Friday, April 30, 2010

Brewer of the Week

For this week's Brewer of the Week we head back to the Garden of England, Kent, and to Gadd's, maker of some excellent beers which I thoroughly enjoyed back at Christmas 2008 when my family all got together at my brother's place in Ashford.

Name: Eddie Gadd
Brewery: Gadd's

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I was pulling pints in the Flounder & Firkin waiting for a tunneling contract to start and the head brewer, Steve Lawson, invited me to a days work cleaning casks. Been stuck ever since.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

The willingness to wear a hat, without doubt.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

No. In fact I didn’t have a home: I was a young couch surfer.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

The one I’m brewing, always. It’s such an engaging occupation that each and every brew is special. This remains true even after the 3000th time.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

Dogbolter. I brewed an awful lot of it in 1994 and it was hard work, but great fun.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

The one in my hand. Seriously: choosing which beer to drink at any particular moment is intuitive, so as long as you let that happen it’ll always be your favourite beer because if it’s hitting the spot there’s no room to think of any other.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

Best practice within a particular location is so often encompassed within the authentic brew of the area that it’s difficult to ignore. However, we can control an awful lot more factors than we used to be able to so authenticity, from purely a flavour perspective, is becoming irrelevant. And I certainly have no truck with tradition or sticking to arbitrary rules. If it’s good beer and my customers want it, I couldn’t care less about authenticity.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

John Smiths in Tadcaster. My old mate Iain works there and he’s learnt a great deal since he left Ramsgate, it’s time he taught me some things. Or Wye Valley Brewery because the head brewer is a genius.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

Orval, but I’m glad I’m not that old.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backwards to Forwards

My first homebrew was a kit to which I added some rauchmalt, used muscovado sugar instead of the recommended table sugar and fermented using Wyeast's Scottish Ale yeast. It was good, very good in fact, especially the stronger variety, which I labelled EDM 13, and so I want to try to re-create it as an extract with specialty grains brew.

Having used a pre-hopped syrup in the original beer, the challenge is to work out the right specialty grains and hops to use. When I did tasting notes about EDM 13, I described it as follows:
  • Sight - dark ruby, tight tan head
  • Smell - smoke, treacle, dark chocolate
  • Taste - burnt toffee, smoke, dark chocolate
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I actually think the specialty grains are not wildly difficult to work out, with chocolate a key feature, then chocolate malt is a must, the treacle and burnt toffee in there suggest to me a high Lovibond caramel malt, perhaps going as far as 120?

Hops though are the big question, and one for which I need to make a couple of assumptions. The can of extract in question was Munton's Perfect Pint Dark Mild, so it is fairly safe to say that the hops were most likely an English variety. The two obvious candidates are Fuggles and East Kent Goldings, with the latter being the front runner for its spiciness which wasn't entirely overwhelmed by the rauchmalt.

So, for my usual 2.2 gallon batch, I am thinking about the following recipe as an attempt to recreate EDM 13:
  • 3lbs Light DME
  • 0.5lbs Peat Smoke Malt
  • 0.5lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5lbs Caramel 120
  • 0.5oz EKG @ 60
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 15
  • 0.25oz EKG @ 1
  • 1782 Scottish Ale Yeast
I have decided to replace the German rauchmalt with a peat smoked malt, largely because I prefer the flavour of peat smoke as opposed to classic rauchmalt, although I love rauchbier. Hopefully, I will brew the new EDM 13 next weekend, just after brewing my first American IPA, to be called Hopbomination (although I am toying with the moniker, One For the Hopwhores). I haven't brewed for a while, and am looking forward to the wonderful sound of popping airlocks....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Unscientific Observations

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I was down in South Carolina at the weekend for the wedding of Mrs Velkyal's best friend - which despite the pouring rain was an excellent day.

One thing that I found particularly interesting, not being the kind of person to get on the dance floor, was to observe what people were drinking. The wedding and reception were both held in the Victoria Valley Vineyards, so obviously the booze list was dominated by grape rather than grain, but there were three bottled beers available:
From my thoroughly unscientific observations, I would say the Thomas Creek beer, a very nice hoppy red ale, was the beer of choice for about two-thirds of the beer drinkers, followed by Bud Light and with very few people at all drinking Corona. There also seemed to be an interesting age demographic going on, drinkers who were 40 or under drank Thomas Creek, those over 40 but under 60 largely drank Bud Light, most of the few over 60 people at the wedding were drinking wine.

