Ferment Issue 27 // Poland

jamesbeer52

FERMENTMAGAZINE.COM | ISSUE 27

ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

Poland

Explore one of Europe’s most exciting emerging craft

scenes, with Stu Mostów and a host of other pioneers

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EDITOR

Richard Croasdale

DESIGNER

Ashley Johnston

INTERN / FEEDER

Sarah Marks

Editor’s

NOTE

@fermenthq

@fermentmagazine

Contributions, comments, rants:

richard@beer52.com

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COVER ILLUSTRATION

Kinga Offert

www.offert.com.pl

PUBLISHED BY:

Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 3,

26 Howe Street,

Edinburgh,

EH3 6TG

When Beer52 co-founder James Brown said he was

going to Wrocław’s Beer Geek Madness festival,

we all assumed it was just a bit of a jolly. However,

he returned with a fire in his eyes and a fist full of brewers’

business cards, insisting we put together a Poland box

immediately, and we knew we were in for a wild ride.

So, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to the creme of Poland’s

fast-rising craft scene, whose amazing beers are probably in

front of you right now. It’s a beautiful, surprising country, and I

hope you enjoy sharing our adventures there.

Elsewhere, new writer (to us) Katie Taylor asks whether social

media is ruining beer, Ollie Peart rails against the tyranny of

inappropriate restaurant music, and we take you on a craft beer

tour of our home city: Edinburgh.

It really makes our day to hear your comments and

suggestions. All of them. As my old mum says: “If you don’t

have anything nice to say... email Richard”. We’re on

@FermentHQ, or ferment@beer52.com. Thanks mum.

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in May 2018 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.

Cheers, Richard

The

Trzech

Annual

Kumpli,

Icelandic

page 12

Beer Festival, p76-78


CONTRIBUTORS

Matthew Curtis

WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER

Matthew Curtis is an award-winning

freelance beer writer, photographer and

podcaster based in London, UK. He is

the UK Editor for Good Beer Hunting.

@totalcurtis

Mark dredge

WRITER

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.

Fraser Doherty

WRITER

Co-founder of Beer52, amateur

home-brewer, avid traveller, jammaker

and author of two books.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

@fraserdoherty

Alex Paganelli

CHEF & FOOD

PHOTOGRAPHER

Recipes

As founder of Dead Hungry,

Alexandre has been creating

incredible recipes for Ferment.

deadhungry.co

Louise Crane

WRITER

Louise Crane is a freelance science and

drinks writer, and a Spirits Advisor at The

Whisky Exchange in London. She holds a

Masters degree in History of Medicine and

is a trained ballet dancer. Oddly.

Ollie peart

WRITER

Host of “The Zeitgeist” on

The Modern Mann Podcast, Ollie

keeps his finger on the pulse so

we don’t have to.

@Ollieep

CONTENTS

8: BUILDING BRIDGES

Love is all around, at Browar Stu Mostów

12: THE BEST OF FRIENDS

Meet Trzech Kumpli, the team producing

phenomenal beers from an unusual setup

16: PINTA

Poland’s craft trailblazers, still leading the way

20: BROS IN ARMS

Brokreacja, the brewery with a flair for the

dramatic

24: THEY CALL IT MADNESS

James Brown visits the Beer Geek

Madness Festival

34: THE PLAGUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Have our thumbs become too strong?

40: FOOD

Alex Paganelli does

sausage sandwiches

49: GRAINFATHER

The joys of home

distilling

53: OFFICE BREW

James Taylor goes all-out with a mangodrenched

IPA

64: EDINBURGH

Chapter and verse on Scotland’s

awesomely beery capital

EDINBURGH CRAFT

BEER FESTIVAL

If you’re reading this at ECBF 2018 (you

lucky thing) your festival listings begin

on page 75.

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

Stu Mostów, in the south-western city of

Wrocław, is one of the most established

breweries in Poland’s young craft

scene, with a slew of top-rated beers and a

popular taproom in the north of town. It’s

also a well-known name on the international

collaboration circuit, renowned for its

commitment to quality and consistency – in

short, it’s come a long way in the few years

since it opened its doors.

But the brewery’s background is also a love

story, played out across continents between

its husband-and-wife co-founders Greg and

Arletta Ziemian. Childhood friends from the

same town, Prudnik, the pair parted ways

when Arletta went to study in Warsaw and

Greg in the United States. After graduating,

both found themselves working in financial

services – Arletta in corporate banking and

Greg in investment banking – for the same

international bank.

They stayed in touch, but it wasn’t until

2009, when Arletta invited Greg to her

brother’s wedding, that things really took off.

Three months and one vacation in Sicily later,

the pair were engaged.

“That was 2009, but we still had to figure

out a way to be physically closer together,

because I was still in the states and had my

life there,” says Greg. “My first question was

‘would you like to come over?’ She didn’t. I

was in Minnesota, so not the most exciting

state. So I sold up, quit my job and signed up

for a postgraduate two-year business degree

in Barcelona."

They were married in July 2011 and, after

joining Greg for a semester in Beijing as part

of an exchange programme, Arletta decided

to quit her job and move to Barcelona so they

could be together full-time.

“When Greg had asked me which country

I’d prefer for life together, I’d said Italy or

Spain,” she recalls. “But leaving Poland was

still a very difficult decision. I was in corporate

banking, responsible for the biggest clients in

all of Poland, which is a big thing to walk away

from, but we were both ready for a change. In

the corporate world, you give 100% but the

return is often much less. And then one day

you realise that money is not that important if

you’re not happy and not fulfilled.”

After graduating, Greg wanted to return to

Poland after 15 years overseas. Arletta, having

thoroughly settled into her expatriate lifestyle,

was less keen, and insisted that if they were

going home it would need to be to start their

own business. Greg agreed.

“One of the most striking things on moving

back was that there was no craft beer,” he

recalls. “This was 2012, and I was used to

America, where you could pick up amazing

craft beers from your local grocery store.

Poland drinks a lot of beer, but it was still all

industrial lager. This was about the time when

Pinta was introducing its beer, but it was such

a small quantity. So a lightbulb went on, this

crazy idea to start a craft brewery, with no

experience of brewing or production.”

Greg had made a few friends in the industry

during his time in the US, so had access

to good knowledge and advice. He began

visiting breweries and trade shows, reading

books and blogs, following forums; “we were

essentially unemployed and totally devoted

to this idea,” he says. After a few months, they

started putting together the outline of a strong

business plan, using Greg’s business school

knowledge, and around a year later their

vision was fully formed, complete with budget,

targets and philosophy.

“The next steps were more about execution,

finding a location, raising money. The banks

all said we were crazy, which was a downer,

so we started looking at equity financing. We

had a pretty useful network, and in the end

convinced five guys from our previous work

to become partners. The budget was still tight

so we had to be careful, but we didn’t want to

cut corners. We wanted the best we possibly

could in terms of team, equipment, resources.”

Once they started researching locations,

Arletta says Wrocław was an obvious choice

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BUILDING BRIDGES

because of its eight-century connection

with beer; prior to the second world war,

there were over 70 breweries in the city,

and the local university runs a world-class

microbiology course. The beautiful red brick

building which is now Stu Mostów’s home was

originally a cinema, but had long ago fallen

derelict, leaving only the walls and original

balcony level.

“We saw the potential right away,”

continues Arletta. “With the brewery on the

ground floor, we could build a taproom on

the balcony, so visitors could watch the beer

being brewed like they would once have

watched a film. The sights and sounds of the

brewery would be like putting on a show for

them.”

The final piece of the puzzle was finding

a head brewer. While Greg and Arletta had

accumulated a great understanding of the

brewing process, they knew the day-to-day

running of a modern craft-scale brewery

required a different set of skills. Fortunately

for everyone concerned, their online job

ad received a quick response from Mateusz

Gulej, a Polish brewer who at the time was

working at a brewpub in Canada.

“Despite some problems with Skype and

Canadian internet speeds, we got a great

feeling about him in the interview and offered

him the job,” says Greg. “He’s been with us

ever since and has built a great production

team, with three brewers working under

him. He also played a key role in last year’s

expansion, when we added a bunch of new

tanks, new filling line and a centrifuge.”

In person, Mateusz is one of those people

(more common in craft beer than other

industries) whose wide-eyed belief in his

work and colleagues is utterly infectious,

and clearly energises those around him.

Describing his processes and the beers he

makes, you can feel his pride, balanced by

his determination to keep on improving and

pushing the boundaries of what the brewery

can achieve.

“It’s a very hard job,” he admits. “We’re not

in a big company, where we could turn up, go

for eight hours and then go home and forget

about it. We’re working as much as is needed.

But I’m very happy that I can do that; it gives

me a lot of fun, a lot of satisfaction, and after a

hard day I can be at home and drink our beer

and be proud of it, and I have a feeling we’re

doing a good job. To be honest I can’t see

myself ever doing anything else. Good beer,

good food, doing something I really believe

in… other jobs would just be boring!”

The high-end BrauKon brewhouse itself

is extremely sophisticated for its size and

has clearly been carefully specified for the

space and the styles Stu Mostów is brewing,

with a high degree of automation and linked

sensors ensuring every aspect of the brew is

tightly controlled for maximum consistency.

It’s also been set up to allow flexibility and

experimentation with different mash bills,

exotic adjuncts and smaller fermentation

vessels for pilot batches.

The beers themselves are testament to the

thought that went into putting together Stu

Mostów’s kit and brewing team (all of whom

hold masters degrees in microbiology or food

science). The range splits into three distinct

lines: Black-labelled WRCLW – classic styles

with no unnecessary adornments – yellowlabelled

Salamander – modern, hop forward

beers for the US-inspired craft crowd – and

finally the ART collaboration line, created

with visiting breweries from around the world.

We certainly enjoyed exploring the range

during our visit, but my stand-outs were Stu

Mostów’s classic pilsner (its best-selling beer),

its double dry-hopped DIPA and a double

barrel-aged imperial porter that had only just

been bottled.

Understandably, Stu Mostów has become

an established part of the international

collaboration scene, with top-tier breweries

traveling across the world to work with the

team on new beers.

“Collaboration is a bit like dating,” says

Greg. “We want to brew with people we

enjoy spending time with, who have similar

philosophies and things in common. It takes

us a while to get to know the other brewers

before we brew together. We always want to

learn from each other, and when they come

here we open everything up for them and

answer any questions they have.”

It comes as no surprise to learn that plans

for the next stage of the brewery’s story are

already well underway; Greg and Arletta

don’t seem the kind of people who would

be comfortable standing still. In addition to

the rack of ex-bourbon and port barrels set

to the side of the fermentation vessels, the

brewery is looking to expand its barrel-ageing

programme in a new separate warehouse,

which will allow it to experiment with sours

and wild fermentation. From what we’ve

tasted today, this will take Stu Mostów’s

output to another new level, and we can’t wait

to see where it leads.

“In 20 years we’ll be the best brewery in

the world,” concludes Mateusz. “If we weren’t

dreaming that big, we wouldn’t be here!”

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WORD & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

Trzech Kumpli (which translates

roughly as ‘three pals’) was one

of the breweries that made the

biggest impression during our visit

to the Beer Geek Madness festival.

So when its founder Piotr Sosin

offered to pick us up from Kraków,

drive us 90 minutes out into the

Polish countryside and serve us some

beers fresh from the tank, it would

have been unforgivable to turn the

opportunity down.

The journey itself is beautiful, and

I am grateful to see the lush, rolling

hills of Poland’s south for the first time

in nearly 20 years. It also gives us a

chance to hear some of the brewery’s

back-story; about how Piotr, an avid

home brewer, joined forces with a gang

of his old primary school pals from

the town of Tarnów – Irmina, Tymek,

and Maciek – to take his hobby to a

professional level.

Unfortunately, my tendency for

motion sickness hasn’t lessened

over the past two decades, and we

are forced to disturb the rural idyll

several times on the way, so I can

noisily paint the roadside. Sorry

Poland. The destination is well worth

a little discomfort though. Trzech

Kumpli’s brewing arrangement is, if

not unique, then at least very unusual.

Although technically brewed under

contract by Browar Zapanbrat, Piotr

is the brewery’s only client and

keeps its tanks full 365 days a year.

Zapanbrat itself is owned and run by

two brothers, Przemek and Michał

who convinced their father, a local

entrepreneur, to turn over a former

garage that he owned for them to

pursue their brewing dreams.

Having tried working with several

contract breweries before, Piotr

says Przemek and Michał clearly

understood what he was trying to build

and approached the project more like

a partnership.

“They’ve felt like part of the team

rather than just my supplier,” he says.

“They called me one day two years

ago, to say ‘we like your beers and are

building a brewery. It’s going to be like

this’. We started meeting, I paid them

a visit and it became more real. They

told me how big they wanted to make

the brewery, and I said okay well we’ll

eventually want to reach that point.

We now have every one of their tanks

filled with our beers.”

“This is exactly the setup I would

have if I were to invest in my own

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THE BEST OF FRIENDS

brewery. So it’s the perfect synergy:

they have 100% of their capacity

covered and sold once the tank is

empty, and I have a fantastic supplier

with a dedicated team. I don’t think

about the pipelines and the pumps.

I just think about developing my

product and new beers.”

As well as having a top-of-the line

setup with plenty of space to grow, the

location couldn’t be more perfect. The

town of Żywiec has long been famed

for the quality and softness of its

water, with Archduke Albert of Austria

notably choosing it as the home for

his brewery in 1852 (the brewery bears

the town’s name, and is now owned by

Heineken).

“The water here is perfect for lagers

and pilsners,” explains Piotr. “People

have been brewing here for centuries

because of the taste of the water. Now

we can test it chemically – it’s very

soft, very low mineral. Brewers come

over from the US and tell us how much

they’ve spent on reverse osmosis and

water treatment, just to get the water

profile that comes out of the ground

naturally in Żywiec.”

As you might expect with such a

geographical pedigree, Trzech Kumpli’s

pilsners are excellent, and come in

several varieties, from a beautifully

balanced traditional pint to a US-style,

aggressively hopped lip-smacker.

Indeed, creative use of American hop

varieties are one of the signatures of

Trzech Kumpli’s style, and even its

traditional European beers most often

bear a fruity, high-alpha twist.

There seem to be very few styles

the team won’t tackle, and our tour of

the tanks is wonderfully eclectic, with

black IPAs, saisons and even a big,

unctuous Russian imperial stout waiting

to be bottled. Our highlight though is

definitely the super-fresh Misty NEIPA

(named, we later learn, after the classic

Johnny Mathis crooner).

Piotr clearly loves recipe creation,

having started out as a home brewer

making a mess in his kitchen. Although

he now works on a much larger scale

with his colleagues at Zapanbrat,

he admits to missing the hobby,

and recently decided to get back

into homebrewing on his downtime,

especially as he can now afford “all the

cool US homebrew kit I always wanted”.

Fortunately for his wife – who is not a

fan of the smell of boiling hops – Piotr

is converting another room in the house

for his domestic brewing project.

The fact that Piotr is still driven by

a love of experimentation is likely to

stand him in good stead. Like any other

national craft beer scene with a bit of

momentum behind it, there is pressure

on brewers to keep their fans well

supplied with the latest and greatest

styles.

“I’m not sure people’s tastes are

getting more sophisticated, but they’re

definitely getting more demanding.

People are expecting

all sorts of crazy stuff

to make it stand out

Three years ago, if you’d released to

the market a Russian Imperial Stout or

Baltic porter, people would have been

blown away. But now it’s just like ‘meh

- it’s a very standard, basic Russian

Imperial stout. 2.5 on Ratebeer!’

People are expecting all sorts of crazy

stuff – coffee, vanilla, maple syrup – to

make it stand out.”

Like the other breweries we speak

to here, Piotr has experienced some

frustration as the sales side of the

industry has failed to keep pace with

the beers being produced. Trzech

Kumpli does sell to supermarkets, but

only locally and on a very small scale,

making up less than 5% of its total

sales.

“Being on the supermarket shelf is

useful for expanding our market, but

we also try to keep them at bay to an

extent,” he says. “They’re very focused

on constant availability at a very good

price – there’s not much interest in

our story or quality. Here in Poland,

people are used to getting very cheap

beer, so it’s hard to make any kind of

margin on craft beers if you doing it

right. That’s particularly true with the

big, dark beers that might sit in the

tank for five months; we love brewing

them, and they raise our profile, but we

could definitely use that space for more

profitable beers if that’s what we were

out to do.”

