Steak and Ale Pie: Well we have spare beer

Ok, so you recall from my last post that I said the pub next to the airfield served pies. Well, my favourite was the steak and ale.

Morris the owner used to make them using local beef and beer from the pumps which wasn’t selling well. This produced varying results but after a day’s flying you don’t care too much. I’m going to use the homemade Bass but a dark ale or stout works really well too.



  • 1lb White flour
  • 4oz Butter
  • 4oz Lard 
  • 2lbs Shine of beef
  • 1lb Onions
  • Sage and thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pint Beer

Start by making the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and lard in the kitchenaid and using the K beater combine to form breadcrumbs. When at this stage slowly add water till the mix collects togethr to form a ball. Remove, wrap in cling film and fridge.

To make the filling it’s time to channel your inner surgeon. Remove all the sinue/ligament/tendons etc of the shin to leave you with just the meat and a small amount of fat. This then needs to be cut into thin sized chunks and tossed in seasoned flour.
The beef can now be browned off in a hot pan, or my mid sized Le Creuset, if necessary in batches. When brown and sealed add in the beer and onions. Season with herbs, salt and pepper.


Now it’s a waiting game again. Shine is packed with flavour but is a tough meat so will need overnight in the bottom AGA to cook till it is melt in the mouth. An alternative would be to use a slow cooker.
The next day make the pie……….

Start by rolling out the chilled pastry and lining a container. I had a few new flowerpots about which I was going to grow chillis in so used them. Don’t forget to grease the pots first though or they will never come out. Leave these to rest again in the fridge for 30mins-1hr.

When rested blind bake with some rice or baking beads in the oven at around 180. You are looking for the pastry to be light brown and not dull or wet.

Retrieve the beef from the oven and strain off the liquid. Place this back on the Aga and add a drop of cornflour to thicken. Whilst it boils pick the beef to produce little chunks of heaven for the pie. Now combine this with the reduced beef stock.

Roll out the remaining pastry to make  lids for the pies and any letters or symbols you want to embellish with. Now assemble the pie putting the filling in the prepared cases and topping with the lids. Crimp around the edges with your fingers and a fork and glaze with a beaten egg.

Cook at around 180-200 for 15mins.

Time to eat

I get my rediculus behaviour from my dad. When he was younger he even bought and sold a pub which means we still have lots of ash trays and glasses in the shed. Might as well use them I suppose.


Serve the pie with some mushie peas and chips plus gravy with a half of the homemade beer.  Using an ash tray seems appropriate to honour how this all came about.

This one has to go down as the most Yuppie thing I’ve done………….

Don’t forget to like and comment. If you want to suggest the next post just say below x

Infinity Project 861: Time to make beer

In the depths of winter I sat in the snug, the heavy smell of paraffin mixed with that of pie and Bass. We sat opposite a hero, talking about what we had just flown, the roar of 27L of British thunder still buzzing in our ears

My friends have accused me of being old fashioned throughout the years, however I just insist that some things can’t be improved upon. There is a pub which exemplifies this point. Located deep in Lincolnshire approx. 5miles from a ‘disused’ airfield, it was once the haunt of brave young men who fought to keep us free. A few miles have been added to the clocks of these old boys, but the pub remains the same. Lit only by oil lamps, pies kept warm in an oil fired cabinet and no lager to be seen on the taps, it became a favourite of the MMDS during my final years at school and beyond. Its mystery, unlike so much else, never faded………………..

During one of those hazy evenings, after adding a few more hours to my log book, I sat with my two closest friends, Ginger (sadly no longer with us) and Morley, and said no matter what happened we must not let these echoes of the past slip away. Afterall

“Memory is the storeroom of the mind. A dusty attic of experience filled with knowledge; sometimes useless; sometimes priceless.But once in a while we must cast aside the shades, and with our dustily relics try to recapture the past. For in there lies reason for the present and hope for the future”

Let’s face it, most men have wanted to brew their own beer. A few will have tried with homebrew kits and got varying results. So, in memory of Ginger I thought it was finally time I gave brewing a go and keep the memory of those MMDS trips alive.

Here is to hope for the future: Oil Lamps, homemade pies and beer………..

