Thursday, 31 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
Behold its presence, the black viscous headless liquid clinging to the glass as you swirl it. It took a good couple of hours to finish this one, and a couple or so mouthfuls to start enjoying it to its full. Most of you are probably awair of Brew Dogs Tactical Nuclear Penguin, at 32% abv the new worlds strongest beer, and one monster of a beer too. Before you know it its commin at ya with immensely rich malt balancing brisk, chalky, woody, oak charred intensity like some kind of beer-Islay malt hybrid. The drinking experience is like flying through dark fictional realm of Mordor, on a dark windy night, with He-mans arch enemy skelator by your side, listening to Decapitated, on the back of a giant winged Loch Ness Monster...
Well that's what I though anyway.
But there was more to Christmas than this one beer, and a few other great ones were found. The Belgian Brasserie Ellezelloise Hercule Stout paired great with Christmas pudding Flying Dogs Gonzo Imperial Porter went even better with some leftovers of my chocolate heavy wedding cake (a truly sublime pairing). The enjoyment of this was heightened by listening to this years excellent Christmas number 1 in the pop charts (probably the best Christmas number 1 I've ever heard) whilst kicking back and chilling out with family and friends. All beers are set for new year now. Cantillon Iris has been moved forward for this event, alongside a bottle of something rather interesting I found in San Francisco, a very famous IPA called Pliny the Elder. Till then a happy new year to all.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Greetings all and I have to say it’s good to be back. A few of you are probably aware that my honeymoon was (for the most part) in Maui, one of the Hawaiian islands. A Day or two was also spent in San Francisco but this wasn’t nearly enough and we vow to return sometime. Anyhow from what I have noticed (could be wrong here) no beer bloggers I know of to date have covered Hawaii, and it is a rather pleasant place so I thought it would be great to cover it. The reasoning behind our decision to go to Maui was firstly that Helen wanted to go to somewhere sunny, preferably an island where a beach was present, I wanted somewhere to hunt beer and since Hawaii is part of the USA I thought bingo, there’s bound to be some craft brewers.
Beer in Maui
I must first of all mention that 90% of the craft beer available in Maui I found was from ether one of two breweries. These were Kona brewing (from the big island of Hawaii) and the Maui brewing company based in Maui.
Maui brewing company:
The three seemingly core brands are available virtually everywhere on the island on tap or in rather neat sized cans. Apart from these many more quality beers can be found at the Maui brewing company brewpub including the silky smooth chocolate stout, crisp citrusy Puao Pale ale and the liquorishy, Dunkel lager. Another interesting find was the PIA HALE mild ale, which technically could be called a mild, but just seemed a bit wrong served so cold and keg conditioned.
Me and the wife at Maui brewing company brewpub.
Bikini blonde lager.
Bikini blonde lager is great as your everyday session beer, and I did have allot of this stuff. Notably it’s a Helles, and probably the best ive tried. Straw colored and quaffable yet soft and flavorful Bikini blonde offers lush floral herbal hops to the nose leading to a palate of fresh smoothly rounded creamy malt and delicate herbal grassy hops with a slight lime/citric hint. This one went nicely with seafood chowder.
Big Swell IPA.
A bold, brash mouthful of hops is the easiest way to describe this one, with big sappy malts balancing. Pretty orthodox but well crafted American IPA, this one served well with a Hula cheeseburger and Maytag bleu cheese. With a little tobasco sauce this proved a rater intense combination.
Coconut porter is a very intriguing interpretation of the style. The first time I tried this one I found the coconut flavor seemed to build into it as you drank. But it is rather balanced with lots of coffee-chocolate, bready, roast malt notes harmonizing well with the obvious coconut dominated flavor profile. It seemed to pair well with allot of island cuisine, nicely with Kona coffee cheesecake and exceptionally well with banana bread and Pineapple upside down cake.
Kona brewing company.
