10th Anniversary Jaipur Brewday at Thornbridge Hall Brewery

I have long known I do my finest work after a pint or 2 and this was no exception, I saw on Twitter that Thornbridge Brewery were auctioning off a brewday in support of The Rotary Jaipur Limb fund, I placed a bid thinking I would never win but win I did – and it was worth every penny.

Every year I try to do a little good in the world and anyone who has had a look through the various pages on this blog will know I work offshore in the oil and gas industry and let’s just say my employment leaves me somewhat devoid of that warm fuzzy feeling!

So after a few emails with Alex at the brewery the brewday was set for Friday the 5th June, which was lucky as I had just got home from work on the Wednesday before. Minor inconvenience is I live in London so 4:30am on the Friday the alarm went off, in the car by 5 and after getting the toe down I was in Bakewell by 8am, I was being joined by a good friend – Steve, he was traveling from Plymouth so had an even earlier start!

We met up at the brewery at about 8.30 and after a cup of tea headed up to the Thornbridge Hall brewery to meet Pete the brewer at the Hall, at which point we started mashing in for the 10bbl brew, about 400kg of low colour Marris Otter malt, Thornbridge get most of their malt from Simpsons (looking in their grain/mill room) which is annoying as I can’t get any malt from them as they don’t supply home brewers or home brew shops (that I am aware of). And yes that is right just the one malt, it appears the greatest beers are pretty simple!

Below is a picture of the HLT, Mashtun and Copper, and possible the best warning sign I have seen in a brewery!


And me helping to mash in, and no its not sweat its just a shadow!!

stiring the mash

While the mash was happening at a toasty 69degC I mainly asked lots of questions about water profiles and sulphate to calcium ratios as any home brewer would, along with fermentation profiles and yeast. On a side note it is also interesting to know that even that the Riverside brewery is capable of doing stepped mashed its rare the use it, most beers are produced using a single infusion mash!

There were no big surprises on the water front, it’s just bog standard mains water (for the Hall brewery) with some additions to get the sulphate/chloride ratio to what you would expect for an IPA, balanced with hitting the right mash pH, again no surprise. The full water profile is also given in the IPA book by Mitch Steel, along with a recipe for Jaipur which is pretty close.

Following the mash was the run off/sparge to the boiler, and here is the compulsory sparge shot!


The mashtun was fairly full so the last of the runnings took a while to drain, approximately 30 min later the boil was on and the first of 2 hop additions went in. The first addition being at the start of the boil, 52 IBU’s, the hop of choice being whole flower Magnum, the key here is just a clean bittering addition.

At this point Alex was back with lunch and a few beers, as the boil was for 75 min, we had time for a look round the gardens and Thornbridge Hall, all I can say I wow the whole place is fantastic, it is the quintessential English home modernised for living today, the basement bar was fantastic as was “Jim’s bar” too on the ground floor, and here is possibly the most famous statue in the craft beer world, well in the UK anyway!


Back in the brewery we add over 7kg of flame out whole flower hops into 1600L of wort, a blend of Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, and Columbus. After a 20 min stand/circulation the wort was knocked out aiming for a temp in the fermenter of 18degC ish. On the way to the fermenter after the plate chiller, oxygen was added in-line, and once the knockout was complete the yeast was pitched, the fermentation then took place with temperature control kicking to stop the temperature of the fermentation going over 22degC.

I did not see it and forgot to confirm but im guessing further salt additions are also added to the boil along with yeast nutrient and a kettle finning.

For the gravity the OG that was aimed for was 13.7 plato or 1.056, and Jaipur aims for 5.9% abv which gives a FG in the region of 1.011. The Jaipur brewed on the day hit the OG bang on and finished a tad high giving an abv of 5.8%.

Yeast is an interesting point, Thornbridge use a different strain in their cask beers compared to keg and bottle, the cask strain is along the lines of West Yorkshire ale yeast the closest available to home brewers being Wyeast 1469. In the keg and bottle beers the yeast is California ale yeast WLP001, and yes they get the WLP001 (along with other yeast) in a vial from a home brew shop. The yeast is then grown up in the lab and transferred to the yeast propagation system.

Now the tricky bit and what may cause some problems for the home brewer is to get the Yorkshire ale strain to ferment out that far with a mash temp of 69degC, a lower mash temp may have to be used to achieve the correct FG – this will take some experimentation to get right I feel!

Jaipur is then dryhopped with a relatively small addition (compared to the flame out hops) of Chinook and Centennial, while the fermentation is still pretty vigorous, the duration of the dryhops is 3 days and then the beer is crash cooled when it is about 2 points above final gravity, it is then held cold for a short period before being racked into casks. Auxillary finings is added in the fermenter/racking tank and then isinglass is added to the cask.

