Saturday, 27 April 2013

Week 26

This week started with a rebrew, or should that be a new brew? Let's start again shall we.

This week kicked off with a brewday. We started off by brewing one of our core beers, that we have actually tried to brew before. This will be brew 0009 and will go by the name Hit The Lights. Now, if you cast your mind back to early march, and the release of batch 0002 you will remember a beer called Miss The Lights. That was the first attempt at brewing Hit The Lights, but not all went to plan. But this time round all things have gone to plan. The brewday went without a hitch, with the beer happily in FV3 earlier than any brewday yet.

Hit The Lights will be getting a good dose of dry hops sometime in the coming week, and maybe bottled towards the end.

FV4 currently has Saison 42 in, our collaboration with Sad Robot from Sweden. This has been sat at around 25 Deg C for just over a week. The yeast have done their thing, and it is down from 1049 to 1006, making it a nice 5.7% abv. There will be a couple of versions of this out, and bottling will start early this coming week. I think you will agree that we got the label sorted.

Bottled beer continues to fly out of the brewery, and we have now sold out of Miss The Lights & Black Perle, with stocks of Single Hop Chinook and Mariana Trench getting very low. Cask and keg beer is also making its way out, but at a slightly slower pace. But we expect this to pick up dramatically with festival season now upon us. In fact, we have 4 casks going to the Reading CAMRA beer festival, 1 cask & 2 keg kegs going to the Hope in Charshalton and 1 cask & 4 key kegs going to the London's Brewing, all in the coming week.

We have bottles of 5 o'Clock Shadow, Fade to Black and Holly Hoppin' Hell waiting for labels, which have now arrived. We have made a start of the 5 o'Clock Shadow bottles, as these are ready to go. Fade to Black and Holly Hoppin Hell will be done when we have time over the coming week or so, as these could do with a little more time to condition, so no rush to get these out.

All opinions and grammatical errors are those of WeirdBeardBryan, and not to hairy ones as a collective.

Five O'Clock Shadow

So this is the third of our core beers. One of my personal favourite styles, the American IPA.

This beer had been through a number of iterations of prototypes, AC3 and AC4 were early names and some of you who have known us for a long time may have sampled one or both of these. One of the best prototypes had both Citra and Nelson Sauvin but the availability of hops caused yet another version to be tried. In the end we did find some Citra and added it to a load of the dankest, most pungent American hops (Summit, Apollo and Columbus).

The Lup'in for this beer is one of our favourites. Cowboy Lup'in has become our poster boy and has made it onto our bottle caps in a slightly different hat. I have even taken to wearing such a hat in homage.

The brewing of this beer, as you will have become accustomed to hearing, did not go without minor hitches. We reduced the bittering hops, on the basis of the previous batches being overly bitter at the time so this beer lacks a bit of the edge we were looking for (although this will probably make the beer more popular with the non beer geeks). The colour is also a bit too dark for my liking. So expect this bitterness to be increased and the colour to be toned down for the next release.

Still, what we have here is a very drinkable hop forward beer with a load of mango and grapefruit. It will be available in 330ml bottles and key kegs and will be released this week. There may be a key keg of it on at the Hope in Carshalton for their festival this weekend.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Week 25

This week started off on a real high. As mentioned in last weeks blog, we were very lucky to welcome our good friend Ingemar from cuckoo brewery Sad Robot over from Sweden. We decided to brew a saison, which we will be calling Saison 42, a mostly harmless farmhouse ale. Through this collaboration we have managed to score a distributor in Sweden, so very soon we will be sending a couple of pallets over to the fine beer loving swedes.

We also packaged our black IPA, Fade To Black, this week. And it is tasting great. It went into 2076 330ml bottles, 8 casks and 18 key kegs. We have labels on the way, along with 5 o'Clock Shadow and Holy Hoppin' Hell.

Beer continues to fly out of the brewery, and you can now find it in bottle shops all over the country. This week a pallet was sent up to Manchester. If you see it anywhere, please do tweet about it, so we can update our outlets page on the website.

Now the weather has finally sorted itself out, the air conditioning has been turned on in the cool room.  This means the beer for the bar has also moved into the cool room.

Remember Miss The Lights? This was our first attempt at Hit The Lights, and our 2nd ever brew on the kit. This beer has been a strange one for , getting a real mix of reviews. Our stock of the bottles have sold out, but the casks and kegs have not gone down too well. We apologies if you have sampled this on cask, or key keg and have not enjoyed it. We have stopped selling these and our considering putting the remainder into bottles, as it works really well in this format.

As a side note, on Monday we will be brewing Hit The Lights. We have learnt from our mistakes, got a lot of the issues that plagued us in the beginning sorted, and calibrated the brew house. This time Lup'in will walk out onto the stage, but he will not fall on his arse. We are realy looking forward to brewing this, as it is a fantastic beer.

All opinions and grammatical errors are those of WeirdBeardBryan, and not the bearded collective.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Week 24

No real reason for the opening picture. Except it made us chuckle when we saw it, although not sure how the people of Hanwell would have felt seeing 'Destination weird Hanwell' pass through on the back of a truck. And maybe to pad out a blog about a moderately uneventful week.

