Thursday, 31 May 2012

Pilot is on the runway

This is a milestone. No longer a wannabe, I am a brewer! Yes! [Punches the air in triumph]. With plenty of work still to do in the Poppyland Brewery, and licences still to be issued, not to mention more brewing equipment to make, I felt I urgently needed to get some beer to market for the summer season in Cromer. Hence I became a cuckoo brewery (well if it's good enough for Mikkeller, it's good enough for me). With much help and support from St. Brendan of the Iceni and the loan of two breweries I have brewed my first commercial beer and it is resting quietly in the back of the Poppyland Brewery now, ready for sale on 30 June 2012.
A lovely krausen from the US-05 yeast taken on Brendan's phone.
At Brendan's suggestion I made a 90 litre mash tun from an old whisky barrel and it made its debut at the Elveden Brewery where I mashed-in (twice) and boiled the wort. It fermented a week there before it was racked into a couple of 18 gallon casks (or kilderkins) and was taken to the Iceni Brewery for dry hopping and secondary fermentation under air-locks. Today, with Kathy's help (Brendan's assistant) we bottled off 200 x 660 ml bottles of Poppyland 'Pilot'. This is a big IPA based on Branthill Maris Otter malt, with a predicted abv of 5.9% and packed full of hops (Columbus, Cascade and Summit). Two thirds of the output was dry hopped with American Summit hops and one third dry-hopped with Columbus (which Mrs Brewer suggests should be called 'Co-Pilot' - nice one). This has huge aroma and grapefruit flavours and a long hoppy finish. Just the sort of thing to please the beer connoisseur on a summer's day. Enjoy. You can get some from me or The Cromer Farm and Health Shop in Tucker Street (behind the church).

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Discovering new beers

On most occasions when I go to Norwich nowadays I call at the Two Brewers Beer and Cider Shop in Magdalen Street. It is up near the traffic lights at The Artichoke end. I would encourage you to do the same as it is lacking in customers. Use it or lose it, as they say. Good craft beer isn't the cheapest way to drink but once again it is a question of quality versus quantity and the difference between price and value for money.

In Carlos Branquinho's tiny little shop you can not only find Norfolk Square's excellent ales but a whole host of beer from other craft breweries in Norfolk. I especially go for Green Jack's big swing-top bottles of Baltic Trader Imperial Stout, the fantastic Ripper barley wine and the last time I bought Gone Fishing ESB (£7 for 750 ml). Furthermore, without the expense of travelling to the Continent or even America, you can enjoy beer from world famous breweries like Dogfish Head, Uinta, Goose Island and Mikkeller.

A new brew on me was Smiske natural ale from the Smisje microbrewery in Mater, Oudenaade, Belgium. I lashed out £3.50 on the little 33 cl bottle (7% abv) and hoped for the best. When I got home, I drank the Gone Fishing while I made a (fantastic) lamb curry and it was a wonderful example of a strong English ale or extra special bitter. Then I moved on to the Smiske. On opening it, I sniffed the bottle. Oh, surprise. TCP! But when I poured it the aroma all but disappeared. This phenolic flavour in beer is usually considered a fault but in this case it most certain is not! I poured it into a nice stemmed glass and it built a fine white head and had a golden colour. The first taste was unusual. Mmm. Yeasty, but in a good way. Slightly smokey, coal, medicinal; bitter from noble hops, flavoursome, phenolic, TCP again, dry and that long, long yeast. Wow, I liked it! This golden Belgian ale had plenty to say. It was assertive and I am sure you won't have had anything quite like this, except perhaps real Pilsner Urquell (with its pitch-lined barrel aging), only this was more so and better for being bottle conditioned. This was well-aged I suspect. Coor! Are those Hallertau hops, or Styrian Goldings perhaps? Full-flavoured and stonking. Smiske shows what a good yeast can do for beer flavour and I really recommend it. Get on down to Magdalen Street and get some Smiske, while stocks last.

I am cultivating the live yeast from the bottom of the bottle and multiplying it up with the intention of pitching it into a 5 gallon batch of home brew sometime soon. Watch this space.

Street art and graffiti

There is a difference.

Near the Centre Pompidou, Chatelet, Paris I was astonished by this incredible image:

Sorry, don't know the artist. 20 April 2012
Street art inspires romanticism, stirs patriotism, spreads revolution, even breeds anarchy.

In West Street, Cromer the spray-can anarchist evidently approved of my revolutionary new idea - the Poppyland Brewery:

1 September 2011

Not like in Colombia, where a microbrewery in Bogota received a deadly message of disapproval, delivered to one of its pubs in the form of a hand grenade.

I keep out of politics and just let the beer do the talking.