Stratford Alehouse

In Stratford upon Avon this weekend. Went to the Stratford Alehouse a micropub in a former health food shop. The owner Bob keeps a very very good pint, poured straight from the cask. I had a pint of Stratford Upon Avon Brewery’s Immortal (in fact I had two) and it’s probably the best pint I have had this year. Cool,  crisp, clear and well hopped. TLA had a mild and a summer beer. Can’t remember where they were from but they were great too.

Can’t recommend this micropub highly enough. The beer quality is fantastic, friendly atmosphere and  it’s only 100 metres from the market place. I wish it was in my village.

Riptide Revisited

Shouldn’t have worried about the yeast. Took off like a rocket and the majority of the fermenting done in 5 days. If this is how the yeast normally reacts I might start to brew with it more often. I may need to decorate the kitchen as a result of this fermentation it was so active.

I got a Blichmann Beergun for my birthday so will probably bottle this and leave one or two hidden in a dark cupboard for a few months. It smells fantastic.

DIY DOG 4 Riptide

In a break from the long established tradition (well, in the previous posting) I am brewing solo today. A spur of the moment decision to brew as TLA has gone to rescue some bees and our youngest is stable and wanting independence.

The original Brewdog , Bracken, is cited as the inspiration for Riptide ‘a big chocolaty monster’ of a stout.A complex mix of specialty malts including several darker varieties, this is an 8% beer which requires a lot of grist. So I have cut the brewlength down to around 5 litres and am using a 2.5 gallon corny keg. This recipe uses Wyeast 1272, which is out of stock in the UK so I am using WLP051 Californian V. I have never used this yeast before made up a starter yesterday just in case.

Riptide recipe

The brew was interesting. I got several Fatal Error messages and had to restart each time. The OG/SG measured at 1.025. The recipe required 1.083. I’ve only ever been a few points off before, even doing some fairly imaginative things with the big setup. I tested the refractometer with distilled water and it came out at 1.000. Temperature was 21C so this was not a temperature related issue. Doug at Picobrew is taking a look at what I did (water manipulation, grist size etc).

BrewSmith came to the rescue and I calculated the liquid malt addition required and pitched the yeast. I love that program. I will probably go back and run this beer again at some point.

The next brew will be the Pico Pale to test machine and process before heading back to the list for number 5!

DIY DOG #3 Physics

The third beer in the series is Physics. This is the beer that eventually morphed into 5am Saint, which together with Punk IPA, was my gateway Brewdog beer. I am using the Zymatic again and the recipe reformulated for the smaller brewlength looks like this:


It was only when I started looking at these recipes that I saw how high the percentage of speciality grains in some Brewdog beers is. The mash time is 75 minutes (single step infusion 65C , 149F) with a 60 minute boil time.

I thought that I would start to invite people to brew with me to help me get through the list. My brewing companion for this session is David. I met David through our respective partners. Mine, TLA, became a beekeeper last year and David’s wife Anne was her mentor. Before retirement David was a flight engineer and then pilot for various companies including East African Airlines and British Aerospace (or at least the precursors of both). He has been a beekeeper since he was a teenager and loves tinkering with anything mechanical or electrical. He is learning about the Internet and this is the first blog he has seen. I explain that there are quality blogs too.

David regularly brews with extract kits, most often a hoppier than usual UK style Bitter but also an Amber beer.


He has some unique equipment bought years ago from Boots (a leading UK Pharmacy if you are not familiar with it) which is no longer available but has similarities to some of the modern US made fermentation vessels. He let’s his beer get to 1.010  and then puts it into pins, which he can push CO2 through as the beer volume declines.

We stop chatting and start to brew. I resolved some earlier issues with the Zymatic and we loaded up the grist and hops, filled the keg with treated water, made the connections and pressed the button. I’d gone through the process slowly with David explaining how the Z worked but less than an hour after he arrived mashing was underway. I was quite impressed but his opinion was it was a lot of mucking around compared to his normal brewing regime.

As the four of us eat an Italian inspired meal the Zymatic does it’s stuff.


David and Anne leave about 15 minutes after the brew completes. I get to clean up. I pitch the yeast, using the newly package White Labs yeast and head to bed. Three down , 212 to go.


