Fyne Ales Blog

New Brew News: Fyne Ales X Orbit - Jammin'

by Iain Smith

Long distance relationships aren’t easy, especially when the those involved have little in common. Where one fully embraces the bustling trendiness of South East London, the other is entrenched in the rural peace of the Scottish hills. Given the disparity, it was probably inventible that that things between Fyne Ales and Orbit Beers would turn sour – luckily, that’s exactly what we wanted.

Introducing Fyne Ales X Orbit - Jammin’, a blackberry and blueberry kettle sour, launching Friday 26 May in keg and in bottles. 

A collaboration over one year and 369 miles in the making, Fyne Ales X Orbit, round two, has yielded a giant, juicy, tart triumph of a beer, packed with forest fruit flavours and a refreshingly sour finish that demands to be sipped again and again.

We approached the second leg of our collab with London’s hi-fi brewery like a jam session – two breweries, two sets of talents, no rehearsals. Get together, start playing with ideas and see what happens, see how the flavours flow. Like any good jam session, it’s as much about listening as it is playing, and with Orbit known for producing top quality German-style beers, and Orbit brewer Mario Canestrelli keen to see how Fyne Ales brews its sessionable sours, it was quickly decided that a Berliner weisse-style-beer was a good starting point.

We’ve employed the same approach to kettle-souring for all of our beers thus far; our process has always been to allow naturally-occurring lactobacillus on an uncrushed malt addition to propagate in temperature-controlled wort under a CO2 blanket, while closely monitoring the pH levels until the mixture reaches the desired level of acidity. Given the success of beers such as our core-range Ich Bin Ein Berryliner, we were happy to use the same method again with our collab with the Londonders. 

“We brewed our first sour, Saudade, in 2015 and it was a bit of a risky brew. We acidified a weak wheat beer in the copper using the uncrushed malt method to start the souring process and we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out – things might have gone very weird, being our first time trying it” explains Fyne Ales brewer, Andrea Ladas. “The bugs that came from the malt produced a lovely range of aromas and a clean lactic sourness, and we’ve enjoyed experimenting with sours, without changing the process too much, ever since.”

Jammin’ was our first attempt at recreating the process in the new brewhouse. Mario arrived at the brewery on Friday to brew a wheat-beer base with a target ABV of 5%, before pitching the uncrushed malt and leaving it to do its thing over the weekend (with regular pH checks). While the lactobacillus (and friends) had fun in the kettle, Mario and the Fyne Ales brewers had fun taking in the sights of Argyll. By Sunday afternoon, the brew was ready for the boil and progressing as normal.

After primary fermentation was complete, it was time to step things up with a whole lot of fruit. Mario and Andrea bounced around ideas for the fruit bed on which Jammin’ would spend a few weeks resting, with a forest fruit theme winning the day. Jammin’ was given three weeks on a mixture of blackberries and blueberries, imparting it with a stunning deep pink colour and deep dark fruit flavours.

“The beer took colour from the fruit very quickly, and after three weeks it was pouring a vibrant, almost blood-red colour,” continued Andrea. “The smell is all fruit, and there’s a slight mineral edge to the taste, as well as a refreshing sourness, that plays well with the dark fruit flavours.”

Jammin’ will be launched on keg on Friday 26 May at Craft Beer Co Clerkenwell (info), alongside eight beers from both Fyne Ales and Orbit. To ensure those north of the border don’t miss out, we’re also holding a Scottish mini-launch in Doghouse Merchant city (info) on the same night!

Bottles will be available from 29/5/2017 from all lovely beery bottle shops.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Brew News & Behind the Brew: Devine IGA

by Iain Smith

Fyne Ales is delighted to introduce Devine, the first authentic Italian Grape Ale brewed in the UK!

Earlier this year, we invited Italian craft brewery Canediguerra to Glen Fyne for a unique collaboration – read more about arranging the visit in our earlier blog – and we’re thrilled to reveal the results of the brew weekend, Devine IGA.

We’ll be launching the beer with two tap takeover/meet the brewer events on Saturday 20 May in partnership with our pals from Six Degrees North at their Glasgow and Edinburgh locations, with the beer also getting tapped in 6DN Aberdeen the same evening. Scroll to the bottom of the blog or check out Facebook for more information.

About Grape Ales

Italian Grape Ale (IGA) is a broad term for any beer created using grape must, a by-product of winemaking consisting of the sugar-rich, leftover juice, stems and skins of grapes.

Though only recently formally recognised by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), IGAs have been produced in Italy for significantly longer and are considered the first of Italy’s own beer styles. Grape ales have found a place in the Italian brewing community as an expression of provenance and taking pride in using locally-sourced ingredients to create beers, much like Fyne Ales working with the Springbank distillery to produce Fynebank and upcoming whisky barrel-aged beers.

“For me, grape ales have a special place as a perfect example of how beer and wine don’t need to be two separate things because I’ve always believed that it’s just fermentation. They’re part of the same family, they just happen to feature different ingredients due to geographical and anthropological roots; look at the wide range of additions that are being combined with beer around the world today - there’s no reason why grapes shouldn’t be part of that,” explained Fyne Ales brewer, Andrea Ladas.

Reading the style definitions from BJCP (below), it’s apparent that the term Italian Grape Ale encompasses a wide variety of flavours, colours, strengths and other variations. As a relatively new style, brewers have been keen to experiment with the addition of grape must, playing with the wide range of variables that using the ingredient introduces. Obviously, the choice of grape can greatly impact the flavour of the beer, but other factors such as which parts of the must are used, how much must is used, when the must is added to the brew (in a hopback, during the boil, straight into FV etc) and also, how the grape must works with other additions. Using Canediguerra’s Objekt 250 as an example, they chose to add the grape must during the boil along with several other additions: a large hop bill, Italian honey and selection of spices. There is no fixed example of style, meaning there is a great opportunity for brewers to produce interesting and unique beers, and the style is difficult to define.

