Category Archives: Meetings

Oh it’s an Eisbock

The meeting started with me drying out after an ill conceived idea to cycle in through the pouring rain. It also highlighted my poor memory when Ed walked in with 25kg of floor malted Maris otter that he had gotten by mistake. He’d very kindly offered to divvy it up to anyone who wanted some and everyone was very happy to receive it. It also gave us the opportunity to see an “ancient” Chinese grain scoop, which Alistair brought to fill a bucket. The grain scoop was a simple design, but it worked perfectly.

We had seven beers tonight – a great haul – and with no theme a real mix of styles. First up was Alan’s raspberry saison rebrewed. It was a great fruity, zingy, and mouthwatering summer drink. The saison characteristics were less pronounced than in the previous version of the beer, which led to some discussion about whether under- pitching yeast can give saison flavors. Maybe stressing the yeast a little increases the esters and phenols that give the beer it’s funky flavours?

The second beer was a beautiful Citra-based APA. The hops exploded with citrus aromas, and the beer was really bright. It was made with Kviek Oslo yeast, which demonstrated how simple good beer can be in terms of recipe. It also led to general agreement that 14C is the optimum temperature to dry hop at if you can control temperature.

Number three was a Red Rye ale that the group christened “Dishwater!” It was very murky looking, but it tasted good. This led to a discussion about the use of finings to clear beers. The group discussed everything from simple use of gelatine sheets to two-stage professional fining systems.

Next up was a textbook example of an ESB. The caramel and toffee flavors were balanced well against the bitterness of EKG hops. There were yeasty fruity notes that made me wonder if the beer was stronger, could it even transform to a Belgian dubbel with a slight recipe tweak?

The fifth beer was a surprise: a Squid stout (actually made with cuttlefish ink because it’s brown not blue). The beer still needed more colour to get into stout territory, so the group discussed some viable non-gluten options that could be used; Treacle, Mollasses and Candi sugar. The aroma however was pure marmite – really meaty. This is usually from yeast autolysis, but this was a young beer so maybe not. Maybe it’s the meaty taste of the deep sea ingredients?

Google tells me (as I knew nothing of it) that squid ink is a dark ink produced by squid as a defense mechanism. It is used in a variety of dishes, including pasta, rice, and sauces. It has a unique dark color and rich, savory flavor – this could explain things. Squid ink contains many unique compounds, including melanin, and has a variety of uses, including culinary ones.

The sixth beer was a surprising Dunkle bock that last month was very bland and nothingy. Six weeks in a keg had transformed this into a dark sweet desert beer! The group had no idea how this had changed so much? I have however worked out exactly what’s happened. My keg fridge is temperature controlled by an Inkbird and set at 6C. That’s what the display reads now. However I opened up the lid tonight to find it full of ice and the colling running. The temperature sensor was iced up and still reading 6C. I think what’s happened is the water in the beer has frozen and we were drinking the high alcohol remnants. An inadvertent EisBock. I’ve no idea what strength it is but think I’ll bottle the rest of the keg! I’ve also a second keg in there with a Brewdog Elvis Juice clone in it. I’ll get a bottle of that as well for us to try next month.

The final beer of the night was a beer that the group had been worried about – an entry to the Chertsey brew competition that had been called “undrinkable.” But it wasn’t! It was a good pale ale – British hops coming through nicely and clean and bright. The thinking was it could have been too young, too green at the competition and had conditioned nicely. In brewing, time is your friend.

All in all, it was a really strong month in terms of beer quality. Next month – April – is the SMaSH theme – may well be some Maris otter beers there. In June we agreed a theme of Summer Lovin’ – light refreshing beers for drinking in a pub garden or at a hot BBQ – Alan’s saison is a prime candidate for this.

Cheers!

Post Script June 2023

So I decided to enter the Eisbock into the Lab Open 2023 Homebrew contest (Link) and was over the moon to get placed Third on the Strong Lager table. Everyone loves a rosette eh?

The Spoils

A shedload of Stout

Is a shedload the right word for a lot of stout? An Oil tanker? A Swimming pool? I’m not sure there’s an official term but whatever we decide it is that’s what we had at the February meeting. As well as a lot of beers it was great to see a lot of people. A couple of new members and great to see some old faces again.

Fifteen beers is a good old session and we had some superb specimens. I think there’s a wealth of stout brewing capability in this group. We need to turn our hand to malting and come up with a way to get the dark colour into Gluten Free grains. The first beer was a GF Stout but suffered from low colour. The use of tea in the recipe, I think, helped with the dark flavours but there’s a solution to the increasing the colour out there somewhere.