One of the main reasons the brewery has been a little quiet over the last couple of weeks, besides me being busy with my 'day job', is our naughty little creation Holly Hoppin' Hell. Not sure we can blame the beer itself for everything, I think the weather has played it's part, but this brew has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked.  But it's finally been package, the label design is finished, Labels ordered and we hope to get bottles out the door in a couple of weeks. I love the label for this beer, a sneak peak can be seen above, but we will unveil the full label and full details of the beer and brewing process in the beers blog in a week or so.

The worst part of packaging days is the cleaning. Sticking beer into 4 casks, 18 key kegs and 2300 bottles doesn't happen quickly, even with the tireless assistance of Andy Parker. After standing for around 9 hours straight, the last thing you want to do is attack and clean an empty fermentation vessel. Holly Hoppin' Hell was a particularly messy son of a.... Coming in at 8.5% and with 15.5Kg of dry hops, there was a lot of crap in the cone of that vessel.Usually we would open the valve at the base of the cone and let the waste run out, but this time it was so thick and abundant, we had to get in with our new industrial size wet n' dry vacuum.

Now we could leave the cleaning of the FV until the next day, and we often leave part of the clean up for the following day, but you need to get the bulk of it done, otherwise it is all just going to dry up and be so much harder the next day. It was particulary important this time round for two reasons. Firstly, it was a Friday, and no one was really available on Saturday to come in and clean. But most importantly, and we are very excited to anounce this, with more information to follow, on Monday we will be doing our first collaborative brew in the brewery. This will not be just any old collaboration, this will be an international collaboration with our good friend Ingemar Jansson from Swedish cuckoo brewery Sad Robot coming over. I believe Ingemar has the obligatory facial hair, unless he has shave since last we saw him. This brew will be the first of hopefully 3 saisons over the coming months.

Beer continues to fly out the door, with bottles of Miss the Lights and Black Perle starting to run low. We are in a number of bottle shops around the country, and can be brought on-line now from Ales by mail, although they had pretty much run out of stock at time of writing. But they are picking up more next week.

This leads me on to a kind of apology. We are trying to keep the Outlets page on our website as up to date as possible, but this is proving difficult. There are several reasons for this. I would like to say the main reason is because we are selling to just too many people that we can't update quick enough. We are struggling to keep up, but this is not the main reason. We are now supplying a number of distributors, especially north of London, so we cant always know exactly who is buying from these distributors. As we hear about beer appearing, we try and update, but we need to keep our ear to the ground. We also supply a number of products to each bar we deal directly with, and it is impossible to know when each beer is going to be on. So if you guys see or hear of our beer anywhere, please do help us out by tweeting about it. Maybe we should come up with a hashtag.

All opinions and grammatical errors are those of @WeirdBeardBryan, and not always the grand circle of bearded brewers. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Week 23 Blog

I don't know about you, but this bloody cold spell is starting to get a bit boring. Poor Holy Hoppin' Hell is still fermenting with all the will power it can muster, which is not a lot at 15.5 degrees C. Still dropping around a point a day, and with an expected terminal gravity of 1008, it should be ready by around Tuesday. That will be just shy of 4 weeks in the fermenter, meaning that's around another whole beer we have not been able to brew, making this a very expensive brew to produce. Luckily we currently have a bit of a stock pile of beer to send out from the brewery, do to label delays, so this hasnt hit us as hard as it could. Lessons have been learned from this beer, but it is tasting fantastic and i cant wait to get it out there.

Due to Holy Hoppin' Hell hogging FV4, and last weeks brew of Fade to Black, which is also tasting fan-frakking-tastic, we have not been able to brew this week. We haven't even had anything to bottle. So we just stood at the newly installed bar and got drunk all day, every day this week. Yeah right, as if. This week we passed around 4,500 bottles through our labelling machine. We would have passed close to 5,000 through, but the label company sent some rather random quantities of some of our labels, meaning we run out.

We brought the labelling machine 4 or 5 months ago, and it has sat quietly in the corner patiently waiting, until now. When we brought it, we spent some time with the previous owner learning how to calibrate and set it up. Like I say, this was around 4 or 5 months ago, and a lot has happened in that time. I am proud that we got as many bottles with labels out of it as we did, but i am not going to claim that they all came out perfectly. We tried to fish out all the dodgy ones, which will be used as samples, but apologies if you get a slightly skewiff label.

Above picture stolen from Dave at the Bottle Shop Canterbury

But having labels on bottles means we can now sell the things, getting them out of the brewery and making room for more exciting new brews. And they have been flying out the door, reaching Harwich in Essex, Canterbury, Dorking, Birmingham and Leicestershire, and with orders for further North and even interest from Sweden. We have also been delivering to more great beer establishments around London. So hopefully soon, it shouldn't be too difficult to get your hands on our beers where ever you are. But if you cant, approach your favourite pub, bar or bottle shop and ask. It will hold more weight coming from you guys than us.

All opinions, grammatical errors, and general greatness is that of Weird Beard Bryan, and not always the Weird Beard collective.