post boil volume of about 10 litres. The sugars and dried extract in the grist were dissolved in the boil kettle and the OG was 1.111


    I pitched the yeast (a one litre starter was necessary) and after a surprisingly short lag time, I checked on progress:


    it was clearly happily fermenting away and had no problems with the high OG. Turns out WLP007 is very happy with a big beer!

    This is also one of the more surreal ‘yeast sculptures’ I’ve seen over the years.

    Aging on fruit

    It was a great beer, but lacked punch for the hops or roast in the grain bill. I decided to age it on fruit after my attempts at a date flavoured stout previously.

    I took the beer out of the first fermenter and transferred it to a smaller bucket with 200g each of dates, fresh cherries, raisins and sultanas.

    It then steeped for a good six months and was mini kegged for the Homebrew Expo in Manchester Beer Week at Beer Nouveau.

    It was now over 11% ABV!


    It was a bit special. Dark, slight roast but masses of dark fruit.

    It was reminiscent of Pedro Ximinez Sherry so it was named PX Approximation for the Expo.

    It had some good reviews (we put the beers on unTapped for “honest” feedback.)

    And it still carries on… on oak!

    After the Expo, there was 5 litres left. I also had 5 litres of an English Porter left over from kegging and blended the two together. This time I put medium toasted American oak chips in it.

    It’s kegged now and carbonating, but wow, the oak combined with the richness and fruit really works.

    Now if only I could properly barrel age it?!


    Use fruit in ageing big beers. The alcohol keeps the nasties away and it really delivers.

    Blend finished beers more.

    Chuck oak at things.

    But keep them within similar styles, colours, hopping etc.

    Saufbruder and a home brew expo

    Since I visited Munich a few years ago I fell into German beers in a big way. Whilst there is no denying that I enjoy hoppy, bitter, juicy and dank beers to be found from some of the best craft breweries – there is something about German beers that I keep coming back to time and again as both a home brewer and consumer of commercial beers.

    I like to think that centuries of brewing tradition – albeit to what can seem a relatively limited “palette” of pale, low hopped lagers – has every right to be considered a crafted product as the more boundary pushing beers brewed by the new wave of breweries.

    I have done a few iterations of Munich Helles a few Kellerbiers and a Dunkle. The lighter styles are probably my house or stock beer and have been a useful yardstick for checking whether my process and procedures are working and dialled in since they do show up any flaws easily.

    So in June I put my Munich kellerbier into the Manchester Beer Week Home Brew Expo held at Beer Nouveau to get some unbiased feedback.

    I named it saufbruder: drinking buddy or companion in German and dispensed it from keg. I had some good feedback and had a great time. Whilst I didn’t come tops in the competition by any stretch, I had brewed a well received lager it seems.

    So I have a few pointers which have worked out well for me (there may be an element of superstition rather than sound science in some of these):

    • Gone in 60 minutes?

    DMS precursor is produced during the boil and is particularly present in pilsner malts. It can however be driven off with a vigorous and lengthy boil so I err on the side of caution and go for a 90 minute boil with the lid off as much as possible to vent it off. I haven’t found any particularly corny flavour in my beers which is the flavour associated with DMS, so it’s hopefully lacking in my beers.

    • Make a starter

    Lagers need a good healthy pitch of yeast and a starter helps produce the right yeast cell count to prevent off flavours from stressed yeast or yeast that is having to reproduce rather than consume the sugars to attenuate the beer. I find a 2 litre starter from a liquid yeast pack works well and I normally just add this after a gentle rouse to the cooled wort. It is really quick to produce a krausen and is always well under way within a few hours of pitching.

    I use the Southern German Lager WLP838 from White Labs which is a very good vigorous fermentor and seems to produce quite a lot of sulphur during fermentation and this doesn’t carry through into the finished beer it seems.

    I’ve also reused this about 4 times from each batch, keeping it in the fridge and repitching after reactivating with each starter and it has been robust enough to kick start every time even after a few months in the fridge.

    • Can you cold ferment?

    I am lucky to have a cellar, where I can get low temps in winter for my lagers, but don’t let a lack of cold conditioning space put you off. I have a Munich helles and an IPA both fermenting at the moment and both are quite happy with about 16 to 18 C in the cellar at the moment. I have not noticed any sulphur or esters or phenols with my summer or slightly warmer fermented lagers. There were no complaints of this from tasters at the Manchester Beer Week home brew expo who tried my kellerbier (or at least were too polite to mention them!?) so I can only fairly assume that I am getting a clean fermentation even if a bit warmer.