The drive back to Kraków is far less

eventful, and I’m able to enjoy the

view (though I avoid the petrol station

pastries, just in case). On our return,

Piotr is kind enough to take us for some

truly amazing sandwiches and a pint

(I go for the classic pilsner) and the

very friendly Miejscówka riverside bar,

where we sit in the sunshine chatting

about life and watching the world go

by. Getting amongst the fermentation

vessels is certainly great fun, but for

me, this is what craft beer is all about.

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WORDS: Richard Croasdale

It’s not hyperbole to say that Pinta singlehandedly

kickstarted Poland’s craft beer

scene. Although the brewery arose out of an

already healthy homebrew community, of which

founder Ziemowit Fałat was an enthusiastic

member, Poland had previously been a virtual

wasteland of commercial lagers, weizens and

schwarzbiers.

All this changed when Ziemowit decided

to take his home-based experiments with

the traditional Polish oak-smoked beer style

of Grodziskie – which had not been brewed

commercially in Poland for 25 years – and scale

it up at a contract brewery. When he crunched

the numbers though, the results made his heart

sink.

“So in 2010 I brewed 1666 small bottles of

Grodziskie, we counted the cost and it worked

out at 5 Zloty a bottle: more than double the

regular price of beer, even if we sold it at cost.

We though ‘oh my God, how can we sell that?’

We didn’t even know if it was a style that held

any interest outside the homebrew community.

“We sold out that first batch in one day. At

that time there was no market for craft, but

people saw that it was cool – the label, the

idea. The success of this beer started the fire

and started us thinking about other varieties of

commercial beer.”

A year later, Pinta was born with the release

of a very different style of beer, its American

IPA Atak Chmielu (“Attack of the Hops”). “IPA

was nowhere in Poland, but we just thought

people would be interested in something with

more body and aroma than they were used to,”

continues Ziemowit. “In the end it sold twice

as well as the first batch of Grodziskie and still

makes up around 25% of our total volume. We

sold over a million bottles last year.”

Since then, Pinta has brewed around 100

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PINTA THE GOOD STUFF

different beers. As the market has evolved

rapidly around them, with more breweries

springing up and ever-more sophisticated

drinkers, Pinta has successfully stayed ahead

of the curve, delighting its fans with this steady

stream of new styles.

“We’re definitely not dragging Polish drinkers

along in terms of their tastes,” continues

Ziemowit. “It’s important to be authentic in

Poland - you cannot cheat, no shit. People are

very sensitive. It’s still very important not only

for a couple of thousand beer geeks, but for

many more thousands of ordinary drinkers.”

Around one third of the brewery’s output

consists of what might be considered

‘traditional’ styles from across the world, while

fully two thirds are more experimental. Ziemowit

is keen to emphasise, however, that his focus is

and will always be on drinkability.

“To be honest, we are not 22 years old,” he

jokes. “You see a lot of beers with amazing

tropical characters, cocoa and so on, but people

also need a beer for regular drinking. Wellbrewed,

well-crafted, day-by-day drinking.

What Pinta does is brew very well-brewed beer

for regular drinking, and then two or three

times a year put out something very special

and innovative, but which we’ve really thought

through. There’s a buzz when we do those special

beers.”

Another related part of Pinta's DNA is a love

of travel, and of collaborating with like-minded

breweries from around the world including

Ireland's O'Hara's and France's Brasserie du Pays

Flamand. One of its earliest such collaborations

was on a sour beer, Kwas Alfa, with Tobias Emil

Jensen from legendary Danish brewery To Øl

brewery, which is soon set to be repeated.

Pinta has also founded an ongoing project,

the Pinta Hop Tour, which sees the guys visit

countries not recognised within Poland for

hop production, and then brew a beer back

home with the hops they discover. Countries

visited so far include Argentina, South Africa,

Tasmania and New Zealand, Ethiopia, Japan,

Ukraine, Romania, Russia and even North Korea

(“depending on how it goes with Trump”) are

also on the list.

While all these beers are currently still

brewed under contract, Pinta will soon have its

own custom-built brewery, scheduled to start

brewing next Spring.

“The new brewery will give us the flexibility

to make as many styles as we want and control

the production process from beginning to end,”

Ziemowit says. “Of course we’re very happy

with the quality of our beers, but we know it

can be improved. It also means we’ll be able

to do things like bottle into 330ml bottles for

export much more easily; 99% of the Polish

market is into 500ml, but we’re unusual in that

respect. As we grow our export business, we’ll

be bottling more and more into 330ml.”

Export is becoming increasingly important to

Pinta as Poland’s domestic craft scene matures.

As it stands, Ziemowit firmly believes that it

wouldn’t be possible to remain “honest and

authentic” beyond 50,000 hectalitres a year, if

it just served the domestic market.

“After this level, I don’t think you can do it

right, as you’d have to make compromises,”

he says. “It’s not so much a production cap,

but about how you work with distributors;

you’d need to start selling to the big shops, for

example, which would fundamentally change

how the beer is positioned, and where your

focus would be. That’s just in the Polish market,

it might be different elsewhere.”

Times are definitely changing and, having

now chatted with the oldest craft brewery in

Poland, there is a definite sense that the whole

Polish craft scene could be moving into the next

stage of its evolution (as all scenes inevitably

do). However, with Pinta continuing to set the

pace for such a quality-conscious crop of other

young breweries, all backed by an enthusiastic,

knowledgeable and sophisticated community

of beer lovers, the future is something to be

welcomed rather than feared.

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WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

As brewing philosophies go, it’s

hard to get more out-front than

that of Kraków’s Brokreacja

brewery: “Pleasant as sex, as brazen

as an advertisement on Facebook and

refined as Japanese cars”. Fortunately,

they’ve got the beers and the brand to

back up this bold claim.

We meet three members of the core

team at Brokreacja’s new brewpub,

which occupies a broad courtyard

off the street in central Kraków:

head brewer Mateusz Górski, his

co-founder and design guru Filip

Kuźniarz, and operations manager/

fixer Jurek Gibadło. They’re chilling

on deck chairs under a canopy in the

beer garden, golden pints glistening

invitingly in the May sunshine.

The seed for Brokreacja was sown

nine years ago, when Mateusz –

then studying law at university in

Kraków – began brewing at home;

a hobby which, just two years later,

saw him elected president of the

local homebrew association. While

still working in a law office, he began

to get involved in setting up festivals

for local breweries and beer lovers,

which is where he met Filip, who was

responsible for preparing graphics

and marketing material. The two hit

it off and, only three months after the

festival, opened Brokreacja.

The original idea was to build a

“real” brewery – a plan they pursued

for a year but which ultimately came to

nothing, before deciding to continue as

a gypsy brewery.

Mateusz says: “From my home

brewing experience, I already knew

the owners of a new brewery which

started about the same time as us, and

I knew it was possible to brew great

beer there. When we started brewing

on their kit, it was the most modern

brewery in Poland and arguably still

is. They were focused on lager, so we

worked with them on their craft styles –

it worked perfectly.”

The core team, which quickly

expanded to include Jurek, worked

for a year with essentially no salary.

From an initial investment of around

£5000, every złoty they made from

sales was immediately reinvested

into the business, to brew more beer

and grow their reach. And grow it

did, quickly receiving rave ratings

online and expanding its distribution

across Poland. With the opening of

the Kraków brewpub last September,

the brewery is now one of the most

recognised and best-established craft

brands in the country.

As we chat, I notice the huge mural

along one wall of the courtyard,

featuring the comic-style characters

familiar from Brokreacja’s bottle labels

– including The Actor, The Cop, The

Waiter, The Dancer, The Nurse and

The Lumberjack – like refugees from

a zombie b-movie. I ask about their

significance, and Filip explains these

fun archetypes represent the beers in

Brokreacja’s ‘Basic’ range.

“When we brew a new beer, together

we discuss what kind of person is likely

to connect with it,” he says. “If you can

describe a character with a particular

set of adjectives, you should be able

to describe the beer with the same

adjectives. So, if the beer is light and

fun and not very strong, the character

should be the same. That’s why the

Gravedigger is our Russian imperial

stout.”

As well as the basic range, Brokreacja

has an impressive (and somewhat

intimidating) ‘Strong Heavy Series’

selection, mostly themed around “fierce

anxieties and psychic disorders”. These

bottles – sold in handsome individual

boxes – are for the brewery’s big beers,

its imperial stouts, Baltic porters, triple

IPAs and barrel-aged barley wines.

With names like Deep Dark Sea,

Stockholm Syndrome and Buried

20 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 21


BROS IN ARMS

Alive – and macabre label art to match

– this line indulges the team’s collective

flair for boldness and theatricality.

While these beers undoubtedly

bolster Brokreacja’s position as one of

Poland’s most consistently regarded

craft outfits, Mateusz insists they’re not

just brewed for prestige (“you can’t eat

prestige,” he quips wryly). As seems

to be the case across Poland’s craft

breweries though, the cost-sensitivity

of domestic beer lovers means these

special and resource-hungry brews

don’t attract the kind of prices they

would in the UK. For what it’s worth

though, I took away a bottle of Buried

Alive, a peated imperial stout, and

was absolutely blown away by the

surprisingly subtle peat smoke,

tempered by chocolate and cookie-like

malt.

Finally, the brewery’s third distinct

line, simply dubbed ‘experimental’, is

where its most out-there, small-batch

and sometimes controversial beers

live. Brokreacja has featured previously

in the pages of Ferment, when we

wrote about its CorrIPA bull testicleinfused

IPA in our irregular Weird Beer

column.

Each of the lines, and each of

the beers they contain, is imbued

with a strong story, whether it’s the

illustration, the narrative tasting notes

or the sheer distinctiveness of the beer

itself. This is a very deliberate part of

the brewery’s approach; the idea of

being able to relate to a beer on the

shelf is part of what Filip refers to as

“the ritual”.

“What’s always been important for us

is that you have the whole product; not

only the beer but the bottle, the label,

and so on. So the ritual starts when the

person comes to the shop and thinks

‘which one will be right for me, right

now’. They’re looking at the bottles,

reading labels, counting money and

maybe asking a shop assistant for

recommendations. That’s the first

part. Then they get home and

put it in the fridge, or not, pour it

into the glass and get that whole

sensory experience before they

even drink.

“The ritual as a whole is what

matters in the process, not

just the beer. With cheap

commercial beer, there is

not ritual – you buy it by

the four-pack to get drunk.

With craft, people value

this ritual, they pay for it;

the whole product and the

whole experience. That’s a

very cool thing.”

Reassuringly though, this doesn’t just

translate into beers that are so wild and

attention-grabbing that Brokreacja

would risk becoming a novelty

brand. When I ask what gets head

brewer Mateusz out of bed and

eager for work in the morning, his

answer comes without hesitation.

“The most important thing for

the brewer is to make beer for

the people - just normal beer.

Not everybody is a super

beer geek, and I don’t put

the geeks above a customer

who just wants an easydrinking,

traditional beer. I

take just as much care with a

pilsner or a hefeweizen as I

do an imperial stout, and I’m

just as proud to see people

drinking them.”

I counter that Brokreacja has seemed

determined from day one to confront

complacent drinkers, and ask whether

he feels his role is not also to educate.

“The best education you can do,

and I think one of the most satisfying

things about having our own taproom,

is being able to offer people a choice,”

he replies. “You see someone come in

who’s never had a craft beer before,

and they try something, maybe it’ll be

the pilsner – that’s fine. Then you see

them back the next week, and they’ll

order a couple of different things.

Then in a couple of months’ time,

they’re bringing their friends, saying

‘we’ll have that, that, that and that’. We

don’t lecture or persuade, we just give

people a choice.”

The most important thing

for the brewer is to make

beer for the people

Filip chips in: “It’s not our place to

tell people where they should take

their enjoyment either. For example,

my mum drinks Carlo Rossi wine,

which is not a good wine but it’s

what she likes. Should I tell her she’s

stupid or that she should change her

taste? No! I can buy her the Carol

Rossi wine, and she’ll drink it and

be happy. What’s bad about that?

There’s some times when education

isn’t wanted or necessary.”

Education or no, there’s little doubt

that the scene in Poland has come

a long way in a short time, in terms

of the breweries and the increasing

sophistication of beer lovers. I’m curious

to hear whether it’s lost some of the

feeling of exploration and camaraderie

along the way.

“Not at all,” Filip reassures me. “In

Poland, all the breweries are more or

less friends. The competition is not

aggressive like it is in other countries.

Most of us have come up together, from

nothing, and there’s a strong sense that

we’re working together to share this

wonderful thing with as many people as

we can. Is that our vision or just a good

business plan?... I don’t know – can’t it

be both?!”

22 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 23


WORDS: James Brown

In the world of craft beer we’re always

on the lookout for the latest and

greatest discoveries, whether it’s new

and emerging styles, brewing talent or

fresh releases from established players,

it’s an awesome feast of exploration.

So when the invitation came through

to attend the sixth annual Beer Geek

Madness Festival in Wrocław, Poland,

our initial thought was, “they have a

craft beer geek festival in Wrocław?...

why didn’t we know about this?... we

have to go” and so we quickly accepted

the invite and headed East.

We arrive in Wrocław, the largest city

in Western Poland to discover spring in

full swing, it’s bright and the sun is out

to play; a welcome break from the grey

and gusty weather we’d come from in

the UK.

The festival organisers had kindly

arranged a taxi to pick up us at the

airport, we meet our driver at arrivals

holding up the unmissable sign

displaying the enchanting words “Beer

Geek Madness”. Who wouldn’t want to

jump in that taxi?

Having limited knowledge of the

craft beer scene in the city, we’re free

from the weight of expectation (in a

good way) and full of curiosity as we

make the short 20-minute journey into

Wrocław city centre. Having checked

into our hotel, there’s only one thing

on our mind...BEER! We head for

Bar Targowa to our meet our fellow

guests invited to this year’s Festival,

consisting of eight international

breweries traveling from Spain and

Sweden.

When we arrive at Targowa, our

hosts Greg and Arletta from Browar

Stu Mostów, have laid on a generous

spread covering two tables, offering

a delicious mixture of tapas-style

nibbles and classics like homemade

Pork schnitzel, coleslaw, and potatoes;

not a bad way to break the ice and

meet our fellow beer pilgrims!

A quick scan through the beer

menu surprises and delights, revealing

everything from on-trend double

dry-hopped DIPAs and milkshake

IPAs to imperial stouts and even

pilsners, many of them produced by

Polish craft breweries we have never

heard of before. We dive right in and

order Misty, a 5.5% New England IPA

from Trzech Kumpli. Big, juicy aroma

and taste profile, smooth laid-back

bitterness – wow, this is one hell of a

beer. What a start, and a sign of things

to come for our adventures at Beer

Geek Madness the following day, we

hope.

Next day we wake up early to

explore the city on foot, picturesquely

situated on 12 beautiful islands

connected by a staggering 112 bridges,

Wrocław continues to take us by

surprise with its stunning architecture,

delicious food and welcoming locals.

As the afternoon draws to a close we

make our way to the main event,

Beer Geek Madness. The impressive

24 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 25


venue for the festival is Zaklęte Rewiry,

an imposing red brick industrial style

building located in the south east of

the city.

The lineup for this year’s festival

includes 31 Polish breweries and eight

breweries from abroad, offering a total

of 91 different beers for one day only,

over eight hours of intense Beer Geek

Madness.

Spain is the overarching theme for

the international guest brewers, with

a lineup including the phenomenal

Garage Beer Co, Cerveses La Pirata,

Naparbier and Edge Brewing,

accompanied by the world-class

Dugges, hailing from Sweden. Each

having air freighted over super fresh

kegs of their best beers for the local

crowd to soak up on the night.

Having no idea what to expect

ahead of our travels, we are quickly

overwhelmed by the quality and

diversity of some of the beers on offer

at the festival. One of the rules for

brewers attending is that they have

to release one new beer each, which

has the locals queuing up in lines 50

people deep to get their hands on

their favourite brewer’s new beers,

confirming that FOMO is indeed alive

and well in Wrocław.

