On Saturday afternoon and night Lee and myself put a beer each up against the professionals as we served our wares up at the WE Brew beer festival 2022. As the beers weren’t in the official beer list we decided to call it the secret bar.
So I thought I’d share a few photos from the afternoon. We had a fantastic day – well I certainly did! – and got to share and talk about our beers with dozens of people and got some really good positive feedback. We also got the chance to talk about the brew club and try and recruits some more members.
Lee also got the good news that his beer won the Old Windsor show brewing competition!
I hope we can get the opportunity to do this again so other members can show off their talents.
Another really fascinating dive into beer comparisons at June’s meeting. Having two hoppy pale ale / IPAs and two traditional bitters to taste allowed us to try them side by side and discuss the differences in a lot of detail. As well as just enjoy the beers themselves which we flew through – there wasn’t much left when I thought to take a photo!
So first up were the hoppys. A dry hopped pale ale – my commissioning batch on a new Grainfather mash tun and a (as ever) beautifully labelled American IPA. The artwork and originality of the names is something that Ken always excels in. The AIPA was a beautiful copper coloured bright ale with a well balanced bitter linger that was really enjoyable. On the other hand the first batch had obviously had some issues on my Pale Ale. Although the aroma and flavour were ok the beer had a weird grey off colour to it that I usually associate with oxidised beer. Although we didn’t get to the bottom of it during the meeting on reflection I wonder if it was from the brand new kit. Maybe I’d not cleaned it as well as I thought before the first go?
Ding ding round two was a battle of the bitters. An ESB versus a more traditional Best. Both fine drinks very similar in colour but noticably different in taste. Where as Alan’s best had a more assertive hop profile and a slight roasty note Ken’s ESB was really malty and almost toffee in taste. This lead to a discussion about water profile and additions, especially gypsum, and the recollection of Hugo’s amazing presentation on the subject that can be found here.
Finally we were treated to the invention of a new beer style by Alan. A Weissbeir sour. A brilliant bright light golden coloured beer with the traditional bananary aroma. However when you took a sip there was a surprising acidity sourness to it. The sourness was very clean and fresh though, not off putting but just like a deliberately brewed sour beer. However not knowing where the sourness came from – assume the fermenter – it’s going to be hard to replicate in the future.
So onto next month when we’ve the West Coast theme I hope to see you there. In an effort to widen the attendance we have a little write up in this month’s Round & About magazine that you may get delivered through your door in and around Windsor.
It’s not too far away from our normal venue and, having had a drink in their in the past, I think is perfect for us. The reason for the temporary change is that unit 4 is hosting the Knightclub and launch of Windsor & Eaton’s platinum jubilee celebration beer Castle Hill https://shop.webrew.co.uk/products/castle-hill-12-x-500-ml-bottles This means they are moving their regular quiz to Wednesday and I don’t think we could compete with pondering the longest river in Asia as we discuss the beers. Everything else will remain as normal – 7:30 start and a bring anything theme. (Remember March theme will be Easy drinking) Look forward to seeing you there.
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.
I love the crash and bang of a busy pub, music playing people laughing and the feel of being back in raucous company as much as everyone. Also my hearing isn’t what it used to be, so while I really enjoyed last month’s meeting up on the mezzanine of unit 4 above the bar it did make discussion about the beers harder than normal. In all honestly we did sort of split into two groups at either end of the table because they were the people you could hear.
This month was different – we’ve moved again. Thanks to Will for helping us set up space in the shop – we were fully equipped and supported as usual and had the added benefit of being able to hear each other’s feedback and questions. Another really nice surprise was seeing Paddy again. His help initially setting up the club is still very much appreciated.
And so to it – in our audibly improved environments what did we taste and share? In all honesty this was one of the strongest selections of beers I can remember us having and a really wide range of beers, but pair of styles to help with direct comparisons.
We started comparing two versions of the same beer; a sessionable pale ale – the question posed which should be the house beer A or B? Obviously we’re never going to answer in that manner and it ended up being a little from pot A (A malt balanced easy drinking hoppy pale) and a little from pot B (A more typically assertive bitter pale). That said I’d happily have sat around drinking either of them. Recipe C ideas shared we moved onto a subtle & delicate Belgian wit and a couple more pale ales. All of exceptional quality.
But the night just kept delivering – a fine example of a traditional ESB (who’s recipe is now in heavy demand) with some fancy Dan artwork on the bottles lifted the standard again and led us into the battle of the stouts.
This was a great comparison that showed the different takes you can bring to the recipe when making a big stout. In the red corner we’ve the sweet malty chocolate monster and in the blue corner his emphatically hopped American style cousin. Both beers were of excellent quality but used a similar malt bill and yeast – the tunes you can play on beers with ingredients and process were highlighted amazingly and gave great food for thought on what a stout could be.
Then the weird beer! An experimental recreation of an ancient Indian beer painstakingly recreated from 7000 year old texts. As you’d imagine it was hop light but flavoured with 11 plants and spices (Or is that Colonel Sanders?) to give a complex, but surprisingly drinkable, brew. The beer had layers and trying to pick out the flavours; earthy, ginger, fragrant, curry leaves was very difficult. They just kept coming. A fantastic successful experiment that put me in mind of what you might call an Indian Wit – fascinating.
A fantastic meeting again and we ended with the exciting news of the January meeting Homebrew competition (Details here) having a prize on offer. Get your beer brewed and ready for our next meeting in 2022 to have a chance to win 25kg of Crisp Maris Otter malt.
So this is the first post on our new website. Thanks to Gren for doing the internet technical wizardry that got this up and running. Cheers.
My name is Ian and I’m a home brewer.
I got back into this way of life again last year after several years of buying beer like a mortal. One of the things about making your own booze that I’ve realised is that as much enjoyment comes from talking about the process as comes from drinking the output. After watching people’s eyes gaze over as I start banging on about mash temperatures or fermentation temperatures it became apparent that we needed somewhere like-minded people could bang on together in Windsor.
Thanks to the support of Paddy at Windsor & Eton brewery we’ll be lucky enough to host this actually in the brewery surrounded by the stainless steel tank we all dream about.
I can’t wait to get this up and running – our first meeting will be on 25th September 2019 – and see what it evolves into.
Thanks to Steve, Alan & Ben who have given me the confidence that there is a desire out there for this and have helped get us to this point now. It’s going to be great.