it gives me great pleasure to announce that on the bars of pubs in Sheffield and maybe a bit further afield now, is a beer that has redefined the concept of a mixture of ingredients being cajoled together by a "brewer". The beer, Pilcrow Porter, was brewed not only by some brewer or other in some brewery or whatever; it was brewed by a team of real people, included in which was myself, THE FIRST EVER BLOGGER TO BREW A BEER, ANYWHERE, EVER!
This sensational coup came about as the result of a conversation in a pub between myself and the secretive brewing mastermind "JSB". The upshot of which was a ground breaking deal that would see myself and some people who work at Shakespeares Ale and Cider House on Gibraltar Street in Sheffield (see posts passim) and someone else, congregate at a secret location to concoct a brew made from ingredients which are usually a closely guarded secret.
I, as the only blogger ever to have brewed a beer, am duty bound to lift the veil of secrecy on this closed world and spill the beans in a frankly distasteful betrayal of the brewers trust, thus :
Arriving at an ungodly hour at Blue Bee Brewery myself and Robenbakker, Alex Korner from the band of the same name and other Chris, assembled to take on the almost fanciful process, previously described only in folklore. Here's what we did, and what all brewers do, to make beer :
1. Put the kettle on. Its important to have a "brew", especially since one of the crack team had prepared for the days event exclusively by getting pissed the night before....
2. Make sure you put the big kettle on 24 hours earlier. This needs to reach a specific temperature which credibility forbades my recalling.
3. Weigh out some special salt in a box, and loads of malt - there are 4 types in this brew, one of which is black malt. I forgot to ask what the others were....
4. Feed the glorious grains into the hopper, whereafter this giant chute drops them at a regular-ish rate into the mash tun where the magic water is mixed in. Using a rotating clothes horse, vigorously stir the sludge until it looks unappealing. Use someone called Chris or Robin to chase down the chute the last determined grains.
5. Sparging - we definitely sparged it, which is where you stir it with a wind screen wiper. Unfortunately this is two weeks ago and I've been on holiday since then, so obviously can't remember at what point this happens.
6. Then the wort, which is the grim mixture from the above, is fed into an under-bucket which swirls the mix around before feeding it into the copper, which is basically another kettle if you ask me. Somehow this agitates some starches. Possibly sugars. Possibly neither.
7. In the copper which is very hot, the liquid is heated to another secret temperature that I can't remember - meanwhile, the fermenters are cleaned (as were the copper and mash tun previously, obviously) and the hops are sorted. This involves picking out any slightly not hop detritus by hand and weighing the hops out for adding to the copper. With some other things.
8. You have to empty the kettle at some point I presume. The big kettle that is. Actually, probably both, since you are on with it.
9. There are 4 hops in Pilcrow, not just 4 individual hops, obviously, which is a secret blend. However, for illustrative purposes, you could have used, say, Admiral, Progress, Cascade and Cluster. Once carefully weighed out (600kg of each seems a bit high - have I remembered this right? Am I at Steel City by mistake?) these are simply popped in the copper and stirred with a besom, until all the ingredients are in the seething tumult of sugars.
10. Then, when this has finished, you simply pump the mass down a tube into a fermenting vessel where it becomes beer.
10a.You probably have to measure the alcohol content in a giant tall test tube resembling a lava lamp - without the lava.
So, that's it. The 10 step secret of brewing is unlocked. Having swapped Chris' at half time the team of ordinary everyday folks in the street, plus JSB, master-crafted a beer that by virtue of its unusual production, will be like no beer you have tasted before.
Its probably on at Shakespeares this weekend. Maybe Monday. I mean, it depends on cask turnover versus available space, possibly also taps. Not the American concept of taps that they think go on bars. The ones you ram in the cask to regulate the escape of matter. The availability differential means the precise date of it being on is almost impossible to determine. So you'll have to go there every day until it surfaces.
Either way, however you come across it, just remember that Blue Bee Pilcrow Porter is the peoples pint, and drinking it unifies strangers in a way that no other beer can. Power to the people! Pints for the people! Drink it now!
Your solemn insurgent in the secret world of brewing and related alchemy
*I can't recall who coined the phrase "a first for brewing" but someone definitely did. I mean, maybe not in direct relation to this beer, but the sentiment is there.....