Earlier this year, Dawn and I went on a beer-centric trip to London with Brewtopia Tours, hosted by Owen Ogletree, which included a couple days at the Great British Beer Festival and numerous pub crawls throughout historic London neighborhoods.

In London England, tradition is everywhere from the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace to the dark wood, brass fittings and intricate architecture found in the old pubs (also referred to as public houses). The experience transports you to another time to be haunted by ghosts of the past.

Even the beer is steeped in tradition and one of our favorite styles was the Dark English Mild. This style was served fresh from the cask at nearly all the pubs we visited. Refreshing with a complexity of malty flavors and low alcohol made the consumption easy.

Part of daily routine was to start each day with a traditional English breakfast then head out by bus, tube and train to the neighborhood for which we would be exploring. The term “Mind the Gap” was announced and written everywhere to heed as a precaution to the wary traveler to step carefully when entering and exiting these various modes of transportation or pay the consequence.

Inspired by the memories of our trip, Owen and the Athentic Brew Crew collaborated to create our version of a Dark English Mild, appropriately called Mind the Gap. The release is Friday, November 18th at the Athentic Taproom, where we will usher in the festivities by raffling an opportunity for someone to tap a cask at 6PM. Come join us for a fun evening and we will share with you more great memories from our trip!


The founders at Brew Fest

In our prior post about our Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, “My Naughty Little Pet” (Part I), we had just concluded a very long brew day brew day and the Edinburgh Yeast was added to the freshly brewed wort. Let’s start from there.

It is said that brewers make the wort and the yeast make the beer. True That! Since we were making an ale, the wort had to be maintained at a constant temperature of 68 F (20 C) for about two weeks. Since fermentation produces a substantial amount of heat, the tanks must be cooled constantly to maintain the proper temperature.

The fermenter is sealed off from the air except for a long narrow vent pipe, which allows carbon dioxide to escape from the fermenter. Since there is a constant flow of CO2 through the pipe, outside air is prevented from entering the fermenter, which reduces the threat of contamination by stray yeasts.

Once it was decided that the fermentation was nearing completion, we took a gravity reading in order to gauge the level of alcohol and to taste the beer for the first time. We then decided to transfer 10.5 gallons from the fermentor into a cask containing oak spirals previously soaking in bourbon whiskey and cocoa nibs. The fundamental distinction between cask and other ales is that the yeast is still present and living in the container from which the cask ale is served, although it will have settled to the bottom and is usually not poured into the glass. Because the yeast is still alive, a slow process of fermentation continues in the cask or bottle on the way to the consumer, allowing the beer to retain its freshness.

The beer remaining in the fermentor was allowed to finish fermentation and was then force carbonated and kegged. Both the cask version and the keg (draft) version of “My Naughty Little Pet” clocked in at nearly 9.5% ABV. Although these were hefty beers in terms of alcohol, they were so well balanced with flavor, aroma and mouthfeel, that they were easy to consume and how they ultimately gained their reputation as “naughty” pets.

We had so much fun sharing both versions of “My Naughty Little Pet” at the Classic City Brew Fest on April 7th, while talking up the Athentic Brewery launch to all our fans and friends. We even got to chat on Beer Guys Radio with hosts Tim Dennis and Brian Hewitt. In all, it was a great day for Athens and Georgia Craft Beer. Cheers to Owen Ogletree and his Team for another great Classic City Brew Fest!

In preparation for the 2019 Classic City Brew Festival (April 7th at the Cotton Press, Athens GA), we wanted to brew something that had some significant heft; deep flavors and a decent alcohol presence. Afterall, the Classic City Brew Fest is rated as a Top 20 US Beer Festival for Beer Geeks (by Connoisseur Magazine). As an added bonus to our excitment at being at Brew Fest, all proceeds go to benefit the Athens Area Humane Society! In honor of the festival and its chosen charity, we decided to break out our Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, a “take no prisoners” style of malty beer,  that we named “My Naughty Little Pet”.

Mark and Paul first brewed “My Naughty Little Pet” back in November of 2014. It was brewed again for the 2018 Peach State Brew Off, where it took a 2nd place medal. Each time, it has been refined with the intention to coax more flavor from the big, malty grain bill and the Edinburgh Scottish yeast strain.

We brought back a favorite for our maiden voyage on our Ruby Street Pilot Brewing System and our SS BrewTech Fermentor. The grain bill was a massive 110 lbs. in a 45-gallon mash tun so once the milled grains were added to the warm water, there was no turning back.

It was a long brew day. In some respects, this was because of the beer style and longer boil time but also because we encountered our share of unexpected learning opportunities. This is a nice way of saying we didn’t have our sh%& together. As homebrewers, we mostly brewed on a 5-gallon system that did not require any pumps and so here we are debating which pump feeds in what direction to get the wort recirculating between the mash tun and hermes coil in the hot liquor tank. Then realizing, that in fact, we didn’t even have the pump plugged in. Or when we were ready to connect the fermentor to the glycol loop to regulate the temperature and then realizing the connectors from the tank did not match the connectors on the glycol loop. This was fixed with a quick trip to Lowes. Whew…

The good news is that we ultimately prevailed and successfully (knock on stainless) got the wort into the fermenter and added the yeast.  Our “Naughty Little Pet” has been happily fermenting ever since and in 2 weeks, we will transfer the finished beer into a cask and some kegs. This will be our first time working with a cask so we are excited as you are to see the final results.

Stay tuned for Part II where we will report back on introducing our pet at the Classic City Brew Fest. Also, check out our Facebook page the day of the event for live feeds, Q&As, and maybe some special surprises!