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10-05-2014, 05:24
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The Ratnificent 7, plus one late call up

Being a dinosaur, I’m not much of a social media person but sometimes use it to glean information from those who are. In mid March I was mooching around Facebook and Twitter seeking such information when I spotted a poster for the Rat Brewery in Huddersfield stating, 'Fancy being a brewer for a day? We're looking for the Ratnificent 7 to design & brew a brand new Rat beer at the rat inn-fest at the end of April. If you want to be in the draw just comment yes please!'

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I commented in the affirmative and duly forgot all about it.
Just before Easter, I received a message from Richard at The Rat & Ratchet informing me that I was one of the lucky seven and shortly afterwards received further instructions – turn up with old clothes at 10.00 for bacon butties on the appointed day.
Thus, on a Saturday at the end of April I set off on the 07.40 train from Hull to Huddersfield. Arriving in good time at the pub on Chapel Hill I was greeted by licensees Lisa and Richard and five of the other six of the chosen few.
Unfortunately, one unlucky person was called into work at short notice until 3pm but a late substitute was contacted and soon made up the number to the full complement. We all introduced ourselves as we had tea and butties. I was by a long way the eldest and had travelled the furthest, the others coming from Huddersfield, Mirfield and Brighouse. We were then introduced to Rat brewer Robin and Ossett head brewer Paul.

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The usual brewers!

There followed discussions about the type of beer we each wanted to brew. It was mutually agreed that in keeping with the beer name everything should revolve around the number seven.
It was decided to use seven different malts and seven different hops to produce a seventy minute IPA (more later). Paul showed us a variety of malts, explaining the properties and types of beer that they were best used for. On his advice, following discussion, seven malts were chosen - Pale Ale, Carared, Crystal, Melanoidin, Carafa Special 3, Roast Barley and Wheat. Paul calculated the quantities required and we weighed them out to make a grand total of 200 kilos. Under the guidance of Robin, we took it in turns to add a different malt to the hot water in the mash tun to produce a sugar rich liquid (wort) which was then mashed for an hour.

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The team in action

After a hearty chilli lunch (kindly provided by Richard) and a beer or two, the wort was then strained through the bottom of the mash tun and then transferred to the copper. Seven different varieties of hops were chosen from a possible nine once Paul had explained their characteristics. These were then weighed out and added to provide flavour, bittering and aroma in increasing quantities at ten minute intervals in this order: Admiral, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Amarillo, Citra and Waimea. Hence seventy minute IPA.
Next, the wort passed through the heat exchanger (heating up water for the next brew) to the fermentation tank. Paul then added live yeast to the magic mixture and we were done. Paul and Robin kindly cleared up while we took to the bar for a pint or two and a team photo.
By now the fermentation at the brewery will be complete and our beer taken to Ossett for transfer to casks and late hopping. As the Rat Brewery is 5.5 BBL, 22 x 9 gallon firkins should result and we are all excited to see and taste the results of our thoughts and efforts.

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Pump clip courtesy of Liz Crosby at Ossett Brewery

Our thanks go to brewers Paul and Robin for their patience and doing the hard bits. We were not able to catch them out with any awkward questions either! We are also grateful to Lisa and Richard for organising the day and for looking after us during their busy beer festival.
We shall return!

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