We then had a couple of versions of the same beer – Camden’s Ink – two great dry stouts the biggest difference that jumped out was the body. The beer with amazing body, much fuller than the 4.5% abv warrants was mashed at 66.5C. So there was a lot of surprise and discussion about how high this seemed, but it obviously worked. Both these beers were great examples of a stout in terms of both recipe and execution. It also led into a discussion about how using a higher mash temperature could inject a fuller body into Gluten free beers. Mashing these in at 68-70C may have a dramatic increase in unfermentable dextrins that would add to the mouthfeel of these beers.

We had a little jaunt away from Stout-land with a malty clean schwarzbier and discussed the use of oxygen scavenging caps , really useful if you’re planning on keeping your beers for a long time. This was followed by a Dunkel Weiss which was drinkable but lacked a little in the banana aroma department and had quite an acidic bite. The source of this acidity was discussed and various potential reasons were proposed.

Back on the stouts we delved into commercial samples – see what we’re aiming for. One of these was a beer brewed using Kviek yeast – something we’ve often discussed – the strong coffee and chocolate and full body were something we could all aim for. I’d recommend Mammoth brewery’s Aguacatones breakfast coffee stout A great beer.

Back to the homebrew and we get right back onto a return star we’ll now call Mt Vesuvius. The Cherry and tequila soaked oak chip stout we’ve tasted rounding out over the past few months has fantastic flavours but is a lively beast. It took some opening and we lost a very high proportion of the bottle to excessive foam loss, but it was worth it.

Alan’s cooking stout we tasted while the explosive beer settled down to pouring effervescence and this was a treat. A classic dry stout with a subtle flavour of dandelion & burdock from a Barr’s pop lorry a happy reminiscence. We followed this up with a triple Christmas stout comparison. The same beer made for the last three Christmas’s from 2020 to 2022. The flavour changes were noticeable as the beer aged, some slight oxidation flavours in the older bottles gave a sherry note, the others were enormous with a lot of complex flavours marrying together in a way that clearly rounds out over time. Maybe the oxygen scavenging caps are perfect for beers that are to be aged like these.

Our last stout of the night – not the last drink mind – was a strong 7.5% boozy brew that had a slight apple flavour to it we couldn’t pin down. Was it red apples or maybe even soft fruits? However the beer was one you could sit down with a big cigar in front of a roaring fire on a dark winter’s night. Stout level completed we rounded off the night with some fruit.

Brining the bananas was a classic representation of a Hefeweizen. Bang on spec, doing everything as it should, cloudy, thick white head and the distinctive aroma and taste direct from Germany.

For desert we ended with two meads. My first time drinking mead and I can say I’m a fan. I was expecting honey but got a zingy, refreshing, smell of springtime from the elderflowers and punchy in your face fruit-acidity in the red fruit version. The flavours belied the strength of the beverages and you could easily see yourself sipping a lot more of these than you expected to.

We ended the evening finishing off the remaining beers and agreeing that the Old Windsor Horticulture show can act as our annual homebrew contest as they have rosettes and a judge known to like strong sweet beers. The idea was floated to all brew the same recipe for this, something we will discuss further I’m sure as ew have until the beginning of September to get our act together.

We also agreed on a theme for April. SMaSH. This is a Single Malt, Single Hop brew. Something you can use to highlight of experiment with a malt or hop variety you want to shine through. That’s the only requirement, one hop type, one malt type. Your mashing, hop additions, yeast, water additions etc etc are still a free for all. I look forward to trying them.

Cheers.

(Note : updated 27 FEB 2023 following an error on the mash temperature used to make the Ink Stout)

Gluten Free Zone

Gluten free month started with me admitting I had cocked up my brew. I had great intentions of brewing some sort of Belgian style Dubbel. I had loads of GF cereals and plenty of enzyme to convert them. Except I didn’t. I had some AMG from Malt Miller and thought I had some Amylase from a previous life. However I did not have any amylase. This meant after mashing in, and realising what I was missing, I added the AMG and hoped that would work. It didn’t I had 30 litres of hot flour water basically. And it stayed like that for hours while I wondered how to save it.

Not Wort

Fun fact. Honey is a source of Amylase. This is an issue when making BBQ sauces that contain it as over the shelf life the enzyme breaks down starches in the sauce to sugars These are much less viscous. This means the sauce loses it’s body and turns to a thin liquid. Not so fun fact, this takes months to happen so adding honey to your mash doesn’t breakdown the starches in there. It just adds expensive honey to something you’re going to end up dumping.

