Showing posts with label barclay perkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barclay perkins. Show all posts

Friday, July 15, 2011

Barclay's London Dark Lager - come forth!

1934 was a momentous year.

The British Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) were held in London, despite originally being awarded to South Africa, with Hong Kong, Jamaica and India making their debuts at the event. British composer Edward Elgar died, as did King Albert of the Belgians, to be succeeded by Prince Leopold. The British Industries Fair is held in both London and Birmingham, featuring a 200 year old weaver's loom from the Isle of Lewis. For 4 days in February, Austria was at war with itself. In a foreshadowing of what would come, Hitler became President of Germany on the death of Paul von Hindenburg, and ordered the Night of Long Knives to eliminate his rivals.

Meanwhile, in the Anchor Brewery of Southwark, Danish brewer Arthur Henius was at work brewing Barclay Perkin's Dark Lager, a London take on the dunkel style from Bavaria. Unusually for a Barclay Perkin's beer, nothing was done to the water to change the minerals, no Burtonising, no boiling, nothing. Using British malts and Bohemian hops Mr Henius set about making a German lager for the London market.

Come forward 77 years, skip across the ocean to Virginia and you find Jason Oliver, Ron Pattinson, myself and a few others, gathered round the copper recreating Mr Henius' beer. As I mentioned a little while ago, some of the lager is making its way home to London, to be enjoyed by beer lovers at the Great British Beer Festival. However, this weekend will see the tapping of the beer in the place of its resurrection, Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Due to a huge mess with my holiday dates, going next Friday rather than today, I will be around to try it.

If you are in the Charlottesville area, I might suggest you get along to try it yourself.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homecoming Lager

There are not that many beer festivals that I have plans to visit at some point during my life. I would love to get to Slunce ve Skle again sometime, being in Munich during Starkbierzeit would also be good and the Copenhagen Beer Festival would be a blast too, as well as an opportunity to catch up with some friends. The one that I would love to get to though at some point is the Great British Beer Festival, which this year runs from August 2nd to the 6th.

Beyond the generic desire to go to the GBBF one year, if finances and time would allow, I would love to be at this year's festival, for one very simple reason - a beer that I had a hand in brewing will be available in the Bières Sans Frontières area.

The beer in question is the recreation of Barclay Perkins' Dark Lager from the 1930s, which was brewed at Devils Backbone with myself and Ron Pattinson. Last week Jason from Devils Backbone told me that he has registered the beer and it will soon be on its way to the festival, hopefully surviving the journey in good condition.

The beer is called Barclays London Dark Lager, so take the opportunity to taste some history and celebrate the coming home of dark lager to London.

Monday, April 11, 2011

International Homebrew Project - The Tasting

Five weeks ago we brewed it, 3 weeks ago we bottled or kegged it, this weekend the day had arrived to taste it, and this morning I am blogging about it. "It", of course, is the International Homebrew Project brewing of a Milk Stout from Barclay Perkins, the recipe for which dates from 1933.

My first taste of the beer was on Saturday, while up in Fredericksburg brewing with James and Eric from A Homebrew Log and Relentless Thirst respectively, more about that project on Wednesday - suffice for the time being to say that we had a fantastic day and hopefully the result will be an excellent beer. Then yesterday I had the flat to myself for a little while, so took the opportunity to pop open a bottle in the peace and quiet and really get to grips with the beer.

First a note about the labels, they were originally meant to be black, but running low on the ink cartridge front, they came out brick red - which Mrs V actually think looks better than the black, and who am I to argue? So, to the beer, and as ever with my rare tasting note posts, my homage to Cyclops will be used.
  • Sight - very dark brown, ruby edges, persistent tan head
  • Smell - some chocolate, golden syrup, vine fruits, notably grape and blackcurrant, some spice and a touch of marijuana
  • Taste - bitter chocolate upfront, fruity aftertaste mostly blackcurrant, slight acidic tang
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I was very surprised by the complexity of the beer, given the very low alcohol involved, only 3.7%. There were many layers of flavour, and the blackcurrant/grape thing was most unexpected. While the beer was medium bodied and had a silky finish, I had it in my mind that it would be smoother than it turned out, I also didn't expect it to be as clean and refreshing as it was. Over all I was happy with the beer.

So the International Homebrew Project comes to an end for this year, if there is enough interest from the people that took part then it'll be back in 2012.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Tuesdays and Thursdays are quiet nights in the Velkyal household these days. Mrs Velkyal has re-started her rowing, as in boats not mudslinging, and so myself and the dog just kind of potter around our little flat. Sometimes I'll watch some old British TV on Netflix, I am currently going through All Creatures Great and Small. Sometimes I'll sit on t'internet and read Wikipedia, other beer blogs or I'll get a book and sit, listening to music and just lose myself. I don't often drink, because I generally drink only at weekends.

