Ferment Issue 29 // Raise The Bar

jamesbeer52

Meet the UK's hottest new breweries and uncover the blueprint for craft beer success.

Meet the UK’s hottest new

breweries and uncover the

blueprint for craft beer success

FERMENTMAGAZINE.COM | ISSUE 29

ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT


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Swift for 20% off

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Offer valid until 31st October 2018.

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Learn from the professionals and immerse

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Build your product knowledge to improve

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Embarkon the journey to beer sommelier

or cider pommelier.

For All

Understand, appreciate and above all

ENJOY beers and ciders.

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Following your visit to BACA come to the

Dean Swift round the corner for beer & food.

10 Gainsford Street,

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London, SE1 2NE

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GAINSFORD ST.

CURLEW ST.


EDITOR

Richard Croasdale

DESIGNER

Ashley Johnston

Editor’s

NOTE

@fermenthq

@fermentmagazine

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richard@beer52.com

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PUBLISHED BY:

Ferment & Beer52,

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26 Howe Street,

Edinburgh,

EH3 6TG

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in July 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.

Let’s face it, there are few things more satisfying than

telling your beer-loving pals about an amazing brewery

that’s so new they’re still hand-printing each label with a

potato stamp (no offence to The Kernel). Well, this issue we’ve

teamed up with We Are Beer to bring you a selection of brews

from three such breweries, the winners of the inaugural Raise

the Bar competition. I drive from coast to coast (nearly, ish)

to bring you the stories of the brewers behind these award

winning beers. They’re all genuinely lovely and I hope you enjoy

meeting them.

Then, to celebrate this year’s London Craft Beer Festival,

we take a look at the capital’s thriving homebrew scene, peer

back at how the Thames has shaped our drinking habits and

join a throng of loyal members for this month’s bottle share.

Melissa Cole picks up the zeitgeist, gives it a slap, and asks

why we’re all going crazy for small and low-alcohol beer, then

we attempt to make one in this month’s office brew.

We’ve spent far too long in the office this month, and really

feel like we need to interact with other people. Please get in

touch. Please. @FermentHQ, or ferment@beer52.com.

Cheers, Richard

Raising

The Annual

the Bar,

Icelandic

page

Beer

8

Festival, p76-78


CONTRIBUTORS

MELISSA COLE

WRITER

Certified Cicerone® and beer & food writer,

Melissa Cole is one of the UK’s leading beer

experts. Author of Let Me Tell You About Beer,

international beer judge, collaboration brewer,

sommALEier and regular festival presenter.

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

CONTENTS

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.

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.

8: RAISING THE BAR

Meet the UK’s best new breweries

19: HOT YOUNG THINGs

Katie Taylor seeks the secret of success

22: RUNNING FOR BEER

Mark Dredge’s very personal account of a

Belgian beery marathon

KATIE TAYLOR

WRITER

Katie is a beer blogger and part-time goth who

loves writing essays about pub culture. She’s

also a monthly guest on BBC Radio Lancashire

where she speaks about local beer.

ALEX PAGANELLI

CHEF & FOOD

PHOTOGRAPHER

As founder of Dead Hungry, Alexandre has

been creating incredible recipes for Ferment.

deadhungry.co

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

34: IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE

Matthew Curtis looks at the challenges of

getting a toe-hold in the captial

38: TIDES OF CHANGE

How the Thames has shaped the history of

booze in London and across the UK

50: DEBATE: LOWERING THE BAR

Melissa Cole dives into the growing trend

for low or no-alcohol beers

LONDON CRAFT

BEER FESTIVAL

If you’re reading this

at LCBF 2018 (you

lucky thing) your

festival listings begin

on page 75.

56: FOOD

Alex Paganelli updates some

classic bar snacks

69: OFFICE BREW

Our guest brewer whips up a

delicious small beer

78: Beer guide

What’s in this month’s Beer52 box?

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


Introducing Boxcar, Burnt Mill,

Unity, and West by Three.

The 2018 Raise The Bar

winners – the four very best

new breweries in the country.

SHINING A LIGHT ON THE

VERY BEST NEW BREWERIES

When we began our journey to throw the best festivals we

possibly could, our mission was to support young and

up and coming breweries. At that time those guys were

Beavertown, Kernel, Camden and the like.

To stay true to our roots in supporting start-ups, we formed

Raise The Bar, a national new brewers competition judged by

industry leaders. Any UK brewery less than two years old could

enter.

Over 40 breweries entered from all over the country. The

competition was tough, but four breweries rose to the top: Boxcar,

Burnt Mill, Unity and West x Three. We’re putting our flag in the

ground that these are the most exciting new breweries out there.

BOXCAR, EAST LONDON: The very best new style IPAs

have so much flavour, but balance is key and these guys have it.

Could they be London’s Verdant?

BURNT MILL, SUFFOLK: Green Path and Steel Cut exude class

and execution. These guys have hit the ground with confident,

wonderfully characterful beers from the get go.

UNITY, SOUTHAMPTON: Belgium is the main inspiration

for this brewery, and its saison brewed with rye and juniper was

potentially the beer of competition.

WEST BY THREE, SWANSEA: Pow! The beers that caught

our attention and really blew us away had wildly ambitious

flavour combinations that were absolutely delicious.

Check all the breweries out at London, Edinburgh and Bristol

Craft Beer Festivals and find out more on WeAreBeer.com. Being

far from a one-off, this competition will dial up again in 2019!

Big thanks to all the breweries who entered, and to Jenn

Merrick, Ben Freeman and Jonny Garret for joining our

expert panel.

We’ve had a great partnership

with our friends at the

London Craft Beer Festival

for the past three years. As well as

producing a special edition of Ferment

for the attendees of We Are Beer’s

riotous events in London, Edinburgh

and Bristol we’ve enjoyed attending the

festivals ourselves, meeting many of

our members along the way.

Attracting the great and good of

the global beer scene, they are always

a great chance to taste beers from

the most sought-after brewers on the

planet.

But this year, as well as featuring

beers from established names like

Sierra Nevada, Mikkeller, Amundsen

and Pohjala, the festival decided to

create a special competition called

Raise the Bar’. With the mission of

championing the best new brewers,

the awards attracted a phenomenal

number of entries.

Judged by Jenn Merrick, former

Beavertown head brewer and founder

of new community-based brewery,

Earth Station, along with Ben Freeman,

co-founder at Pressure Drop and Jonny

Garrett from the Craft Beer Channel.

Founders of London Craft Beer

Festival, Dan and Greg also took part in

the rigorous blind-tasting of samples.

Open only to brewers under two

years in operation, the judges picked

a set of very deserving winners. Being

awarded £2,000 from Beer52 and an

opportunity to share their beers with

our members, as well as at a pitch at

all three of We Are Beers festivals, it is

the perfect chance for these incredible

young brewers to turbocharge their

level of awareness within the craft beer

community.

On the pages of this issue, we’ll be

sharing with you the winner’s stories.

As you’ll see, they’re all completely

unique. From a variety of background

and producing an diverse range of

styles, they give us a lot to be excited

about in terms of the future of British

craft beer. It’s a tremendous honour to

be able to share their beers with you in

this box.

Fraser Doherty

Co-founder of Beer52

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DRINKING WITH THE BREWERS: RAISE THE BAR

RICHARD AXON

WEST X THREE

DRINKING WITH

THE BREWERS

The results are in, we’ve tasted the

beers, now it’s time for Ferment to

travel the breadth of the United

Kingdom, meeting the winners of this

year’s Raise the Bar competition and

finding out what makes them special

WORDS & PHOTOS: Richard Croasdale

BOXCAR PHOTOS: Zsolt Stefkovics

Our journey starts in an industrial

estate in the Welsh town of

Swansea, with Richard Axon of West

x Three brewing. Having very much

enjoyed his beers at the recent

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, I’m

genuinely surprised and impressed by

the tiny scale of Richard’s operation.

In a unit barely larger than a garage

is a Heath-Robinson collection of

mismatched stainless steel, home-made

electronic controls and a wood-clad

brewkit which has been adapted from

his old homebrew setup.

A helicopter pilot in his day job,

Richard started brewing at home while

he was working for the north sea oil

companies, ferrying people to and

from the rigs. With two weeks on and

two weeks off, he would spend his free

time reading dense brewing tomes and

ordering ingredients that would be

waiting for him when he returned home.

“I was home brewing for seven years,

during which time I also moved to my

current job flying for the Children’s Air

Ambulance,” says Richard. “This was

also a time when there was an explosion

of stainless steel in homebrew, so I was

able to make kit that could be used

for lagering and other professional

brewing techniques on a smaller scale.

My interest peaked at that time. I was

spending so much time and money on

that I realised it would probably be

quite good to go commercial with it.

Plus I just couldn’t drink all the beer – I

wanted to brew more than I could get

rid of.”

Richard’s passion for beer and home

brewing was shared by his old school

friend Hamish Thain, a successful

product designer, and the two hatched

a plan to take out a small, affordable

space in Swansea and launch their

own brewery, that they would run

together in their spare time. While

he acknowledges the work is more “a

labour of love” than a slick, high-tech

operation, he enjoys the engineering

and problem-solving challenges the

setup has posed.

“It’s all a little bit home-made and

borrowed, a lot of the tanks aren’t

insulated, so they need a lot of

attention. In the winter months we have

to run heaters to stop the yeast from

going to sleep. But I like the technical

element of brewing and working out

the fixes for the things that we have.

It’s good to feel like we’re earning

stuff rather than just buying it, if you

know what I mean. Yes, our intention is

ultimately to get a more sophisticated

kit, but it’s not our focus right now. If

what we do on this kit doesn’t resonate

with people, then buying a £500k

brewery isn’t going to change that,” he

continues.

The brewery tour over, we decide to

head down to the harbour for a couple

of samples at one of Richard’s favourite

bars, Beer Riff. Also a brew pub, Beer

Riff is in a great spot, with tall windows

looking out onto the bobbing boats in

the marina, cool wall art and a rocking

playlist. It’s indicative of a relatively

recent interest in craft beer that is

now really beginning to take hold in

Swansea.

“Swansea is pretty behind in beer

terms, but it’s getting there,” says

Richard. “Some of the local brewers

don’t have the best standards, but

they’re widely available and cheap,

so that’s what gets bought a lot of

the time. So there’s still a lot of work

to do in terms of changing people’s

expectations, and that goes for

customers and the pub owners.”

Richard says the biggest lesson

of this journey has been getting the

confidence to say no, and to plough his

own furrow.

“You start out and someone will say

‘what you want is to put a nice big

Welsh dragon on the front and you’ll

sell loads of it’. Obviously we didn’t do

that, but I think when we started we

were too eager to please everyone, and

that meant making beers that we didn’t

particularly want to make, and trying to

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DRINKING WITH THE BREWERS: RAISE THE BAR

do too much.

“When we started the brewery, we

had a list of things we wanted the

company to be and to stand for. It had

to reflect our beliefs around treating

people well and enjoying what we do,

with an open, educational approach to

beer – telling people what we’re doing

and why we’re doing it. So I think we got

a little distracted by chasing the local

market in the early days, but we’ve got

back to it since.”

After chatting for a while, Richard

admits that another big distraction over

the past few months has been a legal

dispute with Glasgow’s West brewery,

which accused West x Three of trying

to piggy-back on its brand. He says

he’s close to signing a deal that will

mean changing his brewery’s name,

but that he’s come round to the idea

that a thoughtful rebrand could be

a good thing long term. Although

he’s relatively sanguine, there is also

some clear frustration at the lost time,

energy and legal fees incurred by the

clash.

On the way back to the brewery,

Richard takes us past several sites

he feels would be ideal for a new

and improved home, and he’s excited

It had to reflect our

beliefs around treating

people well

about having space to invite more

people in to experience what he and

Hamish are creating.

Richard concludes: “We’ve seen that

the retail or taproom element, moneyaside,

is really powerful because we get

to engage with people, chat with them,

and get a much better feeling than

if we’re communicating via someone

else. There’s a list as long as my arm of

things we want to do, but I think we’ve

just got to go at our own pace and earn

everything we do.”

JIMMY HATHERLEY,

UNITY BREWING

Bidding Richard goodbye, I jump into

my rented Toyota Aygo and head

down the M4 to my next port of call,

Unity Brewing in Southampton, and

founder Jimmy Hatherley. With a strong

focus on Belgian styles, Unity is one of

my favourite new discoveries this year,

so I’m excited about seeing it in person.

The brewery itself is again a fairly

modest setup from the outside, though

definitely larger than West x Three, with

space for more vessels and even a popup

taproom a couple of days a week.

Affable and charming, Jimmy is

something of a craft beer veteran,

having worked at London Fields in

its early days, then hopping between

several breweries in the capital. Even

back then, the idea of starting his own

brewery and building a craft brand was

clear in his mind, and he resolved to

put the time into honing his skills and

learning everything he could about the

industry.

“When I left London Fields, Paddy

Johnson from Windsor and Eaton said

to me ‘why don’t you start your own

brewery’? He solidified the idea in my

head. I’d always been interested in

design and branding and had always

been interested in building my own

brand. I’m a Leo, so have got this slightly

arrogant side to myself that wants a

bit of the glory! Just at the point I felt

comfortable with my skills and had the

right idea though, my wife and I decided

to move back to Southampton, where

we’re both from.”

After working for a while in a couple

of the city’s more traditional breweries

and scratching his creative itch though

homebrew, it wasn’t long before Jimmy

decided to take the plunge and strike

out on his own. A strong believer that

new breweries should set off with

a clear idea of their own brand and

purpose, he reached back to his own

beery awakening and subsequent

homebrew adventures for inspiration.

“I’ve always had a love for Belgian

beer, and when you start a businesses

you’re going to be working silly hours

and putting your absolute heart and

soul into it. So you’ve got to make sure

it’s something you really care about.

I knew I could probably make more

money if I brewed a stout, a pale ale and

an IPA. I knew I could be mainstream

and go down that road, and make a

3.5% cask beer and all the rest of it. But

I wanted to make sure that every day I’m

brewing beer I really believed in.

“I never really drank much beer to

begin with. I used to drink Summer

Lightning in the local pub because

it had the highest abv per pound,

not because I particularly enjoyed it.

But my dad took me to Bruges and

Brussels when I was 19, for a week, and I

absolutely fell in love with Belgian beer.

The three beers I took home from the

trip were, Saison DuPont, Orval and

Rochefort 8. I was like ‘this is great, this

is beer’. So I trained my palate, learned

more about beer and started getting

more interested from that point.

“At about the same time, my dad was

working in San Francisco a few times a

year. When he was out there, he’d ask

the locals where the good beer was,

without really knowing anything about

American beer. After his first trip he

said ‘I brought you some beers back

from America, there’s some really good

stuff there – this is what the locals are

drinking’. It was a bottle of Pliny the

Elder and a bottle of Great Divide

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DRINKING WITH THE BREWERS: RAISE THE BAR

Hercules, which turned out to be two

of the highest rated IPAs in the world.

Again, my mind was blown.”

Jimmy admits it took a while for the

Southampton locals to come round to

the idea of Belgian beer, steeped as

they are in British cask tradition. While

most have heard of Belgian beer, they

assume it’s all very high strength, so

Jimmy has won them over gently with

4.2% Belgian pale ales (“before I hit

them with a 10.5% quad”). Unity also

brews a very quaffable American-style

pale ale, to compete with Gamma Ray

on the taps of city’s craft-friendly bars.

While it’s not where Jimmy’s heart is, it’s

a great beer and Unity’s best seller.

I'm putting my neck out

and risking it

Although one gets the sense that

returning home was a bit of a shock

after the craft beer buzz of London,

Jimmy is positive about the direction in

which Southampton is heading.

“We’re part of something now.

Southampton has the most micropubs

of any city in the UK, and they’ll

often stock our beer. It’s generally

an interesting place. There’s a good

music scene here, which I used to be

quite heavily involved in, and it’s a big

university town, so you get this kind of

transient population, which has a big

impact on nightlife.

“It sometimes struggles to produce

cultural things that are really solid.

Every time anyone starts something,

it’s usually a bit half-arsed, because

they worry that if they do it all the way

they might not do very well. But that’s

the problem: if you don’t do it all the

way then you won’t do very well. That’s

why I felt it was really important to be a

Southampton brewery – I’m putting my

neck out and risking it.”

Jimmy hopes to increase Unity’s

export activity next year, as well as

expanding the brewery. Already

brewing at capacity and with a new

baby on the way, he’s planning on

buying some extra tanks and hiring

more staff to take some of the pressure

off, before finding a more permanent

new home in the near future. Like West

x Three though, Jimmy’s ambition leans

toward a different kind of success than

world-dominating mega-craft.

“I’ve worked at big, stressful

companies, and that’s not where I

want to be,” he observes. “I want to be

somewhere that, on a Sunday evening,

people aren’t anxious about going to

work on a Monday morning. I want them

to feel really good about it and that’s

got to be at the root of any growth

that we do; we make sure it’s not highpressure

growth. When you’re brewing

four times a day every day, the margin

for error is tiny and it just becomes

about the hustle. That’s not for me.”

SAM DICKISON

BOXCAR

The final stop on this journey

across Britain takes me to my old

stomping ground of Hackney, East

London, to Boxcar brewery and its

head brewer Sam Dickison. As seems

to be obligatory for breweries in the

capital, Boxcar’s home is a railway

arch, complete with damp, exposed

brickwork and tastefully rusted

signage. It’s pretty cool.

In the space of a short year, Boxcar

has been championed by several

movers and shakers in the competitive

London beer scene, turbo-charging

its success. Such patronage is welldeserved

though; everything about

Boxcar, from the beer itself to the

eye-catching label design is superbly

crafted. So, how did things go so right?

