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ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

HOP ON BOARD, FOR A BEER

ADVENTURE LIKE NO OTHER


EDITOR

Richard Croasdale

DESIGNER

Ashley Johnston

Editor’s

NOTE

@fermenthq

@fermentmagazine

Contributions, comments, rants:

richard@beer52.com

ADVERTISING

To discuss how Ferment

could work with your brand, request

a media pack or book an advert,

contact: matthew@beer52.com

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COVER ILLUSTRATION

Kinga Offert

www.offert.com.pl

PUBLISHED BY:

Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 3,

26 Howe Street,

Edinburgh,

EH3 6TG

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in September 2018 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.

Welcome to Beer52 and

Ferment Magazine.

What is craft beer? It’s a question we get asked a lot.

Sure, it’s about authenticity, the skill of the brewer,

and arguably also about size and independence.

But we believe it’s fundamentally about curiosity, a spirit of

adventure and a love of the wider culture that surrounds the

beer world.

In our club, and the pages of this magazine, we celebrate

and explore this unique global community, seeking out the

characters, the big ideas, the unexpected twists and – of

course – the most exceptional beer being brewed today. All

for you (and, let’s face it, also because we love it).

So, thanks for joining us on this wild journey through the

constantly surprising world of craft beer. We’re confident your

taste buds will thank you for it.

We love hearing from readers, so please get in touch any

time to share your thoughts and ideas, on Twitter

@FermentHQ or email ferment@beer52.com.

Cheers, Richard

Green Gold, p20


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

MARK DREDGE

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 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: BEST OF BRITISH

A whistle-stop tour of some of our favourite

UK breweries

16: bottle share

Our regular members’ meet-up

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

20: hop harvest

An intimate look at the UK hop harvest, past

and present

30: collaboration brews

Matt Curtis asks what makes a successful

brewing partnership

38: Beer Grylls

Richard Croasdale finds out just how long he’d

last in the wild (spoiler: not long).

43: don’t fear the neipa

Mark Dredge shares his guilty addiction to

soupy, hoppy beers

46: FOOD

Alex Paganelli is feeling the burn

52: the power of the thumb

Is social media killing craft beer?

60: travel

Mark Dredge’s bucket list, and Ferment

visits Poland’s Beer Geek Madness

68: forcing change

The beer industry has a diversity problem.

What can we do about it?

79: Beer guide

What’s in this month’s Beer52 box?

94: BEER SCHOOL: shelf life

Why do good beers go bad?

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


Beer in the post?

What more could you possibly want from life?

A new theme every month: never

drink the same beer twice.

We only send you beers we

like to drink ourselves.

BEER52

Eight beers, a

copy of Ferment

and snack

for £24 each

month!

My Story

James Brown, Founder of Beer52

Almost five years ago, I went on a

motorcycle road trip with my Dad.

I had no idea that this jaunt around

Europe would go on to change my life, but

that’s exactly what it did. While we wound our

way through the country roads of Belgium, we

stopped at tiny breweries and tap rooms to

quench our thirsts.

The beers we drank on our route between

Edinburgh and Faro blew my mind. Until

then, I had no idea that beers could be sour,

fruity, barrel-aged or mega hoppy. The styles

I uncovered with my Dad changed my whole

perception of beer forever.

And ever since then, I’ve been on a mission

to share great beers with other people. After

getting back back home to Scotland, I figured;

“wouldn’t it be a great idea to start a club,

where every month we could pick a selection of

beers from a new country each time?”.

With the help of my friends (it wasn’t hard to

convince them) we started tasting the world’s

beers in earnest. There’s nothing we enjoy

more than cracking open a bunch of new beers,

trying them together and sharing our thoughts.

We’ve been tasting ever since! Thousands of

different beers have passed our lips and we’ve

had the pleasure of sharing our favourites with

the tens of thousands of other drinkers who

have joined us on this adventure.

If you’re not already a member, I look forward

to welcoming you to Beer52 soon!

Customise the selection to your

tastes and skip a box anytime.

Discover beers you wouldn’t

find in the supermarket.


BEST

OF

BRITISH

When we’re seeking out the

very best, most innovative

craft beers from all over

the world, it can be easy to forget that

we really are spoiled here in the UK,

with globally-renowned brewers, the

very best ingredients and some truly

game-changing beers. So join us on

this whistle-stop tour of some of our

favourites, and drink along with the

crafts-people who made them.

SIREN

CRAFT BREW

Siren Craft Brew was born in 2013,

with the intention of luring more UK

drinkers into the world of craft through

its complex, layered brews, just as the

Sirens of Greek mythology used their

song to lure unwary sailors. The pay-off

here though is delicious beer rather

than a watery grave, thankfully.

The concept stemmed from founder

Darron Anley, specifically his passion for

the modern, flavour-forward beers that

were coming to the fore back around

2010. The brewery’s six core beers are

full-flavoured and adventurous, but

eminently drinkable, while a vigorous

brewing programme will see Siren

release over 100 beers in 2018. Its

many plaudits include ‘Best Brewer in

England’ by Ratebeer users in 2015, and

a Supreme Champion Beer of Britain

award by CAMRA in 2018.

“We believe that beer is still vastly

underestimated in the UK,” says Darron.

There’s a beer for everyone, a whole

host of aromas, flavours, colours and

textures to enjoy. Our mission is to get

everyone on that journey of discovery.”

Brewing out of London’s beer-crazy

Bermondsey area, Fourpure is – as

its name suggests – all about the beauty

of beer’s four core ingredients: grain,

hops, water and yeast. Its approach

emphasises attention to detail,

constantly innovating, while also staying

true to the principles of brewing. This

seems to have paid off; as well as being

universally respected by brewers and

drinkers alike, Fourpure was named

‘Most Innovative Brewery Business of

the Year’ at last year’s SIBA awards.

Founded in 2013 by brothers Dan and

Tom, Fourpure has remained a family

FIVE POINTS BREWING COMPANY

The Five Points Brewing Company

has been brewing award-winning

beers in Hackney, London, since

2013, and is probably best known for

its knock-out real ale and traditional

styles (its Railway Porter on cask is

honestly one of the best things you’ve

ever tasted). Its core range is also

complemented by regular limited

and small-batch releases, including a

barrel ageing project. The brewery

has a strong commitment to the local

community and to its employees, having

become the country’s first brewery

to be accredited as a Living Wage

Employer. It’s also helped establish an

apprenticeship scheme for aspiring

FOURPURE BREWING CO

business, but that family has grown to

include staff of all ages and from all

walks of life.

They say you can’t choose your

family, but you can, and we have,”

says Dan. “We’ve got revellers and

renegades, the young at heart and old

souls, we’re equal parts rolled corduroy

and skinny black jeans. Walk into our

office and the beautiful, tattooed,

lip-pierced, beard wearing, flannel

sporting degenerates share desk space

with self-confessed spreadsheet nerds.

Down in the brewery one poor posh

kid is surrounded by a ragtag bunch of

brewers and supports local charitable,

arts and community projects.

Its brewery is based in the

atmospheric Victorian railway

arches under Hackney Downs

railway station, in the heart of

Hackney, North East London. Head

brewer Greg Hobbs presides over a

32-hectolitre brewhouse, packaging

plant and barrel ageing store, and was

responsible for brewing over three

million pints there in 2017. Although it

doesn’t have a tasting room, its beers

are a favourite among north-east

London’s many great pubs, and tours

of the brewery are available every

second Saturday of the month.

thrown-together misfits, who all share

a common love of good beer and great

times.”

Its year-round beers are available in

keg and can, while a number of small

batch and one-off beers are available

in its brewery taproom, including the

results of its in-house barrel ageing

programme which is focused on sours

and darker ales. The guys at Fourpure

are incredibly friendly, and endeavour

to get to as many events as possible

throughout the year. In addition, their

tap room door is open to the public

every Tuesday to Sunday.

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BEST OF BRITISH

THORNBRIDGE

BREWERY

With an awards cabinet groaning

with over 350 prestigious

industry gongs and almost 15 years

at the forefront of UK craft brewing,

Thornbridge has long set the standard

for quality and consistency, and has

inspired many of our favourite younger

breweries. Like many other UK craft

pioneers, Thornbridge started out

with a firm focus on traditional cask

styles. Its main innovation was to use

a far greater range of malt and hop

characters than was usual in the UK at

the time, and to give its brewers more

scope to create and experiment.

The original 10-barrel brewery, in the

grounds of Thornbridge Hall, was joined

in 2009 by the state-of-the-art Riverside

brewery and bottling line in nearby

Bakewell, to meet growing demand and

to expand Thornbridge’s range. The

smaller Thornbridge Hall brewery is

now focused on experimentation, barrel

ageing and creating premium bottled

products.

From an unlikely-looking industrial

estate in the rolling hills of the

Scottish Borders, Tempest Brew Co

has been smashing every style it’s

turned its hand to since 2010. Its core

range, including Long White Cloud,

Pale Armadillo and Modern Helles, are

now staples among Scotland’s better

craft beer bars, while its seasonals

and limited-edition beers showcase

the brewery’s sense of fun and

experimental soul.

The brewery’s story stretches back

much further than 2010, all the way

to British Colombia in the late 1990s,

when co-founders Gavin and Annika

met working in a brewpub, as chef

TEMPEST BREW CO

and front-of-house respectively. The

pair moved back to Annika’s home

country of New Zealand (“land of the

long white cloud”) and Gavin began

learning all he could about brewing.

The first batch of Long White Cloud

IPA, brewed in a cobbled-together

garage brewkit, was enough to

convince Gavin that he needed to

move back to Scotland and start his

own brewery.

After a stint opening and running

an award-winning pub in the Scottish

Borders (as one does) Gavin and

Annika finally got to work on Tempest’s

first brewery, in a dairy shed in the

town of Kelso. It quickly outgrew

From its home in a Grade II listed

former mill in the heart of Leeds,

Northern Monk is writing a modern

chapter in the city’s proud brewing

history, which stretches back to

the 11th century monks of nearby

Fountains Abbey and beyond. Blend

this tradition with the innovation of

the 21st century craft movement, and

the best ingredients from across the

world, and you have a range of beers

that’s earned Northern Monk a loyal

international following.

Here at Ferment, we’re regulars

at The Old Flax Store, the beautiful

industrial revolution building where

this space though and, after several

makeshift kit upgrades, moved into a

new space in Tweedbank in 2015, with

big tanks, more automated packaging

and a sophisticated brewkit which

gives Gavin and his growing team

much more flexibility.

Today, Tempest is still making some

of the same beers that Gavin’s been

brewing since his days in New Zealand,

as well as some equally delicious new

additions. They’ve picked up a legion

of fans along the way, taking numerous

accolades in the process, including

Scottish Brewery of the Year 2016, and

being named in RateBeer’s Top 100

Best Breweries in the World.

NORTHERN MONK BREW CO

Northern Monk has its brewery, its

Refectory taproom, and an events

space. With super-fresh beer on tap,

exhibitions by local artists and live

music, it really reflects the brewery’s

character.

Northern Monk is also fiercely

proud of its Leeds heritage, and

of the north of England generally,

working with local businesses,

breweries and charitable

organisations to create new

opportunities and raise the region’s

profile. A passionate team, making

exceptional beers: what’s not to

love?

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BEST OF BRITISH

SWANNAY BREWERY

On the north-west tip of Orkney,

the winds rush past Swannay off

the Atlantic Ocean, a maelstrom of

sea salt and spray. But at the Swannay

Brewery, there is no rush, no hurry

to make anything other than perfect

beer. The brewery, centred in a cluster

of farm buildings, is a labour of love, a

mix of cow sheds, barn and coldstores

that once hosted beasts and cheese.

“It’s all slate roofs and stone walls, very

picturesque, but it’s a bit ‘rustic’,” jokes

Lewis Hill, founder of the brewery with

this father Rob.

That’s one of the USPs of Swannay

- that it’s not just a bunch of industrial

estate tanks. Surrounded by fertile

farmland, it harks back to the days

of the local farm brewery, supplying

workers with ale to quench their thirst

from working in the fields. Swannay is

very much a local brewery, still selling a

quarter of its beer to the island.

The brewery currently uses two

brew plants, one 20 barrel kit (roughly

3,000 litres) that does most of the

volume, and a smaller 5 barrel kit for

experimentation. “The small kit is

perfect for doing 500-litre batches,”

says Lewis, who joined the business

after moving to Edinburgh to study

economics.

Now Lewis and Rob have set their

sights on grander things. As part of the

renovations to the existing buildings,

they will make space for a proper tasting

room on-site and extra production

capacity. “We’ll have more staff, which

will get me out of the office,

which will be a big thing,” Lewis

enthuses. “It will let us do more

smaller batch, and if we had some

facility on site where we could

hand bottle small amounts

and can medium amounts,

we’re well positioned to do

more of that.”

Strong, steady, and delicious,

we can’t wait to see how Swannay’s

plans for the future pay off.

BLACK ISLE BREWING CO

Scotland’s only organic brewery, Black

Isle brews out of an organic farm on

the east coast of the beautiful Scottish

Highlands. As well as malting barley for

its delicious range of beers, the team

grows seasonal vegetables, herbs and

salads for the brewery’s bar in nearby

Inverness.

Black Isle Brewing’s beers started

out as a well-kept local secret, before

popping up in farmers’ markets and

organic grocers across Scotland. They’re

now well-known much further afield

though, and are a regular presence on

taps across the nation.

“Organic production promotes

biodiversity, helps wildlife, and provides

Fierce has a reputation as one of

the most friendly breweries in the

UK, and it’s well-earned. Husband

and wife founders Louise and David

Grant decided to start their own

brewery in 2014, in the shadow of their

mighty Aberdeenshire neighbours

BrewDog, with a focus on foodie flavour

combinations. As well as being craft

beer lovers, the entire team at Fierce are

enthusiastic gastronomes, and their love

of food and flavour combinations has

driven their approach.

“Right from the start, we established

that drinkers and bottleshops didn’t

need another company making lager,

a pale ale and an amber ale, because

there’s so many guys doing such a

brilliant job of that already,” says Dave.

a mixed and sustainable ecology for

flora and fauna to thrive,” says head

brewer Thorsten Walschek. “It is the

antithesis of modern agro industrialist

production, which is based purely on

monoculture and profit. What we lose in

yield on the farm we gain in birds, bees

and other wildlife. As organic brewers

we pay three times as much for our

hops, and twice as much for our barley,

but we believe that some things are just

worth paying for.”

If you’re in the area, drop by and meet

the brewery’s house cow, who provides

fresh milk in exchange for spent

brewing mash to eat, and the flock of

Hebridean sheep, who enjoy the same.

FIERCE BEER

“So everything we do is pretty out there

and different, with additions like chillis,

ginger peanut, coffee… all sorts of things

to tantalise the palate. So, we’ll take a pale

ale and add fresh fruit or fruit peel. Adding

peanut and chocolate to porter makes a

snickers bar. Adding lime and habanero to

a pale ale works really well too.”

Fierce was a huge hit at the 2016 UK

beer festivals, and interest from across

the country meant rapid growth and

a major expansion of its facilities. This

could have spelled problems for such a

young business, but – perhaps thanks to

Louise and David’s previous experience

in the energy industry – they managed

to take it in their stride, developing their

range and, seemingly, having a great

time in the process.

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 13


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online

This internet thing is going

to be big, mark my words.

-

RICHARD CROASDALE, EDITOR, 2018

www.beer52.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 beer52.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@beer52.com. We’d really

appreciate it!

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Steel Coulson, Edinburgh

Particularly when it’s in your home

town, discovering a great new

beer bar is always a joy, so we’re

excited to be hosting this month’s

members’ bottle share with the very

lovely Steel Coulson, in Edinburgh’s

waterside Leith neighbourhood. Having

previously been a slightly intimidating

dockers’ pub, Steel Coulson now

combines a lovely traditional look with

an excellent selection of beers, with cask

pumps proudly front and centre (though

also a good line-up of keg taps, bottles

and cans).

As usual, we’re joined by eight of

our most loyal local members to share

some truly special beers from around

the world. In the true spirit of a bottle

share, the theme of tonight’s event is

‘beers that we liked the look of, with an

accidental Belgian-ish theme’. Exciting

times.

After a round of Steel Coulson’s own

excellent Golden Ale on cask to get

everyone’s palates into gear, we kick

off the proceedings with Cloudwater’s

double dry hopped pale with Enigma

MEMBERS’

BOTTLE SHARE

and Ekuanot. It’s a zingy number with

low bitterness but plenty of citrus and

herbal notes. James Rodger-Philips picks

up orange, while Colin Freeth ventures

tangerine; everyone agrees that the

citrus is definitely more peel than flesh

though, with real zesty freshness. I get a

hit of papaya, while intern Sarah Marks

homes in on the dank, resinous, herbal

character. This one is unambiguously

about the hops though, whichever way

you cut it.