Working our way through (or

getting lost in) the fascinating, multilevel

venue, discovering previously

unknown brewers (to us) pouring truly

exceptional beers from taps and bars

popping out of every nook and cranny

in the building, we get a distinct feeling

we are indeed in the midst of real Beer

Geek Madness and we are loving it.

In all honesty, this is like no other

beer festival we ever had the pleasure

of attending. Every room unearths

something completely different,

usually wild and interesting, not only

in terms of craft beer and food but

also the abundance of other activities

happening throughout the festival.

Punters enjoy live portrait drawings

by local artists, barbers listening to

pumping beats and dancing their way

around their customers as they deliver

slick haircuts below the stairs. There

are voting stations where you elect

your beer of the festival and, best of

all, there is fantastic live music in the

main hall.

It is intense and wonderful.

Naturally, we grab the new ‘Grapefruit

and Mandarin DDH DIPA’ from

Browar Stu Mostów and head onto

the dance floor to enjoy the live

Flamenco performance happening on

stage. Closely followed by a couple of

fantastic beers from PINTA including

new release ‘Sangriale’, which pair

perfectly with the Spanish Ska band,

Kumbia Mac, who take to the stage

next, having flown in especially for the

occasion.

We wrap up our first ever Beer

Geek Madness by voting for our

favourite beers and awaiting the big

announcement, winner of Beer Geek

Choice 2018, at midnight. To our

delight, it goes to Browar Widawa’s’-

‘fRISs freak’, Imperial Tropical Stout,

15% abv.

The experience we had at Beer Geek

Madness totally blew us away, not only

in terms of the format of the festival,

but also the hidden gems we uncovered

from the Polish craft beer scene.

So much so in fact, that we decide

there and then that we must host this

Polish-themed takeover month at

Beer52 as soon as possible, to share the

incredible beers we discovered and the

story behind them with as many people

as we can.

We are already looking forward to

returning to Wrocław next year for

Beer Geek Madness 7 and we hope to

see a few of you there too.

Special thanks to Greg and Arletta

from Browar Stu Mostów for the invite

to the festival and turning us onto

the great beers being brewed in

your country.

26 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 27


=

WEIRD BEER

Each issue, Ferment probes the darkest

crevices of the beer world for treasures and horrors.

This issue, a beer that’s fuelling innovation.

A

few years ago, truly weird beers

seemed to be everywhere, with

belly button fluff yeast strains, whale

testicles and elephant faeces being just some

of the strange ingredients used in the brews

on offer. Now it’s no longer the inclusion

of unsavoury body parts or pre-digested

materials that set a beer apart, but the

scientific advances it encapsulates.

Charles Denby, eager homebrewer and

biochemist at the University of California,

Berkeley, made the headlines recently for

the significant development of a hoppy, yet

hop-free, beer which sought to recreate

the flavour profile of Cascade. Having first

gone to Berkeley to work on sustainable

transportation fuels, in which bacteria and

yeast are used to produce complex molecules

called terpenes, Denby and his colleagues

noticed that the molecules that give hops

their distinctive flavour and aroma were in

fact also terpenes.

Ultimately, this enabled them to engineer a

bespoke, hoppy strain of brewer’s yeast using

strands of DNA from mint and basil that could,

theoretically, replace hops altogether in the

brewing process. In an early double-blind taste

test with 27 Lagunitas employees, the beer

was even judged to be more hoppy than the

Cascade brewed control beer it had been put

up against.

So what are the ramifications of all this?

Fundamentally, the prospect of hop-free

brewing holds a significant number of

proposed environmental benefits. Hops are

naturally a very resource-intensive crop and it

is claimed 50 pints of water are used to grow

the hops necessary for only one pint of craft

beer. Using yeast to impart hoppy flavour and

aromas could, therefore, save dramatically on

water usage, not to mention energy needed to

cultivate and transport the crop.

FERMENT MAGAZINE 29

28 FERMENT MAGAZINE


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The uneasy truth is that nobody

wants to definitively say what a

porter is, or when and where it

was first invented, and we’re certainly

not about to start here. What we can

say with some certainty is that it evolved

independently out of several varieties

of brown ale, emerging as a dark (but

certainly not black) nutty beer popular

among the transport workers from whom

it takes its name.

At first it would have been brewed

predominantly from heavily kilned ‘brown’

malt, giving it a rich flavour, deep malty

aroma and full body. However, brewers

quickly realised this was a horribly

inefficient way to brew, as these malts

(while delicious) provided very little

fermentable sugar. At around the turn

of the 19th century porter started to be

brewed with higher-yielding pale base

malt and coloured deep brown with

whatever vile additives the brewers could

lay their hands on. This sorry state of

affairs ended around 15 years later, when

it was discovered that roasting malt to a

deep, dark black imparted a huge amount

of colour and even some chocolate/coffee

characteristics in relatively small amounts.

Modern porters are rich in roasted

and toasted malt flavour and aroma,

with plenty of hop bitterness but little

aroma, often with a medium body and

mouthfeel. Recently, understanding

how they differ from stouts has

become something of an enigma

for the modern craft beer drinker.

The debate surrounding what

differentiates porter from stout is

famously murky, with few able to

pinpoint clear differences between

the two. Both styles share a long,

deeply entangled history, with

Stout traditionally considered

to be strong Porter, or “stout

porter”. Today, however, the rules

of strength do not hold fast and

many brewers look to Porter’s base

of malted barley and the primarily

unmalted, roasted barley of stout

to distinguish the two. But even this

definition is flexible and yielding,

with many brewers quick to

experiment with this format.

32 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 33


The power of the

THUMB

Useful channel for feedback, or tool of tyrannical mob

rule? Katie Taylor asks how Untappd and other social

review platforms are shaping the craft beer movement.

From behind a bar, Untappers can be

spotted a mile off. Even the subtle ones.

They’re taking a photo of their beer in

front of the corresponding pump clip, half

listening to their friends while they give a

good beer 3.8/5 because they like it, but

they don’t ‘like it’ like it. Don’t hate though

because, let’s face it, we need all the joy

we can get, especially if it involves beer. A

moment’s distracted tip-tapping is worth it,

if it brings a smile to their eager little faces.

Turn on your WiFi and let them do it.

Having said that, like all social platforms,

there’s been a lot of speculation about

potential dark sides to the app, and of rating

and reviewing beers on social media in

general. For many, the quest of finding hyped

beers and rating them, whether on Untappd

or via Instagram, Twitter or a thousand other

virtual mouthpieces, is proving a curse rather

than a blessing. The “gamification” of drinking

has been discussed, with drinkers expressing

concerns that good beers are being ignored

in the pursuit of inferior limited edition brews

by insatiable hypebeasts. There has also

been talk around venues using Untappd to

choose beers that are more popular in order

to attract customers, especially in competitive

locations.

Untappd has an estimated seven million

users worldwide, with around 200,000 of its

active users based in the UK according to cofounder

Greg Avola. With this many people

logging into the app at least once a week to

leave at least one review, that’s a lot of freely

available customer feedback. Just think,

some of it might even be valuable.

Due to all the free, accessible customer

opinion sitting there waiting to be read,

online reviews have developed a secondary

use. By tagging a brewery, drinkers are letting

brewers know exactly what they think of

the beer they are drinking, in real time. It’s

possible then – probably even – to assume

that some brewers have taken some of this

information and used the feedback to their

advantage.

“We do look at Untappd ‘reviews’ from

time to time, but don’t

pay much attention,”

said Chris Clough from

Torrside Brewing, sharing

an opinion that many small

brewers have of the app. “You

never know when someone’s had

a beer for one thing; if it’s their tenth beer

of the evening, their opinion might not be

entirely reliable… I suppose if something

got a really low score across the board, we

probably wouldn’t bother rebrewing it.”

And here it starts. Making the call to

rebrew a beer based on instant feedback

might seem like a small decision, but it

proves a level of reactiveness and customer

interaction within the industry that hasn’t

really been discussed before.

Moorhouse’s director Lee Williams said

that his brewery had taken a more definite

approach to rebrewing reactively. “Our

White Witch started as a seasonal ale which

grew to become a four-month special before

eventually becoming one of our core range.

We listened

to the consumer

and publicans to make

this decision. In regards to

Untappd/social reviews...more

recently we had feedback for our M1

Pilot Brewery beers which led to Penhul and

Sabbath Flight becoming big-batch brews.”

Michelle Gay, marketing manager at

Hawkshead Brewery believes Untappd can

be useful, but ultimately it’s low down on the

brewery’s feedback priority list. “Of course

we listen to comments from social sites and

rating apps, and also our trade customers too.

You can often find us sat round discussing

new styles, ingredients or beers we’d

like to brew. We are very influenced by

34 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 35


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36 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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current and upcoming trends, not only in the

beer world but the food world too.”

However some breweries are taking

the feedback they find online much more

seriously. Dan Logan, director at Eyes Brewing

finds the process a bit of a double-edged

sword.

“It’s really great to see what’s selling well,”

he said. “If people are digging a certain style

of beer then it makes it easier for me to keep

selling that product. On the flipside… it’s not

nice to hear a dismissive view of what you are

creating. That being said, there have been

beers that have deserved to be criticised

and even though we don’t like it we have to

listen. One of our beers, “Deconstructed Jaffa

Cake” offered a lot but didn’t bounce and that

became pretty evident as we saw the reviews

coming in. It wasn’t a bad beer by any stretch,

but it didn’t deliver enough of what people

were expecting from the name. We learnt a

lot from that.”

The most interesting point Dan makes

here is that not only does a customer review

potentially affect the brewing of a beer,

but also the marketing of it. Deconstructed

Jaffa Cake’s flaws, if they were flaws, were

highlighted by real drinkers in real pubs and

were then beamed straight back to the people

who made it. As a result, Eyes Brewing have

YOU SHOULD NEVER

UNDERESTIMATE THE

RANGE OF YOUR AUDIENCE

taken a different approach to the way they

present their beers to the public. As we say

on the internet: make you think.

North Brewing Co.’s communications and

events manager Sarah Hardy maintains that

although they do read Untappd reviews,

it doesn’t influence their choices on new

beers they brew. However, she did mention

one reaction they had to feedback gained

specifically from online reviews: “We have

rebrewed beers, most recently Kurious Oranj,

after seeing that they’ve gone down so well.

It was both customer feedback and trade

feedback that made us rebrew. The first batch

sold out on pre-order which meant that not

everyone was able to get their hands on it.”

As for negative reviews, Sarah says the

brewery as a whole isn’t too concerned.

“When we get bad reviews on Untappd it

does bother us, but we also feel that we can

stand 100 per cent behind the products, so

try not to get too caught up with them.”

Not all negative reviews can be ignored,

though. One unexpected side-effect of

instant reviewing comes from the personal

nature of the product being scrutinised. Most

Untappd users might never assume their

rating was being looked at by the people

they’re discussing, but on the internet, you

should never underestimate the range of your

audience.

Eyes Brewing’s Dan explains why the whole

team doesn’t read the reviews: “Our head

brewer used to look at [Untappd] but one

bad review out of twenty good ones would

ruin his weekend. I try and put my own spin

on the criticism in a way that is helpful to his

brewing process.”

Behind the curtain, social media reviews

are incrementally changing the beers that

FERMENT MAGAZINE 37


THE POWER OF THE THUMB

299 Years

of Beautiful Beers

Award-winning beers from

the home of Scottish Brewing

In 1719 a brewery was established by Belhaven - the beautiful bay- and we’ve been

brewing beautiful beers ever since. Always brewed with 100% Scottish barley malt, some

of the world’s best hops and water from our ancient brewery well, Belhaven beers slake

thirsts, delight tastebuds and win awards in Scotland and around the world.

reach us at the bar. It would seem that the

thousands of reviews and ratings posted each

day are making a small but noticeable impact,

no matter where they are posted. Reactive

brewing and marketing is happening, and

although the majority of brewers are careful

to avoid knee-jerk reactions, it’s easy to see

why negative comments could cause a team

to change a recipe, or even stop selling a

beer altogether. Conversely, seeing that

overwhelmingly good reviews have brought

beers back from special edition extinction,

the love/hate relationship between the

ruthless-but-faceless internet customer and

brewer can work in the industry’s favour.

It’s important to understand the impact

of customer feedback, but also to maintain

a healthy level of cynicism. Breweries like

Wishbone refreshingly have no time for it

at all, and it’s working for them. “We tweak

recipes mostly on what we think about a

beer in the brewery rather than reacting to

social media,” head brewer and owner Adrian

Chapman says. And Neptune Brewery agrees:

“It’s what we want to brew and what we think

works for us,” says co-owner and brewer Julie

O’Grady, who also founded the influential

Ladies That Beer group. “We don’t want to

brew the newest beers just because it’s a

trend.”

In fairness to both, when was the last time

a person left a review that wasn’t partly just

peacocking or airing a grievance? Taking

these insights with a pinch of salt isn’t just

wise, it’s absolutely necessary. By avoiding

them completely, maybe they’re enjoying a

parallel world where they can create beers at

will, maintaining a workable level of blissful,

beneficial ignorance. Sounds ideal.

Dan at Eyes Brewing has some sage words

to wrap up with. “When Untappd first came

out I didn’t own a brewery and I used it all

the time to voice my ill-thought-through

criticisms. When I started in the industry I

became very aware of how hurtful an unfairly

dismissive review can be.”

“Something like Untappd could be used

for good,” he concedes. “It would be really

useful for me if we could get useful data that

shows drinking habits in real time split into

demographics of age and region*. As it is, it’s

more of a force for bad. Breweries all know

that it’s a waste of time, yet most of the people

I know in the industry check it regularly and

compete with others on there.”

So the next time you reach for your

phone in the pub to broadcast your

abject disgust, remember that your

words may be used to influence a

beer’s future. Is that empowering,

or is it scary? That’s for your

thumbs to decide.

*At the time of writing

this article, Untappd

were unable to offer

live data, or provide

data to be split into

demographics for

use within industry.

38 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 39


Zwyczajna

Clockwise, starting from top right:

Pasztetwoa

(printed wrapping)

A spreadable chicken sausage, a bit

like pâté. Spread on toasted bread,

garnish with a pickle and some dill.

Dorktorska

(red vinyl)

Also called the ‘Polish

Mortadella’, a ham-like sausage

best sliced thin.

Kaszanka

(6 small brown sausages

in middle)

A type of blood sausage,

sometimes served for breakfast

or at a barbecue. Similar to our

black pudding.

Zwyczajna

(long brown sausages,

bottom left and right)

The ‘traditional’ Polish type.

Mostly sold smoked and cooked

– they can be either thinly sliced

into a sandwich or grilled and

served with mustard.

Krakowska

(black wrapping)

Often thinly sliced, and eaten with

bread-like charcuterie. A pinkish type

which resembles a boiled ham.

Kabanos

(at the back, on top)

A type of long, thin and dried sausages,

often smoked, eaten like charcuterie.

Kapusta czerwona,

a type of red

cabbage sauerkraut

Sliced tomatoes

Sliced Zwyczajna

Dressing:

Mustard, mayo, salt and

a drop of water

Wholemeal and seeded bread,

spread with a little mustard


Krakowska

Sourdough and rye bread,

spread with a little butter

Sliced pickles

Sliced Krakowska

Dressing:

Ćwikła Staropolska, a type of

red beetroot condiment and a

little grated horseradish


Kabanos

White bread, spread with a

little butter

Curly salad

Red onions

Chunks of Kabanos

Dressing:

Buraczki ćwikłowe, a

type of red beetroot

condiment


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ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

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ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

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ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

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month’s selection

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46 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 47


CRAFT DISTILLING

Alcohol distillation is at times

viewed as the poor cousin to

brewing beer. It has collected

this stigma through regular and often

hilarious references to ‘hillbillies’ and

‘moonshine’. Where the simple method

of producing ethanol is perhaps a tad

underwhelming, distilling a craft spirit

such as whiskey or rum can be just as

involved, if not more.

As much as we are all hops heads,

who doesn’t enjoy a seriously good

whiskey made from malt? We are

talking the real deal here; proper highquality

spirits from real ingredients

made the traditional way with your

very own brewing system like the

Grainfather. It’s super satisfying as

a home brewer and you’ll be sure to

enjoy adding another string to your

bow…

Creating a crafted spirit

The simple and very popular way of

making alcohol is distilling a dextrose/

sugar wash. The sugar wash when

distilled (usually using a reflux still)

creates plain, neutral alcohol that

can then be flavoured at a later stage

with commercial alcohol flavourings

to give a similar flavour profile to the

traditional spirit being imitated – for

example, rum flavouring.

