Bulldog Hammer of Thor

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Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby magick777 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 17:26

Started this one almost 3 weeks ago, so I've no comment yet on the finished beer. However, the Bulldog kit is among the best I have ever used in terms of packaging, ease of use and kit contents, and it merits a review for that alone. On arrival, it turns out that the Bulldog range is made by Hambleton Bard, not exactly new to the homebrew scene. Hammer of Thor is described as a "special gravity" lager with a target ABV of ~6%, flavoured with Saaz and Hallertau hops, so what I'm expecting is a strong Pilsner-style brew.

The kit comes as a 4kg plastic pouch of malt extract, along with yeast, hop pellets in a "teabag" form and an instruction booklet; the plastic pouch turned out to be less work and less mess than a 2-can kit, and easier to rinse out. The fermentation kicked off rapidly (within 6 hours) and fairly vigorously; after 7 days, I made up the hop tea by steeping the supplied "tea bag" in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes and dumping the lot into the fermenter; it smelled pretty darn good at this point and I hope that carries over into the finished beer.

These kits are at the top end of the price range, but deservedly so as far as I can see - the packaging is good, the hop tea bag is also practical as compared with hop extract or dry-hopping with loose hops, and for the stronger brews it wouldn't come any cheaper to buy a 3kg kit and add another kilo of malt extract. I have yet to drink the finished product - but having made competing lager kits from Brewferm, Coopers, Ultimate Brewery Classics, Better Brew, Muntons and others, I like what I'm seeing from this kit. Soon to be primed and bottled, I'll update in July/August when it should have come into condition.

Fermenting: Brewferm Gold, Brewferm Oranje Bock
Conditioning: Brewferm Pils, Bulldog Hammer of Thor
Drinking: commercial beers, unfortunately
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby LeeH » Sun Apr 13, 2014 21:53

In on this for the update.


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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Sqrson » Mon Apr 28, 2014 20:49

Have you tried it yet? This is currently No3 in the queue :cheers1:

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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby magick777 » Tue May 06, 2014 03:03

Nope. It's been in bottles for a couple of weeks after about 4 weeks in primary. Smelt delicious when I bottled, but I tend to leave for at least a month before I even try one. I suppose since it's the first time I've brewed this kit I should maybe shove a couple in the fridge and see if they're worth drinking after a month. I'll be very pleasantly surprised if so, but I suppose I could waste a bottle or two finding out...

Edit: I went to transfer a couple of bottles to the fridge after two weeks at room temperature and they look to have cleared completely (the beer was still slightly cloudy when I bottled) so maybe there's room for optimism. Not sure yet whether I'll try one tomorrow or leave them for a couple of days in the fridge, but I'll have an update (of some sort) by the end of the week...

Fermenting: Brewferm Gold, Brewferm Oranje Bock
Conditioning: Brewferm Pils, Bulldog Hammer of Thor
Drinking: commercial beers, unfortunately
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby magick777 » Thu May 08, 2014 03:37

Well, I've now sampled a couple of the bottles from this batch - after four weeks in primary two weeks in bottle at room temperature.

The first was on Tuesday night, after probably 16 hours of refrigeration. It opened with mild hissing (no redecorating the kitchen) and it seemed slightly undercarbonated, behaving more like an ale than a lager with little to no head. Still slightly cloudy, in spite of what I thought above. Smelt OK (not mediocre and not delicious either), but it tasted far better than it smelt, and far better than any batch I've ever dared to sample at under two months. Initially I was disappointed at the undercarbonation, but I went back for a second sip, and a third, and a fourth, and soon decided I was happy to finish the glass. The verdict was that it's not ready yet, but f*$%ing impressive by the standards of a decade or more of kit brewing, by virtue of being drinkable (by my fussy standards) after 6 weeks. This was mostly drunk with food, though.

I'd half intended to take the remaining bottles out of the fridge to carb up (but I didn't), and tonight I came in and I fancied a beer. Not having anything better, I thought I'd risk another. The second bottle (same batch, 48 hours in the fridge) opened with a convincing pop as opposed to a hiss (no frothing) and poured with a reasonable head and an appropriate level of carbonation, very much like a commercial bottled lager, perhaps slightly fizzy. The aroma is still not quite what I would hope, but not unpleasant or offputting (very good for its age), and the flavour is noticeably less sweet than it was in the previous bottle. Overall, the taste is as good as the average of what you might find at pubs and beer festivals. It's not yet the "creme de la creme", but it's eminently drinkable and probably in the top half of the beers I've had, whether commercial or homebrewed. That is more of an accolade than it sounds - this stuff is very drinkable after a few weeks (almost unheard of here), I've finished that first one whilst writing this post and (I didn't think I would, but) I fancy another. More-ish, after 6 weeks? I'm sold.