Sam started his career at west

London’s Moncada brewery, where he

rose to head brewer, before taking on

the same role at Hammerton brewery

Islington. He then moved to People’s

Park Tavern in Hackney for 18 months,

during which time he dreamt up the

idea for Boxcar with his friend and cofounder

Stephen Finch.

The pair decided to get the ball

rolling with a tiny brewkit in a small

arch in Homerton, “just to test recipes

and figure out the brand, with the idea

of eventually upscaling and building a

proper taproom”. Handily, Stephen also

runs Vagabond, a chain of wine bars

that made the perfect low-pressure

venue for road testing Boxcar’s

inaugural brews.

There’s not a huge number of beer

drinkers in those bars, but that was kind

of perfect for us at that point," says Sam.

We got some feedback, and as soon as

we were confident with the recipes and

got the branding sorted, we put out first

proper bottle release.”

Craft Beer Rising 2017 was arguably

Boxcar’s big debut, and as soon as Sam

and Stephen began actively promoting

their beer, it came to the attention of

Mother Kelly’s, the highly-regarded

group of London bars and bottleshops,

which began placing substantial orders.

For a start-up brewery, this is the best

exposure one could hope for, and sales

inquiries and invitations began

flooding in.

“I think that slightly more

underground trialling period meant

that when we did release, everyone

was impressed with the beer and we

were able to hit the ground running,”

says Sam. “There isn’t really another

brewery focused on the new style of

IPA in London; the super-hazy, lower

bitterness, yeast-forward IPAs… I’m

reluctant to call them New England for

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DEVASTATINGLY GOOD AUSTRALIAN BEER

some reason! I decided early that I really

wanted to nail that style, though we’ve

also released a stout and a saison."

Rather than lock down its core

recipes and aim for complete

consistency, every beer that Boxcar

brews is currently slightly different,

as Sam experiments with different

yeast combinations and whatever

hops take his interest. While the

approach is a little unconventional,

this constant refinement has led Sam

to a yeast combination that has since

been adopted by at least three other

breweries for their own New England

styles.

Barely able to meet its existing

commitments, let alone take on new

customers, Boxcar’s next move will be

to a larger site with higher capacity kit.

At the time of writing, Sam is about to

sign on for a double railway arch in the

up-and-coming craft beer hotspot of

Bethnal Green, with around four times

the floor space.

“We’re putting a taproom in one arch

and a bigger, proper-size brewery in the

other,” says Sam. “The plan is to move

everything within a couple of months,

then slowly set up the taproom and

maybe open it before we get our huge

kit. That way, when the big kit drops,

we’ve got the taproom functioning and

ready to sell the beer we’re making.”

As well as the extra space, Sam is

clearly excited by the prospect of being

in Bethnal Green at the start of what

he believes will be a significant new

craft centre for the London scene. A

couple of minutes from Mother Kelly’s

Bethnal Green, Renegade urban

I’m so happy that low

abv is becoming a trend

winery around the corner, as well as

Old Street brewery and a couple of

other small breweries setting up within

spitting distance, there seems to be

real momentum. “It’s no Bermondsey,”

observes Sam wryly, “but in a way it’s

nicer to build a scene there I think”.

Once settled into the new space with

more sophisticated kit, Sam wants to

begin experimenting with barrel ageing

and brett. While he’s still exploring

hop-forward beers on his existing setup

though, his current obsession is table

beers.

“I’m fascinated by the low abv stuff,”

he says. “I’m so happy that this is

becoming a trend, because I’m fed up

of not being able to have much to drink.

These 8% beers taste great, but I don’t

want to be drunk all the time! Of course,

the problem with them a lot of the time

is that they’re too thin and soda-like. I

think the wave of New England beers,

and the various tips and tricks for

brewing them, really lend themselves

to low-alcohol beer. You just hype up all

those flavours.”

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Katie Taylor unpacks the challenges facing new

breweries and experimentation

he advent of a new era of

beer-enjoyment has given us

so much: a revitalised interest

in porters and stouts, thousands of

inspired new takes on the humble

IPA, a boom in sour beer appreciation,

milkshake beers, smoothie beers, dank

beers, historic beers, the lager revolt

and the iceman pour. (That last one

was a joke.) Things have never been

better for drinkers.

The industry is such a different

place than it was six years ago,” says

Andrew Cooper, co-founder of Wild

Beer Co., who began their journey -

you guessed correctly - six years ago.

“In 2012, we were one of only two sour

beers on offer at the Indy Man Beer

Con.”

Two sour beers at Indy Man.

That’s unrecognisable to the scene

that we enjoy today. So while you

sup your brut IPA and think about

how great we’ve got it in 2018, have a

think about this brainteaser: how is

our appreciation and adjustment to

excellent beers of all kinds affecting

new brewers? At first glance, this

is an easy question. Surely having

more drinkers who understand and

appreciate a larger range of beer styles

can only be good for brewers?

Of course, it seems that way. If

you’re a brewer, you’re enjoying a huge

number of new customers joining

the unofficial guild of beer drinkers,

who get enthusiastically involved in

every aspect of the scene. They care

about you and become invested in

your brand and who you are. They

become fans as well as drinkers. Once

drinkers are on-board with your ideas,

they’ll let you take them anywhere -

through flavours they’ve never tasted,

discovering styles they’ve never heard

of. It’s an exciting place to be.

There’s another side of the beermat

though. Those same passionate

people are busily soaking up the lingo,

understanding the brewing process

and what drives it, and thinking more

deeply about what they drink and

whose beer they want to buy. The

so-called “craft beer revolution”

hasn’t just created an amazing

18 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 19


HOT YOUNG THINGS

wonderland of experimental and

delicious beers - it’s also created a

huge army of informed customers who

know what they want, and understand

when they’re not getting it.

As drinkers, we’re now craving

the unknown, now that we’ve tried

everything else.

There’s a craze right now for rapid

batch, different beers all the time from

new brewers – but what those brewers

haven’t considered is the fact that they

are actually over-saturating their own

market. You simply can’t put out a new

beer every week throughout the year

and expect them to be good,” warns

Pete Brown, the founder of Forest

Road brewery, based in East London.

Forest Road are a cuckoo brewery,

producing their hoppy, unfiltered

ale “Work” overseas in the familyrun

brewery Brouwerij Van Eecke in

Belgium. Pete’s illustrious career is

well-documented (seriously, go on the

Forest Road website and watch the

Forest Road movies. You’ll see.) and

took him from homebrewer to large

independents like Siren Craft Brew,

right to the present day where his

own brewery is going from strength

to strength. Over the years, now that

drinkers in the UK have developed a

more sophisticated beer palate, does

he feel there’s more pressure to create

bang-on perfect brews every time?

And does this still give him room to

experiment?

“Everyone takes it so seriously – we

like to have fun with it. Risk taking is

what makes a small company great,

and this is what continually prevents

big breweries from being able to

operate like us. It takes them a month

to get anything done. We never get

anything 100% right – ask anyone who

knows us. But we are persistent and

make sure we put all of our energy into

doing things right, and over time we

always see positive results from this.”

So, to recap, Pete feels that our

insatiable appetite for weird and

wonderful beers is actually helping

him to rebel. Oh, you optimistic soul.

Let’s hope you’re right.

Back over at Wild Beer, Andrew

considers how his experiences of the

UK beer industry have changed over

his career. Of course, Wild Beer were

never your average beer company.

Since the brewery’s start, he and

co-founder Brett Ellis have focused

their attentions on the natural process

of beer, barrel aging and imaginative

combinations of flavours. Using yeast

gathered from a nearby orchard and

foraged ingredients from the local

landscape, their concentration on

developing a unique terroir has helped

them to develop their brewery into

a welcomed outsider; a brewery that

beer drinkers choose because of their

weirdness, not in spite of it. It wasn’t

always this way though.

There were only a handful of

breweries in the UK doing this sort of

thing when we started out,” Andrew

explains. “Standards have risen since

then. Back in 2012 there weren’t 20+

mature craft breweries competing with

us.”

In 2018, is the sheer number of

existing and commendable new

breweries jostling for position in our

hearts and on our shelves causing

difficulties? And are our heightened

expectations adding to it? Andrew

thinks so.

“It felt like the industry reached a

critical point a long time ago. If you

don’t have the money or experience, or

if you haven’t identified a niche in the

market - are there any left? - it’s a very

tough gig to be starting. It’s an even

tougher one to be learning in.”

He’s got a point. Where once it

might have been acceptable to put out

your first beers and receive negative

but constructive critique back from

drinkers in order to improve the next

batch, now we’re less patient. Could a

new brewer survive two failed brews

in this competitive climate? Should

they? Andrew’s feeling that new

brewers might not have the space to

learn and grow in the beer industry is

a harsh one, but it’s realistic. Would we

give their more established peers the

benefit of the doubt if they were in the

same position?

Pete weighs in. “With more and

more choices it becomes increasingly

important for brewers to be consistent

with their core range. If a drinker

comes into their local, loyalty can only

get you through a few inconsistent

pints. The landlords and buyers

know this too – if you put on a keg

and it doesn’t move, they will be

hesitant to buy it again when they

know consistent beers will always

deliver. This competition is healthy

and should keep quality control at

the forefront of their operations.

When the bubble burst in the 90’s

in the U.S., overwhelming choice

forced consumers to return to beers

they know are the same every time,

this wiped out a lot of startups that

couldn’t keep on top of it, and the ones

left after the dust settled set a new

bar to compete with. Quality, quality,

quality.”

If American drinkers started sticking

to what they knew, what’s to say that

won’t happen over here in the UK? if

reputation counts for so much in beer,

if you’re still building yours, would

you stick to what you know and risk

being penalised for being “safe” or

“unoriginal”? Pete certainly doesn’t

care about that - his beers “Work” and

“Posh” are perhaps proof of the maxim

that breweries only need one good

beer (or two in his case).

New brewers might not

have the space to learn

and grow

“One great beer can put a brewery

on a map,” he said. “Shit, one good

beer label can put a brewery on the

map these days it seems like. Even

when older breweries put out a great

beer, the industry tastes it, and word

spreads through the hop-vine like

wildfire. Harnessing technique is what

makes good beer great.”

So, if you’re looking for Pete’s advice,

get a good beer right, and make it

great.

Andrew’s advice comes from a

similar place.

“Back in 2012, there was less

experimentation and brewers did

what they were good at. Breweries

now feel like they have to be

everything to everyone.”

Are new breweries feeling the

pressure to experiment to keep

interest high? If they are, both

Andrew and Pete think they should

try to control that feeling. As drinkers,

beer fans and passionate advocates of

independent beer in the UK, it can be

incredibly tempting to chase after the

new. After all, experimentation and

innovation are what make the scene

so exciting in the first place. But, at

the end of the day, are these the beers

and the breweries that endure?

We all love seeing brewers take

beer to the next level. We also all

love well-made beer that speaks for

itself, created especially for drinking

in pints around a pub table or from a

bottle in the middle of a dancefloor.

Constantly looking for the next

big thing is what’s driving the beer

industry forward, but in some ways, it

could be restricting it. Are we pushing

new breweries the right amount?

Or could we find it in our hearts

to have a little more chill, and let

smaller, newer breweries work hard

on perfecting their core beers before

moving on to the next thing?

20 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 21


WORDS: Mark Dredge

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Duvel

My whole body feels like it’s been

wrung like a rag, squeezed and

drained, discarded. My feet feel

like I’ve been walking on fire. My legs

hurt to the bones; to beyond the bones.

Yet I’m feeling light with the relief and

joy of finishing a marathon and I’m light

with the few glasses of strong beer that

I’ve just drunk. And as I sink into the soft

chair on the bus back to Brussels, and

as I feel all the deep dull aches mixing

with the effervescence of alcohol and

accomplishment, I ask myself why. Why

do I run?

I run because it’s easy and because

it’s hard. I run to think and I run to not

have to think. I run to make myself feel

good and to make myself hurt; for the

perseverance to keep on going even

when it sucks, for the satisfaction of

soreness after more miles logged. I run

to get better at it, to beat old times,

to beat friends, to beat people I don’t

know. I run for the race day, for the

medals and the new PBs. I run to be

a part of something while also being

apart from it; the collective activity

with the individual result. I run for the

healthy life balance of a professional

beer drinker (who also used to be the

fat kid in school). I run to eat well and

to not drink and I run so that I can eat

and drink whatever I want – every mile

equals a beer, a 10km is a night out, a

half marathon is a reason and excuse

to eat and drink everything. I run

because… actually, I think I mostly just

run so that I can eat and drink more.

Before the starting line

There’s a frites stand! And the bar at

the back has… 3… 9… 15 taps of Duvel!

And Tripel Karmeliet! I’m going to eat

so many frites later! And I’m gonna be

so drunk! There are people over there

drinking already!

I wish I was drinking a beer on

this sunny Sunday at 9am. Instead of

drinking, I’m stretching and smothering

myself in factor 30 and jumping around

with nervous excitement because this

is my fifth marathon and while I don’t

know exactly what the next few hours

will be like, I do know that at some

point they’re going to hurt very, very

much. Marathons mostly just suck. Why

am I doing another marathon?!

Because it’s the Great Breweries

Marathon. I couldn’t resist running

around Duvel, Palm and Bosteels in

the Belgian countryside. It’s starts and

finishes in the Duvel-Moortgat brewery

and this is the coolest race village I’ve

seen, especially for a beer nerd like

me. I could’ve done a 25km version of

the run, or even walked either distance

(at least then I could drink on the way

around), but I wanted the challenge of

training for another marathon (and then

the finish line with as much Duvel as I

can drink).

START LINE: Am I ready? I’ve drunk

enough water. Had two pees (and,

crucially, don’t need another poo). I’ve

got energy drink. I’ve eaten enough.

Laces are tied. Compeed plasters on

my nipples are well stuck (thank god I

discovered Compeed). Hair is tied back

(should’ve got it cut last week). Calves

and hips are tight, but they’ve been

tight for weeks and I’ll worry about

them later. I’ve got my pace wrist band

for three-hours and thirty minutes. The

10-second countdown begins. I’m ready.

Mile one: I am not ready for this heat.

Jeez, it’s hot. It must be 22ºC or more

already. The brewery is huge for such

a small town. How do they fit it all in?!

And we’re off-road already and running

past the flat, green pastoral land, the

farmhouses and trees, lots of (stinky)

cows. I just wish these slow joggers

would get out my way. I’m leaping left

and right, into fields, around trees,

speeding up and slowing down!

MILE THREE: Could I just live here

and run around the fields and then

drink Duvel all the time? It’s a top three

beer of all time for me (but remember

how you didn’t ‘get it’ for the first,

like, half dozen bottles you drank?

Unbelievable). What else? Tegernsee

Hell? Or Augustiner? A Suarez Family

beer? Blind Pig IPA? (Another IPA?

Which one…) 5km time check: a minute

ahead of my target. Perfect!

MILE FOUR: Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh,

no, no... Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no...

Why am I singing Beyonce?! It was that

bloody brass band a mile ago who were

playing it! Why do I always get one

song stuck in my head when I run? Uh

oh, uh oh…

MILE SIX: Palm Brewery! It’s like

an old castle. I high-five a man in

armour. There’s medieval music. Palm,

Rodenbach, Cornet, Steen Brugge.

Cases are stacked four pallets high

to build the route. That’s cool. Where

are we… Packaging! Runners go left,

walkers go right. If I was walking, I’d

definitely be stopping for a Cornet.

Flipping heck, it’s hot. 10km marker.

Time check: 47 minutes. Smashing it!

MILE SEVEN: Time for homemade

energy: maple syrup, espresso, pinch of

salt. It’s the least refreshing drink in the

whole world but way better than gloopy

gut-wrecking gels. Get water. Why is it

22 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 23


RUNNING FOR BEER

LOVE CRAFT BEER?

AND RUNNING?

RUN 8KM FROM BREWERY TO

BREWERY IN THE EAST END OF

LONDON. SAMPLE THE BEST

BEERS ALONG THE WAY.

LEARN ABOUT THE CITY'S

BREWING HISTORY.

CRAFT BEER RUNNING

TOUR

secretlondonruns.com

in paper cups? Running quickly while

drinking from paper cups is impossible.

MILE NINE: I’m with the 3:30 pacers.

Thud thud thud through dusty tracks.

There must be 20 of us here. I’ve

never run in a group like this. It’s like

we’re in a team, like a peloton, and I’m

running with people who run 3:30 in

a marathon. What’s your best time? I

want to say 3:29. I’ve done three 1:32

half marathons this year. I can do a sub-

3:30 marathon. That’s unthinkable for

the breathless, lazy, fat 14-year-old who

couldn’t do a single lap of cross country

in school without stopping or whinging

or just quitting. Fuck you, Fat Dredge, I

can run now.

MILE 11: Ketchup is amazing, isn’t it. I

could drink a pot of ketchup right now.

All that sugar and salt. Ketchup and

chips. I always want chips after a very

long run. I’m in Belgium, the home of

frites. This is perfect. Heinz is the best,

isn’t it. Craft ketchup just isn’t the same.

MILE 13: Halfway in 1:42. Exactly my

target! I’m kicking my arse, but it’s okay.

It feels good to run fast though the

open countryside, through villages and

fields, past people having breakfast

in their front gardens, cheering us on,

with kids cycling alongside us ‘Go Marek!’

they say. Drink more maple syrup

(eurgh, I’m sick of carbs and sugar).

MILE 15: It shouldn’t hurt this much

this early. Just stay with the pacers. Am

I going too fast? No, this is your pace.

You know it’s going to hurt so just deal

with it. This is not some Sunday plod

around the park. This is a race.

Mile 17: Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no,

no... Bosteels! Hopefully we’ll get to

see… Oh, that’s it and we’re in and

out of the brewery in a few metres.

I don’t even know what I saw apart

from people drinking. I can barely see

properly anyway. Tripel Karmeliet.

