Brew the Brew – Tea Muppets

Written by sunstoneale on Tuesday August 14th, 2018

So, a Belgian and two Italians walk into a bar…

That’s the type of joke David from Three Happy Brewers tends to hear a lot, and I personally couldn’t resist the temptation of mentioning it during our collaboration beer brewday. Well, yeah, I happen to be so funny and original sometimes.

Bad humor aside, our collaboration with Bucharest-based Three Happy Brewers was on the table for a while now, and it finally happened just last week. The original idea was to brew something strong and fragrant, a Belgian Tripel or my personal favorite in terms of vagueness, Belgian Strong Ale. You’re already noticing the Belgian note in this whole thing, right? Well, THB head brewer, David Raets, happens to be from that part of the world, so it was a no-brainer which beer style family we should go with. At least, that was the initial plan.

The brewday was tentatively planned for end of June/start of July when there should have been an addition of new tanks to the brewery. Sure enough, there’s rarely such thing as precision when dealing with international shipments, especially during the high brewing season. So, our collaboration ended up happening at the beginning of August with the launch date planned for the Bucharest Craft Beer Festival 2018 at the end of August. With such a short timespan left our options for possible beer styles suddenly got a bit limited and brewing any kind of Belgian Strong Ale was out of the question.

That’s how we’ve ended up brewing a style that is often overlooked by local craft breweries – Extra Special Bitter. A simple and honest British ale with a nice malty profile. That tends to ferment quite fast as well. But in order to make it special, like any collaboration ought to be, we’ve decided to take the British aspect a little bit further with this beer. Yes, we’ve added tea into the kettle! And not just some random tea, but a special herbal tea that is used in the production of the famous Transnistrian vermouth “Buket Moldavii“. Because why not?

Fortunately, the brewday went along without a scratch, and we’ve ended up with beautiful tea-colored and tea-hopped wort that’s already bubbling away in the tank. So far everything is looking good, and our intention to present this bizarre yet wonderful beer at the Bucharest Craft Beer Fest 2018 seems to be quite realistic. Fingers crossed and see you there!

Until then, here are some photos from the brewday with my witty comments:

I just love the bizarre clash of beautiful 19th century arhitecture and the horrid Ceaușescu-era blocks dotting the Bucharest center…

A little off from the center, in Crîngași area Three Happy Brewers is already pumping up early in the morning.

No matter how big, small, sophisticatedly advanced or DIY-oriented – any brewery I’ve been fortunate to brew at has one of these. The Measuring Stick. Designs and materials may vary…

Head brewer David and Robert are busy mashing in while yours truly is walking around the brewery taking pictures. Sounds fair.

Oh, how the tables have turned!

Tank #2 awaits a good run of CIP before housing the wort that will become Tea Muppets

Wandering around the brewery I noticed another nomad lurking in the shadows. Spoiler alert: this beer is damn good!

Ah, the beautiful Czech mashing system that may look odd to those used to the American standard of Mash/Lauter Tun being the same vessel.

Anyone up for a tea?

Speaking of tea, we had to improvise a bit with the hop bag and went to a nearby pharmacy in order to get something that would allow us to steep the herbs in the wort. Certainly, it was a rather comical situation, David speaking mostly English and me mostly Russian, trying to explain to the pharmacy worker what a cheesecloth is in Romanian. The word is “tifon” by the way. Memorize it, if you happen to brew in Romania and experience a sudden need in cheesecloth for your hop additions.

Looks like a ballsack, I know. It was mostly unintentional. Mostly.

Two Happy Brewers with a big ̶b̶a̶l̶l̶s̶a̶c̶k̶ teabag ready to go into the kettle. Muppets.

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