Monday, 26 October 2009

Beer Quest to the extreme!!: Stag inferno extravaganza!!

Last Friday my stag weekend kicked of after much anticipation for the greatest pub crawling, beer hunting extravaganza I have ever experienced. As mentioned in my previous post we were joined by Ed, the Daleside crew and others including best man Chris and the deadly Nick Windoo (deadly at chess that is) for a 2 day tour of many of York’s great pubs including Guy Fawkes, Brigantes, The Ackhorne, The Maltings and various others.

Having the period of 2 days to hunt beers we had a pretty good run at it. Steady away on the Friday, then steady away Saturday lunchtime (due to everyone being hungover). For a good part of the sessions I did remember getting the urge for the darker beers, and the fine roasty Summer Wine Teleporter, and full nourishing Collermans oatmeal stout didn’t disappoint. Later exotic bottle beers such as Goose Island India Pale Ale, Rodenback Grand Cru and J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2006, rich, silky smooth with warming vanilla and sherry notes, were enjoyed. So as planned a great amount of beer territory was covered and the session was very spread out and slow paced for the most part. Amongst the great range of brilliant beers consumed it was difficult to pinpoint a single ‘greatest’ beer of the weekend as it would have to be many. I suppose its true what our lord Mr Jackson used to say, its all about mood and moment.

But one of the most interesting experiences of the weekend, was that of walking into the Punch Bowl Weatherspoons to find the very beer I designed for Daleside brewery on cask, Daleside Autumn Leaves. It wasn’t bad stuff ether, bready, grainy chewy malt at the centre with leafy earthy hops interplaying and blackcurrant notes to the finish. It suddenly dawned on my what a peculiar creation this indeed was, it doesn’t drink like a 3.4% beer, and expresses that wholesome, rounded malt accent that many Daleside beers do.

But it wasn’t all about the beer, as you can probably guess from reading Ed’s blog, and the previously stated ‘rules’ were for the most part followed pretty closely. But rules are not that important, and no rules were drawn against strip clubs, after all, it was a stag weekend.

Moment if indulgence with a Rodenback Grand Cru.

On first visit Brigantes was impressive, good beer range, nice interior, pleasant atmosphere.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Robs beer quest: The quest steps up a level.

Next weekend folks I will be attending a very important beer hunting event. A one that I will (probably) only get to attend once in my beer drinking days. That event is, my stag weekend. Joining me on the event will be fellow blogger and home brewer the mighty Ed. Yes you may know him. Alongside others strong with the brewing force we will be venturing through the streets of York hunting pubs guided only by a map devised by my work mate drayman Dave, Daleside breweries number one dray, who knows York better than I know the intricacies of my beer cellar (/cupboard).

So among the cobblestoned streets of York we shall hunt out the finest in Yorkshire beer. But why York I hear you ask? Well out of the many options (Brussels, Munich, Portland Oregon) the best man found it the most realistic, affordable and easily achievable option, and you can’t argue with that.

But as exiting as it gets I also have been given the horror stories. Like how I will probably end up handcuffed to a lamppost naked or dumped on boat to Dubai. Or even worse handcuffed to a lamppost naked on a boat to Dubai. So because of this I have devised a list of simple rules for stag attendees.

Rules of the stag.

1. No shots.
2. No drinking games.
3. No beer bongs.
4. No illegal drugs. No drugs at all (except ethanol), unless medical emergency arises.
5. No D.I.Os (down in one)
6. A minimum time of 50 minutes should be spent in each pub. This allows sufficient time for participants to consume 1-2 pints or 3-4 half pints of session strength beer during the stay, with an optional toilet break.
7. No Extremist homicidal nutcases, or even just dangerous nutcases.
8. No Chavs.
9. No trendy bars or club, full of young’uns dressed in trendy clothes acting all loud with bumpedy bump music, plastic chairs, flashing lights everywhere, tv screens showing mute music videos with no half decent beer or spirit options in sight.
10. No Hawaiian shirts (especially blue ones).
11. No stripping anyone to lampposts (or any other objects) naked.

Ok so it’s a little strict, but no true beer enthusiast wants to be rushed on there beer, especially if it’s a good find. And lets face it how can you enjoy a beautiful beer, discuss the entirety of its glory, and jot down tasting notes if the music’s so loud you cant even think and your too busy concentrating on how to get through this crowd of dancing people without spilling the stuff. But I have to have a bit of a moan, that’s what being a CAMRA member is about after all. Another possible turn up for the event will be the mighty Craig Witty, Daleside frontman and head brewer, so get your autograph books at the ready.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Italian craft beer

Everyone knows the Italians are gaining a talent for craft brewing. Heres an essential website for a few Italian chaps i met at the john bull just earlier, check this out:

Saturday, 17 October 2009

My first double brew: Wedding ale.

As many may have guessed a double brew is the act of brewing twice in the same day. At home (my Panda & Frog home brewery) a typical brew day lasts between 5 and 6 hours and this was expected to be a long tedious effort requiring a full Saturday. For a change I decided to conduct this operation using my own kit at work (Daleside brewery). Sure this meant changing water treatments and lugging lots of kit down to Harrogate by car, but the advantages, including the availability of hot liqor on tap, better cooling systems and the use of water hoses to clean down equipment made it worthwhile.

In fact if this was a normal brew day it would have been the easiest ever, but this was a double brew, the theory being to start a second brew whilst the first brew was already in motion. This meant that once brew No 1 had runoff onto the copper and the mash tun emptied, brew No 2 could then be mashed in (thus setting brew No 2 in motion). This was a little trickier than I anticipated with the further risk that by the end of mash for brew 2, brew 1 would still be in running off from the copper. So I had to make sure brew 1 was fully ran off into the fermenter, and the copper empty before sparging the mash of brew 2. But my main problems included electrical faults and timers (for the copper) switching themselves off at critical moments.

Runoff of Brew No 1 from copper to fermentation vessel.

Left to ferment: Both brews took around 5 days to ferment to terminal gravity.

Despite this both brews went well (except brew 1 was a couple of liters short) and fermented down from gravities 1051.7 to around 1012.4 before being transferred to only just fill a 9 gallon cask. Only once have myself and Daleside head brewer Craig Witty tried this fairly fruity, slightly malt balanced pale ale which will be served at my wedding in December alongside a couple of other Daleside beers. Let us hope the 70-72 pints of wedding ale get shared round as many guests as possible, but don’t leave the cask so quickly that some late arrivals don’t get any.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Strawberry beer: The result!

After 5 weeks maturation with strawberries before bottling and a few months maturation in the bottle my strawberry beer has finally matured into a drinkable state. As you can see virtually no clarity was achieved but the aroma brought nothing but ripe, fresh strawberry fruit, which I am pleased with. The palate brings a half decent mouth feel, a slight malt sweetness balanced by a little acidity. A slight sourness is then evident in the finish, but nothing overpowering with plenty of background acidic strawberry notes.

To the disappointment of some tasters this beer came out nothing like many commercial (lambic imitatated) fruit beers that are dominantly sweet, fruity and brightly colored. With this much of the character of the base beer was still obvious and the aroma was better than expected with drinkability being decent enough to have a couple in an evenings session.