Monday, May 05, 2014

Fancy a brew of Rooibos beer?

A 1kg 'tea bag' of Rooibos goes into the copper
One of my favourite brews is a simple cup of tea.
Recently tea has become a popular ingredient with brewers. Marble and Emelisse have done an Earl Grey IPA while Roosters have been doing a tea beer for a little while now.
It was the latter's High Tea, which set in train a beer that I helped (ever so slightly) to brew on Sunday.
Malcolm Bastow, of Five Town's Brewery, enjoyed the Roosters' beer at a festival and it inspired him to take the plunge with a tea beer.
He had been recently introduced to the healthy South African Rooibos/Red Bush tea and thought he would use that.
A boiling kettle?
A few clicks on Amazon procured 1kg of the decaf tea and he wrote about his brewing intentions on Twitter.
I responded with approval and was promptly invited to help brew the beer.
So last Sunday I made the trip to Malcolm's custom built brew house in Outwood to help brew Le Grand Depart, which will be one of his beers at the North Leeds Charity Beer Festival at the end of May.
Malcolm had already been brewing it for three hours before I rolled up late shortly after 9am (inauspicious start to my brewing career!).
He graciously told me he had saved the best bit for me: the opening of the nelson sauvin hops. This is a favourite hop of mine, but even I wasn't prepared for the aromatic assault on my nostrils. Intense was the word.
Next came the opening of the mosaic hops, another favourite. But this was much a more subtle smell than the nelson.
My job was to break up the clumps of hops ready for the copper. So I was a bit like the boy with the lids off the felt pens as the two hops mixed together under my nose.
The bucket of hops went in the copper and I set an alarm for the next stage in the multi-tasked process. Speaking of which, Malcolm used his down-time to finish off casking HB for Harry's Bar in Wakefield. This was piped from the fermenters into heavy casks at the back of his bijou brewery.
In short, this brewing lark looked like hard word. And I received a further shock when Malcolm told me it involved maths too. Little did I know the industry and academia that went into my pint.
He then produced some charts to show how we would work out the gravity of the beer. Malcolm wanted to produce a beer between six and seven percent. He then converted his mobile into a calculator and did some sums to figure out what needed to be done.
We later decanted some beer from the copper, cooled it down, and placed a hydrometer in the sample. It looked like it would be around 6.5 percent ABV at that stage.
ABV likely to be between six and seven per cent
We added some more of the same hops late in the boil and again set the timer for the key bit of when we would drop the rather large tea bag in.
Malcolm had earlier poured 1kg of loose leaf tea into a muslin bag and tied it up.
We dropped the giant tea bag into the copper and set the timer. There it sat, just just off the boil, for about five minutes along with the bubbling hops.
Then we joked about how we would get it out of the mix. But Malcolm improved a makeshift tea-strainer out of a bucket and his trusty home brew spoon.
With it being a red coloured tea, we speculated over whether it would change the colour of the beer much.
But it was difficult to tell in the copper, so we will have to wait for The North Leeds Charity Beer festival (Friday, May 30 to Saturday, May 31) to see how our brew turned out.
Festival poster courtesy of the organisers
Many thanks to Malcolm for the showing me the brewing ropes. When I next hold a glass of beer aloft, I shall pause and reflect on just how much work goes into it.


Ale Ambler said...

Any ale drinkers in the vicinity of Wakefield might want to make a trip to Harry's Bar, off Westgate, where Five Towns' 300 was on last night.

Timbo said...

It has turned out at 6.2% according to the barrel delivered to The Star last evening. Will post when it arrives on the bar

Ale Ambler said...

Thanks Tim. Apparently it's been on at Harry's Bar in Wakey this week, but I havent managed to get on it yet. Look forward to trying it down The Star.