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If you see the Tramp, FeeD the TramP

FooD @ Moor Hall

I had been waiting for this for a while. I randomly saw a tweet about a new restaurant with rooms opening about 10mins from where I live that would have ex-executive chef of L’Enclume Mark Birchall at the helm. I knew I would have to give it a try. I don’t even remember how long ago it was, sometime last year I think, they had a lot of building work to do first so I just kept an eye on it.

Well the wait was finally over. The restaurant opened its door a month or so ago. I booked within a few days but like all new restaurants I like to give it a few weeks to settle in before going. It could have been open years, service was really good, better than a couple of places I’ve been that have stars. Although there was one point the table next to me set fire to their menu (by accident, I hope) and there was a little confusion about what to do. I doubt sorting out a menu on fire was on the training list. It reminded me of when we went to L’Enclume and a drink (maybe a dish) was dropped and about 10 people came running out of the kitchen to sort it out.

The sommelier needs a special mention. Engaging, really knew his stuff, all good pairings. I’ve been disappointed with sommeliers at other restaurants. I don’t drink wine at home, the only time I ever drink wine is usually with a tasting menu and the first time was at Sat Bains where the sommelier at the time was amazing. Since then none have been close. The sommelier at Moor Hall could be as good, maybe just a little bit more detail about what flavours the wine brings out in the food and the food brings out in the wine and he would be perfect.

Well, the food, what can I say? Every dish was on a scale of good to great. Usually there is at least one dish I don’t rate or even actively dislike but everything was done really, really well. There is an obvious massive influence from L’Enclume from the bespoke stoneware plates and bowls to the style of dishes. One dish in particular I have had three versions of now, first in The French, then at L’Enclume and now here. The beef in charcoal. The first time in The French it was Ox in coal oil which at the time was wow. Raw ox that tasted like it had just come off a BBQ. The second time was venison at L’Enclume, the coal wasn’t as strong but the meat was more melt in the mouth and all the little pearls accompanying popped with flavour. The dish was still good at Moor Hall but the beef didn’t standout, the charcoal wasn’t noticeable and the extras overpowered it a bit. Being a bit nit picky here but that dish at the other two places stood out, here it wasn’t in the top five. If i hadn’t had a similar dish before I’d probably have said it was great.

Anyway, I went for the 8 courses. Something that I really like is when you get a bunch of other things besides those eight. It came to 14 in total, 15 if you count the bit of prosciutto with pre-drinks. Standouts for me were the Baked Carrots, I really like contrast of temperatures so sticking something frozen on is great. The Grilled Scallop with cauliflower may well have been a standout dish, the purée and grilled cauliflower we fantastic and the scallop was so meaty. The toffee apple like desert is another winner.

A trip to Moor Hall has also added another thing to the list of what I would get if I won the lottery … a cheese room!!!

I’ve been waiting for a star in Manchester for a while now but instead I think there is a contender that a place 5 minutes down the road from where I live will actually get 1 (or 2)  first. I recommend you go see for yourself before everyone else finds out about it.

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FooD @urbisrabbit The Rabbit in The Moon Manchester …

Ready or not here I come … I’m going to kick off and get the negative bits out of the way. I had been following the progress of this restaurant since it was announced Michael O’Hare would be working with GG Hospitality to open new restaurants in Manchester. I’ve followed all the tweets, booked on the day it went live, read all the reviews …

I’ve seen a few grumblings about service and the music. For me I liked the music, it wasn’t too loud as some have said. I can see the 90s Hip Hop R&B being a bit of a generation thing, Michael is a couple of years older than me (if Wikipedia can be trusted) and most songs that were on I used to listen to as a teenager as I guess he might have done. After hearing so many shit versions of Ready or not on various TV adverts recently it was great to have the Fugees playing.

