Thursday, 8 July 2010

Harping on

You've spoken. I'll listen. Because that's the sort of bloke I am. Unless you disagree with me. 

More, more, more, more Harp.

You'll live to regret encouraging me.

Here's the mashing system:

Is it just me, or is that a really complicated way of mashing? There's only one boil of the mash, so I guess it counts as a single decoction.  But there are two further rests.

Harp Lager. Fascinating.

I never imagined I'd say that.


Anonymous said...

That's unusual. A single decoction with two step mashes. It looks complicated when you first look at it but when I read it again it really isn't too bad. Less complicated than a triple decoction anyhow.


Graham Wheeler said...

The grist has now changed from 88% extra-pale malt + 12% sugar to 80% pale malt + 10% sugar + 10% flaked maize.

They are mashing-in at a typical protein rest temperature but are not standing at that temperature (indicating that they are still using low-nitrogen malt). It makes this step pointless. It seems to be there purely to accommodate their beloved decoction.

The boil for fifteen minutes indicates that they think that they have some starch to gelelatinise, but the don't. They are using fully modified malt and flaked maize. Flakes have already been pre-gelatinised. Fully modified malt has next to no starch to gelatinise and what little there is would gelatinise at the 70°C stand - it is what that stand is for. Also there is still 55% of the grist unboiled, so they are not worried about starch in the rest of the malt.

If they were using grits, the 15 minute boil would be understandable, but they using flakes which do not need to be cooked.

Steps 1 to 5 are superfluous. They might just as well have chucked their flakes in the main mash, mashed-in at 65°C, stood; raised to 70°C, stood; raised to 77°C, sparged. Job done.

The grist is becoming more and more like a typical, but poor, British Ale grist, so the mashing regime does not need to be any more complicated than a typical British ale mash.

Why is everything that comes out of the Barclay-Perkins brew-house so blinking weird?

I'd like to see what really happened when Harp was in full swing, perhaps in a different brewery, like Bass. I bet it was a lot simpler in terms of both mashing and lagering.

I wonder if John Keeling can shed any more light on this. When the Harp consortium fell apart, many regional brewers took to brewing their own-label lagers which were nothing more than Harp clones. I wonder if Fuller's K2 was one of these.

a perfect pint said...

Looks to me like they are doing a cereal mash with the corn. they are using flaked maize, so I don't know why they would. But that's what it looks like to me.

Joe said...

Steps 1-5 are superfluous (says Graham) but this is true only from the point of view of conversion (not flavor) and only if it is indeed true that the flakes are gelatinized as they are today. When is this from?

Two possibilities seem to me likely ... though they are not mutually exclusive. One is that this process is a holdover from an earlier mashing regime when they might have used corn grits. This would explain the separate mash steps for the adjunct mash.

The other possibility is that they do it for the flavor impact, as indeed it is a decoction, and traditionally one does a decoction with separate temp steps before the boil.

My guess is that it is unlikely that Harp is still made in this way...

brewguru said...

What is interesting to me, in addition to the unnecessary maize boil, is the double transfer in steps 5+6.
Instead of pumping the decoction to the mash tun, and then pumping everything back to mash kettle, it would make sense to me to simply pump the entire contents of the mash tun to the mash kettle, and save a mash transfer. Unless the kettle didn't have agitation, and they were afraid of scorching the mash or inhibiting conversion because of hot spots.