If you are reading this blog post you may well be a well informed beer drinker, you may well be the searching out more and more different beers. If so, congratulations and welcome. We assume that your those that you’ve interacted with, or the websites you’ve used, have already taught you the secret beer drinkers handshake that will identify you as a member of our special guild.
What, they forgot?
No worries — in this chapter we will teach you the handshake, metaphorically speaking. It is the methods we use that define our guild, and once you learn about these methods and begin to use them yourself, you won’ t need a special handshake. To be a good beer drinker you need to know and trust the brewer of your favourite beers. They rely on learning and then need good ideas, of course — astute predictions about how people and the beers will behave and brilliant explanations about why they behave that way.
But in some ways that’ s the easy part. transforming your ideas into hypotheses that can be tested with an elegant, tightly controlled experiment is the real challenge. As with any challenge, it can be both frustrating and great fun. I am sure it is like solving a difficult puzzle: I love games. I think I could be very happy learning complex board games or sitting with a stack of cards, friends and various adult beverages.
It doesn’t seem one could survive on chess, with out rules, and brewing is also a game. You have very strict ground rules in brewing, and your ideas have to check out with the empirical world.
Modern beer is in a constant state of innovation, and constant fight with quality control. To be successful, constantly, that’s very tough challenge and also very fascinating. Whether to be at the bleeding edge or work hard refining what we do, really well. I’m hoping in someway we hope to convey some of this fascination with a particular brew, namely The Mongrel.
Let’s start with the Mogul. Let’s assume that standard model. The model being a simple grist of Simpson’s Golden Promise malt, a pinch of Caramalt, and some wheat malt. Our spring water, which is an incredible base to work with. The Mogul has always, like the “little sisters”, HellFire and Daybreaker, we’ve been experimenting with the hops. We’ve never experimented with the yeast.
Two things jump to mind, unfortunately recalling that American politician, Donald Rumsfeld, with his Known Knowns comment: “Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”
Put simply, only fuck with one thing at a time, and know what the outcome is going to be. Alas they didn’t follow that rule.
Neither did we.
Thankfully with beer, if you keep the working space clean, clean and sterile the likely hood if you follow the absolute basics of correctly weighed out ingredients, correct mash temperatures, following the recipe given, the likely hood is good for a more than drinkable beer. We’ve been making beer in various fashions, styles and guises for 4000 years or more. Well before peracitic and caustic was splashed around breweries like an Ibiza foam party.
But what happens when you change the yeast, the hop charges, those finishing parts of the beer? Invariably you’ll change the soul of the beer, the true essence, or direction you were trying to achieve. As my mate Ian says, all beers are just pale ales in disguise.
So, what have we made? And what have we learned. We’ve made a very nice, dry and bitter strong golden ale. Why? Because K97 yeast, makes very nice clean beers, but also absorbs hop flavour like crazy. It also ferments like a machine, leaving less body than our favoured yeast for this beer. Body and bitterness have to be in balance. This beer has more bitterness than we’d like for the beer, but well in the frame of what’s called a bitter beer.
Why have we released the beer, and not dump it? Well, the beer is perfectly fine, it’s just not Mogul. Mogul is a big brassy, sweet golden, west coast pale ale, the Mongrel, isn’t. I’d hate to put a style on it, but dry hopped imperial kolsch, anyone… anyone??
And, no we’re not doing a Belgian Mogul, or Munich Mogul. Just not going to happen.
Ps, Cow Juice is back, look out for the variations there.