Loft conditioned goodness

A couple of loft experiences this month and while the first one was intentional the second was surprising. We started off with a non-alcoholic Hop Water commercial product that Ed brought along. We’d talked about these previously and it was interesting to see they really are just hop flavoured (Well more scented than flavoured) sparkling waters. This was a product by Manchester brewery Track and the aroma from the clear sparkling liquid was an intense hop loft. Fresh hops out of a vacuum pack, lemon and bright citrus – as you’d expect from Citra hops. The flavour was less – it was simply sparkling water I thought. It felt like a really grown up 0% ABV beverage for a summer beer garden.

We moved on from this sophisticated grown up drink to Unicorn beer. This was a stove-top 1 gallon kit brewed by Malcolm that should have been pink in colour with glitter. Thankfully the beetroot for colour (Surely it would add a soil flavour?) and the glitter were left out so it ended up being a clean pale ale style beer. Being a kit we did have a guess at trying to work out what the hops and grist were. It was quite fruity and the link above seems to indicate Amarillo and Mosiac. Seems about right

We followed this up with a paradox. How do you enter the SIBA homebrew contest where the concept is the best tasting Wheat beer in the UK when you’re a Gluten Free brewer. If you’re Ed you raid a vegetarian’s store cupboard and brew a light, refreshing Belgian Wit. Mashed with Teff, Millet, Quinoa, Rice and Lentils the beer was extremely light in colour, held a good white foam and had the gentle estery pear aroma. There was a lot of yeast handling discussion about how to get the best from the Lalbrew yeast; pitch rates and fermentation temperatures as well as considering the use of car wash water.

Lee had also been to visit the car wash to get the benefit a beautiful soft water as befits a wonderful Kolsh. Really clean and fast and wonderfully conditioned the yeast benefitted from a cool fermentation due to an absent son and a switched off radiator. I thought I picked up an English style hop aroma despite the use of hallertau mittelfruh. More down to my lack of sensitivity than the German hops going British I Imagine.

We had a return up next – a re-drink of Ken’s Cryo-hop entry – Polar Beer – again we discussed our disappointment with the cryo-hops and wondered if the fact the samples we snagged were out of date may be part of the reason for this. We also saw a little bottle to bottle differentiation. The first bottle having some astringency that wasn’t evident in the brighter and fresher tasing second bottle. Full marks for the use of AI in producing the excellent label – that really is the future. No more messing about with powerpoint.

Our second loft example was from Alistair who’d taken the unusual process step of bottle conditioning a beer in his loft for 2 or 3 years. While that wasn’t intentional (We all have bottles of brew stashed away in forgotten locations) the huge temperature fluctuations we get in our loft: Ice cold in winter and oven hot in summer, are not ideal storage conditions for aging beer. So how did this fare? It was actually really well conditioned. It had obviously kept fermenting in the time as it was highly carbonated – meaning a slow opening or a beer explosion – and had some considerable amount of sediment at the bottom. On tasting it wasn’t bad. Really complex is how you might describe the host of flavours fighting for attention, surprisingly drinkable for a not-to-be-repeated experiment.

Mine was the last beer and, as I am soon to be moving house, it is sadly the last beer I’ll brew in my Old Windsor shed brewery. It was a schwarzbier that is quite light and fruity with some dark flavours coming through. I’m hoping to enter this in the Lager than life homebrew competition and so look forward to seeing how it scores there.

We ended the night remembering Lee’s brilliant idea for a club competition we will aim to host in June we’re going to call (Loyd Grossman voice) “Who would brew a beer like this?” We think after trying each other’s beers so often now we can pick out each member’s brewing style in a blind tasting. While we’re still working out the logistics there’ll be two winners. The best identifier and the most confusing brewer. With the spanner in the works of throwing in a Ringer beer from the brewery this should be an interesting test of our sensory prowess.

Cheers.

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