Monday, 29 March 2010

The Magic of the Brewhouse (part 2)

You see here at Daleside we believe that brewing and distributing our beer is like spreading our love around Yorkshire and the UK. In this episode of 'The magic of the brewhouse' we see Draymaster Steve and man of action, former badger obsessor Col on the case of racking and stacking some casks for distribution.

Each one of these 9 gallon parcels of love contains 72 pints of joy, ready to be sent out to light up the face of the landlord with joy and fill customers' hearts with glee as they knock back the 5th pint. Also note Draymaster Steve's shive handling skills in this clip. You see Draymaster Steve isn't just called Draymaster as a nick name, he had to train for 18 years with Buddhist dray monks on the mountains of Tibet. Learning to control and maintain a transit van, deliver beer, use a Sat Nav and retrieve empty casks to the brewhouse. After his 18 years with the monks, in 1975 Steve was awarded the Samurai dropbag, the highest honor of a drayman that thus established him as a draymaster.

Steve's Samurai Dropbag

Steve's old dropbag is his most sacred, prized possession only to be touched by the hands of himself or a fellow drayman. So as custom Steve's day always starts with 50 minutes meditation with his dropbag on top of 9 gallon casks before taking to the roads. Distribution can be a tough job, but it's all part of the magic...

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Magic of the Brewhouse (part 1)

This is where the magic starts (well technically it starts in a field of barley, but this is where the best bits happen). You see what I often have to explain to people outside of brewing is, that brewing a batch of beer is allot like making love to a beautiful woman. So this week I bring you some brewing porn, straight from the heart of Daleside brewery. This footage was taken from a brew of the latest seasonal beer Spring Frenzy. Here we see Craig dramatically unloading his grist case (scene 1) then sparge his mash (scene 2), making it nice and hot to maximise that lovely extract. All essential parts of the brewing process, all part of the magic.

Scene 1. Mashing in.

Scene 2. Sparging the mash.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Congratulations Mr Millichamp, it’s a…… 3.5% golden ale

Its not often I brew a low alcohol golden ale. That’s mainly because these days the UK cask market is swamped with them. Every brewer has a golden session ale (or seven) and these days I am often inclined to to think the style is becomeing a bit of a sellout. It’s almost like every pub you visit selling cask ale has some kind of session golden ale on of some kind, and this is not ideal for those seeking the diversity of beer as beer hunting can become repetative. In a sense (and OK these beers don't quite dominate the cask market completely yet) you could argue this limits consumer choice.

But out of intrigue I decided to brew one of my own golden ales at work using my home brew kit and for the first time its came out rather quaffable. The thing I found with golden ales brewed at home in Alnwick is that they always had some minor defect (probably due to inferior water and available wort cooling systems). Mild ales I admit I did rather well in Alnwick, probably due to the colored malts balancing the acidity of the water I suspect is high in bi-carbonates. But never golden ales.

I have also always had the problem of low gravity beers attenuating too far and this occurred with this brew adding dryness to the finish but it kind of adds to the drinkability. My 3.5% golden ale is brewed with lager malt, pale malt and torrified wheat, and hopped with Willamette, Cascade and Styrian goldings hops. The other night I brought 3 bottles back home so I could try one for quality control testing thinking it would be a bit young at just over a week old, hazy and immature. But it had almost dropped bright and tasted delightful, I ended up drinking all 3 bottles.

I shall be brewing more low abv session beers in future. The problem is they tend not to keep for a long time so (and this has happened before) much of it can go stale and get wasted. If anyone in the northeast out there is willing help out drinking my stock I would be happy brew more low gravity beer and spread some bottles around.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Beer and cheese evening, take 2.

Many years ago I thought that the world of beer consisted of 5 or 6 major brands of beer and that was all. For along time I also believed the world of cheese consisted of 5 or 6 major types of cheese, but recently I began to discover just how diverse the world of cheese really is. Admittedly I can't say hunting different cheeses is as exiting as hunting different beers, but pairing beer and cheese I have found highly rewarding. The audience for this event included my wife Helen and both my parents, out of which only my mother could handle the strongest cheeses and high alcohol beer geek beers, but it was all part of the experiment.

Those who remembered my first beer and cheese evening last year will remember many more people going and the whole thing being more of a house party with a cheeseboard on the side. This time the assembly of specific pairings made things far more interesting and organised. So here are the pairings.

Rosary goats cheese with Watou's Wit.

This one went down as an instant winner with everyone, soft, tangy goat's cheese met the crisp, light, mildly citric Belgian Wit. What was outstanding was how the textures molded together whilst gentle citric notes intricately lifted the cheese on the back of spritzy carbonation. Going even better than expected, the likes of fellow blogger Dredgie would term this as a FABPOW (bitchin!).

Cave aged Gruyere with Samuel Smith's Nut Brown ale.

Here I wanted to pair a good brown ale with fairly nutty textured medium intensity cheddar like cheese, but in the end the cheese I was after was unavailable. Its replacement was nutty, gritty, and salty with a slight milky sweetness. Combine this with soft malty grainy, diacetyl influenced classic English brown ale and a decent pairing is found. Soft malt enwraps and softens out the gritty salty cheese whilst the bitterness of the grain builds into the savoury nature of the cheese. Sadly the salty intensity of the cheese overpowered the brown ale a little.

Northumberland Smoked with Screlenfela Rauchbier.

Put together obviously because they're both smoked, and both of similar intensity. Seems logical, and they paired quite well, but not everyone was so fond of the mouthfuls of smokiness. Only two things let this pairing down, firstly the soft cheddar like smokey cheese seemed a little two dimensional, secondly was the absence of the element of contrast. But if you love the smokey flavour this is definately advisable.

Burton Bridge Empire pale ale with Black Bomber Vintage cheddar.

Classic British style IPAs and strong Cheddars are well known to go great together, and this one in particular proved a rather intense pairing. The cheese fruity, salty and acidic with a slight creaminess, whilst the beer plays nicely on this with upfront fruity English hops and sturdy bitterness bringing about tropical fruit like notes in the finish. Sadly our guests found the pairing a little overpowering and to be honest a cheddar of such strength was not needed, so a kind of power struggle on the palate was created between beer and cheese where the cheese kind of won.

Westmalle Double with Blue Monday.

This rather strong creamy blue cheese made an interesting partner for this funky, yeasty, estery, phenolic malty depth of this Belgian double. Knowing the great versatility Westmalle double has for cheese made finding a pairing for it both the easiest and hardest part of organising this event. A decent pairing though with plenty going on, a little harmony, and some contrast.

Thornbridge Alliance with Cropwell Bishop Stilton.

Strong slightly creamy blue cheese meets the silky smooth warming barley wine. Absolutely phenomenal and truly divine. Sadly no one else thought so as no one else liked barley wine or strong blue cheeses. For this was the highlight of the night, even if I was getting a bit bladdered at that point.

So at the end of the day the big question remains; what was the best pairing?
In my opinion the stilton and Alliance came out on top, but by popular opinion the Belgian Wit and goat's cheese won. The others were interesting also, leaving much to experiment with for the next beer and cheese evening.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Morocco Ale

To be honest, when I first started working at Daleside brewery, Morocco ale was my favourite beer. Today I would say it's probably still one of them. Here in Harrogate I have been given the pleasures of racking, transferring, milling the grist of and even drinking this rich amber cakey sweet ginger nuanced beer. If you haven't tried it I advise looking for it in bottled form, in cask you see it occasionally but most specialist beer shops seem to have it in bottles. I would also advise trying it with red meat dishes, ginger cake and duck with ginger and spring onion form your local Chinese takeaway.