Friday, September 30, 2011

Brewer of the Week

The year is 1860, and immigrants are flooding into the US. The Civil War is still a year away. Germany won't exist as a nation state for another 11 years, and only then after giving the French a bit of a spanking. The British Open is played for the first time, near Ayr in Scotland, and in New Ulm, Minnesota there is a new brewery.

Having been born in the Schwarzwald area of Baden-Württemberg, August Schell was one of those immigrants and on realising that good German style beer was difficult to find in the New World he set about making it himself. Much like the pioneers of today's craft beer movement. 151 years later, the August Schell Brewing Company is the second oldest brewery in America.


Name: David Berg
Brewery: August Schell Brewing Company

How did you get into brewing as a career?

After working in the avionics industry as an engineer for 8 years, I decided it was time for a change in my life. I had been homebrewing for a number of years and I really enjoyed it. So, I decided to go to brewing school.

When I graduated from the American Brewer’s Guild in 1996, I accepted the head brewing job at Water Tower Brewing in Eden Prairie, MN. I brewed there until 2002, and then I took a job as head brewer at Bandana Brewing in Mankato, MN. When I was laid off in 2006, I accepted the job as Assistant Brewmaster at August Schell Brewing.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Attention to details.

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

Yes, I did homebrew. I wouldn’t say any of the recipes were necessarily converted to full scale production, but rather that any beer I’ve brewed (as a homebrewer or professional) has influenced subsequent beers.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

I haven’t homebrewed since 1996.


What is your favourite beer that you brew?

I really like the concept of our winter seasonal, Snowstorm. The style changes every year, and it’s always our most anticipated seasonal. As the tagline goes “Much like snowflakes, no two Snowstorm beers are alike”

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

I enjoy the process of brewing, so it’s not necessarily about the particular beer you are brewing.

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

That’s a little like asking which child is your favorite! I like them all and drink them all. But, if I have to choose which one I grab for the most, I’d say Schell’s Pils.


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

It’s important to a point. However, with technological improvements in malting and brewing over the years, it’s probably equally important to understand why certain methods were historically used. In the end, it’s about the flavor of the beer in the glass, not how you got there.

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

That’s a tough one, as I have a lot of friends and folks I respect in the brewing industry. However, if I had to choose one, I’d go with Yuengling. Think about it, the two oldest family owned breweries in the US collaborating on a beer. The beer websites would hate it!

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

Probably either Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Both those beers were forerunners of today’s brewing industry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Victory!

I honestly can't remember if I mentioned this before, but Charlottesville's best place for beer got rid of Guinness. It used to be the case that Beer Run pretty much always had Guinness on tap, but when they had a keg of O'Hara's Stout on instead for St Patrick's Day I mentioned to the owner that I was fairly certain most people would happily drop 50 cents extra for an O'Hara's instead of Guinness. Whether or not this had any influence on the resultant dropping of Guinness I don't know, whatever the cause, Beer Run now has a rotating stout tap.

As Mrs V was having some friends round for knitting and nattering last night, I took the opportunity to pop along to Beer Run for a couple of pints with a friend, Dan. On the stout tap last night was Victory's Donnybrook Stout, which at 3.7% abv is an ideal post work beer, it really was a simple choice and 4 or 5 mouthfuls took care of the first pint, a proper pint that is, you know, the big ones.

I am a big fan of Donnybrook. Sure it might not be the most sexy, extreme beer on the planet, but it is a well put together beer for drinking with mates in the pub, and therefore pretty much perfect. It's the kind of beer that doesn't intrude on the conversation, doesn't butt its way into your thoughts by being tastebud strippingly hoppy, doesn't have you swilling it around trying to identify the aromas.

It is stout, pure and simple. You know what you are getting and can get on with the real reason for going to the pub, socialising.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Being Responsible

Mrs V and I went to another wedding on Saturday, that's 2 in a fortnight. This time, the wedding was that of fellow homebrewer, occasional beer blogger and all round top person Eric from Relentless Thirst. If I may take a moment, meeting Eric and his lovely wife has been one of the highlights of moving to the US - a more generous, enthusiastic and awesome couple would be difficult to meet.

Given that Richmond is but an hour away from us, I said to Mrs V that I would be responsible (for a change) and be the designated driver for the night. Usually Mrs V and I share the driving duties, I drive to the drinking hole and she drives home, this really is a case of practicality, I drink more than she does. As such, I was fully prepared for perhaps a couple of beers early on to then be followed by copious amounts of coke or similar.

