I heard a horrible rumour that my blog was back
It isn’t really, I’m just using the vessel of its dearly departed soul to tell the world about a new level of brewing excitement at Sharp’s. The last 8 months has been a bit of battle with capacity and demand. With every month that passed I thought we had enough space in the brewery to brew what we can sell, then we would accidentally sell some more. A lot of the one off brews and experiments I was looking forward to had to be put back in the diary again and again. My Giles, my yeast supplier’s hairline must be a few inches further back due to my terrible habit of ordering specialist yeast props then cancelling them on the same day.
I did get time to help launch the Connoisseur’s Choice range, to tour the breweries of Belgium with Institute of Brewing and Distilling, to speak at the European Beer Bloggers Conference and judge the final of the Champion Beer of Britain and the World Beer Awards. My inspiration levels have never been so high!
Enough about me, how have you been?
Thanks to a hard year of project engineering, management and implementation of new equipment the brewery is now doubled in capacity and capable of keeping up with sales growth. So now I have time for the kind of wholesale experimentation and boundary pushing I love.
Previously my experimentation as seen on the blog was restricted to consumption by the privileged (or occasionally unlucky) few. With this new initiative they are to be scaled up and will be in pubs and bars across the UK for you to sample.
The brews will range from 40 to 80 barrels in size, will cover the whole spectrum of colours, bitterness levels and novel ingredients. “Celebrity” brewers in the form of guest beer writers, visiting brewers and colleagues will also add to the diversity of the brews.
Rather than give the new beers a name like the blue sky series, envelope pusher’s choice or Howe’s random madness Marketing have come up with a peach of an acronym. WIGIG, when it’s gone it’s gone. These are truly one off experiments brewed live before a studio audience with no retakes allowed (well not quite an audience).
The first WIGIG beer is Hayle Bay Honey IPA.
There is a story that this recipe emulates a cask of IPA which washed up on Hayle Bay after falling from a ship destined for India in the 18th century. It was found to be too bitter for West Country palates so it was sweetened with local honey. Although appealing this story is a load of old bollocks.
This beer features UK and US influences with the hopping regime from America and the wort production technique and liquor salt profile truer to the original IPAs of Burton. Cornish Honey is thrown into the mix to protect against over dryness from the sulphates.
Simpson’s low colour pale malt is mashed with their excellent 140 crystal in high sulphate liquor using a single temperature infusion mash. The wort produced is then boiled with Cascade hops before being run through a vessel containing honey with Citra and Centennial hops on the way to the wort chiller. The 1066 wort is then fermented down to 6.6% ABV before moving to a dry hopping tank for 6 weeks to steep in 160kilos of whole Citra and Centennial at 4oC.
The beer is then centrifuged and reseeded with young yeast and racked into casks.
The result is a rollercoaster of taste. The aroma is a fruit and herb explosion where every sniff gives another nuance. Just when you have convinced yourself there’s nothing left to get, another aroma comes through long and strong. Mint, basil, grapefruit, Earl Grey, lime, you could spend an hour working through this aroma.
The honey is the first to kick off in the mouth with a rounded sugar sweetness but is almost instantly usurped by the hop notes. The transition from sweet honey to mineral dryness is fast with the hop fruit and spice spanning the change. The hops continue to the last with a finish which lingers for minutes rather than seconds.
WIGIG number one hits the streets next week and is already mostly sold. I hope you manage to track some down and approve.
Others in the WIGIG series will include
Blume Hopfen Weisse