Monday, February 28, 2011

What's Cooking?

This weekend was relatively booze free. Sure I polished off my last growler of the Morana Dark Lager on Friday night, whilst watching Hamish MacBeth, and having to explain shinty to Mrs V, and yesterday I met up with a friend for a few pints of Cain's Finest Bitter (easy drinking and quite nice actually) and a couple of Buffalo Sweat, again a nice beer. Saturday was drier than the Sahara in summer, though I took the time to organise my beer cellar.


Perhaps I am a completely sad wally here, but on the spur of the moment on Saturday morning I grabbed a pen, some paper and got to cataloguing the cellar. It turned out that I had 117 bottles of commercial beer, now 116 as I used a bottle of Dark Starr Stout in my venison goulash last night. Those 116 bottles represented 68 different beer brands, for what of a better term, from 26 beer styles. Unsuprisingly, at least for those who know me well, was that the dominant family of styles was stouts and porters.


Unfortunately quite a few of the bottles have been sitting around for quite some time, in the case of some seasonals, about 18 months. Obviously there are plenty of beers for which that length of time sitting around is not a problem, but I need to use up a load of other odds and sods that might be beyond their peak, so the inevitable cooking projects will be rearing their heads in weeks to come. One such project is another batch of roasted onion and garlic jam (bizarrely one of the most common search terms that leads to this site, according to my Google Analytics). The first time round I used Chodovar Skální ležák in the recipe, but this time I am considering either Starr Hill Amber Ale or Saranac's Season's Best Nut Brown Lager.


One of my favourite culinary projects when I lived in Prague was my doppelbock chilli chutney, based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. For this I am thinking about switching out doppelbock for Young's Double Chocolate Stout or Zywiec Porter. Something to balance out the heat of the chillis with some big flavours of its own, I wonder then if a super hoppy beer would do the trick as well, perhaps Sierra Nevada Torpedo?


Cakes are always a good way to use up beer, as is marinading great chunks of meat in it - I still want to try making a beery marinade for jerky. If I ate more ice cream that might be an interesting project, but I need to be in a very specific mood for ice cream. Any ideas or suggestions then people?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brewer of the Week

I have a confession to make, I keep a list of breweries and brewers that I would love to have take part in my Brewer of the Week series. So far I have ticked off that list the likes of Fuller's, Nøgne Ø and Lovibond's. Well today I get to take another name from that select list.


Name: Menno Olivier, filled out by John Brus
Brewery: Brouwerij de Molen

How did you get into brewing as a career?

It all started as a hobby in the kitchen. After a while of homebrewing I got the change to do some professional brewing at a few Belgian and Dutch breweries. This made me decide to quit my job and start brewing for a living. But brewing for some-one is not the same as having your own brewery and all freedom in developing your own recipes. That's when I started my own brewery. First a picobrewery called De Salamander next to a brewing job at De Pelgrim but soon I took the step and Brouwerij de Molen was born.


What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Depends on what kind of brewer you want to be. In my case: being bigheaded. I know what I like and I know how to make it. I don't really care what others make of that but to create something special you'll have to set your goals and go for it.

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

I've homebrewed for 12 years. The only recipe I still use is a English Strong Ale called Molenbier.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

No, although I still have all the equipment in my basement. I simply can't find the time.


What is your favourite beer that you brew?

The next one. At least the next one that I brew. Because that's always the first batch of a experiment I'm working on. Most production brews are brewed by other brewers of our brewery.

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

I've brewed in other breweries but some of them are gone and most of the beers aren't the same anymore. I do however like to enjoy beers of Texelse Bierbrouwerij. The still make quality and flavourful beers.

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

A very tough question. There are so many and I'm a big fan of Imperial Stouts so you would expect Hel & Verdoemenis or one of the others. However I think I go for Op & Top. This is a low ABV English Bitter but so nicely hopped. I can drink gallons of the stuff (as a matter of speaking).

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

To us this is what we live for. We're always looking for new methods, styles and inspiration from other sources to create a new authentic De Molen beer. Especially compared to other brewers in the Netherlands we are a stranger in their midst. Not only in our beers but in our approach, labels, beer names, everything.


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

Another tough question. I've done this before with great brewers like Hage from Närke, Andy from Gänstaller-Bräu, Fred from Hoppin' Frog and many more. So every collaborative dream has been followed I'd almost say. But if I would have to name a brewery I would say Three Floyds from Indiana, USA. The reason for that is simple: they make a few amazing beers.

