Monday, 16 April 2012

The Rake Bar - 22nd April 2012

The last venue on our April meet the "not quite yet a brewer" tour is the one that is making us the most excited. The Rake Bar has been a London craft beer staple for 5 years and we feel privileged to be asked to come along in their London beer week.

So Sunday 22nd April at 3pm we will be offering samples of 3 prototype beers.

Our Single hop series has reached number 9. This series is more of a learning experience for us and is a good way to find out the ins and outs of hops we are not that familiar with. However they do tend to produce some good beers. Junga is a Polish hop and here it is married with a simple malt base and clean yeast to show it off to its best effect. Quite subtle compared to some of our beers but clean and refreshing, would be a good beer for a hot summers day.

 Next up is our Sunshine Saison. Saison seems to be the in beer style at the moment. We add some Munich malt to give a slightly orange golden colour, where many saisons are a pale yellow straw. The French saison yeast we use seems to eat just about everything you put in front of it to give a dry spicy base on top of which we have added some additional spices and some hops that have a lemony edge to them (Pacific Gem and Sorachi Ace).

Finally we have Fade to Black. I don't really want to get into a fight over what style of beer this is...all I will say is that it has a complex grain bill including some rye and an almost as complex hopping schedule, topped off with a load of dry hops. My love of Sorachi Ace is known to some and it shows some of its most complex nuances here with hints of coconut, and sticky sweets from your childhood. 

So if any of these beers appeal, do come and see us at the Rake on Sunday afternoon, taste the beers and tell us know what you think.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hops and starting core range of beers.

So my recipes use expensive and hard to get hold of hops...

The hop merchants have none of these hops left this year...

We should, however, be able to get most of the hops we require when the respective harvests from NZ and and the USA arrive. This means no Citra, Sorachi Ace or Amarillo until 2013, no Pacific Gem until June/July and probably no Nelson Sauvin at all. This make me want to cry.

Nelson is my favourite hop at the moment and South Seas Pale relies heavily on a load of Nelson dry hopping.

So why are we struggling to get the Nelson Sauvin hop? Well, like me, every other brewer it seems likes this hop too. Charles Faram have a consignment of it arriving in the middle of the year but every brewer and his dog have put in a pre-order for it. Charles Faram will allocate these hops based on previous orders of the Nelson Sauvin hop.  This is quite reasonable in my view - you can't have established brewers/beers not getting their hop for some new upstart ... I like Kipling too! If this continues year upon year though it is a bit Catch 22 as new brewers will not be able to get any so have no track record so will not be allocated any etc...

So I have committed £1000 of our start up money to pre-order 65Kg of this most wonderful of hops, which is enough to brew South Seas Pale once a month for a year. If I get 10% of this I will be happy, 25% overjoyed and anything above 50% I'll fall off my chair in delirious fits of giggles.

So what is happening to our other core fact, what are our planned core beers? Time to divulge a bit of information.

South Seas Pale, a 5% or so pale ale with Pacific Gem and Nelson Sauvin, will be replaced by another pale if we can't get the Nelson.

Five O'Clock Shadow a 7% or so IPA now reformulated to have Apollo Summit Cascade and Columbus (all American hops that can be sourced at the moment)

Sunshine Saison a 6% dry Belgian style beer with lemony hops, (Pacific Gem to start and Sorachi Ace from the new year), a few interesting spices and a French Saison yeast.

Decadence Stout a 5% full bodied stout crammed full of interesting grains.

After the new year:

Fade to Black a 7% Cascadian Dark Ale. This is the beer that has the Sorachi Ace, Citra and Amarillo.

We will be casking the stout and the pale ale.  Everything will be available in bottles and hopefully we will getting out some kegs of the Saison and IPA.

If this interests you you can sample some of the prototypes at the Rake Bar on Sunday 22nd April. We will have Sunshine Saison (as it should be) and Fade to Black. We will also have a single hop Junga Pale ale. There will be more details in another blog including times etc.

