Gambling for Cashback, Home Brew Beer #4 and OOO

Oh look – a post on two of my vices – gambling and drinking! 🙂

Conscious that I’ve not made much headway in my goal to earn £500 from online activities, I had a quick browse through TopCashback* to see if there were any decent offers that didn’t involve me spending a lot of money.

The following offers jumped out at me…

In my mind, I couldn’t lose with either of these offers – if I bet my respective £10’s and lost, I would still make £17.30 profit with William Hill and £16.25 profit with Betfair!

Yes, I know that this past year, I’ve done a pretty good job at keeping my gambling to a minimum, but TFS will understand why I had to jump on these offers as he’s taken advantage of similar himself (although he’ll note that I’m less adventurous with my bets!).

First Account

So, I opened my William Hill account and deposited a tenner.

I placed a bet on a football match (won’t bore you with the details) and won £3.33

Not much but I didn’t lose any money, ie still had my original stake, which was the main point.

Second Account

I opened my Betfair account and deposited a tenner (or rather, just over a tenner as I read the small print re qualification for cashback).

Another couple of bets on football matches and I won £5.65.

All in all, including cashback, I made a total profit of £62.53 – not bad for a few minutes’ work!

And the £10 deposited in my each of my new accounts? I withdrew it all so I can’t place any more bets!

These gambling cash backs were tricky ones to test my willpower but I believe I passed the test, although with me rolling the dice to choose an investment earlier in the month, some may think I haven’t totally gotten rid of my gambling bug and chances are, I never will but I reckon I can keep it under control

More ‘sedate’ cash backs to be earned over the coming month or so, as I’m due to renew my various insurances (home, travel, car and landlord).

Anyway, if you choose to do so, please gamble responsibly!

Home Brew Beer #4

Time for another home brew beer update and this time, I went for Young’s American Amber Ale kit.

I brewed it at the beginning of April and the brew has finally conditioned to make a very nice hoppy-flavoured beer!

When I bought it, the kit cost £28 (down from £32) but it looks like I can get it cheaper now which is good news as I definitely want to do this one again.

I brewed just over 21 litres/37 pints, so the cost of this one worked out as £0.67 per bottle or £0.76 per pint! I handed out samples to friends and colleagues last week and received some great feedback (and requests for seconds!), so this one is a good brew.

The beer is still a touch cloudy though not too much – recent bottles have been much clearer than the picture shown, which was taken of the first bottle I opened a few weeks ago.

Strength of the beer is about 5.0% ABV, enough to give me a smidgen of a hangover anyway, after I had a few bottles the other Friday night!

I think this brew is better than the Woodforde’s Wherry I did and maybe slightly ahead of the St Peter’s Golden Ale.

For my next home brew, I think I’m going to try a fruit cider kit. I’m not much of a cider drinker but I got a kit as a Christmas present and well, I may as well make use of it, even though I’d much rather continue brewing beer! Plus my cider-drinking friends have been feeling rather left out compared to my beer-drinking pals – it’s their turn to sample some of my home brew!

Update when I’ve gotten round to brewing it!

And finally….

OOO (Out Of Office)

I’m about to head out for my usual trip to Hong Kong to see my folks so won’t be about for a while.

I don’t have any posts scheduled so updates will resume upon my return, and I’ll have a big catch up on my blog reading when I’m back.

See you all then!

 [*referral link]

Home Brew Beer #3, a new Challenge and Bonus update

Six months ago, I started brewing my own beer.

Anyway, in January, I brewed and bottled my third batch!
Carbonation hasn’t quite completed in all the bottles, but some of them are ready so I cracked a few open last weekend.

I brewed a bitter, namely Woodforde’s Wherry, which is a premium kit (two can) and cost £19.

As I didn’t need to buy anything else this time round, this was a particularly cheap batch (just over 21 litres/37 pints brewed), which worked out as £0.43 per bottle or £0.51 per pint! Even students can’t get beer this cheap at the NUS bar!
Strength of the beer is only about 4.0% ABV, clarity is so-so, still a little bit cloudy and with some bottles, you have to let the yeast settle at the bottom of the glass. But taste-wise, it’s a pretty good bitter and maintains a surprisingly good head too! In time, the cloudiness will hopefully clear up.
Am pleased with this one, even though I’ve sampled it early, only a month after it’s been bottled. Don’t think it’s quite as good in flavour as the St Peter’s Golden Ale I did but will do this kit again, especially as it’s great value for money and the kits are often on sale.

New Challenge
So I achieved one of my 2015 goals early in Feb, that of completing the Rubik’s Cube. It was a tough challenge and gave my brain a good work out but I wasn’t expecting to complete a goal so quickly.
I realised that I couldn’t not set myself another challenge so had a think of something else that I could learn, which would make me think and work my brain.
Well, Graham from MoneyStepper gave me the idea, as did Huw of FFB40 and my friends mentioned it too recently.
What’s my new challenge/goal?

To learn how to play poker.

I know plenty of card games but this one seems to have eluded me so far.

