Now, as some of you know I am quite the fan of a little brewery in Tower Bridge, namely Kernel Brewery. We sell it, yes. Some of you also know that my educational route wasn’t the most orthodox. I got in trouble. I am something of a magnet, well, was, for causing havoc… ok, I really try hard not to, but sometimes…
Passing conversations with Evin, (on the right) we noted our passions for big, flavour forward beers. We often joked about trying to “break the system“, just going all out for a really big beer. Now, I don’t know whether it’s actually what happened, but I think what happened next was a whole moment of, “oh, all right then..”
Amassed sugars, extracts, multitude and volume of grain, weights apparently calculated were in excess of the standard capacity of the brewery. I gather that was a good start. Now, as you also might know, there has been the advent of the London Brewers Alliance. Now, here’s a cute thing: some of them have become friends. Simon, from Zerodegrees, a tall chap straight from the halls of German brewing and Evin have become pretty good friends. Simon is a very cool chap. Evin is a very cool chap. Works, doesn’t it. Now, I gather there is always a fair bit of banter toward Simon, should he be in the presence of other brewers… being jeerrrrrman an’all. But, being a jerrrrman, and working at Zerodegrees, rare is the chance that he gets to play.
Now, I play… I do it all the time. Life is too damn short. In fact I am very serious about play. One period in my education, I became the educationalist… aka a Teacher. I learnt a lot. When we transition through adulthood, we forget things. The most important being our naivety. The what if, the ooh’s, the oww’s to.. but we do so much learning whilst “playing” – we develop and grow; except it becomes frowned upon at the control and indoctrinate educational system.
Sometimes, just sometimes, with the appropriate risk assessment – this is the UK after all – everyone should go “caution, meet, the wind”.
And that’s what happened. At every junction there was a simple question: can you get more in. More malt, more sugar, more, more… Somewhat displaying a minor autistic twitch, loosely disguising my excitement, I did enquire as to whether this beer was the biggest they have brewed… a number of times. I think the answer was no…?! The moments that I was there, even being part of a discussion before, really didn’t make up for being at the brewery for such a brief moment.
The visual assault of malt climbing from the mash tun, the sparge arms propped a good 8″ above the rim of the mash tun, covered in malt sacks… it was mix, match and makedo… just to get this colossal weight of malt to mash and then to kettle. The battering of aroma, roast, rich, sweet malts… accentuated coffee, saturated the normally pristine shared working space. I caught the run off, it was BLACK! By far one of the darkest, most intense, rich, crazy run off’s I have ever seen. The runnings hit kettle at 1,100. That’s big. (I was later told, by Evin, that there was a second runnings brew made, that was 1.084og) – My contribution to the conversation, prior to the brewday, was use some sugars too. Not just ordinary white table, I mean the black molasses rich Billingtons stuff, oh, and why not, whilst you’re at it, a few kilos of Molasses, oh and some malt extract. So, there they were, standing round a cauldron of what looked like something you could either retread your car with, or fix the M25 with. They had also, wisely in my book, found a very talented homebrewer/cidermaker, who wanted to volunteer that day. Christian, an ex-banker, sought his redemption with big red shovel and lots of bins and sacks as the malt kept on coming from the vessel.
I had to dash off for the moment, the demands of deliveries… but I found a few moments to pop back before a tasting. I was confronted with the transfer to fermenter of what, I really was amazed to see…. the richest, blackest, sweetest, most intense wort I have tasted in a long time. I gather there was also more than 100ibu of Magnum, Apollo and Chinook used. I also gather the wort was 1.128og. massive. mental. monstrous.
I, of course, snagged some for Beermerchants, straight away, once it’s been in bottle for a while. This in finished product should be in the 12.5% abv territory, possibly more. They were in uncharted waters.
if you want Evin's version. Turn the volume down, and play some jazz in the background.