The first function Nelly had to perform was to make beer! Having completed Myrtle around the same time as Nelly, it was agreed that some of the proceeds from her conversion could be used to buy our own brewery. Whilst the take-over of Marston's was outside of our budget, as was a micro-brewery for that matter, we could afford a Grainfather all-grain brewing system. This excellent system allows you to mash, sparge, boil and cool in one contained unit, producing upto 5 gallons of any ale you wish to make. The first brew was an American IPA, the mash and subsequent wort used a single type grain, and was hopped using citra hops at each stage of the hopping process. This is known as a SMaSH brew, ie Single Malt and Single Hop Brew. Since this first brew we have made a range of beers including a lagered Kolsh, a magnificent clone of Spitfire Ale, more IPA and a golden ale. Another plus to the system is that the spent grain can be fed to our pigs and chickens, who love it so much they ignore their usual sow nuts and corn. How's that for re-cycling?
The American IPA was followed by a replica of the most excellent Spitfire Ale. To date we have brewed over 15 different ales many produced multiple times and have plans for loads more over the coming years. The latest is a new batch of "Wicked Pixie" ale. We have listed some of the beers along with their statistics below and if you click on the headings or the photo's, you can download the recipes:
Brew Date: 17/09/2016
Initial SG: 1068
Final SG: 1020
Alcohol (ABV): 6.3%
Bitterness (IBU): 58
Colour: EBC 10, SRM 5
Brew Date: 19/10/2016
Initial SG: 1052
Final SG: 1010
Alcohol (ABV): 5.3%
Bitterness (IBU): 42
Colour: EBC 12, SRM 6
Brew Date: 08/12/2016
Initial SG: 1048
Final SG: 1014
Alcohol (ABV): 4.5%
Bitterness (IBU): 26
Colour: EBC 9.6, SRM 4.9
Colour: EBC 10.3, SRM 5.3
Colour: EBC 12, SRM 6.3
For the first half dozen or so brews that we created, we produced our own labels. Whilst they did the job, Mike our friendly neighbourhood graphic designer said he could do much better. His "consultancy fee" was his own batch of beer and the results of his most excellent work can been seen in the many labels he has produced since.
Wicked Pixie. This was an "Irish Red" ale that used a range of malts including Cara Red and roasted barley, giving the beer a deep ruby red colour and fine malt taste. It was named after my wife who is both tolerant and long suffering! We have brewed this beer a couple of times now, the latest was in July 2018.
Sassy Blonde. Based loosely on the Brew Dog “Trashy Blonde” recipe. This ale pays tribute to my wife’s best friend, who insisted on the name change for reasons that escape me!
Light Bomber. This ale was our attempt to take the best of Spitfire and Lancaster Bomber Ales and produce a traditional pale ale. Think twin Merlin engine power in a light airframe! The result was awesome.
Black Pig. It's our first effort using a little chocolate malt. Called “Black Pig” after our favourite
pig of 2017. A session stout coming in at a modest 3.9%, but with a huge flavour. It was also the
first ale to have a label professionally designed, courtesy of Mike.
Santa's Sack. Is a Christmas ale using Maris Otter, CaraRed and Roasted Barley malts along
with torrefied wheat for added head retention. It comes with a seasonal twist of added cardamom
pods and mandarin zest. Santa's Sack was first tasted over the Christmas weekend, with it's deep ruby
colour and hint of Christmas spice it was an instant hit. It will be a Christmas brew for many years
to come. Thanks again go to Mike for the cheeky label design.
Amber Pig. Brewed using a range of malts including Cara Gold and American Extra Special Malt. We were aiming for a toffee/caramel flavour to the ale and that's just what we got. With an ABV of 3.8%, this is a most session-able brew.
Mikes Tartan-Dragon IPA. Based on our Sassy Blonde recipe and dry hopped with Citra hops, this IPA was made especially for Mike as a thank you for the label designs he has created, and hopefully labels to come. He was a very happy boy.
Honey Trap. Negotiating a reduction in the cost of fitting a log burner in the Dizzy Pig allowed us to try our hand at making a light golden honey ale based around the "Golden Balls" brew. Our friend Richard agreed that if we produce an ale specially for his forthcoming wedding he would fit the burner at a reduced cost, and he provided the honey! Coming out at a perfect 4.5% it looked and tasted awesome, so much so we immediately made a second batch for ourselves.
Imperial Pig Ale (IPA). This ale is largely based on our first Citra IPA, but with some added American special malt. We needed to brew this, as we were sadly lacking ale in the Dizzy Pig because we've been busy making ale for other people!
Rye'd That Pig. Dizzy Pig's first go at a rye ale, which apart from crushed rye, has a range of malts that fermented out at 5% ABV. Heavy on the IBU bitterness scale, due to the liberal use of Chinook hops, this Rye IPA was not for the faint-hearted.
Spitfire MK IV. The fourth incarnation of our favourite ale, this time we lightened it in colour to look and taste akin to Spitfire Gold. It did not disappoint.
Ultimately we would love to grow our own barley and malt it ourselves, but that is possibly a step too far. However, 2018 saw us harvest our first crop of hops, including Cascade, Fuggles, Golding, Prima Donna and Northern Brewer. The Cascade was the most prolific and after picking, sorting and drying we have 260 grams of hops. This is enough for 2 possibly 3 batches of IPA. the others produced less, but we have plenty to experiment with over the coming months. All the hops are now vacuum packed and in the freezer. We can hardly wait to try them out. If you want to know more about our hop growing exploits check out the Pool Cottage Smallholding Blog.
The bitterness value is measured in International Bitterness Units (IBU), for each recipe. The higher the reading the more bitter the beer. The bitterness will depend on the type of hops used and when they were added during the brewing process. An excellent calculator of IBU can be found at brewers friend by following the link below:
Colour - EBC and SRM
The colour of beer is very important and we can determine if the beer is a pale ale or a stout without even tasting it. However, there are 2 differing scales used to classify the colour of beer, the first is the European Brewery Convention (EBC) and the second is the Standard Reference Method (SRM). At Pool Cottage, we have used both measures to class the colour of our beers. The measures can be calculated based upon the varieties and quantities of malts used, again there is a calculator on the Brewers Friend web site. Often however, the EBC or SRM are based on colour charts, with a range from 1 - 40 on the SRM and 1 - 80 on the EBC. The higher the value the darker the beer. A copy of 2 of the charts comparing the scales is shown below: