Monday 31 March 2014

This week's news...

We're doing two 1500 litre brews this week, as per normal these days...

First up tomorrow is "Graveyard Eyes", our Sorachi Ace porter, with a slightly revised recipe - both malt and hops - which went down really well on it's first outing last autumn so we thought it was time to bring it back, albeit version 2!

Second will be a new beer of low ABV (around 4%) with mainly European hops such as Mandarina Bavaria, Triskel and Kazbek for sociable spring drinking; we've not finalised the recipe (or name!) of this one yet but it should be an easy-going yet tasty one.

We're off to Port Street Beer House in Manchester on Sunday for our official keg launch and meet the brewer so come on down from 17:00 to see us put the world to rights, then on the Monday we'll be brewing with Rob and the PSBH team over at Blackjack with the provisional recipe being a Red IPA although this could change between now and then !!

Thursday 27 March 2014

Back to it...

Gazza has been on a much-needed holiday (albeit a busman's one, beer drinking in Southern Poland!) so we've been a bit quiet this last week, but rest assured we're back at work and doing what we do best... making beer!

Today we re-brewed a beer which was done to test local (and non-local!) response to an easy-going, golden and not-too-hoppy brew and after the whole lot went in a week we've decided to brew it again, albeit with a couple of tweaks to make it even better, so look out for "Chorister's Gold" again in a few weeks.

Tomorrow we are casking up two beers, "No Love Lost" which is our Citra/Galaxy mashup type thing, plus "Steady as she Goes", our 50th gyle, brewed with - amongst others - the citrussy Czech hop Kazbek; these will be out and about very soon so keep an eye out at the usual places...

Next week sees us (probably) re-brewing another old favourite (although whether a beer less than 6 months old can be legitimately called an "old favourite" is open to debate) in the form of our Sorachi Ace-led porter "Graveyard Eyes"; this hop, originally from Japan but now grown in the US, has a bizarre and fascinating aroma and taste of coconut, orange peel and dill and is one of Gazza's favourite hops just because it's a contrary one like him!  We'll also be brewing something else pale and hoppy, maybe a new beer maybe a revisit of a previous brew, we've not decided yet, maybe we need to create a "brewing schedule", a phrase which impressed us this week!

And as if that wasn't enough for one week we're off to Manchester on Sunday for our keg beer launch at the superb Port Street Beer House at 17:00; it's free, so see you there!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Another collaboration brew!

Today we hosted Brian from Northern Monk of Leeds who are due to begin brewing shortly and seem to hold similar views on hops, crystal malt and many other things to us!

We brewed a strong-ish (it should be around 5.7% or so) red IPA - so watch Roger Protz go apoplectic about this further nonsensical beer style - with what must be the biggest hop charge we've used thus far (and probably the most expensive too...!) with over 2kg per barrel of lovely Summit, Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, Centennial and Chinook all drowned in the name of lupuliciousness.

We're hopeful this will be one of our most interesting and hoppy beers to date so look out for it in a month or so when it's emerged from it's hoppy slumber... It's working title is "Crafty Monk" although this may change if we think of something better in the meantime; any suggestions will be received gratefully although, as usual, the prize is the standard sod-all except for the happy glow of knowing you've helped a worthy cause.  Or so we think.

Weighing out the grain

That's just unnaturally happy...

Monday 17 March 2014

Bottling getting closer

We're nearly ready to begin bottlig our beer!  We have a table, perecetic sprayer, bottle draining tree, capper, bottles and caps... all we need now is the time to prepare the first cask for bottling and get it done which will probably happen in a week's time.

At first there won't be that many bottles, we'll only do enough to cover the orders we have which will probably mean around 120 330ml bottles per brew, but we see this expanding in the future.

Before any of that happens, however, we're rebrewing Citraic this week after it all sold out in less than a week (and got some pleasing reviews!) and we're also going our second collab with Brian from Northern Monk!  Expect a Red IPA with insane amounts of hops in...

1805 bottles...

Our new bottling setup!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Craftwerk Euro pale ale - not for UKIP members!