Next up is Acid Crush, a handsomelycanned

collaboration between Norway’s

Lervig and Belgium’s Oud Beersel.

Several eyebrows rise at the prospect

of an IPA/Lambic blend, but the result

isn’t as challenging as we had perhaps

suspected. There’s a definite funk at

the end, and some sourness, but it’s

generally well balanced with the IPA

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

excellent standard IPA, it’s the hops that

lead the charge, with the young Lambic

adding layers of dressing.

Continuing our Belg-ish odyssey,

we have a bretted saison from Time

and Tide. This is perhaps the surprise

hit of the evening; none of us had

tried it before and it defied a lot of

our expectations. The brettanomyces

character is clear, but not too heady,

manifesting as a pleasant hay-like nose

and flavour, which goes well with the soft

and comforting saison. Sam Proctor is a

fan of how sweet it is compared to some

other drier saisons, while Mike Bentley

praises its smooth and warming mouth

feel. There’s a definite spice on the

finish, along with the more usual banana

and cloves, as Colin Freeth observes.

Peter Buckley, not a saison fan generally,

is converted.

For our penultimate beer, I pull

out a big hitter: a champagne bottle

of Mikkeller Oude Geuze, created in

collaboration with Lambic legends

Boon. Just as I’m explaining how the

introduction of young Lambic to old

Lambic sets off Geuze’s characteristic

secondary fermentation in the bottle,

the (foolishly) uncaged cork explodes

out of the bottle in my hand, waking

everyone up. Rookie error.

Safely into everyone’s glasses though,

the beer is sensational. Sarah’s keen for

everyone to rate each brew out of ten

for some reason, and this one scores

several tens. Like the best geuzes, it’s

soft and infinitely complex, with layers

of horsey brett, delicate sourness

(including just a pleasant edge of acetic

tang) and apple sweetness from the

calvados foeders in which it was aged.

Mark Dyson is particularly enthusiastic,

praising its long finish and champagnelike

subtlety.

Our final beer of the evening – literally

a showstopper at 13% abv – could not

be more different. A maple-infused

imperial stout from Stone Brewing,

W00t Stout is a collaboration between

Fark.com creator Drew Curtis, actor and

internet deity Will Wheaton and Stone

co-founder Greg Koch. Made with rye,

wheat and pecans, and partially aged

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

beer, presenting a storm of flavours that

compete for your attention, like a choir

screaming insults in perfect harmony.

Peter Buckley finds sweet espresso

and dark chocolate, while several others

comment on the dark, plummy fruit and

the excess of nutty, cookies-and-cream

richness. Colin Freeth finds the sweet

treacle balanced by a soy-like umami

quality, which receives nods from all

around the table. For Calum Banks, this

beer sneaks in at the last second to snag

his brew-of-the-night.

It’s been a great evening and the staff

at Steel Coulson have been excellent (and

patient). Try the black pudding scotch egg

if you’re there: knockout. We round off

the evening with a couple more pints and

a whisky, to accompany some chat about

life, beer and everything. Thanks again to

our wonderful Edinburgh members, and

hopefully see more of you around

the country soon…

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Oh goddammit, not more of

this nonsense!” I yell at my

phone, projecting my yell at

the world of beer in early 2018;

a world of psychedelic DIPAs and

freakshake stouts served with sprinkles.

Last week they Instagrammed

a nuclear yellow fruit beer in an

impossible-to-drink-from bauble.

There’s never-ending juicebox IPAs,

things brewed with everything you

never thought should go in a beer,

and then there’s the soft serve beer. A

frappé whip of frosty foam that comes

with a Flake or some other kind of

unnecessary chocolatey accessory. It

used to be a joke that a badly poured

pint deserved a Flake wedged into it.

Not anymore. We’ve hit a point of peak

nonsense, a pique point of novelty

beers and pastry stouts.

Let me explain the name ‘Pastry

Stout.’ I use it like this: ‘Ah man,

another Pastry Stout.’ Other people

use it like this: ‘Ah man, I need me

some more of those sweeeeet Pastry

Stoutzzz.’

The ‘pastry’ part is a reference to

the adjuncts. Anything that gives a

beer qualities, flavours or fermentables

that’s not water, malt, hops or yeast

counts as an adjunct. It could be rice

in industrial lager, orange peel in a

Witbier, candi sugar in a Quadruple,

and then all the way through to the

far extremities of the pastry section

of the beer aisle. The pantry of syrups

and sauces, of chocolate bars and

cinnamon rolls, via the imaginarium

of the man-child brewer with a sweet

tooth and eyes sweet on fluffing the

beergasms of dogmatic beer geeks.

Sundaes and smoothies, cupcakes

and cookies, tiramisus and truffles,

milkshakes and marshmallows; there’s

ice cream, cheesecake, cornflakes and

doughnuts; cacao, coconut, nut syrups,

maple syrup, milk sugar, always some

vanilla, usually shitloads of coffee,

all freakshaked into a Fat Impy that’s

over-adjuncted and under-attenuated.

Most taste like American gas stations:

flavoured hazelnut coffee, vanilla in

everything, cinnamon doughnuts and

fusel fumes.

These kind of dosed-up, dolled-up

beers have been around for a long time

and flavoured stouts are not new. Some

of the most hyped-up and highly-rated

beers – most of the most hyped-up

and highly-rated beers – are laden

with sweetness, where the person that

sips small instead of drinks deep is

rewarded with that immediate hit and

sugar rush.

While the flavours aren’t new, their

intensity is and they’ve gone to Full

Pastry by getting sweeter, squidgier,

sicklier and less like beer. There’s an

immature obviousness to the flavour.

A fast-food, fast-rewarding saccharine

smash and the smell of childhood treats

with the adulthood impact of alcohol.

It’s probably a symptom of a

generation used to getting what they

want, when they want it; the full fat,

build-your-own, attention-seeker that

checks the reviews and only bothers

with the biggest rates (4.471 on

Untappd) because, you know, no-one

cares if you’re drinking milds or märzen

(only 3.602 on Untappd). They appeal

to the home drinker who wants to be

seen drinking something, to be seen to

have acquired something rare, rather

than perhaps wanting to drink that

beer as a great liquid in itself (there’s

no kudos for the I’d rather have a lager

drinker, is there?).

So there’s that, plus the world

is messed up right now and we’re

thinking: “Bugger it, I’ll just have the ice

cream and the brownie and the peanut

butter crunch and I want it all with 12%

alcohol.” A fuck-the-world 400-calorie

quaff of kamikaze cake beer.

Imperial Stouts have gone from

Brooklyn Black Chocolate to Beer Geek

Brunch to Bourbon County Stout to

Triple Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

Sundae. They’ve gone from intense

dark roast to intenser darker roast to

powerful barrel-aging to being just

about as refreshing – and I’m a

drinker that values refreshment

in my beer, you understand – as a

pint of custard.

But here’s the twist: I’d love a pint

They've gone to Full

Pastry by getting

sweeter, squidgier,

sicklier and less like beer

of custard. And many of these beers

are amazing liquids, as treat-like as any

pudding and it comes with a wallop

of booze, too. They wow with their

wonderful and intense flavours, their

delicious naughty-niceness. And I’d

love to open a blueberry cheesecake

stout to go with blueberry cheesecake.

I’d love to serve it to someone who

‘doesn’t like beer’ because they’ll

probably love this one and they’ll

say to their friends on Monday, ‘I had

a blueberry cheesecake beer this

weekend and it was actually alright. I

didn’t used to like beer but that was,

you know, different!’ They work for

beer nerds and the beer averse and it

makes sense that people think highly

of them because they’ve got such big

and impactful flavours.

So I get Pastry Stouts. And I know

why people love them, even if I think

most are now far too sweet. But it’s the

novelty beer that really bugs me. It’s the

what the fuck are you doing now thing.

It’s the soft served with candy or pie on

top thing, the marshmallows s’mores’d

onto the rim of the glass, pouring a beer

into something completely impractical

to drink from just because it looks cool,

the beers brewed with frozen pizza and

dollar bills or Doritos and Mountain

Dew (I don’t think that one’s real but

who knows).

It’s combinations of things which

don’t ever, ever go together – in the

brewery or the kitchen – which are now

actual beers: lemon meringue ice cream

sour, pancake lassi gose, candy popcorn

sour. And how about this one: Nitro

bourbon barrel-aged cinnamon pecan

mud cake stout with toasted poppy

seeds, charcoal and cold smoked bacon

dust. That’s an actual beer. I feel like

there’s an in-joke and I’m outside of it.

Beer is growing down. It’s getting

stoopider, sweeter, sillier. There’s a gulf

between flavoured beers for the sake

of deliciousness and those ludicrous

liquids served with stuff. We don’t need

stuff, do we? It’s being done for likes,

isn’t it? For double-tapped red

hearts and Untappd five stars.

Apparently it’s working. That’s the

world we’re living in right now, a

world that’s a mess and we’re going

to sugarcoat the shit by drinking

pastry stout from a vase with an iced

doughnut and fizzy sweets floating on

the foam. Better Instagram it before

the soft serve melts.

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 19


Richard Croasdale joins the hop harvest

at Surrey’s Hogs Back Brewery

There is something lyrical about a

hop garden at harvest time, when

the sun hangs low and bright in the

sky, filtering through the long hanging

vines heavy with moist, fragrant cones.

Walking between the uniform rows

of carefully cultivated plants, the air

is cool and still, redolent with the

heady, herbal, lemon astringency of

green hops, ripe for picking. Reach

out and pluck one, and it falls apart

easily between your fingers, exposing

the oily yellow of the aromatic lupilin

glands; the source of so many of the

flavours we as beer lovers have grown

to cherish.

I’m here in Surrey to share the hop

harvest with Hogs Back Brewery, a

small brewer of mostly traditional

English ales, established 25 years

ago and already a firm favourite

of CAMRA, as well as a growing

contingent of newer craft beer fans.

Tomorrow is the brewery’s harvest

festival – when it hopes to welcome

around 1000 guests for a day of music,

food and (of course) great beer – but

today is all about hops; specifically the

three and a half acres of lush green

bines currently being brought in mostly

by hand.

Hogs Back’s hop garden has been

in production for three years now

and contains 3500 plants, a mix of

Cascade, Fuggles and a local heritage

variety called Farnham White Bine.

This latter is a forbear of East Kent

Golding, the UK’s most widely grown

hop, and is a major selling point for

Hogs Back, as the only brewery in the

country to use it.

Go back a couple of hundred years

and the flavoursome and aromatic

White Bine was one of the most sought-

after hops of the brewing world, and the

growers of Farnham were famed for the

freshness and quality of their goods (the

single bell mark of the Farnham hop

farms was one of the earliest recognised

trading marks, and was synonymous

with a premium product). But in the

early 20th century, a strain of downy

mildew to which Farnham White Bine

is particularly susceptible not only

decimated crops, but ultimately shifted

the country’s centre for hop growing

from Sussex to Kent.

“When we found out about this

this fantastic unique hop, our CEO

Rupert decided he wanted to revive it,”

recalls Hogs Back’s hop estate manager

Matthew King. “We worked with

Hampton’s, the large estate next door,

to get a sample of the original hop root

stock and re-introduce it. Hops are a

little like grapes, in that they’re unique

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GREEN GOLD

Hops are a little like

grapes, in that they’re

unique depending on

where you plant them

depending on where you plant them.

So Farnham White Bine, in this soil, in

this climate is at its most authentic.”

Getting a new hop garden up and

running – even Hogs Back’s relatively

modest three-acre setup – is a

significant undertaking, and Matthew

recalls hours spent during the cold

winter months, digging holes and

running literally miles of tough string

between the tall poles to support

the young plants. Even with the

groundwork laid though, the plants

don’t yield immediate results.

The first year you let them grow

unaided, you don’t tie them up, just

grow them on canes and then let them

die back,” explains Matthew. “Second

year you wrap the bines around the

string, to encourage them to grow and

get the root stock to become more

secure in the ground. You do a harvest

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

the following year that you get a proper

harvest.”

“We still have to be cautious about

downy mildew, and try to take a

preventative approach,” Matthew

continues. “It lives in the soil and in

the root stock, so at the start of each

year, I’m out here identifying the

shoots that are infected and picking

them out by hand. We’ve also got more

effective fungicides than they would

have had 100 years ago, so we’re able

to keep it at bay. We’ve discovering

why White Bine was phased out in the

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

the management of it is very timeconsuming;

it has to be nurtured.”

Fresh hops are quite different to

their dried counterpart. In America,

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

it’s not hard to see why; their moist

petals are soft and gossamer thin,

and breaking them open to reveal the

yellow oils inside unleashes an aroma

which – while distinctively hoppy – is

somehow less pungent than dried

cones, with juicy lemon, mint and fresh

grass notes.

At Hogs Back, a proportion of the

hops from the garden are carried

straight across the road for use in a

‘green’ hop version of the Brewery’s

multi award-winning TEA ale. The

sample I try straight from the bright

beer tank and still a little young, but

the fundamental differences from

regular TEA were clear – the malty

sweetness is cut with a pronounced

lemongrass freshness and herbs

including mint and rosemary, with a

slightly astringent black pepper finish.

Such green beers are a grand

tradition in this part of the world, and

Kent has its own festival dedicated

to their production and enjoyment.

While the beers themselves aren’t

actually green, they have a character

quite distinct from beers made with

dried hops. That’s not to say that

fresh hops make better beer; merely

that they have a cut-grass freshness

and lightness that is changed and

intensified by drying. It perhaps

stands to reason that these beers are

best enjoyed super-fresh, in a pub

close to where the hops were grown.

The harvest traditionally takes place

before the autumnal equinox (which

happens to be the day I visit) and

Matthew sees the harvest festival and

the chance to enjoy some green beer

as a reward for a year of hard work.

“When you’ve been in the garden

for 12 months and you’re just waiting

for that window of opportunity when

the cone produces its aroma, which

is a limited time. To take that out of

the field and add it straight to a brew,

without any meddling, without being

dried and compressed, or right at the

end in conditioning just pack a little

punch, that’s beautiful,” he says.

Left to their own devices, hops

will begin to compost very quickly,

changing from green to brown and

breaking down into an earthy, vegetal

mess, in much the same way as cut

grass. It is therefore vital that any hops

not being used for brewing green beer

are dried to halt their decomposition.

At Hogs Back, this process couldn’t

be much more direct: a pair of tiny

Massey Fergusson tractors – once their

trailers are full of vines – take turns

heading straight out of the gate and

for the oast house about a mile up the

road. I hitch a ride up to witness this

next stage in the hop’s journey.

As the tractor trundles down

the dirt track to the loading area, a

couple of the oast house workers are

lounging in the sunshine on a pile

of fresh hops, while some essential

maintenance is carried out on the

towering, narrow machine that fills

the hall. This extraordinary piece of

equipment – charged with separating

fragile hop cones from their tough

bines – was clearly designed by a

madman. A labyrinth of criss-crossing

conveyers, rails, threshers, belts, gears,

gantries and valves, it’s hard to discern

exactly what’s happening at each point.

Somehow though, full wreaths are fed

in at one end, and perfectly intact,

trimmed hops eventually emerge at the

other. Everything in sight is coated in

a frosting of oily, hoppy residue – it’s

Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for hop

heads.

These separated hops are then

carried by conveyor to a huge drying

room, where they are laid down in

mesh-bottomed tanks, in layers around

a foot deep, and hot air from large gasfired

heaters is blown up through them

for around eight hours. The dried hops

that are compressed into 59kg nylon

sacks at the end are still green, aromatic

and free from pieces of vine, leaf and

other potential contaminants.

With the harvest 90% complete (once

picking has started, the race is on to get

everything to the oast house as swiftly

as possible) I ask Matthew what will

happen to the now seemingly barren

garden over the long winter.

“We’ve already started to work on

the ground for 2018,” he says. “After

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

then cut everything to the base of the

field floor and let all the energy go back

into the roots, ready for spring next

year. All you’ll see above ground is the

hook – the roots will be shielded from

the elements. Then March or April, new

shoots will appear very quickly – it’ll

produce many more than we need, so

I’ll have to reduce the number of shoots.

Fewer vines for the plant to put its

energy into means a bigger and better

crop of hops. It’s not spreading itself

so thin. From there, the bines will grow

about three inches a day – when they’re

active it’s amazing what they do.”

22 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 23


Richard Croasdale

drops in on Chocolatiers

Edward and Irwyn with

a bag of hops and a

challenge…

I’ve been fortunate enough to know

Edda Holt and Kirsty Irvine of

Edinburgh’s Chocolatier Edward

& Irwyn for a number of years, and

have come to learn that they love a

challenge. So when it came to finding

new ways to explore the versatility and

unique charms of the hop, they were

the first people I turned to.