Luckily other members had a lot more success and we had some beers to get stuck into. First up was a lager brewed using Sorghum. This had a really fruity aroma and flavour to it. So much that you could mistake if for a pale ale dry hopped with a lot of American hops. So it was drinkable but not quite to style. We discussed what might have caused the yeast to kick out such flavours – especially as the temp was controlled through fermentation.

Next up was a GF Belgian Wit. Really characteristic of the style with the spicy notes and after-taste of bitter orange coming through strong. It would be hard to say this didn’t have wheat (as it’s name demands) in it. We then went back to a beer I had tried before. This was entered into the Chertsey homebrew competition back in December mimicking the supplied Burton Pale Ale recipe provided. The extra few weeks in the bottle had done this the world of good. It had conditioned beautifully and we thought is a great chassis to build other beers on. A foundation beer that was great on its own but you could see the possibilities that a different hop regime could bring to this.

We then made a rookie mistake. I made a Ginger ale as the ingredients (140g Ginger, 200g Sugar, 2 x Lemon Juice & Kviek yeast to give 2 Litres) are all gluten free. It’s a great and simple recipe, really nice on a hot summer day, but ginger does pack a flavour punch so trying it mid-flight does sort of blast your tastebuds a little as well as making the glass and room smell of ginger for quite some time.

So for me the the next non-GF beer we tried. A clean cold Kolsch had a distinct ginger flavour/aroma to it. However I’m certain the beer itself was a great example. We discussed the usefulness of brewing a Kolsch as it’s much more forgiving than a traditional lager and yet can easily pass for one with friends and family who are less discerning in their appreciation of beers. It’s the ideal brew to make for a family BBQ for instance where everyone will pile into it and assume it’s ‘lager’.

We finished the evening with the return of the cherry & chocolate, tequila oaked stout we tried before Christmas. Again time has been a friend to this beer. The chocolate flavour was outstanding – a lot of this coming from the use of Phoenix hops which are described as bringing ” mild spicy, chocolate and molasses” aromas. These seem to be an ideal hop choice for a stout like this where you’re aiming for that Black forest gateaux flavours.

As an afterthought we tried a little experiment adding some Ginger beer to the stout. While we didn’t quite get the ideal ratio this did show that ginger is an ingredient that would work well in this style of beer.

Lastly I need to say thanks again to Lee who made me one of these amazing bottle carriers for me to carry beers to future meetings. The workmanship and quality are outstanding thank you!

Outstanding craftmanship

Next month is Stout month so looking forward to some deep dark beers. Cheers.

Cold cans

Another new location for the club meeting this month – we were in the midst of the brewery next to the new canning line and Matt Stead gave us a quick overview of how it’s going. While it was interesting and pretty cool to be in the heart of the brewery it was pretty cold in there. Luckily we had a beer or two to warm us up as you’d hope.

We had a massive range of beers to try this month and started the evening with a non-beer beverage. A super neighbour’s-apples winter cider. Really sharp but with added cranberry and other flavours added to give it a bit of a Christmassy vibe. This was followed up with more fruit – a gluten-free grapefruit IPA. This was a great sessionable IPA that could probably take even more fruit – pile in the zest in the fermenter as well as the boil.

The next beer was a lovely dark mild – a great example of the style and something I could imagine enjoying in a country pub on a cold dark afternoon a real seasonable beer.

I brought in my entry to the Craft beer channel vs Meantime English IPA competition run by the Malt Miller as well as the can of the Now IPA that inspired the competition. I’ll be honest I wasn’t that keen on my own beer. It was hopped only with Olicana hops – I’d never used these before – and I just felt it tasted of Spangles. Also despite dry hopping with 100g in 20L there was no hop aroma at all. I put it down to dry hopping at 5C instead of my usual 14C. Something I’ll not do again.

We ramped the quality of beers right back up with a couple of stouts after this. Both strong beers one flavoured with cherries and oak chips soaked in tequila. The second also conditioned on oak chips. This was a fascinating insight into how aging really rounds out, softens and improves beers. One of the beers was aged significantly more than the other and the sharper jagged flavours in the newer beer were noticeable. The good news it this will definitely age into something super.

We ended the session with a real 2-cigar next to a log fire barley wine. Aged over a year (I think) this was a fantastic well balanced strong beer that would be a perfect after-dinner end to an evening. Beautiful.

