Sunday 31 October 2010

Monsieur Rock

A small update on the progress of my collaboration brew with Jean-Marie Rock. The beer is in CT16 with the dry hops enjoying a relaxing break from the world at just above 0C and 1bar. When it is finished it will be called Monsieur Rock (thank you Adrian). The Orval flavour panel were as impressed as mine with the beer and Monsieur Rock was positively glowing in his praise. The beer has been run through the superbly well-equipped Orval lab and the results are as follows.
I wish every day of the year came with an extra hour.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Your weary wife - walking away

Your nephew, it's true

He still thinks the world of you

And I have to dry my eyes

Oh ...

Wednesday 27 October 2010

40. Peated Ale

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. I adored a lamb once, the farmer promised not to tell anyone if I gave him a score. The lamb in question was not as important as the one in Van Eyck’s altarpiece and wasn’t leaking from its breast but she was still captivating in her ovine beauty. What has the picture and my bestial quip got to do with this week’s brew you ask? Nothing. Nor has my irritation with people who start every other sentence with “do you know what”. They are just ripples in the millpond of my sanity.

This week we embrace phenolics in a way never done before in a beer (until Martyn Cornell leaves a comment informing me that someone made this beer before). It is the phenolics in peat which gives the peaty notes to peaty whisky. Whisky producers specify their peated malts in terms of their phenolic content. Phenolics have a tarry, medicinal aroma. Peated malt is produced by drying germinating barley in peat smoke. Peated malt is not especially dark so the beer will be amber in colour. I expect it to be like liquid coal-tar soap and pretty undrinkable. I shall be doing all I can to prevent this but I suspect that I will urinating in the wind.

Tech Spec:

Malt: Peated Malt

Hops: Apollo

Yeast: German Weisse

OG: 1080

Friday 22 October 2010

Sharp's Own - Supreme Champion Beer of Cornwall

I have just heard that my beer (well my version of Bill Sharp and David Smith’s original recipe) Sharp’s Own has won the Janet Skinner cup and is hence proclaimed the Supreme Champion Beer of Cornwall. Everyone in the brewing team is justly very proud of themselves and each other. It makes the hours of toil and abuse from the Head Brewer almost worthwhile. A man from our marketing team said that we are now not only the biggest Cornish Brewery we are officially the best. As a brewer I wouldn’t go that far but I’m thinking of investing in a rugby shirt with SW1 on the back!

Sharp’s Own is 4.4% ABV and difficult to categorise but is probably closest to a brown best bitter. Personally I shall be celebrating by working all weekend in the brewery with maybe a bottle of something strong and monastic on Saturday evening.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

Wednesday 20 October 2010

39. Pastis Ale

I’ve never understood the logic or indeed the point of shots. To me the shot seems to be idiots being manipulated by marketing executives into damaging their liver as they seek the social validation which can only be gained by feeling part of a tribe of other idiots. It is alcohol at its most narcotic and furthest-removed from a vehicle for taste and nourishment. A food analogue of a shot is a cube of warm lard which could be popped in the mouth and swallowed causing mild gagging and a dangerous elevation of blood cholesterol. The last time I did a shot was to prove that I wasn’t a wuss at a staff Christmas party. The drink was a Sambuca, the Italian anis flavoured spirit. I remember thinking as the saliva welled up and my oesophagus went into spasm, that it would have been much more enjoyable over ice or as a long drink with chilled water. This just shows what a pathetic shell of a human being I am. Most of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean and a few in Latin America have their own version of anis-flavoured liquor/liqueur. Pastis is the French version.

The taste of aniseed is available from an almost surprising range of plants and is due to the slightly fascinating compound anethol (trans-1-methoxy-4-(prop-1-enyl)benzene). Being fascinated by anethol is nearly as pathetic failing to “get” shots. Anethol is largely responsible for the distinctive flavors of anise, fennel, anise myrtle, liquorice and star anise. It is 13 times sweeter than sugar so probably gained popularity as a spice for spirits because it takes the edge off of the ethanol. Anethol is also responsible for the ouzo effect or spontaneous microemulsion, where clear fluids turn cloudy when combined.

The anethol in my Pastis Ale will come from star anise and fennel which will be added to the kettle at the end of the boil. I use fennel fruit in Chalky’s Bite and deliberately keep its contribution low. In the Pastis Ale anethol from the fennel will be the child that wins all the games at the party. When it’s brewed it can either be sampled in an oversized wine glass or downed in one in a style bar while shouting woohoo and punching the air until everyone in the room has looked at you.

