Brewer’s Blog

Brewer’s Blog

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Things haven’t quite gone according to plan this morning.  Normally we brew Ridley’s Rite on a Tuesday, but for the first time in Bishop Nick history, one or more of our hot liquor tank heaters expired overnight which meant the hot liquor wasn’t hot enough.  We’re not ones for cutting corners with our beers, so the brew has been postponed until tomorrow.  Every cloud has a silver lining as it gives me time to catch up on some neglected jobs, like writing a blog.

Today was also meant to be a “Brew Day Experience” for a lovely chap called Peter, but alas, that had to be postponed too.  These “Brew Day Experience” seem to be very popular and I’ve enjoyed entertaining (I hope) enthusiastic guests.  Some have home-brewing experience, many don’t – they just want to know how bags of malt and hops become pints of bitter.  A question I always ask is “do you mind if your pint of beer has a haze?”  Everyone always says yes – they want a crystal clear pint.  During the brewing process I then demonstrate the great lengths brewers have to go to to ensure every pint that is served in the pub is completely clear.  Low nitrogen barley, boiling, seaweed, silicate auxiliary finings and the swim bladder of a fish (isinglass) are all required to remove protein and yeast.  Some breweries go further and use filtration for bottling, canning and kegging.  Unfortunately finings and filtration also remove flavour, which is why brewers outside the UK often don’t bother trying – their drinkers are perfectly happy with hazy beer.  Protein and yeast give the beer a haze, but in moderate amounts they don’t affect the flavour of beer negatively and the all important flavour is not stripped out by the use of finings.  “Drink with your mouth, not your eyes” is always my policy, if it tastes good, drink it, if it tastes bad, return it.  However, the majority of drinkers still crave for a pint of crystal clear beer, so all of our beers are sold that way – apart from our latest one-off special appropriately named “Haze”.

“Haze” is our attempt at a Belgian wheat beer – and it’s the first time I’ve brewed one.  After a bit of homework we fleshed out a recipe that included extra pale malted barley, wheat malt, malted oats, coriander, orange peel and Mandarina Bavaria hops, but no finings.  The first hurdle was trying to avoid a set mash due to the large proportion of huskless wheat in the mash tun (husks aid run-off and natural filtration), but by taking things slowly during run-off and sparging we succeeded.  The next challenge was to add the right amount of coriander to the boiling wort – we are only looking for hints of spice, not so much that all the wheat and hop flavours are swamped.  The third leap of faith was adding the orange peel to the fermenting vessel – we didn’t want Kia-Ora and a blocked up outlet, but we needed to add enough to impart a pleasing, marmalade zestiness to the finished beer.  The final hurdle, as with any brew, was the fermentation.

Well I’m happy to report that everything worked out very well.  I racked the “Haze” yesterday and gave the beer a thorough tasting and a big thumbs up.  It’s a good hazy, entirely natural, vegan friendly wheat beer, with an initial coriander aroma, followed by a nutty, bready wheat taste, with orange zest and citrus hops following in the aftertaste.  It’s a refreshing pint, easy going, but flavoursome – even more flavoursome than normal thanks to all that haze.  It will also be available in bottles soon too – unfiltered and packed with flavour.  Look out for it.  Bye for now….

Brewer’s Blog

Brewer’s Blog

News Topical

Hello, my name is Alex and I brew beer for Bishop Nick.  The wonderful team here thought it would be a good idea for me to step out of the cold brewery once in a while and write a brewer’s blog in my nice new warm office!  So here goes…

It’s been exactly one year since I started at Bishop Nick, after 17 years or so at Mighty Oak Brewery in Maldon.  So rather than cycle up Market Hill in the morning to get to work, I now pedal from Maldon to Braintree every day.  It keeps me fit and warms me up nicely at this time of year so I’m ready for a day brewing, racking, cask cleaning or indeed writing blogs.

I hope the customers have enjoyed the beers over the last 12 months.  It took only a short while to adapt my taste buds to the new beers I was tasked with brewing, but now they’re like good friends, especially on a Friday afternoon when a pint of Ridley’s Rite, 1555 or Heresy aids my recovery from digging out the hot mash tun and copper!  The monthly specials seem to have been popular and we like to keep them varied to cater for all tastes, from the fruity, hoppy golden/amber ales (Revelry 2018, Brazen, Wiseman and Virtue), through to the complex rich maltiness of Respect and Festive, and the darker, roastier stouts, porters and milds (Black Cloak, Joust, Witch Hunt and Dark Mild).

Yesterday we racked one of the darker types called “Dark Times”.  It’s a milk stout and is back by popular demand.  I brewed it 10 days ago and because it’s a style of beer I’ve never had the opportunity to brew, I was both excited and slightly nervous, but everything seems to have worked out.  To put it simply, a milk stout is a sweeter, fuller bodied type of stout, with the addition of unfermentable lactose sugar to the boiling sweet wort.  This milk sugar balances the harsher characteristics of the roasted malts and makes it appealing to both stout and non-stout drinkers – a perfect pint for the cold winter evenings, and at only 4.5% and being easy drinking, you may be tempted to have seconds.  We’ll be bottling it too and should be available well into the spring when we get the first whiff of warmth and lighter times.

That’s all for today, time to get back into the brewery where I’m brewing Ridley’s Rite today.