Service was slightly mixed. It was going great, it is slightly fast but most of the 17 courses are one mouthful. There are a mix or servers, girls in jumpers with a big rabbit on the front who put stuff down/take away and don’t speak and then the chefs including Luke Cockerill the 20 something year old head chef who talk you through the dishes. I feel a little bit for the chefs, I don’t imagine serving and talking through the dishes is in their comfort zone. A couple of times it felt slightly scripted but who cares, the restaurant has only been open a few weeks, I’m sure they will relax into it after doing it a few more times.

My only grumble about the service was with the wine service. There isn’t a matching  flight so we bought a bottle, a glass was poured from it and then the bottle taken away. The problem was that our glasses weren’t topped up quick enough. I’v been places that have the opposite problem that top your glass up the moment you take a sip and it gets a bit OTT. But the glass should never be dry. About 10 dishes in we ordered another bottle and after the first glass no one topped it up. I think the problem was that it seemed like only one person was actually topping drinks up for the whole restaurant. To be honest I’d rather the bottle was just left on the table so I could top up myself. I think we threw the staff off at the end, the last course arrived and then a bill quickly appeared and was removed when I asked where the rest of our wine was. After that I had to ask for the bill and then after ten minutes had to ask to pay. We were probably at the table half an hour longer than the time it said we had to give it up by on the reservation. We had actually finished eating at the correct time it was just with not being topped up we had 3/4 of a bottle left. I’d have been happy to go back upstairs but we weren’t asked to.

Wow, I’ve wrote a lot just to say the only negative is I’d rather they left wine on the table or had more people topping up.

Should really talk about food as that’s the point.

What can I say, it’s good, it’s really good, it’s different, space age Asian, I get it now. It is hard to compare it to anything else, it’s like trying to compare a 3 course à la carte meal with a 10 course taster and then to a 17 course taster. The flow of the meal is totally different, the size of each dish is totally different. It would be easier to compare it to tapas than anything else. Dishes come at you in waves, the 17 courses came in a sequence of 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 1. From what I have seen I think that sequence has been evolving and probably the reason why there isn’t a wine pairing yet.

Most dishes are one bite, don’t worry, although from some of the pictures the pain au unagi looks the size of something you might get in Greggs it isn’t. It is one of the bigger things and I did take four bites out of it. The bacon butty although looks massive on twitter is only a twoer. The two noodle dishes took the most eating just because you need to use chopsticks rather than your hands.

By the way, when you go I hope you have clean hands and have been practicing with chopsticks. Besides the noddle dishes I think I ate everything with my hands. Oh, and it is always great having to be given instructions on how to eat something.

Highlights for me, crispy rabbit ears, wagyu nigari, duck nigiri and the plum stone (although I did think it was a bit of a waste of a plum), the plum sake is really good too. Mrs TramP loved the salmon skin inari. I’ve noticed from the pictures on twitter, the menu online and what I actually ate, in just a month there have been several tweaks and changes to the dishes already. I went to The Man Behind the Curtain last Easter and had been looking on twitter for pictures of the food and noticed lots of tweaks to dishes all the time. I suppose it is constantly evolving trying to hit perfection. Some of the dishes were a bit blah, but to be fair when I have an 8+ course tasting menu there is often something that I actively dislike. With this 17 courses I actually liked all of them, I just liked some a lot more than others.

Testament to the chefs, they all looked about 12 and unless all the old guys were hiding in the back, for such a young crew they are making some fucking amazing food. Could they get a star? On food they could probably get one today, service might need a couple of months to become really slick.

What are you waiting for? Book now!!!

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Born To Enjoy By . . .

Two beers, that you are supposed to drink before Independence Day 2015 but saved for a year until the Aliens came back to be defeated without Will Smith (I assume they are defeated, I haven’t been to watch it yet).

First up is Brewdog’s Born to Die 04.07.2015

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Pours a glorious amber yellow with a slight haze.This isn’t as crystal clear as the last Born to Die that was released but I can’t remember if this one from a year ago was ever that clear. Pours with a fluffy white head that dissipates slowly.

On the nose is a sweet toffee aroma with a hint of citrus from the fading hops.

Still holds the bitterness with a sweet malt toffee backbone gives way to the last remaining hops fighting for their lives, more resin than citrus, to finish a slight burn from the 8.5% abv.

