#CraftBeerHour – Beer Review #1 – Flat-Pack Fruit Bat – Brewdog / Omnipollo – IPA

Raspberry berets might be forever alas this beer is not

What? – Flat-Pack Fruit Bat – Raspberry Smoothie IPA
Who? – Brewdog / Omnipollo – Brewdog a little known Scottish brewery… and Omnipollo, based out of Stockholm and brewer of some of my favourite beers, including the sensational Noa
Well? – Where to start. Cracking the can you are immediately hit by the fruit bomb, raspberry quite literally bursts out. 
Pours beautifully with a distinctive deep pink colour and creamy head. Immediate taste is incredibly tart with the sickly sweet lactose fighting against it.  There are some tropical hop notes coming through I’m told it’s mosaic but it’s hard to pick out individually as the raspberry really does have a punch and there are some other aromas muddying the water here… more on that later.
The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for both a lactose IPA and a beer marketed as a smoothie.  The expected creaminess and full mouthfeel could well have rounded out some of the less subtle elements of this one and it feels a bit like an opportunity missed.  Overall it loses the fight against the raspberry.

The first impression fades quite quickly and you’re left with a beer that probably has too many clashes to be completely loveable. Vanilla comes through softly but blends with some slight diacetyl notes which only add to the slightly cloying nature of this one.  The tartness is a little too ‘synthetic’ in texture and becomes quite difficult when fighting against some of the other characteristics of this beer like the aforementioned vanilla and diacetyl.
Overall I’m not madly in love with this one. I am a fan of a lot of Omnipollo’s beers and have some very high hopes for the Buxton collaboration ice cream beers and unlike some I don’t hate on Brewdog who still produce some interesting beers.  I note on untappd and several other review sites this gets more positive reviews and I’m sure that some folk will think this is a fun little beer, but for me there are just too many flaws for me to get behind it.


Home-brew Kölsch

Beer Bottle Top_Kolsch

Searching for a home-brew to suit the lager preferences of some friends and to accompany a BBQ on a hot summers day, we settled on brewing a Kölsch.

Kölsch has a similar clear, crisp and refreshing style to lager but is top-fermented as an ale making it a readily achievable lager-like beer to home-brew as it doesn’t require the cold (7-13c) fermenting temperatures of lager.  Kölsch originates from the German city of Cologne which straddles the river Rhine in the west of the country. Kölsch is local dialect and literally translates as ‘of Cologne’.  The name (like champagne) is a protected geographical indication, restricting official naming rights to beer brewed in this style in the Cologne region.  Commercial variants will be labelled as ‘Kölsch Style’.

Approx ABV: 4.5%; Makes about 22 litres (40 pints)

Bitterness rating 25 IBU

Grain Bill:

  • Pilsner Malt – 4 kg
  • Carapils Malt – 500g

Mash at 65c for 1 hour with 11 litre liquor

Boil time 1 hour 15 min with 27 litre liquor

Hops:

  • Spalt select – 44g – add at start of boil
  • Tettnang – 20g – add for last 5 min of boil
  • Tettnang – 44g – add at flame-out

Other:

  • Protrofloc – 1 tsp or 1 tablet
  • Yeast – Wyeast 2565 Kölsch activator (needs to be activated 1 hour before pitching)

Ferment temperature: 18-20c

Mix in around 8g of brewing sugar for each litre of ale to a bottling bucket before bottling.

Bottle conditioning gets best results at a cooler temperature of 12c for 3 weeks.  We cleared a couple of shelves out of the wine fridge and set the bottle in upright.

Beer Bottling

Kölsch (beer) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 

A Starter for 10

So a barista walks into a bar… and ponders… how could I make some of this stuff at home?

This happens so frequently that I thought it would be worth a post looking at the bare essentials to make a half decent IPA without investing too heavily.  Like any good hobby, home brewing will inevitably lead to a constant cycle of buying or upgrading equipment, be it to increase volume (quantity) or, just… because new things are fun!

My first attempts at home brewing involved a kit consisting of a huge tin of extracted malts which you simply heated up, mixed with water and dumped into a fermenter with a sachet of yeast.  The quality of these kits can actually be pretty good, however the craft is virtually as non-existent as the satisfaction you get from preparing it.

