AG#21 Stanley Bay – NZ Pale Ale

I’ve gone on about this brew a bit too much, but I’m excited about it and I shan’t apologise!  I wanted to try to clone Hawkshead’s NZPA, I really don’t like the term ‘clone’ as it implies success before you even roll your sleeves up.  I prefer to say that it’s a bad copy of the original.  We’ll see.  So, it was a late brewday and didn’t mash in until 19:40.  Add to this a hard week at work and an ill-thought-out trip to the pub on the way home to imbibe some Anchor Old Foghorn.  Despite these things, it was probably the most straightforward brew I’ve done.

Original Gravity (OG): 1.056
Final Gravity (FG): 1.010
Alcohol (ABV): 6.1%
Colour (SRM): 7.0 (EBC): 13.8
Bitterness (IBU): 45.9 (Average)

3.8kg Golden Promise Pale Malt
0.300kg Caramalt
0.200kg Vienna
0.150kg Pale Wheat Malt
0.150kg Munich I
0.150 Melanoidin Malt

15g Green Bullet (12.7% Alpha) (First Wort)
10g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @30 Minutes (Boil)
10g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @30 Minutes (Boil)
15g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @10 Minutes (Boil)
15g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @10 Minutes (Boil)
75g Motueka (7.8% Alpha) @0 Minutes (steep @80C)
75g NZ Cascade (8.5% Alpha) @0 Minutes (steep @80C)

Water treatments: Campden tablet (HLT), 1 tsp gypsum (mash).  My weighing scales aren’t great and I only require 3-4g, which is a tsp (approx).  Same rule for the epsom salts in the boil.  I really should start looking at my water profile to suit beer style.

Strike temp of 75C, 12.0L liquor for 4.8kg grain.  Mashed in at 66C (single step infusion).

Mashed for 60 minutes and temp remained constant.  Sparged at 78C (strike temp 86C), 20.60L liquor. First runnings from the mash were 1.090 20C.  Didn’t take a pre-boil gravity, whoops.

First wort hops were Green Bullet.  I haven’t added hops in this way many times, but may start to do so as standard, my thinking here is that the software tells me ‘X’ IBU’s, but in reality it’s probably a lower extraction than that?  Anyway, as more experienced folk than me keep saying, we (the beer-drinking humans) can’t detect the difference of 5IBU’s either way.

Added the all important protofloc tablet at 15 minutes and remembered to add my immersion chiller this time!  At 80C I added the 150g of Motueka and Cascade.  Cooled the wort down to 22C and then transferred to the FV, pitching the dry US05 yeast in about half way through the run-off.  I’ve started doing this with dry yeast as the drop to the FV aerates the wort and means I don’t need to sanitise a spoon / one less risk of introducing nasties.

Collected my target of 21L of wort post boil with SG of 1.056.  Slightly above my target of 1.054, but nothing worth worrying about.  If the yeast attenuates as per my guesswork it’ll make the beer 6.4%.  A tad stronger than NZPA, but who’s counting!

I’ll be dry hopping in the FV with Nelson Sauvin at a rate of 4.8g/L.  I’d use more if I had it.

Update: 08/10/12 Dry hopped with 100g Nelson Sauvin and 50g Motueka (7.1g/l).

Update: 22/10/12 Bottled 18L, batch primed with 45g sugar syrup (2.5g/l).  FG 1.010 (6.1%).

Update: 18/12/12 I already knew it, but you can’t win them all.  As I feared this brew has issues.  Due to illness the beer was left in the FV on the yeast for way too long and then dry hopped at a ridiculous rate for 14 days.  I knew it was going to have an adverse effect but I was laid-up so nothing I could do about it.  The beer has a musty, yeasty aroma and taste, verging on an infected/clove taste.  It’s a real disappointment, but it reminds me that a lot of the brewing process is about controlling the variables that can consign your beer to the sink.  I’ll have to brew it again, rethink my dry hopping and stay fit and well!

Brewing a NZ Pale Ale

Following on from my New Zealand Saison,  single hopped with Motueka, my next brew will be a New Zealand Pale Ale, which if you want to be picky is an American Pale Ale hopped with NZ hops? Anyway, what better inspiration than the much revered Hawkshead NZPA.  I like this beer, I like the other beers that comes from the brewery, and the head brewer, Matt Clarke, seems to be a nice chap, although his stranglehold over the UK’s antipodean hop supply could change my mind!

