Showing posts with label gael 80/-. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gael 80/-. Show all posts

Monday, April 2, 2012

Moving Up

If everything goes according to plan in the next few weeks, Mrs Velkyal and I will soon be on the move again, though not quite as drastically as upping sticks from Prague to come to Charlottesville. We are in the process of buying our first house, a brand new 3 bedroom place about 15 miles outside town. Quite what we will do with 3 bedrooms and a house that is 3 times bigger than our current flat is beyond me, though I am already scheming as to what to do with the acre and a half of land the house sits on. Look away now if you are delicate of stomach, I won't be growing hops - mainly because Saaz and Fuggles rhizomes are a pain in the arse to get hold of.

One thing that buying a house will most certainly necessitate is some form of house warming party, and naturally I want to have a selection of homebrew available for said august occasion. At the moment my cellar is positively groaning with homebrew, and I have more in the lagering tank to boot. Between now and moving in I am sure I will drink plenty of my beer, so I am planning on brewing a couple more beers with the bash specifically in mind.


As it is that time of year, I will be brewing up my annual spring/summer witbier, LimeLight, in the coming weeks, though for the first time it will be an all grain brew, and with a couple of tweaks. Mainly I plan to chuck in some malted oats into the mix, and perhaps a touch of acidulated malt as well. As is traditional for this beer, it will be single hopped with that most noble of noble hops, Saaz, with lime peel and coriander bunged in the boil as well.


One thing I want to do with the other brew is have a nice session beer available, being fifteen miles from town I don't want people drinking hefty brews and then driving home. At the moment I am torn between a best bitter and a 70/- or 80/- Scottish ale. For some reason I am never happy with my bitters, even the ordinary bitter than swiped gold at the Dominion Cup last year was, in my opinion, not all that great. In contrast the 2 Scottish ales I have brewed have been almost dangerously drinkable, especially the cask version I did way back when. Clearly I am leaning toward the 70/- or 80/- option for fear of inflicting an experiment on friends.

Speaking of experiments, whenever IPA gets discussed in the Starr Hill tasting room I start talking about hot maturation and the process of madeirisation as described in Martyn Cornell's magnificent post on the subject. I would love it if a brewery made an experimental batch of their regular IPA and then hot matured it, though I doubt there is a brewery, "craft" or otherwise, with the balls to actually do so. However, with the way the new house is situated, with lots of south facing walls and fences, I am thinking to brew up a classic English IPA and repeat Martyn's experiment. Heck, I might even try it with an American IPA and see what happens.

Life then is certainly full and busy, and with my new job going well, I like it this way.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Homebrewer of the Week

The beginnng today of a new semi-regular series, in the spirit of my recent Brewer of the Week I introduce Homebrewer of the Week! First up is, well, me. So here goes.

Name: Velky Al

How did you get into home brewing?

My homebrewing was a result of my getting into beer more seriously than just chugging gallons of whatever industrial stuff was available while watching football in the pub. As much as I love Czech beer, which is predominantly pale lager, my first beer love has always been stout. My first legal beer was Guinness, I loved Murphy's and Beamish as well. I wanted to make my own because there is so little ale being made by commercial brewers in the Czech Republic.

Are you an all grain brewer or extract with grains?

I brew with extract and specialty grains. I don't have the space at the moment to go all grain, though I plan to eventually, the key word being eventually, I am in no rush.

What is the best beer you have ever brewed and why?

Difficult to say, I really enjoyed my imperial stout I brewed last winter as I did my Christmas beer. Having said that, a week or so ago I open a bottle of a barley wine I brewed last November in preparation for Thanksgiving to see if it was worth putting forward for the Dominion Cup. Well, simply put it was smooth, boozing and obscenely easy to drink for its 12%abv.

What is the worst, and why?

My first brew in the US was a total disaster. I wanted to make a pale ale with Amarillo hops, using White Labs' Burton yeast. For some reason the yeast didn't do its thing and the beer didn't ferment properly, so I had to pour 5 gallons down the sink. That was the reason I ditched the 5 gallon batches for 2.2 gallons and clear carboys rather than white buckets.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

It has to be LimeLight, my lime and coriander witbier, which is also very popular with people who drink it. It is such a simple recipe and the results are consistently good. Without having to go through the hassle of all grain brewing, I am done with LimeLight in about 2 hours from start to finish.


Do you have any plans or ambitions to turn your hobby into your career?

