Yes, as alluded to, this was the return of Allan and Jack from Kingston-upon-Hull based Atom Beers to Liverpool for an MTB and another great experience thanks to some great beers and excellent food provided by the Clove Hitch staff. The time since the last visit of Atom has thrown some significant obstacles in their way, not least the threat to the very existence of their brewery due to some shake up on the staffing front. Thankfully for us beer drinkers, they've gone from strength to strength and have now got Jack at the forefront of their brewing as their Head Brewer; he even has his own assistant these days. They are still ‘scientzing’ and teaching college students about brewing, looking to work their way into the shake up for the Kingston-Upon-Hull 2017 Capital of Culture event and have found time to increase their export abroad to at least 8 other countries.
I was lucky enough to have a quick catch up between their presentation beers with both Allan and Jack, and they had lots of news and many exciting things on the horizon, Jack was up first:
We've just done a collaboration brew with Black Lodge in Liverpool before the Meet the Brewer today and this is a recipe I've been holding dear to my heart for a while. It starts with a trip to Three Floyds, one of my favourite breweries in the world. I had a great tour of the facility, including their new distillery and their new oak foeders for souring. They even let me try some of their notorious Dark Lord, a 15% motor oil thick imperial stout with coffee and vanilla. It's ridiculously rare and very sought after, a ticketed release day one of your only hopes. I couldn't help but ask them their technique on brewing the big beers, how do they get the thick body and the almost umami intensity of the malts.
Being the awesome guys they are, they were very forthcoming with what they do! As if I need to tell you, but check them out if you're ever in or around Chicago/Indiana. Fast forward a few months, and Atom were invited back to the 23Club for a meet the brewer. We hold the honour of being the first brewery to be brought back twice, you must like my waffling! It seemed only right that we check out the new Black Lodge brewpub in the process, and it was suggested that we should do a collab at the same time. Not one to mince my words, this seemed the perfect time to brew this bombastic beast!
We plan on bottling a good proportion of this beauty, and have a release party, alongside a further collaboration brew down there too. How's that for a triple whammy? As for how to do something like this at home... Here's a few hints on how to achieve a crazy gloopy, intense and powerful imperial stout: This recipe calls for two separate mashes. The first contains the bulk of the base malts, pale ale malt being our choice. This is mashed in hot to keep some body and sparged to volume. The wort is then boiled for 3 hours to increase the viscosity or the wort, create tons of melanoidin and a deeper, richer colour. Meanwhile, a second hot mash of speciality malts (roast barley, choc and crystal) with some base malts is on the go. There's also a bit of aging involved; yhe beer needs to be aged on vanilla and coffee beans for as long as you can resist!
The first runnings from this are added to the kettle after 3 hours, alongside 100IBUs worth of hops and boiled for a further hour. We chilled and oxygenated heavily to encourage a good fermentation, and pitched a healthy and large amount of 50/50 English ale and West Coast US ale yeasts. The yeast mix will give you some fruity English notes, but also attenuate well to get you the alcohol. Overall, you should have a ridiculously high original gravity, and you'll need it because this should falter at around 1.040-1.060! That's enough sugar left to ferment some pretty strong beers itself.
“On the Atom front, expansion is about to occur with a new equipment additions that will allow us to expand capacity by quadruple. We are also going to be looking to launch a new microsite atom.beers which will be focused on special projects, working on that currently, although slow burn.
First up is our canning project. To stay true to our ethos of science, education and drinkability, when we seek to release our beers in can, we need to ascertain a way to do it differently. To achieve this we have come up with building a Microsite online – [www.atom.beers] In this part of the project we are going to release six different beers with a standard simple label linking to the Microsite and the recipe for the beer. With the Microsite we can also use it as a tool to create an education link looking at why we want to can, what we need to do to can, how we can and what are the results.”
All interesting stuff, so I asked Allan how they were going to achieve this, he responded:
“To achieve this, we have a serious video interviews (short less than 2 mins) with the following people; Hop Supplier, Malt Suppler, Science researcher, Canner, Can Manufacturer, Mobile Canner and last but not least, the Brewers themselves.
