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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Ordinary Bitter

Over the last year I've been working on my own house recipes that I can enjoy over and over. I've got a Best Bitter (Nobbut The Best), a Porter (Dark Dog Porter), an IPA (ConDem Nation IPA), a dark old ale (Farwelter'd Ale) but no session bitter.

That is until now! I wanted to go for something in the region of 3.8% that is bitter but still retains some body and malt presence. I wanted it to be a medium dark bitter and I also wanted to use some ingredients up.

This is what I came up with.
It's a similar grain bill to my Best Bitter but I've added some Pale Chocolate malt to add another dimension. I originally got the Pale Chocolate malt for the Black Sheep Riggwelter clone and am quite impressed with the flavour it brings to the party.

I'll reserve final judgement on the recipe once it's ready to drink but I'm hoping that I won't have to tweak it too much next time and I can add this to my regular beers.

This brew day I decided to really get to know the ingredients I'm using. To do this they need to be handled, tasted and smelt. Tasting the malts and smelling the aroma from the hops. It really helps to get an idea of what the ingredients add and when to (or not to) use them.

This will be pitched with a Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast made up to a 1L starter for 24 hours. It will ferment at 20oC for 5-7 days. I'm planning on kegging half and bottling half so it might make it into a secondary fermentation vessel for a few days before bottling.

I'm looking forward to tasting it in 4-6 weeks time!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Gas Lamp Lounge Pub

Something amazing happened to Louth at the beginning of December 2010. Bucking the general trend, a new pub was opened in the town which makes it the first in about 40 years. What's more is that the pub is actually the brewery tap for the local micro - Fulstow Brewery.

Fulstow Brewery is the first brewery situated in the Lincolnshire town for over 130 years. Brewing operations are based in the top floor of a two story building just off the Louth Canal on Thames Street. The building used to be the home to the Louth Gas Lamp Company which dates back to 1826. It has taken 3 years of planning and hard work to get the Gas Lamp Lounge up and running in the ground floor of the brewery building - and what a transformation! From the real wood flooring, the extensive bar, open fire and real gas lamp lighting.

This week I decided that I had left a visit to this new pub far too long and ventured down at opening time. I was genuinely surprised at how busy the place was even early on a Monday evening and the business looks to be thriving. And visitor can expect a warm welcome from the staff behind the bar and will be offered samples of the locally brewed ales to help decide what to spend money on.

The pricing regime is simple and is basically £2.40 per pint no matter what tap the beers flowing from or what the ABV is.
The choice is a good one, ranging from up to 7 regular ales with at least 1 one off 'special' on tap each week (to date that's about 230 different beers in 6 years!).

All of the range sampled tasted great but I settled to start with a pint of the Northway IPA. This was a classic type of dry IPA, pale in colour, quite bitter and dry with a hint of citrus to finish. Clean and crisp in the mouth this is a nice refreshing drink and I could have quite happily had a few more. The ABV was slightly lower than expected for an IPA at 4.2% but it was very good all the same.

Next up I tried the Fulstow Common - apparently the most popular beer on tap. This again packed a punch in terms of bitterness. It was a darker copper coloured session bitter at 3.8% but the bitterness and slight dryness was balanced nicely with a hit of malt flavour. The hoppiness was evident in the beer which was hopped with Northdown and Saaz.

The emphasis on the Gas Lamp Lounge is most definitely on fine real ales and they let the beer do the talking. They are proud to offer friendly service and great beers which can be enjoyed in good company and with good conversation, thanks in part to the fact that there are no other distractions like loud music and machines. Maybe it's this old fashioned pub atmosphere that is making the place so very popular. May it continue to enjoy success for many years!