All posts by Jason Lee Baxter

Playing with YouTube

So I’ve decided I’m going do some videos on YouTube, these will be mostly gaming related, perhaps a few brewing videos occasionally (but unlisted and for the blog only). I’ve recently upgraded my machine so I’m actually able to play recent games again, which I can assure you is bloody refreshing.  Lately I’ve been playing a lot of the new Hitman game, and Dungeon Defenders. I’m hoping to pick up the new Sim City game when it comes out too.

As for brewing, I am hoping if time and money allows to do another batch of my IPA soon (late January), although I have done a few small kits here and there but nothing really worth making a blog post about, perhaps I’ll do a batch of ginger beer in a week or so. I guess starting work really took a lot of my time away but I’ll definitely pick it back up in the new year!




Well I’ve finally officially finished my university course this month (Nov 24th.) For those that don’t know, I’ve been studying Computer Science (Games Tech) at Nottingham Trent University. It has been a fun few years, and has greatly moved me forward as a person, and as a programmer/developer.

If I’m honest, I did find my self frustrated with university; they only taught us how to do things, not how to think about them. There were few things on the course that I felt I couldn’t have got from a book. However university was much more than what I learnt academically; as a committee member of the Anime Society I gained the social and organisational skills I would otherwise lack. My student ambassador role helped to build my confidence and my ability to speak in public. Most of all I’m thankful for, is the great friends and contacts I’ve acquired during university.

For anyone considering university I would say: Do it, it’ll change you as a person and you’ll be thankful for it. At times it will be frustrating and you will wonder why you are bothering with it, but if you make the most of societies, university run schemes/programs and the social links, you’ll not regret it.


Batch 4 Ginger Beer

Sadly this one didn’t go so well:

Batch 4 Ginger Beer 1 Imperial Gallon:
200g Dextrose
300g Demerara Sugar
500g Ginger (steeped for 1hr @ 80*C)
500g Strawberries (Crushed and Pasteurized)
3 Kiwis (Crushed and Pasteurized)
Munton’s Ale Yeast
OG 1.060 sg
FG  1.040 sg
ABV: 2.7%

For this batch I decided to use brown sugar after seeing it recommended on several forums, though I’m quickly realising this was a mistake; it didn’t give a particularly nice taste. Additionally as I had no lactose this time around the drink was quite dry and required additonal sugar to taste. Ale yeast was used this time as I managed to find a cheap stock online, not to mention it fits the drink much more than wine yeast.
Whist I think the strawberries worked it was very evident that the kiwi did not. I think for my next batch I’m going to be a little less adventurous and try more citrus tastes, but first I’ve either got to, give up and drink my current stock, or drain it. I wouldn’t like to drain it as it’s very wasteful, but god is it awful.

Batch 3 Ginger Beer

For my third batch of ginger beer I decided to change the recipe quite a bit; I added limes and mint leafs to see how well they would play with the drink. Additionally, I decided to use Muntons Enhancer (A mix of pale malt and dextrose) rather than sugar to give it more body, and I upped the amount of ginger for more of a kick.

I also changed my method a little bit (granting a much better yield, and ensuring sanitation).  Rather than simply leaving the grated ginger in the demijohn, I decided to boil the ginger in water (just under 1 gallon) with the enhancer and lactose for 1 hour; after that, I added the lime and lemon juice and boiled for a further 10 mins. I then strained the wort (after cooling it in a ice bath) and added to the the demijohn and topped it up (with water) to 1 gallon.  Finally, I added the yeast and the nutrient.

Batch 3 Ginger Beer (1 Imperial Gallon):
300g Muntons Enhancer
500g Lactose (Milk Sugar)
300g Ginger
15g Mint Leafs
1 Lemon Zest
1 Lime Zest
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 4 limes
1/2 tsp Yeast Nutrient
Wine Yeast
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.040
ABV: 2.7%

So how did it go? Well, the limes added a noticeable taste which was rather nice; however, the mint leafs didn’t seem to affect the taste much. I used a wine yeast as it was all Wilko’s had in stock, though I think I’ll use an ale yeast next time as it will suit the taste more. The increased amount of ginger gave a more fiery taste, though I am tempted to go even more crazy with batch 4 and try 500g, as I love fiery ginger beer. I’m also considering experimenting with some more fruit for batch 4, possibilities are: Oranges, Strawberries,  Kiwis and/or Pineapples; if you have any suggestions, feel free to throw them at me. I do want to try and get rid of the Lactose as it’s not very effective, so I’m looking at alternatives. (Such as Saccharin.)

