Brewing lager: what’s all the fuss about?

landbier.jpgNow our first-born lager is but a distant and bleary memory, time to look back on the experiment.

It took us a over a year and a half of all-grain brewing to pluck up the courage to do a lager, mostly because our books and the guidance make it sound so damn complicated. The implication seems to be that if you can’t mirror the water quality of Plzen and don’t have lagering capacity of a cavern in the Alps, it just ain’t worth the bother.

This, coupled with a rather narrow definition of what a lager should taste like, makes the process rather daunting. However, having now had a go ourselves, we’d say that you don’t need to worry about things as much as the books suggest to get something very drinkable, and yes, even “authentic”.

More details of the homebrewing lager process after the jump. And maybe some gratuitous pops at the BJCP guidelines…

Continue reading “Brewing lager: what’s all the fuss about?”

Our big party

party_pics.jpgIt’s been quiet on the blog front in the last week or two, mostly because we’ve been spending every spare minute preparing for our big party.

We’ve been together for 10 years (yikes) so we had all our friends round to celebrate. Of course, we got weirdly into the beer and booze arrangements…

We brewed four batches of beer just for the party — the aforementioned lager and IPA among them.

We asked guests to bring the weirdest beer they could find (a good way to restock the cellar…). And we set up a frankly over-elaborate bar which took up a good quarter of the front room.

Two observations:

1. Behind the bar is the best place to be at a party. You get to talk to everyone without moving from one spot.

2. It’s really easy to tell if people actually like your homebrew…

In the past, they’ve been polite — “Mmm, yeah, it’s OK,” and then the next thing you know you find a mostly full glass hidden behind a vase and they’re chugging from a bottle of commercial lager. Last night, all of our beer went, leaving us with most of the commercial beer we’d bought as a backup. People came back for seconds… and asked for takeaway!

The mild (from a polypin) went down very well, which was especially pleasing because when we tried it on Friday, it hadn’t conditioned. It carbonated overnight.

We love it when a plan comes together.

Normal service resumes — assuming we ever drink again…

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Picture: the entries in our bring-a-beer competition.

Update on the Speaker

We popped along to the Speaker last night. All their guest beers this week are from Somerset. We tried Cotleigh Barn Owl (pleasant), Moor Revival (great) and Newman’s Wolvers Ale (funny tasting, but drinkable). As Tandleman pointed out, this pub is from the 70s — there’s a big tin of Henri Winterman’s cigars behind the bar, ploughmans were on offer, and there was a man drinking at the bar who looked like Peter Sutcliffe.

Waiter service in pubs

waiter.jpgWaiter service in bars is one of those things you often hear British people complain about when they come back from holiday.

Queuing at the bar is so ingrained in our culture that the idea of a bloke in an apron bringing our drink (and expecting to be bloody tipped for it, too, cheeky sod…) is almost as upsetting as having to use a funny foreign toilet.

But we’d like to see a bit more waiter service in Britain, now. More and more, we’re put off going to particular pubs because we know we’ll have to stand in a crowd for what feels like 30 minutes, craning our necks, hoping to catch the eye of a barman. How much more civilised to pay a measly tip for the privilege of sitting on one’s behind while fresh glasses of tasty beer are brought to your table.

This would also save us the sight of tourists in England sitting glumly waiting to be served, too. And, vice versa, standardising across Europe would save your continentals from having to watch British people whispering awkwardly near the door:

“I can’t tell if it’s waiter service. Should we go up and order? Maybe we should go up. That looks like a bar. Oh, but look, they’re getting served at the table. Shall we go up?”

“No, Brian. That would be a breach of etiquette, and then they’ll kill us or, worse, laugh at us. Let’s just go back to the hotel and drink from the mini-bar for the next week until the holiday is over.”

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Picture by independentman, under a Creative Commons license from Flickr.

Fuller’s Golden Pride on tap

gp.jpgWe noticed with some excitement that the Jugged Hare on Vauxhall Bridge Road in London will be serving Fuller’s Golden Pride, a strong barley wine, on tap for one week only from the 3rd March.

We’ve had Golden Pride in bottles and not been terribly excited — it’s like Fuller’s other strong beers, but a bit chemical. But it’s raved about by more esteemed critics than us, and on tap..? Well, who knows. We’re definitely going to give it a go.

The Jugged Hare itself is an acquired taste — there are lots of tourists and it feels a bit like a souvenir shop at times — but the beer is always in superb condition and the staff always impress us with their continental-style professionalism.