Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Brewing Irish Sour Beers in Belfast




On November 17th I packed up the car and headed to Belfast on an invitation from Matthew in Boundary to brew a couple of my own recipes in collab. You may have seen the pictures on Twitter, now here's the story behind them.

Stardog Champion is a light coloured beer heavily hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops and fermented with a slow moving brett like yeast that produces lots of fruitiness, a bit of funk and if you're lucky you'll get a hint of sour. 5.5% abv in 330ml bottles.

Chloe Dancer is very sour and has an intense raspberry flavour and colour. It has been fermented with lactobacillus in the brew kettle and then fermented again with the same yeast as Stardog Champion in French Chardonnay barrels. pH 3.3 and 4.7% abv in 330ml bottles.


The Story

15 litres of goodness, Belfast bound
Around November 10th Matthew invited me up to brew, an invitation I gladly accepted! We had a bit of a chat over the phone about what we'd brew, two were selected, and on that basis he asked me to grow up a metric shit tonne of "Trois", the yeast that I used in the original beers upon which these two were to be based. With a sense of panic I grew up the yeast from just a few ml to approximately 3 litres in record time, and it smelled and tasted wonderful. It was ready to roll, just about, by the 17th (I must thank Mark Nixon for bailing me out with a few kilos of DME which made my task a lot easier).

Cometh the hour cometh the man, and around 11am on the day we arrived at Boundary, where Matthew already had the mash on for Stardog Champion. This first brew was a slightly tweaked version of Quare Good IPA: IBUs reduced to 70 and abv reduced to 5.5%, to fit in with Boundary's "Push and Pull" series. The original hop bill remains unchanged, and this is a very hoppy beer. Once again thanks to Mark for sorting us out on the shortfall of hops (the cheque is in post!).

Come the 18th, the first brew was ripping along, which Matthew top cropped from several times for the second beer: a barrel fermented version of the infamous winner of Sourfest 2015, Raspberry Turbo. This beer requires a lot of attention and was brewed meticulously, from acidification of the strike water (to pH 5.2) to acidification of the wort (to pH 4.39) to selection of lacto starter: on the 17th I had prepared several starters and on the 18th we picked the best (and decided once and for all to abandon White Labs lacto). As this beer isn't exactly the same as Raspberry Turbo it has been called Chloe Dancer, a name which compliments Stardog Champion.

The two brews should be available to buy just before or after Christmas, I'll update here when they are. I'd like to thank my buddy in beer Matthew for the opportunity to brew these beers and I'm looking forward to them being available commercially as I think they're helping to push the boundaries of Irish beer (pun intended). I'll never forget Steve Lamond's quote at Sourfest about Raspberry Turbo being the most sour and most raspberry beer the Irish market would be able to take!

Let's hope he's right!


Evaluating lacto starters. The middle two won.

Recirculating the mash

Cleaning out the mashtun. I'm not cut out for this!

Mashtun cleaned!

Getting the hops for Stardog ready

Boiling the wort that will become Stardog Champion

All the starters in the warm room

Pitching temperature


Starter being pitched into 300 litres of what will become Stardog

Cleaning the hops out of the kettle. Stardog gets dry hopped too.

Stardog on day 2, ripping along




Raspberries in the freezer. I wonder what they could be for!


Wort that will become Chloe after acidification, pre lacto


Matt and Bill bottling in champagne bottles
Sour wort+WLP644+raspberries+Chardonnay barrel=Chloe Dancer





Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Boundary Set to Enter Second Round of Funding

Matthew Dick, founder, part-owner and head honcho at Boundary Brewing Co-op is quite a remarkable chap. Anyone who knows Matthew will know that he has a great knowledge and appreciation of beer, an infectiously positive personality, and a great drive to succeed. Combining these was always going to produce results and the first of those was achieved in spectacular style just a year ago when Boundary set a target of £70,000 and within just 8 days had raised £100,000 via a community share offering.

So it would come as no surprise that Boundary are going back to raise more capital. The business is quite successful with demand outstripping supply so it's time to take it up a notch.

Boundary will be launching another share offering to raise another £100,000, this time to buy among other things a canning line. The craft beer market is increasingly moving away from bottles in favour of cans so this would be seen my many as a wise investment.

The offering is to go live on December 7th to new members. Keep an eye here. I know I'll be investing.