    I do raise the temperature a little by using a heat pad or brew belt near the very end of fermentation when it is close to reaching the final gravity which is supposed to encourage the yeast to consume any unwanted byproducts that cause off flavours.

    • Do you have to lager or have access to cold conditioning?

    Well in the main yes, If you want to brew a lager. That is what lagering is after all: cold conditioning. It drops the relatively slow flocculating yeast out of suspension and conditions and smooths the flavours in the beer. It is preferable to lager in bulk rather than in each bottle but only from the perspective of reducing the amount of yeast carried over before bottling. I have lagered in 6 litre Demijohns in a small fridge with good results, but this was a faff at bottling. Outside of winter I have managed perfectly well with the fermentor sat in an ice bath of ice blocks to cool it to help drop the yeast out, and time also helps.

    On the other hand I find that kellerbiers are a great way to make a lager with limited or no access to cold conditioning. They are traditionally served young or ‘green’ and it’s acceptable for them to be cloudier with yeast in suspension (but not as much as a wheat beer say). This is also one of my favourite styles and there is something I think that is added by the unfiltered yeast that a regular lager lacks.

    So in reality don’t let the lack of a fermentation chamber put you off brewing a lager. Time and relatively unsophisticated methods of reducing the temperature can work very well.

    • So what’s craft about German lager?

    Without getting too proscriptive about what a craft beer is / isn’t or should / shouldn’t be, part of what I think makes a craft beer is ingredients: their quality and source; and integrity of process.

    I try to source quality ingredients for the malt and hops and try to source German ingredients where possible. Quality in should really equal quality out. Process and attention to detail also count towards the finished product. A rushed lager shows I think in the end result and integrity of process counts a lot.

    These apply equally to the brewer of an ultra juicy DIPA as it does a malty crisp refreshing helles lager with a balance of hop bitterness and flavour.

    Comments that I had at the home brew expo were to the gist of “I could drink that all day” or “I can imaging drinking that in the garden on a hot day”.

    If your beer is envisaged in a biergarten then I think you’ve hit the right note somewhere in your process.

    Oatmeal Stout: an experiment on fruit 3 ways.

    Last year I brewed an oatmeal stout after visiting Wylam Brewery and their tap room just before they had moved production there.

    One of the beers available to try as part of the tour was a NZ oatmeal Pale: All Gone South. This had a massive amount of New Zealand hop aroma and flavour against the mouthfeel of the oats and was really unexpected – a bit like the sensory shock that a Black IPA provides.

    What was really surprising was that they used a huge 30% of 2-3 types of oats in their grain bill. Normally this proportion of oats can lead to a stuck mash and lautering problems, but thanks to their then shiny new kit they had a way of using such a high amount of hops in this beer without encountering these problems.

    In getting home, I thought I would try a brew day with more than 10% oats in the grain bill. As I’d did not have any New Zealand hops available I thought I would try an oatmeal stout recipe and experiment with adding fruit after primary fermentation.

    I was  able to do this in my kitchen / stove top set up to split the finished beer after fermentation between 2 different fruits, and keep 1 as the control.

    Oatmeal Stout Recipe:

    Type: All Grain
    Batch Size: 14.00 l
    Boil Size: 16.47 l
    Boil Time: 60 min
    End of Boil Vol: 14.58 l
    Final Bottling Vol: 13.00 l
    Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage

