Saturday 22 December 2012

Aventinus Glühbier

Since seeing Evan Rail's article about mulled beer a month or so ago, it was in the back of my mind to try something like this for our second annual gathering of neighbours. So, when I received a newsletter from Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn (let's just say Schneider) with a recipe for an Aventinus-based Glühbier (Aventinus ranking as one of my favourite Doppelbocks), fate was sealed.

The original recipe provided by Schneider is as follows.

Original Ingredients: 
1 L Schneider Weisse TAP 6 Unser Aventinus
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cardamom
3 cloves
½ Cinnamon stick
1 pinch cinnamon
9 cl lemon juice
1 Star-Anise
A sugar cube-sized piece of ginger
½ vanilla pod (Scrape out the insides and add both pod and seeds to pot)
14 cl brown rum
250 ml cherry juice
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons spoon honey 
First, heat the Weizendoppelbock to about 60°C. Now put the ingredients in a spice bag. Leave everything at 60°C for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the spice bag. If necessary, add more rum or cherry juice to taste.
I had to scale this up, so started with 4 litres of Aventinus, but while making it, I felt that the amount of sugar was a bit much, given that the Weizendoppelbock is already sweet enough. They specify "Esslöffel" as a spoon size for the sugar, which is a tablespoon, or 15ml volume. I dropped it from 6 per litre to 4, used lime juice instead of lemon juice, and used a tad less of both this and the rum. My adjusted and scaled-up recipe for 4 litres of beer is as follows:

My adjusted Ingredients:
4 L Schneider Weisse TAP 6 Unser Aventinus
4 pinches Nutmeg
4 pinches Cardamom
12 Cloves
2 Cinnamon sticks
4 pinches Cinnamon
200 ml Lime juice
3 Star-Anise
4 Sugar cube-sized piece of ginger
2 vanilla pods (Scrape out the insides and add both pod and seeds to pot)
500ml brown rum
1 L cherry juice
16 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons spoon honey

I put the powdered spices into a coffee filter and stapled it closed, so it acted like a big tea bag, then suspended the lot in a mesh. To be honest, I'm not sure why they should be removed after 15 minutes as, at least for the second batch I made, I just left them in and it didn't suffer any off-flavours - though perhaps the star anise came out a little more.

Everything in, waiting to hit 60C.
The fact I had to make a second batch attests to how tasty this really was! I had three litres of standard Glühwein sitting on the range (with another 4 on standby) as well as non-alcoholic punch for kids and the early risers having to work the next day, but the Glühwein was hardly touched (one bloody mug!), while everyone who tried the Glühbier pronounced it far better, less sweet, and easier on the stomach than Glühwein., A definite hit, and unlike Glühwein, it's actually not bad after it has cooled either!

A fine, pink-tinged head in the pot.
I think we've started on a new tradition. This year and last year we held it in the "wash kitchen" of the house we are renting. It's cosy, once the old range is fired up, the candles are lit, and it's crammed with bodies. Thankfully, the nineteen people (not counting the seven children) didn't all arrive at once, so there was a steady trade of Glühbier , Kinderpunch and Beef and Köstritzer stew (couldn't get Guinness). Next year, we hope to be living in our own house (assuming we finally get it to a livable standard by next Autumn), so we'll have to find a new place. Maybe the old pig sty or the barn, as long as we can get some heaters in!

Before the madness began.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Let the Wookey win

Having a bunch of beers stashed in the cellar that I really should just open, I decided to reward myself after a   long, but successful week of construction work, by opening the bottle of Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA that Chris and Merideth brought over during the Summer.

Pretty much opaque and almost completely black, with hints of ruby highlights, the first thing to notice, just on popping the cap, is the remarkable aroma. I know it's a so-called Black IPA, but I wasn't expecting the onslaught of raspberry sorbet, candyfloss and masses of orange pith. Bang! Having never had a Black IPA, let alone a Black Rye IPA, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's a rather good marriage, with the huge hop blast of a decent American IPA (think more sorbet, orange pith and a light lick of grapefruit towards the end), but with a deft touch of roasted grains, a breath of light coffee, a slight grassiness, all on a vanilla fudge backdrop. The finish is long, with a carbonic bite sharpening the roast and citric bitterness.

I don't care what it's classified as, but it worked for me! Thanks Chris and Merideth! There's another Firestone Walker bottle waiting for me...