Saturday, March 27, 2010

My first post and the tale of The Old Speckled Hen

If you're reading this the chances are that you either know me or have an interest in brewing, or both. I've decided that my brewing should be blogged as up to now it's just been written to forums and my handy moleskine brewlog. I'll also use this blog now and again to blog stuff I cook, I have to get used to this though because I did a risotto the other night and forgot the camera and was thinking afterwards that it would have been good to have photos for the blog, but it was tasty.

I knocked up a beer on Sunday, It's an old speckled hen clone, which is about my favourite cask ale.
Here's the recipe I ended up using.

Type: Partial Mash

Batch Size: 57.00 L

Brewer: Eoin

Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.75 kg muntons light
Extract 35.5 %
1.12 kg Lyle's Golden Syrup
Extract 10.6 %
4.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter
Grain 37.8 %
1.25 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt
Grain 11.8 %
0.20 kg Wheat Malt Grain 1.9 %
100.00 gm Northern Brewer [8%] (60 min) Hops 42.5 IBU
37.50 gm Goldings [4.00%] (15 min) Hops 3.6 IBU
25.00 gm Goldings [4.00%] (5 min) Hops 1.0 IBU
0.25 kg Demerara Sugar (3.9 EBC) Sugar 2.4 %

I reused 4 cups Danstar Nottingham Yeast from my last batch because the yeast was a little fluffy and had a lot of break material in it.

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.054 SG

Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.2 %
Bitterness: 47 IBU
Est Color: 19.4 EBC Color:

Ingredients all laid out and ready.

A bit of history about the old speckled hen which I have taken from this thread which is also where I got most of the recipe from, I've added the wheat malt myself for increased head retention. I'm using pH 5.2 mash stabiliser for the first time.

"Old Speckled Hen was first brewed in Abingdon, Oxfordshire to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the local MG car factory. WHY? I hear you ask. Well, sit back, relax, and I'll tell you. The name is actually derived from the term "owld speckled 'un", used to describe an old MG car which was used as a factory run-around. Through time, this strange, canvas-covered saloon became covered with flecks of paint and was dubbed the "owld speckled 'un" by locals. There you are, simple and completely uninteresting. The brewing of Old Speckled Hen was transferred in 1999 from Abingdon in Oxfordshire to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. These days Greene King brews all its beers in Bury St Edmunds, where ale has been a feature of life since at least as far back as 1086."

For my partial mash I used the brew in a bag technique and sparged as well as I could.
Despite the pH stabiliser my pH didn't drop below 6.1. I'll keep an eye on this because if it's not worth it then it's not worth it.

Brew in a bag ready to go, the bag was made by my ever so talented wife
The other pic is of the boil in full swing. I skimmed off the hot break material as well as I could, it saves on boilovers.
There was lots of cold break material and hops left in the boiler at the end.

Gratuitous gunk shot.(ooh err matron)

Once done , I ran off the wort, I ended up with 58l of 1.052 wort, which should end up about 5.2% ABV which is on target.

The whole lot then went into the fridge with a few cupfuls of the Notty sludge from my last brew.

The wife got me an old fridge for free off one of her forums and I modified it with some Kingspan insulation and polyurethane sprayfoam to fit my fermenter. I then bypassed the thermostat on the fridge so it's permanently on when plugged in and then attached it to an ATC-800+ which has the ability to turn on heat and cold circuits to maintain a temperature within a degree either side of a set temperature. I have a heat belt attached to the heating circuit and the cold is on the fridge. I have it set to 18c as I like the low flavour profile of the Nottingham yeast at low temperatures.

I did a bottling session the same day, I'll post about that shortly.


  1. Welcome to the blogosphere. I like the template, as reversed out copy is so much easier on the eye.
    Is the fridge the bottom pic?

  2. The fridge is in the bottom two shots. I've changed the template a little but kept the white on black. I still haven't got the hang of the formatting, I need to get some of the text matching the photos.

  3. Nice one. I'll pass the site on to a few people I know who like to/starting to brew

  4. Baino? No, I chat to her a fair bit, but growup's an out of date alter ego of the chap who posted about AxeCop on fb. My iPod just chose it as my id.

  5. Nice one, I love Ye Olde Speckled Hen myself but it is a wee bit on the strong side so I need to dose it carefully.

  6. Hi Aidan, the speckled is now down to 4.2% since they changed their manufacturing plant, much to the chagrin of their core drinkers and the beardy CAMRA mob. Mine is actually approximating the older original brew. It is strong at 5.2% so I will definitely have to be careful, I generally prefer the lower session strength beers, but hey as long as it tastes good, and I have high hopes for this one :)

  7. I think the bottle is still at 5.2%.

  8. I'll to look for the bottles the next time I want to get obliterated ;-)

  9. I just checked the gravity on this and it's hit the 1.014 that beersmith predicts, I'll leave it another week at least until bottling/kegging.