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Next up is Stone’s Enjoy By 07.04.15 (bloody Americans writing the date the wrong way round).

Pours a darker rich amber with a voluptuous fluffy white head. Even more murky than its predecessor. This beer has seen a much more dramatic decent . No floral hops have survived, giving way to a slight pine resin caramel on the nose.

More subtle alcohol burn despite the  9.4% with more caramel overtones and a darker resin replacing the once floral hops. There is hardly a hint of the hops that were once so prominent when fresh.

Overall both are still very drinkable beers despite being a year past their best before date. But Born to Die has held up much better and is by far the more drinkable beer after a year.

Unless you like how a double IPA turns into a barley wine with age then drink fresh. But if you find one in the back of the cupboard don’t pour it away, send it to me.

 


FeeDtheTramP BreWco the RebooT

Like all good superhero movies, it’s time for a reboot.

I haven’t brewed for longer than I can remember, I think the last time was the Christmas before last. In the house that I live in now it only has an induction hob and i don’t fancy trying to get a rolling boil on it when it heats by turning on and off. It is annoying enough trying to cook pasta. So, the only brewing I have done since living here has been at my mam’s.

Well a couple of weeks ago I went round my mates and we brewed a beer on his system. It was a sort of replica of Brewdog’s Tokyo*. That one still has a bit of time on some oak chips before being ready to bottle. He hasn’t got the best system in the world, a couple of tea urns, a good mash tun and some racking to give three tiers. But it was a million times better than my pans, cool box and hob setup.

I’ll admit I was a bit jealous. So I ended up buying a tea urn and a few other bits.

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It might not look like much but this was a big step up from what I had and much easier.

So what was I going to brew? Well, something I have been thinking about for a while is a braggot. Never having brewed one I wasn’t sure on how much honey to use so I created this recipe for about 10L.

  • Maris Otter 2kg
  • Honey 1.02kg
  • Crystal 500g
  • Flaked Barley 300g
  • Flaked Rye 250g
  • Cascade 11g @75min
  • Centennial 11g @75min
  • Cascade 3g @65min
  • Centennial 3g @65min
  • Cascade 8g @0min
  • Centennial 8g @0min
  • Simcoe 8g @min

Hopefully it will give something tasty in a few weeks.

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Waiting for the rolling boil to start is probably my favorite part of brewing. Just staring at it thinking it is going to go, it is going to go is intoxicating.

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Banana and Golden Syrup Loaf

This is a bit of a nostalgic recipe for me. I hadn’t made one for quite a while but someone in work made a banana bread and then I saw it was Banana Bread Day, I had some browning bananas so it had to be done.

But first, why the nostalgia? Well, it is a recipe from the very first cookbook that was mine. My Mam had a couple of cook books when I was a kid that I would look through but this one was specifically mine. I must have got it around 2000, it was published in 1999 and there is a sicker on it saying it won some award in 2000.

And what is this cookbook you ask? It is Gary Rhodes New British Classics. He had a TV program out at the time and he made these awesome looking Yorkshire puddings and something that I don’t even particularly like but looked amazing when he did it, an egg custard tart. I think my Mam might have actually bought it for me for a Birthday or Christmas I would have only been about 16 at the time. I’ve still never made those Yorkshire puddings or custard tart even though every time I flick through it for ideas I always say to myself I will.

This Banana Bread recipe must be the thing that I have baked the most times. It’s so easy to do and is a great way to use up any old bananas you have laying around. It helps that it tastes good and all you really need to make it is a pair of scales, a bowl, a spoon (you could use your hands) and a loaf tin. I’m sure it would still come out fine if you banged it in any type of tin though.

I have a very strong memory of being at home, seeing a bunch of bananas that weren’t getting eaten. Looking in the cupboards for the other ingredients. Clearing a space on the counter that literally just fitted the cookbook in. Getting the scales out and putting them on top of the cookbook then mixing all the ingredients in a bowl on top of the other page. Check out the picture below and you can see that over the years I’ve spilt batter all over this page as I have done the above more than once.  There is another recipe on the page and I’ve either never made it or if I have it was just the once.

