Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boil Kettle

Did a bit of DIY this weekend and fitted a weldless tap to the 16 litre stock pot that I use for the boil stage of my brewing process. Of course I had to give it a test so I brewed up a batch of beer, it didn't leak and made the transfer process to my fermenting vessels (which you can just see in the background) much easier. I was finding that I wasted a lot of liquid trying to tip a heavy pot into a small necked glass demijohn, even with a funnel; so all in all a successful day. If you're wondering what the tubes are going into the pot then it's a copper cooling coil, essentially it hooks up to the cold tap and allows cold water to circulate through the hot beer, rapidly cooling it down to around 20 centigrade so that the yeast can be pitched into it, saves waiting hours for it to cool naturally.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Common sense

One of my Enlightenment heroes Thomas Paine was born on this day 1737, he went on to help bring about an independent USA and was a material influence on the creation of the declaration of independence and subsequent constitution. Paine was a well known free-thinker anti-royalty, anti-religion in an age when it still wasn't entirely safe to criticise those ideas, a real thought pioneer.

I feel obligated to post one of his many famous quotations so here's one that I noticed today,

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize.”

You're not wrong Tomo!

Flat rappers

Following the revelations that all of modern physics and cosmology is wrong from rapper B.o.B. this week I saw this little cartoon and felt compelled to post it, hey B.o.B. you muppet, think about it!

Rewriting history

A big fuss is being made at the moment about the statue of Cecil Rhodes in Oriel College, Oxford. Certain student groups are pressuring the college to remove the statue because they claim that Rhodes was racist and exploitative toward black people in Africa, i.e. that his fortune was built on the backs of native South Africans and therefore should not be celebrated, they demand that the statue be removed.

I don't agree with this position, not because I don't think Rhodes was racist or exploitative, I've no doubt he was one of the biggest bandits of his age but I don't think writing him out of history will solve anything useful. However, it may set a rather insidious precedent around the idea that it's necessary to "sterilise" the past, and to do this only from the perspective of the present-day. I believe this is dangerous. Modern morality deems that racism, colonial empires and imperialism are wrong (although Putin may be bucking that trend), in all of past history up to the middle of the last century this was not the case, empires were seen as fair game, by everyone! In fact the word "imperialism" was coined to refer to the exploits of Napoleon a full century before Rhodes. If we write Rhodes out of history then we need to write pretty much every successful leader up to that point out of history too, from Alexander, Xerxes, Genghis and Caesar through to Napoleon and Victoria. Empires, caliphates, dynasties and theocracies are always built on the backs of weaker people, if they weren't they'd be unions, trading zones or commonwealths; this is simply what the history of evolved primates half a chromosome away from chimpanzees looks like, we can't undo it but what we can do is learn from it, warts and all.

In almost every mass human movement there has ever been, some people benefit and some lose out (from their own perspective), religions, political systems, kings, queens, popes and empires all bring a mix of advances and injustices, we can learn things from both but we cannot easily apply moral judgement on them from the perspective of our position in the time-line for the simple reason that the moral zeitgeist changes over time. For example, even to this day the Rhodes estate provides a scholarship to non-English students at Oxford, it has so far been awarded to over 8000 students, should all those degrees now be rescinded? Our history is what it is, by looking at it we aren't in any way condoning it, rather preserving it for future generations to learn from. If we selectively erase the bits that don't suit current views on what is moral and acceptable then we make ourselves just like the regimes, imperialists, theocrats and despots that we are claiming to oppose, rewriting history is the first thing they all do.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Seems appropriate..

Human needs

I did a management thing a couple of years ago that talked about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy is usually presented as a pyramid with each basic human need layered one on top of the other. The needs start at the base with physiological needs like air and water, the next layer up contains safety and security. Then we have social needs, then esteem and finally self-actualisation (i.e. creativity). This theory was developed in the 1940s so I was interested to see a reworked hierarchy that brings it bang up to date.

Take a look and see if you agree, my children certainly do...