New artwork for Fade to Black and Sunshine Saison below. Feedback is as ever welcome.

Bye Bye TfL Hello Hanwell. A Brewery Update.

A long time has passed since we tried to get a lease from TfL. Lots of banging heads against walls and explaining to  people that we were waiting for TfL and that we should hear back from them again soon. The romance of a railway arch and huge floorspace for small amount of money could only hold our interest for so long with TfL making life so very, very difficult. This is why I would not recommend TfL to anyone looking to start a brewery:

Loads of red tape to fill in...5 page application form for lease.
We had to provide credit checks and they also then went and had us credit checked....What is the point of this?
Lease application received by TfL in January. Still waiting for heads of terms in April!
They have told us that the directors will have to provide personal guarantees (not sure what then is the point of having a limited company).
A 20 page document every time you had wanted to do any changes to the premises.
Requirement for TfL approved contractors to do anything and everything.
Even getting a viewing is a painful and long drawn out process, we had at least one veiwing cancelled while 45mins into travelling to get there.

In hindsight, it makes me wonder why we wasted two months waiting for them.

Still, we have found a new location, in an industrial estate beside the Grand Union Canal just south of Hanwell. We have almost agreed heads of terms and with a bit of luck we should be in there in a month.

It has a slightly smaller footprint but much better set up for a brewery.

5M high ceilings throughout allowing more vertical storage or very big fermenters if expansion is required ...We are going to need a forklift.
Does not need a new roof.
Lots of natural light.
No damp this time.
Good access to drainage.
TfL not the landlord.
15 mins closer to my house.
Proximity of a good real ale pub. (The Fox in Hanwell)

Some pictures and a possible plan of new brewery. Photos were taken by Mike from Ellenberg's Brewery.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Strongroom Bar

Next chance to get hold of our prototype beer is at the Strongroom bar's London beer festival on Thursday 19th April.

We will only have 1 beer available. Five O'clock Shadow. An American Style IPA. The malt base is pretty standard with Pale, Munich and light crystal. Plenty of bittering hops (Citra, Summit, Columbus, Centennial and Nelson Sauvin).  There are no late aroma hops but it is dry hopped at 6g/litre with the same hops as the bittering hops. This beer went down well at the Egham Beer festival and this should be a chance for a few more people to get their paws on it.

We will be there from 6:30 on the Thursday evening to hand out samples. Free beer is sure to go quickly so get there early.

We will also be at the Rake Bar in Borough Market on Sunday 22nd during the afternoon...another blog to follow with details.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Prototypes for April events.

Readers of this blog will already know that we are sending some prototypes to 3 events in April.

We will be at  the Egham Real Ale and Cider Festival on Thursday 5th April at 18:30. Both Bryan and I will be there to pour the following beers...

South Seas Pale is quite a pale beer with a simple malt bill with Pale and Vienna malts and Pacific Gem and Nelson Sauvin hops. The Pacific Gem adds a slight lemon character and the Nelson Sauvin packs a punch of gooseberries and elderflowers. A very refreshing beer that belies its strength.

 Five O'Clock Shadow started as an experiment in dry hopping. Malt base is pretty standard with Pale, Munich and light crystal. Plenty of bittering hops (Citra, Summit, Columbus, Centennial and Nelson Sauvin).  There are no late aroma hops but it is dry hopped at 6g/litre with the same hops as the bittering hops. While this was an experimental beer it has gone down well and will certainly be made again, perhaps with some tweaks.

Decadence Stout is one of the longer standing recipes. It started with 10 types of grain but was soon rationalised to "only" 8. Hopped with Chinook, Fuggles and East Kent Goldings it has solid bitterness but the malt base is the star. A higher then normal mash temperature gives a full mouthfeel, but the large amount of roasted barley keeps it from being too sweet.

So come along and say hello on the 5th. Test our beers and give us some feedback.