He’ll soon be back at this rate: @OakhamAles – Bishop’s Farewell

20150127_201246…that’s if that Bishop’s got any sense; this is too good a beer to miss…

Well it’s happy times again as I get to report back on Oakham’s Bishop’s Farewell, and what a lovely beer it is too:

A lovely light and golden colour with a tempting hazy quality to it.  I say tempting, because haze – in my book – normally means DRY HOPPING and we all like a bit of that, don’t we?  The head was a little on the collapsible side, but that’s neither here ‘nor there.

The aroma was honey and citrus pith with that lovely singed bitter orange theme that I seem to get with all good hoppy beers; also in amongst were more than enough pines and dank to keep me interested.

The taste reminded me a bit of Oakham’s JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter) as it led out with that same beautifully assertive acerbic note, but after that came a light caramel from the malt that supported a hefty dose of pines, lemons and grapefruit prickliness.

Beautifully carbonated and magnificently refreshing this is a top beer to have with pretty much anything.  It’ll cut right through heavy British cuisine, but will also make Asian/Indian cuisines pop like mad.

The other great thing is that it’s a 500ml bottle – so there’s loads of it, and because of the excellent malt body it feels much bigger than the 5% ABV.

Bloody marvellous.

You could, if you fancied, chill it down a little further and serve it in the summer as you would a sparkling white wine in some fancy flutes (as per my review of Thornbridge Kipling: https://yeastismybitch.com/2013/11/11/thornbridge-kipling/) or you could just pour lovely great pints of it down your neck.

Get some today:

http://www.oakhamales.com/bottles.html

@adnams – Jack Brand Innovation IPA

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You may have noticed that the beer reviews have slowed down a bit…  I used to review pretty much every beer that I came across; but now there’s so much beer about the place that I’m having a hard job keeping up – and to be quite honest I hate reviewing mediocre beer and having to say “well, it’s sort of OK” and then trying to spin that out for about 300 words or so.

So: new year, new rules.

I will review beers that I think are great, novel or just damn tasty.  I will also pour extra effort into articles about brewing and even a bit about bread-making – plus a few exciting fermentation-based side projects.  Looking at the site statistics, it seems that brewing articles are the most well-received…so there’ll definitely be more of those…

Anyway, here’s a beer that I do think is great: Adnams Jack Brand Innovation IPA

Pouring a very lovely amber colour, with a fine head that rapidly drops to a wispy covering – this looks like a proper “craft” IPA.

At 6.7% you know that it’s going to be big and worth having, so lets get on with it.

The aroma is very special: dank – but not oppressively so – with a great big breakfast grapefruit, pines and peppery top layer that, with further sniffing, reveals a firm underscore of freshly-cut blood oranges and a final lovely and lasting burnt bitter-orange note.  It’s big, it’s bold but it isn’t brash; alluringly hopped, that’s my term for it.

Upon tasting there’s big mouth-filling malts, a very welcome alcoholic warmth and a silky-smooth body that showcases a whirl of taste sensations – all vying for your attention: sharp citrus and grapefruit pithiness, dark demerera sugar, lemons ‘n’ limes, pines and deep meaningful dankness; spiciness abounds and runs up against more deep dankness to leave you – quite frankly – all post-coital glowy and lolling about.

Then of course the beer whispers “shall we do it again?” and before you know it you’re rolling about the floor, in IPA heaven again…

God, I need to take a shower now.

Buy some today.  Not just because it’s good, but because it’s good and attractively priced, being available from the Adnams online shop for £18.99 for 12.  That’s about £1.50 a bottle – contrast that with offerings from other brewers that are on a par, taste-wise, with Innovation IPA…

I know Adnams have scale on their side, but they are producing excellent beer…at scale.

http://cellarandkitchen.adnams.co.uk/catalog/product/bottles/adnams-jack-brand-innovation-12-x-330ml-bottles-67-abv?page=2&sort=price_asc

Yeast stir-plate build

You can tell when this home-brewing has stopped being just a hobby and become a weird obsession; it starts with a bit of canned kit brewing, then you go to extract and before you know it you’re doing all-grain.  Then you start building temperature controllers, brew-fridges and all manner of other shite that clutters up your house.  For my money, the ultimate “you’ve getting into this too deep” accessory is the yeast stir-plate.

Eh?  Whassat?

A stir-plate is just a way of keeping a yeast starter in constant motion and adding in a steady supply of oxygen – so that when you come to pitch the yeast starter into the wort, your yeasty mates are in perfect condition.

People who ferment their beer from yeast starters report better attentuation in their fermentation, improved taste in the finished beer and increased virility in the bedroom.