Classic Tripel. Richer with malt with

spicier yeast compared to Strong

Golden Ales like Duvel. This is good:

distract yourself with beer. Actually: I

can’t think about beer right now.

MILE 20: Where did the 3:30 pacers

go? How did I lose them? 10km to go

and I’m at 2:41. Shit. How did I lose

so much time? Why aren’t my legs

moving? I can still get the time if I push.

It’s just pain. Come on! Finish the maple

syrup. Need water. Why is that so hard

right now? I can’t even run the pace I’d

jog around the block. And still six more

miles. SIX! Shit.

MILE 23: Time has never moved

slower (my legs have never moved

slower). I hate this bleak, hot, flat

countryside. I can’t go on. I have

nothing. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. DON’T

STOP. The road is empty in front of

me. There’s just dry fields all around.

I’ve stopped. AARRGGHH! CRAMP!

FUUUCK. Fuck you, body. I need to get

this over with. How can I even manage

three more miles. Every single step is

horrendous right now. I just want it to

be over. I’m in a bad way, a bad place,

a black place in the hot white sun, and

there’s no escape until the finish line.

MILE 26: I can see the brewery! I

see the massive tanks. The bright red

Duvel sign. All the Duvel in the world

is around me right now. Millions of

bottles. I’m scorched, sweaty, dusty,

dehydrated. Imagine getting into a bath

of ice cold Duvel right now (I bet the

bubbles would tingle and that’d feel

glorious). Where’s the end? Corner

24 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 25


RUNNING FOR BEER

HOWLING

HOPS NOW

IN CANS

BREWED & CANNED AT HOWLING HOPS QUEENS YARD, HACKNEY WICK, LONDON, E9 5EN HOWLINGHOPS.CO.UK @HOWLINGHOPS

after corner through stacked-up cases.

300m to go. 200m to go. One final turn.

I choke up, but no tears come out.

3:42. There’s a constricting, breathtaking,

stumbling, crumbling relief. I

did it but I didn’t do it. I take my medal

but don’t put it on. I stagger to a patch

of grass and can barely even fall to

my knees. More than any run I’ve ever

done, that hurt.

After the finish line

“I’m never running a marathon ever

again,” I say to Emma, my girlfriend,

when she finishes the 25km version of

the race. “Good!” she says, “maybe we

can stop running for a while!” I haven’t

eaten since finishing the run over an

hour ago and finally I’m feeling hungry

and thirsty. “I need some frites!” she

says.

We sit on the floor and eat hot,

crispy, salty chips (mine are covered in

loads of ketchup) and drink beautiful,

fresh, cold Duvel, which is, right now,

one of the single greatest beers I’ve

ever tasted. I feel immediately revived

in a remarkable way.

We drink more beer (the only thing

better than the first glass of Duvel

is the second glass I order). We take

photos with huge cut-out beer glasses.

Get selfies with our medals. I feel good.

I feel great. I sadistically and addictively

love the post-run pain and the postrun

buzz. People arrive into the race

village tired and smiling and grimacing

and thirsty. We’re all toasting others

and toasting ourselves. We’re all happy

and hurting. We’re eating chips and

pizza and burgers and drinking beers

because we’ve earnt them. And we’ve

earnt them together. Thousands of us

here, all now sitting in the sun, have

done something fun or challenging or

life-changing and we’ve all won our own

races, in our own ways, and now we’re

enjoying the best thing about running:

when you’re no longer actually doing it

but can enjoy having done it.

Back in Brussels and we’re drinking

gueuze outside a small café in the dozy

warmth of dusk. “But that was your

second-fastest marathon!” says Emma,

while I moan about not getting the

time I wanted. “I know it’s good, and I’m

happy, but I know that I can go under

3:30…”

“Don’t even think about it!”

26 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 27


TRAVEL TO THE CRAFT

BEER FRONTIER...

WORDS: Katie Taylor PUB

WALK

WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER

OF BEER TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER

2018 has been a historic year for the two Koreas and we plan to

create a special set of beers inspired by this, as well as an issue of

Ferment that explores both countries with intimacy and positivity

for the future.

For our upcoming ‘North & South Korea’ edition of Beer52

and Ferment, we would like to invite you to join us on a oncein-a-lifetime

trip to the DPRK. As well as exploring the country’s

breweries, bars and unique culture, we will:

• Attend the Mass Games

• Explore Pyongyang (Pyongyang Metro, the Fatherland Liberation

War Museum and captured spy ship USS Pueblo, and a visit to

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun)

• Visit Panmunjom and the DMZ on the border with South Korea

• Taste traditional North Korean cuisine

• Visit a local school and experience traditional music and dance.

• Taste drinks prepared by North Korea’s top bartender.

WHEN?

Saturday 22 to Thursday 27 September, 2018 (five nights in the

DPRK). Please note there is a mandatory pre-tour briefing at Koryo

Group office in Beijing on Friday 21 September.

HOW MUCH?

1,249 EUR per person (twin share). Overnight train between

Beijing-Pyongyang (return), can be upgraded to flight in and out

(+299 EUR) — all starting and finishing in Beijing. You must make

your own way to and from Beijing.

MORE INFORMATION?

Please check out the website of our tour partner:

www.koryogroup.com/tours/335

Or get in touch with fraser@beer52.com for more info.

“SOME OF YOU AREN’T WAVING THOSE ARMS - COME ON!”

A

presenter from a local radio

station is raising his voice above

wafts of barbecuing breakfast

sausages at the starting line of the

fourth annual Ribble Valley Pub Walk.

Holding his microphone in front of a

portable studio, he’s using every last bit

of his breakfast show energy to cajole

300 people and their bandana-wearing

dogs to stand up and stretch before the

day’s exertions begin.

Even at 11 in the morning, the sun is

beating down as the crowd moves in

unison amongst the ancient ruins of

Whalley Abbey. Every person here,

waggling their fingers and twisting at

the waist, is about to start a 12 miles

long sponsored pub walk, visiting

10 pubs along the way. The radio

presenter declares that he’s happy with

our progress and it’s time to move to

the starting line. The nervous laughter

stops. It’s fair to say there’s a little

apprehension in the air.

After a few motivating words of

thanks from the organisers, Stella,

the Deputy Mayor, snips a ceremonial

ribbon under the great arch of Whalley

Abbey gatehouse, and lets the eager

gang of fundraisers loose into the

streets.

Despite being a fairly new tradition,

the Ribble Valley Beer Walk has been

adopted quickly and totally by locals. It

is, after all, a great excuse to reconnect

with the nearby countryside and

perhaps more importantly, some of the

area’s famous country pubs. And then

there’s the charity aspect of it all, too.

“It’s the atmosphere and the buzz

that people come back for,” says

organiser Sharon Crymble, who is

also the Fundraising Manager for East

Lancashire Hospice, the charity for

which everyone is being sponsored

today. “Every year we see more and

more people coming to join in and

raising money for us which is fantastic

- it’s a long way to walk but everyone’s

always so enthusiastic.”

That buzz is no doubt helped by the

sheer number of public houses each

walker has to visit along the way.

This year, the route was extended

28 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 29


RIBBLE VALLEY PUB WALK

to include even more pubs, and to

reach further into the mysterious lands

where the Ribble Valley ends and the

protected Forest of Bowland begins. It

might only be 12 miles, but it covers a

lot of ancient ground, strewn with old

county boundaries named after longdead

Lords and Norse kings. Tolkein

used to walk here, you know.

So, we began the trail in the

picturesque and posh village of

Whalley, which usually expects drinkers

in shinier shoes and tweedier jackets

than our muddy-booted, matching

t-shirted rabble. Rammed with walkers

ordering their first drinks of the day

- mostly wise halfs of cider - our first

stop off at The De Lacy Arms gave us a

chance to sit down in a hidden corner

and worry about how we were going to

last the day. As we sipped gingerly, a

group of impressively energetic ladies

with pints of Stella told me they were

starting as they meant to go on, asked

me to take a photo of them together,

downed their drinks and left. I didn’t

see them for the rest of the day, but

their backpacks and walking socks told

me they were in for the long haul.

The Whalley segment of the walk

is notoriously brutal. Within the past

12 months, the opening of a new bar

selling independent and Belgian beers

in the village means there are now five

pubs to hit within less than quarter

There are five pubs to hit

within less than quarter

of a square mile

of a square mile right at the start of

the walk. Six, if you class an unofficial

stop-off back at Jack’s Bar for a can

of something hoppy to take with you.

Then, and only then, are you ready for

the walk across fields and down country

lanes to the Eagle at Barrow.

After quickly finishing pints in three

more pubs, feeling the buzz, emotional

after seeing footballers cry over their

national anthem on the TV in The Swan,

we left for the fourth. Stepping out into

the heatwave, eyes adjusting to the

blinding sunlight bouncing off bright

limestone, we clocked a large group

of walkers standing at the village bus

stop. Cheaters. We shook our heads

dramatically and stepped into the next

pub, wishing we’d had the foresight to

realise we could have got away with it

too.

In the newly-planted beer garden

of Jack’s of Whalley we met a rowdy

group of friends who, after I asked them

if they’d done the walk before, told me

in no uncertain terms:

“Yes. It’s going to be a silly day!”

For them, the aim wasn’t to make it to

every pub, but to the finish line. I asked

them whether this would make them

feel like they missed out.

“We get to go to a lot of these pubs

all the time,” said Melissa, who was sat

next to me with a prosecco. “What we

don’t do is venture out much further

than Whalley so it’s nice to see what it’s

like in the villages nearby.”

“We’re from Fence [a village on the

other side of Pendle Hill],” added a

friend, by way of explanation. I nodded.

He may as well have said he lived on

the Moon.

Then Melissa accidentally poured

her drink all over my trousers, so I high

fived her. Pint four, completed. Time to

get on our merry way.

Over meadows and through stiles,

waves of strangers in matching shirts

slowed down to take photos of the

valley and stragglers sped up, looking

at the time, wondering if they’d make

the final 6 miles down to the Three

Fishes from The Red Pump Inn. I asked

a walker who was about to set off ahead

what he’d been drinking.

“We started on lager,” he said, “but

that was just what they had. It’s going

to be nice when we get onto the the

Aspinall so we can have an ale, or

something different.”

In the North West, we talk about

the flourishing of the new-wave beer

industry being somewhat slower than

in the rest of the country. We often

wonder if it’s down to a lack of interest

from customers - but beer is loved here.

Maybe it’s about accessibility. People

enjoy change, but they need to be

gently persuaded into it, and perhaps

the number of non-freehold pubs in

the area contributes to customers not

being challenged. We praise our local

breweries, but many left their parochial

priorities a long time ago, buying up

their own pubs and reducing drinkers’

experiences of what they know as “craft

beer” to their own manifestations of it.

In retaliation, there are vacant buildings

all over the valley being bought by

entrepreneurial former pub managers

who want to sell beers they choose -

not beers chosen for them. It’s exciting

to see happening in front of our eyes,

not least because it continues to ask

more of the current larger breweries in

the area, and encourages new, smaller

breweries to germinate. Things are

happening. Just slowly.

Funnily enough, these thoughts

came to me as I sat down on the grand

lawns of the Aspinall Arms with a pint

of Bass, looking out over the glittering

River Ribble. Why Bass? Because it

was there, and it seemed rude not to.

Like refusing to shake a person’s hand.

Jackdaws cawed in the green meadows

on the other side of the river, where

lambs had lolled in the heat just weeks

before. Oak leaves fluttered high above

our picnic benches. Pendle Hill loomed

over us all, green and handsome, and

stone cold sober. We’d walked nine of

our 12 miles and visited all but one of

the pubs. I was getting emotional. Time

to set off again.

We took a limestone gravelled track

back into Whalley, following a route

where 150 years earlier, we’d have met

horses and carts piled high with hay.

While we walked, we talked loosely

with strangers about the world and

our lives, totally united in inebriation.

When we reached our final pub, The

Dog, to collect our certificates, we saw

people from the starting line chatting

with pints, as though today had just

been another day. I got another round

in. When Jaipur’s on keg in the Ribble

Valley, you don’t pass up that chance.

With the addition of beer, what was

set to be a long trek through familiar

countryside turned into an afternoon

of rediscovery. Every pint was bringing

me closer to remembering what I

loved about our scuffed and well-loved

country pubs in the first place. Yes, it

would have been dreamy to have been

able to walk into any pub along the way

and ordered a Highwire Grapefruit, a

Keller Pils, or an Arise, but we’re not

there yet. So we drank the local ales

we’ve grown used to and added lime

to whatever lager we fancied and in

the sun, those pints worked just fine.

Sometimes it’s not what you’re drinking.

It’s where you’re drinking it, and who

you’re drinking it with that makes all the

difference.

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Anspach & Hobday,

Bermondsey, London

WORDS: Tom Pears

PHOTOS: Sean Stone

MEMBERS’

BOTTLE SHARE

The capital is home to some of

the best craft breweries in the

country, some may even argue

the world. But this vibrant and diverse

brewing scene wouldn’t thrive without

the enthusiasm and passion of its loyal

community. For our latest bottleshare,

London’s Beer52 members came

together under Anspach & Hobday’s

arch in Bermondsey for an evening with

one of the founders, Paul Anspach who

talked us through some of their more

funky and quirky beers.

After everyone was seated and

pleasantries were exchanged, the first

beer was cracked open. First up was

the ‘Brett IPA’, part of the brewery’s

experimental range. The beer utilises

two popular US hops, Mosaic and

Cascade, both staples of IPAs here

and across the pond. But it’s the yeast

that is the most integral factor, in

terms of taste. Jack explained that

brettanomyces yeast is extremely hard

to control and it’s forever hungry, even

able to break down wood, which has

made it a scourge of the wine industry.

The particular strain used in this IPA is

the ‘Bruxellensis’ strain, which imparted

a nose reminiscent of potpourri or

perfume but left an unmistakable tart

flavour and lingering finish.

Another ‘bretted’ beer then followed.

The ‘Blond Brett’ was a much gentler

example of how Brett can affect beer.

The yeast used for this beer was the

‘Lambicus’ strain, in a very simple

Belgian blond recipe. This strain

takes longer to weave its magic than

Bruxellensis, and judging by the reaction

and lack of scrunched up faces around

the room, was much less challenging

than the Brett IPA. Jeremy and his son

Sam in particular preferred this beer,

commenting on its ‘softer’ and ‘creamier

texture’. Flavours detected were akin

to German wheat beers and saisons;

notably banana, cloves with a much drier

finish than the IPA.

Continuing this funky theme was the

recent collaboration with Hawkes cidery,

just a few doors up from A&H. The

idea came from Hawkes’ head honcho

Simon, who wanted to brew a ‘Graff’,

which was first devised by Stephen King

in his Dark Tower series. In the novels,

it’s a drink that was 40% beer and 60%

cider, said to be tart and refreshing.

So A&H brewed a Berliner weisse

then fermented the beer with a lot of

Dabinett apples. The result is a punchy,

sour apple beer, potent for its 4.4% abv.

However, it seems the current trend

of Berliner weisses, goses and geuzes

hasn’t sold everyone. Monalisa from

South Africa questioned the popularity

of sour beer styles, especially in terms

of their acidity, arguing against their

sessionable nature.

Before there was a risk of the room

being all soured out and having our

collective tastebuds shot to pieces, we

were given A&H’s porter, its flagship

beer and one beer that Paul spoke

of fondly, a constant reminder of the

very roots of the brewery. The first

uni homebrew that he and Jack (Mr

Hobday) nailed. It’s not only a beer

steeped in history and heritage but also

the beer responsible for turning a dream

into reality for Paul and Jack. And it is

a glorious beer, with a lovely viscosity,

mouthfeel and one chock full of notes

from liquorice to molasses to dark

chocolate.

Rounding off the night was a beer

that in many ways fused together the

styles and flavours we had experienced

beforehand. On first glimpse ‘Brother

Sean’ was just a big stout, weighing

in at 8.3%, it poured and looked

unashamedly bold and rich. But it was

much more nuanced. It’s brewed once

a year and the yeast (which is different

every batch) is left to mature in the

bottle for 12 months before release. The

yeast selected for this batch was the

‘Bastogne’ strain, common throughout

Belgian dubbels and tripels. Flavours

included chocolate, and forest fruit

flavours with a slight tangy tartness.

After all that, as the sun slowly

withdrew below the shard, there was

barely any more room left for beer. It

was a wonderful summers evening, full

of anecdotes, history, and spent with

some truly excellent beer.

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IF YOU CAN MAKE IT

At the recent London

Brewers Alliance festival

held at Fuller’s – the first

the organisation had thrown since

2013 – there was an unmistakable

air of calm and jollity. Brewers large

and small linked arms in celebration

of London’s beer scene. There was

no infighting between the Anheuser

Busch-InBev owned Camden Town

and Beavertown (which recently

received a £40 million investment

from Heineken for a 49% stake in the

business) over who was going to have

the biggest brewery in North London.

And there was no scrapping between

smaller, younger brewers like Boxcar

or Bohem over who was going to get

their beer on the soon-to-be-vacant

taps within independent bars that

Matt Curtis looks at the glittering prize that is

London, and how brewers across the country are

looking to tap into its rich beer scene

used to pour Gamma Ray.

London’s beer scene is one of

diversity, inclusivity and – after leaving

the London Brewers Alliance Festival

with a smile on my face – I feel it’s also

one of increasing maturity. It’s home

to over 110 breweries, up from just 10

a decade ago. This fresh abundance

of brewing talent in the capital has

also allowed a rising number of pubs,

bars and bottleshops to flourish. As

London’s scene becomes ever more

pervasive, while also becoming wiser

and more experienced, it’s fair to say

that the city has charted a course

toward becoming one of the most

well-regarded beer destinations in the

world.

