Ferment Issue 20 // Christmas in California

Escape the cold with our sun-drenched beer road trip.

Escape the cold with our sun-drenched beer road trip.


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772397 696005









Meet the legendary west coast brewer,

plus Sierra Nevada, Stone, Mikkeller,

Modern Times and more



Richard Croasdale


Ashley Johnston





Contributions, comments, rants:



To discuss how Ferment

could work with your brand,

request a media pack or

book an advert, contact:



Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 3,

26 Howe Street,




coastal road trip through the breweries of California is every

craft beer lover’s dream, so Fraser Doherty and I set aside a full

ten days to really get under the skin of this beautiful, diverse and

disruptive state. We visited breweries we feel like we’ve known for

ever, met legendary craft brewers and made a few friends for life

along the way, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to share the story

with you.

Elsewhere, Matt Curtis, fresh from his own tour of the US, examines

the country’s taproom culture and asks whether, in our keenness to

import the model, we risk killing off the traditional British pub. Mark

Dredge calls in from the opposite corner of the nation (because he’s

contrary like that) to share his mixed feeling about NE IPAs. Dan

Orley gives us his gonzo report on this year’s Indy Man Beer Con

and, finally, Fraser catches up with Cloudwater’s Paul Jones.

We really hope you enjoy this sun-kissed issue of Ferment. Please

feel free to share your darkest secrets with us @FermentHQ or


Cheers, Richard

Bay City, page 49.

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in October 2017 in

Poland, by Elanders.

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.

Our contributors

Matthew Curtis


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


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


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.


8: Welcome to


The road trip starts here

10: sierra nevada

Getting hot and hoppy

in Chico

14: San francisco

Exploring the Bay area with

Anchor Steam

18: lagunitas

Purveyors of America’s

biggest IPA


We drop in on Mikkeller, and a

beer festival like no other

28: Firestone walker

The brewing powerhouse in

the middle of wine coutry

Alex Paganelli




As founder of Dead Hungry,

Alexandre has been creating

incredible recipes for Ferment.


Mark dredge


Mark Dredge 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


Broadcaster, writer and host of

the insanely popular Zeitgeist

podcast, Ollie keeps his finger on

the pulse so we don’t have to.


34: Wiens

Making a splash with apricots

36: san diego

Dive in to one of the world’s

truly great beer cities

42: modern times

Almost too cool

63: don’t fear the neipa

Mark Dredge on the murky

world of the North East IPA

68: taprooms

Matt Curtis asks if the craze

has gone too far

85: beer guide

This month’s Beer52 box

92: cloudwater

Fraser Doherty catches up

with Paul Jones

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate



WORDS: Richard Croasdale

ILLUSTRATIONS: Melanie Chadwick

As a beer writer, a first trip to

California is bound to be anticipated

with excitement but also some

trepidation. We would be meeting so many

of our beer heroes, not to mention travelling

the length and breadth of the region that

can legitimately claim to have kicked off

a global renaissance in quality beer. How

would we fit everything in, what if our pallid

Scottish bodies couldn’t stand the sudden

wash of Vitamin D and melanin?

Starting at Sierra Nevada in the scorching

northern town of Chico, we work our way

across the Golden Gate Bridge to San

Francisco, before taking the iconic coastal

road down to Firestone Walker in Paso

Robles and the stunning wine town of Santa

Barbara, then down to LA and Long Beach

and finishing our journey in the craft beer

Mecca of San Diego, right on the Mexican


Each of these cities is exactly as you’ve

seen them in films, photography and

literature; I challenge anyone, for example, to

drive the steep criss-cross of streets leading

down to the water in San Francisco without

humming Lalo Schifrin’s iconic score to

Bullitt. Yet each is also full of surprises, with

so much to discover and secrets to unlock.

Along the way, we meet brewers, vintners,

ecologists, chemists, artists, muppets, actors,

and many wonderful dogs. Everywhere we

go, the people are supremely welcoming and

keen to share their own stories, as well as

listen to ours.

Most importantly though, we discover that,

more than 30 years since California landed

its first blow on the adipose corporate arse

of Big Beer, it is still producing some of

the most innovative, delicious and skilfully

crafted brews you will find anywhere in the

world. And we’re not just talking about west

coast IPAs here (though, seriously, these

are amazing); there are sours and saisons,

porters and pales, Berliner weisses, bitters

and brown ales coming out of every local,

mom-and-pop brewpub we set foot in.

So sit back, pop on some Jefferson

Airplane and let your freak flag fly, as we take

you on the great Ferment road trip around

the one-and-only golden state, and then plan

your own California adventure at


For everyone’s sake, it is worth pointing out up-front that,

while there is much talk in the following pages of driving

between breweries and drinking everything we could lay

hands on, we followed a strict schedule regarding who would

be drinking and who would be driving on any given day.



WORDS: Fraser Doherty PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

e wanted to be sure that the

first stop on our epic craft

beer road trip of California

was ‘where it all started’. Where the

taper on the modern beer movement

was lit. Where Cascade hops were

first popularised in a pale ale. Where

the beer that turned so many of us on

to the possibility of what beer could

be, and especially American beer,

was brewed. The first stop on our trip

positively, absolutely, had to be Sierra

Nevada Brewing Co.

And so, on a scorching hot

40-degree summer day, we get out of

our air-conditioned car and into the car

park of what some commentators have

described fondly as ‘Malt Disneyland’,

partly because of the impressive scale

of the operation, but also since it

inhabits a special place in every beer

drinker’s mind.

For many, Sierra Nevada’s flagship

Pale Ale was the first hop-forward,

flavourful beer they’d ever tasted. It

laid the foundations for so much that

has followed. And I think the brewery

received the ‘Malt Disney’ moniker

among beer bloggers and locals alike,

not because of any tacky rides or

attractions, but because its founder,

Ken Grossman, is a visionary trailblazer

of the same ilk as Disney himself.

This is a person who, as a young

man, learned to weld so that he could

construct his own brew kit by hand,

because at the time small-scale brew

kits weren’t easily available. The

market at the time only catered to

homebrewers or macro-brewers, not

the emerging breed of micro-breweries

in between.

We’re also talking about a man who,

when the time came to scale-up, flew

to Germany himself to dismantle a

defunct all-copper brew house with his

own hands, ultimately re-assembling it

back home in Chico. The control panel

still, to this day, is in German.

The story goes that a neighbour

of teenaged Ken had a garage that

was a veritable treasure trove for this

inventive teenager. As a retired rocket

scientist, there was always some kind of

project underway at Cal’s place. And,

fortuitously for Ken, that often included

home brewing. Having learned the

basics in the garage, he soon moved out

of there and, for the rest of high school,

homebrewed himself, ultimately

becoming engrossed in the hobby.

Later opening a home brew store of his

own, his path was set.

Founded officially in 1980, Sierra

Nevada went on to become the seventh

largest brewery (and third largest craft

brewery) in the US. Ken’s children,

Brian and Sierra, are nowadays heavily

involved in the business and are set to

take over the reins when their father

retires. A multigenerational craft

brewer, with a profound legacy, Sierra

Nevada is a billion-dollar company.

And what’s supremely cool about it

is that it’s still entirely independently

owned by Ken and his family. The more

time goes by, with smaller producers

being bought out left, right and centre,

the more special that fact becomes.

Considering the gravity of icon

we’re dealing with here, arriving at this

brewery couldn’t help but be exciting,

even if our bodies were telling us that it

was the middle of the night back home.

Giving us his first-hand account, Ken

explains, “I fell in love with the town

and the Northern California culture,

and the community has embraced us

ever since we started brewing here.”

Famed for his interest in the

environment and keenness to limit the

impact his operation has, one of the first

things he talks about is their pioneering

energy programme. “In the early 2000s,

we installed four 250-kilowatt hydrogen

fuel cells and later invested in the

largest privately-owned solar energy

array in craft today.”

He explains where he sees the

company’s beers heading in the

coming years. “The IPA has become

synonymous with craft and we love

using hops to dial up the flavour in beer.

But we also want to make beer drinkers

aware of the range of flavours, styles and

hop bitterness that’s possible.”

Taking a break from our tour of the





brewery, we get a chance to talk with

brewmaster Sean Lavery in the head

office, about some of the exciting

projects that will help Sierra Nevada

bring new styles of beer to drinkers.

Despite how well-established they are,

Sierra Nevada is not shy of continuing

to push the boundaries, try new things

and foster interesting partnerships with

much smaller collaborators.

Working on these projects represents

a whole new era for the company’s

brewers. As the newly-appointed

brewmaster, following on from the

34-year tenure of Steve Dressler, Sean

talks with visible excitement about the

chance he has been given to build on

this legacy. Sean will be working with

the team to figure out how they can

further improve every part of their

process, both for the existing range and

for new products.

“How do we make sure that we

capture some of the great, new

hop flavours that are out there?” he

ponders. He goes on to discuss how

the brewery’s unique Torpedo process,

designed and developed in-house,

allows them to pass beer through full

cone hops, extracting as many of their

incredible flavours as possible. “One

of my favourite times of year is hopselection,”

he goes on to say. Working

directly with growers, Sierra Nevada

can select the best lots from the

harvest. “Once you smell hops straight

off the bine,” he says with a glint in

his eye, “you become obsessed with

trying to get all those great flavours and

aromas into the beer.”

On the topic of how they stay

relevant in a fast-moving craft beer

market, he explains that it is this focus

on staying ahead in terms of quality

that will ultimately stand the test of


Talking about our trip, Sean explains

that the roots of craft beer run deep in

California. He suggests the reason it

has become something of an epicentre

for the movement may be down to the

Californian mentality: “It seems to pair

well with our way of life – the outdoors,

the food and the music.”

Finishing up our tour of this aweinspiring

brewery, James Conery,

head innovation brewer, explains how

these innovations come to life. “We

are constantly innovating at our Chico,

CA, and Mills River, NC, facilities,” he

says. Describing how they brew smaller

batch beers on their pilot systems to

test locally prior to rolling anything out,

he says: “This allows us to be nimble

and quick-to-market to help shape new

trends.” It’s clear to see that this is a

group of people who are passionate

about where they are based, the beers

they make and what innovations they

can bring to the table.

Getting back into our car for the

next leg of our road trip, we leave

feeling inspired. Having visited one of

the most iconic breweries in the world,

we got a strong sense that this was far

from a museum. The Grossman family

and the brewers here have a lot of

ambitions for the future and we look

forward to tasting some of their latest

collaborations later on in our trip, when

we get down South to their ‘Beer

Camp’ event in Long Beach.





Richard Croasdale

San Francisco is one of those

rare places where, if aliens

ever dumped you following an

abduction, you would immediately and

definitively be able to say “okay, I’m in

San Francisco”. From the who’s-who

technology showcase of Silicon Valley

and precipitous narrow hills of the

North Beach area (made famous by

the Steve McQueen film Bullitt) to the

broad palm-lined streets and bohemian

cool of Haight-Ashbury, it’s one of those

cities that’s so ingrained into our shared

cultural understanding that even going

there for the first time feels like coming


From Chico and Sacramento, we

make a point of entering the city via the

Golden Gate Bridge. This means a small

detour, but it’s the Golden Gate Bridge.

We do the tourist thing, of course,

peeling off the road before we hit the

bridge, to climb up into the hills and get

our photographs across the bay. But

travelling over the Golden Gate itself

is, oddly, more impressive than seeing

if from afar; the iconic towers looming

before us with their strong fingers of

cable, the way the sunlight dances off

the water of the bay, and the rolling

banks of fog clinging to the bridge’s

southern base. I’ve made sure Santana is

cued up on my iPod, thankfully.

We’re only here for a short time,

so are determined to get as much

in as we can, starting with another

craft beer pioneer: Anchor Steam

Brewing. Although the name goes all

the way back to 1896, a succession

of earthquakes, fires, prohibition and

eventually the irresistible rise of cheap

lager saw Anchor Steam come within a

hair’s breadth of collapse in 1965. This

would have been a symbolic blow to

the city, even if it hadn’t realised its

loss at the time; Anchor Steam was the

last of the iconic San Francisco ‘steam

beer’ brewers, and a photograph of Joni

Mitchell at the original brewery hangs

on the tasting room wall. It was (and

is) engrained in the city’s culture and


The big turning point in the brewery’s

fortunes came when college graduate

Fritz Maytag bought the brewery for a

song in the late 60s and set about fixing

its many problems. He tackled the beer,

refining its recipes and innovating with

styles like a porter and – significantly

– Liberty Ale, America’s first pale ale

dry hopped with all Cascade. He also

started bottling and moved the brewery

to its current site in an old coffee

roastery, which he fitted with a second

hand Ziemann brewhouse all the way

from Germany.

When the new brewery opened its

doors in 1979, its sails filled with the first

gusts of what would become a storm

of craft beer appreciation, and its story

has been one of constant and steady

growth. The beers – there are now a

dozen in the regular line-up, including

ales and lagers – are rock solid, and it’s

easy to see their profound influence

on the thousands of brewers who have

followed in Fritz’s pioneering footsteps.

From Anchor Steam, we hop back

into the car and over a different bridge,

to the super-cool area of downtown

Oakland. Oakland has a very different

feel to San Francisco; a little edgier and

more urban, but with a really strong

culture all of its own.

We’d had several earnest

recommendations to visit The Trappist,

a tiny, rustic beer bar opened by

Belgophiles Aaron Porter and Chuck

Stilphen in 2007. The feel of the place

is absolutely spot on and, impressively

for a ‘themed’ bar in the middle of the

metropolis, doesn’t trip over into kitsch.

The selection of beers on tap (and

bottle) are impeccable, with the requisite

range of continental classics, but also an

amazing line-up of Belgian-influenced

US breweries, from New Belgium to

Allagash (I start with a witbier from the

latter, which hits the spot with uncanny


Aaron gives us the tour, and the three

of us eventually settle in The Trappist’s

back room, which is usually opened for

busy days and private functions. He’s

so enthusiastic about about every

beer he brings out for us to try, but



Packaging for the

Brewing Industry


Taking packaging

from the ordinary...

...to the


reserves his greatest passion for the

local breweries turning out sours and

wild-fermented Californian brews.

Having covered the bar to everyone’s

satisfaction, we persuade Aaron to join

us for a drink at the notorious Café

van Cleef a couple of blocks down the

road. With an atmosphere somewhere

between a dive bar and a tiki bar, the

Van Cleef is quite an experience; most

of the illumination comes courtesy of

the black lights shining on lurid tiki

heads and Hawaiian tat hanging behind

the tattoo-festooned barmaid, which is

probably a mercy given the sticky floor

and teetering tables. In short, I love it

and set about working through their

limited but pleasing range of local craft


The following morning’s journey

to our next stop, Firestone Walker in

Paso Robles, is quite a haul. This is also

probably the most beautiful stretch

of coast we’ll travel though, as the

Interstate skirts the ocean, occasionally

disappearing up into wooded cliff tops.

The weather is laying on some drama

for us, alternating between brilliant

sunshine and dense, tropical-feeling

fog, contributing to the increasing

feeling that a storm is on its way. As

the sun begins to dip lower in the sky,

it becomes clear we’re in for one hell

of a sunset, so we decide to extend

our drive with a diversion along the

legendary coastal road through the

natural wonder of Big Sur.

We hit the section of ragged, rocky

coastline at just the right moment,

and begin winding our circuitous way

up into the cliffs. If you enjoy this kind

of driving, it’s a huge pleasure, and

we’re soon at the highest point we

can reach (part of the coastal road is

closed for maintenance). Stepping out

of the car on a patch of screed by the

roadside, we look out across the Pacific

far below. The waves crash almost

soundlessly against jagged rocks now

wreathed by mist. As the sun finally dips

below the horizon, we’re treated to an

unforgettable light show, with orange

clouds shifting to deep red, onto purple

and finally green and blue dazzling

off the water.

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WORDS: Fraser Doherty

PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

rriving in the Californian

town of Petaluma in Sonoma

County, a half hour drive from

the much tinier town of Lagunitas,

the original home of the eponymous

brewery, we find ourselves discussing

in the car the history of the makers

of the world’s No. 1 selling IPA. Given

the success of the brand’s distribution

throughout the world, thanks to

its longstanding partnership with

Heineken, we wonder if we are about

to wander into a corporate-style HQ.

“Is it possible for a once scrappy and

hip craft brewer to remain edgy and

fun as part of a larger organisation,” we


Stepping into the nerve centre of

the operation, we are greeted not only

by a cheerful receptionist, but by an

enthusiastic pack of office dogs of all

shapes and sizes. Roaming free in the

office, they seem to be having a whale

of a time, oblivious to the fact that,

presumably, the people around them

are busy getting on with their work.

Although, judging by the banter of the

open plan workspace, their human

counterparts seem to be having just as

much fun on this particular Thursday


Waiting for our host to collect us, we

find ourselves admiring what seems

to be a lifetime’s collection of knickknacks,

memorabilia and all manner

of other kitsch oddities. Adorning

every square inch of the cubicle walls,

office doors and even the ceiling, we are

already in no doubt that this is a brewery

a little unlike any other.

Arriving to tell us more about the

heart and soul of this company, which

we can already safely describe as

‘quirky’, is Karen Hamilton, Director

of Communications and sister of the

company’s founder, Tony Magee. Telling

her that we had moments ago been

wondering in our car whether we were

about to visit a brewery with a more

‘corporate’ atmosphere, Karen bursts out

laughing: “Who, us?!”

