April Brewing Summary

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We sold out of everything we brewed, except for the Crème de Stout, a mint stout, which is still available at the Hungry Bistro. Æthelflæd, a dark medieval-style gruit (that’s ale brewed with herbs but not hops), has proved popular but there’s still some left. Customers willingly tested the following brews, with rave reviews:

  • Bab, light lager
  • Griselda, Dorada Pampeana ale with hibiscus
  • Hallucigenia, golden gruit ale/lager hybrid
  • Lemonale, lemony rye American hefeweizen style
  • Cave Penguin, dark American lager

I think I’m going to have to brew all of these again because they went down so well! Especially the lagers, because there aren’t many good lagers available in this country made by microbrewers. A good lager is simple and refreshing and a pleasure to drink. It’s got flavor and character without being complicated.

Here is a list of what I brewed at the Hungry Bistro in the past month and will become available in the coming weeks:

American Rye Lager (name TBD): This is a barley, rye, and wheat malt lager with Pacific Gem, Sorachi Ace, El Dorado, and Motueka hops. It’s a golden color and hits 5.3% ABV.

Gravitational Vortex Phenomenon: This was my experiment making a dunkelweizen without the spicy hefeweizen yeast that produces clove and banana flavors. I used an American hefeweizen yeast, which produces subtler flavors. It’s a dark wheat beer, designed to be easy drinking and refreshing at 4%ABV. It will go on sale this week at the Hungry Bistro. Label art by p. earwig.

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Weird Girlfriend: This is a schwarzbier, a light, mellow, black lager at 5.4% ABV. This will be the label art, also by p. earwig.

 

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Buffalo Beer: This is the first in a series of Brew Visionary beers. People who contributed to the Sacre Brew Indiegogo campaign get to help design a beer of their choice. Buffalo Beer was proposed by Harry Andree, who painted the label art as well as suggesting the style of beer: a strong dark Belgian-style ale, brewed with earthy spices. We settled on black peppercorns, coriander seed, lindi peppers, fenugreek, grains of paradise, and cumin. I added jaggery to boost the alcohol to 8.9% ABV. It’s got the desired earthiness married with a gentle toffee quality to offset the alcohol. This is going to be one very special beer!

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Marsupiale: It’s the season for brewing this old standard again, at long last! It’s an addictive, hoppy copper ale made with New Zealand Pacifica & Cascade hops and Australian Galaxy hops. Its malt bill includes unmalted wheat for a creamy mouthfeel and fluffy head. A touch of light crystal malt gives it a hint of sweetness. Label art by Tomas Antona. ABV 4.8%.

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Saucy Intruder: American IPA at 6.9% ABV. Brewed with Magnum, Centennial, Chinook, and Amarillo hops at a modest 61 IBUs, it’s an approachable IPA. The name of the beer comes from a quote I read by one John Taylor in the 1600s, in which he referred to hops (which were still not in widespread use in the the UK) as a “saucy intruder into this land.”

 

Saison (name TBD): I love saison and I like to be able to drink it all night, so I prefer to make them below 6% ABV. This one is still fermenting, but should finish at around 5.5% ABV. I used hops named after women: Dana and Boadicea – just to try different hops. I also spiced it lightly with coriander seed and grains of paradise. It’s got three types of base malt – barley, wheat, and rye – along with three other specialty malts.

Birmingham Beer Bash

I’m pleased and honored to be told that I will be hosting two fringe sessions at this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash, 24-26 July 2014. It’s a refreshing alternative to the standard beer festivals, with real people from real breweries, great food, and great beer. It’s an interactive experience with presentations and other opportunities for exploring beer and the people who brew it.

I am hosting fringe sessions on Friday & Saturday night sessions, 25 & 26 July. You need a ticket to get into the event but my sessions are only £2 to pay for the room.

I know I’m going to offend a lot of people by what I say next. But I know there are many beer lovers in the UK who share my feelings.

