Ferment Issue 19 // The Elements Project

jamesbeer52

We’ve focused on malt, hops and yeast; how they’re grown, prepared
and used, and even some of the key figures in their recent history.
There’s a fair bit of science being thrown around, but in a good way,
which will hopefully give you some top-quality pub ammunition for
the next time the chat turns geeky.

772397 696005

9

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£4.99

FERMENTMAGAZINE.COM | ISSUE 19

ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

the science

of beer

Meet the geniuses

behind modern brewing,

and see your pint in a

whole new light


THE CRAFT BEER


EDITOR

Richard Croasdale

DESIGNER

Ashley Johnston

@fermenthq

@fermentmagazine

Contributions, comments, rants:

richard@beer52.com

Editor’s

Note

Lallemand, page 24

ADVERTISING

To discuss how Ferment

could work with your brand,

request a media pack or

book an advert, contact:

ferment@beer52.com

PUBLISHED BY:

Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 3,

26 Howe Street,

Edinburgh,

EH3 6TG

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in October 2017 in

England, UK by JamJar Print Ltd.

All rights reserved. Reproduction

in whole or in part without

written permission is strictly

prohibited. All prices are correct

at the time of going to press but

are subject to change.

When I heard about The Elements Project, my first thought was

that it would give us an absolutely brilliant reason to really dig

into the three magical ingredients we all take for granted. So

we’ve focused on malt, hops and yeast; how they’re grown, prepared

and used, and even some of the key figures in their recent history.

There’s a fair bit of science being thrown around, but in a good way,

which will hopefully give you some top-quality pub ammunition for

the next time the chat turns geeky.

Elsewhere, we journey from Munich in an attempt to uncover the

‘real’ Oktoberfest, then to Pyongyang, to find out what effect North

Korea’s increasing isolation is having on what was already the world’s

least accessible brewing scene.

Brian Jones brings us his beer lover’s guide to craft coffee, while

grape guru Archie McDiarmid discusses how the old dogs of the

wine world are learning new tricks from craft beer whippersnappers.

Finally our columnists Melissa Cole and Ollie Peart get some

serious issues off their collective chest.

We really hope you enjoy this month’s box, and this special issue of

Ferment. Please feel entirely free to share your thoughts, feelings,

charcoal sketches, slam poetry and dance routines @FermentHQ or

ferment@beer52.com

Cheers, Richard


Our contributors

Matthew Curtis

WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER

Matthew Curtis is an awardwinning

freelance beer writer and

photographer based in London,

UK. He is the founder and editor

of beer blog Total Ales and is a

contributor for Good Beer Hunting

in the US. @totalcurtis

Melissa cole

WRITER

Certified Cicerone® and beer &

food writer, Melissa Cole is one

of the UK’s leading beer experts.

Author of Let Me Tell You About

Beer, international beer judge,

collaboration brewer, sommALEier

and regular festival presenter.

Louise Crane

WRITER

Louise Crane is a freelance science

and drinks writer, and a Spirits

Advisor at The Whisky Exchange in

London. She holds a Masters degree

in History of Medicine and is a

trained ballet dancer. Oddly.

CONTENTS

10: Anders brewery

Meet the upstart brewers

behind this month’s box

10: harvest festival

We join Hogs Back brewery

for a classic hop harvest

22: Jason Perrault

The hop impressario behind

Mosaic and more

24: beauty and the yeast

How development of new

yeasts is opening flavour doors

30: emil hansen

A pioneer, who revolutionised

the science of fermentation

38: grand designs

Every great beer deserves a

great label

Alex Paganelli

CHEF & FOOD

PHOTOGRAPHER

Recipes

As founder of Dead Hungry,

Alexandre has been creating

incredible recipes for Ferment.

deadhungry.co

Mark dredge

WRITER

Matthew Curtis is an award-winning

beer and food expert based in

London. He has written four books

including The Best Beer in the

World, where he travelled the world

looking for the perfect pint.

Ollie peart

WRITER

Broadcaster, writer and host of

the insanely popular Zeitgeist

podcast, Ollie keeps his finger on

the pulse so we don’t have to.

@Ollieep

34: armageddon out

of here

Ollie Peart ducks and covers

46: beer school

Louise Crane digs deeper into

the science of fermentation

55: homebrew

Your monthly surgery with

The Grainfather

66: Red oktober

Matt Curtis, on how to do

Oktoberfest properly

74: pyongyang or bust

Venture to one of the most

elusive beer scenes in the world

82: beer guide

Your indispensible guide to

The Elements Project

88: craft coffee

Everything you need to know

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


THE

ELEMENTS PROJECT

Beer52 founder James Brown discusses the technical and creative partnership

forged over an unforgettable weekend at Anders Brouwerij

P

articularly over the past year or so,

we’ve seen plenty of beers that use

fruit, chocolate and every other

adjunct you can think of, to create bold

new experiences in flavour and aroma.

As exciting as these brews are though,

it’s hard to beat the astonishing variety

that can be accomplished using just

three simple ingredients: Malt, hops

and yeast.

To celebrate beer in its truest form,

Beer52 has partnered with Brouwerij

Anders, one of Belgium’s most

respected breweries, on The Elements

Project: a series of beers that will allow

members to compare and contrast

the myriad different characters that

can be created by tweaking just one

element of some classic beer recipes.

Throw in original label artwork from

some of our favourite designers and

you have a truly unique and ambitious

collaboration, exclusively for Beer52

members; the first of its kind for any

craft beer club.

I was introduced to Anders Brewery

by a good friend of mine, Ronald De

Waal (aka The Flying Dutchman). A

true nomad brewer with over 20 years’

experience, he’s one of the torchbearers

of the gypsy brewing movement in

Europe. Nowadays, Ronald brews his

awesome range of beers at Anders,

as do our friends at the Brussels Beer

Project.

After an initial chat about our vision

for The Elements Project with Pieter

De Bock, Brewmaster at Anders, he

immediately understood and rather

excitedly started bouncing his own

ideas around at what was possible with

different ingredients and processes.

I knew then that we could create

something special together; it was on.

I spent the next week in sourcing of

some of my all-time favourite beers,

covering a wide variety of styles from

the classic Belgian Blonde to the supermodern,

hazy New England style IPAs.

So, armed with a couple of heavy

suitcases loaded with beers that we

could taste and reference together, I

headed off to design the beers with

Peiter at Anders Brewery, based in

Halen, a sleepy little Belgian town

60km east of Brussels.

Over the course of a few days

together, we separated out the beers

into our three categories – hops, malt

and yeast – and tasted dozens of worldclass

examples that championed each

particular ingredient. Think a table

load of Belgian beers for our yeast, bighitting

modern IPAs for the hops and

full bodied roasted stouts and sweet

ambers for the malts.

With the beers all lined up on a

table with corresponding tasting

notes, we enjoyed deliberating and

deciphering the exact characteristics,

asking what would really shine through

if we could only change one thing in

the beer. To help in our decisions, we

practically emptied the store cupboard

all variations of malt and hops strewn

across the brewery tasting room.

After much sampling, discussion,

note taking and recipe iterating we

selected the styles, hops, malts and

yeast to be used in each beer of the

12 beers included in The Elements

Project; all brewed fresh (and definitely

best enjoyed fresh) exclusively for our

members in this unique collaboration.

I hope you enjoy drinking the beers as

much as we enjoyed creating them and

let us know what you think @Beer52HQ.

8 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 9


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: ELEMENTARY MY BEER

ELEMENTARY,

When Beer52 set out to create its

very own box of experimental

brews for The Elements Project,

we wanted to work with a brewery that

combined a rock-solid technical track

record with a sense of adventure and

creativity. Anders Brouwerij was an

obvious choice.

Anders may very well be one of

the largest, most respected breweries

you’ve never heard of, as it doesn’t

brew any beers under its own name; it’s

a contract brewer, handling production

for other high-profile breweries from

Belgium and beyond. Founded in 2012

with a team of three, it had initially

aimed to brew 3000 hectolitres in its

first three years of operation. By the

time it hit its third birthday, the team

had expanded to 18 and the brewery

had almost hit the 20,000 hectolitre

mark.

“Business was busy from day one,

and we were taking on new customers

all the time” says head brewer Pieter

De Bock. “That allowed us to expand

much more rapidly than we’d initially

planned, taking on new staff, investing

in more fermentation vessels and

upgrading the brewhouse.”

When Pieter joined in 2015,

replacing the brewing engineer who

had been part of the original team of

three, part of his role was to plan out

what he refers to as “Anders 2.0”. This

meant a new brewery setup on a new

site, five times larger than the original

facility, with a total annual capacity of

100,000 hectolitres. This new brewery

– in which the brewhouse, fermentation

vessels, bottling line and logistics are

all together in one 3000 sq metre room

– will brew roughly 43,000 hectolitres

in 2017, with plenty of room to grow.

As we all know though, size isn’t

everything; the more interesting story

is the ethos that has underpinned

Anders’ phenomenal growth. Very

few of the brewery’s customers arrive

with a recipe, saying “brew this please”

– instead they rely on the expertise

of Pieter and his team, and their

knowledge of the kit to make the best

beer possible.

“Sometimes we just have to say

to customers ‘that’s a great idea, but

maybe try it this way instead',” says

Pieter. “We certainly don’t take every

idea or every recipe and brew it

blindly. We talk with the customer and

say ‘be careful, because with these

We certainly don’t

take every idea or

every recipe and

brew it blindly

ingredients after six months the beer

will not be good any more, you probably

won’t be able to export it'. For us that’s

a duty to explain to the customer the

consequences of making such a beer.

“It’s important to be open and let

the customer explain their idea though

– we’re constantly surprised by what

customers can come up with, things we

would never even have considered. So

we have to be flexible and creative. That

isn’t something that comes particularly

naturally to Belgian brewers, we tend

to be quite conservative about making

beers!”

That bedrock of Belgian

brewing expertise is definitely an

10 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 11


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: ELEMENTARY MY BEER

advantage though, whatever style of

beer you happen to be making, and

was one of the main reasons Beer52

chose to work with Anders on The

Elements Project.

The beer culture we have in Belgian

has been a big reason for our success

internationally I think,” confirms

commercial manager Nicolas Volders.

“We’ve always had a very wide range

of different beers here – abbey beers,

sour beers, saisons – so we have a lot

of different techniques at our disposal.

Other countries like France, Germany

and Scandinavia were really only

drinking lager for several decades.

“When the American craft movement

hit Europe, all these other countries

became interested in these creative,

flavoursome new styles, and we’ve been

able to provide the perfect partner for

doing that; not just Belgian beers but

all styles, like IPAs.”

Pieter confirms the sheer range

of beers he’s asked to brew is one

of the most exciting aspects of his

job: “I wouldn’t say we’re experts in

everything and we’re learning every

day. Just in the past six months, we’ve

brewed a number of completely new

styles, like the New England IPA. That

will never be a style that’s popular in

Belgium, that’s for sure, but for me as

a brewer it’s interesting because it’s

so different in many ways. So yes, we

really enjoy being challenged by and

learning from our customers.”

Beer52 was introduced to Anders

by another of the brewery’s customers,

nomadic brewer The Flying Dutchman.

“When we first heard about The

Elements Project it was very exciting.

Comparing recipes side-by-side isn’t

something you’d usually be able to do

as a beer-lover, but it’s the best way

to learn about the characteristics of

different yeasts, grains and hops, so it

should be a great education and – we

think – some very enjoyable beers.

When we were working together on

the recipes, we’ve tried to give a broad

range of different characteristics so

you can see the variety that can be

Do a pair a day

though - don't try

and work through

them all in one go!

achieved with small changes.

“It’s been great working with Beer52

because I think we share a lot of the

same feelings about beer. In particular

James emphasised how important it

was that we get the beers out to the

customers as fresh as possible, which

is something we always say too, so that

was good to hear. It was a great match

from the beginning.”

Pieter looks forward to hearing

how the beers are received by Beer52

customers, and advises to open each

paired beer side-by-side.

“I would go for a tasting the pairs

together. You need to compare them

with each other, opened at the same

moment; that’s the interesting and most

educational to do it. But I would only do

a pair a day though – don’t try and

work through them all in one go!”

12 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 13


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: GREEN GOLD

Richard Croasdale joins the hop harvest

at Surrey’s Hogs Back Brewery

There is something lyrical about a

hop garden at harvest time, when

the sun hangs low and bright in the

sky, filtering through the long hanging

vines heavy with moist, fragrant cones.

Walking between the uniform rows

of carefully cultivated plants, the air

is cool and still, redolent with the

heady, herbal, lemon astringency of

green hops, ripe for picking. Reach

out and pluck one, and it falls apart

easily between your fingers, exposing

the oily yellow of the aromatic lupilin

glands; the source of so many of the

flavours we as beer lovers have grown

to cherish.

I’m here in Surrey to share the hop

harvest with Hogs Back Brewery, a

small brewer of mostly traditional

English ales, established 25 years

ago and already a firm favourite

of CAMRA, as well as a growing

contingent of newer craft beer fans.

Tomorrow is the brewery’s harvest

festival – when it hopes to welcome

around 1000 guests for a day of music,

food and (of course) great beer – but

today is all about hops; specifically the

three and a half acres of lush green

bines currently being brought in mostly

by hand.

Hogs Back’s hop garden has been

in production for three years now

and contains 3500 plants, a mix of

Cascade, Fuggles and a local heritage

variety called Farnham White Bine.

This latter is a forbear of East Kent

Golding, the UK’s most widely grown

hop, and is a major selling point for

Hogs Back, as the only brewery in the

country to use it.

Go back a couple of hundred years

and the flavoursome and aromatic

White Bine was one of the most soughtafter

hops of the brewing world, and

the growers of Farnham were famed for

the freshness and quality of their goods

(the single bell mark of the Farnham

hop farms was one of the earliest

recognised trading marks, and was

14 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: GREEN GOLD

synonymous with a premium product).

But in the early 20th century, a strain

of downy mildew to which Farnham

White Bine is particularly susceptible

not only decimated crops, but

ultimately shifted the country’s centre

for hop growing from Sussex to Kent.

“When we found out about this

this fantastic unique hop, our CEO

Rupert decided he wanted to revive it,”

recalls Hogs Back’s hop estate manager

Matthew King. “We worked with

Hampton’s, the large estate next door,

to get a sample of the original hop root

stock and re-introduce it. Hops are a

little like grapes, in that they’re unique

depending on where you plant them.

So Farnham White Bine, in this soil, in

this climate is at its most authentic.”

Getting a new hop garden up and

running – even Hogs Back’s relatively

modest three-acre setup – is a

significant undertaking, and Matthew

recalls hours spent during the cold

winter months, digging holes and

running literally miles of tough string

between the tall poles to support

the young plants. Even with the

groundwork laid though, the plants

don’t yield immediate results.

The first year you let them grow

unaided, you don’t tie them up, just

grow them on canes and then let them

die back,” explains Matthew. “Second

year you wrap the bines around the

string, to encourage them to grow and

get the root stock to become more

secure in the ground. You do a harvest

that year with a small yield. It’s only in

the following year that you get a proper

harvest.”

“We still have to be cautious about

downy mildew, and try to take a

preventative approach,” Matthew

continues. “It lives in the soil and in

the root stock, so at the start of each

year, I’m out here identifying the

shoots that are infected and picking

them out by hand. We’ve also got more

effective fungicides than they would

have had 100 years ago, so we’re able

to keep it at bay. We’ve discovering

why White Bine was phased out in the

first place though. It’s a hardy crop, but

the management of it is very timeconsuming;

it has to be nurtured.”

Hops are a little like

grapes, in that they’re

unique depending on

where you plant them

Fresh hops are quite different to

their dried counterpart. In America,

they’re referred to as ‘wet’ hops, and

it’s not hard to see why; their moist

petals are soft and gossamer thin,

and breaking them open to reveal the

yellow oils inside unleashes an aroma

which – while distinctively hoppy – is

somehow less pungent than dried

cones, with juicy lemon, mint and fresh

grass notes.

At Hogs Back, a proportion of the

hops from the garden are carried

straight across the road for use in a

‘green’ hop version of the Brewery’s

multi award-winning TEA ale. The

sample I try straight from the bright

beer tank and still a little young, but

the fundamental differences from

regular TEA were clear – the malty

sweetness is cut with a pronounced

lemongrass freshness and herbs

including mint and rosemary, with a

slightly astringent black pepper finish.

Such green beers are a grand

tradition in this part of the world, and

Kent has its own festival dedicated

to their production and enjoyment.

While the beers themselves aren’t

actually green, they have a character

quite distinct from beers made with

dried hops. That’s not to say that

fresh hops make better beer; merely

that they have a cut-grass freshness

16 FERMENT MAGAZINE


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: GREEN GOLD

and lightness that is changed and

intensified by drying. It perhaps stands

to reason that these beers are best

enjoyed super-fresh, in a pub close to

where the hops were grown.

The harvest traditionally takes place

before the autumnal equinox (which

happens to be the day I visit) and

Matthew sees the harvest festival and

the chance to enjoy some green beer as

a reward for a year of hard work.

“When you’ve been in the garden

for 12 months and you’re just waiting

for that window of opportunity when

the cone produces its aroma, which

is a limited time. To take that out of

the field and add it straight to a brew,

without any meddling, without being

dried and compressed, or right at the

end in conditioning just pack a little

punch, that’s beautiful,” he says.

