Thursday, February 11, 2016


Original text:

Take thirty six Gallons of fountain water (first boiled, &c.) and dissolve twelve Gallons of Honey in it. Keep them boiling an hour and a half after they begin to boil, skimming well all the while. It will be an hour upon the fire before it boil. When it is clear and enough boiled, pour it out into woodden vessels to cool. When you are ready to Tun it, have four Gallons of Black-currants, bruise them in a stone mortar, that they may the more easily part with their juyce to the Liquor. Put them and their juyce into the barrel, and pour the cool Liquor upon them, so as the vessel be quite full. Cover the bung with a plate of lead lying loose on, that the working of the Liquor may lift it up, as it needeth to cast out the filth. And still as it worketh over, fill it up with fresh Liquor, made in the same proportion of honey and water. A moneth after it works no longer, stop up the bung very close.


I only 2 Litres of bush honey left. It was quite waxy so first I had to de-wax it. I heated it up with 2L of water to melt both honey and wax. I then rapidly cooled it by putting the pot in cold water and adding 4 more L of water. I was now at the total volume of water and honey. As expected, the wax coagulated quickly and floated to the surface. I skimmed most of it and then used a very fine cheese cloth and a sieve to filter the last of the wax.
The picture below shows the wax floating.


As I already pre-boiled it and already remove a lot of impurities, the boil stopped producing "gunk" on top so after 1 hour of boiling I stopped. I cooled it and added the black currants. Even though we had 30 degrees Celsius I had to close the windows and doors. Wasps and bees thought it smelt wonderful...
The picture belows shows the color of it.

Final gravity shows 1090. I added about 30gr of fresh baking yeast.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hops, with focus age

This post is a living document. I'm focusing on tracking down as many old hop types as possible with focus on age rather than quality. I'm not sure if I will be able to get DNA for various hops but I will try. The ideal would be to get help to identify exactly what hops they found in the viking excavation in Birka.


Do you have a copy you can share? If you do have any source material about old hops (pre 1800) please contact me and share your sources.

  • Marshall's 1798 review of hop varieties (I don't have a copy but need one...)
  • ???


The list below is listing the year, based on the date it was mentioned in documentation. I.e. it is probably a bit older as it was in use when documented.

Name, Year, Alpha acids, Source

Apple Puddings, unknown, unknown, mentioned by Marshall 1798
Canterbury Golding, 1790?, unknown, Unsure
East Kent Golding, 1700, unsure, unsure
Farnham Whitebine, 1720 ish, unsure, unsure
Flemish Redbine, 17??, unsure, unsure
Fuggle, 18??, unsure, unsure
Golding, 17??, unsure, unsure
Late Ripe Redbine, 17??, unsure, unsure
Ruffler(s), 17??, unsure, unsure

Some info from:

Monday, January 25, 2016


What yeast to use?
I've done a lot of research and testing with yeasts. In the medieval times, it was common for the bakery and brewery to be neighbors as they shared the yeast.

I did a blind test. One beer batch that I split across 5 different fermentation vessels. I used a couple of different ale yeast, pilsner yeast, wine yeast and modern baking yeast. After bottling and maturing, I invited a few friends over for a blind tasting session. The focus and judging was primarily on, color, clarity, bubble size, amount of bubbles, head, yeast residue and flavor. The over all winner was baking yeast. In fact, baking yeast won ALL categories!

Guess what I primarily use... Apart from Beer, I now also use baking yeast for cider and mead. mmmmm

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bad season

2010 was a bad season for growing. The hop plants did grow well, but did not give me any hops. :( This winter I may relocate the plants into fresh soil and make a new tower arrangement.

Apart from finishing off a new batch of beer and mead this weekend I will do some more research about malting. I now have enough sprouting barley so I can start play with malting. I'm off to EU next week and will try to find out a little more about how malting and curing was done during the medieval time...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Threshing the barley

Cutting or picking the barely is the easy part. Threshing (extracting the grain from the husks) is the really hard part. As the weather is still really crap, we have to work inside (my father-in-law is helping me). It is quite messy and dusty. As picking the grains out one by one manually takes a long time, I decided to try the medieval way of hitting the husks. I used my nunchucks as that is what they initially were used for.

To minimise the mess, I wrapped some of the husks in a towel.

As I was working on the table, I could not hit with the nunchucks as they were designed to be used. But hitting with both sticks still worked really well.

