In my 12 brew posts I want to steer clear of history, the colour the pump clips, what flowers are growing around brewery gates and other such irrelevancies. Beer is as always the important thing. Otter is such an exceptionally beautiful brewery, in a stunning location, making beer in a gentille English way that you can’t discuss its beers without mentioning these things. The brewery is in glorious isolation in a green and tranquil valley. The few times I have visited there I have felt like I was on holiday. Otter make some excellent cask ales but if beer tasted of where it was made they would be among the very best in the world. Otter brewery sell more beer than Thornbridge and Brewedog combined but you probably can’t remember the last time you read about them on a blog. You get the impression that they don’t much mind this low profile (sorry Patrick!).
Otter beers are all-malt, whole-hop ales fermented using the dropping system. The dropping system involves carrying out the first day of fermentation in one tank before using gravity to transfer (drop) the beer to a second vessel to complete the job. The thinking behind this is to get the beer off of the trub and provide a second charge of oxygen for the yeast. The result is a clean yet complex beer.
Keith went to a Rudolf Steiner school where the kids make their own rules. He has never really recovered from this. Keith is Keith, you can take it or leave it but you won’t change it. After he graduated with a degree in pure mathematics he took the logical career step of getting a job as a Postman. It was only a matter of time before his love for beer drew him to the mash tun via Heriot-Watt University. At university Keith was known for his love of the student union and ability to survive on a liquid diet. He was also quite proficient at getting me kicked out of lectures by throwing his voice (that’s my story anyway). Perhaps Keith’s proudest boast is that he is the most fertile man in the universe. He has successfully sired three children despite his partner taking the contraceptive pill, although even Keith’s monster sperm have yet to find a way through his sutured vas deferens. Keith’s other special talent is doing a spectacularly accurate impersonation of Dr Evil without even trying.
Brew Number 1
Our one avowed intent will be to brew an Imperial Pilgrim barley wine brewed from English ingredients using the dropping system (can you see what I have done there?). The recipe is well modified Concerto pale ale malt, Optic crystal and roasted barley hopped with Pilgrim hops in the kettle, hop back, Fermentation and Conditioning. Pilgrim is quite a new hop and is an excellent all rounder providing a rounded bitterness and hoppy aroma (yes sometimes hops do smell of hops!), perfect therefore for a classic barley wine. The only unknown is how well the Sharp’s yeast responds to being “dropped”.