After a fairly peculiar Sunday leaving me rather jaded mentally and soulfully at around 8pm my phone was thrust into my hand by my loving wife Lysha screaming “you won Beer of the Festival!!!!”
It took a few seconds for this to sink in. To say it was totally unexpected is a complete understatement. This year has been the most challenging year since I started brewing. Endless problems leading to almost zero production for 3 months. Desperation nearly set in. Its easy to demand high quality when things are going well. Not so easy when you are rock bottom with customers asking for beer. When you haven’t produced for months because you refuse to use dried yeast or anyone else’s and you have substandard beer yet again the rot sets in to your determination. “Maybe it would be ok if it went out. It should clear eventually…probably be alright with finings…” If I gave in at that moment it would be like pulling down the foundation of everything and I might as well give up. What would be the point of everything? Bottle stocks were dwindling in store and on shop shelves. It seemed like I was handing a great opportunity to other brewers to fill that space on those shelves. Cask stock went. We had no beer to send out. Nothing except very strong and dark beer.
Then as if it wasn’t enough having all this shit happen in the brewery it then became apparent that I wasn’t getting emails. Something peculiar was going on with the Rammy Craft server. Some people couldn’t receive or send emails to rammycraft.com. WTF! You will notice that Rammy Craft wasn’t even on the beer list for Left Bank BF. It was only a chance desperate email I sent to the organisers to enquire why they didn’t want any Rammy Craft beer that we discovered that communications were F***ED.
It was fortunate that they wanted Imperial Mancunian Stout because we hadn’t really got anything else to send. Calypso Pale was one of the first step up brews with a totally new batch of yeast that had started ok and healthy and was fermenting normally. So we had a second firkin we could offer. Calypso single hopped by the way not a great brew…I’ll blame the hop on that one.
I visited the festival for an hour on Friday and enjoyed some stonkingly good beer. My first selection from a brewery I really rate, Track, was exceptional. Like many of Track beers it was clean tasting fresh and very tasty. My level of sweetness. Aromatic and fruity. Perfect. That was Ozark. I also really enjoyed Black Jack Jaberwocky (something a bit less samey on the hops front. Bravo) and another brewer making really great beer is Torr Side. Their Sandinista was right up my street too. I sadly couldn’t stay very long and had my Impy Stout as a quality check as a last third to do QC and see what all the banana aroma reviews were about. When this was brewed the year before it was dark fruit not too estery. Some variation on brews is inevitable when you don’t have a lab on site. The exact yeast health will make a great difference to the brew. I don’t count cells under a microscope. Never have. The focus here is method. Standardised method and my own viability curve based upon observed performance. It was certainly a little more estery than the previous brew which would make me think that the yeast was not quite so bang on ready as the previous time. I will check my notes to ensure it wasn’t a slight temperature variation or a top crop harvest variation. I doubt it. It might be something as simple as what was the preceding brew…how hoppy was it to affect the yeast, was it an easy low abv brew or something more challenging. You will see that maintaining a standard result on stronger beers is a real art and requires a huge amount of focus and planning.
I’m digressing there. I thought it was a really good beer. I have always liked the lightness of it. Sometimes I find Imperial Stouts are like a bull in a china shop. Loads of roast and often a bit too heavy. I try desperately to avoid phenolic notes and harsh acrid overtones. IMS was probably my 4th attempt at an Imperial Stout.
I was happy. Calypso was not yet on though as it hadn’t cleared. And the hops were poorly evident. It paled into insignificance in that company with so many great beers on show. I watched the reviews on Untappd over the weekend. IMS is my best rated beer ever. An average of 4.2 is something I am really proud of and I was hoping it would stand up again to that level of rating. Most people were enjoying it – that was good. And then on Saturday some really mediocre views. I know one review doesn’t make a difference but when you believe in your product and have worked so hard to get it right if someone tells you an Imperial brew is “watery” it’s pretty devastating. That ruined my Saturday evening. I am not kidding you.
So to have won the Beer of the Festival is so appreciated. Thank you all. I thought there was no love in the room for Rammy Craft on Saturday evening because of the bad reviews. I really had no idea that I would win.
and then an overwhelming feeling inside last night. Morrissey’s legendary lyric.
“How can they look into my eyes and still they don’t believe me”
“And if they don’t believe me now will they ever believe me.”
“and after all this time. They don’t want to believe us”
I know what many supposed beer afficianados think about Rammy Craft: A tin-pot brewery brewing out of a residential garage. This award goes out to all of the genuine crafty ‘homebrewers’ who make exceptional home brewed beer using all grain mashing. They make beer from all natural ingredients without any recognition except from their friends and family and for their own personal feeling of achievement and self gratification. Wholesome in every respect. Beer made for flavour not for commercial concerns. And a special mention to all the guys and gals on JimsBeerKit forum. You can do it!!
Will they ever believe me now I have won this award that Rammy Craft has a deserved place on the craft beer bar pumps throughout Central Manchester???
Regardless… thank you …thank you …thank you !!!!
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