That’s it for this year – we’ve no December meeting (it would fall on Christmas) – but we do have the Chertsey brew competition on the 10th December with the club being well represented. So fingers crossed. What will be interesting – and it could be an opportunity for someone as there’s also a pie and vodka infusion competition at the same time. It will be a great afternoon I’m certain.

Remember January is our gluten-free challenge. I’ve been emptying out the gluten-free isle at Sainsbury’s in preparation. Look forward to seeing what everyone else brews in 2023.

Merry Christmas & a happy new year!

Fran’s Homemade tonic recipe

As shared by Fran following on from the update about the tonic water kit made by Grainfather below is the homemade tonic recipe.

Homemade tonic Water (cordial) recipe

900mls Water (original recipe 3cups/675ml)

37g Chopped Cinchona bark (original recipe 1oz/28g) (I put mine in a mesh hop/tea bag to be re-used a few times. You can obtain this Cinchona bark online from natural remedy medical places.)

83g citric acid (original recipe 2.2oz/62g)

15g limes (3) – peeled zests only (original recipe 0.4oz/11g)

19g lemon (3) – peeled zests only (original recipe 0.4oz/14g)

19g oranges (2) – peeled zests only (original recipe 0.5oz/14g)

44g (3) stalks lemongrass tops and bottoms trimmed, outer leaves removed then sliced into tiny slices (2.5oz/71g)

5 whole allspice berries (original recipe 4)

4 whole green cardamom pods (original recipe 3)

1.25 tablespoon lavender (original recipe 1)

Combine all ingredients into a large lidded glass jar, put in the fridge and shake once a day for 72 hours (I wrapped mine in a towel in the boot of the car which did the job of daily shaking. Works for any infusions such as limoncello).

Simple sugar syrup

355ml Water (1.5 cups)

600g Natural cane sugar (3 cups/21oz)

Dissolve the sugar over med heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool.

Strain the infusion then strain again through a coffee filter. Add to the syrup. Refrigerate or heat seal this cordial into small bottles. 

Use with soda water or sparkling water for the tonic part of gin or just as a lovely non alcoholic drink we call Monic (mock gin & tonic).

Have fun. It doesn’t last long.

Fran

Gin and Hops

A little late writing up the October meeting so the hazy vague memories a night on the beer often leads to will be even more fleeting as I try and remember what we had.

We did start the night off with a little sensory training using Owen’s kit. The theme being hops – a lot more pleasant than the previous ‘off flavours’. We spiked samples of Republika with spikes of Myrcene, Geraniol and Linalool for aroma and with the dark brown liquid of Isomerised hop extract to boost the bitterness. It does not take a lot of that to make a tasty lager something that would strip paint.

The varying amounts (measured scientifically in ‘drops’ by me) that are needed to make the hop aromas easily noticeable, but not overpowering is a fine balance. It shows as well – the differences in amounts – that it’s nt always the highest oil content of the hop that will dominate. The balance and ratios of the oils are something that – as we see – offer a multitude of different overall aromas. This comes back to the blending ratios I mentioned before. It’s not alway more and more hops that improve a beer but the ratios of different hop types that can accentuate or dull the overall impact.

After all the sniffing it was time to get back to the drinking. As ever some great beers and we’re really getting a taste for the Gluten free brews. An interesting experiment looking at two similar pale ale style beers, one with Sorghum and one with added Buckwheat. As I remember I think the buckwheat softened the beer and maybe even added a little body. Getting body in these is something that is an important club to have in your bag when using enzymes that will make every sugar molecule in sight available for the yeast to devour.

Back with the malt based brews we enjoyed a great clone of the 5 points best bitter – maybe this is a theme / competition for later. Clone wars, who can get the closest to a beer they bring in in a head to head style comparison. Will put that on the back burner. Also a return of the Pale from the previous month that was a little under-carbonated. It was lifted by more gas that also had a slight detectable banana flavour. This led to an interesting discussion of yeast pitching techniques and the benefits of dry and liquid styles and building starters. 

A green hop IPA gave a seasonal feel to the drinks and is definitely the way forward to anyone growing their own hops. Something that should be in everyone’s brew schedule each year we can look forward to. We finished off with a copy of the ESB recipe from a previous meeting that had run away with itself. The Nottingham yeast Alan used munched through the wort and ended up with a brew that was packing 6.3% and had a lot of body to show for it. A lovely beer and an idea for adding body to gluten-free beers. The alcohol itself adds body to a beer, so even when there is no residual sugar there it will feel heavier.