It did not take much work to get a the majority of grains to fall off the husks.

I removed all the main rubbish and put the rest in a bowl. Removing the chaff was easy. I went outside in a rain break and started to throw the contents of my bowl carefully into the air at the same time as I blew on it, then catching the grains in the bowl again. It only took a few turns to remove more or less all the rubbish.

The end result was nice and mostly clean grains.

All in all, I managed to get about a kilo of grains. Not much to brew on but I hope to be able to make a 5 litre batch from it.

Next will be the malting... Watch this space.

Barley harvest time

Last year, I converted a bit or our lawn to a mini field and planted Barley. Even though the weather have been really bad, cold and wet, I did get enough to make it worth harvesting.

Ready to harvest.

Even though six-row barley produces more grain I planted two-row barley. Two-row barley have lower protein levels than six-row barley. As a result of this, two-row barley is better suited for malting and fermenting.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Growing hops

Last year I planted 4 hops plants. This year, I have planted 4 more. They are growing well, even though we recently had 2 frost nights. Hopefully, I will get a little hops this year so I can make a small batch with home grown hops. Unfortunately, the shop did not know what kind of hops it is. I just have to wait and see the flowers...
Below is a picture of my hops tower.

The picture below shows one of my 1 year old hops plants.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New projects on the go.

I now have several new projects on the go. Apart from some Barons Bite, honey beer and some quick mead for Darton anniversary I have some bigger projects on the go. Over the weekend I extended our vegy garden. I also took the time to convert some of our back yard in to a barley field. I think it is just over 10 square meters. Should be enough to grow enough barley to make some malt and hopefully enough to make a small batch from scratch. And my hops plants will hopefully flower next summer. Fingers crossed, I will be able to do a small batch with every thing from the garden.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brewing handout

Time is flying. I've been doing some brewing but have been slack with updating my blog. At Canterbury Fair I ran a class in making real beer. The class notes can be downloaded from our website, .

Next week, the plan is to start playing with yeast. I will make one 20 litre batch of wort and split it in 4 different buckets and use 4 different yeasts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

All done, I think

Just finishing of the last of the Vodka, rum and booklet for the event.
I think it is all done and ready for the event.
This is the bear house may crown booklet.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Today I started the second to last item on the agenda for the Bear House before Crown. Distilling. I distilled about 4.7 litres of 90% (yes, a bit low) pure alcohol. But tomorrow I intend to do a second distilling. I checked some of the old alcohol I had and discovered that it was 90% pure as well. I thought it was 40%, ready to be carbon treated. So now I will have about 25 litres of 40% when done, instead of 10. However I will only bring about 10 litres as promised. I don't want to send 100 odd people to the hospital with acute alcohol poisoning... ;)
And yes, there will be a litre of salt licorice snaps, some brandy and a lot of vodka.
Below is a picture of the still doing its job.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bottling weekend

Last Friday, I bottled all the pilsner. It is quite hoppy and even though I normally don't like pilsner, I like it.
Yesterday, after making the honey beer, I bottled the second big beer batch.
Today, an 11 hour shift, I started at 7:30 am by making the second honey beer batch, followed with bottling of the second big beer batch. After lunch, Bernard came over and helped me with the remaining two batches, including the Baron's Bite that was ready for bottling already. I'm now down to 2 bins to skim rather than 10 odd bins every night.

Honey beer

Yesterday and today, I've made 50 litres of honey beer. A custom "order" from Lady Francesca here in Darton. It is quite quick and easy to make.

For a 25 liter batch:
Boil 83 g hops (5.6 %) in 8 litres of water for 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid through a fine cloth and stir in 2.5 Kg of honey.
Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Add to boiling bin and top it up with water to make 25 liter.
Add the juice from 4 large lemons.
When temperature is about 40 degree Celsius, add beer yeast (I'm using ale yeast).
Starting gravity, 1042.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Barons bite

After a few requests, and I've been told His Majesty like dark beer, I made a small batch of Barons Bite today.