Left to their own devices, hops

will begin to compost very quickly,

changing from green to brown and

breaking down into an earthy, vegetal

mess, in much the same way as cut

grass. It is therefore vital that any hops

not being used for brewing green beer

are dried to halt their decomposition.

At Hogs Back, this process couldn’t be

much more direct: a pair of tiny Massey

Fergusson tractors – once their trailers

are full of vines – take turns heading

straight out of the gate and for the oast

house about a mile up the road. I hitch

a ride up to witness this next stage in

Left to their own devices,

hops will begin to

compost very quickly

the hop’s journey.

As the tractor trundles down

the dirt track to the loading area, a

couple of the oast house workers are

lounging in the sunshine on a pile

of fresh hops, while some essential

maintenance is carried out on the

towering, narrow machine that fills

the hall. This extraordinary piece of

equipment – charged with separating

fragile hop cones from their tough

bines – was clearly designed by a

madman. A labyrinth of criss-crossing

conveyers, rails, threshers, belts, gears,

gantries and valves, it’s hard to discern

exactly what’s happening at each point.

Somehow though, full wreaths are fed

in at one end, and perfectly intact,

trimmed hops eventually emerge at the

other. Everything in sight is coated in

a frosting of oily, hoppy residue – it’s

Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for

hop heads.

These separated hops are then

carried by conveyor to a huge drying

room, where they are laid down in

mesh-bottomed tanks, in layers around

a foot deep, and hot air from large

gas-fired heaters is blown up through

them for around eight hours. The dried

hops that are compressed into 59kg

nylon sacks at the end are still green,

aromatic and free from pieces of vine,

leaf and other potential contaminants.

With the harvest 90% complete

(once picking has started, the race is

on to get everything to the oast house

as swiftly as possible) I ask Matthew

what will happen to the now seemingly

barren garden over the long winter.

“We’ve already started to work on

the ground for 2018,” he says. “After

the harvest, we’ll leave it for a month,

then cut everything to the base of the

field floor and let all the energy go back

into the roots, ready for spring next

year. All you’ll see above ground is the

hook – the roots will be shielded from

the elements. Then March or April, new

shoots will appear very quickly – it’ll

produce many more than we need, so

I’ll have to reduce the number of shoots.

Fewer vines for the plant to put its

energy into means a bigger and better

crop of hops. It’s not spreading itself so

thin. From there, the bines will grow

about three inches a day – when they’re

active it’s amazing what they do.”

FERMENT MAGAZINE 19


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: HOGS BACK BREWERY

Although it bears many of the

hallmarks of a modern craft

microbrewery, at 25 years old

Hogs Back predates the UK’s craft era

by some considerable time and – in

its quaint and deeply rural Surrey

farmhouse home – feels far more like

a traditional English brewery than the

chic hipster hangouts of Bermondsey.

To a great extent, this is reflected in the

brewery’s beers, which are mostly on

cask and led by its excellent flagship

bitter, TEA (Traditional English Ale, just

to hammer the point home).

Scratch the surface though, and one

finds an ambitious and experimental

streak woven into the traditional

brewing values that have made Hogs

Back a CAMRA favourite. This is

particularly true since industry veteran

Rupert Thompson took over the

business in 2011. Rupert has a track

record spanning more than 30 years,

and a reputation for injecting new life

into existing (but often tired) brands

including Carling, Lowenbrau, Old

Speckled Hen and Brakspear.

“I bought this business because I

felt that TEA is a very good brand,”

recalls Rupert. “Having developed Old

Speckled Hen and then Hobgoblin I

saw potential in TEA to become much

bigger. I’d also always wanted to launch

an English craft lager, which nobody else

was doing at the time, and Hogs Back

was the right brewery to do it.”

The move turned out to be prescient,

the UK’s nascent craft beer revolution

really took off in the following couple of

years, and Hogs Back has undoubtedly

enjoyed some benefit from the growing

interest in high quality ales. Rupert

isn’t convinced recent changes have all

worked in Hogs Back’s favour though,

and has concerns about the current

shape of the market.

The explosion of craft microbrewers,

has undoubtedly changed our business,”

he says. “We’ve doubled in volume,

but for all the good things we’ve done

I would have expected to triple or

quadruple. In all my past experiences,

that’s how it’s been. I think the market

will consolidate again, to the businesses

who have stayed true to their identity

and shown consistent high quality and

good business ethics.

There are a lot of good brewers

come through, which has been a good

thing for the industry because quite a

few were resting on their laurels; it’s

been a good shakeup. Now it’s probably

time for a bit of stability again. We

believe TEA will eventually really start

to grow, because it’s in that sweet

spot of being an easy drinking bitter,

with a bit more to it than some of its

competitors. Among all these really

cool brands – which we could never be,

as much as we’d love to – many people

really like what we do. There’s

an appetite for tradition, authenticity

and honesty, which are the values we

stand for.”

Rupert has made several important

changes to the business since taking it

over in 2011. Perhaps most significantly,

he appointed a new master brewer

Miles Chesterman in 2012, bringing a

wealth of experience and fresh ideas

into the business. The following year,

he also executed a long-standing

ambition to establish a hop garden in

the adjoining field, giving the brewery a

truly unique selling point (see page 14).

He also expanded the brand to include

Hogstar, an intriguing craft lager, a

cloudy cider and the highly sessionable

and well-balanced Outback pale ale.

Like Rupert, Miles is as proud the new

beer as he is of the more established,

traditional lines.

“When we started doing the

lager and the cider it did raise a few

eyebrows,” he says. “But ultimately

it’s been well received. The quality of

the product has been key – we’re very

proud of the lager and the keg pale ale,

There’s an appetite for

tradition, authenticity

and honesty

and some of the seasonals we’ve done.

Having previously been very traditional,

to suddenly start coming out with rye

beers, different hops, chocolate lagers

I think surprised a lot of people. I’d say

we’re quite an innovative brewer now,

while at the same time it’s keeping true

to that core of good traditional ales; you

can’t forget where you’ve come from.”

Having made hops the such a focus

for the brewery relatively early on has

put Hogs Back on a good footing with

the UK’s alpha-obsessed craft crowd,

but Miles is keen to emphasise the

brewery doesn’t plan to rest on its

laurels.

“Hops being the focus has put us

in a good position. The US hops are

getting a lot more accessible, so a

flood of Cascasde and Centennial is

being planted. While hoppy beers stay

popular, people will always be looking

for the new hop, always on to the next

thing. So there’s a while to go in this

yet! My hope is that we can expand

the hop garden in the next couple of

years, and look at working with some

of the exciting new British hops being

developed by people like Dr Peter

Darby at Wye Hops. We want to be on

the cutting edge.

“Tastes tend to be cyclical though.

I’ve been in brewing 18 year and seen

a fair few changes. One thing that’s

happening in the US just now is lot of

golden ales; sessionable ales that are

hopped well, but balanced, with a lower

abv. Those beers show more skill and

maturity, as very heavily hopped beers

can hide a multitude of sins. The beer

world’s a big place, and I think tastes in

the UK will come back around to more

nuanced characters too, and that’s

where we can shine.”

20 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 21


THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: JASON PERRAULT

The

HOPFATHER

If hops are the rock stars of the US-inspired craft beer world,

Jason Perrault of Select Botanicals Group is undoubtedly its Brian

Epstein. Not only is he the man behind Mosaic – showcased in

our single hop IPA this month – he also played a key role in the

development and commercialisation of many other iconic varieties

including Citra, Simcoe, Warrior and Ekuanot. Ferment caught up

with Jason to discuss the art and science of hop breeding.

Ferment: Your name appears beside

many of the best-loved hop varieties

in craft. How did you get where you

are today?

Jason: First and foremost, it’s my

passion. It’s something I’ve grown up

with and have always really enjoyed.

That said, it’s really taken a lot of

different people to develop these

varieties. I had the pleasure of working

with Chuck Zimmerman for a number

of years, who made the original crosses

for our breeding programme at Select

Botanicals. I worked alongside him as

we selected varieties such as Simcoe,

Palisade, Warrior. That’s really how I

learned, working with him on those

varieties. Not just the science, but an

appreciation of the art of breeding hops.

Then, later on in my career I had the

pleasure of working with Gene Probasco,

another very prolific hop breeder. Citra

was one of his varieties, and I worked

alongside him when that was being

commercialised in the 2000s. And in

subsequent years I’ve worked alongside

the team at Select Botanicals as we’ve

selected varieties such as Mosaic and

Ekuanot. So more than anything it’s been

a great team effort over the years.

Ferment: Tell me more about the art

side of that equation.

Jason: As you design crosses and pick

parents there’s obviously data you look

at to help you guide that decision making

process. But there’s also those things you

can’t really explain very easily; intuition

about the direction we should go. The

art really comes in during the selection

process. When you go out and walk those

fields and look at the hops, that gives you

a true understanding of the plant: what it

should look like internally, how they might

behave in different conditions. You can’t

make those kind of judgements through

a purely objective lens. And then there’s

the truly subjective factors such as

aromatic quality; the ability to find that

and select for it out in the field is a

really gratifying part of the job.

Ferment: That process can take a very

long time though?

Jason: Absolutely. Selection is a decadelong

process of continually stepping

through these different rounds of

screening and vetting. It takes about

ten years from the initial cross to when

we have a variety ready for release.

That starts a whole new process,

commercialisation, where you hope

you’ve done everything correctly and

you’ve got a real winner on your hands.

If you’ve done that correctly, the new

variety should be pulled into the market,

rather than you having to push on it.

I’ve learned over time that you begin

to feel that pull early on. If you don’t

start to feel that pull before release, if

it’s not generating excitement among

the brewers, then you’re probably

going to have a challenge getting it

commercialised. That’s not to say it

won’t be successful, just that it might

take a bit longer.

In this respect, we were very fortunate

with Mosaic, because it emerged onto

the market just as we were beginning to

see this high volume of IPAs and other

very hop-forward beers. Citra, which

came before it, took much longer to gain

traction simply because there wasn’t

as much demand for that style of hop.

Luckily, we had enough of a specialised

following that it stuck around long

enough to enjoy the growth in IPAs.

Ferment: That must be tough,

constantly having to look ten years into

the future?

Jason: Well, that’s another piece where

that art comes into play. Over the years,

I came to appreciate keeping plants

around that may not have a place in the

world at that point, but for whatever

reason there was something about them

that I found intriguing or attractive. Then

who knows, maybe that’s something I

can bring back at a later time and it will

find success. Much of the material we

have now that we’re breeding with or

selecting for advancement has been

around for a while.

Ferment: And the craft movement has

changed what people are looking for?

Jason: People are asking for new

flavours all the time now, which

definitely makes the work even more

exciting. When I first started about 20

years ago, we were primarily breeding

for efficiency. Aroma breeding was

not just a secondary thought, it was

considered nearly impossible to get

anything like that accepted. We had

very few smaller customers we were

targeting; they were all large multinational

brewers. As craft took off

that changed things, and all those

characteristics that we loved as

breeders suddenly became relevant. As

craft and the idea of being hop-forward

spreads to new styles, that adds this

new element to the selection process. It

means we can select for characteristics

that will complement specific styles.

Ferment: As that’s happened, have

things like efficiency and resistance

to pests and disease become less

important?

Jason: Yield and robustness are still

very much in the front of my mind –

they’re critical. However, if you have

something exceptionally unique and

innovative, we may look at yield as a

secondary factor and say “the concept

itself is innovative enough”. Yield is

fundamentally a breeding issue, so if

we can pursue the concept, meanwhile

breeding for better yield and other

factors, then we’re on the right track.

Ferment: Hops are so important to

craft beer right now, but do you see

them staying pre-eminent in the long

term?

Jason: I think hops will stay at the

forefront, yes. I’m not saying yeast

won’t have its day to shine too though;

what I think we’ll see is more of an

understanding of the interaction

between yeast and hops. What we’re

able to see and understand about

dry-hopping in the presence of yeast,

and how that biotransformation

impacts on the beer, and what different

flavours and aromas we can achieve

through interactions like that. I think

that’s going to be more important in

the future than, say, picking one

ingredient over the other.

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THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: BEAUTY AND THE YEAST

Yeast is something of a black box

to most beer lovers, and even

to many amateur brewers. We

know it’s the clever little sugar-loving

micro-organism that excretes alcohol,

and that a ‘Belgian’ yeast will impart a

different character to a ‘US’ yeast, but

quite where these naturally-occurring

beasties come from (and why they’re

so good at the specialised task we’ve

given them) is a mystery to most.

Whatever you’re brewing, you

will most likely be looking for one

fundamental thing from your yeast:

consistency. Brewers want their

yeast to behave the same every time

they brew, in terms of its efficiency,

attenuation, and how it reacts to

environmental factors such as acidity

and temperature. And if there’s one

thing that doesn’t generally lead to

consistency, it’s mystery.

The challenge is that yeast is a living

organism and can be sensitive; healthy

yeast will perform quite differently to

unhealthy yeast, and can even become

stressed under the wrong conditions,

with a noticeable impact on the

finished beer. Many of the off-flavours

so loathed by beer pundits are the

result of yeast cells that, for whatever

reason, are off their game.

In practice then, there is a truly

phenomenal amount of work that goes

into ensuring that little sachet or vial of

beige microbiotic life reaches the wort

in peak condition. This work is carried

out by developers like Montreal-based

In association with

LALLEMAND

Lallemand, which has an almost 100-

year history in yeast and bacterial

development for food, drink and

nutrition products.

While its involvement in brewing

only began in the ‘70s, with the

production of ale yeast sachets for

inclusion in homebrew kits, it now

has a broad range of 12 dried yeasts,

which range from a standard English

ale yeast, through a classic Bavarian

Heffeweizen yeast, right through to

a champagne yeast for secondary

fermentation. It’s currently diversifying

into even more specialist and

flavoursome strains though, starting

with its newly-launched yeast for

East Coast-style ales. In 2002 it also

acquired AB Vickers, a venerable

producer of clarification agents and

production aids, and later Chicago’s

Siebel Institute, one of the most

prestigious brewing schools in the US.

Many commercial-scale breweries

will maintain their own ‘house yeast’

– a culture that is kept fed, healthy

and growing for pitching into brews

as and when it is needed. Such yeasts

are generally robust and versatile

strains, suitable for use across the core

range. As the craft beer movement has

matured though, and consumers’ tastes

have broadened to styles such as wheat

beers, saisons and west coast IPAs,

brewers have had increasing need

for specialist yeasts to achieve the

required character.

This is generally where they will

turn to dried or liquid yeast, ready for

pitching. There’s no need to keep a

live culture going for occasional brews;

instead the supplier has essentially

done the work of propagating the

yeast for you, and packaged it in a

form where it will perform perfectly as

advertised, right off the shelf.

When purchasing their yeast,

brewers have a choice between liquid

or dried form. Dried yeast tends to be

more stable, not requiring refrigeration,

though historically liquid yeast has

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THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: BEAUTY AND THE YEAST

often been healthier and available in a

wider range of strains.

Robert Percival, regional sales

manager for Lallemand, says: “In the

past there’s definitely been a stigma

against dried yeasts as being inferior,

because the drying process is quite

aggressive and can be stressful on

the yeast. But really that’s quite an

outdated view and we’ve certainly seen

that perception change among the craft

brewers. Technology has moved on a

lot, and the quality specifications we

have for dried yeast are really tight –

tighter than for liquid yeast in many

cases. So we have a much greater range

now; they’re not all easy to produce of

course, but we can do it.”

But where do these yeasts come

from? Generally they start out as

part of an existing culture collection;

repositories of hundreds or thousands

of yeast cultures maintained by

research institutions, independent

microbiologists or companies like

Lallemand. Through partnerships,

these organisations give each other

access to these collections, in exchange

for a commercial consideration if any

of the yeast samples eventually make it

to commercial production.

Identifying a potentially successful

strain is only the start of a development

process that can take years though, as

Robert explains:

“Generally we’ll identify a strain

that’s of interest and send it to our

research and development lab in

Montreal. First they’ll isolate just the

specific strain they want – because

sometimes it might be contaminated

with other things – then they’ll grow it

and bank it into a yeast bank. Genetic

stability tests are very important to

make sure the genetic profile is robust

and won’t shift over time.

“Once that is confirmed, they’ll

start doing various trials to look at

how it performs under different

conditions; they’ll do fermentation

tests, to look at the performance

and how it grows. They’ll essentially

mimic what propagation would be

like for production. Then once those

tests are done and confirmed we’ll do

some production trials with it. After

production trials, we need to do a lot of

quality control – as I said, brewers need

The focus is very much

on working intimately

with brewers around their

specific requirements

to be able to rely on the consistency of

this yeast absolutely. And then, as we’re

currently doing with our forthcoming

New England strain for instance, we’ll

find commercial partners to work with.

“As well as fermentations in the

lab, we also do extensive test brews

with the Siebel Institute, which give

us a thorough analysis of how each

strain will work on specific styles. That

data gives us on the customer-facing

side a really good idea of how it will

behave in real-world brewing use,

as well as allowing us to iron out any

idiosyncrasies.”

Robert says this “real-world” testing

and commercial collaboration are

important elements of the yeast

development business. The perception

that many of us have – of white-coated

lab geeks locked away in secretive

development processes – isn’t accurate.

Instead, the focus is very much on

working intimately with brewers

around their specific requirements and

practices.

“I have a brewing background,

like a lot of the guys you’ll find in

technical sales, and I see a big part of

our value as the ability to work with

brewers to push the industry and

products forward,” says Robert. “We’re

really fortunate to have a lot of great

breweries willing to work with us. I

think that’s as much as anything to do

with the collaborative, forward-thinking

nature of craft in general. You say ‘does

anyone want to trial this?’ and instantly

get your hand bitten off.

