Last Friday the trusty Beer Hawk team made our way on over to Malton, North Yorkshire to try our hand at brewing a beer with the great guys at Bad Seed Brewery. We'll probably stick to our day jobs (a sort of self-imposed exile) but we had such a great time.
It's hard not to with the comedic timing of Chris--master brain behind the brewery--who, when asked how old he was, proceeded to give us what sounded like a Match.com dating profile. He likes long walks on the beach, ladies!
Unfortunately, due to a longer-than-expected drive up there (for reasons that will forever be a part of Beer Hawk lore) we missed the best-smelling part: the mashing. For those who don't know, this is the step where the grains used in the recipe are steeped in boiling water for a time in order to extract the necessary sugars. This sugary liquid is called the "wort." At this stage the brewery smells like a sweet, grainy bread factory. And it is amazing.
Nevertheless, we did get there in time to add some delicious hops from New Zealand--or what Amanda declared to look like "dried sprouts." Brewer-extraordinaire James was kind enough to let us add the hops (which is one of the most exciting parts as the hops impart a lot of flavor to the beer.) The process consists of adding the hops to the boiling wort and then giving a good stir. The concept of a "good stir" seemed to have been lost on us as we were quickly demoted when James grabbed the paddle to show us how it is really done because our dainty swirls in the boil just weren't cutting it.
After its exactly-timed boil--in which case the hops gave off the preferred bittering and aroma characteristics--it was time to cool and filter the wort to get it ready for the little yeasties who were going to convert the sugars to alcohol for us. If you don't chill it to a proper temperature, you'll kill the yeast. And then all you'll have is a hoppy sugary yeasty mess. Yet, with expert guidance from the guys at Bad Seed, we were able to successfully "pitch the yeast." But not before having a taste of what we'd accomplished so far.
Our creation--which has been dubbed "Hawk-Eye PA" by one of our clever Facebook fans--is intended to be a well-hopped lager hybrid. We'll see whether or not we were triumphant in our creation in a few weeks as the beer is currently tucked away and letting the yeast do their thing in fermentation. Nevertheless, the true mark of a successful brew day is how--ahem--rosy the noses get. Let's just say, we won't need to worry about our marks from the French judge.
Thanks again to the great guys at the fantastic Bad Seed Brewery for hosting us and letting us drink all your beer. We had such a great time and we're very grateful for the opportunity! We'd love to reciprocate by showing you what a day packing boxes in the warehouse is like. Shall we schedule that for sometime around Christmas?