Enough of that, let’s get down to business…

Banana and Golden Syrup Loaf!!!

  • 225g Self-raising Flour.
  • 100g Butter, softened.
  • 4 ripe and I mean ripe Bananas, mashed.
  • 50g Soft Dark Brown Sugar.
  • 4tbsp Golden Syrup.
  • 4 Eggs.

This fills a 2lb greased and lined loaf tin and you will need the oven preheated to 180°C.

Now for the hard bit. Bang all the ingredients in a bowl, mix up well, bosh the mix into the loaf and whack this in the oven for about 50-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Take out of the oven, let it cool in the tin for 10 mins and turn out to cool on a wire rack.

Not hard was it? Even a little kid could do it and they should. If you have got kids then get them to make this. If not, then just make it yourself. It’s a bit different compared to cupcakes or something with chocolate. You can let them mash the bananas in their hands and it is only one bowl you have to wash up.

My secret tip, don’t eat it for at least a day. The banana flavours come out so much more after it has matured for a day or two than they do when it first cools down. I’m not sure how long it keeps for but I have usually eaten the full thing on my own after two or three days.

It’s a good recipe to add stuff to, 50g of chopped nuts is recommend in the book and I pretty much always do this. Pecans or walnuts work very well but this last time I just used a bag of mixed nuts that had Brazils, Almonds, Cashews and Hazelnuts as well as Walnuts. Besides nuts I’ve put chopped up chocolate in before. Again about 50g will be enough.

Thinking about it you could even try adding some other fruit as well, Cranberries perhaps.

I might do this next time, or better still those chocolate coated cranberries you can get, hold on do I have any bananas left…

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Food @HandFMarlow by @ChefTomKerridge

Yesterday I had my second visit to the still Two Michelin Stared Hand & Flowers Marlow owned by this year’s AA Chefs’ Chef of the year Tom Kerridge.

I went around this time two years ago (it is my birthday, my girlfriend’s birthday and our anniversary this week) when they only had one Michelin Star but it was a week maybe two later that it was announced that they had been awarded the second. It was brilliant and I couldn’t wait to go again. Tom being on the telly a lot since then hasn’t helped this and it has taken a couple of years to get a table at a time we could go. I guess the building work they are doing at the moment has helped that.

Anyway, lets get down to business. I’m going to do this in the style of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good…

The food was fantastic again. You get complimentary whitebait and bread before the meal.

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To start, I had the Demi “En Croute” of Whole Baby Truffle with Foie Gras and Port. While Mrs TramP had the Parfait of Duck and Foie Gras with Orange Chutney and Toasted Brioche.

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It was a bit pointless Mrs TramP looking at the starter menu as she was always going to get this. She had it last time, loved it, and was always going to get it again. I had a little bit, it is so rich and scrumptiously (I wanted to put umptiously but that isn’t a word) lovely. I would of had it myself but I like to get different things. Mine was equally decadent. Brilliant flavours, the texture was a little unusual but the sauce that went with it was fantastic.

Next up, the mains. I had Roast Lancashire Grouse with Hand and Flowers Carrot, Lime, Toasted Lentil Dahl and Carrot Cake. While Mrs TramP opted for the Tenderloin of Wiltshire Pork with Pickled Mustard Leaf, Malt Glazed Cheek, Garlic Sausage and Potato Dauphine.

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Oh, and we shared some Broccoli with Hollandaise Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts on the side. For anyone that knows me this is going to sound bizarre, but on my plate was maybe the best thing of the entire meal…the carrot! It was the most fantastically sweet carrot tasting carrot I have ever had. Bonkers I know. Mrs TramP’s pork dish was an adventure of flavours. Every bit was so different but all blended brilliantly to make the whole dish come together. I would have had this myself but she got in there before me.

