We're off to Duesseldorf

Probably no updates until Monday or Tuesday, as we’re off to Duesseldorf. Trying to explain this choice of location to non-beer-lovers has been quite interesting. We’ve obviously very excited; we’ve tried a couple of good Alts outside Duesseldorf and can’t wait to drink it at source.

We will of course be using Ron Pattinson’s European Beer Guide as a key source, as he’s handily put together a map and guide to Duesseldorf. If anyone else has any particular recommendations, do let us know. We’re toying with the idea of going to Muenster as well, to visit Pinkus Mueller, but don’t know if we’ll have time…

Homebrewing question – Belgian wit yeast

brewersyard.jpgAny homebrewers out there used Wyeast 3944 (Belgian wit)?

Does it ever stop fermenting?????

It’s been going for almost two weeks, and has been bubbling at pretty much the same tempo since day 3. It shows no sign of dying down and still has a large layer of foam on the top.

This is our first attempt at a Belgian wit, so we don’t know what to expect. We used mash + adjunct mash and got OG of 1046. It’s difficult to see where it’s at now because of all the foam but it looks to be at about 1012. I’ve no idea where it’s supposed to end up, given the use of raw wheat etc but I would have been happy with 1012 as FG. It’s been fermenting at the top end of the recommended range (about 21 deg C / 70 F), so we can’t blame low temperature.

I know that two weeks is fine for ales, but this just doesn’t seem to be slowing down, which is what I would expect. Am I being paranoid, and will it settle down eventually? Or do we have a wild yeast infection? The beer doesn’t smell like it’s off.

I suppose I should be happy that we seem to have got over the “stuck fermentation” problems of six months ago. We now think that was down to having too many unfermentable sugars from our mysterious crystal malt. Since we’ve stopped using it – no problems on that front!

More on tastebuds

On a recent programme on the Beeb, mad scientist chef Heston Blumenthal, most famous for his bacon and egg ice cream, carried out an interesting experiment on his tastebuds.

He dried them out with a tampon.

Yes, that’s right. He put a ladies’ sanitary product on his tongue, on TV.

It absorbed saliva and, more importantly, a mucus that builds up on the tongue when we eat certain foods, and which interferes with our tastebuds.

He found custard creamier afterward, and other flavours more pronounced.

Now, me and Boak didn’t want to replicate that exactly, but we did try eating some dry white bread when we were tasting a beer that night. And, do you know what? The beer tasted much more intense and we thought we could detect more hop flavour.

Michael Jackson suggested this years ago, but I scoffed, preferring to, er, scoff pork scratchings. Now I know. For “serious” tastings, dry bread (or tampons) it is.


D'oh! Stupid tastebuds…

tongue.jpg Yesterday, the BBC reported that wine drinkers tested by scientists thought a wine tasted better when they were told it cost $45 rather than its actual cost of $5.

I thought this was really interesting.

I really don’t think price has ever affected my judgement — it certainly didn’t in the case of pricey Belgian ‘champagne beer’ DEUS.

But I am happy to admit that beers sometimes seem to taste better or worse to me depending on context, presentation and my own expectations.

I suspect that I might be sucker enough to favourably review, say, UK-brewed Fosters, if it was presented to me in a big German stein and I was told it was traditionally brewed in Augsburg.

I’m a marketing man’s dream.


More Bottled Beer in Pubs, Please

goose_island_again.jpg We’re lucky in that we can get to the Pembury Tavern from our house in 20 minutes, and two of our nearest pubs serve real ales in good condition (including a regular mild). But last night, that just wasn’t enough for me — I wanted to go to the pub, but I also had a powerful craving for a strong, hoppy IPA1. That’s one of the few styles the Pembury doesn’t stock. Nor does any pub in our area.

Which made me wish that all pubs had as a minimum:

1. A small selection of cask ale in good condition — as much as they can turn over at a reasonable rate, but no more — ideally including a stout other than bloody Guinness.

2. A German or Czech lager on tap.

3. A German or Belgian wheat beer on tap2.

4. A rotating selection of bottled beer in every style not represented on the pumps.

It’s not reasonable to expect every pub to have ten different ales on tap, but bottles are surely the best way for landlords to offer choice without bankrupting themselves. Bottles last a long time; they don’t cost much to store; and they allow pubs to offer oddities which might only appeal to a small section of the market.

It would be nice if I could drink rauchbier, strong IPA, imperial stout, lambic and other ‘acquired-taste’ beers without getting on a train or bus, when one of these uncontrollable cravings overtakes me.

Yes, I guess I’m spoiled. I should just get off my arse, or drink what’s on offer. But I can dream, can’t I?



1 We’d been brewing a strong, hoppy IPA all day — I always want to drink what we’ve been brewing.

2 We were in a pub on New Year’s Eve that had Franziskaner, Paulaner, Schneider and Erdinger wheat beers on tap. Seriously, one brand is enough!