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Credits

Contents

Editorial & Creative Direction

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Volume 2

Nicholas Dawes Simon James Michael Jenkins

Letters from the Editors

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Wild Beer Co. Lower Westcombe Farm, Evercreech, Somerset

Copy Editor Lucy Chamley

021 Tasting The International Rainbow Project

Design Nicholas Dawes

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The idea of craft brewing A personal exploration on whether we need a

Michael Jenkins

definition Digital Michael Jenkins

039 Recipe Chicken & Weissbier Casserole

Cover Photography Robert Battersby

043 Design 100/100

Contributing Writers Kirsten Machray

062 Glossary Brewing Terms

Gaz Matthews

Contributing Photographers

065 Events

Robert Battersby

Birmingham Beer Bash

Simon James

Leeds International Beer Festival

Colin Nicholls

Indy Man Beer Con

085 Brewing Spiced Belgian Ale The articles published reflect the opinions of the

089 Exploring Manchester’s Northern Quarter

respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the publishers and editorial team.

Š Hop & Barley LLP. All rights reserved. All material in this publication may not be reproduced, transmitted or distributed in any form without the written permission of Hop & Barley.

Hop & Barley reserve the right to accept or reject any article or material and to edit this material prior to publication.

Printed in the United Kingdom by Cambrian Printers Ltd on FSC certified paper.

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Question & Answer Alexis Jones

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Advertise 006

For advertising enquiries, please contact simon@hopandbarley.co.uk


Letters from the Editors Volume 2

Welcome to the second volume of Hop & Barley. We’d like to start off by thanking everyone who purchased the first volume, or subscribed to the publication. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support received and are humbled by the kind words offered by many. We’d always anticipated spending a little more time delivering this next volume than the bimonthly schedule would dictate; we were, however, perhaps a little naive as to how much longer this would take. Hop & Barley has always set out to produce a design-conscious publication, with in-depth stories from the brewing industry. As such, we have never wanted to stand still, and this second volume represents a refinement of our original intentions. We’ve been working hard to establish a team of talented writers, photographers and illustrators who will contribute content to this, and forthcoming volumes. We’d like to pay particular thanks to Jo Keeling from Ernest Journal, for collaborating with us on content for the Wild Beer Co. feature and providing the beautiful photography. We’re really proud of this volume and we hope you enjoy reading it. Mike, Simon & Nick

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Wild Beer Co. Lower Westcombe Farm, Evercreech, Somerset

I would say that the majority of the

much the person (or people) that made

groceries in my kitchen cupboard

it really cared about the product they

declare somewhere on their packaging

were manufacturing. With production

that the contents are either hand-picked,

lines

handcrafted or handmade.

supplying

these

meals

in

It seems

unfathomable quantities, does it really

safe to assume then, when it comes to

make a difference that the mash on this

food and drink, human involvement

particular pie was piped by hand as it

within the manufacturing process holds

passed by Irene on the night shift? This

a value to a large proportion of the

desire to appear genuine, seems then,

public. With items from my weekly

to produce a product that is even less

shop

typographical

‘real’ than its downmarket counterpart;

smörgåsbord of banners hailing ‘British

we have been duped into purchasing

Beef’ or ‘Made in the UK’, this gives

a product that was not conceived by

a strong indication that provenance is

an individual craftsman but produced

also critical in informing our day-to-

entirely by a corporation. This concept

day purchases.

of ‘genuine’ is currently extremely

containing

a

pertinent within the UK’s brewing With vast numbers of products and

scene. As the demand for (craft) beer

brands fighting for our attention, many

rises we are seeing more and more

have decided to separate from the

brewing giants entering the fray in order

competition by defining themselves

to take their slice of the profits. With

through their quality.

But do we

their cleverly conceived subsidiary

really believe the marketing, or does

brands masquerading as your new local

it only serve to make us feel better

micro-brewery, it’s harder than ever for

when we’re too lazy to cook from

the unwitting beer drinker to tell if he or

fresh and resort to buying ready made

she is getting the real deal. So how do

alternative? I recently found myself

you make a beer without compromise?

in this predicament, glaring at my

A beer of exceptional quality?

‘luxury’ Cottage Pie wondering how

travelled to Somerset to find out.

We

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The county of Somerset is defined by the rural terrain, so it seems fitting for any brewery based here to embrace it. None have done more so than Wild Beer Co. whose commitment to working with the landscape begins with the name itself. It’s common for rural breweries to seek solace in industrial estates on the outskirts of towns, but Wild is different. Based in the heart of the countryside, a hop, skip and jump from the Glastonbury’s Worthy Farm, the brewery can only be reached by navigating a series of single track lanes. ‘Wild’ it most certainly is. Lower Westcombe Farm on a clear crisp morning is a beautiful place. The Farm is not just home to the brewery but also Westcombe Dairy who have been making their exceptional cheeses here in excess of one hundred years. Conversely, Wild have only been in full operation for a mere two years, but don’t let this fool you into thinking this is an amateur setup. With a wealth of brewing experience from which to draw upon, Andrew Cooper in partnership with longterm colleague Brett Ellis, decided to ‘go it alone’ after becoming frustrated with the limited creative opportunities offered by their commercial brewing jobs. As Andrew remarks “The only way we could go about making the beers that really excited us was to do it ourselves.” Once inside, it quickly becomes apparent that this brewery is totally unlike any other I have visited. With vast numbers of large oak barrels stacked to the rafters, it’s evident that Wild takes the ageing process very seriously indeed. “The majority of the wine barrels we get emanate from the Burgundy region. Then we use some Somerset cider brandy barrels from down the road... we just try and get interesting things really” explains Andrew. The acquisition process however is far from random, as each barrel here is sourced with a particular brew in mind.

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Once delivered, each of these oak beasts is put through Wild’s testing procedure “We’re really looking for positive aromas out of them.” Predictably, not all barrels produce the desired scent and this is when a touch of experimentation may come into play. The ageing may not be a success in the intended scenario but if the barrel’s character is strong enough, then it may prove attractive in another style of beer. Invention will always consist of a certain amount of trial and error, but over the years this process has resulted in a tally of special beers from the duo. If familiar with Wild you will know that the name isn’t just in reference to the brewery’s location but to the types of yeast that make up the majority of their core range. The brewery’s maiden offering came in the form of ‘Modus Operandi’ which was brewed in Bristol on kit borrowed from Arbor Ales. The attributes that were present in this beer were to act as a reference point in the majority of the 012

brewery’s future endeavours. Andrew outlines the original concept for Modus: “A beer that was going to be blended, a beer that is going to use Brettanomyces, a beer that is going to be aged in different barrels.” It is this inclusion of the Brettanomyces yeast strain that gives Wild’s beers their signature bite. Brettanomyces, known as ‘wild yeast’, is naturally occurring on bark and fruits with oak barrels providing a fertile breeding ground for the spores to prosper. Andrew cites beers such as ‘Orval’ and Gale’s ‘Prize Old Ale’ as just a couple of the inspirations behind producing beer with the strain. Gale’s fabulous old English ale gains its distinctive character from a Brett infection that swept through the brewery; the resulting brew was so favourable that the yeast was never cleaned up. Brettanomyces is rarely found in British brewing but its addition was starting to gain popularity across the pond as breweries such as ‘Russian River’ and ‘Jolly Pumpkin’ were experimenting with the style. Building upon the success of the Americans, Andrew and Brett decided that their new brewery would put their own spin on delivering beers with wild yeasts at their core.


Despite barrel-ageing acting as a driving force behind the brewery’s formation, Wild also produces a range of staple brews that forgo this process. Hop fans will not be left wanting after sampling a ‘Madness IPA’. For Brett, a native Californian, it would be impossible to exclude a hoppy, West Coast style, India Pale within Wild’s repertoire. The excellent ‘Fresh’, as the name suggests, dodges the barrels to offer a zingy counterpoint to the brewery’s oak-infused output. With demand for Wild Beer rising throughout the UK, the brewery is also quickly finding mass appeal within the international market, none more so than in the States. With a fifth of all current production finding its way either by bottle or tanker to the other side of the Atlantic, the capacity of the brewery has doubled year on year and doesn’t show signs of halting anytime soon. With two additional 30bbl fermenters on order, Wild are working frantically to keep up. Andrew is already making short term plans to expand into a new warehouse in the spring but with the eventual aim to open a second purpose-built brewery in two years’ time. If all goes to plan, you may even find yourself enjoying one of Wild’s beers in their very own restaurant! A brewing collaboration is guaranteed to excite any beer lover and Wild are veterans when it comes to working alongside other masters. Highlights include ‘Cool as a Cucumber’ - a firm summer favourite brewed in partnership with Fyne Ales and the recent pairing with Toccalmatto on the brilliant ‘Indigo Child’. Andrew is keen to emphasise that these collab brews are often driven by friendships and the process is much more relaxed than the vast amount of beer bloggery and online scrutiny suggests. All great ideas begin with conversation over a good beer, with the partnership brew ‘Comus’ having its origins in a Stockholm bar. Whilst drinking with Eddie Lofthouse from Harbour Brewing Co. in October last year, both brewers expressed an interest in producing a lager. “It’s that simple. We ended up doing a barrel-aged lager... it turned out lovely and it’s just from the two of us having a beer one night and saying let’s do this.”

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There are other ongoing experiments too - Andrew gestures to a barrel behind us, “This is a beer we’re doing with ‘Hawkshead’.” He tells us how both breweries have started with the same base brew; half is being aged in barrels here at Wild, whilst the rest undergoes its maturation in Cumbria. Not only do the barrels differ between these two locations but each brewer has also chosen to add their own fruits and yeasts to the mix. The quantity is kept small as this exciting project is all about experimenting and exploring new possibilities. This, in essence, is where the beauty of the collaboration lies. “From ‘Shnoodlepip’ we found, using a certain yeast, in a certain way, with a certain fruit and a certain spice made something really special.” Working on this beer alongside both ‘Good George Brewing’ and ‘Burning Sky’ gave Wild the impetus to go further than they otherwise would left to their own devices; as Andrew summarises “You tend to be more confident in pushing the boundaries.” The resulting beer is full bodied and gently spiced, and dry with oak undertones which is livened through its tropical fruit character. Topping off Shnoodlepip is an injection of tangy hibiscus flowers, certainly one to try if you haven’t already.

