Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bruges & Troubadour Magma

A few years ago, a friend and I decided to go to Bruges (it's in Belgium) for a long weekend to sample lots of beer (and maybe look at some other stuff). It has since become a tradition for us to go there every November...

There are a few bars that we have to visit every time, we can't not go there.  The picture above is taken at 'Staminee De Garre', a lovely little cafe bar tucked away down an alley way which would be difficult to find but it's always packed because people know it's there.  Their house beer is a deliciously complex 11% beast which is dangerously drinkable considering the strength. It always comes with a small dish of cheese cubes which are also excellent and they genuinely compliment each other really well.

Best bar in Bruges (and possibly the world) is the quite strangely named 't Brugs Beertje', otherwise known as 'The Little Bruges Bear'.  Really cosy place serving 250-300 beers... the sort of place that you can quite happily spend hours and hours in.  Just look at this photo and tell me you don't want to just sit there and drink loads of beer.

Troubadour Magma

My favourite beer of the weekend is one I don't recall having before.  It's called Troubadour Magma. It's 9% and it's basically a golden Belgian ale with all the complex maltiness that you'd expect from a Belgian ale. One thing it boasts which a lot of Belgian beers don't though is hop character.

Hops aren't traditionally the big thing in Belgium, most of the beers are strong which comes from a large amount of malt and the malts used are quite often fairly sweet.  They also tend to add sugar during fermentation (which we don't tend to bother doing in the UK) so their beers are generally quite rich.  Their hop additions in contrast are often quite simple and the amount used is normally quite low in relation to the quantity of malt.  Troubadour Magma still has the rich maltiness but uses more late additions of flavoursome american hops giving it that sharp citrussy bite.  I found out that they make special editions which are made with a different type of hop each time (generally ones which are rarely found in Belgian beers).  I got myself a bottle of the current limited edition made with Sorachi Ace, a fantastic citrussy hop from Japan.  I'm waiting for a special occasion to crack this open... can't fucking wait.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Odell - What a brewery

I love practically everything this brewery produces and it's beers from Odell which first got me interested in American craft beers and probably sparked my desire to make beer myself.

St. Lupulin is probably my favourite. It's a pale ale. It has a sweet but light caramelly malt taste and hops that give a floral grapefruity flavour but with a dry grassy finish. It has the perfect balance of sweet and dry in my opinion.  

I thoroughly recommend this beer or Odell IPA to anyone... particularly if you like pale hoppy beers. Otherwise, they're equally good at stouts and I once tried a german style dark lager of theirs which was lovely. 

Odell is generally an amazing brewery and I bloody love it.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

First Blog - Home Brew Beers so far

I thought I would start off my blogging with a summary of what I have brewed myself so far.  I've always been really passionate about beer so it was a natural progression for me to start brewing my own.  I aim to 'showcase' each beer I have brewed - I'll hopefully talk about the beer itself and the successes and hiccups of brew day.

July 2012 - Simcoe IPA

My favourite beers are generally hoppy beers.  I used to almost exclusively drink dry hoppy bitter beers but more recently I have been getting into American style IPAs. I still love lots and lots of hops but now appreciate the caramel or biscuity addition of a good malt choice. I decided to make my own American IPA. One of the most flavoursome hop I have come across is Simcoe so I decided to make this the main focus of this ale...



Pale Malt 2.4kg
Crystal Malt 500g
Caramunich 275g
Carapils 275g
Vienna Malt 250g


Columbus 25g 60mins
Amarillo 25g 30mins
Simcoe 25g 10mins
Columbus 25g Dry Hop
Amarillo 15g Dry Hop
Simcoe 25g Dry Hop

Brew Day

When it came to cooling the wort, the cooler element didn't fit the tap in the bathroom so I had to think of something. Luckily, me and my mate Marc came up with a really clever idea of syphoning cold water through it.  We didn't think of the fact that by the time the cold water had passed through the near boiling wort, it would be very hot... thus Marc had quite a badly burnt mouth for about a week.

The End Product

Realised from this that I didn't use enough malt.  Not enough sugar therefore this ended up quite weak at about 4 and a bit percent.  Once it had conditioned in the bottle though I think everything else was there... Initial sweetness followed by a bitter pineapply aftertaste, I reckon more malt (probably more Pale) and it would have had that stronger slightly caramelly taste that the American IPAs have.  Next time...

October 2012 - Black Lab IPA

My take on a modern increasingly popular beer style - a black IPA.  One of my favourite beer styles after tasting The Kernel Brewery's version.  I'd always planned on doing one... just wanted to get a couple of beers under my belt first so I got it right.



Pale Malt 4kg
Caramalt 500g
Carafa III 250g
Vienna Malt 250g


Columbus 15g 60mins
Amarillo 15g 20mins
Simcoe 15g 20mins
Cascade 20g 20mins
Cascade 30g 10mins
Cascade 30g Dry Hop

Brew Day

Really annoyed when my ingredients arrived in the post.  Black IPA is basically an IPA with a tiny amount of dark malt added to it. Usually, most people aim for the black colour of a stout but avoid the roasted malt taste.  There is a type of dark malt called Carafa which comes in 3 types - I, II & III. You can then get 'Carafa Special' which is de-husked and thus the flavour is more subtle... I think it was probably done purposely for this type of beer.  I ordered Carafa Special III, they sent me Carafa III... what a balls up.

The End Product

Due to the Carafa indident, my beer did end up tasting a bit more roasty than I would have liked... although it did have a big bitter kick at the back of the tongue.  To be honest I ended up quite liking the initial roastiness, it was warming and the weather was getting cold so it was quite nice.  The real satisfaction came when I bottled it with a bit of sugar.  Two weeks later and the beer was completely different.  The sugar almost gave it an added perfume aroma (which I like), the secondary fermentation also gave it a more alcoholic taste and changed the roastiness into a liquorice taste, almost like dandelion & burdock.  That along with a nice amount of fizz.... delicious.