Brewer's Blog

The British Are Coming!!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We wanted to give you some info about the upcoming British Bulldog Amber Ale so that you had all the know-how and why we gave it a shot so here goes.

We wanted to brew a 100% British ingredients version of our Bulldog. To do this we needed to get out mitts on a few different things than the tasty original brew.

We special ordered some floor malted Marris Otter 2 Row to build the base malt flavour. Why is that so special you ask? Well, malting can be a very un-romantic, heavily industrialized process. Especially when your talking large scale like our usual maltster from right here in Winnipeg does. The malt needs to be consistent so it can be relied upon to perform a certain way in the brew house. BUT, floor malting is about little inconsistencies that make for huge flavour impacts in the final brew.

Normally malt is grown in a large box of sorts and turned with giant screws, to keep it from growing together into a tightly woven mat. In floor malting, the grain is spread out on a huge floor and turned with rakes by hand. Some maltsters have automated this process slightly by introducing motorized rakes pulled along on a clothesline type device, but the principle is the same. The grain grows in a shallow heap on a floor, and needs to be turned to oxygenate it and keep it from matting.

Obviously, the process is quite expensive to do, given the space, and the manpower needed to pull off the job. However, the resulting malt is usually toasted a little deeper and the Marris Otter variety already has quite a bit of flavour given that it's generally reserved for fuller flavoured British Ales.

So we replaced the normal pale malt we use with this floor malted grain and then mashed our Bulldog as per normal.

When it came time to add the hops in, we went with 100% East Kent Goldings hops at 25% more than we usually use during the boil. We also added a larger addition of aroma hops to give the beer more punch in the glass.

The real kicker came with our yeast choice.

We chose to use a particularly finicky British Ale yeast strain that is well known to produce heavy malty flavours in beers, but also very well known for dropping out of the beer before it's finished completely fermenting. So essentially, it's like babysitting your fermenting vessel for 2 weeks, opening it up, rousing the yeast back into suspension (usually a strict no-no) just to get it to finish the job. The brewery that this yeast originally comes from has developed an elaborate system for rousing the yeast and pumping it to spray the yeast back on top of the brew for the whole day.

Finally, we chose to carbonate this beer naturally in the bottle, thereby lending a softer carbonation, but leaving a heavier skiff of yeast than normal across the bottom of the bottle. Due to the yeast's nature, it forms a thick, sticky sediment on the bottom of the bottle, that should stay put while you're decanting it into a glass.

The bottle conditioning process can be a little tricky in a large scale brewery environment. Homebrewers do it all the time, and it's relatively easy to stir some sugar into a 23 liter batch and bottle it up, but when your talking about 1000 liters of beer, it can be a nightmare to get every bottle to carbonate evenly.

This beer is REAL ALE in it's truest sense of the term, and something that enthusiasts seek out regularly because the flavours really are quite different than your average everyday beer. Hopefully you get a chance to come here on November 6th, 2010 to pick up a case of the beer for yourself.

We'll release the beer at 9am that day, and we're not limiting how much people pick up for themselves.

In Other News:

There's still lots of Punk N' Fest beer in case you missed out. Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed the bands!

The Sweet Nikki Brown will be ready to go this weekend, check out our snazzy new boxes that it'll be packaged in. We've labeled the new run with some older labels simply to help use up the stock. The new labels will be in and on the beer shortly.

Burlywine Day is coming December 4th.

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