Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A Celebration of Collaborations 3

Now here's the sort of trivia that could feature in a 'craft beer pub quiz': Dave of Kew Brewery used to brew for us here at Weird Beard before setting up his own venture. It's been a long time since Dave left us. Looking back now, it's been a full 18 months that we have gone without Dave. In truth we have had his cheery self drop by for a friendly visit but we hadn't brewed together. As our world carried on without Davy, his world has gone from strength to strength with the opening and success of KewWe always talked about doing a collab when Kew was up and running. Again, the holiday period offered some free-time and a free fermenter for doing just that. We set a date for the brewday, got a thread going and put our heads together to come up with a recipe. It didn't take long to come up with a no brainer, delicious idea. Kew have won awards for their Chocolate Porter, and us for our Milk Coffee Stout (Black Perle). What we went with was a Mint Chocolate Stout.

We collaborated on the recipe, selecting the grains based somewhere between our two dark beer malt-bills. We wanted both chocolate and robust flavours but nothing too overpowering either so we added lashings of lactose. This, to give a sweet and silky body to our beer. Hop-wise we went with Perle, which we are so fond of in Black and Double Perle. The reason it is a favourite of ours in dark beer styles is because of its slightly milky and herbal flavour. We wanted to emphasise that but also added some Willamette for its spicy character. 

Now for actual mint choc-chip constituents! We added a load of fresh mint, which we spent a considerable amount of time de-sprigging and chin wagging whilst doing so, and cacao nibs at every possible stage. We also made a mint tea-like wort infusion, which we added into the underback, to really amp up the sweeter mint flavours and help in layering them. During the conditioning phase of the beer, we did more of the same but also adding a cold brew of cacao. In doing so we aimed to get a deep mint-chocolate flavour that lingers.

If the recipe and collaboration wasn't fun in enough, we really got into the naming this beer. When Dave used to brew with us, we had some fantastic soundtracks to our working day. As most of you may know, we at Weird Beard have a history of naming beers with nods to some of our favourite bands/songs also. When it came to this beer, music was our first port of call for inspiration. Bryan discovered Carter USM's "A World Without Dave" on his iTunes and it made 100% sense that this was what we rolled with.

We whole-heartedly suggest you play the tune, grab the beer, drink & enjoy. A World Without Dave is so much easier to bear with this brew in your hand.

Debuting tonight at the harp in London if you fancy.

Monday, 25 January 2016

A Celebration of Collaborations 2

Next collaboration we’re pleased to announce is “A Lemon Tree My Dear Watson”. This, we brewed with Steve of Bexar County Brewing (pronounced “Bear County” with the “x” being silent).

Both Steve and our Bryan have been drinking at festivals for years and we have always found ourselves drinking Bexar County beers at events - even if it was a Squid Ink Gose. Nevertheless, a collab’s been on the cards as we’ve admired the whackiness of Steve’s beers and share the ethos of brewing whatever we want. It was only a matter of time and over the holiday period, we had just that.

Simply enough we got Steve down to West London to brew one of his trade mark ‘out there’ beers with us. In the lead-up to this event, loads of ideas were batted around. The most unusual included guano as an ingredient, but that was just bat sh*t crazy, quite literally. Eventually we settled on the idea of Lemon Meringue Pie; a quintessential American dessert and well, who doesn’t like a bit of Lemon Meringue Pie? The idea was we de-constructed the dessert and made a beer that featured a little bit of all the tasty components that make up the pie.

So, the grain bill has delicious biscuit malt and when we say delicious, we really mean it. We couldn't help but munch on this at the start of the brewday! We also added a little amber malt for some sweeter, Digestives base flavours. When it came to the lemons, we went all out to maximise their flavour and we sure did use a lot of lemons. In the boil alone, we added the zest of 30 fresh lemons, which were then quartered and threw in also. We wanted a balanced beer, so afterwards we loaded the kettle with lactose for more sweetness and to create a creamy body to subdue the tartness of all the lemons.

For the hops, there had to be Sorachi Ace. Firstly, we love that hop and really don’t need much of an excuse to brew with it and secondly, it gives huge lemon refresher flavour. This works with what we were going for, but we also added Citra, for more natural citrus-fruit notes. Then, a hefty amount of dried lemon peel was added as the beer made its way to the fermenter, which adds layers and complexity to the flavour profile of the beer. When fermentation was finished, we dry hopped with more Sorachi Ace, Citra and a little more dried lemon peel. Altogether, our efforts created an easy drinking, 3.7%, Lemon Meringue Pie in a glass. 

This treat of a beer is available in all formats: cask, keg and bottles.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A Celebration of Collaborations 1

2015 was a great year for us at Weird Beard, mostly because of the many developments we underwent as a brewery and as a team that brought loads of positive change. Another important feature of the past year and something fundamental in us bettering our beers and/or techniques is collaborating with others. Not only are collaborations constructive but they are fun, and we certainly had a fair bit of collaborative fun throughout 2015. Particularly in winter, when the year was drawing to a close, we decided that all those promised brewdays with our brewer friends and any other exciting collabs that had been proposed, would be achieved. Now we’re kicking off January with a hell of a lot of exciting new beer and so, let us tell you about them.

First up and you’ve probably seen it about already is “Pankot Palace”. This was a mad collaborative brew with the fine folk from La Débauche. Here's the video blog to prove it. A little about these guys and why we thought to work/brew together: they’re a French microbrewery that we’d tried and thought they excelled in dark beers. We hope you’d agree that we also do some pretty bangin’ dark beers. 

Another reason we liked them was because La Débauche's branding is beautiful. The artwork often feature illustrations by local tattoo or other artists with many labels featuring skulls or a female character. Our labels have Lup’in, and you can probably see where we’re going with this... We’re most definitely big on our branding so we felt excited we could do something quite special with these guys when it came to the label, besides making a great beer.

We had Eglantine, Aurelien and Manu from La Débauche to brew with us. Since they mentioned they would travel to India before coming over, we decided to use ingredients from there and set ourselves the challenge of brewing a masala chai milk stout. This meant we were brewing with spices and with tea, and although we’ve put a lot of fruit in our beers of late, this was new territory. We added a lot of spices, which we first had to hand mix into our own garam masala. We also added a lot of Assam tea, in keeping with using Indian inspired ingredients. Lastly, we chose to round off the spice of masala and bitterness of tea with lactose because everyone knows proper Indian chai is sweet! 

On the nose, this beer smells of winter spice: rich in cinnamon, ginger and clove notes. Flavourwise, the spiciness remains and particularly the ginger lingers throughout the earthy, roasted tea flavours as well as maltiness from the grains. Before you think “woah this is all too much”, the lactose mellows the bold flavours and encourages you to take the next sip. 

And the only cask of this beer in London, is serving at the Harp tonight so see us there!