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.


Mash Tun Envy

I caved in at last and went for a mash tun.

There were a number of factors in this decision:

  1. Every home brewer / hobbyist in general has a deep seated desire for new and better equipment;
  2. I was a bit tired of constantly watching the mash temperature on my BIAB set up which was, I suspect, affecting my efficiency;
  3. I could get the mashing done earlier in the day to cut down on late night brewing;
  4. Points 2 and 3 seemed like sufficient reasons to justify point 1 – therefore a considered purchase was in order.

I decided on a 30 litre cooler box set up. I could have made one yes, but I was paranoid about getting just the right cooler box and cutting a hole in it, and went for a pre-made one.


It is the BrewPaks Insulated 30 Litre Mash Tun and holds 10kg of grain. I did a few comparisons and this size worked well with the batches and recipes that I am likely to do for the foreseeable future. That is unless I go for a Barley Wine or Russian Imperial Stout or something – which I think is unlikely for the moment.

BIAB has been good so far, but it just didn’t quite seem to work right for me and my set up somehow. Don’t get me wrong, it works for some people and has been a great introduction (at least for me) to the whole process of All Grain brewing. But for my set up and trying to handle that amount of hot grain and draining it without making a right old mess – the mash tun option seemed the best place to go. What can I say, I got mash tun envy!

I’ll post about the first batch I brewed with this soon and there are a few tweaks that I could make to the design, but all in all, I’m really happy with the results so far.

Plus I got to brew with Munich Malt again.