    Efficiency: 72.00 %
    Est Mash Efficiency: 72.0 %

    Prepare for Brewing

    • Total Water Needed: 22.63 l

    Mash or Steep Grains

    Mash Ingredients
    Amt Name Type # %/IBU
    3.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (4.5 EBC) Grain 1 69.8 %
    0.45 kg Oats, Flaked (2.0 EBC) Grain 2 10.5 %
    0.25 kg Roasted Barley (1100.0 EBC) Grain 3 5.8 %
    0.15 kg Chocolate Malt (940.0 EBC) Grain 4 3.5 %
    0.15 kg Special B Malt (300.0 EBC) Grain 5 3.5 %
    0.15 kg Wheat, Torrified (3.3 EBC) Grain 6 3.5 %
    Mash Steps
    Name Description Step Temp Step Time
    Mash In Add 12.82 l of water at 74.6 C 68.9 C 45 min
    • Estimated pre-boil gravity is 1.059 SG
    Boil Ingredients
    Amt Name Type # %/IBU
    0.10 kg Brown Sugar, Dark (98.5 EBC) Sugar 7 2.3 %
    0.05 kg Dememera Sugar (3.9 EBC) Sugar 8 1.2 %
    15.00 g Target [9.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 9 21.7 IBUs
    0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 10
    15.00 g Bramling Cross [6.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 11 6.8 IBUs
    15.00 g Fuggles [3.90 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 12 4.4 IBUs
    Steeped Hops
    Amt Name Type # %/IBU
    15.00 g Bramling Cross [6.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 10.0 min Hop 13 2.5 IBUs
    15.00 g Fuggles [3.90 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 10.0 min Hop 14 1.6 IBUs
    • Estimated Post Boil Vol: 14.58 l and Est Post Boil Gravity: 1.069 SG

    Cool and Transfer Wort

    • Cool wort to fermentation temperature
    • Transfer wort to fermenter

    Pitch Yeast and Measure Gravity and Volume

    Fermentation Ingredients
    Amt Name Type # %/IBU
    1.0 pkg British Ale (White Labs #WLP005) [35.49 ml]


    I couldn’t quite bring myself to go the whole 30% with the oats, but the mash tun worked well and I throttled back when draining the wort to prevent a stuck mash.

    I also used a half fly / batch sparge method rather than a classic batch sparge. Placing a folded up piece of tin foil on the top of the grain bed stopped it getting disturbed and worked really well as the sparge water was slowly poured onto the top. This might have helped prevent a stuck sparge coupled with the very slow run off rate I adopted.

    The boil was fairly uneventful and I used some of the hot wort to dissolve the sugar addition near the end to ensure none was scorched on the bottom of the kettle.

    After cooling with the homemade immersion chiller, it was fermented using WLP005 – British Ale yeast and the real fun came after primary fermentation was completed and it was time to split it and put in on fruit.

    I decided to split the finished batch into thirds (of roughly 5 litres each), and put 1/3 on  300g cherries, 1/3 on 300g dates and leave the remaining third as the base beer.

    The Cherries were fresh which I just halved and left the stones in. The Dates were Medjool Dates but were halved and pitted. In hindsight, I would probably quarter the dates as they were very difficult to extract from the demijohn later.

    I calculated the base beer came to 6.69% ABV without the fruit – which might have added a couple of extra gravity points in each case.

    After 2 or 3 weeks on the fruit in demijohns, there was very little sign of any secondary formation, and it looked / felt like it was time to bottle the experiment.

    Unfortunately I didn’t check the FG for the version racked onto the dates before adding the priming sugar – and those bottles had far too much sugar left in which led to over carbonation. They were the most “lively” of the types of oatmeal stout but this one was the tastiest of the three.

    Tasting Notes:

    The base Oatmeal stout was good, and had a good well rounded flavour and silky mouthfeel thanks to the oats. There was no astringency and the hops were present in flavour and aroma (a slight blackberry note which I sometimes get from the Bramling Cross) but it was not too bitter. I queried vanilla(?) chocolate(?) and even treacle(?) the last 2 of which I put down to the dark sugars used.

    I thought it was slightly oxidised since it was left in the original fermenting bucket with masses of headspace whilst the other two rested on the fruit. If I had a third demijohn to hand I should have put it into secondary to keep the oxygen to a minimum

    The Date Oatmeal stout had a rich Christmas / fruit cake quality to them which went really well. The over carbonation caused a lot of yeast to be kicked up when pouring, but didn’t overly harm the flavour.

    The Cherry Oatmeal stout had a dry, slightly tart (fruit – rather than sour) flavour which was noticeable as cherry, but not as good as the Date version. I wonder if some chocolate nibs and more cherries might have made it into a better beer (black forest stout anyone)?


    Some comments from a comparison taste of the three beers at the Chorlton Homebrewers group were that the version put on Dates was the better version despite the (massive) over carbonation (it may have hit the ceiling).  It had roasty, caramel and fruity flavours – and it would be an ideal after dinner sort of beer given the fruit flavour, mouthfeel and residual sweetness (although that wasn’t planned).

    It has put me in mind of making it again but with the addition of some other fruits from fruit cake on a slightly bigger version for Christmas as I find spiced beers to be a taste I haven’t really acquired.

    In summary, the demijohns worked really well and it is a great way to experiment with different yeasts using the same worts, or using post fermentation additions for a little extra work.

