Monday 5 March 2012

Cask Pub and Kitchen - Meet the Brewer

From 5pm tonight.

Tonight "for one night only" we will have a huge range of Hardknott cask beers on at Cask Pub and Kitchen.

We also have a one-off prototype keg beer called "PyroWeisse" which is a 5% smoked wheat beer. We like the beer although we are fairly sure we can improve on this conceptual idea. Come along tonight and tell us what you think of it, what you like about it, what you don't and what you think it should be.

We will be available the only ever cask (so far) of Colonial Mayhem. This beer is quite expensive to make as unlike many brewers we try to make all our alcohol out of grain, even for very strong beers. At 8.1% this is quite inefficient. I would be keen to hear from beer lovers how they feel about that. Should we reduce costs, and therefore price at the bar, by adding cheaper sugar and have a beer that is thiner and with less body, but a bit cheaper? Perhaps you think we should stick to our principles?

Most of our beers are heavily hopped from bittering right through to dry hopping. Extensive use of high alpha hops can result in a less than subtle flavour. I sometimes worry this narrows down our appeal. Thoughts on this subject are also invited.

In any case, we'll be there from about 5pm. Pitch up and have some beers with us, we'd love to see you there.


StringersBeer said...

You won't reduce costs much by using sugar to replace malt, unless you buy your sugar by the tonne. On the kind of scale we all work at, plain white sugar will work out about 0.22 pence per compared to 0.25 for pale malt.

Of course, as you well know, sugars are generally used not just as replacement for malt but as ingredients in their own right. Typically, percentages will be fairly low, 5% might be a lot. I'd probably save myself about 50 pence per brew at that rate.

I wrote about sugar in brewing a while ago.

Cooking Lager said...

Any free grog at these do's ?

Sid Boggle said...

Do you want another beer mat signing, Cookie?

wowninjas said...

Do you have any details of the full range of beers you'll have on tonight? I'm getting pretty excited now.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Promise me some of this will keep until November.

Unknown said...

Stringers, I may return to the sugar verses malt economics question in a while....

Cookie, too late, but if you had been near our table near the end you'd have got some free beer. Too bad you weren't there.

BUL180 - promise.

Yvan Seth said...

Was a great night with great beer! Thanks to Dave, Ann, Sooty, and the brilliant people at Cask. It was our first visit to Cask and I had high expectations as so many people rave about it - and it was even better than I expected! Excellent staff & amazing beer selection.

As for the ale on the night... so many Hardknott beers on draught in one place! (9 cask, 1 keg!) If any Londonites miss out I'll take this opportunity to plug our CAMRA beer festival in Hitchin this weekend (Fri & Sat). We're only about 35 minutes from King's Cross by train. The list on the page is slightly out of date: we won't have four Hardknott ales, we'll have SIX! (Light Cascade, Atomic Narcissus, Katalyst, Code Black, Infra Red, Cool Fusion.) We also have a large selection from new London breweries. If the beer runs out Hitchin has some excellent pubs too ;) (My favourites: Nightingale, Albert, Half Moon.)

Anyway - enough plugging.

Cask Colonial Mayhem was very tasty but not quite my cup of tea (a little cloying for my pallet) - Pyroweisse on the other hand is an excellent idea! Was agreed on the night it could do with a little extra body I think, maybe a bit more spiciness to the flavour too. Though, that said, I'd be very happy to drink it just as it was... hot summer day BBQ beer IMO. Would like to see something like this in bottles for summer - pretty please?

Stuart Ross said...

I'm with Stringers, sugar is more expensive.

I your cost issue related to boiling time?

Unknown said...

Stringer and Stuart,

Malt gives a theoretical extract of up to 300 litre degrees per kg.

In our breweries when making a 4% beer we might achieve 80+% efficiency. Say an actual achieved litre degree of 240 per kg

Sugar will give about 360 litre degrees per kg at an absolute 100% efficiency.

We recon we can buy sugar at not much more than malt; perhaps 80p per kg. About 0.25p per litre degree.

Sugar works out at 0.22p per litre degree. Spookly the same as you figures.

However. Sugar will dissolve in wort dead easy. No loading grist cases, no digging out of mash tuns etc. Labour isn't cheap.

Now, consider after that you are making an 8% beer. The mash efficiency may well drop to 60% - our price per litre degree is now 0.33p 50% more than sugar.

Also, making 8% beer needs 2 brew days on our mash tuns to make a full FV full of the 8% stuff. More man hours. More brewhouse time. More energy.

Of course, parti-gyling is a solution, but we need to do more work on our brew house to get there.
If we use sugar, or malt extract, we can extend the brew length per brewday for strong beer.

So, for many reasons, sugar is cheaper.

StringersBeer said...

No, the point is that throwing away your weak worts is expensive It's not that sugar is cheaper than malt, as your figures confirm. (Have you been looking at the back of my envelope?)

The problem is that if the plant is sized so as to turn out <=1060 wort with acceptable efficiencies, then to get a full FV at 1100 we'll have to get some more gravity from somewhere. If we don't want to do two mashes and long boils, with all the faffing about consequent, then malt extracts are just the ticket - you can do a full mash with a load of pale and all your colours and choice speciality malts then add some extract (and sugar if desired) in the copper. There's no reason why such beers should be thin or lacking in body, but you will have the ability to dial the body and residual sweetness down away from the malt soup end of things.

It's not a matter of cheap sugar allowing you to make thin strong beers cheap as you suggested. If you want a laugh, you should check out the price of the Belgian Candy syrup we sometimes use.

If you want to make a lot of strong beer on a small plant you'll have to raise gravity in the copper. It's got very little to do with "principles".

Alistair Reece said...

Is the PyroWeisse similar to Schenkerla's phenomenal rauchweizen?

Unknown said...

Stringers, arguably it might have something to do with principles. By your arguments we may as well just make beer completely with extract. Full mash brewing is more labour intensive, and therefore more expensive than using extract. Your arguments suggest that we should make less expensive beer by what ever methods makes it less expensive.

Unknown said...

Al, I have no idea, I'd like to think it is good.

StringersBeer said...

Dave, that's not my point. If you want to limit yourself, that's fine by me. Heck, you can brew only on full moon if you want, but I can't see how that would help quality. I suppose it might give you a marketing angle, if that's your chief concern. But it would be wrong to imply that brewing other days is done out of cheapness.

Unknown said...

Stringers, variations of methods and materials have an effect on the end product, both in terms of flavour and cost of manufacture.

Whether that difference is appropriate is, I'd suggest, subjective.

Pub accountants said...

Do you find brewing a stronger beer is making it less available to people?