Thursday 31 December 2020

Golden Pints 2020


The golden pints above you
Show me where you've gone
The magic in your blogs no longer
What we gaze upon
I have actually seen a couple of other people doing them this year but still. I blame twitter. I'm not stopping though!

Best UK Cask Beer:

A tragic year for cask beer as Des De Moor's diabolical plan took full effect. I have been able to have communion with the one true living beer more than most as the shop at work sells it but there's no denying that I've lacked spiritual sustenance this year. 

Best cask beer for me this year was when I managed to get a pint of Coniston Bluebird during a brief flowering of freedom. 

Best UK Keg Beer:

I've definitely suckled at the Devil's drainpipe this year as I was lead into a den of iniquity in between lock downs. I can't say that something cheesy from Magic Rock impressed but I can't think of any other UK keg beer I've drunk so that's the winner. 

Best UK Bottled Beer:

My bottled beer drinking has overwhelmingly been what I can blag from work. This is economically beneficial but I do at times pine for beers we don't bottle. Fortunately we do a wide range and the one I've most enjoyed is Ridgeway Very Bad Elf. 

Best UK Canned Beer:

Thanks to an xmas pressie I've drunk a UK canned beer this year. The winner is: Gipsy Hill Hepcat. Definite grapefruit taste. Craft.  

Best Overseas Draught:

Not that I've been abroad this year but whilst being dragged round dens on iniquity in London I was able to avoid harm to my immortal soul in one by sticking to foreign beer from the Devil's drainpipe, which is not haram on account of their different brewing traditions. Even if they are heathen. Ayinger Keller beer was the winner in question.  

Best Overseas Bottled Beer:

Not wanting to die with a full beer cellar when the plague struck the first casualty was that bottle of Obadiah Poundage porter I'd been saving. Very good it was too. 

Best Overseas Canned Beer:

Another tricky one as the only overseas canned beer I think I've had didn't impress, still the winner it has to be: To Øl Gose To Hollywood, bit and all.

Best collaboration brew:

Sticking to ripping off Robbie I'll go with the Obadiah Poundage.

Best Overall Beer:


Best Branding:

Not really my thing this so I'll just go with whatever Too Much Black Coffee have done for Thurstons again. . 

Best UK Brewery

Got to be Coniston. 

Best Overseas Brewery

ABInBev Goose Island. 

Best New Brewery Opening 2020:

Can't think of one.

Pub/Bar of the Year:

The Crown of course. 

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2020:

Can't think of one of these either. 

Beer Festival of the Year:

I might cry now

Supermarket of the Year:

I don't really buy bottled or canned beer now as I can blag bottles from work. I did do some stocking up when I was near a Booths though which makes them the winners. 

Independent Retailer of the Year:

I think the only one I've been to is Cobbett's Real Ale so them. 

Online Retailer of the Year:

Not my sort of thing either.  

Best Beer Book or Magazine:

Again copying Rob, but really nothing else comes close: Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol. I really should do a review. 

Best Beer Blog or Website:

I'm getting very much behind on beer nerdery nowadays. Barely blogging, and not reading them like I used to either. There is a winner though, and despite the dire situation it's a  pub blog: retired martin's

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer:

This year I'm going with Alan of A Good Beer Blog fame, he informs, educates and entertains. 

Wednesday 16 December 2020

A visit to French and Jupps maltings

As there's not much chance to visit places at the moment I made the most of it when business took me to French and Jupp's maltings as they were kind enough to give me a socially distanced tour. The company has been on the same site for over a century, though some of the buildings are now let out as offices and industrial units. 

French and Jupp's originally made old style brown malt shipped down to London for porter brewing, they later made white malts but now only make coloured (i.e. crystal and roasted) malts. 

They have drum maltings where the whole drum rotates during germination to prevent the rootlets of the grains tangling. If I remember rightly they were built for 10 tonnes but they now fill them with 18 tonnes of barley, slightly larger than the ones I used to work with

The green (i.e. unkilned) malt goes to roasting drums where gentle moist heat allows enzymes inside the grain to convert starch to sugar before the temperature is raised and moisture reduced to crystallise the sugar and make crystal malt and cara malts. 