With prosperity, however, comes

new challenges. Craft beer in the UK

only accounts for 5.5% of the market

according to data firm CGA – a

paltry figure when compared to the

14% share boasted by the US. The

reality is that 95% of the beer market

in Britain is still controlled by the

largest brewery groups, such as AB-

InBev, Molson Coors, Heineken and

Carlsberg. Via a network of thousands

of ‘tied houses’ – pubs that can only

get hold of a limited selection of beer

through one or more of these large

companies – and a stranglehold on

supermarket shelf real estate, the

largest players make breaking into

the mainstream market very difficult

indeed.

This means the UK’s 2000

independent breweries are competing

within that same 5% of the market.

And much of this market is within

London itself. An increasing number

of small, independent brewing

businesses are looking to London as

part of their expansion plans. Bristol’s

Moor Brewing Company has already

opened a bar on South London’s

‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’, just four

doors down from local business Brew

by Numbers. Manchester’s Cloudwater

has acquired the space directly in

between the two of them. Cornwall’s

Verdant is to collaborate on a bar in

Hackney, East London with Pressure

Drop Brewery, while Yorkshire’s

Northern Monk has its sights firmly set

on a London brewpub. On the surface,

competition in London’s beer market

seems to be heating up.

EVERYONE INTO POSITION

There’s little doubt that London’s beer

industry will continue to grow over the

next few years. But what could all of

this increased competition mean for

London’s existing independent beer

businesses? How much of a good thing

is too much?

The London brewing community

is pretty tight. We’re more likely to be

having a beer together and borrowing

stuff than working out how to beat each

other,” Ben Duckworth of London’s

Affinity Brewing Company says. “I

don’t really see other breweries as

competition, and the addition of more

top-class beer can only be a good thing

for us all and our collective offering. If

the new influx of breweries are doing

things for the right reasons, I’m sure

they’ll fit in just fine!”

Duckworth is full of positivity about

the interest fellow small brewery

owners are showing in the London

market. He’s also brimming with

excitement at the prospect of the new

Verdant taproom. He also says that as

his brewery expands he too would like

to establish Affinity taprooms in other

UK locations, but warns of the dangers

of comparing his business to others.

His point is salient: what might prove

effective for one brand may not click

with another.

“For us, as long as we’re consistently

releasing product we love, we don’t

need to worry about what anyone else

is doing,” Duckworth says. “We tend

to ignore trends and back ourselves, in

the belief that flavour and balance will

win out.”

Bristol’s Moor Brewery opened

the doors of its London venue and

distribution warehouse, ‘The Moor

Beer Vaults’ in December 2017. It’s

less than a mile away from Affinity’s

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IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE...

#PartnersInCraft

assemble.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign brewing. To see what’s happening and grab a beer voucher on us,

add your email address to our list at anspachandhobday.com

space, in Bermondsey, one of London’s

biggest beer hotspots, now home

to more than 10 breweries. It’s also

home to a cider maker, wine shops,

distilleries and restaurants, making the

South East London district one of the

city’s must-visit attractions. Its London

space also allows Moor to expand its

barrel ageing project.

“[The taproom] has had a

positive impact on the scene and

the neighbours have been very

welcoming,” Moor founder Justin

Hawke says of his business’s London

experience so far. “When you do the

Bermondsey Beer Mile, you really see

how everyone is doing their own thing,

which is very complementary. We

remain very distinct and unique with

our modern real ale.”

The very existence of an increasingly

interesting range of beers is having a

beneficial effect on all the breweries

who trade on the mile. Taprooms used

to open exclusively on a Saturday, but

as space increases, facilities improve

and awareness grows, these businesses

are able to operate for longer hours.

Fourpure, at the very end (or start,

depending on your route) of the mile

is already opening its taproom six days

a week. As its peers also begin to do

the same it means not only will they be

able to increase their revenue streams,

but they will also create more jobs,

demonstrating how the competitive

nature of the scene is actually to its

benefit.

HAND IN HAND

One thing that’s evident from the

moves being made by the likes of

Moor and Verdant is that the directto-consumer

model is becoming ever

more popular among the UK’s small

breweries. This isn’t surprising. In the

US, Trillium in Boston is able to sell

near 99% of its product direct from

its own bars and retail outlets. Not

only does this increase profit margins

but it also keeps quality control firmly

in the hands of the producer. Better

product at better pricing is win/win for

the consumer. But how does this affect

other independent retailers?

“I understand some retailers may

be fearful that this direct-to-consumer

model will hurt their sales, looking,

perhaps, at the queues-around-theblock

action seen at breweries like

Treehouse and Trillium in the US,” Jen

Ferguson of South London bottle shop

Hop Burns & Black says. “In reality,

though, I suspect it’s only likely to be a

small percentage of our customers who

will be regularly hitting the brewery tap

rooms to get their beer fix. I don’t think

good retailers have much to fear.”

Ferguson goes on to say that, in

essence, the modern bottle shop is

more than just a bottle shop. These

days the best kind of beer venues

act as community hubs, much like a

traditional public house has done for

the past few decades. The evolution of

those classic boozers just means that

they now take many guises, be they

taprooms, bottle shops or a great many

other forms. And, in trying to unearth

the grim, competitive side of London’s

modern beer scene, instead I found one

of mutual support and camaraderie. The

capitals beer scene is definitely busy,

but a long way from its saturation point.

The future of the London brewing

scene depends on the quality of the

product coming in and the integrity of

the individuals involved,” Affinity’s Ben

Duckworth says. “If the beer’s great and

people are being honest, where’s the

downside?”

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Louise Crane looks at how the mighty Thames has

shaped drinking habits in London and beyon

Old Father Thames has played

a role in many a tale, from

Dickens to Defoe, Will Self

to Jerome K Jerome. See Ratty as he

“messes about in boats” in Kenneth

Graeme’s Wind In The Willows, or catch

Sherlock Holmes’s pursuit of assassins

through the docks from West India to

Isle of Dogs in The Sign of Four. The

Thames has also been a major player in

the story of England’s alcoholic drinks,

acting as gatekeeper for what came in,

and what went out.

Since Roman times, London has had

a working dock. Its length, connection

to the open sea and in later years to

England’s canal system made it the

perfect gateway for goods and people,

and a major reason for London’s

domination over England’s other cities.

PHOTO: Zsolt Stefkovics

The goods it helped trade brought new

wonders from near and far to England.

Take, for instance, gin. This originated

in Holland, where a drink called jenever

was born. Originally the distillation

of malt wine, it was strong, fiery, and

largely unpalatable. Herbs and spices

were used to mask the flavour, and the

juniper berry added for their supposed

medicinal benefits. For a while, the only

source of jenever was English soldiers

returning from battles in the Low

Countries at the end of the 16th century,

until its popularity demanded an import

trade. Not to be outshone (or rather,

out-profited) by foreign producers,

English distillers were soon on the

lookout for their nearest juniper bush,

and “gin” was born in the early 1600s. Its

popularity really took off when William,

Prince of Orange (and Stadtholder of

the Netherlands) was crowned King of

England, Ireland and Scotland in 1689.

Between 1689 and 1697, Great Britain

was at war with France, and Parliament

enacted a prohibitively high duty on

the import of spirits, including the

immensely popular French brandy, to

encourage domestic interests such

as brewing. Grain was soon highly

demanded by not only brewers but gin

distillers wishing to supply the gaping

maws of English drinkers with soothing

spirit. The distillers had to make do

with low quality grain, and with their

imperfect early distillation techniques,

produced a raw spirit that required a lot

of flavouring to make it palatable. The

answer lay, literally, in the docks, where

spices, sugar and citrus fruits from the

colonies abound. These events led to

London’s woeful Gin Craze, which you

can read more about on page 91.

London has always had plenty of

breweries lining the Thames. One such

brewer whose name lives on is George

Hodgson, known as the man who

created a heavily-hopped, strong beer

to survive the journey that ships were

now making out from the Thames to

India. Or was he? As per many stories

surrounding beer, this one is something

of a myth. Hodgson really did ship such

a beer to India in the 1700s, but he

didn’t create it. He was simply the most

successful producer of a style already

in existence, his fortune more down to

serendipity and proximity than any kind

of divine inspiration.

Hodgson’s brewery at Bow was a

short boat ride away from Blackwall on

the Thames, home to the docks used by

the now-legendary East India Company.

So it became the brewery of choice for

captains looking for a decent beer to

sell in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras

(alongside their cargo of English china,

food and furniture) to whom Hodgson

extended credit, up to 18 months, on

the beer they bought from him. It just

so happened that this brew matured

exceptionally well on the long, fourmonth

voyage to India thanks to the

microclimate of the ships’ holds. With a

little planning and a lot of luck, Hodgson

acquired around half the Indian market,

and earned himself a name that would

be said with fervour on the lips of IPA

lovers today.

The most popular beer of the

eighteenth century can thank the

Thames for its name and reputation.

Porter developed as a style when

brewers started hopping their beer

more and storing it for longer, and

found its name in its keenest customers:

the city’s many street and river porters.

In November 1799 a brief announcement

appeared in The Times newspaper:

“A Porter Brewery is about to be

established at Portsmouth, by a number

of opulent Gentlemen, who have

subscribed £5000 each. The Thames

water for this undertaking is to be

conveyed by shipping.”

This might strike us as somewhat

unusual, given the Thames’ reputation

for being a river of stench and sewage

before it was cleaned up in the 19th

and 20th centuries. Its mention

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TIDES OF CHANGE

reflects that many drinkers of the

time believed that decent porter

had to be brewed with water from

the Thames. George Watkins, author

of The compleat brewer; or, The art

and mystery of brewing explained,

published in 1760, echoed this feeling

in his book, writing, “WATER may be

distinguished into four kinds: Spring,

River, Rain and Pond, and what is the

worst in appearance often makes the

best drink. No water can be fouler than

that of the Thames, yet the clearest

porter is brewed with it.” Though he

does go on to say that Thames water

is not essential for brewing porter,

it definitely seems that the Thames’s

reputation dictated how porter was

made throughout the country.

Recalling the unclean state of the

Thames will likely make you remember

that people of the Middle Ages were

forced to drink ‘small beer’, a sometimes

filtered weak ale (probably below 3%)

that was of similar consistency to thin

porridge, rather than water, since it

was far less likely to cause illness as

the boiling stage of production kills

offending microorganisms. There’s

a general understanding that until

drinking water was piped into homes,

beer was the only safe bet for a healthy

tummy, and even for avoiding death. But

there are a number of historians who

counter this supposed fact, including

food history blogger Jim Chevallier:

“Not only are there specific – and very

casual – mentions of people drinking

water all through the Medieval era,

but there seems to be no evidence

that they thought of it as unhealthy

except when (as today) it overtly

appeared so. Doctors had slightly more

nuanced views, but certainly neither

recommended against drinking water in

general nor using alcohol to avoid it.”

The myth of

constant beer

drinking is also false

Chevallier quotes from a book called

Misconceptions About the Middle

Ages, by Stephen Harris and Bryon

L. Grigsby, which says: “The myth of

constant beer drinking is also false;

water was available to drink in many

forms (rivers, rain water, melted snow)

and was often used to dilute wine.” So

why do we think that the Middle Agers

were constantly quaffing beer and not

water? Probably because water wasn’t

written about as much as beer, because

there was little reason to write about it:

water wasn’t sold, transported or taxed

in the same way beer was. It’s likely the

people preferred to drink beer, but

would drink water when they couldn’t,

as per the phrase, “Beer if I have it or

water if I have no beer,” which appeared

in a 10th century Saxon educational text

for learning Latin. This would likely be

for variation, flavour, and energy. Before

germ theory was developed in the

1860s, people weren’t aware of bacteria

and viruses, so they weren’t drinking

beer for the reason it was ‘cleaner’

than water, but simply that it smelt and

tasted better.

On the odd historical occasion, Old

Father Thames played host to drinking

itself. In times of severe weather

between the sixteenth and nineteenth

centuries, the Thames could freeze

over for weeks at a time. (Back then,

temperatures were colder as the

Northern Hemisphere was locked in

a period known as the ‘Little Ice Age’

- compare the average temperature

for January 1814 with that of January

2016, -2.9°C versus 4.6°C.) Without

the opportunity of work on the river,

enterprising watermen and lightermen

would organise “frost fairs”, setting

up food and drink stalls and charging

for access. The smell of roast meats,

chestnuts and hot mulled wine would

waft through the air as punters donned

their skates to take to the river and

enter a cross between the circus, a

Christmas market and a festival. There

would be bull-baiting, sledging, bowling,

dancing, and – almost unbelievably –

horse and coach races, shops, pubs and

bars.

London’s last frost fair was in

February 1814, during the third coldest

winter since records began in 1659.

Weeks and weeks of bitter chill,

blanketing fog and whirling snow left

the river glassy still, and on the first of

the month, the party began. The food

and drink was a feast, with oxen and

mutton, mince pies and gingerbread

soaked in booze, and a huge number of

bars selling drinks such as purl, a mix

of gin and wormwood wine served hot,

and mum, a beer infused with spices.

Fruit and gingerbread vendors plied the

spoilt-for-choice revellers with hot gin

“Beer if I have it or water if I have no beer”

(for a fee) and we can only imagine their

skating was a little skittish come nighttime.

After five days of near-debauchery,

the winds of winter changed direction

and the ice started to crack. Time to

retreat to the shore.

These are just a few tales of how

the Thames shaped what we drank.

From jenever to gingerbread, porter to

IPA, it has carried, hosted, made and

seen some of the most popular drinks

in our national cabinet. Although the

docks have now fallen silent, London’s

breweries new and old still overlook the

Thames, and the huge success of gin

carried through to the style London dry.

You can still sit in a pub called The Swan

overlooking the river, and hopefully this

will never change. One thing that will

though is our weather, so you can bet

that next snowy day we’ll be down on

the banks, willing that water to freeze.

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anyone claiming that craft beer

is one big, mutually supportive,

egalitarian love-in has clearly

never watched beer geeks duking it out

over who has the best arsenal of facts

at their fingertips. You can spot them

in the bar, brows furrowed, circles of

stress sweat marking the pits of their

wilfully obscure brewery t-shirts, as

they vie to outdo each other on some

esoteric point of brewing arcana.

I don’t mean this to sound

judgemental at all. I’m a firm believer

that the act of drinking is only one part

of what makes this wonderful scene so

enjoyable (albeit rather an important

one). The truth is that a lot of us really

love facts. Sure, we want to be able

to engage with our beer-loving peers

and talk knowledgably about Lambic’s

curious grain bill, or the correct way

to serve a weizen, but there’s also

something great about just knowing

these things for their own sake.

Much more importantly, this

knowledge genuinely helps us

understand what we’re drinking and

enjoy it on a more informed level. Once

we know what esters are and where

they come from, we begin to pick out

those tell-tale notes of pear drops and

banana and consider what the brewer

must have done to ensure they got

there. And you don’t need to dig too

deeply into the complex biochemistry of

hops to appreciate why the juicy mango

of a NEIPA is so different from the crisp

bitterness of a kolsch.

Fundamentally, the character of

each and every beer tells a long and

fascinating story, from grain to glass;

every aroma, flavour and nuance the

result of a calculated decision, waiting

to be decoded and savoured.

I’ve spent the past few years

hoovering up as many of these choice

beer facts as I could, as well as some

more general observations about

beer culture, and what it means to be

a beer lover in 2018. The result is an

actual, honest-to-goodness hardback

book, The Craft Beer Dictionary,

featuring handsome illustrations

by the talented Jonny Hannah and

published by Octopus. Hopefully,

it's broadly informative, occasionally

entertaining and, at the very least,

would look awesome placed on a flat

surface of your choice.

Richard

The Craft Beer Dictionary by Richard

Croasdale (9781784723880) (Mitchell

Beazley, RRP £15.00) is available to

Ferment readers at £10.50 each, plus

free UK P&P. To order, please call

01903 828503 quoting, Ideas MB697.

Offer subject to availability.

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Do it yourself,

make it original

An inside look at London’s vibrant

homebrewing community

First came the homebrewers.

Without them we wouldn’t

have the vibrant modern beer

culture that so many of us enjoy today.

Take Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman

as the perfect example. Shortly after

homebrewing was legalised in the

United States by President Jimmy

Carter in 1978, he founded his brewery

in Chico, California based on the back

of inspiration from classic British ales.

Fast forward three decades and Sierra

Nevada is now the second largest craft

brewery in America, home to over

1000 employees and producing almost

1.5million hectolitres of beer a year—for

perspective that’s more than three

times the size of Fuller’s Brewery in the

UK.

Perhaps one of the most influential

figures in modern American beer is

Charlie Papazian. The former nuclear

engineer founded both the American

Homebrewers Association (AHA)

WORDS: Matt Curtis

and the Association of Brewers in his

hometown of Boulder, Colorado in

1978 and 1979 respectively. In 2005 the

Association of Brewers would merge

with the American Brewers Association

(now collectively known as the Brewers

Association), in the process forming

the largest trade body in the brewing

industry, for which he would serve as

President.

For many, Papazian is considered

to be the godfather of homebrew. He

is the author of The Complete Joy of

Homebrewing which has been reprinted

almost 25 times over 3 editions, having

sold almost one million copies. He also

coined the famous phrase: “relax, have

a homebrew.” If you’re musing over

brewing your own, Papazian’s book is

exactly where you should begin your

journey.

While homebrewing in Britain has

never been illegal per se, it did require

a license (costing 5 shillings) from 1880,

until this was repealed in 1963. In the

UK you’re free to make as much beer

as you like for “personal consumption”

but, should you wish to sell any beer

then you’re required to register with

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs so

that you can pay the necessary tax on

your beer.

The UK is recognised as having

one of the most vibrant homebrewing

communities in the world. With its

exploding craft beer culture, and

vast population, London has become

something of an epicenter for this

movement, with the success of many

small breweries inspiring many to pick

up the mash paddle. It’s home to a

multitude of homebrewing clubs, the

UK’s first homebrewing conference, and

even harbours many with aspirations

of one day turning their hobby into a

career.