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

Mesopotamian Ale. Because that's when it all started.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

International Homebrew Project - Reminder

So, it has been a couple of weeks since I posted the recipe for the International Homebrew Project recreation of a 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout. Hopefully everyone who has told me that they are planning to brew the beer on the given date have already got their ingredients. I got most of mine from Northern Brewer, who very helpfully have both amber and brown malt available. Unfortunately they didn't have Caramel 75, so like James over at A Homebrew Log, I switched that for Caramel 80.

As I said in the recipe post, the brew day is to be the first weekend in March, so for ease of viewing, here is the proposed schedule:
  • March 5/6 - Brew the beer
  • March 19/20 - Bottle the beer
  • April 9/10 - Sample the beer
  • Monday April 11th - Blog about the beer
That's the plan people!

Monday, February 21, 2011

6 Beers, 18 Phrases - Blue and Gray Brewing Company

On Saturday, my good friend Mark Stewart and I went to Fredericksburg, about 90 minutes away from Charlottesville. The purpose of the trip was twofold, visit the Brew Gray Breweriana show and then tour the local brewpubs and take in a couple of pubs. I will discuss my thoughts on the breweriana stuff at some point in the future, this post is about the first of the brewpubs we went to, Blue and Gray Brewing Company.


I had been to Blue and Gray once before, when they were still in the process of building the Lee's Retreat brewpub, which is now finished and I think is a nice venue for sitting and enjoying several pints. On that initial visit, in November 2009, I wasn't really all that impressed with the beer, so I was looking forward to trying them again, and so the flight came....

  • Classic Lager - gold, bready, easy drinking
  • Fred Red - dark amber, caramel sweetness, typical red ale
  • Falmouth American Pale Ale - rich amber, bitter citrus, down the line pale ale
  • Stonewall Stout - pitch black, roasted coffee and chocolate, I would give my right arm for this
  • Borman's Belgian - clear gold, very fruity, interesting but unlikely to change my view on Belgian style beers
  • Minor Dementia Imperial Stout - boozy prune juice, weird but tasty, sampler is enough
There was also a chocolate raspberry stout, which I didn't take a picture of, and to be honest I thought was a case study in why not to use fruit extracts in beer.

Generally though we left with a positive view of the place. A solid core range of beers, and in Stonewall Stout a very nice classic stout which I would happily drink all night. While we were there we ate, and the food was good, very good in fact. As ever I went for a burger, this one with gorgonzola and bacon, and it really was excellent. The service was also just right, a big thing for me is getting the balance between the service being available but not in your face every 5 minutes making sure everything is ok. Definitely a place I will visit again, and even take Mrs Velkyal!

Friday, February 18, 2011

To You, Dear Reader

"I guess most people enjoy a pint".

The words that, 499 posts ago, were the beginnings of Fuggled. In that very first post I talked about the beers I drank in the UK before upping and moving to Prague in 1999. I talked about how I had abandoned drinking the likes of Gambrinus and my once beloved Kozel, in favour of independent breweries, and how on occasion I enjoyed the very few ales produced in the Czech Republic at the time. I also mentioned that I wanted to start brewing.

Since that initial post in 2008, many things have changed. I have upped and moved to Virginia. I have access to far more ales than lagers, and the opposite issue I had in Prague affects me here, I wish there were more quality lagers about. I have started brewing, and have even won a gong or two for doing so. Through these, sometimes inane, witterings I have had the pleasure of meeting many a fine soul, whether in person with pints in hand or online, with the promise of in person with pints in hand.

Rather than bang on about this or that though, today I would rather just say simply thank you. Thank you all for reading my posts, thoughts and rants. Thank you for broadening my beery horizons and pointing me toward new beers to try, different ingredients to use and pubs worth drinking in.

Being a somewhat nostalgic soul, I'll leave you for the weekend with this song:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Get It While You Can

On that crisp December day when I pottered down to Devils Backbone to see the culmination of months of researching, chatting with brewing contacts back in Prague, looking at malt specifications from the Czech Republic and Germany, and discussing all things tmavé with anyone daft enough to listen to me, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction that the beer Jason and I had discussed when brewing the Pilsner was finally coming to life.

When February 1st eventually arrived, and Morana had lain for nearly 45 days in the lagering tanks, that first pint was a revelation. Jason had masterfully realised my vision of a faithful Czech style dark lager, one that is neither dunkel nor schwarzbier. Every pint I have had in the 15 days since then has been an absolute delight, so enjoyable in fact that I keep forgetting to write notes or take pictures.