Today we had a second go at "Craftwerk", a concept which Gazza has long nurtured to make a beer with the best hops Europe has to offer... which, by definition, doesn't include many British ones as I don't like the taste of mouldy grass (Admiral and Bramling Cross excluded)!

Anyhow, our first attempt at this back in October was scuppered - our only failed brew thus far, touch wood - due to contaminated yeast, so this second try has a lot resting on it's shoulders!  It's comprised of the usual low-colour Maris Otter & wheat malt mash with a dash of Weyermann Melanoidin malt for body and colour (a classic German malt which gives amazing malty flavours without becoming toffeeish or sweet) with a complex mix of the "new wave" and old skool European hops;

  • Brewer's Gold, an old variety, for orangey oiliness
  • Kazbek, a new Czech hop, for lemon zest,
  • Triskel, France's new "craft" hop, giving spicy citrus,
  • Mandarina Bavaria, the (expensive!) darling of Germany's new world of aroma hops
  • Herkules, a classic German bittering hop of world class stature.
We were going to add some UK Admiral, IMO one of the best British hops with a characterful flavour of 1p fruit salad chews (honest!), but we'd used them all up on our mahoosive brew of Tidy we did on Tuesday... 

So, this should be an interesting brew and, although it won't be a knock-your-socks-off monster in the style of our more usual American or Aussie/NZ hopped examples, it should have enough interest contained therein to make you think twice about European hops; all that remains, once it's fermented, is to stuff 4kg more Mandarina Bavaria into our "hop torpedoes" for dry-hopping and let it gently infuse for a week resulting in, hopefully, a flavoursome and tasty 4.4% golden brew.

Needless to say UKIP members are prohibited from drinking it as it's all foreign hops, coming over here taking our hops' jobs, they're probably all pregnant and wanting benefits too.  And I'd say we don't want BNP or EDL members drinking it either, but they'd probably drown trying to do two things at once like breathe and drink... better they stick to "Ing-er-lish" stuff like Carling, Stella and Heineken then.

(I'm sure you all see the sarcasm - Carling is originally Canadian, Stella Belgian and Heineken Dutch, and if you didn't then you do now.  Don't say we don't fulfill a public service broadcast duty here).

Monday 10 March 2014

The first bit of our bottling kit arrives

Look what arrived today!!

This, in case you've not seen one, is a manual bottling machine (this being a six-head one) which plugs into an FV, tank or cask of beer and automatically fills bottles which we've then got to cap, warm-condition and finally label.

We've not finalised the label designs yet and haven't got a warm room set up, but the first bit of our bottling project is here and we're all raring to have a play with it!

(Update - we now also have our crown capper, caps and draining tree, so all we need are some bottles!)

Monday 3 March 2014

Brew 50 this week!

Doesn't time fly, eh?

This week we'll be creating our 50th full brew (if you count testbrews and suchlike we've already hit 60, but this is about proper 1500 litre batches) on Thursday; it's to be called "Steady as she Goes" and will be an unusual amber beer with Munich malt and the new Czech hop Kazbek in the mix which, going on my experiences of it in Czech, tastes like lemon meringue pie... I can't wait!

First up though, tomorrow, there's the task of brewing batch 49 which doesn't have a name as yet but will more than probably feature the A-team of Citra and Galaxy hops in a 4.3% or so brew of golden hue... sounds good to me!  The recipe isn't 100% finalised as yet but we've hours to go until we brew it, and we might even think of a name by then ;-)

So, a big milestone for us this week and it's time to reflect that, in a mere 9 months of brewing we've achieved more than I thought we would in 2 years - we're brewing twice a week at present and currently struggling to keep up with demand - and our all-important reputation is growing too with more pubs contacting us asking for beer which is just what I hoped would happen 18 months back when I sent the letter to my then boss telling him where the job I hated so much could be inserted!

A massive thanks to all our customers, drinkers and supporters for your help, encouragement and tolerance during what has been a very steep learning curve for us all and all we can say is THANK YOU and keep the lupulous faith!


Gazza Tom & Steve