Tuesday 27 May 2014

15kg of dark sugar and 100g of peppercorns...

... gives, hopefully, 1500 litres of "Spanish Main" Jamaican stout!

It's our second go at this, the first being our fourth ever beer brewed back in June last year, so it's time - almost a year on - for a slightly amended second version of it to see the light of day.

This revised recipe still includes the dark sugar (a mixture of muscovado, molasses and soft dark brown) but has more peppercorns and a lot more roast barley to give more of a "stouty" flavour than the first edition which was lacking a bit in what I'd call typical stout character and instead was a bit too chocolatey and toasty.  Hops are German Herkules for bittering and UK Bramling Cross for flavour and aroma, there is no dry-hopping done with this one as there's no point, the malts will overshadow the hops too much so more hop will be added during the boil for flavour.

This is due to be brewed Thursday so look out for more updates then....

Friday 23 May 2014

Almost a year!

It's less than a month now until we've been brewing a whole year and I have no idea where that's gone!  We're on target to have brewed over 70 times which means we'll have brewed over 100,000 litres of beer or 190,000+ pints!

The anniversary is the 18th June so the plan is to re-brew the very first beer, Statement of Intent, but to make it even better than the first time!  More news as soon as it's been decided upon...

Two more brews done!

First off, big thanks to Ash and Jay who've been helping out this week, couldn't have done it without them - or I probably could but I'd be near enough dead by now!

Ash and Jay
Wednesday saw a rebrew of "Citraic" as you lot love it so much!  As is usual with Hopcraft, this is yet another tweak to the recipe making it even more "awesome" with extra hops and a few substitutions too... it'll be out and about in a couple of weeks.

Today (Friday) has seen yet another new brew, so new it doesn't have a name yet! Brewed with the rare American hop Comet (along with Chinook) it smells like a fruit salad penny chew if you remember such things; all 4 fermenters are full with beer, so hopefully we'll soon have caught up a bit and actually have some to sell!

Next week will see the re-brewing of Oceanic which has gained rave reviews so far and is a deliciously mellow, tropical and juicy example of a modern-day pale ale of which the UK excels.  We'll also be brewing another dark beer with the return of "Spanish Main" - providing I can find 15kg of muscovado sugar - which was only our fourth ever brew.  Some might even find it's way into the whisky barrel...

Monday 19 May 2014

In the fermenters today...

Today we have, in our fermenters, the following beverages...

FV1 - Diggin' up the King, India Brown Ale, 5.4% approx.  This is currently at 20c and fermenting well, it should be around 1010 tomorrow evening when the chillers can go on.

FV2 - empty, we have a defective column pump on the chiller unit although some shiny new ones have been acquired and just need fitting.  The FV also needs a NIPAC clean (phosphoric acid) to remove some beerstone which has started to accumulate, we may do this tomorrow.

FV3 - Simcoe Plus, Mid-Atlantic pale ale, 5.4%.  On chill, currently at 16c

FV4 - Santa Muerte, golden hoppy ale, 4.6%-ish.  On chill, currently at 8.5c, will transfer to conditioning tank tomorrow for dry-hopping.

Thursday 15 May 2014

What don't we want in our beer?

For those not in the know, twigs is the name for hops without much flavour or aroma so, basically, nearly everything from the UK and a lot from Europe.

These twigs have been gathered from hops used recently and arranged thusly to make their point!

Hops are a bine so they're not really twigs - in reality bits of bine - but hey, I didn't invent the name... or did I?  Ccan't remember now...

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Simcoe plus makes a return!

Today we brewed a beer we've been asked to re-make for a long time; how could we refuse our public's demands?  Not very well it seems, so Simcoe Plus is now in FV3!

This version 2.0 is a bit different - read "better" - than the first one and contains more Centennial and Simcoe in various stages of the process including our new flavour hop addition which is definitely adding more ooomph to the hop character, or so the few finished beers with this tweak are suggesting!

Tomorrow sees another brew, this time maybe an India Brown ale, although Gazza hasn't decided as of 23:35 the evening before; brew schedules?  Meh, this is how we roll...

Friday 9 May 2014

Santa Muerte is in the casa...

Massive thanks to Julie Thomas for her sterling work today and, after said work, we have a beer in FV4 called Santa Muerte or "Saint Death" in her native Mexico.  Why Santa Muerte?  It just is, OK?

Golden in colour and hopefully around 4.3%, this will be a hoppy brew with Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Summit, Citra and Herkules to give a full-on US hop character.

Next week will see, touch wood, two more brews with Simcoe Plus pencilled into the "brewing schedule" (posh, eh?) and something else, maybe a new beer if we feel like using some of the new Comet hops.  We also need to re-brew Citraic as you thirsty lot have bought it all in a week...  cheers!

Julie digging out the copper!

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Back to normal-ish

After the celebrity stardom of the meet the brewer last week (plus a couple of days of more normal cask washing, racking and transferring beer) it's back to it this week as an (almost) normal one - bank holidays excepted, obviously!

We're off delivering to London tomorrow, then hopefully brewing twice or at least once although Gazza hasn't decided what as of yet... he says he'll have a think about it tonight when he's had a rummage around the hopstore...

We're hoping to be even more back to normal next week as Tom may be returning to the brewery, this would be a great relief to all concerned and hopefully will allow us to resume pushing the beer into new pubs in addition to looking after our existing customers.

A request - if anyone has or sees any of our casks can you please let us know where they are as we're getting worryingly short at Hopcraft towers... they are either turquoise/black/turquoise plastic or steel, or we also have some purple/blue/purple metal ones too with "Nye rental" on them; cheers!

Friday 2 May 2014

Meet the Brewer and other stories

The "Meet the Brewer" at Edinburgh's excellent craft beer bar the Hanging Bat went really well; would you believe 23 people actually paid £25 a head to hear Gazza speak for nearly 3 hours (with food and beer breaks, naturally...) about everything beer related?  I can't either, but that's what happened...

The evening was a tasting of 6 of the 17 beers on upstairs chosen by Gazza and Sam the head barman to go with the food (chorizo & chick pea stew topped with black pudding and poached egg, spicy fish wrap and finally sticky toffee pudding) whilst Gazza rambled on at length about the beers, the brewing and many other things besides!  When we finally wrapped up it was gone 22:00 and the beers had gone down very well indeed, so I think we can judge the evening a success!

The remainder of the week will be spent transferring beer and then Gazza heads off to Crewe for a collab with Michelle Kelsall's Offbeat brewery; the beer is to be a pale hoppy little number with hops from the Pacific, look out for it in a few weeks' time....

Next week is, after the bank holiday, back to normal with - hopefully, providing manpower can be arranged - two brews taking place and more casking up and delivering.