A resurrected UK hop

A couple of weeks ago I received a price list from Charles Faram, the main UK hop merchants to us smaller breweries. I was mainly interested in a section of the list which was titled ‘Charles Faram Hop Development Programme’. This section details the experimental UK hops which the UK growers, in partnership with Charles Faram, are researching and have for sale to brewers who are willing to test them. All they ask for in return for all this work is that we provide feedback on the finished product, so that they can decide whether to increase planting if there is enough demand for a certain hop’s qualities.

The hop which took my eye was entitled CF105 – tantalisingly known as ‘Keyworth E’. The characteristics were noted as lemon and grapefruit, right up my street. So this week I managed to grab a mere 5kg – the last 5kg of the harvest – with a view to doing a single hopped pale-ish session beer. Not too much malt characteristic, a sprinkle of caramalt and munich. Eager to learn more about the hop, I asked Paul Corbett, the MD of Charles Faram, to email me some more details. This is the information I received:

“CF105 (Keyworths Early) was developed in 1930 as part of a breeding programme (see attached) using hops derived from a Neo-Mexicanus parent. It was originally bred to try and develop Verticillium Wilt resistant varieties for the UK market.

Like many varieties developed from this programme it was very successful with disease resistance but did have a drawback; the strong “Manitoban”, “Tom Cat” aroma. Brewers of the day were very reluctant to use it because of these strong flavours. I have some booklets from the Association Of Growers Of the New Varieties Of Hops (AGNVH) dating back to 1950 where acreage of CF105 (Keyworths Early) had increased to 43 acres and CF107 (Keyworths Midseason) to 133 acres; quite significant in todays terms.

These varieties were being recommended for growing on Wilt infected land where other more traditional varieties had failed. In the 1950’s (and still today) this was a huge benefit to the growers but the brewers were looking to produce industrial quantities of Mild and Bitter with traditional Fuggle/Golding flavours and so over the next few years the acreage decreased and finally disappeared due to negative feedback about the flavours produced.

Our testing today is to find out if it still contains those big US aromas or whether all the years in the British climate and soil have anglicised the variety into a more traditional British flavour.”

This is all very interesting, and it definitely indicates that the British hop growers are actively seeking out new (or, in this case, old) flavours in order to try and compete with imported hops, and in this case I can only encourage them – by brewing beer with the hops that they have worked hard to grow for us.

I’ve actually been brewing the beer as I’ve been typing all of this out, and I have to say that the aroma from the fermenter is very encouraging. There’s a lot of citrus and a lot of the ‘cattiness’ which is desirable to many nowadays, but there’s also an underlying ‘Britishness’, a nice spicy orange zest aroma. I won’t be able to fully tell what the flavours in the taste will be like for a few days but that, for me, is one of the main reasons that I like using these hops – the result will be unknown until the yeast has done its job.

New Beers, collaborations and post-IMBC comedown

In my last post I was excited about the upcoming prospect of being at IMBC, and it definitely lived up to the expectations I had. I’d been to Victoria Baths many times before, but never have I seen it so full of people and activity. It was fantastic to witness. Then there was the beer list – enough to satisfy all cravings from light to dark, sweet to sour, UK to foreign, session to strong and every other combination I can’t think of – it was brilliantly put together and, on the whole, served very well (barring some slightly ((SLIGHTLY)) warm cask). The best thing about it for me was the variety of people there. Casual drinkers, hipsters, keg fans, cask stalwarts, students, oldies, brewers, bar owners, pub landlords – you name it – all getting along and having a jolly good time of it whatever dispense method they were drinking from, and this, personally, is the best thing about the festival. It wasn’t a war between cask-vs-keg or any of that nonsense but it was a celebration of ‘good’ beer (‘good’ being a subjective and woolly term) and all that goes with it. Beer should be, and is, wholly and utterly inclusive to everyone, and events like IMBC and Leeds International Beer Festival showed this in bucketloads. Jonny, Will, Dunk, Claudia et al, well done!

Before I start getting emotional, I’ll tell you about some new beer I’ve got coming out. First up is the India Pale Ale, which has had its abv fluffed up to 7.0%. It’s still a Pale and UK Munich malt base, and the hops have largely stayed the same – Columbus, Cascade, WGV, Magnum, Galaxy – but the slightly higher strength means there’s a lot more to back up all those fantastic hops. It’ll be available in cask, keg and bottle in the usual places.

Next up is the Pumpkin Ale, which is now a bit of a tradition in my brewing calendar, having been a homebrew recipe from a few years ago. 40kg of pumpkin was chopped up and put into a mash of Pale, Amber, Crystal and Munich to add more amber to an already amber malt base. Bitterness was kept low with just a smatter of Magnum and Stella to offset the spiciness of the cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper that was added to steep at the end of the boil. This beer pretty much sold out before I made it.