Taking us through the brewery floor,

Karen walks us upstairs into to the

tasting room, a sort of club house space

and another treasure trove of eccentric

paraphernalia. It’s currently where all

their tours stop to try their beers, but

she explains that this was once the only

space where the whole company would

gather. “At one time, we had our party for

the holidays with all of our employees

and their partners in this room.”





Of course, with a vastly expanded

workforce and a second brewery in

Chicago, they have long-needed larger

and larger rooms for all-company

functions. Pouring us a couple of

glasses of ultra-fresh and mega

hoppy IPAs, we are introduced to

Ron Lindenbusch, whose business

card describes him as the company’s

‘Beer Weasel’. I later discover that this

translates to ‘Chief Marketing Officer’

in common parlance and that he had

first started working with Tony when he

was still selling kegs out of the back of

a pickup.

Alongside him is Greg, who heads

up the company’s sales in the US. As it

happens, on this particular morning we

have stumbled into the filming of a ‘pep

talk’ video for their distributors, which

will share with them the introduction of

a new 22 ounce can and generally give

them encouragement to keep growing

the company’s reach into bars, bottle

shops and elsewhere.

A seemingly run-of-the mill task

that in any other brewery most likely

wouldn’t be worthy of comment. Well,

not here. The occasion calls for two

Muppets to be drafted in. Improvising

a frankly hilarious skit that regularly

goes off-piste, Greg and Ron turn

an otherwise humdrum piece of

internal communication into a piece of

entertainment. Of course, in between

whiskey-drinking Muppet sketches,

you can see the glimpse of a serious

business. Flicking through graphs of

company margins and sales targets,

Ron exclaims: “Less graphs, more


All in stitches and onto our second or

third beer of the day, we partly wonder

how anyone gets anything done around

here with all this fun going on. But what

we can also see is a group of people

who really love what they do, care about

the beer they make and, despite their

size, have a lot of fun along the way.

“The worst day at Lagunitas is probably

the best day at so many other places,”

Karen says with a smile.

The topic of the Heineken takeover

soon comes up in conversation and

both Karen and Ron talk very frankly

about the deal. On the topic of criticism

from some corners of social media of

their sale, Ron admits “Y’know, haters

gonna hate, right?” He goes on to say, “If

they wanna come over here and take a

look under the hood and see that it’s the

same as it always was, they’re welcome.”

Leaving them to finish off their sales

briefing, Karen takes us outside to

the company’s beer garden and pub,

where we stop for lunch. Telling us a

bit about the brewery’s back story,

Karen explains, “We all grew up in

the Chicago area and Tony wound

up moving out to California, selling

printing and making music.”

Their younger brother had also

moved West, in his case to Portland,

where he had started doing some

home brewing and was working for a

small brew pub. “So, Tony figured this

was pretty cool and ended up buying

some equipment of his own.”

His first batch turned out well,

but the second not so well. “What

Tony realised,” Karen explains, “is

that brewing beer is just like being a

musician – you gotta practice.” And

practise he did, ultimately opening the

doors to his own brewery eight months

later in 1993. Until recently, Tony not

only designed the company’s labels

and beer names, but also created all of

the recipes.

Now turned over to the company’s

Master Brewer, Jeremy Marshall,

Tony still has a hand in art-directing

new recipes. “We’ve been around 24

years now and the goal remains the

same – to make great beer and get it

into the hands of the people who want

to drink it,” Karen says. “We don’t take

ourselves too seriously, but we do take

the beer seriously – and that seems to

be a magic formula.”

We don’t take ourselves

too seriously, but we do

take the beer seriously

A big part of the company’s

culture is music; in the early days,

many of the company’s employees

were hired because they were great

musicians. They didn’t always have

the money to pay everyone, but they

did have a brewery band and all

made music together. “That’s where

our little catchphrase, ‘Will Work

For Beer’, came from,” Karen laughs.

Even today, if you apply to work at

the company, you send your CV to

a ‘willworkforbeer’ email address.

Although, presumably, the whole team

are paid with hard cash as well as great

beer these days.

After lunch, Jeremy takes us on a

tour of the barrel room. “I’m putting

together a nice collection of lots of

different barrels and foeders – we’ve

got Congac barrels, wine, Bourbon.”

Clearly passionate about taking the

Lagunitas brand into new styles of

beer, it’s exciting to imagine that this

24-year old brewery is still pushing

the envelope in terms of innovation in


Wrapping up our visit to Lagunitas,

we say farewell to Karen and thank

them for spending the best part of a

day hanging out with us. For a bunch

of people who’ve been at this since the

start of the craft beer movement and

have had tremendous success, their

humility and sense of humour is truly

refreshing. We’ve certainly had a day

that we won’t be forgetting any time

soon, and that was nothing like we had

been expecting.






Richard Croasdale


have a theory that Instagram filters

were invented to make the rest of

the world look a little bit more like

Los Angeles. Not that it’s particularly

beautiful but there’s something about

the air, or the light, or the architecture

that somehow manages to make even

the mundane seem inexplicably cool.

We arrive mid-afternoon in a bad

mood. Open freeway had branched

into impatient tributaries of traffic

some time ago, and my nerves are shot

from dealing with Americans’ aversion

to letting people change lane. Miss

your turning in the maze of downtown

LA and there’s no way of telling where

or how far your day could take you.

The Ace Hotel though is a balm for

the soul; with record players and highend

food magazines in every leatherdesked,

brass-fixtured room, it’s a safe

space for the ageing beer adventurer,

and I take a minute to bask in the

loveliness of it all before heading back

out to meet Fraser.

We only have one thing on our

agenda for the evening: Mikkeller’s

exciting new ‘DTLA’ bar and

restaurant, which is just around the

corner. Opened just four months ago

by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s man in LA,

an energetic and charming Brit named

Will, the bar is already considered

one of the city’s best for beer and is

pulling in numerous awards.

It’s not hard to see why. It has

obviously mastered that peculiar

Mikkeller trick, of being utterly

cool with apparently minimal effort

(don’t be fooled though; everything

these guys do is calculated to the

nanometer) but it’s really the beers

that are the star here. As well as a

great selection of fresh and fascinating

brews from Mikkeller’s own brewery

in San Diego – where we’ll be heading

shortly – there’s an exquisitely curated

beer list from the very best breweries

from America and Europe, on draft

and in bottle and can. It is literally

impossible to go wrong.

We also meet Tyler, a Wisconsin

native who followed his passion for

beer down to the sunshine state a

little over a year ago and has been

working with Will at Mikkeller DTLA

since the start. He is – like all the staff

here – ridiculously generous with his

time on a busy night, and his full story

can be read on page 46.

When it finally comes time to

leave, we manage to persuade Tyler

and a couple of the others of the

Mikkeller crowd to join us at the Ace

Hotel’s roof bar for a nightcap, which

inevitably extends into the small

hours, sipping whiskey by the pool

and discussing life, beer and this

amazing city.

The next day is a big one though, so

there’s no time to nurse our wounds.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp in Long

Beach is one of the main reasons

we planned our visit for this week

and we’re keen to get out and soak

up some sunshine. We jump into an

Uber, whose driver immediately tells

us we smell wonderful, with a degree

of beaming Californian sincerity that

to our European ears sounds more

than a little sarcastic. It turns out she

starred in an episode of The Ghost

Whisperer with Jennifer Love Hewitt

eight years ago, and is currently

waiting for her screenplay about a

soldier with PTSD to start shooting.

Welcome to LA…





WORDS: Fraser Doherty

PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

The timing of our trip to California

couldn’t have been any more

perfect, since it coincided nicely

with the launch of the Sierra Nevada

‘Beer Camp Across The World’ selection

case of 12 collaboration beers. Brewed

with some incredible brewers from

around the world, including the likes of

Fuller’s, Avery, Mikkeller and Garage

Project, it is an ambitious project to say

the least and we were excited to taste

some of the beers for ourselves.

Explaining how this fits with Sierra

Nevada’s ambition of helping beer

drinkers to discover new styles of

beer, founder Ken Grossman talks us

through the collaborations: “We’ve got

a low-bitterness ginger lager brewed

with Surly Brewing Co, a mildly-hoppy

Atlantic-style vintage ale, brewed with

Fuller’s and the dry-hopped barleywinestyle

ale, brewed with Avery Brewing


Co.” Having interviewed Adam Avery a

few months ago as part of our Colorado

issue, this was a beer I was excited to try.

These collaborations are all completely

new beers, but the concept of ‘Beer

Camp’ is not a new one for Sierra

Nevada. Ken reminisces about an epic

multi-state bus trip that the brewery

took back in 2014, dubbed “Beer Camp

Across America.” It was an endeavour

that showed their commitment to the

craft beer community, but Ken admits, “It

almost killed us”.

And so today, three years on from

Ken and his team’s death-defying road

trip, we stand at the entrance of a beer

festival unlike any we have been to before.

Usually, back home, we find ourselves

shuffling between tightly packed rows of

tables in a dark, indoor space, clutching

a beer glass, trying not to bump into

other hop-heads. Sierra Nevada’s beer

camp couldn’t be more different; set in a

stunning beach-side park, the sun beats

down onto shaded bars and parasolcovered

tables, as drinkers lounge

around listening to a live funk/soul band

and watch the yachts powering up and

down the water.

The crowd is in great spirits and we

explore the various tents filled with

stands from well-known brewers, not

only from all over the US, but from

around the world. Of course, all the

collaborators from the case of beers

are present, including UK collaborator

Fuller’s, whose beers are being poured

in a scene that seems a million miles

away from rainy Chiswick.

Talking about the latest incarnation

of his father Ken’s epic bus tour of

the US, second-generation brewer

Brian Grossman explains: “Our events

mix great craft beers with amazing

live entertainment and local food

for a festival experience – it’s a huge

undertaking for us.”

By supporting the craft beer scene

in America with numerous festivals like

this, Sierra Nevada can not only bring

new craft beer drinkers into the fold,

but help foster the next generation

of craft brewers. Joe Whitney, the

company’s chief commercial officer,

explains that the invitation for those

curious about their beers is open all

year round: “We like to invite beer

drinkers to share a pint with us at

our breweries, tasting rooms or at

one of the thousands of events held

nationwide every year.”

We enjoy some tacos from one of the

many food trucks that are feeding the

crowd and watch participants playing

‘beer keg bowling’. Clearly proud of what

they have been able to create here, Ken

explains: “What started out as a crosscountry

road trip between Chico, CA and

Mills River, NC, to highlight the opening

of our second brewery in 2014, has

grown into one of the largest craft beer

celebrations in America.”

With the festival hitting eight cities,

Ken concludes by saying of his many

collaborators: “Not only do they bring

their own unique perspective and style to

the party, but in many cases hundreds of

years of brewing history and experience.

We are very fortunate to have forged the

relationships we have in craft over the


A little sun-kissed, but well-watered

and thoroughly entertained, we head to

downtown LA in search of yet more

great beers.




WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale





estled in the heart of wine country,

Firestone Walker is at once a

quintessential west coast IPA

brewer, and a mecca for Europeanstyle

barrel-aged ales. We resolve to find out

more from brewmaster Matt Brynildson.

The sun is merciless on the drive down to

Paso Robles and Firestone Walker. Everything

is the colour of dust and my delicate British

metabolism is feeling the pressure. Fraser’s

taking his turn at the wheel, so I crack open

a bottle of kombucha that’s been sitting in

the door pocket overnight, hoping it won’t be

too unpleasant to drink warm. Naturally, it

explodes in a geyser of over-eager secondary

fermentation, dousing me, the car and

even Fraser with sticky, vinegary peach tea.


Firestone Walker is just off the Interstate

and head brewer Matt Brynildson is there to

greet us with a cool drink and (in my case)

some privacy to execute a complete change

of clothes.

Matt grew up in Minnesota in the upper

Midwest. With a strong Norwegian and

German heritage, this was prime beer country

with plenty of small regional brewers, even

before the start of the craft movement as

we’d recognize it today. He didn’t grow up

with a particular passion to be a brewer

though; that didn’t come until later, when he

moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan for college.

Kalamazoo is also the home of Bells, the

first microbrewery to open east of the Rocky

Mountains in the early 1980s.

Having been a keen homebrewer (and still

owning a home brew store) founder Larry

Bell befriended the young Matt, teaching him

the craft and introducing him to the brewery


“I never actually worked with Larry

professionally, but his beers certainly left a

big impression,” recalls Matt. “You always

need these mentors throughout your career

and he was definitely one of them. The other

important thing that happened to me at that

time was that, as part of my college course,

I got a placement at a spice extraction

company that happened to be doing hop

extraction for the brewing industry. There’s

only a handful of companies doing that

anywhere in the world. There was some

pretty high chemistry involved and I really

took to it, so ended up working in the lab,

and it was that company which eventually

sent me to brewing school.”





While he spent his days learning

the complex chemistry of hops and

brewing, his spare time was spent

creating beers at home, and his career

ambitions began to crystalise. After

completing the course, Matt secured

a job in Chicago, brewing for Goose

Island, where he stayed for five years,

eventually rising to head brewer.

“That was a great place to learn. We

went from zero to 100 instantly, and

there was a lot of trial and practice.

One of my claims to fame was helping

to formulate Goose Island IPA, which

will soon be one of the largest IPAs

on earth. It’s owned by AB-InBev now.

I keep opening my mailbox and the

royalty cheques don’t turn up,” he


“Those early experiments,

formulating that beer for instance,

were some of our first experiences with

dry hopping. Although a lot of people

were already using whole-leaf late dry

hopping and old-world techniques,

we were trying to use cutting-edge

pellet techniques. Goose Island was

a real pioneer; they were one of the

first breweries to do a production-level

dry-hopped product with pellets, and

one of the first to do spirits barrel

ageing. I was very fortunate to start my

career working in a brewery like that;

we were cutting edge and still are in

many ways.”

Matt eventually left Goose Island in

2000, in search of sunny California,

and took a job at SLO Brewing

Company in Paso Robles, founded

1998. One year later, he was appointed

brewmaster, but not long afterward

the brewery went into receivership (“I

don’t think it was my fault!” says Matt).

At the same time though, Firestone

Walker – whose flagship Double Barrel

Ale (DBA) barrel-aged pale ale was

already a regional classic – was looking

to expand. Brothers-in-law Adam

Firestone and British ex-pat David

Walker (represented by the bear and

the lion respectively on the brewery’s

logo) established their brewery in

Santa Barbara County in 1996.

Seeing both a ready-made

expansion and, in Matt, the creativity

and expertise to move Firestone

Walker beyond its success with DBA,

Firestone Walker bought out SLO

Brewing Company.

“Adam and David bought the

brewery and myself, along with Jim

Crooks who heads up our Barrelworks

programme, in 2001,” continues Matt.

“At that time Firestone was making

9000 barrels of beer a year. Last year

I think we made 365,000 barrels, in a

brewery that wasn’t built to do more

than 60,000.

“We were really trying to focus on

DBA. That was the taste of the central

coast; every bar from Santa Cruz to LA

had a DBA handle, so my first task was

to figure out how to make DBA in this

brewery and flavour-match it perfectly

with what was coming out of Firestone

Walker’s brewery in Santa Barbara


But it wasn’t just the extra capacity

that Adam and David were looking

for. Since joining SLO Brewing, Matt

had really pushed more of the racy

west-coast dry-hopped beers that the

region was becoming famous for, and

he continued to fly this flag under

Firestone Walker.

“Quite rightly, David in particular

was adamant about doing a small

number of things very well, so it wasn’t

until nearly 10 years later, in 2006, that

we came out with Union Jack IPA. At

that time, the pendulum had swung

toward high-abv, double dry hopped

IPA, and that’s what Union Jack was

so it did really well. We’ve launched a

couple more since then: a session IPA

with Easy Jack to cover lower alcohol,

Double Jack which is a big double IPA

and Luponic Distortion, which is one

of our fastest growing beers right now.

One of the most interesting parts

of the Firestone Walker story is the

brewery’s relationship with California’s

wine industry, in whose midst Paso

Robles sits. Adam Firestone is himself

a third-generation wine grower, whose

family started as viticulturists, and

then later opening a winery of their


“The wine background was so

helpful,” recalls Matt. “Adam’s family

had been in the industry so long they

understood distribution, as well as

production. Not just the mechanics

of it either, but the huge cultural part.

Adam is a brilliant businessman, in

good times and bad; he has a knack of

looking over the prow of the ship

and seeing what’s coming. And





David is this genius people person;

he’s so good at getting teams to work

together. They’re a perfect combo.

“The other thing they learned

from the wine industry is to let the

wine-maker work their magic and not

meddle in the process. I’ve always

been left to have free creative control

and a lot of faith in our programme.

Those decisions can’t come from

marketing or accounting, he’s stayed

true to that principle even as the

brewery’s grown up.”

For Matt as a brewer, coming to

wine country and taking on a lot of

that culture was a bit of an eye-opener

and challenged his assumptions. For

example, there are a host of beers

in Firestone Walker's portfolio that

are blended, including DBA and Pale

31. He also works closely with local

vineyards on acquiring their spent

barrels, using their wine microflora to

create interesting beers as part of the

brewery’s Barrelworks programme.

“Just yesterday, we were brewing a

beer with Thatcher winery that we’re

going to finish down at Barrelworks.

And then, come harvest when he

presses off his grapes, delivers all

the skins to us with all of the yeast

from that press, and we rack the beer

on top of it. The beer turns deep

purple and the yeast just blasts off

and finishes the fermentation – it’s

crazy. There’s a lot of these cool

opportunities because we’re in the

community. We like to think the

beers we’ve made in this wine region

couldn’t be made anywhere else in

the world. Kind of like how lambic

can only be made in one region of


The beers we’ve made in

this wine region couldn’t

be made anywhere else

in the world.