The following basic equipment will be enough to achieve a 10 litre ‘partial mash’ brew.  A ‘partial mash’ requires no mash tun.  A mash tun is an insulated container which will hold malted grains mixed with water at a constant temperature (usually around 60-70c) for an hour or so to extract the natural sugars from the malts providing sugar for the yeast to eat and turn into alcohol.  For a ‘partial mash’ this process has already been done and dried out as one of the ingredients; ‘malt extract’ or ‘spray malt’.  We will still be using malted grains to achieve flavour.

Brewing Equipment

 

Basic Equipment Alternative – “I might get into this…”
15 Litre Stock Pot 30 Litre Brewing Pan
Digital Scales
Thermometer Digital Thermometer (Thermapen)
Long Handled Spoon Mash Paddle
Food Grade Bucket & Lid 25 Litre Fermenter
Food Grade Tubing Auto Syphon
Air Lock & Grommet (& vodka) Air Lock & Bung (& Jack Daniels)
Sanitising Liquid No Rinse Sanitiser & spray can
PET Bottles (Screw Top) Glass Beer Bottles
Bottle Capper & Caps
Ice Copper Heat Exchange Coil & Hose
Grain Bags/Hop Bags Mash Tun

So here’s a simple recipe and instruction which can achieve perfectly decent IPA. Ingredients and equipment are readily available on eBay and various home-brew websites, however we have had consistently good service from themaltmiller.co.uk 

For the 20 litre yield, you will need a suitably sized pot and fermenter.

Ingredients/Shopping List 10 Litre Yield 20 Litre Yield
Malt Extract Spray Dried Malt Extract Light 1375g 2750g
Malt Crystal Malt 125g 250g
Malt Dingemans Aromatic Malt 125g 250g
Hops Cascade 33g 65g
Hops Centennial 33g 65g
Yeast

Brewing Sugar

Safale US 0.5 Yeast

Brewing Sugar

1/2 pack

80g

1 pack

160g

Instructions:

  1. Add the Crystal Malt and Dingemans Aromatic Malt to a grain bag and tie off.
  2. Heat 2 litres (or 4 litres) of water in brewing pot to 71c
  3. Add the grain bag, remove the pot from the heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes
  4. Gradually raise the temperature to 77c
  5. Remove the grain bag and top up the water to 11.5 litres (or 23 litres) (best to pre-heat this water beforehand if possible, to save time)
  6. Gradually stir in the Malt Extract whilst the wort to the boil (this can be a bit sticky and messy)
  7. Once boiling, add the 8g (or 16g) of the Centennial Hops (tie off in a hops/grain bag)
  8. After 45 minutes of boiling, add 8g (or 16g) of both Cascade Hops and Centennial Hops (tied off in a hops/grain bag)
  9. After 1 hour of boiling , remove from the heat and add the remainder of the hops, again tied off in another bag.
  10. Start cooling the wort.  From this point onwards, it’s important to keep everything that comes into contact with it sanitised.  The boiling process keeps bacteria at bay however any that get introduced at this stage could multiply during fermentation and spoil the beer.
    1. No Rinse Sanitiser is a good investment as you can simply spray it onto any utensils etc.  It comes as a concentrated solution so a bottle will last a long time.  Standard sterilising solution contains sodium chloride so everything will need to be thoroughly rinsed in clean water before use.
    2. Immersing the pot into a sink of iced water will help speed the cooling up, however this can take a while.  A copper heat exchanger attached to the cold tap will take care of this within about 15 minutes!
  11. Cool the wort to below 29c
  12. Syphon the wort into the fermenter and top off with cold water to 10 litres (or 20 litres) agitating as you go to introduce some oxygen to help the yeast
  13. Pitch the yeast and stir in
  14. Seal the fermenter
    1. Rubbing some vaseline around the lid will help keep nasties out
    2. If you’re using a bucket and lid, you will need to make a hole for the grommet to tightly seal the air lock. Half fill the air lock with spirit (e.g. vodka).  The air lock will allow carbon dioxide produced by the yeast to escape, and prevent nasties getting in.
  15. Ferment for 2 weeks or until bubbling activity has stopped.  The beer should start to get lively within 24-36 hours if stored at normal room temperature

Bottling:

You can buy screw-top plastic (PET) bottles which removes the need to buy glass bottles and a capper, however even recycled glass bottles make for a much more authentic finish.