Galaxy/Apollo IPA

I recently decided to jump ahead with my brewing; after seeking advice and reading around I formulated my own recipe for an American IPA which uses an Australian hop, known as “Galaxy“, it known for being versatile as it is good to use at any part of the boil (See bellow).  With its fruity citrus flavours and peach aroma, I grew really fond of this hop when trying a beer from Brew Dog that featured them exclusively.  (IPA is Dead:Galaxy)   Additionally “Apollo” an American hop was suggested to me on a forum to use as a bittering hop, however when opening the packet I bought, the smell soon had me adding some for aroma too.

Hops are used for 3 things in brewing: bittering, flavouring, and scent. During a long boil period (Around 1 Hour),  they are added at different times to do different things. If the hops are added at the end of the boil, they add to the aroma of the beer. When added 15 mins before the end the aroma’s tend to be evaporated out, however in their stead flavours are released from the hop. If added at the start of the boil, both flavours and the aromas are boiled out, however the hops leave bitter tastes which are used to contrast and balance the sweet tastes produced by the malted barley.

American IPAs are a recent take on a old style which has changed much since it’s conception, IPA or India Pale Ale has origins in the 14 century however they draw much of their history from imperial Britain (18/19th century), they were developed to be exported to India, they were originally lightly hopped, the hops being a natural preservative enabled the beer to be able to last the long journey. As time passed IPA’s styles were brewed with more and more hops.  Today British IPA’s tend to use solely UK hops, and tend to be around 4%ABV, the american variety tend to be much stronger in ABV and more heavily hopped.

Currently my first batch is fermenting and will be ready for bottling in a few days. I plan to carbonate it with half a teaspoon of sugar per a bottle and condition for 2-4 weeks, maybe more depending on the result.  Here’s my recipe:

Galaxy/Apollo IPA, 15L Batch

3.00kg  Light Malt Liquid Extract
0.50kg  Biscuit Malt
0.25kg  Dextrin Malt

14g Apollo at 60 mins
14g Galaxy at 15 mins
14g Apollo at 01 mins
14g Galaxy at 01 mins

Yeast :
White Labs East Coast Ale (WLP008)

OG: 1.060, FG: 1.020,  ABV: 5.3% , EBC: 19°(est), IBU: 55.8(est)

Notes: Steep grains in cold water, bring water up to 70°C and steep for a further 25mins, boil 30 mins before adding hops.

Really enjoyed this, the taste was wonderful, the galaxy hops gave the taste I was hoping for. If I do this one again, I think I’ll up the flavouring hops, and the amount of light malt for a stronger ABV. I might also develop it into a Double IPA recipe.

Two Kits On The Go, OH YEAH!

So today I’ve started two kit brews going. The first one is a Muntons Imperial Stout which I’ve had my eyes on for a few months but only now just got around to getting, but what is an Imperial Stout? Well to answer that I’ll first delve into the history of stouts and what they are.

Stouts originate from the “Porter” beer style. Porter is a dark beer which owes its lineage to brown beer. Originating from 18th century London the drink was popular with river and street porters this is where the drink gained its name.  Stout used to be known as Stout Porter which was a variant of Porter which made use of roasted malts. Over time the “Porter” part of the name was dropped and stouts flourished into distinctively different style of beer. (More info:

Imperial Stouts (also known as Russian Imperial Stout) are another step in the evolution.  Strong in ABV and malt character, they were developed by Thrale’s brewery in London specifically for exporting to Russia to the court of Catherine II. Imperial stouts have had a major revival lately, with many craft breweries experimenting with them. (

The second one is a strawberry wine,  from Youngs and will my first wine homebrew. Thankfully I already have a demijohn from Ginger Beer Exploits… The method is pretty straight forward though it looks a little more involved than beer with my having to add extra stuff at different stages, but still simple enough.

So for my next post I’ll probably be talking Ginger Beer again, this might not be for some time though since my demijohn is now occupied. I may acquire another since they’re fairly cheap.

