Tuesday 25 February 2014

"Naughty Boy" Oat pale ale

Today we brewed a little experiment, a sub-4% pale ale brewed with 12% malted oat flakes, just to see what these would do to the beer's body and mouthfeel.  It's not a new idea, Brodies in Leyton have been doing this for years, but we thought we'd give it a go and see what comes out.

It's safely tucked up in FV3 now so we should have an idea as to what it's tasting like by early next week or so... we used a fair amount of hops, as we do, with Summit, Magnum, Citra and Mosaic being deployed but we've not decided on the dry hop yet!  or the name, come to think of it, but I'm sure we'll think of something.

Tomorrow we're brewing again, this time it's the return of Mosaic Plus in a yet again "new and improved" version with, you guessed it, more hops!  Hopefully it'll be a cracker, it certainly went down very well the last two times we made it... this time, however, it should be even better with yet more juicy blackcurrant and cattyness from the Mosaic hops ably assisted by Centennial, Magnum and maybe a bit of something else too; we'll decide on the details tomorrow!

Our first Collab!

Collaborations, or "collabs" as they're known by lazy people who can't be bothered to pronounce whole words, are all the rage at the moment in UK craft brewing. They began in the US when fellow brewers began to brew beers together and it's migrated, as with many things, over to our shores where we've put our own spin on it.

We meant to do loads of collabs with all the lovely brewers we know, but until now nothing has actually come off despite several tenuous plans... well, until last week that is!  We were joined by James Bendall of the soon-to-be-operational Axiom Brewing of Wrexham and John Winnerah of the lamented Art Brew of Dorset who closed the day after we brewed - for now.

One of the main ideas of a collab is that all collaborators have input on the recipe and so we all sat around the PC wondering what to do; Gazza and Tom had just driven back from Reading after a "meet the brewer" the previous evening and although we'd all talked about the brew on twitter and email a bit nothing had really been decided upon!  After some ideas bounced back and forwards we settled on a vague idea I'd put forwards the week before; a Belgian(ish) Black IPA which really is a bit of a strange beer to make but, hey, collaborations are all about pushing the boundaries!

The recipe was devised, the malts mashed in, dug, hops added, boiled, (lots) more hops added, wort cooled and finally stuck into FV4 with the yeast; sorted, and just enough time for some beers in Cardiff as a bonus!

So, massive thanks to James and John for their sociablilty and putting up with our shambolic setup and getting back late, the beer is now on chill (and at 5.8%) and tasting lovely; the whole sack of Special W malt (it's the German take on Belgian Special B malt) has given the beer a luscious fruitcake flavour to balance the hops and I'm very hopeful this will be an absolute cracker when it's finished in a week or two...

So, who's next then?

James, Gazza (not asleep, honest) and John

The yeast begins it's work!

Worker and supervisor dig the mash

John getting stuck in

Monday 17 February 2014

I am the one and only...

.... cask of Hop Secret 4! I've been made as a special experiment using a new, untested and as yet unnamed British hop which is hoped can, after brewing trials such as this, make the British hop industry more competitive and, dare I say it, relevant in today's "big flavour" market; after all, we are in flavour country now!

I taste of honey malt, have a slight bitterness so as not to distract from the hop's flavour and aroma which is reminiscent of the soft, fruity New Zealand character; obviously it's not as in-yer-face as Nelson or suchlike, but it does have an intriguing tropical fruit to it and a citrussy, dry bitterness.

So, give me a go and see for yourself!  To do that you'll have to be at the Hopcraft "meet the brewer" event at the marvelous Nag's Head, Russell Street, Reading from 19:00 Wednesday where you can see Gazza, Tom and work your way through a dozen Hopcraft beers; go on, you know you want to...  see you there.

Behind the bar at the Nag's...

Thursday 13 February 2014

Beers this week

This week we have brewed a new pale session beer, "Chorister's Gold", which will be around 4.2% and hopped with Marynka (Poland), Admiral (UK) and Triskel (France) to give a soft, fruity beer ideal for a few pints.  This is a rework of an old Pixie Spring recipe which now bears little resemblance to the original!

Tomorrow we're crafting a new 4.5% or so golden brew with mainly south Pacific hops including Topaz (Australia) and Sticklebract (New Zealand); it doesn't have a name yet although "Cardboard box" is a possibility... or maybe not.

We're also transferring "Citraic" to conditioning tank and dry-hopping it, then casking up "Long Nines" and "Reign of Terroir" on Friday.

