New Beer Alert! – Thunderhead Imperial Stout

New Beer Alert!

Thunderhead, Imperial Stout, 9.0% ABV, 330ml

It pours viscously into the glass with a dense brown foam head. The aroma is reminiscent of autumn fruits and fresh whole coffee beans. The mouthfeel is smooth, so smo-o-o-o-o-th. I get tastes of damsons with hints of red wine giving way to chocolate and a dry coffee finish. And alcohol too, not an aggressive punch but a warming embrace.

On brew day I sent a picture of the mash to Mike, he loves dark beers and I like to let him know what is coming up next. He said it looked like a weather chart, all dark and light swirls – and that’s where the name idea came from. A weather theme.

The clouds prepare for battle  in the dark and brooding silence. Bruised and sullen storm clouds have the light of day obscured. Looming low and ominous in twilight premature, Thunder heads are rumbling in a distant overture.

[Jacob’s Ladder, Rush]

10 malts give flavour depth and complexity to this Imperial Stout. Four dark malts ensure that none dominate – Midnight Wheat, Chocolate Wheat, Carafa I, Black Malt – and they’re added at the end of the mash to limit tannins and astringency in the final beer. 

This one is in 330ml can – black cans to remind you of the dark contents.

To Hibaldstow and Beyond!

To Hibaldstow and beyond!
Little Big Dog will be delivering beers to Scunthorpe and area this Saturday 22nd May. Calling at Barrow, Barton, Brigg, Broughton, Hibaldstow and Scunthorpe. Other stops available on request.
Minimum order of 6 beers to qualify for free delivery.
Prices and availability in the pic.
Place your order via the contact page. 
NEW BEER!
Monkezunkel – Belgian Brett Blonde 6.5% ABV
This beer started fermenting on “Orval” Trappist yeast in early December. It then moved onto a blend of Brett yeasts for 3 months. And it’s taken another month for me to get around to canning it.
Brettanomyces yeasts chew on the sugars that regular brewing yeasts cannot consume. They convert some of the esters into other aromatic compounds and ferment complex sugars to leave a drier beer.
Although we are not trying to clone Orval, we are copying their process to make a complex Belgian beer, I love the complexity that Brett fermentation brings to beers.
The result is a very drinkable 6.5% pale beer – “digestible” as the Belgian beer aficianado would say – more fruity than spicy with hints of phenolics and maybe a touch of acidity too.
Like Orval, this beer will continue to evolve over time as the Brett yeasts will still be around in small quantities and continue to convert esters to other aromatics.
The White Swan in Barton took a case and reordered 2 more cases just 4 days later as it had all sold.
I’ve held a few cases back for my regular deliveries – I know a few of you have been awaiting Monkezunkel.

Scunthorpe & Area Delivery Run – Saturday 24th April

Get you orders in for the Scunthorpe Area delivery run scheduled for Saturday 24th April – around lunchtime. Prices and availability as below.
Mix and match any beers in any quantity. Minimum order for delivery is 6 beers.
Order via the contact page at littlebigdogbeer.co.uk
 
New beer: Blood Hound – 5.4% abv Cherry Tonka Porter. This has a similar malt bill to Hound of Darkness but with added Morello Cherry Puree and a few Tonka Beans. The Tonka Beans add an almond-vanilla-spice flavour and aroma. The cherries add a deep red hue over the brown porter and a slight tinge to the head. Think plum porter with a twist – this is a dry beer – not like the many dessert stouts you find out there that I find sickly sweet.

We are out of stock on B-Movie Monster – Red Rye IPA, and Baltic Hound – Baltic Porter. One is in the fermentation tanks as we speak, the other will be brewed very soon.

Little Big Dog on Tap at White Swan, Barton

Little Big Dog made it’s first appearance on tap anywhere, ever – at the White Swan – Barton upon Humber when they re-opened on Thursday.

Our first ever keg on sale is Watchmaker, 4.2% ABV British Pale Ale.

They’ve made a really good job of preparing the beer garden – complete with covering to keep the rain off. No booking system, first come first served. Roll up to the gate and wait to be seated. Wear you mask whenever you are not seated.

