And so the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. No it’s not a funeral in Essex, it’s the last brew in the 52 brews in a year. The 52 brews has been a fantastic journey. You could say it’s a bit like rowing across the Atlantic; exhaustion, naked swimming, endless blue ocean, huge beards, violent storms, imminent danger, visits from friendly whales and dolphins, a camaraderie which will last a lifetime. You could but you’d be mad.
But as I approach Lands End I feel that I will be losing a friend. My pilot brewing equipment is looking tired, burned-out, heating elements litter the malt store, casualties of the war against the boundaries of brewing. My tattered hop strainer looks back at me forlornly as for one last time I ask it to brave the dark boiling depths. But at the same time there is trust in its sorrowful expression, a bond between master and servant which binds us tightly and drives us towards new horizons. (it’s all getting a bit stupid now) And so it is with heavy heart that I describe to you, my beautiful-souled blog followers, brew 52, Imperial Black Golden Mild Pilsner.
Is it possible to make a beer black without having the flavour associated with roasted or caramelised malt? The reactions which produce coloured compounds in malt also produce those which are flavour-active. Some of the compounds formed through the malting process are both coloured and flavour-active. So the answer in a sane world is no, we cannot brew a black blonde beer. Well this isn’t a sane world. This is the world of 52 brews in year, this is the world of a beer coloured with squid ink!
There are two risks in this brew. One is that the pigment in squid ink will make a blue beer rather than a black one. The other is that the brain will superimpose dark flavours on the beer despite the absence of dark beer aroma compounds. Flavour is sensed in the nose but processed by the brain. You can only taste what your brain allows you to taste. For this reason in beer flavour profiling and difference testing, opaque glasses are used to prevent the eyes overriding the palate.
I want this beer to be as dry and “blonde” as possible so I am using pilsner malt, a very thin temperature programmed mash with plenty of sugar. To this I am adding loads of citrus hops to lift and sharpen the flavour.
Malt: Pilsner, sucrose
Hops: Cascade, Brewer’s Gold
Yeast: US Pilsner
Spices: Squid ink