So, I've opened a second one - again with a satisfying pop, slightly less than the first - and it poured without much of a head, but again with an appropriate level of carbonation for a lager. Taste and smell very acceptable, and I could definitely feel as I went to pour the second that I'd had a drink already, it's a special gravity lager all right. With a salty snack (bacon crisps) it went down even better, and I had demolished half the glass in a couple of minutes. This stuff is dangerous, I could want a third. After 6 weeks. I apologise for repeating that, but I'm used to Brewferm kits (long maturing time) and I don't bother sampling them until they've had 3-4 weeks in primary and 12-16 weeks in bottle. The fact that I brewed this 6 or 7 weeks ago, and am going back for a second one, has me more than a bit surprised - and slightly pissed, after almost downing the second. I don't think I need a third, and that's after 2 x 450ml bottles.

In short, consider this a rave review. Doubtless it can still get better from here, but I have drunk my fill after 6 or 7 weeks. I will be ordering more Bulldog kits, probably to include a repeat of this one. Definitely very strongly recommended, I cannot give a final verdict yet as I don't know what this will mature into, but already I'm highly impressed and can see myself ordering again. Feeling very tipsy after just 2 of these, going to bed before I start buying more beer kits...

Fermenting: Brewferm Gold, Brewferm Oranje Bock
Conditioning: Brewferm Pils, Bulldog Hammer of Thor
Drinking: commercial beers, unfortunately
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Sqrson » Thu May 08, 2014 16:10

Thanks for the update, will be putting it on in a couple of weeks

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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby magick777 » Fri May 23, 2014 23:20

Just to add a further update... this has been the only beer served around here since the previous post, and half of the batch has been consumed already. It's still slightly cloudy and I'm not sure whether that's going to go away, but it's more than fit to drink. Guests who arrived drinking F*st*rs or Kr*n*nb**rg rated it well and came back for more.

I would still describe it as "pretty good" rather than "superlative", but I have high standards. It competes with most of my kit brews and with plenty of commercial beer. I could drink this stuff on a regular basis - as I have been doing for the past fortnight. This is definitely on the "brew again" list, although probably only at the point where I'm so inundated with beer that I can leave it to mature properly.

Fermenting: Brewferm Gold, Brewferm Oranje Bock
Conditioning: Brewferm Pils, Bulldog Hammer of Thor
Drinking: commercial beers, unfortunately
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby piwarz » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:55

Thanks for sharing your experience! I would really like to try this one.
At what temperature did you brew it?
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Zod » Wed Oct 15, 2014 16:24

piwarz wrote:Thanks for sharing your experience! I would really like to try this one.
At what temperature did you brew it?


I'd like to know this also.

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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Tue Jan 06, 2015 23:00

I got one of these on today.
Rehydrated the yeast, got my fermentation chamber up to temperature (18 degrees), warmed the malt extract. Sanitized everything, added the extract to the fermenter washed out the bag with hot water and then topped up to 23L.
Added the yeast, then checked the temperature (What ever your thinking this is the right way round to do it....) it was at 18degrees. Banged the FV in the chamber and relaxed....... with an APA, then panicked about how much head space I had in my fermenter!!!
If it crawls out I will post pictures!
R
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Sat Jan 10, 2015 20:48

Been steady at just over 18 degrees and hasn't tried to escape yet!
Just increased the temperature to 20degrees and had a peek. There is no foam on top. Made me panic that its a true larger yeast and not a neutral ale yeast!
Time will tell!!!
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Thu Jan 15, 2015 15:29

Hop tea bag has just gone in. Followed the destructions... will take a reading in a few days.
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Zod » Thu Jan 15, 2015 15:47

to anyone who has made this, what was your FG?

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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Thu Jan 15, 2015 16:22

Zod wrote:to anyone who has made this, what was your FG?

Will let you know when it stops. Was at 1.016 last time I looked.
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Zod » Thu Jan 15, 2015 16:40

Rolfster wrote:
Zod wrote:to anyone who has made this, what was your FG?

Will let you know when it stops. Was at 1.016 last time I looked.


cheers! I'm hoping it's like other kits and doesn't reach the advertised abv. Keen to try it but don't really want 40 pints of 6% lager.

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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Thu Jan 15, 2015 22:11

45 pints of slightly less strong larger? Looks like a good kit!
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby ross » Fri Jan 16, 2015 23:43

Zod wrote:
Rolfster wrote:
Zod wrote:to anyone who has made this, what was your FG?

