Sunday 30 January 2011

The HAND of happiness

Something magical happened yesterday.

When I first started brewing, beer was considered by most people in the UK to be a simple thing to be drunk in volume. People’s interest began and ended with how easily it got you pissed. If you showed it excessive reverence you were a trainspotting paedophile with no friends. Yesterday I spoke to around 40 people about my beers. These people listened, enjoyed the beer and asked intelligent questions. Most of these people were young, beautiful and as far from a trainspotting paedophile as you can get. I had read that beer is becoming fashionable but was sceptical, yesterday I saw the evidence. The beer went very well, everyone had a different favourite and we raised £90 for Cornwall Hospice Care with the DW we sampled.

Pete, the man behind HAND is a complete diamond. Every town needs a Pete.

Friday 28 January 2011

Tonight I celebrate my love for you

Another Friday another post-flavour panel flop in front of the lap top. When I started the flavour panel a few years ago, we were tasting around 5 brews. Today we worked our way through 18 tanks. The difference can be measured in the degree of calm exuded by the Head Brewer as he walks back to his office for a pot of lapsang, today is a calm day. I taste the water, the worts and the beers all day, every day and over the week nagging doubts build up about a bit of dryness here or a hint of a flavour fault there. You never really know how you've done until the panel have sat. A satisfactory flavour panel soothes this tension and makes Friday night and my Saturday morning 7:30 lay in worth all the preceding hours of effort.

This week we tasted the beer I sent up to the Brewing Industry International Awards. I selected it personally from the gyles being racked this week. I was pleased that the panel agreed with my choice. All agreed that it was a good example of the brand. The BIIA is the one that commercial brewers want to win. It's judged by commercial brewers on the basis of quality and commercial value. Any off notes, hazes or lack of balance and you're left in the stalls.

Tomorrow I shall be at Hand in Falmouth doing my beer talk. I am very excited about it. Here are the power point slides for the event. 

Finally, the 12 brew project is developing nicely with a few more brewers approaching me to join them for a brew or a day of male bonding. Most thrillingly it is likely that I will get to join Mr White Shield, Steve Wellington for a day’s brewing in his sparkling new brewery at the epicentre of the universe of pale ale. The words honour and privilege are just not sufficient.

The news was nearly as exciting as being invited into Zak Avery’s kitchen!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

2010 Single Brew Reserve in 2011 with Bobek and Pamela Anderson

Once a year I like to treat myself to a solo full scale brew and make our bottled beer Single Brew Reserve. Last year I didn’t manage it as I was distracted by 52 brews, 60% volume growth, 4 too few brewers, 18 regular brands and a partridge in a pear tree. That is why Single Brew Reserve 2010 was brewed last Friday which even if you are Chinese is in 2011. The solo aspect of the brew was also somewhat less solo than is traditional thanks to assistance from the crown prince of the brewhouse Wes. If it’s any consolation it is a one off!

For the last 3 years I have stuck the same recipe because it has been popular and I didn’t want to upset anyone. This year I have changed it. Not because I want to upset people but because the Hallertauer Brewer’s Gold which are key to SBR’s flavour are a bit crap (technical brewing term) this year. This (last) year’s SBR is a very selfish beer because I have opted to use only my favourite hop. “Which is your favourite hop Stuart?” I hear you say. She is Bobek, a fragrant and mild Slovenian with a delicate and diminutive cone. Some brewer’s have posters of the American hops on their messroom wall. American hops are like Pamela Anderson in her prime, stunning, exciting but simple and partially synthetic (I know that she's Canadian). Bobek is an unassuming beauty and her allure is rediscovered with each meeting, a beauty of which one could never tire. She’s too classy to be spread across a poster. Don’t get me wrong, I love American hops it’s just that I feel that Bobek eclipses them.

