Wednesday 30 September 2015

No Pasarán

Today we're brewing our (mostly) English-hopped IPA "No Pasarán" which commemorates the Battle of Cable Street where Moseley's fascists were effectively demolished and also the fight against fascism everywhere; the name is from the Spanish civil war (although dates from earlier) and means "they shall not pass".

Here we're sparging - rinsing the grain with hot water at 77°c to rinse out all the remaining sugars to get the maximum efficiency from the malt used.

And remember - for every pint drunk a fascist (hopefully) dies.

Monday 28 September 2015

Operation auger... phase 1!

At present, our mashing in procedure is a little convoluted but it works a treat; we have a wooden grain hopper (which kind of flows, kind of, it just needs some help with a brush to empty fully) and then a sprayball hydrator in a length of brown water pipe which dumps the hydrated grain into the mashtun; marvellous.

Well, kind of.... this was designed a stop-gap setup to last 6 months until we could get a proper steel hopper and hydrator made, but as is so often the case in a brewery if something is working, why bother replacing it? So we didn't... and now, 2 years and 4 months later, it's showing signs of age and has moved up to the top of the list of "stuff that needs replacing".

With this in mind Gazza has acquired an old auger from Rich the Farmer who collects our grain; it has been redundant in their grain shed for a decade but it'll save us £600 at least which is what new ones cost!  It's a bit tatty and needs a good clean, but it works which is the main thing... We now need to get made a steel hopper and pipework to enable us to connect it to the HLT, but that's work for another day - let's be happy phase 1 is complete!

Wednesday 23 September 2015

No green hops...

We were let down on our supply of "green" (unkilned) Bramling Cross so Gazza had to make a quick substitution from the lupulous bench... so, on comes Kazbek, the darling of the Czech hop industry, a brash, bold new face which is suited more to ales than the lagers Czech's hops are traditionally associated with.

So, "Corazon de Oro" (heart of gold) is being brewed today with a hop charge of Chinook for fruity bitterness and Kazbek for lemony, oily zestiness, and it'll be dry-hopped with Cascade to add extra layers of citrussy, lemony deliciousness... looks like all those old proverbs were right and out of adversity does come good!

The kazbek smelt absolutely amazing; loads of lemony citrus, blackcurrant, skunky fruit and even a hint of liquorice!  They are a massively complex hop and we're quite interested to see how this beer will turn out!  Look out for it in a few weeks at, as the media is wont to say, "all good outlets"....

Thursday 17 September 2015

It's Green Hop time again!

Next week, despite me saying we'd never do it again, we're brewing a "green hop" beer.  In case you don't know what this is, the term is taken to mean unkilned hops fresh from the hopyard and used in less than 24 hours from picking to maintain their freshness.  Americans call these "wet" hops which sounds like a recipe for confusion with dry hops!

This year we've been offered a very rare 20kg picking of Bramling Cross from Ledbury, arguably the UK's most characterful "old" hop variety, (discounting new ones such as Jester) and so felt duty-bound to accept... after all, we always like to try different things and this is a chance to use a very rare "green" version of this hop.

As per last year, we'll be cutting it with lovely US Chinook to fill in some of the flavour holes which green hops have, but overall the character of this beer will be Bramling Cross!

Last year's clip, but you get the idea....

Wednesday 16 September 2015

New wooden barrel.....

After the vague success of our now deceased (well, beer-wise anyhow, it now lives in the lobby of Hopbunker!) mammoth "double hogshead" cask we've acquired a new one to play around with... although this one is much, much smaller and much cuter!

Say hello to our new cask which I think is Acacia wood (although don't quote me on that) and is a mere 50 litres or so.  We've filled it with Spanish Main (our 5.8% Jamaican Stout) today and we'll see what magic it imparts to this over the next month or so... we've already named the beer "el barril del Diablo" or "The Devil's barrel" for reasons known only to us... 

If this experiment results in something palatable then look our for the very limited results in our bar in Cardiff, Hopbunker, or you may be lucky enough to score a bottle of it.  Very lucky indeed as there won't be much about.

Brew 150!

Tomorrow is our 150th brew which has snuck up on us quickly, so quickly I've not had chance to plan anything special (not that all our beers aren't special, obvs...) so the honour falls upon the pineappley, tropical riot of a brew which is "Mate Spawn and Die"... (almost) all New Zealand hops and always vanishes out of the coldstore super-quick.

It's taken us just over 2 years to get to this point and, although some may say about 1.5 brews a week isn't really that impressive, I'd argue that we have a reputation many times bigger than we should have for the size we are.

I'm hoping the next 50 brews are done in even faster time and may be right if the current sales are anything to go by with our coldstore being almost empty yet again...  best brew some more beer then I reckon!

So, cheers to everyone who has been along for the ride, and I hope you stay with us as we continue to try ans make the very best - and, importantly, most interesting - beers we can.

Cheers from Gazza and Gav.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Pre-prohibition IPA collab at Celt

Today we brewed our collaboration beer with the guys at Celt Experience of Caerphilly; the hospitality was pretty good and encompassed bacon butties, coffee, tea, chocolate cake, beer and gin in various quantities!  As for the beer, well it'll be about 7.5% and has flaked Maize, demerera sugar and lots of pale malt (1,5 tonnes!) in it, plus oodles of Cluster, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook and Galaxy hops.... should be a good one!

Gazza adding hops

Gav with a Chinese FV

Hops and sugar!

Matt messing with the copper

Gav adding hops

Gav digging the mash

Raking the mash out

Gav adding sugar

Visit to Brains....

You know the old zombie call of "brains, brains!"?  Well, that's what we said today, although in a less respectful way...

The Green Man festival in King's Cross this weekend has ordered 18 casks of beer from us, but the pallet delivery to London was scuppered for some reason (they did say why, I forget what the reason was!) and so the alternative was for us (and everyone else in Wales!) to deliver to Brains in Cardiff for them to trunk the whole lot down in one hit.

Talk about industrial scale brewing... just look at this wall of casks in their yard to see what I mean by that, and there were a lot more around too!  Certainly an experience, I'll say that....

Thursday 3 September 2015

Collabs No.2 - Caerphilly!

Not quite Philadelphia, admittedly, but next week we're off to our mates at Celt Experience in Caerphilly to knock up what we've rather grandly called a "Pre-Prohibition Double IPA"... this unlikely sounding concoction contains demerera sugar, corn and pale malt for a taste of the old times (well, sort of...) and is bittered with the oldest American hop, Cluster, for that olde-skool bitter, catty flavour!  We've then gone a bit off-piste and planned to use hops such as Citra, Centennial and Chinook, but then again this is a modern brew so no apologies from us!

We've not got a name for this yet but it'll be around extensively as we're making 30 barrels of it I think, so look out for the first of a new style of beer....  maybe...

Collabs no.1 - Transatlantic!

Well, it's not a "proper" brewing collab as you'd expect it, but it's still an exchange of ideas across the ocean which has resulted in a beast of a brew!

Gav's mate Brian in Philadelphia is a damn good artist and, as such, he's designing the clip for our "Devilfish Black IPA" which we brewed the other week.  It's a big bolshy 5.8% super-hopped up beastie with US hops Azacca and Mosaic in the copper and Mosaic for the dry-hop, a larger than usual dose too.... 

Look out for it very soon, but beware because it bites....