Greetings, and welcome to the inaugural post on the official blog of The Cebruery, Cebu’s craft brewery! When my wife and I first decided to share our love of small batch, handcrafted, innovative craft beer with the Philippines, we agreed that one of the best and easiest ways to communicate that love would be by blogging about it– so here we are! Expect frequent updates here, as well as on our Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram feeds.
I’ve spent most of today preparing for and brewing a small (21 liter) batch of one of my recipies of one of my favorite styles of beer, and what I hope will be one of our first special releases at The Cebruery.
As the aroma of caramelized malt sugars and aromatic hop oils overwhelms our kitchen, it’s hard to resist the urge to talk about the recipe a little. For the uninitiated (which I counted myself among not too long ago), all beer is essentially made of four ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. Sounds simple enough, right? It is… until you realize that there are dozens of ways you can malt and roast barley to achieve different colors, aromas, and flavors… that there are hundreds of different varieties of hops from dozens of countries with different properties that impart dozens of different flavors and aromas to a beer, and dozens of ways to utilize them… that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of utilized cultured yeast strains that produce different individual notes in a finished beer… and that even the water of a particular region and its unique mineral composition can have an enormous impact on the final flavor of a beer. Manipulating those four simple ingredients– as well as additional ingredients you can get away with, like adjunct grains, fruit additions, spices, vanilla, chocolate, distilled spirits, you name it– in those dozens of ways leads to more unique combinations of aromas and flavors than any one person could ever hope to experience in a lifetime, much less brew.
And that’s why I brew! The ability to create limitless combinations from such a simple combination of common ingredients is an amazing opportunity to experiment, craft unique tasting experiences, and to push boundaries within an industry that is thousands of years old. Also, it helps that beer is absolutely delicious.
This beer that I’m waiting on right now is a perfect example. New Zealand has developed a slew of new hop varieties over the past several years, including one called Nelson Sauvin which I absolutely adore. It was called Nelson Sauvin by its breeders because it has similar flavors and aromas to Sauvingnon grapes– the word I’ve heard most often to describe it is “gooseberry.” I don’t really know what a gooseberry is, but I do know that this hop smells and tastes absolutely phenomenal, so I decided a while ago that I wanted to brew a beer that utilizes (almost) nothing but this one, single hop, so that I could fully showcase all of its great properties. Its fruity spiciness also reminded me a little of wild rye, so I decided to add some malted rye to my grain bill (along with some dark caramel malt to give the beer a nice amber color and some toffee-like sweetness) in the hopes that the two would compliment each other. Turns out, they do.
This is the fourth time I’ve brewed this beer now with slightly different recipes – more rye malt here, more hops later in the boil there, a different yeast strain or a harder water profile tweak, too. And every time, this beer – made of the same basic four ingredients– has tasted different. Not drastically different, but enough to be noticeable, and enough that–when tasted side by side–one would not think that these beers were the same.
All this is by way of saying that I think this final recipe is the keeper– the perfect balance of bready, roasted, slightly spicy malt and herbal, vinous, tropical fruit-like hop notes, a great pair for a strong cheddar or a spicy Thai or Indian dish. And I’m really excited not only that I’m going to be able to share it with you (keep your eyes peeled– we’re coming your way!), but that I’m going to be able to share why I’m so passionate about it with you via this blog.