However, with craft distilling, we are

looking to create a traditional spirit

brewed from their traditional source,

so barley for whiskey, molasses for

rum and grapes for brandy, with many

other options as well. Where possible,

with THE GRAINFATHER

we would also be looking to handle

the spirit after distillation traditionally,

for example by aging whiskey on

wood, using either barrels or wood

chips.

Alcohol can be made by yeast from

any simple sugar source. Sugars and

syrups like dextrose, brown sugar,

molasses and golden syrup are already

simple enough that, when diluted,

yeast will ferment these into alcohol.

Grain products like barley, corn, rye

and oats require modification of the

starch into fermentable sugars before

the yeast can work. The modification

occurs by steeping these grains in

warm water where the naturally

occurring enzymes in these grains

convert the starch into fermentable

sugars. Other fruits and plants like

grapes, potatoes and agave may

require other processing before

fermentation can occur.

The process of craft distilling for each

type of spirit can be somewhat specific

to that spirit. But they all can be

simplified down to these basic steps;

1. PREPARE THE WASH - the process of

taking the source of sugar (grains,

fruits, plants etc.) and processing

them so that the sugars are ready

and available for fermentation.

2. FERMENTATION - adding yeast to

the wash to convert the sugar into

alcohol.

3. DISTILLATION - the process of

extracting the alcohol from the wash.

4. FILTRATION - the process of filtering

the alcohol to improve flavour.

5. AGEING - most spirits require some

sort of ageing before the spirit is at

its best for drinking.

For example, to make any whiskey

from scratch, we will go through the

following steps;:

1. PREPARE THE WASH - requires

mashing and steeping grains in warm

water, so the natural enzymes in

the grains convert the starch in the

grains to fermentable sugars.

2. FERMENTING – turning the sugars into

alcohol

3. DISTILLING – distilling the wash to

extract alcohol and intensify flavours.

4. AGEING – age the whiskey in oak, to

balance out body and flavours.

5. FILTRATION – this may occur at a

different stage in the process

depending on the distillery.


CRAFT DISTILLING WITH THE GRAINFATHER

Yeast

The yeast used for fermentation in the

distillation process is not too dissimilar

to beer brewing yeast, and brewing

yeast can often be a suitable substitute

for distillers yeast. The goal for the

yeast in both beer fermentation and

distilling fermentation is the same;

they both need to produce reasonable

quantities of alcohol in a manageable

timeframe, settle out of solution and

produce low levels of off flavours.

If you do decide to try a specific

distiller’s yeast you should be looking

for a yeast that uses a heat tolerant

Alpha Amylase for converting the

complex starch into sugar during the

boil stage and also importantly that

contain Amyloglucosidase Enzyme,

that converts long chain sugars left

over from the mash into fermentable

glucose.

Infused Spirits

Many spirits use spices and botanicals

to give the spirit unique characteristics

that are specific but not limited to

that spirit, like juniper berries in gin,

cinnamon in cinnamon whiskey and

vanilla in spiced rums. Botanical

infusions are incorporated into spirits

in a couple of different ways;

VAPOUR INFUSION: is the process of

combining the spirit with the spices

and botanicals by using equipment

to place the botanicals and spices

in contact with the alcoholic vapour

as it boils off the wash before the

condenser. The botanicals and

spices can also be placed in line

with the distillation process after the

condenser, so the liquid alcohol flows

over the botanicals or spices before

getting to the collection vessel.

STEEPED: Botanicals or spices can be

steeped in several ways including in

the wash, before the distillation occurs.

However, even though the flavour

can carry over from the distillation

if the spices or botanicals are left in

the wash during the distillation, their

bitterness or unwanted flavours can

also be carried across and the spices

and botanicals are boiled during

the distillation, which is not always

desireable. Botanicals and spices can

be steeped during the ageing process

before the spirits are bottled, or the

botanicals and spices can be steeped

in the finished bottle. Both these latter

methods are more commonly found in

a home brewing circumstance.

Aged Spirits

Many spirits like whiskey, bourbon

and brandy are generally aged with

wood that impart both flavours and

colour from the wood to the spirit.

These woods impart different flavours

and colour depending on the type of

wood and how the wood is treated

before coming in contact with the

spirit. The spirit is aged on the wood

until the distiller decides the right

amount of flavour has been added

to the spirit. The speed in which this

occurs depends on the climate the

spirit is being aged and the way the

spirit is being aged, e.g. using barrels

(large or small), wood staves, chips or

spirals.

As you could imagine, a plethora

of wood types exist and, as such, the

variety of flavours they can impart

is also vast. Here are a few of the

more commonly used wood types for

whiskey, bourbon and brandies;

AMERICAN OAK: Quercus Alba is the

type of white oak most commonly

grown in the United States. The forests

in Minnesota and Wisconsin are

considered particularly good sources

of oak. American oak is sweeter and

contains more vanillin compounds

than other oak species. American oak

tends to impart more obvious, stronger

and sweeter aromas and flavours.

Common descriptors for American oak

as well as vanilla are coconut, sweet

spices and dill.

FRENCH OAK: Quercus Petraea and

Quercus Robur are the two species

of white oak grown in France. Of the

two Quercus Petraea is considered the

finer. The most important oak forests

in France are Allier, Nevers and

Tronçais (all in central France), the

Vosges in the northeast, and Limousin,

which is more westerly near the

Cognac region. Of the five, Limousin is

the only forest to grow Quercus Robur.

French oak (particularly Quercus

Petraea) is much tighter grained and

less dense than the American Quercus

Alba. As such French oak imparts

more subtle flavours and firmer, but

silkier tannins.

TOASTED AND CHARRED OAK: These can

be either American or French oak that

is toasted and or charred using ovens

or open flame to draw out particular

flavours from the wood.

The distilling lingo

DISTILLATION: is the process of

separating one liquid from a mixture

of liquids by the combination of

boiling the mixture and condensing

the mixture. In the case of alcoholic

beverages, the process of separating

alcohol produced by the fermentation

from the wash is done by selectively

boiling and condensing the wash

under conditions specific to ethanol.

A STILL: is the equipment used

to distil liquid mixtures. Commercial

and home stills use the same

technology and methodology

as a laboratory distillation, but

on an adjusted scale to suit the

user. Stills are used for producing

products like perfume, medicine,

purified water and to produce distilled

beverages containing ethanol (spirits).

A CONDENSER: is a double walled pipe

in which water flows through the outer

pipe providing cooling to the alcoholic

vapour from the boiling wash, which

then condenses into a liquid in the

inner pipe and flows into a collection

vessel. In the home distilling world,

the flow rate of the water passing

through the condenser is used to

control the temperature, and the

temperature controls which alcohol is

condensed, which for consumption is

ethanol.

POT/ALEMBIC STILLS: are the most

common type of stills used in craft

distilling. By law cognac, Scottish and

Irish whiskeys must be produced using

a pot still to earn the name (Not only

that, but by most accounts they also

need to be produced in their place

of origin). Pot and alembic stills are

common for the production of any

spirit where the flavour of the material

used to make the wash is desired in

the final product like cognac, Scottish

and Irish whiskeys that utilise grain or

when spices are infused in the spirit

during the distillation process like gin

and spiced rum. Pot/Alembic stills are

characterised by the main boiler unit

which boils the wash at the top of the

boiler is an arm which has a condenser.

REFLUX STILLS: are very similar to pot

stills in that they have a boiler section

which is designed to heat the wash in

the same way as a pot still. Where they

differ is the set up of the top of the

still before the condenser. Reflux stills

typically have a tall column at the top

of the still that contain plates or some

item that provides surface area in the

column in the commercial side, in the

home distilling versions stainless steel

saddles provide the surface area. The

plates or saddles provide a surface in

which the alcohol and water vapour can

condense and fall back into the wash.

This act is called refluxing and greatly

reduces the amounts of flavours that

end up in the collection vessel. The

result is a very neutral spirit that can

then be further processed by adding

flavours or re-distilling with botanicals.

Because of the reflux action and the

resulting neutrality of the spirit, the

starting material and fermenting

conditions for the wash are less

important.

These Stills are typically made of

stainless steel, copper or both.


CRAFT DISTILLING WITH THE GRAINFATHER

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Stainless steel is cheap, easy to clean

and durable. However copper is a

better conductor of heat and will

also reduce any undesirable sulphur

compounds in the distillate.

Whiskey from Beer on the

Grainfather

In home brewing we all have beers

that just don’t work out the way we

want, or are sitting around in the keg

too long and they start to oxidise,

but what to do with it? We know we

should dump it and start again, but it

is difficult to justify with all the time

and effort having already gone into

each batch, so homebrewers will often

pitch some bugs and leave it for a

year and see what happens. This has

its own problems, but there is also

another option, and that is to make

some delicious whiskey from your

already finished beer.

Distilling beer into whiskey won’t

fix egregious falts and produce a great

whiskey, but it is perfect for good beer

that’s a bit past its prime, and you

need the keg, bottles or space in the

fridge/ kegerator. Then distilling the

beer will give you some more space

for beer and as a bonus a bottle or two

of whiskey.

Last year we made some Christmas

recipes and they were delicious but

being summer now in the southern

hemisphere it was difficult to drink

large amounts of the stout and porter,

especially when we had so many good

pale ales and lagers on tap here at

Grainfather.

So at the beginning of the year, we

had about 15 L of the American Toffee

Porter left in the keg and thought it

was about time to change this out for

something else. But it was tasting so

good that we didn’t want to dump it

and the thought of a toffee whiskey

made our mouths water.

The beer had been sitting stationary

in the keg for more than six months.

Therefore, any remaining yeast had

settled out and so no more clarifying

agents were added. The beer was

transferred from the keg into the

Grainfather, it doesn’t matter that it

was cold nor that it is carbonated. Five

capfuls of spirits distilling conditioner

and boil chips were added since beers

tend to have a higher protein content

than most all grain washes.

STRIPPING RUN

The Grainfather with Alembic and

collection vessel was set up and water

flow set to just over 2.5L per min. The

heating was then turned on and set to

65% power. Turn the water on when

the thermometer at the top of the

Alembic reached 400°C, and all the

spirit was collected until the spirit got

to 30% ABV.

The American toffee porter was 6.1%

ABV and 15 L. Therefore 0.061 x 15 is

0.915L at 100% spirit, but the average

spirit out will be about 47%. Therefore,

we got about 1.83 L from my spirit run.

The grainfather was then left to cool

and cleaned out the next morning.

SPIRIT RUN

The spirit from the spirit run was

diluted to 10 L with distilled water

and added back to the empty, cleaned

grainfather, boiling chips were readded.

The Alembic and collection

vessels were set up and water flow

set to just over 2.5 L per min. The

heating was then turned on and set to

65% power. Turn the water on when

the thermometer at the top of the

Alembic reached 400°C. Because

beers are fermented cooler, and

under more control, the methanol

content is much lower than traditional

spirit washes so we typically throw

away the first 50ml, then collect

the heads in 50ml containers. We

typically collect 4 or 5 50ml lots of

heads before we collect the hearts.

When the hearts get around 32%

ABV, we start collecting the tails again

4 or 5x 50ml.

After blending the heads, hearts

and tails, we had just over a litre of

40% ABV whiskey which we aged on

a 3cm charred American oak spiral for

a month. The resulting whiskey had a

nice golden colour and a good toffee

nose which paired well with the

charred vanilla and toffee flavours

from the charred oak, perfect!


OFFICE BREW:

IMPERIAL MANGO IPA

WORDS: James Taylor

PHOTOS: Richard Croasdale

This is a classic case of combining your

greatest loves in the misguided

hope that it’ll deliver results.

There are a few examples of this in

the real world, cauliflower cheese, mint

chocolate or even the humble jammie

dodger. These culinary scientists should

be celebrated and I want to follow in

their footsteps and create a fruited IPA so

delicious that we scrap this whole Beer52

thing and just start sending cases of this

beer every month. This, of course, is my

Mango DIPA.

Predicted to be a whopping 7.6%, this

imperial mango IPA should be sweet,

caramelly, piney and have a very slightly

fruity bitterness and incredible body.

When researching hops there is one

that stands out as the absolute king of the

tropical mango flavour – Azacca. Named

after the Haitian god of agriculture, it’s

well known for its explosive tropical


OFFICE BREW

fruit flavours. It’s a great late/dryhopping

addition, so only 0.25oz goes

into the 5 gallon boil, the other 2.75oz

will go in later in the whirlpool and

for dry-hopping. This should ensure

we get a low bitterness to help me

reminisce about drinking mango juice

on the beach as a youngster or, more

recently, straight from a carton in my

underwear.

One of my most loved beers is

Belching Beaver - Here Comes

Mango! However, this also contains

I made a couple of errors...

there is such a thing as

too much sanitiser

pineapple which I’ve heard contains

proteins which make it a little difficult

to homebrew. From a little more

research, I happened across Founder’s

Azacca IPA online, which looks

exactly what I’m aiming for. They even

did a variation with added mango, but

it looks to be extremely small batch.

This is concerning, but also exciting,

maybe it was simply too incredible

to unleash on the World?

Citra has strong mango

characteristics, so we’ll back up

the Azacca with a whole heap (3oz

of pellets) in the whirlpool and

for dry-hopping. As previously

mentioned, some of my favourite

beers are single hop citra so

it seems a good choice for

myself.

Obviously, there’s

nothing more

mango-y than

mango itself,

so I cut and squashed five whole

mangoes to go in at 50 minutes. This

worked out, roughly, at 2.5lb of mango.

That’s as heavy as a human head!

For malts, we’ve used caramel malts,

pale 2-row as well as flaked oats

and white wheat. This should give a

nice mouthfeel and beautiful amber

colouring to the beer, as well as a solid

backbone from which the Azacca can

shine.

The yeast, as recommended by

Brewstore, is “Hazy Daze WLP4042”

which I’m told is the hottest New

England yeast on the market and

perfect for hop-forward IPAs. In

retrospect, maybe a paler malt base

would have let the haze come through

a bit better, but this should still look

incredible.

I made a couple of errors in

preparation. Firstly, there is such

a thing as too much sanitiser.

Coating the entire carboy in highly

concentrated sanitiser is unnecessary

and could even taint the flavour of

the beer. Also, by boiling mango, I’m

concerned we’ll lose some of the

bright vibrant tropical flavour and turn

it more into a “stewed apple”. All my

fears are allayed once I get a smell of

the Azacca hop, what an absolutely

incredible aroma.

This was a fairly straightforward

brew thanks to our grainfather and

all the assistance from brewstore in

Edinburgh. The beer was racked and

yeast pitched. Now we wait, and see if

this really is one small step for man,

and one giant leap for man-go.

56

FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 57


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ound organised in time, if

delivered with particularly

euphonious melodies in

rhythmical formations that somehow

manage to infiltrate your nervous

system, causing goosebumps,

amorous sentiments to a nearby

stranger and for you to dance like a

tit, is wondrous.

I am of course talking about music,

a human tradition for absolutely

bloody ages. I could give you exact

dates, but let’s just say that there’s

a flute carved out of bone that

wikipedia says is 41,000 years old.

Since Fred Flintstone and

his blow-the-bone orchestra,

we have perfected the art of

music notation, instrument

craft and have developed

multiple musical genres such

as classical, indie rock and future

garage.

The complexity, variety and

diversity of music is the great thing

about it. There is literally something

for everybody, a smorgasbord of

tonal delights: vibrations that literally

move the air around us, which in turn

vibrates our eardrum, which moves

our ossicles, which amplify the sound,

sending waves to our cochlea, where

they become electrical impulses,

which the auditory nerve sends

to the brain, which the brain then

translates into sound, somehow

altering your state of mind in a way

that I am unable to explain. It’s about

as close to magic as we are likely to

see on planet Earth.

So why then, when listening and

hearing music is such an incredible

feat of natural engineering, do so

many eating establishments insist on

shitting out mediocre bullshit music

that makes me want to grab my fish

knife and scrape out my ossicles?

Let me be clear: eating out is a

pleasure and a privilege. But

when we pop to a restaurant

– whether it’s a michelin star

dry-ice kinda place or ZiiZii’s –

we are doing so because we’ve

decided that our hard-earned cash is

going towards not cooking and not

washing up. We want to be waited on

and served, and for good reason.