BRING IT BACK HOME

Although it may not have produced a

brewing behemoth like Sierra Nevada,

homebrewing in the existence of eager

homebrewers has still been a boon

for its beer industry. This is especially

true from 2002 onwards, when the

government introduced progressive

beer duty. This sliding taxation scale

meant that any brewer producing less

than 5000hl (circa 880,000 pints) per

year paid half the duty of its larger

counterparts. This meant that many

homebrewers were now able to afford

to make their dreams of becoming a

professional brewer a reality.

One of these brewers is Andy Parker,

who founded Elusive Brewing in the

village of Wokingham, Berkshire, in

April 2016. Before he would go on to

win accolades as a professional brewer,

Parker would ingratiate himself with the

London homebrewing community. This

came to a peak when, just two years

after he began homebrewing in 2012,

he won a national homebrewing award

complete with £5000 in prize money.

While this isn’t anywhere near the kind

of funding you need to start a brewery,

it set Parker on the path towards

opening a brewery of his own.

“I’ll never forget the first time I

opened a bag of Simcoe and held it

to my face,” Parker says when asked

of some of his earliest memories of

homebrewing. “The hobby turned

into something of an obsession and

I was brewing far more than I could

reasonably drink, so started to give it to

friends and other home brewers.”

Parker was inspired to start brewing

after trips to the Californian West

Coast, after drinking the bitter, resinous

IPAs offered up by breweries such

as Stone and Green Flash. Before

he opened Elusive he was offered a

chance to brew a commercial batch

of his Lord Nelson Saison with his

friends at London’s Weird Beard Brew

Co, a brewery also founded by former

homebrewers. The beer was released

as a collaboration, and was the first time

the Elusive Brewing name was seen out

in the wild.

The London Amateur Brewers (LAB)

is a group that Parker cites as being

hugely beneficial to his brewing career.

The organisation has an ethos built on

giving honest feedback — sometimes

brutally so — to its members. The LAB

also has some serious luminaries on its

roster, with The Kernel’s founder Evin

O’Riordain once counted among its

ranks. Despite the help he had here

though, nothing could have prepared

Parker for the realities of running a

commercial brewery.

“I thought I’d done my homework

and was ready for the challenge but

I don’t think anything really prepares

you for the ups and downs of running

a brewery,” he says. “The highs are

amazing but the lows make you question

what the hell you were thinking and

have been a real test of character.”

Not all of London homebrewers

44 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 45


DO IT YOURSELF, MAKE IT ORIGINAL

have aspirations to turn pro, however.

Many are simply content to keep it as

a creative hobby. But homebrewing

has evolved beyond something that

lets you brew plenty of half-decent

beer on the cheap. These days it’s a

highly creative hobby, not dissimilar to

other culinary pursuits such as cooking.

It’s also a chance for many to try and

emulate their favourite brews, albeit on

a significantly smaller scale.

The main attractions were being able

to brew beers that I’d not been easily

able to find, whether that be a Passion

Fruit Gose, or recreating hard-to-get

beers like Pliny The Elder” homebrewer

Ian Sargent says. “Who wouldn’t want a

20l keg of fresh Pliny!?”

In London, however, space is it a

premium. Too many of us are crammed

into tiny flats, with no gardens and even

tinier kitchens. In order to pursue his

passion for brewing, Sargent joined

East London-based Brew Club, which

allows its members to brew on high-end

homebrewing kit that’s provided for

them, in exchange for a fee.

“Even when I managed get my

own flat with my partner, space and

cost of quality kit was still somewhat

prohibitive,” Sargent says. “You’d need

to spend over £1,500 to get the setup

you get to use at Brew Club. Brewing

in a communal space is also great for

meeting other homebrewers, which

means you get to bounce ideas off

other people, share tips and equipment

recommendations.”

Brew Club is one of a handful of

similar brewing clubs within London,

which also includes Bermondsey’s

UBrew and BrewDog’s Angel venue,

which has its own array of homebrewing

equipment. The extra space afforded to

homebrewers like Sargent has plenty of

advantages—perhaps even enough to

tempt him down a similar path to Elusive

Brewing’s Andy Parker.

You’d be amazed at

what is growing on your

doorstep in London

“Making the leap to professional

brewing was never the main objective

of starting homebrewing, and with the

market being so saturated right now

it doesn’t feel like the right time to

make that an active pursuit,” Sargent

says. “That said, I’ve never ruled it out

completely and at the moment I’m

in discussions with a few other keen

homebrewers about subletting some

space in a brewery. The possibility of

making this relatively expensive hobby

start to fund itself would be pretty

cool.”

SOMETHING WILD

While the lure of professional brewing

seems attractive to some, most

homebrewers are still happy to see it as

a creative hobby. In London this means

some brewers are using this to express

their creativity. In brewing this could

mean coming up with your own riffs on

Pale Ale or Porter — or it could mean

you spend your weekends foraging

for unusual ingredients and cultivating

strains of wild yeast and bacteria to give

your beers a real sense of place. For

South London homebrewer Kat Sewell,

inspiration lies within the sour and

spontaneous.

“I like that I can stick some brett in

something and not have to worry about

it for a while,” Sewell says. “I’m also not

a massive drinker — I don’t session, so

making beers that take time and that I

can package in 750ml bottles and enjoy

once in a while really appeals.”

Sewell began homebrewing in 2011,

inspired by Belgian styles, particularly

Saisons and latterly sours from the likes

of Cantillon, along with New Belgium in

the United States. At the time, many of

these styles weren’t as readily available

as they are now. It turned out that the

wild and mixed fermentation rabbit hole

it led her down would seemingly have

no end.

“As I spiralled into the black hole that

is mixed ferm brewing I really got into

experimenting with different flavours

and foraging for local herbs and fruits.

You’d be amazed at what is growing on

your doorstep in London,” Sewell says.

There’s loads of mixed ferm and wild

stuff available now but I like sitting back

and drinking a bottle and being able to

say “I made this.””

Much of the homebrewing

experience is centered around

experimentation and learning whilst

doing. However, the sharing of

knowledge and the camaraderie that

springs from this is also a crucial part

of what makes homebrewing so special

for many. Simon Pipola is a well known

figure within the London beer scene:

he’s worked behind the bar at places

46 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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DO IT YOURSELF, MAKE IT ORIGINAL

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Equipping the Nation’s Craft Breweries

like The Axe in Stoke Newington and

The King’s Arms in Bethnal Green and

presently works as events manager at

Hackney Wick’s Beer Merchants Tap.

He’s also the founder of Bear

Boars, one of London’s most popular

homebrewing clubs. Pipola was inspired

to brew in the early days of London’s

beer revolution when he tried beers

from the likes of The Kernel and

Camden Town Brewery. He cobbled

together his first homebrew kit for less

than £100 just over four years ago, and

has since progressed to running his own

homebrewing masterclasses. For him,

the community aspect of homebrewing

was as appealing as the beer making

itself.

The UK scene is growing but is still

relatively small compared to what we

see in America,” Pipola says, when

asked why he set up his homebrew club.

“In the UK a lot of people associate

home brewing to the extract kits that

were all the rage in the 70s and 80s

but the scene has moved on leaps and

bounds. There are thousands of all grain

brewers in the UK now and that number

is increasing all the time.”

With the efforts of enthusiasts

like Pipola, London’s homebrewing

community has flourished, and there

are now over 12 homebrewing clubs

in the city. The clubs are also running

more competitions, which brings

with it a more competitive edge —

something Pipola seems to relish. He

took his passion even further when he

launched London’s first home brewing

conference, Brew Con, in 2017, and

plans to bring to back again this year.

“After we launched Beer Boars and it

immediately took off I was galvanised

to do something bigger,” he says. “Brew

Con is a passion project, it will never

make money, but bringing so many keen

brewers together is worth all the effort

tenfold.”

Next on Pipola’s agenda is a trip

to Portland, Oregon, for the annual

American Homebrewers Association

conference — the largest of its kind.

From its humble beginnings when

it was founded by Charlie Papazian

in 1978, it’s become a force to be

reckoned with, inspiring homebrewers

all over the globe. Pipola’s hope is that

homebrewing can galvanize people in

the same way here in the UK as it has in

the US — whether they want to brew for

fun, or potentially turn it into a career.

There’s no doubt that homebrewing

has already lead to some truly exciting

breweries in the UK, and that’s been as

important in London as it has anywhere

else in the world. And who knows, the

next homebrewer who decides to make

the leap could be the founder of the

next Sierra Nevada…

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

FERMENT MAGAZINE 49


WORDS: Melissa Cole

I’m going to start this article by laying to rest

the ghost of Kaliber... if you’re a person of

a ‘certain age’ then you will have given a

hearty shudder when you read that word.

I don’t know about you but my dad always

used to pronounce it ‘Kal-eye-ber’ and had

quite literally nothing good to say about it, it’s

not that he didn’t have anything to say about

it at all, it’s just that most of it’s not suitable

for printing.

Dusty, weirdly sweet, yet oddly bitter,

occasionally slightly lactic, there was nothing

consistent about Kaliber or any of the other

monstrosities - some of which just tasted like

they’d been drunk and thrown up already

- that came and went between the 80s and

early noughties and let’s not even mention

the wines that were also around at the time.

But even before the craft beer wave

started to lap at our shores, a small amount of

people were discovering that the classic beer

countries, Germany in particular, had more

to offer than just steins of plentiful booze,

and there was more to going to Prague than

getting smashed on pilsner. These countries

actually also offered tolerable no/lo (the

industry shorthand) brews from refreshing

Radlers to alcohol-free dark beers.

Even so, they were difficult to find in the

UK and, up until recently, being asked to

write about no/lo alcohol beers was a source

of deep pain when your need to pay the

mortgage comes up against your ethical

responsibility to not recommend things that

you’d feel a bit bad about offering to the

neighbour who allows their dog to bark at six

in the morning.

A lot of the problem with alcohol-free and

very low alcohol beer has been down to the

different ways that no/lo beers can be made.

Up until recently, the main way has been to

boil off the alcohol, which effectively also just

drives off nearly all hop aroma characteristics

and almost returns the beer to its wort-like

flavour, but with an odd bitter note left over

from the hop iso-alpha acids (the process of

boiling hops transforms the natural alpha

acids in the plants into iso-alpha acids, which

provide the bitter taste in beer). Basically it

has a tendency to taste like sweet, slightly

bitter, boiled veg water - enticing huh?

Another method that was employed

for a while, but isn’t used any more to

my knowledge, was to ferment to a low

alcohol level and then dilute the beer postfermentation,

which brings its own risks of

infection and an odd and unpleasant ‘thin’

metallic note to them too, but helps keep

some of the flavour in.

You can also brew to such a low alcohol

that it qualifies as a no/lo - which is a delicate

balancing act but it does come with its shelf

stability challenges.

An alcohol extraction plant that works

at very low temperatures is probably one

of the best ways to make consistently tasty

no/lo beers (which is what Adnams has

chucked a serious chunk of cash at recently

and boy does it show — the Ghost Ship is

almost indiscernible from its full-blooded

counterpart, but more of that later).

And then, finally, there’s the less spendy

way of making full-flavoured beers that

involve using some of the newly developed

‘lazy’ yeasts and vacuum distillation – which,

alongside an unrevealed secret trick – is

the method used by Big Drop, which for my

money is producing the tastiest no/lo beers in

the country.

So, all that science bit over and done with,

why on earth have no/lo beers become so

popular in the last few years and why the hell

do I keep calling them no/los?

Not my round...

More than one in five people in the UK say

that they are teetotal, which is around 10.6

million. Obviously we’ve seen the advent of

things like ‘Dry January’ and ‘Sober October’,

which will have had a slight skewing effect on

these numbers, but they cannot account for

the very firm trend in the reduction of people

drinking. Figures from the Office of National

statistics last year show that not only is the

number of teetotallers slowly increasing, but

the amount of people who regularly drink

alcohol has dropped to its lowest point since

2005.

Whether it’s because more people are

seeking to reduce or completely cease intake

in the name of health or dietary reasons or

not, I think it’s important to say that going

teetotal is an absolutely valid choice. In a day

and age where everyone is chasing the latest

DDH this and wild-fermented-with-a-brewer’sbelly-button-fluff

that, not drinking alcohol is

a genuinely viable option.

There is undeniably as much work to do

around the stigma of not drinking as there is

about ‘blokes ordering a half being big girls’

(yes, I know, there’s so much to unpick in

those sorts of statements, but it’s not what I’m

here for this time) but we seem to be creeping

towards it.

Just the other evening, I was in the Rake

in Borough Market watching the England

game and there were more than a few ‘craft

beer folk’ under 30 drinking Shofferhoffer

grapefruit radler, which is a mere 2.5% ABV.

Radler, in case you don’t know what it is,

is effectively posh shandy and is gaining a

growing following.

Boulevard’s of Kansas City in the USA has

a grapefruit and ginger radler that is one of

its most hotly anticipated releases of the year,

Austrian brewery Stiegl has been seeing great

success with its version of grapefruit radler

and Marble Brewery’s Sunshine Radler

has been the surprise smash hit of the

Adnams Ghost Ship

Nutty English classic

NIRVANA BREWERY

KOSMIC STOUT

A chocolatey

comforter

50 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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DEBATE: LOWERING THE BAR

The only craft brewery in the UK

producing two 0%ABV beers is

Nirvana in Bermondsey; born out of

frustration at working in the industry

and not having any decent alcoholfree

beer options, Steve Dass decided

to take on the challenge.

“Due to health reasons I had a long

period of being dry, working in the

industry and the social circle did make

it difficult initially which was strong

enough, however, what I could not

understand was that everything on

offer was pretty bland and boring.

“Boring in terms of branding

and bland in taste, craft changed

everything, people’s outlook on

breweries and branding of beer and of

course a thriving industry respected

around the world. I immediately

discovered from speaking to others

and also chats on social media that

I was not the only one finding this

sector difficult to enjoy and boring. So

three years ago I decided that alcohol

free needs innovation and a bit of a

mixup.

“We’re doing it the hard way — you

won’t find fancy reverse osmosis or

vacuum distillation units in our little

brewery, firstly we don’t have the

space and secondly they are bloody

expensive. We use a mixture of

speciality malt, boil for slightly longer

but not too long to ruin the beer and

then a couple of top secret tweaks and

add yeast like everyone else.

“We’ve been brewing now for a

year and it’s a challenge compared to

normal beer, we are learning each day

and trying to better ourselves along

the way! It’s important for us to follow

our ethics and for us it was important

our beers were vegan and that we had

to do it in a way without adding any

chemical enhancements to artificially

bulk up the body of the beer... now

we know why we have not seen many

breweries offer alcohol free beer, it’s a

mission to brew!”

www.nirvanabrewery.com

BIG DROP PALE ALE

A zesty number

summer so far, gaining the, somewhat

dubious, accolade from my sister-in-law of

not only tasting like Fanta but burping like

it too!

However, despite their very low 2.5%

alcohol content, these drinks cannot be

classed as low alcohol, or even reduced

alcohol, and it gets murkier from there

too, which has been causing some serious

confusion with consumers. Multiple bottle

shop owners have said to me that people are

rejecting UK-brewed products because they

are labelled as ‘low-alcohol’ and selecting

their mainland European counterparts

instead, even though they are also 0.5%ABV,

because they are labelled ‘no alcohol’.

But why is this? Well, it’s because

European products that are less than

0.5%ABV can be called ‘no alcohol’. In the

UK, however, products 0.5%ABV are deemed

to be ‘low alcohol’, while products that are

0.5% -1.2% are classed as ‘alcohol-reduced’.

Still with me? I’m not sure I am.

The good news is that this is set to lapse,

the bad news is there’s still no clear way

forward, as I’ll let Laura Willoughby from

Club Soda explain.

The rules disappear in December 2018

as part of a sunset clause in the Food

Labelling Bill 2014. The Government have

been consulting on replacement rules for

low alcohol and alcohol-free and they are

planning for guidelines rather than legislation,

as there is no legislative time left before

December.

“Us, the Portman group, British Beer and

Pub Association and others have all asked for

0.5% beers that are produced in the UK to

be called alcohol-free (this is very specific to

those brewed here - beers from abroad at that

level can be sold here as alcohol-free).”

It’s a rare day when all the trade bodies and

interested parties speak in concert but why is

this? Well, the simple fact of the matter is that

science has proven that 0.5% beers cannot

get you drunk and are also considered safe for

women to drink whilst pregnant.

And it’s been proving a big pain the derrière

for producers too, as Chris Hannaway from

Infinite Session explains quite eloquently.

“Beer is a global marketplace, with brands

and products from everywhere, so consistency

is important. Particularly when stuff produced

in another country isn’t governed by our laws

when it’s sold here. In the UK, we’re a total

outlier with the rest of the world - where 0.5%

or below is the standard for using “alcoholfree”or

“non-alcoholic”, and for good reason.

“Firstly, it’s safe when you see that 0.5%

is a trace (just like a trace of gluten/fat etc

are allowed in those “free-from” foods),

that similar alcohol trace levels are present

naturally in many foods like fruit, bread and

yogurt and that 0.5% isn’t some big consumer

con.

“Secondly, it’s about taste. The challenge

for “alcohol-free” as a category, if our goal

is to help people drink a bit less, should be

about brewing the best tasting beer that has

no alcoholic effect. Currently, I’m convinced

0.5% and under is the best solution for this.”

Rob Fink, founder of Big Drop concurs.

“What sense is there in having British

brewed beers at 0.5%ABV being classified as

low alcohol when they sit alongside imported

beers of the same strength which are called

alcohol free? No wonder people get confused.