I spotted this little story the other day; some boffin at Oxford University has come up with a paper that shows (using maths/statistics) that the amount of time a conspiracy stands depends on the number of people involved in it, essentially the more people involved the less time it stands before being exposed. To anyone involved in managing people this is simply common sense, especially when it comes to office romances (not that I'm involved in one of course, that's just a vicious rumour). The paper looked at some of the more famous events that are most often accused of being hoaxes and worked out how long they should have lasted based on the equation developed. For example,  the US Moon landings involved 411,000 people and would have been exposed in (maximum) 3 years, 8 months. Climate Change theory involves 405,000 people, time to exposure  (maximum) 3 years, 9 months, i.e. for all of the big ones (vaccinations, cancer etc.) the paper shows that if there was a conspiracy then it would have been exposed long, long ago, i.e. the probability of there being one is vanishingly small.

Of course this paper won't mean a thing to the conspiracy theory nuts out there whose level of belief tends to be inversely correlated to the evidence, the less concrete evidence the better! The fun for them is clearly more around the myth making itself, joining dots where there are none to be joined and hiding behind the un-falsifiability of the crazy stories they invent, but then again, that's exactly what they'd want us to believe isn't it....

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another cover-up

Another cultural "cover-up" this week over religious sensibilities (or perceived ones) as the Italian authorities keen to cash in on the recently un-embargoed Iran physically covered nude statues in a museum and didn't serve wine with dinner in order not to to "offend" the Islamic sensibilities of the Iranian president who was visiting Italy to close a little "business". The move was ridiculed in Italy itself and also in Iran where newspapers ran a series of satirical cartoons on the subject and were at pains to point out these actions weren't anything to do with people in Iran.

It's a shame when an ancient culture and country prostrates itself like this at the alter of money and misguided political correctness. They hang people for being gay and stone women to death in Iran, marble genitalia seem a relatively trivial concern in comparison. It's a shame the Italian Government weren't more proactive about being offended at those vile acts rather than being a bunch of kiss-arses over... er, a bunch of arses.

It's satisfying to reflect that many of the statues covered up were carved by highly skilled people at a time in history long before Islam and Christianity were even invented and, if they're looked after properly, will be around long after these ideologies have vanished; as all religions made by men eventually do.

Reality bites

New J&M cartoon up today; reality is often a highly underrated source of wonder and purpose for our religiously inclined brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Flat Earthers

Rapper B.o.B. (Bobby Ray Simmons jr.) is in the news at the moment for claiming that the Earth is in fact flat; he tweeted recently "I didn't wanna believe it either" and gave a whole bunch of "evidence" (I use this word in it's loosest sense, i.e. "regurgitated crap") for his views. It's hard to tell if this performer is just seeking attention or if he really believes this nonsense but whichever it is he has certainly attracted a chunk of ridicule from educated people around the world (rightly so). Cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson said “Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn't mean we all can’t still like your music.” which is amusing but I'm pretty sure educated people knew the Earth wasn't flat long before that, particularly sailors, there's a reason they put lookout's at the top of masts and it wasn't to get more fresh air!

I wonder if flat Earthers believe that all the other planets are flat too?


Following the revelation that our Government is considering new legislation to ban secular organisations from registering their views and objections on educational matters such as the illegal behaviour of certain Faith Schools there have been a number of voices raised in the media today; most have advised against these proposals for a number of sensible reasons, here are some examples.

In the Guardian we have an ex-advisor to the Government on education saying it's time to end the special favours shown to faith schools, Jamie Martin expresses concern that faith schools can lead to cultural isolation and that this is not a good thing! I agree, you only need visit Northern Ireland to see where that road leads.

In the Independent we have an article making the point that the very secular organisation that Nicky Morgan seeks to silence have actually been the most thorough in investigating the activities of faith schools and the most successful in exposing the law breakers.

In the Mail we have a discussion around the problems of isolated communities; as the author points out when you have a young girl aged 8 years being "promised" to a middle aged man this is not a "Muslim issue" it's an equality issue for our whole society. Banning organisations from registering challenges to such behaviour going on inside selective and secretive schools is not going to improve the lot of vulnerable people.

In the Messenger today we have a story about abuse going on inside a Catholic school; another example of what can happen when you put religious establishments beyond scrutiny because of "faith".

In a local London news source today we have a story about an Islamic school who allegedly suspended a pupil for talking to a member of the opposite sex, again, behaviour that needs to be exposed and challenged, not covered up!

It's scandalous that we have a Government in modern-day Britain that thinks banning organisations from making complaints against law breakers and from representing individuals with grievances against selective schools is the right thing to do in order to "unclog" a system that is so clearly "clogged" because it is so corrupt! I've seen the term "gerrymandering" being applied to this in several conversations over the last 24 hours, it seems appropriate.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Memorable Lego

Been cutting code and listening to my favourite Motorhead tracks today (especially the Ace of Spades album), in appreciation of that I thought I'd post a picture of a Lego version of Lemmy, not sure why, just seemed appropriate.

