Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Helles Bells! A cask lager challenge.

I am sure most people in life enjoy a challenge. I certainly do. And my latest challenge may pleasantly surprise some beery aficionados. Then again, it's one that may raise a few eyebrows. 

It's a challenge I have been wanting to set myself for some time. To create a craft cask lager. A lager! I hear you say. Yes, a beer, in my opinion, that will in no way bear any resemblance to some of the mass produced, bland, light golden, tasteless fizz, we regularly witness.

So, it was to my delight when I had the opportunity to brew a collaboration cask lager with the popular and well respected, Bowland Brewery in Clitheroe.

I had been in discussions with Bowland's Production and General Manager, Craig Hall. And he had bravely given me virtually a free rein on the creation of the beer. However, the brewing skills were certainly down to the brewer, Scott Baldwin. 

I had decided to use three hop varieties, namely, Saaz, Perle and Nelson Sauvin. The hops in question will hopefully give the lager a clean, crisp and refreshing taste. Along with some subtle, fruity gooseberry notes.

But first we had to mix the lager malt and the water, to kick-off the brewing process. The malts are steeped in hot, not boiling water, for about 75 minutes. The liquid is then transferred into a giant kettle, so the hops can be added.
Trial brew: 100 litre brew kit at Bowland

The Saaz hops were first in. A Czech "noble" hop. With mild, earthy, herbal and spicy notes. A taste of Bohemia! Then the Perle variety. And finally at the end of the boil, the Nelson Sauvin. The latter is one of my favourite hops. However, it's quite pungent. And Scott used it very sparingly. 

Nelson Sauvin has a delightful "crushed gooseberry" aroma and flavour. Similar to taste and aroma you get in Sauvignon Blanc wine. It will give the lager its subtle gooseberry note - hopefully!

Scott was very meticulous in everything he did. He had the temperatures and timings bang on. A real craftsman at work.

The boiling process took another 75 minutes. Scott then allowed it to stand for ten minutes, before transferring the "liquid gold" into the fermenter. 

Scott said: " The fermentation temperature is about 10-11c. The lager yeast is then added. It's a temperature that is a little cooler than the normal final fermentation temperature of about 12c. However, when the thermic reaction kicks in, it will bring it up to 12c. It's then held at 12c until the end of the fermentation process."

Scott added: " Then the temperature is raised up to 16-18c, in order to allow for what is called a diacetyl rest. After this the lagering process begins. It's cooled down to between zero and 2c, in 2c increments. The end result will hopefully be a tasty, cask craft lager."

Lager, unlike ale, uses a process of very cool conditioning at low temperatures - in cold storage. The word "Lager" is German for storeroom.

Well, after witnessing Scott plying his trade. I was confident we will have brewed and created a flavoursome lager to savour. Light golden in appearance. It will have a 5%ABV.

I've named the lager, Helles Bells. Helles is the name for a traditional German pale lager. It will be launched at the Holmes Mill Beer Hall, Clitheroe, home of the U.K's longest bar, towards the end of April. It will also be available at the Blackburn Beer Festival 28-30 April, being held at Blackburn RUFC.
My thanks to Bowland's Head Brewer, Scott Baldwin

Yes, I am expecting a few raised eyebrows after creating a cask lager. However, we are confident that it will prove a winner, both at the Beer Hall and at Blackburn Beer Festival. 

Drinking habits are a changing. And I am grateful to Scott Baldwin and all the brewing team at Bowland Brewery, in helping me to create this collaboration tipple. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Hopefully, a collaboration beer to savour.

