Thursday 31 October 2013

Flattering.... and our 25th brew!

Well, kind of...  we're sending out pallets of beer to several wholesalers next week and it's quite a boost that a beer distributor wants to sell our beer!  I know that's how it works, but it still feels good and affirms what we think about our own beers.

We brewed a new pale ale today, our 25th brew since June, a mere 4 months ago! It contains Waimea, Pacific Jade and Topaz so should be full of lovely fruity flavours although, just to make sure, we will dry-hop it in the tank with more hops, Sticklebract to be precise!  It doesn't have a name as yet although Gazza's ancestor was the Bosun with Captain Cook back in the 1700's on one of his South Pacific adventures so that looks like a good starting point for a name, what with all those South Pacific hops!

We've also been casking up beer today including our "production" version of the beer which started it all last year, "The Boss".  This was a collab between Tom and Gazza in the wheatsheaf cellar and started off this whole brewery business!  Version 2 has been improved with less bitterness, more (and better) hops and vastly increased drinkability....

Version 2...

Thursday 17 October 2013

Gazza at Indy Man Beer Con and other stories.

Well, I was there.  Sadly, only for about 4 hours, but that was enough to convince me we need to be there in force next year at all sessions.

So, what was so good about it then? Surely all beer festivals are the same?  Well, no.  For a start it's not run by CAMRA (the beards and guts society) so good beer - IN WHATEVER DISPENSE FORMAT - was on sale with no "tutting" if you asked for keg.  Then there was proper coffee, the food looked amazing (sadly it had been packed away by the time I'd done my meet the brewer) and the venue... well, if you like Victorian tiled grandeur then you'll really love it!  It's an old swimming baths if you didn't know, one which has been saved from destruction and turned into a kind of events venue.  OK, it's not in the nicest area of Manc being near Chorlton on Medlock and Mosside, but I've seen much worse!

But most of all there was the obvious love for beer by staff and visitors alike, and the customers were of a demographic CAMRA would pay for; in the main, young people (irritatingly young...) who were there to drink good beer without the shackles of the dispense police.  So refreshing in it's attitude and so well run you'd never believe it's only in it's second year, I'm ordering everyone to visit next year!

This week we're flat out trying to brew / cask / condition some new beers to replace the ones we've been sold out of!  No sooner do we release a list then they're all gone which is a great position to be in but very hard to keep up with... but we are so happy the beers are having such a good response from pubs, drinkers and wholesalers although you've seen nothing yet; we honestly think the beers are improving brew by brew and can't wait to get stuck into some more in the coming weeks.

Today we brewed a new version of "The Boss", the beer which started it all back in 2012!  This new version has a different hop profile although the malt is very similar and the ABV is the same as the first one which is bound to cause confusion!  We've also transferred "Ta Moko", our South Pacific hopped black IPA, to tank and added lots of lovely Waimea pellets to them which should impart a mellow melon-esque fruitiness by next week.

Tomorrow we brew the latest batch of Tidy Bitter which will be ever so slightly different than the last one with the use of Saaz hops instead of Bobek for a test... apart from that it's the same!

Finally, here are a few photos as is customary....

The ex King's Arms in the middle of a dodgy estate (not as dodgy as it was, mind) in Chorlton on Medlock... this is where Brendan Dobbin brewed the beers which changed my outlook on beer forever.

Gazza doing a "Meet the brewer" at IMBC.

This is the room we did the MTB in; Victorian tiled splendour or what?!?!

A general view of one of the halls at IMBC

Our latest beer to go into conditioning tanks today...

Wednesday 9 October 2013

New windows and Napoleon....

That's two things you don't often hear in the same sentence....  or title, even.

We've had a window fitted into the base of our copper (which is surrounded by chimney bricks to keep in the heat from the gas burners) so we can keep a close eye on said recalcitrant burners which have recently been going out at far to frequent intervals - the thermocouple cuts them out when it shouldn't - and, anyhow, it's nice to look at a roaring fire!

