Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Fantastic Article

Zak Avery, current Beer Writer of the Year and my new best friend has written an excellent article for the Beer Pages website. Click the link to have a butchers.


I got my hands on some 2009 crop hops today. I’m very pleased with how they look. The past couple of years hop supply has ranged from nightmarish to poor and the quality of what was on offer was not the best. Prices are also slightly more sane than they have been of late but still not down to the levels we had a few years ago. Some of the US varieties (Willamette) are the cheapest I have ever known them this year. Today I sampled Hallertauer Brewer’s Gold from Germany and Bobek from Slovenia both of them were very nice. Just-harvested hops are really aromatic. Smelling them is like you are being cuddled by an angel. Can’t wait to brew with them. Luckily it won’t be long because they go into Nadelik, our Christmas beer which we are brewing next week. That reminds me, I’d better order some!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Gourmet Beer and Food

From 27th October my beers are being showcased at Trewithen Restaurant with an a la carte menu pairing them with Paul Murray's excellent food. Trewithen is a complete gem of a restuarant. They get everything right without trying to convince the world that good food is anything other than good food. I've got the honour of being there in the Friday night. Back of the net!

Here's the menu

Cornish gourmet menu perfectly partnered with
Sharp’s gourmet ales

Tuesday 27th till Friday 30th October
a la carte menu still available

Paul’s homemade breads & Trewithen butter
Caraway seed & sour dough
Grilled mackerel
on saffron risotto

Potato & garlic yarg soup
with one of Kate’s mini oggy’s (small pasty)
With Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite
Oven baked whole stuffed plaice
with mussels, prawns, spinach &
Cornish new potatoes
With Sharp’s Atlantic IPA

Tender loin of pork wrapped in Cornish coppa ham
apple, cider vinegar & rosemary,
with a spring onion mash

Sweet onion tart
our homemade basil pastry filled with sweet red & white onions
& glazed with St Endellion brie
With Sharp’s St Enodoc Double

Dark chocolate fondant
homemade clotted cream ice cream
With Sharp’s Massive Ale

Crushed blackberry ripple syllabub
almond tuiles
With Sharp’s Honey Spice Triple

£25.00 per person

Friday, 23 October 2009

My Contentious Philosphy

I’ve been brewing for 15 years and I think I’ve arrived at a question. What am I trying to do?

What first inspired me to make beer was shite beer. It was keg at the rugby club that tasted of fizzy acid. It was cans of Norseman Lager from Tesco that must have cost the brewer several thousands in hospitality for the beer buyer. It was these beers and hundreds of others that made London Pride, Admans Extra and Duvel such a stunning revelation.

As a beer lover I followed the advice of Roger Protz, Michael Jackson and Tim Webb. I saught challenging, idiosyncratic beers made on a tiny scale and loved nearly everything I tried. The romance and history behind the great beers made the whole process of finding and consuming them almost magical. These were the days when the history was magical in itself and didn’t seem to need embroidery by marketers

Throughout my training as a brewer I followed the path of science of production management best practice and grew to love balance and ‘commerciability’ in flavour. I learned that clear and clean is best. As a practicing brewer I learned to respect the ability to create and achieve this balance consistently within the contexts of changing circumstances.

The apparent conflict between idiosyncrasy and balance brings me to the question which I ask myself today. Am I trying to get a number one single or win the Turner Prize? Does there need to be a compromise?

For trained brewers of the yesteryear life appears to me to have been easier. Most were biochemistry graduates looking for something to do for a career. You loved the beer you made and enjoyed your job. Your world was fairly insular and your focus was on ‘your’ beer.

Nowadays we have the sexy brewers who are driven by the need to innovate to reinvent beer with wild and exciting ingredients and processes. Beer made with malt and hops which tastes of beer is no longer cool. Good beer must be brewed with 10kilos of hops per pint, be spiced with the stamens from an Icelandic orchid, be fermented to 18% ABV upside down in a supersonic jet, before being matured for 3 years in an old sherry cask covered in puffin shite half way up Mount Everest. It helps if it's called Crack Whore on a Skateboard.

I’m all for innovation but only when it makes delicious beer. There seems to be a growing enclave of the beer enthusiasts who seek difference for difference’s sake and for whom the process seems to be more important than the product. Is the world of beer at risk of becoming like the world of art where the top prize (Turner Prize) is awarded to what the vast majority of people consider to be complete bollocks?

Do wine producers of the world, seek to achieive greatness by making wine out of pumpkins and watermelons before spicing it with anchovies?

My raison d’ĂȘtre as a brewer is to make great beers which appeal to true connoisseurs but at the same time are accessible to the average drinker. Nice drinks in their own right. I don’t like bullshit and I don’t like mass appeal dross so I don’t want to make that. To me an insipid commodity lager is no worse than a beer brewed on a small scale with care and passion which tastes like sipping a Glade Plug in.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

It's New and Exciting

This is it. The first post in my new blog. I've got to be up in five hours so it's a quick one. I am embarking on an exciting journey in which my very soul will be open for all to browse.