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How I Created …

Stringer’s Mutiny, 9.3%
by Jon Kyme

When High Strength Beer Duty was introduced, back in 2011, we were miffed. 

Stringers BrewerySince beer is already taxed by the amount of alcohol it contains, and since strong beers made up a larger fraction of the repertoire of small (‘craft’) producers than that of the mega-brewers, and given that the extra duty wouldn't be subject to the adjustments otherwise provided for ‘Small Brewery’ beer, it seemed like a targeted attack on the small brewer. 

It was as if the Government was telling us what we should brew.  Stuff that, we thought, we're brewing a strong beer – on purpose.  And we're going to call it 'Mutiny'.

Here at Stringers we love a good stout, so it was going to be one of those, but not a cloying ‘imperial’ effort. 

We also like a lot of Belgian beers with proper bitterness that are properly attenuated – even at strengths that appear high to British drinkers – so that was an obvious reference.

I struggle with most beers over 10%. Only the very best avoid hot alcohol notes, so that put an upper limit on what we were aiming at. But it seemed simple: just bump up our existing delicious Dry Stout recipe and we'd be there.

Grist Adjustments

Well, no. First we needed to tinker with the grist. Our regular stout grist is made up of five malts/grains and, after a bit of tweaking, we've upped this to eight for Mutiny. Everything is in there for a reason, but we don't want any particular element to shout out. 

Then we needed to work out how to extract enough fermentable sugar.

We collect a reasonable volume of wort and boil it for at least twice as long as we would normally. This doesn't give us the gravity we need, but boiling longer would promote burnt flavours, so we supplement with a small proportion of malt extract. 

Even then, we're still a little short of our target so a small addition of sucrose goes into the boil. This also helps us get a well-attenuated final product.

In the boil, the bittering hops are Northern Brewer. We calculate something like 75 IBU, but I've no idea what our utilisation actually is in a wort of this gravity. 

There's also a late hop addition. This is the only time we use Boadicea – it really helps bring out a liquorice note. We throw in a touch of Cascade to brighten up the nose a bit and then transfer to a fermenter, which, even with  malt extract and sugar, we only half fill. 

Fermentation and Beyond

In goes the yeast. We pitch twice as much as we'd use for a regular-strength beer. We might let the temperature rise a bit over the first sixteen hours, but after that it's held to 20°C.

Stringers MutinyOnce fermentation is done, Mutiny heads off to tank, where it sits for at least three months at 14°C. We've tried to shorten this maturation period but were promptly called out by real ale maven Linda Johnson, of the Prince of Wales, Foxfield, who spotted the difference straight off. Sorry, Linda. 

We bottle the beer pretty much flat, with a dose of fresh yeast – we've tried a few, but have settled on one – and a spot of invert sugar. The bottles get two weeks’ warm conditioning, then – finally – they're ready for sale.

We sell Mutiny mainly to local specialist shops, and the petrol station where I fill the van. It's also available (sporadically) via Beer Hawk and Yvan Seth's excellent Jolly Good Beer distribution business.

Because Mutiny isn't an imperial stout as such – it's balanced more to bitterness than many beers calling themselves that, as well as finishing drier than some – we tend not to enter it in competitions.

We did a keg-conditioned version once for a laugh and one judge at SIBA's keg competition gave it zero. That's a score I'd reserve for an empty glass, but there you go. But we were very pleased when CAMRA recognised it as the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain 2016.

Top picture shows Jon Kyme and Becky Stringer of Stringers Brewery.

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