So what makes Jaipur so good compared to IPA’s being knocked out by other breweries? From the day I spent at the Hall brewery it was obvious that are not doing anything massively different to other breweries i have seen, they certainly don’t have any big secrets – it’s simply they have a great process with attention to detail and they use the best, freshest ingredients it’s possible to get, including the use of high quality liquid yeast, no US-05, Notty or US-04 in sight! I really believe this wet yeast helps to create a beer thats leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Not to mention a simple but great recipe and countless levels of QC and QA, ensuring a consistently great product.

So as a home brewer the logic next step is to brew a beer along the lines of Jaipur, and surprise surprise that is exactly what i have done, with a few differences due to what i had available, and what I know works in my brewery.

Here is what i came up with for a 50L batch size, 80% mash efficiency. Mashed at 69degC for 60 min, yeast nutrient and whirlfloc add with 15min to go in the boil. the whirlpool was for 30min after which the wort was knocked out and transferred to the fermenter, Once cooled to 18degC the wort was oxygenated at a rate of 1L per min for 90 seconds and the yeast pitched.


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
13.06 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) low colour UK (4.0 EBC) Grain 1 100.0 %
1 1 x hopshot [14.00 %] – Boil 75.0 min Hop 2 25.1 IBUs
30.00 g Chinook [12.30 %] – Boil 75.0 min Hop 3 22.1 IBUs
70.00 g Chinook [12.30 %] – Whirlpool 30min Hop 4 8.6 IBUs
60.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Whirlpool 30min Hop 5 6.0 IBUs
50.00 g Ahtanum [6.00 %] – Whirlpool 30min Hop 6 3.0 IBUs
20.00 g Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] – Whirlpool 30min Hop 7 2.8 IBUs
20.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Whirlpool 30min Hop 8 2.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [35.49 ml] Yeast 9
50.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
50.00 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.056 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.056 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.015 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Measured Alcohol by Vol: 5.9 %
Bitterness: 70.1 IBUs
Est Color: 7.6 EBC

So the differences, which you have probably spotted, bittering hops I had no Magnum so just used a blend of Non isomerised CO2 hop extract and Chinook. Malt – I used Warminster malting Low Colour Marris Otter, its the closest grain I can get to Simpsons. Aroma hops are the same however i used pellets not whole flowers, this is again simply because its what I had. And for the biggest deviation – yeast, WLP007 has kind of turned into my go to yeast when brewing IPA’s with a bit more malt character, but still wanting it to finish dry, this and i had a vial in the fridge! The amount of dryhops has also been increased just to try and get about more out of them.

I had 1 x vial of WLP007 that was approximately 60% viability, I split this vial between 2 x 3L starters, then grew the yeast up on stirplates at a temp of 24degC, this resulted in approximately 900 billion cells being pitched giving a pitching rate of 1.3 million cells / ml / deg Plato, a bit of an over pitch I will admit put I do always tend to pitch a minimum of 1 million cells / ml / deg Plato as a general rule.

As the fermentation began to die down the dryhops were added for 3 days and then as I use conicals both the yeast and the dryhops were removed from the fermenter via the bottom port.

Then unfortunately at this point I was called back to work before i could force carb the beer and start drinking it! its now sat in the fermenter at 2degC waiting for my return, on the up side the beer will be bright when I get back home, and should not suffer from chill haze.

I will report back on the final beer in mid august.

And finally i would just like to say thanks to Jim, Alex and Pete for a fantastic day at the brewery.



Judgement day is fast approaching

It’s probably safe to say I can brew drinkable beer, people normally say its nice, but then people always tend to say that if your stood in front of them (even had a fair bit of success in competitions), but human nature steers people away from saying something confrontational even if it is the truth.

That’s what makes this next bit interesting and for me quite exciting, I have been asked and happily volunteered to brew some beer for some friend’s wedding. The question now is not so much can I brew a decent beer but can I brew beer that will be appreciated by the masses at the wedding.

After some careful consideration it was decided to brew 2 beers with a batch length of 130L each, which after losses should mean about 120L of each beer will make it into kegs for serving at the wedding.

The first beer being brewed will be a 4% pale ale which will be hopped with Citra and Amarillo to about 30IBU’s, this is a beer I have had a fair amount of success with in the past and is meant to be an easy drinking session beer. The second beer will be a 5% red ale with a whirlpool addition of Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo, and Cascade, then dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Ahtanum, Simcoe and Centennial, this time the beer will be nearer the 40IBU mark. The second beer will definitely be packing a fair amount more flavour wise than the first but still not to over the top.

But as always there is time constraint due to work, the beers will be going from raw materials to being served in 16days – nothing like making it hard for yourself, but more than doable. Getting the beer bright (well bright ish – will still have a haze) will be the tricky bit, but force carb’ing the beer will save a lot of time.

So the interesting bit will be how much of the beer will be left after the wedding, if there is lots it means one of 2 things the crowed aren’t beer lovers or the beer was not very good –I will take the latter meaning, alternative, there is not enough and I can take this as a more positive reflection on the beer!