Matt talks a lot about the similarities

between craft brewers and the small

wineries, particularly in terms of the

sense of community and personal


“The process is very different in

terms of microflora and the end game,

but very similar in terms of the passion

and the excitement of it all. It’s always

interesting, because the two are

coming closer and closer through these

wild beer programmes. What we do at

Barrelworks is much more similar to

a winery than most breweries would

ever be. And a lot of winemakers come

into this environment and say, ‘holy

shit that’s a lot of stainless steel’.”

Despite IPAs becoming an evermore

commercially important part of

Firestone Walker’s portfolio, it’s clear

that barrels remain at the core of what

the brewery is about. As well as barrel

fermenting DBA since day one, it has

a full Burton Union system and the

Barrelworks programme has, in Matt’s

words, “taken on a life of its own”.

“Those will never get huge, because

they just don’t scale up, and for that

matter the world doesn’t need massive

amounts of those beers. It’s better that

it stays a 2000 hectolitre and below

type of project, which never really

grows much beyond that.”

In 2015, Firestone Walker sold a

majority stake to Belgium's Duvel

Moortgat – a career-long hero of Matt’s –

giving the team access to new expertise

and materials. There has already been

collaboration between Firestone and

Duvel’s breweries, including a barrel

exchange with the brewmaster at

Liefmans, the first results of which are

just reaching fruition.

“Part of the reason we partnered

with Duvel was it’s a 150yo brewery;

if they can have that kind of game

plan, they have to be good people to

work with,” explains Matt. “I mean,

people are going to be drinking beer

for centuries to come, and we’ve

been doing it since we stood on two

legs. Whether this brewery will still

be standing a couple of centuries

depends on whether we can tread

that line, where we’re not distracted

by trends but are able to innovate and

carve our own niche.

“As we grow, we need to stay in

touch with the cutting-edge things

that are happening in brewing. And

I think that as the craft brewing

industry continues to mature, you’ll

see more of these regional specialty

beers that are very tied to their

geographical location; those will be

the beers that have staying power.

There are so many west coast IPA

producers that, if you’re hanging your

hat on that alone, it’s going to be a

tough fought war.”





Richard Croasdale

ight on the coast, in the middle of

one of California’s most verdant

wine regions, Santa Barbara

has a reputation for being where the

state’s elderly rich go to golf, yacht

and generally idle away their golden

years. How quickly though our sceptical

sneers turn to wide-eyed delight; the

place is beautiful, and as close to that

stereotypical vision of California as

you can get. Carefree, tanned folk

stroll up and down the broad, palm

tree-lined beachfront boulevard, with

green-carpeted hills rearing up into the

heat-hazed distance.

We dump our bags and head out,

keen to visit as many of the wineries

as possible on the local Urban Wine

Trail. Our first stop is Municipal Wines;

set just back from the ocean, it’s a

shack filled with reclaimed seating, old

filing cabinets and some of the best

local independent wines you will ever


Running the shop is Mel, whose

wine knowledge is matched by her

easy Californian charm. After taking

us through a selection of glasses, she


scribbles a list of other local spots for

us to try on the back of a napkin, with

recommendations for other wine bars,

cocktails, breweries and a couple of

options for dinner.

On one such recommendation, we

head along to Milk and Honey tapas and

cocktail bar, where we enjoy a couple of

great cocktails selected by the friendly

barman. My coffee-based creation is

particularly enjoyable, and is prepared

with an appropriate level of theatrical


Several drinks in now, we decide

walking around Santa Barbara would be

a little … pedestrian, and that the best

way to blend in with the locals would be

to rent a bicycle from a little shop we’d

passed earlier. A tandem bicycle, as it

turns out.

Riding on the back of a tandem,

hurtling downhill past SUVs that

could crush us without even noticing,

while trying to scream Google

Maps directions to my friend and

esteemed colleague Fraser up front

is an experience I am not soon likely

to forget. Somehow though, after

several false turns (ever tried to pull

a u-turn on a tandem? Don’t) we

reached our destination: Pure Order

brewing company. Relieved, I dismount

gracefully, lean the tandem against a

tree, trip over the kerb and promptly

break the third toe on my sandaled left

foot. It is time for a proper drink.

Pure Order is definitely one of the

most compact breweries I’ve ever

visited, with brewhouse and taproom

occupying what is basically an ordinary

double-bay garage, with a bit of shaded

seating out in the yard. The brew kit,

fermenters and even cold storage are

so close together that in places we find

ourselves sucking in the gut to squeeze


It has a great atmosphere though, and

is packed with locals laughing chatting

and drinking beer after cold beer in the

palm-dappled afternoon sunshine.

Having walked the tandem back to

the rental shop, it was time to explore

a part of town that everyone so far had

recommended to us: the Funk Zone.

Despite having the least promising

name in the world, this part of town

really is the place to be in Santa Barbara

after dark, and after more cocktails we

decide to jump into The Lark restaurant

for a bite to eat.

Despite being one of Santa Barbara’s

most hotly-tipped restaurants, The

Lark doesn’t stand on ceremony. Most

of the seating is at long communal

tables and, California being California,

it isn’t long before we’re chatting with

the couple opposite, who had lived in

Santa Barbara for 20 years, running

their own business as environmental

impact consultants for marijuana farms.

The food is fresh, healthy and excellent,

particularly when washed down with

local wine.

My toe by this point has turned a livid

shade of puce and is at a noticeably

weird angle, but fortified by wine, beer

and cocktails we decide to press on

to the town’s bustling downtown area.

With a somewhat less self-conscious

bar scene, American classics such as

Miller, Coors and PBR are the order of

the day here, or extremely generous

spirit measures over a tonne of ice. It’s

certainly a different experience to the

beachfront, but still very enjoyable, and

we take advantage of the license to

dance like idiots into the small hours.

I awake with an aching foot and a dim

memory of Fraser borrowing a busker’s

trumpet on the way back to the hotel – a

version of events he still vehemently

denies. Fortunately we have a little time

to recover over a huge breakfast

before hitting the road once again.


Fruits of their


From a family of wine-makers, Ben Wiens chose the

grain over the grape. Five years later though, he’s

making one of California’s most-awarded fruit beers.

Just north east of San Diego,

Temecula doesn’t feel like the

most likely place to find an awardwinning

craft brewery, but this is the

town that Wiens – and its now-famous

Apricot Wheat beer – calls home.

Brewmaster Ben Wiens and his family

have been in the alcohol business for

some time, as wine-makers and latterly

as brewers. Ben’s own journey started

in the 1990s, when he and his uncle

decided to learn to brew and – as

people did at the time – went out and

bought an actual book on the subject.

“We both really took to it,” recalls

Ben. “My uncle went to UC Davis and

on to work for AB-InBev for 12 years.

When we came to open this place

five years ago, he was instrumental in

getting us set up and formulating the

first beers. After 18 months he got a

great opportunity to work for Stone in

San Diego and is now working toward

his Brewmaster qualification. He was

very much part of the technical side of

getting this going for us.”

When his uncle decided to move on,

Ben quit his day job in IT and took over

full time as head brewer. Wiens started

off as something of a side project for

the family, which had been growing its

winery business outside California since

2001. Ben says the work ethic that has

made that business such a success has

been carried through to the brewery.

“As a winery, we don’t take any of the

profit, but roll it straight back into the

business. There’s plenty of wineries out

there that aren’t really growing but the

owners have big cars. My uncle drives

a little hybrid. My dad drives a little

VW. We’re a big family that came from

nothing; my mum and dad made my

clothes and cut my hair, and those are

the kind of values we still like to live by.”

When Wiens opened in 2012, the local

brewing scene was completely different,

and had no idea that the single brewery

in town before them would grow to six

within a single year. He admits that the

unforeseen competition forced them to

change their business model a little, but

that things are going well.

“We’ve grown a little bit here and

there, added more tanks, doubled our

brew capacity; we’re making beer as

much as we can in the heat and having

fun with it,” he says.

This characterisation of Wiens’s

progress is somewhat modest though.

It’s often said in America’s crowded

craft beer market that any brewery

that wants long-term success needs

‘one great beer’; the beer you take to

a festival, and all you hear is people

saying to their friends “have you

tried…?”. In 2015, Wiens found that

beer, in the form of its Apricot Wheat.

“Fruit beer was just becoming a big

trend, so we started playing around

with a few ideas,” recalls Ben. “We

put together a recipe, grabbed some

saison yeast, brewed it up on our little

two-barrel pilot system and it was

pretty damn close to what we wanted.

We did it again, refined just a little, and

it came out really well. We called it

Apricot Saison.”

Happy with his creation (he’s not a

fruit beer guy), Ben put the beer on the

bar in Wiens’ Temecula taproom… and it

just sat there.

“I couldn’t understand it, because

the character of this beer seemed right

on point for what people were looking

for then,” he continues. “So I asked

my son, who does all our branding, to

take a look at it. He scratched his head

and suggested changing the name to

Apricot Wheat. Same beer, same batch.

We got through four kegs in two days.”

After a couple more equally

successful batches, Ben started

bottling Apricot Wheat, widening

its distribution. In the meantime

though, he’d submitted it to the Great

American Beer Festival (GABF), almost

as an afterthought and promptly

forgotten about it.

“I don’t know why, but that was the

year we actually decided to go along:

me, my uncle, my dad and a cousin.

We sat there as they were announcing

the fruit beer category, and I was kind

of listening out for bronze, but was

talking to my cousin by the time they

got to silver. When they said Apricot

Wheat had won gold, my first thought

was that someone else had made a

beer called Apricot Wheat! There could

be a thousand Apricot Wheats in this


The effect of winning the gold medal

at GABF was instant and dramatic.

America, Ben found, was full of buyers

who had no idea or interest who Wiens

Brewery was, but knew precisely what

GABF gold meant.

“You go to somewhere like Colorado

and all the accounts know what GABF

is, so this really means something. It’s

been so helpful. A few days after we

won, we got an email from a buyer in

Pennsylvania wanting to get our beer

out there. It’s amazing how they can be

The effect of winning

the gold medal at GABF

was instant and dramatic

so far away and yet suddenly we’re on

their radar.”

Apricot Wheat has won several other

major awards since GABF, cementing

its position as a force to be reckoned

with in the highly competitive fruit

beers category. Ben is characteristically

modest about the secrets of its


“It’s a solid recipe, really hard to

screw up and it balances really well,”

he says. “We can have variations in

the process, or it can be a really hot

day, and the beer tastes the same. It’s

not sweet, it’s got a little bit of fruit

tartness without being a sour. It’s more

than just your average one-dimensional

fruit beer I guess; something the craft

beer enthusiasts would appreciate, but

at the same time the yoga girls who

come in would want to drink because

it’s an apricot fruit beer.”




San Diego

WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

Finally, we reach San Diego, the end

of our journey and Holy Land of craft

beer. Chuck a handful of malted

barley in the street here and, instead of

pigeons, you will be surrounded by craft

brewers trying to turn it into a passion

fruit gose.

Our first stop is the Eppig brewery,

where I am meeting the owners and

Daylen Dalrymple of Stone Brewing, who

has selflessly volunteered as my guide

today. Like many US brewers, Eppig is a

great adherent to the German brewing

tradition and very focused on producing

great, traditional lager.

The brewery itself is typical of so

many Californian microbreweries; a tiny

brewhouse and equally tiny taproom,

but every bit as much pride as a brewery

exporting tens of thousands of barrels

across the world. The building used to

be a strip club, and founder Stephanie

Eppig cheerfully points to the reinforced

brackets in the ceiling where the poles

used to be (the VIP lounge is now where

they keep their malt).

Stephanie’s family emigrated from

Germany in the 1800s, where they were

involved in agriculture. The brewing

tradition only began after they arrived

in the states and her great, great uncle

got a job in a brewery in Brooklyn,

before opening his own in 1866. He

brewed only lagers for the first five

years, and the records of those original

brews have served as inspiration for

Eppig’s modern lineup.

“We wanted to innovate and put on

a modern twist, but still stay true to

those traditional German styles,” says

Stephanie. “So we have all the Germanstyle

lagers, which are brewed very

strictly, but then we have a Japanesestyle

lager too, which is light and dry

for summertime, and also a festbier; a

traditional Oktoberfest/Märzen-style,

which is available all year round.”

While I admire Eppig’s dedication,

I’m curious as to how these (albeit

delicious) German-style lagers are

received in the heart of IPA country.

“San Diego is such an IPA town, for

sure,” she says. “It’s what people come

to San Diego looking for, so it’s pretty

unusual to have this many lagers on

the board. We’re very popular with

the locals though, and these styles are

coming back in. For example, our dry

hopped, unfiltered lager recently won a

silver medal at the California state fair.”

Happily, Daylen’s husband is on hand

to drive us across town to our next

destination, though not before a quick

stop at White Labs’ own taproom. As a

yeast nerd, this is a wonderful surprise

for me, and I tuck into a flight of beers

brewed with different yeasts (but are

otherwise identical) while casually

watching the white-suited technicians at

work through an observation window.

Alesmith is just around the corner,

and is one of the breweries I’ve been

most looking forward to visiting. Its

Speedway Stout and Nut Brown Ale

are right up there on my list of personal

favourites, and I’ve heard there is a VIP

barrel tasting room somewhere in the


Founded way back in 1995 by home

brewers Skip Virgilio and Ted Newcomb,

Alesmith is one of the oldest craft

breweries in San Diego. In 2002, Skip

and Ted sold the business to Peter Zien,

who had started his career washing out

kegs there, but had through sheer talent

and hard work risen to head brewer. In

2015, Alesmith moved from the industrial

unit where Mikkeller San Diego is based

now to the purpose-built 106,000 sq ft

brewing playground it now occupies.

“Everything you see here Peter and

his wife Vicky have created in the past

15 years,” says the brewery’s Chris

Leguizamon, who is showing us around.

"Today we’re distributing to 26 different

states and seven countries, and have all

the room we need here to expand even


This is certainly true. Alesmith’s

operation doesn’t feel small, but

cavernous space currently dwarfs the

pretty sizeable brewhouse and bank of

towering fermentation vessels. Even the

brewery’s extensive collection of barrels

(which, incidentally, to a barrel nerd like

me, includes some buttock-clenchingly

exciting specimens) looks somewhat

forlorn at this scale.

Chris also confides in us that the third

of the three units is currently being fitted

out for a ‘non-beer’ project, currently

under wraps. He’s understandably

tight-lipped, saying only that it will bring

to fruition a long-standing personal

obsession of Peter’s.





What’s striking throughout this whole

conversation (and indeed, in all the San

Diego breweries) is how at-ease Chris

seems strolling around, talking shop

with Daylen who, after all, works for

what should be one of Alesmith’s main

competitors. Today, she also happens to

be wearing an Alesmith vest.

As we end our tour in the plush VIP

barrel tasting room (the rumours were

true), I question them on this. After

looking at me blankly for a moment,

Chris says, “well, yeah, I mean we

know all of the same people anyway,

and everyone in this town is all over

everyone’s business, so we don’t really

think about it in that way. I’m a huge fan

of Stone, and have got a bunch of friends

there. We’re all just making great San

Diego beer, so of course we want each

other to succeed.”

Finishing my 2016 barrel aged

Speedway Stout (12%. Daylen went for

the 2017 rum barrel-aged Old Rumskull

at 11%), we decide the 15-minute walk

to Alesmith’s old brewery, now home to

the mighty Mikkeller, would be a good

tactical move for both of us. It’s probably

worth pointing out that, although it

sometimes feels like it, we don’t plan

all of our beer adventures around the

location of Mikkeller bars; they happen

to be in some of the world’s coolest

beer locations, and so do we.

At the end of a road in a suburban

industrial estate, the bar is pretty quiet

at this time of night, so we join the

brewer Chris Gillogly, who has obviously

already finished for the evening and is

enjoying a schooner of Raspberry Blush

Berliner weisse. I follow his lead.

After a couple, we’re ready for a

tour of the brewery, where we wander

round sampling beers straight from

the tanks and barrels. The pièce de

résistance though (for us, at least) is a

small cabin that houses the brewers’

experimental work. Unlikely containers

clearly salvaged from a kitchen hold

ominous, bubbling goo of various hues,

while battered-looking barrels leak their

unctuous, luminous contents onto the

concrete floor. We have to do some

climbing to all fit into the cramped


Returning to the bar, which is now

closed, Chris pulls out a tray of glasses

and proceeds to give us a very slick (and

generous) guided tour of Mikkeller San

Diego’s full range, including a couple of

beers that haven’t quite been released

yet. By the time we roll out of Mikkeller

a little after midnight, we’re extremely

grateful for the existence of Lyft (which

everyone in California seems to use

instead of Uber these days) and, back at

our hotel, fall into a deep and dreamless


For the final full day of our road trip,

we meet up with Daylen again and

ride out to Escondido, home of the

magnificent Stone Brewing. Stone has

a special place in our hearts at Beer52,

as one of the first US craft brewers that

many of us really got to know, so the idea

of visiting it at home almost feels like an

act of pilgrimage.

Even during one of the hottest weeks

of the year, California has pulled out

all the stops for us today, and the short

walk from the air conditioned car leaves

my lungs itchy and the top of my head

somewhat scorched. This is quickly

forgotten once inside the cool oasis

of Stone’s on-site bar and restaurant

though, where we’re joining a team of

senior brewers, scientists and marketing

folk for lunch and a catch up among the

tropical plants.

What comes through very clearly from

these conversations is the ownership

and pride that everyone feels in their

own roles and in the brewery’s output.

