Tuesday 23rd October 2018 will be remembered as a dark day in the history of Wild Horse. Quite literally. We took the decision to dump an entire 16-hectolitre (1600 litres) brew of our Dark Bay porter as it didn’t meet our high standards and we weren’t happy releasing it. It was an easy decision to make but a tough one to take.
The irony is, the beer tasted fantastic. The problem lay in the presentation of the beer; it was incredibly murky, almost muddy. We determined that the cause was protein in suspension. Porters are a traditional British style of beer that are usually clear of suspended protein and yeast due to the use of finings. A certain amount of protein will drop out of beer during the normal brewing and fermentation process but finings help to clarify the beer by binding to the protein and dropping out. We use a kettle fining called Compac CG, a vegan friendly semi-refined form of seaweed (home brewers will know this as Irish Moss).
We’re always refining our recipes and making little tweaks here and there in order to make our beer the absolute best it can be. We were hoping to be able to brew all our beers without the use of finings and we’d had good results releasing other beers that were unfined. Unfortunately, we didn’t fully understand the consequences – darker malts are more protein rich and it appears that without the use of finings, we can’t get the result we want. A more serious side effect to this extra protein is that it affects the beer’s stability and therefore it’s shelf life. Too much protein in beer can cause it to oxidise and create off-flavours quicker than would usually be expected.
It came to bottling day and during the usual preliminary checks we saw that the beer was super murky. We had to ask ourselves “Would we be happy being served this beer?”. The answer was no so the beer had to go. This is the first batch of beer we’ve ever had to ditch and we’re incredibly gutted about it. But worry not Dark Bay fans, we’ve re-brewed it again today (with finings this time) and a new batch will be ready mid-November.