We made a beer!
We've got a list of things we want to achieve — it's a pretty concise list. First up: brew a beer. And at number two: appear on 90s kids TV show Fun House. And being as Pat Sharp pulled the shutters down on that particular shop in 1999, we're kind of stacking the odds against ourselves there. But we're as high as a multicoloured, oversized kite to be able to say that together with one of Brum's best breweries and best pubs, we have indeed made a beer.
Attending your first brew day? Pro-tip: don't arrive hungry or wearing Uggs. There's water and steam and grain everywhere and thank all the hoppy lords, that lovely lot from Burning Soul Brewing Company have got spare wellies, and the Pint Shop have brought Krispy Kremes. On today's brewsheet for this three-way collab? A hazy, hoppy American session IPA — the sort of beer Burning Soul is known for selling out and Pint Shoppers are known for slurping with intent.
In terms of flavour, Richard from Burning Soul tells us that the grain you pick is "the backbone of the beer". And we're fittingly using a combination of three — otter extra pale, wheat and oats — all British, all from old school malt masters, Crisp, and all having their next life as horse feed to avoid waste. Soaking for sixty minutes, clever little enzymes convert the starch in the grain to sugar and carbs and a sweet solution (or "wort") is the output — this is the basis of our brew.
"Making beer is actually mainly cleaning up and waiting around" Richard tells us. And it turns out, he's right. After we've extracted all the wort we can from the soaked grains, a super special hops combo is added to the solution for seasoning and it's boiled up (above, left). Meanwhile, we dig out the used grain with a shovel, then actually get inside the mash tun to clean it (above, right). Then, we wait — an excellent thing to do when you're in a brewery that's also a tap house.
Approximately four pints and two donuts later, the solution is cooled and American yeast added to begin fermentation and provide that bitterness you're expecting. Ten minutes before the finish line, dry hops joins the party and is the cause of that pungent aroma distinctive of American Pales. As we all move to toast what's bound to be a tripartite triumph of a brew it dawns on us that we've failed to complete our single official job for the day — the beer has no name.
All Pint Shop collabs have music-related titles. Previous local creations include Blackberry Sabbath with Birmingham Brew Co and Original Pint Shop Material, another Burning Soul creation. Unable to agree on any of our longlist, including (curls up lip) Blue Suede Choose, what we could all agree was that we really really like beer and we really really like each other. And at some undocumented hour, Split Decision was shaken on as the beer's official title. Side note: if you're struggling with the musical connection, see our quote of the week at the bottom of the issue.
We'd like to say we came up with the branding that very same night but that would be a lie, because design demagogues Common Curiosity did it. The graphic white split going down the middle of the logo is born from the Flag of Birmingham and totally includes a hidden 'S' and 'D'. And you may just recognise that particular shade of pink from a certain weekly e-magazine.
Since that entirely freezing day back in a JQ warehouse in Jan, Split Decision's been settling and resting and getting a tad more alcoholic than originally intended. You're looking at a 5.8% ABV served as a half or two-thirds of a pint, up from the planned 5.2%. Burning Soul is so pleased with the taste they’ve kept more kegs back than normal for their taproom collection and Pint Shop's so pleased with the branding they may just be breaking their 'no beer clips' rule for one particular night.
If you were sold at "beer", apologies for the delay, here's where you can taste the stuff. Along with a gazillion other drops, you can totally get it at TAPS beef festival at the end of the month. But for all those carpe diem-ers amongst you, Split Decisionlaunches at Pint Shop at 5pm today. The first 50 beers are on them and there'll also be "giveaways and general fun" — the Facebook event page says so. We'll be the ones not wearing Uggs, drinking a beer we made while waffling on endlessly about Pat Sharp's mullet.
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