The roasting drum (a modified coffee roaster) below was used to make roasted malts though (e.g. amber, brown, black). 

The malt for these comes from steeping vessels that make chit malt (i.e. malt that has only just had a rootlet emerge from the grain husk) which is then kilned dry before going to the roaster. 

The temperature in a roasting drum can come close to combustion temperature (and even exceed it at times!) so colour development can be rapid and frequent sampling is required. 

Grains cut in a farinator

Chocolate malt

The temperature has to be reduced by spraying on water before the desired colour is achieved as some colour development continues during cooling. 

Old floor maltings

This last picture was taken from a footbridge over the canal that barges full of brown malt used to start their journey to London on. 

Saturday 17 October 2020

Beer and bugs

 As every beer blogger knows getting free beer is the easiest thing in the world. Though breweries might grizzle about it, threaten them with a bad review and they're sending you a case of beer as fast as their little legs can carry it. But despite this due to my insatiable greed I immediately said yes when offered a Hobgoblin beer and bugs snack pack

Hobgoblin is a bit is a bit of a bogeybeer to crafties, and at one point there was a bit of a twitter thing of people mocking those that dared to say they liked it. I'm not entirely sure why, though it might well be due to Hobgoblin having a well know advert that does a bit of mocking itself: "What's the matter lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?". Crafties being at heart lager drinkers themselves no doubt feel slighted. 

I'm not a huge fan myself, though back in the days when I had to buy beer I did enjoy more than a few bottles of the Hobgoblin IPA, which predictably was also treated with distain by the craftily inclined. I was thinking about this again recently when I saw established breweries worried about falling cask beer sales being told that they need to update their beer range. After all, when established breweries have branched out into the craft sector it has always been greeted with universal acclaim. 

The bug bit really interested me though. Over the years I've heard a few things about eating insects but have never done it myself. Well, not deliberately anyway. There were of course beer and bug matching suggestions so I worked my way through both:

Hobgoblin Gold with with chilli and lime crickets. The beer was a bit of a disappointment as it mostly tasted of diacetyl. Personally I don't mind a bit of it but this was too much for me. The crickets were very spicy but certainly tasted better than they looked. 

The IPA  was hoppier and all the better for it, but disappointingly still a noticeable level of diacetyl. I found the Peri peri crickets spicy but milder than the last packet, still pretty full on though. 

Ruby next, didn't notice any diacetyl this time just the burnt sugar taste. As I said, I'm not a huge fan but it did grow on me. The smoky BBQ crickets taste like you expect, but like the others the flavouring is laid on too thick. Overall they could do with toning it down a bit. And they need to do something about the legs. After munching through a bag of crickets you notice you've got lots of insect legs stuck to your teeth. 

Finally it was on to King Hobgoblin, the stronger one. The greater strength definitely improved it, and it reminded me of Old Peculier. The toffee crickets were really good,  clearly desert insects work! I'd overdosed a bit on insects by this point so most of them went in my muesli the next morning. 

I found the beer and bug thing really interesting, and I'll be eating more in the future, particularly as I've still got some more to cook.

They'll probably go in a cricket and grasshopper curry. There was also a packet of insect protein powder. I'm not sure what to do with that one, maybe my brother will want it, it might be the sort of thing he's in to. 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Postmodernism - is it bollocks?

 I read with interest Lily Waite's recent blog post about beer and postmodernism. It's well written (even if some of the history is wrong) and I was able to follow the point being made. But at the end, to sound a little crass, I couldn't help but think so what? Beer might be described as hyperreal or a simulacra but if I've got a pint in my hand why should I care? Postmodernism might by sceptical towards reason but my reason tells me to be sceptical towards postmodernism. 

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Keep it real

Back in the days when a brief glimmer of hope flickered for festering plague pits, I mean pubs, I visited a few with my friend Tim. He did all the planning while I just tagged along so lets see if I can work out where we went and what I drank from the pictures. 

