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….