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Making our way through the door at the end of the space, once again, Wild’s oak haul has been meticulously tessellated to fill every nook and cranny. Here we find two members of the brewery’s ten-strong team, carefully moving barrels in preparation to bottle this year’s version of ‘Redwood’. With a red ale as its base, it has been decanted into a range of barrels before the addition of the all-important foraged fruits. An extraordinarily healthy relationship with the local environment successfully serves to set Wild Beer apart from many other brewers. “This time of year we go out and pick sloes, blackberries, loganberries, elderberries... whatever is plentiful in the hedgerows.” For Redwood, each fruit is left to age together with the red base ale for a year in their own barrels, before being blended together the following autumn. The process of foraging is a true love affair, with family and friends pitching in to lend a hand all with the aim of gaining as many interesting natural flavours as possible. “On a Sunday we’ll cook a roast and send everyone out foraging all morning. It’s something we really believe in, it’s a nice way to make beer.” Food and community are values that are held strong by the brewery. Alongside conducting regular food and drink nights, Wild also curate their very own summer ‘Beer & Cheese Festival’. The festival is held at the brewery itself with the dairy providing an excellent range of cheeses to accompany the fermented selection. Andrew tells us that the Cheddar works particularly well with ‘Evolver’ and the pairing of Westcombe’s Caerphilly alongside ‘Epic Saison’ sounds a delight. Beyond the cheese board, Andrew and Brett are making impressive inroads to securing a home for their beers in a number of London’s Michelin-starred restaurants but, it’s the local eateries they are really striving to impress. ‘South Street Kitchen’ in Gillingham as well as ‘Flinty Red’ in Bristol are two fantastic restaurants in the area to have benefited from their outstanding beer lists and we hope that many more will soon join them.

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Unlike wine, beer is often seen as a commodity; many wonder how you can charge more than £3.50 a pint. I’m often asked why I’ve paid such ludicrous amounts for my brew, even by individuals that will happily hand over three figure sums for grape-based alternative. This type of preconception is slowly being eroded as consumers are beginning to understand the methods behind the production of their beers. Take Wild’s ‘Wildebeest’: brewed with the finest chocolate, 1000 vanilla pods and 700 cups of espresso courtesy of Bristol’s Clifton Coffee - no artificial flavours here. Wild’s dedication to sourcing exceptional ingredients and to barrel-ageing is remarkable. With massive punchy flavours, many of these beers will not be to everyone’s taste. If they are not your thing I urge you, at the very least, to respect the passion that determined their creation. For those that revel in intense flavours, Wild have just released a heavy-hitting version of their inaugural brew. Doubleaged and double-barreled, ‘Beyond Modus’ will be something very special to savour this Christmas. Next time you pop the cap of a Wild Beer, feel free to relax safe in the knowledge that it was conceived and manufactured entirely without compromise.

Words: Michael Jenkins Photography: Colin Nicholls

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Tasting The International Rainbow Project

On the 13th September I was fortunate to

brew a beer inspired by a spectral colour.

have attended Beavertown’s Tottenham

The brewers approached the brief in

Hale home for a very special beery

very different ways, some letting the

event. The launch of the International

colour dictate the style, whilst others

Rainbow Project is a celebration

relied on additional ingredients.

of collaboration, pairing seven UK breweries

continental

With ample promotion of the launch

counterparts. The brainchild of Siren

with

seven

and the limited stock stressed, there

Craft’s Head Brewer, Ryan Witter, the

was a sense of urgency to secure a box

project builds on the success of last

for tasting. As the weakest beer stood at

year’s Rainbow IPA Challenge.

seven percent, making my way through all seven may prove a challenge for all

This year, however, no style was off limits, as each pairing were invited to

but some.

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Pogonophobia Magic Rock \\ Evil Twin

7.0% ABV Red: A Belgian red ale that has been aged in red wine barrels and generously dry hopped with US hops, Mosaic and Amarillo. The beer pours a reddish amber with a thin white head that diminishes quickly. Grapes and cherries dominate the aroma with a good dose of woodiness bringing up the rear. The taste is perfectly balanced between the caramel malt and the acidic fruit, both well pronounced without overpowering the other. Like the aroma, the flavour is full of berries; blackcurrant and raspberries predominantly.

The

distinctive earthy aftertaste of this beer is testament to its barrel aging, but is perhaps also reinforced by the mosaic hops which exhibit a similar character. This is the sort of beer that really excites; collaborations will always act as an opportunity for brewers to exercise their creativity, and in tandem, these breweries have 022

produced a brew that does not disappoint.

Saison Beavertown \\ Naparbier

9.0% ABV Orange: A Saison inspired by Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and his love of tropical daiquiris, this zesty saison has been aged in Jerez barrels (a type of Spanish sherry) and fermented with a very dry French yeast. As you would expect with this style, it is very pale in colour with a slight haze and comes with a tight white head. If you didn’t know what Jerez barrels were before, you will after pouring a glass of this; the sherry overpowers any tropical fruit aroma that may be lingering. The taste is very reminiscent of triple sec, but the high carbonation and dry finish lead to something far more satisfyingly refreshing. This beer lives up to expectations; tropical flavours are present in abundance but for me, at least, the heavy alcoholic nature permeates through their subtleties. There is no doubt that this has all the hallmarks of a special brew and is one to be savoured.


Yellow Belly Buxton \\ Omnipollo

11.0% ABV Yellow: Sadly this beer is better known for its controversial attire instead of its beautiful mallow root flavour. It’s hardly surprising given the bottle comes dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, complete with ‘eye holes’. The brewers chose this costume as it is the most cowardly thing they could think of, but enough about the packaging. This imperial stout is velvety smooth and forms a dense tan head as the bubbles work their way up through the viscous treacle-like beer.

As described on the bottle, this

peanut butter biscuit stout is brewed without any of the aforementioned ingredients, but still manages to impart some of these aromas into the beer - although its biscuity flavours are somewhat reminiscent of burnt toast. Despite a heavy roasted coffee scent, the beer remains quite sweet and hardly bitter at all. 023

Juniper and Hemp Double IPA Hawkshead \\ Lervig

7.5% ABV Green: A cloudy amber/orange double IPA that has a strong aroma of tropical fruit and resinous pine trees. You’d expect the Juniper berries to carry a characteristic gin taste but thankfully, since I’m not a fan of the spirit, it’s barely perceptible. As for the hemp addition to the brew, I’m not sure what part of the hemp plant was added but I could not detect any of this either. What does come through in the taste is a continuation of the light tropical flavours in the form of grapefruit and tangerine. There is also a good hint of caramel malts to balance out those hefty hop additions and provide a well-rounded beer. Very drinkable and refreshing for a double IPA, especially when placed alongside the other heavyweights in this project.


Quadruple Partizan \\ Mikkeller

10.0% ABV Blue: Another barrel aged beer, this time old cognac barrels are used to pass on their sweet spicy character. Brandy notes are in abundance throughout this beer, and it’s very drinkable despite the ten percent ABV. Once you delve into the beer, however, you discover it is somewhat lacking, the barrel ageing dominating the timid dried fruit and banana ester flavours. Considering the previous form of these two breweries, producing some of the world’s most interesting and exciting beers, I was a little disappointed by this somewhat tame collaboration.

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Indigo Child Wild Beer Co. \\ Toccalmatto

8.0% ABV Indigo: The only beer in this project whose breweries have taken the colour aspect literally, attempting to dye it with purple flowers. Whilst not strictly indigo in colour, there is an unmistakable greyish-blue hue to the beer. The aroma has the typical funkiness we’ve come to expect from Wild Beer, mixed with red fruit, citrus and hint of Palma Violets. While not as sour as some of the breweries’ other offerings, it maintains a good level of tartness that compliments the cherry flavour. The initial burst of flavour soon dissipates leaving the taste buds wanting more, hence the beer not lasting very long. It’s interesting to note how hard most breweries work to ensure their beer is free from these wild yeast strains, and yet here are two brewers encouraging the contamination of the beer and embracing it as something of a signature taste.


Empress Stout Siren \\ De Molen

8.5% ABV Violet: The second imperial stout of the project, or should we say Empress Stout? Pouring into a glass, the beer is a deep, dark, viscous liquid with a thin beige head floating on the surface. The engulfing aroma is of coffee and chocolate with hints of smoky tobacco; there is also a touch of prunes alongside other sweet fruits. This is a very heavy beer, with a rich liquorice taste and lingering pepper that seem to build with every sip. I was a bit apprehensive of the inclusion of pepper, since it can lend itself to an astringent taste that ruins the beer but, it sits perfectly when combined with the multitude of other flavours. Whilst nonetheless enjoyable in the summer’s sun on an industrial estate in London, this beer would be perfect on a snowy winter’s day after a long walk.