2.1 Kg Pale malt
600g Crystal malt
100g Chock malt (black roasted)
57g hops.

As it is a small batch of beer I was unable to use the "micro" brewery. I had to do the mashing in a 10 litre brewing bin. I added my sliced hose to the outlet at the bottom of the bin and covered it with a cheese cloth. Filled the bin with the crushed malt (all of it) and topped it up with 75 degrees C water. After 30 minutes I stirred it to help with the separation of grain and husks. Another hour and a half later I started the extraction and striking. It worked very well.
Standard boil, 40 minutes with 75% of the hops, added Irish moss after another 5 minutes and then another 15 minute boil. I did the cooling by immersing the pots (I had to use two pots as there was more than 20 liter to start with) in cold flowing water in the sink.
I let it rest a few minutes to allow for some sedimentation and then filtered the brew through some cheese cloth. This time I used some of my "collected yeast" rather than new yeast.
End result, 19 litres of 1038.
It is already bubbling...

And yes, I have just skimmed 9 brewing buckets.

Next weekend I will have to bottle about 150 litres of beer and make the honey beer. As I promised at midwinter coronation I will also make about 10 litres of vodka and some salt licorice snaps. I have to get the wash on for that this week. Probably on Wednesday.

Skimming and skimming

Something I have not mentioned before.

Every day while it's fermenting the beer must be skimmed. Unlike a pilsner, ale is top fermented. There is a lot of foam and yeast (both dead and alive) floating on top of the brew. This MUST be removed every day as it can give the beer an unpleasant bytaste.
It can however be collected and reused. I've done that with one batch. Every time you skim the beer you put the scum in a clean jar and add some clean water before shaking it well. (Be mindful of pressure.)

After 24 hours pour out the liquid and you will find the yeast in the bottom. Add more water and shake (once again, be mindful of the pressure). You repeat this for a few days and you will soon have live and fresh yeast at the bottom of the jar. This can then be used for brewing or baking.

Ah yes, the pilsner. I don't really like making it. It is smelly and boring to make. Even though it is bottom fermented, it needs skimming the first few days until you have only small amounts of clean foam on top. Then you can let it be until bottling.


The first batch was ready to be bottled yesterday.

Normally you put aside a bit of mash before fermenting to provide extra fizz when you bottle - around 15% or so. As we are dealing with close to 300 litres of beer in total, 15% of that would be 45 litres of beer. There is no way I can fit those volumes in the fridge or freezer so I have to use sugar for the carbonizing. I use about 12g of sugar per 1.5 litres of beer. I boil the sugar with a little bit of water and some citric acid. For example, for 450g of sugar, I use about half a liter of water and a teaspoon of citric acid. It must boil for about 20 minutes to break down the sugar in order to improve the fermentation and make it as clean as possible. The formula I use is 30 ml of liquid per bottle (1.5 litres). As I was bottling 35 bottles, I topped up the sugar water to 1.05 litres of liquid. I then added 30ml to each bottle and filled them with the brew.

Last batch of Easter

Last Monday, Bernard and I did the last of the main batches for Crown.
(If you have no idea what Crown is or what the SCA is about, have a look at or where I hang out,

This batch was a "standard" Beer.
8.3 Kg pale malt
2.5 Kg Crystal malt
190 g hops (5.6%)

We used the chilly bin to do the mashing, we got about 64 litres of wash.
We did the standard boiling for 40 minutes with 75% of the hops and then added the remaining hops to the boil. After another 5 minutes, we added the Irish moss. 15 minutes later we turned off the power and let the brew rest for 30 minutes to let it settle and sediment (the hops, coagulated proteins and Irish moss sink to the bottom).
We then extracted the brew through the cooling system. And then it was just a matter of adding the ale yeast and clean up.
End result, 57 litres of 1042

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another day in the brewery

Today, Bernard helped me most of the day with the third big batch for May crown. First we did the grinding for the day's brewing and then we did the grinding for tomorrow's brewing (and some for a batch of Barons Bite).
I decided to make today's batch slightly different:
8.5 Kg or pale malt
3 Kg of crystal malt
191 Gr of Hops

We started of the mash with 30 litres of 75 degree Celsius water. After 30 min we stirred the mash to help the husks off the grain. After another hour and a half, we started the extraction. The extraction was much slower than normal. It was actually quite good as that gave us a chance to do proper striking (constantly addinh more 75 degrees hot water and let it slowly sink through the malt). The end result was a stunning 81 litres of 1035. After the wash started to boil, I added about 75% of the hops. After 40 minutes I added the remaining hops. After another 5 minutes I added 4 pinches of Irish moss. 15 minutes after that, I powered off the boiler. 30 minutes later, I started the cooling. I discarded the first litre or two as it contained a lot of hops and Irish moss. When the mash started to run clear, I began collecting into the fermentation bins. I got about 64 liter of clear 1042 brew before it started to get cloudy with hops in the brew.
I'm very pleased with today's brewing.

