Monday 3 January 2011

Project Queboid

Some time ago a great brewer inspired me, it's not unusual for a brewer to inspire me, in fact, it's one of the nice things about brewers; we like to egg each other on. A great brewer can only be a great brewer by caring about beer, not just his/her own but about the wider beer world. John Keeling of Fullers is a likeable and well respected brewer. Within the boundaries his bean-counters and marketing suits allow, he engages with the beer world in its entirety and enthusiastically shares knowledge.

Fullers are one of very few breweries that use parti-gyle techniques. It's not difficult for me to see the advantages for a brewer like me who wants to make a range of beers from highly quaffable and approachable session beers through to high ABV flavour-bombs. For a number of reasons low ABV beers have various production efficiency benefits per unit of alcohol compared to higher ABV beers. Parti-gyling enables some of these efficiency benefits to be applied to higher ABV beers too. I immediately understood these benefits from John's enthusiastic explanations.

Although my brewery isn't big, it does have two mash tuns1 and two coppers. I can transfer the first runnings, which may well be in excess of 1100 degrees gravity, into a high gravity copper, and the second runnings into a low gravity copper at perhaps 1050 degrees gravity.

I did this recently, and made two beers; Queboid, a double IPA at OG1080 and Katalyst at OG1038. They are both concepts in development, although I'm happy that they have great potential. Personally I prefer Continuum over Katalyst but I've had feedback from a number of people whose preferences are the other way around. Perhaps Katalyst is more approachable.

Queboid, which was the prime motivation for this particular project, had slightly disappointing hop profile when tasted on racking after primary fermentation. The simple answer to this was to increase the dry hopping rate in cask.

The first cask, served at Dudley beer festival, was good, but could have been better. It had only had about a week in cask and was nowhere near long enough to maximise condition or for the dry hopping to really kick in.

The second cask was put on in The Rake. I think there were mixed reviews on this, but again, it was a few weeks ago now and I think a little longer in cask still would have been great.

The third and final cask, for now, is currently on sale in a quiet Cumbrian pub near here. Sadly, I think its sale will be slow, although the licensee is a master of his cellar craft and considering it's 8% and dry hopped into submission, I suspect with judicious hard pegging the cask might be good for a couple of weeks or more. The beer is a true candidate for that niche real keg market.

I have fretted a little about this little baby. I didn't think the hop utilisation in the copper was sufficient. I was worrying that the finished beer might not quite hit the mark. I was keen to taste the finished result in a pub, through a hand pull, appropriately clear and conditioned.

Meanwhile, we have bottled the remainder of the batch, which had been conditioning in kilderkins on the dry hops, and gave us 330 bottles of this first run. I'm currently waiting for the tadge of priming sugar and re-seeded yeast to add some carbonation before they are released. Oh, and I need to get some labels printed.

But the good news is that the assembled crowd last night, which included the irritatingly hyper-critical Jeff Pickthall2, pronounced it to be a marvellous beer. 6 weeks on dry hops seems to be just about right.

There may well be some improvements to be made; moving a little of the dry hops into bittering for instance will make it a little more balanced in my view. However, the key thing is, you can't rush a really good strong beer.


1It isn't necessary for parti-gyling to have two mash tuns. Indeed, I don't believe Fullers mash differently in their two mash tuns; both run in parallel with the same grist in each.

2I owe a huge amount to this irritation for my ever increasingly tuned palate. I fear one day I might become as irritatingly critical as him, for now I shall remain a novice irritant.


BeerReviewsAndy said...

nice one Dave, great to see more new beers appearing from you.


Ghost Drinker said...

Belgian style Double IPA? Sounds great, will it be anything similar to Raging Bitch as a beer? Will you be allowing us at Beer Ritz to get our hands on some bottles?

Unknown said...

Andy, it's part of the two part plan:
1. Make new beers
2. Get better at making the beers I already make

Ghost, I believe the BeerRitz people are talking to the Hardknott people....