The label on Hawkshead’s NZPA lists four NZ hop varieties; Green Bullet, Motueka, Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin.  I set about sourcing these hops only to find that Riwaka might as well be a ‘Class A’ substance, and the Nelson Sauvin in my freezer was there after ‘borrowing’ it from a recent brewery visit.  I decided on NZ Cascade as a replacement for Riwaka, whereas Matt had used Pacific Jade.  I’m told that NZ Cascade is quite ‘soft’ in character so will use it wisely.

I’d already decided to use Safale US-05 yeast, keeping things simple.  So the next step was to try and come up with a malt bill that would get me close to the real deal.  The NZPA label gave me a strong lead to work on…I knew I was looking for malted barley.  After a short Twitter discussion with Matt Clarke and Graeme Coates, a brief gander at the BJCP and the realisation that there is no clone recipe available to guide me, I set about concocting my best guess.

I want to achieve a 6% abv beer, with around 45IBU, the colour will be on the pale end of the style, as per NZPA.  I want to have a medium/full bodied beer, so in addition to 80% pale, I’ll be using a combination of Vienna, Munich and Melanoidin malts to hopefully create a wort that will stand up to the hops.  Pale Wheat Malt for head retention, but also to build the flavours.  Caramalt to add some sweetness/colour but mainly to prevent the beer finishing too dry.  Incidentally, I had to adjust the BrewMate software to accommodate the consistently eager attenuation of Safale US05.  My US Porter achieved 92% attenuation!  “Whooa!” *that’s English for ‘stop a yeast’*.

The hop schedule is also guess-work, but with four lovely hop varieties to work with, I will be hard pushed not to get good results.  Right?  Green Bullet for bittering, then a couple of mid boil additions of Motueka, NZ Cascade, then large additions of the same to steep.  Dry hopping (5g/l) with all the Nelson Sauvin I have and may use some Green Bullet too.

I’ll be brewing this evening and will blog the results.  Comments welcome.

You’ve Got a Friend in Meat

Saturday night was the much awaited opening of Friends of Ham, Leeds’ newest bar and charcuterie adding more meat to the healthy bones of a thriving beer scene.  I received an invite having spoken a little with the owners via social media and having briefly met Claire Kitching when she was out and about sourcing beer.  There were a few bloggers circling the premises on the night and they will give you the full rundown of what you can look forward to if you get to visit.  I left my bloggers hat at home, resting on my notebook and camera…. I was unarmed.  The photo above is the only one I took on the night and is testament to the fact that my attentions were solely on having a night out.   Claire and Anthony (or Kitch as you may know him) have worked tirelessly to transform their new home-from-home into a sleek, inviting and comfortable space.

Along with Head Barman Tyler, Claire and Kitch have put together a very respectable selection of beer and if Saturday is anything to go on, then you’ll never be wanting.  On tap I enjoyed Redchurch Gold, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and from the fridge Magic Rock High Wire.  I had already been at a brewery and visited a few pubs so had to leave it there.  This time around I missed out on tap-treats from The Kernel, Hawkshead, Huyghe, Magic Rock and Red Willow.

Neil over at Eating isn’t Cheating describes the food on offer much better than I could, but I did enjoy more than my fair share of Iberico Ham.  As I understand it, the food that was on offer was really just a taster and there will be much more in the way of breads and cheeses in the coming weeks.

Their clever strapline is A friend of ham is a friend of ours, and to that I say “A friend of beer is a friend of mine“.   Whether you are planning a trip to Leeds or just passing through, then their location on New Station Street is perfect.  I’ll be back there as often as I can make it, but don’t take my word for it, I recommend you go and see for yourself.

You can follow their updates on Twitter and Facebook.

Well Hopped Ales – Hawkshead Brewery

I recently received three bottles of beer from the Hawkshead Brewery, based in Staveley, Cumbria.  It’s not long since I visited and blogged about my fleeting visit to the brewery and beer hall.  The three beers sent to me are part of Hawkshead’s Well Hopped Ale series and include 330ml bottles of Windermere Pale, NZPA (New Zealand Pale Ale) and Cumbrian Five Hop.