With backgrounds in perfumery

and film-making, Edda and Kirsty

are true aesthetes, and very partial

to a good beer. Yet combining

hops and chocolate was uncharted

territory to them, and after a short

initial conversation they set off

with great enthusiasm. To give their

experimentation some shape, we

settled on three hops to focus on,

representing what I hoped would be

an interesting cross-section of the hop

world: US cascade, East Kent Goldings

and Moteuka.

The first thing is that hops are really

overwhelmingly bitter, and that to get

anything interesting out of them, we

knew we would need to be very careful

about exposing them to any heat,”

says Edda. “We tried several ways of

infusing them, but in the end found

leaving them in melted cocoa butter

for a good length of time really worked

well.

“This cocoa butter is un-deodorised.

A lot of the stuff you get has had

everything taken out – it deliberately

tastes almost of nothing. This still

smells of dark chocolate and is quite

acidic. But it means we can add

it straight into the chocolate; we

couldn’t add another oil or anything

else, because it would mess with the

crystalline structure.”

Edward and Irwyn’s kitchen/

shop in the well-to-do Edinburgh

neighbourhood of Morningside is a

tiny and somewhat chaotic Aladdin’s

cave of chocolate sorcery. Vials

of pungent oil jostle with bowls of

infusing butter and caramel, under

towering shelves of raw chocolate and

arcane equipment. In the centre is a

huge slab of thick marble, which is

where the magic happens.

Edda informs me the marble isn’t

simply theatre; it’s the perfect surface

for steadily drawing the heat out of

chocolate during tempering and at

various other stages of the process.

Much as is the case in brewing,

temperature control is vital to the

chocolatier.

The process for making a single

tray of the dome-shaped chocolates

is suitably impressive, yet all happens

remarkable quickly – once again, it

seems that time is a factor in these

things, and the various stages really

need to happen on cue. Tempering

is a vital first step, in which most

24 FERMENT MAGAZINE

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of a batch of chocolate is heated to

around 40 degrees, poured onto the

marble and rapidly cooled, before

being transferred back into the bowl

and recombined with the warm

chocolate.

“When you get chocolate that’s

been in the sun and it ends up with

white swirls or spots on it, that’s the

crystalline structure coming apart,”

explains Kirsty. “To make chocolate

uniformly brown and shiny with a

snap like these, you have to temper

it. You can get machines that do this,

but doing it by hand means you really

understand tempering and can get a

feel for how the chocolate behaves.”

The chocolate we’re using today has

already been mixed with a good dollop

of that hop-infused cocoa butter, and

a distinctive layer of Cascade wafts up

from the more familiar dark chocolate

aromas.

“We went for the Cascade because

of how citrusy it is,” says Edda. “It

was easily the most pungent of the

three you gave us, and we thought

it would work really nicely with that

blend of chocolate and the caramel.

We matched that with dark chocolate

because milk chocolate with the

caramel might be too sweet and the

dark has more intense flavours. This

is a blend of fairtrade organic dark,

which is a 72% cocoa - it’s not too

bitter, it’s quite mild - and then we

added a Cuban chocolate which is

super fruity.”

Gossamer sheets of gold leaf are

brushed into the inside of each dimple

in the plastic mould, along with a

dusting of an edible green metallic

powder. On top of this, Edda pours

melted dark chocolate, already mixed

with Cascade-infused fat. The mould is

then upended over the chocolate bowl

and the contents mostly knocked back

into the mix; what is left in the mould

will form the hard upper shell of our

caramels.

Into each of these tiny chocolate

cups is added a sprinkling of toasted

breadcrumbs. These are from Icelandic

rye bread, baked the traditional way

– slowly, inside a hot volcanic spring –

and brought back to the UK a few days

earlier. We are not messing about here.

Kirsty says: “Icelandic rye bread is

quite sweet, and they put dark sugar

into it - it’s quite cakey. It’s really tasty

and amazing. Since the hops were

going in, we figured we could balance

that by using something in the same

malted family - that would be a flavour

combination familiar to beer lovers.”

Next up, the caramel, which has

been first heated and then cooled

to the perfect temperature; warm

enough to be piped, but not so warm

that it will melt the chocolate shell.

The caramel contains a sprinkle of

smoked salt, which Edda describes

as “quite subtle, but enough to give

the caramel that savoury edge”.

Watching warm caramel being piped

into chocolate cups is one of the most

oddly meditative things I’ve ever seen,

and (I’ve discovered) quite popular

on YouTube. Finally, it’s another layer

of dark chocolate, levelled off with a

palette knife to form the base.

While we’re waiting for our creations

to set, Edda talks us through the pair’s

preference for northern-inspired

flavours – most chocolatiers reach for

the more southern flavour elements

such as nuts and fruit – and how

We really like the unusual

quality of fruity bitterness

they bring to the chocolate

Icelandic beer in particular influenced

today’s recipe.

“One of our favourite beers in the

world, Borg Garún No. 19, is from

Iceland,” she says. “It’s really dark,

slightly chocolatey with liquorice

notes. It’s a great combination of

flavours and we love matching things

like that; not too much bitter, not too

much citrus. We once drank a whole

load of them when we were sitting

down at the harbour in Reykjavik, and

then tried to stand up to meet our

friends at the pub!”

The chocolates are finally set, and

it’s time for the moment of truth. Kirsty

deftly turns the tray out onto the

marble surface and we are rewarded

with a clatter of dark chocolate hitting

the stone. The results are stunning to

look at: perfect domes of shiny dark

chocolate, laced with constellations of

sparkling green and swirling nebulae

of gold leaf.

Kirsty and Edda are about more

than the visuals though, and encourage

us to tuck in. Biting down through the

snap of the shell, onto the crystalline

crunch of the breadcrumbs and the

soft pillow of caramel unleashes a

barrage of complementary flavours:

buttery sweetness is shot through by

bitter fruit and the toasty malt of the

rye bread and, like a thread though it

all, comes the unmistakable citrus tang

of the US Cascade.

“We’ll definitely experiment with

hops again,” says Edda, rightly pleased

with how the chocolates have turned

out. “We really like the unusual quality

of fruity bitterness they bring to the

chocolate. It’s something really unusual

that no-one else is really doing. We’ve

got some of the infused chocolate

left over, so at some point will do

something different with that and test

it on the locals. It could turn into a

whole thing!”

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FERMENT MAGAZINE 27


MODERN

ight, that’s it. I’m quitting social

media. I just had a look and

there is nothing there aside

from nonsense, football and sexual

predators. I’m serious. I’m doing it

now, watch. See, Facebook, gone,

forever. Kind of. I’ve deleted the app

anyway and Instagram, an app so up

its own arse that pretty soon it’ll just

be posting pictures of itself doing

yoga poses and sitting on a crowded

beach in Benidorm that looks like an

empty beach in the Caribbean thanks

to a handy filter and some millennial

level cropping skills! *Takes breath*.

And I’m not the only one. I

overheard a conversation between

two blokes in their 50s the other

day who have clocked onto to the

fact that generally speaking, social

networks are full of heavily filtered

fakery that no one should take

seriously. Their chat had a somber

undertone. The observation was

sparked by news of a 16 year old boy

who had taken his own life by jumping

off a cliff on the island of Portland.

As one of the chaps rightly pointed

out “when I was 16 all I cared about

was getting my end wet”. Granted, he

could have been more eloquent, but

his point was valid. We shouldn’t be

living in a world where 16 year old kids

are taking their own life.

That tragic story had far more

going on than simply a youngster

getting depressed because of

Facebook, but I suspect social media

played a part in the state of his mental

health. Even if it didn’t or there is no

proof that it did, the fact that two

men in their 50s, a generation nonnative

to the social media uprising,

acknowledged the potential impact

of social networks on mental health,

was in itself, telling.

We’ve all experienced it in small

doses. We can feel ourselves

bubbling up with jealousy when we

see our friends riding wild horses

in Iceland (*See Ferment Issue 17

“FOMO”) and for a long time we’ve

known that something isn’t quite

right. Why do we feel this way?

Who’s making us feel this way? Is this

a problem? In short, yes. Yes, it is.

Every year since 2009 social media

mogul and flip flop wearer Mark

Suckerberg (they spell it with a “z”

in the states”) sets himself a new

year’s resolution. Previous years have

included billionaire bollocks like

wearing a tie every day and visiting

every state in, you guessed it, the

States. YAWN! This year, however, he

has decided that he’s going to, once

and for all, “fix facebook” – proof, for

me at least, that it is and has been for

a long time, broken.

In his post, he says “The world

feels anxious and divided”. No shit.

He goes on to say that these issues

cover “history, civics, political

philosophy, media, government,

and of course technology”. He’s

aware that there is a problem,

that people are noticing something

isn’t quite right and that they are not

all feeling like they used to. Despite

this, it’s a weak admission. He should

be saying “look, we fucked up. We

preyed on the weakness of the

human psyche for profit and for that,

we are sorry. We’re gonna delete it

but you can keep your photos.”

There is no doubt that Facebook

and other social networks can be

used as a force for good, but don’t

you ever think that life would be so

much better without it? More full and

focused than spread out and weak?

I can almost remember life without

it, but only almost. My brain’s ability

to remember stuff has gone to shit in

recent years, I think in part thanks to

social media.

Thankfully Netflix has just released

the entire collection of “Friends”

and, regardless of what you think of

it as a sitcom, it’s a gentle reminder

of just how much our lives had

changed in a very short space of

time indeed. They use landlines, call

up and meet their friends and

take photos with a camera,

stuff that not too long ago,

we were all doing. Sure, it’s

a scripted sitcom but some of the

way they live in that show is how I

remember living, a few close friends

who I saw all of the time, who I

invested all my energy into and who

I would do anything for. Now I have a

billion friends who I never see apart

from through a screen, and there’s

something not quite right about that.

If they were to make Friends now

it would be a completely different

show, and It’d probably be called

“Acquaintances”. Joey would be

a serial dick pic sender, Rachel

addicted to selfies, Phoebe would

be a “clicktivist” and Monica and

Chandler would have never hooked

up because Chandler would have

discovered Tinder. Oh, and seeing

Rachel having such an amazing

time with other people through her

Instagram feed, Ross would have felt

completely undeserving of her love

and would have killed himself.

So, for now at least, I’m gonna

live like “Friends”. Well, until

Zuckerberg finds a fix that is.

28 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 29


Matt Curtis dissects

the current trend for

collaboration, and asks what

makes a successful marriage

ack in 2008, New York City’s Brooklyn

Brewery produced what would

eventually be regarded as a landmark

beer in collaboration with Munich’s G.

Schneider & Sohn. The Bavarian brewery

is, of course, best known for its Schneider

Weisse brand and this union would place an

altogether more modern twist on its classic

weissebier. The influence of Brooklyn’s

ebullient brewmaster Garrett Oliver would

bring a very American twist to the resulting

beer, in the form of liberally added North

American hops. The resulting Hopfenweisse

was considered by many to be one of the first

modern examples of the now commonplace

collaboration beer.

What Brooklyn and Schneider unwittingly

did was set a precedent for what would

become one of the fundamental values

within modern brewing culture. Brewers from

what were essentially rival businesses had

occasionally worked together on a recipe,

but until this point it was unusual to take

advantage of such camaraderie and use it to

promote both brands. In 2017, collaboration

beers rank among the most highly rated and

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DEBATE: TWO HEADS

sought after, with a seemingly endless

flood of them hitting the market on

what feels like an almost daily basis.

Over the past decade, brewers have

used collaborations as an opportunity

to share knowledge and glean

experience from one another. Many

of those that have entered the beer

industry during this time have come

from amateur brewing backgrounds,

without any formal brewing

qualifications. Working together is a

golden opportunity to learn, but it also

has several other advantages, such as

seeing your brand appear in different

markets, which in turn helps your

business to grow.

Consumers are now desperate to get

their hands on the latest collaboration

beers. These are often a partnership

between a hyped-national brewery and

one from overseas, whose beer doesn’t

ever touch these shores. The influx of

American brewers visiting the recent

Beavertown Extravaganza beer festival

spawned countless collaborations,

as an example. However, at what

point does the consumer eventually

tire of these endless releases? With

what feels like a never-ending stream

of collaboration beers flooding the

market, some consumers may be

beginning to feel a little fatigued.

STOP, COLLABORATE AND LISTEN

For Bristol-based brewery Wiper

& True, collaborations have been

an effective vehicle for engaging

with both consumers and industry

peers. Co-founder Michael Wiper

sees this kind of activity within the

modern beer industry as “flying in

the face of conventional business

thinking”. It’s a good point too, as

beer feels very different to a lot of

other niche industries, inspiring not

only collaboration between peers but

fierce loyalty from consumers that

could be described more accurately

as fans. This behaviour mirrors that

of the independent music industry

a few decades ago, when artists and

labels would routinely collaborate on

material. Just look at David Bowie, Lou

Reed and Iggy Pop’s “Berlin period” as

an example.

“[Collaborations] are responsible

for elevating the quality of beer being

produced and progressing our craft

through seeing what we do every day

via a different perspective,” Wiper

says. “Sharing ideas and experiences

is the best way to learn and grow as

a brewer… it’s almost impossible to

separate the benefits to industry and

consumer.”

Wiper came into the beer industry

like many others who’ve entered the

fray over the past decade, from a home

brewing background.

The support and generosity

of established brewers with their

knowledge and time has got us to

where we are today,” Wiper continues.

Brewing collaboratively with another

brewery, or indeed anyone outside of

the brewing industry – with a different

perspective on flavour or a different

passion that inspires us – is challenging,

rewarding and has progressed us in

our journey.”

For some brewers, the art of

collaboration can have a deeper

meaning than simply brewing together,

and learning from the experience.

With hundreds of specialist beer

festivals happening all over the world,

many brewers spend much of the year

on the road. This gives the brewers

an excellent opportunity to explore

international markets. And what better

way to do that than to brew a beer with

friends within that market.

Sometimes it’s about more than just

brewing a beer though. Spending a

lot of time on the road can be a lonely

existence, which is perhaps why some

of the strongest relationships within

the beer industry are forged through

collaboration. A fine example of this

is the relationship between Denmark’s

Dry & Bitter and Manchester’s

Cloudwater, as the latter’s co-founder

Paul Jones explains.

“Collaborations give us a chance to

showcase the closeness we love with

friends in the industry through working

relationships and overlap in tastes,” he

says. “We’ve worked with Søren at Dry

& Bitter a few times now, and see him

many times a year. It’s always great to

have the chance to hang out, talk over

a recipe and production process, and

put both our names on a beer we’re

both proud of.”

The duo’s most recent collaboration

was a Double IPA called Mobile

Speaker, which references a little

in-joke between the two friends.

Collaborations are a

chance to get together

with people we like and

whose beer we admire.

Both enjoy carrying a little Bluetooth

speaker around with them on

bar crawls, keeping the party

atmosphere flowing between venues.

It demonstrates something happening

in this partnership that’s greater than

simply beer – and lets the consumer in

on the fun too.

“Collaborations are a chance to

get together with people we like and

whose beer we admire,” Dry & Bitter

founder Søren Parker Wagner explains.

The idea is often to do something

that we, as brewers, really want to

do and get to learn from each other’s

way of working. This way we both get

something professionally out of it,

while at the same time we get to hang

with friends that we really like.”

“I love the opportunity to show a

different side to the industry,” Jones

adds. “Most of the time we keep a

face of professionalism and focus

here at Cloudwater, when behind the

scenes we have a great deal of fun and

occasionally party pretty hard too.”

32 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 33


DEBATE: TWO HEADS

BORED TO DEATH

So far we’ve looked at what brewers

get out of collaborations but haven’t

explored what consumers get out of it

for themselves. It’s all well and good a

brewer gushing about a shared learning

experience and getting to party with

friends from the other side of the

world, but how does this experience

translate to their customers? Many

folks can’t get enough of the latest

collaboration beers, especially

when a brewer from overseas that

doesn’t distribute over here comes

to brew with a popular UK brewery.

Cloudwater’s collaborations with Other

Half and The Veil, from New York and

Virginia respectively, plus

Beavertown’s with Boston’s Trillium are

examples of this.

However, it can be tough for

consumers to keep up with what, at

times, feels like an unrelenting tide of

one-off, limited edition beers. Is the

market becoming oversaturated with

collaborations and will this in turn

have the knock-on effect of turning

the consumer off them? Consultant

and beer sommelier Robert Parker

of Beer & Brew isn’t convinced that

collaborations will stay the course.

“I see collaborations as something

that typify a scene that is trendobsessed,

ripe for a backlash,

and grabbing at ideas to maintain

momentum,” he says. “‘Beer geeks’

might love it, I find it exhausting and a

real turn off.”

