Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Beer to Match Indian Food....

There has been a long term back-burner project for me to make the perfect beer to match Indian food and to plug a major gap for craft beer in the Indian Restaurant Market. Someone has beaten me to it....

Today while on a trip to Saffron Walden to look at some  Brewlab brewing kit we went to Indian Summer Brewery. A new 10 BBL plant in a prefabricated wooden shed, inside a large warehouse belonging to a Timber Merchant. A very strange set up indeed and not the place I expected to find someone brewing beer with the sole intention to sell to Indian Restaurants. However the sparge was on when we arrived, and 8 barrels of pale wort was being transferred into the kettle by brewer Jules and consultant Mike Hitchen from Brewlab.

So what is this beer? They call it Bombay Blonde and the website is set up for the beer not the brewery. I don't like the name but the branding is certainly distinctive. It pours clear pale and well carbonated, a must to cleanse the rich sauces from the pallet, although the head disappears quickly. Quite subdued on the nose but really refreshing and fruity on the palate. Good strong bitterness should play well with the spicy food. I did not have it with a curry but it went down a treat as a post gym pre dinner thirst quencher, so perhaps not such a one dimensional beer.

If I was being picky I would like something with a bit more alcohol (it is 4.5%), it may match the food a little better. However if I was in an an establishment that was serving this beer and the other options were Cobra and Kingfisher....it would be a no-brainer to choose this beer.

I believe this beer is being launched on Thursday 26th in Brick Lane...London beer people go check it out.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dry hopping for homebrewers

Last night I had to give a talk at London Amateur brewers about dry hopping beers. Well, I did not have to give a talk about dry hopping but being a bit of a hophead it was the obvious choice.

I promised a few homebrewers on twitter I would stick this on a blog....So here goes with some comments.

The 'teach your granny to suck eggs' slide....Not 100% sure of the benefit of Mash hopping but makes the mash tun smell good when you are cleaning it out. 

A selection of dry hopped beers I drink, of which Racer 5 is notable for having no aroma hops, just bittering and dry. Oh and a blatant plug for Weird Beard Brew Co.

 Pretty self explanatory. Can you sense a theme with my love of the smell of hops?

Try this at home Kids....You will find that the water is bitter. Dry hopping does add some bitterness to water, I would assume it would add some bitterness to beer as well. If you use Apollo hops as I did you will also get a noticeable smell of onion or garlic.

This is the sum of the collective intelligence on the internet. Hopping rates tend to be a bit higher in the USA and lower in the UK.

 Minor technique spot. Whole leaf hops give a considerably smaller effect unless you can keep them in motion around the beer on a regular basis. Some have said that dry hopping in a cornie and giving the cornie a roll every morning is one way of doing it. My view is avoid dry hopping with whole leaf hops if you can.

 Traditional English Dry Hopping. I did not quite get enough info from Fullers to make this a great slide. Hop plugs are 14g of whole leaf hops that are formed into an ice hockey puck shape.

Some info from Evin at the Kernel. Not much more to be said really.

You can experiment with hopped water to get a good feel for the effect of different hops.

Hop oil content taken from Brew Your Own's 'Hop Lovers Guide'. You can buy it from the USA or from Beer in Print here. The number in brackets is the High alpha acid value for the variety.  Note Amarillo can be very variable, Nelson Sauvin is very consistent, Columbus is very powerful, Kent Golding is subtle and Bullion shows that moderate alpha hops can have high oil content.

I have said before that hop pellets are best and whole leaf hops are a bit rubbish. The problem with hop pellets is that the availability of them in homebrew shops is patchy at best. So what do you do if you want that big dry hop character and can't get the pellets? Hop Purée! Try it! I have and it works well.

Not that anyone really cares...they have Evin's method (above). Talking of Evin, the first line is Evin's personal recommendation to homebrewers. 

...for adding hop character after fermentation.

Bit pointless this slide as you don't have the beer I was passing around...but it mentions Weird Beard so I kept it in.

These are all experiments that you can do at home. Dry hopping spirits has been mentioned recently by Mark Dredge at pencil and spoon. I do like the idea of making a hop tea with sugar and water and using it to prime the bottles. This is definitely on my list of things to do.

Ok, I hope this has been of some use to people, I don't consider myself an expert on this by any means but I have learnt a fair bit in the process of putting these slides together.