“We also need to be out in the

market, working closely with customers

to find any new exciting things,

and getting samples to the team in

Montreal if we think there’s going to

be any interest or value in that longer

term. It’s really up to technical sales

to get excited about the trends and

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THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: BEAUTY AND THE YEAST

what’s out there. With the craft brewing

movement going at such a pace that’s

quite difficult. We’ve been quite lucky

that over the past 12-18 months we’ve

invested a lot of R&D into areas that

have turned out to be really hot.”

One of those areas is freeze-dried

bacterial strains for sour beers. Robert

recalls going to CBC in the US two

years ago, and being astonished to

see brewers sitting in the aisles for a

presentation on souring bacteria from

White Labs’ Kara Taylor.

“This was at a time when sour beers

in the UK were really not taking off;

we had Wild Beer Co and Chorlton

starting to specialise, but it was nothing

like it is today, and certainly nothing

like America,” continues Robert. “I

saw a thousand brewers hanging on

Kara’s every word, and knew this was

going to be a trend. We already had

bacteria products for wine, probiotics

and animal feed, so started developing

a product aimed at brewing almost

straight away.”

Lallemand’s first freeze-dried

bacteria product, called ‘Sour Pitch’ is a

strain of lactobacillus for kettle-soured

beers. There are countless strains

of this particular species of bacteria

– generally known for its soft, fresh,

clean sour character – each of which

ferments at a different rate, producing

subtly different characteristics under

different conditions. After working

closely with a clutch of UK breweries

known for their kettle sour expertise,

as well as conducting a full battery

of empirical and sensory evaluations,

Lallemand selected a strain called

Lactobacillus Plantarum.

“A lot of these bacteria ferment very

slowly, which isn’t ideal in a commercial

brewing environment, so we looked

at that and weighed it against other

factors like lactic acid production

versus acetic acid production,”

he says. “For the majority of sour

styles being produced in the UK, we

wanted something that would be fastfermenting,

while keeping acetic acids

very low, as these cause a pronounced

vinegar character.”

Much of the effort now going into

the development of brewing bacteria

is focused on removing the perceived

difficulty and unpredictability of sour

beer production, through the same

kind of intensive research and quality

control that is applied to commercial

yeast production. But this same

work will also give brewers greater

understanding and control of their

bacteria, helping them develop new

techniques and leading to greater

nuance and complexity in their sour

beers,” argues Robert.

“If we look at some of the strains

that didn’t sour very quickly or

efficiently, we still start to see some

really interesting complementary notes

coming through. So, at 20 degrees you

might see these green mango notes

which in practice really complement

hops.

“That’s how I see things going in

terms of the wider project – we have

these fast, efficient, reliable strains that

will give you a good base for sour beer.

But then we can start to add these

more special characteristics from other

strains that give the brewer a palette

to work with. We don’t want to create a

homogenised ‘sour’ flavour. We want to

be able to combine x, y and z and allow

brewers to be really creative.”

Then there’s the question of how

different yeast strains interact with

wort soured by different bacteria,

and which combinations produce

interesting and desirable results. And

this is before you even get into ageing,

spontaneous fermentation and other

non-kettle souring techniques.

Robert concludes: “Whether it’s

yeast or bacteria, there’s still so

much to learn. And it’s not just about

developing new strains – it’s about

characterising how the strains we

already know about behave under

different brewing conditions and how

they interact with other ingredients.

We’ve only just scratched the surface,

but thanks to the craft movement

there’s now a real appetite to ask these

questions in search of new experiences

for the drinker. I’m confident we can

take a lot of the mystery and chance

out of using specialist yeast and

bacteria, while finding new, more

complex flavours.”

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LEGENDS of

BREWING:

Emil Christian Hansen

Louise Crane explores the fascinating and varied life of Emil

Christian Hansen, pioneering yeast scientist and one of the key

figures behind modern sanitary brewing

Before Emil Christian Hansen

cultivated the first pure yeast

culture, he wanted to be an

actor. Then, a portrait artist. For a

time, he taught, and wrote under a

pseudonym. He made the first Danish

translation of Charles Darwin’s Voyage

of The Beagle, and he revolutionised

the brewing industry. 134 years after

his momentous work, Ferment is here

to shed some light on the man behind

Saccharomyces carlsbergensis.

Emil Christian Hansen was born

in an old half-timbered house on

Nederdammen 35 in the town of

Ribe, Denmark on May 8th 1842, to

a laundress mother and an alcoholic,

former-soldier father. The source of

Joseph Christian Hansen’s woes likely

went beyond the bottom of a bottle,

and certainly weren’t resolved there,

but it did prove to be his son’s fortune.

With his father absent and/or drunk,

Emil had to support the family himself,

which meant abandoning school,

where he had shown himself to be the

brightest pupil; an avid reader with an

insatiable desire to learn.

At 13, Emil became an apprentice

to a local grocery merchant, who

found him unruly and wild. He was

released from the apprenticeship

after a year, and joined his father as a

decorator of theatre sets. For a time,

Emil was inspired by the performing

troupes around him and dreamed of

being an actor – something his father

disapproved of. At the age of 19, he

set his mind on becoming a portrait

artist, and travelled to Copenhagen

to show his work to the artist Jørgen

Roed. His advice was that Emil must

learn to draw from scratch, which Emil

found he could not. His application to

the Academy of Fine Arts was refused,

rather fortunately for the worldwide

beer industry.

Fired up by his father’s tales of life

in the Foreign Legion, Emil flirted

with volunteering for Garibaldi’s army

in 1862, but settled instead on the

much more sensible idea of becoming

a teacher. He obtained a position

tutoring the children of the caretaker

at Holsteinborg Castle, the home

of Danish politician Count Ludwig

Holstein, a friend of Hans Christian

Anderson. Here, Emil filled in the

gaps of his own education, learning

Latin from Count Holstein’s tutor,

and attending degree seminars at the

teaching training institute at Blågård

Seminarium in Copenhagen, where he

qualified in 1864.

For the ambitious Hansen, teaching

was just a stepping stone and, inspired

by a local botanist and teacher Peter

Nielsen, the 22-year-old set his sights

on a degree in natural history from the

University of Copenhagen. Money was

always an issue and Emil employed his

creative streak to pay his way, writing

stories for almanacs and magazines

under the name “EC” Hansen. He

fought off typhoid to complete his

undergraduate examinations in 1869,

after which he returned to teaching,

this time in zoology and botany. Here,

the seed of a lifelong obsession with

microorganisms began to flourish,

encouraged by one of his university

teachers, the entomologist JC

Schiødte.

Two years later, Hansen took

further university exams and became

private assistant to Professor Japetus

Steenstrup. In 1873, Emil discovered

the fossilised remains of beech trees

deep in a peat bog in Femsølyng,

and proposed to the Natural History

Association that beech trees had

existed in Denmark a lot longer than

anyone, including Steenstrup, thought.

His professor’s response was rather

cool, and the lack of backing infuriated

Emil, who once more abandoned a

position of employment. Without a

reliable source of income, Hansen’s

next venture was to translate The

Voyage of The Beagle by Charles

Darwin alongside his fellow student

Alfred Jørgensen.

For the next few years, Hansen

focussed on a master’s degree in plant

physiology, winning a gold medal for

his dissertation on the fungi that grows

on mammalian manure. Next

Professor Peter Ludwig Panum

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LEGENDS OF BREWING: EMIL CHRISTIAN HANSEN

invited him to study fermentational

physiology at his laboratory in

Copenhagen. According to the

Danish Biographical Lexicon,

Hansen’s tough childhood years

and the (possibly imaginary)

opposition to his first scientific

work impressed upon him now

more than ever, and he poured

himself into intensive research.

In January 1877, brewer Jacob

Christian (J.C.) Jacobsen from Ny

Carlsberg called upon Professor

Steenstrup for a recommendation.

Jacobsen had read Louis Pasteur’s

treaty on hygiene in beer production,

and resolved to build a grand

laboratory with modern equipment

to introduce new scientific methods

to his brewery. For this, he needed a

scientist, diligent, thorough, and hardworking,

to make daily observations of

yeast. Steenstrup suggested Hansen,

and his fate was sealed. Hansen would

work at the Carlsberg Laboratory for

the rest of his life.

His first project was to complete

his doctoral dissertation, on the

microorganisms found in beer. He

showed that there were not one

but two forms of the bacteria that

Pasteur had identified in 1876 as

being responsible for one of the seven

forms of beer spoilage. From this, he

surmised that the different types of

beer yeast were also physiologically

different, in that they could exhibit

different chemical reactions even if

they were inseparable by size, shape,

or colour. He invented methods for

classifying and identifying yeast strains

based on these ideas, always forging

new paths for himself. With his PhD

finally achieved at the age of 37, Emil

was appointed as the head of the

Department of Physiology at Carlsberg

Laboratory.

Next, he set out to prove his hunch

that not only bacteria but wild yeast

was the cause of beer spoilage. He

lamented: “The spent yeast is spilled

in the yard, and carried down into

the fermentation cellars on the boots

of the workers, or it dries to dust

out there, and is blown by the wind

into the coolships. From here some

of the organisms of disease reach

the fermenters, where they start to

develop. To begin with they develop

slowly, so that there is no sign of

danger, [...] but in the end there is so

much wild yeast in the pitching yeast

that the disease breaks forth. From

that moment, the development runs

with tearing speed, and soon all the

beer in the brewery will be infected.”

If he was right, then no matter

how clean of bacteria your brewery

was, if you re-used your yeast

by backslopping it, then a bad

brew would mean bad beer

forevermore. To prove it, Hansen

would have to test out individual

strains of yeast to observe the

effect they had on beer.

Over the next few years, Hansen

developed a clever method to

isolate an individual yeast cell. He

would place a single drop of yeast

solution on a microscope cover

glass marked with a grid, and count

how many yeast cells were in that

single drop. If there were 20, he would

then dilute a single drop of the same

yeast solution by 20, and then draw

twenty drops to be cultured. On

average, each drop would contain one

yeast cell. The cultures that grew just

one colony of yeast were presumed

to be pure. In the autumn of 1882

Hansen travelled to Berlin to meet the

famous microbiologist, Robert Koch

and observe techniques that would

further enhance his work. Amid the

research, Hansen also found the time

to marry Mathilde Vilhelmine Caroline

Jensine Melchior in a ceremony at

Holsteinborg, where he once taught,

and they lived in accommodation

provided by the brewery all their

lives. His harsh childhood had left him

somewhat humourless, but he was

known to be a kind man, especially to

the poor.

By 1883, Hansen’s work became

critical. Batch after batch of bad beer

was spoiling Carlsberg’s brew. The

pressure was on Hansen to figure

out the cause of the ‘yeast sickness’.

By this time, he had proved that

Carlsberg’s yeast, which had come

from the Spaten Brewery in Munich

four decades before, was now a

mixture of two different types of

yeast. One was the original, which he

named Carlsberg Unterhefe (bottom

yeast) No. 1, and one was an imposter,

marked out by its ellipsoid shape,

which he named Carlsberg Unterhefe

No. 2. By carefully brewing separate

batches with the single cell cultures,

Hansen proved without doubt that

Carlsberg No. 2 caused the bitter taste

and bad odour that marred Carlsberg’s

output. The imposter yeast matched a

sample taken from the nearby orchard,

laying the blame squarely at the feet of

a wild yeast.

Hansen renamed yeast No. 1 as

Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, and on

12 November 1883, the Old Carlsberg

Brewery brewed its first batch with

the pure strain. By 1884 the entire

production of 200,000 hectolitres

of beer was based on pure strains of

yeast, as was the almost equal quantity

manufactured at the New Carlsberg

Brewery of Carl Jacobsen. In a move

that truly revolutionised the beer

industry, JC Jacobsen began sending

out samples of Carlsberg No. 1 free of

charge, under the guiding principles

of scientific discovery. Suddenly, it was

goodbye to back-slopping and hello

to the era of commercially available

brewer’s yeast that was guaranteed to

produce a good result.

By 1888, Hansen claimed that all

the major breweries in Denmark

and Norway were using Carlsberg

No. 1. It was also common in many

highly reputed breweries in Russia,

the Netherlands, and Germany and

adopted by at least some in Sweden,

Finland, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland,

Italy, France, Belgium, and North

America. Carlsberg had even sent

pure yeast cultures to Asia, Australia,

and South America. All this within five

years, and via 19th century transport,

no less. By 1892, Pabst, Schlitz and

Anheuser-Busch in North America

alone manufactured 2.3 million hl with

pure yeast strains. The Hansen method

was also applied to baker’s yeast so

that it too could be propagated in an

industrial manner.

“Hansen’s major effort consisted in

replacing foolish theories and solving

speculation with clear examples and

facts that had practical consequences,”

proclaimed his German colleague K.

Windisch. Fermentation scientists

were soon travelling to Carlsberg to

learn the ‘Hansen method’ for isolating

pure strains from the man who not

By 1888, Hansen claimed

that all the major

breweries in Denmark

and Norway were using

Carlsberg No. 1

only turned established notion its

head, but picked it up and scraped off

the gunk from the underside. Between

1880 and 1900, 130 kinds of yeast were

described using methods from Hansen.

Hansen was widely recognised for

his important work, with honorary

doctorates from the universities of

Uppsala, Geneva and the Vienna

Technical College. In 1889 he was

made a Knight of the Dannebrog

by King Christian IX, and in 1890,

he became a member of the Danish

Science Society. He was made a titular

professor in 1892. To commemorate 25

years with the Carlsberg Laboratory,

he received a gold medal from Carl

Jacobsen in 1902. Six years later,

he was made a Commander of the

Dannebrog by King Frederick VIII.

Hansen continued to work on yeast

until 1909, when he became sick

following the illness of his wife. He

travelled to a sanatorium in Hornbæk,

hoping that the peace and quiet of

the country would help him recover

so he could get back to his work. His

illness progressed to a fever, and

he died shortly after, on August 27,

1909. He was recognised with a fullpage

obituary in Nature magazine,

and is buried in Vestre Cemetery,

Copenhagen. He left behind a large

library, especially rich on the history

of science, and a considerable fortune,

with 50,000 Danish kroners set aside

to establish the Emil Christian Hansen

Foundation for prizes in microbiology

research. His legacy lives on in not

only this, but in almost every bottle

of lager we drink.

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 33


GRAIN DANCE

It’s a major source of flavour, not to mention the sugars that form the

basis of alcohol. Here are the major types of grain that may go into

your pint, and the characteristics they can impart.

BARLEY

Barley is the workhorse of the wort, the heart of many

beers and marvellous in its multitudes. Base malts

usually make up at least half the mash bill. They are

straw yellow to mousey brown, and develop sweet,

malty and biscuity tastes. By drying in the

kiln at relatively low temperatures

over two to four hours, Maillard

reactions ‘finish off’ the malt

by turning sugars and amino

acids into melanoidins. The

darker Vienna and Munich

malts are high in these

malty compounds, giving

Vienna lagers, märzenoktoberfestbiers,

and bocks

their moreish toffee taste.

Speciality malts are dried at higher

temperatures in the kiln or a roaster.

Toffee, caramel and nut flavours come out

to play and the smell will make your mouth water.

Chocolate malts are finished in a drum roaster at

200°, where they turn dark brown or black and acrid

to the taste. They contribute the deep, dark colour of

stouts and porters and their coffee-cocoa flavour.

Caramel/crystal malts are stewed in the roaster,

effectively mashing the grain in the kernel and

producing crystalline sugar structures that taste

like candyfloss and golden syrup. When kiln-dried,

they become hard and glassy as the sugars convert

to unfermentable dextrins. The prolonged heat

completely kills any enzymes, so for this reason,

these malts usually only make up around a quarter of

the mash bill. The benefit is that the unfermentable

products stay in the beer, giving it a thicker

texture and residual sweetness. Think

schwarzbiers and black IPAs.

Unmalted barley lends a grainy

character to beer, key in dry stout.

It helps with head retention,

but lower levels of proteloysis

will make a beer hazier than

London on a wet Tuesday

morning. Unmalted barley can

be employed for as much as 50%

of the total mash bill, but it usually

makes up no more than 10% to 15% as

an adjunct. Roasted unmalted barley is a

rich, dark brown that is stronger and drier than

roasted malt, but less aromatic.

CORN

Corn (also called maize) is used to lighten body,

decrease haziness, and add stability of flavour. Its

low protein content is a useful counterbalance to

the high-protein American six-row barley, and it

produces a range of fermentable sugars and dextrins

that are similar to those produced by malt. In the

US, where corn is cheap, this makes it a popular

substitute for more expensive barley. Flavour-wise,

it is fairly neutral, and sweet, so not the best for

drier pale ales. Above 25% of the mash bill, it can

contribute medicinal-tasting fusel alcohols. Notable

corn-rich beers include August Schell Brewing Co’s

Deer Brand, Agrarian Ale’s Indigenous and Starr Hill

Brewing Company’s Monticello Reserve Ale.

OATS

Oats are brimming with anti-oxidants, proteins, fats,

gums and vitamins that create a creamy, full-bodied

brew that’s silky smooth. They’re perfect for stouts,

or any beer that is full-bodied. The beta-glucan gums

enhance viscosity, which can be good for mouthfeel,

but means that sparging can take up to twice as

long for oatmeal stout. The anti-oxidants may also

help protect beers from some problems associated

with aging, and lipids are known to mop up sulphur,

an off-flavour. Fats have been blamed for poor head

retention when oats are added to the grist, though

this is more likely related to the lower soluble

nitrogen content present in worts high in oats, a

result of the low nitrogen modification of this grain.