Parker continues: “Small breweries

need every foothold to make the

smallest dent, and collaborations are

one such foothold. The industry isn’t

a big love-in where everyone’s looking

to help you out; it’s hugely competitive.

But, if you are making brilliant beer,

The industry isn’t a big

love-in where everyone’s

looking to help you out;

it’s hugely competitive.

a collaboration is an amazing tool

for reaching a wider audience and

prominence in an overcrowded

marketplace.”

Parker makes a salient point; that

craft brewers may be collaborating to

maintain the kind of relevance that

keeps you at the top of the pile. Craft

beer in the UK is incredibly trenddriven,

with even the most fussedover

breweries not immune from

being shoved through the revolving

door by fans when the next big thing

comes along. However, looking a little

deeper, I think that overall there is

something genuine in the camaraderie

of collaboration, and consumers will

continue to get a buzz out of drinking

these beers for a while yet.

PLANTING ROOTS

For some start-up breweries,

collaborations are an obvious way

of gaining a foothold in a busy beer

market. Although Beer Sommelier

Robert Parker may have described

it as overcrowded and despite there

being significantly more competition

than there was a decade ago, I still

feel positively about the amount of

opportunity the UK beer market

has for newcomers. Although, more

often these opportunities need to

be created, as opposed to just being

expected.

Miranda Hudson and Derek Bates

plan to open Duration Brewing in

Norfolk next year. However, before

they’ve even broken ground at their

site they’ve been busy producing as

many collaborations as possible in

order to establish a name for their

brand.

“Collaborations have helped us

reach new audiences and build

brand recognition,” Hudson says. “We

decided early on that we were going

to share our journey and invite people

to be part of Duration as it’s built, so

having a product helps make what we

are doing more tangible”

Bates was already a relatively wellknown

figure within the UK brewing

industry before he and Hudson

began establishing their business.

He’s perhaps best known for his stint

as head brewer at Brew by Numbers

in London and has so far had the

opportunity to collaborate with Brixton

Brewery, Left Handed Giant in Bristol

and Cloudwater. Hudson jokes that

collaborations are a way to prevent

Bates from becoming rusty before they

open their brewery in 2018, but there’s

a more serious side to it too, as he

elaborates.

“People weigh in on spurious

collaborations that have no knowledge

exchange and, thankfully, we’ve only

had encouragement about releasing

pre-launch beers so far,” he says.

For me a collaboration beer should

bring a new offering and everyone

should get something from it. We stay

involved beyond the brew day through

fermentation, packaging and the

release of the end product, working

with breweries’ artwork and events

team to stay collaborating for the

whole ride.”

It remains to be seen if collaborations

will remain as in vogue as they are now.

The buzz around certain breweries will

always ebb and flow, and new players

will be keen to follow the example

set by those currently seeing the

most success. But as the beer market

matures on both the industry and

consumer side, I predict they may

lose some of their sheen. Breweries

will expand and invest in themselves,

while consumers will gradually settle

into habits and perhaps not invest as

much time chasing limited releases.

This, in turn, will make them less

viable for the breweries that choose to

produce them.

For now though, collaborations are

here to stay and, as Duration’s Derek

Bates points out, there’s still plenty of

fun to be taken from them by brewers

and drinkers alike.

“Just like with chefs or musicians, I

think collaborations happen because

ultimately they’re fun and a way to

progress in your craft,” he concludes.

“Saturation happens when something

ceases to push forward and iterations

of the same thing become dull. If beer

collaborations continue to evolve and

change to stay relevant then demand

for them will also remain.”

34 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 35


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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.

36 FERMENT MAGAZINE

Not a Beer52 member?

Join our club at Beer52.com

FERMENT MAGAZINE 37


’m sitting on a tree stump, having

skipped breakfast, wearing skinny

jeans and no midge repellent,

with a rucksack full of beer in a

primeval-looking forest. “When you’re in

a survival situation – maybe your car has

broken down in the highlands, or you

find yourself cut off by the weather – the

first thing you’ll want to do is sit down,

take a deep breath, and take stock of

your options and resources,” says my

infinitely more prepared companion for

the day, Primal Bushcraft & Survival’s

Paul McCusker. Clearly, this is not what I

want to hear.

Fortunately, Paul and his colleague

Laura have brought enough survival

puts down his manbag,

leaves the aeropress at home and goes on a beerinspired

wilderness adventure

toys (and knowledge, of course) to keep

even the softest, most metropolitan

beer writer warm and dry should society

suddenly collapse. Personally, I’m here

raise my outdoor game a little – on the

basis that beer tastes best after a long

hike with a tent on your back – and

to find some wild ingredients for our

summer office brew.

“We always talk about the ‘rule of

three’ when it comes to sorting your

priorities,” continues Paul. “In extreme

conditions, you can generally survive a

minimum of three hours before things

like hypothermia get you. Then you can

survive for three days without water and

food, though it will become increasingly

difficult to function over that time. Then

you can survive three months cut off

from the rest of the world – if you’re

completely isolated for longer than

that, your mental state can begin to

deteriorate seriously.”

In many circumstances then, the first

thing you will need to think about is

finding shelter, probably constructing

something with whatever you have

around you. While there are several

basic designs to choose from, we decide

to go for a classic A-frame shelter, which

should give us plenty of protection from

the elements and take the three of us

about 30 minutes to put together.

First task is finding three fallen

branches to make our basic frame:

one long and straight, and two shorter,

ending in forks. These three branches

lock together with the long, straight

limb (trimmed of any spikey bits)

forming a central spine from the apex

down to the ground. Once this is up,

we gather shorter fallen branches to

form regular ribs down the sides of

the frame, layer these with thin sticks

and bracken, and then pile leaf brush

on top to a depth of about a foot. This

last stage takes forever, but does result

in something that looks remarkably

competent and is, I’m assured, pretty

rain-proof.

Awash with accomplishment, I crack

open a round of beers from last month’s

South Africa box. I get the sense this

isn’t what usually happens during Paul

and Laura’s survival workshops, but they

have the good grace not to let me drink

alone, and we sink a cold one sitting in

the mouth of our temporary home.

Next up, we move to another part of

the forest, to go through some knife

and fire-lighting skills. During the walk,

we talk foraging, and Paul recommends

a classic nettle beer for the office, as

it’s the perfect time of year to harvest

nettles and they’re all around us. I

agree. He and Laura go on to guide me

through some of the other edible plants

we encounter on our way, including

Sticky Willy (delicious – who knew?) and

wild mustard garlic, with its beautiful

flowers and pungent leaves. Laura

becomes a bit locked onto the idea of

finding something called Pig Nut – a

delicate white flower with a macadamiaflavoured

rhizome just below the

surface of the soil – but despite much

digging, we never find one.

Eventually reaching a clearing with

several felled logs for seats, Paul shows

me a few very basic knife techniques

and some general rules for staying safe

(see box out) and we set to work making

temporary tent pegs as practice. We

have the land-owner’s permission to be

here, and to thin out the long, straight

sycamore saplings all around us, so we

identify a plant that Paul says will never

become a tree and start sawing.

“You wouldn’t normally do this unless

you had permission,” explains Paul.

“You certainly couldn’t just go to a

national park and start sawing down

38 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 39


BEER GRYLLS

Working with

sharp stuff

I’m so uncoordinated that my primary

school had me sent for tests, but I still

managed to spend the day chopping and

whittling without bloodshed, thanks to

these handy rules:

saplings to use. Bushcraft has got a

bit of a bad name recently, because

people go out and try to replicate what

they’ve seen on TV, cutting things down

without understanding their impact and

making a real mess. A key part of good

bushcraft is conservation and leaving

nothing behind.”

Having ‘mastered’ the cuts required

to make a basic tent peg, it’s time for

lunch. And for lunch, we need fire.

Paul and Laura have brought along a

selection of fire-starting tricks and tips,

ranging from the relatively modern

through to the Neolithic, and we’re

going to try them all. First up, we have

cotton wool with a dab of Vaseline, and

a modern fire stick (basically an easy-touse

update of the classic flint and steel).

A couple of sparks is all it takes to send

the fluffy ball into a jolly but short-lived

flame; a fluffed up tampon daubed with

chapstick apparently works just as well

in a pinch.

Next we use a ‘fat stick’: a short piece

of wood saturated in pine resin. We

only need a few scraped shavings and

another spark to get a small flame from

this. Moving onto a traditional flint and

steel (or quartz and steel – flint doesn’t

really get to Scotland), I’m shown how

a piece of char cloth can be laid on top

of the stone and – with patience – catch

a spark to smoulder slowly. Finally, and

most demandingly, Paul demonstrates

the iconic ‘bow drill’ in which a wooden

spindle is spun using a long bow, on

top of a flat piece of wood until the

hot sawdust fuses and creates a fragile

ember. I am entirely hopeless at this

one, but Paul reassures me it takes

hours of frustrating practice to master.

With all of these techniques except

for the conveniently flammable cotton

wool, the tiny orange ball of heat

created must be coaxed into a more

impressive flame through several

stages. We use dried grass as our tinder,

making a round nest in which the ember

is enclosed and repeatedly blown upon

until the whole bundle erupts into flame.

Onto this we gradually add kindling:

thin, dry twigs which burn quickly and

will sustain the fire once the dried grass

begins to fade. If the ground is wet and

you can’t find any dried twigs, take a

wrist-thick piece of dead standing wood

(so, away from the damp ground), split it

with a hand axe and gently shave layers

of its dry interior into long, curly fronds

– this makes amazing kindling.

We gradually build up the fire

with larger pieces of wood until it’s

contained but burning well, and ready

for some chorizo and tomato kebabs.

Paul assures me these are the very best

things to eat off a camp fire, and to be

honest I’m not sure I’d argue with that.

Paired with a mug of instant soup and

another South African beer, the kebabs

leave us fortified and ready to set out

again, but not before tidying the site

and making it safe.

“It’s very important to put fires out

properly before leaving, even if they

look dead,” says Paul. “Douse them

with a lot of water so there’s no chance

they could start up again and burn out

of control. The only way to be sure is

by running your hand through the wet

ashes, which should then be picked up

and scattered, and kick scrub back over

the fire site. We don’t want someone else

coming through and thinking this is an

established place for lighting fires – they

might not know what they’re doing.”

Thankfully, Paul and Laura have

brought a spare pair of thick gloves,

which makes the nettle-top harvesting a

lot easier, and we quickly amass a good

crop for our brew. On the way back, we

chat about life, nature, and the other wild

herbs and funguses we could potentially

use to flavour beers throughout the

year. As Laura had remarked earlier,

there’s something about this sort of

environment and activity which brings

out the best in people, and I honestly

can’t remember the last time I felt so

relaxed (not to mention the sense of

achievement that comes with starting

a fire with a knife and some rocks). No

wonder beer and the great outdoors

go so very well together.

1. When working with a blade, don’t

open it until you’re ready to use it,

and close it as soon as you’re finished.

2. Sit or stand in a stable stance.

Crouching on the balls of your feet

is a great way to end up with a knife

in one eye and a pointy stick in the

other. Not a strong look.

3. Always work away from your body,

and consider where the blade

would end up if it slipped. There are

recommended ways of holding the

knife and the item you’re working on –

Google it, or better yet take a course.

4. Make sure there’s nobody else

within stabbing distance. The reach

of your knife arm is known (rather

theatrically) as your ‘blood bubble’. If

someone strays too close, tell them to

get out of your Grylls.

Than ks guys

Our sincere thanks to Primal Bushcraft &

Survival – particularly Paul, Laura and Matt –

for their generous help. The guys run courses

ranging from basic day skills, through to

overnight survival adventures and luxury island

hopping experiences. If you were interested

enough to read this feature, we’d strongly

recommend visiting primalbushcraftsurvival.

com to find out more.

40 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 41


(DON'T FEAR)

LAMBIC

AD

Lambic

is one of the most revered

styles in the world; even its name

is a protected appellation, like

Champagne or Sherry, which can only

be brewed in a specific area

around Brussels. It’s a hypertraditional,

wild fermented

style, characterised by a sour,

funky nose, acidic palate and

many complimentary layers of

complexity.

Purely in beer terms, it’s

strange stuff. Up to 80% of

the mash bill is made up of

unmalted wheat, yielding

a protein-rich wort, while

the hops should ideally

be several years old so

that they have lost the

majority of their aroma

and bitterness (they’re

really in the mix to ward

off unwanted bacteria).

Obviously though, the real magic

of Lambic comes in its spontaneous

fermentation, achieved by exposing

the wort to the various airborne

microorganisms in the environment.

After E. Coli has consumed

the small amount of glucose in

the wort, Saccharomyces yeast

comes in for the hard work of

fermentation. A long period in

wood then allows Brettanomyces,

Pediococcus and even sherry

yeast to infect, souring and

maturing the beer with

increasingly complex layers of

charcter.

While spontaneously

fermented sour beers are

also brewed elsewhere,

lambic’s reliance on local

microfauna ensures it

remains quite unique in the

beer world.

WORDS: Mark Dredge

This is about New England IPAs.

Those beers which look and taste

like boozy juice. Smooth, cloudy,

sometimes strong, always fruity, and

the must-brew thing in craft beer right

now.

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

stop buying them. But I hate myself for

ordering them, for not being able to not

order them, for the constant thought

that ‘maybe this next one will be great,’

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

be stuck on the tropical gravy train and

I can’t get off.

I’ve chased after the freshest ones.

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

my way and out of my budget to get

them. I’ve been around New England

and around too many old English

industrial estates. I’ve sought out the

local ones and the latest releases. I’ve

had them as fresh as possible. I’ve had

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

too many drain pours that I couldn’t

finish. Raw alcohol. Hop soup. Soapy

and sickly. Unbalanced, unrefreshing

and underwhelming. ‘Troubled by Trub’

is the title of this chapter of my beer

life.

Those drain pours? Some were only

a week old. A week old?! Drink them

fresh, I thought. Turns out that was too

fresh. Unbelievable, really. All those

fruity, flowery hops hadn’t ripened

yet, hadn’t budded, hadn’t bloomin’

bloomed. Are we at a place where we

need to sell beer to ripen at home? Buy

it and drink it as fresh as possible, they

say, just not too fresh.

But how do you know when they’re

fresh enough? When they’ve hit their

best freshness? What if it was better

yesterday, or what if I’d have waited

another day or week or month? Or

what if it never even gets fresh? I see

these beers on Instagram, see the

glasses of thick orange and I think

they look amazing, I think they look

like a very particular juicy taste and

texture, a taste and texture which

42 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 43


(DON'T FEAR) THE NEIPA

Are we at a place where

we need to sell beer to

ripen at home?

I can vicariously taste. I see the hyperbole,

the Insta excitement, the “damn this juice

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

because most of mine don’t taste how I think

they should. Maybe I need to pour the beer to

the top of the glass without any foam to taste

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

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

and are just jumping on the hazy hype wagon

and loving it by default. How are we all meant

to know what’s right anymore?

That finite freshness thing with NE IPAs is

the complete opposite of where IPAs began.

India Pale Ale was robust. A Victorian liquid

of industrial grandeur that was built to last –

built to improve. It was so robust that it had

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

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

twice, through waves and wild temperature

extremes, as months passed before it was

bottled on arrival and sent to the Generals.

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

speaking) from Burton-on-Trent.

That was a very different beer, of course,

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

great appeal is how it’s been evolving for

three centuries, but these NE IPAs feel like a

novelty devolution.

Originally robust then more recently IPA

was a brutal alpha acid attack brewed to the

extremities of tanks and tastebuds. Palate

Wrecker. Hopocalypse. Hop Venom. Hardcore.

Ruination. It was an ever-upward trajectory of

angry bitterness. I Beat U with hops.

Now the beers are called lovely names like

Chubbles, Juicy Bits, Comfy Pants, Covered in

Puppies. IPA has got somehow wimpier, softer,

gentler, yet also fearsomely stronger. Most of

these beers are being laced into the eights for

ABV. Many are going higher. And as the ABV

goes up, the bitterness is going the other way.

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

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

smoothied into a glass of beer. Love it. And

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

juice again and again: the aroma and the hope

that the abundant fruitiness will be freshly

squeezed through the brew.

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

unstable and delicate for such a mighty

beer, meaning one day it could be there

and another it might be gone. And it comes

with another issue: the aroma is often hiding

things. Bad things. Especially so in the bad

brews with the tell-tale signs of immaturity,

like butter, solventy alcohol

and unwelcome esters. Those

Chubbles Chaser copies of NE

IPAs have approximated the best

ones, have shot for smoothness

but got into a sticky mess; they’re

murky with yeast, doughy with

sweetness, chewy with plant

matter, they’ve gone savoury

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

of a tropical fruit smoothie.

