The Mash / The Art of Beer
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INSIDE ISSUE 21
The long and weird, winding journey of beer I’ve long believed that to get a full feel for the soul of beer, you need to travel, which is why journey and exploration are this issue’s themes.
ADVERTISING email@example.com Website: originalgravitymag.com Twitter: OGBeerMag Facebook: /originalgravitymag Instagram: ORIGINAL_GRAVITY Editor: Adrian Tierney-Jones Editor-at-large: Pete Brown Design & illustration: lindoneast.co.uk Publisher: Daniel Neilson Cover: Adam McNaught-Davis
© 2019 Original Gravity is published by Original Gravity Media Ltd. All rights reserved. All material in this publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without the written permission of Original Gravity Media Ltd. Views expressed in Original Gravity are those of the respective contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publication nor its staff.
Derby might not be everyone’s place of a destination but for Lottie Gross (p20) its beers and pubs make it essential; Beer Writer of the Year Emma Inch (p22) details her journey in home-brewing, while
Yours in drink, Adrian Tierney-Jones
CONTENTS 04/ 14/ 16/ 24/ 26/ 28/ 31/
The Mash Tasting notes Feature Photo essay Essay Beer traveller Your round
Deya art & John Keeling Oakham’s Alpha Inception Journeys of Beer Nashville Beer doesn’t travel Poperinge, Flanders Your ‘Journey’ pics
Contributors Emma Inch, Lottie Gross, Matthew Curtis, Will Hawkes
CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 1323 370430
for Pete Brown (p26) beer doesn’t travel — or does it? All this plus regular reviews, digressions and whimsies, and Matthew Curtis’ (p24) photographic celebration of Nashville. BTW like our new design? Rather cool if I say so myself.
The Mash / The Art of Beer
The Art of Beer / The Mash
Deya Brewing Company ARTIST: THOM HOBSON Some breweries turn to illustrators for their labels and branding, some to graphic designers, and some to cartoonists. Very occasionally, a brewery turns to a painter or a sculptor. DEYA Brewing Company’s founder Theo Freyne enrolled the artist Thom Hobson for his ‘fresh, clean, interesting, fun’ designs... just like the beer. We caught up with Thom.
painting masters, punk aesthetics and 50s comic books. The guys from Deya have always allowed for my personal expression. It starts as a very collaborative effort, but they trust my instincts as well.
How did you settle on the design style for Deya? I’m a full-time artist by profession, working in my practice. Deya is my first and only job as a designer and creating the logo and labels and also my first ever time working to a brief. The style was built from points of reference that I’ve come across during over ten years of doing my research as an artist: Polish poster design, contemporary
How do you balance creating art and the designs for Deya? Although the inspiration for both can intertwine, I see them as fully different. It’s like I use a different part of my brain. What I make for Deya has boundaries as I work to a brief and it needs to make sense for the company, whereas what I make as an artist has no boundaries at all. In many ways, working
How did you set out becoming an artist? I’ve been one since I was born. I don’t know anything else. I think every artist would answer the same.
for Deya allows me to continue my practice as an artist. Not just financially, but it also allows me to get an image out there that I wouldn’t normally use within my practice, but I still love. I’ve always loved cartoons and drawing - but the art I make doesn’t necessarily allow for this. I’ve been focussing on sculpture and installation recently, so the two things don’t relate to each other. What’s the inspiration behind the characters? Sometimes the characters will be inspired by real life points of reference, such as Steady Rolling Man’s Robert Johnson, and there’s even Deya staff members on some designs. But mostly they’re just imagined characters. / @thom_hobson / @thomtrojanowski
Six pack / The Mash
At the start of January, Stephen Beaumont — editor of Original Gravity’s Canadian edition — noticed an article saying that ‘flagship beers’ were in decline. The beers that, for many, blazed the trail for the craft beer revolution we’re enjoying today are increasingly being side-lined by drinkers in perpetual pursuit of novelty. So he decided to set up Flagship February – a celebration of the pioneers, the trailblazers who stood up to the dominance of identikit commercial lagers and set out a vision for something better. For many of us, these are the beers that changed our lives. Here we celebrate beers that may not be cutting edge, but are still magnificent and worth your attention. PB
Hook Norton Old Hooky 5.5%
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5.6% The second term that auto-completes in Google is ‘Sierra Nevada pale ale clone’. Your favourite IPA brewery started off copying this beer. You might go bigger, juicier, but this remains the centre of the map. PB
Apparently first brewed before World War I, this dry and bittersweet best bitter is best drunk in its home pubs of Oxfordshire, especially on a summer’s day, where it will glint and gleam in the glass. ATJ Brooklyn Brewery Lager 5.2%
Thornbridge Jaipur 5.9% People who suffer from ‘Lupulin Threshhold Shift’, consuming so much hoppy beer your idea of what’s hoppy changes, say Jaipur isn’t as good as it used to be. It is. The beer that defined modern hoppy IPA in the UK. PB
By showing what lager was like preProhibition, Brooklyn redefined what it could be for a new generation. It once suffered from arriving in the UK stale, but now freshness rules – embrace it. PB
Adnams Southwold Bitter 3.7% This is a vigorous and muscular bitter that showcases the best qualities of Fuggles and Goldings, and for my money, it is up there with Harvey’s Best as one of the great beers of England; drink lots of it. ATJ Lost & Grounded Keller Pils 4.8% Flagships do not have to be as old as your dad’s dad, as L&G’s superlative bestseller Keller Pils shows. This is one of the finest hoppy Pils being produced in the country at the moment. ATJ
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Questions & Answers / The Mash
I’m going to the pub shortly, the George IVth in Chiswick, where I’m meeting an old colleague from Fuller’s. He’s talking about a pub crawl. Off to the Dove for lunch tomorrow.
