Champagne moments


So England regain the Ashes, convincingly in the end although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one getting nervous.

When Ponting and then Clarke were run out in short succession, I started hunting around for something bubbly to chill.  We eventually settled on Vigneronne, which is a lambic with added grapes, brewed by Cantillon.

It certainly had the right champers-like consistency and lots of bubbles.  It’s not as overwhelmingly sour as some of the other Cantillon offerings, with a slight sweetness towards the end.  If we didn’t know it had grapes in, we probably wouldn’t have guessed, but all in all it made a nice refreshing drink for the garden.  Iris is still our favourite though.


Have we brewed a lambic?

Our extensive lambic beer maturing cellar. Or, rather, the one at Cantillon in Brussells.
Our extensive lambic beer maturing cellar. Or, rather, the one at Cantillon in Brussells.

Further disaster on the homebrewing front. Our first ale of the autumn, brewed the weeks ago, is infected in some way.

This is a weird one though, as it tastes and smells really different to the last infected batch. It smells like a malty lambic, or maybe like scrumpy cider. It tastes quite interesting – as well as the sour notes, which dominate the initial taste, there’s a bit of butterscotch, blackcurrant and apple. The malt flavour is still there and in the finish, it’s definitely more beer than vinegar. And there are hints of a slightly medicinal, phenolic flavour that could indicate the presence of Brettonomyces, as far as we can tell from a bit of reading around the subject.

In a weird way, it’s actually rather nice. It’s obviously not what we intended to brew, but I’m quite tempted to bottle it, leave it for a few months and see what we end up with.

Perhaps we have a unique wild yeast strain in the marshes around East London which will one day bring beer geeks on pilgrimage from around the world, and make our fortune… or am I being hopelessly optimistic, and we should just use it to make chutney in lieu of cider vinegar?


We actually used two yeasts for this, neither of which seemed to be working at the time, which might explain how something else snuck in. We wanted to use Fullers’ yeast, so we tried to harvest some from a couple of bottles of 1845. As a back up, we also got liquid Wyeast 1028 going. Neither of these showed any signs of life on brew day, so we pitched them both and hoped for the best. Of course, doing all of this would have greatly increased the chance of infection.