In a change to the advertised programme we finished with a sophisticated G&T. There was a reason to this, at the recent BrewCon when speaking to Grainfather they gave a sample of a kit that allows you to make 19L ot tonic and the carbonate it in your Corny keg. I brought this is because it tastes amazing, surprisingly so. It’s now on draught in the shed and we will never run out of tonic again – this is a game changer. Next step distilling our own gin…

As a last point we agreed to a theme for the February meeting next year. January will be the Gluten free challenge and then Feb will be Stout month, so we can look forward to some warming drinks in the cold nights.

The no malt challenge

What makes beer beer? The Germans and their Reinheitgebot law were certain they knew. Water, hops and barley. What happens if you can’t tolerate one of those ingredients? Do you give in and live a dismal existence existing on cider and wine like peasant? You do not. You use the might of technology and science available to you and you learn how to make beer with no barley and to hell with the 16th century Bavarian bureaucrats. And you do it well.

We welcomed a new member to the club who brought along a couple of very unusual beers. Gluten free brews made with sorghum and millet. It was – to be honest – a little trepidation I tried them and was pleasantly surprised. They were both beer, light in colour, hoppy in aroma, quite dry but very crisp. Great brews.

This brought the discussion around to gluten-free beers styles. With the pallet of colours and flavours that maltsters offer the brewer – how to make something other than a light coloured and flavoured beer using alternative cereals and ingredients. Give it some thought – this will definitely be a monthly challenge probably early next year. How would you make a full bodied stout or an ESB?

As well as the gluten-free beers we had a great selection of hop driven brews to sample. Pale ale, NEIPA, Grapefruit-IPA and Tropical Storm the Black-pale ale served at the WeBrew beer festival.

The range of hop flavours on display – including the intensity of a NEIPA made with Cryo hops got the technique discussion and comparisons flowing. The use of hop spiders, magnets and marbles(!), time and temperature there are so many levers you can pull to get the most out of the hop aromas and flavours. Swapping stories and techniques is – as always – a great way to spark ideas and prompt change in your own routines.

So this leads nicely into October’s meeting, planned for Wednesday 26th, we’ll be taking advantage of Owen’s flavour training kit again to look at the hop flavour components. So getting to know the following hop oil components; Myrcene – (fresh resinous hop character), Linalool – (spicy hop character), Geraniol – (floral hop character) and unfortunately Valeric acid – (cheesy, stale hop flavour).

Cheers!

Taste training

The smell of failure

It absolutely stank in the room during the taste training. I nipped out to get some more Republika to spike with terrible beer fault chemicals and when I walked back in the combination of six different off-flavours filled the room like a miasma of badly made beer. Luckily these were mostly new aromas and ones we won’t come across very often, or at all, in future.

I have to say thanks to both Owen, for sharing the kit for us to use, and Deb for setting up and running the fascinating professional taste training.

Taste training
Setting up taste training

The training itself followed a set method. We had a control sample of high quality Republika and then were offered a cup of spiked lager and asked to write down what aromas and tastes we could describe. These were shared across the group and then we were told what the beer had been spiked with and we discussed where that flavour might come from. For that this paper here was a fantastic reference.

The horrible half dozen of flavours we tasted and discussed were; dimethyl sulfide (DMS), Chlorophenol, diacetyl, isoamyl acetate, isovaleric acid and Eugenol (Phenol). Individually many of these were horrific – the combination was an assault! But it was all worth it the learnings and vocabulary to describe the faults will make identifying and rectifying faults so much easier.

Get a whiff of this

Thankfully we had some great drinks brought in to be shared after the lesson to wash away the faults and remember how nice booze can be. A real varied selection as well. We started with two American wheat beers the difference between the two highlighted the impact of US versus UK hops. Citrus versus floral and the impact of oats on head & body.

We then tried a returner, a hoppy pale ale we’d tasted before. This really meant we got to use the lessons we’d just learnt. The beer had transformed from a light clean fruity pale into something that closely resembled a superb clone of Saison Dupont. The phenolic flavour that had developed as it bottle conditioned and some leathery farmyard flavours pointed to an infection in the bottle – a fortunate one that led to a real farmhouse beer.

The easiest homebrew in the world came next Aldi apple juice cider. Get juice from the cheap German supermarket, pitch in some yeast and wait. At the end of it you have a spot on cider. Not too sweet, the fruity acidic bite of apple. Refreshing, bright and clear and tasting exactly like a cider should. Easy.