BJCP grape ale style guide - click to view full size (new window).

 

Planning – Early Stages

Fyne Ales brewer, Andrea Ladas is a longtime friend of Canediguerra’s award-winning head brewer, Alessio Gatti, and the opportunity for a collab with one of Italy’s fastest-rising craft breweries was an opportunity too good to miss for the Fyne Ales team. The offer was especially tempting when the CDG team suggested they might be able to source some outstanding quality grape must from a local vineyard for the project.

Alessandria and Asti, where Canediguerra is situated in northern Italy, is famous for its spumante production, highly sparkling white wines made with sweet and semi-sweet grapes. Neighbouring the brewery, a moscato grape vineyard with whom the Canediguerra team had previously collaborated for their Objekt 250 special release beer, and who was willing to help organise shipping a container of fresh grape must to the UK for the brew.

With the collab brew being the UK’s first Italian Grape Ale, we wanted to brew a beer that combined British and Italian brewing styles. With a half-plan to brew a traditionally British, strong, golden ale base beer to which the must would be added, we requested the removal of the stalks and skins from the moscato must before it left the vineyard. These parts of the must are most likely carry wild yeasts and funky bacteria, which are great for brewing sour or farmhouse-style grape ales, but less desirable for our planned Scottish/Italian hybrid brew.

Planning – On Arrival

Andrea, leading the project, had done a huge amount of research into IGAs in advance of the collab, and as mentioned above, he had already begun formulating ideas for the base beer in advance of Canediguerra’s arrival.

However, the Canediguerra team did not arrive at the Fyne Ales brewery empty handed, bringing with them a wide selection of Italian Grape Ales for tasting. We were treated to some outstanding and varied examples of the style from Loverbeer, Montegioco, Toccalmatto, plus an interesting take on a Belgian/Italian hybrid from La Chouffe. Tasting other breweries’ IGAs gave the team plenty to think about, and after much discussion, some more drinking, and some rapid-fire questioning of brewers of the above breweries about their methods (thank you, WhatsApp), we had a clearer idea for how we wanted to use the must in the brew.

The next stage was to do some maths. We knew what ABV we were aiming at for the final beer (7.4%), however we had to calculate the target original gravity of the combination of the base beer wort when combined in order to hit the final gravity target, taking into account the different amounts of must (20% @ 1080) and wort (80% @ 1063) going into the fermenter.

Some of the cracking grape ales brought to the brewery by Canediguerra for research.

 

Brewing

As mentioned above, how the must is used in the brew is a crucial variable to the style and flavour of the final beer. For Devine, the decision was made to flash-heat and then cool the grape must before adding it to the base beer three days into primary fermentation. These choices would combine to allow the beer to retain as much of the moscato grape’s soft, sweet and delicate flavours as possible, while keeping some malt and Nelson Sauvin/Brambling Cross hop character from the British-style base beer.

The pasteurisation at 80°C using our heat exchanger helped ensure no wild bugs got in the beer while helping retain the must’s soft, juicy aromatics; injecting the must after the beer had partially fermented allowed the base beer to develop its own character and helped to avoid over-working the yeast.

The beer had a relatively uneventful, if slightly-longer-than average fermentation.

This is the glamourous shipping format of a whole heap of grape must from Italy to Scotland.

 

First tasting

The Fyne Ales brewing team were delighted with the beer on first tasting. The moscato must imparted the beer with a punchy, golden grape flavour that at the same time, is soft and rich, with aromas of soft fruits and a lingering finish. The hop profile, while secondary to the wine characteristics, adds a little edge to the back of the taste, to keep the wine/beer character in balance.

In order to test how the beer stood up against the best of IGAs brewed on the continent, we sent two kegs of the beer to the Campi di birra festival in Firenze where it was showcased by Canediguerra alongside several grape ales brewed in Italy. Feedback was resoundingly positive, preparations began for a full UK launch!

Bottle artwork designed by Thirst.

Launch

Fyne Ales is incredibly excited to get Devine out of the brewery and into your hands, and the first chance to do so will be Saturday 20 May at Six Degrees North’s bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

For Glasgow and Edinburgh, the launch will have members of the Fyne Ales team on hand to answer your question about the beer, and for the first time ever in Scotland, a selection of Canediguerra beers will be pouring on draught alongside Devine!

Aberdeen will also be tapping Devine alongside its fraternal bars, with a selection of Canediguerra beers also available in the weeks following the launch.

Check out the Facebook event for more info - Devine Launch Event.

 

If you’re interested in brewing with grape must, keep an eye on the Fyne Ales blog next week, where we’ll be posting a third part in our grape ale blog series, exploring the various ways must can be used and the variations of flavours that result from its use in different ways!

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New Brew News - Where's Kendrick?

by Iain Smith

Kendrick the highland cow has proudly been the mascot of our Summer festival, FyneFest, for the past five years, so we decided it was about time to honour him with his own beer!

Our latest cask-exclusive, seasonal beer is named Where’s Kendrick? after our wee orange pal; an American amber, Where’s Kendrick? is brewed with a combination of pale and caramalt and a trio of new wave American hops, Belma, Eureka and Calypso to give the bee a full-bodied taste with a refreshing, dry and fruity finish.

Where’s Kendrick? will be rolling out of the brewery to pubs from Monday 8 May, but is available this weekend in the brewery tap room on draught and in 5 litre mini-casks!

If you spot Where’s Kendrick? out in the wild, send us a tweet using #WheresKendrick to help us track his travels on the road to FyneFest 2017!

Fyne Ales: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

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