Update 2012-06-05

Well… The year 2012 is seriously rushing past… For all practical purposes the middle of the year is just around the corner.

At this point it is probably a good idea to give some feedback on what is happening with Gallows Hill Brewing Co

We have secured a brewing venue. All the legal and administrative items are in progress. As everyone knows bureaucracy is unpredictable… So we will just have to see how it goes.

At the moment we are working on our pilot system, tweaking recipes and planning the road ahead.
In case anyone was wondering… We will always be busy with the process of tweaking recipes… The way we see it is: We have not yet made the perfect beer! In fact we will probably never make the perfect beer…
Who cares… The quest for perfection and the pursuit of breaking new ground are both everlasting

One of the big first steps… Brewing venue

It seems as if the pieces of the brewing puzzle is finally starting to fall into place….

Before getting into the detail, we need to mention one thing:
At the beginning of the year we instigated the start of a brewing competition called the Wolfgang Cup at the Southyeasters Home Brewing Club. It is named after Wolfgang Koedel the master brewer of the late Paulaner Brauhaus. His ample contributions to the smaller brewers in Cape Town deserves some recognition. The inaugural competion was held at the Southyeasters Summer Festival held at the SAB Newlands Brewery.
The idea is simple… Some guidelines regarding beer style and/or ingredients are set and brewers are challenged to brew accordingly and compete. This forces people out of their brewing comfort zones and expands the knowledge of brewing. Furthermore it serves as rapid prototyping. 10-15 guys brewing the same beers help provided a large sample for discussions and trouble shooting.

Well… We won the inaugural competition with one of our small batch brews!

The rules were simple. Only the following malts were allowed - Pale, Munich & Wheat. Perle hops plus one brewer’s choice hop were to be used and the brewer was free to choose any yeast strain.
(There was also a extract competition… Not too clued up on the rules for that, as we are not extract or kit brewers)

Apart from winning small competitions the pieces are starting to come together.

As of yesterday it is 99.99% confirmed that we have secured a brewery venue in an up-and-coming part of Cape Town. This is the catalyst we have been waiting for and kicks a lot of exciting new developments into motion…

For now the plan is to get the following sorted:

A myriad of adminsitrative details & issues need to be resolved or finalized.

Our pilot brew plant needs some tweaking as it will have to perform well during the interim and will be used for years to come for testing, small & special batches.

Final design, detailing and manufacture of our proper brew house can be put in a higher gear…

More planning and research need to go into raw materials, additional equipment and reliable sources for all of these need to be secured.

Above all, more recipe development can now be tackled in earnest… There are so many hop varieties and combinations we still need to experiment with!

So… In the meantime watch this space for updates…


Seeing that getting a proper brewing venue is taking way longer than expected, our mission for 2012 is to sort out some of the beer recipes…

So far this year we made two batches of an American Pale Ale, a Black Ale and an English Ale on our pilot system, and on the 1 gallon system a few Belgian style ales.

Today seemed like a good day to crack open a few packets of the super high alpha hops from www.nikobrew.com to make a proper American IPA.
A proper American style IPA is not for the faint hearted… Typical beers in the style are hop-forward to say the least. They are characterised by the floral, citrus-like, fruity, piney & resinous notes from the hop varieties of the American Northwest.

Many of the beers being sold as IPA’s are not quite IPA’s… Some people tend to incorrectly label American Pale Ales as India Pale Ales. Luckily The Brewers Association 2012 Beer Style Guidelines provide an additional classification for these inbetween beers, i.e. American-Style Strong Pale Ale.

American-Style Pale Ale
OG: 1.044-1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.5-5.6%
IBU: 30-42
Color: 6-14 SRM

American-Style Strong Pale Ale
OG: 1.050-1.060
FG: 1.008-1.016
ABV: 5.5-6.3%
IBU: 40-50
Color: 6-14 SRM

American-Style India Pale Ale
OG: 1.060-1.075
FG: 1.012-1.020
ABV: 6.3-7.5%
IBU: 50-70
Color: 6-14 SRM

Double or Imperial India Pale Ale
OG: 1.075-1.100
FG: 1.012-1.020
ABV: 7.5-10.5%
IBU: 65-100
Color: 5-13 SRM

If all goes to plan we will end up with a proper American IPA.
The alcohol content by volume should be in the region of 6.3-6.5%. The calculated bitterness will be at 85 IBU. This exceeds the style guidelines quite a bit, but as it clearly states “guidelines” we reckon some of the values are left open the interpretation and a bit of leeway is allowable.
The beer will have a bold hop aroma and strong hop bittering thanks to ample amounts of Apollo, Columbus, Centennial & Cascade hops.

Simple Pleasures

It seems as if the craft beer scene is about to explode in South Africa. There is definitely more and more interest in small scale and artisanal beer offerings and people are more willing to try new beer styles.
For way too long the South African beer drinker had to be content with stock standard – and in many cases rather bland – lagers. Personally I prefer ales. American & English ales are my favourite, Belgian ales come second. Belgian beers are great, but so far they are simply not my favourite…

Talking of Belgian beers… The Belgians are the masters of adding weird and wonderful ingredients to beer. This is a skill they have honed over centuries thanks to the fact that they were not limited by the silly Reinheitsgebot. (As most people know the law had in fact very little to do with the purity or quality of beer. It was in fact a method of ensuring food security and a steady tax income for the government)

Lately it seems as if some brewers and marketers are trying to push concept that craft beer is synonymous with way-out, weird & wacky beers with exorbitantly complex recipes. I am not against the weird and wonderful, but it must be clear that this is only a small piece of the craft beer pie.

I can appreciate the absurdities of some recipes (liquorice root, buchu, tea, oak aged, soured, etc.) for certain types of beer, and also the necessity of craft brewers to create these beers in order to inspire other brewers to step outside the comfort zone of their regular brewing. However, is it not so niche that it’s simply not worth the effort to promote beers with this type of complexity?

A more complex beer does not necessarily make for a better beer, or make it more palatable.

Why does craft beer have to be so complex?

Is it a vanity contest for some brewers?

My stance is: Simplify! Simplify!
Make simple beer, but make it well…