Sadly I don’t have as much to report on Kona. The amber hued full bodied Fire Rock pale is worth a try, and Longboard lager comes across as a decent clean cut pilsner, but the magic of Maui brewing company beers just wasn’t there. Then again I never got hold of any of the famous Pipeline porter.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
As I am a follower of the brewing force I myself am obliged to conduct rituals to follow it. These include brewing, enjoying great beer and reviewing it in my personal notebook, assisting brewing activities at work, as well as educating those less strong with brewing force about the wondrous world of beer. Alongside me are masses of followers of craft brewing, many of them at one with the brewing force. But these unknowing followers can be broadly categorized as ether followers of the force (ones working in the brewing industry or pub trade, or simple beer advocates), High priests (those who write or speak publicly about the beauty of beer), or Warriors (brewers and head brewers). Here are some examples of these righteous ones.
Brew-I followers: Beer Nut, Dave (Daleside No1 Dray), Gus Odlin (John Bull, Alnwick)
High priests/orators of the brewing world: Pete Brown, Melissa Cole, Jeff Evans, Mark Dredge etc.
Brew-I warriors: These include the practitioners of the brewing art; Martin Dickie (Brew Dog), Craig Witty (Daleside), Randy Mosher (also classed as a priest), Ed, John (more hops) Mayer (Rogue), Alistair Hook (Meantime), Woolpacker Dave, and the artist formally known as Wurst.
Ok I suppose Brew-I isn’t a real organized, established religion, but arguably it almost could be. In my quest so far I’ve read so much material from enthusiastic young (and old) bloggers and beer writers, been to events such as Beers of the World, GBBF, and discovered hundreds of diverse, well crafted beers brewed by brewers skilled and passionate about their craft. On some occasions I have even been lucky enough to meet the brewers themselves, and have the autographs to prove it. But lets not forget amongst all these hero’s, that at the centre stage of all this culture, history, tradition, passion, science, art and new wave radical brewing revolution pandemonium, are our friends…… The yeast.
But the thing is with this whole star wars/brewing world comparison is that its almost explainable. You can almost see the similarities between Darth Vader and his powerful empire trying to conqor the galaxy against the rebel alliance just like how InBev-AB dominating global beer markets against the groups of smaller rebel craft brewers. Then most fittingly you have CAMRA (the Wookies), the great Michael Jackson beer hunter (Yoda), and Obi Wan Kenobi (Randy Mosher) alongside many other comparable figures I could probably think of if I thought hard enough.
But I suppose in real life things arn’t so black and white. Like Pete Brown once mentioned the beer industry needs big brewers, small brewers, governing bodies, consumer movements and so forth. It’s all part of the natural balance of the force. It seems that most are in agreement that the real evil lies with the governments tax hiking reaction to binge drinking thinking it will solve something (or just make it look like they are tackling the problem whilst getting more revenue in the process) and the neo-prohibitionists who feed off statistics directly influenced by young chavs getting boozed up on cheap supermarket pap.
So to conclude let us say a prayer…
Our lord Jackson, who art in heaven, beer hunter be his name. Give us our daily beer…
That is all on my religious views, may the brewing force be strong with you.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
From the Castle Brewery in Austria comes this rather elegant golden UrBock 230(The term Ur indicating originality), a smooth and warming lager at 9.6% abv. The nose brings up front dried spiced fruit and warming alcoholic notes, whilst the palate follows with warming cognac/sherry like notes, creamy malt and well integrated peppery dried fruits and herbal hop notes that continue nicely into the finish. Great stuff, and thanks to Drayman Dave for bringing this one back from Austria. Very drinkable stuff for the abv, with a cleanness of texture from the yeast, maturation and filtration that really brings a touch of elegance. Good job I have another bottle tucked away for next year.
