Some successes for us in the last month with the beginning of the big brewery build, (more on that in another post) but also a few knock-backs.
Small scale brewing doesn't always work out the way you planned. Sometimes you encounter quality issues which means it's unacceptable to release a beer, even if it is a very special one. A few weeks ago, what was going to be our best beer yet went down the drain. Back in mid June we went foraging for fresh Elderflowers as a floral addition to our first foraged beer, something that we plan to do more of in the future. It was to be a Saison style beer, crisp, dry and refreshing and enhanced by the scent of summer round our way - Elderflowers.
Fermentation went well and the beer was tasting great so off it went to the conditioning tank before packaging. A few days later the beer was transferred to the packaging tank which was when the slight colour change was noted. Fortunately our friends Boundary Brewing had recently acquired a device to measure dissolved oxygen in beer (oxygen in beer is a BAD thing), so we measured it and the reading we got was unacceptable.
It's hard to see your work go down the drain but it's important, especially given the recent discussion about the quality of Northern Irish craft beer, to hold yourself to high standards. Dumping beer is not all bad news. We learn from the process, try to figure out what went wrong and then continue to make our beer the best it can be.
'The Boortree', an Ulster Scots word for Elder, was supposed to be a one off special beer and a nod to where we are going with Heaney Brewery. It was also our ABV Fest beer which I was probably most gutted about and now we'll just have to wait to next year for a Heaney Brewery presence there. Ah well. The next few months will see us release a range of Specials brewed at Boundary while we manage the transition to our shiny new brewery in Bellaghy so it's not all bad news.
For now though we'll have to wait until next year for the sweet scent of elderflowers so we can recreate The Boortree. It'll be worth waiting for.