Established religion, again...

Sometimes you read something that shatters any illusion the UK, for all it's apparent Liberalism, is a fair and democratic society. We most certainly aren't and the fight to become one goes on. Today we learn that the forces of organised/established religion have struck yet again on the issue of faith schools. Any fair minded person would have concluded that upcoming changes to the DfE rules on the conduct of faith schools around things like admissions should be about ensuring that (publicly funded) faith schools follow the rules and don't break the law (as they have been doing), especially given the number of horrendous revelations recently about sub-standard Islamic and Jewish establishments. But if that's obvious to you too, then you'd be barking up the wrong tree with this Government. 

The latest suggested amendments seem to be all about ensuring that organisations intent on exposing law breaking and representing disadvantaged parents (religious or otherwise) are no longer permitted to object to the actions of particular schools. The new proposals only allow parents (i.e. individuals) to submit objections pertaining to policies of schools in their locality, and not schools outside of that. This effectively rules out objections made by national organisations either generally or on behalf of parents with "local" issues. The report singles out the National Humanist Association specifically, accusing them of being "vexatious" in their attempts to whistle-blow faith schools not following the rules. Last year that organisation (I'm not a member BTW, but will be joining now) published a report entitled "An Unholy Mess, how virtually all religiously selective state schools in England are breaking the law", which must have certainly vexed the established religious clique; being caught breaking the law is always "vexing" for the criminals concerned, perhaps the Government should consider abolishing all defence lawyers so that we can "unclog" the legal system too? 

This attitude is somewhat unsurprising, the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan (a Christian) says that schools "must teach pupils that Britain is a Christian country" (false!) and that they are entitled to prioritise views of established religion over other beliefs. This sounds to me like Ms Morgan is in favour of preferential treatment for wishes of Christian parents over everyone else, perhaps even indoctrination? Why else would the views of over 40-50% of the population (i.e. non-religious) be specifically called out by her as something to be suppressed? You'd think that being in receipt of such apparently "good news" Christians would  be content to get on with their lives, but no, apparently they won't be happy until everyone else believes their delusion too, and they're going to be "vexatious" in their quest to facilitate the brainwashing of children with the religion of their parents (or someone else's parents so long as they are Christian) and otherwise discriminate against the children of parents who wish their children to think for themselves in a pluralistic, tolerant and free society.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Crafty craft value beer

One of my recently hand-crafted crafty craft beers became ready to consume this weekend so I treated myself to a pint on Saturday night as we watched the Spielberg film "Munich", I'd forgotten how gripping it was. This one used a recipe I found online which was supposed to produce a beer similar to the classic "Jaipur" from commercial brewer Thornbridge (Derbyshire). It's a very popular beer and has been sold in supermarkets like Waitrose for several years now. I think it goes for about £2.50 a pint, slightly less if you buy a case of 12; in comparison this little beauty cost me about 35p (ingredients only) pretty good value, but the 64k dollar question was did it taste as good as the real thing?

The flavour hops used in the recipe included Ahtanum, Centennial and Chinook (and lots of them) and the malts used were pretty standard Maris Otter, Munich (hence the film choice) and Carapils. The resulting beer tasted great, fruity, well carbonated with layers of flavour including citrus, grapefruit, pine with a touch of sweetness balanced against a good bitter backbone. I don't think it tastes that much like the original Jaipur TBH, at ~5.5% ABV it's more like a good American IPA and the colour was a bit darker than the original, but even so, I'm pretty happy with it.

The picture below shows the original.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Free speech

Lot's of fuss about free speech being generated again following the latest cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine; various commentators are "shocked" and "offended" accusing the cartoonists of mocking the young Syrian boy who drowned on a Greek beach earlier in the year, terms like "monsters" and "racists" are being thrown around. The cover (shown above) depicts a man chasing a Woman (with outstretched hands) with a caption that says something like, "what would little Aylan become if he'd grown up" and then a sub-heading suggesting that "he'd be groping Women's buttocks in Germany".