100% oat beer is possible, experimentally, and smells

like berries and yoghurt, with butterscotch flavours,

but since the high protein and fat content can be

difficult to work with, normally oats contribute about

5-10% of the grist.

RICE

Rice is fairly tasteless, but it is

useful for creating a light texture

that goes snap, crackle, and pop.

Behind corn, it’s the second most

widely used adjunct in the U.S for

light-coloured lager beers, most

notably Budweiser. It is less oily

than corn, which makes it easier

to work with, but because its starch

needs to be broken down by very high

temperatures, it requires an additional cooking vessel

for mashing. The qualities of rice vary according

to length. Medium and long-grain varieties can

cause problems with viscosity, so short-grain rice is

preferred by brewers.

RYE

Spicy rye is a perfect partner for barley, and

particularly useful for adding complexity and

crispness. It lends a keen, dry bite to lagers and can

be kilned to create chocolate and caramel versions.

Colour-wise, a rye beer will have a luxurious, red

autumnal hue. A rye IPA tends to have a sharp edge

and a crisp, distinctive finish tending towards apple

brandy. The major shortcoming is that rye can turn

to concrete during brewing, because it has no hull to

keep the grains apart and is high in sticky beta-glucan

gums. Typically a 10% grist works well, however, the

German style Roggenbiers have a mash bill of at least

30% rye and some up to 65%, giving them a sharp rye

flavour and medium-heavy mouthfeel.

WHEAT

Wheat beers are very popular. They’re something

of a German tradition in dunkelweizen, hefeweizen,

weizenbock and Belgian witbier and lambic styles.

Wheat is tart, light and refreshing and goes very

well with barley. Depending on the style, malted

wheat can contribute 5-70% of the mash bill. The

distinctive banana flavours of German wheat

beers are driven by the ale yeast used,

which creates an ester called isoamyl

acetate. The maltier profile of the

American hefeweizen is less

yeast and more grain-dependent.

Unmalted wheat turns up in

slightly sharper German beers

and the cloudy Belgian witbier.

The hazing is caused by wheat’s

high protein content, so expect a

foamy head into which you could stick

a 99 Flake.

34 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

Mikkeller’s

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Your front-row seat for the

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The Beerfather

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THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: DESIGNER LABELS

THE ELEMENTS PROJECT

DESIGNER LABELS

Ewelina Gaska California Dreaming and Dreaming of Frites

CaliforniaDreaming-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:58

A graduate of the Polish Fine Arts Academy, Gąska specializes in

web design illustration and branding, but is also keen to work on

other interesting projects. She has several years of professional

experience behind her, gained by working in advertising agencies as

a freelancer, and for one of the leading Polish banks. She is currently

with Saatchi&Saatchi Poland.

The inspiration for creating beer labels was the California

climate,” says Ewelina. “Hot, sunny with great palms, beaches and

beautiful pools. This place is perfect for a great beer. At first I had

two thoughts, which after several attempts transformed into the final

design of the label.”

C

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West Coast Pale

DreamingOfFrites-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:57

Sam’s background is in textiles,

where he spent ten years working

on high-profile commissions from

the likes of The British Museum and

Edinburgh Zoo. He then studied at

the Royal College of Art and earned

an MA, with a focus on drawing.

Even when the end result will be

digital, Sam likes to start with a

pencil in his hand and to create his

source material through traditional,

analogue processes.

The manual approach seemed

particularly important for this

design,” he says. “It ties in with the

care and hand-made methods of

the beer itself. Plus I like to engage

my hand and my eye, and think a lot

better with a pencil in my hand than

I do staring at a screen. I started

drawing with graphite, then worked

out a lino block, thinking that was

the way I was going to head. But

Sam WingatE Mosaic and Ekuanot

Mosaic-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:55

then the print didn’t turn out so

well, so I carried on in pen and ink,

then edit and added colour digitally.

C

“Initially in the design process, M

Y

I got waylaid by thinking about all

CM

the ingredients of the beer, working

MY

with water and wheat as well as the

CY

hops. But that wasn’t working out

and wasn’t the best route. That’s

when I started thinking about the

hop names and the imagery that

came with them; so, for Ekuanot for

example we have the imagery of the

earth and this half day/night split.

C

The final designs are bold and

M

unfussy. On a small label it’s useful

Y

to not have much complication, but

CM

I wanted it to be clear they were

related to each other. Plenty of

beer labels - particularly on cans

- are really heavily detailed and

they’re great. But I wanted a small,

bold graphic.”

CMY

K

MY

CY

CMY

K

Ekuanot-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:57

38 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 39


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CitraHaze-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:57

New England

IPA

Gonçalo Duarte CITRA HAZE AND EL DORADO

An illustrator and graphic designer living in Lisbon,

Portugal, Gonçalo has always been interested in comic

books and animations; an influence that is clear in his

playful, punky design ethos.

“Designing a beer label is a long-standing dream of

RubyRising-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:54

Lucy Lucanska

Ruby Rising and

Eleventh Hour

EleventhHour-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:55

Lucy is a freelance illustrator based

in Prague, who last year finished her

studies at the city’s AAAD (Academy of

Applied Arts and Design). Her focus is

mostly on books, and she is a member

of Kudlawerkstatt, a collective for selfpublishing,

DIY books and risoprinting.

“My first thoughts for these designs

were around laughter,” she says. “The

whole idea came out of blue from an

old friend of mine, who I met during my

studies in Edinburgh. I hadn’t seen him

for years and this summer he surprisingly

showed up in Prague. We had a perfect

time together and couple of days later he

proposed getting involved with Beer52’s

Elements Project.”

“Lately I have been

digging into medieval

illustration a lot, sunken

in ancient alchemy

manuscripts and books

of hours, so this is where

I turned for inspiration.

The work evolved a lot in

progress; what you see is a

result of series of changes

mine, since I’m a big fan of beer and it seemed to me a

very interesting medium. I initially looked at using the

image of Christopher Columbus as a navigator, but in

the end we felt there were too many cultural sensitivities

around that, so went in another direction.”

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ElDorado-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:55

New England IPA

and discussion with Beer52. The process

was fun.

“Finding the right name is very

important, and the guys from Beer52

did in my opinion a great job. From this,

I just added some images that were

floating around my head at the time and

then tried to mix them with the client’s

expectations.

“I come from the Czech Republic,

where everybody drinks beer a lot; the

fact that (good) beer is cheaper here

than water speaks for itself. It is a very

basic thing, like bread, tea, tightening

shoe laces. That means beer label

design becomes something ordinary and

overexposed, so that it is

almost invisible. But craft

beer is a bit something

else, right? In general,

I wish that people who

drink this beer would pay

more attention to the

whole thing, the bottle, to

various scents and flavours

and enjoy beer in a more

thoughtful way.”

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Mike Hughes Hunky Dory Oatmeal Glory and

ChubbyFingers-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:57

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Chubby Fingers

THE ELEMENTS PROJECT: DESIGNER LABELS

HunkyDory-33cl-Front-092017.pdf 1 06/09/2017 10:55

Mike Hughes is a regular contributor to Ferment,

and is the twisted genius behind several of our most

memorable covers. He started out as a painter back

in 2012, but his second great passion, skateboarding

culture, informed the development of his signature

style even when he was still at art school.

“I had a fairly broad base as an artist, but gradually

began to focus more down to the work I'm doing just

now, which has a slightly comic look with elements from

more serious editorial illustration.

“I’ve been working with Beer52 and Ferment for

years, so the process of designing these beer labels

was very collaborative and I was given a lot of freedom

to pursue the ideas that interested me. I started with

the titles of the beers, one of which was Chubby

Fingers, which instantly conjured up images of people

holding bottles with swollen hands and cartoony overindulgence,

and we really took it from there.

Mike loves the culture of beer label art, and is

fascinated by the idea of what makes an artistically and

commercially successful label.

“Most of my focus, whatever I'm designing, is

creating something that does the job effectively, but

also has value and integrity in its own right. “There

needs to be some simplicity involved for it to be really

impactful, and for the most part that means they have

to be quite bold and understood quickly.”

40 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 41


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FERMENT MAGAZINE 43


MODERN

International nuclear pissing

contests, impending climate

doom and cosmic rays have

got Ollie Peart reaching for

the bunker door.

t’s 15th September 2017 and, this

morning when I woke up, the radio

churned out the now vaguely familiar

sound of Japanese air raid sirens. Before

I heard any of the report I knew exactly

what had happened. Megalomaniac and

nuclear tease Kim Jong Un had been

playing around with his toy rockets again,

further goading the cotton candy, sexist

bigot and all round loose cannon, Trump.

Feelings of worry or fear have turned

to boredom and weariness as this saga

has dragged on like a terrible sequel

to an already terrible film. And as if

that wasn’t bad enough, minutes later

as I popped out the door to walk my

dog, my phone fired off multiple news

alerts about an explosion on the London

Underground. I stared at them, numb, and

just swiped left to clear them, like flies on

a windscreen. Whatever had happened I

knew that it would be rolled out in all its

gory heinousness 24 hours a day for at

least another week. Who did it? Why did

they do it? Are we all going to die?

Combine that with Irma and Harvey,

reminders that you have no control

whatsoever over what mother nature

decides to obliterate and it’s enough

to make you feel completely helpless

in the face of the inevitable and fast

approaching apocalypse. Only, we are

nowhere near the apocalypse.

A quick scrape through wiki and

you soon find out that the word

“apocalypse” is a religious term

which literally means “an uncovering”.

The apocalypse is about finding

out something hidden, unknown,

that goes some way to explaining

our very existence.

Christians don’t see the

apocalypse as some horrible death

knell spelling the end of everything for

ever. More a moment of “Ahhhh, right,

that’s why we exist”.

Instead, what we are experiencing,

at some pace, is the ever-encroaching

end of the world. At least, the end

of the world as we know it. The

doomsday clock, a measure of how

near we are to all disappearing in a

big cloud of “so what”, is currently set

at two and half minutes to midnight;

midnight being the actual end of the

world. The only time it has ever been

lower was in 1953 when the Soviet

Union was testing hydrogen bombs. I’d

happily take a trip back to 1991 when it

was 17 minutes to midnight, if it wasn’t

for Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I do) I

do it for you” holding in at number one

for seven bloody weeks. I’m not sure I

could handle that.

Rather than take it lying down

however, I’ve started thinking about

what I would do in the event that

we were all about to be blown to

smithereens. If I’m honest, which I

nearly always am, even if nuclear war

broke out, I think there is a good

chance a large chunk of us would

survive it. There were predictions

in the 1980s that nuclear war could

wipe out the human race, but hey, I’m

an optimist. So, here’s my unofficial,

completely un-researched and

hypothetical plan to survive the end of

the world.

NUCLEAR WAR

The idea that the UK will suffer a

nuclear attack is far-fetched. That said,

hop onto YouTube and type in “BBC

Emergency response” and it can feel

all too real. However, that doesn’t

really help us here. This is a guide,

so here’s my top tip if we are

facing an impending

nuclear strike. First, put

down the tools, because

a bunker isn’t going to help. What

you need is a good lettings agent.

Lettings, because let’s face it, you’re

not going to sell your house: it’s in

a nuclear strike zone. You need an

agent that can process paper work

fast. Don’t be picky, so if there’s a bit

of mildew in the bathroom my advice

would be to live with it. Don’t haggle,

pay what they are asking, competition

will be tough.

Try to find a place within a sensible

distance to Lidl. Their extensive

range of jarred and canned food

could survive even the most horrible

of nuclear winters. To keep yourself

occupied, a nice local pub with a good

atmosphere nearby will distract you

from having not seen the sun in two

years.

CLIMATE CHANGE

This is the big one. A toughy to

deal with but, I’m going to try.

As the climate warms we will see

more storms, heat waves and rising

sea levels. The storms will leave

millions homeless, seeking refuge

in neighbouring countries. Heat

waves are already causing problems,

crippling power grids as people

suck up power for much-needed air

conditioning, overwhelming power

supplies and leaving hundreds of

millions of people without power.

When the planet was 4°C warmer

than it is today, there were no polar

ice caps and sea levels were 80

metres higher. I told you this was a

tough one.

So, what to do? Well, it’s simple. Get

a boat and sail it as far north as you

can. For food you will have to fish. If

you’re vegetarian like me, you’ll have

to depend on the 10,000 shipping

containers that fall overboard each

year and bob about just under the

surface. You never know, one might

have carrots in it.

TROUBLE IN SPACE

If you didn’t already know, space is

huge. It’s full of the kinds of things

that could cause us problems and lead

to the end of the world. A black hole

could suck us up or get close enough

to throw us out of orbit around

the sun. A gamma ray burst from a

collapsing star could destroy our

ozone layer and lead to rapid global

cooling (one of the theories behind

Earth’s last mass extinction event).

And, lastly, the universe is expanding

at a faster and faster rate which, if it

continues, 22 billion years from now

the substance holding atoms together

will fail completely, destroying the

entire universe. So, how do you stay

safe in that event?

Erm...

44 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 45


Louise Crane delves deep into the science of fermentation

Catalysis. Decomposition. Hydrolysis. Redox.

Chemical reactions, or teen members of a

superhero fighting squad? Scientific terms

pop up all the time in brewing; they’re the

action packed words that drive the beermaking

process along. But we’d all be forgiven

for letting our brains go into first gear when

navigating terminology that’s rarely used

outside the lab, and because of this, most

of us don’t fully realise the true magic that

is the science of brewing. High Wizard

of Making Things Become Other Things

Adam McCudden (aka Senior Scientist at

pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca) pilots

us through some essential chemical goings on

in brewing.

“On the surface of it, fermentation is

a simple reaction involving just three

compounds: a sugar molecule, ethanol and

carbon dioxide,” explains Adam. “The sugar

molecule is ‘cut up’ by the action of yeast

into the two waste products. But yeast is a

pesky, complicated little blighter, and the

deceptively simple word ‘action’ actually

involves eleven different intermediate

chemicals en-route to the booze. If your mind

is already blown, you might want to sit down

with a cold one before carrying on. Not

only do we have eleven steps between

sugar, ethanol, and carbon dioxide, we

have things called enzymes that assist

with the reactions. Time for a quick

If your mind is already blown, you

might want to sit down with a cold

one before carrying on

Adam McCudden

refresher of that GCSE Chemistry (or O-Level,

for the non-Millennials).

To start: every single thing in the universe

is made up of atoms. Each atom is a

particular element: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen,

ununennium, etc. Atoms joined together

by bonds are called molecules, and these

bonds involve sharing electrons. These teeny

tiny ‘units’ actually form a shape in space,

determined by several factors. This shape

influences how the molecule behaves, how it

interacts with other atoms and molecules, and

whether it will react with them.

Enzymes are really big protein molecules,

composed of chains of smaller molecules

called amino acids, and they are crucial for,

well, everything. They help a reaction use less

energy and go much quicker, sometimes by a

millionfold. They assist by forming the shape

of the reaction. Imagine a lock and key, where

the enzyme is the lock that holds reaction -

the key - in exactly the right place and shape

for it to happen. Enzyme shape can change if

the bonds between its amino acids are altered

by pH or heat, which is why it’s so important

to control this during fermentation.

46 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 47


BEER SCHOOL: CHEMISTRY OF BEER

If you know your brewing process,

and you’re asking why we don’t need

to add enzymes, then have a gold

star. Amylase and protease enzymes

are found on barley itself, and during

malting they chop up the big, complex

starch and protein molecules into

simple sugars. “Fermentation enzymes

are all part of the yeast,” explains

Adam. “As the yeast colony grows, the

amount of enzyme present in the wort

increases too.” Enzymes are actually

biological catalysts, which means

they’re not used up during a reaction.

They’re regenerated at the end, so

you don’t need a lot present and you

don’t need to replace them,” Adam

continues. There are in fact nearly

twenty enzymes and co-enzymes

(molecules that work with enzymes,

such as vitamins) that get to work

in the fermentation reaction chain,

cutting bonds between molecules to

help make new molecules, changing

the amount of phosphate, oxygen and

hydrogen present, moving step by step

closer to the end products.

Of course, fermentation is not just

as simple as sugar in, and ethanol

and carbon dioxide out. If it was, we

wouldn’t have the glorious result that

is beer, because beer is a solution of

hundreds of different molecules

that add flavour and texture. As

Adam puts it, “Turning sugar

to ethanol is just yeast’s day

job. Ethanol is a chain of two

carbon atoms with a hydroxyl

group (that is, oxygen and

hydrogen) at the end. Yeast can

also create the shorter methanol

molecule, which has one carbon atom

bonded to a hydroxyl group, and much

longer, oily fusel alcohols such as

dodecanol (twelve carbons).”

Once in the wort, this cocktail of

alcohols can set off further reactions,

producing many more magical

compounds. Ethanol becomes the

sour-tasting carboxylic ethanoic acid

in a reaction known as ‘redox’. This

happens when oxygen is added to a

compound and electrons are lost as

hydrogen atoms, which then ‘reduce’

another compound. Fragrant aldehydes

can arise from the same reaction,

except that they’re the midway stage

between the alcohol and acid. Think

bruised apple, emulsion paint, and

hawthorn flowers.

