Does unfiltered beer give you hangovers? Always keen to test a theorem and highly optimistic for the null hypothesis Fuggles merrily quaffed away tonight courtesy of Charlie Mcveigh of Draft House, Jasper and the team from Camden Town Brewery and Justin Carter (who kindly got me in the door at the last minute).
I'm a huge fan of what Camden Town are doing. An artisan twist on traditional beer styles - contemporary, with being try-too-hard. I'm mostly in love with everything I tried tonight. Being in much polite company I can't supply you with photos, so please open your imagination instead and enjoy the below. Or better still, seek them out for yourself in the soon to be opened brewery tap at Camden.
We opened with the Gentleman's Wit - a lemon and bergamot wheat beer where the lemons are roasted to release the oils. This pale almond cloudy liquid was fresh, zesty and immensely drinkable. Definitely the session beer of the night. The Hells had been matured for 6 weeks in tank at Camden town, and 6 hours later, pretty much decanted into our glasses. A proper kellarbier with spicy floral notes that remind me so much of heather honey.
Then onto the bottled wheat beer, a heffe weisser, brewed using traditional german yeast and very few hops. There is an interesting story behind the yeast, which Jasper tells far better than I would ever attempt to, but the character of the yeast is the embodiment of the beer. A variety of malted barleys balance the wheat to create a darker, sweeter and very quaffable variant of wheat beer.
And finally onto the hoptastic finale. I'm not sure we were ever told how many IBUs were in this beer, but alot. However, this chestnut coloured IPA had a richness that complemented and toned down the strident bitterness of the (9?) hops and resulted in a full and satisfying IPA.
Mention also should go to the chef, for the quite awesome foot long pork scratchings and even better pork belly. Fuggles is all at once quite satiated with good beer, food and company and will be visitng draft house again very soon.
Sunday, 15 January 2012
Many beers describe themselves as Lambic. Most that reach the export market have been sweetened to increase the appeal and popularity. Classic examples being Lindemans and Mort Subite. The purest and most traditional form of lambic has virtually no sugar in at all (having been entirely consumed by the yeast) and is incredibly tart and sour - a definite acquired taste. Unlike most beers, old hops are deliberately used to avoid imparting any flavour, and solely for their preservative properties. Lambic is perceived by some to more closely resemble cider than beer.
What makes Lambic beer so special is the yeast. Most breweries preserve a pure strain of their yeast in an off site yeast bank, to allow generation of new yeast for fermentation and a consistent brew every time. Lambic beer is produced using wild yeast. Samples of Cantillon beer have revealed over 60 different strains of yeast in a single bottle. The production of lambic beer is therefore unlike any other.
The cooling tank (above) is where the magic happens. This large flat vessel is where the near boiling wort is pumped to for cooling. Boiling has at this point destroyed any organisms that may have been present in the beer thus far. The sterile liquid is now exposed to the air overnight whilst it cools.
The brewery must therefore ensure a good "infection" of the wort. There are holes in the roof to encourage circulation of air. The wood from which the brewery is built is the natural breeding ground for the yeast. If repairs need to be undertaken to the brewery, only a small amount of wood can be removed at a time to ensure this unique "yeast bank" is not depleted. Furthermore, brewing can only take place in the winter months to ensure that the wort cools to a level where the wild yeast can survive but bacteria (that would spoil the beer) cannot - around -5 to +5 oC.
GEUZE: Cantillon (obviously), Tilquin, Oud Beersel
BRUNE: Bourgogne des Flandres Brunes
Posted by Fuggles at 21:03