With a range of three brand-new and exclusive beers in our Beers of the Month, we speak to some the brains behind this unique range of brews brought to you by Get ‘Er Brewed, Crisp Malt, Lallemand Yeast, Simply Hops and Flavourly.
Words: Kevin O’Donnell
While the craft beer revolution has changed the way beer fans think about the beer they’re drinking, and the flavours they expect, this sentiment has been echoed in the world of homebrewing. Homebrewers have always taken inspiration from what they like to drink, so as beer drinkers’ palates evolve and come to expect greater quality, so too does the complexity of their homebrews – from initial ingredients to the finished beer.
That’s why we’re delighted to partnering with Get ‘Er Brewed, Ireland’s largest supplier of brewing ingredients founded by husband and wife duo Jonathan and Deborah, and their market-leading partners in Lallemand Yeast, Crisp Malt and Simply Hops.
Jonathan Mitchell, co-founder of Get ‘Er Brewed introduces the range: “The idea was to showcase the core ingredients. There’s a lot of unique craft beers but if you apply the brewing science behind them, it boils down to four simple ingredients: that’s water, malt, hops, and yeast.
“We wanted to take those ingredients and showcase them on their own. To make people think about what different ingredients bring to the forefront of a beer, in terms of flavour.”
Here, we take a deep-dive into the three new beers – Krazy Kviek, Sumptuous Saison and Charmain Chevallier – and hear about the parts that make the whole so delicious.
Though it takes its name from the yeast used to ferment it, Jonathan explains: “[Krazy Kveik] is mainly about the hops.
“We have access to some of the most sought-after hops in the world, everyone wants Australian hops. So, we thoughts this would be a nice opportunity to showcase those hops. We put Vic Secret in the dry hop and, after tasting it, doubled the quantity to just make sure people got the impact of the hop flavour.”
Vic Secret is known for its flavours and aromas of pineapple, passionfruit and pine, and these work wonders in tandem with the beer’s namesake: Kveik yeast.
Kveik is a Norwegian word meaning both yeast and “to breathe new life into something,” and refers to a group of yeasts with some remarkable properties. Krazy Kveik uses Lallemand’s LalBrew® Voss Kveik Ale Yeast, which is both central to the beer’s character while providing some noteworthy benefits to brewers too. Robert Percival from Lallemand Brewing tells us more:
“To be honest, I could talk about this strain for hours,” he says. “We’ve actually been for researching Kveik cultures and their application for over three years now.
“I was giving a presentation in Bratislava on sour beer production and a homebrewer came up to me and asked if I’d like to try the beer he’d made with a Kveik culture. I’d heard about these strains but had never actually heard of a brewer fermenting with them.
“I tried this beer which he said he’d fermented at 40 degrees Celsius, which I thought sounded insane … but the beer was incredibly clean, had a lovely distinct flavour, and there were no off-flavours.
“I got very excited and instantly told our [research and development] department.”
Fast-forward to today and Lallemand are now sharing this incredible yeast with the wider brewing world. Brewers are flocking to these Kveik strains for a host of reasons; flavour, their ability to stand up to higher temperatures and their speedy fermentation time.
“These are completely freak yeasts compared to traditional ale yeasts,” Robert explains. “Crucially, the key defining characteristic is the extreme fermentation profile. We traditionally ferment at 35 to 45 degrees Celsius with these Kveik strains, versus a more traditional ale fermentation of 18 to 22. Typically, if you fermented a beer at that high of a temperature, you’d get all manner of off-flavours or, strain-dependant, it wouldn’t even ferment.
“[Kveik strains] are incredibly fast. Where a normal ale yeasts will typically take three to five days to ferment, the Kveik cultures will do that in 24 to 48 hours. They’re incredibly quick due to these high fermentation temperatures.”
The appeal to brewers is obvious; faster fermentation means increased capacity in the brewhouse which means more beer for all of us. But what does Voss Kveik offer you, the craft beer drinker? Robert tells us:
“Voss, specifically, gives a very subtle orange note to the beer, depending on how it’s handled by the brewer. There’s orange peel and orange blossom, but it isn’t huge and in your face, it’s very nice and subtle. You can imagine how that citrus flavour works well in modern hop-forward beer styles.”
Saison is another style synonymous with its yeast. As Robert from Lallemand explains: “To brew a saison, the yeast is heart and centre of the style.
“The saison yeasts come from Belgium, typically. These were strains native to the farmhouse brewers who would traditionally brew beers for the seasonal workers – the saisonnières, who worked on the farms.”
Yeast is absolutely critical to the flavour and character of the saison style. These beers are not known for a big burst of fruity hops, nor are they famous for a deep balance of caramel malt. In a saison, you’re looking for that dry finish, that peppery bite, and that’s all down to the yeast.
“The key thing with a saison yeast is they are a group of yeast which we refer to as diastaticus,” Robert elaborates. “What this means is, compared to an ale yeast, they super-attenuate, they will utilise all the sugars in the beer. The result of this is that it creates a very dry finish that’s crucial to the saison style.
“In terms of the flavours they contribute, generally speaking they produce a balance of esters and phenolics. Esters are a group of flavours we describe as more fruity, then the phenolics give more clovey and spicey notes.”
In Sumptuous Saison, that character is achieved through the use of Lallemand’s LalBrew® Belle Saison Yeast which Robert tell us more about:
“With the Belle Saison, expect a balance between lemon and citrus, and a slightly spicy, peppery note. It’s almost a lemon peel, lemon zest flavour that the yeast gives, and that’s balanced with a sort of white pepper, spicy note.
