Archive for April, 2011


Just a note (if you’re keeping track) that the beer was racked at the weekend (put into a barrel) and proofed with about 80g of fairtrade cane sugar.  I use cane sugar as it leaves less flavour changes in the beer.

When you rack beer, you’re basically taking the beer off the trub.  Trub is spent yeast that settles at the bottom of the primary fermentation vessel.

Usually I either wash it down the sink or compost it, however this time round I tried an experiment (see next blog post)

There is still some yeast in suspension in the beer – this is often seen as a clouding effect or haze on the pint.  By adding the 80g of sugar in the keg I’ve racked to the yeast will reactivate and produce a little more alcohol and more carbon dioxide.  This CO2 will ensure that infection doesn’t sit on the top of the beer and will give it a very slight fizz.

After racking it is left in place for a couple of days in a warm location and then transferred somewhere cooler – in my case the dark corner of the garage for as long as possible.  Mine will now rest in place for about a month or so.

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Plasterboarding & insulating

This weekend we got on with the insulating and plasterboarding.  It took a lot longer than I (or anyone else) thought – we managed to get the roof up and about 70% of the walls in about 10 hours of 3-4 people working.  We didn’t rush and there was a fair bit of beer consumed which may account for some of the shoddy cutting.

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First trip to the allotment

This weekend I went down to see the allotment.  My better half had already sent visual confirmation that things were a bit weedy and overgrown so it was less of a shock to the system.

Two hours later I’d roughly weeded three beds and strimmed the whole plot, but unfortunately don’t have a lot of time due to the house improvements I’m making.

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Gravity 1.016


The gravity of my beer has made it to 1.016 which means it’s pretty much finished already. I used a heating belt as it was stored in a room where the temperature can drop overnight and I wanted to keep it fairly constant.

When I started the brew I took a gravity reading of 1.042 – this may sound terribly fascinating to those who don’t brew, but actually it’s interesting when you take the original gravity (OG) from the final gravity (FG) and multiply by 129. 

(OG – FG) x 129 = A%

Yes, % of alcohol in the brew – in this case, 3.8%.  The kit promises 4.5% so I’m a little off – but I’ll be adding a bit of something extra sweet to the brew before it gets kegged up – in this case SME (Sprayed Malt Extract) which’ll probably booster the 3.8% closer to the real 4.5% it should be at.

I’ll take the gravity again tomorrow evening and if it’s the same, then the brew is finished and I can safely remove it to the secondary fermentation vessel – in 2-3 weeks it’ll have a sparkle and be ready for drinking – the extra month will allow it to condition it nicely!

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We’re now at the stage of plasterboarding the mancave and ordered the board from B&Q.   Fortunately I got them cheaper due to a 15% discount which was good because two boards were damaged in transit due to poor packaging.  A long expensive telephone call to B&Q later and apparently they’re going to dispatch two more boards rather than issue a refund (bonkers)

Does seem odd to me to load a delicate material like plasterboard straight onto gravel (Decorating side first) then to load heavy wooden boards directly on top, but there you go.

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It’s that time of year again – the BushcraftUK forums are abuzz with the news that the details for the 2011 Bushmoot will be posted shortly.

Last year I managed to do all sorts including flint knapping, spoon carving, netmaking, foraging, flint n’ steel firelighting as well as watching demonstations on knife sharpening and forging.

There was also a fair bit of beer consumed along with various offered spirits such as a honey blended whisky etc.

The Bushmoots are a chance to learn and teach new skills with both professional and amateur enthusiasts in a small wood on the sand dunes of Southern Wales.

Highly recommended – details will be available shortly on the forums of

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Beer – the normal homebrew kind

I have a beer engine (or hand pump) bought for me by an ex girlfriend many years ago which we’re looking to put into the man cave.

Obviously having a beer pump is pointless without some beer… this is not a problem.  This particular batch is going to be ready for the grand opening in a couple of months.

This Sunday we made 5G brew from a Woodfordes Norfolk Wherry kit.  For me it’s a fairly standard kit, very easy to brew.  You can buy it online, but I’d recommend checking out your local Wilkinsons which stocks all the homebrew gear you need to get started as well as the kit.

The kit makes approximately 40 pints which if you’d bought direct from a microbrewery at a discounted rate would cost you about £71.  If you follow the instructions carefully on the kit and keep the room at a constant temperature you can’t really go wrong and will have a lot of very drinkable beer within a couple of weeks.  It’s best brewed and given a couple of months however to settle properly – the longer the better.

If you want better clarity, you can try adding finings to the finished product which drastially reduces the haze of your pint.  Either that or put the barrel in a nice chilled cellar for a couple of weeks (which I don’t have) which’ll also do a good job.

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My sparky friend Allan has been helping me out with the electrics in my man cave.  I would highly recommend whenever you’re considering doing electrics you get someone suitably qualified and someone with a good reputation.  Allan has made things safe for me, clipped out the excess and badly wired wiring and left me with power do see by and do general work.

This weekend he popped back now we’d stripped and battoned the room and put in the new wiring.  He’s even run extra additional cables so I have more control for dimming different sections of lights.  We’ve installed several sockets in bizarre locations for the projector etc and moved the remaining existing circuit for the storage heater.  All in all it’s a tidy job and makes much more sense than the spiders nest it replaces.

If you’re local to Southend/Westcliff and need an Electrican I can definately recommend

Pics to follow

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Car Port (or the lack of)

When I bought my house, I got a full structural survey and one of the main things that stood out was “The car port is at risk of imminent collapse”.  Whilst the surveyor didn’t do any investigation works as such into this, it was pretty obvious because the ceiling was giving way.

This weekend we found out that the plastic cladding was a structural element which was stopping the beams from literally bending in half – as damp and rotten as they were.

After seven hours we managed to rip down the whole carport.  We’ll either rebuild it later in the year if funds allow or tidy it up a bit and leave it as is.

The Sunday saw the removal of the felt and tar to the tip – I have no idea how to recycle it, it seems like a pretty wasteful material to me.  The boards are either rotten or highly covered in tar – but I’m hoping they’ll make good shutterboarding for my highly un-enviromentally friendly concreting in a few weeks.

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