Admiral’s Reserve, labeling and bottling update

Hi folks,

So last Friday I finally got round to bottling my latest batch of home brew, courtesy of an Admiral’s Reserve kit I got for my birthday back in November. The brew was in the fermentation vessel (FV) for just over two weeks. After the first week of fermentation I had suspected a stuck fermentation, and moved the FV to a warmer room, where the temperature of the wort increased from 18 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius. I believe that this really helped, as there was seemingly much more activity, and the fermentation was able to be completed. After just over two weeks in the FV the beer smelled absolutely amazing, and I am really looking forward to trying it once it finishes conditioning in the bottles. One of the things I noticed when bottling the batch is that research and preparation in this area really helped the process of bottling go extremely smoothly. For example, I had researched and bought the necessary gear to make my life easier- a secondary bottling vessel to which I can rack the beer from the fermenter, complete with a tap and a little bottler attachment, the right amount of bottles and caps, a bottle washer and drying rack, and of course one of my favourite pieces of equipment for homebrewing; the easy siphon. I have attached links to all of these products so that you can get them for yourself, trust me, they make life a lot easier, especially if working on your own!

In the above photo you can see me siphoning the beer into the secondary vessel/ bottling bucket. The easy siphon makes the job super simple, and no risk of contamination as long as it is sanitized properly. The final volume of bottled beer came out to 20L, exactly 40 bottles. One crucial point is to make sure you clean and sterilize all of your bottles to prevent infection and promote a healthy beer which will stay fresh for months! Here you can see my set-up for sterilizing and drying all of my bottles:

The label design was also an interesting process, as it was my first time doing any sort of graphic design. I designed my label on Adobe Illustrator, but also used Photoshop for colour correction and cropping/ resizing. This was the final design I settled on, and I am pretty proud of it:

After the label design and bottling processes were complete, all that was left was to print off the labels, which I did on a standard laserjet printer and regular paper, cut them out, and stick them on to the bottles using a little bit of milk and a clean brush (a tip I picked up from Greg Hughes’ wonderful book). The milk will make the labels easy to soak off when re-using the bottles, and it does not stink like glue does! Here is what the final bottles looked like with the labels attached:

Really happy with the results overall, and I truly cannot wait to try this beer in a couple of weeks. As always, thank you for reading, and happy brewing!

New Year, New Brew

Hi folks,

Happy New Year! I know we are well into February, but I still have not had a chance to wish you all the best, and hope that everyone has had a good start to 2017. While most people will decide to exercise more, or eat healthier for their New Years resolutions, I have decided to commit myself more to brewing and learning about the art of making beer. This blog has been somewhat neglected, but as you can see it has had a bit of a re-vamp as well as a new domain here at I hope you will enjoy reading new posts, and I promise that I will be posting at least every week if not more frequently going forward. So, with that being said, let’s dive right into it, shall we?

Last week I finally managed to set up my new brew space. Being fortunate enough to have a space which I can dedicate to my brewing has really motivated me to do more of it, and this space comes with everything a brewer could want- a source of heat, running water, electricity, and even central heating to keep the brewer warm! Absolute luxury. Having set everything up I have finally made use of the beer kit a good friend of mine bought me for my birthday last November, the Woodforde’s Admiral’s Reserve Real Ale Kit.

The kit came with a small sachet of “hop enhancer”, a white powder with a very hoppy aroma which the kit instructed to be sprinkled into the wort before adding the yeast, which I did. I have never encountered this before in a kit, so it was a rather curious sight. The water I used was Sainsbury’s basic mineral bottled water, which was 20p per 2litre bottle, costing me around £2 for the water to make this kit. I am still not at a stage where I feel comfortable using tap water for my brewing- it does not taste good and would definitely need treatment before being used for brewing. I also replaced the yeast which came with the kit with Danstar Nottingham Yeast– a dry English Ale yeast which will no doubt provide better results. Before pitching the yeast, I re-hydrated the sachet of dry yeast in my new Erlenmeyer 2000ml Flask, which I would recommend any homebrewer to have both for re-hydrating and storing Yeast. The shape allows plenty of oxygen to be absorbed into the liquid, giving the yeast fuel to wake up and begin respiration, which is exactly want we want it to do. The shape also makes it easy to swirl around water, to mix it with oxygen or make sure the dried yeast has properly dissolved.