So extrapolating from my distinct lack of scientific rigour (well, what do you want me to do at a wedding, produce surveys?), I would say that craft ale's future is bright because it is not seen as the drink of choice for the American equivalent of the old man with a flat cap and whippet.

To entirely rip off Orange's advertising slogan, the future's bright, the future's craft.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Brewer of the Week

This week's Brewer of the Week is from Mrs Velkyal's home state of South Carolina, indeed from the city in which we are spending this weekend, attending the wedding of her best friend.

Name: Tom Davis
Brewery: Thomas Creek Brewery, Greenville, SC

How did you get into brewing as a career?

When I discovered beer, I also discovered a lack of higher-quality beers in this region. Having tasted imports and a few other national craft-style beers, I took it upon myself to learn the art of homebrewing. From those beginnings, my career has evolved into commercial brewing over the years, ultimately affording me the opportunity to own and operate my very own microbrewery.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Probably tenacity! You have to be seriously persistent and driven to make it in this business.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

Homebrewing is definitely where I began and I am very proud to have nurtured 5 of my original homebrew recipes over the years and developed them into commercial production. The mainstays that are still around are Appalachian Amber Ale, Dockside Pilsner and Deep Water Dopplebock. A couple of other beers that are out of production at the moment are my Multi-Grain Ale and Hefe Weizen. But hey, they might someday get a reprisal!

If you did homebrew, do you still?

I wish I had time! Several of my employees homebrew and I also run a homebrew shop out of the microbrewery. So, I have lots of exposure and connection to homebrewing to this day, but keeping up with the daily tasks of the brewery tends to occupy most of my time!

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

That’s hard to answer, I love them all! But I would have to say my Deep Water Dopplebock and Pump House Porter tie for that spot. Both those beers are so rich and filled with deep flavor and aroma. It’s hard not to love beers so multifaceted and the Dopple and Porter.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

The only other brewery I worked in was a brewpub. I founded the brewpub aspect of the bar, so the recipes I developed began as my homebrew recipes. Those same beers have evolved over the years with me at Thomas Creek.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

I would have to go with the Class Five IPA & the Appalachian Amber Ale. As much as I love my dark beers, you just can’t have as many of those in one sitting as you can a good ole IPA or Amber. I like to put down a few at a time!

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

Authenticity is extremely important! When I make a beer and put it out into the world with a label on it, it has to be right! Craft brewers are held to strong guidelines set forth by the brewing community. I want to mirror those guidelines as best I can. Every reputable review and opinion of my beer will compare it to those judging guidelines, and trust me when I say I want to be accurate! And on a more theological level, I’m taking cues from centuries of brewers before me; I want to credit those time-honored beer styles and brewers by paying homage to their years of hard work.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

I would probably most like to work with Brian “Spike” Buckowski from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, GA. I consider Spike a friend and have a deep respect for him and the work he does. I also think we have similar brewing styles and could put together an amazing collaborative beer or two.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

I would have to go with Duvel, mainly because it is one of my top favorite beers of all time! It holds true Belgian characteristics and achieves a great level of drinkability all in the same glass.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bordering on Brewing Bedlam

Being literate and of a curious nature (take that any way you wish) can be a curse at times.

The ability to read books such as Beer in America, which covers the history of our beloved drink in the New World from 1587 to 1840, not only broadens one's knowledge of beer and brewing, but it gives people all manner of strange ideas. Or at least, it gives this person here all manner of strange ideas.

Not content with plans to plant a hop garden and a mini-barley field so as to be better able to attempt as authentic a pilsner style lager as possible (I guess at some point I'll have to plant broad leaved trees to keep the beer cellar under the garden warm), I would love to try and make some ale similar to those brewed with all manner of ingredients during the Colonial Era, ingredients like molasses, Indian corn, spruce tips and wild hops.

One of the things that comes up time and again in the book is how brewers working in such straightened circumstances made beers which were an acceptable substitute for those which came over on the boats from England, and later the UK. I am assuming here that by "acceptable substitute" the colonial brewers weren't simply making something wet and alcoholic yet foul tasting (unlike various large, rich, modern, industrial American brewers, admit it, you were thinking it!). This naturally leads me to wonder what the beer being shipped from the mother country would have been like, and wouldn't it be awfully good fun to brew a small batch of each for comparison sake?

Just a quick aside, is it only Mrs Velkyal whose eyes seem to be on a permanent roll when I am concocting various lunatic plans, or do all the Beer Blogger Widows do the same?