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Words: Simon James Photography: Simon James


The idea of craft brewing A personal exploration on whether we need a definition

This article has one aim in mind: to

and more personal course that seeks

argue for the continued salience of the

to give meaning to the term ‘craft’

term ‘craft’ in the beer/brewing world.

from both a drinker’s and brewer’s

Each day, there are new and ever-

perspective.

louder calls for the term to be dropped,

and ‘craft brewing’ are not in any

due to its technical imprecision or

sense ‘definitions’, let alone precise

indeed its ‘abuse’ by anyone and

definitions - they are simply ideas, as

everyone who works in, or seeks to

yet almost entirely inconsistent, that

enter the brewing world. For many of

nonetheless serve a precise purpose: to

those who drink ‘craft beer’, the term

enliven our enjoyment of beer. Yes, it is

has simply become meaningless and

a ludicrously woolly term, with almost

redundant, and for many CAMRA

no technical rules or boundaries, and

members, this was always the case,

yes it is completely pretentious - to the

especially when considered alongside

point where brewers now often attempt

the term ‘real ale’, whose precise

to create some distance by putting any

definition is of course both meaningful

references to ‘craft’ in scare quotes. Yet

and of central importance to the past,

in spite of all this, most people know

present and future of beer. This article

and expect one thing from the ‘craft’

approaches the subject, not through a

precursor; that they are about to brew

soporific rehearsal of existing technical

or drink something interesting.

arguments, but rather takes a different

For me, ‘craft beer’

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My life as drinker/brewer has been punctuated by a series of events - chance discoveries and serendipitous accidents that, taken together, give a personal meaning to the word ‘craft’ in craft beer. The first was the discovery of my elder brother’s highly illegal bedroom brewpub - the ‘Omega Bar’ (still talked about in Scarborough to this day!), complete with its own brewery, private doorbell, fruit machines, optics, and crisps. Shortly after this, I discovered the amazing world of yeast when the kitchen ceiling collapsed as a result of an overactive yeast population in the brewing cupboard situated above the ‘brewery’. Next, my disappointment at the inevitable airing cupboard explosion during my first attempt at brewing, more than compensated for by the extreme intoxicated pleasure, many years later, when drinking too many bottles of my first successful all-grain brew - a clone of ‘Old Peculier’ (which I believed to be the best beer out there 028

at the time - ha!). These brewing experiences occurred against a background of growing disappointment at the beers commercially available on the market, which culminated in a kind of ‘road to Damascus’ moment. I was with my partner at the epic 2003 Rotherham beer festival when we suddenly became aware of the stark contrast between the homogeneity of beer on offer there and the genuine range of homebrewed beers sat in our own kitchen. This is not an exaggeration. After trying in earnest to find something genuinely different at the festival, by going for the ones with the craziest descriptions or most unusual hops/ingredients, I was left feeling bored, tired and, of course, pissed. I went back to our tent, seeking solace in a jar of homemade pickled eggs, but on arrival these were frozen solid - it just so happened to be the coldest night in UK history. I realised at this very moment, staring at the frozen eggs, that it is possible to brew interesting beer, and that the key to this lay in an open, experimental approach to brewing, and a decision not to let the technical details or restrictions on style get in the way of a good brew.


The decision to switch from homebrew ‘kits’ to all-grain brewing is like the decision to buy your first set of spices for curry making - there is no going back. Free from constraints, every thought begins with ‘what if I chucked in.....’. At the same time, it takes a concerted effort not to follow existing recipes to the letter. However, inevitably the day comes when you make what seems to be a vital error, or you discover that an important ingredient is missing and that the homebrew shop is closed. Perhaps you’re in a bit of a weird mood, decide to throw the homebrew book at the wall, and you take the plunge to make your own beer. My ‘Old Peculier’ clone went something like this. I used a recipe from Dave Line’s now-classic ‘Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy’ (yes, he really did choose to call it that!), only to discover I’d purchased the wrong ingredients and that the recipe called for dark malt extract and saccharin tablets! So I decided to improvise. Two weeks later I was slumped on the sofa after drinking four of these six percent beasts, with a smile on my face. Firstly, because I had retained something of the Old Peculier’s character, but more than this, I had added a certain something that was all of my own making. This ‘something’ is perhaps where the essence of craft brewing is to be found, in the moment when you decide to abandon the attempt at a faithful recreation, and substitute your own monstrous version Indeed, what results is truly ‘monstrous’, because although it is only minimally different from the original, this little adulteration, little bit of poison, alters the beer entirely. Yet crucially, at the same time, the ‘idea’ of the beer remains intact, or at least, my idea of the beer. So, what is the ‘idea’ of Old Peculier exactly? It’s strong, dark, velvety, treacly and very sweet; but despite being all of these things, this combination of descriptors falls short of the idea itself. These same words could also be used to describe Hobgoblin, or even Guinness.

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“This brewing dimension is displayed in all its beautiful horror in beers such as black IPAs, hoppy stouts and, more recently, coffee IPAs.” The idea of a beer is something that is always separate from, and kept at a respectable distance from individual tastes and sensations, something that is perhaps impoverished by our attempts at putting it into words - least of all a list, as with those comics on Ratebeer that write comments such as ‘paradise in the mouth, two-finger head, not my thing’. Arguably the most accurate description comes from David6400 on tasting Westvletern 12; “dddff ffggggg ggggr trtrtrtrtrthh rruty zey zetyezytrey ry ryrtyreutu etrutyuetue eryertet ertyzyeurrt rtyu rtyurtyu.” I know what I mean by Old Peculier, and this might not be Old Peculier itself, but something that, in my mind, it aspires to but never quite reaches. Of course, my own version also failed in this sense, but it perhaps came closer by emphasising a certain quality that, for me, gave the beer its ‘Peculier’ character. Maybe I was just drunk... This brewing dimension is displayed in all its beautiful horror in beers such as black IPAs, hoppy stouts and, more recently, coffee IPAs. Such styles should be embraced, because they showcase a forward-looking experimental approach to brewing, whilst remaining faithful to a certain idea of the style rather than the combination of technical stipulations imposed on the style itself. The idea of a ‘black pale’ ale has been around for over a century.

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Rather than revealing something about levels of (ill)literacy amongst brewers in the past and present, it indicates a point of impasse, where words fail and ‘a certain something’ takes over in the design stage of the brewing process. Reconnecting with this past cannot be achieved through attempts to strictly replicate historical beers - something that is in any case impossible, as we have no means of verification. Rather, we have more chance of resurrecting something of the past - an age-old spirit of experimentation, so to speak - by radically altering the signature of the beer in a novel fashion. Far from destroying the beer itself, something monstrous comes alive in the beer which only serves to enrich the idea of the style itself.

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Arguably, the most important, and most interesting ingredient in the brewing process is the yeast itself. As the primary motor of change in beer, it has a truly revolutionary role to play. Each strain lends a particular profile to the beer with the most notable variations between, at one end of the scale, ‘clean’ yeasts that allow hop or malt character to shine to, at the other end, more ‘eccentric’ strains. Yeasts such as those used to brew saisons (spicy, peppery, tropical fruit), Bavarian-style weizen (clove, banana, bubblegum), Belgian Trappist strains (spicy, phenolic, acetic, fruity) and so on. It is not simply a question of choosing a suitable strain however, but more about how you treat these strains. For example, if we take a saison yeast and keep the temperature constant at twenty degrees, the beer will no doubt still be interesting in some way; but if we instead restrain the temperature at eighteen degrees for a couple of days, and then allow it to free-rise or even ramp the temperature up to thirty degrees over a number of days, the beer will take on more of the ‘eccentric’


characteristics that the yeast seeks to impart. When attempting to make a Belgianstyle tripel, a balance needs to be struck between, on one hand, creating a phenolic note – always part of the style – which come from restraining the temperature towards the beginning of fermentation and, on the other, raising the ester profile of the beer, which results from allowing the yeast to do its work at a higher temperature. Classic British and US ale yeasts tend to provide the brewer with less scope for tampering than their continental counterparts, but can nonetheless impart interesting characteristics. For example, Stone Brewing Co. ferments pale ales and IPAs with a traditional English ale yeast at a relatively high temperature (twentytwo degrees) so as to bring out some of the esters, whereas Russian River’s Pliny the Elder uses an ultra-clean ‘west coast’ yeast to minimise its involvement. The resulting beers are noticeably different: compared to the clean hop profile of the mega-hoppy Pliny, the hop notes in Stone Ruination contain something distinctly fruity and ‘oldy worldy’ which describe a trans-Atlantic migration in the sense that its distinctly American hop-forward character plants its heels firmly in English soil. So, in sum, my story of beer and brewing ultimately boils down to two interrelated components: with regard to beer, disappointment with ‘real ale’ on offer in the UK and when it comes to brewing, a somewhat weird and rocky love affair with yeast as a means of remedying this problem. My relationship with yeast has since taken on a polyamorous twist. In spite of repeated warnings from friends and brewers, I have refused to settle down with one particular ‘house strain’, or even to treat any strains in a kind and consistent manner. Instead, I abuse all the yeast strains I encounter, trying to find their limits; the search for ‘the one’ goes on.

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034


Discussion on the technical distinctions between ‘real ale’ and ‘craft beer’ that focuses on yeast counts, filtration systems, carbonation techniques, and so on, has now become a nauseatingly well-rehearsed topic. Aside from the fact that most new ‘craft’ breweries do not filter or pasteurise, and often produce beer with higher yeast counts than cask ales, focusing on this technical dimension misses one central point which arguably remains crucial: that ‘real ale’ and ‘craft beer’ are terms that denote very different, even mutually exclusive cultural approaches to drinking and brewing. The fact that most ‘craft’ breweries produce both craft-keg and real ale in casks, and that many drinkers will alternate between the two, does not detract from the argument that, in spirit, these styles are worlds apart. The waters are muddied somewhat by the fact that the term ‘craft beer’ was coined in the US, as a way to distinguish itself from mass produced lagers. Despite the term ‘real ale’ being coined in the UK for the very same reason, the emergence of craft beer in the UK signals, for the most part, a decisive break with the restrictions and culture of ‘real ale’ itself. Indeed, the arrival of craft beer announces a break with technical stipulations that decide whether a beer should be counted as ‘real’, so as to designate a separate space for quality brewing practices without always having to adhere to the rules of cask dispense systems. Quite simply, not all styles of beer work well in cask form - particularly continental styles such as wheat beers, bock beers and strong IPAs, to name but a few. With these styles, carbonation is key, as is a cold serving temperature. With hoppy ales in particular, a cold serving temperature means that the beer goes through a mini evolution in the glass, with new malt and hop notes emerging as the beer warms.

035


036


“Where would UK ‘craft beer’ be without both the pioneering and the restrictive stances of CAMRA?” Despite ‘real ale’ and ‘craft beer’ being culturally worlds apart, it might possibly be the case that we are talking about the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in all of us. There are times when we like to ‘know where we are’ with a beer, and other times when we purposefully set out to drink gallons of weird beer. Sometimes it is nice to stumble across an ancient pub with an open fire and engage in sea shanties with the locals, and other times this seems plain ridiculous. Sometimes it is preferable to find a spot in a city serving the red snapper and lychee Berlinerweisse that every beer geek is talking about. One approach is distinctly conservative and nostalgic, whilst the other relentlessly searches for ‘the new’. I would argue that every drinker has this split personality to some degree. What matters in the end, surely, is that neither mindset wins entirely. Where would UK ‘craft beer’ be without both the pioneering and the restrictive stances of CAMRA? Equally, where would ‘real ale’ be without the irreal dimension brought by craft beer’s bending of the rules? Laws need to be transgressed if they are to continue to act as laws. Perhaps it is precisely this turbulent sectarian coexistence that makes today’s world of beer so exciting.

