Sat on Rhubarb

Last week we kegged our second draught offering: Sat on Rhubarb.

The base beer blend was made in April and is similar to Running beer, however this time it is:

– 1/3 nine month old golden sour

– 2/3 five month old rye sour

Again, both batches are completely fermented with our house culture of wild yeasts and bacteria from the local area.

It was quite a clean tasting blend, with a soft acidity and fairly subdued wild yeast aromatics. Having wanted to start a series of seasonal fruited beers, we decided the addition of rhubarb would complement and enhance the character of the blend.

Helped by a tweet from the Salutation, we made a plea to the local community for rhubarb. They seriously delivered. We received a great variety (and amount) from gardens and allotments in Gloucestershire – over 40 kg in total, once topped and tailed. Gen never wants to see another stick of the stuff after chopping and washing each by hand for what seemed like 3 days solid.

Having already made the blend, our only option was to then feed each piece into a 1 inch hole on top of the tank… not to be repeated.

Two months later the yeast and bacteria had eaten through the sugars from the now discoloured rhubarb and we were ready to keg. The finished beer has matured very well; taking on subtle rhubarb aromatics, as well as an enhanced wild yeast character and more complex acidity from the malic acid in the rhubarb stalks.

Now we are just waiting for condition to build and the abv analysis to come back from the lab, then the beer will be out and about.

Below is another wonderful painting from Gen’s dad Martin, which will be adorning the keg badges.

rhubarb

 

 

 

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Foxbic

The second release from Mills Brewing – Foxbic

Back in October 2015 I was introduced to Cider and Perry maker Tom Oliver. Tom was interested in producing a beer with the wild cider lees left in the base of his oak barrels after cider fermentation. I suggested a wort made using the Turbid Mash method in the guise of traditional Lambic producers. This provides a wide range of sugars, longer chain carbohydrates, amino acids and polypeptides that provide nutrition for a slow fermentation by the complex symbiotic culture of yeast and bacteria that make up the lees.

Brewed at the Salutation Inn with landlord Pete Tiley who had introduced me and Tom, the turbid mash was made from raw wheat, malted rye and oats, Belgian pilsner and ale malt from Dingemans and oat husks to aid lautering. The resulting wort was boiled for 4 hours with a large dose of Goldings hops aged for four years. After boiling, the wort was filled into 9 gallon casks, driven to Tom’s and filled by hand into three oak barrels, emptying wort from each cask into a metal bucket and pouring into each barrel through a funnel:

Barrel 1 – Named the ‘Premium Funk’ barrel by Tom, had a sharp nose and strong Brettanomyces aromatics prior to filling. Filled with 160 litres of wort and topped off with around 80 litres of juice from the wonderfully sharp Foxwhelp apple.

Barrel 2 – Nosing the barrel prior to filling, it had a rounded lactic and pleasant wild yeast character. Received 160 litres of wort and around 50 litres of Foxwhelp juice to top off.

Barrel 3 – Received the final 60 litres of wort and filled with Foxwhelp juice.

Above: Blurry Pete emptying wort (left) and Tom filling the casks (right).

The barrels were left to ferment with the wild lees over the autumn, winter and spring at ambient Herefordshire temperatures, a truly natural fermentation. This slow mixed culture fermentation has many stages, during which blooms of yeast and bacteria take turns in making their contribution to the final flavour. After eight months, once we were satisfied the malolactic fermentation had sufficiently softened the perceived acidity, the barrels were blended and bottled with further priming sugar to induce a final fermentation in bottle. These were then aged for a further eight months to allow natural carbonation to build, and flavours to develop and integrate. The finished product is reminiscent of both Tom’s fantastic ciders and traditional Lambic and Gueuze.

As I’m writing Gen is currently dusting and polishing the aged bottles for labelling (both of us aided by the Kernel’s superb Nelson Sauvin IPA). The labels feature a beautiful oil painting by Gen’s dad, Martin Kaye. You will see more of his amazing work on future releases.