I would love to, but I have to admit that as much as I enjoy brewing, I prefer seeing the enjoyment other people get from drinking it. Working in a brewery tasting room has taught me plenty about serving beer, keeping lines clean and the like, so I would like to have a pub at some point in the future, whether my own brewpub or taking on a tied house with one of Britain's regional brewers.

Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

My favourite to drink is my Scottish export ale, which I call Gael 80/-. It is very much a classic Scottish ale, more sweet than it is malty, lightly hopped and at only about 4.5% abv something I can drink plenty of. It was also the first beer I successfully conditioned in my polypin/cubitainor to replicate cask conditioning, and it was even better!


How do you decide on the kind of beer to brew and formulate the recipe?

As I said in the first question, it started out wanting to brew a stout. Otherwise I think about the kind of flavours I am looking for and then go from there, sometimes I want to brewing something as close “to style” as possible. For example at the moment I am planning a beer based on my favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. I am thinking about using Biscuit malt, Chocolate malt and one of the Caramel malts, and very lightly hop it.

What is the most unusual beer you have brewed?

In terms of ingredients, my Christmas beer was the most unusual, especially as I wasn't following a given style, just making it up. My initial idea was to make a beer that reminded me of the gingerbread houses my mother made at Christmas when we were kids. I started off with an amber DME base and added some Caramel 80 for colour and a touch of sweetness, for the hops I used French Strisselspalt, a very low alpha acid type. Nothing drastically unusual so far, but then came the spices I added to the boil, the classic Christmas spices of cloves, ginger, and cinnamon, as well as dried sweet orange peel. The result was essentially a very yummy liquid gingerbread, which I called Biere d'épices.


If you could do a pro-am brew, what would you brew and with which brewery?

A very difficult question, and I can think of several breweries I would like to do something with, all of them back in the UK. Everards would be an automatic choice as Mark there has given me tons of invaluable advice for my homebrewing, and I learnt a lot from his when we met up in Prague to tour some of the brewpubs there, not to mention the fact that I think Tiger is one of the nicest beers I had last time I was in England. Another brewer who has been a great source of knowledge and enthusiasm for beer, and whose beer I love drinking, is Jeff at . Finally would be Dave at the HardKnott Brewery because he seems to like doing random stuff, which kind of chimes with my own way of thinking about brewing. In an ideal world, we would all of get together to brew something, perhaps with one us choosing the malt, one the hops, one the yeast and the other the water!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From the Cask


Admittedly the pictures in this post were taken about a week ago, and posted on Twitter. It was only this morning that I realised I hadn't written anything about how the beer from my little cask actually tasted as opposed to just looked. The beer in the cask was my Gael 80/- Scottish Export Ale and although it looks really dark in the picture above, when held up to the light it was a bright crimson.


One thing I learnt after the first pint burst forth from the polypin was that to get a decent head I needed to press down on the polypin when pouring. Drinking your own real ale from a cask really makes you appreciate the difference between a beer being nicely conditioned and overly fizzy, and I know without doubt which I prefer.

In terms of the actual taste of the beer, the chocolate and caramel malts I used are very much to the fore, with just the slightest hoppy bitterness in the background - just as it should be. The first couple of pints were a touch thin, but after a few days they body filled out a bit and made the beer rather moreish. I was a bit worried that the beer would lose condition quite quickly from the cask, but it stayed good for about 10 days.

So I think my cask ale was a success, from both a technical and a drink point of view, and I may have to buy a couple more pins, and if Mrs Velkyal and I find a house to buy within our budget, I can see a beer engine becoming an essential!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Little Cask to Go Live!

This time last week I was facing something of a problem, I needed to bottle my 80/- Scottish ale that had been sitting in the primary fermenter for a couple of weeks, as is my usual fermentation schedule, the problem was I didn't have enough bottles to take all the beer. What I did have though was my 1 US gallon polypin, known in this neck of the woods as a "cubitainer", so I decided that it would do the trick and I would again try to re-create a form of cask conditioned ale.

I had tried before with my dismal failure first batch in the US, and while the beer hadn't fermented properly, the concept of using a cubitainer as a cask was something of a success in terms of proving it could be done, that and several back and forth emails with Boak and Bailey on the process.

So here it is, my little cask of Gael 80/-.


If I have understood the process correctly, the little cask, let's call him "kaskicek" (pronounce it "ka-sk-ee-chek"), should be ready to drink already, so I am planning the first draught of real(ish) cask ale from the Green Dragon Brewery to be poured into one of my funky glasses tonight.

Here's hoping everything has worked out ok!

UPDATE: it worked nicely, and although a little on the thin side, the beer was good.

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...

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