Desert is where my rule of getting something different went out the window. The last time I went they had a pear soufflé that ruined all other deserts for me. To my delight when opening the menu (I think I went to the desert page first) they had pear soufflé on again. It was slightly different, this one was a Pear Soufflé with Caraway Crumble, Caramelised White Chocolate Ice Cream and Pear Sauce.

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We both had it. It was great but the one I had last time was better. I think last time there was cinnamon and maybe walnut. Caraway is pretty distinctive and I’m not sure it went with the pear as well. It was still really good though.

That was the good. The food as fantastic, couldn’t fault it.

The Bad…

I wouldn’t say anything was bad. Just not as good as last time and slightly below expectations of a restaurant like this.

The service was lacking a bit. I think the main problem was waiting times. The Hand & Flowers is small and as a result busy. You get a two hour slot and that is it. With this in mind I want to be served quickly at every point. Because we had been before we arrived pretty much bang on time as we knew if you are early you don’t get sat down and there isn’t really anywhere to go. Last time we also ended up sat outside having a drink while waiting for a taxi. We were seated and given menus, our drinks order was taken pretty quickly but it must have been at least ten minutes before our food order was taken. Five minutes of that we must have been sat not looking at the menu. It was then another five or ten minutes before the whitebait and bread came. After that the starter and main came out at good intervals. Some how the people on the table next to us came in after we did, ordered after we did but received their food before we did. They did have bread but I’m not sure they had the whitebait so I am guessing that was the reason.

The next wait was to order desert. We knew what we were going to have but we took the menu anyway to look at teas and coffees on offer. This wait felt like forever. After about two minutes we had decided. We closed and piled up the menus and waited…and waited. There are what feel like a million people running around all with specific jobs, I wasn’t going to grab one to say look we don’t have much time and we what the soufflé that takes fifteen minutes to cook. We must have waited for at least fifteen minutes to order a couple of soufflés a pot of tea and a coffee.

Although I have another waiting gripe there were a couple of other little things about the standard of service. This one was probably my fault, I have a bit of a thick Wigan, Scouse, Manc mash of an accent but when I ordered my main I said “Roast Lancashire Grouse” and the waitress said, “lamb bun?” “No, the grouse”, I pointed, she looked at me like I had two heads, I said “grouse” again, still pointing. She understood. I can’t be that bad at speaking, maybe I am. When the starters came the waitress who brought them had mine in her left hand and Mrs TramP’s in her right. I’m sure she said “Foie Gras Parfait”, I pointed and said “that is hers”. She then leant over me to give Mrs TramP my starter. I had to stop her and tell her that one was mine. Am I that bad at speaking? Probably.

That leads to another thing. This one is Michel Roux’s fault for doing that program about service. This really wasn’t something that I was bothered about (or even thought about at the time), neither was people not being able to understand what I say. But, all Mrs TramP’s food was served across me. It is pretty small in there, and we were sat in a pretty shit position next to where the food comes out. The waiting staff all came past me to get out of the way and then put the food down. But if they were quick they could have stood on my left to put Mrs TramP’s food down and then walk around me to put mine down. I suppose they don’t make a rule of serving from one side and not over people as it is pretty small and on some of the tables it would probably be difficult to do.

I feel like I’m saying the service was crap. It wasn’t, it just wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t as good as last time and it wasn’t what I was expecting from a two Michelin Star restaurant. One guy, the main one, was really good. My beer was getting low, he asked did I want another. He pointed out to other staff that peoples drinks were getting low. When he brought food out he told the people he was serving what they were getting. He had an approachable manor,  I noticed that when other people asked questions it was almost always to him. There are what I would say a lot of people serving and they all have their own roles and it is clear that some are there to top drinks up and not say anything. But for me that can be a bit strange. One bad thing though, he didn’t ask me did I want a third beer when my second ran out. Mrs TramP had a full glass of wine. I had nothing and I finished drinking my beer during the time we were waiting for our deserts. I probably wouldn’t have had a beer but I would have had something else if someone had asked. Again, with that many people running around I didn’t know which one to grab to ask for a drink, so I didn’t ask and just waited.