And we’re now chasing a new brew every

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

drinker with the FOMO and on the shops and

bars trying to get the freshest beers and the

latest releases. It’s impossible to keep up with

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

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

Or the ones sold as a pair where you have to

try both (at £15 including packing, postage

and posturing). Or the superstar brewers

collabing to all brew variations on the exact

same beers. The need to catch them all is

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

Untappd generation, a double-tap for the

InstaBeer Hunters.

I understand it all, and I get the new brew

enthusiasm, but I find it hard to reconcile

it with any kind of sensible, sustainable

behaviour in a maturing beer industry.

Simultaneously I find it exciting that there’s

great interest in beer like this. It might be a

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

kind of beer, a style that’s converting

drinkers over to beer. The obviousness of

the flavours, the fullness in the texture, the

smoothness, the hidden wallop of booze, the

way they look like juice and don’t taste like

beer-flavoured beer; it’s somehow now more

accessible than a bitter, bright pale ale.

I do love the best IPAs of New England.

The beautiful balance and impact of the

beers from Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist,

Maine Beer Co, Bissell Bros, and more, can

be remarkably good. But I

hate how those great ones

have been trend-chased into

undrinkable wannabees,

souped into buttery haze

gravy, which many drinkers

seemingly love without

questioning why.

And I still can’t stop

drinking them myself. I’m drinking one right

now, for goodness sake. I’ve got three in my

fridge. I’m angry at myself for love-hating

them. But I know there are exceptional

versions because I’ve had them. And when

they’re good they’re oh-my-god-that’s-sodamn-good

good and I want to drink them

forever. Fresh, vibrant and tangy like tropical

fruit, they’re smooth, soft and satisfying with

a fullness that plumps the juiciness before a

refreshing finish. That’s the beer I crave after.

That’s what I imagine whenever I see photos

of these beers. Maybe I’ll never get a beer

that tastes how I imagine it will or how I hope

it might. Maybe its elusiveness is what makes

me go back for more and more. Maybe the

next one will be amazing.

It’s impossible to keep

up with all the DDH

DIPA-ing going on.

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Some like it hot

Langoustines

with black garlic & tarragon

Place the langoustines on a hot barbecue and cook

for approximately 10 minutes. Slice them in half

lengthways, add a squeeze of lemon and some olive

oil, season. Add a sprinkle of fresh tarragon, parsley

and chives and some black garlic. Serve immediately.


Blackened pepper salad

with pickled chive flowers

For the pickled chive flowers:

Place a bunch of chive flowers into a

glass jar and cover with white wine

vinegar. Keep in the fridge for

48 hours before using.

For the peppers:

Place the whole peppers straight into the hot

charcoal and ‘blacken’ completely until soft.

Remove the skin and slice into thin strips.

Arrange the strips into a dish and top with olive oil

and a touch of the vinegar from the chive flowers,

and some salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the small petals from the chive flowers and

garnish the peppers with a few springs of the chives.


Grilled pineapple

with chocolate ice cream

Cut the pineapple lengthways and grill

for five minutes on each side. Serve with

chocolate ice cream.


The power of the

THUMB

Useful channel for feedback, or tool of tyrannical mob

rule? Katie Taylor asks how Untappd and other social

review platforms are shaping the craft beer movement.

From behind a bar, Untappers can be

spotted a mile off. Even the subtle ones.

They’re taking a photo of their beer in

front of the corresponding pump clip, half

listening to their friends while they give a

good beer 3.8/5 because they like it, but

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

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

we can get, especially if it involves beer. A

moment’s distracted tip-tapping is worth it,

if it brings a smile to their eager little faces.

Turn on your WiFi and let them do it.

Having said that, like all social platforms,

there’s been a lot of speculation about

potential dark sides to the app, and of rating

and reviewing beers on social media in

general. For many, the quest of finding hyped

beers and rating them, whether on Untappd

or via Instagram, Twitter or a thousand other

virtual mouthpieces, is proving a curse rather

than a blessing. The “gamification” of drinking

has been discussed, with drinkers expressing

concerns that good beers are being ignored

in the pursuit of inferior limited edition brews

by insatiable hypebeasts. There has also

been talk around venues using Untappd to

choose beers that are more popular in order

to attract customers, especially in competitive

locations.

Untappd has an estimated seven million

users worldwide, with around 200,000 of its

active users based in the UK according to cofounder

Greg Avola. With this many people

logging into the app at least once a week to

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

available customer feedback. Just think,

some of it might even be valuable.

Due to all the free, accessible customer

opinion sitting there waiting to be read,

online reviews have developed a secondary

use. By tagging a brewery, drinkers are letting

brewers know exactly what they think of

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

possible then – probably even – to assume

that some brewers have taken some of this

information and used the feedback to their

advantage.

“We do look at Untappd ‘reviews’ from

time to time, but don’t

pay much attention,”

said Chris Clough from

Torrside Brewing, sharing

an opinion that many small

brewers have of the app. “You

never know when someone’s had

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

of the evening, their opinion might not be

entirely reliable… I suppose if something

got a really low score across the board, we

probably wouldn’t bother rebrewing it.”

And here it starts. Making the call to

rebrew a beer based on instant feedback

might seem like a small decision, but it

proves a level of reactiveness and customer

interaction within the industry that hasn’t

really been discussed before.

Moorhouse’s director Lee Williams said

that his brewery had taken a more definite

approach to rebrewing reactively. “Our

White Witch started as a seasonal ale which

grew to become a four-month special before

eventually becoming one of our core range.

We listened

to the consumer

and publicans to make

this decision. In regards to

Untappd/social reviews... more

recently we had feedback for our M1

Pilot Brewery beers which led to Penhul and

Sabbath Flight becoming big-batch brews.”

Michelle Gay, marketing manager at

Hawkshead Brewery believes Untappd can

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

brewery’s feedback priority list. “Of course

we listen to comments from social sites and

rating apps, and also our trade customers too.

You can often find us sat round discussing

new styles, ingredients or beers we’d

like to brew. We are very influenced by

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THE POWER OF THE THUMB

current and upcoming trends, not only in the

beer world but the food world too.”

However some breweries are taking

the feedback they find online much more

seriously. Dan Logan, director at Eyes Brewing

finds the process a bit of a double-edged

sword.

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

he said. “If people are digging a certain style

of beer then it makes it easier for me to keep

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

nice to hear a dismissive view of what you are

creating. That being said, there have been

beers that have deserved to be criticised

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

listen. One of our beers, “Deconstructed Jaffa

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

became pretty evident as we saw the reviews

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

but it didn’t deliver enough of what people

were expecting from the name. We learnt a

lot from that.”

The most interesting point Dan makes

here is that not only does a customer review

potentially affect the brewing of a beer,

but also the marketing of it. Deconstructed

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

highlighted by real drinkers in real pubs and

were then beamed straight back to the people

who made it. As a result, Eyes Brewing have

taken a different approach to the way they

present their beers to the public. As we say

on the internet: make you think.

North Brewing Co.’s communications and

events manager Sarah Hardy maintains that

although they do read Untappd reviews,

it doesn’t influence their choices on new

beers they brew. However, she did mention

one reaction they had to feedback gained

specifically from online reviews: “We have

rebrewed beers, most recently Kurious Oranj,

after seeing that they’ve gone down so well.

It was both customer feedback and trade

feedback that made us rebrew. The first batch

sold out on pre-order which meant that not

everyone was able to get their hands on it.”

As for negative reviews, Sarah says the

brewery as a whole isn’t too concerned.

“When we get bad reviews on Untappd it

does bother us, but we also feel that we can

stand 100 per cent behind the products, so

try not to get too caught up with them.”

Not all negative reviews can be ignored,

though. One unexpected side-effect of

instant reviewing comes from the personal

nature of the product being scrutinised. Most

Untappd users might never assume their

rating was being looked at by the people

they’re discussing, but on the internet, you

should never underestimate the range of your

audience.

Eyes Brewing’s Dan explains why the whole

team doesn’t read the reviews: “Our head

brewer used to look at [Untappd] but one

bad review out of twenty good ones would

ruin his weekend. I try and put my own spin

on the criticism in a way that is helpful to his

brewing process.”

Behind the curtain, social media reviews

are incrementally changing the beers that

reach us at the bar. It would seem that the

YOU SHOULD NEVER

UNDERESTIMATE THE

RANGE OF YOUR AUDIENCE

thousands of reviews and ratings posted each

day are making a small but noticeable impact,

no matter where they are posted. Reactive

brewing and marketing is happening, and

although the majority of brewers are careful

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

why negative comments could cause a team

to change a recipe, or even stop selling a

beer altogether. Conversely, seeing that

overwhelmingly good reviews have brought

beers back from special edition extinction,

the love/hate relationship between the

ruthless-but-faceless internet customer and

brewer can work in the industry’s favour.

It’s important to understand the impact

of customer feedback, but also to maintain

a healthy level of cynicism. Breweries like

Wishbone refreshingly have no time for it

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

recipes mostly on what we think about a

beer in the brewery rather than reacting to

social media,” head brewer and owner Adrian

Chapman says. And Neptune Brewery agrees:

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

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

O’Grady, who also founded the influential

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

brew the newest beers just because it’s a

trend.”

In fairness to both, when was the last time

a person left a review that wasn’t partly just

peacocking or airing a grievance? Taking

these insights with a pinch of salt isn’t just

wise, it’s absolutely necessary. By avoiding

them completely, maybe they’re enjoying a

parallel world where they can create beers at

will, maintaining a workable level of blissful,

beneficial ignorance. Sounds ideal.

Dan at Eyes Brewing has some sage words

to wrap up with. “When Untappd first came

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

the time to voice my ill-thought-through

criticisms. When I started in the industry I

became very aware of how hurtful an unfairly

dismissive review can be.”

“Something like Untappd could be used

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

useful for me if we could get useful data

that shows drinking habits in real time split

into demographics of age and region*. As it

is, it’s more of a force for bad. Breweries all

know that it’s a waste of time, yet most of

the people I know in the industry check it

regularly and compete with others on there.”

So the next time you reach for your phone

in the pub to broadcast your abject disgust,

remember that your words may be used

to influence a beer’s future. Is that

empowering, or is it scary? That’s for

your thumbs to decide.

*At the time of writing this

article, Untappd were unable

to offer live data, or

provide data to be split

into demographics

for use within

industry.

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James Beeson explores the surge in demand

for ‘free-from’ beers and the challenges their

production poses for brewers

or many years, beer was cursed

with the unfortunate and frankly

unwelcome stereotype of being

a drink exclusively for overweight,

middle-aged men with beards.

Thankfully, this archaic view is, for the

most part, history, with more women

and young people enjoying beer than

ever before.

However, until recently, little thought

appeared to have been given within

the beer community towards what one

might term ‘non-traditional’ drinkers.

Quality alcohol-free and gluten-free

beers were practically non-existent

and it appeared as though teetotalers,

coeliac and gluten-intolerant consumers

had no place in the world of beer.

But thanks in part to the

unstoppable rise of craft beer, along

with the growing trend towards

healthier food and drink choices, this

sector has exploded with options and

opportunities. According to statistics

published by Nielsen in August, UK

sales of low and non-alcoholic beers

increased by 17 per cent in the past

12 months, while market research firm

Mintel predicts the gluten-free beer

market will be worth £673m globally by

2020. What exactly is behind the surge

in demand for ‘free-from’ beers, how

good are the products themselves and

what challenges does their production

pose for brewers?

There have always been alcohol-free

beers available in the UK, and many a

designated driver will be familiar with

the names of Beck’s Blue and Erdinger

Alkoholfrei. The problem, however,

according to Johnny Clayton, Head

Brewer at Big Drop Brewing Co, was

that they just weren’t very good.

The demand for low alcohol and

alcohol-free beers has certainly been

there for a while, it’s just that the low

alcohol options were so limited that

nobody really bothered,” he says. “It

took the craft beer revolution and the

expansion of skills and demand that

came with that to actually get

people looking into it.”


CRY FREEDOM

The way we make low alcohol beer

is different from the larger commercial

guys, who will make a regular beer and

then remove the alcohol content. We

wanted to go about it a different way.

“We do all of our brewing at contract

brewers and they’ve all been really

surprised by the size of grain bills,

because although we’ve taken out

all of the fermentable sugars, we put

other stuff in to get the flavour and the

mouthfeel. We’re rewriting the rules, if

you like.”

Big Drop has certainly made an

impact on the low alcohol market since

being founded in August 2016. The

brewery’s range of beers have earned

praise from beer writer Pete Brown,

and its 0.5% Milk Stout was recently

awarded a silver medal at The World

Beer Awards, despite being judged up

against full-strength porters and stouts.

The stout gave us a lot of scope in

terms of what we could use – barley,

roasted malt etc – to get the flavours

More breweries seek to

respond to the demand for

lower abv products

really coming through,” Clayton adds.

“We tried to think about it not as

creating low-alcohol beer but in terms

of producing a great beer that just

happens to be 0.5%.”

One of the biggest challenges

facing low alcohol beer, aside from

its production, is the way in which

the style is categorised within the

UK drinks market. Big Drop, despite

being just 0.5% ABV, cannot be legally

referred to as alcohol-free, whereas

drinks such as Erdinger Alkoholfrei

can, as they are produced outside of

the UK and imported.

“In this country in order to be

considered alcohol free you have to be

below 0.05%, which you’d only ever get

to by using an extraction process,” says

Rob Fink, founder of Big Drop. “You

cannot brew naturally to that abv, you’d

have to use reverse osmosis, vacuum

extraction or heat it, which in my

opinion affects the flavour of the beer.

“We are currently working with a

group called Club Soda to lobby the

government to bring us in line with the

rest of the EU, because 0.5% is so low

as to be meaningless; the quantity you

would have to consume to be drunk or

over the limit is insane.”

With 20% of people in the UK now

claiming not to drink alcohol at all, the

alcohol-free market is likely to continue

to grow as more breweries seek to

respond to the demand for lower abv

products. The market for gluten-free

beers, however, is a slightly different

prospect.

While cutting alcohol from one’s

diet is primarily a choice made for

lifestyle reasons, drinking gluten-free

is a necessity for consumers with

coeliac disease or other intolerances

or allergies. Barley, one of beer’s

four main ingredients, contains the

gluten in sufficient quantities to make

sufferers ill or at the very least severely

uncomfortable.

The category of gluten-free beer

can be broadly split into two different

types, according to gluten-free beer

expert Sue Cane. “The market is

polarised between what is called

naturally gluten-free beer and glutenremoved

beer,” she says. “Essentially

the latter beer that is brewed with

low-gluten barley, or barley that has

been treated with Clarex (an enzyme

also used to prevent chill haze), so that

when it is tested it is gluten free. On

the other hand there are beers brewed

with gluten-free grains but that is quite

a small category.”

One of the breweries in this small

category is Autumn Brewing Co, which

produces a range of beers using grains

that are naturally free from gluten

such as quinoa and rice. Founder

Peter Briggs says that his own market

research proved there was a demand

for naturally gluten-free beers.

“A lot of brewers in the gluten-free

market will produce barley-based

products and then de-glutenise them,

which is fine, but there’s still very few

naturally gluten free products out

there,” he says. “There are people who

can’t drink the former due to allergies

to wheat barley or rye. Coeliacs

themselves will make the choice about

whether they are happy to drink

something that still contains barley, but

I think there is a growing preference for

more naturally gluten-free foodstuffs.”

One of the biggest challenges of

brewing a naturally gluten-free beer

is not knowing what the final product

will look or taste like, according to

Briggs. “We did about 50-odd trial

brews before we brought anything

to market,” he says. “We needed to

understand how the grains worked and

how we could break them down into

fermentable sugars. There were also

some concerns about the colour of the

beer because we weren’t sure if the

equivalent of rice was going to give us

the golden colour you get from barley.”

The rise of craft beer has

undoubtedly also played a role in

the increasing popularity of glutenfree

beer, with the use of Clarex

becoming almost common-practice

Pubs don’t really get

gluten-free beer; they

think it’s something weird

at many breweries. However, Cane

believes there remains a long way to

go, particularly within the on-trade.

The main problem is that pubs don’t

really get gluten-free beer; they think

it’s something weird and different,”

she says. “But the reality is that a lot

of pubs are probably selling bottled

beer that is gluten free without even

knowing about it.”

“I would really like to encourage

pubs to stock more gluten-free beers

because it’s really hard for coeliacs

when they go out, as the range is

absolutely tiny,” she continues.

There’s probably about 200 gluten

free beers available in the UK, but

in my experience there are about

three you find in pubs which is very

disappointing.”

One of the biggest issues is with

regards to draught and cask beer,

where even a slight contamination of

a line can wreak havoc with allergies.