At the ceremony, which was beautiful and a real expression of the now Mr and Mrs Relentless Thirst, we saw some familiar faces, including Tom from Yours For Good Fermentables, with whom we had shared beers and discussions on decoction mashing at Hogmanay.

Having made the short trip to Havana 59 for the reception in pretty quick time, other than one missed turn - it wouldn't be a trip to Richmond for us without making a missed turn - we secured a prime location at the bar and perused the beer list, which included Becks NA, at which point I made the decision to be responsible but still have the taste of beer. Thus I stood, swigging lager from the bottle for the first time in many a year, feeling like a college kid again going to some trendy pubs on Birmingham's Broad Street.

I will not bore you with tasting notes for a non-alcoholic beer made by InBev, suffice to say that it was wet, vaguely skunky, grainy and with a long dry finish. Interestingly the head retention was superb! The thought that crossed my mind several times was that it was actually better than the vast majority of "craft" lagers I have had and not entirely unlike watered down Gambrinus from the Czech Republic, in a word it was drinkable. Looking down the bar several times, I hope Havana 59 had a plentiful supply of Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA as it was flying over the bar.

The reception was again excellent, relaxed, full of fun and dancing - not that I partook in the dancing, I have two left feet and derive no pleasure whatsoever from dancing. Mrs V on the other hand loves to dance and so I tend to sit at the bar, beer in hand and watch. The only time I ever actually dance is if I am so mind addled on booze that suddenly I convince myself I have the moves of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, but that takes a very large amount of beer, and perhaps a shot or two of whisky flavoured Dutch courage. You can imagine then the amount of Becks NA I would have to drink to achieve that state.

When the night drew to its conclusion and the revellers had waved the happy couple off, we wandered back to our car, me with a Blood Alcohol Content which according to this online tool was "negligable" and Mrs V having finished her couple of glasses of wine a few hours previously. Arriving at the car, Mrs V turned to me and said something along the lines of "you know, it's ok, I'll drive home", and thus we got back to Charlottesville just past midnight having talked and joked all the way home.

It was a magnificent evening indeed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Decoction Mashing Made Unscary

It's absolutely pouring down here in Charlottesville today. I love it!

As the temperatures cool, and I wonder again how I ever manage to survive 100º Fahrenheit heat every summer, that's almost 38º Celsius for my metric friends, my mind again wonders if this will be the winter when I make my own lager? For a person so enamoured with lager, it is perhaps a bit strange that I have yet to make one of my own.

I have a couple of reasons why I am yet to take the step into lager brewing, firstly I lack a spare refrigerator in which to lager, and secondly I am worried that I would screw up the decoction process. The first concern is actually rather easy to over come, I have space in my regular fridge for my 1 gallon carbabies to ferment at about 45ºF, and usually December and January are cold enough to lager the beer in my cellar. As such, I plan to divide a single kettle's worth of wort between 3 carbabies, ferment and then blend back together for into a larger carboy for lagering. Really, it is the decoction that bothers me.

I know plenty of brewers who would tell me that decoction mashing is pointless, a relic of a less scientific age, unnecessary because malts are better modified these days, I am sure you have heard the very same arguments, but still I want to try it. I think for my first lager I will avoid making a pilsner, simply because I have so much reverence for the style that when I do brew it, I want to get it spot on and do justice to it.

In researching how to do a decoction mash, I came across this series of videos on YouTube and thought I would share them with you, and wish you all a great weekend.

Decoction Mashing Part 1 - BrauKaiser



Part 2



Part 3

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tastes of Autumn

I can't remember who tweeted it, but someone the other day asked the question "pumpkin beers or Octoberfest lagers"?

As a committed devotee of all beers decocted, cold fermented and then cold conditioned, the answer is fairly obvious for me, give me a pint of Octoberfest any day of the autumnal week. There is also the fact that I just don't seem able to get along with pumpkin beers.

As for the actual Octoberfest seasonals that I have enjoyed so far this year, Samuel Adams is a solid as ever offering, and Bell's Octoberfest is a serious candidate for my lager of the year. Big juicy caramel malts and a dose of background bitterness for balance make this an insanely easy beer to drink. While at 5.5% abv it is no session beer (regardless of what the marketing mandarins have written on the website), it is a delicious brew for sitting at a trestle table with buxom wenchie types bringing you bratwurst laden with lashings of mustard. I only have about 30 more bottles of beer to drink before my self-imposed ban on buying bottled beer is finished with, once that is done with I can see this filling some of the available space.


