Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My First Solo Brew at The Bull

So Dan at The Bull recently gave me the opportunity to brew, on my own, a beer of my choosing. This has been the chance I have been waiting for. I have been a homebrewer for years, but I have up until now never been able to brew a beer that is served in a bar. Naturally I was nervous, as I didn't know the brew kit terribly well, and I felt as if my entire reputation as a brewer rested on this one brew. Obviously, was being a bit dramatic, but I take my beer very seriously.

The beer recipe that I settled on was a Scottish ale with a target alcohol content somewhere between 4.0% to 4.5% alcohol. Usually, I would be able to be a bit more precise in my predictions but not knowing what brewhouse efficiency I would have, I decided it was better to make a recipe that could handle some variability. I decided to make the color relatively dark and the bitterness levels very low, similar to what a historical Scottish ale would be. The reason why Scottish ales traditionally have low amounts of hops is that, first of all, the English were very late to adopt hops relative to the rest of Europe. In addition, once the English discovered how wonderful hops were, they were reluctant to export them to the Scots because, apparently, English and Scottish people don't get on very well. As a result, Scottish ales had very low levels of hops and often even used other ingredients such as heather as bittering or flavoring agents for their beers. Therefore, in order to stay historically accurate, my hop schedule would be to use a very modest amount of English Whitbread Golding hops for bittering and an equal amount of the same hops after the end of the boil for aroma. Historical Scottish ales probably would not have had much aroma hops, so I went back and forth on deciding if I should add them at all. In the end, I decided it would be a more balanced beer with them included.

Overall, I think the brew day went smoothly. Nothing disasterous happened (even though I had recently been having bad dreams about everything that could go wrong with this beer). The worst thing that happened was a small overflow on the hot liquor tank, but a little mopping fixed that. One thing that did go very much according to plan was the color of the beer. It is a deep red mahogony color that I think will be very beautiful once the beer is done. The gravity was also in the range I wanted, and if the fermentation goes as I expect the beer will be about 4.3%. Now all I have to do is wait. After all, the most important part of the beer making process is happening right now as I write.

As a final thought, just the fact that Dan has enough confidence in me to let me use his system to make a beer that he will actually serve to customers is something I am very proud of. If this beer turns out well, the day I try the first pint will certainly be one of the best days of my life.

No comments:

Post a Comment