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A few low rumbles.

About the blog

The blog is generally for friends to share what I have been getting up to but also for the public if there is anything of interest.

The website main page is located at:

My First Brew Pt3: Tasting

Brewing & Beer Posted on 25 Feb, 2012 17:47:05

1 week after bottling:

Colour: Brown

Alcohol: 3.8-3.9% ABV

Carbonation: light

Bitterness: High

Body: Moderate to Full.

Head Retention: Good

It has come out as quite a tasty bitter, with a lot of flavour! Absolutely not like an IPA though but its all good.

My First Brew Pt2: Bottling

Brewing & Beer Posted on 19 Feb, 2012 18:58:39

Yesterday I bottled my first brew, the ‘St. Peters IPA.

It looked remarkably dark, closer to something like newcastle brown in colour than a pale ale. The little taste I had seemed okay though. After reading a bit apparently this can happen with the liquid malt extracts if you boil them up they can scorch a bit. A few people reported the same thing happening with this kit. Anyway, next time I won’t use a kit.

I’ve primed it with 25 teaspoons of cane sugar for the whole 38 pint batch.

I only got 35 bottles out of it though, I was a bit scared to syphon too much of the crap from the bottom of the fermenter so wasted a bit – and I have drunk a little too ;P

It isn’t as dark as it looks – they are brown bottles. I also forgot to take a gravity reading before I added the sugar so I’ll have to work out the alcohol level when I open the first bottle after they’ve conditioned for a week or so. I haven’t used finings at any stage so I’m hoping the bottles will clear naturally.

The disgusting yeasty remains at the bottom of the fermenting bucket. Well, the yeast certainly has been busy!

My latest batch of purple…

Science Posted on 16 Feb, 2012 11:44:33

Dear All,

After spending nearly an hour cutting up a big lump of sodium into tiny little pieces with a scalpel I found it was surprisingly had work. I had to be very careful that the sweat gathering on my brow did not land into the beaker of highly reactive sodium metal and flammable solvent. You can probably guess the result if it did, – sodium goes nuts, ignites the solvent, I wave goodbye to my eyebrows. I suppose this is always a risk with chemistry.

I was wondering, is it acceptable to to wear a sweatband around my forehead for safety reasons along with my labcoat, gloves and goggles or do you reckon that’ll get me sectioned? I’m not scared of the fashion police anyway!

So I made some nice deep purple, as you can see, He is watching over it for me.

Warning! Stop reading here if you’re not a geek….
(Who am I kidding, if you got this far you ARE a geek!)

What I’m doing here is step B in the diagram below:

Yesterday I took DCPD (dicyclopentadiene) which is the thing on the far left and split it down into two parts (CPD, cyclopentadiene) by heating it to 180C and collecting the lower boiling point CPD via a distillation. This is because the single CPD reacts faster in todays step. This step is an equilibrium, the CPD will turn back into DCPD if left unattended at room temperature.

The CPD is mixed with sodium metal which reduces it (forces it to have an extra electron) and this forms the blue/red sodium cyclopentadienyl complex. This is extremely air sensitive so the whole lot has to be kept under pure nitrogen via the black tube (AKA His Noodly appendage).

Tomorrow I bubble carbon dioxide through this mixture which gets attacked by the negative charge on the complex and then reforms the two component ‘DIMER’ complete with COOH groups on each end.

Mongol Rally – The Unfinished Blog

Travel Posted on 10 Feb, 2012 07:54:25

This Summer myself and 4 other chaps drop to Mongolia in two 1 litre Suzuki swifts. No joke.

We never finished our blog.

It makes it sound like we’re still getting drunk in Kazakhstan.

We’re not. We did finish, we did survive but we were too lazy to finish the blog.

I hope we can still finish it though!

I’ll post some of the best stories here too when I get time.


Recording with Salvi Moreno

Bass Guitar Posted on 10 Feb, 2012 07:42:31

At the back end of last year I was privileged to enter the studio with a chap called ‘Salvi Moreno’ in order to record the bass lines for his 2nd album.

He’d come over from Spain and booked a studio up in the north of England in order to get more of a ‘British Rock’ sound. I think the results were great. It is impressive how much information can be passed through arm waving and gesticulation but I am glad his friend Keith was around for the occasional in depth translation.

You can listen to the music here, most of the tracks on there are new but there are a few from his earlier album ‘The Tribe Without Fingers’.

And some pics 🙂

Me with the ‘Fleeter Spazz’ .

My recording setup.

For the music geeks – on the right is my amp which consists of an Ampeg SVP-Cl into a mesa 5050 driving an swr workingmans 4×10 (which I have rewired stereo). Into it I generally played my jazz bass clone ‘the fleeter spazz’ pictured above. The other amp I used was the 70s Fender Bassman on the left through the marshall cab – nice and vintage. I found it paired nicely with my Dad’s old (fretless) Fender Telecaster bass.

My First Brew

Brewing & Beer Posted on 10 Feb, 2012 07:28:37

I’ve decided, as an appreciator of fine beer and a chemist it is pretty shameful that I’ve not yet had a go at making my own. Now with access to a cellar for the bubbling cauldrons I’ve finally got a chance.

Through ebay, homebrew websites and local brewshops I’ve put together the very basic and minimal kit.

A big pan for boiling the wort.

A plastic 20L fermenting vessel

An airlock

A syphon

Paddle, sieve, funnels.



Bottle capper

Pressure Barrel (didn’t really need this one desperately but it came with an ebay buy).

Sterilising powder.

I also bought a little immersion heater that dangles in the brew and keeps the temperature in the low 20s (the cellar is quite cold). It wouldn’t be needed if it was in a spare bedroom or something.

I thought the first thing I’d do was brew from a kit. I bought ‘St Peters IPA’ which is an all extract recipe, that is no additional refinined sugars and no mashing grains myself. I armed myself with the fantastic website/book ( How to brew by John Palmer ) and got going.

Here is a pic of my first ‘wort’, that is the unfermented malt extract and water. To this was added some hop extract (I’d have preferred to use real hops but this is what came with the kit – next time!).

The website I mentioned says not to trust the no name brand yeast that comes with kits because it is often dead so I bought some extra and used two packets of Munton’s standard. It was a good call to use the different yeast because when I proofed them (pic below) the one that came with the kit didn’t seem very active. Unfortunately I found out later that the additional yeast used might not be suitable for dealing with the complex sugars present in an all malt extract recipe. Oh well… we’ll see how it goes.

The original gravity (6/2/12) of the cooled wort was 1.044 – a little lower than expected – maybe I put a little too much water on. I checked the gravity a few days in (9/2/12) and it had dropped to 1.020 which equates to just under 4% alcohol I think. I tasted the sample and it was actually quite drinkable for an imature flat yeasty sample. I’ll leave it in the fermenter a while longer and test the gravity again in a few days – let it condition at cellar temperature for a week or 2 then bottle.

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