During the last year we’ve had to change our business away from brewing for pubs and towards brewing for the home. One of the effects of this change has been a far higher turnover of bottled and canned beer, allowing us to add “High Tide Tripel” and “Chairman of the Board Barley Wine” to the range. And since the introduction of these beers hasn’t slowed the rate of sale of the others I’m encouraged to add more to the range. I generally keep a couple or three beers in my head at any one time, waiting for excuse or opportunity to add a name, then a label, and finally get the damn thing off my mind, into the mash tun, copper, fermenter and finally into a cask or bottle. Here’s one such opportunity.
Inspiration comes from many directions, but this time, unusually, it’s come from one of our own beers – the green hop special edition we did last year we called “Ship of Fools”. Although very much a pale ale, the way we used the hops hinted at certain aspects of East Kent Goldings not often encountered – namely their ‘nobility’. Four continental hop varieties are classed as ‘noble’ due to the timeless quality of the balance of their flavour - Saaz, Tettnang, Hallertau and Spalt – and it’s long been postulated that EKG shares the same characteristics. However, whilst the continental varieties are used in pale, crisp lager styles that showcase this nobility, we use EKG in pale ales, which champions a slightly different aspect to their character.
So, this beer in my head seeks to uncover the true nobility of EKG in a way we haven’t done before, by using them to brew a crisp, pale continental lager style beer. And we started the process earlier this week. We’ve used continental style malts, really pale and biscuity, and a slightly unusual hopping technique (house secret), along with a classic, bready, German yeast strain. Fermentation is ‘low and slow’, running at a cool 12 oC for 10 days (rather than 20 oC for 4 days), and by next week we’ll reduce the temperature to -1 oC and ‘lager’ the beer for 4 weeks.
The end result might be a deliciously refreshing Pilsner with a gorgeous, balanced, noble hop character; a really, really good lager beer brewed with EKGs. I certainly hope so.
So, look out for this new beer, sometime in May or early June, just as the blistering heat of a Kentish summer begins to build.