Showing posts with label robsog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robsog. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspiration

Almost every homebrewer I know gives the beer he, or she, makes a name, and I was thinking the other day about the things that inspire the names we give our beer and brewing operations. For example, I refer to my brewing as "Green Dragon Brewing", going back to the original name after a brief flirtation with Pivovar Brewing, which is almost a tautology when translated from Czech. Brewery Brewing? Nah, sounds a bit naff really. The name Green Dragon Brewing was chosen because in the film version of Lord of the Rings, Pippin and Merri sing a song about beer, which contains the line "the only brew for the brave and true, comes from the Green Dragon".

With the beers I brew, the names often reflect the ingredients, or what I am trying to achieve in making the beer - of course it is easy to say that I am just trying to achieve making a good beer, but there are often reasons that underpin the recipe creation process. Take for example my India Black Ale that I bottled last week, called Red Coat India Black Ale. The thinking behind the the beer is that India Black Ale, or Black IPA if you must, is nothing more than porter using different hops and too many of them. Replace the Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe et al with British hops to the same IBU rating and hey presto, you have over hoppy porter. Red Coat of course refers to the soldiers of the British Empire for whom beer was shipped out to both the American colonies and India.

A beer such as my spiced Christmas amber ale, called Biere d'épices, harks back to my growing up in Germany and loving the smell, and taste of course, of the gingerbread houses my mother made at Christmas. Why use French as the name though? Well, simply because my parents now live in France and given the Belgian yeast and French hops in the beer, it sounded more apt than "Lebkuchenbier" -  though of course a quick change of yeast and hops, and Lebkuchenbier could yet be this year's Christmas libation of choice.

Tomorrow I will be bottling the Best Bitter I brewed a couple of weeks back, single hopped with First Gold and fermented with Wyeast 1968 London ESB yeast. The name is Gunnersbury Gold, gold for the hops and Gunnersbury for the park in London where my brothers and I would play when we went to visit my nan in Southall.

The one thing I haven't done of yet is get seriously creative and create labels for my bottles. There is a very simple reason for this, I have, in the words of Blackadder, all the "artistic talent of a cluster of colour blind hedgehogs in a bag". I did though create this little thing for my recent weizenporter, Black Rose.


However, Rob from OptaDesign is supremely talented and created this label for LimeLight.


What then inspires your homebrew brands and label designs?

Monday, November 30, 2009

The 300

People quite often ask me what my blog is about, usually the conversation comes out something like this:

"I write a beer blog"
"oh, cool, so what do you write about?"
"mainly beer, pubs and brewing at home"
"ah"

I probably spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about this blog, which was fine when I was unemployed, but now I have to squeeze blogging time into the wee hours of the morning before Mrs Velkyal gets up and we head off to work together - an incurable romantic perhaps, but I love the fact that we head out to work together. The question, however, remains; what is Fuggled about?

First and foremost, Fuggled is about me. I have met some of my regular readers, whether by design or them turning up at the Starr Hill tasting room and telling me they read Fuggled, or even by complete random chance as happened one night in PK, I hope that my personality is evident from the things I write about, because they are some of the things I care about as well. I do have another couple of blogs, one dealing with my religious issues, and the other kind of a catch all for the stuff that doesn't go here or there. I love writing, and while I accept that I am not in the Douglas Coupland (imagine his beer reviews!) league, I think I am a fairly decent writer. I am something of an opinionated git at times, which I guess helps to keep the content flowing for a blogger.

Of course beer is at the heart of Fuggled, not necessarily craft beer, not even necessarily "good" beer, just beer, the people that drink it, the places they drink it in - I love to watch people and I love a pint, so pubs crop up regular in my wafflings (which you may have noticed is the number 1 label on here).

From re-reading my early posts, it is evident that the beginnings of Fuggled was my ambition to make my own beer - to start with I wanted to make stout because in April of last year it was difficult to get stout in Prague, and what there was would mean going to one of the Oirish bars in the centre of the city. Out of my plan to make my own beer came wandering around various pubs in the city and discovering lots of good beer and plenty of good people, especially Rob, Evan and Pivni Filosof. So home brewing is very much key to Fuggled, I don't always post my recipes or even tasting notes, but it is always there, lurking in the background.

So there we go, in some small way, Fuggled is about me, my tastes in beer, my home brewing experiences, my thoughts on pub life wherever I happen to be at the time. As for today's title, nothing to do with Spartan warriors, but rather than since 10th April, 2008 I have now written 300 posts - a small milestone for sure, but one I am happy to have got to, and hopefully the next 300 will be just as much fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Better in the Bottle

A few weeks before Mrs Velkyal and I got on the plane to Atlanta, I was sat in PK with Evan, drinking the Primátor Weizen, commenting that it was one of the beers I knew I would miss - really it is that good! Evan mentioned that an esteemed beer blogger/writer (can't remember who it was though) wasn't unduly impressed with it when he had it on draft. Evan then said something along the lines of wheat beer generally being better from the bottle, which of course goes against the grain of so much received wisdom when it comes to beer, but I have to agree.