There is of course more to autumnal drinking than Octoberfest and pumpkin beers, for this is the season when brown ale, whether "nut" or otherwise, makes its appearance. Sierra Nevada's Tumbler is a favourite of mine, and not just because they call it an "Autumn Brown Ale" rather than a "Fall Brown Ale", smooth, silken and luscious to drink. Speaking of Nut Brown Ale, it is around this time of year that I see the eponymous Samuel Smiths winking from the fridge and indulge.

Autumn, don't you just love it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Austria. Thuringia. Bavaria. California?

There are some breweries that never, ever, fail to impress, or at least make beers that I enjoy and want to drink multiple pints of. Word on the street is that one such brewery is looking to open an East Coast operation and one of the options is just a few hours south of where I live. I am, of course, talking about Sierra Nevada, who, rumour has it, have a site near Roanoke as one of their options for the new operation.


My first beer from Sierra Nevada is the one in the picture, sat in the magnificent, and sadly defunct, Sheridan's On The Docks in Galway, watching Ireland play New Zealand with the supreme company which is The Tale of the Ale's Reuben and his wife. Before splashing the cash to buy it, I had sent a quick message to Evan Rail to ask his opinion, and he was right, it was a delight.


Since moving to the US, I have enjoyed every Sierra Nevada beer I have encountered, from the comforting autumnal Tumbler to the smooth yet zingy Glissade. Their stout and porter both make regular appearances in the cellar and the fridge, and I'm even partial to a drop of their IPA, Torpedo.

On Thursday night, there was a Sierra Nevada invasion at Beer Run. Every tap, including the hand pull was dedicated to Sierra Nevada. On a side note, I enjoy these "tap takeovers" because you get to see how good a brewery actually is as a result of lesser known beers being available. Having dropped Mrs V off at the library so she could crack on with her latest paper for her Masters degree, I headed over for a couple of pints.


A quick glance at the menu revealed the words that immediately make me want to try a beer, "lager", "pilsner", you know by the now the stuff I like. So a pint of Vienna Lager was ordered. I had never seen a Sierra Nevada Vienna Lager before, hardly surprising as it is one of their "Specialty Drafts" according to their website. 4 mouthfuls later and the glass was empty. That is one delicious beer, clean and crisp, yet laden with toasty malt sweetness. Had it not been for the limited time available to me, and the dark winkings of the Schwarzbier, I could have drank that all night. But turn to the dark side I did. The Schwarzbier was, um, schwarz, and roasty, full of flavour and just bursting with goodness and again with a nice clean finish. Perhaps this explains my love of lager, I like clean flavours. My final pint was the FOAM Pilsner, a German Pilsner, and a very decent brew it is too. Had it been served in a biergarten in Central Europe it would have been the lubricant to a night of conversation and revery.

I also did a side by side tasting of Torpedo, one from keg and one from cask. The cask version was sparkled, as is the correct method, and the difference was startling. The hop aromas were much more pronounced in the cask version than the regular keg, and the body slightly fuller. Whilst not a cask fundamentalist, if I was I would be pretty much teetotal in this country, I am yet to be convinced by the argument that keg is better for highly hopped brews. Every time I have the opportunity to compare the same beer side by side from keg and cask, it was been a highly hopped pale ale, and the cask was won hands down.

My only wish is that these lagers were more regularly available in this neck of the woods. It is clear that not only do Sierra Nevada make some exceptional ales, their lagers are right up there as well, but sadly not getting the distribution and praise they clearly deserve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brewer of the Week

As I mentioned in last Friday's post, there is a wealth of breweries in Scotland that just don't get much attention, whether through design or simple neglect on the part of the blogosphere. I have to admit that I only learnt about Tryst when reading about Jocktoberfest, an event for which they are supplying beer. So without further ado, here are the thoughts of the owner and brewer.


Name: John McGarva
Brewery: Tryst

How did you get into brewing as a career?

Redundancy! Whether voluntary or compulsory, there’s nothing like a good push in the back to focus your mind on your future.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Having a fairly good idea of what is going to come out of the tap or bottle for the customer.