Last night though, I got round to labelling my growing collection of homebrew. I am no artist and so it is highly unlikely that you would ever see my labels entered into the Brew Your Own label competition, however when faced with a bank of amber bottles each with a golden cap, it gets tiring trying to remember what you put where. I tried using a system of coloured dots on the cap, but that kind of fizzled because I couldn't remember what the dots meant. Yes I made a note of it, but that's seems to have been tidied up at some point and thus lost to the ether.

The answer then, at least for me, has been shipping labels. Simple, printable shipping labels. Download the template and away you go, remembering of course not to label the bottles you are keeping to one side for competition purposes. Although I am as artistic as a "cluster of colour blind hedgehogs, in a bag", I do like words (I know few other people who find it interesting that "center" is the older spelling variant and dates from medieval England). Words, at least in their printed form, need fonts, and so I love to play with fonts to get the right look for the label. Here are a couple of my favourites.

As you can see, I like simplicity - just beer name, style, hops, ABV and the pet name I have given my homebrew "operation" (ahem, cough, splutter). The font, the apparently much overused Algerian font, made me think of journeys during the ages of discovery, which ties in with this beer being in some ways, hopefully, similar to the porters that were shipped from London to India - you know the type, extra hops and that kind of thing.

On Monday evening, admittedly a day late, I bottles my version of the International Homebrew Project Milk Stout - a recreation of the 1933 Milk Stout brewed by Barclay Perkins. Again, keeping it simple is my motto, and the first creation of this label was black text on a white background, but it just didn't work. I liked the font because it bought to mind the styles of the 1930s, but what to do about the look and feel of it? I tried changing the colour of the text, but to no avail, then taking inspiration from the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster, I inverted the black and white and hey presto.

Ok, they are not the most creative labels on the planet, but I like them - probably mainly because I no longer have to play mental gymnastics every time I fancy a homebrew. I do wonder though sometimes if I think far too much about my beer and brewing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

International Homebrew Project - The Brewing

It's half past six on a Saturday morning and I have beer on my mind. No, I am not standing outside Masarykovo nádra?í having a breakfast pint to wash away the aftertaste of Fernet. I am in fact standing in my Charlottesville kitchen preparing for the 2011 International Homebrew Project brewday. In a small pan raw cane sugar is boiling away, with a dose of citric acid, to become invert syrup number 3.

The grains have been measured out as I ready myself for my first ever mash. Generally speaking I get most of my fermentables from light dry malt extract, adding colour and flavour with specialty grains, but today I want to start taking steps toward all grain brewing. Just a quick aside, I agree with the chap in Brew Your Own magazine who said that the reason people brew better beer when they go to all grain is less because of being all grain and more because of the added investment in better equipment.

In the mash is half a pound of Maris Otter, plus the necessary amber, brown and caramel malts, and of course the roasted barley. My mash tun is a steel can which was once chock full of coffee. A total of 2lbs of grain sit in a nylon bag as the necessary liquor is added. To keep the mash heat in, I put a sheet of foil over the top and popped the plastic lid over that. The can was then wrapped in Mrs Velkyal's Harrods oven gloves, and then put inside an insulated picnic hamper. Sure it's not elegant, but it got 76% efficiency, so I was happy.

After ninety minutes the mash was done, a bit of sparging later and I had a boil volume of 2 gallons (remember my batches are 2.5 gallons), the extract was added, along with the invert syrup and away we went on the mammoth 150 minute boil. Fuggles were added at the very beginning of the boil, with Goldings after an hour, and that was it for the hopping schedule, though with 15 minutes to go, I dumped in the lactose. Having started the boil with 2 gallons, I ended up with about half a gallon of boiled wort to chuck into the waiting ice cold water in the carboy. I do have a wort chiller, but I need to get a connector for the tap in my kitchen so I can use it. If we had a house with an outside tap things would be different, but we don't, so they are not.

One major benefit of brewing this way is that cooling the wort to pitching temperature takes about 15 minutes total. The yeast for this project was Danstar's dry Nottingham, and this time I was prepared. When I last used Nottingham the fermentation was insanely vigorous and within 24 hours I was scraping krausen from the ceiling. This time I would use a blow off tube from the beginning, my thinking confirmed by a tweet from James of A Homebrew Log saying that he was switching to a blow off because the fermentation was cracking along. Yeast duly pitched, it was just past midday. Mrs V had gone rowing and so I had the pleasure of brewing to Texas Greatest Hits and not feeling the need to skip the occasional track.

Less than an hour later I had the clear signs of krausen. I was delighted, I was nervous, I was glad I didn't have to prepare for an afternoon of ceiling cleaning duties. Fermentation has been vigorous and the krausen didn't approach the top of the carboy, so no need to worry on that front, yes I am sad enough to make a video of CO2 bubbling from the blow off tube.....

