It’s a rare thing that a brewery sneaks up on my taste buds. Where you find yourself – without actual consideration – ordering their beer where you see it. Because it’s consistently excellent.
That’s Blue Bee for me. I clearly remember the online conversation with Josh (Brewer) last year. When he offered me one of two beers. A Session Pale (which my head NEEDED) and a rich dark (which my HEART needed!). I put it to a team vote in a rare moment of weakness. The team voted for the Stout.
It ended being the fastest seeking cask at #ISBF4.
So you can see why I’m in Sheffield at 8 am yesterday (Saturday) morning.
And I got lost. But fortunately, a nice busman pointed me in the right direction!
Many months ago, Josh agreed to host us for a brewday and wanted to do a Session Pale. I was delighted. I wouldn’t say that was a forte, as I’ve never had a bad pint of Blue Bee. But his session pales are just delicious. Crisp, sharp, hoppy, dry. ALL my boxes ticked.
The fact that I was sweating over my average abv made the idea of a session Pale all the more joyous!
Located a short walk from the sprawling Kelham Island area, I walked in to Josh getting the grains ready. I looked around the brewery. Logical. Set up for ease of use, simplicity. But, but, what’s those SQUARE things??
Yorkshire Squares! Those fermenting vessels of legend! And my first sighting in the wild. Josh explained their usage and what they bring. He explained a lot of things yesterday. It was an educational day all round.
All Pale malt. Simple. The gravity fed grain mixed from above meant that mahjong (or “mashing”, depending on your predictive text!) was a joy.
Hops. Hmmm...... Bittering? Columbus. SO aromatic. In with 3/4kg. Instant aroma hit. Fruity and delicious.
Then, the waiting. Which meant all the laptop stuff I couldn’t do on the train. I caught up in time for late hop addition. A hop that I’d never previously used. Eureka! Archimedes missed out. Bloody hell these smelled beautiful!. 10kg. And the brewery erupted with tropical fruit notes. Just WOW! I hope it’s not the last time I use these!
The way the brewery is set up (to my mind) contributed to how smooth this brewday went. For me, as much as the beer – and the rapid dig out (with farmer turning up unexpectedly!) - this was about talking with a young man steeped in Sheffield. Totally immersed in the beer industry of this brilliant beer city. There seemed to be nothing - or no-one Josh didn’t know.
After the brew, we went for a walk. Via a few beers. With standouts being two Sheffield stalwarts. The Kelham Island Tavern (my VERY FIRST Pictish dark beer!) and a delicious Blue Bee 5 Hop, then Shakespeare. And an excellent North Riding.
Josh even made sure I didn’t get lost on my way to the train station too!
Truly, I’m glad all these brew days are done. I’m shattered and my body clock is completely askew (I’m a day out). But with days like this, I feel like I could go on forever. Talking and making beer with someone whose beer thoughts are almost a mirror. With whom I agreed with on SO much. It was an utter pleasure. Cheers Josh!
So, what have we got coming? With an additional 5kg of Enigma in dry hop, we’re going to get a Sessionable Pale Ale. At about 4.4% abv. Punchy and fruity. Dry with a nice bitterness. It’s precisely what we/you need. From a brewery that does this SO well.
Can’t wait. Come and join us. It’s going to be fun!