Friday, March 21, 2008


As I was crushing the malt this morning, I found a couple of cool grains.
No question about it being malt...

The mashing bin

Below is a picture of a very simple arrangement for mashing. I got a chilly bin (~55 Liter), some hose that I made lots of small cuts in and an old shower hose (just the metal, without the internal hose). I connected them together and then pushed the hose into the tap.

To improve the filtering a bit I cover the hose with a cheese cloth and weigh it all down with a small stainless grill (from the oven) . And then it is just a matter of adding malt and hot water.

The pilsner is bubling

Today I made the pilsner.
The first batch of pilsner I made (two weeks ago) was a waste. It was the first time I used the boiler and had forgotten all about school chemistry. As per normal, I added some citric acid to bring down the PH level. Did not really pay attention and managed to get copper oxide contamination in the pilsner. Mental note, when working with copper, DO NOT GO UNDER PH7 OR YOU WILL GET COPPER OXIDE IN YOUR BREW!!!! When I have recovered financially after this brewing madness, I will get a new hot wanter cylinder made of stainless steel.

And if poring out 60 liters of pilsner (using 10Kg of malt) was not bad enough, the pilsner malt I got from our organic supplier in the south island was crawling with weevils. 20 Kg of malt straight in the bin. A few people thought I should use it anyway as it would make "real" medieval beer. Thanks but no thanks... If I want extra protein, I prefer a nice steak. I managed to get another 10 Kg from my normal supplier in Auckland via express delivery before Easter, plus another Kg of hops.

Anyway, now when I know better and have "sealed" the copper by boiling water several times in it (before the first batch last week) as well as bug free malt, I finally made the pilsner.

The batch:
10Kg of pilsner malt
190 Gr of Hops (5.6%)

The mashing produced just over 60 Liter of 1038.
As it started to boil, I added about 75% of the hops.

After 45 minutes I added the rest of the hops and 4 pinches of Irish moss. (Trying out a suggestion to add some more hops 15 minutes before the end of the boil to give a bit more hop taste without the extra bitterness.)
After about 65 min of total boiling (gave it 5 min extra), I powered off and let the brew settle for 30 min before starting the cooling.
The end result was just under 50 liters of a nice and hoppy brew that I just had to add "Carlsberg" yeast to and it is now bubbling in the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

First batch for May crown

Last Sunday I did the first batch of beer for May crown. It is a nr "13" a variant of the popular 5.5. The batch was made from:
8.3 Kg Pale Malt
2.5 Kg Crystal Malt
185 Gr Hops (5.6% acid)

The first step is to grind all the malt. Bernard was not keen on grinding 70 Kg of malt so I purchased some attachments for our kitchen machine.

I forgot to take a picture before adding the malt to the chilly bin (eski if anyone from AU is reading ;) . In the bottom of the chilly bin is a hose that I have made a lot of small cuts in and to that I have connected an old shower hose without the internal. The hose is then connected to the tap on the chilly bin. This is to make it easier to separate the wash from the malt. Over the hose I put a piece of cheese cloth and a weight to keep it down. The 10 Kg and a bit of malt almost filled the bin when I had finished the grinding.

Once the grinding was done, I added 25 liter of 75 degrees Celsius water and stirred.
After 2 hours, I opened the tap and let the wash flow down in a barrel. I did this 3 times and got about 71 liter of 1030 wash. The wash was then put into the boiler and brought to a boil.

As soon as the boiling started, I added the hops. After 45 min I added some Irish moss to help with the coagulation of proteins (needed to make the beer clear). After another 15 min I turned off the power and let the wash rest for 30 minutes before starting the cooling.
As you can see in the picture below, one of the barrels is filling up.

The end result was 55 liters of 1041 that is now fermenting. I had a small sample today, so far so good.


The cooler system is in two steps. The first is a pre cooler. It is a 2.5 meter copper pipe surrounded by a large silicone hose. I'm flushing the hose with cold water.
In the picture below, you can see the gray water pipe from the boiler connected to the copper pipe. I have another hose connected to the cooler hose to avoid flooding down the stairs.