“Unless you’re incredibly thorough with

your line cleaning you can’t guarantee

that a beer is not going to contain

traces of gluten in,” Cane points out.

“So my advice for now would be to

steer clear of draught unless it is on

a dedicated line such as Vagabond in

BrewDog’s bars.”

However, with more and more

breweries choosing to enter the freefrom

market, the range of low alcohol

and/or gluten-free beers available will

undoubtedly continue to improve, as

will the quality of the products on offer.

Much like craft beer itself, free-from

beer increasingly looks like it a

trend that is here to stay.

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THE BEER BUCKET LIST:

Mark Dredge’s six top ticks

ne day, a few years ago, I was thinking about

what I’d consider to be the most essential beer

things to experience anywhere in the world. It

included the most important old breweries and

the industry-changing new brewers, the greatest

bars and pubs, the unmissable festivals, the

must-visit cities; the unexpected, the unusual, the

unknown; the classics, the most famous, and the

best. I turned those thoughts into a book, which

is out soon. It’s called The Beer Bucket List.

Here are a few of my favourites and a few

suggestions for what I think are important ticks

on the Beer Bucket List.

THE BREWERY: The Mussel Inn,

Onekaka

So many to pick... Pilsner Urquell and their cellars.

Cantillon and their cellars. Rodenbach and their

cellars (I like cellars lined with wooden barrels, OK?).

But the one which is most unforgettable is The Mussel

Inn, in Onekaka, New Zealand. It was built, by hand, by

owners Andrew and Jane Dixon. Their pub is a singleroom

wooden hut, there’s a garden and veranda, a

fireplace for winter. They brew in the back, they live

just behind that (in a house they also built themselves),

they grow their own fruits, vegetables and hops,

and they’ve been doing this for over 25 years. Their

Captain Cooker Manuka Beer is a classic Kiwi craft

brew. It’s a singularly great and unique place.

THE BAR: In de Verzekering tegen de Grote

Dorst, near Brussels

I found my new favourite bar. It’s a glorious anomaly that

could only exist in idiosyncratic Belgium. It’s a bar that only

sells lambic and gueuze, plus a little Westvleteren for the

tourists. They have some draft lambics plus an extensive

cellar of vintage bottles. That’s enough to make them stand

out, but that’s the relatively normal part. What really makes it

special, or odd, is that it’s only open on Sundays from 10.30am

until 8pm (it used to be

1.30pm until recently).

The name translates as

In The Insurance Against

Great Thirst. Just hope

you don’t get thirsty on a

Tuesday as you’ve got a

long wait until they open.

THE UNEXPECTED: Margaret River’s High-

End Breweries

A few hours south of Perth is Margaret River, a wine growing

region in Western Australia. There are a lot of breweries in the

area and they are among the most impressive I’ve ever seen.

For example, every one of them has a lake. A lake! They all have

large outside spaces where people play catch and cricket or

just sit in the sun drinking. And everything is super high-end.

Look up Black Brewing Co. and you’ll see what the highest-end

of high-end brewing locations is like. Then look up Colonial and

Eagle Bay and you’ll see what I mean.

THE CITY: Asheville,

North Carolina

What’s the world’s greatest drinking

city? Prague is near the top for its mix of

classic lagers and modern craft beers. I

love Munich for the beer halls and beer

gardens. San Diego is great for beer but

everything is so far apart. For me, the

city that’s almost perfect is Asheville,

THE BEER: Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild

The Beer Bucket List is about the experience. I travel

for beer or beer is at the forefront of my travel plans.

Writing this took me on a world tour but a British

beer was one that grabbed me most powerfully. Sarah

Hughes Dark Ruby Mild at the brewery pub in the

Midlands was complex, rich and smooth with dried

fruits, dark fruits, cocoa, malt. I had three pints and

every mouthful was different and

interesting and exciting. I love

it when a beer somehow

becomes more than just a

refreshing, tasty liquid.

It was one of those rare

beers and moments that

made me think differently

about something, that

made me stop and

say wow. It made me

remember what it was that I

loved so much about beer.

North Carolina. There’s a load of great

breweries, great diversity in beers, and it’s

all in large venues in the centre of town

– you can visit over a dozen breweries

and never have to walk more than a few

minutes at a time. Wicked Weed were

my favourite, alongside Burial, plus New

Belgium, Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues

all have second sites nearby.

Mark Dredge’s new book,

The Beer Bucket List is

a beautifully presented

and entertaining guide to

over 150 must-see beer

experiences from around

the world. It’s available

now online and from all

good book shops.

THE EVENT: Annafest

Annafest takes place in the Franconian town of

Forchheim, upper Bavaria. Here breweries once dug

cool cellars in the hills above town to mature their beers

before selling the beer back in the town. One day, a smart

local realised that drinking them cool near the cellars was

better, and the green land above ground became gardens

to drink in. Now every July there’s a 10-day festival held

at what’s known as ‘the largest beer garden in the world’.

Several breweries take part and make a special Festbier

and you drink it by the litre. I’ve been to Forchheim and

the cellars but not Annafest. I’m going this year.

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WORDS: James Brown

In the world of craft beer we’re always

on the lookout for the latest and

greatest discoveries, whether it’s new

and emerging styles, brewing talent or

fresh releases from established players,

it’s an awesome feast of exploration.

So when the invitation came through

to attend the sixth annual Beer Geek

Madness Festival in Wrocław, Poland,

our initial thought was, “they have a

craft beer geek festival in Wrocław?...

why didn’t we know about this?... we

have to go” and so we quickly accepted

the invite and headed East.

We arrive in Wrocław, the largest city

in Western Poland to discover spring in

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

to play; a welcome break from the grey

and gusty weather we’d come from in

the UK.

The festival organisers had kindly

arranged a taxi to pick up us at the

airport, we meet our driver at arrivals

holding up the unmissable sign

displaying the enchanting words “Beer

Geek Madness”. Who wouldn’t want to

jump in that taxi?

Having limited knowledge of the

craft beer scene in the city, we’re free

from the weight of expectation (in a

good way) and full of curiosity as we

make the short 20-minute journey into

Wrocław city centre. Having checked

into our hotel, there’s only one thing

on our mind...BEER! We head for

Bar Targowa to our meet our fellow

guests invited to this year’s Festival,

consisting of eight international

breweries traveling from Spain and

Sweden.

When we arrive at Targowa, our

hosts Greg and Arletta from Browar

Stu Mostów, have laid on a generous

spread covering two tables, offering

a delicious mixture of tapas-style

nibbles and classics like homemade

Pork schnitzel, coleslaw, and potatoes;

not a bad way to break the ice and

meet our fellow beer pilgrims!

A quick scan through the beer

menu surprises and delights, revealing

everything from on-trend double

dry-hopped DIPAs and milkshake

IPAs to imperial stouts and even

pilsners, many of them produced by

Polish craft breweries we have never

heard of before. We dive right in and

order Misty, a 5.5% New England IPA

from Trzech Kumpli. Big, juicy aroma

and taste profile, smooth laid-back

bitterness – wow, this is one hell of a

beer. What a start, and a sign of things

to come for our adventures at Beer

Geek Madness the following day, we

hope.

Next day we wake up early to

explore the city on foot, picturesquely

situated on 12 beautiful islands

connected by a staggering 112 bridges,

Wrocław continues to take us by

surprise with its stunning architecture,

delicious food and welcoming locals.

As the afternoon draws to a close we

make our way to the main event,

Beer Geek Madness. The impressive

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venue for the festival is Zaklęte Rewiry,

an imposing red brick industrial style

building located in the south east of

the city.

The lineup for this year’s festival

includes 31 Polish breweries and eight

breweries from abroad, offering a total

of 91 different beers for one day only,

over eight hours of intense Beer Geek

Madness.

Spain is the overarching theme for

the international guest brewers, with

a lineup including the phenomenal

Garage Beer Co, Cerveses La Pirata,

Naparbier and Edge Brewing,

accompanied by the world-class

Dugges, hailing from Sweden. Each

having air freighted over super fresh

kegs of their best beers for the local

crowd to soak up on the night.

Having no idea what to expect

ahead of our travels, we are quickly

overwhelmed by the quality and

diversity of some of the beers on offer

at the festival. One of the rules for

brewers attending is that they have

to release one new beer each, which

has the locals queuing up in lines 50

people deep to get their hands on

their favourite brewer’s new beers,

confirming that FOMO is indeed alive

and well in Wrocław.

Working our way through (or

getting lost in) the fascinating, multilevel

venue, discovering previously

unknown brewers (to us) pouring truly

exceptional beers from taps and bars

popping out of every nook and cranny

in the building, we get a distinct feeling

we are indeed in the midst of real Beer

Geek Madness and we are loving it.

In all honesty, this is like no other

beer festival we ever had the pleasure

of attending. Every room unearths

something completely different,

usually wild and interesting, not only

in terms of craft beer and food but

also the abundance of other activities

happening throughout the festival.

Punters enjoy live portrait drawings

by local artists, barbers listening to

pumping beats and dancing their way

around their customers as they deliver

slick haircuts below the stairs. There

are voting stations where you elect

your beer of the festival and, best of

all, there is fantastic live music in the

main hall.

It is intense and wonderful.

Naturally, we grab the new ‘Grapefruit

and Mandarin DDH DIPA’ from

Browar Stu Mostów and head onto

the dance floor to enjoy the live

Flamenco performance happening on

stage. Closely followed by a couple of

fantastic beers from PINTA including

new release ‘Sangriale’, which pair

perfectly with the Spanish Ska band,

Kumbia Mac, who take to the stage

next, having flown in especially for the

occasion.

We wrap up our first ever Beer

Geek Madness by voting for our

favourite beers and awaiting the big

announcement, winner of Beer Geek

Choice 2018, at midnight. To our

delight, it goes to Browar Widawa’s’-

‘fRISs freak’, Imperial Tropical Stout,

15% abv.

The experience we had at Beer Geek

Madness totally blew us away, not only

in terms of the format of the festival,

but also the hidden gems we uncovered

from the Polish craft beer scene.

So much so in fact, that we decide

there and then that we must host this

Polish-themed takeover month at

Beer52 as soon as possible, to share the

incredible beers we discovered and the

story behind them with as many people

as we can.

We are already looking forward to

returning to Wrocław next year for

Beer Geek Madness 7 and we hope to

see a few of you there too.

Special thanks to Greg and Arletta

from Browar Stu Mostów for the invite

to the festival and turning us onto

the great beers being brewed in

your country.

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We all have people in our lives who

don’t like beer. “I just don’t like

it,” they claim, “all beer just tastes like

beer,” they complain, “I’ve tried it before

and it’s just not for me,” they whine.

These people are terrible and wrong.

They like beer. Of course they like

beer. Who doesn’t like beer?

Slowly grinding people into

submission may not be appealing to

everyone, but it’s certainly a favourite

pastime of mine. The more a person

becomes entrenched in their (typically)

myopic belief, the more fun it is to wear

them down over the course of days,

years, decades or, while bartending,

sometimes just a few minutes.

For non-beer drinkers, it’s most

commonly a simple matter of

introducing them to the right type

of beer and convincing them to give

beer just one more shot. If you’ve been

trusted by your non-beer drinking

cohort to find a beer that’s right for

ILLUSTRATIONS : Eva Dolgyra & The Man Trout

SPREAD THE WORD

Dan Orley gives his top tips for the craft beer evangelist

them, the most important piece of

information to have is the other types

of alcohol they like. This information will

give you everything you need to put

together a flavour profile and find them

the perfect beer.

Remember to always get your nonbeer

drinker samples rather than a

full pint (or schooner). If they receive

a beer that they don’t like in a large

quantity, they’ll likely be turned off by

beer once again and be lost for ever.

Let them taste the differences in small

amounts of beer so they understand the

characteristics they’re looking for.

FOR THE WHITE WINE DRINKER

For a white wine drinker, the first choice

is usually either a sour or anything that’s

fermented wild. White wine drinkers

tend to go for these styles because

they’re typically light, refreshing,

and dry. Recently I’ve had success

introducing several white wine drinkers

to Wild Beer Co’s Rootin’ Around, a

Gruit that vanishes from your palette

just as quickly as you can drink it. For

white wine drinkers, you don’t want a

beer that lingers, leaving a long-lasting

beer aftertaste. I’ve also seen a bit of

success turning white wine drinkers on

to Chapter Brewing and Fourpure

Brewing’s collaboration

Roadside Picnic, a celery sour.

If your white wine drinker

is sour-averse, they may

enjoy a saison or Belgianstyle,

which will give them

a nice dry herbal taste

without the sour tang.

FOR THE WHISKY

DRINKER

There appears to be heavy

crossover between whisky and

beer drinkers, but for a whisky

drinker attempting to get into the craft

beer scene, the logical place to start

is a barrel-aged anything. Founders’

Frootwood, a barrel-aged cherry ale,

really highlights some nice woody

tastes along with some sweetness from

the cherry, while Six Degrees North’s

Whiskey Sour tastes like it was poured

directly from whisky barrels into your

glass. Long-time whisky drinkers are

fantastic at sniffing out variations in

whisky and wood, so they’ll typically

enjoy deconstructing beers too. Stone’s

Imperial Amber is a wood-infused 7.9%

amber that whisky drinkers seem to fall

in love with immediately.

If your whisky drinker isn’t feeling up

to wood-infused or barrel-aged beer,

try to set them up with a rye

pale ale, like Red Willow’s

Sleepless. The spiciness

and bite of the familiar

grain might help

them bridge the

gap between their

liquor of choice

and craft beer.

FOR THE

CIDER DRINKER

Cider drinkers can

usually be converted to

beer drinkers by finding

them a wheat beer. Wheat

beers are a similar colour, have a

similar effervescence, and are similarly

clean and easy to drink. Samuel Smith’s

Organic Wheat is a well-rounded,

relatively easy to find wheat beer that

cider drinkers can cling on to easily.

For bonus points, find them a wheat

beer containing fruit, like Meantime’s

Raspberry Wheat.

As with white wine drinkers, sours

or wildly fermented ales could convert

your cider drinking pal by giving them

a beer with a tart, dry, fruity flavour

profile. With sours as trendy as they are

right now, this may be an easier way to

introduce your beer-hating friend to a

wide variety of options.

FOR THE RED WINE DRINKER

The red wine drinker can be the most

tricky non-beer drinker to tackle. They

are usually highly particular and tend to

be of the “I know what I like” mindset.

Spoiler alert: They have no idea what

they like.

Much like whisky drinkers, red wine

drinkers tend to love finding and

separating flavours in their beverages.

Line up several dark stouts for them to

sample in order from sweet to toasty

and explain to the drinker what they’re

looking for. If you progress with mildly

sweet stouts to very sweet stouts (like

Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire) to toasty

stout and point out the flavour profiles

of each as they taste them, you’ll likely

intrigue your red wine drinking friend

enough to make them want more.

FOR THE COCKTAIL DRINKER

This may be a controversial opinion, but

I believe that most people who drink

cocktails don’t tend to like alcohol as

much as they like whatever that alcohol

is mixed with*. This leaves us with a

large variety of options for beer that

may convert these mixed drink drinkers.

A Gose gives them the salty, sour

taste they would get from a margarita,

while a sour like the Hawkshead /

Crooked Stave collaboration Key Lime

Tau would easily convert anyone who

drinks (fill in the blank) with tonic and

lime. For the rum drinker in your life a

coconut stout like Neptune Brewery’s

Mutiny on the Bounty or Brew York’s If

You Like Pina Coladas pale ale are sure

to please.

If you don’t personally feel up to the

task, take your beer-adverse companion

to a highly-regarded craft beer bar for

a night out. Any proper craft beer bar

will have staff more than willing to help

them find a perfectly-suited beer.

*Opinions are Dan’s own, and do

not reflect the views of Ferment or its

editor, who likes nothing better than

finishing the day with a cheeky Old

Fashioned.

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WORDS: Matt Curtis

raft beer has a diversity

problem. It can be an

uncomfortable subject for many

to get their heads around, but beer is

overwhelmingly dominated by white

males. There are two sides to this coin,

as the issue exists both within the

consumer and the industry space. One

cannot take the lead from the other,

as diversity can only increase if the

change happens in all areas that beer

culture inhabits.

If you find yourself shaking your

head in disagreement with this opening

statement then before you read on,

put this magazine down and head to

your nearest pub, taproom or beer

festival. Grab a beer, take a seat and

look around. How many women do

you see? How many people of colour?

Do you think the space you currently

occupy feels welcoming to the LGBTQ

community? It’s only once you become

mindful to the problem that beer, as

a whole, can effectively promote and

force change. And forcing change is

essential if we are to make modern

beer culture welcoming to everyone.