In this homage to Bobek the malt can only ever play a supporting role. Although a supporting role, the correct degree of caramel, sweetness and depth is vital to adequately frame the beauty of the hop. High colour, well-modified pale and 140 crystal are used to give a deep golden colour and that full caramel sweetness. Bobek is added at first wort, copper up, hop back and finally at 1kg per hectolitre to the conditioning tank. The result of this hopping regime lays bare all that Bobek can be, from sharp bitterness through sumptuous density to fragrant citrus and pine. I have just noticed that I have drifted into my fantasy of what this beer will turn out like. It’s currently in CT16 where it will sit soaking up what Bobek cares to give for a couple of weeks before it travels to the bottlers for filtration and bottle conditioning. At the moment it’s so far so good.

Single Brew Reserve 2010 will be available from mid February. Thank you Wes and thank you Bobek.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Well Done Nathan

Our local Chef and Restaurateur, Nathan Outlaw has just been awarded 2 Michelin stars. This is nothing more than he deserves. He is a great chef a top bloke and sells excellent beers in his restaurant!

Congratulations to Nathan and his team.

Here’s a picture of me standing next to him.

Thank you all very much for the suggestions on the blog, e-mails, phone calls and text messages. I’ll post a revised 12-brewery hit list when I get a minute.

Tuesday 18 January 2011


To put an end to your clamour, lack of sleep and general stress I can now announce the big plan for Project 2011. The guesses below are as raconteur, Roy Walker would put it, “good but not right.”

This year instead of 52 brews in 52 weeks I am aiming to brew at 12 breweries in 12 months.

I have a few already confirmed and so far the breweries I am quietly confident of brewing with are:

Brew Warf
Castle Rock
Hepworth’s / Ridgeway

Others which I would like to work with I won’t be so bold as to list before I contact them. If you are a brewer or you know a brewer who you think would like a big ugly bloke shouting a lot in your/their brewery for the day please let me know. If you have a suggestion for someone to approach please also leave a comment. I will be constrained by geography although I am quietly confident of brewing with at least 1 non UK brewer.

Some of the brews will be collaborations and some will just involve me pitching in with the day to day stuff. What I am aiming to get is a feel for the brewery so I can write about the experience and the place here on my blog.

I suspect that I will not be able to brew every month. I may have to brew more at the start and end of the year so as to avoid being away from the brewery during the madness of the summer. One of the brews may involve a cage fight.

Monday 17 January 2011

Project 2011

Quick note: I am sorry but the event at HAND has now sold out. If you are still interested please let HAND know and they will put your name down for a forthcoming one.

2011, another year another challenge. I have brainstormed, engaged in blue-sky thinking and pushed the envelope to conceive of this year’s project. Curiously it involves beer and brewing. 

What is this year’s challenge?

What do you think it could be?

Anyone care to guess?

Anyone care?

Thursday 13 January 2011

Talk to the HAND (see what I've done there?)

On 29th January at around 3:30PM I will be personally introducing Monsieur Rock (the beer rather than the man) and a few speciality blog brews to anyone who will listen at HAND-Falmouth. I am also going to do a slightly informed tasting of Orval and its American tribute Matilda. HAND is (I have heard) a fantastic bar selling good beers from across the globe some of which some people would call craft beers. It is a ticket only event so if you are interested please contact HAND to book a place. I assure you that you will get to drink beer worth a great deal more than the price of a ticket. The list of beers for tasting at the event will be:
  1. Monsieur Rock
  2. Orval
  3. Chalky’s Bite
  4. Goose Island Matilda
  5. 50 Hop IPA (Angerfist Remix)
  6. 25 Grain Chechen Imperial Stout
  7. DW

 I hope to see you there.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Patience is a Gift Only You Can Give

With the 52 brews complete in terms of fermentation, this year's major expansion to manage and the submission of my thesis at the end of the month, I am not going to get the opportunity to post very much in January. Please don’t think it’s because I don’t love you. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you have come here after reading the label on the back of a bottle of Monsieur Rock, the information you require will be found here here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

Whatever happens, don’t forget me.