I’m sure you have been waiting to hear about more waiting. This is a real bugbear of mine. It happens to me all the time in restaurants and does make me really agitated and irritated. The bill! We finished desert, we finished our tea and coffee. I wan’t to order an Armagnac, Mrs TramP wanted a port and we both wanted the bill. But no-one came to us, we must have been sat there for another ten or fifteen minutes waiting. The people on the table next to us had asked for the bill, it came, the server walked off, the guy spent thirty seconds reading the bill (as everyone does), he got his credit card out (as most people do) and he sat and waited for at least ten minutes (why do we have to wait?). This is what really bugs me everywhere I go. I ask for the bill, I want to pay and leave. I don’t want to wait ten minutes for a card machine to appear.

So you might have guessed. All that unnecessary waiting throughout the evening meant that when we asked for the bill our time was up. A bit annoying but I knew we only had two hours. We ended up stood at the bar (in the way of everyone) waiting for someone to take my money and give us our drinks. We must have been stood there at least five minutes before the bar man took payment and I had to say we were waiting for drinks. More irritating was no-one took our seats in the entire time it took us to be served, drink our drinks and leave (maybe the next people were late).

The Ugly…

What can I say for this bit. There isn’t anything really besides it being a restaurant and not a pub. I’m not sure why they say it is a pub. It isn’t. It wasn’t two years ago when I went and it still isn’t now. Hopefully with the bar extension that is happening it will become a pub and after your two hours is up you will have somewhere to go and have a few drinks without having to stand at a tiny bar covered in empty glasses right in the way of everyone.

Other ugly parts, unrelated to the restaurant. The people in there. I know I’m a scruffy bastard, I have a rather large beard, dreadlocks, I’m overweight and I struggle with smart casual. I know there isn’t a dress code in there and it is supposed to be a pub but come on, you are going to a nice restaurant, make a little more of an effort than jeans and t-shirt or a scruffy old jumper with holes in it.

That bad section looks really long. It wasn’t at all bad, if you get the chance to go then you should. The food is fantastic and to be honest I couldn’t give a shit how I’m served it.

I think what made the waiting around worse was one particular bloke in there who wouldn’t stop talking crap. Long story short, a guy proposed to his girlfriend and the guy on the table next to them wouldn’t shut up about it, to the point were after the couple that got engaged left and new people sat down he started to tell them about it. He also talked shit about the building work that was going on. He said they were supposed to be shut for all of September but they had changed it “a couple of weeks ago” and are going to be shut for October. Erm, what? I booked on the 10th of July and at that time it said that the restaurant would be shut for three days in October, not all of it! When the new people came in who he was regaling about the previous people getting engaged he started telling them what to get and he said get the pork it is a “creation” and that even the waitress had told him not to get the steak as he can get steak anywhere and the pork was a “creation” so get that. Shut up, no she didn’t. I heard him order (yes he was very loud as well), the waitress came back to take the order and he said to her, “I was going to get the steak, but I can get steak anywhere can’t I? I want a creation and well the pork, that is more of a creation isn’t it? Yes, I will have the pork, that is a creation”. In that time he didn’t pause, and the waitress didn’t say anything. I remember what he said as it was super irritating him keep saying “creation”.

So that is that.

The (very) Good, the food.

The (slightly) Bad, the service.

The Ugly, the clientèle.


Adventures in Home Brewing @FeeDtheTramP BreWco

Well, a while ago, probably about two years if not three I decided I wanted to start brewing beer at home. I did a bit of Google searching and was swamped with far too much information, most of it from Americans. Nothing wrong with Americans but reading recipes in pounds and ounces and gallons (American gallons are not the same as British gallons) is a bit off putting. I bought some books, started to read them. Everything was focused around 5 gallon batches and that is about where I gave in. I was living in a small flat in Manchester, I thought I would have to spend loads on a massive pan that could hold more than 5 gallons of water and I had a crap hob that took about an hour to boil a pan of water to make some pasta.

