Showing posts with label trukker ur-pils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trukker ur-pils. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

600 Not Out

Back in November 2009 I marked the 300th post of Fuggled. At that point I had been in the States a matter of months, and so, obviously, it was a somewhat reflective piece about the fine people I had met as a result of this blog and was heavily Prague centred.

Almost 2 years have passed since that post, and this post is my 600th. In that time I have drunk a lot of beer, brewed and fair bit of beer and learnt a hell of a lot more about beer. From having deep discussions on the merits or otherwise of decoction mashing with Tom Cizauskas and Eric of Relentless Thirst fame, to being sat on the terrace at Devils Backbone on a breezy yet sunny spring day, beer has been the focal point of so many of the good times since moving the States. It is through my homebrewing that I have come to know the many fine people at the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale homebrew club, and through their advice and opinion I like to believe that I have become a better brewer myself. One thing I can say that seems to be a transnational fact, beer people are by and large good people.

My brewing highlights of the last two years have all taken place in the very same building, again Devils Backbone. The first time, Jason was brewing a pilsner based on research into the original recipe and done properly - triple decoction mash, 100% Saaz hops to get 40IBU and water softer than ice cream with sun stroke. We had a great day, and Jason brewed a great Pilsner, I can give no higher accolade than to say if I had been served it in Pivovarsky klub it would not have been out of place with the great Czech lagers of this world.

The second time I brewed at Devils Backbone was probably the highlight of my beer life so far. During the pilsner brewday Jason and I kept coming back to the topic of Tmavé pivo, or Czech dark lager. Neither a dunkel nor a schwarzbier and descended from warm fermented beers made in Bohemia as late as the 1890s, tmavé is one of the unique beer styles of Bohemia that I believe is misunderstood outside the Czech lands. We agreed then to brew our own version of the beer, and it was up to me to do the research and eventually formulate a recipe. So I trawled through websites in Czech, Slovak and German, looking for clues to the makeup of the grist - the hops were something of a no-brainer really, 100% Saaz. I contacted brewmasters in the Czech Republic who were very helpful and eventually Jason and I finalised the recipe. Brewing my own recipe on professional equipment, with a master of lager brewing was an awesome day, and when some 2 months later I went down to the brewpub to try the beer I was blown away, and about 3 weeks later all 2000 half litres of Morana were gone.

I always enjoy those days when I get to brew with Jason. Brewing with Jason and Ron Pattinson when we recreated a London dark lager from the 1930s was just as immense. Talking with Ron about beer history and beer styles is like having a walking encyclopaedia with you. I learnt shed loads of stuff that day, and we drank some great beers made as a result of his work. You can imagine then that a cask of the Barclays London Dark Lager going off to the Great British Beer Festival and getting good feedback was something that had me buzzing for days.

Another of the highlights in the life of Fuggled is the Brewer of the Week series, and I want to thank every brewer that has agreed to take part, and perhaps a gentle reminder to those who said they would and have yet to get their answers back to me.

So here I am, 600 not out and with no intention to declare for a while to come....

BTW - it seems today is a day for marking the longevity of blogs as Mark over at Pencil and Spoon is celebrating 3 years of his blog, as is Dave from Hardknott Brewery two guys whose blogs are always worth reading!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody

If you are one of the people that regularly reads this blog, you will know that since moving to the US I have been engaged in trying to find an American craft pilsner worthy of the name. Of course, when I say "pilsner" I don't really think of the German version, I have Bohemian pilsners in mind, the kind of beer I drank a lot of in my decade of Czech life.

Some of them have been okay, some of them have been awful, the vast majority of them were meh, one had me in raptures of delight - and no surprise really that it was the only one hopped only with Saaz. Then of course there is the one that I had a hand in brewing, and that particular beer, called Trukker Ur-Pils is now available on tap at Devils Backbone.

A quick review then, the beer was brewed on August 14th, with an original gravity of 12.5o Plato. When the primary fermentation was a single degree away from reaching the target gravity, they closed the airlock - a German process called spunding. By closing the airlock, the CO2 created thereafter goes into solution and carbonates the beer - I am not entirely sure how close this would be to cask conditioning, because there is no extra priming sugar or similar added. The beer then lagered for 30 days. On Monday the beer was officially tapped at the brewpub, any ideas then where Mrs Velkyal and I had dinner on Monday?

In my excitement to get off work and get to Devils Backbone, first seeing to the dog and then driving the 30 miles out there, I forgot to take my camera - but I will be drinking more of the beer this weekend and will take pics then to add to the post. If I were going to the Beer Bloggers Conference in November, I would lead a seminar on how not to blog. Anyway, use you imagination - your imagination will be greatly helped if you have ever had a kvasni?ák (that's unfiltered krausened lager to the non-Czech speakers).

Yes the beer is slightly hazy, seeing as though it is unfiltered and unpasteurised, and came with a good couple of inches of head. A quick side thing here, another of the legion reasons I have for loving Devils Backbone is that every beer they pour comes with a head on it, instead of looking as though inspired by the floating scum that reminds me of cups of tea at my nan's in London. So it looked the part, and by 'eck did it smell the part. With 40IBUs of Saaz goodness, it was lemony, with hints of orange blossom, fresh bread and hay floating about in there for good measure. In chatting with the barman we lamented that so many beer lovers over here seem to think that hoppy equals grapefruit.

Then came the moment of truth. Biscuity, slighty grainy, bready. Oh yes! Is was gorgeous, crisp and long in the finish with no trace of diacetyl whatsoever. Being sat at the bar, with a pint of superb pilsner in the hand, I felt at home, I was transported back to Bohemia. So of course I had another, and another, then some food and maybe another couple of pints. Of late, Mrs Velkyal has been a one pint person when we go out, she had two of this, and loved it.

So yes, Trukker Ur-Pils would stand up to the ultimate test, if I had been served this in Zly ?asy or Pivovarsky klub, I would have had no complaints at all. To my mind it is up there with Kout na ?umavě and Pivovarsky d?m's ?těpan. I can give no higher praise, and exhort anyone living within striking distance of Devils Backbone to get down there while it lasts, and fill your growlers if you have them (I have two in the fridge waiting for the weekend)!

Is it obvious that I am a happy man?

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...