Sure, the first reason is to eat,

but one of the things that cooking

and washing up get in the way of

is conversation. If you’re the one

cooking, you’re distracted. Even if

you’re waiting 20 minutes for the

potatoes to finish roasting, you’re still

thinking about those potatoes and

not listening to your partner who’s

telling you about their dreadful

week. It can be a bit of a pain, and

I am convinced that people who

love cooking do so because

they’re on their own. It’s their

“me” time.

The point is, we don’t go to a

restaurant just to eat. We

go for the atmosphere,

the buzz, the babble.

We go for the

artificial space

that is created

and perfected

It’s background, it’s

atmosphere and it

should never try and

be anything else

to fuel conversation. No obstacles,

no distractions, just you and your

partner, friends or family. It’s the

reason a typical gastro style fish and

chips costs £12 even though you

know for sure it probably cost

them £1 to produce. But we don’t

mind, because... atmosphere...

Along the line of this “space

creating” however, the memo about

the music got lost. It got lost in a

big pile of “Italian Cafe” and “Indian

Restaurant” CDs. I’ve had several

run ins with piped music over the

last few months, all for different

reasons. Generic world music with

very loud, high pitched shouting and

yelling in what is essentially a French

brasserie. Heavy, stupid, loud, shit

rock pumped out at 10:30am over a

brunch. The Spice Girls at a very

smart pub, in the beer garden.

Everything has been carefully

thought about aside from the

music. Massive effort has

gone into catching my

fish, delivering to the

restaurant, making

the batter, frying

it, cutting the

potatoes, triple

frying them and

sending them out to me on carefully

sourced, aesthetically pleasing plates

that can stand up to the rigours of an

industrial dishwasher. But then you

blow it at the last second by shitting

directly into my ears. You might as

well vomit on a plate and kick your

customers right in the jaffers.

Restaurant owners, know this: no

one, not a single person who has

been eating their food in your

establishment stopped for a

moment and exclaimed to their

party and nearby tables, “Ooo, I

love this song”. It’s background, it’s

atmosphere and it should never try

and be anything else. If you put on

music that you think makes you work

better, or a song that you like to listen

to at home, don’t put it on. No one

wants to hear it. No one cares, not

in the slightest. You are ruining what

is otherwise a sublime experience,

tarnishing your reputation, tainting

your food. If it doesn’t enhance the

experience, turn it off.

I love music. There is no doubt

about that, but its sheer complexity,

variety and diversity is the reason we

have earphones. My train journey is a

pleasure when I listen to my carefully

selected music, wistfully looking out

of the window as if starring in a film all

of my own. Blast it out to the rest of

the carriage however and I suspect I

would ruin their day, make them angry

and would expect nothing short of a

serious telling off.

It’s called “piped music” for a

reason, it’s shit.

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MASTER of his CRAFT

Over the past four decades, David

Smith of Brewing Services &

Consultancy has helped more

than 170 brewers select, commission and

get the most out of their brewery kit,

playing an instrumental – if often invisible

– role in the rise of many of our most

beloved craft brands.

David began his career at Sam Smith’s

Brewery in Tadcaster in July 1976. At this

time the Brewers Society listed just 90

regional breweries of various sizes in the

UK, and just five pub breweries, a far cry

from today’s 1900+ breweries. Seeing how

the industry was already changing, David

decided in 1988 to start his own business

offering advice and technical support to

an emerging breed of new brewers; and

Brewing Services & Consultancy was born.

David's son Rob joined the business in

2015, having gained practical experience

of brewing cask ales and craft lagers at

Dartmoor and Freedom Breweries and

spent three years as QA brewer at the

Meantime Brewing Company.

Their main goal is to provide support

and training to help brewers consistently

produce the best beer possible and

individually reach their full potential. Their

four-day course, ‘The Fundamentals of

Mini-Brewing,’ runs twice a year and

covers the basics of good brewing

practice with participants gaining a

greater insight in to the art, science and

craft of brewing.

They also provids ongoing, handson

consultancy to a number of craft

breweries, several of which have picked

up major industry awards over the

past few years. In this capacity, they

are able to help even experienced and

technically expert brewers overcome

many of the pitfalls which can otherwise

dog small and medium breweries.

“As the number of breweries in the

UK has grown, and beer lovers’ tastes

have become more adventurous, the

number of beers being produced each

year is rising exponentially. Where this

trend is leading us now is towards the

ever-more weird and wacky, and by no

means always good beer. All my life

I have been dedicated to producing

good quality beers I believe any drinker

will enjoy; beers with a good depth of

flavour, not extreme but well-balanced

and produced to a high standard.

“This is the true art of brewing

and the mark of a good brewer but is

something that many brewers fail to

understand, let alone master. There is

nothing more satisfying than to watch

someone go and order a pint of beer you

have helped to produce, and then watch

the same person go back later and ask for

another. You know then you have satisfied

that person’s need for a decent pint.”

It’s clear that brewing is not just a

career to David and Rob, but a vocation,

which has evolved into something of a

crusade. “I’ll keep going at this for as long

as there are people wanting to drink well

balanced full-flavored beers and brewers

wanting to produce them,” he concludes.

“After forty years in the business, I’m not

quite ready for ullaging just yet!”

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Steel Coulson, Edinburgh

Particularly when it’s in your home

town, discovering a great new

beer bar is always a joy, so we’re

excited to be hosting this month’s

members’ bottle share with the very

lovely Steel Coulson, in Edinburgh’s

waterside Leith neighbourhood. Having

previously been a slightly intimidating

dockers’ pub, Steel Coulson now

combines a lovely traditional look with

an excellent selection of beers, with cask

pumps proudly front and centre (though

also a good line-up of keg taps, bottles

and cans).

As usual, we’re joined by eight of

our most loyal local members to share

some truly special beers from around

the world. In the true spirit of a bottle

share, the theme of tonight’s event is

‘beers that we liked the look of, with an

accidental Belgian-ish theme’. Exciting

times.

After a round of Steel Coulson’s own

excellent Golden Ale on cask to get

everyone’s palates into gear, we kick

off the proceedings with Cloudwater’s

double dry hopped pale with Enigma

MEMBERS’

BOTTLE SHARE

and Ekuanot. It’s a zingy number with

low bitterness but plenty of citrus and

herbal notes. James Rodger-Philips picks

up orange, while Colin Freeth ventures

tangerine; everyone agrees that the

citrus is definitely more peel than flesh

though, with real zesty freshness. I get a

hit of papaya, while intern Sarah Marks

homes in on the dank, resinous, herbal

character. This one is unambiguously

about the hops though, whichever way

you cut it.

Next up is Acid Crush, a handsomelycanned

collaboration between Norway’s

Lervig and Belgium’s Oud Beersel.

Several eyebrows rise at the prospect

of an IPA/Lambic blend, but the result

isn’t as challenging as we had perhaps

suspected. There’s a definite funk at

the end, and some sourness, but it’s

generally well balanced with the IPA

base. For Colin Banks, a fan of Lervig’s

excellent standard IPA, it’s the hops that

lead the charge, with the young Lambic

adding layers of dressing.

Continuing our Belg-ish odyssey,

we have a bretted saison from Time

and Tide. This is perhaps the surprise

hit of the evening; none of us had

tried it before and it defied a lot of

our expectations. The brettanomyces

character is clear, but not too heady,

manifesting as a pleasant hay-like nose

and flavour, which goes well with the soft

and comforting saison. Sam Proctor is a

fan of how sweet it is compared to some

other drier saisons, while Mike Bentley

praises its smooth and warming mouth

feel. There’s a definite spice on the

finish, along with the more usual banana

and cloves, as Colin Freeth observes.

Peter Buckley, not a saison fan generally,

is converted.

For our penultimate beer, I pull

out a big hitter: a champagne bottle

of Mikkeller Oude Geuze, created in

collaboration with Lambic legends

Boon. Just as I’m explaining how the

introduction of young Lambic to old

Lambic sets off Geuze’s characteristic

secondary fermentation in the bottle,

the (foolishly) uncaged cork explodes

out of the bottle in my hand, waking

everyone up. Rookie error.

Safely into everyone’s glasses though,

the beer is sensational. Sarah’s keen for

everyone to rate each brew out of ten

for some reason, and this one scores

several tens. Like the best geuzes, it’s

soft and infinitely complex, with layers

of horsey brett, delicate sourness

(including just a pleasant edge of acetic

tang) and apple sweetness from the

calvados foeders in which it was aged.

Mark Dyson is particularly enthusiastic,

praising its long finish and champagnelike

subtlety.

Our final beer of the evening – literally

a showstopper at 13% abv – could not

be more different. A maple-infused

imperial stout from Stone Brewing,

W00t Stout is a collaboration between

Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, actor and

internet deity Will Wheaton and Stone

co-founder Greg Koch. Made with rye,

wheat and pecans, and partially aged

in whiskey barrels, it’s a viscous, tar-like

beer, presenting a storm of flavours that

compete for your attention, like a choir

screaming insults in perfect harmony.

Peter Buckley finds sweet espresso

and dark chocolate, while several others

comment on the dark, plummy fruit and

the excess of nutty, cookies-and-cream

richness. Colin Freeth finds the sweet

treacle balanced by a soy-like umami

quality, which receives nods from all

around the table. For Calum Banks, this

beer sneaks in at the last second to snag

his brew-of-the-night.

It’s been a great evening and the staff

at Steel Coulson have been excellent (and

patient). Try the black pudding scotch egg

if you’re there: knockout. We round off

the evening with a couple more pints and

a whisky, to accompany some chat about

life, beer and everything. Thanks again to

our wonderful Edinburgh members, and

hopefully see more of you around

the country soon…

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EDINBURGH

Beer52 is very proud to call

Edinburgh home, and very

fortunate to be based in one

of the UK’s great beer cities. As well

as hosting several highly respected

and historically important breweries,

the city also has an exciting raft of

new home-grown beers, from the

likes of Pilot, Campervan, Bellhaven

and Barney’s.

The city itself is quite unlike

anywhere else – a cultural and

architectural gem anchored to

Scotland’s east coast by a majestic

castle-topped glacial ridge, running

down to the old town to the south,

WORDS: Sarah Marks

and the genteel new town and the

sea to the north. Visit in August and

you’ll find the Edinburgh Festivals –

most notably the Edinburgh Festival

Fringe, the world’s largest multi-arts

festival – in full swing and the city

transformed into a riot of colour and

noise.

But Edinburgh’s not just a summer

city; beer lovers will find plenty to

keep them entertained year-round,

thanks to a thriving bar scene. While

Edinburgh has been recognised

for the international quality of its

cocktail bars for around a decade,

the past few years have also seen the

emergence of some world-class beer

bars, from traditional cask-focused

pubs to hip craft emporia, and several

excellent bottleshops.

Finally, it may surprise some

visitors to learn there’s more to

Scottish food than haggis and deepfried

confectionary. Much more.

With a plethora of delicious options

ranging all the way from Michelinstarred

restaurants to unpretentious

family bistros, you can ‘fill yer boots’

every night in Edinburgh and never

get bored.

PUBS, BARS AND

BOTTLE SHOPS

BODA BAR 229 LEITH WALK, EH6 8NY

SOFI’S 65 HENDERSON STREET, EH6 6ED

VICTORIA’S 265 LEITH WALK, EH6 8PD

JOSEPH PEARCE’S 23 ELM ROW, EH7

4AA

These awesome family-run bars pride

themselves on making you feel at home

away from home and, with perfect

Swedish hospitality, staff here never

fail to charm. Boasting a consistently

impressive selection of craft beers and

some of the best Swedish food on offer

in the city, it’s definitely worth making

time to visit any (or all) of these funky

east-side bars. Skål!

STEEL COULSON TAP

24 HENDERSON STREET, EH6 6BS

New to the city, but already a popular

CAMRA hangout, this quirky wee pub in

Leith has six cask pulls and ten keg taps

as well as a whole host of bottles, cans

and delicious wines to keep idle hands

occupied. As first runner up in CAMRA’s

Edinburgh and South-East Scotland

Cider Pub of the Year 2018, Steel

Coulson demonstrates a real devotion

to proper brewing that extends to all

BODA BAR

aspects of the taproom. In association

with its sister business, Dawkins Ales,

these guys even offer a 50p discount

for CAMRA members on all Dawkins

Ales and Steel Coulson pints. What

more could you ask for?

BREWSTORE

61 SOUTH CLERK STREET, EH8 9PP

This family-owned, southside gem

has been supplying Edinburgh with

the best in brewing equipment and

ingredients for over 35 years. Any

homebrewer can’t help but feel like

a child in a sweet shop exploring this

Aladdin’s cave of brewing goodies.

Drawing on their copious funds of

knowledge, these guys also run the

Edinburgh BrewSchool where even

beginners can learn all about the

alchemy and art of homebrewing.

THE BEERHIVE

24 RODNEY STREET, EH7 4EA

Living up to the bustling connotations

of its name, Peter Sherry’s Bonnington

bottle shop is an independent treasure

trove of beery goodness. Staff here are

famously friendly and knowledgeable,

which is a good thing because you’re

going to need someone to guide you

through the 700+ beers and 500+

STEEL COULSON

wines on offer. If that wasn’t enough,

with the only Kegerator in Scotland, The

Beerhive also offers its customers the

opportunity to take home beer that’s

been freshly bottled in-store.

THE HANGING BAT

133 LOTHIAN ROAD, EH3 9AB

Established in 2012, The Hanging Bat

has become a sort of nervecentre in

the Edinburgh craft beer world. Very

different from CAMRA sweethearts

like The Stockbridge Tap, but with the

same dedication, they cater to the next

generation of craft beer lovers, ditching

the pint completely and offering

contemporary BBQ fare from their

cherished smoker. As well as curating

an extensive selection of draught and

bottled beers, they regularly work with

students from the Heriot Watt Brewing

and Distilling degree course to create

unique beers with their Sabco Magic

Brew 50l brewkit.

6° NORTH

24 HOWE ST, EH3 6TG

On the northern outskirts of the New

Town, with its grand Georgian facades,

lies 6° North, a chic Belgian-style beer

hall with a clean industrial interior that

conveys its commitment to stripping

BREWSTORE

6° NORTH

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EDINBURGH CITY GUIDE

away the superfluous and doing things

properly. 40 taps and an absolute

cornucopia of bottled beers mean that

you could easily while away an evening

here. A strong focus on food pairings

have led to an impressive tapas style

menu with its roots firmly in Belgian

gastronomy and a profound respect for

the beer.

BRAMBLE

16A QUEEN STREET, EH2 1JE

Despite being famously difficult to

find, this long-standing basement

bar really shouldn’t be missed. As

one of Edinburgh’s oldest and most

respected venues of its kind, perhaps

it should come as no surprise that

huge drinks industry names like Ryan

Chetiyawardana and Iain Griffiths have

passed through here. Expect innovative

flavour-pairings, very low lighting and

a wholehearted dedication to all things

hip-hop.

SALT HORSE

57-61 BLACKFRIARS ST, EH1 1NB

Sitting quietly on the slope of a steep

side-street just off the Cowgate is Salt

Horse, a highly regarded wee beer bar

and bottle shop that boasts a killer Old

Town location without the swarms of

tourists. Their impressive beer selection

is complemented by tasty burgers from

resident chefs Meat:Stack. Although

they may be small, they pack a big

punch. These guys are particularly well

known for their tasting sessions and

events so keep an eye on their social

media for the latest.

FOOD

THE SCRAN AND SCALLIE

1 COMELY BANK RD, EH4 1DT

If seasonal Scottish fare is what you’re

after, look no further than Tom Kitchin’s

chic gastro pub in pretty Stockbridge.

As befits one of Edinburgh’s wealthiest

neighbourhoods, meals aren’t

particularly cheap here, but accolades

like their Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand

2017 testify to the quality of the food.

Kitchin demonstrates his commitment

to showcasing local produce across

the menu, so expect to pair your scran

with beers from Scottish breweries like

Harviestoun and Campervan.