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

I brewed on and off at home for a while but changed up several gears when I joined the Scottish Craft Brewers. A couple of my earlier recipes influenced the original brews but they have been tweaked here and there to improve them.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

I now “homebrew” on a one barrel plant in the brewery which sits next to my ten barrel plant!

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

This year I started to brew a series of Hop Trials based on the same basic malt bill and bittering hop then changed the aroma hop in each trial to feature the unique taste of the hop selected. This has kept me alert and keen all year and always looking forward to the next trial brew.


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

I have only worked in one other micro brewery and that was mainly for the experience of stepping up in volume from my homebrew set up.

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

My favorite Tryst beer to drink is Carronade Pale Ale at 4.2% abv. It has a glorious citrus bouquet followed by the tang of big tasty American hops and in my opinion a stunning session beer.

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

I make new one off ales regularly and it’s usually the flavor of a new hop that influences me the most, followed by the intricacies of the malt bill to create a balanced drinking experience. And I have no doubt that a good live yeast culture is a must for combining the ingredients with your expectations to create something special to call your own.

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

Red Fox brewery in Essex. The head brewer (Russell Barnes) is fortunate enough to have experienced success with a major English micro but has now gone solo and has the passion and drive to keep pushing the boundaries of modern ales.

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

Crouch Vale Brewery’s Brewers Gold. Has a fantastic aroma, taste and is always on top form from cask. This beer has prompted breweries up and down Britain to produce their own version of this very pale hoppy Great British Beer Festival Double winner.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Longing for Sunshine

If I were still living in the Czech Republic there is only one place I would be this weekend. Assuming I had survived more rounds of redundancy at my old employer, I would have been taking advantage of their generous "benefits" system and have booked Mrs V and I into a plush 4 star hotel for Friday and Saturday night.


Said four star hotel has a bowling alley, restaurant with excellent Czech cuisine (anyone who says Czech food is rubbish is an idiot in my world - pigs and beer, what's not to love?), oh and they have a brewery in the hotel as well. The hotel in question is called Purkmistr, which translates as "portreeve", and the reason I would be staying in that beautiful hotel on the outskirts of Plzeň is that this weekend is the Slunce ve Skle beer festival.


Translating as "Sunshine in a Glass", this beer festival was the first I ever attended, and is the model for what I think of as a good beer festival. Not so big as to be intimidating, not too small so as to be quickly over, oh and it is more or less a drinking festival rather than a 2oz sample thing. Hence why I would be booking a room at the hotel for the weekend if I were going, recovery time in a nice environment and breakfast included.


At this year's festival there are breweries from Slovakia and the UK being represented at the event, as well as plenty of good small Czech brewers like Kocour, Matuška and Pivovarský dvůr Zvíkov, makers of the magnificent Zlatá Labuť range of beers, which compare very favourably with those of Kout na Šumavě.


So, if you are within striking distance of Plzeň, jump on the train, then take the trolley bus out to Černice and enjoy excellent beer in a wonderful location, and from what I hear meet some of the UK's best beer bloggers as well!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Of Pilsners

Mrs Velkyal and I went to a wedding at the weekend.

The bride is a colleague of Mrs V, and when they started working together we discovered that her then boyfriend, now husband, had lived for a time in Prague, a time which overlapped with my ten years in that most beautiful of cities. When chatting at a party, comparing notes really, you could say, we learnt that from about 1999 to 2001 we went to the same pubs and clubs, knew a few of the same people and had quite probably shared a beer or two. Through the groom, Mrs V and I have been introduced to a few other people with a Prague connection, and again one of them is someone that went to the same clubs and pubs, and in this case definitely someone I shared a beer or two with. I am getting convinced that the City of Charlottesville should enter into a twinning arrangement with a city in Czech Republic, Plzeň for example or České Budějovice, although Jablonec nad Nisou has a similar population, and is an excellent place for a beer.


Anyway, given the Czech connection, there was bottled Pilsner Urquell available at the reception, and it went rather quickly as those of us still being clawed by the Old Mother dived in. Now, I am quite happy to say that Pilsner Urquell is best drunk in Plzeň itself, preferably kvasnicové, failing that then tankové. However, even pasteurised and in a green bottle it is a damned sight better than many a "craft" pilsner that is available unpasteurised in this neck of the woods. As you can imagine, our little Prague coterie indulged in much nostalgia infused revery about the beers of the Czech Republic from the late 90s to the early Noughties. Themes such as how great a beer Velkopopovický Kozel was back then, how even Braník was a decent brew, especially the tmavé and lamenting the passing of the pubs and clubs we all got hammered in with much abandon, the Marquis de Sade, the Radegast beer hall and the original Iron Door nightclub (there is kind of a successor but it has never been as good as the original).


