Last month I had the pleasure of visiting SA Brains Brewery in Cardiff after being invited down to brew a beer with them on their Craft Brewery. The theme for this year is ‘Best of British’ so I decided to set about researching lost styles of British Beer. I came across Mum, Mumm or Mumme a heavily herbed strong bitter wheat beer which lost favour around the start of the 19th century. Originally a German style of beer, it was said to be ‘as strong as six horses’ becoming popular in Britain from at least the 1660’s (according to Zythophile).
After to speaking to Brains Head brewer Bill Dobson we decided to use some poetic license and create a beer inspired by the original Mumm’s but perhaps more popular with the modern palate. Originally they were dark, strong wheat beers and could be aged for up to two years with “ten new-laid eggs, not cracked or broken,
are to be put into the hogshead, which is then to be stopped close, and not tapped for two years“. Mumm’s the Word is a wheat beer which has been heavily herbed, it is lighter in colour and ABV to it’s historic counterparts so it should be an enjoyable and refreshing white ale, perfect for summer! Oh, we didn’t put any eggs in either… sorry.
Arriving at the brewery in Cardiff the night before brewing, the scale of the main brewery really struck me. Unfortunately it’s not the prettiest of buildings, but when Brains outgrew their original town centre home they moved in to the old Bass site behind the central train station. Bass were brewing on a mammoth scale here before they moved all of their operations to Burton-on-Trent and whilst Brains brew a lot of beer it does feel a little like they’re wearing their big brothers hand-me downs. Some parts of the building aren’t used, vast rooms full of old open fermenters the size of swimming pools lay dormant. The shiny new 15 barrel ‘craft brewery’ has been built in place of an old disused mash tun, it’s right in the heart of the rest of brewery taking advantage of the hot liquor supply, the existing malt mill, substantial lab and of course the break room, well stocked with Bill’s homemade jam.
After mashing in an enjoying a few slices of toast and jam we set about the scientific calculation of how much of each herb to use. Bill presented a selection of infused liquids which we proceeded to mix with each other and the warm wort until we were happy. Finally we decided on elderflower, nettles, pennyroyal, raspberry leaf, peppermint, cloves, black pepper and fresh pine shoots harvested locally. To complement them we chose a new British hop, Beata, said to have aromas of honey, dried apricots and almond, the latter being less obvious.
I have yet to taste the final result, but it arrives at my new pub, The Bull in Highgate, ready for our medieval shindig ‘Swearing on the Horns‘ this Friday! It will also be available to Brains pubs from July 9th.