THE FAT PONY

47/49 BREAD STREET, EH3 9AH

A fairly recent addition to the city,

The Fat Pony focuses on producing

small plates with big flavours that are

designed to pair with their impressive

collection of wines. Although it styles

itself as a wine bar, its beer and

cocktail menus have been treated with

the same level of attention to detail

so you needn’t feel restricted while

you’re there. It’s slightly off the beaten

track for visitors, sitting between the

Grassmarket and Lothian Road, but

very much worth pulling up google

maps.

EL CARTEL

64 THISTLE ST, EH2 1EN

This cosy Mexican street-food joint

hosts a particularly impressive agave

selection as well as the city’s most

sought after Mexican tapas. Not at all

surprisingly, this tiny venue is always

rammed, but you shouldn’t let that

put you off. Head across the road to

its sister bar, The Bon Vivant, and staff

will notify you when a table becomes

free. Plus, in addition to being famous

for its delicious range of wacky frozen

margaritas, it also offers BYOB if you

buy from the neighbouring bottleshop,

The Bon Vivant’s Companion.

EDINBURGH FOOD STUDIO

158 DALKEITH ROAD, EH16 5DX

Hidden away behind the most

unassuming of shopfronts, The

Edinburgh Food Studio is the

crowd-funded success story of Ben

Reade and Sashana Souza Zanella.

Having both graduated from Italy’s

prestigious University of Gastronomic

Sciences, and with Reade’s experience

in research and development at

Copenhagen’s Nordic Food Lab, this

place has food research at its heart.

SPITAKI

133 CLAREMONT ST, EH7 4JA

A little slice of Greece in the heart of

Edinburgh, if Spitaki looks a little rustic

and unassuming, it’s only because

the focus of this family-run restaurant

is firmly on the food. With fresh

ingredients and a clear commitment to

authenticity, everything on the menu

is a must-try, and definitely works best

on a big table filled with family, friends

and laughter (as long as you’re all

prepared to share). The grilled meats

are great if you’re a carnivore but – as

you might expect – there are also

plenty of excellent vegetarian options

on show.

CULTURE

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PORTRAIT

GALLERY

1 QUEEN STREET, EH2 1JD

An eclectic mix of exhibitions are

housed inside what can only be

described as a gilded, neo-gothic

palace of a gallery. Aside from the

great halls of more conventional

portraiture, anyone with a fascination

for the macabre should look out for

the collection of death masks on the

first floor. Here you’ll come face to

face, quite literally, with the likes of

Oliver Cromwell, Samuel Johnson, and

the infamous local murderer William

Hare.

THE PITT MARKET

125 PITT STREET, EH6 4DE

Food, drinks and live music come

together at this award winning outdoor

market every Saturday 12pm-10pm.

Dogs are welcome, as are kids until

8pm, with the whole thing feeling

more like a chilled barbecue with

friends than an open market. But don’t

worry, unlike most barbecues, The Pitt

doesn’t let Scotland’s signature rubbish

weather get in the way of a good thing;

fire pits and plenty of sheltered spots

keep the party going come rain or shine.

DOMINION CINEMA

NEWBATTLE TERRACE, EH10 4RT

Tucked away on a quiet residential

street in Miss Jean Brodie’s

Morningside, the Dominion retains its

air of romance by remaining one of the

city’s best kept secrets. Why not sip on

some bubbly and enjoy table service

from plush recliners as old Hollywood

luxury seduces you in this iconic

independent cinema.

SURGEONS HALL MUSEUM

NICOLSON STREET, EH8 9DW

With one of the largest collections

of pathological artefacts in the UK,

housed inside one of Scotland’s oldest

museums, Surgeons Hall is absolutely

packed with weird and wonderful

things. Here you’ll find a myriad of jars

with bits of bodies floating menacingly

in them as well as archaic examples of

medical tools that may well give you

nightmares. It’s a great place to spend

a rainy afternoon and particularly good

for kids, but fair warning, its probably

not for those of you of a squeamish

disposition.

BRAMBLE

SALT HORSE

EL CARTEL

SCRAN AND SCALLIE

BODA BAR

STEEL COULSON

BREWSTORE

6° NORTH

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ake a lungful of air on a crisp,

sunny day in Edinburgh and

you might be lucky enough to

catch a nutty, toasty smell that warms

you from head to toes. This delicious

scent comes from the breweries and

distilleries (plus a biscuit factory)

sited in the city, the malt they use

wafting on the breeze. But Edinburgh

didn’t always smell so sweet, and

that was down to the breweries too.

Before electricity powered everything,

breweries burned so much coal and

wood that the air around them was

thick with smoke, and Edinburgh

earned the moniker “Auld Reekie”.

And that’s just one way that breweries

have made their mark on the city. With

the help of John Martin of the Scottish

Brewing Archive Association, we

explore the longstanding partnership

between Edinburgh and its brewers.

While Scotland is well known for

its whisky, its brewing history is less

talked about. But to first make whisky,

you need to make a kind of beer, and

with good quality water and grain

around, this was easy to do and was

happening long before distilling came

about. Even the Picts as far back as

pre-Roman times were brewing using

heather, spruce and rowan berries

for flavour, explains John. It wasn’t

until the 12th century that brewing

appeared in Edinburgh though, and

Louise Crane walks us through Edinburgh’s

long and storied relationship with beer

this is credited to the thirsty monks

of Holyrood Abbey, whose land was

granted to them by King David I. Using

a well to capture the clear spring water

on site, they began to brew ale for

themselves and for trade with the local

community.

“By the 15th century, brewers were

seen, along with bakers and butchers,

as purveyors of the necessities of

life,” says John. “Brewing was widely

practiced in the home by women who

were known as brewsters.” In 1520,

228 homes in Edinburgh brewed beer,

representing one brewery for every

40 inhabitants. The establishment

of the Society of Brewers in 1596

ensured that all aspects of the trade,

including grain supply, malt and water

for brewing, and pricing policies, were

regulated.

Public breweries began to appear in

the 17th and 18th centuries. “Edinburgh

was the ideal location for brewing

beer. Apart from the excellent supply

of water, it also had a readly supply

of barley from the surrounding land,

local mines that supplied coal for

power, and its own port for exporting

beer all over the world,” says John.

One area in particular was rich in

breweries, the part of the Royal Mile

named “Canongate” for the route that

the Augustinian canons of Holyrood

Abbey took to Edinburgh. Due to an

underground water source known as

the “Charmed Circle”, as

many as 20 breweries

set up here, jostling for

space.

One of the earliest

public breweries was

Archibald Campbell,

who set up in

1710. An awardwinning

streak

saw his company

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MALT IN THE BLOOD

become a bigger enterprise, and soon

amalgamated with Hope & King, a wine

& spirits merchant. Other big names

include Drybrough’s, Ushers, William

Younger and William McEwan, all in

fervent competition with each other.

William Younger bought in 1858 what

would turn into the largest brewery

in Edinburgh, Holyrood Brewery, with

the capacity to produce 60 brews a

week, generating 600 barrels of beer

a week, or 432 million pints of beer

every year. In 1894, William McEwan

donated £115,000 to construct a

new graduation hall for Edinburgh

University: the McEwan Hall. Following

suit, Andrew Usher, whose father was

a famous local brewer, bequeathed a

similar amount to build a new concert

hall. Unfortunately, Andrew did not

live to see his name on the wall, as

Usher Hall’s construction was held up

and not completed until long after he

had died.

In 1835, John Muir was the first to

brew lager in the UK at the Calton Hill

Brewery. Muir had been impressed

by German lager while on a European

excursion, and upon his return to

Scotland, decided to try brewing it

himself. He arranged for a German

friend to send him some lager yeast

and got down to business. But Muir

struggled with the challenge of

keeping the fermenting lager at a cool,

even temperature (even in Edinburgh’s

decidedly chilly climate) and lager

didn’t become widely established

until toward the end of the 19th

century when brewing technology had

improved.

Between 1850 and 1914, Edinburgh

became known as the Brewing Capital

of Scotland, if not the UK, explains

John. “In 1890, Edinburgh had 33

breweries operating. Its fame spread

to all over world and was renowned

for its quality.” Scotland was churning

out 1½-2 million barrels of beer by

1900, “with Edinburgh breweries

producing the lion’s share. At its peak,

Edinburgh ale was more famous than

Scotch whisky.” Scottish ales were very

popular overseas, particularly in India

and Australia, and the early success of

Edinburgh’s big brewers was down to

strong export figures.

At its peak, Edinburgh

ale was more famous

than Scotch whisky

The two world wars of the 20th

century had a huge impact on brewing

across Europe. Shortage of materials,

and to some extent labour, reduced

the volume that could be produced.

Women were drafted in to help - a

mass return of the brewster. “During

these troubled times breweries did

provide beer to the troops abroad,

which helped with morale,” explains

John. Even after the Second World

War there were fewer materials

available up until the mid 1950s, and

by the 1960s many smaller breweries

were taken over and closed down. An

over-reliance on exports meant that

when the British Empire broke up, a

lot of breweries closed for good.

In 1920, breweries Edinburgh &

Leith, Summerhall, The Palace, and

Bell’s formed a conglomerate called

Edinburgh United Breweries, which

soon ran into some big money troubles.

One of the directors and the head

brewer came up with a rather naughty

fix to avoid paying the full amount of

duty on the beer they produced. In

classic television crime story style, the

brewery kept two sets of accounting

books, and only one of these books

was shown to the Customs and Excise

inspectors. From 1926 until 1933 all was

going well, until a sacked employee

turned sour and blew the whistle on

them. The brewery couldn’t afford to

pay what they owed, and the business

went under. You could hardly make

it up, and in fact a book based on the

case by author and historian John

Pink was used for years to train new

Customs and Excise officers.

The two largest brewing companies,

Younger’s and McEwan’s, also

attempted to survive the inter-war

period by joining together, merging in

1931 to create Scottish Brewers Ltd.

In 1960 they further amalgamated

with Newcastle Breweries to form

Scottish & Newcastle, the largest

brewing company in the UK, and

the 3rd largest in Europe. In 1973,

Scottish & Newcastle built a new

brewery at Fountainbridge, opposite

McEwan’s now-closed Victorian

Fountain Brewery, and at the time it

was the most automated brewery in

Europe. It closed in 2004 and was

once earmarked for conversion to flats,

a fate already met by St Leonard’s

and Craigmillar. In the 1990s, Scottish

and Newcastle’s Holyrood Brewery

was demolished to make way for the

Scottish Parliament building, and in

2008, the firm was taken over by a

combined venture of Heineken and

Carlsberg.

There is now just one Victorian-era

brewery remaining in Edinburgh, the

Caledonian Brewery, founded in 1869.

But Edinburgh’s brewing industry

remains strong. “Today the country

is experiencing a brewing revolution

with the number of breweries on the

increase and offering a much wider

range of flavours than ever before,”

explains John. There are at least

thirteen micro-breweries in Edinburgh

now including Barney’s, Edinburgh

Beer Factory, and Bellfield Brewery,

the UK’s first entirely gluten-free

brewery. “My own particular favourite

is McEwans Champion Ale,” says John,

“and although it is now produced

elsewhere, the flavour is unchanged. It

is one beer I turn to whenever I want a

treat. None better.”

Many old brewery buildings can still

be found across the city, but brewing

has left its legacy in other ways too,

notably in education. The International

Centre for Brewing and Distilling

was set up as part of Edinburgh’s

Heriot-Watt University in 1903, when

Emil Westergaard was appointed as

Did you know?

Brewer William McEwan

was also an ardent member

of the Temperance Society.

Perplexing.

a part- time lecturer in brewing in

the Chemistry Department. Since

then it has grown to be a flourishing

department with 157 students on

campus and ten staff. There is also a

public health position at the university

funded by endowments from

Alexander Lowe Bruce of Younger’s

distillery and Sir John Usher of Usher’s

following discussions with the great

Louis Pasteur. The Scottish Brewing

Archive Association was founded by

the university in 1981 to promote the

history of brewing in Scotland. It’s a

fine history whose coal-fired torch

has now been passed on to the new

generation of brewers who are making

the beer we drink today. Now that’s

something to raise a glass to.

72 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 73


Become a Master Taster

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Step One - Taster!

Welcome to the club. Earn

points with every box you order,

beers you review, and friends

you refer! It’s that simple!

Step Two - Super Taster!

You’ll reach Super Taster status after three

boxes and we’ll include our book The

Story of Craft Beer in your box, written by

Ferment contributor and renowned beer

writer Pete Brown - RRP £12.99.

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 75


76 FERMENT MAGAZINE

ESCAPE to the

COUNTRY

PHOTO: Zsolt Stefkovics

HOW CRAFT BEER IS

FINALLY BEGINNING

TO BREAK FREE OF ITS

URBAN UNCUBATOR

WORDS: Matt Curtis

The modern British beer revolution

of the past decade began within the

cities. Railway arches, disused shipping

containers and industrial estate warehouses

have served as birthing grounds, for what are

now considered to be some of the country’s

best and most progressive breweries. It wasn’t

the breweries alone that sparked this modern

brewing boom, however. The more breweries

that appeared, the more fertile the areas

surrounding them would become, allowing

a new wave of pubs, bars and bottle shops

to burst through the concrete—just as the

breweries that came before them had done.

It happened in London’s South and East,

in Hackney, Bethnal Green and Bermondsey.

It happened in Manchester’s vibrant

Northern Quarter and surrounding areas.

The city centre of Leeds became an intensely

enjoyable location for a beer lover to spend

time. And other cities followed suit: Bristol,

Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh,

Cardiff and Belfast, to name just a

handful. Whatever you choose to call

it, modern beer owes a great debt to

the cities that gave it such a strong

start.

However, urban life is not the be-all

and end-all of existence, and the same

is true when it comes to beer. As the

cities slowly become saturated with

more and more breweries and bars, so

the people behind these businesses

begin to contemplate a different kind

of existence: a quieter, more peaceful,

rural experience. It’s a life not without

its challenges, but for brewers these

challenges look very different to

those found within a city. While the

financial outlay might be lower in

the countryside, the lack of a large

population surrounding your business

requires the establishment of strong

ties to locals, sometimes even listening

to their needs ahead of your own.

These challenges aren’t stopping a

new wave of brewers from heading to

these mellower, greener pastures and

carving out a slice of the countryside

for themselves. This is how British craft

beer began its escape to the country.

THE EXTENT OF CHANGE

As with most modern breweries,

Miranda Hudson and Derek Bates,

co-founders of Norfolk’s forthcoming

Duration Brewery, got their start in

a city. Brixton, in South London, is

where this couple built their home

and started a family, while Bates cut

his teeth in the brewing world as head

brewer for Bermondsey’s Brew by

Numbers. In addition to this, many of

Duration’s early collaborations have

been with members of the South

London brewing fraternity, such as

Gipsy Hill or Brixton Brewery. It would

have made a lot of sense to start their

brewery here.

But this wasn’t to be. Instead,

Miranda and Derek were lured by

the East Anglian countryside, finding

a disused Grade II listed farmhouse

adjacent to the site of a 12th century

priory, nestled alongside the banks

of the River Nar. In October 2017,

Duration was given permission to

renovate the farmhouse and build

the destination brewery the pair had

dreamed of. And in summer 2018,

Duration will find out if the decision to

set itself up in the countryside will be

worthwhile, when it finally opens its

doors to the public.

Running a rural brewery

has more positives than

negatives

“I love the countryside. It’s where I

grew up and where I belong,” Miranda

says. “Our site is beautiful and

inspiring, the expanse and stillness of

it will enable us to explore and grow

our offering without the pressure to be

‘on the scene’ or be moulded by others.

We have the space to think and present

our beer without having all the noise of

a city distracting us.”

As beautiful and inspiring as the

Norfolk countryside may be, it’s also

home to a significantly smaller and

older population than Miranda’s former

London home. Duration may not want

to be moulded by any existing scene,

but with the absence of one (or at

least the existence of one that is much

smaller and quite different to an urban

locale) they will instead have to work

hard at creating it themselves.

“We’ve tried from day one, especially

in our immediate village and with

neighbouring breweries and beer

sellers, to get locals on board.” Miranda

says. “Norfolk loves beer and has

sometimes been a bit neglected by

other breweries in the UK that aren’t

in the immediate region. So far I

think the region has really shown us

love and seems excited for what is a

clearly ambitious project right in their

backyard.”

Duration is just one example among

many of a modern brewery trying to

make a go of it in the East Anglian

countryside. Just a few miles away in

the Suffolk village of Edwardstone is

Little Earth Project, where brewer Tom

Norton is creating some spellbinding

beers, relying heavily on barrel ageing

and wild fermentation.

