Upcoming New Brews

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For the time being, I lack enough control over fermentation temperature to brew the three standards I’ve already developed – Marsupiale, Sirenia, Man on the Oss. So I decided to work with nature instead of against it and brew with the seasons. I’ve switched to using yeast strains that are more compatible with the ambient temperatures these days. While I could be making Kolsch-style beer galore, I felt that it wasn’t distinctive enough to wow you with just yet.

So here’s what I’ve been brewing over the last few weeks:

Wallaby – this is a cold-fermentation version of Marsupiale, with minor hop quantity variations. It will still be a refreshing, hoppy amber ale.

Koala – This is a slight variation on Wallaby, only it’s got more bitterness.

Cave Penguin Lager – This is an American-style dark lager I modeled after my favorite. It’s got moderate hop bitterness and lots of malty body. I used a classic lager yeast from San Francisco, which I plan to use more regularly in brewing because it’s such a fantastic performer.

Hallucigenia – Gruit is an unhopped ale that uses other herbs to flavor it. In this case I chose juniper berries, yarrow flowers, and mugwort. Gruits are traditionally dark ales, but I decided to make this one golden. I had a taste and it’s surprisingly fruity and fresh tasting. The juniper appears to have been subdued, but that can still change during conditioning. The mugwort provides the balancing bitterness to the sweet character of the ale. The yarrow gives it those bright palatal overtones. I used a blend of lager yeasts and ale yeasts to ferment this. I know people who are allergic to hops and therefore do not drink beer – this one’s for you.

Creme de Stout – As luck would have it, I made the original test batch of this stout using a cold hardy European ale yeast. This stout is brewed with peppermint and spearmint. Some people call it chocolately – some people don’t even notice the mint. This sweet stout is so refreshing, smooth, and light that you can drink it with food and not feel overwhelmed. It’s not cloying or syrupy like other sweet stouts. It’s unusual but wonderful.

Griselda – There’s a uniquely Argentine ale called Dorada Pampeana that I’ve been wanting to recreate. It’s a golden session ale with low hop presence and a dry finish. I learned of the death of a friend in Buenos Aires and I decided I would make a variation of the style in her honor. I switched to hops with more character, still keeping it on the light side, going with El Dorado, which I’ve never used before. It’s a high-alpha hop but added it late in the boil to keep the bitterness mellow. I also added some hibiscus flowers to give it a little tartness. Because I am using a lower-attenuating yeast than the style demands, I thought the hibiscus and stronger hop aroma would balance the slightly sweeter body.

These will start becoming available at the Hungry Bistro in mid-March. They will all go through a rigorous quality control process, so if they are not up to my high standards, you won’t see them at all. Except for the mint stout, these are all experimental, first-time brews.

The Hungry Bistro

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CYMERA_20140218_091811This is what a yeast starter looks like.


The Hungry Bistro is a restaurant in the Wolverhampton city center that serves “travel-inspired British cuisine.” I’m one of those people who thinks “British cuisine” is an oxymoron, but I have to make an exception in this case. The food is tasty, diverse, resonant, and comforting. It’s accessible to the masses while also raising the bar on quality.

I met Richard Brown, owner of the Hungry Bistro, through the Wolverhampton Portas Pilot competition. From the very first time we talked, we realized we shared a common philosophy about food and drink and that we should collaborate in some way at some point. Richard believes food should be fresh, handmade, and delicious; good food deserves care, attention, and effort. I feel the same way about beer (and food!). So it was only natural that Richard loved my beers and asked if he could demanded to sell them at his restaurant.

Things have been dragging for my impatient self in regard to my nanobrewery: my landlord, the Wolverhampton council, isn’t exactly snappy with the leasing process; I had to send the contract back for revision so that brewing beer isn’t expressly prohibited; and the unit has some leaks that need to be fixed but it won’t stop raining. I recently moved to a new flat and was lamenting to Richard how I couldn’t even brew at home because of my flat’s limitations. Richard said, “Why don’t you brew here?” and within a couple of weeks I got started brewing small batches in his small kitchen. This is a temporary arrangement until I get my own nanobrewery up and running at the industrial unit.

I’m using my homebrew pilot system, a 20L Braumeister, to make small batches of beer at the Hungry Bistro. I’ve registered with the tax people to this effect and it’s an official brewery. I started brewing Man on the Oss and Marsupiale but soon realized that the thermal conditions weren’t optimal for the yeast strains I use for these. The saison was simply unhappy, while the Australian yeast was a bit more amenable, though sluggish. So this week I’ve turned to other, more cold-hardy strains and have started experimented with those. Richard and I are perfectly comfortable with this adventure, and we will sell these as test batches to willing customers if the beer passes our rigorous QC process. As always, if we aren’t willing to drink it, we won’t expect anyone else to! After all, here’s an opportunity for interaction, as I mention in my manifesto. We’re going to give all customers who order Sacre Brews a comment card so they can rate the beer and make suggestion.

This week so far I brewed a dark amber, American-style lager using a lager yeast strain that tolerates warmer fermentation temperatures. It’s going to be malty with a lightly fruity aroma, hopefully with a note of caramel, and a crisp finish that’s gently bitter. It’s an experiment not because I don’t trust my beer recipes but because I’ve never used this yeast before and the temperature is as challenging as can be right now: too cold for ale and too warm for lager. I’ve procured some oddballs of the yeast world and I’ll be using those until conditions change. But I’m not simply substituting the yeast in my recipes – because that will totally change the flavor of the brew, as even the same yeast will create different flavors in a beer depending on the temperature at which it ferments. So I’m taking this opportunity to experiment and create all-new recipes.

I’ve got some brews ready to bottle this week. The Marsupiale, which I think will taste good but won’t be Marsupiale as it should be because of the cold and slow fermentation, should be ready to drink in 3 weeks (though it really peaks after 5 weeks of conditioning). I’ll call it something else.

We’re excited to get this ball rolling, even on such a small scale, and hope folks out there are too. Personally, I love experimentation and trying out new things, and I hope customers will also think it’s cool to be able to try works-in-progress and special one-time-only limited brews. This gives everyone a chance to be part of Sacre Brew.

The Hungry Bistro is in the building on the left with the white bottom.

Break time at the Hungry Bistro: (l-r) Chef Sam, Brewer Gwen, Owner Richard.