Ken Discusses brewing of Pigor Mortis
The brewing wheel turns a little more and the year cycle takes us to the annual brewing of the Christmas Special. The tradition here, as at most breweries, is to brew something dark and strong: 6% abv + and seemingly designed for those folk who wish to forget about Christmas altogether! Which given the situation and peculiar times we are in this year might not be such a bad thing.
Now, invariably when you see film of brewers working, they are pictured stirring a mash because it looks good on camera and seems important. I was taught however that if you have to stir a mash then you’ve made a mistake in the first place by getting the flow wrong as you mix the liquor (in our case spring water) and the grain. (malted barley). “You should never stir a mash!” I was told in no uncertain terms.
Now I told you that, to tell you this. The special this year is Pigormortis our 6% rich, ruby coloured winter warmer that has, to my taste anyway, a very port-like smooth rich flavour that lingers beautifully and seductively on the palate. (Crumbs, I’m beginning to sound like Nigella Lawson!)
Very often we mash in at silly o’clock in the morning and as the mash mixes we can multitask and get on with other things that need to be prepped for the brew.
Pigormortis however has so much grain in it that it needs your undivided attention as you have to watch it like a hawk to ensure an even flow and thus a consistent mash. If the mash tun were a ripe fruit it would be on the verge of bursting its skin and disgorging its goodness. You stay with it because you want to avoid at all costs a ‘set mash’. (That’s when the grain forms a solid ‘cake’ at the bottom of the mash tun).
It’s all a bit challenging at 4.30 in the morning but intensely satisfying when you get it right. And you really feel that you’ve earned your breakfast which you take as the magic happens in the mash tun over the next hour or so.
Primary fermentation takes a full 7 days and when we barrel it up we’ll taste it ‘raw’ (young, precocious and as yet, still cloudy straight off the fermenter). This gives an indication of what the final taste will be like. I’m really looking forward to drinking it in a pub in December but it will be available in 5litre minipins, 10 litre boxes and 40 pint polypins from the 16th November.