“Running a rural brewery has more

positives than negatives,” Tom says. “I

often have envious conversations with

brewers who operate on industrial

estates or crammed into railway arches.

It’s lovely having the countryside all

around us, and in our case it is often

the inspiration for our beer.”

FERMENT MAGAZINE 77


DEBATE: ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY

10% OFF

ALL TICKETS

WITH CODE:

BREW5210

WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A

LIVING

The lure of a rural environment doesn’t

appeal to brewers alone, but attracts

folks from all parts of the beer industry.

This should make a lot of sense,

because the life cycle of all beer starts

in the countryside: in fields of barley

and within the twisted bines of hop

trellises. Formerly a brewer at both

Brodie’s and Weird Beard in London,

Jonny Bright and his partner Amélie

Varon moved to the town of Hereford—

perhaps better known for its cider than

its beer—and established the Hereford

Beer House in 2015.

“We decided to throw caution to

the wind by opening a place that was

unique to the UK, rather than unique

for Hereford,” Jonny says. “We’re an

ultra-modern, 100% refrigerated, craft

beer bottle shop and bar. This has

been tough, but by sticking to our guns

we created a very clear impression of

what we’re trying to do.”

Jonny admits things were challenging

in the early months of trading, as

the people of Hereford weren’t

actively seeking the latest hazy IPA

releases from the likes of Cloudwater

and Verdant in the shops. But by

establishing a modern attitude without

any stigma or pretension, the locals

soon warmed to what Jonny and Amélie

were attempting to do, and these days

they sell plenty of hazy IPA—alongside

lots of great cider and more traditional

beer styles of course.

“Since we’ve opened, craft beer has

starting popping up in more pubs, bars

and restaurants in Hereford,” he says.

“I think once one or two places are

brave enough more places will take the

gamble too, they also don’t want to miss

out on an opportunity to drag their little

rural city into the modern age.”

Where once modern beer was a

pursuit confined to the cities, now it’s

something that, slowly but surely, is

becoming within reach in almost all

parts of the UK. We’ve still a way to

go before the experience is as allencompassing

as it has become within

urban environments, but with the likes

of Little Earth Project, Duration and

The Hereford Beer House – to name just

a handful of examples – that change is

being affected both positively and with

increasing velocity.

“With great breweries comes greater

interest locally,” Little Earth Project’s

Tom Norton says. “Hopefully together

we can spread the word that there is an

amazing world of beer out there.”

78 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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BEERVANA:

DEAD CRAFTY

BEER COMPANY

We had a great time exploring

Liverpool’s craft beer scene

in issue 26, and enjoyed

meeting some loyal Beer52 members

for a tasting at the city’s Dead Craft

Beer Company. In all the excitement

though, we neglected to include Dead

Crafty (Liverpool’s first and still our

favourite craft joint) in our city bar

guide. Sorry guys. Every cloud has a

silver lining though, as this gives us the

perfect excuse to catch up with the bar’s

founders, husband and wife team Gareth

and Vicky, and to share their story.

The couple’s route into the bar

business was unconventional to say the

least. Vicky was an Intelligence Analyst

for the NHS and Gareth a rigger for the

entertainment industry. But the pair had

always had a deep love for craft beer,

building their family holidays to the USA

around breweries they want to visit. But

the spark of inspiration came during an

event in Houston, Texas, at a bar called

the Haymerchant.

Vicky recalls: “Goose Island was

holding its annual event, Migration

Week and, not having heard of it before,

we went along. We were blown away

by what was happening; people were

coming in for a drink on their own after

work and striking up friendships with

total strangers over beer. Vintage

bottles were being sold for at least

$80 and those who bought them were

going round and sharing them with

people they hadn’t met before. It struck

us then that this is what Liverpool was

missing. As soon as I came back home

I drew up a business plan. A lot of my

NHS colleagues thought I was insane to

leave a well-paid job and walk into the

unknown, but I can honestly say it’s the

best thing I’ve ever done.”

Dead Crafty’s founding ethos is that

there’s a beer out there for everyone,

and that the staff will find the one for

you, even if it means sampling every one

of the 20 taps.

“It’s great when you have a ‘non-beer

drinker’ come in and they leave having

discovered a beer they love – it’s very

rewarding,” continues Vicky. “For us,

it’s vital that we have the best, newest

or rarest beers from around the world,

so we spend hours researching what

brewers are making, collaborations

that are happening, and new breweries

opening.”

One of Dead Crafty’s great strengths

– and perhaps the thing that makes it

most attractive as a visitor to Liverpool

– is the extent to which the local

community has embraced the bar, and

how willing the regulars are to pull up

a stool and chat with visitors. With a

rolling calendar of regular and special

events, there’s usually something

interesting going on, and a fun time to

be had.

As we saw last issue, Liverpool has

emerged as an important and hugely

exciting craft city in the past couple of

years – a transformation that Gareth

and Vicky have witnessed first-hand.

When they first opened, the city’s beer

epicentre was undoubtedly Dale Street,

where nine excellent bars specialise

in cask beer, making the area a mecca

for beer lovers across the north west

and beyond. Gareth admits they were

nervous about how a keg-only bar

would be received in such a traditional

scene, but was quickly reassured that

customers don’t mind how the beer is

dispensed as long as it’s good.

Gareth and Vicky continue to travel

for beery inspiration, seeking out the

newest and best to bring back to thirsty

Liverpudlians. I ask Gareth whether

there have been any recent standout

visits.

“Most of the bars we’ve loved on

our travels have always been brewery

taps,” he says. “Visiting Dogfish Head

Brewery in Deleware was definitely a

pinch yourself moment as it’s one of

our favourite breweries and getting

to meet Sam Calagione was amazing.

It also doubles as a live music venue

too. We’ve recently come back from a

trip to Florida, Cigar City Brewing Co,

Funky Buddah and J Wakefield have all

been on our brewery wish list for ages

so getting to see them all in one week

was fantastic.

Vicky picks up the thread: “A favourite

of ours is Harpoon brewery in Vermont,

it’s on such a picturesque site. There’s

not many breweries you can go

kayaking in their back garden. Finally

Bissell Brothers tap was just a super

cool place, vibe and most importantly

some of the best beers I’ve ever tasted.

Six months after we visited the brewery

in Portland, Maine we had a phone call

from Northern Monk asking if they

could bring them to our bar to do an

event while they were visiting the UK. It

was such a surreal night, from being in

awe of their tap room then fast forward

six months and they were in our actual

bar.”

Located bang in the city centre, there’s

really no excuse for a self-respecting

craft lover to skip Dead Crafty if they’re

in town (or even near town, frankly).

Pop in, chat with a local, explore

the beers and see what all the fuss

is about.

80 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 81


Beer52 subscriber’s best beers

Your notes on The Hops Project!

Chicago shake

Beer52 / USA Hops

AORAKI

Beer52 / NZ Hops

ABV: 6.6%

Style: Milkshake IPA

4.2

/5

4.1

/5

ABV: 8%

Style: DIPA

CONTRACT CRAFT BREWING AT THE IRONWORKS

Any style of Ale or Lager

Step-mashed • dry hopped

double dry hopped • triple dry hopped!

Barrel aged • fruit adjuncts

spices • chocolate • desserts...

You name it. we brew it.

Batch sizes from 12 to 25 Hectolitre

Delicious! My favourite beer

this month.

AIMEE DABROWSKI • MASTER TASTER

Gorgeous colour on this. Tremendous,

sensationally hoppy and fruity yet smooth

and creamy.

ANDREW RADCLIFFE • MASTER TASTER

Pleasantly surprised by the subtle flavours coming through

from an IPA foundation. Another winner for a summer

evening.

STEWART BROMFIELD • MASTER TASTER

THE best beer I have ever had from Beer 52 and would

100% buy again and recommend to anyone looking for a

good NE-IPA.

ANDY GREENBANK • SUPER TASTER

Thought this was going to be really weird but it was

excellent. So many different tones and flavours, first time I've

noticed "mouth feel."

CHRIS BOLES • MASTER TASTER

Great way to showcase the New Zealand

hops. It's good to see some newer ones

along some long standing classics. A very

well rounded fruitiness that holds it's

flavour even in the strong dry after taste

IAN WATTS • SUPER TASTER

Refreshing and pleasingly savoury. Makes a pleasant change

from the citrus flavours we are so used to with IPAs.

SARAH ST JOHN-COLEMAN • MASTER TASTER

Fantastic beer, wish I had a full box of them!

JOSHUA WESTMORELAND • MASTER TASTER

Wonderful hoppy and sweet fruity flavours. Sumptuous

mouth feel with the fully body. Truly wonderful beer.

ANDREW RAMAGE • MASTER TASTER

Great fruit undertones to a good bitter hopped beer. Full

flavour and great lingerng mouth feel. Great beer. Would

never believe its strength with the flavour.

CHRIS VILLIERS • SUPER TASTER

YOU BRING THE IDEAS

WE’LL DO THE HEAVY LIFTING

For more information visit

contractcraftbrewing.co.uk

or email

info@contractcraftbrewing.co.uk

TOP TASTER:

Chicago Shake - 4.19

ANOTHER ROUND?

81% Would go for Chicago Shake!

DELIGHTFUL DESIGN:

Tongariro - 3.92

Review your favourite beers from this month’s Beer52 box, to earn Taster points and see your name on this page.

Cheers!


DDH DIPA

Browar Stu Mostów

WROCŁAW

WROCŁAW

AIPA

Browar Stu Mostów

ABV: 6.7% Enjoy at 12-15°C

Style: Dry-hopped DIPA

ABV: 6.8% Enjoy at 10-13°C

Style: American IPA

TASTING NOTES

Double Dry Hopped DIPA is Stu Mostów's fresh take

on DIPA. It's slightly sweeter, not as strong, with an

intense focus on the hop aroma, but not necessarily on

the bitterness level. This beer is to be drunk when really

fresh. That’s when it’s most impressive.

BROWAR STU MOSTÓW

The origins of Browar Stu Mostów

(Brewery of Hundred Bridges) are

unusual, just like the beer it brews.

The idea to start up a brewery was

born in 2012 and has been taking

shape ever since, like an old craft

ale. It focuses on traditional brewing

methods, developing beer drinking

culture and building bridges. Browar

Stu Mostów wants to "brew beer

that will build the most beautiful of

bridges. Bridges between people,

cities and countries. Between

history, present and future."

TASTING NOTES

A re-interpretation of the

American IPA style and a tribute

to hops from overseas. This rich,

malty beer with a strong dose of

bitterness is brewed by Browar

Stu Mostów using an impressive

amount of new-wave American

hops. The full aroma of citrus

and tropical fruit, flowery,

herbal and resinous flavours are

enhanced with caramel fullness.

Recommended for beer lovers

who like a hint of bitterness.

WHEAT PORTER

Browar Stu Mostów

WROCŁAW

TARNóW

MISTY

Trzech Kumpli

ABV: 4.8% Enjoy at 10-13°C

Style: Wheat Porter

ABV: 5.5% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Contemporary IPA

TASTING NOTES

A surprising variation on the

top-fermenting British porter.

Instead of the classic grist, we

have used a generous amount of

wheat malt accompanied by dark

malts to achieve the aroma of

freshly ground coffee with bitter

chocolate. The most startling

ingredient are baked oat flakes

that give the beer its velvety

smoothness and unexpected smell

of freshly baked oatmeal cookies.

TRZECH KUMPLI

A craft brewery based in Tarnów,

South Poland, Trzech Kumpli

started as home brewers in 2010

and went pro in 2014. They love

IPAs and Saisons which dominate

our offer, as well as Belgian

styles. On the other hand it still

produces a classic, well crafted

Pils which is one of its best sellers

in Poland. They're particularly

obsessed about using fresh and

best quality hops.

TASTING NOTES

Juicy fruitiness is brought to you courtesy of three kinds

of finest American hops. Grapefruit, mango, lychee and

limes greet your palate, giving way to gooseberry, white

currant and – no kidding – white wine. Add just the

right amount of herbal bitterness and finish off with a

velvety soft mouthfeel – without oats and wheat this beer

wouldn’t be the same.

84

FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 85


PAN IPANI

Trzech Kumpli

TARNóW

KRAKÓW

THE FIGHTER

Brokreacja

ABV: 6% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Wheat IPA

TASTING NOTES

The best of two worlds: the

lightness of wheat beers

combined with the enticing

bitterness of a classic IPA.

Expect prominent citrus,

mango and pear aromas

intertwined with delicate

floral notes. Cloudy, light

golden. Well-balanced,

moderately bitter on the

mouth and very, very juicy.

ABV: 8.9% Enjoy at 12-14°C

Style: Imperial IPA

BROKREACJA

Brokreacja was founded in 2015 by

Mateusz Górski (head brewer) and Filip

Kuźniarz (graphist) in Kraków, Poland.

It's focused on craft beers, based on

"new wave" hops, but also remembers

about classic styles. Specialists in

smoked (especially peated) and barrelaged

beers. Our love for this brewery

is shared by RateBeer users, who

made it Best New Brewery in Poland

2016 and among the Top 10 Best New

Breweries World 2016.

TASTING NOTES

Powerfully hopped Imperial IPA with a bright color and

high alcohol content. American hop varieties hit the

aroma of resin and citrus. Bitter strokes are reinforced

by dry character of beer, but wheat malt provides

adequate fullness and smoothness.

BLACKCYL

Trzech Kumpli

TARNóW

KRAKÓW

THE ALCHEMIST

Brokreacja

ABV: 7% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Black IPA with Citrus Zest

TASTING NOTES

It wafts of pine, resin,

grapefruit and herbs, all subtly

complemented by malty,

chocolatey notes. In Special

Edition, the brewery went one

step further, just before bottling

it additionally circulated the

whole tank through orange, red

grapefruit, lime and lemon peels.

What you get is a super-rich

mix of citrus fruits, resin and

undergrowth followed by light

notes of dark malt.

ABV: 6.4% Enjoy at 12-14°C

Style: American IPA

TASTING NOTES

Bright American IPA, prepared

as an example of East Coast

IPAs Style. Carefully developed

malt foundation brings clearly

perceptible sweetness,

countered by high bitterness.

American hops, add for dry

hopping, bring citrus-fruit note

in the aroma.

86 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 87


HOPLAAGA

PINTA

ŻYWIEC

EXCLUSIVE

NA ZDROWIE

Beer52 x Damien Wawrzyniak

TASTING NOTES

A classic Bamberg-style lager, additionally hopped

with some aromatic American hops? Malts from

Bamberg, 60-day maturation and six-parts hopping

(including three rounds of dry hopping). It’s Hoplaaga

IPL – the taste of PINTA's lager revolution.

ABV: 6.6% Enjoy at 6-7°C

Style: India Pale Lager

PINTA

PINTA has been leading the

Polish craft scene since its birth

in 2011. Bored of European

lagers that dominated Poland

at the time, PINTA launched its

"Atak Chmielu” ("Attack of the

Hops”) – the first commercial

American IPA in Poland – to

great acclaim. Since that day,

it has been brewing new ales,

lagers, specialities and sour

beers– more than 100 styles in

total – alone or with friends from

Poland and beyond.

ABV: 6% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: West Coast IPA

TASTING NOTES

A clean, fresh IPA with a delicate

bitterness, balancing some

wonderful herby undertones that

evoke Polish cuisine's indelible

stamp. Dry hopped with Polish

varieties and fresh juniper

that add depth and a subtlety

to the balance of this sweetly

sessionable beer.

VERMONT IPA

PINTA

ŻYWIEC

EXCLUSIVE

Millions of peaches

Beer52

ABV: 6.1% Enjoy at 9-10°C

Style: American IPA

ABV: 6.6% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Milkshake IPA

TASTING NOTES

Delicate, fresh and luscious, but

also well-hopped American IPA.

Originally brewed in Vermont,

in the north-east of the USA.

It was made as a reply to the

strong but softly-hopped East

Coast IPA. Fermentation with

English yeast helps to enrich

its hop profile with some fruity

notes (apricots, pears, peaches).

A short fermentation process

and multiple dry hopping make

it cloudy, full in taste and more

fruity and balanced.

