Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back in the Brewery

One of the prizes awarded to the Beerdrinker of the Year is a batch of beer brewed in their honor for the following year’s competition. It is hard to believe, but the 2010 BDOTY competition is right around the corner. (Saturday, February 27th at 2:00 pm at the Wynkoop.) So it was time for the Wynkoop to brew a beer for me.
Last month I was approached by the Wynkoop’s master brewer, Andy Brown, about what type of beer I wanted the Wynkoop to brew. The perfect beer immediately came to mind. The Wynkoop brewpub is world famous for its cask-conditioned English style Ales hand pulled from the cellar using their traditional beer engines. I happen to have an Angram beer engine/hand pump in my basement, and every year for my big Screaming Blue Monkey party I brew a cask Ale called “Old Rabbit” for the guests. It is always a crowd favorite, and I knew this beer would be a natural fit for the Wynkoop’s system. So the decision was made – the Old Rabbit. Andy and I worked together to scale my recipe up, and yesterday I spent the day in rubber boots at the Wynkoop with him brewing away. (The 5,299th batch in Wynkoop history.)

The Old Rabbit is an Old Ale made with an English Maris Otter base malt, lots of chocolate & crystal malt, along with Brer Rabbit molasses added with the first hops in the brew kettle. (hence the name) It is dark, rich, fruity and complex. People usually don’t know molasses was used in the brewing process unless I tell them. It lends a slight smokiness and caramelized sugar flavor to the Ale. Andy wanted to add his touch to this beer, so he renamed it “Auld Rabbit”… which made me wonder why I had never thought of that! The Rabbit is currently fermenting as I type and will be tapped around Valentines Day. I’m sure there will be plenty left for the 2010 Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals on the 27th. If you are in the Denver area, come down to the finals and experience the theatrics and fun of the event. And you can let me know what you think of my beer.
If you want to brew your own Auld Rabbit, start with Maris Otter, add a generous helping of English chocolate and 60 deg L crystal, and add 5% (by weight) molasses to the brew kettle. Make sure and use mild molasses and don’t get carried away with the addition, because it can easily be over done. Too much and your friends won’t even drink it! The hops play a secondary role in this beer, so use three additions at 60, 40 and 20 minutes (before the end of the boil) with an alpha acid/weight combination that will yield about 30 IBUs at the end. Shoot for an original gravity of 1.065 and use a well attenuating English Ale yeast. Serve it “warm and flat”, preferably from an authentic British beer engine. I hope to see you in February!

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