“But it’s the dryness that the yeast brings which makes the beer so refreshing, then we have more fruity and spicy notes to balance it out.”
While the yeast certainly defines our saison, the other ingredients all play their part in making this beer so special. Jonathan tells us how he chose the beer’s hop:
“I used Styrian Goldings hops in this. I was lucky, I’ve actually visited the farm in Slovenia a number of time, where these hops are grown and became quite friendly with the hop farmer. His hops are of a quality that maybe aren’t recognised, I thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase what Styrian Goldings can bring to a beer.”
And on the malt side, I caught up with Colin Johnston from Crisp Malt to find out how the grist in Sumptuous Saison helps bring all that saison character to the fore.
“[Crisp] has the capability to produce non-malted cereals, not every maltser in the UK can do this,” says Colin. “In the UK, the malt is usually very low in protein and protein is very important when it comes to head retention. Now, what some breweries do is add something called Torrified Wheat to the recipe, and that a has a good chunk of head positive protein which results in promoting flavour as it rises up into the head space.
“The way in which it is made is different to the malting process. So, torrifying is a kind of like popcorn-making: the raw grain and the raw wheat would be put into a hot air chamber and that intense heat causes a rapid expansion within the kernel, and it shatters the cell walls. We make wheat, maize, rice, oats, and barley in this way.
“So, in this saison recipe, we have two torrified products – one is Flaked Torrified Oats. Oats have become hugely popular over the past five years as people are adding them to their NEIPAs to add creaminess, that fullness to the mouthfeel. And that’s where a lot of the haze comes from in these hazy beers, oats is a big contributor.
“We’ve also got in there, something that’s a big weird, Torrified Buckwheat. It’s the second time we’ve ever used this product, it’s only in one other commercial beer. It adds a certain earthiness to the saison.”
Sumptuous Saison is fantastic example of the harmony brewers can create when combining the correct and best quality ingredients. While the yeast gives us the character and flavours that define the style, torrified products aid head retention which lifts those flavours to new levels, and this is all tied together with characterful little hop from Slovenia.
It could be argued that Chairman Chevallier is one of the most interesting beers to ever feature in a Flavourly box. It won’t blow your head off with excessive ABV, nor will it shatter your palate with record-breaking levels of bitterness, but this 4.4% American pale ale has so much to say.
We’ll begin with its namesake, Chevallier, a heritage malt from Crisp’s Heritage Barley Project.
Chevallier was vital to many 19th century beer styles; think historic IPAs and strong, punchy beers like barley wines which were founded on their big, malty backbone. In Charmain Chevallier, however, it’s not there to take over. Crisp’s Colin Johnston explains how it applies to this modern pale ale:
“The tact we wanted to take with the recipe was not using Chevallier as the core malt flavour, but as an additional layer of complexity. Because it is so punchy, even at a relatively small addition rate, you get the flavour benefit, you get that real, robust malt flavour coming through that you just simply don’t get with more modern varieties.
“In a way, we’re really building up a West Coast IPA grist on the malt side, it has all that richness, that malt backbone, and a breadiness from the Munich and the Chevallier, and a sort of marmaladey quality from the Chevallier. Then the Caramalt brings a light caramel as well to it.
“It’s dry hopped with Centennial and Amarillo up the hooha, and it’s Centennial and Amarillo throughout, which are big, meaty American hops. You’ve got to bring something on the malt side as well to balance that out, so that the hops don’t become overpowering, and Chevallier has that to it.”
Chevallier’s malt bill brings so much to the table, more so than many pale ales or IPAs in today’s market. And while the malt character is absolutely reminiscent of a West Coast ale, it straddles the lines between that and its East Coast, New England counterpart – thanks, largely, to the yeast it’s fermented with. This is a big one.
“The yeast strain on Chairman Chevallier hasn’t actually been released yet,” Robert from Lallemand tells us. “It’s quite an exciting coup that we’ve been able provide Get ‘Er Brewed with a brand-new yeast; it’s one of the first brews to be produced using this trial strain.
“It’s a new IPA yeast that we’ll be launching in collaboration with Verdant Brewing. We isolated this IPA strain from the brewery. They were doing some testing on our New England strain and submitted a sample of their house yeast for us to look at, we’ve isolated it and produced it commercially now.
“This new type of IPA yeast gives a soft and balanced mouthfeel compared to other IPA strains, and it gives a slightly fruity character to it that we’d describe as apricot or other stone fruit flavours.
“The crucial, defining feature of this yeast is synonymous with the type of IPA that Verdant produce, which is slightly fuller in body and mouthfeel, not as dry as traditional IPA yeasts. There’s a bit more softness in the palate which ultimately makes the beers very drinkable.”
Chairman Chevallier uses its ingredients to do something a bit different, somehow managing to both be bang on trend and a bit old school at the same time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these beers and the incredible stories behind their ingredients that form them as much as I have. It’s been an eye-opening experience to learn about them and how each ingredient has its part to play in the beer you drink. Perhaps it’ll change the way you look at the beers you’re drinking or, perhaps, it’ll encourage you to give homebrewing a try.
Jonathan says: “[Homebrewing] is now a serious hobby, a rewarding hobby, and you can now actually brew excellent quality beers, wines and ciders at home.”
Jonathan encourages anyone looking to dip their toes in the malt water to reach out to him via Get ‘Er Brewed social media channels because, he says: “It’s easy to brew, you just need a little help along the way.”
If you fancy brewing your own version of Chairman Chevallier, Sumptuous Saison and Krazy Kveik, the recipes and ingredients will all be available on getbrewed.com.