Sh*t Happens

The hiatus in posting was due to our daughter’s drug resistant epilepsy going through a particularly difficult phase. She’s had several weeks of very frequent and intense seizures which has required constant attention. It was one of the reasons that I got the Zymatic. It enabled me to brew without spending all day on it. Back to the 215 brews…

Micropub Crawl

I was shown this blog ( ) by a friend. He had attended a talk in London by the author, Richard, who is cycling between micropubs to raise money for charity. I am posting the link to his blog as it contains a list of the micropubs he has visited but it’s worth a read for the general content too.

There’s a few here that I intend to visit including the one in Hereford (where my in-laws live) and I’ll certainly drop into others if I am in the area. I  am amazed by the large number in Kent. I am not sure if this is a reflection of Richard’s knowledge of that area or if Kent is a focus for small bars. Wonder if I should convert the garden shed into pub…

DIY DOG Beers #1 through #10

While waiting for the delivery of some more equipment to allow concurrent brews I  thought I’d tabulate the grist and hop bills for the first 10 beers. If you are thinking of brewing them all this might help when ordering the ingredients. There is an issue with beer #9 which has a published IBU of 65 but the hop bill provides and IBU around 5. I have contacted Brewdog to try to get a correction. If I hear nothing I will assume the quantities are the problem and multiply them until 65 IBU is reached.

The equipment has arrived (speedy service Picobrew!) so I will brew the Physic at the weekend.


One down, 214 to go.

Each journey starts with a single step filter to paraphrase Lao Tzu. With a commitment to brew all 215 of the DIY DOG beers and a week of frustration and delay over I was keen to get started. My internet, Zymatic and I decided to bury our differences and converse with each other on Saturday and so I prepared for my first Zymatic brew on Sunday.

However I was The Responsible Adult on Sunday morning as TLA was marshalling at a local charity run. This is a situation where the course of brewing does not always run smooth. Our youngest has complex medical needs and requires frequent monitoring/supervision and occasional help. How easy would the Zymatic be to brew with for a  UK Male with an aversion to reading instructions and an inability to multi-task? I needn’t have worried. The manual is short and organised by topic and in a step wise fashion. Annie’s videos are short and with that laid back style that convinces you that it will be ok.

I had rinsed the Zymatic and measured ingredients the night before, so simply loaded the step filter with the grain, filled the hop containers, measured and treated the water. I then fitted the keg seal and foam trap and connected the keg to the Zymatic. Elapsed time maybe 20 minutes. This included frequent referrals to manual.

Starting the brew was as simple as dialing the brew option , locating the recipe and hitting the button. The Zymatic whirred and then the liquor started pumping. Now what? Having never used an automatic system before I was left to stare at the tiny screen. I really liked the facility to monitor the brew online. That made up for the complete lack of things to do during the brew itself.


I started the process around 11am and by three had completed and cleaned everything. I was impressed by the quality of the kit, the ease of use and the lack of disruption to the household. There will be days when the sun is shining and I have the time when I will break out the big kit and brew a barrel of beer. In fact I have committed to brew a beer for a friend’s 50th this year and he’ll need a firkin or two for that. However I do wonder how much I will use the small stovetop pot system in future. We’ll see. Maybe when I run out of kegs. Or making cider or mead.

So that’s one down and 214 to go. I will not deal with the mechanics of brewing on the Zymatic so much in the future but I am impressed by the equipment, the PicoBrew team and the Facebook Group who are interested and engaged.  I couldn’t fault any interaction with anyone connected with Picobrew in any way. Thanks (non-gender specific) guys! Incidentally Denny Conn, who pointed out a schoolboy error in one of my posts, is a active member of the Facebook group. If you are not already doing so I would recommend subscribing to Denny and Drew’s Experimental Brewing Podcast. It’s interesting and informative and has given me a lot of ideas.

Now off to prepare for #2 , the retail version of Punk IPA , and #3 , The Physics, the amber ale which was the forerunner of 5AM Saint.

Good Customer Service


Well the glowing praise heaped on PicoBrew for their customer service is well deserved. The support team got back to me with a solution very quickly. It worked. I am now connected. I can brew, at least I can after reading the rest of the manual, watching the video and running the rinse cycle.

My youngest is convinced that I have bought a new microwave and I think If I was building the kitchen again , I might go for a built in solution.