Thursday, October 11, 2012

There's a Pumpkin Theme for Hallowe'en.

A good sign that Pumpkin Brew is being poured.
About this time last year we bandied about the idea of a pumpkin beer. Alas time wasn't our friend, as such projects tend to need planning and forethought and as Homer Simpson was advised, "Homer, you've got to sell your pumpkin futures before Hallowe'en". So we went with the compromise option, in that we requisitioned some casks of our Golden Ale and turned them into Pumpkin Ór by means of adding pumpkin and pumpkin spice directly into the cask, and let them mellow out in the beer for the week or two leading up to Hallowe’en. Happily the feedback that we received about the beer was very positive, not least from some of our American friends who have come to live in our land, but who have left behind a nation that has fully embraced the pumpkin-in-beer concept. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea if the reviews squared up to how the beer tasted, as the beer sold out before I had the opportunity to pop into L. MulliganGrocer’s to taste it. One of the major problems of the pumpkin-in-cask compromise.

Proof that pumpkins can be found in August in Ireland.
So with one year of history with pumpkin in the brewery behind us, we decided in a most un-Trouble-like fashion to get prepared well in advance for the 2012 Pumpkin season and get some of them into our beer. With that in mind early in August, our friends and relatives were given a task, (if they chose to accept it, (most did)), to be on the lookout for any pumpkins that we could potentially acquire. I also had to acquire some pumpkin spice, which is something that is seemingly a staple of the supermarket shelves in North America but not on any Irish ones. But upon learning that it’s essentially a blend of various “common” spices, such as Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, All-spice and Ginger, amongst others, we blended up a proprietary recipe of our own.

We also didn’t want to simply brew a batch of our regular Golden Ale with added pumpkin-y stuff in, so we came up with a new beer recipe for a traditional amber ale that we thought would work well with the additional ingredients.

An enterprising pumpkin roasting solution.
With the ingredients and recipe settled upon and the research done into the various different options about how to prepare and add the pumpkin and pumpkin spice decided, we set about brewing the beer. The very first task of oven roasting the pumpkin meat presented the first problem, in that the brewery doesn’t possess an oven. However, the Enterprise Park where the brewery is situated, have offices with such like facilities that they allowed us to borrow. So soon enough I had filled the building with the lovely aroma of roasting pumpkin. Which prompted various people to leave their desks and come and investigate what was being baked, and in turn, be curious about the concept of a beer brewed with pumpkin.

Assisting the brew, with pumpkin added.
The brewing of a new beer is always less straightforward than one that’s brewed regularly, but fortunately, I had some help in the form of Darragh who was working with us for a week’s experience. So not only was this brew to be Trouble and Ireland’s first pumpkin beer, it was also Darragh’s introduction into the world of craft brewing. (Don’t worry; I had him engaged in cleaning and more cleaning for the rest of his days with us, so that he’d not think that this brewing business is always about formulating and brewing new and exciting beers.)  Anyway, we added the pumpkin directly into the mash and had a slightly longer sparge time than usual which was the only significant variations to our usual brewday. The pumpkin spice addition wasn’t added until after the beer had finished fermentation and was added for the conditioning stage, this method was preferred as it was designed to stop the spices overwhelming all the other flavours.

I also had the happy job over the last four weeks to keep an eye (and taste) on the beer as it progressed to readiness. And now that it is, we’ll be sending it out to the world this week, which should do an excellent job of helping the Hallowe’en party.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

So It Has Been A While

It’s a little over two years since we launched at the Easterfest in the Franciscan Well, at this point it’s fair to say we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we started.
Obligatory festival picture, here at Brewers on the Bay
Initially when we set up the brewery we had to take out a loan, this process involved a lot of form filling and conjecture. Essentially success or failure of our application was based on our assumptions of how much beer we would sell. Obviously we had hopes and expectations but it was practically impossible for us to predict if people would like our beer, or if publicans would be willing to give us an opportunity by putting a tap in their pub.

It was very difficult for us to imagine two years ago that we would have so many pubs and off-licenses that would be stocking our beer and so many people supporting what we do.
Over the last two years our sales have continued to grow and grow, and this has meant that we have now gone from occupying one very small space in Allenwood, to occupying three small spaces in Allenwood. During this time we have put in place the facilities to double our production capacity from what it was originally.

Here's to the RDS Festival in 2012
While we pride ourselves on making the highest quality beer and giving great customer service, it is also fair to say that we have been caught up in a serious craft beer revolution. It might be clichéd, but I really feel like we are part of a movement with more and more people coming to realise the variety and quality of beer available to the craft beer drinker. This has resulted in a surge of demand for beer from all over the country, leaving us and the other craft breweries a little stretched, but in a good way naturally.

Over the past couple of weeks alone we have put new lines into two new craft beer bars in Cork (The Crane Lane Theatre and The Mardyke), one in Drogheda (WM Cairnes & Son) and one in Navan (The Central Bar). We have been working our portable bar hard at Bloom 2012, Brewers on the Bay, Whiskey Live, the Yelp Back-yard Bazaar and have supplied beer for the festival in the Porterhouse.

We were ready to go for Bloom 2012
Now is clearly not a time to for sitting around drinking beer, (for us anyway), over the next six months we are looking forward to introducing a new beer and a couple of seasonal beers. A bigger, bolder Trouble Maker competition will crown a new champion of Irish homebrew in 2013 (we might even buy a trophy). Plans are also in place to increase our capacity even further. It’s all go at Trouble HQ.

For your continued support we are grateful!