Will let you know when it stops. Was at 1.016 last time I looked.


cheers! I'm hoping it's like other kits and doesn't reach the advertised abv. Keen to try it but don't really want 40 pints of 6% lager.


Just bottled one of these - it went down to 1.006.

Given it was just out of the fermentor it smelled and tasted fantastic.
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Sat Jan 17, 2015 20:56

1.008 and still going. Is 6% now......
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Tue Jan 20, 2015 22:41

Dry hopped today with 15g of amarillo pellets and moved into the cold (12 degrees).
Will review it next time I post on this subject I promise!
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby DavieBhoy » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:47

I started this kit on 16/01/15 using the standard ingredients but I also added 250g of brew enhancer 1 from the start which took the starting gravity to 1060. I checked the gravity again yesterday and it was 1016 so standing at a staggering 6.4% taking into account the additional 0.50% after bottling. I added the hops after 4 days which I think may have been way too early as it is still fermenting after 6 days which is unusual compared with the Cooper's lager kits that I have used in the past. Think I may need to leave this for about 2 weeks in total before I can bottle which is longer than I had hoped to be honest. However, on the plus side it smells and tastes great so far and I can't wait until it is ready but I'll just have to be patient.
How long have others left it fermenting for at stage 1?
Cheers
Dave
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby GrowlingDog » Thu Jan 22, 2015 14:45

DavieBhoy wrote:I started this kit on 16/01/15 using the standard ingredients but I also added 250g of brew enhancer 1 from the start which took the starting gravity to 1060. I checked the gravity again yesterday and it was 1016 so standing at a staggering 6.4% taking into account the additional 0.50% after bottling. I added the hops after 4 days which I think may have been way too early as it is still fermenting after 6 days which is unusual compared with the Cooper's lager kits that I have used in the past. Think I may need to leave this for about 2 weeks in total before I can bottle which is longer than I had hoped to be honest. However, on the plus side it smells and tastes great so far and I can't wait until it is ready but I'll just have to be patient.
How long have others left it fermenting for at stage 1?
Cheers
Dave

I would always leave a kit at least 2 weeks to ferment before bottling.

How are you getting an additional 0.5% after bottling? Priming won't give you anywhere near that, maybe 0.1 to 0.2%.
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby ross » Thu Jan 22, 2015 21:39

The batch I just did took about 25 days - that was at 18-20 degrees though.
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Fri Jan 23, 2015 16:35

DavieBhoy wrote:I started this kit on 16/01/15 using the standard ingredients but I also added 250g of brew enhancer 1 from the start which took the starting gravity to 1060. I checked the gravity again yesterday and it was 1016 so standing at a staggering 6.4% taking into account the additional 0.50% after bottling. I added the hops after 4 days which I think may have been way too early as it is still fermenting after 6 days which is unusual compared with the Cooper's lager kits that I have used in the past. Think I may need to leave this for about 2 weeks in total before I can bottle which is longer than I had hoped to be honest. However, on the plus side it smells and tastes great so far and I can't wait until it is ready but I'll just have to be patient.
How long have others left it fermenting for at stage 1?
Cheers
Dave


Mine has been in the fv for 2 and a half weeks. It was at 1.007 last time I looked. Yours is going to be a strong one!
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Rolfster » Fri Jan 30, 2015 09:26

I dry hopped this with 15g of Amarillo for a week and a half. Bottled last night and got about 44 500 ml bottles.

It was tasting good. Think this might he the best kit I have done! (Although I don't have much luck with kits!!).
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Re: Bulldog Hammer of Thor

Postby Maysie » Mon Aug 03, 2015 16:45

I have just tried my first (few) of these at the weekend.

Mine was put in the FV on 18 April and bottled on 6th May, so has been in the bottle now for around 12 weeks.
My stats were:
(Brewed to 20 litres) :
SG 1060
FG 1014
ABV 6.3%

I agree with the previous posts that this is a nice quality kit and very easy to use. The hop tea bag is a great addition to the kit and makes life really simple when bottling.
I love the rich fruity/citrus taste and I am not usually a fan of lager style beers, so was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was the first lager that I have brewed, so I have no direct comparisons that I can make, but I will certainly be making it again.
The final beer came out very clear from the bottle - only slightly clouded by some sediment from the bottom of the bottle which I suspect would be absolutely fine with a more careful pour (it had been a very long day and I was very thirsty!).

I would certainly recommend this kit even though it is at the more expensive end of the kit market. Great for a summers evening in the sunshine, although it is maybe a tad on the strong side for a session beer....
(I was asleep in the garden chair after a couple of pints).
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