Fast forward a few years, a change in address and I started thinking about brewing again. But the 5 gallon thing was still really putting me off. The books I had might have been a bit too detailed and everything seemed to want you to start with extract brewing. I didn’t want to do that, I felt it would be like going getting a cake mix, what is the point.

But then, Twitter and Facebook to the rescue. I started seeing a few people brewing, mainly @johncolemanuk, @hopsinjoor and my mate Chris from uni. They all looked like they were getting good results and I wanted in on the action. But still 5 gallon was a huge blocker. Then John put a photo up of him brewing and he had a bottle next to the pot he was brewing in and I thought, there is no way that holds five gallons. I asked him about it and it didn’t, he only did one gallon batches. He pointed me in the direction of a few books The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book probably being the best one. It focuses on one gallon brews. Speaking to Chris, he only did one gallon batches as well. Chris had started on extract and worked up to all grain. John dived in at the deep end straight to all grain. Things were looking up. Al seemed to be making great beers as well so I decided that was it.

I bought some stock pots, tubes, airlocks, a cool box, some plumbing bits, bottle caps, capper, thermometer, hydrometer, paddle, syphon. The thing I already had was about 10 demijohns from when my Dad used to make wine when I was a kid. I cobbled together a mashtun and got it water tight over a weekend and then I bought all the stuff for actually brewing a beer. I sort of decided to myself I would just make stouts. Everyone seems to make American IPAs or Double IPAs and I thought I wouldn’t bother as most I buy are pretty good and it is unlikely I will make a better one. Stouts on the other hand can be a bit hit or miss.

I took a recipe out of the Brooklyn book, substituted a few things to what I had and I got cracking. It didn’t go well. My mash temp fell too much so I used my sparge water heating it back up. I spilt a few times whilst syphoning, cooling took far longer than I thought it would and then putting it in the demijohn I thought it didn’t seem to be a gallon. I realise now that american gallon<imperial gallon, I had spilt quite a bit and I didn’t get all the wort (wert) out of the mash tun, it was never going to fill the one gallon demijohn. It tasted proper bitter and horrible before I started fermenting. I didn’t have high hopes.

So after reading another book on one gallon brews that used way way way more water I gave another brew a go the next week. This time I over compensated with the water, I added peanut butter before later reading about how you need to get rid of the oil or use powdered. I didn’t hold out much hope for this one either.

I thought I best taste them before brewing anything else. To my surprise after a couple of weeks in the bottle my first stout tasted pretty good. Not the best stout I have ever had but I have certainly paid for worse. I gave one to someone in work who said “A stout so stout it is practically rotund”. Then it was time for the 2nd brew. This wasn’t so good, no peanut butter, I think having too much water meant that there wasn’t enough hops to bitter it properly. It mainly tasted of maris otter. But to be fair, can still drink it and after a couple of months in the bottle it is more like a stout and has a bit of a nutty taste.

Then came the 3rd brew. The other two had both come out at about 4% ABV. I wanted something stronger. Found a recipe that would do that, made some substitutions. I decided I wanted it to be chocolate, I like the mouth feel of oatmeal stouts and I wanted the sweetness of a milk stout. So to the base recipe I added some porridge oats to the mash, and then some lactose and grated chocolate to the boil. Fermentation looked like it had gone ok but after two weeks the FG was nowhere near where I wanted it to be. After having a bit of a read online I swirled up all the yeast from the bottom. It started fermenting again and didn’t stop fermenting for about a week and a half. The chocolate all seemed to just fall out and sit on top of the yeast at the bottom, I’m not sure if this had stopped fermentation early in the first week. This time the FG was fine so I bottled it.

That has been in the bottle two weeks and last night I cracked it open. I have to say this beast is the best of the bunch. Sweet, slightly chocolaty, and deceptive at 7.2% ABV. Will see how it develops in another couple of weeks, I have high hopes.

So now I have given in and I am going to make a Double IPA. I’ve still got some ideas for stouts, the next is probably going to be a Big Blackcurrant Stout.

Let the brewing continue…