Once the beer has stopped bubbling, fermentation is complete and it’s ready to bottle.

Syphon the beer into a clean pot/bucket which has been thoroughly sterilised. Sediment created as waste from the fermentation process will have settled to the bottom of the fermenter so syphon from a few centimetres from the bottom to avoid too much of this ending up in your bottles.  Try and avoid introducing too much air at this point.

If you want the beer to be fizzy and produce a head, it will need to go through a secondary fermentation in the bottles.  There will still be enough live yeast in the beer to consume more sugar if you add it and thus create Co2 and pressurise the bottles.

Stir in 4g (1 tsp) of brewing sugar per 500ml of beer.  Overdoing this can lead to a lot of Co2 buildup in the bottles which can result in  them popping their caps and making a mess.

Syphon into your chosen (sterilised) bottles leaving about 3 cm empty at the top, and cap.

Ready to drink in a couple of weeks!

Pub Review – The Beer Kat

 

#WeAreBeavertown

The Beer Kat is a new concept pub on Holloway Road (on the corner with Liverpool Road). The pub is set up to host  monthly takeovers / residencies of craft breweries putting their own stamp on the place and serving a wide range of beers, a sort of gypsy tap room.  For its inaugural month Tottenham Hale’s Beavertown take up the mantle and it’s a logical choice for the first month, their unique visuals leave you under no illusions that this is a special event. Nick Dwyer’s artwork gracing every possible surface including some great takes on classic film posters and the usual Gamma Ray and 8-Ball artwork throughout this 3 storey boozer.

 

Food was provided by Grill My Cheese and we enjoyed some excellent buttermilk chicken and hot sauce which went very nicely with the IPA I was drinking at the time. Music was a pleasingly old school 90’s R&B vibe including Inner Circle’s classic ‘Bad Boys’, I’m led to believe there is also live music from most weekends as well as other special events.

 

But the real reason we are here is for the beer.  18 different Beavertown beers are available plus a weekly guest brewery in the fridge (on the day we visited it was Stockholm Brewing Company).  Of course the core range is there plus some excellent seasonal and short run beers. Disappointed to miss out on Molecular Mayhem and ‘Spresso on cask but still couldn’t complain about the choice on offer!

 

I took the opportunity to try some of the beers I haven’t yet had chance to sample and wasn’t disappointed.  Bloody ‘Ell on cask was a pleasant surprise, giving a nice round taste to an already cracking beer.  I also took in two of the ‘Invasion of the Lupoloids’ series, Uy Scuti which was very decent but paled in comparison to the genuinely excellent Armillaria Mater.  AM was cloudy, rich juicy and beautiful tropical aroma and clean bitter finish.   Very drinkable and I went back for more as the night went on. It was also very exciting to see Heavy Water on tap, the Cherry and Sea Salt Imperial Stout was a real beauty, like drinking the kind of black forest gateaux that would give Mary Berry a soggy bottom.  We also enjoyed the collaboration with Heretic, Peacher Man was an enjoyable Witbier (I’d have like the peach to have been a bit fuller) and a new one from Beavertown’s Phantom sour beer range – Pom Pom Phantom a grapefruit Berliner Weisse, I’ve been spoilt by some excellent Berliner Weisse’s recently so PPP didn’t quite hit the spot for me, I’m hoping to see Yuzilla or Lemon Phantom make a return at some point but sadly these weren’t to be seen.  I finished up with Stockholm’s Hop Hound which was excellent and piqued my interest in them.

 

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(photo courtesy of twitter.com/beerkatpub)

Also a word to the bar staff who were very friendly and knowledgeable on the beers available.  No mean feat for a pub that was only two weeks old and with a constantly changing line-up of beer.  Overall an excellent idea well executed, it will be very interesting to see how it develops when the next brewery comes to town and what they bring to the set up.  Will definitely be there  to check it out and am hoping to get another visit in before Beavertown finish on the 26th of June.