The first one is easy: Boxcar brewery where I had a pint of keg Best Bitter. In these ecumenical times I couldn't tell by looking if it was evil keg, or if it was served from a CAMRA kosher key keg. I can speak infallibly when I say it would have been better on cask though. 

I think it was this one next: a pint of murky cask beer: 


Again our Mother Church provides no help with this one, being neutral on the use of isinglass finings. I can't help but think that not using them is slightly blasphemous though. Surely the fact that the swim bladders of certain tropical fish make an ideal raw material for clearing yeast from cask beer is so improbable it must be proof of the existence of god, even more so than bananas?

The beer was the best bitter from that London brewery all the crafties like. The name escapes me at the moment though. Five Points maybe? And even if it wasn't fined it still tasted fine. 

If I've got the order right it was something a bit different next: Ayinger Kellerbier. 

This was also served from the keg but I had no fear for my immortal soul here. They have different brewing traditions on the continent so I wasn't risking eternal damnation, I was in fact showing how cosmopolitan I am. Not sure what the pub was though.

Excellent choice of what to photograph in the next pub saved me from more embarrassment as this must surely be The Carpenters Arms. 

This was a Krays pub apparently, though a mate who lived in the East End did point out they'd probably been in most pubs in the area. I'm not going to forget what the beer was here as it was lovely, lovely Landlord, which is probably the best beer in Britain and therefore the world. 

I think it was the Well and Bucket next. We clearly went there as I've got the evidence to prove it:

We did end up in another keg only emporium at one point and this could well be it. When I were a lad confronting such a horror would have made me turn tail and take my custom elsewhere but I'm a bit more laid back nowadays. And I hadn't done the planning. It looks like more murky keg. If I remember rightly this was from Magic Rock and was a bit cheesy. I notice that a lot in beers loaded with lots of American hops but it doesn't seem to bother anyone else. 

Tim had sensibly factored in a beigel in Brick Lane before our final stop, which I'm sure you can all recognise from the special feature:

Two of my mates did when I sent them the picture anyway. Perhaps you're confused that due to refurbishment it was moved from the corridor to the gents? Anyway, it was of course The Pride of Spitalfields, one of my favourite pubs.

It was back to beer served as god intended here, with no hint of blasphemy you'll note. I think I had a Pride and an ESB, though the ESB was a bit of a waste as I was too far gone to taste much difference by then. 

We had started our research trip at midday when pubs are perhaps not their busiest but I was sad to see how empty most of them were. The only one that was at all crowded was The Pride, which I might add had the biggest cask beer range. Which just shows that for pubs cask beer is where it's at. 

Sunday 9 August 2020

When BRAPA comes to town

I have been known to spend my spare time trudging up and down mountains.  Boots, waterproof and a rucksack full of supplies are standard issue, so it's always a bit of a surprise when someone dressed in shorts and a t-shirt comes running past. To be honest, fell running looks a bit bonkers to me, but heroic bonkers. Which is pretty much how I feel about the people currently ticking off the entire Good Beer Guide. I've done a bit of pub ticking in my time, and was even a 2017 Isle of Man compleatist. But the whole book? 4,500 pubs? Sounds both bonkers and heroic to me. So when I saw that Si of BRAPA fame was in my local area I immediately offered to assist with getting a few more ticks chipped off the monolithic block. 

We started with the Garibaldi in Knaphill, a pub I first drank in as a teenager, though it's sadly gone downhill or should I say upmarket since then. No longer a two bar boozer it's been knocked through into one and is much more foody. 


With the current plague situation they were a long list of rule for us to read and I must confess my attention had wandered before I got to the end. This did bring to light a problem with visiting new pubs that has been compounded by the new rules: what to do when you need a wee. We could see some portaloos had been brought in but were slightly worried we might be arrested if we didn't follow the correct procedure. Fortunately as this was the first stop we could solve the problem by simply heading on to the next pub: The Royal Oak

I've popped into this pub occasionally over the years but never been that taken with it. The welcome, like the decor, was a little cold. It was early though and maybe with more people there it would have warmed up a bit. Si cracked first and had to go in search of the loo, but I could  hold on until I was on more familiar ground at The Crown. As this is my local I was back on home turf and knew the rules and where the facilities were. 