I have to say I've had a few raised eyebrows, in relation to my latest collaboration beer.
A craft cask lager is my next challenge.  A challenge I'm greatly looking forward to.
I've teamed up with the talented brewing team at Bowland Brewery. And I want to create a bottom fermented, robust, deep flavoured lager, that will tingle the tastebuds. 
Okay, some may be surprised I want to brew a lager beer.
However, it's a type of beer that is unfairly grouped with a lot of  mass produced dross.
Hopefully, this collaboration brew will be well received. We are aiming for a crisp, clean and refreshing beer. A pale malt lightness, along with tropical fruit and light floral notes. Leading to a dry, fruity, pleasant bitter finish.
I'm keeping the name I've chosen, under wraps, until it's launched at the Bowland Brewery Beer Hall, Holmes Mill, Clitheroe. Home of the UK's longest bar.

πŸ˜€πŸ»πŸ‘The magnificent bar at the Holmes Mill Beer Hall

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Three beers to savour.

Briggsy's Belting Beverages:
Folk who read my beer column in the Lancashire Telegraph, will recall that I named some of my favourite beers of 2016 last week. 
Well, already in 2017, I have sampled some belting beverages. And here I present my favourite three of week one. 

Golden gong: Springhead, Drop O' the Black Stuff(4.0%).
Stunning Porter sampled at Tapster's Promise, Colne.
Almost black in presentation. Beige, creamy head. Roast malt aroma. Dark chocolate, ground coffee, dark berry fruits flavours. Smooth mouthfeel.A dry roasted finish. In exceptional condition - awesome Porter !

Silver salute: Portobello, Stiff Lip(5.5%). Glorious IPA tasted at the New Brew-m, Burnley. Citrus aroma. A mighty juicy, citrus bomb. Melody of flavours. Grapefruit, tangy orange, piney and lemony flavours detected. Dry bitter finish. Refreshing in the extreme.

Bronze medal: Deeply Vale, Ripper(4%). A typical New Zealand style Pale Ale. Golden in presentation.Lemony aroma. Juicy, refreshing citrus flavours. A tad peachy too. Pleasant, moderate bitter hopped and subtle tangy finish.

In exceptional condition at the Hare and Hounds, Padiham.

Instagram: instagram.com/beerevangelism 

Do you like imperial strength IPA?

Mad Hatter Brewing Company's, Return To Madness:

A belting bottle that has the wow factor, no argument. 
This is an imperial IPA to savour. An 11% juicy gem. It has an aroma and flavour bursting with tropical fruit and piney notes. It leads to a lasting mega hit of fruity hoppiness. A refreshing fruity sweet and chewy slurp. 

The Liverpool brewer make exceptional beers, no argument. It was one of ten beers from www.imperialbeerclub.com

View other tasty tipples on my Instagram account:               www.instagram.com/beerevangelism 
#beer🍻 #mega #ipa #tropicalfruits #madhatter #robust #beerevangelism

Monday, 28 November 2016


Northern Monk, Imperial Whisky Smoked Honey Porter.

It may surprise one or two of you that I am reviewing a beer out of a can. However, after tasting this delicious imperial stout from the Leeds based brewer. I had to tell you all about it.

It was one of ten beers I had delivered from the Imperial Beer Club. And as soon as I had cracked open the can, I knew it was going to be a beer with the wow factor.

A honey sweet and whisky aroma greets you. It pours black with a creamy beige head. And leads to a delicious melody of flavours. Smokey whisky, rich caramel, honey and a hint of burnt treacle, balance beautifully. 

It's a silky smooth, deeply rich and creamy delight. A full flavoured, boozy beverage. I've never tasted an imperial stout like it - and I've tasted a few! It was a sensational slurp.

Finally, if you are drinking this stout sitting down. Make sure you arise slowly. It's 10% ABV may have given you a bit of a wobble.

More information on Imperial Beer Club can be found at: www.imperialbeerclub.com

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Is there a lack of decent pubs in your town centre?

There are instances in life when you feel it is totally necessary to redress the balance. A balance relating, in this instance, to a topic of conversation I overheard in a pub recently.

The conversation in question related to the lack of decent pubs in our local town centre's. Oh yes, that tiresome, tedious and repetitive old chestnut, that in my opinion, is a grossly exaggerated one.

