As it's Burn's Night this evening, I felt inclined to contemplate some interesting and/or inspiring Scottish folks, and distract all (and particularly myself) from a certain uninspiring American. I also wanted to give our resident Scotsman, leadbrewer Ryan, something else to feel proud about on this patriotic day.
I'll be honest, listing the cool Scots that come to mind, Robert Burns, isn't top of my list. There's Sean Connery, Sir Arthur Conen Doyle, Robert Carlyle, Ewan McGregor - dare I admit it's because Bryan's got me into G.O.T - there's Richard Madden, as famous actors from things we watch. Music-wise, I'll be the only one from the team pogo-ing with excitement to Idlewild, but there's appreciation for other Scottish bands Mogwai, Primal Scream, Biffy Clyro and Nazareth. But none of these guys, like good ol' Mr Burns, have a day dedicated to them where people drink and be merry, in which case, I do think Burns trumps them in that respect.
So, what's everyone having to accompany their haggis, neeps and tatties? If you're not partaking in any sort of shenanigans to celebrate the life and poetry of Robbie Burns, then here's an excuse, aside from #Tryanuary, to raise a glass of some delicious beer or, even, whisky. Go on!
Our chosen bevvie for tonight would the Wee Heavy we made, "Don't Worry Bee Heavy". This was the second beer we brewed in collaboration with Brussels Beer Project (BBP). A quick jump back to when we first met BBP: Dimitri (Sales, Events and Marketing) and Yves (headbrewer) made the long and arduous journey to our brewery one Open Day. This blog recounts that very first visit and the gesture to do so did not go unappreciated. When we had an opportunity to brew with them, it was a sure “Yes”. When, Yves was back in London town and wished to brew again, that too was a “Yes”. They're super guys.
BBP’s brews with London brewers have been focussed on the theme of “London”. Our first collab, “Churchill’s Delusion” was a Tobacco Mild, playing up to Milds being a very English beer style and cigars being so very Churchill, a prime British figure. Our second collab, was still to be quintessentially British. With most of the team up in Manchester for IndyMan, Ryan, who we've mentioned is the Scot amongst us, was left to hold the fort and decided upon a Wee Heavy. This style, also known as a "Scotch Ale" characteristically is a copper-brown beer, of moderate strength with sweet, full-bodied malty, caramel flavours and a touch of roasted bitterness. If you've ever had Alesmith's Wee Heavy, then you'd know that definition is a major understatement to how deliciously complex this style could be.
Our take had to have complexity but also loads of individuality, something BBP and ourselves love to dose our brews with. To achieve this, we used 13 malts as opposed to the normal 3-4 grains. To name a few: roasted barley for the more bitter and toasted notes, chocolate malt for dark choc bitter-meets-sweetness, Special B for candied fruit and caramel flavours, biscuit malt for Digestives sweetness, light & dark crystal as well as amber for more caramel and the quirky addition of peated malt for a smoky edge. Originally, we wanted to continue the theme of our previous collab and make a Tobacco Wee Heavy but there is no way in this country, that we could crumble cigars into a brew. Peated malts suited us fine and we got the layered flavour profile we wanted. We then balanced the roasted and subtle smoked flavours with a lot of honey. We kept the hops earthy and European with EKG and Target. Finally, we pitched Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast to give rise to all those raisin, Dundee cake-like, stone-fruit flavours and desired esters that work in harmony with the honey to give the beer its warmth and richness.
Yves powered hard through his post IndyMan hangover and on our labour-intensive kit; BBP made a wise move in the beginning to invest in a pretty much fully automated brewhouse. Despite the tough day, Yves' whole experience, input and opinion of this beer is one that he’s exceptionally proud of. "Don't Worry Bee Heavy" embodies a lot of our and BBP’s ethos and style of brewing. With a nod to all this, we’ve ensured the branding for "Don't Worry Bee Heavy" is just as strong. As an homage to Yves and to our brewer Kit, both with dreadlocks and both who brewed this beer with Ryan, our Lup’in has dreadlocks. The nod to the Scottish element behind the beer and the Scotsman who wrote the recipe, is prominent in the gingery wig and tartan. The name, a playful pun, which I love, on the honey and Wee Heavy aspect of it all.
Wee heavily hope you enjoy this beer as much as we do and even more so if you're enjoying it tonight.