I find this reaction baffling; are these people dim? Can they not see the irony and satire designed into this image, can they not see that it's the media being mocked here, not the young boy. What this cover makes me think about is the shear manipulation and generalization that goes on from one day to the next in our press, images and headlines used to elicit sympathy one minute and outrage the next, in this case from precisely the same crisis. But, this is exactly what free speech is all about, sticking it to the man using satirical images and words, provoking debate and making you examine your own opinions; unashamed, unreserved and unhindered, free!

Hey Jerusalem

As an atheist and an anti-royalist singing "God save the Queen" is always slightly wince inducing, still, Jerusalem always reminds me of funerals so that's not much better. Then again, there's no pleasing some people; perhaps we should go for something facile that everyone can sway along to and go la, la, la, "hey Jude" anyone?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eagle down

Saddened to hear about the death of Glenn Frey of The Eagles (rock band) fame today. I found the cartoon above to be appropriate as it's both political from a Democratic party perspective (which later Eagles material often was) and also has the words "lyin' eyes" in the punchline which was the title of a song written by Frey back in 1975 and one of their hits. I never thought much of the Eagles when I was younger but have grown to appreciate them over the years, to the point now where I would consider myself a fan. I particularly liked the cut of their jib when it came to thought provoking lyrics and intelligent song writing, I particularly liked the last studio album they did back in 2007 which was about how they saw American politics and the wars it was engaged in at the time (particularly Iraq), one verse in particular stood out for me,

Behold the bitten apple - the power of the tools
But all the knowledge in the world is of no use to fools
And it's a long road out of Eden....

A great metaphor for the political leaders of the day I thought.

Of course there are the older classics to feast on too; like "Hotel California", "Witchy Woman" and "Life in the Fast Lane" etc. I remember seeing the original line up at Wembley on one their come-back tours in the 90s sometime, on reflection one of the best concerts I've ever been to and I'm sad to think probably ever will.

The achievement spectrum

I spent a very enjoyable evening in Oxford yesterday listening to a lecture by Col Chris Hadfield, the retired Canadian astronaut who commanded the ISS and is famous for playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on guitar in zero G a YouTube clip with around 29 million views. In his talk he told stories about his journey to becoming an astronaut and what it actually feels like to experience a shuttle launch; he also showed us some of the many photographs he took from the ISS and yes, he played that song too. I took my son with me in the hope that some of the "right stuff" might rub off; who knows if any of it stuck and of course I do realise that teenage boys are pre-programmed by evolution to react negatively to anything that might seem desirable to their fathers. Hadfield is clearly one of those people to whom outstanding achievement is the norm, he seems to have pretty much excelled at everything he's ever tried, sportsman, fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut, social media star, philanthropist, author and musician no doubt he's a really nice guy too, an over-achiever you might conclude. My Son summed things up nicely at the end of the show on the train home by remarking that he was really glad Hadfield wasn't his dad! (I think I have more work to do)

At the other end of the achievement spectrum I read that "Jehovah Wanyonyi" self proclaimed "immortal god and father of Jesus Christ" has died of malaria in Kenya. Apparently he spent his days in a hut administering to his 70 wives in a red robe (because red is God's colour obviously) and waiting for people to bring him gifts and tributes - sounds like he cracked the religion game reasonably well, but immortality? Not so much.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fractional distilation

There's trouble brewing in the Anglican Church; in a somewhat retrograde step, the American wing (Episcopal Church) has had it's wrists firmly slapped for treating LGBT people fairly and equally and committing such heinous crimes as recognising same-sex marriage. The central committee that adjudicates on such matters has decided to punish this rebellious off-shoot by removing their representation from important decision making processes for a period of three years.

I can't help thinking that much like in broader society we are in some way observing a struggle between the forces of reason, progress and modernisation against the forces of tradition and superstition within this organisation. The progressives seem to be taking a line based on reality, reason and experience, i.e. that being gay is simply a human condition (probably genetic) that affects roughly 5-10% of any population, and doesn't actually cause non-gay people any harm or inconvenience (apart from having to put up with Graham Norton mincing around on the telly of course). The traditionalists on the other hand want to stick to the letter of the law, i.e. being gay is an abomination (as it says in their book) and gay people should be treated, at best, as second class citizens, and at worst, well you can probably imagine.