Only time will tell I guess, but quite a pivotal point if there is any future in Retribution brewing if its ever going to be a commercial entity.



Have you ever tasted a great example of a homebrewed English Pale Ale?

Personally i have got to admit the answer to this one is a no, to date i have tried and failed a couple of times to brew one and the some of the ones I have tasted have just missed the mark. I don’t mean ones that are drinkable, I mean ones that are flawless, a totally clean fermentation, a good hit of fruitiness from British hops and a decent level of IBU’s all brought into balance by a nice biscuity malt flavour and just enough colour from a small amount of darker malt. And no more than 3.8% abv, so it’s a true session beer – 8 pints and you can still hold a conversation and then walk home.

My 3 favourite examples of the style being Coniston Brewery’s Bluebird, Timothy Taylors Landlord and St Austell’s Tribute, although I do get the feeling that Landlord is not a good as it used to be, Bluebird and Tribute are however outstanding .

Back in 2014 I had a conversation via twitter with the owner of Coniston Brewery and he indicated I was on the right lines with the recipe I had for Bluebird (it did not take much deducing it’s pretty much on the website). The recipe is basically Marris Otter, a dash of crystal and lots of Challenger hops. The water at the brewery is very soft and they then treat (im guessing here) according to Murphys water analysis adjustments for an English Pale ale. Which (info from the brewery) equates to 2kg of liquor treatment per 400 gallons again I would guess DWB by Murphys would be the treatment used. My plan will be to use the water profile outlined in the book Water for a English pale ale ensuring I hit the right mash pH which should get me in the right ball park.

The Coniston brewery yeast strain is available from BrewLabs (if you email and ask) so can be easily sourced but it does require it to be grown up from a slant. The yeast from what I have been told is a British strain and from drinking a fair amount of Bluebird is very neutral, and if anything it accentuates the hops and does not promote a malty flavour. There is no hint of diacetyl, and from seeing the brewery the yeast is also a top cropper.

So a neutral British yeast strain that’s clean and flocculates well – WLP007, only problem is it may attenuate a little to well, this can be resolved by mashing a little warmer. So your probably asking why not get the yeast from BrewLab’s which is a good point, but to be honest I have never had great results from the yeast I have gotten from them in the past (this is most likely due to a lack of knowledge when I first started brewing and growing up yeast), so just going to go with yeast I know well and again is about right.

Here is what I have come up with for the Bluebird clone, 50L batch 85%mash efficiency, mashing at 68degC for 60min with a 60min boil–


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7.54 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (4.0 EBC) Grain 1 95.0 %
0.40 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (150.0 EBC) Grain 2 5.0 %
40.00 g Challenger [9.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 20.4 IBUs
60.00 g Challenger [9.40 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 4 6.1 IBUs
100.00 g Challenger, Hop Back [7.50 %] – Boil 1.0 min Hop 5 6.8 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [35.49 ml] Yeast 6

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.038 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 3.7 %
Bitterness: 33.4 IBUs
Est Color: 11.1 EBC

And chances the beer brewed this will be entered into the 2015 UKHNC so will see how well I can brew a English pale ale, and to get feedback for future improvements.



Next Barrel Project – Dark Sour aged in a second use bourbon barrel

Curvee de Tomme is one of my favourite dark sour beer, unfortunately it’s a little difficult and a little expensive to get a hold of over here in the UK. So I am hoping to brew a dark base beer, ferment it with WLP530 in stainless, then age it in a second use bourbon barrel with Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic blend for between 6-12 months. Previous to this the barrel held a Belgian quad, which turned out well so fingers crossed.

The barrel will then have approx 100L drawn off from it and this beer will be aged on sour cherries in a stainless vessel (100L keg) for a further 6 months or so. The beer removed will be replaced by more off the same base beer.

The base beer will be brewed using a recipe from Wild Brews which as the author says – may or may not be inspired by Curvee de Tomme, the recipe is given below it will be brewed as 2 x 130L batches working on 70% mash efficiency and mashing at 67deg C and a 90min boil:


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
34.83 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 66.0 %
3.17 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC) Grain 2 6.0 %
3.17 kg Caramunich Malt (110.3 EBC) Grain 3 6.0 %
3.17 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 4 6.0 %
3.17 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 5 6.0 %
1.06 kg Chocolate Malt (689.5 EBC) Grain 6 2.0 %
1.06 kg Special B Malt (354.6 EBC) Grain 7 2.0 %
3.17 kg Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 8 6.0 %
160.00 g Challenger [7.50 %] – Boil 90.0 min Hop 9 25.4 IBUs
200.00 g Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] – Boil 2.0 min Hop 10 3.8 IBUs
lots Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) [35.49 ml] Yeast 11

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.087 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.8 % before souring
Bitterness: 29.2 IBUs
Est Color: 47.1 EBC

Will post a brewday blog when it happens