On Monday, Jason sent me an email to let me know that in 2 weeks, they had sold half the batch - which equated to about 4.5 hectolitres, or 900 half litres of beer. 900 half litres in 14 days, 64 pints a day. As I was in the area yesterday, really a 25 minute detour counts as being "in the area", I popped in to re-fill a growler and have a couple of pints. In the hour or so I was sat at the bar, at least two more growlers were filled with Morana, and several people had pints.

The moral of this tale is simply this. Get to Devils Backbone before it is gone. I would say you have about ten days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Praise of Brewpubs

We are inordinately fortunate in this part of the world, as I have mentioned before, to have a wealth of brewing companies within an hours drive. Whether we are talking about the likes of Starr Hill, whose beers are available throughout the south east of the US, with the exception of Georgia, or one of the local brewpubs, we have loads of beer options here. It is great being able to go into our nearby shops and pick up six packs of locally made beer. Having said that, I have to admit that I prefer to combine my two favourite things, pubs and beer, by going to one of the brewpubs.


If you follow Fuggled with even the vaguest sense of regularity you will know that my favourite brewpub in the Charlottesville area is Devils Backbone, out in Roseland. I love the beer, the food, the atmosphere, the drive back in the depths of night can be a bit hairy at times though. Mrs Velkyal and I also enjoy popping over to Blue Mountain from time to time, again for good beer and a nice relaxing vibe. Whenever we venture away from home, we look instinctively for brewpubs to drop in to, and so we have enjoyed Blue Ridge Brewing in Greenville, Hunter Gatherer in Columbia, Southend Brewery in Charleston (yes we go to South Carolina a lot). All this got me thinking about reasons for preferring a brewpub to pretty much any other drinking experience, and I came up with a couple of reasons.


Firstly, most brewpubs are good pubs in general. If you go to South Street Brewery in the centre of Charlottesville, the building itself is beautiful, and it feels very much like a proper pub. Dark, almost brooding, plenty of bare brick and dark wood, it is very much my kind of ambience. Devils Backbone by contrast is mainly stone, wood and corrugated iron (it might be tin, so don't quote me), the high ceilings add a sense of space and light which doesn't translate to bright and gaudy. Blue Mountain kind of feels like my living room, with a very nice patio outside. Different places with different atmospheres but all identifiably pubs. They are places for enjoying beer, first and foremost.


Now this might be slightly controversial, or entirely obvious, but brewpubs succeed or fail on the basis of their beer, and that means they need to be on top of their game constantly. By this I mean that they have no place to hide when it comes to criticism. They brew their own beer, condition their own beer, serve their own beer. If there is a problem with a beer then they can't blame the distributor for not looking after it properly, or the pub for not serving it properly, the buck stops with them. Why then is this a reason for me to prefer the brewpub experience? Simply because if I am enjoying a pint of excellent beer, then I am confident that if I switch drinks, they will likewise well made and cared for, at the same time if the pint is not up to scratch and then neither is another, then it suggests a systemic problem with the brewing setup. As such, it allows me to make an informed decision as to whether or not I want to continue pouring money into their cash register.


A major benefit of the brewpub though is having had a flight of samples, you can then order a pint of the one you liked best and get tucking in to a good session - which is, after all the prime purpose of beer, if beer needs to have a purpose.

The best brewpubs combine the best of the beer world, good beer in a convivial environment.

Now, just in case you are thoroughly confused with me writing a positive post rather than ranting, here's something to restore your sense of normality. Yesterday I was in Barnes and Noble when I picked up the book The Beer Trials, turning to the page about Pilsner Urquell, I was dumbstruck by the ignorance and all round bullshit of the description of the beer. For starters "Pilsner Urquell" is GERMAN for Pilsner from the Original Source, not Czech. Yes they really said that. Twice. Ignorant tits. Secondly opening a bottle of pasteurised Pilsner Urquell thousands of miles from the Czech Republic is hardly the best way to enjoy a famously delicate beer, especially when the glass is green, and so the "traditional lightstruck/noble hop" aroma is not normal. Try drinking Pilsner Urquell from a tankove system, in the Czech Republic before waffling bollocks. Here endeth the lesson.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Craft is Daft

I like to think that I drink good beer. My friends who drink Budweiser like to think the same. My friends back in Prague who drink Gambrinus like to think they drink good beer. Everyone, it seems, who enjoys beer is convinced that the beer they drink is good.