I note that from the voting spreads involved the traditionalists seem to come mostly from the newer (ex-colonial) parts of the Anglican landscape and the rationalists seem to come from the more affluent, richer parts of the world (that aren't competing with Islam). A clearer indication that this is a purely man-made, parochial concoction could not be wished for, i.e. it's nothing to do with real morality or honest ethical enquiry.

Friday, January 15, 2016


It's been a bit of a week or two for celebrity deaths; hopefully there won't be any more (relative) youngsters leaving us any time soon. It's funny how we look at people dying aged around 70 and think to ourselves that we'd be quite disappointed if we died that early (I do at least!). Only a few score years ago 70 would have been seen as positively ancient even in Britain; we're still felled early by things like cancer of course but kids born now are looking at average life expectancies approaching 100 years, all that time, how wonderful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Word salad

New J&M cartoon today. I agree; in my experience religion is one of the main sources of such pseudo-profundity and so it came to pass. 

There are many other sources of BS in the world too of course; you only need look as far as the apparent success of people like Deepak Chopra to see how gullible people are and how readily they hand over cash to consume pure nonsense. Here I'm referring to material that relies on combining words that few properly understand (but would be embarrassed to admit it) with other everyday words that together sort of sound intelligent (because of the first part) and also familiar (because of the second part) but upon inspection by anyone with half a brain, turn out to be the opposite of that. Wonderful phrases like "quantum consciousness" spring to mind, a Chopra favourite. In fact if you ever find that someone has gone to the trouble of creating a WEB page to generate pseudo-profundity in your own particular style then it's probably time to admit you're so full of it that your eyes have turned brown.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Prophetic photographs

I bet Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are bricking it..



Heavy news, man

Much excitement in cosmology and physics departments around the world at the moment as a strong rumour circulates that gravitational waves have been discovered at LIGO. If confirmed it could be one of the greatest scientific discoveries this century so far and another pillar of Einstein's General Relativity theory ticked. Gravitational waves are the stuff of science fiction, caused by huge masses and the acceleration of huge masses, they are (in theory) capable of bending the fabric of space-time much like a lead-weight would bend a sheet of cling-film if placed on it.

Who knows, if true there may well turn out to be a way of doing warp-drive after all; engage..!

Traditional marriage

I'm not normally tuned into celebrity gossip but this story caught my eye today. Jerry Hall (ex-super-model and girlfriend of Mick Jagger) is to be married to Rupert Murdoch (media-mogul and owner of news corp) Apparently it's the fourth time Murdoch has been married, splitting from his previous wife Wendi Deng back in 2013. Deng is 37 years, and Hall is 25 years younger than the 84 year old tycoon. I would hypothesise from this that a great big pile of cash can be sufficient for some Women to overlook normal marriage conventions around age, good luck to them I suppose, there's always some give and take in any relationship. 

What I'm more amused to think about is how so-called "Christians" like Murdoch (who's news network is notoriously anti-LGBT) talk about and push the concept of "traditional" marriage; I wonder how far the plasticity of that concept can be pushed by right-wingers of influence, power and money before it collapses under a weight of hypocrisy, maybe it already has?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Music appreciation

There doesn't seem to be much point in thinking about anything else for a while at least; I pity the poor sods who have something important to announce in the media today. Like everyone else I was shocked to hear about his death, I went for a full 30 minutes sure that this was some internet joker having a laugh off the back of Lemmy whose funeral was aired on Saturday night, and frankly if you'd have said to me at the beginning of the week that Lemmy was going to live longer than Bowie then I'd have thought you were abusing your maximum weekly units; such is life.

Pop radio stations should just play Bowie tracks today; it's the least they can do; call it music appreciation education.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

False solutions

Some people seem to build an entire career out of moving from company to company saying "I think we should implement software application X to solve this problem", where X just happens to be the latest WEB based gizmo or mobile app that they happen to have read about or seen over someone else's shoulder. In reality what this always translates to is "I have no idea how to solve this business problem, but implementing a new software application will distract everyone long enough that hopefully it won't matter and I will have moved to my next company by then".

When you've been doing software stuff for as long as I have you realise that if someone can't explain a problem or solution in words, pictures or mime, then any software application they might pick will almost certainly be the wrong one.

Standing up for Secularism

It's exactly one year to the day that free speech and secularism was directly attacked by gun wielding Neanderthal faith-heads in Paris at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. I'm pleased to see that the paper is still going strong and as irreverent as ever. The anniversary issue featuring the cartoon representation of a generic "God" as a terrorist with a headline claiming that the "assassin" is still on the loose is out now.