Ginger Beer

Batch 2 of my ginger beer is almost done so I thought I’d do a bit of a write up on the recipe. Ginger beer is very cheap to make and requires very little equipment, at its cheapest you can brew it in bottles (With a bit of care taken to avoid an explosion) using bread yeast. I’v been brewing my ginger beer in a demijohn with an air lock, this gets rid of the possibility of an explosion due to pressure build up, it also allows me to lower the risk of bacteria and oxidation destroying the drink as well.

You may be wondering how can brewing ginger beer lead to an explosion? When brewing, yeast is used to convert Sugar to CO2 (Carbon-dioxide)  and Alcohol, if you brew in sealed environment like a bottle, the CO2 cannot escape this leads to a pressure build up and eventually explosion, if you’re using glass this can be very dangerous.

I looked at several recipes when designing my first batch, most of them are designed for people with no brewing equipment:

The recipe I eventually set on was one I found on a forum:

Two lemons
450gms sugar
8 pints (4.4litres) of water (enough to fill a demi-john)
Flat teaspoonful of Dried Yeast
100gm Fresh root ginger
Two heaped tea spoons of tartaric acid (Cream of Tartar)

A large pan that can boil four and a half litres of water
A jug
A glass
A coarse cheese grater
A wooden spoon
A 1 gallon demijohn
A bubble seal for the demijohn
A lemon juicer
A lemon zester
A fine sieve
9 glass or plastic bottles of 500ml volume with screw caps (eg plastic coke bottles)

1. Put 8 pints of water in the large pan and bring it to the boil
2. While the water is coming to the boil…
scrape the zest from one of the lemons
grate the ginger on the coarse cheese grater
add the sugar to the ginger and lemon zest in a bowl
cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the jug
add the tartaric acid to the lemon juice
put the yeast into some warm water with a little sugar in a glass
3. When the water has boiled ….
add the sugar, ginger and lemon zest to the water, turn off the heat and stir
allow the water to cool to roughly blood heat, stirring occasionally
add the lemon juice and tartaric acid to the water
add the yeast mixture
4. Use the jug to pour the mixture into the demi-john
5. Seal the demijohn with the bubble seal
6. Stand the demijohn in a warm place for 48 hrs at a bubble rate of 40/minute
7. After 48 hrs pour the mixture through the sieve into the jug and fill the bottles leaving an air gap for the pressure to build up in. Screw the caps tightly onto the bottles (8 pints (4.5l) should fill 9 bottles)
8. Leave the bottles at room temperature for 24 hrs
9. Put the bottles in the fridge for 2-3 days to allow the yeast to settle (failure to do this may result in an explosion!)

1. Open the bottles slowly to release the gas
2. Pour the whole of a bottle into glasses, as any gingerbeer remaining in the bottle will contain quite a lot of yeast.
3. Drink
The ginger beer made this way should be fizzy and fairly sweet.
If you ferment the mixture in the demijohn for longer than 48 hrs then the alcohol content will increase at the expense of the sweetness – try different times to suit your taste.

I slightly deviated from the method after bottling  by only leaving it 12hrs at room temp to make sure I was safe using glass.

For my second batch I decided to go a bit crazy and use a lot of ginger as I felt the last one was quiet weak:

For 1 Imperial Gallon (8 pints):
200g Dextrose (brewing sugar)
500g Lactose (milk sugar)
225g Ginger
1 lemon zest
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp creme of tarter
wine yeast (Had no ale yeast in)
OG 1.060sg

I’m also allowing it to ferment for much longer (about a week) because of this I’ve used a lot more suger, I’ve also included lactose (a form of sugar found in milk) which does not ferment so it sweetens the drink unlike the dextrose which is eaten by the yeast; I used 500g as I was unsure how much I would need, it didn’t taste very sweet so I opted to use a lot and see how it turns out.

My recipe is obviously a work in progress; I’m going to alter it slowly after every batch and work towards a recipe that suits me. I’ll post an update once it’s ready to drink with my thoughts on it’s taste and what adjustments I think will be needed for batch 3.

Home Brew Beer

Well well well, looks like yet another one of my blogs fell by the way side, left without content for a year.  Since my last blog post I’ve become quiet interested in brewing beer so I plan to post my brewing logs here so that I may track what I’ve made.