Once the yeast was re-hydrating, it was simply a matter of mixing the two cans of syrup from the kit with the store-bought water (taking note of the original gravity) before adding the hop enhancer and finally the re-hydrated yeast, and letting the fermentation begin. I have also purchased a “bubbler-type” airlock since losing the one which came with my starter kit originally. The OG on this kit was 1.044, so I am expecting an alcohol content of around 4% for the final brew. Here you can see the wort sitting in the fermentation bucket:

It was put in the FV on the 1st, so I am expecting to bottle it around the 15th Feb, and drinking it sometime in March. I will post an update on how the bottling process went, as it will be my first time bottling a batch. Exciting times ahead!

As always, thank you for reading and come back again to follow my homebrew journey!

The Porter Meltdown

Hi folks,

So as I mentioned in my last home brewing post, I had bought a kit for an American Mocha Porter, as well as the gear I needed to bottle that batch (bottling for the first time). However, something went a little wrong… I ended up getting very busy with other stuff, and as a result that porter has now been in the fermentation vessel for well over two months… uh oh. I am almost too afraid to check up on it, in case it has become a large living organism and strangles me to death with its yeasty tendrils for neglecting it. But alas, I need the vessel for new brews, so I think it may be time for me to man-boy up and throw my first batch away. It’s always an emotional time for a home-brewer when he must throw away a batch of deliciousness which has somehow gone awry. However, it is a little more comforting knowing that this is only a kit brew, and so required significantly less work than if it was an extract or even all grain creation. Onwards and upwards, eh?

I have now hit a new wave of eagerness when it comes to my home brewing, so am planning to convert a shed in the garden into a full-time purpose-built home for all of my future homebrewing. And don’t worry, I will make sure to document every step of the way and post it to this blog so all of you lovely eager readers will feel like you are on this journey with me… or something like that.

Anyway, as always thanks for checking in, and you’ll be hearing from me again very soon! The adventure continues…

Home Brewing Update!

Hey guys,

So I’ve been a little busy lately. Between attending Glastonbury and having a couple of friends visit me from Norway, I have slowed down on the home brewing front. But that is about to change. So without further ado, let me give you all an update on where I am on my home brew adventure.

I kegged my second kit, the American IPA, a few weeks ago and so it is ready to drink. I gave it a little tasting session a couple of weeks ago, but have not touched it since then. I must say, the extra weeks spent in the cellar have certainly not gone unnoticed. The flavour has become a lot smoother, although some of the hop aroma from dry-hopping has disappeared. It is very drinkable indeed, although being an unfiltered beer it lies somewhere between a Weissbier and an IPA. There is a slight yeast sediment, I am hoping to eliminate some more of this in later brews through filtration- using a small hop straining bag and attaching it to the end of the racking tube.


My third kit, an American Pale Ale kit from Young’s has now finished fermenting and is ready to be kegged. I was originally going to bottle this one, but I had not purchased the necessary kit on time, and don’t think I can leave the beer in the fermentation vessel for much longer. But, good news- last night I splashed out one all the gear needed to produce my own bottled brew! I also bought a fourth kit, An American Mocha Porter, so am looking forward to making and then bottling it in the coming weeks. The dream of owning a micro brewery is slowly coming into fruition. This Porter will be my last kit brew, after which I will be moving on to extract brewing, and hopefully all-grain once Autumn comes around. If you want to learn more about the different types of home-brewing, there is a very well-explained and simple to understand guide here.

As always, thanks for reading, more updates coming soon!

American IPA Barreled

Howdy folks,

So last night I barreled my second brew from a kit, the Cooper’s American Beer’s IPA (see previous post for details). It was in the fermentation vessel for a good 17 days; I think the fermentation was finished after 14, then I dry hopped it with the hop pellets included in the kit for a further 3 days before barreling. The concern at the moment is that there was quite a lot of hop sediment suspended in the brew, I’m hoping this will sink to the bottom during conditioning or else I am in for another cloudy beer…

This is also the first time I am using the King Keg, and am pretty pleased with it so far. The larger top opening meant that cleaning it was a breeze (not looking forward to cleaning my other keg, which is a very basic plastic pressure barrel), and it seems to be a much sturdier build than the basic plastic pressure barrel included in my starter set. I have also upgraded the tap to a sparkler tap, which should hopefully give a much nicer head when the brew is finally ready to drink (which I imagine will be in 3 weeks or so). For now, its time for the secondary fermentation. I like my American IPAs to have a decent level of carbonation, so I injected a barrel of CO2 straight into the keg after racking and sealing. This, alongside the decent amount of priming sugar used, should ensure a good level of fizz. It has another week or so to ferment and then Mr King Keg is taking an extended vacation in my cellar to condition and clear. Looking forward to trying this one.