Windermere Pale 

6% abv. A hop blend including East Kent Golding and Citra. Poured a light golden colour, a small white head formed but quickly reduced to a thin covering. Floral, lemon aroma and a hint of sweet caramel coming through.  First taste of punchy citrus fruits and immediate bitterness that moves around your mouth before settling out and blending with the biscuit and caramel malt flavours.  I found the finish a little dry, but all that did was lead me to my next sip.  Despite it’s strength I find this to be a light, easy going beer, but that kind of opinion could get me into a mess pretty quickly.


6% abv. A hop blend of Green Bullet, Motueka, Riwaka & Nelson Sauvin.  I’ve had several goes on this beer and it doesn’t fail to disappoint.  Big on aroma, big on flavour, big on satisfaction.  One of my beers of the year.

Cumbrian Five Hop

6% abv. A blend of 5 hop varieties including Fuggle, Citra & Amarillo.  For me this is the most complex beer of the three ‘well hopped’ beers, and ironically it’s the most well hopped!  I found that every sip had me reaching for the flavours, a really interesting balance between malt and hops leaving me guessing as to what I was tasting.  I drank this beer before looking at the notes on the bottle, and having recently proclaimed my disdain for Fuggle and Progress hops, I was pleasantly surprised to see the ‘F-word’ printed on the label.  Tropical meets traditional.

Thanks to Hawkshead for the beers.

The Sparrow Bier Cafe, BD1

I’ve written about The Sparrow Bier Cafe once before, and I wanted to post a short post as a special #FollowFriday as they approach their first anniversary.  To recap, they chose a location close to Bradford city centre, off the beaten ‘ale’ trail and despite my concerns they have thrived.  Within twelve months they have received awards from Bradford CAMRA for Pub of the Season Autumn 2011, quickly followed by Pub of the Year 2012.  Huge congratulations to Les and Mark for their efforts and for bringing something fresh to Bradford’s beer fans.  I was in there yesterday and enjoyed keg beer from Hawkshead and Camden, cask from Dark Star and Sarah Hughes as well as being spoilt for choice with their range of bottles, but settled on a Mikkeller single hop Summit IPA.  When undertaking such serious market research it’s important to keep fuel in the tank, so I ordered their tasty side of cheese, salami and pickles.  If you are localish or just passing through Bradford, I can highly recommend a visit.  Opening times and news of what’s on the bar @thesparrowbd1 and regular reviews from HopZine.

And a few more pics


Hawkshead Beer Festival

As we arrived into Staveley I had mixed feelings, excitement that I was moments away from some fine beer and utter selfishness that I had taken hostages along the way.  In the car with me were my three young sons (under 4) and my ever supportive wife.  I say supportive as she enabled me to get to the festival, was open-minded about dragging the family along and was the default designated driver for the journey home.  We set off from Bradford knowing it would be a brief visit before a dash home in time to get the kids to bed.

3 kids, 120 mile round trip, unknown territory, no sat nav, no road map…. nothing could possibly go wrong, but two hours later and after enjoying a slight detour around lake Windermere (see Learning point 1 below), our ETA was shot but moved seamlessly to Plan B: ‘Adapt and overcome’.  By the time we sat down in the Beer Hall with food in front of us, and me with my first beer (a Hawkshead 6% Windermere Pale) it was 3pm and I knew I had some tough decisions to make.  Sixty+ beers to choose from and roughly 90 minutes to pick a few and enjoy them while remaining in charge of my faculties.  I did not want to be accused by anyone of being PUI (Parenting Under the Influence).  We opted to sit upstairs (see photo above), away from a drunken group of foul-mouthed youths, and much to the amusement of the onlookers as we lifted a twin pushchair up the flight of stairs.  But once settled in we enjoyed the friendly service, the burgers, hotdogs and chips, and a good view of two huge stainless steel fermentation tanks, a view appreciated by me anyway.

