Wednesday 25 December 2013

Have a good one....

Happy Yule / Christmas / festivities whatever you call it and a great new year to all our customers, suppliers, drinkers and supporters.

See you all next year!!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Final deliveries...

Almost done!

In the last 2 days we've dropped 32 casks in London and Reading at the following pubs;
  • Nag's Head, Reading
  • Southampton Arms, Highgate
  • Fox, Haggerston E8
  • Cock (Howling Hops), Hackney
  • King William 4th (Brodies), Leyton
Tomorrow we're doing it all again;
  • Nag's Head, Reading (two more!!)
  • Alehouse (ex Hobgolblin), Reading
  • Hope, Carshalton
  • Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage
And that's about it for the year for us!  it's been an amazing 6 months with plenty of highs and lows but we feel that we've achieved way more than we thought and are looking forwards to really taking it up a notch next year.

Our beer quality has steadily improved to the point that even Gazza is fairly happy with it (!) and the last few brews (Beast, Boss and Citra Plus) were particularly pleasing; we're not resting on the proverbial laurels though, far from it, we know we can make even better beer and will be trying to do just that in the new year.

We'll be updating less frequently over Yule as we're not doing that much, so we'll take this opportunity to give out a massive thanks to everyone who's helped or merely put up with us during the past year of planning, building and finally brewing; we really do appreciate all the support and feedback so please keep the lupulous faith for 2014 and we'll see you soon - some Meet the Brewer evenings are being planned for the new year so you can come see us in person!

Have a good Yule and new year everyone, cheers.

Gazza and Tom, the brewers.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Final brew of the year and Whisky cask maturation update!

It may seem a bit soon, but we've just done our final brew of the year!  We've been brewing twice a week for a good few weeks now so we've built up a bit of a buffer to see us through until January; saying that, we're off to London twice next week with 50 (and counting...) casks so we'll need to be brewing straight off in January to replenish some stocks.  The thinking was we'd rather brew and sell fresh beer than sit on lots of older stock (hops fade very quickly so we want our beer from brewery to bar as quickly as possible) so that's it for 2013, 35 brews completed in our first 6 months; not bad to begin with.

The final brew was a rather unusual dark beer, not quite stout not quite wheat beer, with a generous dose of German smoked malts (both beechwood and oak) to add complexity and, as you'd expect in such a beer, the hop charge was (for us!) ludicrously low with Admiral, Marynka and Magnum being used more to add to the flavour than to add their own as is usually the case with our beer.  It should be pretty complex so look out for "Cruxshadow" in the new year...

We've got a good range of beers coming on sale now including The Beast, Permanent Revolution, Monky Business (of which more in a minute) and The Beast to name but a few, as well as last month's Bosun James Gray, Prospector and Lucifer Juice... oh yes, and Citra Plus which was tasting monumentally good on casking; can't wait to try that in the pub.

Brewing for the year may be over but the work isn't, oh no.  Today we racked Tidy, transferred and dry-hopped Bang Tidy (Centennial and Columbus), transferred Monky Business to tank and the Whisky cask then washed all the casks to rack The Beast tomorrow, plus all tanks have had their pellet trub disgorged.  Be a brewer and laze around drinking beer, they said...

Some photos of the week's events are below...

The "Double Hogshead" 500 litre ex-Whisky cask in situ...

And here being filled with "Monky Business"

With all these unusual beers we've been doing, the specialist malt store is overflowing with... well, specialist malts!  Some good stuff in there.

Our smokey dark stouty-wheaty-whatever it is!

It's our take on Belgian Dubbel... not perfect, but it's tasting interesting!

Monday 9 December 2013

Does this make us "craft"?

As any fule kno, to be a craft brewer these days you've got to have a beard and wooden barrel-age everything in sight whether it suits the beer or not, plus declaring everything to be "awesome" helps too.

Tom has the beard but, until now, we didn't have any wooden casks... this situation has been resolved with the acquisition of a whisky cask which, provided it passes QC checks and doesn't leak beer all over the floor, will be used to barrel-age some of our Belgian Dubbel-style brew "Monky Business"...  more news as we get it!

We're brewing tomorrow and it looks like it'll be another "non-standard" brew for us in the shape of a dark smoked ale using Franconian beech smoked malt and a right mixture of other malts to produce a dark, wintery beer (it's not a stout although that's probably the nearest thing you could describe it as) and will be around 5% or thereabouts.

Our whisky cask in the van!

Thursday 5 December 2013

Brewing "Monky Business"

A few photos from today's brew, our first foray into Belgian-style beers, a 6%+ dubbel type thingy; the wort was tasting lovely running into FV1!  Now it's up to the yeast...

Adding Candi Sugar to the underback

Gazza adds the Candi sugar - it's easier to use in liquid form!

The biggest mash we've done thus far - 327kg of grain!

1500 litres of Dubbely goodness...

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Yeasties on their main course.

For those who don't know, yeast is the single-celled fungus which makes beer... erm, well, into beer.  Basically yeast loves to eat sugar - wort is full of it - and so putting them into wort is akin to throwing me into a bath full of Nargis kebabs; much eating gets done!

Yeast eats simple sugars first (glucose, sucrose) then moves onto the more complex ones such as maltose - and others with scarily chemically-sounding names - until it reaches a point where it can't eat any more as the supplies are exhausted or the strain you're using simply won't ferment any more; it's reached it's attenuation potential and will go no further.

We're using S04 in our Tidy Bitter; it's an English strain more commonly known as "Whitbread B" and you can taste it's telltale peardrop and almond characteristics in many beers such as Batemans; if you can taste peardrops it's a pretty safe bet you're drinking a beer fermented with Whitbread B... that or your drink has been laced with cyanide.  

S04 isn't my favourite yeast by a long chalk; it has a distinctive taste which we don't want in our ordinary beers and it doesn't attenuate (the level of fermentation it will achieve) that well and stops before other yeasts leaving more sugars - and therefore body - in the beer.  We use it for Tidy bitter, however, as it gives the flavours people expect a bitter to have; the public get what the public want, eh?

Here's some photos of the yeast hard at work this evening in FV3 troughing down on our Tidy Bitter; it's only been in the vessel a day and already it's going mental!

Tidy Bitter version 4

Today we brewed Tidy bitter for the 4th time and, as is now traditional, the recipe has been savagely hacked about! We're trying to get it to taste more full-bodied yet not too hoppy (although this version is a fair bit hoppier than the last one) and uses English Admiral, German Herkules and Polish Marynka hops for a balance of bitterness and grassy, slightly fruity hop flavour.  This will hopefully mesh well with the S04 yeast and it's peardrop esters and the torrefied wheat which gives a slight "popcorn" taste which, in my experience, "twig bitter" drinkers - for some totally illogical reason - find palatable; eeeuw.  

As you can see, Tidy is a funny brew in that it's the only one we've made where we're not trying to make a beer we'd like to drink but one "normal" punters might want... not being a normal, far from it, some guesswork is necessary to get inside the mindset of said normals and the decision to add traditional grains, hops and yeasts have given a brew which definitely tastes like a bitter - albeit one with a lot more flavour than is usual - although we're still messing about with the recipe to try and get it "right", whatever that might be!

So, here's the moment two of you have been waiting for... the scores on the doors as of now... three FVs full (2 on chill) and 6 CT's with beer on dry hops. Tomorrow we'll be racking Lucifer Juice and also (maybe) Citra Plus to cask, transferring Permanent Revolution to tank and preparing for our brew of "Monky Business" on Thursday, our first Belgian-style beer... should be interesting as we've got a load of special malts and even Belgian candi sugar in!

The whiteboard tells all...