Adam is particularly keen on the

fruity esters created when a carboxylic

acid combines with an alcohol in a

process called esterification. They

‘condense’, meaning they join together

to form a larger molecule and lose a

small one, usually water. The enzyme

alcohol acetate transferase (AAT)

helps the esterification along, and

some yeasts produce more AAT than

others. Higher temperatures favour

rapid yeast growth and more AAT,

which is why, in general, ale yeast

produces beers with pear, rose

and banana flavours and lager

yeast does not. “Change the

yeast, fermentation time

Change the yeast, fermentation

time or temperature and you’ll

affect the flavour profile

or temperature and you’ll affect the

flavour profile,” says Adam.

The ingredients of the wort have a

major impact on the reactions that go

on because of the contribution they

make to potential reactants. “Oats

have been described as a wonderful

reservoir of natural nutrients and

biologically active substances,”

enthuses Adam. “They contain folate,

magnesium, vitamins and antioxidants.

In terms of flavour, they create beer

that’s higher in 2,3-Butanedione and

2,3-Pentanedione than the equivalent

barley-based brews, giving them a

delicious butterscotch note.”

Naturally, hops contribute a huge

amount of flavour compounds to

beer too. There are two important

compounds in hops, the alpha acids

and the beta acids. Only the former,

known as the humolones (from

the Latin name for hops, Humulus

lupulus), contribute bitterness when

they are degraded to iso-alpha-acids.

The ‘iso’ here stands for isomer, a

description for a molecule that is

identical in composition but arranged

in a different way, or shape, to its

neighbour. When beer is exposed

to light, and it develops that skunky

flavour, it’s the iso-alpha acids that

are reacting. They decompose in a

reaction catalyzed by riboflavin to

generate free-radicals and carbon

monoxide. One of the free radicals,

1,1-dimethylallyl radical, can react with

sulfur-containing amino acids, such as

cysteine, to create 3-methylbut-2-ene-

1-thiol, the compound responsible for

the stink.

In his personal time, Adam has been

able to investigate phenols, compounds

responsible for smoky flavours. They’re

commonly found in smoky whiskies,

where peat fires dry the malted barley

after germination, imparting smoky

compounds before the barley is added

to the wort. But Adam has found

evidence of phenol content in whisky

that is unpeated, and suggests that

yeast is again responsible. “Malted

barley contains polyphenols, and yeast

is able to chop these up into phenols

that your nose can detect. But for a

really peaty hit in your beer, try Stone’s

Smoked Porter, which copies whisky

production by using smoked malt.”

There are many, many more

molecules that all contribute to the

deliciousness of beer. We posed a

final question to Adam: has anyone

tried to create beer in the lab by

mixing together 3% ethanol solution

with all the individual compounds

that we know exist in beer? “If

money was no object and you

wanted to recreate a specific beer,

you could use techniques like ion

chromatography and inductively

coupled plasma spectroscopy to tell

you the mineral content you would

need, and a combination of liquid

and gas chromatography and mass

spectrometry would reveal what

organic flavour and texture molecules

were required. I can’t see it being

very successful though, and it would

be the world’s most expensive brew.

Fermentation is a relatively cheap and

very effective process, it’s probably

best just to stick to that.”

48 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 49


Become a Master Taster

0 Points

Step One - Taster!

Welcome to the club. Earn points

with every box you order, beers

you review, and friends you refer!

It’s that simple!

WORDS : Melissa Cole

ILLUSTRATIONS : Eva Dolgyra & The Man Trout

Stop propping up bad beer with your hard-earned cash, says Melissa Cole

Step Two - Super Taster!

You’ll reach Super Taster status after three

boxes and we’ll include our book The

Story of Craft Beer in your box, written by

Ferment contributor and renowned beer

writer Pete Brown - RRP £12.99.

800 Points

Step Three - Master Taster!

You’ve made it! As a Master Taster, you’ll get

invites to exclusive ‘Meet The Brewer’ events, beer

festivals and you’ll be able to spend your points

in our online store to buy cool merchandise and

‘Master Tasters Only’ rare beers.

350 Points

So, I’ve just eaten a flight of butter…

I’m not kidding you, I have just been

to a bar where they presented me with

a flight of butter.

As I write this down I appreciate it

sounds a bit absurd, that a good 25% of

you are muttering the ‘h-word’ (I won’t

entertain it however) or sounding off

about the ‘liberal, metropolitan, media

elite’ and I think I might have done too

if these four butters hadn’t been so

bloody astounding that I now want to

blow torch the Lurpak man into a fatty

puddle as a total imposter because well,

now I’ve tasted these I can’t go back.

The place I am talking about is, quite

literally, my idea of heaven. It’s called

Goed Zuur in Denver and it serves

exclusively sour beer, top quality

meats & cheeses from the world over

with ‘those’ butters with fresh-baked

fabulous bread.

Co-owner Anthony Lopiccolo is

standing in front of myself and my two

friends talking through the bounty that

has been presented on what can only be

described as half a tree, that is littered

with not only aforementioned goodies

but dotted with chutneys and honeys

and compotes all designed specifically

to go with the stars of the show.

And the word that gets repeated

more often than not is ‘quality’… they

are wholly dedicated to only serving

their customers the very best produce

they can lay their hands on, along with

the very best sour beers the world has

to offer.

It’s magical and I didn’t want to ever

leave.

But I had to because, apparently,

“that banquette is not for sleeping on”

and the real world beckoned. It’s sadly

some of those harsh realities that I am

becoming increasingly furious with and

I’ve quite simply had enough of.

We have a quality problem in the UK

and it desperately needs fixing, and

it has to start with the people paying

money. Which, dear reader, means you.

It’s time to start calling out the

rubbish, it’s time to start hitting

breweries and bars and bottle shops

that are taking the mickey out of us in

the pocket…

I’m not talking about pricing, I’m

talking about quality; I’m talking about

not handing over you hard-earned cash

to breweries who send out unfinished

beers, charge the earth for them and

then suggest that you should finish

the maturation job for them at home,

or that huge chunks of crap floating in

your beer is ‘the style’.

I’m talking about bottle shops that

are encouraging grey market sales,

that are leaving beers to rot in direct

sunlight on hot shelves, that are

flogging you out of date beers and have

no regard for supply chain integrity.

And it’s time to stop giving money

over to bars who neither know,

nor care, about the quality of

their beers but are jumping

on the hype train because

beer is easy money.

Put bluntly, it’s time to

stop allowing ourselves

to be taken the piss out

of. We work hard for our

money and when we put faith

in people to provide us with

commodities and services in

return for that, we have every right

to expect quality to be the watchword.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to

go and research how to emigrate to

Denver and, possibly as a bit of light

extra reading, how to survive a nuclear

holocaust.

50 FERMENT MAGAZINE Not a Beer52 member? Sign up at Beer52.com

FERMENT MAGAZINE 51


The

waiting

game

Whether you’re drinking it now or

saving it for posterity, storing your

beer at an appropriate temperature

is a must, explains Hugh Thomas

Towing along that extra empty suitcase to

Bruges, anticipating the glut of Trappists

and strong ales you’ll surely bring home –

we’ve all been there, right? I don’t know about

you, but I’m never really decided on what to do

with that kind of a haul. Stick them straight in

the fridge, or bung them in at the back of that

battered old drinks cupboard you wished you

never inherited?

Such is the uncertainty which can arise

with keeping beer. It probably elicits as much

fret among the drinking community as it does

the brewers who made the stuff. Brewers, of

course, want you to drink their beer the way

it’s meant to be drunk.

“Fresh is best with the majority of beer, to

be honest,” says Orbit’s head brewer Mario

Canestrelli. While this is certainly true of

Orbit’s core beers – which consist of an altbier,

lager, and pale ale – a barley wine, aged for

seven months to coincide with the brewery’s

second birthday, is better tucked away and

forgotten about for a while.

“It was made as a ‘vintage’ beer,

as in something especially suited for

ageing,” says Mario. For dark, heavy,

and uncarbonated beers like Orbit’s

barley wine, Mario says to always store

vertically and away from light. “The

absolute best cellar temperature – the

back of a cupboard would do just fine –

would be 12-13°C,” he says. “Anywhere

between 6 and 14°C is great – warmer

temperatures speed up the ageing, but

too much temperature fluctuation is

bad.”

But if you’re the impatient sort, what

exactly is going to make you want to

store it that long? “All beers oxidise

over time,” says Mario. “Slow oxidation

on our barley wine will create some

desirable flavours of raisins and dried

fruits and a mild sherry-like character,

making the beer even more complex.”

As a general rule, strong beers like

this will take well to cellaring, but

not so well to storing in the fridge.

Grant Henderson, Scottish brewery

six°north’s brand ambassador, says “the

higher the ABV, the higher the storage

temperature” should be. “Robust, high

ABV beers have a less prominent hop

content, and are generally more malt

and yeast-led in their flavour. Serving

them straight from the fridge can numb

their flavour, giving less aroma and

even less carbonation.”

When talking about ageing strong

beers, don’t think of just the dark ones,

like imperial stouts and quadruples.

Some lighter, heavily carbonated beers

like lambics and sours are great to age

too. “Due to the nature of the yeast,

they will grow in complexity,” says

The higher the ABV,

the higher the storage

temperature

Grant. “Fruited lambics however are

best when fresh, as the fruit content

often drops off after the first year.”

In fact, any beer with fresh

flavourings may be best poured within

its first several months. Solvay Society

founder and brewer Roman Hochuli

says how, despite preferring his dark

beers “with a bit of age on them,” his

rye tripel is best drunk post haste.

The pink peppercorn aroma fades

quickly – within weeks – as the yeast

begins to take over,” he says.

Solvay Society takes a lot of its cues

from Belgian brewing, with the saison

as one of its most go-to styles. While

saisons may have once been stored

in the summer to be ready for the

parched gullets of Belgian farmhands

next spring, modern – or “truly

inauthentic” as Solvay describes its

own – interpretations of the saison

take better to the fridge than the

cellar. “Many bottle-conditioned

saisons taste fresh for months, but

ageing is best reserved for those barrel

and brett-aged saisons,” says Roman.

Other Belgians, such as dubbels

and tripels, prefer cellar temperatures.

Orval is a great example, which grows

from 5.9% when bottled up to 6.9% in

its own sweet time. “Drink fresh and it’s

vibrant, grassy and bitter,” says Grant.

“After six months the yeast starts to

come to the fore. At one year, there’s

a hint of citrus from the hops, but the

brett is far more prominent. As it gets

older, it becomes drier and funkier

thanks to the yeast.”

There’s a place and a time for

complex beers like Orval. Much like

there is for beers at the other end of

the spectrum – the lagers, pale ales and

the West Coast IPAs you whack in the

fridge and wait for a warm day to crack

open on the patio.

“Anything with lots of hop aroma

should be stored cold (under 6°C) and

drunk fresh,” says Matthew Theobalds,

co-founder of South East London

brewery Canopy. “Not just kept in the

cupboard then put in the fridge before

drinking – it’s amazing the difference

cold storage makes.” In the case of

lager, it’s gone through cold storage

for a few weeks anyway – one of the

reasons behind that distinctive clean

taste. “Lagers are also fizzier, and part

of their taste profile is down to how you

taste that CO2,” says Matthew.

So, to cellar or not to cellar? To

fridge, or not to fridge? That’s the

question for when that next Beer52

care package drops on your

doorstep.

52 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 53


Born in the 70s. Still an original.

getting

TECHNICAL

WITH THE

GRAINFATHER

Part X: Understanding the importance of

water in brewing

For many brewers, water is one of the last elements they will

look at adjusting when making their beers. While there is a

great deal of science involved in the entire brewing process,

none of it seems to frighten new brewers as much as the science

of water chemistry.

When we started Butcombe Brewing Co. in 1978, we didn’t set

out to be on trend, but we still became an icon. By making

perfectly balanced, great-tasting beer, we’ve stood the test

of time. And we’ve been lighting up the room ever since.

Something about adjusting water ions using various salts just

seems to be tough to grasp for a lot of people new to the hobby.

While there is always something new to learn in water chemistry,

it isn’t hard to become comfortable in knowing what ions are of

importance to brewers and what the effects of various salts are

and how to use them.

BUTCOMBE.COM


Water chemistry can be tricky and it takes some

time to get your head around it fully, which is

why it is good to start with the basics. If you are looking

to make adjustments to your water then it is very

likely you will need to understand how to read your

water report. A water report tells you what your water

consists of and you can normally get it from your local

council or water supplier. There are also companies

who will analyse your water for a small fee which may

be worth doing.

Some of these things include;

Chlorine (or chloramines) – Impart a sharp chemical

taste or aroma

Hydrogen sulphide – Gives the beer a rotten egg/sulfur

aroma

Methylisoborneol – Pond scum taste or aroma

Iron – Metallic or blood like taste

So, it’s easy to see why you wouldn’t want these in your

beer.

The effect of brewing water on beer is usually

characterised by six main ions (these are the important

ones to look at in the water report) – shown here with

their ideal ranges for brewing.

Calcium (Ca+2)

50-150 (ppm or mg/L)

Magnesium (Mg+2) 10-30 (ppm or mg/L)

Sodium 1(Na+)


HOW DO I FIND OUT

WHAT MY WATER IS LIKE?

Most council/states have water

authorities who will have this data

available upon request, some water

supply companies even have them on

their web sites and a lot of brewing

clubs will also have this information

for their areas.

If you cannot still find out, there

are commercial water testing kits

available for you to do your

own testing at home.

which lead to a harsh astringency and are undesirable

in your finished beer. By the time your beer has finished

fermenting the pH should be around 4.2 – 4.4 with

anything higher suffering from a harsher character and

anything below risking becoming thin and tart. In some

styles, like a Berliner Weiss, the pH will be as low as 3.2

which is what gives the beer its tart, sourness.

You should also consider hardness in your water. This

indicates the amount of calcium and magnesium ions

that are present in your water and can be categorised as

either ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent’. Temporary hardness

relates to how much calcium carbonate is present. If

your water has a high level of temporary hardness you

can boil the water for half an hour which will cause the

calcium carbonate to precipitate out. You will be able

to see this at the bottom of the water so you should rack

your water off this precipitate before using it.

Permanent hardness on the other hand is related to

the amount of sulfates and chloride’s present, something

which is very important to brewers, as the sulfate to

chloride ratio has an effect on sweetness vs. dryness and

perceived hop bitterness in your end beer and is often

talked about in relation to brewing IPA’s.

Finally, you should consider your waters buffering

capability (or alkalinity) which is a measure of how

resistant your water is to a change in pH. On a water

report this is usually given as the amount of bicarbonate

or calcium carbonate. A high alkalinity can cause a high

mash pH and can be difficult to adjust.

Additions you make to your water will depend upon the

starting point of your source water. You can usually get

a water report from your local council fairly easily. Here

are some example water profiles for two different styles

of beer;

To create a hoppy pale ale or IPA style a good water profile would be (ppm or mg/L):

Ca +2 - 25 Mg +2 - 5 Na + - 10 Cl - - 50 SO 4

- 150 HCO 3

- 0

The sulphate to chloride ratio is around 3:1, which gives a drier balance, accentuating hop bitterness.

To create a maltier style, like an English Bitter a good water profile would be (ppm or mg/L):

Ca +2 - 60 Mg +2 - 5 Na + - 10 Cl - - 95 SO 4

- 55 HCO 3

- 0

The sulphate to chloride ratio is closer to 1:2 which will have a maltier balance.

OFFER ENDS 1ST DECEMBER


AERATED MUSHROOM

CREAM

AGENT: SOY LECITHIN, XANTHAN GUM

HOW TO USE: SPOON OVER A MUSHROOM FRICASSEE OR

MUSHROOM PASTA.

STEP ONE: MAKE THE MUSHROOM BROTH

Soak 200g of dried mushroom in 600ml of water for one hour.

Sieve and keep the water and mushrooms separately. Gently fry

one chopped shallot in some olive oil for a few minutes until soft.

Add two cloves of garlic, and the soaked mushrooms. Cook for

about 10 minutes until brown. Add one sprig of rosemary, two

sprigs of thyme and two sprigs of tarragon, add the soaking liquid

from the mushrooms and salt to taste. Reduce by half and cool

down. Sieve and place in the fridge for two hours.

STEP TWO: MAKE THE CREAM

Once cooled, measure 250ml of the mushroom broth and add

250ml of single cream (or double cream, or even vegan cream).

Adjust the seasoning if needed, and add 1g of xanthan gum (which

improves consistency) and blend for one minute. Be careful with

xanthan gum, as it’s very powerful. Once you have the desired

thickness, start to heat the sauce in a small pot. You can serve

it cold, but I personally think it’s much nicer warm. So heat it up

to about 40°C, take off the heat and add 2g of lecithin. With an

immersion blender, mix the lecithin and work the cream. Foam will

start to rise, and will stay stable up to 30 minutes to an hour, but

best to serve immediately.

This month, Alex Paganelli moves from the kitchen to the lab, for some

wild and wonderful culinary creations that show science can be delicious


TOMATO AND

ANCHOVY GLAZE

AGENT: GELLAN GUM

HOW TO USE: POUR OVER A SOFT SAVOURY OLIVE

BRIOCHE, OR ITALIAN CRISP BREAD.

In a stainless steel pan, gently fry two chopped shallots, one

teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, one teaspoon

of chilli flakes, one teaspoon of paprika and two cloves of garlic for

10 minutes in some olive oil. Add 150g of tomato puree, 200g of

sundried tomatoes and one tin of anchovies.