So, the upshot of buying and reading this excellent book, which I will review properly at some point in the future, is that now I need to learn about Elizabethan era brewing in England, find out how Indian corn was used in colonial brewing, and see what I can come up with.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going Too Far?

I am beginning to worry that this home brewing lark is becoming a dangerous obsession.

Mrs Velkyal and I are looking at the possibility of buying a house, not actually in Charlottesville because prices are ridiculously inflated, but out in the surrounding area. We are looking for a house as opposed to a flat, not because we need a larger place live, and no we are not planning to populate this part of Virginia with hoards of malyals (malý is Czech for little) for quite some time yet, the reason is simple, we want a garden larger than a window box.

Some of the places in our price range come with an acre or two of land, which people for some reason think is best used by growing grass, but we would plough it all up, and turn the  land into a vegetable garden, perhaps a small orchard, and then there is the bit of land I am reserving for myself. Obviously I want to have a hop garden, which seem to be de rigeur for the serious home brewer, to grow Saaz hops if possible, maybe some Fuggles. But I want to go beyond the hop garden and have a small patch of garden for growing my own barley, preferably the Hana strain from Moravia, which I would malt and use in my brewing.

Clearly, I am not planning on having great fields of barley, just enough for a batch or two in the autumn, when coupled with my home grown Saaz hops, I can see myself making a pilsner style lager. As I say, I am getting worried at the level of obsession I seem to be developing, and we haven't even yet discussed the bar I will build in the basement of any house we buy.....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brewer of the Week

This week's Brewer of the Week is really the epitome of every homebrewer's dream, becoming head brewer at a craft brewery - though I am not sure how many would cross the Atlantic to do so!

Name: Stephen Schmidt
Brewery: Head Brewer, Meantime Brewing Co. LTD

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I as so many other craft brewers in America was a fanatical, obsessive homebrewer (brewing about 2X+ a week). I managed to impress the owners of a brew pub opening it’s doors in my hometown (Syracuse, NY USA.) to bring me on as the assistant brewer.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

To me the most important characteristic is having a passion for brewing. If you have that it will also drive your motivation to learn, your creativity and your attention to detail... all crucial to being a successful brewer.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

I guess my answer to question 1 covers part of this one. There are a few of my recipes that have made it into full scale production (Barley Wine, Porter, American IPA, etc). However those were at the previous breweries I brewed at. However I might slip one into the line-up at Meantime in the future, we’ll have to wait and see.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

If you can consider a 5 hectoliter batch homebrewing ......then YES!

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Currently it is the London Porter, love that beer. However with the coming of warm weather the Helles is starting to gain in it’s preference.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

I have worked in 3 other breweries (Empire Brewing Co., Cambridge House Brew Pub & Redhook (Portsmouth, NH)). For Empire Brewing my favorite brew was the Kölsch. Brewing a clean yet flavorful lighter colored beer really builds your skills as a brewer. Not to mention 16 years ago that was an unheard of style in the US. For Cambridge House my favorite was the American IPA. Being a hop head and also putting a twist on the style I combined the best malts of the UK with the best hops of the US.. the result ..well I liked to call it a “New England IPA”. It even got a runner up in the GBBF 2 years ago for the International section. Hands down though the most fun brew for me was brewing the Treblehook Barley Wine for Redhook. Brewing a double mash, first runnings barley wine, with 10 hop additions on a top notch 120 hl brew house was well...... a brewers dream come true!

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

See question 5.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

To me it depends on what you are trying to do. If you are trying to represent a traditional style then I think authenticity is very important. However if you are brewing anything else to me it is all about creating the flavor, aroma and visual profile you want. That means calling upon all of your tools and bag of brewers tricks to accomplish that goal, regardless of tradition. As far as ingredients, you should always use the highest quality ingredients available... no compromises!

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

That is a tough question.. Currently I have been in talks with my friends at the Smuttynose Brewery in Portsmouth NH USA (where I used to live). We have an idea about doing one connecting New England and the UK, we’ll have to wait and see how that works out. There are also some other of my US brewing friends who have expressed an interest so not sure, but once the new brewery is up and running there could be a few collaborations.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

That is easy... Sierra Nevada Pale Ale!!! Those guys are the best brewers in the world as far as I am concerned.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Cask

Admittedly the pictures in this post were taken about a week ago, and posted on Twitter. It was only this morning that I realised I hadn't written anything about how the beer from my little cask actually tasted as opposed to just looked. The beer in the cask was my Gael 80/- Scottish Export Ale and although it looks really dark in the picture above, when held up to the light it was a bright crimson.