Monday, 30 November 2009
The plan is simple. During the sit down meal the ten tables (including the top table) are named after different hop varieties and the individuals on the table get one bag of hops each of the specified variety. The varieties were kind-of chosen to suit the personalities sitting at each table, but were arguably also chosen because they are amongst my favorite varieties. The varieties are as follows:
- Styrian Goldings
- First Gold
So mostly British and American varieties, but the absence of German varieties is mainly because Helen didn’t think the names sounded classy enough.
So whilst indulging in the brilliant aromas that filled the kitchen and educating my Dad on each variety at a time as we went through them I decided that this would be a fitting moment to have a beer that truly showcases brilliant hop aromas and flavor. So from the cupboard came the famous Goose Island India Pale Ale from Chicago, which did the trick brilliantly. With a great aroma and not so much bitterness I can understand how this has often been termed an English style IPA. Its not overpowering at all and everyone loved it, especially my old man who thought it actually made the experience of bagging hops ‘more’ interesting. The only slightly worrying part of the day was finding that the Northdown had gone a little brown, but the Cascade for the top table were super fresh.
The countdown continues…
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Me Ed and Simon on my stag weekend.
Following this, once we have all the beers bottled we then send each other the beers for comparison. Obviously we knew of non-controllable water differences, copper evaporation rates and the fact that Ed and Simon can’t use Daleside breweries house yeast strain so have to opt for a similar commercial culture (brewing this at work, I didn’t want to risk any wild yeast contamination problems) . But we thought differences in the results would make it more interesting, like a taste the difference southern vs Yorkshire vs south eastern comparison.
The plan was for an old school British India pale ale, because in our day at Heriot-Watt University doing Brewing & Distilling as post grads, we were the only three English students on the course. So the style was both patriotic and fitting because at the time we were all along way from home (sort of), and amongst many Indian students (so you could almost imagine your in India, ignoring all the Scottish weather, lectures and signs in English etc).
So here is what I have brewed so far, Ed and Simon are still to brew:
Ed, Rob and Si’s Reunion IPA.
In the mash tun.
Optic pale malt: 96.5%
Crystal malt: 2.5%
Amber malt: 1%
(Note: all percentages refer to extracts not by weight)
Target OG: 1064
The boil lasted 1 ½ hours with the following additions.
Northdown 90min (for 40 IBU)
Northdown 15min (for 3-5 IBU)
Challenger 3min (for 1-2 IBU) + finings and yeast aid
Fuggles 0 min added after wort had cooled for 30 min.
Actual OG: 1061.8
Target final gravity: 1014
Final gravity: 1012.9
Pitched with Daleside breweries house yeast strain this one fermented down inside of around 4 days before being force cooled and transferred to demi-johns. From recent tastings the mid amber beer is firm and hoppy with plenty of fruity English hops dominating and a slight harshness that hopefully shall fade with time. Bottling commences Monday evening. Until then shall look forward to another tasting. Anther thought was wouldn't it be cool if Daleside did a collaborative brew, with Roosters perhaps? Yorkshire Dales? Or Acorn? We could put it on the website and make a video even? Can't see it happening though.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueze (Straight from Belgium to serve as a fine quenching morning appetiser)
Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome (Used most years for Christmas dinner, it goes pretty well with turkey)
Guiness Forgne Extra Stout (With dessert, which is usually Christmas pudding. But I don't think anything could top the legendary pairing experience of chocolate cake and cream with Meantime's Coffee Porter from back in 2007)
Svyturys Ekstra (Optional support pilsner depending where mood takes me)
Cantillon Iris (Highly regarded wild beer admired by experienced beer lovers Boak & Bailey. This was a must have when I visited Cantillon earlier this year)
Chimay Grand Reserve (seem to be having this one religiously every year now)
Struise Brouwers Pannepot 2007 (Picked up in Brussels and have never tried before, looks like it could be quite dark, its spiced, and its 10% vol, so a definite wild card for the day)
Abbey St-Remy Trappist Rochefort 10 (Again often reserved for Dec 25th. The 8 is coming out Christmas eve)
Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barley wine 2009 early release (The optional bonus beer, for a possible beer and cheese showdown in the evening! My parents picked this one up whilst over in California visiting my auntie Wendy)
Well that's what I have so far, some of this may be changed round. But until then I have weddings to attend (my own) and some quality beer hunting in Hawaii to carry out. I must also note the mixed responses I get from people when I talk about 'operation winter beaver' as the word ' beaver is interpreted in different ways. But its usually carried out pretty accurately. I thought another quality idea would be to set up some sort of 'follow Rob' kind of feature on the blog, where users can click on it any time on Christmas day and it would bring up what beer I'm drinking e.g:
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Have you ever read a book and thought afterwards that if you had written it you would have written just about the exact same thing. Well that's what I thought about Randy Moshers Tasting Beer. Its a pretty interesting read that outlines pretty much all that is fascinating about the beer world.
