Tuesday, March 28, 2006

NABC brewery news: St. Radegund & Hoptimus.

During their months together, NABC’s brew crew of Jesse Williams and Jared Willamson have developed a creative and productive working rhythm, and apart from the occasional blown bung of Imperial Stout and a dead baby squirrel, life in the brewhouse is efficient and settled.

Just don’t ask me to explain the squirrel.

Having narrowed the daily beer range to five during the crazy time of the brewery expansion and serving tank installation, we’re thinking again about seasonals and one-offs.

Forthcoming is an English bitter called St. Radegund, which calls to mind a dragon-slaying abbess from the Dark Ages and a Cambridge, England pub where several of us have drained the grain. Half the naturally carbonated batch will be served by hand pump, and the remainder with CO2. St. Radegund is set to debut during the first week of April.

It must be said that both the batches that Jesse managed to squeeze in during the unpredictable brewery expansion period were bona fide winners: Old Lightning Rod and Thunderfoot Imperial Stout. There isn’t any left of Benjamin Franklin’s tercentenary ale, although we’ll brew it again next year.

We’re holding on to a few kegs of Thunderfoot. How will it age? It will be tasted and portions released at selected intervals, and one entire keg will be kept until Gravity Head 2007.

Meanwhile, if drinker comments are any gauge, Jesse’s struck gold with his session Double IPA (if there can be such a thing), Hoptimus.

Hoptimus is brewed with Simpson's Golden Promise malt; Northern Brewer, Fuggles and Cascades hops; and fermented with the house London ale yeast. It is dry-hopped in the kegs with Fuggles and Cascades. The OG is 1.094, and IBU's are somewhere around 100.

The alcohol by volume is 9%, and although it’s a cliché, be aware that Hoptimus is deceptively drinkable.

There’s much to like for the card-carrying hophead, but to me the most endearing quality of Hoptimus is its youth. Without a concerted effort on our parts to stash a keg somewhere, it’s never going to be around long enough to “mature,” and in this sense, I believe Hoptimus bears comparison to certain young wines, and especially Ruby Port – a bit rough around the edges, but honest and in the end, better for it.

I drank three pints last night – and felt a bit rough around the edges this morning.

But refreshed, and seemingly better for it.

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