Q& A Unless you’ve been on holiday with the Selenites on the moon for the last few years, you will know who John Keeling is. In 1981 he joined Fuller’s as junior brewer and late last year retired from the company, having become head brewer in 1999, replacing Reg Drury (‘Reg’s first decision as head brewer was to employ me, while his last was to make me head brewer’). In 2006 he was the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year, an award he co-won again in 2017 with Wild Card’s Jaega Wise. Never afraid to state his opinions, he is passionate in his celebration of cask beer and an avowed champion of the pub lunch. ATJ
I’ve set up a company with the aim of doing bits and bobs in the brewing world. When I set it up, my accountant asked what it was going to do and I said it would make enough to send me around world drinking beer — I am not running it to make money, rather making enough to pay for my extravagances. For instance I am going to South Africa to lead a cask beer think tank, and also doing some stuff for Fuller’s, such as food and drink events abroad. Then me and Symone have three weeks in Brazil, part of which will involve judging beer.
The hardest thing for a Fuller’s brewer is to make London Pride, because it is made every day and people drink it every day. I learnt to love it through its various seasons, and people who have been drinking it for decades would tell you when it is gone down a culde-sac. Making a new beer is straightforward, but doing the same every day is more
I want to talk to people about cask beer. Cask beer has two directions: one it continues to sink, or it can start to grow again and remain the soul of the pub. I have always believed that a pub is not a good pub without cask beer. I also want to put something back
to the industry, and have chosen cask as my standard to fly. It is 9% of the market and declining and if it gets below 5% what happens? Cask can return to growth, and be the vibrant heart of the pub, but the only way to do that is look at quality, choice and throughput. I don’t think there is enough profit margin in cask either for people to be selling it. For instance the manager of a pub might be worried about everything else, even the champagne, but not the cask as it doesn’t make money — margin has to be put back into cask, you need to make a premium cask, but you also need to solve the quality issue. If you pay say £1 more you need it to be great.
difficult, you know what it should it be like through all its seasons and the first two or three sips should tell you it is London Pride. I occasionally miss going into Fuller’s every day. In the first couple of months I had a lot to do, but last month was quiet as no one wants a consultant in December. I miss the daily involvement with people. I used to go to the Mawson every day for lunch but also a chat with people and not always about beer. There is so much still for me to discover. If you are true to what craft beer is about, it is about trying to bring something of your own country to craft beer. There are so many people in the beer world who are just making the same beer as they are making in California or London — you have to interpret it. We spoke with John before the news of Fuller’s acquisition by Asahi broke, but in a brief text message when asked on his thoughts, he said, ‘there is less and less profit in brewing cask beer and beer duty is the problem’.
The Mash / The Big Picture
What will 2019 bring in the world of beer? A.I. brews, marmalade pudding porter (which sounds OK actually), bubble beer? What 2018 meant for me was the ongoing fetishisation of certain beers, most of which I’d never got my hands on. On holiday to Vermont to visit relatives last year, I dragged two kids under eight for tacos after seeing this sign in the window of a Mexican restaurant in Burlington for one of the most hyped beers of all time: Heady Topper from Alchemist. It reminded me of Apple computers reseller window stickers. I was thrilled. I later went to a Burlington bottle shop and asked for some cans. “Pah!” The guy replied. “There’s a pile over there. It’s Sip of Sunshine from Lawson’s Finest Liquids we have to put a quota on.” I watched people queue to buy them. I joined the line, kids in tow. DANIEL NEILSON / @danieljneilson
THE BIG PICTURE
Beer meets / The Mash
BOOKS Books are for reading, for learning from, for checking things and making sure you are correct; books are also for stories and stony-faced discussions on the how and the why and the wrong and the right. So where does that leave beer books? You learn to brew, how to match beer and food (and cook the dish) and where to find the perfect glass of beer; beer books are also tales of how someone jumped from bake-off to brewery, or in the case of one of our books, set up a brewery in rural France.
Meditation can be a kind of journey, an inward quest for peace and mindfulness, but also a chance to explore within oneself. Beer can have a meditative effect, can be mindfully drunk and provide a moment when the liquid that bowls us over with its completeness and uniqueness. Or as Lady Macbeth might have said if she’s swapped daggers for tankards (which would have saved her and her husband a lot of strife), ‘is this a beer I see in front of me’.
A Beer in the Loire Tommy Barnes, Muswell Press Done with commuting and culde-saced in a dull job, the author and girlfriend flee to the Loire, where he sets up a brewery. Quirky and funny, this is A Year In Provence for beer-lovers.