As we tuck into our various wonderful

salads (welcome to California) there is

a genuine, unforced debate going back

and forth across the table, with contrary

opinions on everything from the

necessity of filtering to the brewery’s

Berlin operation and pursuit of its own

new styles.

A few people have privately

questioned me recently on whether

Stone – with its huge international scale

and success – could still legitimately

be classed as a ‘craft brewer’. I wish

such people could be a fly on the wall

for this conversation, because I doubt

there would be the slightest lingering

doubt in their minds. These are not just

technically expert brewers, but clearly

passionate advocates of craft beer in

general, keen to take their art further

every day.

After lunch and a tour of the brewery

itself (huge, well-organised – you know

the drill), we’re invited to take part

in one of the quality assurance lab’s

regular sensory evaluations. Run under

carefully controlled conditions, this

is pretty nerve-racking for someone

who isn’t doing QA every day, as we’re

asked to identify genuine ‘off’ flavours

in several bottles of W00t stout. Aside

from this being one of my favourite

beers, we have no idea which of the

samples is off, or what the fault might

be. We’re also sitting with some of the

people who may have been involved in

brewing it. The stakes, in short, are high.

Somehow, we manage to get our

scores into the right ballpark and

not offend anyone, and the whole

experience (which includes a detailed

tour of the lab) is a fascinating insight

into the lengths to which Stone goes to

ensure its beers are not only fault free

but also consistent over time.

As we’re walking through the

beautiful landscaped garden on our

way out of Stone, Daylen breaks the

thoughtful silence: “Actually, I meant to

ask, do you guys like Nick Cave?...”

That’s how, on our final evening in

San Diego (and our last in California)

Fraser and I come to be standing in an

old theatre a couple of blocks from the

hotel, with a bunch of our new friends

(and 4000 other awe-struck San Diegans),

listening to the Bad Seeds scorching their

way through their back catalogue. It’s an

amazing, intense, intimate gig despite its

scale, and an oddly fitting way to round off

an unforgettable week.

After an (albeit brief) sleep, we’re up

with the dawn again, to cram in a couple

of final breweries…





WORDS: Fraser Doherty

PICTURES: Richard Croasdale


Next stop on our road trip is

one we are extremely excited

about. Beer52 members are

particularly fond of their sweet stouts;

in fact, it is one of the highest-rated

beer styles within our community. In

the search of the now world-famous

Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching

Beaver, we have found ourselves in

Oceanside, which is about 45-minutes

north of San Diego.

The home base of the brewery, it is

one of Belching Beaver’s five locations.

Unusually for a brewery of its size,

it also operates two off-site tasting

rooms; one in Ocean Beach and

another in North Park in San Diego, a

tavern and grill on Broadway in nearby

Vista and a second production facility,

also in Vista, with its own taproom.

Taking us on a tour of the brewery,

the team are clearly extremely proud of

what they do here. Winner of numerous

national awards, it’s fair to say that they

have good reason to be. Most recently,

head brewer Thomas Peters was

crowned the first-place winner of the

2017 Alpha King challenge, an annual

competition set up by veteran beer

writers and brewers.

Run alongside the Great American

Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, it

is a competition that seeks to award

the hoppiest beer in the competition.

Talking of the award, which he won

with Belching Beaver’s ‘Thizz Is What It

Is’, a Citra Double IPA, brewer Thomas

Peters says: “Winning Alpha King for

a second time is a dream come true – I

was thrilled to bring the award back to

Belching Beaver.”

Although the most recent of its

many accolades, perhaps what really put

Belching Beaver on the map, at least for

us, was its best-selling Peanut Butter Milk

Stout. Basically, the beer equivalent of

a Reese’s cup, it draws on the American

love of Peanut Butter. For our members

who are on a ‘mixed’ plan this month,

you’ll enjoy a can of this in your box and

it’s perhaps going to be a star of the box

this Christmas.

It’s one of the silkiest smooth milk

stouts that I have ever tasted, thanks

to being brewed with rolled oats and

lactose. You can expect delicious aromas

of roasted peanuts, dark chocolate

and coffee. But for those who wouldn’t

normally indulge in this style of beer,

the brewery offers a few words of

encouragement: “Don’t let the dark

colour fool you, this beer is delightfully

easy to drink.”

Weighing heavy in the Belching

Beaver awards cabinet are the 2017

Gold award in the Los Angeles Beer

Competition, the 2017 ‘Best in Show’

and ‘Best New Discovery’ at the West

Coast Craft Can Invitational, the

‘Favourite Dark Beer’ and ‘Overall

Favourite’ in the 2016 Penitentiary Pint

Fest and, finally, a silver prize in the

2014 World Beer Championships. All

for this quirky little milk stout.

How all of this came about was as

an evolution of the brewery’s stillpopular

original, ‘Beaver’s Milk Stout’,

a classically smooth and creamy milk

stout. “It was the first beer we made.

At the time nobody in San Diego had

a milk stout, so we wanted to come

out with something unique,” Thomas

explains to us. The idea proved a hit

and certainly helped the brewery to

stand out in an otherwise crowded

market, especially in combination with

their novel name and branding.

Over time, Belching Beaver has

expanded its milk stout franchise to

include the likes of a 7.5% cinnamonspiced

Mexican Chocolate Peanut

Butter Stout. Originally named ‘Viva

La Beaver’ and ‘Living La Beaver Loca’,

it’s easy to see that the team have a bit

of fun coming up with the names for

their beers. “In the end we changed the

name to highlight the key features of

this award-winning beer,” he explains.

The range also includes a nitro

version of its classic Beaver's Milk Stout.

But it’s not just milk stouts that this fun

little brewery is churning out. Its ‘Me So

Honey Blonde’ has become one of its

best-sellers, thanks to its floral aromas

and subtle, sweet, honey flavour, made

with top quality honey.

The brewery has also partnered with

one of its favourite bands, Deftones,

to create ‘Phantom Bride IPA’. A blend

of Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic,

Thomas explains it is “Delicately balanced

for the perfectly drinkable mix of citrus

and hoppy goodness.” Envisioned by

Chino Moreno of the band and brewed

by Thomas Peters at Belching Beaver,

they recommend you “Sit back, put on

your headphones and drink away.”

Finishing up our glasses and ending

our tour of the brewery, we can’t wait to

drink a few cans of this awesome, nutty,

milk stout all throughout our Christmas

celebrations. The ‘big day’ seems a

million miles away as we step out of the

brewery and into the sweltering heat,

ready to continue our beer-tasting

adventure around San Diego.


WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale


kind of want to hate Modern Times.

Its beer names are full of clever

literary allusions, its taproom bar

is made from a stack of second hand

books, there is an experimental inhouse

coffee roasting business and

one whole wall of the Brewhouse is

dedicated to a mural depicting Jeff

Koons’ infamous gold statue of Michael

Jackson (moonwalk Michael Jackson,

not beer Michael Jackson) rendered

entirely in Post-It notes. I want to hate

it, but I can’t, because it’s completely

genuine and, as such, utterly charming.

Modern Times is the result of the

singular vision of its founder Jacob

McKean, and his dogged determination

to make its every detail a reality.

Sales Manager Phil MacNitt is on

hand to give us the tour and some

background on the brewery. “I’ve been

here from the beginning, before we had

the cool stuff, before we had any money.

But even back then, Jacob had the full

idea; he knew where it was going,”

says Phil. “Even when I talked to him

two years before the brewery opened

he had all this. He knew the name

Modern Times, the kind of beers he

wanted to make, the kind of culture he

wanted among the staff – it was a very

complete and concise vision, which he

knew how he was going to execute.”

Having worked previously at Stone

San Diego, Jacob was also an avid

home brewer and, as a freelance beer

writer, also had a keen ear on the wider

beer world. It was always his intention

that Modern Times should focus

on aroma and mouthfeel – qualities

that make its stouts and NE IPA so

distinctive and successful – and that

the brand should be more interesting

than your standard craft fare.

Phil continues: “We do a lot of beers

that are sessionable. One of the ideas

Jacob had was he saw that with IPA

and craft in general in 2012, everything

was steering towards high IBU, high

ABV. He wanted to pull that back and

create complex, interesting beers, but

with the express intention that you can

drink a bunch of them.”

The name ‘Modern Times’ itself was

taken from a utopian community built

on Long Island in 1850, by a group of

freewheeling idealists (“we inherited a

lot of philo-crazies from you guys”) who

thought they could demonstrate to the

world what a more perfect society might

look like.

“The mentality of being pure and

virtuous and all these things was

part of the American identity at that

time,” says Phil. “These guys were the

exact opposite. They were free love

anarchists, Basically proto-hippies:

hyper-sexualised with no system of

leadership or government. So we

thought that was bad-ass.”

Fascinated by this idea of colourful,

ambitious pockets of history that

“develop in the folds of progress”

Jacob decided to name all his brews

after utopian projects, though for

obvious practical reasons, this has

been extended to fictional utopias and


But this isn’t just marketing whimsy.

Jacob clearly had very clear ideas

about the kind of culture he wanted to

see in his brewery, and has shaped it

into a kind of utopian project in its

own right – just like the meta-joke of




There’s a big

undercurrent of

respect and autonomy

recreating an iconic pop-art statue in

Post-It notes.

“Jacob’s always been very focused

on the employees,” confirms Phil. “A

really important part of the company is

how we treat people, pay people, retain

people. The kind of culture we have…

there’s a big undercurrent of respect

and autonomy. Folks on a production

position like canning, the starting wage

there is about 15 bucks and hour, which

is a lot over minimum wage. For a

full-time employee, you’ll get unlimited

paid time off with approval. With five

years (which I’m inching towards) you

get a two-month paid sabbatical. That’s

what’s important to him though: the

actual personal growth of people and

their wellbeing.”

One striking thing about everyone

we meet at Modern Times is that they

each seem to bring a lot of themselves

to the job. Whether it’s the office

dogs, the unofficial collection of

vintage scooters that has built up in

the warehouse, or the myriad selfstarted

brewing projects that are on

the go, encouraging employees to see

Modern Times as more than a job has

created a genuinely unique community


According to Phil though, this isn’t

just hippy feel-good nonsense; it also

underpins Modern Times’ notable

commercial success; having opened just

four years ago, Modern Times is one of

the best-known, most respected and

fastest growing San Diego breweries.

“The talent here is amazing, and

everyone brings a tonne to the table,

but that has to be the case. We’ve got so

much going on: the taproom, the coffee

business, the small special project stuff

and the larger beers that we’re pushing

out to bigger distribution. That all needs

a lot of coordination and a lot of people

working really hard.”

Jacob’s dream hit an important

milestone recently, when Modern

Times announced that 30% of its

ownership had been put into an

employee stock ownership plan (with

the long-term goal of growing this to

100%) making it the first brewery in

California to go employee-owned.

Speaking at the time of the

announcement, Jacob said: “Our

trajectory shows that a company

can grow at a meteoric rate while

handsomely rewarding all of the people

who made that growth possible; in fact,

we show that it is necessary. Our values

and culture are competitive advantages

that have propelled us to where we are


By this time, we’ve sampled most

of the beers in Modern Times’

exceptional line-up, as well as a few

works in progress, straight from the

barrel. It’s rare to find a brewery going

off in so many directions, but with such

a distinctive house approach to making

beer and we’re hugely impressed by

everything we try.

But sadly we’re now faced with the

one appointment that we can’t phone

ahead to postpone: our flight home.

On the drive to the airport, I find

myself winding the window down and

photographing the oddest things: road

signs, an industrial plant, a rusted car

being towed, the way the sun glints

off the water. I want to remember as

much of the detail as I can, because

it’s the detail that has made this

journey so special. California is quite

unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been

– so diverse and yet so distinctive –

and its incredible craft beer scene

is a reflection of that. Each of the

breweries we’ve visited, while special

in their own way, could only have

come from California, and that’s what

makes it one of the greatest beer

regions on Earth.






’ve been working at Mikkeller’s bar in

Downtown Los Angeles for a couple of

months now, and feel like I’m at the centre of

the beer world, surrounded by exceptional

brewers, amazing beer fans, and generally

one of the most welcoming, supportive

communities I’ve ever experienced.

I’m not from here though; I was raised in

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and until a few years

ago only knew Miller Genuine Draft and

Heineken, because that’s what my dad drinks.

Of course, that meant I wasn’t really interested

in beer. But then I got a job in a small, lakeside

craft brewery there, working alongside

brewers, which changed everything.

It was a headfirst dive into the culture, and

it was such a blessing because – unlike a lot

of industries – in brewing it doesn’t matter

where you’re from and what you look like. I

was a novice, I knew nothing, but instead of

ostracising me or belittling me, they equipped

me with the tools, resources and guidance

I needed. And it worked: I went from being

an auxiliary employee – which meant taking

out the trash and working the gift shop – and

worked my way up to become a tour guide,

taking groups around the facility, explaining

the brewing process and trying to make a few


It was so awesome, but drove me to think:

why am I freezing my balls off in Wisconsin?

I could be doing dope beer shit in California.

So, I went out, bought a plane ticket, and came

here to do dope beer shit.

I found my first job here on Craigslist LA,

as a tour guide on a Southern California brew

tour bus. I arrived in LA on 1 June 2016, and

gave my first tour on 2 June; we’re going all

over the place and people are asking “where

are we” and I had to admit I didn’t know. But I

knew there would be beer, and people seemed

satisfied with that.

From there, I got another job with Angel

City brewery – which is owned by the massive

brewer Samuel Adams – but I eventually

realised it wasn’t for me, and I probably wasn’t

for them either. I’d been in LA for some time

by this point, networking, meeting brewers and

drinking every new beer I could lay my hands

on, so on the day I walked out of Angel City



for the last time, I walked a couple of blocks to

see my friends at Mumford Brewing.

If you’ve never heard of Mumford, by the

way, you should have. They’re on skid row –

there’s homeless people sleeping outside – but

they make some of the most astounding beer

I’ve had on this coast. Out of all of California,

they’re without doubt the leading juicemakers,

the haze crazies, and one of few locals

even trying to brew NEIPA. They’ve got one

on just now called The Method, which is just

flawless, plus you get to go to the bar and say,

“pint of meth please”!

So I walked the couple of blocks to

Mumford and said, “hey guys, I just quit Angel

City Brewery,” and they were like, “cool, do

you want to bar tend here?” I walked four

blocks, got a new job.

They really helped me out of a jam, but we

both knew they didn’t really need any more

bar staff – that’s just the kind of amazing guys

they are. It wasn’t long before they put me

onto this guy, Will Sperling, who was opening

a new bar in an old discount tyre store, and

asked if I’d ever heard of Mikkeller…

I’ve been here at Mikkeller DTLA since it

opened four months ago, and it’s been an

intensive experience; learning the people, the

culture, the general vibe and just how broad

the spectrum of beers is. I basically

work for an international

beer cult, but in the

best way. You could be

in Thailand, Singapore,

Berlin and if you see a

Mikkeller bar, you know it’s

going to be something special.

Every morning I’m like “Tyler,

don’t fuck it up,” because this job has easily

changed my life. And, hopefully, if I can keep

not fucking it up, it’ll change that trajectory

even more. I’m just having too much fun

working in this industry, because every day we

get to do something cool, or someone really

neat comes in.

This culture in LA – and in the beer

community across California – is a real thing.

It was LA Beer Week recently, and we had a

couple of thousand people on the next block

for the kick-off event. Where did they go

afterwards? Here. There was a queue for nine

hours. In four months, we’ve already won a

best beer bar award from TimeOut, and in this

past month alone, we’ve had takeovers from

Bottle Logic, Alesmith, and Pizza Port – all

really popular local guys. We’re just getting


When I left Milwaukee a year ago, I was in

the fortunate position of having a family that

loves me, food in my belly and clothes on my

back. I was extremely blessed. But I also know

I’m worth it. As individuals, we’re constantly

given the opportunity to reassign our value;

people aren’t just given a number at the start

of their life and then stuck with it. It’s not like

anyone says, “you’re this good, or you’re this

person” – at least, nobody worth listening to.

Especially in America, and

especially in beer, you can

always reinvent yourself.

You can go from a standing

start to being in the middle

of everything, and pick yourself

from every setback to go do

something better. You just

have to choose.

Bay City Brewing. Just shy of two years

old, they are proudly the first brewery

to release an official destination beer,

as part of an innovative partnership with San

Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA).

Having recently launched “72 and Hoppy”,

the 4.2% ABV Session IPA designed to reflect

the laid-back, easygoing spirit of the region,

we caught up with Greg Anderson, co-founder

of the brewery, along with head brewer Chris

West and the rest of their energetic team.

Having grown up in Yakima Valley, Greg’s

connection to beer has been lifelong. Also the

founder of McGregor’s Grill and Ale House in

Mission Valley, he has learned about craft beer

through serving it for more than 21 years. He

said of the partnership, that it is “the perfect

way to spread the word that craft beer is a way

of life in San Diego, for both locals and visitors.”

Using Mosaic, El Dorado and Ekuanot hops,

this bright, citrusy beer is being served both at

Bay City’s taproom on Hancock street, as well

as at bars, hotels and restaurants throughout

the city. “It’s always 72 degrees and sunny in

WORDS: Fraser Doherty

PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

San Diego, so the name is a play on that”, Greg


Hana Pruzansky of Bay City brewing

explained how the partnership came about,

“With so many brewers in town, it was a huge

honour to be chosen as the partner brewery. It

was all down to spending time with the SDTA

and figuring out how we could help each other

out. I’m not sure if bringing beer to the 10am

meetings helped, I guess so“, she laughs.