Words: Gaz Matthews, Mad Hatter Brewing Photography: Robert Battersby, Simon James

037


Recipe Chicken & Weissbier Casserole

4

15’

90’

serves

prep’ time

cook time

Simple recipes are often the best and are no doubt made all the more enjoyable when there’s very little in the way of dirty dishes. This one-pot Weissbier Chicken Casserole fits the bill perfectly, with all the ingredients left to gently simmer away freeing you to contemplate the merits of Bavarian yeast strains. Weissbier really lends itself to this recipe since its low hop addition allows the sweetness of the root vegetables to shine through, with the creaminess providing an ideal base for the sauce.

039


Method

Ingredients

Roughly chop all the veg, leaving the potatoes quite chunky

1 whole chicken or 6-8 thighs

to avoid them falling apart - quartering them should be about

500ml of hefeweizen

right. Next, quarter the chicken - if you don’t feel confident

4 large potatoes

doing this you can ask your butcher, or use chicken thighs as

2 white onions

an alternative.

2 teaspoons of olive oil 50g of pancetta or cooking bacon

With everything prepared, heat up the oil in an ovenproof pot

2 carrots

and add the pancetta and onions. Sauté until the onions are

1 parsnip

soft and golden brown.

3 cloves of garlic 1 bay leaf

Now place the chicken in the centre of the dish with the rest

A sprig of thyme

of the veg and herbs (minus the parsley) placed around the

A few spears of rosemary

chicken. With the hard bit out of the way, season with salt

A small bunch of parsley

and cracked black pepper, then place in a preheated oven at

Salt and pepper to season

180°C. After about forty-five minutes, give the vegetables a good stir

Serving suggestion

and pour the weissbier over the chicken. Place the pot back

040

in the oven for a further thirty minutes. Once you are happy

The only thing you will need to serve

that the chicken is cooked all the way through, remove from

this with is some nice crusty bread,

the oven, seasoning the sauce if necessary. In the spirit of

perfect for soaking up the delicious

keeping things simple, serve straight from the pot, garnished

sauce!

with a little fresh parsley.

Beer choice As a keen homebrewer I have used my own beer for this recipe. If you’ve yet to make your own weissbier, Weihenstephaner produce a solid Hefeweissbier that is readily available. Often cited as the oldest brewery still in operation, the Weihenstephan Abbey is home to this definitive hefe weiss. Brewing amongst the walls of the monastery since 1040, it has endured a remarkable history, surviving fires, plagues, famines and even an earthquake. After almost

1000 years’ practice, the brewery’s hefe

weissbier is well rounded with the distinctive yeast flavours of spicy clove and refreshing banana, synonymous to this style.

Words: Simon James Photography: Simon James


041


042


Design 100/100

We’ve all been guilty of choosing a beer

and Nicola Holroyd, the team work

based on little more than artwork on the

across studios in Liverpool and London,

pump clip, bottle or can. As a designer,

on a diverse range of projects for both

I’m probably guilty of this more than

independent and large international

most, but with the recent brewing

organisations.

movement, the brand has never been quite so significant. In the seemingly

100/100 is the latest in a series of

unrelenting world of pales and porters,

self-initiated,

the designer’s role to distinguish a beer

embarked upon by the studio - last

becomes increasingly challenging; but

year saw them hold an exhibition in

through adversity, comes creativity.

aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.

not-for-profit

projects

The inspiration for this year’s venture The 100/100 project explores this

followed their work on the rebrand

concept of creativity through a uniquely

of the Liverpool Craft Beer Co. after

restrictive brief, commissioning one

which they were given the opportunity

hundred talented individuals to produce

to produce a beer with the brewery.

one hundred pieces of artwork for a

“Just the thought of having our own

single beer. It’s the brainchild of the

studio beer was enough for us to

husband and wife team behind SB

explore it further”, tells Benji.

Studio. Established in 2009 by Benji

043


It’s a relatively small studio team, but as Benji’s keen to emphasise, they are supported by a roster of talented individuals who help deliver their award-winning content. Given the opportunity to create their own beer, the involvement of others formed a natural part of the process. Calling upon friends, peers and the public, they’d explore the concept of collaboration to produce a beer with one hundred names, and one hundred unique labels. The process began with the studio spending the weekend at Liverpool Craft’s brewery, working with head brewer Terry to create a beer that was both challenging and accessible. Actively involved in the brewing, selecting flavours and mixing hops, the team produced a five percent wheat beer. Members of the public were invited to suggests names for the beer, confined to the initials ‘S’ and ‘B’. “We received over 1000 entries, some funny, some serious, some risqué and some just plain filthy” - Benji. Following some light censorship, entries were then pared down to a shortlist of just one hundred names. The team then began listing creative folk they had either worked with in the past, or whom they admired and hoped to work with in the future. From some 150 designers, illustrators and artists, one hundred were invited to contribute, selecting a name from the list and creating bespoke artwork corresponding to their choice. As Jamie Ellul, designer of Side Burns (041), notes, “as a designer who sports a large set of burners I immediately connected with the name.” The entries range from the sublime to the ridiculous, no doubt inspired by some of the more fruity names. Fans of Partizan Brewing will recognise the character-led typeforms of Alex Doherty’s Salubrious Bounty (013), now synonymous with the London based brewer. From the striking minimalism of Believe In’s San Bruno (075), to the unsettling, David Firth-like linework of Fraser Muggeridge’s Satchels & Braces (088), all exude the individual charm and character of both the artists and their chosen name.

045


046


From left to right 001.

Soapy Baboon

by Seymour Chwast

002.

Scandinavian Barmaid

by Jack Hughes

003.

Strong Bear

by Adrian Johnson

004.

Sang Biére

by Jean Jullien

005.

Sexy Beast

by Eda Akaltun

006.

Salty Beards

by OH PAPA

007.

Stranded Badger

by Andy Smith

008.

Scaramanga’s Bullet

by Rick Banks

009.

Seriously Brave

by Emily Forgot

010.

Sin Bin

by Crispin Finn

011.

Saul Bass

by Carl Partridge

012.

Spear Britney

by Patrick Thomas

013.

Salubrious Bounty

by Alec Doherty

014.

Shivering Beaver

by Studio Thomson

015.

Smutty Beagle

by Fivefootsix

047


048


016.

Silent Barfight

by Commission

017.

Squiffy Bugger

by Sean Rees

018.

Supercalifragilisticex

Bialidocious

by Kate Gibb

019.

South Bronx

by Studio Makgill

020.

Sylla Bear

by Yehteh

021.

Super Being

by Supermundane

022.

Spandex Butcher

by Ulla Puggaard

023.

Sven Bender

by Oscar Bolton Green

024.

Spartan Barracudas

by Paul Davies

025.

Slumped Bratwurst

by Mind Design

026.

Sweet Brenda

by Peter Quinnell

027.

Sunday Best

by Ben Stott

028.

Stout Ban

by Craig Oldham

029.

Shellsuits & Boots

by Edward Carvalho-

Monaghan

030.

Stupidly Brilliant

by Colophon Foundry

049


050


031.

Slippery Banana

by Magnus Voll Mathiassen

032.

Smoking Beast

by Build

033.

Spock’s Beard

by Spin

034.

Simply Baskerville

by Design Project

035.

Stolen Borris

by David Biskup

036.

Snegs Blooner

by Nicholas Burrows

037.

Sex Brogues

by Matt Judge

038.

Susan’s Boyle

by Coast

039.

Smashing Bonbon

by James Greenfield

040.

Sombrero Bolero

by Think Work Observe

041.

Side Burns

by Jamie Ellul

042.

Snug Breeches

by Robert Samuel Hanson

043.

Sacre Bleu

by Emma Laura Jones

044.

Samson’s Barber

by Jon Cefai

045.

Scout Badge

by Hyperkit

051


052


046.

Subtly Bland

by Corey Holmes

047.

Strange Brew

by Mike Dempsey

048.

Satan’s Bastille

by Paul Felton & Amie

Herriott 049.

Stunning Blonde

by Hey

050.

Sempre Birra

by Bernardo Paz Codesido

051.

Saddle & Bridle

by Alan Herron

052.

Sir Bob

by Design by Atlas

053.

Suarez Bites

by Billie Jean

054.

Salmon Blanket

by The Company You Keep

055.

Sierra Bravo

by Modern Designers

056.

Solo Blonde

by POST-

057.

Seaman’s Bell

by Lucie Sheridan

058.

Satsuma Bolenga

by SB Studio

059.

Spring Bock

by Deanna Halsall

060.

Silver Back

by Dave Smith / Collate

053


054


061.

Snide Bummer

by Mike Perry

062.

Swaying Bishop

by Louisa Parris

063.

Slaughtered Brian

by Studio Family

064.

Shotgun Blues

by Serge Seidlitz

065.

Sticky Banjo

by Craig Sinnamon

066.

So Briety

by Loz Ives / Fieldwork

067.

Salacious Brew

by Gareth Hague

068.

Sailor Boy

by Peter Horridge

069.

Shark Bite

by Roderick Mills

070.

Snorbitz Bugle

by eBoy

071.

Sheila’s Bungalow

by Young

072.

Soul Boss

by Paul Belford

073.

Science Brew

by John Dowling & Andy

Weekes 074. SevenHundred&Seventy-

Seven Bubbles

by Stephen McGilvray

075.

San Bruno

by Believe In

055


056


076.

Sepp’s Bladder

by David Bennett

077.

Show Business

by Mark Studio

078.

Shiny BMX

by Heydays

079.

Sherpa Biggins

by Karl + Craig

080.