Some progress has been made in

recent years, especially with regards

to the inclusivity of women within the

beer space. The modernisation brought

about by the craft beer revolution

and its appeal to a younger, more

open-minded audience has certainly

accelerated this. However, this change

would not have been affected if it not

for prominent female voices within the

industry highlighting both the problem

and the solution. Voices like Wild

Card brewery’s Jaega Wise, Brewster’s

Brewery’s Sara Barton and beer writer

Melissa Cole, who has written so

eloquently on this subject in Ferment

and elsewhere.

There needs to be more empathy,

more thought and less tolerance

of letting things slide,” Cole says,

while holding up Cantillon’s sought

after Fou’Foune apricot lambic as an

example of the beer industry being too

sympathetic (the name means “crazy

pussy” when translated from French to

English).

“And there needs to be more

conversations, one of the things I don‘t

talk about a lot is that social media is

very often my last port of call, I often

contact people in the background to

discuss offensive branding before I

call them out in public,” Cole adds.

“Sometimes things happen so fast I

don’t get the chance to but I’m always

available to chat afterwards about how

to change and how to keep an eye out

for slipping back into unconscious

sexism.”

However, even by making beer more

inclusive for women the battle, nay the

war, is still far from won. True diversity

would reflect the acceptance of

everyone, and groups like the LGBTQ

community along with people of colour

are too often marginalised by beer

culture. It is only when the industry

is truly accepting of all people that it

can truly consider itself to be diverse.

And sadly, you don’t have to scratch

far beneath the surface to discover

pockets of casual racism and sexism,

lad culture, and often difficult to notice

microaggressions that can often be a

precursor to far worse situations. Only

by the identification and removal of

this issues can the beer space become

truly welcoming to all-comers.

Melissa Cole got her break in beer

writing almost 19 years ago when

she took a staff job at the Morning

Advertiser. She remarks that while

the magazine itself was by and large

a male dominated environment it was

an inclusive workplace environment.

However, Cole also points out that

“many of the people I had to deal with

out in the industry were just flat out

sexist.”

Cole has since become one of the

most prominent voices in beer.

Whether through her books, Let Me

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DEBATE: FORCING CHANGE

Tell You About Beer, and The Little

Book of Craft Beer, her events or by

her prominent social media presence

(Cole has over 30,000 Twitter

followers alone.) It’s through social

media that Cole has used her platform

to fight sexism within the industry,

extending that platform to many other

women in beer as she does so. It’s an

example that should be followed, as

creating a platform is how real change

can be affected.

Another prominent voice for

inclusivity within beer is Jaega Wise,

head brewer at London’s Wild Card

Brewery and, more recently, beer

specialist on Channel 5’s The Wine

Show. In December 2017 she gave a

seminar at The Brewers Congress,

which took place at the Institution of

Civil Engineers in Westminster. Wise

didn’t hold back, using examples

explicitly sexualised, offensive imagery

used on beer labels to hammer home

the point that the industry has a

pervasive sexism problem.

It was Wise’s final point that

would become the most salient,

however. While she admitted that

organic change is happening, she

also acknowledged that the industry

deserves far better than to wait a

generation for this to come to pass.

Change must be forced in order for the

beer industry to take inclusivity to its

heart.

“I am a big believer of practical,

enforceable & measurable change,”

Wise tells me when I ask how she sees

this change being enacted. “I have

been heartened to see statements from

CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale)

and SIBA (The Society for Independent

Brewers) with regards to the removal

of Beers with sexist branding from

competitions. I think it’s a great start.

It will remove the worst offenders from

achieving accolades immediately.”

“I would also like to see SIBA as an

organisation implement a marketing

‘Code of Practice’ for its members,

similar to the Brewers Association in

the US. SIBA has quality standards, it

needs to have ethical standards too,”

she says.

Beer writer and broadcaster

Emma Inch – who hosts the popular

Fermentation Radio show – has also

been vociferously expressing how she

is actively trying to grow inclusivity

within beer. She expertly explained

the reasoning behind her efforts in a

recent blog post titled “Do You Pass the

Test? Or: what can 1980s lesbians teach

us about beer?” At the core of the post

is the principal of The Bechdel Test,

or “The Rule”, which Alison Bechdel

outlined in an edition of her Dykes to

Watch Out For comic strip in 1985.

The Rule, which was designed to

be applied to movies, contained three

principles: The movie must have

two or more female characters with

names, that talk to each other and that

conversation must be about something

other than men. Something that is

still sorely lacking in modern cinema.

Unsurprisingly it is also very much

lacking from the beer industry–and

so Inch valianty pledged to apply The

Bechdel test to all of her work as a

writer and broadcaster.

The beer industry simply reflects

the wider world,” Inch says. “Change

comes slowly, despite the chorus of

voices calling for it. We only need

to look at the current situation in

Hollywood (referring to revelations of

historical sexual abuse and the #metoo

movement) to realise that it can take

many, many years for people’s voices

to even be heard, let alone for any

reparative action to be taken.”

Inch expresses the challenge it

can be for those at the core of the

industry–and with beer like in the

majority of cases this means white

males–to accept their privilege. She

also states that creating the kind of

platform that needs to exist so that

the less acknowledged voices within

the industry can be heard can be even

more difficult. But it’s this “handing

over of the microphone” that needs to

happen.

“As a very visible, butch lesbian

I often feel like I stand out in the

industry - and I do! But I truly hope

that my–albeit limited–visibility helps

to encourage and support other

LGBTQ people to feel that the industry

is a place that they can legitimately

explore,” Inch says. “For me, it’s about

safety, in all its forms. Safety from

attack (verbal or physical), safety

from humiliation, safety from being

overlooked. The more people from

minorities are placed in positions of

power and influence, the safer I and

others will feel to engage with the

industry.”

Creating safe spaces both within the

industry, in our bars and taprooms and

at our beer festivals is only a part

of the change that needs to occur

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DEBATE: FORCING CHANGE

in order to promote diversity and

inclusivity. As Inch suggested, we also

need to accept that there’s a problem

in the first place. However, this can be

incredibly difficult when you’re viewing

an issue from a position of privilege.

Especially if this involves perhaps a

brewery, or brewer, you might respect.

Being aware of problems and in turn

having the strength to challenge them,

is perhaps the greatest hurdle the

diversity battle within beer currently

faces.

“I think almost all of my negative

experiences have been customerbased,”

Lily Waite, a queer trans

woman who works in a London bottle

shop says. “I’ve experienced countless

transphobic comments and attitudes

over the past couple of years, all from

customers, from everyday sexism, to

misgendering (which happens all the

time, mostly stemming from ignorance,

though sometimes seemingly wilfully

so), right through to some really

unpleasant comments and questions.”

The industry needs to be more

visibly inclusive. For example, if more

venues that had the capacity to do so

implemented gender-neutral toilets, it

would at the very least be a signifier to

If we can’t literally see

people like ourselves

in the beer world, then

it’s not going to seem as

welcoming. - Lily Waite

queer folk that we’d been considered.

It’s not a huge thing, but it makes a

massive difference,” she continues.

The industry also needs more minority

representation. If we can’t literally

see people like ourselves in the beer

world, then it’s not going to seem as

welcoming.”

Later in 2018 former Beavertown

Head Brewer Jenn Merrick is to open

Earth Station, a new London brewery

based in East London’s Royal Docks.

For Merrick, building both a workplace

and a taproom that is both safe and

inclusive is a core part of her business

model. The brewery will, in-part, fund a

new apprenticeship scheme known as

The Pipework Project, which will offer

a service to breweries who are looking

to help those who might otherwise

struggle to break into the brewing

industry a fair chance. Merrick also

aims to ensure Earth Station’s taproom

is a welcoming space for all.

“It’s primarily about being explicit in

inviting everyone to the party, not just

the existing craft beer community,” she

says. “Our space is first and foremost

going to be dedicated to serving the

local community that it resides in

and to contributing positively to the

regeneration of the area by employing

local people, offering brewing

apprenticeships and partnering with

the community.”

“I would not feel comfortable just

parachuting in with a business that

was completely outward-facing and

looking for its clientele exclusively

amongst some nebulous demographic

of ‘stereotypical craft beer drinkers.’ I

want this brewery to feel like home to

my neighbors, my wife, our children

and all of our extended family.”

Over the past few months the beer

industry, and those that enjoy beer

either as fans or just casually, have

been presented with an opportunity

to affect real change. Sadly it’s an

opportunity that’s always been there

but recent articles, seminars and the

resulting debate are beginning to force

that change.

“I believe that a more diverse beer

industry will mean better beer,” Wild

Card’s Jaega Wise says. “The craft beer

sector is growing so rapidly that we

need to be paving the way for strong,

new talent behind us. This means

going into universities, going into

colleges, and recruiting. We need to

demonstrate that working in beer is

a viable option as a career for every

gender, race, religion or sexuality.”

Everyone can be part of the

difference, but only if we allow

ourselves to become aware of the

problem, accept it, and challenge it

whenever abuse prevents someone

from experiencing beer in a way

that’s different to the majority. 2018

deserves to be the year beer wakes up

to its diversity problem and becomes

a more inclusive industry, but this

will require a concerted effort from

everyone.

“I think in a few years we’ll

definitely have made greater steps

towards a more diverse community,”

Lily Waite says. “But without those

who hold the social power taking an

active role in inducing that change, it

might take longer than I’d like.”

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Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing

occupies an innocuous industrial

block in the borough’s Carroll

Gardens neighbourhood. Its red brick

walls are washed with smog grey

emulsion, and the steel and tarmac

behemoth of the Gowanus Expressway

thrums overhead, straddling streets

built on drained swampland east of the

Hudson River’s terminus at Upper Bay.

In the four years since founders

Andrew Burman, Sam Richardson and

Matt Monahan began brewing on the

site, they’ve steered Other Half from

a three-men-doing-everything startup

to a thriving community-based

brewery employing more than 25

staff. And despite a deliberate focus

on its immediate neighbourhood, its

Robin Eveleigh gains access to the murky and often

controversial subculture of international beer trading

appeal – thanks in no small part to its

sell-out releases of Instagram-friendly

New England IPAs – has spread far and

internationally wide.

If you live outside its self-distro

draught catchment of Brooklyn, the

neighbouring boroughs of Manhattan

and Queens, or the lower reaches of

the Hudson Valley, expect to travel for

a pour. For a share of the few hundred

cases of cans Other Half release each

week, you’ll be spending the early hours

of Saturday morning waiting patiently

in line at the brewery. They are not

available in bottle shops, nor online. The

roller shutters clatter up at 10am.

All of which leaves the US beer-curious

this side of the Atlantic with a couple of

options: jet to JFK and ride the subway to

Smith 9th in Carroll Gardens to join that

queue, or find a friendly US counterpart

to box up some cans and ship them to

you. For payment in kind, of course.

If you know where to look, online

hook-ups for transacting everything from

sexual adventures to Star Wars toys

are a mere click away, and beer is no

exception. Welcome to the semi-naughty,

grey-market world of international

beer trading.

Mike, 30 – who asked us to withhold

his surname – began trading around 18

months ago, reeled in by Other Half’s

Instagram feed, where the brewery

announces new beers to some 100,000

devotees. Their responses to the

images of strikingly-designed cans and

limited-edition glassware are a litany

of coded trade offers: ISO means ‘in

search of’, FT signifies ‘for trade’, IP

identifies the trader as eager to swap

beers ‘in person’, and S, followed by a

location, explains where they are willing

to ‘ship’ to.

“It’s magpie syndrome – you want the

shiny things,” Mike says. “And going

back just a year-and-a-half, UK beer

wasn’t hitting the heights quality-wise

that it is now. I had to know what all the

fuss was about with US breweries like

Other Half.”

That’s not to say trading is a new

phenomenon.

The sheer demand for modern

US beer coupled with arcane interstate

distribution laws – which in turn

complicate online alcohol sales – means

many breweries sell only direct and

in person, eschewing the familiar UK

culture of third-party distribution, bottle

shops and webstores.

If you happen to like Trillium but live

in Orlando, you’re looking at a 1300-

mile drive, akin to driving from Berlin to

Huddersfield to buy some Magic Rock.

Inevitably, this direct sales model has

fostered a sub-culture of swapping and

re-swapping beers like a kind of adult

Pokemon trading card game.

The Beer Advocate website has

hosted a trades forum

since the 90s, while the

Beer Trade sub-Reddit

boasts over 21,000 readers.

Other Half’s Instagram feed attracts interest

from UK-based traders

Historically, trades have been UScentric

and focussed on beer world

rarities: hard-to-get sours, barrel-aged

adjunct stouts, limited releases of

highly prized trophy beers (or ‘whales’

as they are known in beer geek speak).

Often packaged in glass 750ml or

660ml bombers, they can prove fragile

in courier transit, with losses dealing a

heavy blow to the wallet.

But a few things have changed in

recent years to make trading both

more widespread and also accessible

to the UK: packaging in cans, the more

transparent connectivity afforded by

social media and improvements

in the quality of UK-made beer

inspired by some of the most

popular modern US styles.

Says Mike: “Swapping

four cans of British beer

for four cans of something from the

States makes trading so much easier, it’s

a very clear and honest, dollar for dollar

trade. And there’s a growing demand in

America for UK beer; Cloudwater trades

well, and when Verdant get it right their

beers are as good as anything from the

States. The new-found quality of UK

beer is opening doors for traders.”

Mike now trades around three times

a month with a trusted network of US

counterparts who live near, or travel to,

revered Stateside breweries. He was

moved to set up the UK Beer Traders

Facebook forum after being deluged

with ‘how-to’ questions while sharing

photos of his hauls on Instagram. The

forum has a growing membership of

around 300, a figure dwarfed by the

trading groups for some of America’s

most in-demand breweries – Trillium,

Tree House, Tired Hands, Monkish –

whose memberships number in the

thousands.

Mike says: “People wanted to know

how I did it, and responding to all the

comments was time consuming. It made

sense to put everything I knew together

on a forum.”

He uses Parcelforce to send to

America, spending about £40 to ship a

box of 20 cans. US Federal law means

excise duty should be paid on even

small volumes of alcohol imported for

personal consumption and, in an effort

to help recipients dodge this duty,

parcel contents are typically described

as ‘decorative glassware’. Anecdotally,

there are stories of traders swaddling

parcels in multiple layers of clingfilm

to discourage nosy customs officers, or

stashing tins of small change or marbles

in the box to mask the sound of

sloshing liquids.

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IN THE SHADOWS

Here in the UK, the official line from

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

is that the content and value of a

package imported from outside the

EU must be declared by the sender,

with the importer legally responsible

for the accuracy of this declaration.

If the declaration is found to be

false, UK Border Force can send the

package back, or seize it. Alcohol can

be imported as a gift, free of VAT and

Import Duty up to a value of £39 - but

Excise Duty still applies. Anything above

£39 incurs a VAT charge.

Asset manager Joe Haynes, 30,

discovered the sometimes costly reality

of trading beer with the States when

he was stung with a £50 bill for VAT.

The person sending it declared it as a

‘gift’ but with a high value,” he explains.

“I had a call from FedEx saying they

were holding my parcel until I paid up.

You just swallow it, I’ve done maybe 20

trades and it’s the only time I’ve had an

issue.”

The reality is, parcels rarely get

stopped,” adds Mike. “A lot of couriers

won’t accept fluids or alcohol, so if you

use them and get caught out, they’ll

send your consignment back to you and

you might lose your shipping costs. You

just have to be grown up about it and

accept that what you’re doing carries a

small risk.

“I must have tried around 400 beers

through trading that I’d never have

got hold of in the UK, most of them

incredibly fresh; I’ve been sat at home

on a Wednesday evening, drinking

Other Half beer that was released the

previous Saturday. All in all, I’ve had

maybe five burst cans and one broken

bottle of Yellow Belly at the other end.

A common ruse to avoid taxes and import duties is

to describe parcel contents as decorative glassware

I think that’s a pretty good

success rate.”

Thanks to traders,

beer from Manchester’s

Cloudwater sometimes arrives

in New York even before it has

landed in UK retail outlets. Brewery cofounder

Paul Jones is enthused by the

notion of his fans not only facilitating

a kind of micro-export – spreading the

good word on UK beer in the States –

but also experiencing other world-class

beer in return.

Paul, no stranger to standing in line

at Tree House, Trillium or Hill Farmstead

for his eight or ten-can allocation, says:

There are fanboys and girls in all walks

of life. You have people at a gig who pay

goodness knows how much for front

row seats because they want that level

of experience, and for some people the

ability to get hold of rare, special beers

from elsewhere is what

gets them going.

“I’m pleased to hear

people think we’re worthy

of being traded out and, as a

brewer making beer with

international appeal, I’m glad

there are folk in the UK who

can get hold of beers from elsewhere.

