Keepin’ it real: Cascade Party Ale (Real Ale in a Real Cask!)

20150803_113036Well, this is all very exciting isn’t it?  I’m brewing up in time for a party where I’ll be serving REAL ALE from a REAL CASK, just like what they do in a REAL PUB.

I mean, it’s not as if my ale isn’t real enough already – but I do force carbonate my draught all-grain beers in a cornelius keg, so by the CAMRA definition, my draught ale isn’t quite real enough…

But this time it will be…due to some VERY generous sponsors, I’ve managed to source a 4.5 gallon (36 pint) stainless steel pin (i.e. half a standard size firkin) and all the taps, shives, keystones, spiles and all that other good stuff required.

I’ll cover these beautiful people and their contributions when I post the article on the serving and tasting – this article purely deals with the brewing up of the beer.

My brewing brief was to make something that was close to Dark Star’s marvellous American Pale Ale – only just a little bit less bitter (there’ll be mainstream-lager drinkers there for chrissakes, so we need to “turn” them onto ales instead of their usual yellow mouthwash)

I wanted to keep body in the beer, without making it too “chewy”, the bitterness light without letting it get too sweet, and the hop aroma high because, well why the hell not?

Magnum hops will do a more than excellent job of imparting a very clean bitterness, while the Cascades will be doing most of the heavy-lifting in terms of flavour and aroma.

Here’s the recipe:

Cascade Party Ale

I mashed in at 38C, did 80 minutes at 66C and them a 10 minute mash-out at 76C. A small sparge of 3 litres or so and a 60 minute boil got me about 22L of cooled wort into the fermenter.

I aerated it with a minute of pure oxygen and then pitched the re-hydrated S04 yeast.

I will dry hop in the primary with 30g of Cascade, because that’s how I roll; obviously, I’d love to cask hop, but I can’t be doing with potential blockages in the cask on the big day…

The beer’s merrily bubbling away at an ambient temperature of about 20c*, which is a bit more than I would have liked but it should be OK.

I need to be fermented, casked, fined and conditioned before mid September as that’s when the party is…

Wish me luck!

(*oh, yeah…that thingy in the picture?  That’s a temperature logger – the probe of which, I’ve taped to the glass of the carboy with some insulation over the top – it will take a temperature reading every 15 minutes, so we can see how the temperature goes during fermentation.  Isn’t that EXCITING?  Eve says not.  Find yours on ebay, today.  I paid about £15 quid for it, think…)

Summer Summit Pale Ale – Tasting Notes

I have an on-off/love-hate relationship with some of the beers that I brew.

Some I taste when I’m kegging or bottling and I know that that particular beer is going to be great.  Others take a while to warm to…and that can be for a number of reasons…

Sometimes the beer just needs time to condition and show it’s best, other times it just needs to damn-well clear; believe me, once you’ve tasted an un-cleared, still yeast-bitten beer, or one that’s just too young, your memory can be haunted by it for that entire keg-full.

With this beer (, a number of things happened: I wanted some body in the beer so added a nice bit of wheat malt to thicken it up a bit; then I wanted it to be clear before visitors came for the weekend, so I fined it with some gelatine.

Fining with gelatine is simplicity itself, I used the Doctor Oetker powdered variety and dissolved a teaspoon worth in 200ml of warmish water and then gently heated that up to a little below boiling for a couple of minutes.

As I kegged the beer I poured the lot in.  No shaking, no buggering about, I just poured it in when transferring from the carboy into the keg.

I didn’t cold-crash it as I don’t have refrigeration (yet) but let it sit at about 18C for a day or so.  After this the beer was pouring relatively clear and smelt and looked good.

Then our guests cancelled out and I was left with a keg of beer all to myself (shame)

This pale ale poured a lovely polished brass yellow and had a great retentive sticky head.  The aroma was malty, straightforward and nicely hoppy for a pale ale.

In the taste I got sweet malts, a clean yeast profile (due to US-05) and a faintly perceptible candyish edge from the Thai palm sugar.

The hops were there; crisply tasty, and provided a light and refreshing bitterness that prompts much elbow-bending and supping.

All was good.  It’s not an spectacular beer; but it’s good, drinkable and just what I was after.

Then things got weird.  About an hour after drinking this beer, I noticed that there was a distinctly fatty, slick feeling in my mouth – like I’d had a really rich and meaty meal…something like a rib-eye steak.

