Notes from the Brewer III

The following blog post will chat about our three latest beers.
Two of the beers – Astral Destiny and Goatsmoker – we are extremely happy with whilst the other – Space Wizard, has (temporarily) developed an off flavour which we are pretty sad about.

Astral Destiny, 6% Barrel Aged Blended sour with Scottish Raspberries

The first of our three latest releases is a special one for us. Utilising a 60/40 blend of non-barrel aged, and 2-year-old barrel aged beer, creating a unique, characterful beer. The 60% portion of the batch was fermented using the same tasty, stone fruit forward mixed culture as used in Goat Wizard whilst the 40% portion comprised of the barrel aged, golden sour beer aged in white wine barrels. You might be asking yourself how such a young brewery had such gnarly old barrel aged beer at hand…

Our buddies at Fierce Brewing in Aberdeen had previously undertaken a mixed fermentation project called Fierce by Nature. They had produced some genuinely fantastic beers, some of which are still available from their webshop. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, the mixed fermentation project didn’t meet with their current goals, so they decided to see if anyone would be up for taking over the care of the barrels. As a startup mixed fermentation brewery with serious plans for barrel aging, this was perfect timing for us. We have since taken on over 40 barrels, which are a mix of ex-wine, bourbon and rye whiskey – about half of which are full of mature sour beer.

We intend to blend these barrel aged beers into beers we have produced ourselves, creating blended beers with added complexity and nuance. We are also beginning to undertake barrel aging and barrel fermented beers which are 100% our own which will be given at least 6 months in oak before seeing a glass.

Back to Astral Destiny. This blended beer was aged on 300g/l of raspberries which were grown 7 miles from the brewery, at Pittormie Fruit Farm in Cupar. We work with fresh locally grown whole fruit whenever the seasons allow, as these provide the most intense and genuine fruit character. Unfortunately, the sociopolitical climate impacted us here, with raspberry prices effectively doubling due to a poor European harvest and a decline in EU fruit pickers working in the UK, so we hope you enjoy this fruit at its most expensive.

Space Wizard, 6.3% Golden Sour

Now for the sad news. Space Wizard, our latest straightforward golden sour, was fermented with a mixed Brettanomyces culture consisting of 6 strains, in addition to our other cultures. This beer developed a delicate fruity, cidery character, which we were very happy with in tank. Unfortunately, on packaging this beer has developed an off flavour called THP (Tetrahydropyridine).

In our experience THP has the following descriptors – nutty, cerealy, oaty, biscuity and oaky which are experienced primarily on the aftertaste and on the out-breath after drinking. Whilst some of these flavours don’t sound too terrible, the overall impact is negative, and can be quite off-putting. This issue is primarily present in our bottles, with kegs showing very low THP levels based on our testing. It is important to note that THP does dissipate and clear up given time, usually after around 2 months, but it can take a little longer in some cases.

The causes of THP are not fully understood. It appears primarily in mixed fermentation beers containing Brettanomyces after packaging/introduction to any amount of oxygen, so this is typically deemed the culprit. Steps typically taken by breweries to avoid this are aiming for as low dissolved oxygen rates in package as achievable, and utilising a secondary bottling yeast to help metabolise any THP produced in a timely manner.

Whilst we always aim to keep oxygen out of beers, unfortunately we are working with sub-par packaging equipment which does not facilitate proper bottle purging. Likewise, our use of secondary bottling yeast does not appear to have cleared up the THP produced in a timely manner. Furthermore, it appears as though the Space Wizard blend of Brettanomyces is particularly susceptible to THP.

What to do?

For Holy Goat:

  • Remove Space Wizard from the webshop and hold until it THP is gone.
  • Change in process – beers kept on site for longer to give time for full analysis and quality control to avoid any further potential off-flavour development.
  • Buy a new bottling line – were saving up as we speak
  • Improve packaging processes currently in place – we have some ideas already

For our customers:

  • Please accept our humble apology – we are a brand new experimental mixed-fermentation brewery, producing technically challenging, ambitious and time-consuming beers on a very small startup budget. Please bear with us.
  • Either: hold onto and age the beer (at room temp) as the THP should metabolise away over the next few weeks.
  • OR contact us/your supplier for a refund/credit – our contact is

Goatsmoker, 12.7% Smoked Russian Imperial Stout

Back to the good stuff. Goatsmoker has been about 10 years in the making, going back to my early homebrewing days. This recipe developed through various iterations entitled ‘Smoke Monster’ using various quantities of smoked malt along with a complex array of roasted, and crystal malts. The result brought to you now, uses the entirety of its base malt (around 60% of the malts) using Weyermann’s beechwood smoked malt, a variety of malt which has been traditonally produced in Bamberg for centuries. The smoke character from the beechwood is soft and mellow, producing subtle notes of vanilla, alongside the characteristic bacon-like smoke. We also used around 5% oak smoked wheat, which has a bit more of a smoky woody kick to it.

Aside from the smoked malts, we went for a chocolate forward stout recipe (using only malts of course) to temper and balance the smoke. Brewed under contract at our Dundee neighbours, 71 Brewing, we utilised a double mash and some muscovado to bring this monster of a beer to the correct starting gravity. On receiving the recipe, Ben Morris from 71 Brewing replied by email “you sir, are a raging psychopath.” Probably best to leave it there.


Holy Goat 🤘🏻

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