The first brewer to contact me when I agreed to do a beer festival.
Winner of Beer of the Festival 3 times out of 4.
Referred to as “your mate” by some.
That’s Malcolm Bastow of Five Towns Brewery of Wakefield. A good man. Who happens to brew exceptional beer.
And someone I consider a friend. Someone without whom this event would be more difficult. Someone who has helped me in more ways than I can begin to say.
But all that would count for nothing if his beer was ordinary. Which it certainly isn’t.
I’ve been lucky. Lucky in that I’ve gotten to brew twice at each of the last 3 festivals in that little shed at the bottom of the garden. It’s always fun. It’s always interesting. And has resulted in 2 Beer of the Festival winners in Art Decade & last year’s winner “Always Crashing In The Same Car”.
Brewing with Malcolm is an ISBF tradition. Which is why I left home at 4:45 this morning. To be in Wakefield for 6am. Yes, there IS another 6 in the day....
Like several of the beers we’ve brewed with Malcolm, the name came first.
We’re both Bowie fans and so is Jock (who’s coming to brew in Wakefield next weekend. Jock – I discovered at #ISBF4 – has a favourite Bowie tune which is actually a segue of 3. From the classic Diamond Dogs album. Sweet Thing, Candidate, Sweet Thing (Reprise). With 2 of the beers being collabed on with Malcolm featuring fruit, this one HAD to be Candidate.
So. At 4:45am (yes, there IS another 4:45 on a Sunday), I was on the road.
To Wakefield. And a certain shed.
When it comes to beer, my heart is dark. And increasingly big. So when Malcolm revealed his thoughts to me and our Co – Conspirator (Sean Clarke of Sheffield’s mighty atom of a beer shop “Beer Central “) his thoughts, I was delighted.
Big. Roasty. And breakfasty.
A double mash in, meant a 6am start. And – after a Billy Bragg gig the night before.........
First mash smelt delicious. All the inherent aromas of Roasted Barley, coffee, chocolate porridge. One of my favourite smells. And dark. As dark as Vladimir Putin’s heart. But much tastier. (Which predictive text initially had as Tsarier.....)
That was run off to the copper, tun dug it was time for mash two. Ordinarily, with a big beer, a single mash on Malcolm’s small (2 ½ barrel) kit would only give up about 5 casks. But this brew was also to celebrate 5 years of Beer Central. And Sean wants a lot of bottles to mark that. So it needed more beer.
So. What have we made? Well. A big Breakfast Stout. Oatmeal, Coffee, Milky (lactose) and fruity with lots of pureed blueberries going in to the fermenter. It’s gonna be like a liquidised fruity black porridge. And it’s likely to come out at about 9% abv
Come get some! The few remaining tickets can be found here
Tomorrow? Another early start. Off to Peterborough. And some liquid lunacy. With Steve Saldana at Bexar County. A special day for me. Those that know, know.