Stella’s Bird

by Yoni Alter

081.

Spiky Brown

by Empre

082.

Sesame Beat

by Melvin Galapon

083.

S’up Bruv

by Alice Bowsher

084.

Shampoo and Blowdry

by Romily Winter

085.

Summer Bay

by Stephen Maurice

086.

Splash Back

by Jack Sachs

087.

Strawberry Bubblegum

by Dave Sedgwick

088.

Satchels & Braces

by Fraser Muggeridge

089.

Seagull Blench

by HORT

090.

Seriously British

by Tom Crabtree / Manual

057


058


091.

Sheepish Bravado

by Peter Grundy

092.

Saber-tooth Bunny

by Jim & Lucille Sutherland

093.

Savage Bunny

by Lance Wyman

094.

Slack Bladder

by NB Studio

095.

South Bound

by Bravo Charlie Mike

Hotel 096.

Scargill’s Beef

by Spencer Wilson

097.

Seriously Blue

by Angus Hyland /

Pentagran

098.

Skate Board

by Si Scott

099.

Silent Bingo

by Tom Kidd

100.

Sarah’s Beanie

by For Love and For Money

059


060

“In many ways, the chance to work on a beer brand has eclipsed the notion of ‘designing for record sleeves’ for the new generation!”


Over the past few months, all one hundred bottles have been displayed online, allowing users to vote for their favourite with the most popular labels being put into full production. These, along with an accompanying book, will be available to purchase at launch events and exhibitions both in the North and South, with limited bottles available to purchase at various outlets shortly after. Profits from 100/100 will raise money in support of ArtFund, a charity that for the past 110 years, has tirelessly campaigned for art, supporting Museums and Organisations to keep it in the public domain. It’s an impressive collaborative feat and testament to Benji and his team, but also emphasises the new found enthusiasm for the UK’s brewing scene. “In many ways, the chance to work on a beer brand has eclipsed the notion of ‘designing for record sleeves’ for the new generation!” - David Sedgwick, Strawberry Bubblegum (087). There’s a commonality between the brewing and creative industries, and many of the designers involved are advocates of the craft beer movement. Likewise brewers clearly value the power of design, investing as much time in their brand as they would their brewing. As an experiment, the success of the project should not only be measured in the quality of the content produced, but also as a creative experiment and the precedent it sets. The reliance on design to differentiate will only grow in an ever more saturated market, and the 100/100 project exhibits the potential when brewers and creatives come together. Words: Nicholas Dawes

061


Glossary Brewing Terms

Over the next few volumes, we’ll be delving into some of the finer details of brewing, often using terms that whilst familiar to the more discerning drinker or homebrewer, might otherwise elude the casual onlooker. Hop & Barley was set up to guide the reader through the beer industry, and as relative newcomers ourselves, thought we’d provide a concise reference to some of the terms which will frequent the pages of forthcoming articles.

ABV Alcohol by volume, the standard measure of alcohol content displayed in a percentage. BBL Barrel, a unit of measurement to describe the size of a breweries equipment. 1BBL = approximately 117 litre capacity.

062

Cask A container for storing and conditioning the beer, typically made from stainless steel or plastic. Once the beer is ready for consumption, it is then served by a hand pump or gravity fed. Copper Commonly a stainless steel vessel that is used to boil the beer and also where the hops are added. These vessels were traditionally made from copper, but have since been replaced by stainless steel since it is less reactive. Drayman A person who delivers beer for a brewery. The term “dray” comes from the flatbed horse-drawn cart that was used to deliver beer. Dry Hopping The addition of hops during or post fermentation to add lots of fresh hop notes to the beer. Dough balls Clumps of crushed grain that stick together when added to hot water. These clumps are detrimental to the efficiency of the brew, due to the water not being able to get to the centre of the ball and extract the sugars.


Esters A chemical that adds flavour to the beer and is created by the yeast during fermentation. These flavours can be positive, such as banana and clove in wheat beers, or produce off flavours if the fermentation temperature gets too high. Fermentation Vessel (FV) A large tank where the boiled wort is placed with the addition of yeast, to turn the sugars extracted from the grain into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Keg A container that contains finished beer, and typically requires a gas source to force the beer out and into a tap. Liquor A brewers term for water. Mash tun A vessel used in a brewery to extract sugars from the grain by using hot water and the enzymes naturally found in the grain. Pitching The process of adding yeast to the boiled wort ready for fermenting. Racking Transferring the beer from the fermentation vessels into kegs and casks. Shive A wooden or plastic bung that is hammered into a cask before filling. It has a hole in the centre so a peg can be inserted to regulate the carbon dioxide levels. Sparge The process at the end of the sugar extraction where hot water is poured over the drained grain to extract the last of the sugars. Wort The hot, sweet liquid produced after the sugars have been extracted from the grains.

Words: Simon James

063


Events Birmingham Beer Bash Leeds International Beer Festival Indy Man Beer Con

065


066


Birmingham Beer Bash 24th - 26th July

As the nights rapidly draw in and

visited

Birmingham,

not

properly

the clocks reluctantly give up their

anyway; my previous visits were mostly

summertime status, unable to fight the

restricted to a fleeting view from the

perennial certainty of another British

M5. Like many others I’d frequented

winter, it may seem curious to be

the NEC and the NIA on numerous

writing about a festival that took place

occasions, along with a scattering of

in July. Typically, the beer drinkers’

platform changes at New Street, but

calendar was packed with events that

none of these have given me a true

were sure to facilitate a wide and varied

grasp on the city’s personality. The

range of whistle wetting opportunities,

decision to make the trip was an easy

so why this particular event?

This

one, and unlike the smash and grab raid

gathering was far from run-of-the-mill;

we invariably conduct on this or that

it was, of course, the much anticipated

festival’s particular drinking session,

second edition of Birmingham’s Beer

we decided that this event should be

Bash.

much more leisurely.

With a hostel

booked, we were set to appreciate the I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve never

city’s offerings for the entire weekend.

067


It was then, with tremendous excitement, that I alighted the carriage at the aforementioned station. This time there would be no need for my eyes to frantically scan the departures board, instead I positioned myself in the agreed meeting spot and awaited the arrival of my beer swigging comrades. Once gathered and obligatory insults exchanged, we were ready for whatever the weekend was about to throw at us. Conceived in 2012 by a collection of online beer lovers, the Birmingham Beer Bash is still a relative newcomer to the festival calendar. With a huge passion for beer, the group set about creating an event that brought together all that was great about the UK’s scene. With the overriding goal of delivering the very best, the festival goes far beyond just sourcing great beers from local brewers, and provides a brilliant opportunity to sample beers from around the world. You may have noticed that it seems almost impossible to mention Birmingham in conversation without someone opting to regurgitate dry facts regarding the city’s numerous waterways. With this is mind, I was very pleased to learn that the Bash was to be held at the Bond Co. a former canal warehouse on Fazeley Street in Digbeth. On arrival we were greeted by a remarkably warm welcome and this friendliness was to remain consistent through all further interactions with staff and volunteers over the course of the day (and into the evening). Within seconds of entering the festival the positive atmosphere that oozed from the event was immediately evident. This was by no means a refuge for curmudgeonly drinkers looking to devour cheap booze by the bucket load; instead everyone in attendance seemed to possess a joy at being part of something new and exciting.

069


At the centre of the festival was a bustling, semi-covered courtyard, populated not only by merrymakers but by a delicious aroma courtesy of a quirky range of food stalls. The rear of the site was bounded by the canal, and a graffiti mural injected vibrancy and colour into the post-industrial surroundings. With seating effectively arranged around an inlet, hours of pleasure were in abundance for those who basked in the delightful afternoon sun. Before we had time to join them however, there was the small matter of acquiring our first drink. After finding where to purchase the ever-important beer tokens, we were ready to begin exploring the rest of the Bash. The ‘token room’ itself was home to the 070

international bar, with a fine selection of taps supplying beers from breweries as diverse as Timmermans, To ØL and Toccalmatto to name but the T’s. I equipped myself with an Apricot Scotch Ale from the latter and returned to the courtyard. Directly opposite the canal, a large warehouse housed an array of keg bars which stretched around two sides of the space. Adjacent to these kegs was a vast cask bar that spanned the almost the entire length of the building. Many of these barrels were hooked up to hand-pumps but, with the sheer number of ales on offer, many were being poured directly from the cask. With a few hours to burn on the train, I’d already had a chance to study the beer list in depth, so I had a rough idea of where I was planning to start. Limoncello IPA from Siren seemed a very interesting proposition. As described, “This is a truly different beer. The concept was to develop the flavour and mouthfeel of Limoncello


and fuse with the carbonation and lemony hop hit of an IPA... Tons of lemon zest and juice are added to the boil along with all the citrusy lemony hops available.” With a new found love of sourer varieties, this tart and refreshing brew sounded ideal! As so often with these things, the beer didn’t quite live up to the hype I’d lavished upon it in my pre-festival frenzy. In fact the beer was incredibly refined, no doubt a great amount of skill went into its brewing. The lemon dominated as expected, sourness was subtle, slight bitterness with a beautiful cleansing finish. Very nice indeed – just not the assault on the taste buds I was after. Fortunately for me and others who enjoyed the prospect of facial contortion, the Bash had an entire bar dedicated to sours! The infallible Magic Rock provided a belter in the form of ‘Circus of Sour’. This Berliner Weisse has been aged in white wine barrels before receiving a dose of lychee. Bursting with fresh crispness, the tart acidity was perfectly executed and, at a modest three and a half percent, was rather quaffable. A prevalent theme across the sours bar was the unmistakable tang of Brettanomyces; an acquired taste that when handled correctly in beers such as Orval (one of my favourite Trappist beers) can be truly stunning. Unsurprisingly, Wild Beer Co. did a remarkable job with ‘Schnoodlepip’, flaunting the bret yeast strain with great aplomb. Aged in Burgundy barrels with the addition of pink peppercorns and tart hibiscus flowers, this certainly isn’t a beer for the conservative drinker!