More updates coming soon, thanks for reading!

Second beer kit- American Beers IPA


Last Monday I began fermenting my second beer creation, again from a kit. This time it was the American Beers IPA (which you can buy here). In general I love IPA’s and so I am really looking forward to trying this one when it’s finally ready to drink in a couple of week’s time. Just in time for summer to begin rearing its sunny head (hopefully). Decided to brew this one with my girlfriend, and so this batch is officially titled “Dan and Hannah’s Summer IPA”.


The initial hydrometer reading was quite high (1.057) so I am expecting the beer to be quite strong, at around 6.2% ABV. The kit suggests that the final strength will be around 6.5% ABV, so the initial reading seems to be in the right ball park. I bought a higher quality yeast, however the yeast which came with this kit looked pretty good so I decided to stick to the kit and keep the higher quality pale ale yeast for a later batch. The kit also comes with a hop sachet for dry hopping 2-3 days before the end of the initial fermentation. I will be testing the gravity today and possibly dry hopping today/ tomorrow depending on the reading. This kit is certainly more involved than the last one, which just came with two metal containers of the concentrated malt extract and one sachet of yeast. However, I am itching to get to the next level of home brewing and begin brewing from malt extract, and then later on (possibly by the end of summer) begin brewing all grain. Further down the line I am also hoping to do a bit of DIY and turn a fridge into a kegerator to store all of these brews at perfect temperature.

Will post an update once I keg this bad boy in my newly acquired King Keg!

First Batch of Home Brew!

Howdy folks!

Sorry for the pause in updates, I have been travelling and unable to let you guys know how I’m doing on the home brewing front. I made my first batch of home brew from a basic kit I bought on amazon, “St. Peter’s Brewery Golden Ale”, the package is pictured below in case any fellow home brew adventurer’s want to follow me on my journey towards the Holy Brewdom.


Making a beer from a kit was a relatively simple and easy task, and as a result I now have 36 pints going through the final conditioning stage of the brewing process. However, everything was also made incredibly simple and easy to understand by following the instructions in Greg Hughes’ amazing book, Home Brew Beer. The entire process is very well explained, along with pictures for every step of the process, so following it was an absolute breeze. I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to start out brewing their own drinks at home, and there is even a large section dedicated entirely to recipes for various beer and ale types, so you can truly brew anything your heart desires.

Unfortunately I do not have many pictures from the process to show, but here is one of me softening up the contents of the brew kit in order to make it easier to remove from the tins:

Photo 19-03-2016, 21 04 40

In explanation- beer making from a kit requires mixing two tins filled with a treacle like substance (the products from a boil evaporated until thick and less space-consuming) with water, then adding yeast (included in the kit), and waiting for the entire thing to ferment. After this, you simply decant or rack the beer into bottles or kegs (depending on your preference) with a little sugar to carbonate the beer, and leave for two weeks (or more in some recipes) for the beer to clear, also known as conditioning. This is the stage I am in right now, having racked my beer into a plastic keg which I received with the starter kit.

The down side with brewing beer from a kit is that you have no control over the flavour, and essentially it is simply practicing the last couple of stages of beer brewing- the fermentation, and then the racking process.

I am really looking forward to moving on to the more complex process and the next stage in becoming a brewmaster- brewing from malt extract. This includes the boil  stage of the brewing process and allows much more control and customization of the flavour and end product. The final method (and most complex one) is called “all grain” brewing. This is when you literally start from the grains and make the malt extract yourself, however is much more time consuming and requires even more equipment. One step at a time, young brewmaster…

I will post an update when the beer is ready to drink, cannot wait to taste the fruits of my labour! Until then, keep your eyes peeled for more views and reviews, both to do with home brewing and other things.