We will then launch the cans via key partners to get them out to as many people as possible. At the moment this will be Honest Brew and probably at least three other outlets. Once that is done, we will also undertake a social media campaign to match and link to the videos.
The social media campaign will be pushing for a call to action asking people buying our cans to pick the top three of the six to go into cans permanently and do this by submitting video reviews to go up live on the Microsite. That’s our big project currently, out with that we are currently looking at the feasibility for a crowd funding campaign; to see if it is worth it, is the brand strong enough, do the beers stand up to standard etc?”
Exciting stuff, but back to the event; what of the beers they brought with them? Gladly, there was quite a different selection from the previous event they did, though they still broke out some pretty heavy gear right at the end as is seemingly customary...
A nice standard 4% light blonde cask ale, which is reminiscent of a wheat beer on the nose and carrying no shortage of banana, cloves and a slight metallic bitterness in the finish. Slightly grassy, herbal and lightly bittersweet, this kolsch-style brew has undergone some tweaks since its first outing. The Atom blonde is very pleasant to drink. There is some talk of lagering this properly and chill it right down in the brew to try and make something a bit different too, so keep an eye out!
A slightly more robust cask beer this time with a 5.6% IPA, which has a massive hit of spruce on the nose from the use of Chinook and Centennial hops, there is also a very peachy character with some dried apricot in the bouquet. The malt profile make for a tidy drink, not too acidic, not too cloying and lightly chewy in the mouthfeel. This amber to dark gold IP makes for a very good ‘house beer’ if you need a go to.
This is a 6% kegged saison, which is a double orange and rye brewed (award winning no less!) beer. Atom have been focussing in tightly on saison style beers recently and added some homemade marmalade into the brew; the nose is very interesting and carries the bitterness of the oranges off very well, with touches of black and white pepper. The mouthfeel is rounded a bit residual and lightly juicy with a bittersweet finish and good effervescence to keep some freshness going through drinking.
This is a quite fresh and acidic coffee porter made using coffee roasted by Atom's local Blending Rooms roastery, weighing in at 6.5% and brewed using the wares and expertise of a local coffee specialist in Hull. The nose is chocolate, coffee, berries, dates and other dried fruit along with a flavour set of lightly metallic malt, more chocolate and dark fruit leading into a very rich but surprisingly light finish with little residue and a good subtle level of earthiness. A clever bit of a brewing and good interesting take on a kegged darker ale.
Ocean of Storms
Ocean of Storms is a lovely 5% kegged blueberry saison that acts very much as a sorbet of a beer. Allan and Jack admitted they will be playing about further with the recipe in order to obtain the shocking purple colour often associated with blueberries. On this occasion, the aroma is very much driven by a bubblegum note along with a plethora of fruit aromas, lightly herbal touches and spicy pepper, which is very much present in the flavour. A light mouthfeel and a very easy drink, but it will be interesting to see the direction this goes in.
The God of War is the big boy on this occasion, weighing in at a hefty 11%, this barley wine is not for the faint hearted. The Ruby coloured body is pretty thick and viscous and carries a lot of pine and cedar wood on the nose from the overt hopping. The use of rye provides a drying quality to temper the honey and sweetness from the use of other malts in generating a large abv. This is the Phobos and Deimos on steroids apparently. Drink with caution, or you might start seeing little green men.
So that's your lot once again for another slice of ElectroKemistry, thank you for giving this a read and thank you again to Allan, Jack and all at the Clove Hitch and 23 Club for their work on putting on another great event, particularly to the kitchen for producing some excellent food for pairing with the beers on the night.
Take it easy!
Atom Brewing Company
Unit 4, Food & Tech Park, Malmo Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate (West), Hull. HU7 0YFWeb: http://www.atombeers.com/
Tel: 01482 820 572
Twenty Three Club / Clove Hitch
23 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TwentyThreeClub or https://twitter.com/theclovehitch
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org