We are launching the beer at the Salutation Inn on Thursday 18th May. No tickets needed. Ourselves and Tom will be there to talk through Foxbic as well as pour a trio of tasters: Foxbic, Mills Brewing – Running Beer and Oliver’s Traditional Cider.

http://www.the-sally-at-ham.com/sallyevents/

Running Beer – Still

Afternoon all.

As a quick introduction, my name is Jonny and together with my partner Gen, have started a brewing company producing beers fermented with only wild yeasts and bacteria we have sourced from nature. All of our beers are completely fermented and matured in wooden barrels, the only stainless steel is our blending tank and open wort cooler, or coolship, used to naturally inoculate our spontaneously fermented beer. In the spirit of Belgian Lambic blenders, our focus is on fermentation and blending, as such we do not have our own brew kit, nor do we ever plan to. I currently brew all our wort on the small kit at the Salutation Inn (Ham, Gloucestershire) where we also happen to live. We owe a great debt to landlord Pete Tiley who helped us find our site in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, as well as letting us use his brew-kit to produce wort.

It’s been around a year since we made the first steps towards our dream of a brewery producing all wild fermented beers. I’ll happily skip over the details of property leases, solicitors, local councils and HMRC and get to the reason I’m now sat here writing:

Our first beer is ready.

Our raison d’être is to produce beers using 100% wild cultures sourced from nature. No brewers yeast, no lab cultivated wild strains. A true expression of our locality. We have started brewing two streams of beer:

Running Beer 

A wort made with rye, oats, barley and wheat is boiled for three hours with aged hops and finished with a new English variety Olicana. Fermented with our house mixed culture in ex-bourbon and wine barrels for around six months, small numbers of barrels from multiple brews are selected to blend each batch. Very low carbonation, amounting to almost being still, served primarily on draught.

Stock Beer

Spontaneously fermented beer in the style of Belgian Lambic. Wort made from a traditional turbid mash is boiled for three to four hours with aged hops. Fermented in oak barrels for 1-3 years. Blended and conditioned in bottle to produce lively carbonation.

Begin

 

Brewing started in October of last year and as such our first batch of Running Beer is now finished. The inspiration for this beer came from two places. The first is one of my favourite ‘beer moments’ drinking cask Cantillon Lambic at Moeder Lambic in Brussels. The combination of its complexity of aroma and flavour, gentle acidity and the soft mouthfeel of its very low carbonation became the goals for Running Beer. The second inspiration was taken from cider and perry maker Tom Oliver. Back in autumn 2015 we had the chance to produce a beer/cider hybrid with him, what retrospectively became our first brew, details on this in the next post. This collaboration involved wort being fermented for eight months in old cider barrels with the residual lees from a previous cider fermentation, and it was from this we took our inspiration for the production method for Running Beer: Each batch of wort is filled straight into barrel with a small pitch of our house mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria. This symbiotic culture then slowly ferments the beer over the course of six months, producing gentle acidity and wonderful wild yeast aromatics.

This first batch of Running Beer was a blend of our third, fourth and sixth brews, dating from between October 2016 and January 2017. We deliberately brew each batch slightly differently to offer more of a range for blending. Brew 3 had developed fantastic aromas of brettanomyces and substantial acidity, Brew 4 had more body and a honeyed aroma from it’s time in ex-bourbon barrels and the younger Brew 6 had retained orangey hop aromatics of the Olicana used late in the boil. We had some great help choosing which barrels to use in the blend from our friends Jack and Matt from Bristol’s Left Handed Giant and Small Bar.

The beer has been refermented in keg with a small amount of priming sugar to give life to the mouthfeel, but not enough to make it truly carbonated and fizzy. As such it is closer to the cask Lambic which inspired the beer. We realise this is quite unusual for a keg served beer, so we will be labeling the beer as ‘Still’ to give a more accurate impression to the consumer.

Kegs are going out tomorrow to Bristol and of course to the Salutation Inn.