On my second trip to the busy bar was with baby 1 under my supervision, the number of comments to the effect of “ooo you’re starting him early aren’t you!“, five.  I had barely sat back down in my seat with a Hawkshead Cumbrian Five Hop – a really moreish beer boasting a tropical fruit cocktail of hop aromas and flavours – before it was gone and I was back at the bar, baby 2 under arm, and more friendly banter and comments about my wingman.  In between trying a Black Isle Yellow Hammer and a Red Willow Endless, I managed to say a quick hello to Matt Clarke (Head Brewer, Hawkshead).  There were a few others I would have liked to meet, but time was up.  One more stop was made at the bar to pick up a few bottles to take home, notably the outstanding NZPA, now rebranded and repackaged in 330ml bottles.   Was it a bit crazy to drive so far for such a short time? yes! but did we all enjoy the road trip, the sunshine, food and family time? YES! It was of course a huge bonus for me to have visited a festival high up on my list, and I’ll be returning next year with anyone who fancies a jaunt to the Lakes.

Learning points:

  1. A map is essential.  Hawkshead Brewery is not located in or anywhere near Staveley in Cartmel, but I can tell you that it is a lovely little village.
  2. Four year olds do not tire of asking “are we there yet”.
  3. Never Always drink pint measures when visiting a beer festival for less than 2 hours.
  4. Hawkshead Beer Hall is well worth a trip.

The Grove Inn, HD1

Image by Expolits of a Food Nut

My extended absence from this particular beer-paradise has been circumstantial and I had all but given up on visiting during 2011.  Enter stage right @GeekLeeds.  I met Gary (Geek Leeds blog) at the IPA Day back in August, Mr Foleys was packed and through the ‘random factor’ I happened to talk to him and as he didn’t seem to be a mentalist he is now one of the great bunch of people I have met so far thanks to great beer.

A couple of months back I received an SOS from Gary that read, “we need a beery adventure“.  It didn’t take long to agree on The Grove Inn.  Saturday gone, we embarked on our spluttering train journey, a short distance from Bradford and Leeds.  I know that Gary will be blogging about this in more detail than me, so I’ll cut to the bit at the pub.  When Tennyson penned this poem I’m positive it wasn’t with beer in mind, but as we entered the pub, and thanks to the right hemisphere of my melon , the one poem I know of popped into my mind…”crossing the bar“.  It was a moment I had built up in my thoughts and it seems to be a rite of passage for any self-respecting beer geek in West Yorkshire.  Apologies to the architect, but the pub is nothing to look at, it doesn’t draw you in and aside from the large BrewDog logo as you step through the door, you wouldn’t know this was going to be a trove of beery wealth.

It was about 5pm and there was a buzz about the place, a friendly enough mix of folk and we were greeted with “what can I get you“.   Usually this would be welcomed, no leaning over the bar to catch the Keeps attention, but when your head is spinning with choice all you want is a couple of minutes to steady yourself.  Not wanting to look like a total newbie I took control and ordered myself a pint of Hawkshead Windermere Pale, Gary a pint of Thornbridge Jaipur and Ben (@Boodrums) went for a bottle of BrewDog Hardcore.  Way to go Ben! He’ll learn from this, but at the time I couldn’t help feel a little bit jealous of his free spirit.

We settled for a table in the Public Bar as I sensed that the occupants of the Snug weren’t ready for our enthusiasm.  Someone had mentioned the artwork to me a few days before and I now fully appreciate what they were giggling about.   Lets just say the ambience is set to bohemian.  We settled in and slowly moved through the gears (exclude Ben from this) taking in a couple more cask delights in the form of Buxton SPA and Marble Dobber, before hitting the bottle menu hard.  I can’t remember the order perfectly but between us we sailed through BrewDog ABD, Kernel 100 Centennial and Columbus, Rogue Mocha, Little Creatures Pale and Hardknott Infra Red.  Tyler (It’s Just Beer blog) arrived to join us  (@tkiley1) and he influenced us to move onto Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and Nogne O Triple Tiger, Porterhouse Plain Porter and a few others that escape me.

Image by Port Street Beer House

Before leaving we annoyed a fair few people, on both sides of the bar, by our drunken deliberations and eventual purchases to take home.  Safe to say that Kernel 100 Centennnial converts Gary and Ben cleared the cellar of this outstanding beer.  So rude.

While waiting for our carriage home, we had to time to nip into The Kings Head at the station for a quick half of Magic Rock Curious NZ, needless to say this was tasting great.  The journey home would see us swig freely from a communal bottle of Schneider Weisse Tap 5 which rounded a great evening.  Highlights for me were the Brooklyn Sorachi, the Porterhouse Porter and the Marble Dobber.  Looking forward to my next visit to HD1.

