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Warpigs' Brewer Lan-xin Foo About Ghoul Screamer and Keeping the Beer Romance Alive

Lan-xin Foo is the woman behind the Earl Gray Pilsner "Ghoul Screamer", a beer created in collaboration with Copenhagen's famous Warpigs brewpub.

Inside the Warpigs Brewery

Lan-xin, you watched over the whole process of making the Earl Gray Pilsner "Ghoul Screamer". What was it like?

When I first heard the idea of making an Earl Gray pilsner beer, I was so excited - and then immediately though, 'Shit, how am I going to do this?'

Whenever I'm starting a new beer, I always want to make it incredible, so the challenge here was to make the best Earl Gray pilsner ever.

Now available at Warpigs: a limited batch of Ghoul Screamer Pilsner Shirts! 

What approach did you use to do that?

Lan-xin checking on the Ghoul Screamer Pilsner

I didn’t want the flavors to be overpowered by dark malt, so we took some pilsner malt at the base, with wheat and oats for the body. 

We chose amarillo hops because of the citrus notes and added a bunch of bergamot puree and bergamot oil, because bergamot is what makes Earl Grey tea - that nice, fresh, citrusy flavor.

I also decided to incorporate tea leaves for their astringency. This is a flavor that has negative connotations, but in small doses it gives you that tangy touch that you would expect from tea.

What was the fermentation process of the Ghoul Screamer? 

Since this is a pilsner, the fermentation was longer, around 4 to 5 weeks. We let it ferment in a stainless steel vat starting at around 11 degress and then incresing it to 15 degrees.

For most of our pilsners we do decoction mashing and this one is no exception. It basically means that you self-caramelize a portion of your malt to add some sweetness and complexity of flavor.

What is the best way the Ghoul Screamer pilsner should be enjoyed?

With dessert! People should use the tangy dryness, fruitiness and citrusy fragrance. Beers that are drunk with dessert are usually heavy beers, so it would be cool to pair the Ghoul Screamer pilsner with something that you would drink Earl Grey tea with, like scones, jam, and clotted cream.

Ghoul Screamer Warrior pedal with a classic Danish cinnamon roll

When I get to work on recipes like the Ghoul Screamer, that's when things get really exciting and challenging.

How do you feel about pilsners in general? Do you drink them often?

It's one of my go-to beers. I drink a lot of pilsners, they are so easygoing, great beers to relax to.

We are actually now in the process of exploring pilsners and want to really nail the technique and get it perfect, from mashing to fermentation. It's not easy; pilsners are the bourbons of beer, everything has to be perfect with zero room for error, and you have to get fermentation running at lower temperatures.

Ghoul Screamer Pilsner and the limited edition pedal

The Ghoul Screamer pilsner is named after an overdrive pedal. Does music play a part in your work?

I start early, between 5 and 6 in the morning, and I like to listen to calm music. When the restaurant comes in later, it's when the rock and metal kick in, because that is what Warpigs is about! 

How do you keep the romance alive and enjoy your work even during stressful days?

It's true that a lot of the days are about rythm and repetition, doing everything exactly right. A lot of it is keeping things constant, from ratios to temperatures.

But when I get to work on recipes like the Ghoul Screamer, that's when things get really exciting and challenging. And when you get it right, the feeling is incredibly satisfying.

What is the biggest misconception out there about brewing beer?

A lot of people don’t realize how big of a part cleaning plays. It’s unromantic, but you have to keep your space clean and super organized.

You have to stick to a tight schedule and always know what’s going on with your beer. The job forces you to be clean, because you’re constantly handling ingredients and moving them through the process. So yeah...there's a lot of scrubbing involved.

The craziest beer you've ever made?

In the past we've made a light oyster stout from locally harvested mushrooms with oyster shells and sea salt. We also did a liquorice and beetroot brew.

There is literally no limit to where you can take beer and the flavors that can be incorporated.

You are originally from Singapore; are you thinking of moving back and shaking up the local beer scene?

My parents would like to have me back, but Copenhagen is such an awesome city and working at Warpigs is a dream job. I'm just having too much fun here.

Though I am looking forward to visiting Singapore this fall and seeing how the beer scene has evolved.