We have never talked about Beer


It’s still popular in certain instances, big beers are one of them. You don’t want a tapped keg of a one-and-done style of beer. You want to be able to grab one occasionally instead. Even when you move to kegging, you’ll come up with a system to fill bottles off the keg for a number of reasons.

My buddy that taught me to homebrew had bottles of an awesome bourbon, cinnamon and raisin oatmeal stout he’d made years before. They just kept getting better, and he would pull out a bottle to share on special occasions.


Well, I know what I want to make next now.


It tasted like eating an oatmeal cookie while still having the slight lingering taste of a sip of bourbon on your lips. It was magic in a bottle, everyone of his friends celebrated when he took one out for tasting. Towards the end of it’s shelf life it got just a tad bit of an oxidized taste to it, but it was still good.

If I remember right, he soaked plain raisins in bourbon just to cover them, then added that to secondary. He also toasted the cut oats a bit in the oven before adding them to the mash. I do not know when he added the cinnamon.


Flue Season is ready to drink!

We did a taste test on Monday and another on Thanksgiving, to get a feel for the progress of bottle conditioning, but Saturday’s bottle was the first to be properly carbonated. The head went away pretty quickly, which I understand is usual for higher alcohol beers, but it was nice to see it on the pour, at least.

Going by style guidelines, it’s a wee heavy/strong Scottish ale, and the tasting notes bear that out. It’s a long way down the malty side of the flavor scale, with essentially no hop flavor or notable bitterness. There’s a bit of piney hop aroma, though, which fits the Christmas beer style. The spices come through in the finish. Delightfully warming.

On a more homebrewy note, I’m very happy with how clear it turned out (although it’s hard to see until there’s very little left in the glass). There’s a sixteenth of an inch or so of trub at the bottom of the bottle, and that’s it. The long primary fermentation (four weeks) certainly seems to have done its job. Most everything appears to have precipitated out prior to bottling. Next time we make this one, we’ll probably aim for 1.8-2.0 volumes of carbonation, against the 1.6 or so we got this time—it’d be nice to have a bit more bubble.


The missus and I saw a Brewdog in Birmingham last week so decided to go inside from the cold and get some Jet Black Heart on tap. It was delicious and so much nicer than bottled. It had this perfect creamy head all the way down to the bottom. The first time we’ve been inside one but it was so busy, mostly due to a nearby Christmas market.

It went down very easily.

Over the weekend went into a local pub and saw this pump clip:

I’m sure some of you will recognise that Zeus from somewhere!

And finally, the local Wetherspoon was doing a Little Critters week a couple of weeks back. They’re a Sheffield brewery just up the road and we first heard of them after trying their Nutty Ambassador hazelnut milk stout. My girlfriend had a pint of that (great if you’re a Nutella fiend like she is) and I had a pint of their Sleepy Badger, an oatmeal stout (honey is mentioned on the pump clip, but not in the descriptions, weirdly) which was also really good.

Edit: and can I just say that I’m sorry I can’t describe the flavours/qualities of the beers I talk about in more detail! I’m not quite there yet :-)


JBH has improved loads this year. Easily Brewdog’s best regular.


Jokes for days …

But seriously, the beer sounds delicious! A wee heavy with holiday flavors? Sign me up!

When homebrewing and bottling I had carbonation nightmares. Over/under was the norm, perfect was just not obtainable for me. Head retention is a related issue, and troubleshooting this is hard, but some possibilities are:

  • Not quite enough active yeast left to carbonate well. Some people add in a little yeast into the bottling bucket on high alcohol beers for this.
  • Too much anti-foaming agents used in brewing. Things like moss, fermcap, etc.
  • Not enough high alpha bittering hops. Strangely they help with this.
  • Not enough malts that give some head retention. Try a 1/2 or 1/4 pound of wheat or another good one for head retention. I think the crystal malts have this as a good positive effect, too.

All that being said, it could have just been a glass with some soap residue. :) And if it tastes good, who cares, right? Looks tasty to me, man!


It’s certainly a wonderful winter warmer. I’ll see if I can export a recipe in some sensible format from Brewtarget after work.

Thanks for the head retention tips. I’m not torn up about it; it’s tasty and sufficiently bubbly, and it has basically none of the head retention promoters. On the docket after the all-grain IPA is likely a stout of some kind, and we’ll work on it at that time.


We’re having the official tasting of our holiday ale on Friday. We’ve had some trials already, but this one is pretty mediocre. I hope it improves with some additional aging. We went a bit easy on the star anise, using a bit less than the recipe suggested.

I am pretty happy with the label, though. The tree is a collage of our previous labels, and the name is because the Christmas Ale is the 24th batch brewed with our current setup.


No prob, man. I’m certainly no expert, it’s just one problem I consistently have gotten pointers for. I cheat now and use keg carbing, which allows corrections along the way if you need it. It also helps experiment with things like a triple and how carbonated it can be, versus an oatmeal stout and how much less it needs.

And Jorn, if I had a dollar for every mediocre homebrew I’ve made or tried, I could open my own mediocre brewery. Sometimes you really have to love the hobby, by force. :)

Did you bottle it? If it’s still in secondary maybe you could further flavor it.


That’s a great label.


Let me tell you about the time we decided that brewing a raspberry wheat ale was a good idea…

It is bottled, so can’t adjust.


I made a brown ale that had added chocolate one time that was pretty darned tasty. So next time I brewed it, I had to fuck that up by trying to add bourbon flavor. Instead of a bourbon style flavoring, I soaked some oak chips in bourbon, then put the chips into secondary, where they promptly gave my entire five gallon batch an infection making it undrinkable. I’ve done the same with two different ciders, but it was my cleaning process (I think.)

So my biggest hindrance to brewing is … me. When I make something I like, I have this need to do it even bigger and better the next time. What I really should do is the exact same thing, again.


Good news! It has improved since the last tasting, and if it keeps this curve it will be quite ok in a month.


Noice. It’s a good color.


It’s Founder’s CBS day!

8 oz pours, which is plenty when it’s 12% ABV. A friend and I went down to the taproom, about a half hour before opening time so we were near the front of the line. Fairly crowded, but not crazy…pretty sure everyone who was in line at the 11 AM opening time was served within the first hour.

Great stuff, as long as you like stouts. Smooth and the maple really gives it a nice finish. Couple of these plus a nice sandwich made one heck of a fine Friday lunch!


Their porter is really nice as well.


Bourbon barrel stouts are some of my favorite beers on the planet. There are usually two or three on the menu at the nearby sandwich shop/craft beer house, and they’re my go-to.

There’s a craft distiller down the road from me who uses barrels down to 5-gallon size; it’s one of my homebrewing dreams to buy a used one off of him and make one of my own.


We have an oak cask incoming as a gift for a friend who is defending his PhD. We’ll age a stout in it and report back!


I scored a bomber of the KBS and it was wonderful. Have to try and snag a bottle of the CBS.