Don’t make beer with a hangover, kids. It’s not big, and it’s not clever. You just end up making mistakes.


  1. Mixed up the grain bill for the recipe with my inventory of grain and only realised when I found the recipe supposedly called for 1kg of chocolate – way too much for a half batch. I’d already mixed Crystal by this stage and had to try to scoop some of it out!
  2. Added a full bag of DME before remembering that I’d upped the grain bill so I wouldn’t need to use DME.
  3. Started the mash at 68 degrees when I was supposed to be doing a stepped mask at 40.
  4. Added water to bring the temperature down, which is pointless because the grain had already been mashing at 68 – and you can’t go back. Advice from a homebrewing friend:

    When you really overshoot a temperature, there is really no return. The reason is that the different temperatures correspond to the peak activity of a particular enzyme or enzymes. Once you go above that temperature they tend to denature quite rapidly. So by the time you add your water and go back, you might have already lost the enzymes that you wanted.  So your best bet in those situations is to just take the temp you have and live with it.

  5. Let the lead from my new Ikea thermometer fall into the gas. It may claim to be resistant to heat upto 230 degrees celsius, but apparently not if that heat is from flames. Result? Calibration is screwed, taking my mash temperatures with it at the same time.

Despite all this, after recalculating the recipe to take account of the extra water and DME, I hit within 0.002 of the predicted OG – given that the recipe was all malted wheat, flaked barley, flaked oats, chocolate, and crystal – ie, no 2-row – there was a danger there wouldn’t be enough diastic power to convert the starch in the flaked barley and oats. So I’m pretty happy I got close.

Screw-ups didn’t stop when the beer was finished though – guess who made a special trip from Tokyo to Yokohama to go to Thrash Zone (for some serious IPA on draft) only to find out that the place is closed on Sundays? Yip. Me.

Second choice of Yokohama Cheers was also closed. Don’t people drink in Yokohama on Sundays?!

Yokohama Brewery

Yokohama Brewery

I ended up at Yokohama Brewery and I finally got my IPA fix there, not only with their “standard” IPA, but also from their new Green Fresh IPA (nice!)

It wasn’t easy though – Yokohama Brewery has two levels: Pivovar downstairs and the restaurant upstairs.. and they sell different beers! They refused to let me order a downstairs beer upstairs and I had to talk with the manager before they would nurse my IPA fetish with Green Fresh. And by the time I got my hands on Green Fresh, it was last orders.

Finally I got them to bring me Pivovar's menu

Finally I got them to bring me Pivovar's menu

Still, in the time I was attempting to get Pivovar’s menu, I did work through one or two other beers – everything on the upstairs menu actually, except the half and half:

The upstairs beer menu

The upstairs beer menu

Favourites were: White Ale (like Hitachino Nest White Ale but less strong), Pale Ale (very nice caramel taste – best of the standard beers), Amber Ale (though the pale ale was better), IPA (could have been hoppier, but nice bitterness – second best of the standard beers)

Middling: Pilsner (was a bit flat), Weizen (pretty standard), Alt (a little heavy)

Didn’t think much of: Fruit Ale

From the Pivovar menu I tried the Pixie Orange Ale, which I personally found a bit boring – the orange taste was too subtle to be refreshing, and the Green Fresh IPA. The Green Fresh was the star of the night, though some may find it a little too bitter.

Yokohama Brewery is here - Exit 5 of Bashamichi Station, walk straight and the turn right at the Richmond Hotel

Yokohama Brewery is here - Exit 5 of Bashamichi Station, walk straight and then turn right at the Richmond Hotel

I returned home to try Dogfish 60 minute, 90 minute, and 120 minute IPA – the 60 minute was passible, but the 90 and 120 minute were awful, tasting thick and gloopy. The 120m especially tasted almost like Scottish Ale – possibly not surprising since I’ve just found out the 120m is 21% ABV (though no actual ABV was written on the bottle; I found that figure by searching on Google).

They should have made me oh-so-hoppy

They should have made me oh-so-hoppy

I was expecting bursts of hop flavour from those beers. That’s no what I got. I actually couldn’t even finish the 90m and 120m IPAs. It was heart-wrenching throwing away half a bottle of 120m – it costs the same as Westvletern 12, ie. 1900 yen / 10 quid a bottle.

Finished off with Lagunitas Maximus IPA which tasted awful at first because the 120 minutes taste was still in my mouth, but better towards the end – not the hop monster I hoped for though.

Wheat Porter

Intended to be all grain, ended up with some DME in it (see story above)

Boil volume: 16L
Batch size: 14L (actually came out about 13.5L)

Predicted OG: 1.056
Actual OG: 1.054

Predicted IBU: 26 (though I FWH’d so may be up to 10% more)

Mash schedule (see story above):
11L at 59degrees for 15m, then should have been 68degrees for 60m but varied between 58 and 70
7L at 75 degrees for 25m
Cooling – In the sink (IC has been returned!) A little ice added at the end to make up batch volume and cool.

1.6kg Wheat malt
90g Crystal 150L (with a touch of 40L and 15L due to measuring cock-up)
300g Chocolate
100g Black patent
300g Flaked barley
300g Flaked oats
500g Extra-light DME

9g Nugget 14.6% – FWH + 60m. FWH from 87degrees, taking 10m to get to boil – so 70m total.
8g Nugget 5m

Yeast: S-04
I boiled 1L of water with 100g of DME to use for feeding the yeast I cultivated in May. I had 250ml of this left so rehydrated the S-04 in it. VERY active.
Pitched too high at 30degrees, but I had to go out and I didn’t want to leave the yeast unpitched.

I’ll ferment this in the chamber at 19degrees. I may get some coconut and rack some or all onto coconut.

Update: Almost forgot! I dry hopped Beer seventeen (America v Britain Superpower IPA) with 4.1g each of Fuggles and Cascade. FG is 1.016, which is a bit better than I achieved with S-04 and no fermentation chamber (this time I used US-05 and the fermentation chamber – I suspect the US-05 is a bit better at attenuating down than the S-04).