Si showed impeccable taste by agreeing with me it was the best of the pubs we'd been to. And he certainly knows his pubs. Over a beer we compared notes about other bloggers we'd met, so if your ears were burning that day now you know why. I dropped him off in the town centre to brave the wilds of Woking on his own as I had to work the next day. 

I caught up with him again a couple of days later at the Sun Inn in Dunsfold, not to be confused with the other Sun Inn a couple of miles down the road. We met in the garden where Si already had a pint. As I was driving I didn't have anything, which was a bit foolish really as it means I can't tick this pub myself. We discussed the rules of pub ticking as everyone makes their own. Except for Retired Martin, who only does it because he was cursed by a gypsy to wander Britain, visiting every Good Beer Guide pub but only able to have a sip of beer in each. He really should have bought those clothes pegs. Si is perhaps unique in that he has a pint in each tick, most people I think will settle for a half. 

The Merry Harriers was the next stop, the only pub I've seen which offered llama trekking. Not that we actually saw any though. I did have a half here, which is good enough for me to claim a tick. It was something local I think, probably Crafty Brewery as they're not far away. Then it was on to Godalming, a town that strangely causes people problems with how to pronounce it. But not me as I know how to do it. The pub was of course The Red Lion, a cracking pub with a great range of beer. Which is probably helped by the fact they only one from the owners, Greene King on. They had table service here, our beer being deposited near us on the world's smallest ironing board. I'm not sure if it was a comment on the state of our t-shirts or not. Then it was time to head off,. I dropped Si off in Guildford where staggered off to get some sustenance before the next days onslaught, while I slunk back home for another quiet night in. Certainly less heroic, but possibly less bonkers.   

Thursday 16 July 2020

Fruity folly and pasteurisation perils

Another brewery has come a cropper with cans of their fruit beer exploding. This time though a novel approach to the problem has been taken as they say they "are obsessive in our focus on quality" and it's up to the customer to keep their beer in a fridge if they don't want it to explode!
They also waffle on about their robust laboratory programme and expensive equipment, despite the fact it has obviously failed.

Of what they mention it appears they're actually relying on flash pasteurisation (i.e. heating the beer rapidly for a short period of time in a plate heat exchanger and holding tube) to prevent microorganisms growing in their beer. Beer, already having been fermented, is quite a hostile environment to most microorganisms and only requires a low level of pasteurisation to become microbially stable. Since the work Del Vecchio in the 1950s the amount of pasteurisation a product has is measured in Pasteurisation Units (PU). I won't go into the details about PUs here but the higher the number the higher the degree of pasteurisation and the more heat and/or time needed to achieve it.

The level required to might be 15 PUs (or sometimes even less). As the table below shows fruit juice requires considerably more:

Twenty times more in fact! Hardly surprising that beers with a large amount of added fruit continue to have problems with fermenting in the can. If you're going to include new ingredients in your beer you may need to change your processes too if you want to avoid problems.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

First the Whorst

The current plague situation has definitely caused in upsurge in internet beer nerdery. Reports have come in that ex-beer blogger Whorst has been sighted on a home brew forum. Back in the days of coal fired computers, when people still paid attention to blogs, he very active in the blogosphere. Though he had it in for the Tand for some reason. At this rate it seems I'm going to have to pull my finger out and do more blogging myself.

Saturday 13 June 2020

Desperate measures

As I've still had to bleedin' well go to work the current plague situation has affected me less than many. But I haven't managed to escape its effects entirely. There's the queuing two metres apart to get into supermarkets...where  it then reverts to the usual free for all. And my current training regime is entirely limited to what I can do on my own in my living room, so Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has gone out of the window but I'm doing alright at re-learning side kicks. Then there's the pubs. Shut, shut, shut.

This has not done any favour for my weekend enjoyment but it was only recently that I realised there were more serious spiritual implications. As I've been able to fulfil for cask beer at work I arrogantly assumed I'd be able to live through the lockdown with no risk to my immortal soul, until The Beer Nut reminded me that May is the month of mild. I had entirely forgotten, which I suppose shows how my routine has been upset more than I'd realised. 