Tech spec:

Malt: Lager malt, wheat malt, golden naked oats

Hops: Nugget, Bobek

Yeast: Belgian Wit

Spices: Fennel fruit, star anise


Saturday 16 October 2010

38. PONG

I haven’t always been this paragon of grace and sophistication. In my teens I was a very large, spotty/bruised and uncouth apprentice with a love of rugby, food, beer and death metal. Part of the old Stuart was also a talent for flatulence. I wasn’t as talented as Nimmy Eeams at school who could muster a guff on command but for sheer scale and pungency I had no peers. I remember one afternoon after a rather heavy night, working in an airing cupboard. I was facing the hot water tank, unable to see behind and heard footsteps. I assumed that it was the engineer who I was assisting and let rip with what Ross McPharter would have described as a “show stoppa”. I said “woah! That would be the cheese and coleslaw then” and turned to receive the engineer’s approval for my performance. Instead I was confronted with the customer sporting a tray of tea and biscuits along with the kind of scornful expression which would make the devil himself want to curl up and die. This is kind of expression I want the drinkers of this week’s brew Pong to greet me with.

My least favourite beer flavour compound is H2S. The rest of the beer can be superbly well constructed with everything where it should be but if H2S is there at any level above just perceptible, in my opinion the beer is fit only for the sink. There are some assertive classic pale ales which get away with it (just) but a few breweries make gentle, hoppy beers with high H2S which are an affront to beer. They smell like someone has torn one off and unsuccessfully used a hop flavoured air freshener to disguise the act. How can you enjoy a dink which smells like colonic gas? Sometimes I wish that I wasn’t so sensitive to it although as a commercial brewer, I’m glad I’m not. This week’s beer is designed to have loads of bum fume aroma. The main challenge will be to attain high enough levels to retain some after maturation. H2S is removed over time through the action of yeast metabolism and oxidation.

The yeast which Jean-Marie and I used in our collaboration is a high H2S producer so this is going to be the primary source of the stench. I am using high sulphate levels in the water and low free amino nitrogen in the wort to optimise this yeast’s pumping potential. H2S production is a consequence of amino acid synthesis and metabolism so if I keep these low the H2S should be high. I want to keep the other flavours low to keep the H2S on the pedestal, so I am keeping hops and special malt levels low.

Tech Spec:
OG: 1050

Malt: Pale ale and sucrose

Hops: Fuggles

Yeast: Low temperature lager yeast

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Outlaw = Diamond

Monday evening was nothing short of fantastic. A large proportion of top chefs (my mate Rick excepted) are self evidently absolute cocks. Nathan on the other hand a really good bloke and capable of ripping the rest of them limb from limb without breaking a sweat. Chances are he’s a better cook as well! I probably cheapen the word honour through over use but seeing my beers allied to food of the quality of Nathan’s was an honour in the profoundest sense.

I also had the privilege of sampling the menu and the beers with Melissa Cole and Sue Nowak. Both ladies know the best beer and food when they see it and were unable to fault any of the comestibles. Sue was also kind enough to bake me a delicious loaf of Doom Bar bread. Thanks Sue.

The highlight of the evening was the reception of DW. It was paired with a cake prepared from figs and beer and everyone attending was glowing in their priase for the beer and the combination. Melissa and Sue both loved it. Sales of the beer are very good and I soon hope to have it for sale at Utobeer and Beerritz.

The yet to be named Rock-Howe collaboration has reached close enough to its attenuation limit to transfer to the lagering vessel. To 11,000 litres of beer we added 50kg of fresh Saaz in hop sacks supplied direct from Orval. Jean-Marie was not entirely convinced that my hop sack anchoring system will prevent the hops floating on top of the beer. I hope to pleasantly surprise him. Captain Chaos and I now have the challenge of getting the old brewery chiller rigged up to the tank in order to drop the temperature to 0C.

Saturday 9 October 2010

37. Rock vs Howe

It’s been a big and brutal week. Sales have been huge, stock is all but gone, problems have been numerous and experiences have been exciting. I have not had time to brew a blog beer this week because of the visit of Monsieur Rock. I will write more comprehensively about the unparalleled honour of brewing avec Jean-Marie when I get some more time but to save not brewing a 52 brews brew I’ll include our creation as one. I learned more on Tuesday than I have in the past couple of years.