That was my brewing experience, a few firsts and although the OG fell a bit short, I am looking forward to a tasty, low alcohol beer, which of course will be reviewed here in about 5 weeks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

International Homebrew Project Recipe

So here it is, the recipe for the International Homebrew Project 2011. A quick recap, those that took part in the polls voted to brew a historical recreation of a milk stout, hopped with Challenger and Goldings. Therein lay one of our first hurdles, Challenger is a relatively modern hop, and so with the agreement of the majority of people who have told me they plan to brew for the project, we shifted to a combination of Fuggles and Goldings.

In thinking about the ingredients for the project, I have decided to push the brewing weekend back to the first weekend in March - so people can make arrangements for getting amber and brown malt, not to mention the invert #3 sugar. If you can't get amber and brown malt where you live, then here is a very useful article about making your own. On the making invert sugar syrup, as I plan to do, this post from Northern Brewer is useful. From my understanding, the #3 version was reasonably dark, so simmer it for about 90 minutes.

The recipe itself, kindly provided by Kristen England, is a recreation of a 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout. So, as Ron would say, over to Kristen, though note I have changed his tables into bulleted lists, personal preference, that's all (and nothing to do with my shoddy HTML skills, honest guv).....

Milkstouts show up here and there throughout English beer history to the current day. There we never massively popular on a grand scale but always had their almost cult following. The most well-known is Mackesons XXX stout which currently has very little lactose in it. Most of the milk/sweet stouts are now made in happy, warm and tropical places. Jamaica, Trinidad, Malta, etc, etc. This ‘whopper’ of a stout is actually very low in gravity. It has pretty much every dark, toasty and delicious malt and sugar. Then you throw in two separate dose of lactose, one in the copper, one after for a grand total of about 22% lactose. The beer is very dark and roasty. The bitterness is quite high as these stouts weren't known to be exceedingly bitter. Lactards beware!
  • OG - 1.053
  • FG - 1.029
  • ABV - 4.4%
  • IBU - 39.1
  • SRM - 105
  • EBC - 207.8
  • Apparent Attenuation - 45.12%
  • Real Attenuation - 39.96%
The recipe is listed first in pounds, then kilograms and finally as a percentage, based on 5 US Gallons, or 19 litres.
  • Eng. 2 Row - 5.29/2.41/40.7
  • Amber malt - 1.04/0.48/10.6
  • Brown Malt - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Crystal 75 - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Invert # 3 - 0.5/0.23/5.1
  • Roasted Barley - 0.84/0.38/8.5
  • Lactose in boil - 1.26/0.57/12.8
  • Lactose priming - 1.04/0.47/10.6
For the extract brewers amongst us use 4lbs or 1.82kg for 5 US gallons or 19 litres respectively.

The mash is 90 minutes at 151°F or 66°C, with a water to grain ratio of 0.92qt/lb or 1.92l/kg.

Expect a long brewday for this, given that the boil is 2.5 hours. Talking about the boil, here's the hopping schedule, by ounces then grammes respectively.
  • Fuggle 5.5% @ 150mins 1.15/32.5
  • Goldings 4.5% @ 90mins 0.7/19.8
The yeast recommended for this recipe is Nottingham, or Wyeasts 1318 London Ale III.

Grist & such

The base malt for this beer is the toast mild malt. If you can’t get it, some Optic would be nice or even Maris otter. ***For the extract brewers out there the only real change is that you’ll use pale malt syrup instead and the poundage is listed and highlighted above. The amber and brown malt add a good dose of complexity and flavor but don’t dominate the palate like the 8.5% of roasted barley.


The hop additions for this beer are mostly for bittering. The neat thing about this beer is that milk stouts at a later time are much less bitter than this one. Nearly 40 bus is quite a bit! One addition at the start of the boil and then another addition an hour later. If you wanted to dry hop this beer you can do a simple combination of fuggles and goldings but I wouldn’t go higher than about 1g/L. Any more you really are going to have a striking hop nose.

Mash & Boil

The techniques used in this recipe are very straightforward. There was a simple multi-infusion mash where additions of hot liquor were added to keep the mash at the wanted temperature. You dough in a bit thick and then have a good sparge. This mash is very simple as there are a lot of things easy to extract out of here. The No3 invert sugar should definitely be added but can be substituted by using a mix of treacle and golden syrup. White sugar and blackstrap can be used in a pinch at about a 10:1 ratio. The lactose is the big boy here and there are two separate additions. The first one goes in during the boil and the second goes in at priming which we’ll cover later. Both invert #3 and the first lactose addition goes in at 30 minutes.

Fermentation, Conditioning & Serving

A simple fermentation at 68F (20C) will do good to ensure a nice and fruity beer that finishes well. This beer was meant to be bottle conditioned but you can serve it out of a keg. The second dose of lactose goes in with the priming sugars. NOTE – lactose is NOT the priming sugar. The lactose and priming sugars can be boiled in a little water together and added at once. Shoot for around 2.0 volumes of CO2 if you can. The more ‘fizzy’ the less mellow it will be. For serving, I suggest you keep this thing out of any sort of refrigeration. Cellar temp is ok but this really does best at room temperature or warmer.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...