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Fergus's bevy of brewers

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Adnams Kristal White Ale pump clipAs usual I’ve left it so long since I last blogged that I’ve forgotten half of what’s happened, so this is what I can remember of the last few months. We’ve brewed a few new beers recently which have been taking up a little bit of my time. First out was Kristal White our Austrian/German-inspired clear wheat beer in cask. It worked out very well with the trademark banana and clove notes, I think someone compared it to smelling like an old-fashioned sweet shop which isn’t a bad descriptor. I can certainly taste clove rocks and foam bananas in the beer (don’t worry, the beer isn’t as sweet as that though). We’ve had a couple of visits from Cormac from Dungarvan Brewing Company. Cormac first came over in January, so we could put a recipe together for a beer for St Patrick's day for Wetherspoon and he came back again in February to brew the beer. When I left Ireland there weren’t really any microbreweries but since then it’s really started to take off and there is now a really vibrant brewing scene producing a much more interesting selection of beers. This obviously makes things easier on my baggage allowance when I’m traveling back on holiday as I don’t need to bring my own anymore. Jason, from Devil's Backbone, and Fergus inside Adnams brewhouseJust recently we’ve had another brewer over from America to brew a beer with us. Jason Oliver is brewmaster at Devil's Backbone in Virginia. In their short history they have garnered some great awards at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. We had a few beers, designed a recipe for an American Amber beer, had a few more beers, had some great food at the Crown, brewed a beer, had a few more beers to celebrate, went to meet a few other International brewers who were over brewing beers for the Wetherspoon Spring Beer Festival, and had a few more beers. I really enjoyed brewing with Jason. Brewing with someone else always challenges you to think about using your brewery in a slightly different way. For Jason's beer we used a technique called 'first wort hopping' which means we add the bittering hops to the wort while the wort is still running off from the lautertun. We also used a mixture of our yeast and an American-style yeast for the fermentation. The beer is heavily hopped with some Admiral, Chinook and Centennial, so we are expecting an interesting mix of flavours in the final beer but staying true-to-style for an American Amber beer. As the start of the year is generally quieter, we’ve taken the opportunity to do some maintenance work and sort out a few projects here and there. We’ve just finished upgrading our boiler control system and adding an inverter - essentially this means that we’ll use less energy to run the boiler. We’ve also had a visit from Fritz from Gea Huppmann to check over the wear and tear on various bits of the brewhouse. He’s given us a relatively clean bill of health although he thinks we may need to replace the rollers on our mill next year. That may sound minor but the rollers weigh a few tonnes and we’ve worked out that the forklift is too tall to come through the door so we may need to rethink our strategy. Our engineers have suggested we cut the top off the fork lift but I think that’s really just because Paul likes welding things. Back in January, Matt and Jeremy came over from the States to do some work experience as they want to set up their own brewery when they go back home. They’ve been working in the brewhouse and distillery for the past two months. They’ve worked hard, asked lots of questions, helped set up our new pilot brew kit and generally been a lot of fun to have around. In the middle of all this, Curly Dan, one of our brewers, went on a snowboarding holiday to Canada. On his last day a tree jumped out on him and he ended up doing himself some damage. Luckily he’s okay, if you ignore the high levels of painkillers and the neck brace, and his sense of humour hasn’t been dimmed. When he returns to work I think he’ll find his nickname will have changed to ‘Lucky Dan’. Anyway, best go, I’ve got a few things to do.


Fergus Fitzgerald