Not only a fun way to get the message of

San Diego’s craft beer scene out to the public,

it is a way that the Tourism Authority can raise

funds for their campaigns to further help

cement San Diego as the capital of craft beer

in the US.

Having enjoyed a few beers with the team,

we’re excited to see how the partnership goes.

Now that we have friends in town, Bay City

have given us a great excuse to visit again





One of the best things about beer and home

brewing, is that unless you strictly want to adhere

to the reinheitsgebot laws, there is so much room

for experimentation with your brews and adjusting your

recipes with different ingredients is a great way to be

creative, cater closer to your own personal tastes and style

and can be thus can incredibly satisfying. In this article we

will discuss some tips on how you can experiment with you

beer while brewing at home.


What can be used when experimenting with brews at home? Absolutely anything

you want! I’m sure like us, you have seen on social media that every other week some

brewery has been adding some completely bizarre ingredient to their beer, personally

some of these beers can be a bit radical for most, but if it tastes good why not.

MALTS & ADJUNCTS: There are hundreds of malts

from Maltsters available all around the world and

many are continually producing new malts that you

may wish to use. Adjuncts are ingredients added that

are not barley or wheat but that contribute to the

fermentable sugars (honey, sugars, fruits, syrups etc.)

Malts & Adjuncts are added either in the mash, end of

the boil or in the fermenter. When playing with malts

and adjuncts there are a few things to consider;

1. The most important is remembering the

diastatic power of the ingredient, for instance

making a 100% roasted barley beer will not

produce beer since there are no enzymes to

convert starch into fermentable sugars.

2. Maltsters/manufacturer descriptions and

recommendations are a great guide to the

flavour contributions of the malts.

3. Taste the malts and adjuncts, by tasting these

you can tell how they may contribute to the

beer you can taste the malts together in the

ratio that you will use them e.g. eat 100 grains

made up of 80 grains of pale malt, 10 grains

of Vienna malt, 5 grains of wheat malt and

5 grains of Munich malt. They can also be

tasted by making a malt tea (miniaturized


4. Know your styles, whether or not you are

brewing to a particular beer style the styles

are a great guide. E.g. I want to make a

German Pilsner, but black. Therefore what

malts are used in a Schwarzbier.

5. Beware the yeast! When and how you use

your adjuncts will not only affect the flavour

of your beer but also the alcohol percentage

and carbonation as unless you filter your beer

after fermentation yeast may continue to

ferment and produce unexpected flavour and

also potential bottle bombs.

HOPS: With hops there is even more variety and also

a multitude of different timings in the brewing process

they can be used. Hops are used in the mash, first wort,

any time during the boil, whirlpool (hop stand), any time

during fermentation and conditioning and are often use

during the serving process with casks and Randals.

1. Use the descriptions from the suppliers as a guide

to the flavours that the hops will contribute to the


2. Know how adding hops at different points in

the brewing process relate to the bitterness and

flavour contributions of the hops.

3. Conduct hop trials, we will discuss how to do this

later. But hop trials are great for trialling new hops

or how they flavour and bitterness carry across to

the finished beer when added at particular times

in the brewing process. The finished beers can

then be compared and contrasted or even mixed

to get a sense of the flavours.

YEASTS & BUGS: Yeast and bugs are living organisms

and therefore are the most unpredictable portion of the

brewing process and will contribute a wide variety of

flavours based on the strain and fermentation conditions.

1. Use the manufacturer descriptions of the strains

as a guide to the flavour contributions of the


2. Parti-gyle your beers with different strains and

compare and contrast the flavour contributions of

different strains.

3. Be consistent in your fermentation conditions for

repeatable results especially temperature control

for the specific strains.

SPICES & ADDITIVES: Spices and additives are

ingredients like nutmeg, woodchips or other flavours

which add flavour but do not contribute fermentable

sugars. These can also be ingredients like salt additions

for the water profiles which can enhance specific

features of your beer. Together these ingredients are

generally where the most creativity occurs. Like malts

and adjuncts these ingredients are often used in the

mash, end of the boil or in the fermenter.

1. Spices and additives added in hot side of the

brewing process are less of a contamination risk,

however less of these flavours often make it to the

finished beer.

2. Spices and additives added to the fermenter can

easily contribute too much flavour since they sit

in the beer much longer. Try making an alcoholic

tincture or tea with the spice to extract the

flavour, take 100 ml of beer and add the

tincture or tea to this until the desired flavour

is reached then scale up the amount used for

flavouring the whole fermenter. This will achieve

a more controlled stable flavour.

3. Spices and additives can be added to a glass of

finished beer to see how the flavour pair with a

specific beer.


Experimenting with your brewing is a great way to

increase your knowledge and skills in brewing, but also

to get more out of every batch. Parti-gyle brewing and

hop trials are two easy experiments that can be simple

and which showcase particular flavour attributes of a

particular ingredient.

PARTI-GYLE BREWING: Parti-gyle brewing is a

very old technique that was originally described

as the process when brewers would make multiple

beers off the same mash. Brewers would take the first

running of the mash and produce a ‘strong beer’, then

they would take the second runnings and produce a

‘weaker’ or a ‘Dinner’ beer and so on for the third and

sometimes the fourth runnings. These days this term

generally refers to when the same batch of beer is split

into ‘sub batches’ at any time in the brewing process

and something is added or changed between the sub

batches that make them different from each other.

One parti-gyle technique try is to split your wort into

two or more fermenters and pitch a different yeast

strains into each fermenter this will showcase how

the fermentation profile of each yeast strain affects

the same malt and hop bill. For example make a fairly

standard IPA recipe, then split the total wort into two

fermenters. In one fermenter pitch an English ale strain

suitable for an English IPA and in the second fermenter

pitch a west coast IPA strain and ferment under the

same conditions. This will showcase the differences

between the two strains. Does the English ale strain

produce more fruity esters? Is the west coast ales strain

more neutral? This experiment is not only great for

showcasing the difference between two strains of yeast

but you can get two quite different beers off the same

brew day.

Another technique is to split the batch post

fermentation and condition the beer on different spices

or pitch some bugs into one of the sub batches. One

of our favourites is to make an imperial stout and after

fermentation split the batch into three 9 L kegs of about

7 L each. In one keg we will top up the keg with 2 L of

freshly brewed cold brew coffee, the second keg we’ll

top up with a sterile solution of lactose and water and

the third keg we’ll add a sterile solution of cocoa nibs

and water. The result is three stouts that can be had

separately or can be mixed together in the same glass.


Hop trials is the technique of showcasing the attributes

of a particular hop varieties. This is useful for getting

an understanding of how particular hops contribute

flavour attributes at different points in the brewing

process, finished hop trials can also be blended

together to see if particular hop varieties work well


Keep the malt bill the same each time or use malt

extract alone or with steeping grains with de-ionised

water to save time, since good malt extract companies

should be very consistent with their products and will

eliminate the variability from water. Mash at the same

temperature each time and use the same yeast and

fermentation profile. Keep your late hop, middle and

first hop additions the same IBU each time. The weight

added of hops during the boil will change each time

based on the alpha acid for each variety. The dry hop

should be the same amount (5 g per litre) and spend

the same amount of time in the fermenter (dry hop for

5 days).


• 23 L Batch

• 2.42 kg liquid pale malt extract

• 0.48 kg Maris Otter

• 0.37 kg medium crystal

• 0.11kg acidulated malt

• Hop 60 min addition 10 IBU

• Hop 30 min addition 20 IBU

• Hop flame out/ whirlpool 10 IBU

• Dry Hop 115 g for 5 days

So you can see how so many factors can be utilised

for the purposes of creativity when home brewing.

There are some generally followed guidelines to

make a mostly ‘drinkable’ beer, but the choices in

ingredients can be endless!


PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

It’s around 5:30pm, and I’ve met up

with the Top Rope Brewing crew at

57 Thomas for a round of Hopbliminal

Messages from Amundsen Brewery.

There are five of us, on the opening day

of the legendary Indyman Beer Co, so

garnering the attention of a black cab in

Manchester is about as likely as finding

Buxton Brewing’s booth at Indyman with

no queue.

It isn’t looking great.

One mildly stressful Uber ride later,

we’re chatting, laughing and walking

in to a Victorian bath house. I’ve only

been to one other bath house, during a

trip to Budapest, where I learned that

‘bath’ translates to lukewarm outdoor

swimming pools; a comfortable hotbed

for any type of infection you’d like to


I never took the opportunity to

check out the indoor portion of those

Hungarian baths, so I had no idea what a

bath house would look like. Occasionally

there’s one on television in a show about

ancient Greece or a Pope’s rise to power

or the Turks’ ritualistic cleaning, but I

had to assume that these baths wouldn’t

be like that.

The Top Rope Brewing clan peels off

to go listen to a talk about Lambics. As

someone who has just recently started

Indy Man Beer Con (IMBC) has a reputation as one of

the UK’s most diverse, idiosyncratic and high-quality

beer festivals. We dropped Dan Orley on the ground in

Manchester with a fistful of beer tokens, some Nurofen

and a packed lunch. We’ve not seen him since, but these

dispatches arrived a week later from the El Salvador offices

of a well-known international law firm…

enjoying sours, this seemed like too

advanced a talk for my taste.

I have my festival glass and my few

tokens and choose to get any beer that

I can in the first room I enter. Finding

a beer doesn’t require waiting in long

queues, as it is a Thursday and most

decent people have real jobs preventing

them from attending such events on a


Somehow, the first room I enter is

room number two, which looks like an

old gymnasium with a balcony around

it. I don’t see any baths at all. I see a

place where with the addition of a hoop,

I could play basketball if I had an iota of

talent and/or a strong desire to make an

ass of myself.

As impressed as I am with the décor

though, but don’t get a very bath-y vibe


Oh no.

Is this whole thing a total gimmick?

Like when people get married in an

old barn, but the entire thing has been

sterilised to look like your uncle’s Knights

of Columbus event hall with folding

tables and chairs and shitty linoleum


I find the Top Rope Brewing team

again in a sunken room surrounded by

tiny, individual puppet stages. These

stages consist of a half-door rising

to waist-height and a red and white

curtain above, the area within barely

large enough for two adult humans, the

perfect stage for two painted socks to

talk about proper manners.

But of course, these aren’t puppet

stages, they’re hundred-year-old

dressing rooms. And holy shit, this isn’t

a sunken room, it’s an empty swimming


I head into room three, which has

more changing areas, another empty

pool and a DJ spinning some ethereal

beats in this surreal space.

I’ve been to a lot of beer festivals and

beer conventions, and to conventions

and festivals that have nothing at all to

do with beer. Most of the beer fests I’ve

attended in the US have been outdoors.

Most others are in giant warehouses or

some other large, nondescript building.

Indy Man is different.

The first time you realise where you

are and what you’re seeing, it makes

you stop and take in the rest of the

scene. The stained glass high above,

shining and glinting. The beer booths

lining the walls of sunken swimming

pools, the ancient changing booths and

the balcony area above lined with now

dilapidated wooden seats and benches

looking down over brewery-filled pool


Everything is covered in glazed tile

and stained glass and broken wood. And

it’s beautiful.

Thursday ends with three enormous

stouts that I had been waiting to try:

Buxton’s Yellow Belly Sundae, Thirst

Class’s Black Forest Imperial Stout, and

Barrel Aged Anagram. I sleep on the

train home.

Friday morning rolls around and

I meet the Dead Crafty gang at the

Liverpool South Parkway train station.

They laugh at me because it’s a cloudy

morning and my sunglasses remain

firmly on my face, hiding the Rodney

Dangerfield-esque swollen bags under

my eyes. Even after three cups of coffee

I can still taste old, thick, boozy syrup

seeping through my tongue and the roof

of my mouth.

This mentholated gum will be my best

friend today.

We arrive at the bath house slightly

early and stand in line this time. I spend

most of the morning thinking about food

rather than beer. This hangover won’t

cure itself without the aid of a bit more

beer and a huge pile of meat.

Sitting in the Wild Beer Co tent with

a frankfurter covered in pulled pork, I

notice a huge wheel of cheese with a

chalkboard next to it, noting that this

cheese will be sliced at 1pm.

I don’t know why this is important, but I

had heard whispers of it from attendees

last year and the simple fact that a




gigantic wheel of cheese is sitting in the

middle of a tent with a sign pointing out

when it will be cut makes it seem like

something I want to be a part of.

Wild Beer Co doesn’t need to rely on

gimmicks and cheese wheels to bring

people to its tent though. This tent

already has what everyone wants: Wild

Beer. Any brewery that offers more than

just beer is held in a particularly high

regard in my eyes though. It gives you

a glimpse into what these companies

find important. Wild Beer’s cheese

presentation highlighted how much it

embraces and loves being located on

the Westcombe Dairy Farm and how

important pairings are to it as a brewery.

To me, this is just as interesting as

Buxton’s sundae bar or Magic Rock’s

crowd-funded pineapples.

There is no sleeping on this train

ride home, only standing as the floor

around me is littered with people more

drunk than I, singing and laughing and

checking their pockets to make sure

they still have their cell phone every 10 –

15 seconds.

I get home, set my alarm, and collapse

into bed.

Saturday morning rolls around and I’m

not meeting anyone at the train station

today, so I’m hiding my face from the

general public rather than personal

friends. But that hangover sure as shit

still exists and I’m still keeping these

30-year-old aviators glued to my face.

Seven months ago, I found attending

beer festivals alone an incredibly

uncomfortable experience. The only

thing more sad than sitting at home and

drinking by yourself is sitting at a venue

and drinking by yourself in a crowd of

1,000 people. Nowadays, anywhere I turn

I’m bumping into people that I’ve met

from the craft beer scene in Liverpool

or through Ferment, which has made

attending beer festivals solo significantly

less daunting.

It’s Saturday afternoon now and I’m

not sure how much I have left in me,

but I link up with the Ferment crew and

drink some of the most interesting beer

of the festival: Omnipollo / Buxton’s

collaborative Maple Truffle Ice Cream

Stout, Northern Monk’s Mango Lassi

Heathen, and Deya’s Ecstasy of Gold.

I’ve also found the only beer I would

order more than twice at Indy Man: the

Blackjack Beer / Box Social Brewing

collab Kalooki; a 6.9% coconut milkshake

IPA that I couldn’t sip without closing my

eyes and shaking my head in disbelief.

I depart that evening and luckily find a

train with available seats. Soon, my chin

is resting on my chest, my bloated gut is

resting on my belt buckle and I’m waking

up to announcements of arriving at our

final destination.

“What are you doing man?” I ask

the reflection in the mirror on Sunday

morning. Murky, cloudy eyes that used

to carry a gleam now obscuring the

dehydrated, hungover soul (and liver)

within. Four days and six sessions with

some of the best beer on the continent

has taken its toll. I once again meet the

Dead Crafty gang at the train station

and everyone agrees: I look like warmed

over dog shit.

At least I have a good reason.

We ride the train down with an

odd assortment of people, soon

learning that there are demonstrative

political marches in Manchester due

to something completely beyond my

understanding. We depart Oxford Road

Station and are greeted by police and

horses in riot gear and furious humans

marching through the streets screaming

their principles from behind masks.

This is not what I am looking for this


We slowly but surely navigate to the

baths where the vibe is completely

different from previous days. Some

breweries have sold out of beer, some

have gone back to their brewery to

retrieve more beer, and some only

have two or three beers on draught

whereas previous days they had ten.

There’s still plenty of beer to drink,

but most attendees are operating at a

level somewhere between panic and


This desperate panic is mostly

highlighted around the Buxton bar, after

the brewery returns with more kegs at

2:30pm. At one point I’m shoved in the

back, then shouldered in front of by a

thick, round, drunk monster attempting

to get his beverage before the rest of us.

Luckily for me, Vicky from Dead Crafty

is slightly ahead in line and more than

willing to verbally berate this drunken

beast into submission on my behalf.

Even with the slight aggression from

the crowd, a few hours later as I depart

these beautiful pools for the last time, I

have no regrets.

The venue and quality of beer here is

matched by few and surpassed by none

that I’ve experienced. There is not one

beer that I had wanted over those four

days that I didn’t get to try and plenty

that I’ve wanted to try for years and

hadn’t got to taste until this event.

Indy Man is worth every train ride,

every ticket price, every token, and every


And yes, it’s worth attending every

goddamn day.




The customer is not always right. In

fact, as far as the service industry is

concerned, the customer is usually

an ignorant, judgemental know-it-all,

writes Ollie Peart.

or the past ten days, I’ve been

helping my uncle out in his Cafe

in Devon. When he first asked, I

had romantic visions of grinding fresh

coffee and pouring perfect lattes with

those fancy patterns on, while listening

to Nora Jones on the stereo and

having meaningful conversations with

the locals. And, although some of that

happened, one thing stuck out more

than anything. You, the customer, on

the whole, are an insufferable bunch

of fucking know-it-all arrogant pricks.

Hear me out.

The service industry is not

considered a worthy profession. It’s

one of those “right-of-passage” jobs

that you have to fulfil in your late

teens or early 20s as some kind of

punishment or something. It’s as if, until

you’ve worked as a waiter, a bartender

or barista, you can’t make your way in

life and, as it happens, I believe that to

be true. I’m wary of anyone who has

never worked as a pot wash for £3/hr,

and so should you be.

But this is a problem. The service

industry is a job where you quite

literally “serve” someone. They ask you

to do something and you do it. They

ask for food, you get them food. They

ask for no butter, you make sure they

have no butter. They want their coffee

with two shots, soya milk, not too hot,

with two sugars in that special cup they

like, you do it.