I don't like Budweiser particularly, but if that is all that is available and it is colder than a penguin's feet then I'll drink it. I won't savour it, I won't notice the hop aroma (that joke is simply too easy to make, so I won't bother), I won't comment on the lacing down the side of the glass. I will just drink the bloody thing because it is hot out, I am dying of thirst, I want a beer and there is nothing else available. The same could be said about many a product coming out of small breweries that like to give themselves the title "craft". I can think of several beers made by well known American craft breweries that were I given a choice between Budweiser and said product, I would drink to the financial health of AB-InBev.

When I was living in Prague, I drank a fair old bit of Gambrinus. That was until I met Mrs Velkyal on that fateful day in Pivovarský klub and I discovered a whole different world of Czech beer. It wasn't that I went from drinking pale lager to super hoppy IPAs overnight, but rather I went to drinking better pale lagers, then discovering that there were some smaller breweries doing insanely interesting things like brewing a hefeweizen, or an English Pale Ale (a beer that Mrs Velkyal still misses). Yet my favourite Czech brewer does none of those things, they make but 4 beers, 2 pale lagers and 2 dark lagers. All 4 beers are magnificent, but is it craft brewing or just making Czech lagers the way Czech lagers are supposed to be made?

Since moving to the States, I have drunk an awful lot of craft beer, not to mention a lot of awful craft beer. Even in it's native context, craft beer is something of a pointless term and, if I may be cynical, entirely made up. When certain brewers got too big to be considered a mircrobrewery they needed a new term, given the absence of a middle ground between micro and macro. The term itself, whilst perhaps, at a push, acceptable in the American context, becomes divisive, allowing people to label themselves "craft beer drinkers" as opposed to just regular "beer drinkers", as though they have somehow attained to a higher existence by virtue of their drinking choices.

Having not lived in the UK for over a decade now, I guess I can look from the outside on my own culture to a certain extent, and in the British context, as with the Czech, craft beer is an utterly pointless term. Especially when you remember that many of the "innovations" coming out of the US are in fact just re-discoveries or interpretations of British brewing traditions. Black IPA? Nothing new, the Brits were over-hopping porter and shipping it to India along with IPA. A simple change of hop varieties a new beer style does not make.

The thing that needs to be constantly remembered is that, regardless of appellation or waffly bollocks from the marketing people, beer is the everyman drink. The thing with an everyman drink is that it transcends class and status, as such it should not be used as a status symbol. Beer has been drunk by kings and commoners, presidents and peasants since time immemorial, it is nothing new. Adding the label "craft" does not make it a lifestyle choice or mark a consumer out as somehow special, though strangely it does bump up the price, at least in the US context.

I guess it is clear that I think the term "craft" beer to be somewhat antithetical to the very nature of beer, though I can understand why it is used over here, with the back drop of Prohibition and market domination by BudMillerCoors. Within the British context, and it was that context that Mark at Pencil and Spoon wanted to address, the term is fatuous. Britain did not, thankfully, have its brewing traditions smashed by a bunch of manic religious zealots. The reality of the British brewing scene is that the new brewers have greater access to ingredients from around the world, and the transfer of knowledge and experience allowed by modern technology has broadened horizons. Is modern beer then really a craft, or just the logical outcome of the globalised world?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Of Books and Beer


I took this picture in 2008, in a pub in Oxford. The pub is called Far From the Madding Crowd, and it most certainly is, tucked away down a side street in the historic centre of, in my ever so unhumble opinion, the nicest town in England. I would happily live in Oxford, and not just because of this pub, or because my elder brother lives nearby.

Coming back to the picture, it sums up my twin passions. Beer and books, or at least beer and reading. I love reading, always have, always will. If you are ever in the situation where you are not sure what to give me for my birthday, a gift certificate to a book shop is always welcome (though please don't ever bother with something like a Kindle or Nook - I like to read real books, one could call them craft books). I am never happier than sat in a pub with a pint of something good and a book to read. The book in the picture is by one of my favourite authors, Iain Banks, and his writing lends itself to spending an afternoon tucked away in a tucked away pub, supping much maligned brown bitters and generally losing oneself. This is naturally much easier if your significant other is at a conference and you really have several hours to simply stop and not care about anything else.