The White Swan is open Thursday-Sunday each week. You can find it at the bottom of Fleetgate – opposite the transport interchange (OK, one bus stop and the train terminus)

Watchmaker on tap at White Swan

I managed to get down to the White Swan for a beer in the early afternoon sunshine on Thursday.
Their beer garden is a very pleasant place for a drink. I chose . . . Little Big Dog - Watchmaker (no surprise)
It was on great form - and I hear it had sold out by early Sunday afternoon.
Fear not - Hound of Darkness Porter will be up next.

It’s been a really busy week – First kegs filled, a new flooring for the canning zone to stop me slipping, a pallet of cans delivered which will keep me very busy filling them and a pallet of EcoKegs delivered – these will be used for delivery to pubs that are not super-close to me.

Also, a new set of floor scales for weighing kegs etc – these are a massive improvement.

Scunthorpe Beer Delivery in time for Easter

Scunthorpe Area Delivery Run

Delivery run around lunchtime on Saturday 27th March – calling at Scunthorpe, Brigg, Hibaldstow, Broughton and wherever else the orders come in from (within reason)

Get your  orders in ready for Easter Weekend.

Minimum order for delivery is 6 cans.

Baltic Hound

. . . . Baltic Hound is now available . . . .

This is a 6.2% ABV Baltic Porter.

Baltic Porters are typically stronger, fermented cold with lager yeast and feature intense roasted flavours. The lager yeast and cold fermentation prevent fruity esters developing and allow the roast malts to take centre stage. There is a touch of Black Malt in the recipe but it majors on the mid-range coloured malts. Brown, Red Crystal Rye, Double Roast Crystal and Carafa(I). The result is a clean, smooth, thick, roasty and chocolatey porter.

If you read my earlier blog post about brewing Lagers you might recall that I wrote about decoction mashes and how they were too much trouble for my process. Well, I decided that this Baltic Porter would benefit from the decoction process to emphasise the roast malts further. It took a bit longer on brew day but went quite smoothly. I’m very happy with the outcome.

The picture below is of a filled can of Baltic Hound in the can seamer ready for sealing. The foam is intentional (possibly a little bit excessive for effect in this picture) – by sealing onto a foaming head of CO2 (carbon dioxide gas) you ensure minimal entrapment of oxygen in the can. Oxygen can lead to deterioration of flavours, particularly hoppy flavours. Darker beers tend to be more resistant to oxygenation effects. The can is flushed with CO2 before filling. CO2 gas is heavier than air so you should get a protective blanket over the beer with minimal oxygen.

 

Attention Beer Lovers of Scunthorpe

Following the success of the first delivery run to Scunthorpe a few weeks ago, I am planning another run on Saturday 27th February 2021.

The aim will be to deliver around lunchtime and the route will take in Brigg – Scunthorpe – Broughton and any other nearby villages where thirsty beer lovers place an order.

Minimum order of 6 cans – mix and match any you’d like from the availability/pricelist below. Payment via bank transfer or cash on delivery. Place your order via the contact page before Friday 26th.

Availability and Pricelist 07-Feb-21

We are now out of stock of Watchmaker and of Hound of Darkness. Good news – both are in production and will be available later this month.

Ordering – use the contact page to place an order or make an enquiry. I’ll get back to you with the cost and how to pay.

Getting the beers to you :

  • Route One – COLLECT: Order, pay and collect from me in Barrow
  • Route Two – SHOP: Buy from Sargents Butchers in Barrow. They have a selection of our core beers available.
  • Route Three – COURIER: For this you will need to order 12 cans with P&P @ £8 or 24 cans with P&P @ £10.
  • Route Four – DELIVERY: Yesterday, I did a delivery run to Brigg and Scunthorpe following interest generated by the CAMRA article. This will become a regular (monthly?) route if demand is sufficient. A similar Immingham-Cleethorpes-Grimsby area run could also be added if there is sufficient demand.

The Art of Lager Brewing

With so many mass-produced Lagers on the market there is no point trying to replicate them – we cannot compete on price – and we wouldn’t want to either when we can do better! What we do is try to make authentic, high-quality Lager with depth of flavour.