But what really sets the book apart is that Randy's material seems set in the new world of craft brewing. No extensive ramblings on traditions and how such and such brewery has been been brewing real ale for so many years. This stuff just cuts to the core factors that make beer and brewing fascinating, diversity of flavour, creativity, beer styles, culture and science.
I will repeat that again.... Science. Something that's often swept under the carpet alittle by some beer writers. And the section on beer and food is also very informative. After this I will be strongly hunting Randy's other book Radical Brewing. As a beer writer and experienced home brewer Randy hails as some kind of Yoda like character of the brewing force. Strong with the brewing force, orator for the rebel brewing alliance. Let his work continue.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Our dog Troy is intrigued by wood fires, they make him sleepy
Oddly enough not many Halloween seasonal beers could be found this year, this happened last Christmas and I was told it was something to do with the recession making the supermarkets want to tone down that kind of thing. But anyhow I had some decent fireside beers in but no Hobgoblin this year which was sort of sad because it would have done a better job of pairing with the roast beef than the Hambleton Ales Nightmare that was used, not that it’s a bad beer, it just lacked that heavy malt substance that was required for the pairing, next time I’m going for something on the lines of a Brooklyn Brown ale, Meantime London Porter or a heavy Belgian Dubbel.
Anyway I digress.
Next up was this bizarre little number from Brewdog. Dogma (formally known as Speedball) took awhile for me to get my head round. The easiest way to describe it is to say its almost like an American IPA base beer with a crazy mix of honey and spices added. At 7.8% a.b.v the bottle mentions the ingredients Guarana, poppy seeds, kola nut and heather honey. The palate opens with warming alcohols and a clean smack from plenty of US hops. Then it comes at you with interludes of honey, spice and even some strange undertones of cocoa and heather over a nutty texture that seems out of place. Pretty fascinating stuff, and 10/10 for effort to Brewdog for this one. But the flavors just didn’t harmonize in any way, the effect is bizarre. Its almost like listening a record from The Smiths full volume whilst someone plays some new school Cannibal Corpse over the top of it. Now you see what I mean.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Having the period of 2 days to hunt beers we had a pretty good run at it. Steady away on the Friday, then steady away Saturday lunchtime (due to everyone being hungover). For a good part of the sessions I did remember getting the urge for the darker beers, and the fine roasty Summer Wine Teleporter, and full nourishing Collermans oatmeal stout didn’t disappoint. Later exotic bottle beers such as Goose Island India Pale Ale, Rodenback Grand Cru and J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2006, rich, silky smooth with warming vanilla and sherry notes, were enjoyed. So as planned a great amount of beer territory was covered and the session was very spread out and slow paced for the most part. Amongst the great range of brilliant beers consumed it was difficult to pinpoint a single ‘greatest’ beer of the weekend as it would have to be many. I suppose its true what our lord Mr Jackson used to say, its all about mood and moment.