Hawkshead Tonka Shake 10% An imperial milkshake stout that provides a sense of study and contemplation with each sip; it is luxurious, luscious and lubricious and the kind of beer you would want to drink whilst considering the universe and all its wonders.
The Beer Kitchen Melissa Cole, Hardie Grant Food glorious food, and beer as well, is the basis of Melissa’s appetising cook book that demonstrates both cooking with beer and matching the end result with another beer or two. Beerpoached chicken? Go on then.
Yeastie Boys Joy Juice 5% Meditation can be dynamic, a practice of much movement and letting off primal steam, with the ultimate result being much joy. This DDH Helles Lager is equally dynamic, bringing together the juice of the NEIPA and the clarity of a Helles.
30-Second Beer Consultant editor Sophie Atherton
Timmermans/Guinness Lambic & Stout Blend 6%
Fifty topics on the world of brewing and beer are given short and snappy entries with contributions from various beer writers including, obviously, Sophie Atherton and Pete Brown (a new name to us). One for the neophytes. 11
What does this beer say to us? I am lost and in being lost I will eventually find out who I am; I could be a stout, I could be a lambic, but in my striving for harmony I am something that makes you think.
Budweiser Budvar x Original Gravity
TRADITION & INNOVATION You carry with you a tremendous amount of heritage with Budvar. How do you approach new beers with this? The beer market has been changing recently, and our customers are often not satisfied by the typical beer offer and seek new tastes and experiences. If you have a Rolls-Royce with a driver at your disposal 24/7, you might feel like giving a spin to a Ferrari, Landy, or even an Austin Mini once in a while. Then you probably call your driver again. There’s such a strong tradition of making just a couple of beers, is it difficult to innovate within these constraints? The technology of Czech lager brewing is quite specific. The boundaries are tight, so we focus on the perfection within these boundaries. So it is always a joy to implement our experiences into work with other beer styles. You collaborated with Wild Beer Co - what do collaborations bring to the beer making process? New experiences, new tastes, joy and new friendships. You’ve helped make some of the very small run beers. Why did you decide to make an Imperial lager? How
does the profile differ from the core beer? The original reasoning behind this idea is quite old. It was actually similar to the idea of brewing Imperial stout in the UK, which was partially driven by the demand of the Russian noble court in the 18th century. The decision wasn’t mine, but still today it provides a very interesting platform for a creative brewer’s work. For example, our special brew with fresh hops offers rich body and fine hop aroma which in this particular combination resembles its original aristocratic tradition. How does maturing beer for 200 days help the profile? The very first phase of beer fermentation stands behind the carbonisation and alcohol creation. At this stage, the taste is determined by the process and naturally developing compounds. It is characterised by its raw and ‘unfinished’ taste. During the maturation, however, these ‘negative’ compounds degrade gradually which leads to a balanced and fine taste profile. For this very reason, we mature our original lager about seven times longer than most of the modern lagers today. In the particular case of our Imperial lager, the full body allows us to extend this time to its maximum and thus provide a unique
character which is only possible to achieve by patience. Such taste resembles ripe fruit tones and a slight touch of vanilla. To offer a comparison we can look at whisky which, in its very core, is similar to beer, and we well know the taste difference of a four-yearold and 18-yearold heritage. How do you see the beer market changing in the UK? The British beer market is significantly influenced by the US craft revolution which has positively affected the rebirth of many original British beer styles, for example, IPA. Therefore many small, traditional brewers have embraced its heritage. I consider it a very positive evolution. On the other hand, it leads in some cases to overuse of new American hop varieties. This can negatively influence the unique character of typical British beer styles, which I personally prefer and admire. I am very happy to recognise the movement among craft breweries in the UK towards brewing great lagers in the last few months. What’s the scene in the Czech Republic like at the moment? How has it changed in the last couple of years? The Czech Republic is a country where many
breweries still produce a pre-industrial and technologically unspoiled lager loved by the majority of drinkers. On the other hand, even here the craft revolution is raging. People who travel more than ever learn about wide options of international gastronomy, including beer styles. In the country of 10 million people about 50 new craft breweries are founded every year to satisfy the increasing demand for special beers. (In 2018, there are about 500 craft breweries in the country). The lager, however, is still dominant, but it became much easier to experiment. The perfect food to go with Budvar is... Another Budvar, or roasted duck served with sauerkraut and Czech dumplings. In general, the mildness of Budvar allows the paired food to stand out, and it highlights its taste characteristics. The bitterness also helps to digest hearty meals. The perfect place to drink Budvar is... Our tank sites in the UK provide the nearest experience to the brewery cellar taste possible, or we will be happy to welcome you here so you can compare on your own.
Budweiser Budvar x Original Gravity The Art of Beer / The Mash
ON THE BACK OF A NEW RANGE OF VERY SMALL RUN BEERS, WE SPEAK TO BUDVAR’S BEER SOMMELIER ALEŠ DVOŘÁK ABOUT HOW A SUCH A TRADITIONAL BREWER CAN INNOVATE
Aleš Dvořák photographed at the Budvar Brewery in the Czech Republic in February 2019.