What’s more, they expect you to

remember that the next time they

come in, despite the hundred or so

other coffee orders you’ll take on

an average day. As a consumer it’s

awesome. These

people are bending

over backward so you

don’t have to. They smile,

converse with you, make

you feel special each and

every time, and for some

reason, we don’t value

them. Why? Spend five

minutes observing the selfservice

kiosks in a Tesco and

you’ll quickly discover we are

completely incapable of serving


Some customers who walked into

the cafe could do nothing to hide

their looks of disdain. You could see

them quizzing themselves wondering

how it could have all gone so wrong

for this thirty-something. How did he

end up serving coffee? It wasn’t until

I told them I was helping my uncle

out and that this wasn’t my job that

their tune changed. They’d exert some

kind of sigh of relief, a “thank god for

that” as if my working there should be

considered a failure. Arrogant pricks.

Service industry workers are

told to think about the customer,

to put them first, that they are

always right. It’s the American way

of thinking, and look how far it’s got

them. They’re overweight diabetics

who drink terrible sugary coffee

and eat chemicals. Instead, I think

service workers should be taught

assertiveness and that the customer

is, nine times out of ten, wrong. Go

to anywhere on the continent and I

assure you, this is how they work.

Next time you go to France or

wherever – where people aren’t

fat and their coffee is delicious –

count the number of times a waiter

corrects you and advises you to have

something else. They look down on

you, and rightly so. Trust me, you have

no idea what you’re doing; you’re an

idiot. You don’t know what you want.

How could you possibly know what

you want? They do this day in, day

out, they know their stuff, and for

£6.20 an hour you better shut up and

listen, because it will be the best value

advice you ever get.

What’s more, these poor workers

then have to deal with the Trip Advisor

reviews that you dump online, like

you’re some kind of fully-fledged critic.

You’re not. You think a cappuccino

should have three inches of foam

and that scrambled eggs should be

cooked with milk. You’re an arrogant

prick who thinks they know how things

should be. You don’t, trust me. In

what other profession are you rated

in such a way? Imagine

receiving a negative review

from someone who knows

nothing about your industry,

posted publicly about you

after you had one duff day

at work. Every subsequent

day would be a struggle

loaded with fake smiles and

empty “sorry”s. It’s like some

dystopian nightmare, and I’m

pretty sure there’s an episode of

Black Mirror that imagines such a

reality, and yet the woman who makes

your coffee every morning is living

exactly that.

Next time someone serving you

asks you your name to write on a

coffee cup, smiling the whole time

while simultaneously rushing around

because it’s 8:30 am and they’re busy

with the morning rush, just do as

you’re told. Don’t ask questions like

“why do you need my name” or try

and make any witty remarks. Just look

at how busy they are. It’s frantic, isn’t

it? Do you think your jokes are going

to make things easier? Really? Do you

think trying to make friends with the

waiter with some god awful racist joke

is going to be the highlight of their

day? Who do you think you are?

To the service industry workers

of the world – baristas, bartenders,

waiters, carers, nurses – you’re fucking

fantastic. You put up with more

nonsense than almost anyone else.

Don’t feel like you have to smile all

the time, because you don’t. You know

best, you know your stuff. Just make

sure your customers know that too.






It’s a beer school with a world-class difference


When it comes to raising the bar of beer

knowledge, we’re passionate about

championing the craft and specialty for

fans and professionals alike.

You’ll be offered an in-depth education

in craft beer, delivered by professionals

who will train you for the first two levels

of the highly acclaimed Cicerone®

Certifications - the industry standard

which recognises those with the best

beer knowledge.

WORDS: Mark Dredge

BPET level 1 has 16 hours of teaching

where you will be prepared for the

Cicerone Certified Beer Server exam.

You will taste 24 different beers, cover

40 styles and learn about keeping

and serving beer as well being able to

confidently describe the flavour profile of

any beer in an accessible way.

BPET level 2 will be launched next

year and is an in depth training covering

all aspects of beer, from brewing and

ingredients to draught systems, food

pairing, off-flavours and all 70 styles

of beer in the Certified Cicerone®

syllabus. 40 hours of expert tuition will

help prepare for the exam that sets the

standard for beer professionals.

These courses tackle essential

information, for example teaching the best

way to pour beer. Best practice technique

ensures correct level of foam so beer

aroma and flavour can be enjoyed, while

ensuring the absolute minimum amount

of waste and the customer getting the

quality of pint they deserve! We also train

students how to describe flavours so that

general terms like ‘hoppy’ or ‘malty’ are

avoided and accurate descriptors that can

really describe a beer are used.

These classes were developed by three

stand-out beer professionals. Two of only

13 Master Cicerones® Mirella Amato (also

a Doemens® Beer Sommelier) and Rich

Higgins, as well as the only Advanced

Cicerone in the UK & Beer Academy®

Beer Sommelier Jonny Tyson have

pooled their wealth of industry experience

in designing the BPET program.

“Our goal is to bring knowledge to both

beer fans and professionals, attracting

new consumers to craft and specialty

These courses have been launched in partnership with the

leading wine and spirits educators in the UK – Local Wine

Schools, with locations across the UK.

For more information please go to www.bpet.beer

beer. It makes sense for enthusiasts and

the hospitality industry alike to explore

beer education so that they can embrace

the wider world of craft beer. Bars

and pubs will benefit from giving their

customers a superior experience and

enthusiasts can make better and more

informed choices on their beer journey”

Jonny Tyson- Advanced Cicerone ,

BPET educator and course co-creator.


JAMES TOLAN - “It has been a really fun and enjoyable way of gaining

some in-depth knowledge about lots of aspects of beer. I’ve come out

feeling more informed and more engaged when drinking and serving beer.”

NICOLA BROWN - “It has been hugely helpful for my job, I manage a

bar so learning about different beer styles has been great.”

This is about New England IPAs.

Those beers which look and taste

like boozy juice. Smooth, cloudy,

sometimes strong, always fruity, and

the must-brew thing in craft beer right


I’m irrevocably drawn to them. I can’t

stop buying them. But I hate myself for

ordering them, for not being able to not

order them, for the constant thought

that ‘maybe this next one will be great,’

when usually, for me, it isn’t. I seem to

be stuck on the tropical gravy train and

I can’t get off.

I’ve chased after the freshest ones.

I’m still chasing them. I’ve gone out of

my way and out of my budget to get

them. I’ve been around New England

and around too many old English

industrial estates. I’ve sought out the

local ones and the latest releases. I’ve

had them as fresh as possible. I’ve had

some great ones, for sure, but I’ve had

too many drain pours that I couldn’t

finish. Raw alcohol. Hop soup. Soapy

and sickly. Unbalanced, unrefreshing

and underwhelming. ‘Troubled by Trub’

is the title of this chapter of my beer


Those drain pours? Some were only

a week old. A week old?! Drink them

fresh, I thought. Turns out that was too

fresh. Unbelievable, really. All those

fruity, flowery hops hadn’t ripened

yet, hadn’t budded, hadn’t bloomin

bloomed. Are we at a place where we

need to sell beer to ripen at home? Buy

it and drink it as fresh as possible, they

say, just not too fresh.

But how do you know when they’re

fresh enough? When they’ve hit their

best freshness? What if it was better

yesterday, or what if I’d have waited

another day or week or month? Or

what if it never even gets fresh? I see

these beers on Instagram, see the

glasses of thick orange and I think

they look amazing, I think they look

like a very particular juicy taste and

texture, a taste and texture which




Are we at a place where

we need to sell beer to

ripen at home?

I can vicariously taste. I see the hyperbole,

the Insta excitement, the “damn this juice

is fresh,” so I don’t know if I’m doing it right

because most of mine don’t taste how I think

they should. Maybe I need to pour the beer to

the top of the glass without any foam to taste

it properly. Maybe it’s just that I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s everyone else who doesn’t get it

and are just jumping on the hazy hype wagon

and loving it by default. How are we all meant

to know what’s right anymore?

That finite freshness thing with NE IPAs is

the complete opposite of where IPAs began.

India Pale Ale was robust. A Victorian liquid

of industrial grandeur that was built to last –

built to improve. It was so robust that it had

to mellow; you couldn’t drink it fresh. Brew

it, put it in a barrel, roll it across the equator

twice, through waves and wild temperature

extremes, as months passed before it was

bottled on arrival and sent to the Generals.

Yes, sir, it’s ready now. Fresh (relatively

speaking) from Burton-on-Trent.

That was a very different beer, of course,

from a very different time, and part of IPA’s

great appeal is how it’s been evolving for

three centuries, but these NE IPAs feel like a

novelty devolution.

Originally robust then more recently IPA

was a brutal alpha acid attack brewed to the

extremities of tanks and tastebuds. Palate

Wrecker. Hopocalypse. Hop Venom. Hardcore.

Ruination. It was an ever-upward trajectory of

angry bitterness. I Beat U with hops.

Now the beers are called lovely names like

Chubbles, Juicy Bits, Comfy Pants, Covered in

Puppies. IPA has got somehow wimpier, softer,

gentler, yet also fearsomely stronger. Most of

these beers are being laced into the eights for

ABV. Many are going higher. And as the ABV

goes up, the bitterness is going the other way.

And it’s all for aroma. Which is fine with me

because I love the smell of all the world’s fruit

smoothied into a glass of beer. Love it. And

that’s the reason I’m going back for the hazy

juice again and again: the aroma and the hope

that the abundant fruitiness will be freshly

squeezed through the brew.

But the aroma is so volatile; it’s fleeting,

unstable and delicate for such a mighty

beer, meaning one day it could be there and

another it might be gone. And it comes with

another issue: the aroma is often hiding things.

Bad things. Especially so in the bad brews

with the tell-tale signs of immaturity, like

butter, solventy alcohol and

unwelcome esters. Those

Chubbles Chaser copies of

NE IPAs have approximated

the best ones, have shot for

smoothness but got into a

sticky mess; they’re murky

with yeast, doughy with

sweetness, chewy with plant

matter, they’ve gone savoury

instead of juicy; it’s a raw onion salad instead

of a tropical fruit smoothie.

And we’re now chasing a new brew every

week. It’s a new stress on the industry, on the

drinker with the FOMO and on the shops and

bars trying to get the freshest beers and the

latest releases. It’s impossible to keep up with

all the DDH DIPA-ing going on. Then there’s

the beer with the two-week best-before date.

Or the ones sold as a pair where you have to

try both (at £15 including packing, postage

and posturing). Or the superstar brewers

collabing to all brew variations on the exact

same beers. The need to catch them all is

a game-like immaturity; a level-up for the

Untappd generation, a double-tap for the

InstaBeer Hunters.

It’s impossible to keep

up with all the DDH

DIPA-ing going on.

I understand it all, and I get the new brew

enthusiasm, but I find it hard to reconcile

it with any kind of sensible, sustainable

behaviour in a maturing beer industry.

Simultaneously I find it exciting that there’s

great interest in beer like this. It might be a

crazy-tasting kind of beer but it’s also a crowdpleasing

kind of beer, a style that’s converting

drinkers over to beer. The obviousness of

the flavours, the fullness in the texture, the

smoothness, the hidden wallop of booze, the

way they look like juice and don’t taste like

beer-flavoured beer; it’s somehow now more

accessible than a bitter, bright pale ale.

I do love the best IPAs of New England.

The beautiful balance and impact of the

beers from Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist,

Maine Beer Co, Bissell Bros, and more, can

be remarkably good. But I

hate how those great ones

have been trend-chased into

undrinkable wannabees,

souped into buttery haze

gravy, which many drinkers

seemingly love without

questioning why.

And I still can’t stop

drinking them myself. I’m

drinking one right now, for goodness sake.

I’ve got three in my fridge. I’m angry at myself

for love-hating them. But I know there are

exceptional versions because I’ve had them.

And when they’re good they’re oh-my-godthat’s-so-damn-good

good and I want to

drink them forever. Fresh, vibrant and tangy

like tropical fruit, they’re smooth, soft and

satisfying with a fullness that plumps the

juiciness before a refreshing finish. That’s

the beer I crave after. That’s what I imagine

whenever I see photos of these beers. Maybe

I’ll never get a beer that tastes how I imagine

it will or how I hope it might. Maybe its

elusiveness is what makes me go back for

more and more. Maybe the next one will be








Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey have been blogging about beer at

boakandbailey.com since 2007. They also write articles for various

magazines and websites including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA),

the Brewery History Society and the Guardian. Their first awardwinning

book, Brew Britannia, was much acclaimed. In 2014 they won

the British Beer Writer of the Year award and in 2016 they were named

Fortnum & Mason Online Drinks Writers of the Year.







OF 2017

WORDS: David Harris


2018. Ed. ROGER

PROTZ. Camra. £15.99

This is the 45th edition

of this indispensable

guide for Real Ale

enthusiasts. The guide

lists over 4,500 of the

best pubs in the UK for

Real Ale. There is also

a comprehensive listing

of all 1,700 breweries in

the UK. The sole criteria

for entry is the quality

of the real ale served in

the pubs. All entries are

vetted by local CAMRA

branches. The guide has

a bit of an urban bias.

Interest in craft beer has never been

greater than it is today. We have over

1700 breweries in the UK and the

worldwide total must be approaching

20,000. So much choice, so many styles

of beer, but how do you best go about

appreciating beers? One way is to read

up on the subject and there is now a large

selection of beer books on the market.

The founding father of British beer

writing was the late journalist Michael

Jackson (1942 – 2007) who started

the whole thing off in 1977 with his

World Guide to Beer. This pioneering

publication is often claimed to have

influenced many brewers who became

aware of the myriad of indigenous styles

that were brewed in different countries.

Rather like the craft beer revolution, the

growth of beer writing was slow to take

off but in recent years we have seen a

steady stream of new books aimed at

educating the beer lover. Here is my

selection of some of the more interesting

and useful beer books which have been

published over the last year.


BROWN. Unbound. £16.99

Pete Brown is one of Britain’s

leading beer writers and a

contributor to Ferment. He has

written many book on pubs, beer

and cider. This book devotes

a lengthy chapter to each

ingredient of beer: water, barley,

hops and yeast and explains how

each one is critical in the making

of beer. It is a very well written

and informative book.

GOOD PUB GUIDE 2018. Ed. FIONA STAPLEY. Ebury. £15.99

This annual, which is now in its 36th edition, features 5,000 of

Britain’s 50,000 pubs. All entries are recommended by readers and

then inspected by the publication. The guide aims at pubs which

offer an all-round quality experience for beer, other drinks, food

and ambience. Country pubs seemed to be widely featured.




MURRAY. Duncan

Petersen. £14.99

This is a new entry

in the world of pub

guides in that it lists

the 200 new micropubs

that have opened in

the last 10 years. A

micropub is a small,

independently owned,

one room pub serving

real ale. Micropubs

don’t offer food, TV

or music and are often

found in former retail

premises in towns.

Micropubs are not

evenly distributed

across the UK but

there are several in

Kent, East Midlands

and the North East.




Hardie Grant. £10.

Melissa is another

regular contributor

to Ferment and this is

her second beer book.

This is a pocket-sized

guide to the 12 main

As the huge interest in craft beer continues, this book delves

into the various guises of the English pub throughout the

20th century: from early working pubs, 1930s moderne

and mock-Tudor roadside taverns to 1960s theme pubs,

micropubs and community pubs. The pair’s inimitable and

entertaining writing style – responsible for making their

beer blog so popular – engages the reader immediately.

Now that the very existence of the pub is under threat, this

much-loved institution is examined and celebrated by these

two award-winning drinks writers – who met in a pub.

categories of beer

including lagers, heavily

Tells the story of the pub and its role in English life during

hopped beers, the 20th century dark

by means of evocative oral history,

interviews and historic documents.

beers and so on. The

Meticulously researched, engagingly written and

highly informative, this is a definitive social history

of a particularly English phenomenon.

A black-and-white plate section illustrates the

book contains evolution in-depth

of the pub over the last 100 years.

reviews of over 70

selected beers from all

over the world.

F facebook.com/boakandbailey

T @boakandbailey


20th century

From Beer House

to Booze Bunker


Fortnum & Mason Online Drinks Writers of the Year 2016



RAEDMAEKER. Lannoo (Belgium) £45

If you are looking for something really

special that will give much pleasure then

I can really recommend this sumptuous

book. It is a large format, beautifully

illustrated 700 page hardback covering

everything you could want to know

about Belgian beer. In Belgium the

tradition of making local craft beers never died out and the

country boasts a huge range of fascinating beers. This book

gives you the complete history of Belgian brewing together with

detailed guides to each style and many recommendations. There

is also a useful section on Belgian breweries which is essential for

anyone contemplating a holiday in Belgium.




Have you ever wondered why so many pubs have closed in recent

years? Why do pubs vary so much in their standards? This book

really lifts the lid on the licensed trade and debunks many of the

myths about pub closures. Steve has spent most of his working life

in the licenced trade and writes with great conviction and insight.

If you are at all interested in pubs then this book will provide a

most rewarding read.


Homewood. £16.99

Boak and Bailey are two of Britain’s best known beer bloggers

(boakandbailey.com). Their first book, Brew Britannia (2014)

was a comprehensive account of the history of the British beer

industry over the last 60 years. Their latest book is a social

history of the pub over the last 100 years. Estate pubs, Roadside

taverns, 1960s bierkellers, Irish themed pubs and much more

are discussed in this well researched yet entertaining book.