But it wasn’t all about the beer, as you can probably guess from reading Ed’s blog, and the previously stated ‘rules’ were for the most part followed pretty closely. But rules are not that important, and no rules were drawn against strip clubs, after all, it was a stag weekend.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
So among the cobblestoned streets of York we shall hunt out the finest in Yorkshire beer. But why York I hear you ask? Well out of the many options (Brussels, Munich, Portland Oregon) the best man found it the most realistic, affordable and easily achievable option, and you can’t argue with that.
But as exiting as it gets I also have been given the horror stories. Like how I will probably end up handcuffed to a lamppost naked or dumped on boat to Dubai. Or even worse handcuffed to a lamppost naked on a boat to Dubai. So because of this I have devised a list of simple rules for stag attendees.
Rules of the stag.
1. No shots.
2. No drinking games.
3. No beer bongs.
4. No illegal drugs. No drugs at all (except ethanol), unless medical emergency arises.
5. No D.I.Os (down in one)
6. A minimum time of 50 minutes should be spent in each pub. This allows sufficient time for participants to consume 1-2 pints or 3-4 half pints of session strength beer during the stay, with an optional toilet break.
7. No Extremist homicidal nutcases, or even just dangerous nutcases.
8. No Chavs.
9. No trendy bars or club, full of young’uns dressed in trendy clothes acting all loud with bumpedy bump music, plastic chairs, flashing lights everywhere, tv screens showing mute music videos with no half decent beer or spirit options in sight.
10. No Hawaiian shirts (especially blue ones).
11. No stripping anyone to lampposts (or any other objects) naked.
Ok so it’s a little strict, but no true beer enthusiast wants to be rushed on there beer, especially if it’s a good find. And lets face it how can you enjoy a beautiful beer, discuss the entirety of its glory, and jot down tasting notes if the music’s so loud you cant even think and your too busy concentrating on how to get through this crowd of dancing people without spilling the stuff. But I have to have a bit of a moan, that’s what being a CAMRA member is about after all. Another possible turn up for the event will be the mighty Craig Witty, Daleside frontman and head brewer, so get your autograph books at the ready.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Saturday, 17 October 2009
In fact if this was a normal brew day it would have been the easiest ever, but this was a double brew, the theory being to start a second brew whilst the first brew was already in motion. This meant that once brew No 1 had runoff onto the copper and the mash tun emptied, brew No 2 could then be mashed in (thus setting brew No 2 in motion). This was a little trickier than I anticipated with the further risk that by the end of mash for brew 2, brew 1 would still be in running off from the copper. So I had to make sure brew 1 was fully ran off into the fermenter, and the copper empty before sparging the mash of brew 2. But my main problems included electrical faults and timers (for the copper) switching themselves off at critical moments.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
After 5 weeks maturation with strawberries before bottling and a few months maturation in the bottle my strawberry beer has finally matured into a drinkable state. As you can see virtually no clarity was achieved but the aroma brought nothing but ripe, fresh strawberry fruit, which I am pleased with. The palate brings a half decent mouth feel, a slight malt sweetness balanced by a little acidity. A slight sourness is then evident in the finish, but nothing overpowering with plenty of background acidic strawberry notes.
To the disappointment of some tasters this beer came out nothing like many commercial (lambic imitatated) fruit beers that are dominantly sweet, fruity and brightly colored. With this much of the character of the base beer was still obvious and the aroma was better than expected with drinkability being decent enough to have a couple in an evenings session.
Saturday, 26 September 2009
But all this comparison work provided some inspiration for my next brew, wedding ale, which was originally design to reflect the character of the bride (my bride at my wedding in December, the lovely Helen). I'm not 100% with it yet but here is the outline so far:
International bitterness units: 26
Malts: Pale, Vienna, Crystal, Cara and a touch of pale chocolate.
Hops: Challanger, cascade, Styrian goldings and Willamette.
