Brewdyssey: A visit to the Armoury

A hero can be a hero without equipment but tis much easier to vanquish a foe when you are dressed in more than the armour of self-assurance and armed with a better weapon than the sword of belief. With this in mind our pair of aspiring brew masters visit their armoury and equip themselves with a new weapon in the war on drinking crap commercial beer…

Evening fellow beer fans, Bifur here, time again to report on our brewing exploits. Our most recent brew was an adventure in creating a session (read: lower alcohol content…) pale ale for my Birthday BBQ. A celebration ale to enable us to continue drinking for longer before we fell over drunk and passed out. Both Dwalin and I were agreed that this brew should match the anticipated mood of the festivities, that is to say a summer day with a big group of friends (all of the Manly Mens would be present, an increasingly rare occurrence) and a BBQ stacked with food. We wanted it to be hoppy but not overly bitter, light in colour but full of taste, lower in alcohol but with enough of a kick to make things interesting. After an amount of conversation via text we settled on this recipe:

Maris Otter Extra Pale – 3kg

Hops

60min – 10g of Amarillo

30min – 5g of Cascade, 5g of Mosaic and 5g Sorachi Ace

15min –  5g of Cascade, 5g of Mosaic and 5g Sorachi Ace

5min – 5g of Cascade, 15g of Mosaic and 5g Sorachi Ace

Dryhopped with – 10g of Cascade, 20g of Chinook, 5g Sorachi Ace and 10g Amarillo

The day of creation came and everything was running smoothly. We began the Sparging using our normal technique of slowly pouring jugs full of hot water into our mixture, as slowly as possible to avoid disturbing our grain bed. As usual at this point or conversation turned to improving this section of the brew, could we make/buy/steal something to improve this action? Pouring the jugs was ok but did tend to be slow, laborious and always ended up disturbing the grain bed. Various ideas were raised, including Frankenstein inspired devices created from the inner workings of dishwashers, but the one we came back to, as ever, was a watering can with a rose (Pic of said). This is fine but it involves us buying a watering can and rose and then me storing it for the sole purpose of brewing (I have no garden, living in a mine as I do…) and Ms Bifur has commented in the past about he amount of space our alchemical devices are starting to occupy. Just as we were pondering the issue the brewing gods took the opportunity to slap me in the face with the wet fish of inspiration! I glanced over Dwalins shoulder and beheld… A bottle of Coke. Thant’s not exciting I grant you, but a few minutes later after attacking the (now) empty bottle with a heated fork and jamming a funnel in the top we had a hugely effective way of delivering a light rain of heated sparge water to our mash.

A word of caution though for those who choose to emulate our endeavour (and please do, it works great). Wear some kind of protection on the hand holding the device. Ours had an imperfect seal (to say the least) and hot water over ones hand is baaaad, for evidence of this see the video below and witness Dwalins manly screams of agony… Also, video. How cool is that?

After our moment of genius the brew proceeded at a vigorous pace, still affording us time to play a couple of games of (card game?). All was going well until just after we’d finished cooling. “When do we put in the Protofloc?” I asked Dwalin with some trepidation. “About 15 minutes before the end of the boil” he replied. “Bugger” we both intoned, this was not destined to be the crystal clear ale we were hoping for. At the suggestion of a gentleman brewer from the far island of America (who we randomly met during a tour for a brewery… more on that later) we decided to try6 racking the brew. This isn’t something we’d tried before, mostly because we’re lazy. So a week or so into the fermentation I racked the brew and awaited the results.

When we produced our fabled #1 (link) IPA all of our comrades enjoyed it muchly but some of them did comment on its cloudiness, hence our slight obsession with attaining clarity. However Dwalin pointed out that many of our favourite beers were cloudy and perhaps we shouldn’t be quite so arsed about clearing our beer; after all, as long as it didn’t actually have bits of gunk floating in it the cloudiness shouldn’t affect the taste… Next came our usual conversations around the Naming Of The Brew and as a throw away comment I suggested a bit of positive priming by calling the brew something like “Cloudy Dreamland”, Dwalins eyes glazed over as he painted the vision of the label inside his head and my jokey suggestion became the brand. Now the lack of clarity was no longer a handicap to the brew but a feature! People were sure to love it! Right? Maybe…

Fermentation finished and bottling done we nervously awaited the day of the aniversarial celebrations, as we had failed to get together to actually taste the brew. With luck our fifty something bottles of ale were going to be an explosion of summery taste and not a sludgy mire of vomit inducing nonsense. The usual doubts in place I chilled the brew and awaited my guests.

How was it? Amazing. We achieved exactly what we were aiming for, relatively low in malt and body and gloriously refreshing with a hit of citrus style hop flavour. This truly was a summer brew and went perfectly with the BBQ. Enjoyed (enthusiastically) by all who drank it, including one of the Manly Mens who normally eschews all things ale in favour of lagers, and no negative comments about its cloudiness (possibly due to the beautiful labels, created as ever by Ms Dwalin, extolling the virtues of the opaque nature of the beer). Another all round success for us I feel, in no small part due to our newly created piece of kit, maybe.

Until next time

Bifur

Freud judges those who do not heed the inspiration of the gods.

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