The Mash / Tasting Notes
Oakham Ales Alpha Inception 6%
Yeastie Boys X Vocation Solar Wind Brut IPA 6.1%
Braybrooke Keller Lager 4.8%
Harvey’s Wharf IPA 4.8%
Last year was a year of rediscoveries. I reacquainted myself with Summer Lightning and during a visit to Oakham’s Victorian masterpiece The Barton Arms I devoured several glasses of Citra, a beer as splendid as the place in which I drank it.
Even with the nineday lead time, it takes to print Original Gravity, no doubt another style IPA will have come to the fore, being loved and despised on Twitter with equal passion. But as we go to press on January 29, the Brut IPA is still a thing. I hope it is still being perfected on January 29, 2020, 2021, 2022. The style originates in California’s Social Kitchen and Brewery, and uses an enzyme to create a bone-dry beer. As the name suggests, there’s a champagnelike dryness and effervescence. In Solar Wind, there’s a lightness of touch that this style requires, and a subtle complexity as it pops and fizzes in the mouth. The expression is alive, vibrant and thrilling. You won’t find any more in Tesco’s in Eastbourne, I’ve bought them all. DN
Here is a beer to be gulped in great draughts as you socialise with friends, a social beer that also manages to have a suggestion of contemplation with its gently toasted barley and slightly honeyed nose, crisp mouth feel, aromatic bready character, restrained sweetness and cracklingly dry finish that whispers, ‘go on have another gulp’.
British hops have gained an unfashionable reputation on their home turf for being a bit dull compared to their flashier New World descendants. That’s a little unfair — they may be subtler, but they can be just as intriguing.
Alpha Inception is one of Oakham’s three ‘craft cans’ (for want of a better phrase and yes the graphics are very colourful, Sponge Bob meets Futurama), a juicy, tropically fruit inclined, crisp and bitter (remember bitterness?) West Coast IPA (remember them?), that is also almost as lean as a holy man who’s spent years on a rock pillar in the desert trying to understand the meaning of beer without knowing what time the local pubs open. ATJ
Brewed with help from Mahr’s, it’s probably one of the finest British Franconian-style lagers I have ever had (not that many British brewers have tried going down that route, apart from a wonderfully fine example from Meantime a few years ago). It’s sensual, robust, full-flavoured and elegant. It’s only January but one of the best beers of the year for me. ATJ
Trust Harvey’s then, to give the appearance of moving with the times by doing a canned, modern IPA, and then subverting trends with tradition by packing it to the gills with hops that evoke the aromas of the British hedgerow, nicely balanced with the obligatory Citra for a complex, pleasing beer that asks questions of the uniform ranks of juice bombs. PB
ORIGINALITY (O) GULPER (G)
Tasting Notes / The Mash
Adnams Ghost Ship 0.5% You may well think 0.5% beers aren’t worth drinking and who could blame you? Until recently the character of the beer has been heavily compromised by the de-alcoholisation process. Not any more. Dry January 2019 saw this release from last summer come into its own, thanks to a new process of reverse osmosis — basically an incredibly fine filter that allows alcohol to be rinsed out of the beer without compromising the flavour. This is Ghost Ship — a damn fine beer in its original form — with the alcohol taken out and the flavour unimpaired. An amazing achievement. PB
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai 7.5% So there’s this beer, the IPA, and the name means nothing. Nothing and so much. Throw words in front of it: black, West Coast, English, banoffee, and it begins to take form, spark memories (usually), make connections.
Brick Brewery Winter Berry Sour 7.2%
White Frontier Spelt IPA 5.6%
‘Sour’ is an inadequate word to describe a drink that has a strong vein of acidity running through it — who would ever describe a decent dry white wine as sour? Wine feels like an appropriate comparison here.
Should a beer knock your socks off on the first sip? Or should it be a gentle grower? White Frontiers beers, available at Honest Brew, are based in Switzerland, high in the mountains, which are claimed to be the brewers’ inspiration. They have ambassadors and they are two of the world’s best steep skiers. The beers are less vertiginous, more of a gentle slope down to the aprés ski bar.
Sour cherries, elderberries, blackcurrants and blackberries provide sweetness as well as acidity, and a rich fruit character with hints of tannic dryness too.
Tucking into Jai Alai — apparently the best selling six-pack in the US — it’s to Florida I’m taken, a place I’ve never been before, perhaps a place of orange and grapefruit groves. Jai Alai actually has a meaning, being named after the lacrosse-like Basque game where squash meets Mad Max, and it is newly available in the UK. There are all those citrus thwacks, spectacularly punchy, with a bitterness that lingers till morning. One day other beers will remind you of this one. DN
The ‘sour’ balances the sweetness rather than showing off, and the weighty alcohol provides depth and structure that allows all the different elements to work together. PB
Slowly encouraging you on, and then, once in, you’ll be dancing on the tables to Angels, or something. This Spelt IPA is the kind of beer I seem to be going for these days, almost savoury with a lemony finish, and then the waves of wheaty grain start rolling in like a stirring storm on the tide, with enough tang to tingle the roof of your mouth. DN
Feature / Journeys
Illustration: Adam McNaught-Davis
Journeys / Feature
Donâ€™t stop believinâ€™
Three writers set off on three very different journeys. The outcome is the same: a renewed belief in the positive power of beer
Feature / Journeys
Journeys / Feature
1. The joy of wrecks DUSTY CORNERS, RUSTING EQUIPMENT, ABANDONED KIT, THESE ARE ALL ELEMENTS OF WHERE THE SOUL OF A BREWERY CAN BE DISCOVERED, ARGUES WILL HAWKES
I didn’t reply, because I didn’t want to admit my shameful secret: the pictures were for me, and me alone. I have a keen interest in these semiabandoned corners of historic breweries. Old tanks, outdated kit, cobwebs, flaking paint, the vague whiff of the not-too-distant past: bring it on (you might think that a bit odd, a touch trainspottery, perhaps? — but hey,
you’re the one reading a craft beer magazine).