I was so disappointed when I attended my first UK beer festival. I won’t mention which one it was, but I got there and my first thought was, “Where are the brewers? Or at least representatives from the breweries to chat with about the beer I’m tasting?”

And the beer. It was all flat – even for British styles – and green.

It was like going to a bad party with bad beer. I was bored, dissatisfied, and unimpressed.

Although I didn’t attend the first Birmingham Beer Bash last year, I was informed by several of the organizers that it’s very much in the American beer festival style, with layers of activities, educational, interactive, localist, and amazing food. They are picky about the beer in attendance, so if you’re a beer snob like me, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m really excited to attend. I feel that these alternative beer festivals, which are few in number, are the vanguard of the future of beer in the UK. And this is a good thing, because Britain has suffered from the traditionally conservative beer attitudes while the amazingly diverse and exciting spectrum of craft beer has been embraced in the US, New Zealand, Australia, South America, and the rest of Europe.

Here’s a re-cap of last year’s Beer Bash: http://youtu.be/aTbB30Qaj-Q

Craft Beer Politics

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Founding Sacre Brew is a political act.

At its heart, the craft beer movement is a growing, worldwide rebellion against a mainstream dictated by corporate mediocrity. It’s part of a greater call to value quality and artistry in what we do and how we live.

If you’re familiar with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, you may recognize the concept of interstitialism: that is when you find a way to challenge the status quo by doing your own thing that shows to everybody that you don’t have to conform to crappiness and you can be successful at it and even beat down whatever oppression you face. This can be how you run a business, how you farm, or changing laws or your local government. You do this in an interstice – an isolated bubble – where you cannot be stopped and you and your movement can grow. Meanwhile, others are radicalizing their interstices all over the world, growing bigger and bigger, and they all eventually connect. This is what I call post-postmodern interstitial radicalism. It’s a way of making the world a better place in any way you can – you have to pick your battles.

Even if you occupy a different interstitial space, it’s all part of the same movement. Twisted Barrel Ale in Coventry is doing it there. Whether they have thought about radical interstitialism or not – that’s what they’re doing. So are other pico/nano/micro-breweries throughout the world.

If you agree, you should make a small contribution to help Sacre Brew do away with mediocre beer. The campaign is almost halfway through and we’re almost halfway to our funding goal. It would be great if we can hit the 50% mark in the next day or two. We’re not too far off!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sacre-brew-nanobrewery

Crowdfunding Campaign

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Yesterday I launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help gather funds for bigger brewing equipment. I’d already raised most of the capital I need to upgrade to a larger capacity system, but notquite enough.

So, with the help of a few friends, I’ve put together a short video presenting my plea to the world for a little assistance. Please watch it and share the link with your friends, co-workers, and anybody who likes great beer and entrepreneurism. And if you are moved by the Sacre Brew spirit, please contribute a little something.

Hallucigenia

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Hallucigenia goes on sale tomorrow, April 2. It’s a golden-colored gruit, which means it is flavored with herbs instead of hops. Until around the 1500s, most ales in the British Isles were gruits, as hops were viewed suspiciously as some feaky Dutch thing and slow to be accepted widely. But back then, beer was pretty dark, because it was hard to get the malted barley to dry over wood fires without charring it a little bit. So this one is a modern gruit in that it’s rather pale in color, as well as not technically being all ale – this was fermented with a blend of yeasts, both ale and lager strains.

This beer is 5.5% ABV and has a very herbal flavor. Whether you love it or not is a matter of personal preference (and genetic makeup). It’s brewed with yarrow, juniper berries, mugwort, and wormwood, but the yarrow is prominent and you can definitely feel the wormwood in the bitter (but not harsh) finish.

Hallucigenia is the name of an extinct creature from the Cambrian – about 550 million years ago. It’s a very wacky organism, and part of the famous Cambrian explosion, during which there was a great deal of diversification. I drew a very basic sketch of it for the label, but it’s a fascinating critter. Go here for more info.