Finally, with Colin down from Black Isle for a couple of weeks, we thought it only fair that we make SK2. Pale malt, wheat malt and a bag of VERY finely milled Cara-Pils (Cara-dust more like) went into the mash, with lots and lots of Summit, Kohatu, Chinook, Cascade and Bramling Cross added to the boil means this Double IPA should top out at around 8.0-8.3%. Some of it may even go into a couple of barrels for ageing, but the ‘straight’ version will be around very soon as it’ll be best drunk fresh.

Thats it for now. Keep drinking beer.

Leeds Beer Festival, IMBC 2012, and the months ahead…

So it’s all been go here, with some upgrades to the brewhouse we’ll be brewing a lot more beer and some higher abv stuff destined for bottles. Sales have been shooting up and general demand is growing which is all good – so thanks to everyone who has been drinking the beers and getting the word out. Us small micros wouldn’t survive without you.

Some updates on the beer front:

Pumpkin Ale will be making its return for October, so keep an eye out for it, as soon as the pumpkins are harvested it’ll get brewed! Not much change to be made this year, maybe a few more spices in the beer but I was pretty happy with the last batch.

Imperial Breakfast Stout will be getting brewed this month and will be aged for Christmas/New Year. More details will be released for this nearer the time as I’m keeping quiet on the full recipe for the time being!

Imperial Cranberry Stout will also be brewed due to the popularity of it last year. This time loads more cranberries are going in it.

Beer will be going over to the inaugural Leeds International Beer Festival which starts this week and promises to be very good. I will be pouring my beers on Friday night and Saturday afternoon sessions so I hope to see you there.

Plans afoot for IMBC 2012 – There’ll be some core range stuff modified for it and an extra special collaboration between myself, North Tea Power and IMBC organisers which is a bit of a secret. This festival looks to be exceptionally good, and I of course will be in attendance and may be behind the bar at some point…

Beers are being provided for Didsbury Beer Festival from 1st – 3rd November, as yet undecided what they’ll go for but should be good as always.

Collaborations this month with Bitches Brewing Co., Marble, Rob from Hand Drawn Monkey Beer Shop, Huddersfield, Tom at The Pied Bull, Chester and, of course, Colin from Black Isle Brewery to create what will be SK2.

I think that’s about it – a busy September ahead, excellent. Best get to it!

Jay

IPA Day 2012

IPA Day is nearly upon us again. An international celebration of all that relates to one of the most intriguing beer styles ever to exist, I am excited to say that we have an exciting beer coming out for it.

Brian Dickson of Bitches Brewing Co in Huddersfield came down to the brewery a few weeks ago to brew a beer which I think both of us had had in mind for a while. It’s a strange idea for a beer, and nothing that I’ve really ever heard of being on dispense before, but it’s an idea which we both thought worthy enough to explore and bring into existence.

What we have created is Chameleon IPA. No, it won’t change its colour to blend in with its surroundings, but it will change its character depending on what you ask for. It’s a blend of pale and dark crystal malt, with early charges of both Columbus and Chinook up until the 30 minute mark. Then for aroma hops…nothing. Absolutely nothing.

As is well known, late hopping is where our beer gets its aroma characteristics and lots of its flavour, so to do a beer which had no hop additions for the last 30 minutes was very counter intuitive!

So why did we do this?

Well, I first had an idea on the day that myself, Port Street Beer House, Summer Wine, Red Willow, Magic Rock and Dark Star brewed the Anniversary Saison for Port Street’s 1st birthday. On the train back after having ‘one’ beer at The Grove in Huddersfield, Will from Port Street had bought a can of well known Belgian lager and, surprisingly, didn’t really like the taste. Toby from Red Willow had a bag of Motueka, the highly aromatic New Zealand hop, with him and we had the genius idea of dry-hopping the lager there and then. It improved it vastly. It was then that I suggested that we need a brewery to brew a tasty but unaromatic beer, and then serve it through a Randall device – basically a cafetiere but with hops in instead of coffee – filled with fresh whole hop flowers to get the very freshest aroma possible. I decided that it has to be an IPA, and a strong one.

Fast forward six months and Brian sent me a text asking if I wanted to brew a beer for IPA day to be dispensed through a Randall. Did I? Yes! And so the idea was born between us. This will be a 7.3% golden IPA, with around 90 IBUs and it will be dispensed on keg in The Grove and Port Street on keg via Randall with different hops, and it will also be on cask in both venues. The Grove has two casks, each dry hopped with one of the bittering hops, one Columbus and one Chinook. Port Street has but one cask of it, dry hopped to hell with a blend of Columbus and Chinook.

So there it is – mine and Brian’s dastardly concoction. If you happen to be able to get down to either The Grove or to Port Street on IPA Day (August 2nd this year) then make sure you try it. It’ll be interesting if not anything. I’ll possibly be at both venues at some point that day, so come and track me down. Cheers!

Summer is here!

Finally! Summer is upon us!

Andy & Harriet’s Apricot Amber is now out and about around Manchester and Stockport (and also one gone to All Gates brewery for their beer festival), so keep an eye out and let me know what you think. This was brewed in April for my friends Andy and Harriet’s wedding, with help from them on the actual day. It’s a 4.6% amber beer into which I shoved a load of apricots!