I’m also hoping that it’ll mean that I can culture up yeasts from bottles of commercial beer that I’ve particularly enjoyed (Hook Norton, Adnams and crazy Belgian beers especially)

There are already tons of posts and articles on other blogs detailing how they made their stir plates and why they make starters, etc.  So I’m going to just include the information here that I found useful and had to hunt around for, plus some pictures of my incredibly shoddy workmanship (it’s no surprise that I work in IT and am not a craftsman or tradesman)

20150122_201031It’s basically a lunchbox, with a computer fan, some neodymium (rare earth) magnets, a rheostat and an old phone transformer.

Here’s the parts list and where they came from:

  • Lunchbox from the cheapskates shop (£1.39)
  • 5v Phone Charger (Free from the parts bin at work)
  • 12v PC case fan (1x bottle of homebrew to the guys in desktop support at work)
  • 50x 10mm x 1mm rare earth magnets ( £3 or so from fleabay, I used six of them)
  • 1x 25ohm 3Watt Rheostat (£4 fleabay)
  • Electrical tape and Blu-tack
  • Some m4 long shank bolts and nuts to secure the fan to the lid of the lunchbox

As you can see I’ve very professionally attached the magnets to the fan hub using Blu-Tack.  It’s the only thing that worked.  “No more nails” was a dead loss.  Araldite would probably have worked:

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I wired the positive in to the central pole of the rheostat and the positive from the fan to the left pole.  This seemed to work OK.  I also had to use a 5v power supply as a 12v caused the fan to skitter around the room whenever powered on (with or without the rhesostat):

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Once we were all assembled I only had to put the Borosilicate 1L flask on top (£9 fleabay again) and drop in the smallish magnetic PTFE-covered stir-bar from the set I bought (7 pc set £9 fleabay)

With the rheostat set to about halfway you get a nice little whirlpool – which should be enough to get a starter going:

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..and if you really crank it up, you get a right old vortex!:

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Landlord’s Daughter’s Breakfast Porter – Tasting Notes

20150117_212747You know the old home brewing adage: “your beer is at it’s best as you’re just finishing the last pint“?  Well, that’s kind of where I am at the moment.  The keg of LLDBP is getting dangerously close to kicking and I’m still enjoying this beer no end.

It pours a really lovely dark garnet – when held up to the light you can just about see through it.  The retention of the tan head is also bang on and would be fantastic through a nitrogen stout tap (if I had one).

The aroma is complex and enjoyable – there’s a lot of fruity, vinous notes from the S33 yeast and a lovely malty sweetness to back it up – overlaying all of that is decadent, delicate, coffee edge that lilts and soars and then folds back in with the yeasty fruity notes.  Aroma-wise I’m very happy – any more coffee in it than this and we’d be in the realm of the “novelty” beer.

The mouth-feel is luxuriant and silky-smooth – thanks to the oats – and is unctuously enjoyable.

Taste-wise, I get gentle fruity, Belgian, notes that segue straight into dark malty sweetness that is overtaken briefly by the subtle coffee theme, before a very nice bitter note rounds the whole thing out.  The finish is pleasantly dry, dry enough to remind you that there’s just that bit more in that glass that you really need to get down your neck.

Overall this is probably one of the most complex, intriguing and enjoyable beers that I’ve ever made and it’s reinforced the importance to me of trying to make bold and (hopefully) intelligent decisions when formulating my recipes.

If I were to make this beer again the only thing that I’d change would be to include a little bit of roast barley – that would just provide a smidgeon of roasty bitterness that I think would make this an even better beer; everything else I’d leave exactly as-is.

I’m so glad I had the forethought to bottle half of this, I’ll look forward to enjoying the bottles as this beer ages further.

You’ll find the recipe here:  https://yeastismybitch.com/2014/12/15/the-landlords-daughters-breakfast-porter/

M’colleague Mr Paul Bishop took the time to write me a short review of his experience tasting the bottled version, which I’ll include:
There are three things that I know: I love ale, I love Science, I don’t understand brewing terminology – so when reading the original posting about the making of this beer I was drawn into a bit of a kerfuffle: trying to plunge one’s nose into an oatmeal and coffee blend of a brew with a sinus infection was near pointless, but certain smells got through and could be nailed with words of grandeur – words such as “Robust”, “Toasty” and “Luxuriously Smooth”. 
The colour of chestnuts and with a small tight head, it only improved the drowning process that I was immersed in.  An aroma of coffee-richness and oats in the blend repeated at the belch was present throughout and gratefully received.  A very fine porter that, thanks to a child’s prodding, was not a stout like a train wreck!  More, please!