Monday, August 8, 2022

Brewing with Murphy & Rude

Hopefully by now you have read my article about Charlottesville's Murphy & Rude Malting Company on Pellicle. One thing that I mentioned in the piece is that I have brewed several times with their malt in my own homebrewing shenanigans, usually as a specialty malt on top of a base of Golden Promise or Maris Otter. When Jeff suggested then that we brew a batch of my best bitter recipe using just his malt, I jumped at the chance. For the eagle eyed among you, you will have noticed us doing so in some of the pictures on the article.

It was actually Jeff who suggested brewing the best bitter, and I am never one to turn down the opportunity of a collaboration, though it is definitely the first time I have brewed with a malting company. I momentarily played with the idea of creating a new recipe specifically for this project, but when I mentioned it to Mrs V she suggested that we stick with my tried, trusted, and oft brewed best bitter that is the basis of Three Notch'd Bitter 42. Fun fact, the first time I met Jeff, at Kardinal Hall, to discuss the article his first words were "you're miss Ashley's husband, right?" - Mrs V is a Montessori teacher, and Jeff's kids went to her school, though were in a different teacher's class.

Anyway, I took a look at the Murphy & Rude website to decide what malts would take the place of my regular Golden Promise and Briess Victory combination. The base malt was pretty obvious, Jeff does an "English Pale" that he describes as:

"Well-modified pale ale malt kilned to slightly higher temps at the end of curing to release the slightest bit of nutty sweetness (Grape Nuts®, saltines, sunflower seed, honeysuckle) and unlock hints of pretzel and pizza crust."

With a Lovibond rating of 3-3.5° it is just in the same ballpark as both Golden Promise and Maris Otter from the UK.

The specialty malt to replace Briess Victory was more of a challenge as they do a Biscuit malt, which I had previously used as a substitute for Victory to good effect, and a Belgian Amber that sounded intriguing. The Biscuit is described as:

"A fantastic malt for adding body, smoothing out competing dark malt flavors, or delivering buttery or baked dough sensory attributes mid-palate. Biscuit malt is also a great selection when seeking additional body for sessionable beers without adding significant color"

while the Belgian Amber thus:

"Built upon a higher kilned base malt to deliver exponentially more depth than a traditional Amber. Flavors of biscuit bottom, roasted peanut shell, toasted Grape Nuts®, Bran Flakes®, and hard pretzel, with the slightest bite in the background. Great for big Belgians, Fall seasonals, spiced beers, Double IPA".

I took Mrs V's advice though and stuck with the Biscuit, which is a bit paler than the Briess product.

The only challenge in the brewing was the temperature, it was bloody hot that day. If memory serves it was the first 95°F day of the year in central Virginia, though it was much cooler a few weeks later when it came time to drink the beer and see how it had turned out. Throughout the fermentation process, Jeff kept me up to date on how things were progressing, and basically we hit every number and milestone as expected.

Other than a touch of chill haze, the beer was exactly as I had hoped it would be. We went classic with this version of the recipe, using East Kent Goldings for the 40 ish IBUs, and my house yeast strain Safale S-04 to get to the 4.2% abv. One thing that really took me by surprise was just how much additional flavour came out by virtue of using really fresh malt, rather than just freshly milled malt. In the Pellicle article, Josh Chapman at Black Narrows Brewing commented that closing the circle between supplier and producer really benefits the beer, and that freshness really shone through in the beer that we produced.

With the new brewing season almost upon us, I rarely brew during the summer, I have started to work out how I can get back to doing all grain brewing rather than extract brewing. I have nothing against extract brewing, indeed my kegerator currently houses a 100% extract ordinary bitter that is delicious and I plan to brew it again soon. However, with all grain back on the horizon as a viable option, I plan to use Murphy & Rude malt wherever possible.

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