At the bottom of the pre cooler is a similar connection with cooling water connected to the cooler hose and a transparent hose connecting to the copper pipe and the main cooler coil. If you look closer, you can see brownish brew going through the small hose. (That brew will be at May crown. More about that later... :)

The cooler coil is submerged in a large barrel. It is quite thin and this slows down the flow enough to bring down the temperature to about 30 degrees Celsius. This system seems to be enough to force a quick cooling and get a cool break to make the beer reasonable clear.

The brew is clear enough so I can see through the hose.

The boiler

The boiler is not completely finished but it is usable. At the top you can see the copper dome being used as a lid and from the bottom outlet where I have a valve is a copper pipe poking out. Attacked to the copper pipe is a plastic "hot" water pipe going to the cooler.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Time to bild a “micro” brewery

I have purchased a second hand hot water cylinder that I'm converting to a 150 litre boiler.

First I gently cut the aliminium wrapping and took of the top of the cylinder cover. I suspected that the cylinder would have a rounded top so I had to be careful to not hurt the copper under the foam.

I then carefully cut away the foam to expose the copper and cut off the top of the cylinder. I intend to convert the top to a lid for the boiler. As I was working with it, I got the idea to get another one and make a large pot still.... Hmmmm

It is quite hard to work the copper without damaging it as the copper is quite thin. The edge of the boiler is uneven but I'm sure I can tailor the lid to make it resonable tight.

(And I can not find the last image. Will bring it out next week for a new photo. )

Next step will be to time various steps from power on till boiling using water.

I have also purchased a large chilly bin that I will use for the mashing. As the mashing/striking takes 3 to 4 rounds of water, my 50 litre chilly bin should be enough to fill the boiler.


I have not been able to get hold of bogmyrtle which was used to some degree in the middle ages. Supposedly, hyssop was also used. It was used as a replacement for hops.

For this one, I used:
700Gr Pale malt
150Gr Crystal malt
30Gr Hyssop <- instead of hops

The mashing produced about 15 liter of liquid holding about 1030 in gravity.

Irish moss was added after 45 minutes of boiling and the wort was left to boil for another 15 minutes.

After I stopped the boiling, I immediately started to cool it as quickly as possible by putting the pot in cold water with the tap on to continuously replace the cooling water.

Ale yeast and 2 weeks of fermentation before botteling.

Odd, but interesting taste of the wort.

I usually put 10% of the wort in the fridge to use during the bottling. But this time it had gone totally off and I had to prepare a sugar brew (boil sugar, a tiny amount of citric acid and boil for 15 min to break down the sugar. More about that later.)

End result.
Simply put, discusting. After a couple of weeks in the bottles to ferment/carbonize the beer, it was kind of slimy and revolting. I poured out the lot.

Lesson learned. Hops are your friend. As far as we know, even Vikings may have had hops, the academics still argue if they used it for brewing or not.

Chocolate malt

chocolate malt
(Not chocolate, but black roasted malt)
I have no idea how it will affect the brew, but small variations between pale and crystal malt does not tend to show that well. Since this is the first time I will use chocolate malt, I will use almost the same amount as the crystal malt, with similar balance between pale and crystal as before.

For this one, I used:
800Gr Pale malt
250Gr Crystal malt
200Gr Chocolate malt <- First time
20Gr Hops <- more hops than before

The mashing produced about 10 liter of liquid holding about 1040 in gravity.

Irish moss was added after 45 minutes of boiling and the wort was left to boil for another 15 minutes.

After I stopped the boiling, I immediately started to cool it as quickly as possible by putting the pot in cold water with the tap on to continuously replace the cooling water.

Bloody h...
I think I should contact NASA. I think I have manufactured a black hole. The wort is so black I can hardly see the bottom of a table spoon....

Ale yeast and 2 weeks of fermentation before bottling.

End result.
Very very heavy and very... not sure how to describe it. I'm sure Maggie will love some of it for the baking.
Over time, it may mature. I think it will need a minimum of 6 months to mature. (if ever).

Lesson learned. Choc/black malt, only use tiny amounts...

Rerun V6

Version 6 was really nice and several people liked it. I decided to use that as a base and start to experiment with some ingredients.
V7 / (V6b)
For this one, I used:
1400Gr Pale malt
400Gr Crystal malt
26Gr Hops <- 1 gram more hops.

