Wednesday 15 September 2010

Lager of the week — St Austell’s Korev

Here’s a delightful bottle of St Austell’s lager, Korev, apparently Cornish for beer (contrast with Breton Coreff and Welsh Cwrw). Pale yellow in the glass, the colour of a wispy, watery sunshine; here’s why according to brewery head brewer Roger Ryman: ‘We blend a little flaked maize with the malt to lighten the colour further, plus a small amount of CaraGold for sweetness and body. So it’s not a Reinheitsgebot grist bill, but we in the UK do not operate under the straitjacket of German brewers.’ Now the aroma: lemony boiled sweets, sugar-free if there’s such a thing, so you don’t get a massive sugary hit. It’s a light and gossamer like nose. The lemony delicacy continues on the palate, a German-style Pils character reference — maybe something like Warsteiner — it’s crisp and light in the mouth, tickles with a gentle carbonation (rather than the rasping bite I get from commodity lagers), and then proceeds to its demise with a lingering bitter finish. For me it’s got a good refreshment value, and it’s a pleasure to drink. I now hope Ryman does a dunkel or has a bash at a bock.
 This is the first lager from St Austell (though Ryman has produced one for the brewery’s exemplary beer festival, which I thoroughly recommend all and sundry to attend), and yet another addition to the continuing renaissance of British craft lager beer (and please don’t write in to tell me that St Austell aren’t craft, I’m far too busy trying to count the angels on a pinhead). BTW, here’s a link to my piece on said renaissance in All About Beer, if you’re interested in having a gander.

And if you want to know a bit more about the technical specs here’s Ryman again: ‘Fermentation is with a genuine Bavarian bottom fermenting lager strain. The beer will initially be brewed in our squares, but we are installing some cylindroconical vessels for production of bottled beers, so when these are available the fermentation will be moved to these. Collection is at genuine low fermentation temperature 8˚C, with the top heat of the fermentation regulated to 12˚C. Primary fermentation will last two weeks, as opposed to one week for our ales. We will then check that the diacetyl level is in spec before chilling and transferring to lager tank at -1˚C. We will hold in the lager tank for as long as is practical, but we only have four tanks, through which all the beer for our bottling line must pass. We will therefore have to move the beer after about three weeks as there will be other beer waiting behind it that we need to get into the tanks. On balance, given more tank storage capacity, I would perhaps opt for a longer lagering time, but I think this is more from a 'feel good' perspective rather than any real technical reason.’

So there you have it, Cornish lager, available only in bottle at the moment, a great antidote to my memories of the tasteless stuff that was Newquay Steam Lager, which I remember being available back in the late 1980s in a Crouch End gaff called Dick’s Bar (it’s now apparently called Bar Rocca and one review on Beer in the evening is rather funny: ‘If Timmy Mallet married Jade Goody, they would have the reception here.’).

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