“In reverse, we can label our beers as

alcohol free for export markets so it can

seem as if we are marketing two different

beers in the same bottle. When 0.5% ABV

is comparable to the amount of alcohol that

might naturally occur in a glass of orange

juice you start to understand just why the

regulations have to be changed.”

And it’s not just the tiny producers like

these two either, Simon Walkden, chief

operating officer of Thornbridge Brewery,

which has just launched its first foray into

the no/lo arena called Big Easy, says: “We

understand there has to be legislation in

place to protect the consumer and we feel

that is incredibly important, but we would

encourage consistency as we feel this would

enable the consumer to make an informed

choice and provide equality across the

industry.”

So, if you really want to sink something

that tastes like a beer, looks like a beer and

is made like a beer but just has a lot less

alcohol, then this is what I recommend for

that’s produced in the UK, because it’s great

to drink local and when even your own

Government is working against you, it’s

a good way to rebel in a thoroughly

enjoyable fashion.

Light-bodied

citrus refresher

THORNBRIDGE BIG EASY

Infinite Session

Pale Ale

Peachy perfection

52 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 53


Introducing: Beer52’s new

Taproom Passport

£150 to spend at the country’s best brewery taps

With us coming out of

the EU anytime soon,

our maroon passports

may soon not be worth the paper

they’re printed on. What colour our

new ones will be remains a hotly

debated issue, but one things for

sure is that Beer52’s new Taproom

Passport will give you access to

all the destinations you need,

especially if you decide to make the

most of a post-Brexit Great British

Staycation.

Offering you £5 off a round at

more than 30 of the best brewery

taprooms, this little booklet is going

to be one of the handiest weapons

in your beer discovery

arsenal. We’ve teamed

up with taprooms all

around the UK,

from Boundary

in Belfast to Left

Handed Giant in

Bristol, stopping

of at everywhere

including Little

Earth Project in

Suffolk and Northern Monk in

Leeds along the way.

This is the most comprehensive

and exciting taproom passport

in the country and stamping off

every stop will no doubt prove to

be a fun and rewarding challenge.

We’re enormous fans of Americanstyle

taproom culture; spending a

day hopping from

brewery to brewery.

With this little

booklet in your

pocket, many great

adventures will be

yours. What’s more,

you’ll save a small

fortune on the way.

To get your hands on a Beer52

Taproom Passport, you’ll just

need to collect 1,200 lifetime

taster points in your account. To

get there faster, why not rate and

review the beers in this months

box then invite your friends to

join Beer52?

54 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 55


RAISING THE BAR (SNACKS)

This issue, we’re giving bar snacks a twist with some British classics.

TROUT ROE SCOTCH EGG

AND BOXCAR DDH PALE ALE

For four scotch eggs:

5 eggs • 1 large potato • 4 tbsp of trout roe • 100g of breadcrumbs • 1 tsp garlic powder • Salt, pepper to taste

A deep fryer (or deep pan filled with oil) • A julienne peeler

Start by boiling the eggs. The trick for a good scotch egg is to underboil

the egg in the first part of the cooking so it’s not over-cooked after

it’s been fried.

Drop 4 eggs (still in the shell) in boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove

from the hot water and instantly drop in an ice water bath. Crack the

shell with a spoon and remove, making sure the egg stays whole.

While the egg cooks, peel the potato with a julienne peeler, keeping

strings of potato as long as possible.

In a bowl crack the fifth egg and beat it to

use as an egg wash.

In another bowl mix the breadcrumbs,

salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Heat the deep fryer or oil to 180°C.

Dip the soft-boiled egg into the egg

wash, then in the breadcrumbs, and

then into the egg wash again. Now

wrap a long string of potato

around it, making sure it’s holding

together. Deep-fry for 2 to 3

minutes.

Serve with a generous spoon

of trout roe, fresh chopped

herbs and a slice of buttered

bread.


JACKET POTATO

AND WEST X THREE PINEAPPLE IPA

For four jacket potatoes:

4 large baking potatoes (fluffy rather than starchy) • 350g cream cheese

75g cheddar, grated • 3 spring onions, finely chopped • A handful of sliced jalapenos, chopped

1 small bunch of chives or coriander, finely chopped • 1/2 lemon (juice only)

4 slices of parma ham • Salt, pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 180°C and bake the

potatoes for about 1h30 minutes or until

soft inside.

Meanwhile, fry the parma ham in a skillet

until crispy (3 minutes) and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk the cream cheese and

add grated cheddar, finely chopped

spring onions, jalapenos and chives,

lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

While the potatoes are still warm, cut

a cross on the surface and open up

slightly by pressing the base. Cover

them with the cheese mix and garnish

with the crispy parma ham.


THREE BEANS ON TOAST

AND UNITY BELGIAN EXPORT STOUT

For four toasts:

1 tin of red kidney beans • 1 tin of butter beans • 1 tin of black beans • 8 to 10 sundried tomatoes

1 small chunk of chorizo (optional) • 1 small bunch of parsley • 1 tbsp smoked paprika • 1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic • Salt, pepper to taste • Toasted bread

Drain and rinse the beans.

In a skillet, fry the onions and season with salt

and pepper. When soft (about 10 minutes), add

the garlic. Fry for another couple of minutes

and add the sundried tomatoes. At this point

add the chopped chorizo if using, give it a

good stir and add the beans, smoked paprika

and more seasoning to taste. Add about 150

ml of water and let it simmer for 5 to 10

minutes.

When done, add a handful of chopped

parsley and serve immediately on some

toasted bread. You can even top with a

poached or fried egg.


On the first Thursday in August,

beer enthusiasts, breweries and

bars across the globe celebrate

IPA Day, a toast to one of craft beer’s

most iconic styles. The IPA has some

of the most diverse spectrums in

both flavour variations and brewing

practices, making it increasingly

accessible to many a beer lovers

palate and brewer’s choice of

experimentation. IPA day celebrates

this and we’d like to join in and

discuss both the variety of IPAs there

are to brew as well as tackle common

questions that arise for homebrewers

new and experienced.

There’s no doubting the popularity

of the modern IPA among beer

lovers today – quickly becoming

the craft beer darling, a good IPA

showcases a huge amount of hop

bitterness and flavour in a pale

and dry beer body. Now IPA has

expanded to include Black, White,

Red, Rye, Brown and Belgian, plus,

more recently (though not officially)

the ‘New England’ IPA.

The IPA is a good style for

many brewers just starting out as

producing a decent IPA is fairly

easy. It can be done with a SMASH

grain bill and the high hopping

rates can cover a multitude of first

time mistakes. However, producing

a stand out IPA requires a good

knowledge of your ingredients and

how they work together. You should

be aiming to produce a great beer

that is balanced towards ‘hoppy’

rather than producing an okay beer

and hiding it behind muddy hop

flavour.

To better understand this let’s

first discuss the main IPA styles in a

nutshell.

IPA STYLE COMPARISONS

ENGLISH - Generally will have more

finish hops and less fruitiness and

caramel than British pale ales and

bitters. Has less hop intensity and a

more pronounced malt flavour than

typical American versions.

AMERICAN - Stronger and more

highly hopped than an American pale

ale. Compared to an English IPA, has

less of the “English” character from

malt, hops, and yeast (less caramel,

bread, and toast; more American/

New World hops than English; less

yeast-derived esters), less body, and

often has a more hoppy balance

and is slightly stronger than most

examples. Less alcohol than a Double

IPA, but with a similar balance.

EAST COAST - Hopped to the

same level as an American IPA with

a higher focus on new world hop

flavour and aroma, the perceived

bitterness is lower. More body,


EVERYTHING IPA

due to the additions of wheat and

oats commonly used. Examples have

a low to high degree of cloudiness.

RED - Similar to the difference

between an American amber ale and

an American pale ale, a red IPA will

differ from an American IPA with

the addition of some darker crystal

malts giving a slightly sweeter, more

caramelly and dark fruit-based

balance. A red IPA differs from an

American strong ale in that the malt

profile is less intense and there is

less body; a red IPA still has an IPA

balance and doesn’t trend towards

a barleywine-like malt character. A

red IPA is like a stronger, hoppier

American amber ale, with the

characteristic dry finish, mediumlight

body, and strong late hop

character.

WHITE - Similar to a Belgian Wit

style except highly hopped to the

level of an American IPA. Bitter and

hoppy like the IPA but fruity, spicy

and light like the Wit. Typically the

hop aroma and flavour are not as

prominent as in an American IPA.

BLACK - Balance and overall

impression of an American or double

IPA with restrained roast similar

to the type found in Schwarzbiers.

Not as roasty-burnt as American

stouts and porters, and with less

body and increased smoothness and

drinkability.

DOUBLE - Bigger than either an

English or American IPA in both

alcohol strength and overall hop

level (bittering and finish). Less

malty, lower body, less rich and a

greater overall hop intensity than

an American barleywine. Typically

not as high in gravity/alcohol as a

barleywine, since high alcohol and

malt tend to limit drinkability.

BELGIAN - A cross between an

American IPA/imperial IPA with a

Belgian golden strong ale or tripel.

This style is may be spicier, stronger,

drier and more fruity than an

American IPA.

BROWN - A stronger and more

bitter version of an American brown

ale, with the balance of an American

IPA.

RYE - Drier and slightly spicier

than an American IPA. Bitterness

and spiciness from rye lingers longer

than an American IPA. Does not

have the intense rye malt character

of a Roggenbier. Some examples are

stronger like a double IPA.

COMMON IPA BREWING

QUESTIONS

WHAT MALT BILL SHOULD I

USE?

A tricky question as there is a lot

of scope when producing an IPA. A

good pale malt is the usual starting

point, either Maris Otter, 2-row

or Ale malt. For an American IPA

crystal is typically used as this

provides dextrins which aggressive

dry hopping can strip slightly from

a finished beer. Crystal should be

a maximum 5% of the grain bill and

should typically be a lighter coloured

variety. Swapping a small proportion

of the pale malt for Munich or Vienna

can add some complexity to the

malt character. Wheat is also a good

option for IPAs, providing some body

in the final beer. Finally, carapils

(or dextrine malt) can also be used

to help with body but should count

towards your 5% maximum on crystal

malts.

This is a good start for most

IPAs. For a RyePA, swap pale malt

for rye in equal percentages. You

can go really high with Rye malt if

you want but don’t forget that Rye

malt will make the beer drier and

spicier. Between 10-20% Rye is a

good starting point. For a white IPA,

similarly swap pale malt for wheat in

equal percentages.

A black IPA is a little bit more

complex. The colour is mostly going

to come from dehusked Carafa malt

such as Carafa III but you shouldn’t

be using more than 5%. You can

either mash this with the rest of your

malts, add it to the malts just before

you sparge and sparge through

the grains or cold mash the Carafa

separately from the main malt bill

and add it to the wort. Similarly,

chocolate or brown malts can be used

in small quantities in the main mash

or cold sparged through to provide

some additional flavour to the final

beer without the acridity typically

associated with dark malts.

WHAT HOPS SHOULD I USE?

Hops are where the fun and

experimentation in IPA brewing

really lies. There are no real limits on

what you can go for here but some

general rules of thumb would be; oily,

high alpha hops work great. Basically,

you want a big aroma in the packet if

you expect to get a big aroma in the

finished beer.

Hops with similar traits work well

together, think Citra and Centennial

with big citrus flavour or Simcoe and

Amarillo or East Kent Golding and

Fuggles. Combining hops with similar

traits with another variety is a great

way of making hop flavours really

pop. With Citra and Centennial, you

might combine them with Chinook,

still keeping within that big American

‘C’ variety family but adding a

backdrop of spice and pine to make

the citrus easier to pick out and more

distinctive. Ella and Galaxy is another

good example of this with Ella’s

slightly spicy character combining

with the passionfruit of Galaxy to

provide a distinctive ‘grapefruit’

flavour.

Experimentation is key here

as different palates will pick out

different flavours in certain hop

varieties. Play with hops until you

have a good feel of which varieties

match, which varieties clash and

which varieties contrast and then

you will have a good understanding

of hop combinations to use.

WHEN SHOULD I ADD MY

HOPS?

Many brewers follow a hopping

schedule along the lines of

60/20/10/0 with the idea being that

hops added at these different times

will add different levels of aroma and

bitterness. This can work well and is

used by many brewers but if you’re

after really powerful hop aroma we

would recommend that you make

your hop split 60/0. Begin by looking

at the target ABV for your beer and

then decide on a grams-per-litre hop

addition for that beer. As a rough

rule of thumb, 5% may be 5g per

litre, 6% is 6g etc. Then use this to

work out the contributed bitterness.

When you add your hops at the

end of the boil and leave them to

soak in the wort this is called a

“hop stand”. Utilisation from this

technique will vary depending upon

the wort gravity and the temperature

when you initially add your dry

hops but it is likely to be somewhere

between 3-5% so you can estimate

your IBU contribution from that

addition. After that you can work out

the size required of your 60-minute

addition to bring your total IBU’s up

to the level required for the style.

This gives you the minimum

amount of hops required at the start

of the boil to achieve the necessary

bitterness whilst ensuring you are

getting the maximum out of your


EVERYTHING IPA

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aroma hops by not boiling off the

volatile hop aromatics.

For the freshness of aroma that

is key to the style you should also

consider dry hopping your IPAs.

This simply means adding hops

to the fermenter. For best results,

add your hops with two to three

more days of fermentation left. At

this stage fermentation will not be

vigorous enough to drive off delicate

aromatics but there will still be

enough movement in the fermenter

to distribute hops and the flavour

will be imparted more fully. If you

are adding a very large amount of

dry hops some brewers recommend

splitting the addition. Leaving the dry

hops in the beer for more than three

days risks imparting more grassy and

vegetal flavours. For the freshest

flavour three days is plenty of contact

time with your beer.

WHAT YEAST SHOULD I USE?

For most IPAs you are looking for

a clean fermenting ale strain that

won’t produce much in the way of

esters or phenols, although recently

Vermont ale yeast has been getting

a lot of attention as its peach and

citrus esters can complement beers

with high hop levels and British

yeast strains because they are less

flocculent and leave more aroma

compounds in suspension. Typically

though high levels of yeast flavour

can interfere with the hop character

which is something you want to avoid

in almost all styles of IPA. However.

some (like the Belgian IPA) allow low

levels of ester and phenol character.

If you are going for an American

style IPA where a high level of

bitterness is key you could even

consider slightly under-pitching the

yeast, a technique recommended by

Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River to

counteract the IBU-stripping effect

that some yeast strains can have.

WHAT SHOULD MY WATER

PROFILE BE?

Again, this is going to depend on

the style of IPA you are brewing

and what malts are in your grain

bill. For a hoppy, bitter IPA you

should be focusing on your sulphate/

chloride ratio. Chloride ions help to

accentuate malt character in your

beer whereas sulphate ions will have

a drying effect, and by drying out

your beer this will accentuate the hop

character.

Most brewers will try and limit

the level of chloride in their water

and raise the level of sulphate when

brewing a hoppy beer. There is some

evidence to suggest that it is the ratio

of chlorides to sulphate that has more

of an effect than the actual level, with

a ratio of 1:1 being ‘balanced’ and a

ratio of 1:5 being hoppy to the point

of undrinkable. Getting your ratio

somewhere in between will help to

accentuate your beer’s hoppiness.

This becomes more complex

when brewing a black IPA as you

are dealing with specialty malts

which can add unwanted ‘burnt’ or

‘acrid’ flavours to your beer. In this

style, it’s important to remember

that carbonates help to mellow the

effect of dark malts, but there is a

negative relationship between high

levels of carbonates and hoppy

beers. Therefore you need to have a

carbonates level that is high enough

to mellow the dark malts, whilst

also limiting your sulphates level to

avoid drying the beer out and overamplifying

the astringency.

For many brewers, water is a ‘last

piece of the puzzle’ element, only

becoming a concern if the beers are

not coming out as desired, but it’s

well worth getting your head around

the basics of water salt additions to

really raise the level of the beers

you are producing.


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OFFICE BREW:

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For more information visit

contractcraftbrewing.co.uk

or email

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WORDS: Alex Cox

PHOTOS: Zsolt Stefkovics

For this issue we decided to brew

a beer that is dear to the city of

London, but has been long forgotten.

Often when brewers consider classic

London beer styles they envisage dark,

roasty porters or rich and fruity ESBs,

but what many brewers overlook is one

of the simplest styles brewed across

Britain during the 18th and 19th century,

the ‘Small Beer’. ‘Small Beers’ were

traditionally associated with an inferior

product; often the result of parti-gyle

brewing, a technique allowing brewers to

split the higher concentrated wort at the

beginning of the lautering process from

the less sugary wort towards the end.

These multiple runnings obtained from

the mash could then be split into a ‘Strong

Beer’ or a lower alcohol beer such as the

‘Small Beer’.

Because of the lack of alcohol however

‘Small Beer’ has a far shorter shelf life in

comparison to it’s stronger cousins. This

combined with the lack of refrigerated

68 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 69


Small BEER

RECIPE

OFFICE BREW

STATISTICS

Original Gravity – 1.032

Final Gravity – 1.010

IBU – 15.3

MALT

2.3 kg Maris Otter Pale

250 g Malted Oats

250 g Crystal Malt (40L)

HOPS

6 g Bramling Cross

(7.5% Alpha Acid)

at 60 Minutes

10 g East Kent Goldings

(5.1% Alpha Acid)

at 15 Minutes

10 g Bramling Cross

at 15 Minutes

20 g East Kent Goldings

at Flameout

20 g Bramling Cross

at Flameout

YEAST

White Labs – WLP002 –

English Ale Yeast

storage for beer during the 18th and 19th

century often lead to a poorer quality, low

ABV product. This style is particularly

significant however as it powered the

people during a time when most water was

not suitable for drinking due to bacterial

and viral infections. As a result the low

alcohol content of the ‘Small Beer’ (usually

ranging from 1.5-3.0% ABV) helped to

quench the thirst of the nation.