Of course, religious people of all stripes will now be straining at the leash to counter this with "not all religious people are extremists" and "that's not my God" but frankly, so what? That's not the point, God's of all colours, creeds, fashions and flavours have been providing evolved primates on this planet reasons to kill and discriminate against each other ever since they were invented, and let's be honest with ourselves, all Gods were invented in the minds of men (except your own of course!). Religion and Gods are ideas and more often than not they're political ideas created and fashioned from the delusions and desires of men. It's a cold hard fact that they can't all be right and another fact that what ever religion you follow is simply an accident of birth. Sure, we can all cite outliers to this, the sociopathic loosers who convert to Islam because they break into a sweat at the idea of handling guns and having sex with 12 year olds (or goats) but generally if your parents were Catholic, you're a Catholic, it's just a meme, a tradition, an in-group mind virus passed from generation to generation without serious rational scrutiny. Sure, a lot of religious people are intelligent and very nice and do good things; again, so what? This fact has no bearing at all on the truth claims of whatever religion they happen to belong to and the fact that a consistent percentage of ALL segments of society are naturally charitable and ethical simply proves this point. Religion and faith has little or nothing to do with morality (usually the opposite) and much more to do with the evolved behaviour of our species as a whole, without empathy, cooperation and reciprocity our species wouldn't have made it out of Africa; a million years before Yahweh was invented.

As the current editor of Charlie Hebdo pointed out this morning in a radio interview, there is a critical difference between attacking people and ridiculing ideas, especially political ideas like religion. As he said, who would argue that we shouldn't criticise the regime of Vladimir Putin because it might offend his Mother? The sooner we all get to grips with this (forgotten) wisdom then the sooner we'll be able to get off the back foot in the ongoing battle against theocracy, tyranny and fascism. 

Secularism and the hard won freedoms of the enlightenment that we tentatively enjoy (especially religious people!) like individual rights, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom of conscience all need defending, and we need to stand up now more than ever, who is Spartacus?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Emotional needs

New J&M today. It's a constant source of strife that people of all stripes find one of the hardest things to do is step outside of their shoes for a minute and look at their beliefs and actions from the perspective of others or even from the perspective of what's reasonable, it's one of our species greatest failings.

Elemental metal

Been reading a lot of stuff about Lemmy since he died last week; apparently his funeral is to be live-streamed on YouTube and there are the inevitable tribute concerts planned of course. The best thing I read was that a petition has been started to get one of  the recently discovered new chemical elements named after him, "Lemmium"

... the heaviest metal of all.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Oranges and lemons

My latest beer concoction became ready to drink whilst we were away and I was very excited to get back and give it a go. It's basically an IPA made with Maris Otter pale malt, some Pilsner malt for body and a couple of other more exotic malts for interest. The hops I used were Citra and Amarillo and for added zing I added freshly squeezed orange juice and zest to the end of the boil, with a big dollop of dry hopping for added flavour. The idea originally came from a beer made by Beavertown Brewery in London called "Bloody Ell IPA".

I'm really pleased with the result; the hops are bright and up front, the orange subtle but noticeable and the citrus flavours of the Citra hops really complement the actual juice well. Not too strong, coming in at around 4.5% ABV.

Interestingly I happened to have a few Christmas Liquorice Allsorts knocking around in my study while trying this beer and the combination of the liquorice flavour and the orange work spectacularly well together, I think I know what my next experiment will be.. now where can I get hold of some liquorice root?

Hate the sin, love the sinner...

Latest Jesus & Mo cartoon, talking about respect; a concept that many believers (due to religious programming) often forget works both ways.

8 of spades

Just back from a family holiday, shocked to find that one of my musical hero's Lemmy Kilmister of Hawkwind and Motorhead fame has died at the age of 70 in Los Angeles. You go away for a few days and a whole era ends!

I think I wore the same Motorhead t-shirt for at least two years while doing my A-levels, only covering it briefly with a green Parker coat with a little German flag on the shoulder in Winter; I was never sure what that flag was supposed to represent but I was pretty sure I understood where Lemmy was coming from. I saw Motorhead live at the Hammersmith Apollo when I was a student in London back in 1979 and it was simply great, an evening I will never forget as long as I live; a moment in time that can never be recaptured and ear drums that will never quite fully recover.