Most of you probably know that I work at weekends for the Starr Hill brewery, where I serve samples of the brewery's range to visitors, just little 2oz servings of each. When I went to meet the guys there about the job they treated me to a sample of all the beers available in the tasting room, including their wheat beer pictured above. The Love is a perfectly respectable wheat beer, clean, refreshing and enough to make me long for proper bratwurst from an imbissbude on the streets of Dresden (just outside Hauptbahnhof there is a fantastic little snack stand that does a sublime currywurst). I say proper bratwurst because the "brats" I have bought in the shops over here are nothing like the bratwurst I grew up on as a kid in Celle and have an ongoing love affair with (yes, yes I am a Germanophile).

Every time I am working, I have to explain exactly what a wheat beer is, usually followed by the question "what is in the other beers then?", and tell visitors that the bananas and cloves they are experiencing are perfectly normal, and that the slight bubblegum touch is also ok, often much to their wonderment.

Perhaps it is the comfort of drinking at home, although I much prefer being in the pub, even if I am not paying "Tesco prices" to use Cooking Lager's oft mentioned phrase, but I am convinced that The Love is a better beer from the bottle than from the tap. The banana and clove are as present as on tap, but there is just something more lively, slightly more in your face when you pour it from the bottle, and perhaps a touch more body, which fills out the beer perfectly.

The Love very much embodies what Evan and I were discussing that afternoon in PK, and is a very welcome part of my little cellar of treats. Popping open the bottle you see in the pictures last night just brought that whole conversation back, and made me a little nostalgic for the many sessions I had with Evan, Rob and Pivní Filosof in various bars in Prague.

If you haven't already, have a look at the Fuggled calendars(the Lulu links in the corner) and buy one - great photography and a good present for your beer loving mates!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bombed and Hacked

Yesterday, after work and a couple of errands, I met up with Evan, Pivní Filosof and Rob - with whom I have shared many enjoyable drinking sessions (including the infamous finishing off of a pub's remaining Primátor Stout and wondering why it was labelled as "coffee beer"). The aim was for Evan to introduce us to the delights of the American IPA, more specifically the IPAs of the Stone Brewing Company in San Diego, also into the mix, as an example of a more straight IPA I brought along a few bottles of Belhaven Twisted Thistle.

Being completely disorganised yesterday, I didn't bring a camera with me, nor did I bring my tasting notes book, so you'll get fuller descriptions of the beer on the blogs of the other guys.

We started out with the weakest of the quartet, the Twisted Thistle, which is made with Challenger and Cascade hops and weighs in at only 5.3%. I thought it rather nice IPA, the kind of beer you could happily sup away on all night.

Next up was the Stone IPA, and this was a world apart from every standard British IPA, not to mention every Czech made American IPA I have had in Prague. Big on the hops, and it was at this point that I discovered what marijuana tastes like, apparently. I have never been one for smoking, although I love the smell of pipe smoke. I was expecting a lot more citrus and bitterness - to be honest I was expecting it to be like sucking lemons, but it was suprisingly smooth and while not a beer for a Friday night session at 6.9%ABV, it was certainly very drinkable, and one I would like to try on draught.

Following on from the standard Stone IPA was the Cali-Belique IPA, which from what I understand is basically the normal Stone IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast, hence the name. The difference that the yeast made was very pronounced, again the apparent marijuana touch was there, but this time I was reminded of the Rochefort ales, with lots of cocoa on the nose. As the four of us sat around the kitchen table, we discussed using different yeasts with the same basic ingredients and seeing what the results would be - which has me concocting all manner of plans for my homebrew when I get to the US in the summer.

The last of the Stone brews was Ruination. Evan had warned us that this would be last as the bitterness would effectively render our tastebuds redundant. Again I was expecting something quite different on the bitterness front, and found that the maltiness of the beer, despite playing second fiddle to the hops, made the beer quite smooth and refreshing.

Throughout the tasting session we all had cans of Pilsner Urquell available, so that we could compare the hoppiness of a beer we all know quite well with that of the IPAs on the table. To put it bluntly, by the time we got to the Ruination, the PU was distinctly awful, and smelt rather similar to the boiling wort at U Medvídk? last Thursday. With time winding down on our tasting session, and our tastebuds being gently soothed by Bernard ?erné, Evan decided to open a bottle of his hacked Porter. Very interesting, but I will let Evan tell the full story of this experiment when he gets round to it.

Rob and I then sloped off to Pivovarsky klub to finish off their version of an American IPA - in the interests of research naturally. In a similar vein to last Wednesday and Thursday, there really are few pleasures as worthwhile as sitting with fellow beer lovers drinking excellent beer and discussing whatever comes up.

To sum up, a wonderful evening.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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