So basically a rounded amber ale at around 5% abv with a good dose of late hop flavour. This one I'm actually double brewing and transferring into a 9 gallon cask for the wedding, so it should be exiting to get my own homebrew on hand pull for the first time. I have even designed a pump clip so all that’s left to do now is putting it all into practice. Exiting stuff though.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
I mentioned in my last post about the beer about it going to London. Well I was wrong, its not just going to London, its going all over the UK via pub companies, there could be a cask in your nearest town centre, there could be a cask at your local, or a mates local, there could even be a cask behind you right now… go ahead look… I dare you….. Look again!! Had you going!
The beer has a definite autumnal character, leafy hop and aged fruit with a nice rounded mouth feel. Strangely enough when I designed this beer I didn’t specifically intend on designing a seasonal beer, and to be honest I never thought the design would be used, and if it was it would for a one off brew, which makes me even more chuffed. It was just the other day another load of my babies left on their journey to the customer, we waved goodbye, a moving moment indeed.
Friday, 4 September 2009
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Col hard at work, the expression suggest he's really up for managing some dray runs.
Col delegates dray runs for the following day with Draymaster Steve.
Col hails from a splendid coastal Northumberland village called Craster, here Col as told us about how, as a boy, he used to have to save little friend Timmy from great white sharks and giant killer jellyfish back in 1975. But this was only one of many adventures of Cols long history of working inside and out of the brewing world. It was in fact a few years back now, after working at Daleside for awhile, Col decided to leave the company and start up with his own venture in brewing. His own brewery, but this would be no ordinary brewing venture, Col had an idea for an innovation that he thought would blow all competition out the water. An idea so clever he would soon become world famous for. The idea, as it happens, was not for any novel advanced wort separation method, marketing ploy or new waste management system, but to man the entire brew house operations, distribution and clerical work at some levels, by badgers.
It was thought at these early stages that by using organized teams or large groups of around 40-50 highly trained badgers per BBS (badger brew squads), that a shift by shift work Rota could be established. Significantly the badgers would not require payment, just feeding, and Col would have so many badgers that if one rang in sick, another could be brought in from a different BBS. In the seat of power Col could simply control movements of beer, brewing activities and cleaning and maintenance operations, all badger executed via a single glass plated office suspended above the brew house. From here he could watch over the badgers at work and communicate to them via various speakerphones, or via a large megaphone that could be heard by the entire brew house (in the case of any badger misbehaving). Badgers mashing in, badgers scrubbing vessels, badgers on forklifts, this was the dream, this was a big dream… Of badgers.
However sadly these plans didn’t quite work out the way Col hoped. Firstly there was already an established brewery under the name he wanted. The badgers were too small to operate forklift trucks or vans so specially designed badger sized vehicles had to be looked into, difficulties arose disciplining the animals, then came the trouble with the RSPCA, but that’s a different story. But one of the most tragic moments of this tail, was when one of Cols favorite badgers, named Geoffrey code B1051 of BBS4 tragically died from falling into the copper during a brew.
Note that some information on this blog post may be inaccurate, or exaggerated.
Also note that no badgers were killed or harmed during the making of this blog post.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Another interesting thing about these vintage ales, are that for them I only take the first runnings from the mash and thus only brew 10 liters at a time and bottle into tiny 330ml bottles. This time the run off from the copper was tediously slow with the large amount of hop and trub material in such a small volume. I shall let all know how this one goes.
On a different note, a big congratulations to my Local the John Bull in Alnwick for winning the CAMRA North Northumberland pub of the year last weekend. And this weekend I shall be assisting host a BBQ for a few of my mates and family try my new Autumn Leaves beer as from the previous post. It also appears that by a very close victory, you the readers have voted Hopback Summer Lightning as the beer for the summer, a solid choice.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Last week I executed my very first brew at Daleside brewery under the supervision of brew master Craig Witty. Moreover, not only was this to be an exclusive Daleside seasonal release, this was a brew designed almost entirely by myself. Autumn Leaves, at 3.4% abv is a deep chestnut brown session ale of subtle malty balance with some nutty texture, woody fruits and some dryness. Word has it this offering will be available in London in the near future via disclosed pub groups. Any fans of session bitters or mild ales this is highly recommended.