I can only assume that this as a result of the gelatine being in suspension still and also maybe due to the additional wheat malt in the grist.

I ended up dumping about a litre of this beer – just to get rid of that weird slickness in the taste.  It’s fine now (and has independently been proved so) but I still can’t get the taste “memory” out of my head…

Next time if I fine with gelatine, I’ll be crash-cooling the keg straight afterwards and dumping at least the first pint!

(Yes, alright…I forgot to take a picture.  I’ll put one up when I remember…)

Not at all seditious! @UprisingBrewery: Treason – West Coast IPA

20150805_190524One of the joys of being a home-brewer is that you get unexpected surprises every now and then. I gave a work colleague a bottle of my oatmeal coffee porter and he turned up with a selection of beers for me in return…all of them purchased at the Windsor Eton Brewery shop – one of which was this rather excellent West Coast style IPA…

I do like a big beer in a smaller bottle, and for a lovely big IPA, 330ml is pretty much where I want it to be at.

Treason pours a lovely IPA orange colour – just like all good exemplars of the style. There’s a very slight haze – which I hoped was from loads of dry-hopping (it’s also a bottle-conditioned beer too…which is always nice.) The head was lacy-white and quite long-lasting…

The nose was all sweet malt and tropical hops, with no obvious pineyness or resin – just big old juicy fruity hops…that’s the West Coast way; and as I’ve also mentioned once or twice before when reviewing beers and formulating recipes, it’s a hopping strategy that’s so very now.

The carbonation is excellent and first impressions are of a whopping great solid mouthful of beer.

The resinous, tropical and piney hops team up to shoulder-charge your taste-buds and, after they’ve finished giving you a right old seeing to, a gorgeous creamy mouth-feel floods in (a little wheat in the grist, I wonder?)

At the swallow an excellent mouth-watering bitterness prickles and suffuses you with more pines and fruit that makes for a very lasting and satisfying finish.

This is a bloody marvellous IPA and I like it a lot; if I was to be unnecessarily picky, maybe I’d like a little more amplitude on the tropical notes in the taste, but in reality that is such a minor quibble it’s barely worth noting…I’d drink this every day with no trouble at all.

…and I do like that bottle artwork.  A lot.

Well done, Uprising!

Menage a Trois (100% Brett/Sacch. Trois) Pale Ale – Tasting Notes

20150715_191948Well, here’s a new one on me: a tasting in two halves:

Part One: Two weeks in the bottle

Slightly hazy orange-amber, with a lovely running bead and a great snow-white head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.

Gorgeously sweetly tropical, not resinous or dank, just good solid juicy tropical – which was precisely what I was after.  Thanks, Enigma hops!

(Juicy tropical is very much a la mode in pales and IPAs at the moment.  Christ, I’m sooooo “now“)

The mouth-feel is good and solid, and the taste is complex fruit and malt-sweetness – all accentuated by the spot-on carbonation.  The bitterness is exceptionally smooth, thanks to a lot of the bittering coming from the late hop additions.   At the end there’s a slightly dry note before the fruits and tropical notes come stampeding back in again.

Not as extreme and fruity as other beers that I’ve had but very good nonetheless.  I really couldn’t say how much fruitiness the Brett/Sacch Trois delivered, I’d challenge anyone to pick it out in a line-up based on the yeast alone.

All in all, I’m happy.  It’s a jolly drop and goes down just a bit too easily.

Part Two: Four weeks or so in the bottle

Well, it’s gin-clear now and still that lovely orange-amber colour with that same fantastic head.  The carbonation seems that touch stronger – but it’s well within style for a pale.

BUT.  Where’s all the fruit gone?  Has all that tropical fruitiness really disappeared in a couple of weeks?  There’s still remnants of it there, but it’s a shadow of it’s former self.  A lot of the sweetness has gone too, and we’re into a much drier sort of beast.

Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great beer, but it’s nothing like it was two weeks ago.  It’s more like a very gluggable Saison now…

Good job I’ve got a lot of bottles left…I think there’ll be plenty of updates as this beer ages.

Two take-aways:

1) I need to test Enigma hops again – I’ve yet to be convinced of their flavour and aroma durability/stability in a beer.

2) Brett/Sacch Trois definitely ain’t a Brett (see recipe post) but it’s also definitely not your run of the mill Sacch either.  This could be a yeast variety to specialize in…I’m sure it’s capable of great things…