One thing I learnt after the first pint burst forth from the polypin was that to get a decent head I needed to press down on the polypin when pouring. Drinking your own real ale from a cask really makes you appreciate the difference between a beer being nicely conditioned and overly fizzy, and I know without doubt which I prefer.

In terms of the actual taste of the beer, the chocolate and caramel malts I used are very much to the fore, with just the slightest hoppy bitterness in the background - just as it should be. The first couple of pints were a touch thin, but after a few days they body filled out a bit and made the beer rather moreish. I was a bit worried that the beer would lose condition quite quickly from the cask, but it stayed good for about 10 days.

So I think my cask ale was a success, from both a technical and a drink point of view, and I may have to buy a couple more pins, and if Mrs Velkyal and I find a house to buy within our budget, I can see a beer engine becoming an essential!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Appreciate Your Staff

Sometimes, not often admittedly, I am overcome by a deep and troublesome dread. Such existential angst comes not from wondering what God would be like, should he exist; it comes not from the thought of the next President of the USA being someone of the ilk of Sarah Palin (though it comes close); it comes not from being convinced that humanity's arrogance and stupidity could overcome our survival instinct and blast us into the ether. No, the cold sweat of dread that afflicts me is this, that the pub could one day die out, replaced by the spotty beer geek existing purely to write waffly reviews on BeerAdvocate or Ratebeer.

I am sure that the majority of my readers agree with me, but if you are a beer lover, then you also love going to the pub, the pub of course being the natural place to enjoy beer in its proper realm, as in with friends. Pubs then are very important institutions in the lives of the beer lover, indeed in my experience there are few more important places to find than a good pub. Of course there are the meta-questions as to what makes a good pub, you know the usual suspects, well kept beer (cask if possible), comfortable surroundings, knowledgeable staff and not being home to parents are their screaming offspring.

I have said it many times before, and I will say many times again, the staff are the key to a good pub. Having a barman, (or barmaid, yes thanks Reg) who knows his beers and understands his customers is priceless. Of the various pubs I go to on a semi-regular basis, the Flying Saucer in Columbia, SC really stands out for the consistent quality of service, and yes I am aware that I have made these statements previously on here. This weekend Mrs Velkyal and I went to South Carolina to introduce my parents, who leave in a few hours, the delights of Charleston and Columbia. Also the fact that Mrs Velkyal and my mother were going to a party for a friend of ours who is getting married the weekend after next. While the ladies were away swigging wine by Lake Murray, I headed off to the Flying Saucer with my dad and father-in-law.

I love going to the Flying Saucer in Columbia, everything about it is simply perfect and if we lived in Columbia it would be my new PK, and not just because they have Budvar on tap. Without fail the staff there have been superb in my experience, and not in that grovelling, only here for the tip way that infuriates me at times - they genuinely seem to care about their work and understand their beer. While we were there we had a little snack, a bratwurst in a bun with chips, nothing spectacular there at all you would think, but look at the menu and you'll see that it comes with various odds and sods chucked on it. Having spent a great deal of time living in Germany, all my dad wanted was the bratwurst, the bun and a side of chips (sorry guys I can't get my head round "fries"), and that is exactly what he got, and it was a damned good bratwurst, a proper bratwurst, like those from Thuringia, and if that means nothing to you, then you need to find out!

The upshot of all this waffling is that I would like to declare today the first Fuggled Barstaff Appreciation Day, a biannual day to celebrate those people who make going to the pub such a pleasure. So Shana from the Flying Saucer in Columbia, this day is for you! To the gents and ladies reading this, which of your barstaff deserve a shout out in the comment section today? Do tell!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Brewer of the Week

This week's Brewer of the Week is based in Fredericksburg, here in Virginia.

Name: Lyle C. Brown (on the left of the picture)
Brewery: Battlefield Brewing Co. at The Pub

How did you get into brewing as a career?

Began as a homebrewer (26 years!) and BJCP Judge (Master rank). Won a silver medal in the GABF Pro-Am in 2008.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Passion for the beer. One a brewer’s wages, that is the only thing that will keep you going on one of those “everything went wrong in the brewery days” where you end up doing 14+ hours to brew one batch.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew?