The brew day kicked off pretty early at 6.30am as usual, which on any other day I would be jumping with excitement however this was the day after my GBBF adventure and the lack of sleep kept me calm as cows. It was also interesting, as my first experience working in the brew house to watch everyone else carry out my daily duties whilsty I look after my baby upstairs.
Many differences were noticed between home brewing and using Dalesides kit, more twiddling around with valves to control temperatures, more cleaning, more pipe work to play around with and less use of plastic spoons /paddles. But at the end of the day I felt it went pretty well, and the product was (an artist strives for perfection but never admittedly gets there) rewarding, with fellow staff having mixed opinions but overall finding it pleasant. Not bad for my first little contribution to the brewing world. If anyone finds it, North or South, I would love to know what you thought.
Monday, 10 August 2009
How to hit gravity:
The core principle is to match up the percentage used of each grist component (malt or adjunct) with the extract in litre degrees obtained from each component. From these, and the known volume you’re brewing, you can work out quantitatively how much of each malt you will need to theoretically hit target gravity (given a theoretical 100% efficient extraction).
At this point you need to know the efficiency of your brewing system witch is derived from the difference in what extract you should get from the malts your putting (as just described) in comparison to the extract you actually get in the fermentation vessel. Additionally what you can do is get a gravity reading of wort from the copper (once its full) termed the copper up gravity. Under the same logic you can use this to get a gauge of the efficiency of your mash separation method (whether mash tun, lauter tun or mash filter), and what the gravity of the wort will be in the fermentation vessel. I have often contemplated using this method, but find it takes a little long to bring the temperature of the wort sample down when I have only minutes to return it to the just starting to boil copper.
Length of the copper boil; boiling longer drives off vapors condensing the worts sugar content. Very simple. In fact some strong ales such as Bass No1 barley wine rely of extreme boil lengths to maximize start gravities.
Malt quality; for example over or under modified malts can give poor extracts that can be harder to ferment due to insufficient wort nitrogen, watch out for them!
The mash separation system used and how the grain is prepared; For example the use of a mash filter over a mash tun gets a higher extract into the copper using a more finely ground grist. Mash tuns require coarsely ground malt that allows the malts husk material to act as a natural filter bed during run off, using a finer grist increases extract but the mash tun user risks losing the natural filtration from the in tact husk material. Secondly the grain is also sensitive to sparging temperature, the hotter the sparge the higher the extract. I tend to sparge around 76-77oC, much higher and you can risk extracting unwanted bitter tannins from the grain.
Mash and wort acidification; Increases extract and run off rates, reduces color formation during the boil but does lower hop alpha-acid isomerization meaning you get less bitterness from the hops used (but that’s a different subject). Mash and wort pH can be tinkered with via various water treatments, the use of acid malts (often used in pilsner and pale lager formulations) and decoction mashing.
A final and very valuable factor is volume; Stopping the run off from the mash tun early leaves you with lesser volume of wort at a higher gravity than if the total volume was collected. Some brewers do this on purpose to then liquor back a controlled volume and hit target gravity, a method called high gravity brewing.
However taking these factors into consideration I have no clear explanation for the reading. The only logical one is that the base malt used was from a stray bag of marris otter at work that was delivered by accident and no malt spec was available for it, so I had to guess at the extract alittle.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
There’s something about British beer that arguably demands some representation. Even if some people think its represented largely by old fat bearded blokes with notebooks. Then there’s the large number of bloggers who take great joy is slagging off CAMRA at any opportunity for undefined goals, contradictory ideals eth. But there is no doubt that the Great British Beer festival wouldn’t be the Great British Beer festival without CAMRA.