For our take on a ‘Small Beer’ however

we decided to brew the beer using a single

infusion mash, avoiding the traditional

parti-gyle production process. 10.9 Litres

of mash liquor was heated to our target

temperature of 72°C in order to reach our

strike temperature of 67.5°C with 2.8 kg of

grain. We chose this relatively high mash

temperature in order to mainly activate

β-amylase enzymes, which break down the

grain’s starch into simpler sugars such as

maltose and maltotriose. This higher mash

temperature is less suitable for β-amylase

enzymes, which are more active at lower

temperature ranges (60-65°C). This higher

mash temperature should therefore leave

more unfermentable sugars in the wort,

which will contribute to an increased

mouthfeel – an important feature to

enhance in a beer with lower alcohol

content.

The grist was then doughed in using

our mash paddle to ensure all the grain

was exposed to the mash liquor. After an

hour of recirculating the wort using the

Grainfather’s inbuilt pump, we vorlaufed

for 20 Minutes to ensure the wort that left

the mash had good clarity and no obvious

chunks of grain or husk would be carried

through into the kettle. During the hourlong

mash process we heated 17 Litres of

sparge liquor to 79°C and this was then

used during the lauter to rinse the grains

and extract any remaining sugar from the

mash. Towards the end of the lauter we

began heating the wort until we collected

our desired volume of 28 Litres, where we

continued to heat the wort until the boil

was reached. This volume allows us to lose

10% of our volume during the boil due to

evaporation, as well as a few extra litres

to hop trub post boil, or yeast trub post

fermentation – leaving us with a desired

yield of 20 Litres of beer.

Bramling Cross is a traditional dual

purpose hop offering a resinous

bitterness quality, alongside a herbal and

blackcurrant aroma; this was paired with

East Kent Goldings, a hop commonly

used for late hop additions to contribute

a floral and citrus aroma to the beer.

Both hop choices were selected, as these

would have been used in many British

beers during the 18th and 19th century.

After the boil, the wort was chilled using

our makeshift chilling system (a bucket of

ice). This is definitely something we may

look to change for the next team brewday

as achieving a cold-break as quickly as

possible is important in order to encourage

precipitation of proteins, thus giving better

clarity of the final product.

After chilling to our desired initial

fermentation temperature of 19°C we

transferred the wort to the sterilised

fermenters before pitching our chosen

yeast strain WLP002, a classic English

ale strain. This beer should take around

six days to ferment, and a further week to

mature in the secondary fermenter. After

this it will be bottled with priming sugar

in order to condition. We can’t wait to see

how this turns out and determine whether

‘Small Beers’ are as inferior as history

suggests. One thing is for sure, it will keep

our thirsts quenched over the coming

summer months. Desk beer anyone…

Last month’s brew

RICHARD'S NETTLE ALE

Noooope! Nope, nope,

nope, nope, nope.

It's hard to pinpoint

exactly what went wrong with

this brew. Was it the wallpainting

explosion of froth that

resulted from opening the first

bottle? Was it the colour, best

described as the shade you

got when you mixed all your

poster paints together as a kid?

Was it the aroma, redolent of

a vegan farting into a tube of

sourcream and chive pringles?

Or was it the taste; dusty,

cabbagey, slightly sour yet thin

and tannic? I suspect there

was a perfectly good beer in

there somewhere, but I messed

it up somehow. The recipe

was for a weak-ish beer, but I

still managed to undershoot

the ABV considerably, so I

guess the mash wasn't efficient

enough. I probably also threw in

too many nettles (I didn't want

to waste any, having been stung

somewhat for my troubles)

making the whole thing taste

too healthy. Might have been

a bit of an infection too, but at

this point it hardly matters. Fail.

70 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 71


Join the one-way keg collection community!

www.onecircle.world

lightweight

containers

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72 FERMENT MAGAZINE

online

This internet thing is going

to be big, mark my words.

-

RICHARD CROASDALE, EDITOR, 2018

www.beer.com/ferment

We love print magazines – the

feel of the paper, the smell

of the binding glue (hope

that’s not just us) – but we also know

that, sometimes, they’re not the most

convenient medium for sharing. You want

to keep your print copy of Ferment and

treasure it for ever in a special airtight

bag in a darkened room. We understand.

That’s why we’ve launched a brand

spanking new website, at beer.com/

ferment, where you can read, discuss and

share everything in the magazine with

your pals and the world at large. And yes,

we know we’re a little late to the party

with the whole internet thing, but we’re

excited about how it’s turned out and

hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

Almost the entire Ferment archive

is now live for your perusal, right back

to May 2016, which is a lifetime in craft

beer years. So, if you’re a relatively

recent member, why not catch up on

what you missed during your time in the

wilderness? Or, even if you’re an old hand

(thanks, by the way) look back on the

halcyon days when UK craft was a simpler

place, sours were something you got from

Haribo and Logan Plant was just a dude

with a barbecue.

It’s been a bit of a process, extracting

all the text and pictures from the archive,

so if you spot anything that doesn’t look

right, or doesn’t quite work as well as it

should, please drop us a line at ferment@

beer.com. We’d really appreciate it!

FERMENT MAGAZINE 73


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH KEGSTAR

Clever kegs, great beer, happy drinkers

Unlimited

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Members

It’s hard to believe that just under six

years ago Kegstar was a one-man keg

rental company, consisting of just 800 kegs

and an excel spreadsheet - but with one

big idea: make brewing good beer, easy.

Fast forward to 2018 and Kegstar has

offices trading in Sydney, San Diego and

London, with the UKI team managing a

fleet of more than 100,000 stainless steel

kegs and casks. Their team of industry

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Choosing to use Kegstar has

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Using app enabled technology, the code is

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As well as issuing thousands of kegs

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0800 534 5000

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74 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 75


Beer52 subscriber’s best beers

Your notes on the South Africa box!

Cut and Run

Devil's Peak

ABV: 5%

Style: Pale Ale

4.3

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Little Wolf

ABV: 5%

Style: Saison

One of my favourite beers, excellent juicy

number placed Devils Peak in my top

breweries..

MATHEW MCCARTAN • SUPER TASTER

What can I say about this beer? It looks

outstanding, hazy. Smells amazing and tastes delicious.

Probably one of the best beers I've ever had.

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A beautiful mix of fresh hops and citrus. Fantastic drink

comparable to Adnams Ghost Ship.

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SIMON COOK • MASTER TASTER

Favourite beer from Beer52 yet. Hazy, juicy, creamy, great

hops; absolute blinder!

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TOP TASTER:

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ANOTHER ROUND?

86% Would go for Cut & Run!

DELIGHTFUL DESIGN:

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Cheers!


AMARILLO & AZACCA IPA

Boxcar X Beer52

EXCLUSIVE

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EL DORADO & CITRA IPA

Boxcar X Beer52

ABV: 6.4% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: IPA

ABV: 6.4% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: IPA

TASTING NOTES

There’s almost something for

everyone here in the gamut

of hop fruit character - from

apricot, to pine, tangerine to

earthy spice these two amazing

hops combine to deliver a

uniquely delicious IPA.

TASTING NOTES

Everything about this hoppy

marriage makes sense. Lots

of tropical fruit, as you would

expect, but also a resinous

and slightly dank character.

A bouquet of stone fruit and

melon with a refreshing citrus

vibe on the palate.

Nelson Sauvin DDH Pale AlE

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OAT STOUT

Boxcar X Beer52

ABV: 5.6% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: DDH Pale Ale

ABV: 6.7% Enjoy at 9°C

Style: Oat Stout

TASTING NOTES

Nelson Sauvin is the star of

the show here, delivering

gooseberry and grape in

abundance. The beer is

perfectly balanced with

a body that supports the

generous dry hopping and

leaves a moreish sweetness.

TASTING NOTES

This stout is luscious and sweet with

a velvety mouthfeel that satisfies

again and again. No harsh acidity or

bitterness, rather a decadent richness

and a clean ferment that leaves a

harmonious balance alcohol and

residual sugars. The high malted oat

content ensures a soft rounded body

that it’s hard to fault.

78 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 79


ECHOS

Unity X Beer52

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GATHER

Unity X Beer52

ABV: 7.4% Enjoy at 9°C

Style: Belgian Export Stout

TASTING NOTES

A true delight of a beer, taking

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delivering a Belgian style

twist. Characterful Abbaye

yeast delivers dark fruit notes

alongside just a touch of strong

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ABV: 4.5% Enjoy at 6°C

Style: Table Saison

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ABV: 6% Enjoy at 10°C

Style: Belgian IPA

TASTING NOTES

Powerful New World Hops

and Belgian yeast are perfect

bedfellows! Here, a classic

combo of Mosaic and Citra

abound in fruitful aromatics

over a full-bodied, moderately

bitter beer with unique spice

from the fermentation profile.

ABV: 6% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Rye Saison

TASTING NOTES

A wonderfully complex beer

with a bold alcohol content

that plays well with the yeast

character and sweet, spicy

chewy flavours from the malt.

European hops and Belgian

candi sugar help to give a

distinctly satisfying finish.

80 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 81


DDH IPA

West by Three X Beer52

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

DDH DIPA

West by Three X Beer52

ABV: 7% Enjoy at 6-8°C

Style: DDH IPA

TASTING NOTES

Pineapple, Citra and a

deliciously creamy mouthfeel

should make this the tropical

hit of the summer. With hoppy

hints of lime and lychee the

sweetness of the pineapple is

lifted to give a aromatic cocktail

of tropical fruit on the nose. A

smooth rich body helps make

this a luxurious treat of an IPA.

ABV: 8.5% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: DDH DIPA

TASTING NOTES

A big banger of a DIPA. Soft

in the mouth with a restrained

bitterness and luscious fruit

character. Amarillo and Mosaic

combine to give grapefruit,

mango and papaya. Super easy

drinking for such a grand beer.

DDH Pale ale

West by Three X Beer52

EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE

MOTHERSHIP WIT

West by Three X Beer52

ABV: 3.8% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: DDH Pale Ale

ABV: 5.8% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Witbier

TASTING NOTES

This thirst quencher is all about

the hops. Double Dry Hopped

with two of New Zealand’s

finest hoppy exports, this light,

easy drinking beer should be

a go-to for the hot weather.

Nelson and Motueka bring

exceptionally pleasing fresh

white grape and citrus flavours.

TASTING NOTES

Not just an ordinary witbier, a

real punch of fresh passionfruit

melds beautifully with the

subtle esters and phenols

produced by the yeast. A nice

balance of fruit and acidity

makes this beer eminently

refreshing.

82 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 83


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PELLICONI

Looking for

closure

How one man’s wartime ingenuity spawned one

of the world’s leading bottlecap suppliers

In 1939 Bologna, at the start of

the Second World War, Angelo

Pelliconi invented an ingenious

process for reusing the metal

military rations containers of the

Americans soldiers to manufacture

metal bottle caps. His closures

were a success from day one, and

the company that bears his name

today supplies some of the world’s

most important and best loved

craft breweries, with manufacturing

facilities in Italy, Egypt, the US and

China.

“Everything starts from a

rectangular sheet of metal,” explains

marketing officer Andrea Angotti.

“We customise it according to the

client’s requirements and, from each

sheet, we extract 729 caps which are

ready to be placed on top of every

kind of beverage from water and soft

drinks to beer and champagne. You

can find a Pelliconi cap quite easily,

as we serve the top producers of

drinks in the world – you just need to

look for the ‘dap’ logo on the cap.”

While bottle caps do fundamentally

the same job today that they did in

1939, the technology has moved on

in terms of the materials used, the

specific functionality of the cap and

environmental impact.

“A new cap or closure can give a

product a competitive advantage

in terms of appeal to the consumer,

cost reductions and improved

sustainability,” continues Andrea.

“Our portfolio includes products

that tick all of these boxes, including

the Maxi P-26, with its innovative

‘pull-ring’ opening, ‘Smart Crown’

caps made of metal, the thickness

of which having been greatly

reduced, and the complete range of

PVC-free closure products.” BPA-NI

(Bisphenol A Non-Intent)

To guarantee its customers

and end consumers the highest

standards of quality and safety,

Pelliconi has invested heavily in its

production facilities and processes

to stay ahead of the stringent

regulatory and legal requirements

that apply to products coming in

contact with food. In addition to the

HACCP self-control system for the

health and safety risk prevention,

the company has also successfully

completed the implementation of

a food safety management system

in all of its production plants. In

Ozzano-(Bologna), the headquarter

of the group and initial production

plant we also completed the

process for the achievement of

the environmental management

certification according to ISO 14001,

already in place in the Atessa facility,

and also the certification with regard

to OSHAS 18001 occupational

safety management, planned to be

implemented in other Pelliconi sites

in the future.

As well as safety, Pelliconi places

great emphasis on its impressive

sustainability credentials, saying

“environment represents for us

a heritage to be respected and

preserved for present and future

generations”.

“This is why we undertake

responsible management of natural

resources, energy and waste,

through the use of new technologies.

We’re constantly looking at ways to

improve our production processes

to minimise all forms of inefficiency

and waste, as well as developing of

new products and materials that are

more ecological,” says Andrea.

“Our main plants, in Ozzano-

(Bologna) and Atessa-(Chieti) are

working according to the respective

environment management systems,

which have achieved the certificate

of compliance with international

standard ISO14001. In any case,

all of the production plants of

the group follow an approach to

environmental issues management

in compliance with the ISO14001

standard requirements.”

These values are clearly very

important to the whole team at

Pelliconi, not merely as window

dressing, but as an integral part of its

strategy and day-to-day operations.

“We are open to the challenges of

the market and the defense of human

rights, always firmly convinced

that our approach to business

sustainability is the choice which has

allowed us to become what we are

today. We plan to expand our current

plants and build new ones. And

guess what, a new closure is coming.

Innovation never stops.”

Via Emilia, 314, 40064

Ozzano dell’Emilia BO

Mobile: +39 051 6512611

pelliconi.com


WORDS: Louise Crane

ou’d have to be living under a

rock to not realise that gin is

booming. Formerly the preserve

of Georgian gutter drunks and

your gran in the eighties, it’s now

the darling spirit of both hipsters

and normals countrywide. Where once

there was Gordon’s, Tanqueray and, if

you were lucky, Bombay Sapphire, there

are now well over 100 gin brands in the

UK, and, inevitably, the c-word (craft,

obviously) has been attached to many.

Whether the word has any meaning

here is debated as much as in any drinks

category, and it’s tempting to think it’s

only used to make a product stand out

in a very crowded market. We take a

look at how gin became so popular, and

whether all gins are created equal.

When it comes to gin’s meteoric

rise, “a multitude of factors formed the

perfect storm,” says Olivier Ward, cofounder

and editor of Gin Foundry, ‘an

online compendium of factually correct

and unbiased information about gin’.

Groundwork was laid in the 1990s, with

some shrewd economics that enabled

big name gins to compete with vodka.

Bombay Sapphire’s release in 1987 had

set the scene for the premiumisation

that followed. The cocktail culture of

the noughties seized upon the versatile

yet flavoursome spirit, and the slow

food movement encouraged an interest

in locality and authenticity. Barriers to

distilling on smaller apparatus in the

UK came down when in 2009 Sipsmith

won a legal battle for a licence with the

government, who had refused on the

grounds that the quantities they were

producing amounted to “moonshine”.

In the five years that followed, 70 new

distilleries sprang up and smaller,

boutique brands permeated the market.

Another, perhaps surprising, reason

for the current proliferation of gin

brands is whisky. Nascent distilleries

like Eden Mill, Strathearn and Arbikie

in Scotland, and the Boatyard Distillery

in Ireland, have turned to gin as a way

to recoup start-up costs as soon as

possible, a much quicker money-spinner

since whisky cannot be sold until it is at

least three years old. Some 70% of the

gin sold in the UK is made in Scotland.

Dornoch Distillery in the Scottish

Highlands was born in 2016 with the

goal of making single malt whisky using

‘old-style’ production techniques. With

their first barrels maturing, founders

Simon and Philip Thompson launched

in December 2016 with an experimental

series of ten different gins, made from

their own 100% floor malted heritage

barley, with a long fermentation using

brewer’s yeast.

“It was a single malt gin, with lots of

spirit character, more like a genever

than a gin,” says Phil Thompson. “The

idea behind the experimental series

was to give our crowdfunders the

option on how the final gin would taste,

it was essentially a feedback process.

The feedback was for a smooth gin

with a very small spirit influence. The

gin market is not ready for a genever

type product - this is probably why

genever has never become a globally

consumed product.” Phil admits that

the UK gin market is heavily saturated

and is becoming confusing. “We are

keen just to stick to our principles and

have an honest conversation with the

consumer.”

YOU’D NEVER

BEGRUDGE A PAINTER

FOR NOT MAKING

THEIR CANVAS

Honesty is a problem on the gin

scene, agrees Olivier. “There’s a

problem with transparency, as opposed

to disinformation. I think a lot of people

are glazing over key details.” Two

issues frequently picked over by gin

aficionados are that of neutral grain

spirit and contract distilling. To recap

the basics, gin is made from neutral

grain spirit (NGS, distilled to over

95% abv) flavoured with herbs, spices,

essences and sugar. For ‘London dry

gin’ and ‘distilled gin’, flavouring must

be done by re-distilling, or rectifying

the NGS with the herbs and spices.

If neither of these terms appear on a

bottle’s label, it’s very likely filled with

compound gin, made by simply infusing

NGS with the flavourings. Whatever

method, NGS can be simply bought

in from industrial manufacturers. It

soon becomes easy to question the

authenticity of a “craft” product whose

manufacture only requires the ability to

buy ingredients and stir. Is this fair? “If

you go grain-to-glass, you can’t be small

scale, because it’s not economically

feasible. It depends on if you see the

role of the gin maker as a distiller or an

artist or a flavour maker. You’d never

begrudge a painter for not making their

canvas,” muses Olivier.