The mashing (improved procedure) produced about 12 liter of liquid holding about 1040 in gravity.

Irish moss was added after 45 minutes of boiling and the wort was left to boil for another 15 minutes.

After I stopped the boiling, I immediately started to cool it as quickly as possible by putting the pot in cold water with the tap on to continuously replace the cooling water.

Ale yeast and 2 weeks of fermentation before bottling.

End result.
Nice drinking beer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Beer 6

1.4 Kg pale malt
400 gr crystal malt
Gringing 3.75
25 gr Hops
1 hour boil
A pinch of Irish moss 15 min before the end of the hour.
Quick cool
About 10 Liter of 1040.

Very Nice and “mild” beer.

The beers are now nice to drink. I'm still not getting crystal clear beer. I suspect that I don't get the cool break due to lack of equipment. I'm keen on getting a copper coil and put it in ice water and then run the brew through the coil. This should help getting the cool break.
Right now, I'm sitting and waiting at Sydney airport to fly back to Wellington. A short notice trip and unfortunately, I did not have time to catch up with friends in Sydney.
Beer Nr 5.

Time to reduce the amount of malt and crush it finer. I suspect that I have it a bit too coarse and by crushing it finer, it should produce more sugars.
1.65Kg pale malt
350gr Crystal malt
Grinding level 3.75 (the setting on our huskvarna)
Mashing as per normal at 65 Celcius.
(I think I used 29gr hops, error in my notes. Arg)
Boil for 1 hour.
Added a pinch of Irish moss 15 min before the end of the hour long boil.

As soon as I took it of the stove, the effect of the Irish moss started to show.

After straining, what a colour and clarity!

12 liter, gravity 1040

I put 10% of it in a bottle to use for carbonizing. (I may have used the wrong bottle as the wort went off in the fridge and I had to use sugar to get the beer carbonized. :( )

The end result was fantastic. The most liked beer at the last brewing party.

Got 35 Kg of malt and crystal malt. :)

Finally, I'm able to take some time to update the blow with some old info.

Beer nr 4, Honeybeer

This is something I found in the 1616 cook book. And I had some “old” honey left over from an old experiment.

I started with boiling 2.7 liter of water with 13gr of hops. I let it boil for about 30 min. I then strained it through a fine cloth. Next I dissolved 500gr of honey in the hot water and brought it to a boil. I added a pinch of Irish moss and boiled it for about 15 min. I strained the brew through a new fine cloth and cooled it quickly. I added the juice of one lemon and water to make it 5 liter. The end result was a sweet lemonish brew with the gravity of 1035 ( that will make it about 7% strong). Lastly, I added some ale yeast to the brew.

End result: Very nice. at the last beer party, it was gone quickly. :)


By now, I have figured out that one of my brewing books has got it wrong. The alco table is wrong. I did not notice that some of the numbers are going the wrong way. I.e. the more “sugar” the less alcohol..... It is also based on weight, not volume. So the beers I've been making have not been about 4% as I initially thought, they have been 7% or more....

No wonder I could feel the beer “kick in” when having some..

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More beer making.

Lately, I’ve mostly been playing with the beer brewing.

The first experiment taught me a lot.

Malt selection is very important.

Amount of hops is VERY important.

Water quality is important.

Yeas selection is important.

Actually, everything is important.

The second and third test brews I did was based on the new pale and crystal malt I bought. I had to hunt around for a new supplier as our south island supplier currently doesn’t stock other than pilsner malt. The new supplier is about 3 times as expensive and is driving up the cost of the project a lot. L

Batch 2

I used a mix of 1.3 Kg of pale malt and 200 gr of crystal malt.

I ran it through the new grain mill to the level where it cracked most of the grains, but missed the odd grain.

I mashed at 66 degrees.

I then boiled the wort for one hour.

(I forgot to add Irish moss)

I then cooled the brew and added yeast.

(I forgot to take some away for carbonizing)

The brew produced about 8 litre with a gravity of 1030.

Mental note. Time to make a check list to avoid stupid mistakes.

Naming of the brewing madness.

At Dartons aneversery event, I came up with the idea for a name and device. As both Bernard and I have bears as the main part of our SCA heraldry, and I also like the Ale house in Wellington, I thought it would be fun to name it the “Bear House”. The device will be something like two ramped bears maintaining goblets, and possible sitting on a couple of barrels.