Once the Pilsner Urquell had been polished off, we moved on to the other pilsner available, North Coast's Scrimshaw Pilsner - just a side note, one of the best things about this reception was the complete and utter absence of beer from one of the big American breweries, the tap selection was from Allagash, North Coast and Bluegrass Brewing Company, and bottles from Legend, Port City and a few others I can't remember. It was interesting to go from Pilsner Urquell to one of the imitation pilsners and compare, and the most immediate thing I noticed is the absence of a firm hop bitterness that I grew to love about proper Czech lagers. There was a touch of butterscotch, but nothing overwhelmingly drastic, and so I drank shed loads of it, especially as it is bang on style with an ABV of 4.4%. So, yes I drank a lot of pilsner on Saturday night, though managed not to fall over, throw up or do anything else to embarrass myself, which is usually the sign of a successful drinking session.

Yesterday though I felt rough, rougher than I have in a long time. Perhaps as I get older it gets more difficult to drink in quantity and rely on that lifestyle drug of choice, paracetamol, to get me through the next day. As I lay on the sofa nursing a hangover, I read bits and pieces from the Oxford History of Britain and Stan Hieronymous' Brew Like A Monk. A phrase that hit me from Stan's book was something along the lines of "you can't make a great beer from numbers" and I wonder if that is one of the reasons so few craft breweries over here fail to make good pilsner - I almost wrote "great pilsner" but even just plain "good" is hard to find at times.

 
A great pilsner is not just about having an OG of 1.048, 40 IBUs and 4.4%ABV, it is about the intangibles of the triple decoction mash, the letting the beer lager until it is ready, the judicious use of Saaz hops whilst telling the accountants to sod off worrying about the cost of using only Saaz. If making a great pilsner, or any beer really, was just a case of following the numbers, I'd have been brewing my own pilsners by now, but it isn't.

Perhaps with lager style beers it isn't enough to be passionate about brewing, a brewer needs to be passionate about lager in particular. To quote the Gospel writer, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also".

Friday, September 9, 2011

Scotland the Brew

Despite the fact that I haven't lived in my home country in more than a decade, I still keep a keen eye on developments in Scotland, and not just from a beer perspective. My brother lives just north of Dingwall and I still harbour ambitions of one day going home to the Highlands, settling properly, raising a family and all that good stuff.

Naturally then I do like to keep myself abreast of what is going on in Scottish brewing, and so I can draw up lists of beers that I need to try when I get to Europe on holidays in the meantime. As I mentioned the other day, my parents now live in France, but when they go to visit the family back home I am always tempted to get them to stock up on beers from various breweries for this Christmas. The same is also true with my eldest brother that lives in Kent, when next he goes to visit our parents I will be asking him to take a case or two of Kentish brew down with him. Of course if Scottish brewers want to send cases of beer to my parents' place ahead of Christmas, just email me and I will provide an address.

Anyway, back on topic. In my regular trawls through the various websites and blogs about Scottish brewing one thing comes back to me time after time - there are a  lot of breweries in Scotland that deserve more attention than they get.

One of my beer highlights of this year was finding in Greenville, South Carolina, Arran Dark from the Arran Brewery. Perhaps drinking it with heavy doses of nostalgia sweetened the experience, but what a gorgeous beer that is. I am avowedly not a hop head, preferring a balanced beer that I can drink with abandon and Arran Dark is just such a beer. When next we head to South Carolina, which should be around Thanksgiving, I am hoping to get hold of a case of said delight.

Heading back over to the mainland brings us to that mecca of Scottish brewing, Alloa, and Williams Brothers. Perhaps best known for their range of historic ales such as Fraoch, Kelpie and Grozet, they are  also brewers of the lovely Midnight Sun, a simply delicious 80/- Heavy and of course the inestimable Joker IPA, which Beer Run had on cask a while back and was wonderful.