The beer must get through...

And it did.  Just about...

We've just got back after a day driving in apocalyptical conditions with howling gales, floods, hail, driving rain and I'm sure I saw a few locusts too.

We started at our mates Brodies down in Leyton, east Laaardan, before a flying visit to Meantime brewery in Greenwich courtesy of more mates (AB stainless who were working there) then drops at the Southampton Arms, Highgate, Nag's Head, Reading and finally the Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage before hitting the M4 back to Wales.

We're brewing another new beer tomorrow with South Pacific hops including Topaz and Sticklebract, as well as transferring "Citraic" (which is smelling lush by the way) to conditioning tanks with a load of dry-hop pellets, then we'll be casking up "Long Nines" and "Reign of Terroir" on Friday as some are due out next week!

Don't forget we're at the lovely Nag's Head in Reading next Wednesday 19th for a "meet the brewer" evening; there will be at least a dozen beers on sale including some special one-off beers just for the event; see you all there, it'll be good!  The beers will start coming on during the day and we'll be there from around 6 to talk about the beers, the brewery and answering any questions...

The tenuous beer list is thus...
  1. The Beast 6.5% - golden, hoppy and a beast!
  2. The Boss 4.4% - golden, multi-layered hops and bitterness
  3. Pondicherry IPA - testbrew with Assam and Earl Grey tea
  4. Reign of Terroir 4.9% - pale with the elderflowery French hop Triskel
  5. Permanent Revolution 3.6% - Red "half" IPA, big for the strength!
  6. Hop Secret 4 4.1% - brewed with a brand-new English test hop
  7. Long Nines 6% - big bruiser of a stout
  8. Sucker Punch 4.3% - "soft" IPA, low bitterness, big hop finish
  9. Monky Business (whisky cask) 5.6% - our Belgian dubbel aged in a whisky barrel!
  10. Cruxshadow 4.9% - dark and smoky winter beer
  11. Black Nag - testbrew, a smoked black IPA!
  12. Simcoe Plus 5.4% - very pale, clementine marmalade flavours!
Plus maybe a few more bits and bobs.....

Monday 10 February 2014

Another week...

Now then hop fiends.

This week we've got a fair bit on; brewing twice - probably Chorister's Gold and a mid-4% hoppy amber beer maybe with Topaz and Sticklebract - plus delivering more beer to London, Wantage and Reading in preparation for our "Meet the Brewer" at the Nag's Head, Reading.

This event happens next week on Wednesday 19th; be there, it'll be fun!  We are presenting a dozen of our beers, including a few that won't be seen anywhere else, with the list looking something along these lines...

  • The Beast
  • The Boss
  • Pondicherry IPA (with tea)
  • Golden Pixie
  • Hop Secret 4
  • Long Nines
  • Sucker Punch
  • Whisky cask Monky Business
  • Cruxshadow
  • Black Nag Smoked Black IPA
Plus two more we've not decided on yet!  We'll be talking about the brewery and why we decided to get paid sod-all for working hundreds of hours a week, plus there will be a Q&A session.  I'm not sure what time this kicks off but I'm assuming not before 19:00 or so...  the Nag's is a superb pub and it's close to Reading station, literally not more than 10 minutes' walk.

See you all next week, in the meantime we'd better get brewing some more beer!!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Busy week.

Not massively more than usual, but as we're off to London Thursday we have effectively lost a whole day so we're squeezing everything into three, plus there's some extra stuff happening too!

Today we

  • Brewed "Citraic", a 5.2%-ish pale and very hoppy,
  • Brewed a testbrew with Assam and Earl Grey tea,
  • Washed 50 casks,
  • Dispensed advice and hops/malt to a local homebrewer,
  • Did recipes for future beers,
  • Sold beer in London for Thursday,
  • And various other little jobs which all take time!
Tomorrow we'll mainly be...
  • Brewing another beer, not sure what yet but it's probably "Chorister's Gold"
  • Brewing another testbrew, this time a smoked black IPA (!)
  • transferring "Long Nines" to the whisky cask, keg, cask and conditioning tank,
  • transferring two other beers to conditioning tank,
  • Dry-hopping beers in the tanks,
And then Thursday, before we leave for London, we'll be casking up "Sucker Punch" and maybe "Bang Tidy edition 3" too...

It's all go here, which is great!

Going into all manner of containers tomorrow!

And this one only into cask and keg!