Fry for a further 10 minutes until the paste has become dark red.

Add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon of salt,

one tin of chopped tomatoes and let it cook for one hour. Whiz

and pass through a fine sieve.

Once cooled, add approximately 1% of the gellan gum (I had

roughly 600g, so I used 6g) and bring to a boil. Gellan gum only

reacts when it’s hot, and solidifies as it cools down (but it cools

down very fast) so be quick. Dip your bread into the tomato glaze

and pull it out quickly. You only need a thin layer. It will harden

almost immediately when you pull the bread out of the glaze. The

idea is that the gel should almost melt in the mouth when you bite

into it – and the richness of the tomato should come through.

PUMPKIN PAPER

AGENT: GELLAN GUM

HOW TO USE: WITH A CREAMY GOATS CHEESE, OR

VANILLA ICE CREAM.

Add 350g of roasted pumpkin to a blender and whiz into a fine

paste. Heat 150 g of soft brown sugar and 250g of water in a pot

until boiling. Gradually blend the sugar syrup into the pumpkin

paste on low speed until smooth. Add 7.5g of gellan gum and

blend one more time until smooth. Spread the paste onto a

silicon mat and dehydrate in the oven at 100°C for a couple of

hours (or more if necessary). Once cooked, the sheets should be

thin and crispy, with a soft crack, and melt in the mouth effect.


CHOCOLATE GEL

AGENT: GELLAN GUM AND CARRAGEENAN

HOW TO USE: FOLD OVER A CHEESECAKE, OR BLEND

INTO A SPREADABLE GEL AND DRIZZLE OVER A SUNDAE.

For the chocolate cheesecake, melt 50g of butter and mix

with 100g of crushed digestive biscuits. Spread onto a baking

sheet in a baking ring and cook for 15 minutes at 180°C. In the

meantime, prepare the filling. Melt 200g of chocolate in a bainmarie.

In a separate bowl, whisk 500g of cream cheese, 150g

of sour cream, 30g of corn flour, 100g of sugar, one vanilla pod

and a pinch of salt until smooth. Then add three eggs, one after

another. Gradually add the mix to the melted chocolate. Pour

into the baking ring and cook at 100C for one hour. Let it cool

down in the oven.

For the gel, whisk 400g of water, 5g of gellan gum, 45g of cocoa

powder, 75g of sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat until boiling, and

pour onto a baking sheet. Tilt the sheet to spread the mixture

evenly. Carefully lift your sheet of chocolate gel and fold onto

your dessert of choice. Alternatively, blend the gel and pass

through a fine sieve and use as a chocolate drizzle.

PAPAYA DROPS

AGENT: CALCIUM LACTATE, SODIUM ALGINATE,

DISTILLED WATER

This works with any sorbet or ice cream recipe that contains

calcium. Milk or cream-based ice creams are fine, but for

sorbets you will need to adjust the calcium content. Just add

1% of calcium for each 100g of sorbet recipe. Prepare a sodium

alginate bath of 2.5% sodium per litre of distilled water and

blend with an immersion blender until it has thickened. Give

it time to let the air bubbles pop - best to leave it in the fridge

over night to let it become clear. Make your sorbet or ice

cream, and just when it comes out of the ice ceam maker, when

it’s still in the soft serve stage, shape the sorbet or ice cream

with a spoon and drop it into the sodium alginate bath. Wait a

minute or two, rinse it in cold water and place on a baking tray

and keep in the freezer. Serve on crushed ice.


WORDS: Matt Curtis

SURVIVING THE CULTURAL

CREEP OF THE WORLD’S

FAVOURITE BEER FESTIVAL

t’s the morning after the day of my first trip

to Oktoberfest. My head is pounding, my

stomach churning and I’m scrambling for

the light switch while simultaneously digging

into the recesses of my luggage, praying that

I remembered to pack some painkillers. I did

not. The struggle is real.

As I make myself ready for breakfast I

begin trying to recollect the evening that

went the night before. I remember my first

taste of the Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

märzen that was my mainstay at the festival.

It’s one of my favourite festbiers, brewed

especially for Oktoberfest. To taste it’s crisp

and dry, with just a snap of noble German hop

varieties to add enough of a counterpoint to a

bready, treacle-like sweetness. The qualities

combined make it incredibly moreish, despite

its 5.8% ABV, which is just as well considering

I had no choice but to drink it by the litre.

THE MOTHER OF ALL HANGOVERS

I arrive in the hotel lobby for breakfast. “I’m

sorry sir, service stopped five minutes ago.”

Damn. At least one of my fellow revelers is

kind enough to pass me a packet of ibuprofen,

so it’s not all bad news. I buy a coffee, choke

down a couple of tablets and continue

piecing together the events of the

previous evening.

How many maß did I have? Five? Six?

Seven? It almost seems inconsequential as

I stare at the world through what might be

the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced.

The term “maß” or “mass” is far from

inconsequential though, as it’s the correct

term for the litre jugs of beer that kept being

thrown in our direction by the experienced

servers at the festival. Many call the glass

a stein – but this is incorrect – stein, which

translates to stone, refers to traditional

German stoneware tankards and not glass, of

course.

The servers themselves were incredibly

efficient, carrying multiple maß of festbier

to each table moments before the glasses

ran dry, charging around €12 per beer. The

servers don’t get paid, instead buying the beer

downstairs in bulk for about €9 each before

schlepping it out to tables and keeping the

profits. In between serving beers they’ll also

sell food and touristy trinkets to

bump up their earnings.

Each server will work every

single day of Oktoberfest, which

begins in late September and

usually reaches its climax

on 2 October. A typical shift

66 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 67


EVERYBODY LOVES OKTOBERFEST

is around 12 to 15 hours a day over a 17

to 18 day period and servers can earn

anything up to €20,000 by working the

duration of the event. It’s no wonder

that most servers take a holiday from

their day jobs to work the festival. It’s

also incredibly difficult to actually get

a job serving at Oktoberfest, with most

people working having inherited the

position from family members who

used to work the beer hall aisles before

them.

I pause to collect myself as the

painkillers and coffee finally begin

to take effect. Was there schnapps

involved? Oh God, there was schnapps

involved.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH

OKTOBERFEST

Oktoberfest, or Oide Wiesn as its

referred to colloquially by Bavarians,

dates back as far as 1810 and is

the largest Volksfest (meaning

beer festival and travelling fair)

in the world. Its origin came from

the celebration of the marriage of

King Ludwig I to Princess Therese

of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It’s seen

many changes over the last couple of

centuries, that have shaped it into the

modern celebration of Bavarian culture

that we witness today. These days,

around six million people attend the

festival annually.

My first impression of Oktoberfest

was not of one beer (or schnapps)

however, but how culturally important

this festival is to not just revelers like

myself but entire families. Before

you even get to one of various beer

tents – each home to one of the

six Munich breweries: Augustiner,

Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner,

Spaten and Hofbräu – you encounter

a bustling funfair. Neon-lit rides line

the entranceway to the Theresienwiese

– meaning Theresa’s Meadows –

fairgrounds. Amongst the rides there’s

stands galore selling pretzels, sausages,

apple wine and even the dreaded

schnapps.

To get a beer though you need to hustle

your way into one of the huge beer

“tents,” which are actually permanent

structures that host multiple events

throughout the year. You’ll need to get

in quick if you want to grab a table,

as the tents fill up fast, particularly in

the evening session, once the family

crowd has returned home for the day.

In the middle of each beer tent will be

a traditional Bavarian oompah brass

band. Expect a range of classics, mixed

in with some modern covers and every

15 minutes or so a storming rendition of

Ein Prosit, a German drinking anthem.

Not standing up to sing along before

taking a hearty swig of your beer is

frowned upon. In fact, it’s almost as if

they came up with the song to make

you drink faster…

The majority of people attending

Oktoberfest will also be wearing

traditional Bavarian dress – that’s

Not standing up to sing

along before taking a

hearty swig of your beer

is frowned upon.

Lederhosen for the boys and Dirndl

for the girls. These clothes aren’t the

tongue-in-cheek, kitsch outfits you

might think they are, however. In fact

Bavarians take their traditional dress

very seriously, spending hundreds

of Euro on these clothes in the same

way we Brits might a suit or dress for

a wedding. Rest assured, you’ll be in

very welcome company if you don

some Bavarian garb yourself. In fact I

recommend it.

Once you’ve found yourself at a

table the drinking can begin. Despite

its relatively high amount of alcohol,

festbier is incredibly easy to drink

due to it being lagered for several

months before the festival, giving it a

soft carbonation that won’t leave you

feeling bloated. The temptation is to

devour that first litre as quickly as

possible, but take it from my previous

experience: pace is the trick as you

settle in for your session. Oh and for

Christ’s sakes eat something too, lest

you be swept away by a riptide of

märzen. There’s plenty of sausages,

chicken and pork knuckle available.

CULTURAL CREEP

Cave Direct, a UK based beer

distributor, supplies beers from

Paulaner and Hacker Pschorr to the

British market. One of its directors,

Neil Kitching, has been a regular

attendee of Oktoberfest over the past

few years (he also owns a particularly

fine pair of lederhosen). I caught up

with Kitching a year after we attended

Oktoberfest together, to find out why it

keeps on drawing him back, year after

year.

“Bavaria has always been a proud

and slightly independent part of

Germany and I think Oktoberfest is

a chance for them to show the world

what’s so great about the region,” he

says. “Oktoberfest in Munich is like our

Christmas here in the UK. Most of the

city takes off as much time as possible

from work to enjoy the festivities, it’s

ingrained into Bavarian family life.”

My Oktoberfest experience was, in

fact, far more wholesome than I may

have led you to believe. Yes, I drank too

much, as is a hazard of my occupation

from time-to-time, but the atmosphere

was far more relaxed, convivial and

family orientated than I expected.

In fact I thought with the millions of

tourists descending on Munich for the

event that many locals might avoid the

festival, when the opposite of this is in

fact the reality.

These expectations of mine were

68 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 69


EVERYBODY LOVES OKTOBERFEST

set, not by the image of a traditional

Munich Oktoberfest, but the

appropriated, bastardised version of

it that has been replicated the world

over. Inspect the shelves of any US

liquor store this month and you’ll

see them stacked with Oktoberfest

beers from its larger craft brewers.

Here in the UK we’re now inundated

with copycat events, often using lurid

advertising with more than an air of

sexism around it to lure in punters.

There’s even a near replica of the event

in Qingdao, China, that has taken place

since 1990, proving how global the

reach of the event truly is.

Cave Direct also produces a

miniaturised version of the event here

in the UK. I asked Kitching what the

appeal of replicating the Oktoberfest

“kitsch” has for the rest of the world.

“Well first,” he says, “kitsch isn’t a

bad word. I think it is a really useful

term for the fun of Oktoberfest – most

people leave their cynicism at the door

and those who don’t throw it out the

tent windows pretty quickly, because

it’s so immersive and the sense of

camaraderie is everywhere by the end.”

“As for its reputation for getting

people as drunk as humanly possible,

it’s not fairly earned and I think most

people project their own prejudices

onto the event,” he continues. “Over

80% of the people attending don’t

even set foot in one of the beer tents.

It’s much more a family event for the

fairground rides than a drinking event.”

Many of the UK’s set of craft

brewers are also embracing the spirit

of Oktoberfest in the same respectful

way that Kitching has done with Cave’s

replica event. In London, several

brewers such as Kennington’s Orbit

and Bermondsey’s Anspach and

Hobday are producing Oktoberfest

themed beers of their own – the latter

even going as far as to produce an

entire range of German-influenced

beers for its events.

“Oktoberfest gives us an opportunity

to engage with traditional recipes,

ingredients and processes,” says

Anspach and Hobday co-founder Paul

Anspach. “We’re all big fans of German

beers and you learn a great deal

more about process and control when

brewing to style, as opposed

to simply seeing

how many hops

you can shove in

an IPA. It also gives

us a great excuse to

throw a party!”

Orbit’s commercial

manager Robbie

Sykes doesn’t see quite

the same appeal in

celebrating the festival as Anspach,

however.

“We’ve never made a great deal

out of Oktoberfest, I’ve never really

considered it hugely relevant to what

we do,” he says. “Nonetheless we’re

asked to get involved with events

every year and this year Strongroom

(a Shoreditch-based bar and recording

studio) asked us to brew them a Vienna

lager, which we happily made.”

Although the seedier side of

Oktoberfest celebrations outside of

Bavaria looks set to continue, at least

in the short-term, it could be the

increasingly mature outlook of modern

craft breweries that carries it in the

long-term.

“I think for non-Bavarian

Oktoberfest events to be successful,

the focus should be on the beer,”

Anspach says. “There’s a whole host

of German beer styles that are pretty

it’s simply an essential

cultural experience that

you have to seek out at

least once.

under-represented in the UK, so why

not give them some focus at this time

of year?”

PAYING DUE RESPECT

A few hours later into the day after

my first experience of Oktoberfest I’m

finally beginning to feel a little more

human. That might have something to

do with the fresh air found in Munich’s

expansive Englischer Garten, or

perhaps it’s the maß of Hofbräu and

plat of currywurst that’s now sat in front

of me. The now clear images of young

locals dancing on tables, regularly

hoisting litres of beer into the air while

laughing loudly paints an altogether

fonder picture of Oktoberfest than

when I first awoke that morning.

Whether you’re into beer or not, it’s

simply an essential cultural experience

that you have to seek out at least once.

“It’s the greatest beer festival on

earth,” concludes Cave Direct’s

Kitching. “Where else in the world is

some of the world’s best lager served

in litres, to strangers all stood on

benches, arm in arm, singing to Robbie

William’s Angels? It’s being reproduced

all over the world because on the

surface it looks very simple, but it’s

very hard to recreate; it’s a unique

piece of history and culture that brings

people, food, beer and music together

like nowhere else.”

FERMENT MAGAZINE 71


TO HELLES

The joy is the simplicity. And

many separate simple joys

connect when having a fresh

glass of Munich Helles. It begins in the

brauhaus or the biergarten, busy with

locals, loud not rowdy, tables lined with

golden glasses and two meat and no

veg meals. The service is brusque in

the efficient way of Bavarian waiting

staff. The beer is dropped down in

front of you with a thud – there’s

nothing delicate here. The glasses are

sturdier-bottomed than the waitress

who has worked here for decades, the

handles heftier than the server who

lifts five steins per hand from midday

to midnight. The colour of Helles, the

brightness, the illuminating lightness

that would’ve set it apart from the dark

Dunkels, glows in front of you. The

first taste through the soft, sweet foam

shows how all of Helles’s ingredients

come together but how none of them

individually push forward, though

the malt is what is most satisfying,

that toasty, biscuity, doughy, bready

almost-sweetness which gives a

fullness of flavour, a soft and easy

roundness. There’s elegance backed

up by the deftness of German hops,

bright, peppery, spicy, floral, fragrant,

not forceful, not abundant, just there,

just right. There are not many beers,

anywhere in the world, which can

equal the magnificence of a glass of

Munich Helles.

Helles or Hell means light, pale

WORDS: Mark Dredge

or bright, and are an ascension from

the dark Dunkels that previously

dominated in Bavaria. These new light

beers followed the fashion of the time

which was to drink pale lagers, inspired

by Bohemian Pilsner, though it took

Munich a long time to finally see the

light.

We know the original Pilsner –

Pilsner Urquell – was brewed in 1842

and it partly came about because of the

threat of better-tasting Bavarian brown

lagers replacing Pilsen’s local brown

ales, which saw the town build a new

brewery, hire a Bavarian brewmaster

and change beer history by brewing a

bright golden lager. Pilsner travelled

far, getting lighter and more bitter as

it went through Germany. It would’ve

travelled through Munich on route to

these other places, but the Bavarian

brewers were unwilling to let this

unwelcome intruder in and they stuck

to their traditional Dunkels for decades

more.

The first credited Helles – ostensibly

modified from a Pilsner and made

less bitter and more malty to suit

the Bavarian taste – wasn’t brewed

in Munich until 1894. That was at

the Spaten brewery and it caused

an outrage. Brewmasters feared a

dark end for their dearest Dunkels.

They boycotted the light beers and

discussed forming a committee to get

rid of this alien brew. Eventually the

light beers shone through and now

AND BACK

Helles is Munich’s main beer. It’s also

a style that’s very much of its place.

Even if you travel 100 miles north, light

beers are not like Helles, they’re more

amber in colour, maltier; travel further

and it's bitter, dry Pilsners which are

everywhere. But in Munich, it’s Helles.

These great, bright lagers began

life in the dark. Cellars under the

breweries aged the beers and trees

were planted above ground to give

some shade. The shade was nice to

sit under and nicer to drink beer in,

especially if you brought it straight

up from the cool cellars underneath.

From the dark cellars into the bright

beer gardens, from dunkel to hell and

into a heavenly local beer experience,

where the cellars, or kellers, are still

important and you’ll find kellerbier

in the brauhauses around Munich

which is essentially unfiltered Helles:

it’s softer, not sweeter but suggestively

plumper, creamier, and the hops are

more evident.

Ask any brewer, anywhere in the

world, their favourite beer styles, the

one they travel to drink fresh, and

Helles is consistently one of those

beers. Yet it’s also almost untouchable

in world brewhouses. How many

brewers attempt a straight-up Munichstyle

Helles? It’s one of those styles that

gets riffed on but doesn’t get copied.