multinational lagers and me-too IPAs.
My interest, I think, is a reaction to the identikit nature of so many modern breweries. Automated systems — with screens that tell you when to add this or that, when to increase or drop the temperature, and when it’s time to get involved in a lengthy and increasingly mean-spirited debate on Twitter — are technically impressive, yes, but lacking in soul. They’re samey.
The diminished demand for beer has closed lots of these breweries, of course, but others have merely contracted. In Franconia, the Czech Republic and Belgium, there are many breweries built to service a demand that no longer exists. These are brewing cultures with a (metaphorical, sometimes literal) layer of dust on the windowsill, places as pleasingly worn as a much-loved pair of old boots. Obsolete kit has been retained because it would cost more to get rid of.
Old breweries, by contrast, have been rendered idiosyncratic by the passing of time. For me, they’re a reminder of a world where ideas took longer to spread, where local colour was easier to find, and a world before
Take Löwenbräu in Buttenheim, Franconia, where the top third of the brewery had sat untouched for 20 years when I visited in 2016. Head brewer Stefan Hornung
It was while we were picking our way through a former conditioning hall that Michel Haag, seventhgeneration owner of France’s oldest brewery, Meteor, told me to stop taking pictures. ‘We do not want people to see this,’ he said, gesturing at the gently decayed, bobbled white paint on the submarineshaped vessels.
was nonplussed but acquiescent when I asked to see what was up in the eaves: it was a large coolship, grey with dust. One level down was a row of deep, open fermentation vessels, like fun-size versions of those Wembley plunge baths in which football teams used to celebrate with The Cup. In Žatec, a town at the heart of the Czech Republic’s hop-growing region, I joined a group of jaded beer writers looking around the city’s eponymous brewery in 2012. Built into castle walls, it was a warren of damp tunnels and dimly-lit chambers, many of which were no longer used; in the brewing hall there were marks on the vessels, a result, we were told, of them being cut apart and hidden from the Germans during World War II. Eventually we
Feature / Journeys
The Brunswick Inn This legendary pub was reopened as a free house in 1987 on the site of an older railway pub. Has its own micro-brewery. Ye Olde Dolphin Inne Ye olde indeed, this atmospheric pub dates back to 1530. Expect snugs and stone floors, fires and 16th-century beams. The Furnace Inn This is the home of Shiny Brewing, so feel free to indulge in plenty of their beers plus guests from around the country. The Tap This is the tap house of the Derby Brewing Company. Alongside their own brews you’ll find more than 80 bottles and cans from around the world. The Flowerpot A classic real ale pub in the Cathedral Quarter that dates back to around 1800. There’ll be around 14 beers on tap. Lots of live music as well. DN
to great acclaim. I heard that Hook Norton, the Oxfordshire brewery, also had a coolship in its eaves, so I asked managing director James Clark if he would ever consider using it again. ‘I’ve spent years trying to get bugs out of the brewery - why would I invite them back?’ he pointed out, not unreasonably.
found ourselves in a small, whitewashed room, where we drank too much of the brewery’s delicate pale lager and wondered if we’d be able to find our way out afterwards. Zatec has since been acquired by Carlsberg, so the brewery may be smarter now. British breweries understand the value of this old stuff. At Fuller’s in London, elderly equipment remains in place, a key part of the brewery tour; Elgood’s in Cambridgeshire has put its two 1920s coolships (or cooling trays) back to use to make Coolship, a Lambic-style wild ale,
The motherlode, so to speak, can be found at Rodenbach in Roeselare, Belgium. They don’t just have a couple of musty rooms, but a whole unused old brewery, complete with acres of white tiles, copper-domed brewing
equipment, a delightful stained-glass window depicting St George and the Dragon, and, at the very top, a huge coolship that makes all the others I’ve seen look like Bar Billiards tables. This marvellous structure gazes reproachfully across a cobbled yard at the new brewery, a glass brick where young brewers sit quietly watching screens. Something has been lost, but there’s still great joy in discovering what remains.
