Saturday 4 June 2011

Aqua Vita Benjamin - Aqua Vita

The circle of life continues. My old brewhouse has just rolled past my office window while my new reverse osmosis machine is being brought to life in the new brewhouse. Reverse osmosis is a wonderous process by which more or less everything that is in water is stripped out. Water remains one of the areas of brewing where even the educated consumer tends to be misguided. I have heard so many times that the same beer can’t be brewed elsewhere because of the water. You also get brewers who claim that their wells were blessed by ancient water fairies and hence have magical properties.

Water is H2O. There cannot be an argument about that. The same H2O flows out of the Grimsby sewage works as flows out of the filling machine on the Evian bottling line. What makes water different for brewing is what is dissolved in it. Being the 21st century brewers can adjust what it dissolved in the H¬2O without the need for water fairies. The first step is to remove what shouldn’t be in there. This is where reverse osmosis comes in. There are thousands of barriers to making the same beer in two breweries but the water supply is never one of them. Having an ancient well below your brewery is of no consequence to the quality of the beer you make today unless it is poisoned. When I am feeling particularly boorish and someone asks me where the water I use comes from I say the oxidation of hydrogen!

I hope someone is still reading. Today I received a bottle of the banoffee imperial stout that I brewed with Sam from Sipsmiths. I was there for the brewing and left Sam and the film crew to look after the fermentation and packaging. I was impressed with how it came out. Here’s the objective feedback I provided:

“Plenty(!!) of carbonation due to incomplete primary fermentation. The banana flavour from the yeast hasn’t come through greatly. This is probably because the temperature of fermentation wasn’t high enough. Beer smells inviting with good roast and a nice edge of hop resin. Flavour; very rich with good bitter, sweet and roast balance. Finish is big with long bitter and roast notes. Very much in the mold of a new world (US) imperial stout. Doesn’t taste oversweet which would be a concern at the high gravity at bottling. This because very high rate of the hops and roast barley. A sound example and a very good beer considering the constraints of production, just a shame about the lack of iso amyl acetate on the nose. I did an ABV on it and it’s surprisingly up to 7.8%.”

My flavour panel were very impressed by the beer which was surprising as they tend to favour lighter coloured drinks.

I did a parallel brew on my pilot equipment a couple of weeks ago and will bottle that next week to send up for their opinion.

I have just been evaluating my progress towards the 12 brews in 12 breweries and have had to call on a little poetic license to get to 5. Here’s where I am at so far.

1. Otter at home

2. 69 Hops with Brew Warf

3. Blend with Camden

4. White Shield with Steve Wellington

5. Banoffee Stout in a Sam from Sipsmiths’ kitchen

The next two are likely to be although yet to be definitively confirmed a collaborative brew with Alistair Hook at Meantime and something exciting with Adrian Redgrove at Castlerock.


Anonymous said...

I read until the end!

Stuart Howe said...

Bless you kelly, I've lost your e-mail address. Can you send me one?

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