Contract distilling seems like an

obvious target for derision, particularly

when a brand based on ‘Cornish’ locality

and personal heritage turns out to

be rectified in London by someone

unconnected to the founders, or a

purportedly small batch brand is made

on large-scale equipment that produces

for many other brands but sold at

twice the price. Olivier is much more

forgiving. “There are loads of amazing

contract brands, and actually the owner

has had a lot of input, it’s been their

recipe, it just happens to have been

developed and distilled by someone

else to get them over the line.”

Not all contract jobs are the same,

he says. Where one brand might simply

86 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 87


GUEST DRINK: CRAFT GIN

approach a contractor with an idea or

theme and pay them to do everything

else, others are much more involved.

“Foxhole Gin is a contract job at Silent

Pool distillery, but the guy has to go

and source grapes from around the UK

to ferment them and create a marc [a

type of brandy], and then that is used

as a liquid botanical. That’s an absolute

headache! Yes, technically speaking

Silent Pool do the contract, but he’s had

to go and do some serious legwork.”

Charles Maxwell of Thames Distillery,

which produces gin for 60 brands on

two 500 litre stills, says, “The key point

is that the brand owner should not

deliberately mislead the consumer and

suggest they do something which they

do not actually do. After all, if you go

to a famous chef’s restaurant it is quite

possible he/she will not actually cook

your meal or indeed even be in the

kitchen at that time.”

Last June, Waitrose reported that

Cucumber & Watermelon

GIN & TONIC

Take your favourite Gin glass

Fill to the top with ice

Add 50ml of your favourite floral gin

Finish with a bottle of Double Dutch Cucumber &

Watermelon for a cool, crisp, refreshing and fruity

Gin & Tonic

Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and fresh

peppercorn for a truly unique finish

gin sales had surpassed all other spirits,

with spirits buyer John Vine telling The

Drinks Business, “We’re starting to see

a change in the way people enjoy their

gin, with many sipping it before their

meal as an aperitif. That’s why local craft

suppliers, who tend to enhance their gin

with unique flavours and aromas, really

appeal to our customers,” he said. Gin

is so well placed to do this, says Olivier,

because of its many botanicals. “Gin

can reflect so many things that people

expect to see in a way that whisky or

vodka can’t. When people say they want

it local, actually what they want is to

taste something that reminds them of

that place. With a good gin, each and

every time you get yourself a gin and

tonic, you’re going to be transported

there.”

Gin is now the most popular spirit in

the UK (voted for by 29% of consumers

asked by YouGov), rising from third in

the previous year. Last year, we Brits

bought 47 million bottles of gin last

year, a record breaking amount. In 2016,

gin was the UK’s seventh most valuable

food and drink export, and British gin is

now exported to a total of 139 countries.

With over 100 brands on the UK market,

there are no signs that gin’s star will

do anything but continue to rise.

Whether all these brands offer a unique

experience is for you to decide, now

armed with the discerning knowledge

that while not all gins are created equal,

there is no excuse for snobbery without

discovering the story of the spirit first.

88 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 89


By Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales

Supplier of Organic Spirits, London & Scottish International Ltd, Bramley, England

JUNIPER GREEN

ORGANIC & WILD GIN

A true London Dry Gin, distilled and bottled in London

Winner of 6 International Gold Medals and 13 Silver since 2000

2000

IWSC

ISC

2002

IWSC

2004

IWSC

2002

USA

BTI

2006

IWSC

AVAILABLE FROM

Enotria&Coe, Speciality Drinks, Abel & Cole, Ocado, Vintage Roots, Vinceremos, The Whisky Exchange, Suma or at your local specialist retailer

2003

IWSC

2007

IWSC

2008

USA

BTI

2009

IWSC

TASTING NOTES

Aromas of Alpine forest, with lively green pine and leafy herbs.

Big, bold robust flavours with brilliant juicy juniper followed by smooth

woody spice and clean citrus notes leading to a strong, lingering finish

2012

USA

BTI

2012

IWSC

2015

IWSC

2013

IWSC

2016

USA

BTI

2014

IWSC

2015

IWSC

2016

IWSC

2017

IWSC

TRY OUR OTHER PRODUCTS

Stockists also carry our other Organic Spirits: Highland Harvest Scotch,

Papagayo Rums and Utkins Vodka

CERTIFIED BY & REGISTERED WITH THE VEGAN SOCIETY

WORDS: Louise Crane

It’s hard to believe that there was

once a time when gin was as

popular as it is now. Today, it’s peak

gin; yesteryear, it was the Gin Craze.

Between 1729 and 1751, so much gin was

drunk that the government created

not one but eight gin acts designed to

curb consumption. You might see why

they were worried - by the middle of

the eighteenth century, the average

person was knocking back two pints a

week. This wasn’t a cutesy popularity,

with hipster brands and “novel” serving

suggestions, this was viewed as a drug

addiction that took the nation in its vicelike

grip and wouldn’t let go for thirty

years.

Gin, originally the Dutch jenever, was

brought back to England at the end of

the 16th century by soldiers returning

from the Eighty Years War in the Low

Countries. The returning fighters’ tales

of Dutch soldiers drinking jenever to

steady their nerves before battle is

believed to have led to the term ‘Dutch

courage’ and soon, crude gin was being

distilled in the port cities of Plymouth,

Portsmouth, London and Bristol. Drunk

under the guise of medicinal effects, gin

was originally seen as something of a

tonic, which wasn’t entirely

unfounded, since physicians

have observed the diuretic effects

of juniper throughout the ages.

When the Dutch William, Prince

of Orange was crowned King of

England, Ireland and Scotland in 1689,

gin became all the more popular. The

government allowed unlicensed gin

production to prop up low grain prices

and distillers produced crude, inferior

forms that were more likely flavoured

with turpentine than juniper. In the

absence of French brandy, which was

unavailable because of the Nine Years

War with France, and with high beer

prices, the people turned to gin for

their alcoholic needs, and between 1695

and 1735 thousands of gin shops set

up across England. Quickly, this cheap,

flavoured alcohol was taking the blame

for a whole host of social problems. The

rise in London’s population ground still

as death rates rose, and the city became

known for its epidemic of extreme

drunkenness, provoking moral outrage

and backlash comparable to today’s

drug wars.

Parliament felt forced to act in and in

1729 the first Gin Act increased tax on

its sale, and raised the annual gin-selling

licence. As so often it goes, this was not

a very successful law. The act defined

gin in one way, so instead it was sold as

another, under creative pseudonyms

such as Ladies’ Delight, Bob, and

Parliament Brandy. While legitimate

distillers were heavily penalised, illicit

ones thrived. After four years, the act

was repealed. Its replacement went

after street hawkers and encouraged

sales in taverns, which just saw 1,000s

of private homes turned into gin shops,

many of which were also meeting points

for prostitutes and their suitors. Paid

informants were key, which naturally led

to violence.

By the Gin Act 1736, a woman named

Judith Derfour had been found guilty

of murdering her two-year-old child,

Mary, so she could buy gin from the sale

of her clothes. Moral outcry was at its

height. This third act raised the annual

retail licence fee to £50 (the equivalent

of about £7,000 today) and retail sales

were taxed at a hefty 20 shillings a

gallon in an effort to make the business

of selling gin prohibitively costly. Only

two licenses were ever taken out and

the public reaction was one of mass

law-breaking and riots. Sadly, the law

only forced the sale of gin underground,

and the bootleg spirits peddled by

street hawkers blinded and killed many

of those who drank them. Subsequent

acts virtually outlawed gin, and illegal

stills and drinking dens took over much

90 FERMENT MAGAZINE

The Organic Spirits Co, 01483 894 650 / office@londonandscottish.co.uk

FERMENT MAGAZINE 91


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of London’s East End. By the time this

act was repealed in 1743, England was

drinking 10 litres of gin per person per

year.

By 1750, the moral reformers required

a more coordinated response to tackle

their nightmarish problem, led by the

Bishop of Sodor and Man, Thomas

Wilson, who complained that gin

produced a “drunken ungovernable

set of people”. Other prominent antigin

campaigners included Robinson

Crusoe author Daniel Defoe, who

complained that drunken mothers

were threatening to produce a “fine

spindle-shanked generation” of children.

William Hogarth put his weight behind

the campaign with an engraving named

Gin Lane, issued in 1751. Depicting a

woman dropping her baby down the

stairs, starvation, suicide and madness,

the aim was to shock the poor into

reforming, and support the passage

of another law, the eighth Gin Act.

Gin Lane prints were advertised in the

London Evening Post for one shilling,

alongside an accompanying piece

named Beer Street, a contrasting image

of wealth, happiness and prosperity.

Though relatively cheap, it is unlikely

that many of the intended poor bought

a copy, though many will have viewed

it in taverns and coffee houses, and it

is thought that this propaganda helped

propel to law the Gin Act 1751.

Considered more successful, this

act doubled the (previously reduced)

retail licence and made it available to

inns, alehouses and taverns only. Duties

on distilled spirits increased modestly

and distillers were only allowed to

sell to licensed retailers. Gin shops

were now under the jurisdiction of

local magistrates; unlicensed sellers

were encouraged to grass up their

suppliers with the lure of a £5 reward

and immunity from prosecution.

Consumption was reduced, and

production fell from 32 to 19 million

litres in just one year. Some historians,

though, suggest this was due to the

rising cost of grain - landowners

need no longer distill for income, and

increased food prices meant less money

for booze. By 1757, the Gin Craze was

all but over. It wasn’t until 1840 that

the amount of gin drank in London was

the same as levels in 1743 - an era had

passed; for now it was the time of the

Gin Palace.

Go to fermentmagazine.com to

subscribe

92 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 93


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ORGANIC SPIRITS CO

Green through

@doubledutchdrinks

@doubledutchdrinks

www.doubledutchdrinks.com

www.doubledutchdrinks.com

@doubledutchdrinks

www.doubledutchdrinks.com

When Juniper Green

launched its London Dry

gin in 1999, the UK gin

market was a very different place.

Organic, certified vegan, with a focus

on the provenance and sustainability

of its ingredients, Juniper Green was

among the most expensive gins on the

market and – while right at home in the

age of craft alcohol – was at the time

something of an oddity.

“We were the world’s first organic

gin, and actually the first organic

spirit of any kind. Right from day

one, we’ve put the quality and

traceability of our ingredients

at the heart of what we do. We

started out working directly with

an organic farm on the Austrian-

Czech border, where the grain

undergoes its first distillation

on-site, and we’re still with

them, so all our spirit is

single-estate. We’re also

the world’s only gin to use

‘FairWild’ juniper, which is

a standard that combines

fair trade practices with

sustainable harvesting. It’s

mainly used for certifying

medicinal herbs and wild

source ingredients, but it fits

very closely with our values

too.”

This clearly sits well with

certain other people’s values

too, as Juniper Green was

awarded a Royal Warrant by

HRH The Prince of Wales

in 2007, having supplied the

and through

royal household with gin for several

years previously.

Peter also believes Juniper Green’s

attention to detail comes through in

the spirit itself. For example, all of the

botanicals in the distillery’s recipe can

be sourced back to their producer of

origin – Peter knows many of them

personally – helping ensure

consistently high quality. As

it is vegan certified, Juniper

Green also doesn’t contain

glycerin, a very common

additive in white spirit, and

Peter believes its character is

better for the fact.

Juniper Green, along

with the company’s

organic vodka and

organic rum, is batch

distilled under contract at the small but

busy Thames Distillers, which Peter’s

family helped set up (his father is still

a board member there). While some

turn their noses up at the concept of

contract distilling, Peter is full of praise

for Thames’s technical craft, and says

he is proud of their long-standing

relationship.

Needless to say, the gin landscape

has changed dramatically in the past 19

years and, as arguably the world’s first

craft gin, Juniper Green has had a front

row seat to these changes.

The consumer is now hugely

educated in gin, which has two effects.

They know a good gin when they taste

one, which definitely helps. But I think

the main reason we have such strong

brand loyalty is because our ethos of

sustainable production is something

that aligns well with a lot of people.

They’ll choose us again and again.”

Finally, we turn to the most

important question of all: how best to

enjoy Juniper Green.

“I work on the basis that people

should drink it however they most

enjoy it,” says Peter after a thoughtful

pause. I have a negroni, but I know a

lot of people who prefer it with a tonic.

The only thing I’d say is make it a light

tonic - it’s a lovely-tasting gin, so don’t

obscure it with loads of quinine. It also

makes an excellent dry martini.”


MODERN

This issue, Ollie Peart

laments the state of modern

masculinity, as embodied

by the orgy of awkward,

mandatory indulgence that is

the typical stag party

rague. Capital of Czechia. A

smorgasbord of historical artifacts;

Prague Castle, the Charles

Bridge, the Prague astronomical clock,

the Jewish Quarter; sliced through the

middle by the stunning Vltava river.

History oozes from every alleyway

and every building. The centre is of

such historical importance, it has been

designated a world heritage site by

UNESCO.

To walk through it is a spectacle.

The cobbles massage your feet as

your wander the streets, your neck

aching with all the looking up at

towering architecture that baffles your

mind as to how it was created. It’s a

marvel, a wonder, a stunning place to

visit. Except for one thing.

Stag parties.

I’ve been on a few stags in my

time, and have even planned one: my

brothers. My idea for a weekend in

Wales jumping from cliffs and drinking

some tasty beer was quashed in favour

of titty bars and guns in Riga. It was as

if having a fanny waved in our face and

firing pump action shotguns somehow

affirmed our masculinity. As if life

couldn’t move on without this utterly

pointless rite of passage. Nonsense, of

course.

If you want to witness this car crash

of a social phenomenon unfold, there’s

no better place to visit than Prague.

Its stunning backdrop serves as the

perfect contrast to blowjob imitation

on a toy polar bear, in front of kids

(I actually saw that); uncontrollable

bouts of “Whey!!!!” “Oi” and “You

CU*T” bellowed from the lungs of

sozzled twats, and shit dressing up.

The cheap but exceptional beer

Prague has to offer inebriates these

numbskulls into a state of swagger,

a choreographed walk where the

shoulders punch their way through the

thick city air, their faces screwed up,

chests pumped, ready to fuck or fuck

up anything that gets in their way.

It’s embarrassing. Not just as a Brit,

because a lot of them are British, but

as a man. Stag parties used to be a

drunken night in the local and getting

tied to a lamp post in the nud; the only

offence caused, mild titillation of a

Grandma on her way to buy the Daily

Mail in the morning. Somehow though

it’s turned into a monumental twatfest,

fuelled by the expectation that

your stag-do has to be the biggest,

the best.

The result is an average price per

head of £235 for a stag party abroad,

according to stagweb.co.uk, and that’s

not including drinks. But to rebut and

question the logic of these hellish

events, in the testosterone-fuelled

pissy urinal that is a stag do, brands

you a “pussy” or “poof”. I hate to use

such profanities, and I love a swear,

but there are genuine questions to

be asked when a group of men are

walking through a UNESCO world

heritage site screaming homophobic

nonsense.

I have nothing against stag dos

in the sense of a bunch of mates

getting together to celebrate what

is a momentous occasion. Of course,

that should be a celebration of an

individual who, it turns out, is nice

enough that someone else actually

wants to be with them long term. Well

done.

But the congregation that gathers

in this pre-wed jaunt conform to

some weird stereotype that they’ve

subconsciously absorbed somewhere,

I literally have no idea where. A prime

example of this in action is the dads.

Dads are now invited to stag-dos, I

guess because the idea of watching

someone else’s dad go red in the

face while a woman 40 years his

junior grinds herself on this wrinkly,

shriveled crotch is somehow amusing.

Watch them carefully if you see

one. They will slip into a type of

behaviour that is synonymous with

stag-dos. It’s more obvious and

cringey when they do it because it

doesn’t fit. Watching a semi-hench

vest-wearing bellend with cloned

tattoos plastered over his arm

dressed as a giraffe pretending to

suck of a cucumber, kind of fits. You

expect him to be a twat, because he is

one. But the dads, not so much. What

are you doing? Shouting “Oi Oi Oi”

with your swollen, sunburnt head just

doesn’t seem right wearing a Weird

Fish t-shirt.

To all you men, especially those

who are the ‘best’: Think twice before

clicking through the ‘top destinations

for a stag party’ and allowing your

itinerary to descend into overt

offence in a very public and beautiful

place. If you want to get fucked up

and yell homophobic profanity, find a

wood somewhere or a large field with

nobody around for 15 miles. Watching

you parade yourself in front of

families on holiday as if you’re some

God’s living turd is horrible.

Stags are majestic animals. Their

iconic shape familiar on the horizon

of the Scottish highlands. Some of

them are hunted, their beauty so

revered that it makes sense to blast

a bullet through their heart, cut their

head off and stick it on the wall. Stag

dos are the antithesis of this, sucking

beauty out of otherwise beautiful

surroundings. They should be

renamed, virus-dos, a toxic, parasitic

smear that latches onto its host like a

cold. Every “Whey”. “Oi” and “Cu*t”,

an audible sneeze, to remind us all

that this place is sick.

It’s time to get rid of the cold.

96 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 97


Next time...

The world's largest

'Volksfest', attracting

six million visitors a

year, Munich's famous

beer festival is an event

that we've been hoping

to visit for years. As well as

discovering the sights and sounds

of Munich and beyond, we will be bringing you a

selection of beers both old and new to have your

own mini-Oktoberfest at home. We'll be tasting some

classic, style-defining German beers from centuries-old

brewers, as well as discovering what the new wave of

craft producers are bringing to the table. Throwing the

'Rheinheitsgebot' out the window, we've invited some

of our favourite UK brewers to add their own twist to

German beer-making techniques.

So, polish your lederhosen and look out your GCSE

German textbook, we're going on a Handgemachtes

Bier Abenteuer!

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