Follow The Beer Kat on Twitter @beerkatpub and on Instagram

What’s on this week – London

There are a couple of interesting things cropping up over the next week or so across London that have made our ears prick up. Here’s the heads up on a couple of things happening this week in Craft Beer in London

We Are Beavertown – 26th May-26th June

Tottenham Hale’s Beavertown have a total pub takeover at The Beer Kat on Holloway Road starting from Thursday 26th.  Anyone familiar with Beavertown’s excellent taproom and sensational food at their bar & que Dukes mus be excited for this. There will also be live music, DJs and other events.  I’m hoping to get down there to get my lips on Peacherman (collaboration with Heretic) which I haven’t managed to sup yet and see what they have done with the place some of the visuals and posters look incredible (as you’d expect from Nick Dwyer)

IMG_3041

(copyright Beavertown Brewery)

 

London Beer Factory – Taproom summer opening

Going south now and the London Beer Factory’s Tap Room opens for the summer on Saturday – located on 160 Hamilton Road, SE27 9SF they’ll be open from 1pm and will fittingly be broadcasting Crystal Palace vs Man Utd’s FA Cup final as well as serving up beers. I’m sure this will be a great spot to watch the eagles on home turf #DareToPardew

Also note that because of the FA Cup final clash the Crystal Palace Beer Festival is now taking place on the 28th May (despite what Timeout might tell you) so anyone who was planning on heading to Selhurst Park should skip down the road to LBF.

 

That’s what piqued my interest this week of course there are the usual fun and games to be had across London on the beer mile, in Hackney Wick’s beer riviera and Beavertown’s taproom in Tottenham Hale (this week with meatballs from Capish)

 

Until next time

Nathan

 

#RealBreadWeek – Sourdough Pizza

RBC_button_lg

It’s #RealBreadWeek!! A shove in the right direction when it comes to decent unadulterated bread – bake it yourself or find your local Real Bread outlet.

I’ve subscribed to the Sustain Real Bread Campaign for 3 years now and eagerly look forward to their quarterly issue of their True Loaf magazine, stuffed full of inspirational stories of artisan bakers and their campaign to provide our daily bread, minus the additives and over-production which has unfortunately become commonplace with what should be the most simplest of staples.

Sustain’s definition of real bread: “Real Bread is that made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives”

I’m marking the beginning of Real Bread week with a sourdough pizza, using my sourdough starter culture.

I’ve written before how, although sourdough can be time consuming to maintain, the slow proving can be used to your advantage as the dough will be very forgiving if you leave it to prove all day or over-night.  If you tried to make a yeast risen dough after work, you would’t be eating until 10pm.  Make this dough the night before and leave to prove and ripen in the fridge until you’re ready.

Do we need a beer pairing? Well based on name and concept alone, why not a bottle of Toast Ale. Toast is 5%er brewed with the addition of surplus bread (about 25g/half a slice per bottle) that would otherwise go to waste, with proceeds going to the Feedback charity, aiming to reduce food waste. @Hackneybrewery even released their recipe so we might give this a go at some point.

For the Pizza Base (makes 1 big):image

  • Sourdough culture – 150g
  • Strong white flour – 150g
  • Plain white flour – 100g
  • Salt – 1/5 tsp
  • Water – 200g (warm)
  • Olive Oil – 1 tblsp
  • Polenta (for shaping)
  • Combine the culture, flours, olive oil, salt and water in a bowl then knead for 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  • Cover with a tea-towel and leave for 3 hours, or overnight/all day in the fridge, to best suit your timings (bring up to room temperature before using)

 

For the base sauce:

  • Tinned tomatoes (preferably decent quality like Tuscan Cirio) – 1 tin
  • Shallots – 3 (finely sliced)
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Olive oil (as much as you dare)
  • Woucestershire Sauce – 5 glugs
  • Gently heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped shallots. Cook really slowly, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. The shallots should become traslucent without burning.
  • Peel and squash the garlic clove and stir in to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, about 5 glugs (2 tablespoons) of worcesterhsire sauce, salt and pepper and simmer on a medium heat until it becomes a thick sticky sauce.  Stir occasionally and turn down the heat if it starts to stick.
  • Blend the sauce in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth and it’s good to go.