May being the beery month of obligation the faithful are called to promote mild during this time, and I always make sure I drink a pint and sometimes even two. How could I do that when the pubs are shut though? Working at a brewery wouldn't help as we don't make mild. In fact there's four breweries on site and not one of them makes a single mild. Our mother church makes allowances for when you can't get to pubs but who makes bottle conditioned mild? No one I know. So in these desperate times desperate measures are called for and I improvised as best I could. 

We make an old ale, which I think can be considered a strong mild. 

It's filled with extraneous CO2 though, which as we know is the essence of evil. So I used a fork to drive it, and Satan, out. 

Then to try and restore the beer to how god intended I poured in the dregs of a bottle conditioned beer:

Was this enough to fulfil my obligations? I really don't know, I haven't seen CAMRA issue a special dispensation during these troubled times. I can only hope that on the day of judgement my efforts are taken into consideration. 

Friday 8 May 2020

Love Beer, Love Pubs

Due to the current lockdown situation many people find themselves in there has been a welcome upsurge in the amount of beer blogging, a pastime that had become much less popular since it became possible to say so much less in 280 characters on twitter. My own blogging has also been withering away, as to be honest I’ve got better things to do with my time. But Boak and Bailey reviving their call for Beery Long Reads has once again motivated me to get back to the keyboard about something I’ve been meaning to post on for some time, with an added topical twist.

Since the corona virus crisis started a number of theories have been offered about the origin of the virus. Most people are blaming the eating of bats, but eating bats is nothing new. We’ve had it happening years ago and I don’t remember any problems arising when Ozzy Osbourne ate a bat. Others blame a Chinese laboratory for creating the virus, but I think they’ve just been getting reality mixed up with The Survivors programme. 

Strangest of all, some conspiraloons are blaming 5G masts. Electromagnetic radiation creating a virus? I don’t get that one at all.

No, none of these theories ring true. As a person of faith the real cause of this terrible disease is clear. And his name is Des De Moor. This might come as a surprise to some, but bear with me. To his shame he wrote on his blog a screed titled “Love Beer, Hate Pubs”, much to the approval of a baying mob of godless beer geeks. As a punishment for this, and admittedly three years later but you know god does move in mysterious ways, a pestilence has been unleashed upon the land forcing pubs to close. And killing tens of thousands of people, but as I said, mysterious ways. Now that the pubs are shut are the pub haters happy I wonder? That god has shown us what the world is like without pubs will I hope force them to repent their wicked ways and beg forgiveness. Certainly a few Acts of Contrition and Hail Protzes are called for. But as we now have more free time on our hands let’s look at what Des wrote and highlight the error of his ways.

He starts by describing the link between beer and pubs as an accident of history, as it has always been possible to enjoy beer outside of pubs. These are the sort of words the devil might whisper in your ear to keep you away from pubs. For the evil lord knows that cask beer, that is beer served as god intended, is only found in pubs. So by staying away from pubs and drinking at home you are doing the devil's work.

Des does admit the symbiotic link between cask beer and pubs, but down plays the significance as beer can now be found in other places, like bars, coffee shops and farmers' markets in bottles, cans and 'craft keg' form. Note the dispense format conspicuously absent from that list! He then compounds his grave errors by actually encouraging people to drink from bottles when they're in a pub! After doing Satan's work he then praises cask beer, presumably to disorientate the faithful. Anything that stops people going to pubs and drinking cask beer is surely advancing Satan’s plan and being hateful to god. Besides which, cask beer really does taste better than beer served from inferior packaging formats.

He then moves on to pub closures and seems to me to be strangely ill informed. Talk of the smoking ban is dismissed as inconclusive, but whatever your views on it, it undoubtedly discouraged some regular pub goers. The high tax we pay on beer is also discounted as off trade beer is also taxed. That the high taxes means the price differential between on and off trade beer is increased due to the mark up, making pubs even less economically viable, is not discussed but surely is another big factor working against pubs.