Yes, it's designed to be like Raging Bitch. I'm not sure I've quite got it there yet, but I'd like to think it's easily in the same genre......

Ghost Drinker said...

:) can't wait

Phil said...

Sounds wonderful. Any thoughts on where I can get your bottled beer, apart from bumping into you at a Twissup that is?

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Are the pubs having trouble with the hops clogging the hop filter at the tap, or are you using a hop sock in the cask?

Unknown said...

BUL180, we use whole cone hops in the cask. It is the only way to dry hop in cask. Type 100 pellets are effectively very squashed up whole cones and I believe work just the same. Using type 90 pellets in cask is likely to cause all sorts of problems.

I'm going to move over to dry hopping in FV/conditioning tank where type 90 pellets are more suitable.

Unknown said...

Phil, try, or BeerRitz in Leeds did have some in their shop as did a nice little off licence called The Wine Yard in Bare, nr Morecambe. UtoBeer did have stock, but I believe we might need to deliver there again.

One of our tasks this year is to make our beer more available. However, what I want to ensure I do is maintain supply to existing customers, which means I also need to improve production capacity and reliability. And perhaps do a little bit of planning - strange concept I know, but I'll get the hang of it eventually.

Unknown said...

So, Belgian yeast? Are you tempted to bury a few casks away for few months to see how it develops?

Unknown said...

Simon, that does sound like a good idea. Need to make some more......

Jeff Pickthall said...

"irritatingly hyper-critical"? I think you meant to say "highly discerning".

Unknown said...

Jeff, it's the same thing isn't it?

Cooking Lager said...

If it is 500ml at 8% abv then it is 4.5 units and not 2.45 units, matey.


Unknown said...

Well Cookie, you did make me panic there for a mo, although I was reasonably happy that in fact you are also wrong. 0.5l of an 8% beer is 4 units I think you'll find me old mate.

I do hope so, because that's what's on the production labels. I should know that the picture is wrong, the correct labels are a blue sort of colour.

Ron Pattinson said...

Using the first runnings for one beet and the second running for another isn't the way Fullers party-gyle. Some of the first wort goes into every beer.

Unknown said...

Thanks Ron for that correction. It is obvious that must be the case; As most beer volume is about 4% doing anything else would be silly.

Indeed, that is the way I intend to parti-gyle most of the time too.

Ron Pattinson said...

There's an example here of a Fuller's party-gyle from 1968:

It's pretty much the full set of beers: Golden Pride, Export London Pride, London Pride and PA. All various mixes of two worts.

Mark said...

Interestng stuff. I've brewed strong hoppy beers before and I always find you have to trade off suitable ageing for the high ABV against the need to drink quickly to get the most out of the hops.

6 weeks on dry hops is massive! Is that the same set of hops or are you changing old ones out for new ones all the way through? If you're adding them into the cask I guess it must be the same ones. I've only ever left the same dry hops in a beer for a maximum of 10 days, under the impression that anything more than that and you're risking the chance of getting vegetal flavours in your beer. Be cool if you could disprove that! :)

Hopefully I'll get a chance to try this some time. Personally I don't understand the thought process behind combining belgian yeast character and big american hops. For me it's one or the other, not both. That's a completely personal thing though and hopefully this beer will make me change my mind!


Unknown said...


Many good brewers use dry hops in the cask. Marble Pint for instance does so. Indeed I think all Marble beers do. In that case the beer could easily be in contact with the hops for up to 6 weeks or longer. Generally, in my experience, the beer will just keep getting better.

Pete Brown's beer that was in Barry (Hops and Glory read the book, if you haven't already) was dry hopped up until the point Barry decided life was no longer worth living.

When IPA was first shipped to India it was probably dry hopped and might have been at sea for 6 months.

All my experiences of dry hopping have been great, and time makes it even better.

I want all batches of Queboid to be matured on dry hops for 6 weeks. Sadly, production schedules and lack of tanks might hinder that.