Our first meeting back after the Christmas break, and our first ever competition, saw some old friends making a welcome return back from the pre-Covid world meetings. The meeting was dedicated to judging the Winter Ale Contest but we also welcomed a few lighter palate cleanser beers as well to help with the concentration; an excellent dry hopped lager, a first spot on all grain attempt at a Landlord clone and a fruity Mosiac SMaSH
We had four beers entered – which may not seem many but given half of them had an ABV in double figures it was plenty to get though in a session. There were two prizes on offer. The main prize was the Champion beer as judged by combining a carefully thought out and considered scoring system looking at Appearance, Aroma, Flavour, Desirability and Style. After some discussion and recalibration of what 10/10 would mean for a strong dark winter ale (Note – it is not “Could drink pints of this”) the judging commenced.
We were also lucky enough to have Head Brewer Matt Stead with us as well to offer advice and choose the Brewer’s Choice prize. So to the beers, quite a range two extra-strong dark beers in a Russian Imperial Stout and an Eisbock and a couple of relatively lighter beers – relative being key at around 7% – with a traditional spiced winter ale and a Belgian Dubbel style beer. After trying the beers I’ll admit the maths proved to be more of a problem than I anticipated. Adding up scores and working out the average was impaired by the strength of the beers.
And so to the winner – a superb beer, perfect for sipping next to a roaring log fire with a cigar on the go. Congratulations to Iain M’s Russian Imperial Stout. A worthy winner and I’m sure he’ll turn the Maris Otter he’s won into a special beer.
Embarrassingly – and certainly not a fix I swear – my own Belgian Dubbel “Radiant Orange” was chosen by Matt as the Brewer’s choice and the rosette is proudly displayed in the kitchen now.
Overall another great night of fine beers and good conversation. Looking forward to February (Wednesday the 23rd) and then the March (Wednesday 30th) meetings we agreed to a free for all tasting and beer swap next month and then a challenge for the March meeting. The theme of the challenge for March – something to get started now – is a light beer. Make of that description what you will. I’ll be most looking forward to Fran & Vincent’s effort after taking advantage of an amazing offer from David E who got in contact with the club to offer to donate his 25L all grain set up to someone looking to move up their brewing to the next level. I think this applies perfectly to Fran & Vincent a perfect home for the equipment.
It’s been a while but I’m really happy to announce a comeback. While still in the midst of this depressing cold lockdown we’re following the rest of the world and joining the Zoom revolution.
On Wednesday 24th February at 7:30pm we’ll be hosting our inaugural online meeting. Even better to get the brain firing on all cylinders again it will include a talk on water chemistry from brewing guru Hugo Anderson.
Hugo has many years managing huge breweries and ensuring the quality of some of the world’s biggest selling beers, and he’s happy to share some of his wealth on knowledge with you. So if you want to know if the ingredient that makes up 95% of your beer is important this is the night for you.
After the discussion and questions it’ll be open season to show and tell about a beer you’ve brewed and are enjoying on the night. Maybe you’ve brewed a killer Kölsch or a brilliant Bitter. Maybe its a disappointing Doppelbock or a lousy Lager either way lets talk about it.
Really pleased as well that the Zoom facility will be kindly shared by Dave and Windsor’s best bottleshop and purveyor of every type of beer you could ever want A Hoppy Place.
Please contact through the facebook group here or twitter here if you’d like to join and I’ll send the log in details closer to the day.
Big thanks to Hugo for the time and vast amount of knowledge he imparted to the group. It was a really engaging walk through the importance and practical aspects of brewing water chemistry. He’s been kind enough to share the slides which can be found on the resources page here.
The second meeting of WEHomebrew proved even better than the first. It was great to see even more people turn up to enjoy what turned out to be some great beers. Prior to the meeting Paddy was kind enough to give a mini-tour of the brewery for members who hadn’t been round before; and also members who just love looking at big shiny tanks full of ale.
Then it was time for the science. Matt from Windsor & Eton brewery delivered a brilliant introduction to the science and art of mashing. Starting from the fundamentals of what the maltster and brewer are working with through to the implications temperature, water, pH and time can have on your finished beer product. It was a real grounding and I’m looking forward to looking at the next stage of the brewing process – wort boiling & hops next month.
After the science it was time for the drinking. We had half a dozen beers to assess and discuss and while the majority of the beers were dark – fitting in well with the coming seasonal weather and early nights – we kicked off with a cool Steampunk looking growler full of a light 6 day old beer that was ready to drink. Fermented warm using Kviek yeast this was a great introduction to Norwegian farmhouse yeasts and their potential in terms of fast turn around and robust fermentation profiles.
Wild hops, wild fruits, chocolate and espresso coffee were the added bonuses tasted in the following beers – something for everyone and a great show of what variation there can be in similar styles.
We ended the night in a great discussion over the potential causes of a phenolic / medicinal taste found in a beer. A lot of learning and some things to take away to remedy this. This bit is exactly what the club is about – fixing problems so we can make great beer.