That there are "certain problems with the pubco model" is conceded, shortly before he starts talking about how it works for some companies, presumably ones based in the Cayman Islands. If perhaps Des didn't hate pubs he would have talked to a few more publicans and found out how long they can work for so little return. Pubcos are certainly not an innocent party when it comes to pub closures, and Des does admit that the financial interest of pubcos might have nothing to do with running successful pubs compared to selling them for other uses. The Market Rent Option, which is meant to allow publicans to become free of tie on the beer they sell has not just been “slow and dogged by controversy”. It has been fought tooth and nail every step of the way by the pubcos, and they’ve been very successful too, which shows exactly how hard things are for publicans.

We then get on to trends in society and how people's homes are now more comfortable. Which I'm sure is all true but I don't see why it would make you hate pubs. Pub campaigners are characterised as being old fashioned and resisting social change as much as the loss of amenities that pub closures bring. That UKIP have a campaign against pub closures is said to be "no great surprise", but people from all sorts of political tendencies have also campaigned against pub closures so I really don't see what this is supposed to prove except trying to smear pub campaigners as being right wing little Englanders. 

Strangely he doesn't see how pubs are uniquely British, though he can see how Scottish pubs differ from English. I'm not really sure what to say about that one, other than I've drunk in a lot of establishments in a lot of countries and pubs are definitely distinctive. Though he's quite right about Scottish pubs, they tend to be more like bars than English pubs and all the worse for it if you ask me.

Rather disparagingly it's also claimed that pub campaigners are only interested in old wet led boozers with wizened regulars glued to the bar. No evidence is presented for this, but wet led pubs have certainly suffered more from closures so it's quite possible that there have been more campaigns to save them. That micropubs, tap rooms and restaurants are opening is praised which is where we get to the heart of matter. He really does hate pubs. That a dozen or so have closed near his flat doesn’t bother him as he doubts they sold any interesting beer. There’s a couple of things to say about this. Firstly not many places can lose a dozen pubs and still have plenty of good places to go drinking in. It might not be a problem if you live in London but what if you live in a village with only one pub and that closes? Mind you, Des does have previous form for London imperialism. Secondly, he is clearly the type of beer geek that is always seeking new things to drink and doesn’t care where they drink them or in what format. Which is fine if that’s what floats your boat, but personally if I can get decent beer in a decent pub I’m happy to stick with the same drink all night and though I’m pleased how the range of beers available has expanded over the years I don’t feel the need to be always seeking something new. 

Though alternative to pubs are opening, of the pubs that close no mention is made that many end up as shops or flats with nowhere for anyone to drink beer, traditional or modern. Instead we hear about the hard times he had in some pubs in his youth, and how social conformity was enforced. Before contradicting himself by mentioning how different groups and cultures had their own pubs. Certainly there are rough pubs, but there are also great pubs that make everyone welcome, and these include wet led traditional boozers. That pubs reflect society is hardly surprising so I don’t see why they should all be tarred with the same brush as the worst examples. And though he might not be sad when they shut are the wizened old regulars likely to start going to start drinking in trendy new tap rooms? I suspect not. Some might like to embrace the latest fashion, but if you’ve already found something you like I don’t see why fighting to defend it should be considered a problem.

Cold words of comfort are offered that "pub like establishments" will still cater for the demand for drinking beer in a social space. Which I'm sure is fine for those that hate pubs, but for those of us that love them nothing beats a proper pub. I've made so many friends in pubs, including many of my oldest and best friends. I had my living room furnished when I was in need thanks to learning who was getting rid of furniture via a pub, and if I want recommendations for a local tradesman I know where to ask. I might be wrong but I can't see any of that happening at a tap room, restaurant or shop. Pubs are a British cultural institution, and some of us happen to love them. They deserve to be defended.

Monday 27 April 2020

Site Safety Checklist

Health and safety in breweries needs to be taken seriously*. Here's a something handy from the talk I went to at the SIBA AGM.