So where did it all start? I’ve always been interested in trying it out some day, but it was one of those things that I had no way into and I have far too many hobbies to begin with! A friend of a friend does a lot of brewing at home and it was after discussions with him I decided to take it up; he helped me out by pointing out what would need and preparing my first batch. I started with  a start up kit from Young’s, the kit had most of what I needed and was very cheap at £26. (Wilko’s have them). Four weeks latter, I had some really nice beer in a cask which I bought for £24.

Beer School from BrewDog.

The ways that home brewers make beer can be rougthly split into three categories:

All Grain – Starting with the raw malted barley, sugar is extracted from the grain in to water with a process called mashing. After mashing the water (now known as wort ) is boiled for over 1-2  hours, during this hops are added to bitter and flavour the beer. Following this the beer is cooled and yeast is added, the wort then sits in a vat for 14 days where the yeast converts the sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Lastly the beer is bottled or barrelled then left to mature or/and drank.

Extract Brewing – This is the same as the above except that mashing has been done for you. The wort comes in can which you mix with water and continue with boiling as above.

Beer Kits – This is the easiest way to brew beer but lacks flexibility the taste is pretty much set. Like Extract brewing the mash has been done for you, but additionally the hops have also been done, this limits how much the beer can be changed.

I’ve mostly stuck to beer kits at the moment, although I’m going to move on to all grain latter this year, now that I have my foot in the door.  Apart form the initial kit that came with my equipment I’ve brewed St. Peters Ruby Red Ale, and   BrewFerm’s Triple. I’ve also bought a glass demijohn and brewed a ginger beer (more on this next post).

Brewing has been a really good source of fun and interest for me, I’ve really enjoyed researching the science behind the brew. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’ve had good results so far. Latter this year I plan to build a Mash tun which will allow me to go to all grain, in my next post I’ll be talking about Ginger Beer, and share the recipe I’m working with and adjusting.

Nixie Tube Clock Project

A couple of months ago I got my hands on some Nixie Valves/Tubes, I’ve now finally got around to doing something with them. The plan is to reinvent the wheel an make a clock with them, but in the long run I want to put an LCD screen bellow the nixies  that shows tweets from the people I follow on Twitter, as well as maybe some other info such as the weather.

To do this I’m using an Arduino variant made by the London Hackerspace called Nanode, this is very similar to the standard Arduino except that it includes an Ethernet port for network communication. Having this Ethernet port will allow me to not only pull tweets from Twitter, but also sync the time so that the clock will always be correct!

So what have I made so far? I’ve put on a breadboard the basic setup for the clock part. The plan is to have 4 nixies multiplexed with a single Chip using Optical Isolators. The chip I am using is an old Russian km115, This allows me to cycles through the different cathodes on  the nixies by only using 4 pins on the Nanode, Think BCD.

I currently have the the chip placed in the breadboard with a single nixie connected. Four LEDs  are in place which will be replaced by the optical isolators for the Multiplex. For now I’m just having the Nanode cycle through the different digits with a small delay.  The nanode is going to handle all the work in terms of deciding which nixie should show what number, keeping the time, the twitter connection, etc..  To power the nixies I’m using a 9v battery connected to a power module made by Kosbo. This power module outputs about 189 Volts, I’ve also got a 5k6 resistor in series with the the nixie to limit the current being pulled (The nixie’s limit is < 3.5 mA.)  obviously with such a voltage I need to be a bit careful to make sure it doesn’t get anywhere near the nanode, hence  why I’m going to use optical-isolators. Though let’s just say with 180ish volts I have had some shocking good fun with this module. I think I’ve  managed to shock myself about 3 or 4 times now!

I’ve started work on the code for the nanode, at the moment it just cycles through the numbers 0 to 9, and through the different LEDs (defined as opto in the code). I’ve posted the code in pastebin, viewable  here .

Obviously not very much to it yet I have a long way to go. The next step is for me to work out how to use the Nanode’s Ethernet port as well as decide how the clock is going to look. I do have a piece of clear plastic which I’m thinking of embedding the nixies into, but I’m still working out the specifics.

Thanks goes to Matt Lloyd from Nottinghack who’s helped me out a great deal with this.


Simple LED Project

For a bit a fun I decided to calve out the back of a stress ball shaped like Linux’s Tux logo. I then inserted two LEDs and wired them to a Resistor and a 9V battery.

If your wondering why there is a second resistor that’s for when I plug it into my Arduino, I’ve got a few project ideas revolving around this one.