071


072


Away from the sours bar, the beer that sparked a great deal of comment was ‘Squiddy’ from Hardknott. Until this point I had little exposure to this brewery, my sole point of reference being a first edition bottle of Rhetoric that described itself as “A star anise infused quasi-bombastic belgique quad” and at ten point two percent was packed with flavour. With this in mind I had no doubts that Squiddy would be just as bonkers! I quickly came to learn that my suspicions were correct and this pale ale brewed in collaboration with BBB was given its distinctive hue through the addition of squid ink. The beer’s dull, off-black colouring transformed when exposed to sunlight as a beautiful iridescence was revealed. If you’ve yet to taste this beer, I wholeheartedly recommend that you try it. After all the madness it was time to settle into a few session ales at the cask bar. I don’t intend to be sententious in saying that, to me at least, the experimental arm of brewing often resides amongst the kegs, so it was refreshing to settle into a few firm favourites from Moor, Blackjack and The Celt Experience. A personal highlight came in the form of a golden ale by the name of ‘Pamplemousse’ from Waen Brewery. The beer successfully providing all the delightful grapefruit notes that anyone with a school boy smattering of French could have expected, delicious! Retiring at the end of two sessions and a genuinely remarkable evening, there’s no doubt that Birmingham Beer Bash has successfully found a place within my affections. If you’re a fan of beer and want to experience the very best the UK scene has to offer, then look no further. I, for one, will not be missing out on next year!

Words: Michael Jenkins Photography: Simon James

073


Leeds International Beer Festival 4th - 7th September

There are two types of Loiners in this world; those who love the Leeds International Beer Festival (LIBF), and those who have never been. After navigating its tricky second year with ease in 2013, LIBF returned to Leeds Town Hall in September promising more breweries, more beers, more street food and worse hangovers than ever before. Among the attendees were four tax advisors, three personal trainers, two in-laws, one HR professional - and me. Arrive early. Queue anyway. Get wristband, pick up commemorative schooner, buy tokens to conform with arbitrary pricing system – so far, LIBF 3 is identical to its predecessors, and that’s no bad thing. The forecourt is packed with food stalls and the steps already taken up with drinkers trying to eat street food and hold their beers at the same time. Dining tables are underrated. Pass the Grub & Grog stand with some great smelling food and some scary looking spirits. Festival marshal helpfully draws attention to their stall by opening the door 074

their bunting is hanging from – resulting effect is described as artfully dishevelled/ post-modern/ hurricane devastation chic. Grogmen are not impressed. Move to the main hall and meander from stall to stall looking for a nice logo. Yes, I also pick cars on their colour, and no, it’s not because I’m female. Make concerted effort to avoid sours after particularly bad experience with one at Friends of Ham - sounded like alcoholic tangfastics, tasted the way cat urine smells. Have yet to hear anyone pronounce ‘saison’ without sounding like a prick, so these are blacklisted too. Settle on Five O’ Clock Shadow from Weird Beard; tasty and the barman’s beard was indeed bloody weird. Job’s a good ‘un. Spot our new Holbeck neighbour’s Northern Monk and try their (delicious) black pale ale. Briefly debate what makes a pale ale pale, whether a black pale ale is still is a pale ale and whether all of this is vaguely racist. Nice to see it named after Leeds’ little known Dark Arches; unlike their namesake, the beer doesn’t smell like Splash Mountain. Interrupted by octogenarian announcing loudly “it’s nice to see darkies on the bar”. HR professional chokes on his porter. Prior debate ends swiftly. Noticeable increase from last year in check shirts, bearded men and ‘small, independent breweries’ offering cloudy beer that smells like farms. Having trouble finding any of the local favourites and develop strange urge to buy a vintage bike...


Serious smoke haze developing over the town hall steps.

Personal trainers

complain noisily about ignorant smokers polluting the beautiful setting before it’s pointed out the smoke smells oddly Brazilian. Sidle over to the culprit and their South American barbecued goodies; tokens depleting rapidly now but justify it as an investment in my future sobriety. (Spoiler - that was a bust). By process of elimination only, Ilkley Brewery finally located in the live music tent. Chipotle chocolate stout goes down a treat but I don’t wash up my glass properly and the rest of the evening proceeds with a pleasant chilli-cocoa aroma. Time to brave North Bar pop-up Atomium in the old town hall jail cells. Lighting is ‘edgy’, they’re pushing an eight percent stout and the staff are doing shots behind the bar. In-laws look like they’ve landed on Mars (“perhaps they don’t sell lampshades in the North?”). Move on to the basement cum bierkeller. European beer tastes tame after the heavy-hitters upstairs and the room is seemingly designed to resemble a school cafeteria. No sign of the oompah band in the bierkeller, but there are a suspicious number of hairy men in leather shorts camped out at the stalls upstairs. Lack of atmosphere instantly forgiven as The Greedy Pig serves the world’s best scotch eggs in the corner. Fussy father-in-law declares with a mouthful of gooey yolk (not a euphemism) that they’re really very, very good. Occurs to me I may spend the rest of my life never attaining such high praise from him, but they taste so bloody fantastic I get over it. I don’t even like eggs. Work our way around to the USA room and a surprise hoard of vintage arcade games. My favourite beers are American pale ales that taste like bread - I’m told more refined folks would call this flavour ‘hoppy’ - but I’m in Yorkshire, so I try to act wholly unimpressed by the offerings. Going well until I happen across the Smuttynose Brewery which combines toasty pale ales with a cute seal logo; I can’t throw my tokens at them fast enough. The beers are worthy of their multiple awards, the barmen are charming and the seal has freckles. Father-in-law reacts to this pro-Americanism display by ‘accidentally’ knocking my commemorative glass to the floor; they’re all sold out on the door now but he eventually emerges triumphantly with a soiled and smeary donation found outside the gents’ toilets. What better be a small piece of sausage sits sadly at the bottom. I’m told I could have had four of these, there are so many lying around. Lucky me. Night finally ends with the school disco lights-on trick. Drinks are downed, pizza is shovelled, remaining tokens are cashed in and merry revellers spill out into the centre of Leeds to continue the party elsewhere. Was it as good as last year? Perhaps not - but it did take three grown men to peel the mother-in-law away off the Pacman machine. Words: Kirsten Machray

075


076


Indy Man Beer Con 9th - 12th October

It is often described as one of the most

has lead the way when it comes to

forward-thinking beer festivals in the

curating the finest in forward-thinking

country; an event that has rewritten the

brewing talent. Brewers from the UK,

rule book when it comes to celebrations

Europe and the US promise to deliver

of a beery nature. You’ve guessed it,

a mouth-watering line-up of hop-

it’s Indy Man Beer Con, or to give the

tastic creations for a third consecutive

event its full title: ‘The Independent

year, all aiming to please 4000 thirsty

Manchester Beer Convention’.

punters. Set within the sublime walls of Manchester’s Victoria Baths, the

Indy Man has been lodged firmly in

event will effortlessly blow the wind

my calendar since the minute tickets

from the sails of anyone that suggests

were announced, the wait has been

that a beer festival is for stuffy old men.

painful.

Many days have consisted

The weekend, however, soon arrived

of staring desperately at the Twitter

and it was time for me and thousands of

feed waiting for more news to emerge,

other beer devotees to make the annual

but why all this excitement? IMBC

pilgrimage to Manchester.

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The Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road are quite simply breathtaking. On its opening in 1906, the building was described as “A water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud”; a statement that still rings true today. City Architect, Henry Price, took charge of the project in 1903 and ensured that the Baths were fitted with the highest quality materials along with huge numbers of decorative features that have since come to typify the Victorian era. After remaining in constant use for eighty-seven years, the final length was finally swam at the baths in 1993. With such a generous and ornate space on offer, the building has since been re-appropriated and has redefined itself as an arts, education and events venue. With restoration works ongoing since 2002, the ‘water palace’ is destined to be magnificent once more. The world has, thankfully, moved on since the construction of the Baths and all festival goers entered through the same door towards the end of the building. Elegant carvings over the other entrances proclaiming ‘First class males’, ‘Second class males’ and ‘Females’ only served to tarnish the rose-tint of a bygone era. On 080

arrival I collected the customary tasting glass and was pleasantly surprised to find its maximum measure to be one third of a pint. This only went to reinforce the purpose of this event; to taste a great range of new and exciting beers. Inside revealed itself to be just as impressive as the exterior, and I quickly began to grasp just how vast this festival is. The three swimming pools that once catered for the local Victorian bathers, were now filled with throngs of revellers from all over the world. The baby blue changing cubicles that occupied the perimeter, complete with their salmon pink privacy curtains, would not be required for this event however. The pools had been drained of their contents to be replaced by a brilliantly wide selection of intoxicating liquids. Bars at either end of the pools severed up a mixture of keg and cask from the likes of Magic Rock, Mad Hatter and Mallinsons. Friendly and familiar faces manned the taps and your thirds were often poured by the brewers themselves. Fresh from brewing beneath the railway arches that very morning, Rob from Blackjack had successfully hot-footed it over to work the pumps for the afternoon session. Having been handed a cool glass of ‘Deer Hunter’ I couldn’t help but raise a smile, safe in the knowledge that it was poured by the same man that


produced it. Rob’s eagerness is testament to just how well the festival has forged beneficial relationships between drinkers and brewers. This interaction is just one example of the many opportunities the Indy Man drinker has to engage in rigorous conversation with the brewer, a transparency that is quickly becoming a hallmark of the industry. If you’re anything like me, after a couple of beers it quickly becomes hard to avoid dwelling upon the ever increasing emptiness of my stomach. Luckily, IMBC had put on quite the spread! Positioned between the beer bars and the glinting emerald porcelain were a host of food stalls. The range from these independent vendors was impressive; anything from American hot dogs, Indian street food to a goodold-fashioned pie was on offer. With their cult reputation in tow, ‘Almost Famous’ had a permanent queue that spanned the length of the room with punters, hungry to sink their teeth into the legendary burgers. If you fancied something a little more decadent, a four-course beer matching meal was on offer courtesy of Jackie Kearney. Embarking on a proper drinking session and resisting the lure of scampi fries or to forgo a bag of dry-roasted peanuts is an impossibility for many. Here, the snack-happy were not left disappointed. Nibbles came in a variety of different formats from a range of stall-holders, ensuring you could always find the perfect accompaniment to your beer. Discussing the art of snacking with the exceedingly knowledgeable Craig Ballinger of ‘We Eat’ proved somewhat of a revelation. ‘Beer Stick’ in hand, it was time to continue exploring. To the front of the building lay a series of more intimate rooms. Straining to see as my eyes adjusted to the blue hue that washed the walls of Beavertown’s hideout, it didn’t take long for my pupils to focus on the beer I had come searching for. ‘The Earl Phantom’ in collaboration with IMBC was a zesty pale ‘lemon ice-tea sour’. This Berliner weisse style with its delicious wafts of bergamot was reminiscent of Marble’s Earl grey IPA, which we had sampled earlier that morning albeit with a higher carbonation and drier finish.