I have found that being sat in a pub, reading a book and relishing every mouthful of your pint is the perfect way to unwind. One of the pleasures of the lazy afternoon and, in the right pub, evening drinking and reading, is lifting your eyes from the page and returning the physical world around you, and just watching people interact. The lunchtime crowd from a local office block, the long married couple so comfortable in each others company that the spoken word seems irreverent, the suited up gent throwing a whisky down before heading back into the fray. Conversations spark into life because of the book you are reading, discussions of literary theory, education, philosophy, politics and all the things that everyone has an opinion on, whether or not they realise it. Without outstaying their welcome, people move on and the book is picked up again.

The book and the pint are my way of stepping outside for a while, and I may be some time, but unlike Arctic explorers I come back. Back to a world of incessant buzz and noise, of ever shifting popularity and constant campaigning. To a world of hype driven must haves, and when people announce that they have, the cries of "I want" scream like gulls following a fishing boat. I have always been like this. Even as a kid at school, I spent my lunchtimes and breaks in the library, reading, learning, discovering things that were new to me. As a student in Birmingham, if they had allowed pints in the Central Library, I fear I would never have left the building.

That then would be my dream pub, one with a decent selection of books on one wall, a decent selection of beers at the bar, and all the time in the world to just step outside for a while.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beer is not about Style

Beer styles piss me off at times. There we go, I've said it, and I feel pretty much the same as I did before saying it. Styles don't piss me off because they are stupid, or irrelevant or even just an excuse to create a new gong at a beer festival for egomaniacs to lay claim to creating something. Styles piss me off when people from outside a tradition try to explain that tradition and categorise it, and often get it wrong.

Take for example Czech dark lager, tmavé pivo or černé pivo as you will see it called. Unfortunately the fact that this type of beer is dark and a lager immediately, in the minds of some, means it must be a dunkel or schwarzbier, often with tmavé being equated with dunkel and černé with schwarzbier. The problem with such a simplistic view is that by Czech law, there is no such beer as a černé, only a tmavé. The deciding factor must always be how the brewers and drinkers in a style's area of origin understand the beer they are drinking.

Of course beer styles and how they are understood change with time, none more so perhaps than India Pale Ale and possibly Mild as well (though my inner cynic actually thinks it is more of a case of Mild being thoroughly misunderstood for too long). That fact in itself should remind us that styles need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and perhaps explains why tasting notes have been something of a hen's tooth on Fuggled. Not to mention that I haven't taken tasting notes at all in quite some time, simply put, it can become a chore when all I want to do is have a few pints with mates.

I wonder then if styles, while useful when starting out trying beers from around the world, actually take some of the joy out of drinking? Likewise with homebrewing. Trying to get a style right is useful when you are first making beer, but after a while all you want to do is brew beer to drink.

At the end of the day, if a beer isn't for drinking, then what's the bloody point?

Friday, February 4, 2011

International Homebrew Project Recipe

So here it is, the recipe for the International Homebrew Project 2011. A quick recap, those that took part in the polls voted to brew a historical recreation of a milk stout, hopped with Challenger and Goldings. Therein lay one of our first hurdles, Challenger is a relatively modern hop, and so with the agreement of the majority of people who have told me they plan to brew for the project, we shifted to a combination of Fuggles and Goldings.

In thinking about the ingredients for the project, I have decided to push the brewing weekend back to the first weekend in March - so people can make arrangements for getting amber and brown malt, not to mention the invert #3 sugar. If you can't get amber and brown malt where you live, then here is a very useful article about making your own. On the making invert sugar syrup, as I plan to do, this post from Northern Brewer is useful. From my understanding, the #3 version was reasonably dark, so simmer it for about 90 minutes.

The recipe itself, kindly provided by Kristen England, is a recreation of a 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout. So, as Ron would say, over to Kristen, though note I have changed his tables into bulleted lists, personal preference, that's all (and nothing to do with my shoddy HTML skills, honest guv).....

