Champagne on the rocks Sept. 14th 08

  • Rebuilding the suspension bridge
    Pictures of Malcolm's 67th birthday trip which went wrong!

Carnival Time for us Boat People

  • DSC_0094
    This carnival takes place, early in each season, in Castelsarrasin

Family Falshaw

  • WP_20151223_024
    Varous holidays and visits

Family Falshaw

  • WP_20151223_024
    Varous holidays and visits

Lucie and Charlie on Holiday in Bezier

  • La petite sorcière
    Lucie's at Nini's house (Bezier) with Steve, Sophie and Charlie.

Carnival Time for us Boat People

  • DSC_0094
    This carnival takes place, early in each season, in Castelsarrasin

Champagne on the rocks Sept. 14th 08

  • Rebuilding the suspension bridge
    Pictures of Malcolm's 67th birthday trip which went wrong!

Beer making made simple on board Body and Soul


Please note; In due course, photos are to be added to the following text.

I have commissioned myself to write a commentary on how we make beer. Hopefully, you will find it instructive if planning home-brewing as a possible hobby (recommended!)

The Mash. Click for enlarged picture

 This hobby is firstly an indulgence of my friend Paul McDonnell who, having found  a fellow enthusiast with some  experience like mine, decided to build a bespoke wooden cabin, partly for brewing, in the grounds of his cottage in the port of Evran.  My role in this partnership idea was for him to learn from me how to make English Ale with the equipment he was to buy for his brewery. and with my varied, . experience as a semi-professional brewer.

Our  equipment is now large enough to brew 85 litres at a time. The normal brew volume for home brewers is 40 pints or 5 gallons, for which you will need, a 5 + gallon, food-grade plastic dustbin preferably with a screw top airtight lid  - easily available from any reputable hardwear store or, better still, your nearest home-brew shop will sell you one, made of stainess steel and with a convenienient tap at its base. (recommended).  

Professional brewers buy their malted barley from Maltsters, already milled to their specification - that's what Maltsers do in their Maltings which are buildings designed and built for this purpose. The maltster gets his barley from the farmer or from a grain  market.

Notes about maltings (before you start) 

Barley kernels are uniquely suited for brewing because their structure and enzyme levels can quickly and easily break down starches into more fermentable sugars. Specific strains of cultivated barley have tended to stay in narrow geographic regions for thousands of years, and there is very little genetic change over time.

"Ripe"  barley grain is heat-treated on special floors where it is carefully turned over repeatedly for several days at the correct temperatures and humidity until the exact moment the grain has reached the point of maximum sugar content and any particular roast flavour and colouring. (ie each seed kernal is about to sprout)

The next stage is to separate the 'sweet' flour from the husks by grinding (milling) it to the required mixture of flour and husk.

Back to the brewing ...

The milled grain is slowly stirred into carefully prepared hot water starting at around 80 C degrees in a large insulated container called a mashtun. The mash is allowed to settle at approx. 65 degrees for an hour. That is why a  mashtun is a well insulated container.

In the Mashtun the brewer is dissolving the sugar into sweet liquid form. The husks, an important part  of the remainng mix, act as a filter bed which removes the larger particles in the liquid before any further processes need take place. The resultant sweet liquid from the mashtun is now called "Wort" and should look reasonably clear - but this mashing process takes place for as long as it takes to dissolve out as much sugar as possible using techniques which circulate the hot liquor several times at 65 C  - for at least an hour- this is called sparging. In certain instances more hot water is added to extract as much sugar as possible, this is called "Lautering" and is common practice in professional breweries where efficiencies are most important.

The Boil From out of the mashtun the wort is boiled with hops, .sometimes kept separated in a porous bag of muslin. The boil will last for about an hour with various quantities of hops added at various times according to recipe and the style required. You will come to love the smell.... keep up a rolling boil which converts your sugar (starch) to a more fermentable type. By boiling, you are inverting one type of sugar (starch) into another, at the same time infusing the mixture with the hop flavours.

The Fermenter To avoid infection and to aid clarification the boiling liquid must be cooled as fast as possible - there  are many ways to achieve this.

Crash cooling,  involves various ingenious methods to achieve nervana. But as long as the liquid is kept covered or airtight, even 12 hours should be safe enough. One hour would be much safer! The rule is that the faster the cooling, the clearer and safer your resultant liquor (called "wort")

Pitching the Yeast ( There are many different strains of yeast)

Most home brewers use dried yeast .....

Fermentation will last for approximately  8/10 days  at the high end of these temperatures above.

During fermentation the brewer can expect to measure the specific gravity the OG (the "sweetness of the wort") at the start taken at 20C) and after some ten days, the final gravity (FG) when fermentation has ceased.  

OG minus FG say OG 1.063 - FG 1.019 = 0.044/0.0075 = 5.86 abv

The brewer, at this stage, may wish to lower the predicted abv by adding more  of the original water. 


The liquid that you have in your fermenter can now be called beer but it is immature and not ready for drinking before a period of maturation has  taken place. A minimum of three weeks will see a remarkable change take place both in taste and mouth feel  and its future depends upon what storage system is best suited for its purpose. It is ready for bottling or kegging, either method  must ensure that air is not allowed to affect its storage life.

Corking, capping or spiling activity and the addition of sugar to encourage secondary fermentation and dry hopping become important actions, as does the cleaning and sterilisation of all vessels involved.


So often left out of the whole process however, the importance of pouring beer into a glass properly can seriously affect  the reputation of those who serve it and the pleasure of those who are about to drink it.

The traditional hand-pull pump has the advantage of giving the server control over the speed that the beer enters a clean glass - this rightly assumes that the beer, being a live product, will vary from day to day in terms of the amount of CO2 dissolved within it, and to be knocked out of it as it enters the glass - creating what most people call "a head" or "conditioning."

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