Brewing Folk - Verdant Brewing Co. New Series of Beers Celebrating Changing Seasons
Here at Verdant we like to think of the seasons as more than clocks changing, leaves falling, eggs appearing and Santa visiting. We like to celebrate everything in between too. Whether that's the equinox as the Sun passes the equator or Solstice when we experience the longest and shortest daylight hours.
Naturally, we aren’t the only folk who like to celebrate on these dates and in order to celebrate amongst our community we have started a series of beers which will fall under the banner of ‘Brewing Folk’.
The first of these beers is called Lighting of the Mock and will be released this week, in time to celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21st. The beer is a hearty Imperial Stout coming in at a massive 11.5% ABV.
We really love a good Stout or Porter at Verdant and it seems to be a comfortable fit of a style for us. They're very seasonal brews, especially the big boozy ones such as this one being released this week.
We tend to brew one or two Imperial style Stouts a year, and with every version we try to make improvements. Whilst writing the recipe for Lighting of the Mock, we were fixated on the word 'decadence'... A stout without added simple sugars to bump up the gravity...malt, malt, malt, some more malt, a bit of extra malt...and then a whole heap more malt!
We had to max out our mash tun three times to achieve our regular single batch pre-boil wort volume. That is a pretty insane thing to do. We also commenced boiling after runoff one, this means we boiled for a total of seven hours!!! The result is that both original and final gravities were bumped considerably higher whilst still achieving the desired alcohol level.
This is both the thickest and darkest beer we've ever made. We have never seen a beer cling to the glass like this one. The head is a very dark tan brown, like it's issuing a warning to the drinker. This beer doesn't pretend to be anything other than massively roasty, hugely luxurious and...DECADENT.
In terms of colour this recipe clocks in at 280 EBC, with the majority of it coming from Castle Maltings chocolate wheat, a de-husked roasted malt that oozes smooth cocoa. Lashings of Special B brings complex fruity caramel notes and judicious sprinkling of Simpsons Roasted Barley, Black Malt and Chocolate Malt bringing some aggressive charred notes on the finish. All of this sits atop a bread crust base of Golden Promise and Dark Munich malts. Yeah there's oats too, we're Verdant after-all.
So, what is this beer? It's unruly for sure. It's certainly an experiment in boundary pushing. It's definitely a homage to dark malts and maybe the arts too. It probably should have gone into barrels, so I guess we just need to brew it again! Most importantly though, this beer is exciting to produce and attempt, right the way through from recipe, to brew, to cellaring, to packaging... And most certainly exciting to drink, preferably next to a roaring log fire with loved ones at Christmas time.
Oh, and there are ZERO ADJUNCTS.
The beer's name: ‘Lighting of the Mock’ or the Cornish Yule Log comes from the Midwinter festival of Montol. On December 21st, the people of Penzance take part in Montol, which is one of many Cornish traditional customs of Midwinter and Christmas. These include Guise dancing, with many people wearing traditional masks, adopting disguise and sporting 'mock formal' costumes. Several fire beacons are lit throughout the town, leading up to the chalking and burning of the Cornish Yule log (the 'Mock'), and the dancing that follows.
Early in the evening on Montol Eve, a Lord of Misrule is chosen from among the masked revellers. The Lord of Misrule leads the main processions and has certain honorary functions. Guise Dance parties would often include symbolic Mock leaders who would embody the misrule and revelry of the feast.
Later on, the 'Montol 'Oss' puts in an appearance in several locations throughout the town, culminating in the ceremony of the 'chalking of the Mock'. The Mock is the Cornish Yule Log; a member of the public is chosen to mark the Mock with a stick man. This traditionally represents either Old Father Time marking the death of the year, or the celebration of the birth of Christ, 'the light of the world' - like many of the customs we hold dear at this time of year, this is a feature that everyone is welcome to interpret in their own way.
We’re really excited to be able to celebrate the traditions and folklore of Cornwall and maybe beyond. And this project will be running throughout 2023, as we aim to celebrate all the changing seasons.
Lighting of the Mock, Imperial Stout - 11.5% ABV
Winter Solstice -
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