Pilsner is the one they’ll play around

with; that’s the beer that’s travelled,

been lightened by big beer or hoppedup

by craft beer. For Helles, the

brewers know the classics and they’ll

just drink those for their balance, their

toasty malts, quenching bitterness,

and easy-going complexity that takes

decades to perfect. These aren’t

one-shot special release lagers; these

are beers refined over time, through

generations. It’s practised, perfected –

and it’s hard to replicate perfection.

It’s tempting to say that Munich

Helles is timeless and to call them

traditional. But considering Bavaria’s

centuries of brewing, and the slowmo

speed at which nothing changes,

these beers are still relatively modern:

Hefeweizens have been around for

way longer, Dunkels are way older

still, centuries older, and Bocks and

Doppelbocks probably haven’t changed

much since Munich’s monastic olden

days (München means ‘by the monks’

in old German). And there’s not been

many new beers added to the Munich

staple for a long time. Helles is still the

bright new thing.

Helles is Bavaria’s beer; it’s Munich’s

beer. It’s the Munich go-to, the noneed-to-think

drink, the beer you have

while you’re busy doing other more

important things like talking with

friends. It’s the kind of beer you can

drink litres of and it continues to get

more wonderful, more lip-smackingly

delicious, yet doesn’t arrest your

attention like an IPA, meaning you can

enjoy the place and the people you’re

with. It’s as refreshingly uncomplicated

or as refined and complex as you

want it to be; it’s a beer that we can

all approach and understand and

appreciate in our own way. It’s the antibeer

nerd beer but also the ultimate

beer lovers’ beer; it’s simply one of the

best beers in the world.

72 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 73


WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS: Simon Proudman

orth Korea is probably not

the first place that comes to

mind when you think of a beer

festival. Germany, Britain or Belgium

would be far more likely contenders,

but North Korea? Well, strange things

are happening in the hermit kingdom,

and not just in advanced nuclear

missile development, driven by the

Supreme Leader’s love of a good ale.

Not a lot is known about the tastes

of the secretive Kim Jong-un, apart

from his well-publicised love of Denis

Rodman and American basketball.

Although digging deeper, his exchef,

Kenji Fujimoto, revealed in his

bestselling biography of the young Kim

that he was rather fond of cognac, and

imported beers from Germany and the

Czech Republic. Local North Korean

beer did not exist; the only national

liquor was Soju, a strong alcoholic rice

wine. Thanks to his father, Kim Jong-il,

beer brewing on a large scale came

to Pyongyang just before he came to

power, via a brewery in Trowbridge,

England.

I had grown up drinking a number

of the regional brews in my local pub

in Bristol. Ushers Best Bitter was a

reasonable pint to drink, nothing

special, but a good session ale. And

then one day it disappeared, a victim of

increasing competition in the brewing

industry and the high distribution

costs of being a small brewery in a

small Wiltshire market town. Few

tears were shed as the drinkers moved

onto the next beer, except perhaps in

Trowbridge, where 200 people lost

their jobs.

The brewing equipment was put

up for sale, and it was acquired by a

German company in 2000. What was

not so well known at the time was that

the Germans were merely middlemen,

and the real purchaser was the North

Korean government. The brewery

was dismantled piece by piece, and

sent to Avonmouth docks in Bristol,

from where it was then shipped to

Pyongyang. It took two years to rebuild

it and get it operational again, where it

now became the Taedonggang Brewery.

Since 2002, the beer has been

widely distributed throughout the

country, with a beer culture developing

for those that can afford it. Exports

even occur to South Korea when

relations are good, which is not that

often. Reviews from outside of the

country have been uniformly good

whenever a bottle escapes, The

Economist magazine lauded it as being

considerably better tasting than the

South’s “boring beer”, commenting that

“brewing remains just about the only

useful activity at which North Korea

beats the South.”

When I heard about the

Taedonggang beer festival, it seemed

too good an opportunity to pass up; an

opportunity where I could relive my

childhood (it was easier in those days

to pop out of school for a pint, with

the teachers studiously ignoring you

in the lounge bar opposite) and drink

what was basically an Ushers beer in

North Korea. The timing was not ideal

though. No sooner had I booked my

74 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 75


SEARCHING FOR BEER IN NORTH KOREA

tickets than Kim decided to flex the

North’s military muscles, confirming it

could launch a nuclear warhead atop

an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

President Trump had threatened “Fire

and Fury” to descend on the country

in a twittered reply, and relations all

round were beginning to get extremely

strained.

But I summoned up the courage to

get on an ageing Air Koryo Antonov

plane and fly into Pyongyang. Apart

from being a fairly old plane, nothing

distinguished the airline as being

North Korean; as with most airlines

the food was particularly inedible, a

cold chicken burger with cold cabbage

(oh how I would get to know and love

cabbage during every meal over the

next week) on a bun. That was until

the Captain made an announcement.

There had been no news from the

cockpit so far, no “Fasten your seat

belts” or an explanation as to why we

were waiting on the apron at Beijing

airport for what seemed an eternity

before departure. So when the

intercom burst into action after ninety

minutes flying time I was expecting an

update on when we were to land, or of

the latest weather in Pyongyang. No,

it was to inform us solemnly that we

were flying over the birthplace of Kim

Jong-il, with the pilot slowing the plane

noticeably as a mark of respect. This

was going to be an interesting country

to visit.

I was staying at the main tourist

hotel in Pyongyang, the Yanggakdo

International Hotel, recently in the

news for being the place where the

American student Otto Warmbier

made the dangerous decision to enter

a restricted area and rip down a poster

celebrating the munificence of the

Supreme Leader. I only planned on

entering the hotel bar and celebrating

my safe arrival into North Korea with a

pint of beer.

The hotel brewed its own, a very

full-bodied ale, with just a hint of

homebrew flavour. The only problem

seemed to be in the pouring of the

pint, as the head would often consume

more than half of the glass. Inside my

booth was a big red button which,

when pressed, automatically brought

a waitress carrying beer. There are

clearly some inventions that we should

be copying from North Korea.

The next day brought bad news.

The Taedonggang Beer Festival was

off. The tents had all been set up in a

square opposite the east bank of the

Taedong River but it was all for naught.

Rumours were flying concerning the

actual reasons for cancellation, the

most plausible of which was a famine

in the north of the country. Kim had

apparently decided it did not look

good for Pyongyang residents to be

having fun at a beer festival. There was

nothing I could do, except carry on

with the tour of the country and find

somewhere else to try the products of

the brewery.

An opportunity presented itself

rather quickly. That afternoon, after

a tour of the Pyongyang Metro – the

deepest in the world, which doubles

as a city-wide nuclear shelter – I was

to visit the only department store that

admitted foreigners. Before going I

wanted to know what else was worth

buying from North Korea, so I asked

one of my guides, Mr. Lee.

All visitors are required to have a

driver and two guides/minders when

in the country. Wandering anywhere

without them, even leaving the hotel,

is forbidden. But they are also a font of

knowledge on all things North Korean.

Mr. Lee replied that the country

made great backpacks (which was at

least partially true, they looked good,

with lots of DPRK branding on them,

but had a little bit too much built-in

obsolescence; mine lasted precisely

two days before ripping), Taedonggang

beer, and chocolate. Chocolate?

My voice carried in surprise – I had

not seen North Korea as being the

Switzerland of Asia.

A quite obviously irritated Mr. Lee

replied: “Of course we make chocolate,

we make intercontinental ballistic

missiles, so why can we not make

chocolate?” and he banged the table

to really make his point understood.

I judiciously said no more, while

mentally making a short shopping list

of chocolate, backpacks, and lots of

beer.

The department store was packed.

This was the only place on the trip

that I could use North Korean Won,

and the store helpfully had a currency

exchange booth inside. Even more

helpfully, they offered the black market

rate of 8500 Won to 1 US dollar, which

was much more generous than the

official rate of 80 Won to the dollar.

We make intercontinental

ballistic missiles, so

why can we not make

chocolate?”

Mr. Lee made sure I understood that it

was illegal to take the currency out of

the country and that we must change

it back before we left. I nodded my

compliance while secretly thinking of

the best place to hide the banknotes in

my luggage when leaving the country.

None of the other shoppers paid

attention to a foreigner loading up his

basket with beer and chocolate;

they were far too interested in all

76 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 77


SEARCHING FOR BEER IN NORTH KOREA

the foreign goodies that somehow had

evaded the extensive sanctions placed

against the country. Nescafe coffee,

Johnny Walker Whisky, Australian

Wine, and Heinz soup vied for space

amongst the mainly Chinese brands.

It was the random element

that made drinking beer

in North Korea akin to a

game of Russian roulette

Taedonggang beer has seven

varieties, numbered ever so

imaginatively from one to seven. One

is normal beer to western tastes,

made with malt and hops, and each

increasing number has more rice and

less malt and hops, which would make

Number Seven both very interesting,

and probably totally undrinkable. Only

numbers One and Two were available

on the largely empty shelves of the

beer aisle. There was also clearly a

bottle shortage as the Taedonggang

beers were being sold in all sorts of

different sizes, colours and shapes,

some even still had Tsingtao labels on

the back showing where the bottles

had been recycled from.

That evening I forsook the bar for

a beer tasting session in my hotel

room. The Taedonggang beers were

very hit or miss. I’d been advised that

it was best drunk fresh, but apparent

problems in the brewing or bottling

process meant many were clearly

spoilt. It was the random element that

made drinking beer in North Korea

akin to a game of Russian roulette,

but at ten pence a bottle, it was an

affordable risk.

Both the Number One and Number

Two Taedonggang beers, when not

spoilt, were rather tasty; light on the

hops but with a full flavour. They were

fresh, bottled in the last few weeks,

and that made all the difference to the

taste. And, as I learnt the following

morning, drinking a lot of them does

not give you a hangover.

As the beer festival had been

cancelled, I had made a special request

to visit a Taedonggang owned bar – the

next best thing. We drove into the

suburbs of Pyongyang, past brightly

coloured blocks of apartments, with

the requisite billboards of Kim Il-sung

and Kim Jong-il either above their

entranceways or on small monuments in

front. We stopped outside a nondescript

grey building. Hidden unadvertised on

the top floor was the bar.

Inside, it was styled like a German

Bier Keller. There were long benches

and wooden tables where you could

socialise or watch the war movie

being shown on the large TV screen

attached to the wall, where the local

army seemed to be easily overcoming a

ramshackle force of American troops. It

could easily have been anywhere in the

world, except of course for the pictures

of the two Kim’s smiling down at us

from behind the bar. The bar was also

totally empty, which at 7 PM on a week

night was more than a little surprising.

The true reason behind the

cancellation of the beer festival

became apparent as soon as I

ordered a pint. Seven large taps were

positioned behind the bar, each

one serving up a draught version of

Taedonggang’s finest numbered brews.

Only Taedonggang Number Two was

available. There was a huge shortage

of ingredients, either due to drought or

foreign sanctions, and a beer festival

with only one beer would have been

somewhat laughable.

The frothy pint of Number Two was

delicious though. I was just starting

on a second when I was told that I

had to leave. Maybe the locals were

beginning to agitate and demand to be

let in for their evening drink? Strangely

there was absolutely no one outside

as we left; as with all things in North

Korea, our trip was timed with military

precision, and the minute had come for

us to depart.

North Korea is not a destination for

the normal beer aficionado. You may,

or may not, get to see a beer festival.

You have to be patient, tolerant and

accept that the country is different.

The price of having a memorable

trip is to consume a lot of cabbage,

detox from email and the internet, not

have the freedom to travel anywhere

without your guides, and not to meet

many actual North Koreans. It was

an experience like no other available

in the world, and thanks partially to

Ushers in Trowbridge, it was clear that

the country does make good beer. It

may also make good intercontinental

ballistic missiles, though hopefully we

will never find that out. But I can safely

say the country fails on producing good

chocolate. It was horrible.

78 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 79


Beer52 subscriber’s best beers

Your notes on our London Craft Beer Festival box!

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TASTING NOTES

With the same malt and yeast

base as our Equanot ale, this beer

is packed with the iconic Mosaic

hop. Expect a big hit of bitterness,

with tropical fruit including

citrus and mango.

ABV: 6%

Style: Oatmeal coffee

chocolate stout

TASTING NOTES

Here, half the chocolate malt

is swapped out for flaked

oats, mellowing the intense

dark malt flavours and, more

importantly, creating a rich and

creamy mouthfeel.

82 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 83


DREAMING OF FRITES

Beer52 x Anders

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

CITRA HAZE

Beer52 x Anders

ABV: 6%

Style: West coast pale ale

TASTING NOTES

With its high attenuation and

super-dry character, Belgian

abbey yeast is in many ways the

perfect partner for a classic, crisp

west coast IPA, allowing that

signature hop explosion to really

shine through, with additional

notes of cloves and spiced fruit.

ABV: 6.5%

Style: New England IPA

TASTING NOTES

All aboard the 'haze craze' train,

with this pair of murky, single

dry-hopped NEIPAs. Citra Haze

is a perfect example of the style,

with a more pronounced malt

presence than a west coast IPA, a

big mouthfeel and - most importantly

- a truckload of passionfruit

and lychee from lavish quantities

of Citra hops.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING

Beer52 x Anders

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

El dorado

Beer52 x Anders

ABV: 6%

Style: West coast pale ale

TASTING NOTES

Possibly the quintessential style

of the craft beer revolution, this

is classic west coast pale ale is

bursting with sun-drenched US

hops, with malt taking a back

seat and US ale yeast ensuring

that super clean, crisp character

that we've all come to love. This

style benefits hugely from being

consumed fresh, so drink up!

ABV: 6.5%

Style: New England IPA

TASTING NOTES

With the same malt and yeast

base as its Citra sister, this

opaque juice bomb is bursting

with the incredible aromas of

pear, watermelon and stone fruit

that the El Dorado hop is so

rightly famous for.

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 85


Eleventh hour

Beer52 x Anders

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

zig

Beer52 x Anders

ABV: 4.7%

Style: Rye IPA

TASTING NOTES

Grain isn't just there to provide

fermentable sugars, even in

relatively light beers. Here we

see how the addition of rye

malt can transform an IPA,

balancing out its hop profile

with a layer of spicy, dry and

nutty goodness.

ABV: 5.2%

Style: Belgin Blonde

TASTING NOTES

This pair of blondes both use

traditional Belgian yeasts, but

with very different results. Zig

employs a classic abbey yeast

and is brimming with fruit clove

notes, reminiscent of your

favourite Trappist brews.

ruby rising

Beer52 x Anders

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

zag

Beer52 x Anders

ABV: 4.7%

Style: Amber IPA

TASTING NOTES

Caramalt, amber and Pilsner

malts take centre stage

here, in a perfectly balanced

amber IPA, with rich, sweet

caramel flavours.

ABV: 5.2%

Style: Belgian Blonde

TASTING NOTES

In contrast to its sister beer,

the T-45 yeast used in Zag

delivers an estery, peppery,

spicy character, perfectly

complementing the medium

body and subtle hop profile.

86

FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 87


NOT

YOUR

average

JOE

Brian Jones, author of Brew: Better Coffee at Home, sets out his

beer lover’s guide to the rich and complex world of craft coffee

Last month while serving coffee

for a friend’s company at a beer

festival in Sweden, a customer

walked up and asked why a cup of

coffee cost just as much as a beer. My

friend, the roaster, replied that it was

some of the highest-quality coffee he

could source and there was a lot of

craft involved. The tipsy festival-goer,

unconvinced, exclaimed that “beer has

more craft!” My friend, proud of his

product and the farmers who produce

it, challenged the man by asking

about all the effort put into growing

and processing exceptional coffee

at the farm, roasting it perfectly, and

brewing it well. The man stood there

momentarily contemplating this, trying

to maintain his balance, before leaning

forward with his indignant retort, “beer

has more alcohol.”

While the festival-goer’s second point

was hard to argue, it highlighted an

issue the coffee industry often struggles

with: helping people appreciate the

true value of great coffee. I have spent

the past eight years addressing this

concern through my work as a writer

and designer, yet it still hasn’t got

much easier. As a beer lover, I have no

problem going into a bar and ordering

an eight-ounce glass of Mikkeller

Spontanale beer for $14 (maybe I

should). But if you ask most people

to pay $7 for a cup of the highestquality

coffee on earth, you’ll likely be

sectioned – or at least dragged in the

media.

For most of us who understand

and appreciate the flavours of tasty,

well-crafted things – whether it’s beer,

wine, or cocktails – coffee is still viewed

as a democratic right that shouldn’t

cost more than a few bucks, no matter

how good it tastes. However, when

factoring in the extra labour required

for producing higher quality beans, the

impact that climate change is having on

coffee-growing regions, and the rising

demand for speciality coffee in general,

it’s easy to understand why craft coffee

has become more expensive than your

average cup of joe.

But it’s also important to remember

that, just as I’d never compare that $14

craft beer to a cheap pilsner, a cup of

coffee made with beans sourced from a

co-op in Kenya should cost significantly

more than your standard commodity

blend from Tesco. If you’re well set

in your way of thinking, I likely won’t

convince you otherwise today. But if

you would like to learn how to make a

delicious cup of coffee yourself, it takes

a bit more effort than popping open a

bottle.

So I’d like to share some coffee

knowledge that will make understanding

and crafting better coffee at home seem

more approachable. With these tools

and some fresh roasted coffee beans,

you might just convince yourself how

delicious great coffee can be and why

you’re sometimes asked to pay as much

for a coffee as you are for a beer.