2. Derby: how beer brought me here LOTTIE GROSS TRAVELS THE WORLD FOR BEER, BUT IT’S IN DERBY SHE FOUND TRUE LOVE the local craft ales in small-town Canada. My quest for a refreshing brew takes me to some pretty obscure places, like council estates in Amsterdam or
I travel all over the world in search of brilliant beer. There’s nothing more exciting for me than finding that one brewpub in Mumbai, or sampling 20
TOP PUBS IN DERBY
little-visited cities in the middle of England. And so I never really expected to like Derby. I expected I’d come for the beer and move on
And yet, I’ve a peculiar affection for Derby now — so much so, that I’ve been back here almost every year since my first encounter with its run-down high street and fading Victorian market hall. I first came in February 2015, with a friend over Valentine’s weekend. It was hardly the romantic experience many would hope for at that time of year — we holed up in the Hallmark railway hotel, an icy wind battering the windows of our characterless room. All bets were off, there was surely no way I could find a love for Derby — or anyone else for that matter — in such an inauspicious situation. Yet a couple of days, many pints and a few good old Derby pyclets later, I was on the train home raving to friends over WhatsApp about what a great weekend it had
been. The company, of course, was a factor — as was the excellent beer (the sight of 400 barrels of ale lining the impressive Derby Roundhouse for the CAMRA Winter Real Ale Festival is enough to sway anyone’s opinion of the city). But there was something about Derby that had captured me, and I returned a year later to find more of it. Walking Derby’s streets today, where there are still signs of the 2008 recession with boardedup shops that once housed independent businesses, you’d hardly recognise the essential role the city has played in this country’s evolution. But inside Derby’s public houses, there’s a marrying of incredibly important heritage with a humble, everyday life kind of vibe that fills me with both warmth and wonder. Beer, it seems, has been powering this city for centuries. Making ale began here in the 1600s and during the Industrial Revolution malting and brewing became big business. It’s said that in 1588, the city had one pub for every 40 residents, and by the 1630s there were over 500 drinking houses.
Ye Olde Dolphin Inn is Derby’s oldest, dating back to 1530. It’s a delightful rabbit warren of dark, cosy rooms with low ceilings and bowing beams. It has brewed its own beer since it opened and horsedrawn coaches used to stop here to quench a thirst before driving on. Today staff tell tales of the spirits — not the boozy kind — that live within the pub’s cellar, on the stairs or in the rooms on the first floor. It’s chilling to hear, but nothing a pint of the good stuff can’t thaw out. It goes well beyond ghost stories, though. There’s something special about sitting in The Brunswick, for example — the country’s first ever purpose-built railway inn — sipping a pint that was brewed inhouse, knowing that 21
to bigger and better places. After all, this small city in the Midlands isn’t anyone’s first pick for a weekend away. It’s a fairly unassuming place; there are no star attractions here. It’s not exactly a picturesque city.
you’re partaking in a practice that’s been going on between those walls for centuries. It’s the kind of place where rotund men in flat caps, with bulbous pockmarked noses and unmistakably beerrosied cheeks, prop up the bar and offer their two cents on the tap of the day. And with its oldfashioned carpets and black-and-white photographs on the walls, it feels more like a living room for Derby’s residents — the people that are still building our planes and trains — than a pub where you just come to drink. While it’s the beer that brought me here, it’s this that I return for — every time.
Feature / Journeys
3. Finding my way BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR EMMA INCH WONDERS AT THE JOURNEY OF THE BEER SHE MAKES, HOW IT BREATHES AND LIVES, SOOTHES AND CELEBRATES
Home brewing is a journey of patient exploration, one guided by invention, occasionally lit by faith. The ability to look beyond a pile of grains and some bags of shattered hops and see the clean bitter ale to come is something that requires imagination
and confidence — both in yourself and your ingredients — and the knowledge of how far you can twist things; what you can make dance and what you need to leave in stillness. The first time I home brewed was the day after a good friend’s funeral. My eyes were still swollen from sobbing, and my head pulsed with a lingering whisky-ache. Her sudden death had left me fearful, sometimes panicked, and — not for the first time — horrified at the unbroken creep of the earth’s rotation when my own personal world lay completely without motion. And that’s where I began. From that cold, silent, grief-drenched space, a place in which it hurt to speak and felt wrong
It’s only when it breathes that I know for sure it’s going to live. Until then, I’m never quite convinced I’ve done enough. But the morning after brew day, as I walk downstairs and hear it wheezing into life, taking its first bubbling breaths through the airlock, I know. I wrap my arms around its belly to feel its warmth, and perhaps just the faint beginnings of a heartbeat, and right there, under the bright light of my kitchen, I know I have created life.
to move, I reached towards something that could take me outside of my own thoughts. I’d read about home brewing and watched countless videos. I’d taken notes, gathered the ingredients and equipment I needed, and chosen a pale ale as my first brew. And, there and then, I took the first step on a journey that leads me directly to here and now. I wasn’t prepared for the dust. As I weighed out the grain, it billowed up in clouds then came to rest, cartoonishly, against my glasses, powdering my hair. The air smelt of biscuits and bread, swollen warm and fresh from the oven. I put some grains into my mouth where they cracked and crumbled
HOW TO START HOME BREWING As you’ll have picked up from Emma’s lovely piece, there are few more satisfying hobbies than home brewing. One of the myths that put people off starting it is that you need an awful lot of time and an equally gargantuan amount of equipment. In actual fact, it’s no more complicated than making boeuf bourguignon — it needs love, attention and the occasional stirring, but you can paint the shed while you’re doing it. The very easiest way to start is with a onegallon extract kit that you can order off the internet. In about four hours you’ll have your wort, and in a few more days it will be beer. All you need is a very large stockpot, a food grade plastic bucket and a demi-john and some stuff you’ll already have in the kitchen. The next level is to get a one-gallon full-grain kit, the difference is you’ll steep the grains yourself adding about an hour. Aim for a porter first and you can’t really go wrong! DN
Journeys / Feature
I brought the wort to the boil on the top of my stove and watched the hot break as the clumps of tight brown foam pushed their way to the surface and a rolling boil began. The steam hit my face and dampened into hot tears that coursed from my cheeks to my chin. Clouds condensed into caramel drops on the kitchen ceiling and hung there like small bulbs of toffee, just outside my reach.