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It was whilst in the Turkish baths discussing the merits of this brew that we were greeted by Duncan Sime, one of the key organisers of IMBC and a member of the team behind Port Street Beer House, Common and The Beagle. With the event in full flow I was amazed at how calm Duncan was, on the surface at least. His excitement for the convention was infectious and it is easy to see how an event such as this can prosper is such capable hands. Behind the Turkish baths lay the ‘Green Room’ which was curated by Atlas Brands and featured beers from the likes of Cervesa Marina, Brewfist and Toccalmatto. Rooms seemed to lead to off one another, each filled with a more bewildering array of kegs and casks than the last. Having mounted a shipping container onto the back of a lorry, Brewdog had conveniently parked themselves out back, serving up a slice of Punk with the fresh Chorlton air. With the sheer volume of beer on offer it’s impossible to pick any individuals out for special praise; after all, I barely touched the tip of Indy Man’s immense beer iceberg during my visit. The Beer Con is an event that has to be experienced firsthand to be understood fully. Unusually for me, I didn’t approach this event with a ‘game plan’ and I expect that few did. If you have even a passing interest in beer or the scene that surrounds it, I urge you attend. Never before have I remarked so frequently at the beauty of my surroundings whilst at a beer festival. Combining the location with a world class beer list, amazing food and most importantly an incredible sense of community, there’s very little to dislike. My only regret is that I didn’t stay for another session. Words: Michael Jenkins Photography: Robert Battersby

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Brewing Spiced Belgian Ale

As the days of sitting in a sunny beer

have a selection of drinks on offer, and

garden with a pint of pale ale start to

with the long conditioning time of my

become a distant memory, we look

strong, spiced Belgian; I thought it best

instead to a cosy sofa in front of

to get this one on first.

the fire with something robust, dark and comforting. The Belgians excel

Coriander seeds are an essential

at making beers for this occasion,

ingredient for this and many other

quintessential winter warmers flavoured

Belgian styles, but in the festive spirit,

with orange peel and coriander seeds

this recipe includes cinnamon, orange

to give the beer a rich spiciness, the

peel and allspice. I decided to omit

addition of candi sugars helps boost the

bitter orange peel from the recipe

ABV.

despite its frequent inclusion in this style; its addition has the danger of

I had originally intended to brew my

imparting an unpleasant medicinal

successful vanilla porter recipe, but with

tang when combined with this brews

the festive season soon upon us, with

high ABV. Instead, fresh orange peel

it comes a busy period of entertaining

is added to the end of the boil, helping

friends and family, and the need to

to maintain those light, zesty flavours.

ply them with suitable refreshments. When entertaining guests, I prefer to

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The mash 5kg Pilsner malt 1kg Munich malt 500g Special B malt 200g Wheat malt

The boil (90’) 90’

750g Amber candi sugar 35g Hallertau

15’

30g Saaz

05’

10g Orange peel 2 Cinnamon sticks 5g of Coriander seeds 5g of Allspice

086

00’

40g Saaz

Fermentation White Labs WLP545 - Belgian strong ale yeast Batch size (l)

23

Original Gravity

1.071

Final Gravity

1.011

Bitterness (IBU)

18.7

Colour (SRM)

22.3

ABV (%)

7.9


After four weeks the beer should be carbonated, and although pleasant enough, lacks the depth Belgian beers are renowned for.

This is a high

ABV brew with a low hop character, therefore, leaving the beer to condition within the bottle for three months will really see the flavours improve. Crack open a bottle and you are greeted with smokey wisps, pleasingly cascading down the neck of the bottle. You are then struck with aromas of toffee and banana - if you’ve ever had banana fritters from your local Chinese takeaway you’ll know what I mean. Pouring into your chalice, more banana aromas arise as the dark, amber liquid swirls around the glass, forming a bright white head as it does so. Although dark in appearance, this beer strikes a balance both in taste and texture. Toffee and banana combine, their sweetness complimenting the warmth from the orange and cinnamon. And as you sit next to an open fire, your chestnuts roasting, the banana dissipates and more citrusy notes emerge. Joyeux Noël indeed.

Words: Simon James Photography: Simon James

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Exploring Manchester’s Northern Quarter

It’s almost impossible to discuss

The

Manchester’s Northern Quarter without

preceded the contemporary brewing

creative

industry

has

often

the obligatory reference to its Bohemian

movement, the resident community of

culture, and although clichéd, therein

artists, designers and photographers

lies a truth. This is one of the most

demanding a quality and locality to

vibrant, interesting and diverse areas of

their food and drink. There’s no doubt

the city.

the Northern Quarter’s creative success has been instrumental in spawning

Little more than a five minute walk

a wealth of new brewing talent such

from Piccadilly station, the streets

as the likes of Marble, Runaway and

of Tib, Newton, Oldham and Dale

Blackjack amongst many others.

intersect a landscape defined by its industrial past. It’s an area which could

We arrive on the weekend of Indy Man

be likened to Shoreditch in London, or

Beer Con; the tiled walls of the Victoria

the Kreuzberg borough of Berlin. The

Baths seemingly unable to contain the

Northern Quarter however, has thus far

festival atmosphere which has now

avoided the homogeneous development

taken to the streets north of the city.

beset upon these areas and we find

We are joined by hoards of enthusiastic

ourselves here at its peak, comfortably

drinkers, either fresh in anticipation of

defined by the businesses and people

the evening sessions, or ‘fresh’ from

that established it.

their afternoon’s attendance.

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Blackjack Brewery 36 Gould Street

The walk down Gould Street can be a little disconcerting, the urge to flee back up to the Marble Arch growing with every step into what appears to be a light industrial estate. But as you press on, you catch sight of the railway arches running parallel with Bromley Street which, like many a metropolitan undercroft, have become synonymous with the city’s brewing industry. Founded by former Marble employee Robert Hamilton, Blackjack has been brewing up a flush selection beers since February 2012. Certainly, Rob and his team play a good hand, producing a core range of seven beers alongside an ever growing number of seasonal/ specials on their 4.5bbl plant inherited from the back room of the Marble Arch. In the short two years since its inception, Blackjack has accrued quite a following, typified by the popularity of its brewtap. Located beyond the confines of the arch, amongst the barrels of spent grain, this outdoor space offers revellers a retreat from the city, a place in which to soak up the last of the evening sun with schooner in hand. Some would describe it as a little makeshift and in truth it is, but it’s also wonderfully tectonic space, the charm of which lies in its originality. Greenery sits cradled between slats in the pallets, timber planks rest upon discarded casks to form makeshift benches, and the transparent husks of key kegs make for ethereal light shades.

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But as the days shorten and the temperatures fall, Blackjack’s focus instead falls to its new, more permanent venue

in

the

recently

renovated

Market House in Altrincham Market. It’s the brainchild of Nick Johnson, an influential figure in forming the current cityscape who has transformed the refurbished Victorian market hall into a thriving culinary destination. Housed around the perimeter of the large communal dining space, a range of independent traders serve up some of the area’s best food and drink. Occupying a corner of the hall, The Jack in the Box’s glass cellar boasts an ever changing lineup of four casks and eight kegs to be enjoyed come rain or shine.


Marble Arch 73 Rochdale Road

One of only a few surviving pubs in the area, the Marble Arch has no doubt been the bellwether to Manchester’s recent resurgence. Stood prominently on the intersection between Rochdale Road and Gould Street, the pub and its brewing arm, Marble Beers, have led the way in the city’s changing fortunes, and in the process, forged a path for the new wave of brewers and bars. Built in 1888, this Grade II listed pub is a snapshot of a bygone era. Whilst its polished red granite facade may be somewhat at odds with its name, the interior is quintessential Victorian boozer.

Tiles line the surfaces, interrupted only

by the punctuated leather pews flanking either side. The floor, complete with floral embellishments, gently slopes downwards from the door, cannily leading you towards the bar at the rear of the pub. Tucked away in the far corner, the mahogany letterbox is turreted by eleven hand pumps, leaving barely enough room in which to exchange sterling. Naturally, Marble’s own pump clips feature heavily, interspersed with some of the local talent. Whilst Marble’s beers can be found readily throughout the North West, you won’t find a more appropriate location, nor a more comprehensive selection than here. Brewing began on-site in 1997 as a means to help fund the pub, but it soon found demand exceeding the capacity of its small plant housed in the back room. Since 2012, the brewery has been operating beneath the railway arches on Williamson Street, and whilst sites may have changed, their emphasis on producing hopforward, natural beers continues. There’s no shortage of good session ales in which to settle yourself for the day, the laconically named ‘Pint’ as good a place to start as any. However, we’d recommend going a little leftfield, and sampling something from the more premium taps. Dobber, a 5.9% IPA is based upon ‘Pint’ albeit matured with New Zealand hops providing it with zesty, grapefruit aromas built upon a light, malty base with a hint of biscuit. Ginger, a 4.5% pale ale is anything but pale in character, with warming ginger infusing both the aroma and taste. Last but by no means least, Earl Grey IPA, a 6.8% collaboration with Brouwerij Emelisse. The distinctive bergamot aromas impart a delicate flavour throughout the beer, that when combined with Marble’s fragrant hopping, makes for a wonderfully floral tipple.