TASTING NOTES

You'll be eachy-peachy keen

to sup on this summery fruity

delight! Some of the US west

coast's finest hops in fusion

with soft luscious peach for

a fulsome mouthfeel and

wickedly moreish finish.

88 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 89


Louise Crane delves into the

history and present of vodka

lay vodka in a game of

Scrabble and you’ll earn

13 points. Play it across a

triple-word, double-letter score

combo and that lucrative K will

help net you 54. Rub it on a wound

for a cheap and easy disinfectant.

Oh, and you can drink it, apparently.

Vodka is often dismissed as a base

drink for a mixer, or some kind of

potato moonshine drunk by faraway

Russians. There may be some truth

to those two perceptions, but there is

so much more to vodka. Come closer,

and you’ll see.

If Scrabble had been around in

the Middle Ages, you could have

played the word vodka in 1405, when

it appeared in written form for the

first time, in Polish court documents.

The word itself (originally wódka)

is a diminutive form of the Slavic

word voda (water), and means little

water. At this time, wódka referred to

medicines and cosmetics that were

made from distilled alcohol; the drink

was actually called gorzałka, a word

that comes from the Old Polish verb

gorzeć, meaning “to burn”. Back in

these times vodka was usually drunk

with added herbs “to increase fertility

and awaken lust”.

Early vodka was usually low-proof,

and distilled three times in pot stills

(like giant kettles). The first distillate

was called brantówka, the second

szumówka, and the third was okowita

(from aqua vitae). This would yield a

final spirit of 70-80% ABV that would

then be watered down to 30-35% ABV

for drinking. Purity was an important

aspect of vodka even back then, and

distillers used freezing, cask ageing

and clarification with dried fish

bladders (or isinglass) to give their

vodka an untainted edge.

Flavour in the spirit would come

from the wash, which would be

90 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 91


GUEST SPIRIT: VODKA

DID YOU

know?

made from not only potatoes, but

fermented grains (usually wheat or

rye), sugar beet molasses and carrots.

Jan-Roman Potocki of Polish vodka

brand Potocki explains: “The raw

material was always the one most

readily available. Rye was used in

particular, as it is the staple grain for

making bread in this part of the world.

In Lithuania, where forests and honey

were in abundance, mead was made.”

In some parts of Russia, wood alcohol

was used, giving a smell like kerosene.

Talk about setting your mouth on fire.

There are Polish vodka brands

still around today that go back

hundreds of years, notably Żubrówka,

from about the 16th century and

Goldwasser, from the early 17th

century. “The gold flakes in the

famous Gdansk Goldwasser, like

flavourings, were meant to hide the

bad taste of imperfect distillation.

Here in Poland people would use

cumin, bison grass, pepper, honey and

sour cherries,” notes Jan-Roman.

By the 18th century, Polish vodka

was well known in the Netherlands,

Denmark, England, Russia, Germany,

Austria, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine,

Bulgaria and the Black Sea basin.

Russian vodka was also very popular,

having been around since at least the

14th century (there’s evidence that

homemade stills were being used as

early as the 900s). There is a legend

that says a Kremlin monk named

Isidore who had great knowledge of

distillation and special mechanical

Vodka can be used in

baking as a substitute for

water: pie crusts can be

made flakier with vodka.

At the beginning of the

20th century, a third of the

Russian Army was paid by a

tax on the Smirov brand.

Writing in The New Yorker,

esteemed Russian writer

Victor Erofeyev wrote

in an article called The

Russian God, “To this day,

there are probably more

euphemisms for vodka

than for anything other

than the male sex organ.”

devices came up with the recipe for

the first Russian vodka. This was

known as “bread wine” and for a long

time was produced only in the Grand

Duchy of Moscow.

Vodka is now the drink of choice

for many Russians because of the

1860s government policy of promoting

consumption of state-manufactured

vodka. By 1911, 89% of all alcohol

consumed in Russia was vodka.

This level remained high during the

20th century, fluctuating a little to

reach around 70% in 2001. Vodka is

also the biggest selling spirit in the

USA, at 34% of cases sold, followed

by whiskey at 24% and rum at 12%.

American vodka has a heritage

that comes from Russia, via France.

After the Russian Revolution, the

Bolsheviks confiscated all private

distilleries in Moscow. Distillers went

into exile, and one such man revived

his vodka brand in Paris, using the

French version of his last name:

Smirnoff. He then got together with

a Russian émigré living in the United

States, and together they set up the

first vodka distillery there in 1934.

This kicked off a vodka boom not

only in the US but across the Western

World. The Moscow Mule brought

vodka cocktails to the masses, and as

a clear neutral spirit with little to no

flavour it was a very important part

in the rise of cocktail culture during

the post-war period. The 1990s were

hugely successful for vodka, with

more than 100 new brands being

introduced between 1998 and 2002.

Vodka has stayed its leadership as the

most popular spirit in the US since

2003.

American-style and traditional

European vodka are different beasts.

One is usually drunk neat, as a single

shot, served straight from the freezer,

to give a thicker, creamy texture. It has

a little flavour, a lingering of the wash

character, with perhaps some added

herbs. The other puts a premium on

clarity and purity, so it can slip into

a mixture of cola and lime, vermouth

and ice, or any other cocktail with

hardly a trace except the familiar burn

of high strength alcohol.

Vodka’s reputation for all tasting the

same comes from its industrialisation.

Today, vodka is distilled in column

stills rather than giant kettles in a

process called continuous distillation.

“It’s so efficient that it’s used for

most spirits nowadays, including

the majority of rums, brandies and

tequilas and just about all vodkas

and gins,” explains spirits writer

Tim Forbes. Huge factories process

what’s called ‘neutral grain spirit’, or

NGS. Frighteningly tall column stills

distill alcohol to very high strengths

with very few chemical impurities

(e.g. congeners) in one pass, using

a series of plates to collect alcohol

at higher and higher ABV

percentages. The wash could be

from potatoes but more often is

wheat, or in the case of Ciroc

vodka, grapes.

The final result is a clean

alcohol that is around 94-95%

pure alcohol. This is then

sold in bulk to individual

distillers, in both the USA

and Europe. And turned

into branded vodkas via

various proprietary methods.

Super-premium brands

proudly proclaim how

many times the product

has been distilled for extra

smoothness, when really

they’re just saying how many

plates the alcohol passed

through in the column still.

Filtration methods run

Russian and Polish

vodkas are considered

the heartiest of the lot

from the ordinary to the opulent,

with activated charcoal, quartz sand,

Herkimer healing crystals (Crystal

Head vodka), lava rock (the Icelandic

Reyka), and even diamonds (Tears

of Destiny), all of which are heavily

marketed to make the customer

believe there is an amount of

individuality to the product.

Since the year 2000,

consumer tastes have developed

towards the idea of ‘ultra’

premium brands and artisanal

vodka. There’s FAIR vodka, made

from quinoa, or Konik’s Tail,

made from spelt grain, rye

and winter wheat by Pleurat

Shabani, who is building a

remote distillery for extra

authenticity. Jan-Marint’s

Potocki is a deliciously

nutty, small batch, 100%

rye vodka, distilled just

twice for richness without

any harsh flavours. Vestal

vodka borrows from the

wine industry: “I wanted

to create the world’s best

tasting vodka and took

inspiration from the ideas of

terroir and vintage, planting potatoes

in different fields around our family

farm in Northern Poland. Each is

uniquely different. In 2008/2009 our

first vintage was ready, and to this

day surprises anyone who says vodka

is boring,” says owner Willy Borrell.

On the other end of the scale, there’s

black market Russian vodka, made

bathtub style, that can be sold cheap

because of tax avoidance. In March

2007, a BBC documentary found that

an industrial disinfectant was being

added to vodka by illegal traders,

leaving at least 120 dead and more

than 1,000 poisoned.

The middle-to-top of the quality

scale sees Smirnoff, the French-made,

trendy Grey Goose, Absolut (from

Sweden), Ciroc (endorsed by Puff

Daddy/P Diddy/Puffy) and Kristall,

Russia’s number one Vodka producer,

responsible for Stolichnaya and for

producing five million bottles per

month. These vodkas certainly won’t

poison you and will go perfectly in a

Cosmopolitan, and you might struggle

to tell them apart at a blind tasting.

As a guide, Russian and Polish vodkas

are considered the heartiest of the lot,

Scandinavian countries are known for

their lighter cocktail-friendly vodkas

and Dutch vodka is regarded as sweet

and gently textured. Get hold of an

artisanal brand, and you might even

enjoy sipping it. But to truly get into

the spirit of vodka, it needs to be a

slam dunk. So raise your glass, cheer

“Na Zdorovie!” and knock it back.

92 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 93


Three days celebrating the best of beer culture

in the Midlands and Birmingham’s place right

at the heart of it

WORDS: Louise Crane

SPIN the BOTTLE

See lockandkeybeercon.co.uk for tickets & collaborators

Sunday family friendly, kids come free

Follow us @lockkeybeercon for up to date info

20 TH –22 ND JULY 2018

THE BOND CO, DIGBETH B5 5SE

If ten green bottles were hanging on a wall,

and one should “accidentally” fall straight

into my hands, what are the chances

that it’s filled with beer? In our world,

the answer is “very likely”. But before the

20th century, this little scenario would likely

not have got you some delicious ale. Bottled

beer only became seriously popular after the

Second World War, though innovations in

bottling certainly made it well known as far

back as the mid 1800s. Through the ages, beer

bottles have changed shape, size, and colour,

from ink black to aqua blue. Ferment invites

you to jump in and find out how, and why,

bottles have not always been simply bottles.

Naturally, we think of bottles as being

made of glass, but the first bottles for storing

beer were made out of pottery or stoneware.

As techniques progressed, pottery bottles

were often glazed with a two-tone effect and

stamped with a pottery name. Stoneware

bottles showed up throughout the 18th to the

early 20th centuries, and can in fact be more

useful than glass bottles at protecting against

the detrimental effects of light on hop acids in

beer. However, they could not compete with

glass bottles in terms of weight, and never

became as popular.

When brewers first began bottling beer

into hand-blown glass bottles in the 1600s,

they weren’t very popular, mainly because

they kept exploding, despite being capped

FERMENT MAGAZINE 95


BEER SCHOOL: SPIN THE BOTTLE

with corks and strapped with wire. Blame the

pressure of carbon dioxide from secondary

fermentation and the fragility of hand-blown

glass at the time. Gervaise Markham, writing

in 1615, advised housewife brewers that

when bottling ale “you should put it into

round bottles with narrow mouths, and then,

stopping them close with corks, set them in a

cold cellar up to the waist in sand, and be sure

that the corks be fast tied with strong pack

thread, for fear of rising out and taking vent,

which is the utter spoil of the ale.”

It’s likely that most of the bottled beer from

around this time was heavy, high in alcohol

(low sanitation levels in those times meant

bottled beer easily spoiled, and a high abv

was one protection against this),

and very low in carbonation.

Early bottles were often thick,

and dark - almost black - as they

had to survive much handling

post-bottling and were re-used

many times due to the high cost

of glass.

It wasn’t until the late 1600s,

after a century of developments

and improvements, that people started to

take to them. Samuel Pepys recorded drinking

“several bottles of Hull ale” with friends at an

inn called the Bell in London in November

1660. At the time there was no specialization

of shapes, and beer and wine bottles were

identical: squat, and with a square body when

viewed from the side. Sizes varied.

In 1691, one of the first books on brewing, A

New Art of Brewing Beere, written by Thomas

Tryon, proclaimed, “It is a great custom and

general fashion nowadays to bottle ale… the

chief thing that can be said for bottle-ale or

beer is that it will keep longer than in barrels.”

DID YOU

KNOW?

Hefeweizen bottles

have bulbous necks

to collect unfiltered

particles of wheat as

the beer pours.

Tyron was not a fan, however, claiming “bottleale

or beer is not so good or wholesome as

that drawn out of the barrel or hogshead”

and blaming the “cold, Saturnine” nature of

the bottle in giving a “cold and brisk” flavour

of bottled ale. Beer and wine bottles took on

their own distinctive shapes from around the

1760s, with a tall and narrow look for wine

bottles, while beer bottles retained their squat

shape with low-shoulders, a style known as

‘porter’.

Bottled beer remained a luxury in the 18th

century, and was generally only used for

export. Bottling was an expensive, manual

procedure and outside of Europe, bottles were

often scarce.

Mass production eradicated

the variety of styles previously

seen. Two other dominant

styles emerged alongside the

export bottle. In America, the

development of lager spurred on

the creation of a new lager style

of beer bottle, with very sloped

shoulders and longer necks.

The champagne beer bottle

appeared in the 1870s, similar to today’s wine

bottles, but with a narrow body and longer

neck. Many were embossed with a ‘slug plate’,

a trend replaced by a proliferation of labels in

the twentieth century.

Bottled beers really took off after the First

World War. One reason was taxation: higher

taxes meant weaker beer, which goes off more

quickly, and so pub drinkers got into the habit

of “livening up” bad draught beer with good

bottled beer. Cornell explains that “This was

the origin of once-popular drinks such as

light-and-bitter (bottled low-gravity pale ale,

draught bitter) and brown-and-mild (bottled

brown ale, draught mild).”

It wasn’t until the end of the Second World

War when the glass bottle became the most

popular way to transport beer, with the surge

in popularity causing The Statist magazine to

declare: “It is probable that within a decade

draught milds and bitters will no longer make

up the major part of brewery production.” By

1959, bottled beer was 36 per cent by volume

of the UK beer market, though brewers

like Mann’s had a much higher percentage,

estimating in 1958 that bottled beer made up

nearly 70 per cent of its production. Green

glass had become popular in Europe thanks

to a shortage of brown for a time during the

war, and came to denote higher quality beer

from European breweries, opposed to the

clear glass, watered-down American lager of

post-war times.

Contrary to The Statist’s prediction, the

trend in bottled beer did not continue to

escalate, and went from 34 per cent of all

beer sold in 1960 to nine per cent in 1984.

The culprit? Keg beer. Bottled premium lager

caused a boost in the early 1990s, back up to

13 per cent in 1998, and the burgeoning craft

beer/microbrewery scene produced a great

number of new bottled ales for the market,

Today’s bottles are made in basically

the same way as hundreds of years

ago, but with greater automation.

Soda ash, sand and limestone

are mixed with various minerals for

colour, transported to a furnace

and heated to 1565°C (that’s 2850°F

for you old schoolers). The mixture

becomes molten, glowing red hot.

A refiner removes trapped air

bubbles in the liquid glass, which

is then passed through a feeder

and cut with shear blades into

elongated cylinders called gobs,

individual pieces ready for forming.

The gobs are poured into small

moulds, half the bottle’s final

size. There are then dropped

into moulds the same size as

the completed beer bottle, and

shunning canning for its prohibitive cost

and association with the mass market. This,

coupled with the increase in supermarket

sales, caused a huge rise in bottled beer sales.

Today we have ceramic bottles again,

as well as the rarer black glass and cobalt.

Carlsberg is working on a bottle composed

of wood pulp and some breweries are now

moulding special bottles with sculpted

designs, words and logos. Bright coloured

glass is rare - aqua is for gin - and brown

bottles are very popular because they let the

least amount of ultraviolet light in, preventing

‘light strike’ or skunky flavour, though clear

glass can now be coated with UV protectant.

Many breweries like the ease at which glass

can be recycled, and the UK looks set to run a

bottle return/deposit scheme in a bid to fight

the litter pollution crisis. Recycling of glass

creates no additional byproduct or waste, and

is actually energy-efficient because it takes

less heat to melt recycled glass than it does

the raw materials.

So next time you see ten green bottles

hanging on a wall, don’t let them accidentally

fall, take them to the bottle bank, marvel at

their history for a brief second, and then do

something good for the planet.

compressed air is forced in, blowing

the molten glass out until it reaches

the sides of the larger mould. If any

embossment is required, it will be

carved into the walls of the final

mould.

The bottles need to be cooled in

a controlled way called annealment,

to prevent weakness and fractures

in the glass.


Next time...

S ummer

Bangers

Next issue, we're celebrating the legendary

British summer, with a range of beers guaranteed

to deliver 330ml of sunshine into even the coldest

heart. We'll also be getting out and about on

some tenuously beer-related outdoor adventures

and generally whooping it up while we still can.

Cheers!

Fri 27 th & Sat 28 th July

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