I’ve an early start today at New Realm. That’s the only downside to collaboration beers. They often require getting up at some ungodly hour. At least if you want to be there for mashing in.
My bag hasn’t turned up yet. Fingers crossed that it arrives while I’m at New Realm. Otherwise life might start getting very smelly. Brew houses usually have plenty of masking smells. I reassure myself with that thought.
I may not have fresh undercrackers to wear, but at least I can brush my teeth and comb my hair. And have a quick swig of breakfast whisky. Must remember to at least include a set of underwear in my rucksack next time. Tough whisky is obviously more essential. Can’t travel without that.
As I’m still adjusting to US time, I’m up pretty early, anyway. At 6:30. I breakfast in the hotel, despite it not being included. Need some fuel for the long day ahead. Predictably, there’s a strong bacon element in my selection.
I roll up at New Realm at 8. Not too far off the allotted time of 7:30. I hope I can get in. That’s not usually a problem at smaller breweries, but New Realm is pretty big. Thankfully, the door is open and I can just wander in.
I’m soon met by Tyler Downey, my designated brewer for the day. We’ve been corresponding about the beer for a couple of weeks. It being May, I cheekily suggested a Mild Ale. Slightly to my surprise, both Tyler and Mitch Steele were enthusiastic.
Whitbread X Ale from 1865 is the beer. It has a dead simple recipe: mild malt with Cluster, Hallertau and Goldings hops. About 6.5% ABV and 85 (calculated) IBUs. The sort of Mild no-one would spot as a Mild, drinking it blind.
But exactly the sort of Mild I really like. Not that I’m likely to taste this one. That’s the curse of long-distance collaborations. I rarely get to sample the finished beer.
The brew has already kicked off so we hang around in the brewery chatting for a while. Until Mitch rolls up. He gives me a spin around the brewhouse, after which it’s about time for me to complete my one technical task of the day: throwing in the hops. Being careful not to scald my fingers on the steam escaping from the copper.
Coincidentally, Tyler used to work with Mike Karnowski, who will be my host in Asheville. The brewing world can be very small.
At midday, Mitch takes me for lunch in the bar. No arm-twisting required, as the food is pretty good here. We sit at the bar and share a few beers. I love chatting with Mitch. He remains refreshingly enthusiastic about beer and brewing, despite the idiocy of some current trends.
Despair at the beers currently raved about by consumers is a recurring theme when I talk to professional brewers. I detect very little enthusiasm for sludge IPAs or pastry Stouts amongst those in the industry. But they have to brew beer that sells to keep the lights on and the fermenters full. It would depress the hell out of me.
Mitch, unfortunately, can’t stay for the whole day and has to head off after lunch. I linger until the end of the brew before returning to my hotel. Always fun hanging around breweries.
Back in my room, I’m delighted to see that my missing bag is standing there. Yippee – they could find it. And none of the bottles inside it have shattered or leaked. I guess that’s a win.
After such an early start, I can’t be arsed to go anywhere in the evening. It’s just me in my (fresh) underkecks, crap TV and a bottle of whisky. Which is probably how I’ll die.
Soon, unconsciousness crashes in like an impatient burglar.
550 Somerset Terrace NE #101,
Tel: +1 404-968-2777
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