Some of my favourite beers for drinking in the depths of winter come from home as well, Harviestoun's simply, utterly sublime Old Engine Oil for starters, not forgetting Bitter and Twisted, which I rather enjoy in the summer months. Traquair House make great beers that are ideal for supping next to the fire while warming your frost nipped toes. Both will hopefully again be making appearances in France at Christmas.

I know this is just scratching the surface of all the great beer being brewed in Scotland, and the likes of The Beer Monkey and Barm are far better placed to bring the latest in Scottish brewing to our attention. However, one thing I would like to see is more praise of the rest of the Scottish brewing family, more attention in the blogosphere for the likes of West, Tryst, Inveralmond, Fyne Ales, Isle of Skye Brewery and the Black Isle Brewery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elsewhere

I've not really been thinking too much about beer of late.


Sure I have been brewing various bits and pieces, and am planning to brew again this weekend, a new recipe for an English Strong Ale, hopped with First Gold and East Kent Goldings and then fermented with Whitbread yeast, hoping for a 6% brew which will be known as Winter Gold. Most of it will be going to Mrs Velkyal's uncle for his Christmas baskets for his clients, as will more of my Chocolate Foreign Extra Stout called Machair Mor.


I haven't bought a single bottle of beer for the cellar in over a month as I decided that it was time to trawl through the various gathered bottles already there. I have set myself the task of not buying any more bottled beer until the cellar is at least 50% less than it was when I did an inventory. I hope I am not the only person who keeps an inventory of what I have knocking about! Naturally the "beer for special occasions" sub-cellar will remain largely untouched, waiting for that undefined "special occasion", or some random Friday when I am feeling grumpy and fancy something a bit, well, fancy.


Some of my beers in the "not so special" section of the cellar have been knocking about for quite some time, so hopefully they aren't entirely awful. I have enough Dark Starr Stout from Starr Hill to do plenty of baking and cooking with it, just in case.


Another reason for not buying as much bottled beer at the moment is that Mrs V and I are planning to go to France for Christmas, and I would rather put that money to one side for France. I love going to my parents' place, about an hour from Limoges, in a tiny hamlet with bugger all there. A couple of weeks of quiet, mum's cooking and hopefully plenty of local beer to indulge in sounds like a pretty good antidote to life at the moment. It will be the first time we have headed back across the Atlantic since we moved here, and there is a 3 year old bottle of Orval waiting for me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

En Garde!

Last Friday I wrote a post asking for suggestions as to what to brew. The plan had been to do said brewing on Sunday, but when I crawled out of bed that day I simply couldn't be bothered to do anything. However, tomorrow Mrs V is off doing some running for charity thing and I will have the flat to myself for a few hours, so brewing will commence nice and early tomorrow morning, by which I mean about 7 o'clock.

There were a few interesting suggestions made in the comments for last week's post and taking some inspiration from them, I have decided to brew a peat smoked Bière de Garde. The recipe is as follows:
  • 4.5lbs Vienna Malt
  • 12oz light brown sugar
  • 2oz Caramel 120
  • 2oz Caramel 80
  • 2oz Peated Malt
  • 1oz Chocolate Wheat
  • 0.4oz 3.9% Saaz for 90 minutes
  • 0.5oz 3.9% Saaz for 15 minutes
  • Wyeast 3725 Biere de Garde
I decided to go with Vienna malt as the base rather than Maris Otter or a Pale Ale malt pretty much on a whim, and because I wanted the biscuity flavours that comes with it. The sugar is there to add a dry finish, and the Saaz hops because I have plenty of them and they are the greatest hop in the history of humanity without question.

Based on past experience and the wonderful Beer Calculus, I am expecting the following numbers with this beer:
  • OG: 1.063 (15.4 Plato)
  • FG: 1.013 (3.3 Plato)
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • SRM: 12 - copper to red
  • IBU: 19.7
Primary fermentation will be 14 days at about 72°F followed by a couple of months in the cellar. Just in time to take to France for Christmas and hopefully try some alongside some of my favourite beers in the world, such as 3 Monts and anything else I can find from La Brasserie de St-Sylvestre. Quick side comment, the French make some wonderful beers, but they don't get out much, which is a good thing in my world.

I haven't thought of a name yet for the beer, not for a want of trying, though with the Vienna malt, Czech hops and French beer style I am tempted to name it after Marie Antoinette, sister of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (the one from Amadeus), though naturally I am hoping the beer keeps its head.