Site Safety Checklist
  • Fire equipment. Is the equipment in the right place and unobstructed?
  • Means of escape. Are escape routes free from obstructions and clearly signed?
  • First aid provision. Are first aid facilities available?
  • Fire safety. Are flammable substances kept to a minimum?
  • Electrical safety. Are all electrical appliance inspected prior to use?
  • Manual handling. Are measures taken to ensure the safety of people and equipment?
  • Slips, trips and falls. Have slip, trip and fall hazards been addressed?
  • Working at height. Is the equipment suitable and safe to use? Have you been trained for the task?
  • Food hygiene. Are food preparation and service areas kept clean and tidy?
  • Security. Are measures taken to ensure the safety of people and equipment?
  • Violence to staff. Have staff been instructed on how to deal with violent or abusive visitors?
  • Lone working. Are precautions taken when working alone?
  • Animals. Are you aware of the risks associated with contact with animals?
  • Personal Protective Equipment. If necessary is suitable PPE available?
  • Chemical safety. Are hazardous substances used and stored safely?
  • Accidents and emergencies. Is there a list of emergency contact numbers available?
  • Housekeeping. Is the site kept free from obstructions and waste?
  • Machinery Safety. Are staff trained in the safe use of equipment?
  • Vehicle movements. Are pedestrian and vehicle areas separated?
  • Lighting. Is there sufficient lighting?
  • Young persons. Do young persons work on the site?
  • New and expectant mothers. Do new or expectant mothers work on the site?
  • Noise. Are noise levels too loud for normal conversation?
  • Confined spaces. Are confined spaces identified and correctly managed?

*Particularly broken guards on kieselguhr filter dosing pots

Saturday 11 April 2020

A German view on extraneous CO2

In these difficult times it has been encouraging to see many people return to beer blogging. But there has been a noticeable lack of pointless arguments, which as we know is what the internet is for. So you'll be pleased to hear I spotted in article in the IBD magazine where a German brewer gives his views on extraneous CO2. Always good for a pointless argument that.

Often I've seen Satan's minions dismiss any objections to artificially carbonating beer by saying that "CO2 is CO2", which is true on a molecular level, but misses the point that all bubbles are most certainly not the same.

Dr Frank Müller, Brewmaster at Riegele brewery, certainly holds this view as the article reports that he:
"describes fermentation derived carbonation as a more delicate, more integrated effervescence than the coarse bubbles that result from CO2 delivered by gas suppliers and injected in-line. One theory briefly mentioned in the course of this conversation dealt with saturation aspects of CO2 around haze particles, visibly perceived or not evident. Arguably, a slow evolution of CO2 leads to a more gradual saturation and better mouthfeel properties in the final beer."

Germany may sadly have been on the wrong side of the great schism and most of their beer is served in an illicit manner, but the German brewing tradition is still valid, as are the views of Dr Müller. The best information I've found on bubbles due to natural carbonation came from a book I read about champagne bubbles. It came to the same conclusion: that during secondary fermentation tiny particles make nucleation sites for CO2 bubbles, leading to smaller bubbles with a smoother mouthfeel. But you don't need to take my word for it, just say "Get thee behind me Satan" to the Lord of Lies and use your own senses when drinking a naturally carbonated beverage.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Cask in crisis

That the devil has long been trying to destroy cask beer is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see with. The mysterious creation of lager yeast paved the way for unnaturally cold and fizzy beer, and the invention of the infernal sparkler was clearly part a diabolic plan that culminated in nitrokeg bitter. But now the dark lord has gone further and unleashed pestilence upon the land to shut the pubs and deny people beer served as god intended.

Our mother church has long accepted bottled conditioned beer as real ale, and has recently declared that even some other lesser forms of packaging are also valid. But we know they're not the same thing. So as I still have to go to work whilst the rest of you are lying around all day wanking I did get to thinking that surely being in a brewery I must be able to find some cask beer. And as it happens it was dead easy. The shop is still open and they sell beer on cask.

So I helped myself to some on Friday and very nice it was too. Even in these times of lockdown there may still be opportunities out there to take communion and for the good of their soul I urge the faithful to be vigilant and seize these opportunities when they can. Whilst keeping social distancing and being hygienic of course.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

A spectre is haunting Cumbria

After a very enjoyable weekend in Edinburgh things went rapidly downhill. Whilst there I'd unexpectedly reached the pinnacle of my brewing career, winning the coveted golden dipstick. But my enjoyment was to be short lived.