    That was quite the break

    I have been away from blogging for a while, but thought that now would be a good time to get back into the habit – start of a New Year and all that.

    It might be best to summarise what has been going on over the last few months and pick up from there:


    Growing Hops

    My last post was just before the hop harvest and I was very pleasantly surprised by the quantity of hops I got from the one Hallertauer plant that survived (the First Gold didn’t make it).

    The first years growth is really only to build up the roots for the second and third year, when the plant should be at its most productive, and anything you get in year one is a bonus.

    However, the photos from the summer showed just how much growth it put on in the one season and I really could not strip every cone from the plant at harvest – a lot went to waste (insert crying emoji here).


    I plan on going to the allotment to tidy things up and take the bines and coir down and weed a bit to get ready for spring. I also think the supports need an upgrade to improve the way the Hops train across, but otherwise, I’m very happy with the set up.

    Fingers crossed it makes it through the winter and there are plenty of hops for next year. I really have more than I can cope with / store, so next year I may put the call out to any of the excellent breweries in Manchester to see if they want to do a brew with Manchester home-grown green hops! Place your hop contract orders here for Hop Harvest 2017!


    Kit Upgrade

    As shown in the odd post on twitter, I’ve upgraded my kit and taken the Brewhouse down into the cellar on a permanent basis.


    I now have a 50ltr boil kettle with an electric element to supplement the 30ltr cooler mash tun I already had when boiling on the kitchen stove top. All courtesy of the folks at BrewBuilder – they had some very nice kit and I can’t fault the quality of their stuff.

    The elements take a bit of time to get up to a boil, but they are “kettle” type elements and it is quite a lot of liquid to heat – but it so much easier than gas on the hob and much cleaner.

    I also invested in a plate chiller and cooling from just off the boil to pitching temperature now only takes about 15 minutes which makes a massive difference to the length of a brew day.


    I also re-purposed my old boil kettle and retro fitted that with an electric element and tap from the DIY store as a hot water vessel using Q-Max cutters. In time, I have the fittings for a sight glass and temperature dial.

    I’m also looking to start kegging with CO2 in the very near future to improve carbonation of my beer and ease of dispense. The pressure barrel is just too hit and miss with secondary fermentation and I have been finding bottle priming also a lottery at the moment.


    Beer Festivals

    Last year was a good year for beer festivals. I managed to do the Chorlton Beer Festival and IndyManBeerCon.

    Last week I also managed to squeeze in the Manchester CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival in (now) Manchester Central (then: G-Mex / Central Station).

    “I’ll start at the breweries at Z and you start at A, and we’ll meet in the middle”



    I think I may kick off the new blogging round with a brief review of the MBCF17 festival.


    Chorlton Homebrewers Group

    Also on the home brewing front – the Chorlton Homebrewers group meetings on the First Tuesday in the month have been a great help in trying new styles, learning a lot from others and how they go about things.

    There have been some great beers to try – particularly things that are a bit outside of my comfort zone (sours, wood aging, etc.) and there is always a new angle to discuss on brewing beer


    Let’s have a heated Twitter debate

    Twitter has been a great source of debate and in raising the profile for beer in the last 12 months.

    It’s also directed me to some excellent beer related content such as blogs and podcasts and I think it might be worth a write up of what I enjoy listening to and reading what others create.



    All in all it’s been quite a year and hopefully, if I can get round to posting about it, this next year will be even better.


    Harvesting Hops 

    It’s nearly harvest time and the hop cones are getting papery and yellow with lupulin.

    I’m really chuffed with how well the Hallertauer has grown for its first year. I’ll definitely have enough for a brew day (either green hopped or I may try to dry some).

    I’ve tried 10 cones in a hop tea leaving them steep for an hour or so and they had a pleasant bitterness. They had a grassy edge to them but that might be their “green” edge coming through. I’d be interested to see if they had any more “spicy” flavour if dried.

    I have an idea in mind for drying, but I need a few days of dry, sunny weather to dry them out again before harvesting as we’ve had a spell of wet weather.

    Overall I’ve been very impressed with how well they’ve grown particularly for year 1. I think they will need some better supports for the coir like a telegraph pole set up to give them some space. The horizontal growth has been a success and as long as I trained any stragglers they had no problem with not growing up. One to think about it you may struggle putting up a 20 foot pole!

    If I decide to dry them I’ll post my attempts and what the results are.