The hops were sticky in my fingers as I tore them in tight clumps from the foil packets. I took a pinch and rubbed it fast between my palms. I held my hands to my face, covering my mouth and nose, and breathed in pine and bark, flowers
Chilling the wort at the end of the boil, I opened the windows to the February cold. Against the black of the late afternoon sky, my smoky breath mixed with the fog of the cooling liquid and became one: my breath and the wort’s mist; my labour and the
thing of wonder. I had brought together four distinct components to make one new living, breathing thing. It wasn’t sentimental or mawkish. This wasn’t a case of bringing new life where old life had ended — the truth about birth and death
“I HAD BROUGHT TOGETHER FOUR DISTINCT COMPONENTS TO MAKE ONE NEW LIVING, BREATHING THING” and fruits, aromas that gripped me and guided me straight to the small patch of earth from which they’d emerged. As I dropped them into the wort, the hop cones swelled, setting tiny pouches of yellow lupulin scuttering across the surface.
beer’s birth. The first part of my journey complete, I put my trust in a microorganism to take me the rest of the way. And so, that first morning, coming down the stairs and hearing the bubbling of the airlock was a
between my teeth. When the mash was over, I tasted it again, this time in liquid form. Thick with sugars and as rich as Sunday gravy, the hot, sweet wort of a brewer’s breakfast reminded me it was two days since I’d last eaten.
is always so much more brutal than that. But in some ways it was transformative. I knew this beer from the inside out, I had touched every last part of it and, in return, it had changed me forever.
Photo Essay / A Tale of Two Sides
A TALE OF TWO SIDES Think Nashville, Tennessee, and what comes to mind? The Telecaster twang of country music as soundtrack to the march of a thousand cowboy boots down a neon clad strip? You would be right, as these are indeed two of the Music City’s most obvious and alluring features. However, while experiencing this is a must, there’s far more to the town than first meets the eye. In this series of photographs, Original Gravity explores the alternative side of America’s music capital. You see, Nashville’s latent creativity extends far beyond its music. This is also a city that thrives on the culinary: in its food and almost certainly in its beer. Whether that beer is a hazy and juicy IPA from Bearded Iris, a crystalcut lager from Smith & Lentz or perhaps a tantalisingly funky sour from Yazoo, Nashville is a town that’s got your back. And there’s Hot Chicken — a Nashville speciality that can and should be enjoyed in abundance. Be it at a popular chain such as Hattie B’s, or at an authentic food truck like Bolton’s. Although hardened spice lovers be warned — they call it ‘Hot Chicken’ with good reason.
A Tale of Two Sides / Photo Essay
Essay / Beer Doesn’t Travel
Travels (and tall tales) with barley BEER DOESN’T TRAVEL. PETE BROWN EXPLORES THE MAXIM
You know this. Of course you do. It’s one of the oldest pieces of pub wisdom there is. It’s why preferences for cask ale remain intensely regional. It’s why Guinness tastes better in Ireland. It’s why you can’t get a decent pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord outside Yorkshire. And it is, of course, completely wrong. Historically, beer production was always local. But the main reason for this is that until 200 years ago, transport involved taking carts down tracks that were muddy and impassable for much of the year. Beer is heavy — it makes little sense dragging it around if it can be made anywhere. And even then, there are records at least as far back as the 1600s of beer from the north of England being shipped
down to London via ports such as Hull. This remained an exception though. As late as the 1950s, there was no one brand of beer sold everywhere across Britain. You could tell where you were in the country by whose name was above the pub door. That’s why I was originally sceptical of the idea of a ‘Great Beer Journey’ when my friend Chris suggested I should attempt one. I’d just won the British Guild of Beer Writers travel writing bursary, and Chris suggested that I should use the money to travel with beer, not just to it. ‘But beer doesn’t travel well,’ I replied. ‘Everyone knows that. It’s always been a localised product so there aren’t really any great… beer… journeys to…’ ‘What? What is it?’ asked Chris. My mind had just flashed upon the one exception 26
‘Beer doesn’t travel well.’