SANDHAM. Jacqui Small. £25

This volume follows the path begun by Michael Jackson

over 40 years ago by taking us on a tour of beer producing

nations. The authors also regularly tour the UK with their

Thinking Drinkers show. The format of the book is to

have brief reviews of beers from as many different craft

breweries as is possible. There are longer articles about

key breweries. The main countries covered include: UK,

Belgium, Germany, Czech

Republic and the USA.


Beer52. £12.99

This concise and energetic primer by one of the UK’s

best current beer writers

gives a very entertaining and

readable account of craft beer;

its history, values and – of

course – a crash course in the

beers themselves. Distributed

for free to Beer52’s Master

Taster members, The Story of

Craft Beer is fun, attractive

and informative, and offers

something to the newbie and

the aficionado alike.

The Story of

Craft Beer


WORDS: Matt Curtis

Taprooms have quickly become

synonymous with the modern

beer revolution – there’s no

better place to enjoy your beer than

directly from the source after all. As

a result there are very few modern

breweries that don’t open their doors to

drinkers, even if it’s just for a few hours

at the weekend. However, as brewery

culture continues to develop, taprooms

are starting to look increasingly like

pubs and bars, with longer opening

hours, a regular food offering plus

events and live music. Should we be

worried that this developing trend is a

threat to the more traditional boozer?

I recently spoke to Kevin Bolin,

proprietor of a specialist beer bar

called The Mayor of Old Town in Fort

Collins, Colorado. Fort Collins is a

relatively small town with a population

of around 165,000, yet it’s home to

22 breweries – that’s one brewery for

every 7500 people – which might not

seem a lot until you realise that two

of those breweries, Odell and New

Belgium, are among the 50 largest

craft breweries in the United States.

To put it in more concrete terms: with

107 breweries (at the time of going to

print) London has one brewery for

approximately every 82000 people.

Fort Collins is a perfect example

of a micro market that has become


Bolin expressed concerns about how

taprooms were starting to look, feel and

act more like bars and, despite his own

bar performing well, he feared that this

behaviour could lead to the closure

Are brewery taprooms the future

of pubs, or do they pose a genuine

threat to the business of established

drinking dens?

of bars and breweries alike. He also

didn’t hide his feelings about some of

the breweries that choose to compete

with, as opposed to support, the local

on-trade market, either.

“Taprooms were never supposed to

be bars, but somehow they’ve morphed

into that,” he said, bluntly. “If they’re

going to compete at our level, then I’m

not going to carry their product.”


The good news is that the UK is not

experiencing this breed of animosity

on the same scale – at least not yet.

America is now home to around 6000

breweries of varying sizes, from the

national, to the regional and the hyperlocal.

Here in the UK, figures suggest

there are currently around 1700

operating breweries, with potentially

another 500 licenced but not currently

producing any beer. British breweries,

especially the ones that have

established themselves within the last

ten years, are chasing the tail of the US

market though, and our version of the

taproom experience is starting to look

a lot more like the one across the pond

as a result.

It is important to recognise the

significance of brewery taprooms

and the positive effect they’ve had

on the market. My colleague James

Beeson did so in this very magazine

recently, effectively demonstrating how

brewery direct sales and taprooms

are helping to drive the industry

forward. This experience ties directly

into the farm-to-table movement, in

which consumers are increasingly

seeking products and experiences that

link directly with the manufacturer.

Provenance is everything these days

and through a taproom a brewery can

offer this, or at least the perception of

it, in spades.

Bermondsey, in South London, not

far from the famous Tower Bridge and

popular Maltby Street food market,

was one of the first areas in London

to experience the taproom boom. It

was led by The Kernel, which was

gradually joined by others, including

but not limited to Brew by Numbers,

Fourpure, Partizan and Anspach &

Hobday. When it began, running only

on Saturdays from around 11am until

5pm, it was only the premise of the

early adopters – the beer geeks. Once it

earned the moniker “The Bermondsey

Beer Mile” however, it made the papers

and suddenly became a great deal


No longer was it just a hangout for

the well-informed elite but everyday

folks came in their droves – including

brasher groups such as stag parties, for

example. This turned off many of the

early adopters, who went and sought

pastures new as they are want to do

in these situations. For The Kernel,

the crowds eventually became too

much, with the brewery shutting its

taproom doors, except for a few hours

on Saturday morning to sell bottles

for consumption off the premises only.

Many saw this as a negative, but it was

a sign of the success of the taproom

and most in the area now remain open

for longer hours and on Friday nights

and Sunday afternoons too.

One factor that might not have been

considered though is the impact this




boom might have had on the local pub

trade. Floris de Graaf, who originally

hails from The Netherlands, manages

the tasting room at Brew by Numbers.

He doesn’t feel that its own taproom is

having a negative impact on the local

pub trade.

“I don’t think the popularity of

brewery taprooms is influencing pubs,

at least not in this part of the world,”

de Graaf says. “I believe pubs and

taprooms are two different things

and people visit either for a different


He continues: “At pubs people will

have more choice and generally more

variety. [However] in The Netherlands

95% of brewery taprooms consistently

sell guest beer, with about half of their

lines pouring these. I can see how

this could influence local pub sales,

because the taprooms are usually

selling it for a lower price.”

Price is always an important factor

for consumers. However, price and

value are often very different things

and many a beer lover can certainly

appreciate the added value in a great

beer, or drinking in a great pub. As

a result, consumers of craft beer

are often willing to pay much more

than what is currently considered

“normal” for beer. Despite this, with

increasing competition from other

bars and breweries, especially within

metropolitan areas, these businesses

increasingly have to compete on price

to win trade. Breweries selling product

direct have the choice of matching

bars and making increased margins, or

taking advantage of direct sales to sell

at a vastly discounted price.

Businesses increasingly

have to compete on

price to win trade

Sienna O’Rourke has seen both sides

of the coin. In London she’s managed

both BrewDog’s Shoreditch bar and

Mason & Company, the Hackney Wick

establishment that’s a sister business

to The Five Points Brewing Company.

Recently she moved to the brewing

side of the trade and heads up sales at

Pressure Drop Brewing, which recently

moved to Tottenham as part of an

expansion. Here, she also heads up

managing the taproom, which opens on

Saturdays and shares the same trading

estate as Beavertown, giving them

access to an already sizeable crowd

of punters. I was curious to see how

her experience in running bars might

influence the way Pressure Drop’s

taproom interacts with the local on


“People love to make connections

with the breweries whose beer they

drink,” she says. “By opening up to the

public we get to provide that personal

experience that you remember the

next time you’re at a pub and see our

beer on tap. The other advantage of

our taproom is that we are able to

invite our trade customers down and

actually have a nice space where we

can do staff training and tastings.”


It’s been a rough few years for

traditional “wet-led” pubs – those that

rely on the sale of alcoholic drinks

as the bulk of their trade. According

to figures from CAMRA, around 21

pubs close each week on average, and

that’s net, so includes new openings.

The good news is that figure is down

from an average of 29 closures a week.

However, the most damning figure of

all is that since the year 2000, the UK

has lost over 10,000 pubs.

It could be argued that these pubs

have simply failed to modernise. The

rise of the gastropub in the late 90’s

and early 2000’s is an example of

pubs evolving to meet the needs of

a changing market by putting a food

offering, instead of drink, at the centre

Since the year 2000,

the UK has lost over

10,000 pubs

of the table. There is still a huge

demand for drink though, and the

increase of breweries – and with many

of them an accompanying taproom – is

testament to this. According to the

British Beer and Pub Association,

the number of licensed breweries

or brewing businesses in the UK

increased by 1750 between 2000 and


As with O’Rourke, Bruce Gray is

another industry veteran who has

dipped his toes in the waters of both

the pub and brewery trade. With

Smallbar he’s brought a great craft

beer bar to the streets of both Bristol

and Cardiff and with Left Handed

Giant he’s making waves as one of the

most exciting young breweries in the

country. I asked Gray if he felt that

pubs and bars had the right to feel a

potential threat to their own business

in the wake of more taprooms opening.

“If a bar is feeling threatened by a

tap room I’d suggest that they probably

feel threatened by the perceived

competition from any new opening,”

he answers. “I feel that too many

bars get lazy with both their beer

offering and their purchasing. This isn’t

everyone though, and the ones that

don’t are quite rightly recognised as

being great places to access great beer

and I’d suggest don’t in any way feel

threatened by taprooms.”

Gray then hammers his point home:

“If a premises has a switched on and

motivated team who are given the

freedom to search the market for great

independent product, who are given

the training and support to be excited

and engaging behind the bar, then



the chances are that regardless of

proximity to taprooms, that place will

be successful.”

I was also interested to get some

perspective from a pub too, so where

better I thought, than to head to my

local and get their opinion. Marcella

Pascale manages operations at The

Duke’s Head in Highgate (who, full

disclosure, I occasionally run events

with). Pascale is an avid fan of the beer

scene herself, and The Duke’s Head

only stocks beer from independent

British breweries.

“I don’t think taprooms are affecting

[The Duke’s Head] in any particular

way,” Pascale says. “Taproom opening

hours and food and drink offerings are

still quite limited and they’re mostly

located in areas not easily reachable,

especially at night – also, their price

range isn’t actually cheaper than

regular pubs. They can push their

profit margins up as people going to

taprooms are mostly willing to pay

more money for special craft beer,

while the regular random customer

base of a pub is expecting to pay a

different price.”

While saturation might be at the

point of causing conflict in the far

busier US beer market there is a shred

of evidence that the same could be

gradually starting to happen here in

the UK. However, it still seems that

these incidents are in the minority and

that most pubs, bars and breweries

have a harmonious, mutually beneficial


In order for both the UK brewing and

Taproom opening hours and

food and drink offerings

are still quite limited

pub industry to survive and to thrive

it could be worth it taking stock of the

US market though. We’re only a small

island, so any resulting similar conflicts

could quickly send ruptures through our

beer industry. Ultimately however, it’s

the consumer and not breweries, bars

or pubs that will dictate what happens

in the end, at least according to Left

Handed Giant’s Bruce Gray, that is.

“Pubs are still the majority here and

as such the UK based scene is currently

seeing and is going to continue to

see a massive amount of closures and

redevelopment. Will taprooms force

this? No, consumer demand will and

that will be led by the rise and rise

of the independent beer scene over

the last 10 years. New world class

breweries, new world-class bars, and

now new world-class taprooms – these

are all just layers in an integrated beer

scene, which is helping to reshape the

UK drinking habits but also the venues

in which we are enjoying beer.”

Big, brash, bitter, dry and aromatic, the west coast IPA ale is as

much a philosophy as it is a distinct style. With its roots firmly

in the traditional India pale ale and American IPA, the west

coast IPA is characterised by the inclusion of powerful whole-cone

American hops – notably Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Chinook

– and techniques such as dry-hopping and hop-bursting to give layers

of complex bitterness and tropical fruit and floral notes, not always

balanced by a strong malt presence.

Though it’s a strongly contested title, San Francisco brewery Anchor

Steam’s Liberty Ale – launched way back in 1975 – probably has the best

claim to being the original American pale ale. This was followed five

years later by Sierra Nevada and then by Blind Pig Brewery’s Blind

Pig Inaugural Ale.

The original American pale ales struck a pretty even balance

between malt and hops. As these morphed into strong, hoppy IPA,

subsequent entrants to this crowded category have lent ever more

heavily on that side of the scales.

The arms race for ever-stronger hop character began in earnest

in San Diego in the mid-1990s, with Stone and Ballast Point

harnessing new techniques to create high-alcohol, resinous,

extremely hoppy IPAs. Love it or hate it, the west coast style has

followed the ‘craft beer’ movement as it has spread around the

world, becoming the signature of our hop-obsessed beer culture.



When I found out this month was about California, I instantly

thought of street food. I’ve only been to LA myself and, as much as

I loved dining at chic places like Ink and so on, there’s something

really special about the street food you find in LA, in all shapes and

forms. Italian cuisine is huge there, so is Mexican obviously. And it’s

also a hot spot for some of the best Japanese I’ve ever had. It was

hard to make a decision.

Octopus taco is one of my ultimate favourites, so I wanted to share

that one with you. Sandwiches are probably one of my favourite

foods also, so it came naturally to include this in a street food issue.

As for the churros, I had never made them before so I was up for

testing it out and I absolutely love them. Enjoy!

Making the perfect octopus taco is actually a lot easier than you’d

think. The key steps are the tortilla (choosing the right flour: Masa

Harina) and poaching the octopus, but don’t be intimidated buy such a

creature. All it needs is time – about an hour of slow poaching for every

kilo of octopus.

FOR THE TORTILLA: Measure 250g of Masa Harina, 5g of salt and 15g

of squid ink into a large glass bowl. Add 250ml of warm water (around

45˚C) to the flour mix and bring the dough together into a tight ball.

It should be firm but a little brittle. You can manipulate it right away or

store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you are using a tortilla press,

make sure to cover it with cling film or parchment paper on each

side, as the dough gets sticky when flattened. They should be about

1-2mm thin. Cook on a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat for about

one minute on each side. Remember to brush the pan with oil before

cooking each tortilla.

POACHED OCTOPUS: Heat some oil into a large pot and lightly sear

one chopped bulb of fennel, five cloves of garlic and a few pinches of

salt for five minutes. Fill the pot with water, add one quartered orange,

a few bay leaves, more salt, crushed peppercorns and simmer for 30

minutes. Turn the heat off, let the water drop down to roughly 50˚C

and drop the octopus in. Bring back to a simmer and keep at a very

gentle heat (around 90˚C) throughout the entire cooking time. When

it’s ready, the skin is falling apart and the entire flesh has become super

soft. Slice it and store it up to three days.

AVOCADO: The flesh of two cold avocados, a pinch of salt, cayenne

pepper, lime zest, lime juice and olive oil to taste. Blend it with a hand

blender if you want it super smooth.

GARNISHES: Chopped tomatoes, fresh chilli, coriander, dried mango,

lettuce, smoked sour cream, fried garlic.… go for it.

Perfecting this type of bun is not easy.

Probably one of the more complex

recipes this month (for those who can’t be

bothered – buy a good burger bun from

your supermarket) but for the foodie freaks

out there, we’re making a fluffy white roll

which has the perfect shape for this kind of

sandwich. Unlike a classic burger bun where

the pulled meat tends to run out from all

sides pretty quickly – this one promises the

perfect ratio of bun/meat/sauce with every


FOR THE BUN: I like to use half of Doppio

Zero (Italian pasta flour, type OO), half strong

bread flour. Measure together 250g of each

flour, 40g of potato flour (helps retain some

of the moisture), 50g of sugar, 10g of salt and

mix well. Heat 300ml of milk and let it cool

down to room temperature. Add the yeast

to the milk, and the milk to the flour mix.

Knead well for 30minutes by hand, or use a

stand mixer if you have one. Cover, double in

size. Shape, rise, brush with egg and cook at

160˚C for 45 minutes. It is best to use steam

when making bread, and with buns it helps

get a good raise as well as improving the

texture of the crust. Place a baking tray on

the bottom rack and fill it will water to create

a moist cloud around the buns while cooking.

Release the steam 10-15 minutes before the

end. Brush the crust generously with butter.

BBQ PORK: 1kg of pork shoulder, 1tsp of

mustard powder, 1tsp of paprika, 2tbsp of

Worcester sauce, 1tsp cayenne, 1tbsp brown

sugar, 1tsp garlic powder and salt to taste.

Cut the pork in big chunks, rub all ingredients

and let it come to room temperature over an

hour or so.

Heat some oil in a Dutch oven and sear the

pieces of pork for a few minutes until brown.

Add 500ml of BBQ sauce, 500ml of stock

and cover with foil, then with the lid. Cook in

the oven at 140˚C for five hours. Cool down

to room temperature, place in the fridge

over night. This last step is vital if you want

to separate the fat from the rest, which you

do, otherwise it’s just melted fat in a pot. The

next day the fat would have solidified. Scrape

it out, reserve the meat, and sieve the slightly

jellified broth; that becomes your BBQ sauce!

BBQ SAUCE: After straining, the BBQ sauce

may be a little thin depending on how much

water you used. You can reduce it in a pot on

high heat, and adjust the seasoning if needed.

GARNISHES: Pickles, deep-fried shallots,

parsley, chives, mustard…

I’ve looked at a lot of recipes for churros over this past month, and

I have to admit it’s a little trickier than I thought it would be, simply

because there is no ‘best recipe’ out there for making the perfect

churros. But I’ve cracked the code for you. There seems to be two

types of recipes out there: those with eggs (which makes a fluffy

churros that can lose its shape when dropped in the hot oil) and

those without eggs. The latter makes a more ‘doughy’ and crunchy

churros, which crisps perfectly when frying since it keeps its star shape

while frying and allows for proper crunchy corners. It’s my favourite

personally, but feel free to add eggs and experiment yourselves.

CHURROS DOUGH: Sieve 500g of low-protein flour (or plain

flour) into a bowl. In a small pot, measure 500g of water, 50g brown

sugar, 12g of salt, vanilla extract, 10g of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of

cinnamon. Heat the ingredients in the small pot until boiling, and pour

gradually over the flour. Bring the dough together and place into a

piping bag. Deep fry in hot oil for approximately five minutes.


1. Use warm water, the point is to cook the flour before deep frying it.

2. Sieve the flour – it will absorb more water and won’t lump.

3. Use low-protein plain flour – look for something around 10% protein

on the label of the packet.

4. Don’t knead it too much to avoid excessive gluten formation. Once

you’ve added the warm water to it, just bring it together and mix it a

couple times but don’t overwork it.

5. Use a strong piping bag. The dough is robust; you need to apply

pressure when squeezing the mix out. Plastic piping bags break easily.