 

Shaping and Baking:

  • imagePreheat your oven as hot as it will go. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one, or a large baking sheet
  • Sprinkle some polenta onto your work surface and then shape the dough into a ball, removing any excess depending on the size or number of pizzas you’re going for. The polenta gives a fantastic texture to the base and prevents sticking
  • Shape the pizza base – roll out with a rolling pin or have a go at tossing it if you dare (I’ve never managed this!)  My preferred method is to roll into a small circle, then grab one edge between your index fingers and thumbs and let the dough stretch under its own weight, quickly moving around the circle so that it stretches out evenly
  • Prepare your chosen pizza toppings (I used mozzarella, spinach, anchovies, finely chopped peppers and aubergine)
  • Remove your pizza stone/baking sheet, sprinkle with some polenta and quickly transfer the pizza base to the stone/tray and paint on a good layer of the tomato sauce avoiding a boarder around the rim, encouraging it to rise a bit during baking
  • Bake until done!

 

Left over dough and sauce?

Flatten the dough out, paint it with a goodly dollop of the tomato sauce and roll it back up (sauce to the inside). Leave to prove whilst your pizza bakes then pop it in the oven after for 30 to 40 minutes and you’ve got a tasty luncheon loaf for tomorrow.

Good luck! Simon.

All Time(ish) Top 5 – Coffee Porters and Stouts

What better way to start a week than with a strong coffee.   This led me to thinking it was a good place to start with coffee infused beers for my monthly All Time(ish) Top 5.

Whilst there are some decent examples of non-Stouts and Porters with additional coffee added (Weird Beard’s Out of Office being a very serviceable IPA) my personal opinion is that the coffee lends itself best to the darker malts and roasted barley, oat or malts of a Stout or Porter.  Futhermore, this list only includes beers which have coffee added in some form either from a  bean infusion or the addition of brewed coffee.  If this was a list of stouts and porters with powerful coffee notes achieved through the brewing process it would be much longer and would certainly include Lervig Aktiebryggeri’s mighty 3 Bean Stout (the beans in this case are vanilla, coco and tonka and not a coffee bean in sight).  I’ve also tried to stick to beers that have been relatively easy to get your hands on in the UK in recent times (hence the “ish”).

Word of caution before diving into these particular recommendations, if you’re anything like me then drinking these in the evening may lead to a sleepless night.  Some of these beers ABV strength is matched by their caffeine strength.  Here are my favourite 5 Coffee stouts and porters.

5. Common Grounds – Magic Rock (UK) – rich dark and full bodied porter, they really got it right on this beer.  A great afternoon beer and at 5.4% works as a pint as well. A collaboration with Darkwoods Coffee.

4. Gautemalan Coffee Extra Porter – Buxton (UK) – Loads and loads of coffee in this and a very nice sweet dark fruit taste coming through.  Very enjoyable

3. Breakfast Stout – Founders (US) – 2 different coffee beans, flaked oats, 8.3%.  It must be breakfast time.  This just goes and goes, dangerously drinkable.

2. Beer Geek Breakfast – Mikkeller (Denmark) – Powerful, complex and rich. A real classic and one of my all-time favourite beers full stop. Just so happens that another of my favourite ever beers is on the list too…

1. Spresso – Beavertown (UK) – a collaboration between the good folks at Beavertown and Caravan Coffee.  It’s as good as you would expect when you mention those two craft champions.  Like a smack round the face from Tyler Durden (if he was made of coffee). This was a limited release, though I have a can tucked away for a special occasion but if you see this anywhere I implore you to stockpile this.

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Nathan’s wish list – Imperial Java Stout – Santa Fe , Big Bad Baptist – Epic Brewing, Victory at Sea – Ballast Point, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – Mikkeller

 

This list has also inspired us to cook up something special in the Silverdale brew-shed should have something very exciting to share with you this time next month.

 

What do you think though? Have you tried these and love them or does my list leave a bitter taste? What would you add to this list?

Cheers

Nathan