If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production? Yes. All but one of our recipes at Battlefield have been brewed as homebrew at least once before being brewed at the brewpub.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

Absolutely. And frequently.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Coral Sea Kolsch

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

I have only brewed professionally as a guest brewer, and only at 2 breweries. I enjoy the higher degree of automation and sophistication of their systems.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

Chancellor American Pale Ale

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

It depends on what your are trying to brew. If you want to brew a true to style traditional Kolsch style ale, you need to be as authentic as you can, but if you are brewing an APA or even an ESB there is more room for variation. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with brewing something generally in a particular style but intentionally going out of traditional parameters, such as adding NW hops to an ESB (which is being done by some brewers in England now).

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

Schlenkerla because I love rauchbier!

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

Tripel Karmeleit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not Again!!

I am a glutton, for punishment it seems, given the near apoplectic rage that comes over me when reading beer and homebrewing magazines that go on spouting bollocks when they really should know better.

Again, the target of my ire is the "Buyer's Guide for Beer Lovers" in the latest edition of All About Beer magazine. Before I rage though, let me say that the article about cask ale in the US was excellent and please, please, please people on this side of the Atlantic, badger your local pubs and various drinking holes to start offering cask.

Now then, to that which caused my irk. Who actually decides the category that a beer falls into? Whoever it is needs to re-read the style guidelines printed with the tasting notes, which claim that strong ales are "higher alcohol versions of pale ale" which are usually "deep amber". Then, when you go and look at the beers falling under that category, the top one listed is the Imperial Porter from Rogue Ales, which our apparent experts on beer describe thus: "brown black colour with a rocky reddish tan head".

Anyone else seeing the problem here? The label says it is an Imperial Porter, a name lumped together with the Baltic Porter category (perhaps the plebs don't know where the Baltic Sea is, and after all if you want to make a stronger version of something why not just label it "imperial"?), so why oh why, for crying out loud is this beer not in the Baltic/Imperial Porter category?

The label says it is a porter, the colour says it is a porter, so put it in one of the porter categories you mongs!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wrassling with Oysters

Less than a month ago I posted this little piece encouraging people here in the US to contact their elected officials to ensure health insurance would be available to as many people as possible, no wait, sorry wrong blog, that post was to encourage people to contact their local bottle shops to get hold of the newly available Porterhouse beers. Well, well, well, guess what I found during a routine trip to Beer Run here in Charlottesville? Yes indeed, they are stocking Wrasslers XXXX and Oyster Stout, I nearly leapt for joy, but instead I smiled broadly and bought some beer, you really don't need to be told which ones I assume, but just in case, here are the labels.

Ah the memories come flooding back, but as I said, I posted about that before. From what I understand, and I am sure that I will be swiftly corrected if I am wrong, these versions of Wrasslers and Oyster Stout are somewhat different from the ones you would get in the Porterhouse bars in Dublin, for a start they are bottle conditioned. Secondly, there is not a whiff of nitrogenation to be had, no stupid widgets or magic balls floating around to give me a great head (note, "a great head" you mucky people) and rob me blind of most of the flavour. "Ah yes", I hear you cry, "but how did it taste?". Well, if you're sitting comfortably, let's begin.

Once upon a time there was a bloke called Michael Collins, and he liked a tipple, and so the good people at the Porterhouse took his favourite tipple from his local brewery in Cork, though long closed down as a result of the predatory nature of the free market, and used it as inspiration for a beer they called Wrasslers XXXX. Wrasslers is a beautifully dark, dark, ruby red beer with a tan head that bob, bob, bobbed along on top of the beer.

"My, my, what a beautiful big chocolate smell you have Wrasslers"
"all the better to tempt you to taste me with"
"and is that a tang of sour milk in the background?"
"why, yes it is, just like the old days"

Sorry there, got carried away. So yes, chocolate is a big theme in Wrasslers, both on the nose and in the mouth - though I am not sure of the purpose of putting beer on one's nose, I will strive to discover it though. Despite the big, smooth chocolate flavours, there is a good dose of bitterness to counteract that, I am guessing the Galena hops are responsible there. Simply put, this is so much better than the beer I had on a nitro tap, and I am very glad I have a good stock in the cellar.

The last time, and also the first time, I tried Oyster Stout, I was a touch disappointed, but that was most likely because I had heard many a soul rant and rave about how this was the best beer ever produced in the history of humanity, and nothing could ever have lived up to the expectations I had allowed to develop in advance of my trip to Dublin in 2008, so I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the Oyster Stout. Again the actual beer was a deep ruby red, although the head was rockier than the Wrasslers. The usual stout aromas abounded, chocolate and coffee front and centre, but there was something else, lurking in the background, something I couldn't place. The only thing I could think of was that it had a touch of the sea about it, somewhat akin to the Islay whiskies, perhaps that was pure suggestion, but there we go. As far as drinking goes, this is lighter than the Wrasslers, but full of flavour and with a long bitter finish, simply put it is great drinking and beats the stuff on nitro in Dublin.

