It usually takes months after harvest, and generally not until the turn of the year, before brewers start using the new season’s malt. Interest in crops is always high, never more so than in this year’s Maris Otter barley, as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Crisp Malting Group, long-time champions of Maris Otter, made it their mission to produce the first malt from the 2015 crop – and the first beer from it. Otter Nouveau is the result of a collaboration. It was produced by Carl Heron renowned brewer and Crisp’s craft brewing manager and Mark Welsby from Runaway Brewery.
“Our special edition beer gives a nod to Beaujolais Nouveau and its ceremonial release every November,” says Carl.
Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the first day that wine produced from Gamay grapes in the Beaujolais region of France is released – just a few weeks after the grapes have been harvested. Carl says that they may well look into creating an “Otter Nouveau Day” following the success of the 50th Anniversary project.
“Usual practice is to dry grain arriving at the maltings for long term storage,” says Carl, “and to steep it at a later stage to start germination. Rather than doing that with the first batch of Maris Otter from the 2015 harvest, the grain was stored undried until it broke its natural dormancy, which was fortunately very quick. It was then put through the malting process in our traditional floor maltings.”
The special consignment of malt was immediately sent to Manchester and Carl and Mark set to work on a brew befitting the barley variety’s 50th anniversary. Malt content was 87.5% Maris Otter, 7% Wheat malt, and 5.5% Cara malt– all from Crisp. Late hopping was carried out with Chinook, a high-alpha American variety, to give a slight grapefruit aroma.
“The result,” says Carl, “is a bottle-conditioned golden ale with spicy undertones and citrus overtones. It’s strictly limited edition. We produced just 600 bottles, most of which were drunk at the Maris Otter 50th Anniversary Festival in Norwich.”
Managing director Euan Macpherson adds “We’ve played our part in the preservation and promotion of this exceptional variety. Norfolk farmers have been supplying us with locally grown Maris Otter since 1965, and we’ve been promoting it to brewers for the last half a century.
“We’re grateful to Runaway Brewery for working with us on this celebratory brew. Otter Nouveau was designed to showcase this premium malt for this auspicious occasion – and the proof is in the drinking. Here’s to the next Otter Nouveau Day!”
- Beaujolais Nouveau Day is 19th November 2015
- Otter Nouveau Day was 17th September 2015
Further info: Frances Brace frances@redflamecommunications 07432 692309