The beer crew from the ace Font Bar also came down and brewed a special version of Pale Ale with me a few weeks ago, this has now gone in cask and is especially for the Eurocultured festival. It’s all Euro hops and dry hopped with loads of Saaz and Celeia, check it out if it’s on.

Beers going to Stockport Beer and Cider Festival next week are: Stout, AAA, the Apricot Amber, and the only ever cask of SK1 – the barleywine that I made with Col from Black Isle in August last year. It has been sat quietly on its own in a corner of the brewery since then, gathering dust and cobwebs and doing its own thing. Can’t wait to try it!

Bottle sales of Pale Ale have gone down an absolute storm, so much so that I reckon I’ll have to bottled most of the most recent brew just to keep up with demand. Well, with the recent weather, nothing can really beat a crisp, pale, citrussy beer in the garden, can it?

But – don’t forget to support your local pub this summer!

See you all soon

Feb – March

Hello all,

Quick update of what’s been going on in the last couple of months (must remember to update this more often!).

Festivals ahoy this year – Already done Bradford, next week are MOSI, Hawkshead and Eccles RFC, with Stockport of course in June. I’m a main sponsor for the Saturday session so I’ll be around for most of the weekend, come and say hello.

Bottles are starting to trickle out, going to the usual places aswell as a bit further afield, already had some orders for large quantities so will have to step up production and try to balance out cask and bottle sales.

Plans are afoot for some exciting collabs and one off specials, the keywords for a few are ‘barrel aged’, ‘Chimay yeast’ and ‘foraged’ just as a bit of a teaser…

The newest version of Pale Ale is tasting absolutely brilliant from the fermenting vessel, so thanks to all on Twitter (@not_that_jamie, @FoodfanStockpt, @broadfordbrewer & @hopsinjoor) for suggesting the hops, which turned out to be Chinook, Columbus, Stella and Cluster (Cluster was my addition). It should be out in cask, keg and bottle in a couple of weeks.

I’m in a dilemma about the weather warming up as it means it’ll soon be horrifically hot in the brewery and I’ll have to fire up the refrigerator more to keep fermentation under control. I’ve not seen any flies yet but I’m hoping that the fermenting room will keep most of them away, feels like a losing battle though.

Cash flow remains a pain in the arse but I’ve done all my big spending for a month or so, so I should have a bit of breathing space. There are some people who are just crap at paying up but I’ll mention no names, I’m sure I get thought of just as badly when people see me getting the cheque book out.

Some more potentially exciting news coming next month but you’ll have to wait until I actually know it…

January/February

Busy month this month, been brewing lots and getting to play with new season US hops, which is always nice.

Beer still going in at the usual places, we’ve got some beer going to the Bradford Beer Festival next week, the Bitter and the Stockporter. Make sure you try them if you’re there.

We have a Meet The Brewer night at The Waterhouse on the 29th this month with lots of beer on, so come and have a pint and a chat if you can.

And finally, I’ll be supplying and semi-hosting a Beer and Sausage pairing night at the Soup Kitchen in conjunction with Frost’s of Chorlton, I think it’ll be on the 22nd, so that’ll be a lot of fun aswell.

Hopefully see you at some or all of the events!

 

New Year

I hope everyone has had a good festive season, but now we’re back in the real world and the days are getting lighter – lots and lots to do this year to grow the business.

The last brew of the year turned out to be a 7% porter which Ed has named ‘Grimley’s Stockporter’ in a stroke of genius. It’ll be going out next week. Don’t know where yet, though expect it in the usual suspects.

Looking forward to NWAF next week. Hopefully see some of you there.

Last brew

The second batch of Antipodean Amber is now in cask, the Aramis IPA is tasting great, down to 1.013 so I’ll give it a couple of days to stabilise before chilling, probably in cask on Saturday…working on Christmas Eve, who’d've thought it, but when running your own business all normal hours go right out of the window pretty much immediately. Never did mind working Saturdays anyway. Barring any disasters, I refuse to work on Christmas Day and intend to spend the day cooking and drinking.

I have given over the last brew of the year to Ed Grimley’s mind (@EdGrimley) to use up the last of the pale malt before the next delivery, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what it’ll be! You can count on it being good though.

Christmastime

Today marks the first day of proper snow and the brewery is faring well, nothing broken, roof still intact (apart from the few perennial leaks that seem to be immovable). Only time will tell if the frost bursts any pipes – next week I’m going to lag every single piece of water carrying pipe in preparation.

As it’s nearly Christmas it got me thinking about brewing the Imperial Stout again. It was great fun to brew and I think I’d like it to be in 330ml bottles in future. Maybe some 500ml for the more masochistic of you. I might also up the abv to 9%. It’ll probably be the New Year before I get the next malt delivery, so until then I’ll be doing the final brew of the year, still not sure what it’ll be though!

Any thoughts?