Milkstouts show up here and there throughout English beer history to the current day. There we never massively popular on a grand scale but always had their almost cult following. The most well-known is Mackesons XXX stout which currently has very little lactose in it. Most of the milk/sweet stouts are now made in happy, warm and tropical places. Jamaica, Trinidad, Malta, etc, etc. This ‘whopper’ of a stout is actually very low in gravity. It has pretty much every dark, toasty and delicious malt and sugar. Then you throw in two separate dose of lactose, one in the copper, one after for a grand total of about 22% lactose. The beer is very dark and roasty. The bitterness is quite high as these stouts weren't known to be exceedingly bitter. Lactards beware!
  • OG - 1.053
  • FG - 1.029
  • ABV - 4.4%
  • IBU - 39.1
  • SRM - 105
  • EBC - 207.8
  • Apparent Attenuation - 45.12%
  • Real Attenuation - 39.96%
The recipe is listed first in pounds, then kilograms and finally as a percentage, based on 5 US Gallons, or 19 litres.
  • Eng. 2 Row - 5.29/2.41/40.7
  • Amber malt - 1.04/0.48/10.6
  • Brown Malt - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Crystal 75 - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Invert # 3 - 0.5/0.23/5.1
  • Roasted Barley - 0.84/0.38/8.5
  • Lactose in boil - 1.26/0.57/12.8
  • Lactose priming - 1.04/0.47/10.6
For the extract brewers amongst us use 4lbs or 1.82kg for 5 US gallons or 19 litres respectively.

The mash is 90 minutes at 151°F or 66°C, with a water to grain ratio of 0.92qt/lb or 1.92l/kg.

Expect a long brewday for this, given that the boil is 2.5 hours. Talking about the boil, here's the hopping schedule, by ounces then grammes respectively.
  • Fuggle 5.5% @ 150mins 1.15/32.5
  • Goldings 4.5% @ 90mins 0.7/19.8
The yeast recommended for this recipe is Nottingham, or Wyeasts 1318 London Ale III.

Grist & such

The base malt for this beer is the toast mild malt. If you can’t get it, some Optic would be nice or even Maris otter. ***For the extract brewers out there the only real change is that you’ll use pale malt syrup instead and the poundage is listed and highlighted above. The amber and brown malt add a good dose of complexity and flavor but don’t dominate the palate like the 8.5% of roasted barley.

Hops

The hop additions for this beer are mostly for bittering. The neat thing about this beer is that milk stouts at a later time are much less bitter than this one. Nearly 40 bus is quite a bit! One addition at the start of the boil and then another addition an hour later. If you wanted to dry hop this beer you can do a simple combination of fuggles and goldings but I wouldn’t go higher than about 1g/L. Any more you really are going to have a striking hop nose.

Mash & Boil

The techniques used in this recipe are very straightforward. There was a simple multi-infusion mash where additions of hot liquor were added to keep the mash at the wanted temperature. You dough in a bit thick and then have a good sparge. This mash is very simple as there are a lot of things easy to extract out of here. The No3 invert sugar should definitely be added but can be substituted by using a mix of treacle and golden syrup. White sugar and blackstrap can be used in a pinch at about a 10:1 ratio. The lactose is the big boy here and there are two separate additions. The first one goes in during the boil and the second goes in at priming which we’ll cover later. Both invert #3 and the first lactose addition goes in at 30 minutes.

Fermentation, Conditioning & Serving

A simple fermentation at 68F (20C) will do good to ensure a nice and fruity beer that finishes well. This beer was meant to be bottle conditioned but you can serve it out of a keg. The second dose of lactose goes in with the priming sugars. NOTE – lactose is NOT the priming sugar. The lactose and priming sugars can be boiled in a little water together and added at once. Shoot for around 2.0 volumes of CO2 if you can. The more ‘fizzy’ the less mellow it will be. For serving, I suggest you keep this thing out of any sort of refrigeration. Cellar temp is ok but this really does best at room temperature or warmer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pub Induced Blogitis

I wonder how many of you were expecting to see a picture of Devils Backbone's Morana Dark Lager, which went on sale yesterday, accompanied by my waxing lyrical about the colour, texture, taste and all round wonderfulness of the beer? Well, yes I was kind of expecting that myself but then the thing that I love most about beer kicked into gear last night. Drinking the stuff, with mates and having a damned fine time.

If it were possible to get air miles for the distances a conversation goes, we would be well stocked after last night, having jaunted from CVille to Fredericksburg, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Belarus, Philadelphia, the UK and many points beyond and between. Sat with the Backbone's head brewer Jason, Mrs Velkyal, my Pocket Pub Guide collaborator Mark, and Dan, formerly of CVille Beer Geek - the company was as excellent as the brew.

Sure it doesn't make for fascinatingly insightful blog posts, but it is what beer is actually all about. Drinking with mates in the pub. Oh and the beer is good, seriously good, I have 2 growlers in the fridge, so you'll get your pictures and lyrical waxings at some point. I know this advert is for whiskey rather than beer, but it sums up pretty well how I feel about the pub.