Saturday 10 May 2014

Recipe for

Busy days, busy days. I had an hour in departures this week with no wireless and a useless phone so my 150 e-mails per day couldn’t find me. During my cold turkey I was motivated to write a blog post. As usual my motivation was annoyance/anger/incredulity at something a few people with more mouth than trousers believe as fact and broadcast with an authority without foundation.

One of the simplest things you do as a proper brewer is write a recipe. It’s a simple mathematic exercise using yields and a bit of experience and reading to predict how a beer will come out and through a number of iterations, getting it to taste how you want it to given the characteristics of your process. For the some it appears to be of the most fundamental importance. That is because they are not brewers and do not brew for a living. 

Why is there this misapprehension in some of the drinking public? It’s because brewing isn’t as simple as most people want it to be. A good analogy is cooking. Great chefs don’t do a great deal of cooking. They like great brewers design a process which brings their ideas to fruition. They procure equipment to their design, they assemble, train and manage their team, they set the specification of their ingredients and every aspect of what they send to the diner’s table. They have the level of education and experience, the talent and most importantly total dedication to produce great flavour under duress. That’s what separates the “chef” in a Nando’s and one in a Michelin- starred restaurant. 

Those who argue that failed/former chef’s, farmers, baristas, IT professionals etc. who like beer enough to give brewing a crack are modern day brewing geniuses after a year or so in a cheap brewhouse do not understand beer or brewing sufficiently. Greatness is not beginner’s luck. The only aspect of fortune in the development of someone who can make great food or drinks is when they are born with a demanding palate and a brain equipped with the attributes to make something to appease it. Everything else is down to hard work and sacrifice.

The hard bit about making beer is making sure that all the elements which impact on your recipe are defined, controlled and protected from balls ups, accountants and changes inherent in natural ingredients with time and season. Not writing a recipe. 

Also for those interested here’s some facts and opinion about the UK’s biggest selling cask ale from two learned gents and a shaven monkey with a face that looks like he’s fallen down stairs with his hands in his pockets.


Sunday 16 February 2014

And From Here on We Will Rise

Has it really been a month? No more than a month actually. I will not betray you by apologising. Jetting around Europe, drinking Sahti and long days planning 2014 expansions have left no time for blogging. 

February sees me getting out there at a couple of big brewing industry events. I am on a discussion (argument descending into insults and violence) panel at Craft Beer Rising and about 15 of my beers will be on show on the Sharp’s and Franciscan Well bars at the event. Here’s a list of the one off casks we are taking: 

Panzerfaust 2013
Brewed as a collaboration with Adrian Tierney-Jones in 2013 as the first ever black Gose beer in the world….ever. Smooth , creamy, tangy and appetising, a wonderful fusion of dark malts and fragrant dry hopping! Aged for a year to Gose perfection. ABV 5%

Honey Spice IPA 2013 cask
The cask version of the Connoiseur’s Choice Honey Spice IPA. It is brewed with Cornish honey and dry hopped with 4 US hop varieties and spiced with Malabar peppercorns. Aged in cask for 3 months 7% ABV.

Lactic Armageddon III
A honey ale fermented with brewer’s yeast to 7% ABV and then soured by lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast for 4 years until staggeringly sour and complex. Pure lactic enjoyment for the palate. 

Special Ale
Classic special bitter with Simcoe and Centennial hops. Deep rich flavours and a clean moreish finish. Has won world’s best Pale Ale and several other international awards. 5% ABV

Juniperus 2013
Brewed as a collaboration with spirits writer Lucy Britner using juniper berries from Plymouth Gin. Dry hopped with new world hops and fermented to 5 %ABV. Aged in cask for 6 months to produce a rounded and spicy amber ale.

Winter Berry, 4.4% abv
Complex malt and dark berry fruit flavours combine with a spicy hop aroma and a tantalising Morello cherry topnote to create an exceptional full bodied beer. Matured with whole British cherries for a clean, dry finish and lingering gentle bitterness with fruit overtones.

Also on show will be this year’s Connoisseur’s Choice beers, so this is an event I’m sure you will want to visit.

Next week sees me addressing the great and the good of the beer industry at the Beer Innovation Summit. I wouldn’t say I am nervous but put it this way, my brief case will be not short of Tena Man!

Finally yesterday was spent in the brewery filming a tasting film of all the Sharp’s beers with Adrian Tierney Jones and Ed Hughes. Being filmed drinking 10 beers did lead to a relaxed feel to the last couple. I hope I am not dribbling by the end.  

As soon as the film is on line I’ll put up a link so you may laugh and mock.