The big mead day

Due to the limited time till May crown 2008, we decided to dedicate an entire day for mead making. We started at 10am and finished at 6pm. All in all, we made 115Liter of mead.

This is how they day went and what we did.

Thanks to Katherine Xavier from Cluain, we had 30 Kg of honey to “play” with. A most welcome donation! Thank you Katherine! The honey we got was the most tasty and sweet honey I ever tasted!


Between me raiding my wife’s spice chest and some extra purchasing done by Bernard, we had the following spices to work with. Pepper, Ginger, Grains of paradise, cloves, galingale, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, cardamom.

Firstly, we cleaned and sterilized the kitchen. (I need more students. No fun to clean).

Secondly, we pre boiled the water as Wellington water has both Fluor and bleach in it for health reason. A boil of about 15 min will remove it all and leave a nice and clean taste. (I have just found a most wonderful water supply close to Wellington that is more or less spring feed. Will ask for permission to go out there and get water when brewing…)

All the batches were made more or less the same way with some spice variations. This is how we did it.

As the honey was semi solid we had to heat up the tubs of honey in hot water. As the honey liquefied, we added it to a large pot with water. As the honey and water (about 50/50) started to simmer, we started to skim of the impurities that started to float on top. Ones there were very little impurities we added some Irish moss to the brew and boiled for another 15 minutes. All in all, I think we simmered the mix for about an hour and a half for each batch.

Irish Moss:

Irish moss is the most fantastic thing since sliced bread. I still have to learn the actual chemical reaction but what happen is that all impurities start to stick together the will make clearing process much more easy. (See beer experiments further later on in the blog.)

Ones the boil was done, we added the honey mix to a brewing bucket and added water to make it about 25 liter. We also added a linen bag holding all the spices (and a rock to weigh it down) to the brewing bucket. We then put it in the bath tub, filled with cold water.

As one of the honey tubs was particular yummy, we decided to put 5 litres in a separate brewing vessel with no spices. Starting gravity for this “control” batch was 1065.

The following batches was produces.

R 1:

  • Initial gravity, 1080
  • Volume: 24 Litre
  • Pepper: 20 gr
  • Ginger (fresh): 30 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 8 gr
  • Cloves: 12 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 12 gr
  • Cinnamon: 39 gr
  • Nutmeg: 12 gr

R 2:

  • Initial gravity, 1080
  • Volume: 21 Litre
  • (The super yummy honey batch)
  • Pepper: 16 gr
  • Ginger (fresh): 25 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 7 gr
  • Cloves: 10 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 10 gr
  • Cinnamon: 31 gr

R 3:

  • Initial gravity, 1090
  • Volume: 25 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 31 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 8 gr
  • Cloves: 12 Gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 14 gr
  • Cinnamon: 39 gr
  • Orange zest: 12 gr + the juice from the orange

R 4:

  • Initial gravity, 1042
  • Volume: 20 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 36 gr
  • Grains of paradise: 11 gr
  • Cloves: 11 Gr
  • Cinnamon: 22 gr
  • Nutmeg: 12 gr

R 5:

  • Initial gravity, 1045
  • Volume: 24 Litre
  • Ginger (fresh): 33 gr
  • Cloves: 11 Gr
  • Cardamom: 11gr
  • Galingale (frozen): 14 gr
  • Cinnamon: 26 gr

Needless to say that we added yeast to all batches. We used yeast that is specifically for honey based brewing.

Pictures will be added when I can get the images of Bernards Camera.


A couple of weeks later, we had a small tasting session and all batches tasted wonderful. The space bags was now floating, even though we have stones in the bags. In the 1616 cookbook, they were using lead weights, but we suspect that many people may not want to drink it if they know we were using lead so we decided to stay with the floating rocks. As we was on to it, we also transferred the brews to clean brewing buckets to get rid of lot of old and dead yeast.