So there you have it, my favourite stout, and something I can see becoming very popular, is available just round the corner from me, and I am a happy man with plans to stock up further. Happy days indeed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Working in the Industry?

I am assuming here that the majority of Fuggled readers do not work in the brewing or pub industry, although I know a substantial minority do, and the other substantial minority have ambitions to. On Saturday, having been to the opening day of Charlottesville's Farmers Market and out to Lake Monticello to observe some university rowing (Mrs Velkyal is considering taking up the sport), we decided to drag my parents out to Starr Hill before it got too busy in the tasting room, and trust me Saturday afternoons can be nuts in there, and it was only midday when we arrived, spot on for opening time.

I hadn't seen a few of the guys in there since my operation back in January so it was good to catch up with them, and if I may have a moment of narcissism, nice to see their reaction when I walked into the tasting room. So we all tasted the beers, sorry to say though, the new summer seasonal brew, Lucy, just isn't my thing by even the most tripped out of imaginations, but Northern Lights IPA and Dark Starr Stout were just as good as ever, and the Love was good. Eventually though my parents and Mrs Velkyal went off on the tour, while I stayed at the bar, not wanting a busman's holiday by taking a tour I have given many times.

The bar wasn't that busy, but then a couple of people came in wanting kegs and so one of the guys had to run off to get them from the keg room, and that's when a few groups of people turned up, effectively swamping the guy left behind the bar, so I offered to help out until the bar crew was back to full strength. It was only about 15 minutes but it dawned on me that as much as I enjoy drinking beer and making beer, I really enjoy serving beer. I don't mean this just in some esoteric, standing at the bar talking with people, bucolic bar life idyll, which I am sure, like most idylls,  is a pipe dream, but I actually enjoy pouring beer, changing kegs, keeping the bar clean, presenting a good image to the customer, I like to make sure that each sample I pour has a decent little head on it. Simply put, I care about the beer I put down in front of visitors to the tasting room (where I hope to be working more regularly again, soon).

I often think about one day having a pub of my own, perhaps a brewpub, perhaps not, but definitely a pub, and I guess that I have a good skill set for being a landlord/owner of a pub, so hopefully one day I will be.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Brewer of the Week

For this week's Brewer of the Week we head to the East Midlands, and regional brewery Everard's.

Name: Mark Tetlow
Brewery: Everard's

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I started out to be a dentist but it wasn't for me, so I moved to food science. During my hols I worked in a brewery and decided to do a brewing degree, so went to Heriot Watt and did a BSc in Brewing and Micro biology. I have always been more interested in the science side of things and of course I like beer, so brewing seemed a natural choice

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Passion, you have to love what you do. Although you are a scientist who applies their knowledge you also have to be an artist to create something new and unique.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

No, I never homebrewed. I did have a go at making wine and I also like cooking, so food and drink production in one form or another seems to inspire me

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Sunchaser. Its unusual being brewed with lager malt and hops but fermented with ale yeast. You get a very light beer with lots of fruity characters from the ale yeast. Refreshing and flavoursome

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

Marstons Pedigree. I loved the opportunity to work with traditional union sets to produce a true burton ale from the heartlands of the British brewing industry

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

Sunchaser when I want a fresh clean flavoursome beer. Original when I want a beer to savour by a warm fire reading a good book

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

Authenticity isn't important, its about being innovative and creating something that people want to drink. After all I would suspect that a lot of the older beers when first brewed were cloudy and sour hence the use of herbs and spices to mask the off flavours. The brewing industry has a lot of history but we shouldn't keep looking back we need to look forward. If we spend too much time trying to make it what it used to be like we lose todays drinker, who as a rule doesn't care about the past, they want something that represents now.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

I would love to work with some of the American micro's as they seem to be prepared to experiment and push the boundaries. I love what they are doing with extreme beers, it suddenly makes beer exciting, not a drink that old men in flat caps drink. They are not hamstrung by history !

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

It's not been invented yet but beer that appeals to women and they can claim its virtues for themselves. As brewers we are not targeting half the population, we are still too chauvinistic. We're missing a trick.

Get Your Coat Love

I have said it plenty of times on here as well as my various socials, I am an abysmal beer tourist. You see, I have this tendency to find a ...