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Soup Kitchen 31-33 Spear Street

There’s no shortage of good places to grab a bite to eat in the Northern Quarter; certainly, if your idea of a good burger involves a myocardial infarction, then Almost Famous’ brioche-based opulence should suffice. However, for a quick bite between bars, Spear Streets Soup Kitchen is hard to beat. Set back from Stevenson Square, its relatively unassuming frontage implies little of what goes on inside. Seek out the emblazoned neon ‘SK’ adorning the windows however, and you’ll be treated to real gem in the Northern Quarter’s crown. True to its namesake, there’s soup on offer, but this sits alongside a solid menu of made-to-order sandwiches, salads and jacket potatoes, as well as the mouthwateringly enticing Caribbean menu of jerk chicken and goat curry. It’s honest, wholesome food served in a relaxed canteen atmosphere. As you make your way along the counter, shuffling your tray as you do so, steam rising from the array of food in front, you edge ever nearer to a surprisingly plentiful selection of beers. The bar features a modest offering of bottled and canned international beers, but we’d recommend holding out for one of the six cask ales. There’s an emphasis towards local brewers and more sessionable ales, but this is perhaps a wise choice, offering a brief respite from the hop-laden, juicy bangers* to come. The informality of the canteen-style service and communal dining area make for one of the most relaxed and enjoyable dining experiences in the city, a real haven. This, however, only tells half the story, for where else would could you sit, slurping away at your jerk chicken broth, just feet away from the aural aftermath of a Venetian Snares set? Lurking in the depths of the basement, Soup Kitchen’s subterranean venue is at the cutting edge of the Manchester music scene, regularly hosting a formidable lineup of forward-thinking musical talent, making this a destination worth seeking out should you want to supplement your ABV with some BPM. *http://thebeerdiary.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/electric-citrus-the-rise-of-thejuicy-banger/

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Beermoth 70 Tib Street

Hailed by some as “the area’s much needed off-licence”, I consider this term a little insulting, perhaps, dare I say, even blasphemous. Opened in February last year by friends Jeremy and Scott, this is a specialist shop in which to explore the global brewing culture through an exciting and eclectic selection of beers. Both have previous experience of the city’s beer culture; Scott having worked as the manager of The Knott, Deansgate; and Jeremy in Port Street Beer House. As Scott tells me, the idea to open a beer shop came about in the summer of 2010, after Jeremy and his wife had returned back from two years in Utrecht; “We did it for selfish reasons, really. There was no shop close-by with a selection to get excited about, especially considering the almost worldwide new enthusiasm for brewing.” Arriving from the south, the shop juts out from the terrace, interrupting the pavement but in doing so (gratefully) alerting you to its presence. It’s a beautiful storefront reminiscent of a Victorian dispensary, a theme reflected inside, albeit with glassware serving a different form of alleviation. White boxes sit against the walls, juxtaposed against the bottles. A large table dominates the space, sitting purposefully low, inviting you to pick out beers in curiosity. Making your selection causes something of a headache, the phrase ‘kid in a candy store’ springs to mind, but it’s a good problem to have. It’s a labour of love, and a reflection of both their knowledge and passion for the craft. British, American and Belgian beers define the comprehensive selection; “We’re horrendous beer geeks”, Scott confesses. It doesn’t end there however, at the back of the shop, narrow steel steps wind their way down into the basement where hop flowers cling to the tops of walls, the low ceiling and equally low lighting serving to emphasise the solitary fridge stood on the far side. The recently opened tasting room, is a space in which to enjoy your choices from upstairs, isolated from the burdens of the everyday world and serving to heighten the senses as you savour your beer - unadulterated pleasure.

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Port Street Beer House 39-41 Port Street

Open since 2011, Port Street Beer House has been at the forefront of the North West’s craft movement, catering to the needs of the hop-forward generation. There’s a domesticity to its presence endearing it a certain anonymity reserved for only the most discerning drinker. To the well-informed then, this is something of a pilgrimage, our day’s ventures inevitably leading us here. Indeed we are not the only ones who found ourselves gravitated towards this infamous haven of beer. Instead we are joined by a group of pleasantly inebriated Indy Man zealots who, having made the journey north from Chorlton, continue to fuel their merriment and indulge us in stories of the weird and wonderful they have left behind. Upon approach to the bar, three beer boards greet you, each laden with chalk and read like a beery bucket list. The seven hand pulls, eighteen draught lines and countless bottles represent the cream of the world’s collective crop - Bevog, Green Flash, Moor, Founders, Siren, To ØL, Brewfist, Kernel and Magic Rock all finding their place on the taps during our visit. A healthy calendar of festivals, tap takeovers and meet the brewer events serves to support the selection, often sourcing rare and wonderful beer. The lineup is ever evolving, and is testament to the passion and knowledge of the team behind both the bar and the infamous Indy Man Beer Con. The domesticity of the outside continues inside, where large, lounge-like spaces make for a relaxed atmosphere. There’s little in the way of food, or anything else to dilute the focus away from the beer, just an enviable array to enjoy amongst friends, strangers or otherwise.

Words: Nicholas Dawes Photography: Robert Battersby

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Question & Answer Alexis Jones

Tell us a little about yourself... I was brought up in a very tiny village called Bricklehampton which lies between Pershore and Evesham, in Worcestershire. It was very rural with only a row of eight houses, a single post box and nothing else but farms and fields for three miles. Growing up in this area I spent most of my childhood helping out on the local farm as it was something that interested me. I guess that continuing 102

to work with grains & hops is understood coming from my younger years. After I left school I went to work in a bacon-processing plant before passing my HGV licence and driving trucks around Europe carrying soft fruits. From this I found a new hobby in home brewing and eventually decided to go pro, setting up Mad Dog Brewing Co. I began by getting myself on a brewing microbiology course at Brew Lab before being employed as a brewer at The Celt Experience. At the same time as being at The Celt Experience, I decided to start a craft beer network, namely the ‘UK Craft Beer Network’.


What is the UK Craft Beer Network? The UK Craft Beer Network (UKCBN) is a network for all kinds of people from a craft beer background. By this I mean home brewers, craft brewers, breweries, pubs, bars and, of course, the people that love to drink craft beer. It currently has over 1,400 members on its Facebook group page with the same amount of followers of Twitter. We also have a decent amount of members on our website which is free to join. Why did you start the UK Craft Beer Network? My idea of setting up the UKCBN was to bring those people who are involved with craft beer and homebrewing together with the people that love to drink craft beer. Since I founded the network in July 2013, there has been a lot of very successful outcomes, with people making new friends and most of all learning from each other. The homebrewers of the network learn from the pro’s and at the same time, we are finding that some of our craft beer drinkers are also starting to dabble in home brewing. What have you got planned in future for the UK Craft Beer Network? Later this year me and the rest of the UKCBN team - that being Nick Swann (Blogger), Sarah Pantry (Web Mistress), Max Ashton (General Beer Nerd & Tech head) and of course Ian Bowler (Events Coordinator) - have plans to start a live video broadcast once a month aimed at all of our members. The show will cover homebrewing and craft beer topics with interviews from professional brewers and authors from all over the UK. Viewers will also be able to interact with us and other viewers by commenting in real time as well as calling us live with any brewing related questions. We are also in the planning stage of holding a mass craft beer/homebrew festival for 2015. This will be a chance for home brewers to exchange their beers and participate in the UKCBN competition. I am hoping that a small amount of craft breweries will also be there. Something else in the pipeline is a homebrew shop award, voted for by our members through an online poll. The best homebrew shop will then get a recognition from the UKCBN and an award for them to hang up on the wall. Tell us about Mad Dog Brewery Mad Dog Brewing Co. has recently been set up to offer those people who normally drink regular lagers and beers something more exciting to drink. After all, I am sure a drinker would much prefer to spend their money on a product that has taste and they can enjoy rather than something that may be bland. Reeducating the drinkers is a mission.

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The name Mad Dog along with the slogan ‘Arty Crafty Messed Up Beer’ says a lot about what the brewery is about. I decided to make beers that did not just have the regular ingredients such as malt and hops, but adjuncts such as fresh fruits, spices or anything else I can get my hands on. To me this makes a product interesting. What Mad Dog beers should we look out for? Submissable Anarchy 6.4% - A winter IPA full of US citrus hops, with honey added to the boil and cold conditioned with a hint of juniper berries. Martian Apocalypse 4.6% - A pale beer that is very big on hop flavour that gives flavours of oranges and melon, cold conditioned with a shed load of strawberries. Bark Like a Bird 5.0% Red Rye IPA - This beer uses the best blend of pale and chocolate rye malts, combined with US hops and US yeast to give it some POW! Very refreshing beer. Twisted Cyclops 4.2% American Pale Ale - This beer uses four different malts and five different hop varieties. It is super hoppy, which gives a smack on the nose of pink grapefruit from the bitterness but is then followed by the tastes of lychees, mango and lime. I also have plans to brew a brand new West Coast IPA that will be a massive 7.4% and even bigger 168 IBU’s! It will be brewed in the new year but it has already gathered a lot of interest.

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Apart from your own, what are your favourite breweries? I really like beers from Beavertown and also some from local breweries such as The Celt Experience, Waen, Tiny Rebel, Hopcraft and The Hand Made Beer Co. Also, international breweries such as Mikkeller (Denmark) and, despite only having tried two of their beers, I really like Dogfish Head from the US. Do you have a favourite beer/style to brew/drink? I love anything that is super hoppy. I also love beers that are totally different, by that I mean have ingredients that you would not expect to find in beer. I guess this has inspired me to do what I’m doing with Mad Dog. Where do you see the brewing scene going? There is a total revolution going on in the UK where beer is concerned. People are becoming more wary on what they spend their money on, so from a personal point of view, I think people would rather spend £4.50 for a half, knowing that they are getting a high quality product rather than paying less for a pint for something that tastes bland. People seem to becoming more educated about beer. With this, pubs and bars are re-thinking the products they sell, moving away from more permanent offerings to a selection of different beers every week. This alone makes it more interesting for customers.


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Vol. 02 | ISSN 2056-9955

Hop & Barley - Vol. 02 - Craft Beer Quarterly  

Exploring the people and stories behind the craft beer movement.

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