Landlord, Ian Batho, greeted Andy on arrival shortly before 5pm opening time and posed for a photo once the casks had been placed on a shelf to settle, before the event's start at 7.30pm.
|Andy Parker and Ian Batho|
|Cow & Cask micropub, Newbury|
He described the smoked ruby mild which had been poured as a baby version of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild but with a twist. The twist is that 25% of the malt had been smoked over cherry wood. This adds some fruity smokiness to a beer that is relatively weak (3.7% ABV). The beer is called Cherrywood Road, which is also the home of Farnborough Town FC, Andy's home town. Andy invited comments from the audience about the beer and mentioned that Cherrywood Road is intended to be more subtle in its smokiness than a German Rauchbier.
Lovibonds brewer Jeff Rosenmeier suggesting buying beer from a brewery instead of from a supermarket. Andy visited Crondall brewery where he met David and Chrissy Taraszek who had started the brewery after taking early retirement from an IT job. He later learned that David and Jeff had been on the same Brewlab course in Sunderland. Andy found it inspirational that David had developed from a home brewer into owning his own brewery and Andy has now followed the same path.
The 4.8% ABV English Pale Ale is dosed with natural apricot fruit flavouring before being casked. The strength may be changed to 4.5% ABV when brewed commercially. The golden colour is due to the use of a small amount of crystal malt in the recipe.
Lord Nelson, a previous beer brewed in collaboration with Weird Beard also uses 8-bit graphics for the beer bottle label.
In fact it was this beer, originally brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, that won Andy the title of National Homebewing champion in February 2014, a £5000 prize which he put towards the purchase of brewery kit and the chance to brew his American Red IPA with Dark Star Brewing Co.
The prototype version of Level Up from the third mini-cask is a 5.8% ABV American Red IPA brewed with Mosaic and Equinox hops from the USA. Six malts were used to give the beer its red hue and 'a little bit of sweetness'. The Mosaic hops were used during the boil stage and the Equinox hops were dry hopped in the fermenter later to give aroma. Gooseberry, melon and citrus fruit aroma and flavours were noted for this version of Level Up. Andy will rotate the hops used when brewing Level Up due to some hops becoming unavailable and also for the sake of variety. Versions will be numbered eg Level Up 2 and the hops used will be shown on the pump clip.
Level Up will be available in cask, keg and bottle. When bottling beers will be bottle conditioned. For cask, a lower strength e.g. 5.2% ABV may be adopted providing the characteristic body and richness of the beer can be retained.
Questions from the audience afterwards included the reason for the shortage of Citra hops and the size of the Elusive brewery. Andy explained that his brewery, from Elite Stainless Fabrications of Swindon was 5 brewers barrel (BBL) size and slightly smaller than Longdog Brewery, Basingstoke, where a 6 BBL plant was obtained from the same source. The Elusive Brewery unit (600 square feet) is smaller than the Longdog Brewery unit so Andy can only fit a maximum of three fermenters and there is no room for an office or packaged beer storage.
Ending his talk, Andy encouraged patrons to have another beer from the casks tapped behind the bar including two from Longdog Brewery - Kismet and a personal favourite of his - Lamplight Porter. The audience applauded Andy and Ian was soon busy serving beers from the bar.
After deduction of venue and travel expenses, the West Berkshire CAMRA supported event raised £31.50 for West Berkshire Mencap as Andy provided his time and prototype beers at no cost.
Andy has blogged about setting up his brewery and these posts can be read on his blog - Musings of an Elusive Beer Geek eg So you wanna open a brewery? Part 1 and So you wanna open a brewery? Part 2.
Links to the Elusive Brewing email, facebook and twitter accounts are shown on the Elusive Brewing website: www.elusivebrewing.com