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Twelfth Night At Toad Hall

("...The Badger had ordered everything of the best, and the banquet was a great success. There was much talking and laughter and chaff among the animals, but through it all Toad, who of course was in the chair, looked down his nose and murmured pleasant nothings to the animals on either side of him...) Kenneth Grahame, ‘Wind In The Willows’

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 Twelfth Night At Toad Hall

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Twelfth Night At Toad Hall

NOTE: An old fashioned Christmas Ale which MUST be bottled, and preferably in small ’Barley Wine’ size bottles, also known as 'Nip' bottles - ask your local landlord if you can raid his bins as, at the time of writing, it's not possible to buy these small bottles commercially.

It must be bottled because the beer is so strong and complex that it has to have the chance to mature for at least 8 months and will taste like nectar if left to mature for five years in a place that doesn’t suffer extreme temperature changes (ie lofts and sheds are not suitable - cupboard under the stairs definitely IS). No Protafloc and because the beer is so ’big’ pitch more yeast (a rehydrated sachet of Safale would do) after primary fermentation. A final word about honey - ’plain’, ’general’ or ’mixed’ honey doesn’t work in brewing (beer or mead) - it gives a bland taste. Go for a specialist single blossom type every time. Unusual brewing routine too, just to keep you on your toes...


6260 gms any type of Pale Malt

1320 gms Munich Malt

920 gms Crystal Malt

150 gms Chocolate Malt

Peel from 7 Clementine Oranges

70 gms root Ginger

3½ teaspoons ground Cinnamon

454 gms (ie a 1lb jar) of honey - I use Rowse's Pure Natural Blossom Honey, at the time of writing available from Sainsburys


White Labs Burton Ale Yeast WLP023. After primary fermentation, add a rehydrated sachet of Safale with yet more yeast nutrient.

Hop Schedule:

Start of boil:

10 gms Green Bullet @ 13.5 AA

35 gms Goldings @ 5.1 AA

15 mins from end of boil:

35 gms Czech Saaz @ 3.5 AA

6 gms Northdown @ 7.5 AA

Water Treatment:

The Wheeler Method

Other Ingredients:

60 mins from end of boil:

add 35 gms of the Ginger

15 mins from end of boil:

add the orange peel, the remainder of the Ginger, the Cinnamon and the honey, ensuring all these ingredients are well mixed in.

Mash and Sparge:

Mash in 16 litres of water at 67°C. 2 crushed Campden tablets went in with the dry grain. 90 minutes mash. Sweet wort passed through grain twice. Sparge at 62°C.


90 minutes. 2 crushed Campden tablets added at start of boil, first hops added 30 minutes later. Final hops added 6 minutes from the end of boil.

(One week in primary fermentation followed by four weeks in secondary. Bottle in 'nip' bottles and store in a place out of sunlight that doesn't suffer extreme temperatures or sudden changes in temperature. Store for at least 8 months but will improve and mature over a 5 year period.

Tasting Notes:

Not a beer to be taken lightly as you're looking at something approaching 10% ABV. The complex spicy Christmas flavours come to the fore, especially after maturing for a year. If you have the self discipline and can put away a few bottles of this for five years in the conditions described above, this beer becomes a magnificent beast, so good you will NOT want to share it around - not even amongst your Test Pilots. Lovely stuff, the World seems a happier place after two small bottles of this - Merry Christmas!















This is the end of the Recipes section. I hope I've given you a wide range of beers to have a stab at, and hopefully you'll try them all in time. But rather than slavishly following recipes written by others, I'd like to show you how much more interesting it is to devise your very own recipes and brew those. It's not anything like as complicated as it may sound - if I can do it, so can you! So click on to the next page, 'Creating Your Own Recipes'...

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