It is said in brewing circles that making a high quality lager is a real test of your brewing skills. The clean, crisp flavour of a lager highlights any errors in the brewing process and leaves no place to hide.

We take our lead from traditional German Lager brewing, but we also bypass some of the old methods and add in more modern components too.

This is how we approach brewing Lager:

  • All Malt – no adjuncts.
  • Multi-step Mash Profile
  • Thin Mash
  • Weheinstephan Yeast
  • Controlled fermentation

We use Pilsner Malt plus a small addition of Vienna Malt for a bit of that “bready” malt flavour. And nothing else. Many mass-produced lagers will have “non-malt” adjuncts (rice, maize/corn) to bring the costs down – but they also thin out the flavour or impart other flavours. We believe our lager has more of the right flavour.

We use a multi-step mash – starting with mash in at 55 to 58 C for a short protein-rest, Raise to 63-64 C for a long beta-rest, raise again to 71-72 C for a short dextrin-rest and finally raise to 76 C to mash-out.

We use a “thin” mash at 3.5 litre/kg of grain – this helps the beta-amylase enzymes work to ensure a dry finish to the beer to allow a crisp taste. This gives us some process headaches as our mash tun is sized for 2.5 litres/kg – a typical British ale ratio. We get around this by running two mashes in parallel when brewing lager – yes, it’s hard work – and it makes for a more stressful and longer brew day – but when quality and authenticity are your aim you take the necessary steps.

We use an authentic German lager yeast – we choose W34/70 Weihenstephan and a temperature controlled fermentation. For a lager you do not want to generate esters – these are fruity compounds that we love in our British Ales, but they have no place in a traditional lager. Fermenting cold is the answer, and the initial growth phase of the fermentation is the most critical. 

Where we differ from traditional German Lager processes:

  • No Decoction Mash
  • Pressure Fermented
  • New Cryo Hops
A traditional German brewer will use a “decoction” to raise the temperature between the mash steps. This involves removing 1/3 of the grain and liquid, bringing it to the boil for a short period and then returning it to the main mash to achieve the step change in temperature. We’d need to do a triple “decoction” to achieve our preferred mash profile. The benefits of a decoction mash are said to enhance the depth of flavour – maybe one day I’ll try it – but it will make brew day doubly hard again. At present, I’ll stick to controlling the mash temperature by more direct heating without the need to remove parts of the mash. The process we use is a Recirculating Infusion Mash System – we draw liquid from base of mash, pump over a heating element and return at top of the mash tun. This is a nice closed-loop which I can temperature control with little hassle.

We ferment our lager under pressure. There is research out there that shows the production of esters (fruity flavour  compounds) are further reduced by fermenting at 15 psi. This could allow you to ferment the whole batch at “Ale” temperatures – but we still start off cold for a couple of days before gently raising the temperature, we don’t push the limits on temperature. This allows us to get the batch through a bit quicker whilst keeping esters under control, even lower than a traditional cold fermentation according to the research, but the differences may not be perceptible to human senses.

A “noble” hop is used for German lagers. Hallertau Mittelfruh is a classic example that gives a clean hop bitterness. We are using a more modern hop variety (Loral) that shows strong noble hop character. These are also “cryo” hops – this involves a very cold processing of the hops that preserves volatile hop oils to generate pellets that have appx 50% of the vegetal matter removed, leaving a more concentrated pellet of the most useful parts of the hop cone. This allows lower hop addition to the kettle whilst still achieving the same bitterness and flavour extraction that we want – our Lager hop bitterness and flavour are higher than most mass-produced Lagers – for us, flavour is king! And the cryo hops make it a bit easier to clean the kettle out after the boil. (Brewers spend more of their time cleaning than they do brewing! Sanitation is also king!)

As you can see, we are not wholly traditional – pseudo-traditional if you like, or maybe even trad-lite – but, we think we strike the right balance to achieve a high-quality lager that has our own stamp of originality on it.

Below are a selection of pictures from the last Lager brewday. (Target volume and SG, Bright wort in kettle, Knock out temperature, Bright wort to fermenter, White foam head in fermenter)