Yesterday, after a few weeks of planning, we boarded the bus and headed out to O Brother Brewing in Kilcoole, county Wicklow. Time to brew up our collaboration beer, a Wheat IPA with an American hop profile.
First step was mashing where the crushed malt and wheat is added to the Mash Tun and steeped in warm water. The Mash Tun has a mixing paddle that ensures the water and malt is constantly agitated during the mashing. This allows the natural enzymes in the malt to breakdown the starchy malt into sugars that can be fermented.
We used a mix of 50% wheat 50% malted barley. The malt we used was a mix of extra pale Maris Otter and the ‘Hook Head’ Series Irish Ale malt which is traceable to 9 farms on the Hook Head peninsula and offers a unique distinctive character. While this was steeping we were lucky enough to get a master class on the different malt types and the malting process form the O Brother Master Brewer Ian.
The mashing process takes about two hours after which the sweet liquid, now called wort, is separated from the grain and wheat and then transferred to the kettle to be boiled. After the messy job of cleaning out the Mash Tun, we were treated to a little beer sampling and an education on different hop varieties with O Brother’s resident hop head Barry.
Once the wort was brought up to the boil it was time for the addition of hops. We added hops over 4 stages. At the start of the boil we used Magnum and Perle for bitterness and then towards the end of the boil we used Summit, Cascade and Centennial to add flavour and aroma.
After the boil was complete the wort was cooled to around 20 degrees through a heat exchanger before being transferred to the fermentation vessels. Here yeast is added to the wort and converts the sugary wort into beer, creating alcohol and flavours along with carbon dioxide.
After fermentation, which will take a few days to complete, the beer will be cooled down and kept in tank for maturation. This is called conditioning and will take a few weeks for the flavours to mature and develop and also for the carbonation to increase.
Over those few weeks we will be dry hopping the beer, this is where hops are added to the cool beer to give more flavour and aroma, using six different American hop varieties to add extra flavour dimensions.
O Brother don’t use any finings, issenglass or filters to clear their beer believing that these can strip out some of the flavour. They use only cold and time, to allow the suspended yeast and hops to drop to the bottom of the conditioning tank and the beer to clear. As the O Brother tag line says they use 0 shortcuts.
So what do you think we should name our collaboration brew? Click on the link here for details on how to enter and you could see your idea on the bottle.
A big thank you to the guys in O Brother for helping us make this happen.