COFFEE VARIATIONS

The coffee bean is actually the seed of

a fruit (the “cherry”) that grows on a

genus of flowering plants called Coffea.

Usually referred to as trees, Coffea

plants have wiry branches and large

green leaves that, when left unmanaged,

can grow fifteen feet tall or higher, but

coffee farmers typically prune them to

make it easier to harvest the cherries

by hand.

SPECIES

There are roughly one hundred

different species of Coffea trees, but

only two of them are widely planted

for their beans: arabica and canephora

(commonly known as robusta). It’s

important to know which species you

are purchasing because the differences

between them relate to the quality and

flavour of the coffee you drink. Arabica

beans account for about 70 percent

of the world’s coffee production, and

speciality coffees primarily use arabica

beans because of their complex flavour

profile. Arabica beans also require more

care to farm and harvest, which makes

them more expensive. Really, you should

only be buying arabica coffee.

Within the family of arabica coffee are

numerous varieties, or subspecies. Some

of the more common arabica varieties

are Bourbon, Castillo, Caturra, Catuai,

Geisha, Pacamara, SL28, SL34,and

Typica, the first cultivated variety from

which all others have descended. Just

like the grapes used to make wine (or

hops to make beer), each coffee variety

contains different characteristics that

determine the flavour profile of the

final product. Likewise, the “terroir,”

or specific environmental conditions

(including soil composition, altitude, and

weather) where coffee trees grow, also

affects the flavour of the beans.

ROASTING

One of the most important and

impactful steps of the coffee process is

transforming raw, green coffee beans

into the roasted ones we brew. The

primary goal of roasting coffee is to

develop aromas and flavours by quickly

heating green beans until several

chemical reactions take place, including

pyrolysis, the Maillard reaction, and

caramelisation, which develop the

sugars and acids in the beans. Similar

reactions occur when you bake bread

or cookies to produce the delicious

flavours that we enjoy. Roasting styles

vary broadly from company to company,

and each roaster has his or her own

opinion about the best methods. In

general, light to medium roasted

coffees better retain the natural flavour

characteristics of the coffee, while

darker roasts take on the characteristics

of the roasting process (i.e., smoke,

carbon and bitterness).

SINGLE ORIGIN VS. BLENDS

Coffee beans can be packaged and

sold as single-origin or a blend. Neither

approach is inherently better; they are

simply different ways to enjoy coffee.

While single-origin coffee is a direct

reflection of how an individual bean

tastes, a blend is meant to showcase a

specific flavour profile created by the

roaster. Just as some Scotch enthusiasts

prefer single-malt whiskey to a blended

one (or vice versa), some coffee drinkers

prefer single-origin coffees over blends.

BUYING COFFEE

When buying coffee beans, think of

them as perishable produce rather

than a pantry staple that can be stored

indefinitely. Even though coffee will

not spoil in the same way that fresh

produce will, its flavours are quite

volatile and start breaking down

soon after the roasting process.

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NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE

The aromatics that provide the complex

flavours diminish over time until the

beans taste stale and lifeless. Old coffee

beans won’t harm you, but they won’t

have nearly as much flavour as when

they were fresh. Most coffee is at its

best for two to three weeks

after roasting, which is why

I recommend buying

coffee in smaller

amounts that can be

consumed in that

range of time.

MEASURING

Accurately measuring

coffee beans and water

– by weight, instead of

by volume – is incredibly crucial

to making consistently tasty coffee.

Unfortunately, this is where most home

coffee-brewing failures begin. I can’t

overstate the importance of using a

digital scale. It not only improves your

ability to brew better coffee, but it

makes measuring both beans and water

much easier and more consistent. While

it’s certainly possible to measure both

by volume, I personally feel like I’m

blindfolded whenever I’m asked to make

coffee without a scale.

GRINDING

Once ground, the surface area of the

coffee bean multiplies exponentially.

While this helps water extract the

coffee’s flavours, it also makes the

smaller particles far more sensitive

to oxygen, which degrades all those

wonderful aromatics and flavours. This

is why it’s important to begin with whole

coffee beans instead of pre-ground

coffee. Grinding beans right before you

brew them preserves their freshness

90 FERMENT MAGAZINE

PRO TIP:

Buy coffee beans

directly from a local

roaster or coffee shop

whenever possible. Your

coffee should also always be

marked with a “roasted on”

date to determine its

freshness.

and flavours. The function of a coffee

grinder is to break the beans down

into the most uniformly sized particles

as possible so water can extract the

coffee’s flavours evenly. Inconsistent

grind size means that too much flavour

will be extracted from smaller

particles, leading to bitter

coffee, while too little

flavour will be extracted

from larger particles,

leading to sour coffee.

EXTRACTION

While many people say

that making coffee is an

art, it’s mostly just simple

science. At its most basic,

brewed coffee is the combination

of time, water, and, of course, ground

beans. But if you want your coffee to

taste delicious every time you brew

a cup, it is important to learn how to

control the variables that affect taste

and identify when one of them is

off. The variables that impact coffee

brewing the most are the size of the

coffee grounds (grind size), how much

coffee and water is used (dose/ratio),

and how long the water is in contact

with the coffee (brew time). Once you

learn how to monitor and adjust these

variables, you’ll be able to brew great

coffee every time.

The process of drawing flavours out

of coffee grounds and into water is

called “extraction,” and it determines

how good your coffee tastes. While

coffee grounds can’t completely

dissolve in water – instant coffee

is another matter – there’s a sweet

spot with every brew in which the

right amount of flavour (and the right

flavours) is extracted from the grounds

and dissolved in the water.

When coffee is “underextracted,” it

means the water did not spend enough

time in contact with the grounds

(so you should grind finer), and too

little of the flavour was removed.

An underextracted coffee can taste

weak, sour, and salty. When coffee is

“overextracted,” it means the water and

coffee grounds spent too much time in

contact with each other and too much

flavour was removed from the beans

(so you should grind coarser), including

bad-tasting chemical compounds.

An overextracted cup of coffee can

taste strong, bitter, and astringent. A

coffee that is properly extracted will

taste smooth, balanced, and naturally

sweet. There will be a nice clarity in the

flavours and a pleasant lingering finish.

TOOLS

With a small investment in some useful

coffee brewing tools, you’ll be well

equipped to brew better coffee at home

that can taste just as good as the stuff

baristas make at your local café.

• Burr grinder (the number one tool for

improving your home brewing)

• Brew method (pour-over dripper, press

pot, AeroPress, or a certified electric

drip brewer)

• Digital kitchen scale (for accurate and

consistent measuring)

• Kettle (the fancy gooseneck kettles are

only important for pour-over coffee)

• Water (use clean tasting water that’s

off boil, around 94°C)

• Filters (when using a drip brew

method, pre-rinse filters to remove any

papery taste)

• Brew: Better Coffee at Home (my book

that teaches you how to make better

coffee).

RECIPES

For those times when you want your coffee to have more alcohol

than your beer, try out one of these fantastic coffee cocktail

recipes for a happy hour kick-me-up.

Cold Brew G&T

The coffee and tonic – a bracing

blend of cold-brew coffee (or

espresso) and tonic water – has been

appearing on trendy café menus

over the past couple of years. It’s a

fine drink on its own, though many

baristas enhance the formula with

fruit syrups, citrus, herbs and other

add-ins. My favorite riff on this

trendy drink is a boozy one that,

not surprisingly, takes its inspiration

from the most famous tonic-based

cocktail: the gin and tonic.

INGREDIENTS

Ice cubes

3 tbsp gin

3 tbsp cold-brew concentrate

118ml tonic water

Lemon wedge, for garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Add

the gin and cold-brew concentrate

and stir briefly. Top with the tonic

water, garnish with the lemon

wedge, and serve.

Stout Affogato Float

A scoop of vanilla gelato doused

with a shot of hot espresso is my

favorite two-ingredient dessert.

Several scoops of gelato drowning

in high-quality coffee and a malty,

chocolaty stout? Even better.

INGREDIENTS

4 scoops vanilla gelato

(or vanilla ice cream)

60ml hot strong-brewed coffee

118ml stout beer

Fill a tall glass with the gelato. Add

the coffee and top with the beer.

Serve with a spoon and straw.

Coffee Liqueur

There are plenty of coffee liqueurs

to be found on liquor store shelves,

but I’ve found the coffee flavour

in most of them uninteresting at

best. It’s much easier (and cheaper!)

to make your own. You can also

substitute aged rum or bourbon for

the vodka.

INGREDIENTS

118ml water

96g turbinado sugar

236ml vodka

40g coarsely ground coffee beans

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds

scraped

In a small saucepan, bring the water

to a simmer and add the sugar.

Turn off the heat and whisk until the

sugar has dissolved.

Let cool before using.

In a bottle or Mason jar, combine

118ml of the turbinado syrup with

the vodka, coffee grounds, vanilla

seeds and bean. Cover and infuse at

room temperature for 24 hours. Line

a pour-over dripper with a paper

coffee filter and wet the filter. Place

a small fine-mesh sieve over the

dripper and strain the coffee liqueur

through the sieve and paper filter

into a clean bottle or jar.


KEGS, CROWN CAPS, CANS AND CRAFT

WORDS: Archie McDiarmid

How wine is learning the lessons of the

craft beer revolution

eer vs wine is often portrayed

as some ancient battlefield

where two sides battle for

supremacy, with the drinking public

cast as the willing foot soldiers. I

suppose this would make whisky and

brandy drinkers the shock troops

of either side, while tee-totalers are

Switzerland, but there is such a thing as

stretching an analogy too far. The truth

is much more nuanced, since both are

truly ancient beverages; the earliest

evidence of both stretches back around

9000 years. Originally both were

made using the same natural yeasts to

achieve fermentation, although neither

truly understood how the process

worked until 19th century, when

yeasts were identified, selected and

commercialised by both industries.

Beer and wine took on religious and

ceremonial significance in ancient

and modern cultures, and both spread

across the globe from their original

homes in China and the Middle East

to eventually cover every corner of the

globe (although there is a brew kit on

Antarctica, but no winery, so I suppose

beer has the upper hand there). In

short, for a long time there really was

no competition at all, just steady,

consistent expansion.

Most places that made beer were

too cold to grow grapes and most

places that made wine were too warm

to make beer without it spoiling. It

was only when fortified wine became

transportable over long distances in

the middle ages that the two began

fighting for market share. Initially it

was all one-way traffic, the aristocracy

of beer drinking nations adopting

wine with abandon, while beer stayed

a strictly local product. This class

divide was one that traditional wine

growing regions were all for preserving

and it held up pretty well until the

1980s and 90s, when New World

producers crashed the party and

started competing in beer’s traditional

heartlands.

Initially, beer handled this poorly.

Instead of promoting the quality

of their product, they spent big on

advertising and price wars. It was

the era of macro-lager and beer was

squeezed from all sides with few

points of difference to encourage new

drinkers to jump in. The response

since though has been little short of a

miracle for those who love well made,

great tasting beer.

For the first time, beer became the

drink of the young, wine the drink of

the old and that put wine very much

on the back foot. It might have had all

the money and connections – the UK

government spent £45,000 on wine for

official events last year, but didn’t have

to list its beer spend as it fell under

£1000 – but beer suddenly had all the

momentum. Wine, for arguably the first

time ever, is having to fight for every

inch of shelf space in stores, every

listing in restaurant drinks lists and,

after a couple of decades of contraction

where it basically stuck its fingers in its

ears and denied anything was wrong, it

is now finally fighting back.

Wine lovers’ biggest complaint about

the growth of craft beer has been the

emphasis on small scale and hand

production. The vast majority of wine,

simply because of the way it is made,

is ‘craft’ by that definition. While there

are mega-wineries like Ernst and Gallo

who supply almost 25% of America’s

wine from 15 facilities across the US,

the majority of wineries in the world

are small-scale and family owned. If

any drink on the shelves is truly craft,

92 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 93


KEGS, CROWN CAPS, CANS AND CRAFT

wine makers argue, it is ours. Of course,

beer has developed all kinds of ways

to signify its craft credentials – funky

labels, the re-invention of cans, unusual

styles etc – and wine is embracing

every single one, plus a few beer hasn’t

even got to yet.

When it comes to being more daring

with labels, this was one of the few

trends that wine was actually on top

of before beer. Venerable institutions

like Mouton Rothschild were teaming

up with Andy Warhol in the 1970s,

while Taittinger champagne has been

releasing its Art Edition in a plastic

bottle since the 1980s, specifically

so artists like Ray Lichtenstein and

Amadou Sow have the entire surface

of the bottle on which to render their

designs. More recently, companies like

Some Young Punks have taken their

look from pulpy crime novel covers

If any drink on the shelves

is truly craft, wine makers

argue, it is ours

of the 50s to come up with wines like

‘Passion Has Red Lips’ Cabernet Shiraz

and ‘The Squid’s Fist’ Sangiovese, while

Emil Bauer and Sonhe in Germany

took their love of the punk aesthetic

to turn their top white into ‘Sex, Drugs,

Rock and Riesling’.

Australia was the nation that busted

Britain’s notions of what wine tasted

like wide open in the 80s, so it is only

fair that they are now at the forefront

of changing our idea of what wine

can look like. Vinteloper, based in the

Adelaide hills, looks every inch a craft

brewery until you read what’s inside

the bottles. Founded in 2008, it bills

itself as ‘ringleaders of grown up fun’

with beautiful ink stained labels and

one of the best-looking Instagram

feeds you could ask for, but it is also

a seriously gifted winemaker, whose

top Pinot Noir was recently rated as

the best in Australia. Its latest project,

launched last year is ‘Park Wine’: two

blends, one red, one white, which can

be drunk chilled or not, all packaged

up in 500ml crown capped bottles

designed to be popped in the park with

your friends.

Aldi caused a splash over the

summer with a similar range of

products, on which it worked with Craft

and Origin Wines in South Africa to

produce a range of four wines that sold

at £2.99 and, aside from the slightly

dumpy bottle, could easily have been

mistaken for beers at first glance.

Meanwhile, Oregon producer Union

wine has started packing its Pinot

Noir and Pinot Gris in cans, leading

to demand that has vastly outstripped

supply. Its desire to demystify and

democratise wine drinking is summed

up well by its ‘Always Sunny in

Philadephia’ inspired Youtube channel

and #PinkiesDown hashtag.

A similar sense of fun can be seen

in the approach of Le Grappin, a

French producer which introduced

the ‘bagnum’; a magnum of wine in

a light weight, easily carried bladder

with a tap. If it sounds a little like

80s bag in box, it is, but as with cans,

the technology and design has now

moved on so this is a seriously classy

wine in a seriously classy bag! These

examples are all well and good when

you are out and about, but how is wine

fighting back in pubs and restaurants?

The same way craft beer took on the

macros: keykeg.

Pizza Express is already rolling out

kegs as their house wine throughout

the country, while Frizzenti has

become one of the biggest suppliers

of Italian sparkling wine in the UK by

kegging their Prossecco like wines

(legally, to be called Prosecco, the

wine must be bottled in the Veneto

and kegs are not permitted) and

putting them into pubs, festivals and

in the case of the Bubble Brothers, a

three-wheeled piaggio ape van. The

appeal to big brands is obvious; no

more wastage from opened bottles

that don’t get finished, cheaper

transport than shipping the 27 bottles

etc, but one company, Red Squirrel is

trying to bring quality producers to

embrace keg as buyer Rob Woodhead

explains: “The problem with house

wines is that because they are such

a big cash driver for restaurants they

are always looking for the lowest price,

but if you put wine in keg and can

guarantee them no wastage and a riskfree

way to do samples then you can

trade up to a better, more interesting

wine without it costing them more

money”. Red Squirrel is also hopeful

that they can take advantage of the

growth of kegerators in independent

beer shops so you can grab a swing top

Even the terminology

of wine is beginning to

borrow beer terms

bottle of tasty shiraz as you fill up your

growler of IPA.

It’s not all about the bottle (or keg)

though. The growth of ‘natural’ wines

which emphasise minimal intervention,

wild yeasts and all manner of strange

fermenting vessels which encourage

all sorts of unique flavours that many

traditional winemakers would have

considered faults divide opinion,

encourage passionate debate and

generally open up their category

to many young consumers who

would previously have dismissed

them. Producers all over the world

are now focusing attention on long

forgotten native grape varieties that

had long been abandoned in favour

of more commercial varieties. Even

the terminology of wine is beginning

to borrow beer terms – thanks to

Tasmanian based British winemaker,

Hugh McCullough, you can now buy a

Wellington and Wolfe Session Riesling

which was inspired by his love of the

easy drinking, but hugely characterful

session IPA’s he enjoyed working

vintages in the Pacific North West.

So next time you nip down to your

local craft pub, don’t freak out if your

sour is a Riesling, tap 4 is pouring a

Chardonnay, your mate’s can is full

of Pinot Noir and that funky looking

bomber on the top shelf is actually a

cheeky wee Grenache from the South

of France!

94 FERMENT MAGAZINE


Things We Love...

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Ferment 185w x 107h - V3.indd 1 30/08/2017 10:54:18


Next time...

CHRISTMAS

IN CALI

Join us in issue #20, as we tour

the Sunshine State and spiritual

birthplace of the global craft beer

movement: California. From Chico in

the North, we cruise down the iconic

coastal road, through San Francisco,

Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, all the

way to San Diego and the Mexican

border. Food, friendship and some

of the world’s best beers; all part of

Ferment’s Christmas in Cali.


TIME

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Brewed with 100% Surrey grown Fuggles hops

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