So where does the French emperor come in, you may well ask?  Well, he's featured on the clip of the beer we've transferred to conditioning tank and dry-hopped (Polaris, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade and Amarillo!) today; "Napoleon Complex" is a beer small in ABV but big in attitude as are the people the condition describes... Google it and see for yourselves what I'm gibbering on about!  The name fits the beer perfectly in our opinion and it's shaping up to be one of our hoppiest brews to date... we really need a hop accountant!

Next up is our European IPA with all Euro hops and then, as we've only got a bit left, it's time for the next brew of Tidy Bitter but this time we're going to start mixing things up a bit; as well as half the brew being casked as Tidy in the normal way, we're going to stick the other half in a conditioning tank with a load of hops and see what comes out; this will be a regular thing when we brew Tidy in the future to add a little interest and also to see what happens with different dry hops... didn't take us long to get bored brewing Tidy, only twice, and even then we amended the recipe between brews!

I'll have a thin crust margherita please chief...

Two brews this week... hopefully.

When I say hopefully it depends if we can get a few bits of kit sorted out first, to pick two out of the air our gas burners under the copper and filter plate in the copper, both guilty of making our brewday today into one massive ballache.

But hey ho, it's in the FV now and orders for the beers keep rolling in faster than we can make it at present (we're not complaining, honest!) which is why we need to brew again this week; and hopefully Thursday will be the day!

So, what did we brew today?  "Ta Moko" is a Black IPA (and to those who don't like the term you know what you can do... complain to the Americans who thought it up!) using mainly New Zealand (Waimea) and Australian (Topaz) hops to produce a lusciously fruity yet toasted and bitter beer of big complexity.  South Pacific hops are rare in Black IPAs so we thought we'd give them a go and see if their more subtle soft fruity flavours come through.

Tomorrow we're casking up the latest brew of "Mosaic Plus" and doing various bits of paperwork before, hopefully, brewing "Eurocentric" on Thursday which is another IPA but this one is a more boring colour (golden!) and uses entirely European hops, rare in an IPA, but we think we can make it happen...

Then, on Friday, Gazza is off delivering to Derbyshire and Sheffield, brewing with Steel City, then driving across the Pennines to Manchester to drop off more beer before a mini Meet the Brewer at the Indy Man Beer Conf at the Victoria Baths in Chorlton on Medlock.  Coincidentally, the venue is dangerously close to the original home of Brendan Dobbin's West Coast brewery; for those too young to remember, Brendan was a pioneer of foreign hops in the UK and whose beers changed my life on numerous occasions with his use of hops and made me what I am today... and that's a total hophead before anyone says anything else.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Two testbrews for London!

Tomorrow is one of our trips down the M4 to London and we're taking a couple of special beers with us for the Snooty Fox in Canonbury's "Good Libations" beer festival which is being held from 24th to 27th October.

We've brewed two specials with wort from New Dawn Fades but, as we added different hops and (in one case) yeast, the results are very different indeed!

"Saison du Renard" is a 5.1% Saison with a simple Magnum and Saaz copper hopping with the French Saison yeast giving a very dry, grassy, peppery character with big fruity hops from the Mosaic pellets used as dry-hopping... us and our Mosaic, eh?

"Hop Secret 2" is, as the name suggests, our second brew of this nature using a hop so new it doesn't even have a name yet!  This one is from Eastern Europe (and different to that used in the original Hop Secret) and goes by the moniker of CF118... expect spicy, grassy flavours and even hints of pineapple in the finish.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Hop Torpedoes!

Well, what else would you call them?!?

These steel contraptions are filled with leaf hops then are placed into our conditioning tanks for a week to allow the lovely lupulins to infuse into the beer much in the same way a teabag works... if you had a six-foot stainless steel one.

We've long wanted something to allow us to dry hop with leaf hops in the conditioning tanks; we measure the T90 pellets directly into the tanks but leaf hops block up the outlets and just about everything else so, after various experiments with muslin bags and suchlike, we've had these made by our friends at AJP stainless in Hereford, home of the Wobbly brewery, especially for our 700 litre tanks.

We've not tested them in anger yet but they should work a treat; we'll let you know which beer has used them so you can judge their effectiveness for yourself!