So it’s been a big week for me. The so-called ‘soft’ opening of Golding’s on Monday was a smash-hit, with the place packing out. Since then it’s been busy every night and I’ve worked quite a few long days in a row. The next big hurdle is the Grand, or what I like to call ‘hard’ opening tomorrow. It’s looking to be another sell-out night, with half of Wellington inviting themselves along. Feel free to pop along yourself, all are welcome. Just don’t expect much in the way of elbow room.
An just to entice you down, we’ll be sticking a couple of treats on tap. First of all, another keg of the Funk Estate/Baylands Brewery Big Red Ryeding Hood. This was the darling beer of Monday’s opening: a big, malty, hoppy, rye-y IPA. Very fresh and a little angry, but all the better for it.
The other beer, is something a bit different. You see, I was at the Garage the other day (well, two months ago) and told Pete the Brewer about my new job at Golding’s.
Pete: “Congrats Dude. Hey, we should make a beer for the opening,” said Pete.
Me: “You read my mind, Old Bean,” (or something like that).
Anyway, we got to talking and collaborating and so on. Pete wanted to make something with lots of Golding hops (for obvious reasons). I wasn’t so keen. East Kent Golding is all well and fine as hop varieties go, but it’s not much fun in my opinion. I wanted to do hoppy wheat ale. As readers will know, I had a summer-romance with one a little while back. Suddenly I had an idea.
Me: “What if we made an English Wheat Beer?”
Pete: “A what?”
Me: “What if the England had a traditional, native wheat ale?1 What would that be like? Kind of like a bitter or a golden ale, but with a fair dose of wheat-malt and a clean British ale yeast”.
Pete: “I see. Sounds interesting.”
Me: “We could hop it with lots of Goldings. It’ll be like a English/German hybrid: British hops and yeast, but with German wheat malt.”
And so it was settled. We booked in a brew date (no mean feat, considering how busy they are at the Garage) and off we went.
I turned up on brew-day at some ungodly hour (9am. That’s ungodly by my standards). Pete was in the middle of brewing a batch of ANZAC on the big kit.
Pete: “Hey Dude, I’ve been thinking. I like this English/German hybrid idea. Lets expand on that and use a combination of English and German hop varieties.”
Sounds good to me. We got down to arguing the malt bill. I was keen to do a split malt bill 30-40% wheat with the rest Golden Promise, but Pete disagreed. He reckons too much wheat can be a bit ‘yucky’. I’m only a causal home brewer, and he’s the experienced professional, so I bowed to knowledge and experience on that one. We went with a Golden Promise base, and 15% wheat. Pete also wanted to drop in a bit of Caramel and Aroma malts, to make it a little more Englishy. That fitted in with the concept, so I was down with it.
We milled, we mashed, we re-circulated. All very standard stuff:
I was a little concerned about the mash sticking, this being my first time using wheat. I was there for the first Summer Sommer brew, which had an awful stuck-mash, that time from rye. I could just envision a 10-hour brew day, but my fears were unfounded. Everything went smoothly.
After running off, we got a healthy boil going, and started adding hops. The same triple combo was used throughout the whole process: East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Hallertau Tradition. A small bittering addition was followed by generous late editions of all three hops. I was measuring the hops, so I made damn sure they were properly generous additions.
As before, all went smoothly. We boiled, we chilled, we pitched. Yeast-wise we went with Wyeast Yorkshire Ale, a fairly clean and attenuative strain. Soon the beer was tucked up cozily in a fermentor, bubbling away. Easy as.
What wasn’t easy was coming up with a name. Naming beers is tricky and often done poorly (I swear one day I will write that naming guide). We kicked around a few names like “Free Diver” and “Dive-Bomber” but nothing quite seemed to fit. Finally we settled on a suggestion of mine: Major Goldings. This is both a tribute to Golding’s Free Dive, Golding hops, of which there are major amounts in the beer, and the British/German style mashup (because you know, wars and shit).
I haven’t had a chance to taste it post dry-hop, but early indications are that it’s refreshing and slightly bitter golden-ish ale. 4.3% ABV, light but full. Now a word of warning. There is only 30 litres or so, this being a pilot-kit brew. It’ll be going on at Goldings on Friday, mid afternoon. It will not last the night, so get in quick if you want to try some.
See you on Friday. And remember Beer is Love, ya’ll.