Monthly Archives: April 2013

Whitbread Mackeson Clone – Bottle Day

Well after 2 weeks sat in the primary, the beer was bottled yesterday. I’d love to say it went flawlessly… but that’d be a lie.

This whole brewing process could’ve gone smoother this time around if I’m honest – quite a few things have not gone according to plan. So if the end product ends up tasting a bit off, it will be hard to narrow down why!


Sanitising Home Brew Bottles

The Beer Bottle Tree

On the plus side, I got to use my new bottle draining tree contraption today, which was kind of fun for the first few minutes.

I’d forgotten how tedious it can be sterilising bottles, but at least thanks to the tree I could get them all sorted in a one-er – in the past I had to steralise and rinse in batches as room is not in abundance in our humble abode.The Bottles

Found out something quite fun(!) halfway through the process, some of the bottles I had saved for home brew just were not compatible with my capper. I believe that it must be something to do with the width of the bottle neck, but certain styles just did not work.

Thankfully I had only filled one such bottle up when this became clear… there is a series of number running around the base of most the bottles and – I’ll need to look into this in more detail – I think using these numbers I can tell in the future what shop-bought beer bottles I can reuse.

Silly Errors

Right from the start I could tell it wasn’t going to be my day – despite my bottling soundtrack coming courtesy of the brilliant Creedance Clearwater Revival.

I’m not sure if it was because I only had 15 litres of beer, but the pump action on my siphoning tube just did not get the flow going. I tried for about two minutes, perhaps more vigorously than I should have and thus kicked up some of the yeast cake at the bottom.

Due to this, I siphoned some of the beer at the start into a glass – to catch the unwanted cack.

A couple of spills and bottle issues later, the majority of the beer was safely stored in the bottles. With just a litre of two left I made my second stupid mistake. I slightly tipped the fermentor to one side – placing a hair gel pot underneath the bin to keep the level askew.

In my mind I thought that this would be a good way to get as much beer out of the fermentation bucket as possible… instead it just dislodged a few hearty chunks of yeast cake. So the last three bottles have caps marked with ‘S’ for sediment (see them there in the bottom right of the image).

These bottles will need to be poured carefully… and probably only once the rest have been consumed.

26 Bottles of Home Brew Beer

26 Bottles of Home Brew Beer


Now all that is left to do is wait for the beer to mature. I had a blip with the temperature back when the beer was fermenting (it got WAY too high) so I am a bit dubious as to how the batch will turn out. It did go from a O.G. of 1.042 to a F.G. of 1.010 though, so at least I didn’t kill the yeast (rhyme).

My plan is to leave the bottles at least a month before I give them a test – giving the flavour and components a good chance to mellow out.

As for now, I’ll need to start planning what I want to do next. Seen as we’ve had an unprecedented 3-4 days of sun up here in Penicuik I am leaning towards trying an IPA next. Something nice to sup whilst sat out in the garden…

Categories: Extract Brewing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Growing my own hops

For the last couple of months I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to grow my own hops. Around the back of our flat we own a “garden” type area – patio and vegetable patch – but it isn’t big enough to grow the plant on a big scale.

Despite the lack of space I’ve decided to give it a bash and ordered a Fuggle hop plant from

I’m under no illusion in regards to how much I will get from the plant, it is just the one sitting in a pot, but I’m treating this as an experiment for the future when we own a house and more importantly (as far as the hops are concerned) a bigger garden.

Plus, who knows, maybe I’ll get enough flowers each year for at least one brew… maybe more.

At this point I really have no idea, but I can’t shake the idea of how great it would be to brew a batch of beer with hops from my own garden.

Hoppity Hop

On the topic of hops, here’s a couple of facts I read today whilst surfing the net – hops are related to hemp and can help you sleep when stuffed in a pillow. Every day’s a school day.

So far it just looks like a large pot with soil in it, so it is not really worth a photo yet. As the plant grows (fingers crossed it grows) I’ll put a couple of images up.

Right… time for me to hop off – ahhhh, see what I did there? You did? Oh, you didn’t think it was funny. Fair play.

Categories: Beer Ingredients | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Extract Brew 2: Whitbread Mackeson Clone

Brewing Beers Like Those You BuyAs I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the first person to inspire me to attempt home brewing was my Granddad. With a plan to spend 2013 (and beyond) expanding my knowledge on brewing beer and at the same time concocting beers from more than just a kit, I was left with the problem of deciding what recipes to try.

It wasn’t until after I completed my first extract brew – a Fuller’s ESB clone that worked out quite well – that the answer occurred to me.

In the copy of David Line’s Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy – which had previously belonged to my Granddad – there are a number of beer recipes highlighted.

So there it was right in front of me, a path to follow – brew the beers that my Granddad made. I’m not doing them in any particular order, if I fancy trying a certain style I will go through the book and dig out a beer he tried.

Its my way of following in his footsteps, tasting the beers he tasted – that sort of thing.

Brew Day #2

Anyway… yesterday (07/04/2013) I brewed a Whitbread Mackeson Clone. One of the main lessons I’ve taken away from the day is that hangovers and brewing are not an ideal match. However, I soldiered through and was fairly happy with the day.


The Recipe


  • Dark Malt Extract
  • Chocolate Malt
  • Soft Dark Brown Sugar The recipe called for this, but poor planning meant I only had brewing sugar to hand – so this was used instead
  • Brewer’s caramel
  • Fuggles Hops
  • Northern Brewer Hops Another substitute, I used Columbus hops in place of these
  • Yeast – I used Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale Yeast

Boil time: 45 minutes (with 5 minute rest at the end)

OG: 1.042 (wort temp was 20.6C)

Anomalies/cock ups: There is some excess barley and/or hops in the fermenting bin. How did this happen? Well, I added the wort chiller into the boiler around 10mins before it was set to end – I have read online that this a way of sanitising it.

However, after I transferred the contents of the boiler to the fermentor – catching the hops and grain in a muslin bag – I plonked in the wort chiller without thinking. It turned out that several piece of brewing debris were clinging onto the chiller and are now in the beer. Live and learn.

What Happens Next

IMG_20130407_165615[1]Once the beer has finished fermenting, I’m planning to bottle it. As much fun as it was drinking 40-odd pints in one weekend last time, the advantages and longer shelf life of bottling a home brew seems the way to go for now – if only as a favour to my liver.


Categories: Extract Brewing | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Scary Beer Eating Monsters

I always knew – to an extent – that there were some big players behind the scenes of the mass-produced beer word.

However, today, when casually surfing through some beer blogs (the path started over at The Beers are a Changin’ – perhaps one of my favourite titles ever for a beer blog) in my lunch hour my jaw dropped when I was led to a different site with an amazing visual representation of the scale of beer brand ownership throughout the world.

Kind of twists the stomach to even think about it. To be honest I can’t do it credit by mere summing up, so here it is (sourced from – go there to read the article – it is eye-opening) :


Source: Planet Money Reporting, Credit: Caitlin Kenney and Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

All that owned by 2 companies – scary, huh?

In less terrifying news, I’ve got a brew day planned this week. Fight the power n’ all that 🙂

Categories: Beer Industry | Tags: | Leave a comment

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