6. Fry in very hot oil – around 180 to 190˚C. Don’t cook on a low

temperature, as it will ruin the dough.

OLIVE OIL CHOCOLATE: In a double boiler (or bain marie) melt 120g

of dark chocolate. Take off the heat and gradually add 120g of warm

milk, making sure a strong emulsion is made. Whisk in 60g of good

quality olive oil. Serve hot or cold.




WORDS: James Brown

PHOTOS: Richard Croasdale

Freshly back (so to speak) from our

Beer52 collaboration voyage on the

beautiful Isle of Eriska, a private island

on the west coast of Scotland, where I had

the enormous pleasure of spending a couple

of days designing locally inspired beer

recipes some our favorite brewers including

Pat (Pilot), Chris (Partizan) and Pete (Forest

Road), I felt it was the perfect time to use

some of what I’d learned up on the trip from

these incredibly talented brewers and try

putting into action on our very own

Grainfather homebrewing

setup back in



There was one thing in particular that

I wanted to explore first-hand in this

month’s homebrew: the addition of

hops during active yeast fermentation

While there was an barrel-load of knowledge

I soaked up from the brewers as they designed

the beers, there was one thing in particular

that I wanted to explore first-hand in this

month’s homebrew: the addition of hops

during active yeast fermentation, which is

said to result in the biotransformation of hop

compounds by the yeast and dramatically

alter the hop profile of the beer. In other

words, a beer packed full of hop oils during

active yeast fermentation might taste, smell

and look completely different from the same

beer which is only dry-hopped after the yeast

has finished doing its thing.

This technique was used by Pat, head

brewer and co-founder at Pilot for the NEIPA

which is coming up in next month’s exclusive

Beer52 collaboration box.

So, fascinated at prospect of giving this a go

with our very own office ‘head brewer’ Rich,

we enlisted the help of Theo at the Brewstore

to set about creating a recipe for a lowbitterness,

juicy IPA that might lend itself well

to this experimental hopping technique.

We started off in the customary fashion, as

Rich announced, “it’s time to put the kettle

on”; 15L water for the malt build and two cups

of tea for us to enjoy during the brew. We

filled the Grainfather up with water and set

the heat intentionally higher than our target

temperature of 67°C to allow for the slight

cooling that happens naturally as we add the


With the water sitting nicely at 70°C, we

began to add the malt, which was made up

of flaked oats, wheat and pale malt. The trick

here is to add them slowly and steadily with

a good, strong, constant stir to avoid the malt

sticking together and creating little clumps

which would be harder to break down and

release those all important sugars we’re

looking for.

Malts fully loaded our mash was ready, I set

the timer 60 minutes and that all important

PUMP button was pressed, which means

the water would be continuously circulated

through to get maximum efficiency (sugars)

out of the malt and into the wort.

Next up, it was the classic ‘sparge’ action

as we lifted the inner container and sat it on

top of the Grainfather, pouring through the

leftover malts another 11L litres of water (a

mixture of warm and cold to average out at

our target 67°C). Then we add our bittering

hops, a modest 10g Simcoe at 60 minutes

followed by another 10g Simcoe at 30 minutes

to achieve a low IBU IPA recipe that we will

load up with hops later. After the boil is done

we cool it down and transfer the liquid into

two carboys via our makeshift cold crash,

circulating the wort through a clean coil

surround by bucket of ice then let it settle

overnight and pitch our yeast, White Labs’

WLP060 American Ale, the next morning.

On day one of fermentation, the colour

of the liquid resembles something more

similar to a lentil soup than an IPA, but as

the yeast takes hold and does its work, the

beer brightens up to a lovely yellow/orangey

haze. For the final three days of active

fermentation, I add hops (Simcoe, Amarillo,

Cascade and Centennial) to the carboy,

which would be used to experiment with our

biotransformation, and left the other carboy

fermenting away as normal.

Once fermentation is complete (the beers

weighed in at 6.2% ABV) we dry hop both

recipes with Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial

for a further four days then bottled them with

secondary fermentation, which will be ready

for sampling in two weeks’ time.

Stay tuned. We’ll let you know how it turns

out in the next issue.




Beer52 subscriber’s best beers

Your notes on our Indy Man Beer Con box!


Buxton Brewery


Buxton Brewery

ABV: 8%

Style: DIPA

ABV: 5.2%

Style: Blond Ale

Big fruit nose and sweet mango with a big

dry mouth full of hops to finish - oh and

then there's the alcohol - definitely one

to savour.



Unbelievable! Wouldn't know it was 8%.

I could have happily drank a few more

of these while watching GOT.


Light straw colour, very hazy, small head and very nice hoppy

smell. Strong hops and no alcohol can be felt, it is also quite

bitter. Quite a mouthful. I like it, it's nice.


When I needed a hoppy beer, this delivered.


Intensely charged from first sip to last with powerful hop

tones throughout. Absolutely delightful and fresh yet slightly

heavy that would be expected from a double IPA.

A real pleasure on the taste buds!


4.19 4.01

Very easy drinking pale ale with the

expected flavours of grapefruit and

citrus. Not too bitter which gives you a

chance to have more than one



Love the bear on the bottle. This is

hoppier than I remember and impressively so

for the ABV - tastes like a much stronger beer.


Despite not being a fan of citrus in my beer I rather enjoyed

this one. I found it quite smooth and easy drinking but

packed full of well balanced flavours.


A different selection of hops that I hadn't had before - I will

be looking out for this in the wild for sure.


Zingy grapefruit immediately hits and then the bitterness of

orange peel. Nice


Review your favourite beers from this month’s Beer52 box, to

earn Taster points and see your name on this page!



Firestone Walker


ABV: 4.5%

Style: IPA


Firestone Walker


A different kind of IPA; one

brewed and dry hopped with a

globetrotting selection of new

hop varieties from Europe,

New Zealand and North

America. A beer that delivers

massive hop aromas and a

signature malt balance.

ABV: 5.9%

Style: IPA



Firestone Walker


Funny How Brothers settle things the old fashioned

way. Try brothers-in law. Who own a brewery

together. Adam (AKA The Bear) and David (AKA The

Lion) may battle, epically at times, but at least neither

ever forgets it’s for the epic love of beer.


Luponic distortion is one of head brewer Matt Brynildson's

favourite projects. Rather than sticking to the same old

recipe of bold and brassy US hops, he gets to change

things up with each new iteration of the beer, picking the

very best and most interesting varieties from each harvest.

ABV: 4.7%

Style: Blonde Ale


A light, refreshing blonde

ale created for the laid back

California lifestyle. Subtle malt

sweetness is balanced by a touch

of hops creating a versatile beer

with a clean finish. 4.7% ABV.




Firestone Walker




Wiens Brewing

ABV: 5.3%

Style: Hoppy Pilsner

ABV: 4.8%

Style: Saison-style Fruit Beer


Pivo Hoppy Pils is a classically rendered

pilsner with a West Coast dry-hopping

twist, showcasing stylistic influences

from Germany, Italy and the Czech

Republic. Lighter beer styles like

pilsner have been hijacked by industrial

lager beer in the United States, and it’s

time for craft brewers to take it back.

Pivo Hoppy Pils offers impeccable

balance with floral aromatics, spicy

herbal nuances, and bergamot zest and

lemongrass notes from dry hopping

with German Saphir hops.


Founded in 2012, Wiens Brewing

is a family-owned and operated

brewery. Committed to creating

the most amazing, high quality

Beers possible.


Juicy, bright, and a little tart. This saisonstyle

wheat haas been handcrafted to

be light and refreshing with notes of

stonefruit and a great dry finish.

pale 31

Firestone Walker




Stone Brewing

ABV: 4.9%

Style: California Pale Ale

ABV: 5.7%

Style: Pale Ale


Pale 31 is brewed to exemplify the classic

California pale ale style, hence the

name honoring the Golden State as the

31st state to be admitted to the Union.

Beautiful floral and citrus hop aromas

greet the nose with undertones of lightly

toasted malt. Crisp pale and crystal

malts offer a hint of sweetness. Subtle

hop bitterness offers a refreshing finish.

Perfect for a sunny day at the beach or

barbecue with friends, Pale 31 represents

the bold yet approachable spirit that

embodies our state.


Quite simply, Stone Brewing is

one of the most successful, most

respected craft breweries in

the world. And rightly so – since

founding in 1995, Stone has

mastered every style it's turned

its hand to, helping popularise the

big, tropical hop-forward ales we all

enjoy so much today.


When it came to creating this awesome golden

beer, Stone drew inspiration from the Pacific

Ocean surf cultures of Southern California and

Australia. We sourced Australian Galaxy hops (yes

– from Australia!) to give this beer a swell of fresh

grapefruit and passion fruit hoppiness.




Stone Brewing




Sierra Nevada

ABV: 4.7%

Style: Berlinner Weisse

ABV: 7.2%

Style: Extra IPA


Tartly refreshing, this kettlesoured

Berliner Weisse gained its

sour and acidic character from a

specially selected Lactobacillus

strain sourced from local Berlin

cultures. Hopped with new

German varieties, Huell Melon

and Callista.


Many claim to create trends

rather than follow them, but

few can do so with as much

credibility as Sierra Nevada. A

true global craft beer legend,

northern California's Sierra

Nevada has consistently

produced fantastic beers

(including many new styles)

over the decades and is a

household name across the

US and beyond.


The first beer to feature Sierra Nevada's “Hop Torpedo”

— a revolutionary dry-hopping device that controls how

much hop aroma is imparted into beer without adding

additional bitterness. Massive hop aromas of citrus, pine,

and tropical fruit.


Belching Beaver Brewery




Sierra Nevada


Don’t let the dark color fool you, this beer is

delightfully easy to drink with cascading aromas of

roasted peanuts, dark chocolate, and coffee. Troy

came up with the idea of combining Peanut Butter

with our Beaver’s Milk Stout and he nailed it.

ABV: 5.3%

Style: Milk Stout


Belching Beaver Brewery came

from a desire to make great

beer and have a 'Dam' (haha)

good time doing it. From the

Winking Milkman to El Castor de

Mariachi, you can see each Beaver

has its own individual style and

personality. With easy-drinking

Blondes, Triple IPAs, Milk Stouts,

Imperials Stouts as well as sours

and barrel-aged beers, there's

something for everyone.

ABV: 4.5%

Style: Gose-style Ale


On our search for the perfect warm

weather beer, we wanted something light

bodied and thirst quenching, yet filled

with complex and interesting flavours. We

stumbled across the fruit of the prickly

pear cactus, native to California. This tangy

fruit is a great complement to the tart and

refreshing traditional gose style beer. Otra

Vez combines prickly pear cactus with a

hint of grapefruit for a refreshing beer that

will have you calling for round after round.

Otra Vez!



Paul Jones, Cloudwater Brew Co.

WORDS: Fraser Doherty PICTURES: Mark Newton

On an unassuming industrial estate set

conveniently behind Manchester’s

Piccadilly train station, we stop by the

city’s most remarkable brewing success story

of recent years. Beer52 co-founder, Fraser,

catches up with this famously hop-forward,

seasonal pioneer about his latest collaborations

with breweries from across the US, how his

team have weathered the hype around their

explosively popular brand and how much

further they hope to push the envelope on

beer quality.

Arriving into a hive of activity, with a

collaboration with Lervig’s Mike Murphy in

full swing, Cloudwater’s head of logistics and

deliveries, Lucy Clarke offers me the first beer

of the day. Famed in particular for their hopforward

DIPAs, New England IPAs, double dryhopped

IPAs and Pale Ales, drinking fresh from

the brewery tap at a brewery like Cloudwater is

truly one of the privileges of the job.

On a quick tour of the brewery, Lucy

enthusiastically tells me what it’s been like to

work at a brewery that has grown in double and

triple digits since it was founded just over two

years ago. “Back then we were five people and

now we’re twenty-plus. We’re double brewing

every day, so at least ten brews a week”, she


Getting ready to open a nearby unit as a

barrel store and brewery tap, she explains

that once all the barrels and foeders have

been moved over there will soon be space to

swing a cat in this unit again. Despite all of this

incredible growth, this isn’t a brewery that’s

ready to rest on its laurels.

The brewery’s co-founder, Paul Jones, has

just days before returned from a grand tour

of the best breweries in the US, where he

visited the likes of San Diego’s Modern Times.

“Because of the styles of beer that we tend

to make here, we look to America for a lot of

inspiration. Processes, techniques, the hopping

regimes, how they dry hop, temperature

control – all that stuff is different to how we

traditionally brew over here”, Lucy explains.

Cloudwater has recently invested in a hop

cannon, which will allow them to extract even

more flavour and characteristics from the hops

they are using. It will also allow them to reduce

the time between dry-hopping and packaging,

meaning they can lock in more of the fresh hop

flavours. With this and other pieces of kit, such

as a centrifuge, being added to their armoury,

they are keen to learn from the breweries in

the US that have pioneered these techniques.

Talking about the trip, Paul says humbly;

“I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a lot of really

talented people, all amazing in their own ways.

We get to work with a lot of very inspirational



people”. Clearly, he holds the experience of

others in high regard and is excited to bring

home the experience and advice he has soaked

up on his travels.

When I ask him about what it’s been like to

oversee the incredible growth of his brand

in such a short period of time, Paul admits; “I

can very accurately state that every month is

a surprise”. What becomes quickly apparent

when you talk to this passionate beer

entrepreneur, or indeed read his extremely

candid blog posts about his experience, is that

he believes in being self-critical.

“We have shortcomings in terms of our

equipment, our team, our ingredients and you

could even say the fact that we’re based in the

UK. The more I run this business and the more

time I spend in this industry the more I realise

just how far we could go”.

Already the highest-rated UK brewery on

RateBeer, Paul explains that this isn’t the end

point for their journey, “We constantly restate

our goals, aim even higher and although we’re

often achieving things we set out to, we are

always taking a critical look at what we’re

doing. Irrespective of the love that many

consumers have for what we do, internally

there’s a very hard and accurate critique about

what we’re doing.”

I ask Paul where this honesty comes from

– certainly, most businesses would not be so

forthcoming about what they saw as lacking in

their offering. “The sheen that most brands put

on their business is completely unnecessary.

If we have demonstrated anything, it is that

you don’t need a brand identity or a marketing

campaign, you just need an excellent product.”

In terms of how this attitude manifests itself

day-to-day, Paul explains that “It starts with not

bullshitting ourselves about where we are – we

take our IPAs, our DIPAs and the other work

we have done in the broad field that is lager

and hold them up against the best possible

products that we can experience”.

He goes on to give an insight into what

Cloudwater mean when they describe

themselves as a ‘seasonal brewery’. “Even if

we did find a recipe that we were happy with

– even if we kept it going and could somehow

keep buying the same lot numbers of the hops

and they didn’t decay in freshness, the world

would change around us”. And by this, he

means that with every season, not only do the

ingredients change, but also the expectations

of craft beer drinkers.

At the time of my visit, Paul had recently

published a blog post detailing his costs of

production and defended why it was the case

that a pint of their beer could end up on sale

for £13.40 in a London pub. “Quite honestly,

I feel like we’re constantly having to defend

ourselves to a certain minority. There are

many things we are criticised for – but by

maintaining an open and honest dialogue with

our consumers, I hope that shows how much

we care about their experience”.

Talking about losing nights of sleep in the

early days, worrying about some piece of

criticism or other, Paul ultimately takes peace

recognising that there’s a silent majority who

love what they do.

Given that hoppy beers have been the

driving force of craft beer for upwards of 20

years, it is no surprise that ongoing innovations

by hop producers excite Paul. “We’re curious

about things like cryo powders and some of

the other things that producers are starting to

bring to the table”. As always, he references

the fact that he exchanges notes with other

brewers about what is working well elsewhere.

“All the time, we’re learning what to do

next”, he goes on to say. Talking about the long

list of collaborators that he has worked with,

he stresses the importance of there being

something in it for both sides and describes

the fun of taking any of their peers to a place

they perhaps haven’t been to before.

Finishing our meeting over a glass of one

of their recent partnerships with Other Half

from New York, Paul concludes by sharing

an insight into his hectic lifestyle. “I think the

next weekend I have off is six months away;

it’s beer festival after beer festival from here

on in”. With a long road of progress still to

come, clearly growing a brewery like this is a

marathon effort and having met them today,

I’m sure that Paul and his team have the

mind-set to see it through.


Things We Love...







for you

Let’s talk. Call us on

01404 892100.

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Canning lines


Equipping the Nation’s Craft Breweries


By Jen Murphy

Are you curious about yoga but don’t know how to get

started? Let The Yoga Man(ual) be your guide. This

approachable book covers the basics and benefits of

yoga and includes dozens of essential poses you need to

develop your own practice—whether at the studio, at home,

or on the road.


2. GPO vinyl case

When vinyl just isn’t hipster enough

I’m crushed to discover that I actually want a

few of these, becuase they look lovely. From the

retro leatherette to the dull metal fixtures, this

is a really natty way to keep your records safe,

while also making it clear to visitors that you

own records. It’s a win/win, of sorts.


Brewhouses • Canning lines • Bottling & labelling equipment • Keg washers & fillers • Tanks • Filtration • Temperature Control • Cappers

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

Next time...

Ferment and Beer52 are starting the New

Year with another hugely exciting first.

We’re collaborating with three of the UK’s

coolest and most highly regarded breweries

– Partisan, Pilot and Forest Road – on a box

of beers that will knock your Christmas socks

off. Next issue, we tell the story of how these

beers were created over the course of one

wild weekend on a remote Scottish island.

Born in the 70s. Still an original.

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.


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