A real treat of a beer next a dark Belgian strong ale that had been aged for a couple of years and had aged wonderfully. The dark fruit, treacle and sweetness of the beer evoked a fireside sipping beer with a big cigar to see the winter night through. The complex flavours developed from a a simple malt bill of pale ale and dark candy sugar is amazing. A super beer.

Pop!

To wash down this beer and end the night of a fruity high we finished with a blueberry & Blackcurrant fruit wine. Sweet and sour perfectly balanced in a drink that was like sipping Ribena again amazing flavours from a simple sugar, water steeped on fruits. The simple process is obviously the best way.

Cheers.

Taste training in August

What is that egg smell? Why does my IPA taste like the Daily Mirror? If you want answers to these questions and want to be able to identify off-flavours in beer we’ve got just the meeting for you.

Thanks to Owen Orton for sharing his Brewlab taste training kit I’m really excited to announce we are running a training session on identifying off flavours in beer at the August meeting planned for Wednesday the 31st.

The session will be set up and run by Deb Woodcock who worked in quality & production for 16 years in a big multinational brewery. For a lot of this time she set up and managed the sensory panel including training sessions just like this.

Brewlab Taste Training Kit

We’ll be looking at tasting examples of five or six common off-flavours that you’re likely to see in your Homebrew and explaining their origins so you can make sure you don’t get them in future brews. So whether you’re an experienced beer sommelier or don’t know catty from skunky this session will be a great introduction or a nice refresher.

Please let us know if you’re attending to make set up and preparation a little easier.

West coast is the best coast

What is a West coast style? That was the theme set for July’s meeting and it was nicely vague enough to get two very different styles and then even more variety within the styles.

West Coast IPAs

The obvious – first thought in my mind – is a West Coast IPA. A bright and lively, hop bomb of a beer with a sharp bitter linger and an explosion of fruit or resin on the nose. A beer that’s strong and punchy enough to make sure you know you’re drinking it. We had three great examples that showed the base of pale malt and a bit of crystal can carry a huge range of flavours and aromas and give quite different drinks.

We tasted the three IPAs directly against each other and could easily describe the differences; more body here, a brighter appearance there, assertive bitterness in this one, softer fruitier flavours in this one. The differences gave opportunity for an in depth discussion on the processes used and hop varieties chosen.

One discussion point I found interesting were firstly around dry hopping temperature. Personally I drop the FV temp down to 14C let some of the yeast drop out for 12-24 hours and then add the hops for about 3 days. Pellets just dumped in. Other regimes focussed on taking great care to minimise oxygen pick up and not changing from fermentation temperature when dry hopping. I think there’s a great opportunity for an experiment with everyone brewing the same recipe but following their own dry hopping regime. One for the future.

One of the resources I used to develop the hopping recipe was the amazing work done by Scott Janish. He has done some really interesting work looking at the flavour and aroma components of hop varieties and their expression in beer. It here I got the idea of using 14C but also the realisation that it’s not always more is better. The tool linked here – Hop Oils Calculator – made me realise that it’s the combination and relative levels of hop oils that make the beers pop and not necessarily just adding in more and more of all the hops. I’ve pasted some screen shots from the tool that give the expected flavours from dry hopping at different ratios of Simcoe, Amarillo & Mosiac. The different descriptions mean this is a tool that allows you to target the flavour and aroma you love in your beers. It’s genius! The variations are amazing just by tweaking the ratios of the different hops so the oils mute or lift other oils in the hops. There’s a lot of levers to pull here.

All three hops the same level

More Amarillo
Adding a lot of Mosiac

And speaking of delicate hop flavours the last two beers of the night were a fascinating experiment. Another Westcoast style – Steam beer or California Common – made famous by Anchor brewery is a great easy drinking beer for sipping in the sun. Using it’s very heat tolerant yeast and usually hopped with Northern Brewer hops gives it quite a delicate, sweet and piney herbal aroma. Some ingenious recipe development improved on this. We tasted two versions of a split batch (As always beautifully labelled) – the first brewed traditionally with Northern Brewer hops the second substituting them for Elderflower. A bold choice you might think. It worked really well.

The delicate slightly perfume flavours from the Elderflower sat perfectly in the beer. If I hadn’t been told the flower was in there I would have put the earthy flowery taste and aroma down to the use of a English or noble hop. It really brightened the beer and in my opinion improved it on the more traditional take, without it being obviously a “flavoured” beer.

A great night as always. Looking forward to next month’s meeting planned for August 31st where we might be doing something special, watch this space.

Cheers