Invested equipment:

  • More brewing buckets. $150
  • A digital scale (1 gr accuracy) $50
  • Grain Mill, $200
  • Hose
  • Chemicals
  • 25 Kg pale malt $200
  • 10 Kg crystal malt
  • 1 kg hops
  • Etc


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mead supply

Katherine Xavier, one our friends in Hamilton has donated 30Kg of honey for our project.
William de Camrum has put his hand up as sponsor. As a result, our sponsoring scheme only need one more sponsor (of $100) as to secure the mead for the event without breaking us financially. :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

First experiment

To learn the art of beer making, we need to get it right from scratch. Therefore we have decided to start with a few small batches of beer. The first attempt is based on one single kind of malt with some of it roasted.
The ingredients:
2Kg pale malt
200Gr roasted malt (175C for 30 min, one layer of malt)
Boiled, cooled, 24 hour old tap water (to get rid of tap water chemicals)
Hops pellets (wrong season for fresh hops)
Ale Yeast.

I prepped by running the pale malt through a mincer (must get a crushing device).
The following day Bernard and I went shopping for some more brewing equipment. And when we returned, we got started (12:10 pm).
I turned on the oven and set it for 175C.
We heated up about 4.5 litres of water to about 80C and mixed in the malt.
I put an oven tray with 200gr of malt in the oven.

We stabilized the temp at 66C using the cook top. For reference I took a few drops of mash on the white plate and added a small drop of iodine and it turned dark purple. (Apparently a good way to see if the mash is ready or not.) After 30 min, we took out the malt from the oven, and it had a nice nutty smell. Bernard got the hard work with crushing them with a canon ball.

(Gosh I love students....)(And Bernard was whining about how he must get a page.)

We added about 1.5 liter of hot water to the roasted malt and balanced it to 66C.
Every know and then we gave the mash(es) a stir. When the mash was 2 hours old, we did a new iodine test and it remained yellow, time for extraction.
As we still have primitive equipment, we used a combination of sive, strainer and a tea towel.

It took quite some time to get the liquid out of the mash. As we are lacking some equipment, we are unable to do "proper" sparging.
2 things learned.
1) avoid crushing the malt too fine.
2) get good and right equipment (need to visit a plumbing supply and get some tubing...)
Anyway, the extraction gave us about 3 litres of 1095
I put the mash back in the pot and added about 1.75 litres of water and left it for another 30 min.
We now did the same for the roasted malt. It was pitch black and smelled wonderful. it gave us about a litres of 1060. I then added another half a litre of water and left it for another 30 min.
All in all we extracted:
1 Stage, about 4 litres of 1095
2 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1060
3 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1030
4 Stage, about 1.5 litres of 1010
Roasted Malt
1 Stage, about 1 litres of 1060
2 Stage, about 0.5 litres of 1020
3 Stage, about 0.5 litres of 1010
Mixing them together we got just over 10 litres of 1048. Not bad for a first attempt. Thats about 50% yield.

I split them in two and brought both to a boil on the stove. One I boiled for 15 min and then cooled rapidly (something about cold break that we will learn more about later).
I took half the dry yeast and sprinkled it over 41C mix of brew and hot water. After about 10 min, I added it to the brew.

The other one, I added hops to. Now, this is where I was short on info. I have a couple of books and looked at the internet but I did not find any guidance to how much/little hops one should have when using pellets. I aimed for about 24 grams for 5 liter, but I _think_ I got 35. (Next on the list is a digital scale that can work on the gram.) After 45 mins boiling, I added a pinch of irish moss to the hopped brew. (I forgot to add it to the non hopped brew.) After another 15 min of boiling, filtered the brew through a clean tea towel and rapidly cooled it.
(I had a taste and god damn it was bitter. Probably a bit to much hops....)
I took the remaining half of the dry yeast and sprinkled it over 41C mix of brew and hot water. After about 10 min, I added it to the brew.

Cleanup. The best way to be allowed to do this again is to leave the kitchen cleaner than when we started. 9PM I finished off the cleaning and sat down with a large straight Mt Gay Rum.

Not much activity, but it was fermenting. Left it alone.

Both are now bubbling away nicely and it is now about 48 hours later and I have skimmed and stirred the beer and had a taste (before stirring). It is no longer as bitter as the initial brew, but it still has a very strong taste of hop.

Skimmed of a lot of yeast off the top and gave it a stir. Starting to taste quite nice, if one likes (very) bitter beer.

Last skimming. Bernard and I had a taste. The "hoppiness" has come down some more. But it is clear, it will be very dominant tast of hopp.

I was ment to bottle it all on Friday but it looks like I had thown away the old bottles so I had to go and do some shopping today. All in all I got 11 75cl bottles.

Time to wait a couple of weeks before the first real tasting.