No, I’m not aiming to be some card shark or aim to earn a living from playing the game.
I just want to learn what the game is all about and how to play it.
Unlike some other forms of gambling, there’s some skill involved and well, I’d like to learn some of that if that’s possible.
It could be that I could turn out to be a dreadful poker player – Can I maintain a poker face? What’s my ‘tell’? Anyway, I won’t know until I try, will I?
I don’t think that completing this goal will be as straight-forward as the Rubik’s Cube but let’s say that if I can be a somewhat competent player by the end of the year, that will be a raging success, though I’m not sure how I can measure such success. I must have a word with those friends who were talking about poker nights at some point…
But first, I need to learn the basics!

Bonus Update

So I found out that I was getting a work bonus in March. This has now hit my bank account.

I’m actually quite tempted to go on a shopping splurge but no, I must not. I will however be treating myself to something.

I’m not sure exactly how much but at the moment, I reckon I will save at least 80% of my bonus, which will bump up my savings rate dramatically this month.

Full update at the end of the month/beginning of April!

Have a great weekend all!

Home Brew Beer #2

Following the success of my first ever attempt at brewing my own beer, I brewed and bottled my second batch in November!

I had believed that I had purchased all the equipment that I needed for my home brewing but as with any hobby, you end up buying more gear, which has ultimately added to the end cost of the beer.
My kitchen is pretty cold (when there’s no cooking going on) – I think I just about got away with it with my first home brew batch as I was brewing at the tail end of summer but I knew that if I wanted to brew in the winter, I needed to either brew in a warmer room or buy equipment to ensure optimum temperature for the brew.
I opted for the latter and bought a brew belt for £24, which is just a plastic heating element that goes round the outside of the fermenting bucket that heats the brew and keeps it at a constant temperature for optimum fermentation. I found that it was very simple to use and worked well.

Which Beer Kit?

My first kit was a basic Coopers Aussie Lager kit. For my second attempt, I’ve gone for a premium kit, St Peter’s Golden Ale which cost £26. The main difference that I saw in the two kits (aside from the price) was that the premium kit contained two tins of malt extract (compared to one tin of extract and a bag of brewing sugar) and also a packet of hop extract. Everything else, including how the ingredients were mixed etc was exactly the same.
As before, I didn’t follow the very brief instructions that came with the kit but instead followed the notes that I’d made for my first batch, which I knew worked for me.
I was able to get 35 bottles from this brew (just over 17 litres/31 pints), which works out as £1.43 per bottle or £1.61 per pint.
A couple of my friends who sampled my first brew said they would pay for future bottles but well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this is all just strictly fun (and good drinking I hope!).
Anyway, this beer took a while to be even drinkable, 2 months in fact:

This pint had a decent head but it’s hit and miss with this batch

Whilst this brew is slightly cloudier than my first one, it tastes a lot better, is quite strong (4.5% ABV) with lots of flavour, although I don’t think I primed the bottles with enough sugar as some of the bottles lack a full foamy ale head when the beer is poured out. Still, apparently it continues to mature so future bottles I open may get better. In any case, I will definitely buy this kit again to make.

I’m giving away around 10 bottles to friends so I’d best get my next batch on soon!

Home Brew Project Update – the Tasting!

Around 5 weeks ago, I embarked on a home brew project – brewing my own beer because it was something that interested me but also, because potentially, I could save money by not buying alcohol in my weekly shop!

I had all the equipment I needed but a couple of weeks ago, ended up buying a bottle drainer (£20) as I needed to wash, sterilise and dry all my bottles easily before I bottled the beer.

Bottles drying on the drainer
So, from my initial batch of beer, I was able to bottle 43 bottles (500ml).  Cost now works out @ £1.80 per pint or around £1.60 per bottle, still not a bad price.

Tasting the Brew!

My beer has been bottled for over 20 days and I thought it was time that I cracked one open to try.

My Own Brew!

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised – the beer was quite clear, with only a tiny amount of yeast sediment at the bottom (barely noticeable) and was easily drinkable! Whilst the beer kit that I used was a lager kit (Coopers Australian Lager), my beer tasted rather more bitter than a lager and had an ale kind of golden/amber hue to it. Alcohol-wise, I don’t think it’s that strong, less than 4% ABV.

I’m really pleased with the initial results and have heard that brews get better the longer you leave them so I’ve got something to look forward to over the coming weeks/months!

Home Brew Lessons To Take Away

I’m glad that rather than just go off the instructions in the box, I decided to do my own research and sought out home brew forums and websites to find out what was what.
All you parents out there will recall how your newborn baby’s bottles etc were meticulously sterilised? In home brewing, the brew is the ‘baby’, so anything that touches the brew needs to be sterilised first to get rid of any potential nasties. The worse thing you can do is to spoil your batch just because you were too lazy to sterilise properly.
A lot of patience is required – I didn’t quite realise how long it would take for a homebrew to be at its “best”. Whilst the instructions on the beer kits talk in terms of your beer being ‘ready’ in 2 weeks, those “in the know” recommended at least a month, although I was really tempted to try before then!
Finally, there are tons of YouTube videos on ‘how to’ homebrew – watching these gave me confidence that I was doing things the right way!

So, I’ve learned a new ‘skill’ this year and embarked on a new hobby.  Am looking forward to making my next brew!