to the rule. In the 17th and 18th centuries great quantities of beer were exported from Burton-on-Trent to St Petersburg. Ships seeking the Baltic white oak that made excellent beer barrels had to take something on their outward voyage, and the royal courts of Peter the Great, and, later, Catherine the Great, proved great fans of Burton brown ale and, later, imperial stout — that’s where the whole ‘Imperial’ term comes from, denoting strong beer that could survive a long, rough journey. Okay, so there was one great beer journey. And then Burton reminded me. There was another one after that. ‘Shit,’ I said. ‘What?’ replied Chris. ‘I think I have to take a cask of IPA to India.’ The ensuing 12 months saw me sacrificing my financial, mental and
marital wellbeing to a full-blown obsession. Almost a year to the day later, I was opening a keg of IPA in the British Consulate in Kolkata, proving that beer travels very well indeed. IPA wasn’t the only beer that went to India: porter, brown ale, cider, even small beer also made the voyage successfully. Regional cask ale preferences had more to do with the structure of the industry and ownership of pubs than anything else. Guinness tastes better in Ireland because they sell so much of it, so it’s always fresher than it is in England. And you can get a decent pint of Landlord wherever the publican knows the special quirks of how to handle it well. It’s mere coincidence, surely, that most of them just happen to work in Yorkshire.
WIN! Enter our amazing competition to win: TWO ‘All you can drink’ tickets for the first cruise of the year on April 13th THREE monthly curated boxes from Craft Metropolis All you need to do is head to originalgravitymag.com to enter. (Yes, we’re going to ask you to sign up to our amazing new newsletter!). Closing date: March 20, 2019 at 23.59. T&Cs online.
Beer Traveller / Poperinge, Flanders
POPERINGE, FLANDERS By Adrian Tierney-Jones
The journey was to Poperinge, to explore the centre of Flanders’ main hop-growing area, an entry into a landscape of distant church spires, solid farm buildings, threads of hedge tracing across the land and the stark, empty post-harvest lines of twine strung up above hop fields. On a benevolent, benign Saturday the journey was on two wheels, in the company of seven brewers from the Southwest, for
whom the vast range of Belgian beers called like a siren on the rocks. At De Plukker where we first stopped, hops are grown, and beer is brewed. ‘The idea came about 25 years ago in a bar,’ said Joris, who took over the farm from his father in the 1990s. ‘What about making beer with my own hops? I had contacts with breweries but the more I got into it the more I was overwhelmed, and put the idea to one side.’ However, he joined forces with Chris, a member of a local beer club, and in November 2011 brewing began. I particularly loved De Plukker Bruin, dark mahogany in colour, with a roasty, chocolaty (milk) character. The finish was dry and the beer was elegant and eloquent in the way it let the chocolate malt engage with the 28
Every journey you make in beer is an exploration. Every exploration you make in beer is a journey. Not a spiritual journey or a shamanic one but a physical journey: the plane is boarded, the train seat settled in, the bicycle unlocked or even, as it was back in the autumn, the driving wheel of a rented minibus gripped.
subdued nature of the Admiral and Goldings hops. The journey continued, passing the odd military isolated cemetery, white tombstones brilliant against the dull tones of earth. At the Westvleteren restaurant, where you can buy ‘the best beer in the world’ as a woman told me, we sat outside and despondently waited for service. I went to the shop instead and bought six 12˚s. Best beer? Not bad. The bar at St Bernadus is like a night club. It’s in a solid concrete building, three floors up and with 360˚ views of the countryside (so not really a night club). The bar glitters and gleams and the names of the beers are black and white against distressed wood, while there’s a pulse of energy in the place that belies the
fact it was a Saturday afternoon. But I was really there to study St Bernadus’ beers: august, rumbustious, classic, panoramic examples of great Belgium beer, drunk at the place where they are birthed. Every journey you make in beer is an exploration. Every exploration you make in beer is a journey. P.S. have you ever tried driving when your front seat passenger, a renowned brewer, is swigging from bottles of 8.5% tripels at 10am whilst having a shouty, sweary conversation with the male Sat-Nav? No? You should, it was possibly the most surreal experience I’ve had since meeting Salvador Dali walking his lobster one morning.
Poperinge, Flanders / Beer Traveller
“I WAS REALLY THERE TO STUDY ST BERNADUS’ BEERS: AUGUST, RUMBUSTIOUS, CLASSIC, PANORAMIC EXAMPLES OF GREAT BELGIUM BEER, DRUNK AT THE PLACE WHERE THEY ARE BIRTHED”
BEST FRIEND A.B.V. 4.2% Hops Simcoe, Cascade Colour Pale Gold Taste Pale gold with tropical fruit flavours and a light bitterness. Brewed with two of our favourite hops Simcoe and Cascade, we believe these hops are best friends.
THRILL SEEKER A.B.V. 4.8% Hops Nelson Sauvin, Vic. Secret, Enigma, Pacific Jade Colour Golden Taste Golden with gooseberry and passionfruit flavours. Brewed with four hops from New Zealand and Australia: Nelson Sauvin, Vic. Secret, Enigma, Pacific Jade.
INCEPTION A.B.V. 6.0% Hops Columbus, Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, Centennial Colour Pale Amber Taste Pale amber with a light malty base and powerful citrus hops. Brewed with five hops from the West Coast of the USA: Columbus, Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo, Centennial.
Web oakhamales.com – Telephone 01733 370500 – Email email@example.com
PALACE BRUT IPL with Passionfruit and Grauburgunder
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