Now, I was very tempted to interject and give my four-penneth, in order to explain that most of our town centre watering holes appear to be doing fine, thank you very much - and in many cases they give the impression they are running very successful ventures.

However, I refrained from intervention. As I got the impression from their woolly musings, that this gaggle of aging doom and gloom brethren, would more than likely treat my opposing view with total disdain. 

So, here I present to you, what I would have basically relayed to the chunnering, misinformed posse, in the bar area. Who, I hasten to add, didn't know from Adam!

Where is there evidence that there is a lack of decent drinking dens in my local area, namely, East Lancashire? What a load of old baloney. Absolute unsubstantiated drivel. Your views are unverified. Please permit me to explain an opposing and factual retort.

So, allow me to ascend to my soapbox and commence with a town in my region, namely, Colne. It's an environment with a plethora of beery, central town destinations. The Red Lion, Duke of Lancaster and the Wetherspoon's outlet, The Wallace Hartley. Are a trio of tasty taverns. 

A hop, skip and a stagger from the Wallace Hartley, you will find a triumvirate of micro-bars. Boyces Barrel; Cask and Keg and Tapster's Promise. The trio on Newmarket Street, are all next door to each other! Each having their own individuality and varied drinking experience.

Do you know of an example of THREE microbars (left) all next door to each other? I would be surprised if 
you did.

Neighbouring Burnley town centre offers an excellent choice for the discerning ale drinker. The New Brew-m and the multi award-winning Bridge Bier Huis, are among two of the finest in the region. Add to that, two Wetherspoon's outlets, namely, the Brun Lea and Boot Inn. Plus the Coach and Horses,Swan Inn, Talbot Hotel and KSC 110 club. And you are simply spoilt for choice, no argument.

(Landlord, Simon Scott(pictured left), at the award-winning, Bridge Bier Huis)

Accrington town centre replicates Burnley, with their fine drinking emporiums. The Abbey, Commercial, Canine Club and Arden, are a quality quartet. With, dare I say, the icing on the cake being the outstanding and award-winning Grant's Bar. Home to the Big Clock Brewery.

Over in Padiham, decent pubs are in abundance for a small town. The Bridge Inn, Flying Dutchman, Hand and Shuttle, Molly Rigby's and Katy Kelly's, are all pretty central. And it's certainly worth a few extra strides to enjoy fine cask ales in the Free Gardener's Arms. And in one of the area's premier pubs, the Hare and Hounds. Where seven rotating cask ales are on offer.

A relatively short trip to Whalley, will present you with a good variety of drinking establishments. The De Lacy, Dog Inn, Swan Inn and  Brady's Bar, are all within close proximity. A fifth, Jack's Bar, betwixt the De Lacy and Dog Inn, is a recent addition to the village's vibrant drinking scene.

A few miles away in Darwen, you will find more fine drinking dens. The town centre boasts a good selection of tasty taverns. A trio certainly worthy of mention are: The Bridgewater, offering eight cask ales; Number 39, Hopstar Brewery Tap. And Wetherspoon's, The Old Chapel.

Finally, there is always a good choice of hostelries in Clitheroe town centre. The recently opened Beer Hall at Holmes Mill, has been getting rave reviews. Over forty, yes forty, cask beers are available.

(The stunning horseshoe bar at the Bowland Brewery, Beer Hall. Does it measure up to being the longest bar in the UK?)

The New Inn, close to the castle, serves ten cask ales. And The Ale House, close by, dispenses a great range of both cask and bottled beers. Plus the central area, just for good measure, boasts two fine clubs, namely Catholic and Conservative.

So, there you have it. Case proven m'lud. Just some of East Lancashire's town centre's, that offer an abundance of fine drinking destinations - and choice! I  am sure many reading this can offer similar examples too.

Examples, that totally disprove the opinions of that gaggle on moaning , misinformed muppets, I encountered recently.