Saturday, June 25, 2011

2,4,6,8 Let's all Coagulate!

What's all this stuff in my pint? Well it's not yeast this time and it's not even beer yet! The pint glass shows the 'cold break', from the rapidly cooled copper wort sample, dropping slowly as the flocs or little lumps of protein gather together or coagulate and fall to the bottom of the glass.

These proteins precipitate from the brilliantly clear hot wort as it is cooled and if we get a clear cold wort with what we call a 'good cold break' at the bottom of the glass like in the picture above, there is much rejoicing in the brewhouse, for it means that we shall have clarity in the beer. Without a good cold break, that is, one which does not settle out well and remains as a murky, cloudy wort, then there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth as this certainly means clarification issues ahead.

What the cold break tells us is that the wort has been boiled vigorously and strongly and for long enough (60 - 90 minutes) so that the ultra-microscopic protein particles are flung together at their iso-electric point, the pH at which the numbers of positive and negative particles are equal, and stick together to form large flocs - the 'hot break', which separates out leaving crystal clear wort in the copper. If the boil is not vigorous the wort will generally remain turbid - a bad word in a brewery!

However the cold break is a lovely sight to a brewer and is more proof that beer is a protein drink!

Slainte, Ken

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Atholl Highlanders charge for a pint!

The Atholl Gathering took place on the last Sunday in May at Blair Castle under glorious sunshine, after the showers and gusty winds had disappeared. The last fully-armed private army in Europe, the Duke of Atholl's very own Atholl Highlanders, were on parade on the Highland Games field with the Pipes and Drums and their two-pounder field gun. The firing of the field gun at 1pm opened the games with a big bang. The annual Atholl Highlanders' Race (above) was great fun with your friendly neighbourhood brewer running as fast as he could to get to the firkin of Inkie Pinkie. I must confess I wasn't in the top quartile, but at least I wasn't in the last either, though I did win the rifle shooting trophy, beaing the gamekeepers and regular shooters! The beer went down rather quickly, we think it was something to do with the double quick tempo of the Atholl Highlanders march being played by Pipe Major...

The Highlanders continued the entertainment with a relay race between the Officers, Pipeband and Rifle Company, a very interesting Foursome Reel by a quartet of Officers, the Sword Dance from a trio of Jocks and finally a Tug o' War between the Band and the Rifle Company. A grand day out for all and washed down nicely with a pint or two of very tasty beer. Hope to see you there next year at Blair Castle on the last weekend in May.

Slàinte, Ken

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Here Comes Summer!

To quote the mighty Undertones, a fave band of mine from the late 70's, 'Here comes Summer...' And to make it even better we've been brewing up plenty of our lovely summer session bevvy, the glorious Inkie Pinkie, as seen above in Greyfriars Bar near me in Perth last weekend. Only a dodgy mobile phone snap, but the beer was FAB!

Whistles whetted and feeling the desire for some summer sun, the Lady Arlenka and I headed over to the West Coast for some well deserved blue sky and high winds near Tarbert where those gorgeous Flowers of Scotland, the Bluebells (another fine band) were welcoming in the summer with relish. Perfect time for a pint of Inkie Pinkie? Mmm...

Back in Perth the next day it was time to strip down the boiler ready for its summer inspection by the Fat Controller. If ever you want to know what Thomas the Tank Engine looks like on the inside, look below now...
A big blue box with hundreds of tubes full of water that is boiled by flames (behind the blue section below) to create steam in the upper section, whence it is piped away to wheel-driving cylinders (in Thomas' case) or to steam jackets (in ours) to heat up water in the Hot Liquor Tank or wort in the Brew Kettle. Everything was in fine fettle for the inspection, so once the boiler was put back together the regulator was cranked up to full steam ahead and brewing began again to keep the summer drinkers happy. Toot Toot!

Steam whistling merrily from the very happy boiler with the very happy brewer whistling merrily away inside, very much looking forward to his pint of Inkie Pinkie. Slàinte, Ken