(See Tyler’s take on the evening here).

Dog Day Afternoon – Palo Santo Marron

 We are led to believe that ‘the dog days of summer’ are the hottest most sultry days of the year and that we should be feeling the heat through July to September.  “Great!”…I think each time we approach the not-so-silly-season, dust off the patio furniture, stock up on disposable barbecues and fill the fridge to the brim with summer ales and crisp lagers.  Let’s put a pin in that….*pop!*.  As I look out of the window I could put a positive spin on things and tell you it’s a scorcher, afterall it is a balmy British 13C, so in principle one would be playing within the rules to adorn a string vest and tie a handkerchief to your head while filling the paddling pool, but if I was to be a ‘glass is half empty kinda guy, then I would need to break-it to you that summer is not here and it ain’t coming! (It’s actually 10pm in the evening, but eight hours earlier I could well have been describing a typical 2011 British summers day – but you catch my drift).
PictureSo, to recap…I did dust off the patio furniture, stock up on disposable barbecues and filled the fridge with a fantastic selection of beer in anticipation for being the hostess with the mostess, alas the sun has not had his hat on and I am left wondering did I choose the correct malty beverages?  Don’t misundertand me here, I think there is a time and place for most beers and you don’t necessarily have to be led by the season or plan your drinking itinery using the barometer, but I do think there are beers that lend themselves to an occasion.  When sitting in the sunshine in your garden, a pub beer garden, any garden! then you’re probably going to reach for a chilled wheat beer, pilsner, blond, IPA or a beer from one of the tens of beers styles out there.  Like I say, each to their own but I wouldn’t necessarily see a 12% Brown Ale as a classic thirst quencher.   So given the time of day, the storm clouds overhead and the glow of the stove, I picked a bottle I had been resisting for a while but was tempted into drinking by fellow Tweeter @Davomanic who, incidentally, was sharing his thoughts while enjoying a bottle of Hawkshead’s Brodie’s Prime Reserve 2011 (see my review here).

Dogfish Head: "We have wood. Now you do too"

My choice, Dogfish Head‘s Palo Santo Marron, is an American Strong Ale brewed in tanks crafted from Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, and at 10,000 gallons each these are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition.  So, with wood mentioned on the front of the bottle and featured on the back, I was expecting something woody!

It pours dark brown almost black leaving a very thin coffee brown head, which stays until the last sip.  Aromas of chocolate, freshly roasted coffee, sherry soaked fruit cake and a prominent hit of vanilla.  Flavours of caramel, vanilla and fruit cake and there is a slight smokiness from the Palo Santo tanks.  In the mouth it is silky and luxurious and it clings to the glass, which any wine buff would tell you indicates it has good legs!   This is a complex beer and one to treat with respect at 12% abv, but as with many high quality high abv beers, they are also devilishly easy to drink.

The brewer’s of Dogfish Head have outdone themselves with the Palo Santo Marron.  It’s got the big flavours you should expect from the brewer, the style and the write up on the bottle, but I can also tell you that it delivers as a smooth, warming decadent drink.

Stand well back – I’m a brewer, blogger & beer reviewer

Through the process of asking a kind fellow to buy and retrieve a few special bottles of beer from my favourite shop @BeerRitzLeeds, I was taken aback by the generous offer that accompanied my bounty, as the said gentleman / beer trafficker invited me to drink and review a bottle of beer.  “Me?” was the first thing I could think of as I thought it best to check that he wasn’t merely asking me to pass it on to someone else with a refined palate.  After all there is nothing worse than that moment when someone in the distance smiles and waves enthusiastically in your general direction; you smile and wave back thinking how popular you have become; only to realise at the very last minute that you were not the intended recipient of this salutation and that a split second reaction is required to turn your outstretched-hand into a swoop-and-brush through the hair….. oh the shame!

Anyway, turns out the offer to drink and review a beer was directed at me and before I knew it I had accepted and was walking home worrying about my beer swirling/sniffing/gargling abilities.

The beer is a bottle of Brodie’s Prime Reserve 2011 brewed by the Hawkshead Brewery and the review can be found on the excellent beer review and discussion site HopZine.