And Tuesday August 4th this was where I enjoyed one of my most memorable days for Daleside brewery, representing the brewery, sampling beers (well, it would be rude not to), and having a good chat with the folks from other breweries/collecting successive head brewers and brewery owners autographs. The first of these (surprisingly) was from a New Zealander chap called Kelly Ryan from Thornbridge brewery, my first encounter with (as some call) a new wave radical brewer. As enthusiastic as he was and as much as I wanted to talk about beer, I was in direct competition with the head brewer of the mighty Dark Star brewery, who I also obtained an autograph from. Then as the day went one Dalesides number one Dray, Dave (who I attended the even with) picked out brewer after brewer, autograph after autograph. Everads, Cains, Kelburn, Loddon and the mighty Acorn brewery from Barnsley, as well as splendid chap called Simon Theakson from (you guessed it) Theakstons.
However the main focus of our interests for the evening was the beer on offer, which covered beer from corner of the UK as well as international beers. We also came across an old friend of mine, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde Mild, one of my all time favorite mild ales, but the beer of the night this time went to Shrelenkeria Rauchbier Urbock. The bock version of the original smoked beer, that certainly has a lot more rich malt substance balancing the smoked malts than other versions of it. Coming in possibly a close second was Hop Devil Ale, by US craft brewer Victory, a hoppy but well balanced amber bronze ale displaying characteristic Chinook hop notes. But after all that excitement it was time to head home, too early for Mellissa Cole’s walk sadly. We are also sorry to have missed Woolpacker Dave, The beer nut and a few autographs such as Nick Stafford, but you can’t do it all and as I said to Dave I think we made good progress. All in a days work.
Saturday, 1 August 2009
I also had a try of the single bottle I bottled straight from the FV at the end of the fermentation. In other words the strawberry beer without the strawberries, which (as the fermentation finished early at final gravity 1.016) fobbed quite violently on opening. The beer itself was not suprisingly full of yeast but had almost wheat beer like quailities of chewy bubblegum like notes, probably derived from the 11.3% torrified wheat and 14% wheat malt used in the grist.
At the end of it all only around 3 out of the 4 gallons brewed could be bottled due to the mass of strawberried soaking up significant amounts of beer, and me and Helen agreed it was not a bad yet not impressive strawberry beer. I will see how this one develops in the bottle, but untill then will be more exited about my first visit to the GBBF on tuesday. Hopefully I will be obtaining as many head brewer autographs as possible and bumping into some well known bloggers and beer writers such as Melissa Cole, Dave, Beer Nut, Sausage (not sure if hes going) maybe Ed and others. See you all there.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The first stop was the Guinness storehouse to checkout some old brewing memorabilia and a free pint of the stuff at the gravity bar. Following this a good number of bars and pubs were visited, some more exiting than others. It should be noted firstly that Dublins bars, at many points seemed to vary as much as a pack of jellybabies. Most showed almost identical broad ranges of keg beers, Paulaner Hefeweazen and Guinness seemed everywhere, most have a busy atmosphere and the themes vary alittle. Virtually no cask beers were in sight anywhere but the broad range of keg beers offers some compensation.
Beamish: Exceeded expectation considering it’s a mass market brand. Lots of full rounded malty flavor brings a distinct bitter grain like note to the finish that’s reminiscent to the aftertaste of chewing on chocolate malt. Sadly the aroma was alittle masked by the think blanket of foam derived from the Nitrokeg serving method.
O Hara’s Stout: Mouthfilling and smooth with subtly balanced roast grain. Nothing too forward, but very well crafted.
Porterhouse Plain: Probably the beer of the holiday. Clean and velvety in texture with pronounced dry coffee and chocolate cascading throughout. Veers more towards London porter than anything else, but as porters go this ones up there with the greats.
Porterhouse Wrasslers 4X Stout: Described by Michael Jackson (our lord) beer hunter as the best stout in Ireland. Firm yet wholesome with masses of roast grain coming at ya left right and centre, this one takes no prisoners and satisfies throughout.
Porterhouse Oyster stout: The smoothest most meaty of the porterhouse stouts. Very mouthfeel driven with less pronounced roast malts or bitterness.