First there was the train journey to Penrith which took seven hours. It was supposed to be less than two. Matthew Lawrenson made a valiant attempt to get some liquid support to me at Preston but in the end it was stoicism that got me to my last stop.

I thought things were looking up there, as I was met at the station by friends who whisked me over to Brathwaite. But I was to find the day's suffering was not yet over. On entering The Royal Oak I was horrified to see there was no bleedin' Sneck Lifter.

Instead there was a hobgoblin leering at me. Hobgoblin is a bit of a bogeyman to crafties but I don't mind it myself. I do mind it replacing Sneck Lifter though, as it's just not as good. Sadly I was greeted by a similar sight at a Jenning's pub in Keswick. The hobgobin was leering at me again, I suspect he's haunting the whole of Cumbria, but not a Sneck to be seen. Or Cockerhoop for that matter.

Once I'd got home I emailed my contact in Cockermouth who was able to confirm the full horror of the situation. Orders have come through from Wolverhampton to "re-invigorate the flagging Jennings brand by....... discontinuing the two best beers!" It's said they may return as seasonals but in which season exactly are they going to bring back the strong, dark Sneck Lifter if not Winter? And bollocks am I going to be drinking Hobgoblin in place of Sneck, though the Dog and Gun in Keswick still has Old Peculier on which certainly kept the Winter chill at bay and did go some way to easing my distress.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

A visit to West Berkshire Brewery

The latest IBD mini-seminar was at West Berkshire Brewery, where we got to hear about lots of lovely shiny things we'll never be able to afford. Then it was time for a tour.

They've spent £12 million on the brewery so they'd been able to afford a few shiny things.

We were shown round by the Production Manager,

They have a 24 head bottling line.

And a 24 head canning line.

And lots of space.

Space is the absence of time and of matter

They've a way to go to get that 12 million quid back. This was a yeast propagation vessel and I definitely want it:

Here's some fermenting vessels:

And here's a hop rocket. I want one of them too.

Racking port not 12" about the bottom of the cone:

Combined cask and keg racker depending on if god or the devil is winning:

Some filter housings and a centrifuge at the back. I wouldn't mind one of them too. 


More stuff:

The brew house is continental style with a Mash Conversion Vessel and Lauter Tun. They have a 60hl brew length and since the addition of a pre-run vessel (extra tank for wort collection) do up to four brews a day.

The brew house was branded as "Renegade", which was their crafty sub-brand. But no one seemed to care so they've dropped it.

Sunday 9 February 2020

The Eagle Ale House

I have a policy of never saying no when I'm asked down the pub. After all, what would I be doing otherwise that's better than going to a pub? So I was put in a quandary when a friend called on a recent Saturday morning to say he was on his way to the Eagle Ale House and would I like to join him? I had a cold so was planning a quite day ticking things off my to do list. But a quick perusal of the list showed there wasn't much that couldn't be put off, so after a quick run around I was on my way to the station.

I've wanted a have a drink in the Eagle Ale House for a long time. I did once deliver beer to it whilst in a previous job, and I've met one of the guys behind it, Dave Law, a few time. He's a tireless campaigner against the evils of the pub companies, which was why my friend wanted to drink in his pub.

It is, as you'd expect, a proper pub: tiled out the front and bare floorboards inside, with six hand pumps on but no food. Lovely. For practicing Satanists it looked like a range of devil's drainpipes were on the other side of the bar, and there were even bottles of Big Drop in the fridge for those doing the modern version of Lent.

We arrived early so it wasn't busy, but it was filling up nicely by the time we left. Being of an infirm disposition I stuck to session beers and even had a few halves of coke to slow down my intake. Mostly it was something pale and hoppy that was only 3% ABV, though I stray into dangerously strong territory for a mild at 3.5%. You have to boost your mild score when you can.

The plan had been to move on to another pub, run by another campaigner, but it was on the other side of London and what with me being poorly I couldn't face it. So it was an early return to the station for us, and we only stopped at one more pub on the way. We were practically tee total really.