Micro Brewery

There is one undisputed king of beers, Bass! It is a very drinkable, lightly hopped English pale ale and in reality should only be drunk in half so you can keep going back for more. It’s also got the worlds first trademark, a red triangle which I learnt on a trip to the Bass museum a few weeks ago.


Wandering around the museum, beer in hand, I stumbled upon an elderly gentleman lurking around what appeared to be bunch of barrels and a trough. Trying to work out what it was I finally asked him, he explained it was part of the BurtonUnion system once used to brew beer. These turned out to be needlessly complicated and most were scrapped in the 50s, but as the elderly gentleman told me, beer tastes better brewed in them (I know the science but don’t ask)………….


One thing the MMDS members realised is don’t get me drunk and let me loose near something mechanical, I can revise engineer it in minutes. So, I did!!!! And thus with the use of meccano, tubing, an old ban Marie and a couple of 5L mini kegs, a Miniature Burton Union was made as well as a mash tun and sparging equipment…………..

Homemade Bass

Beer is made using malt, hops, water and yeast. It’s then left to ferment and after about 2 weeks you transfer into casks to condition for another 2 weeks. You can buy good malt extracts but I wanted to keep mine as close to the original as possible so I am using malt. The yeast is one I managed to propagate from a pint of Bass from my local as well to make it even more authentic.


  •  4oz Crystal malt
  • 3lb Pale malt
  • Water
  • Yeast
  • 7oz Brewers sugar
  • 0.4oz + 0.16oz + 0.1oz Goulding hops
  • 0.8oz Fugggles hops
  • Irish moss
  • Fining


Start by allowing the malt to mash in approx 7L of water. This should be kept at a steady 66c and the malt being agitated from time to time to allow full exposure to the water. This can be done by sealing the malt in a cloth bag and steeping it like a giant tea bag. Or if you have a lot of spare meccano you can build a system to suspend the malt in to baskets which then pump the water constantly over it. This needs to continue for 1.5hrs to allow full extraction.

After 1.5hrs have passed (and you’ve repaired the pump a few times), you need to drain the liquid into a pan of boiler for the next step. But you haven’t finished with the malt just yet. This is still covered in lots of natural sugar which are removed in a process called sparging. Basically you pass warm water over the malt and collect this for boiling. I again used the recycling system to spare the grain. You need approx 3L in total.

You should have now collected approx 10L of liquid which is known as wort. This contains the sugars which will be converted into alcohol by the yeast. This needs to be flavoured and the bitterness added by hops. This occurs in 2 steps. Firstly the Fuggles hops and the first batch of Golding hops are added  and the wort boiled for 1.5hr along with the Irish moss. The helps keep the beer clear.


Then, just at the end more flavouring aromatic  Golding hops are added and the liquid allowed to steep for 10-15mins.

The wort now needs to be cooled rapidly to stop the high temperature degrading the delicate flavour of the hops. This can be done by passing the wort through a length of tubing submersed in a sink of ice cold water. The aim is to reduce it down to 20-25, so it can take a few passes. Sugar can then be added to reach a target specific cavity of 1.045.


Once cooled, the yeast can be added and then the mixture transferred to the Union.
The idea of a Burton Union is that as the yeast ferments it produces gas, alcohol, but also a foam on the top. This is forced up the copper swan pipe and into a trough at the top. This trough collects yeast and fermenting beer which is then returned to the Union Barrells. This not only allows you to not waste beer (a sin) but also allows the yeast strains to be uniform throughout all the barrels.

Now it’s just a case of waiting.

After 2 weeks the Unions will slow down their production and the Specific gravity will have fallen to around 1.020. Now you have technically got beer but it’s very young and needs to be conditioned. More barrels to the rescue. Transfer the beer via siphon to the aging casks avoiding transferring all the sediment which will have collected at the base. To the beer, add a priming liquid of water and sugar and more Golding hops (I had some spare pellet type so used them-not a great fan). Also you can add the finings at this point to aid in clearing.

Again wait- 2 weeks till you can drink.

So after 2 weeks,the beer is ready for tapping. Ideally you should keep in a cool room or cupboard and leave a day for it to settle if you move it. Remove the cap and plug the hole with a breathable material, like soft wood. Recap if you finish drinking but not done finishing the barrel.

The big question is what to drink it with………. Memories oh dearest memories – Steak and Ale pie I think 😉