The beer is something new to Sharp’s and I suspect something new to world. The boring technical details are as follows. To raw liquor, calcium sulphate and chloride were added to give a standard ion profile for a rounded Pilsner. This was used to mash low colour Tipple at liquor to grist ratio of just under 3/1. A mash of 68C was allowed to cool to 62 over an hour stand and then sparged at 75. All kettle hops (Saaz) were added as soon as the bottom of the kettle was covered. The wort was then boiled gently for 45 minutes to achieve evaporation of 2-3%. This wort was cooled to 10C as it was pumped to a sealed square FV. The wort is now being fermented by a lager yeast at 9C for 12 days before transfer onto dry Saaz (400g/hl) in a lagering tank for two months of cold maturation at 0C. It will then be sterile filtered primed and bottle conditioned to 9g/litre CO2. The beer will be available early next year.

Next week shows signs of being just as manic with a very full Monday culminating in the Food and Beer night with Nathan Outlaw. The food and beer menu for the event is listed below. As you can see, three of the blog beers have made the grade for the event. I am most excited about the Shellfish Stout, Beef and Oyster pie. The idea of a beer brewed with shellfish being used to cook with beef and shellfish and also served with the dish is the most complete beer and food love making I think you can get. It’s not hardcore super sex (Lynn) but its bloody close!

1. Canapés with beer Cocktails


2. Mussels steamed in Cardamom Wheat
Accompanied by7 Peel Citrus Tripel


3. Cornish Duck with Honey Spice Triple
Accompanied by Honey Spice Triple


4. Porthilly Beef, Shellfish Stout and Oyster Pie
Accompanied by Shellfish Stout


5. Chocolate Fudge and St Enodoc Double Ice Cream
Accompanied by St Enodoc Double

Thursday 7 October 2010

DW in the Shop

So very much excitement, so very much to do, no time to blog about it.

The important news is that DW is available. Click here if you would like to buy some. All proceeds of the sale which don’t go to the courier company, the wonderful people at Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and the kind and worthy VAT man will go to Cornwall Hospice Care.

ATJ loved it, Jean-Marie Rock loved it but most importantly Dave Wickett Loved it.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Ett besök från Doug and Wynne Odell

Today I met the Odells. The word nice is much overused and devalued but I can’t think of a better adjective to describe them. Maybe polite, respectful and charming. They were treated to Cardamom Wheat, 50 Hop IPA, 25 Grain Chechen Imperial Stout and DW. They seemed to approve, especially of DW. I wish they could have stayed for longer and wish that I could have kept my gob shut and asked more questions about Chateau Odell. Most of all I wish I had reined in my oft mistaken acerbic irony. Last night I had the pleasure of a bottle of their Isolation Ale and 5 Barrel Pale. Both were well brewed, enjoyable and very easy to drink. Tonight I am dividing my attention between a bottle of St Roger of Ryman’s Smugglers and a Wallander which I have not previously seen on BBCFOUR (RIP Joanna Sallstrom). It's life on the edge but that's just the way I roll. 

Tomorrow I will be polishing everything in the brewery which stays still for long enough ahead of the arrival of Monsieur Rock on Monday. It's a bit of luck that Wes isn't working this weekend!

Friday 1 October 2010

36. American Strong Golden

Strange coincidence really. I reach American Strong Golden Ale on my blog brews the same week that I am entertaining one of the leading lights in the American craft brewing scene in my humble brewery. Mr Douglas Odell and his good lady wife are walking down the North Coast of Cornwall and thanks to the enchanting and fragrant Melissa Cole, stopping in for beer and evangelism. Brewing is a very special trade. I can’t think of another profession where a holiday would include a visit to a colleague’s place of work.

The strong golden ale is my favourite style of beer (maybe). Lager is a cold and deceitful little tease which offers the promise of clean fruit but delivers only dry sulphur with a hard edge. Lager had no intention of inviting into you into her hotel room, she just wanted a free drink and validation. The strong golden ale is a beautiful country girl leaning on a gate and smiling, willing and able to offer warmth, excitement and satisfaction in her father’s hay loft. Drinkable, clean, full of freshness and fruity pleasure. It’s an honest and faithful beer which delivers warmth and satisfaction to even the most jaded palate.

Although originally a Belgian style, expert opinion would no doubt have American craft brewers as the masters of the style. What will make my golden ale American? The answer is of course the hops. I am aiming to marry the two nations as successfully as the thinking man’s Chuck Norris, the muscles from Brussels AKA Jean-Claude Van Damme. Belgium will bring subtlety, complexity and juicy fruit while America brings citrus and first up appeal.

Tech Spec

Malt/sugars: Low colour Tipple, glucose

Hops: Simcoe, Sorachi Ace

Yeast: Moortgat

OG: 1080