“It is absolutely our ambition that

we’re not working in a vacuum; we

never want to lose sight of where we

are and how we stand up to other

beer experiences. The fact that people

can pull beers in from here there and

everywhere, enjoy them, and come back

to us with comments of how we fit and

how they think we stand is only going to

do us well.”

And Other Half’s Andrew Burman

agrees: “The line culture here in the

States is more than a beer experience.

It’s about being here in person, hanging

out with three hundred friends you

didn’t know you had, and trading is part

of that. We’d love to be able to export,

but we just don’t make enough beer.

The traders are helping us get our name

out there.”

But sadly, not everyone shares their

enthusiasm.

If there is one European beer

style almost guaranteed to bag a

clutch of American rarities, it is the

spontaneously-fermented Lambic

produced only in the Pajottenland

region south-west of Brussels.

Of the nine breweries permitted

to call their output ‘Lambic’ (it is a

protected food name under the EU

‘Traditional Speciality Guaranteed’

scheme), Drie Fonteinen, Boon and

Girardin make regular appearances in

online trade requests. Upstart Lambic

blender Bokkereyder, who has been

courting US festivals with his modern

interpretations of the style, features

heavily, too. But it is beer from Brasserie

Cantillon – often abbreviated to ‘Loon’

in trade talk – which is most in demand.

Here in the UK, one importer,

Stoke-on-Trent’s Beer Direct, reports

an astonishing five-year waiting list

for a seasonal Cantillon release like

its elderflower-infused Mamouche,

prompting avid traders to take matters

into their own hands and stock up in

person alongside the 45,000 people

who visit Brussels’ oldest and most

revered brewery each year.

Joe Haynes said: “I do prefer to

trade hops for hops - if you’re swapping

Lambics for American IPAs, you’re

getting into ratios. How many cans is

a bottle of Lambic worth? That said,

there’s no doubt Cantillon trades well –

I’m planning to visit the brewery some

Cloudwater’s beers are a popular choice for trading with the States

We’d love to be able to

export, but we just don’t

make enough beer.

time this year, I’ll pick up whatever I can

get hold of and if there are beers I’ve

had before, I’ll trade them.”

Cantillon’s popularity in trading

circles – and also for re-selling on the

grey market at vastly inflated prices –

is proving a headache for patron and

brewer Jean Van Roy.

When he announced in October last

year a combined 5200-bottle release

of Fou’ Foune, Lou Pépé and Nath (Van

Roy’s tribute to wife Nathalie), the first

allocation sold out in three days. When

a second allocation, four days later,

was snapped up in just 24 hours, an

exasperated Van Roy took to Facebook

to rail: “More or less half of this volume

was purchased by people who didn’t

know anything about Lambic and even

less about Cantillon. Most of those

‘customers’, sent by people trafficking

our beers and reselling them online,

couldn’t even pronounce the name of

the brewery or the beers correctly.”

Still, the social media chatter would

suggest traders have no plans to slow

down any time soon – quite the opposite

– and Mike is impenitent: “We’re treated

like the devil in some quarters, and

you’re never going to change someone’s

mind if they truly believe you’re an idiot,

but in our Facebook group re-selling

is banned and personally I try to vet

people I’m trading with to make sure

they actually want to drink the beer.

“I’m in this to share good beer with

good people; at the end of the day, is it

really so terrible if folk all over the world

get to enjoy Cantillon?”

Cantillon’s 118-year heritage – that

promise of ye olde worlde brewing

charm – means it will always be an

attractive proposition for traders, and

it is unlikely that even the burgeoning

growth of UK sour beer projects and

blenders will distract attention from the

Belgian masters.

But as British breweries up their

game and match the quality of the

most coveted modern US styles,

perhaps we will find our American

cousins increasingly open to trusting

our homegrown, UK talent for those

straight-up, hops-for-hops swaps.

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ABERDEEN

moose mousse

Fierce Beer

ABV: 4.5% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Chocolate Milk Stout

TASTING NOTES

Moose Mousse is velvety and

smooth, yet light and easy

drinking. This chocolate milk

stout is chock full of cocoa notes.

Luxurious yet sessionable.

ORKNEY

BANYAN

Swannay Brewery

Five Points Extra Pale Ale. Even paler and

hoppier than the legendary Five Points Pale.

ABV: 3.9% Enjoy at 4°C

Style: Session IPA

TASTING NOTES

Banyan is navy-speak for a beach

party and this is the sort of beer

we drink on the beach in Orkney’s

summer. Extra pale malt gives

a clean base for the Simcoe,

Mosaic, Citra and Motueka hops

to dance on.

fivepointsbrewing.co.uk

@FivePointsBrew

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PALE ARMADILLO

Tempest Brewing Co

TWEEDBANK

LEEDS

MOCHA PORTER

Northern Monk

ABV: 3.8% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Session IPA

ABV: 5.9% Enjoy at 12°C

Style: Coffee porter

TASTING NOTES

All the flavour of an IPA, but

without the high ABV. A full

flavoured beer with orange

citrus and tropical hop notes,

with mellow malt and long dry

hop finish. Transport yourself

to the sunny West Coast of the

USA, as you sip on a perfectly

balanced combination of

citrusy Amarillo, earthy Mosaic,

and tropical Citra.

TASTING NOTES

Coffee flavours in dark beer are

always a glittering combination.

Northern Star Mocha Porter

takes this to another level, as we

blend in ground coffee beans

to the brew, full of bitterness

and hazelnut hints, along with

rich dark chocolate and lactose

sugar to balance this full bodied

dark ale. A collaboration with

Leeds' North Star Coffee Micro

Coffee Roasters.

GOLDENEYE

Black Isle Brewing Co

BLACK ISLE

LEEDS

ETERNAL SESSION

Northern Monk

ABV: 5.6% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: West Coast IPA

ABV: 4.1% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: Session IPA

TASTING NOTES

Massively dry hopped with

all the C's (Centennial, Citra

and Cascade) to give the

classic West Coast style's

fruity but bitter punch with

added Chinook to bring the

pine to the party. A hefty malt

bill counteracts the bitterness

leaving a wonderful sense of

balance; we are at one with

the world.

TASTING NOTES

Northern Monk's flagship beer is a World

Beer Cup award-winning session IPA that's

low in ABV but high in hops. Appropriately

named Eternal, this feather-bodied flavour

bomb is fit to uplift your body and soul

any time of day, any season of year. True

to style, the recipe was envisioned to offer

the hit of a generously hopped IPA, but

with the sessionability of a classic English

pale ale. Simcoe and Centennial hops

dominate this light blonde beer with a

swathe of tangerine aroma and a sublimely

quenching citrus pith aftertaste that

lingers on and on and on... eternally.

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EASY PEELER

Fourpure

LONDON

DERBYSHIRE

TZARA

Thornbridge

ABV: 4% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: Session IPA

ABV: 4.8% Enjoy at 5-6°C

Style: Köln-style

TASTING NOTES

At Fourpure, beer is their passion

and their travels are what inspire

their brews. Plenty of experience

has taught uthem that adventures

are thirsty work, so they've

created this super juicy, tangerine

and citrus Session IPA. Easy

drinking and full of flavour, it’s the

perfect reward at the day’s end.

TASTING NOTES

Tzara is a hybrid beer,

fermented like an ale but

matured like a lager. A broad,

fruity palate with some bready

notes and hints of vanilla. Tzara

is a crisp, refreshing beer

which pairs perfectly with a

traditional German Bratwurst.

XPA

Five Points

LONDON

BERKSHIRE

SOUND WAVE

Siren Craft Brew

ABV: 4% Enjoy at 6°C

Style: Extra pale ale

ABV: 5.6% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: West Coast Style IPA

TASTING NOTES

Juicy and tropical, dry hopped

with Citra and Galaxy hops.

This beer started life a Field

Day collaboration for the Field

Day Music Festival 2016.

TASTING NOTES

Sound Wave carries her drinker

to the West Coast, to the golden

shores of California where craft

ale is nectar. She is the driest of

Siren’s ales – full with flavour but

subtle with bitterness. Sound

Wave is golden, hoppy and

alive with grapefruit, peach and

mango flavours.

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PUT A

IN YOUR STEP

Wine expert Rose

Murray Brown gives us

her essential spotter’s

guide to sparkling wine

There is a real buzz of

excitement in the fizz world

today. Not only is the quality

better than ever before, but

there is increased interest in sparkling

wine as a celebratory aperitif as well

as at the dinner table, with a shift

towards lighter easy drinking styles like

Prosecco.

It is also getting harder to tell some

Champagne and sparkling wines apart

– and that is because of the dramatic

improvements in sparkling winemaking.

Back in the late 1980’s, Champagne

had little or no competition. Fizz was

made elsewhere, but it was plain dull

or poorly made. Thirty years on, the

advances in French Cremant, Spanish

Cava, Californian, New Zealand and

English fizz are considerable – but it all

began in the New World.

Oddly enough, it was the

Champagne producers who started

this revolution. They began making

fizz outside their region. Moet &

Chandon first headed to Argentina

in 1960, but by 1985 had set sights on

Australia and in 1990 on New Zealand.

In the 1980’s Roederer, Mumm, Piper

Hiedsieck and Taittinger headed to

California, Deutz to New Zealand -

whilst Bollinger stayed close to home

in Loire.

What the Champagne producers

did was export their knowledge of

fizz-making abroad. They showed

winemakers worldwide the most

crucial element to making great fizz

- to have quality grapes with high

natural acidity.

They showed them how to grow

classic grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

and Pinot Meunier) in cool or high

altitude microclimates to give high ripe

acidity, how to use the ‘Champagne’

method (elsewhere called ‘traditional’

method) to create the sparkle and

most importantly how to ‘blend’

grapes, vineyards, vintages and reserve

cuvees – a crucial element to making

Champagne.

So what makes Champagne

different? It is made in

France’s most northerly

appellation 80 miles east from

Paris, in a delimited area of 34,500

hectares. With its cool northerly

climate and chalky soils, Champagne

grapes have piercing acidity, often

unpleasantly tart when made as

still wine (up until the 18th Century

all Champagne was still).

After two centuries, the

Champenois had perfected the

sparkle. Quick gentle pressing,

extract the first juice, create an

‘assemblage’ or blend of still wines

to put into bottle with additional

yeast and sugar to create the sparkle

in the second ferment. Mature on

yeast lees to add greater complexity

before carefully riddling the yeast to

the neck of the bottles, disgorging the

yeasts, adding the sugary dosage and

maturing again in cool chalk cellars –

but now, of course, many top sparkling

wine producers across the globe use

this same method for making fizz.

Tastewise is Champagne so

distinctive? The best Champagnes

have nutty biscuity aromas from lees

ageing, a fine scent in the mouth,

gentle acidity, piercing finesse and

racy texture, with more citric notes

in Chardonnay-only cuvees and red

fruit in Pinot Noir blends. Whilst

the best Champagnes from

top producers from Grand

Cru vineyards are in a class

of their own and there is greater

diversity with more Champagne

growers bottling their own, other

‘traditional-method’ fizzes are getting

closer to this taste than ever before.

The highest quality French fizz after

Champagne is traditional-method

French Cremant, made across

seven regions: Loire, Alsace,

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GUEST DRINK: SPARKLING WINE

Burgundy, Bordeaux, Jura, Die and

Limoux – using their own style, terroir

and flavour profile with local regional

grapes.

For years Cremant lagged behind,

few producers focused on using

their healthiest grapes, but now it

offers a great value alternative to

Champagne. The closest match is

Cremant de Bourgogne and Cremant

du Jura made from Chardonnay and

Pinot Noir, but France’s hidden gem

is Cremant d’Alsace (90% is drunk by

the French) made from predominantly

Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot

Noir. With fine mousse, high acidity

and relatively light body it offers a

more diverse flavour range than Cava

or Prosecco.

Spanish Cava is also all made by

the same method as Champagne –

the traditional-method - but Cava

producers feel they have a heritage to

uphold. They insist on native grapes

Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo, with

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir additions

for modernists.

Cava can be made across ten

provinces from Penedes to Rioja,

but 98% is made in Catalonia.

Considering it is all traditionalmethod,

value-wise Cava is

remarkable for easy-drinking ripe

fruity soft acidic fizz. Quality-wise,

Cava will never be a match for

Champagne, because the native grape

trio give earthy bitter notes and lack

finesse.

The rise in popularity of Prosecco

is due to its delicate style and gentle

alcohol (11%). Prosecco’s pale colour,

floral aromas, light body and soft gentle

mousse appeals particularly to female

drinkers, who enjoy its lightness and

increasingly sweet taste.

As the Prosecco craze gained

momentum, the Italians acted swiftly

to protect the name. The problem was

that Prosecco was the name of the

grape, so could be grown anywhere

in Italy or abroad. They discovered a

village called Prosecco in north east

Italy, drew a border around it and

changed the grape name to Glera.

Prosecco does not

benefit from ageing

like Champagne

Few Prosecco drinkers may be

fussed by how it is made, but it is

not made by the traditional method.

Like other fizz from aromatic grapes

(Germany’s often impressive Sekt

made from Riesling) Prosecco is made

with second fermentation in tank,

rather than bottle – the leesy biscuity

nutty character of bottle fermentation

can clash with aromatic grapes.

The best Prosecco comes from

Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but

even top single vineyard examples

do not benefit from ageing like

Champagne. Prosecco should be

drunk upon release.

Higher quality and more ageworthy

is Italy’s top traditional-method fizz:

Franciacorta from Lombardy and

Trento Doc from Trentino, both use

classic Champagne grapes with Pinot

Blanc. Franciacorta is more popular

in Italy than Champagne, it offers rich

stylish fizz with less greenness than in

Champagne.

The biggest change in fizz, thanks to

Champagne’s intervention, has taken

place in the New World - with New

Zealand most impressive to date. As

recently as 1981 only two Kiwi wineries

made traditional-method fizz, now

all eyes are on Marlborough with its

warm days, cool nights and long dry

autumns as an ideal source of grapes

to create zesty elegant fizz with fine

acid backbone – perhaps the closest to

Champagne in style.

Australia has made fizz since 1826,

using unsuitable grapes from warm

microclimates. Too many still focus

on big volume transfer-method fizz,

disgorged into tank after second

fermentation (labelled as bottle

fermented) - but real improvements in

traditional-method fizz from cool sites

in Yarra Valley and Tasmania have

created quality fizz with riper more

pungent fruit and softer acid compared

to Kiwi fizz.

Likewise in California, premium

fizz comes from fog-bound cooler

coastal sites in Carneros, Sonoma

and Mendocino with a ripe fruit

style, but once aged can be a match

for Champagne. South Africa suffers

from a similar problem to Australia

with too many commercial fizzes,

but there is a trend towards stylish

traditional-method fizz from cooler

sites in Stellenbosch and Breede

River. Western Cape is one of the few

wine regions to have created its own

name for top traditional method fizz,

distinctively called ‘Cap Classique’.

Thanks to climate change, the

borders of quality sparkling wine are

shifting. England is a real contender

with its cool northerly climate - and

in certain sites - similar chalky soils to

Champagne.

The first bottle-fermented English

fizz was made in the 1950’s, but for

years vineyard owners grew hardy

Germanic grapes, Reichensteiner,

Seyval Blanc, Kerner or Muller

Thurgau, so fizz tasted more like

German Sekt. It took two Americans to

insist on planting classic Champagne

varietals at Nyetimber in West Sussex

in 1988, although authorities suggested

apple orchards instead, and on using

the same method as Champagne. By

the early 1990s, expansion had begun

– with one million vines planted last

year - but the entire English wine

industry is still tiny with five million

bottles to Champagne’s annual 300

million.

Don’t expect English fizz to taste

like Champagne. Typically it is paler,

more youthful with elderflower

blossomy notes, high marked

acidity (sometimes piercingly high)

and a distinct greenness with less

complexity. The best from as diverse

sites as Cornwall, Hampshire, West

Sussex, Kent and Dorset show

impressive fruit concentration – and

some believe the long growing cycle

(provided there is adequate sun)

allows grapes to develop extra flavours

and may be capable of more elegance

and finesse than Champagne.

Perhaps England’s greatest accolade

is that the French have been unable

to resist the temptation to join the

planting frenzy. Two Champagne

houses have already crossed the

channel to invest - as we enter the

second phase of the sparkling

wine revolution.

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Riesling

WORDS: Louise Crane

Like brother and sister, beer and wine are

from the same happy family of drinks

that all started with the recognition that

something magical happens when a natural

sugar source is left out in the sun. From that

early observation, beer and wine slowly

diverged into the two separate drinks that

we have today: one made with grains, the

other with grapes. But (and here’s where the

metaphor leads to incest...) a little crossover

has led to a lot of joy of late with some

fantastic use of wine techniques in brewing.

Ferment breaks it down...

There are two main ways that beer

can become wine inflected: the use of its

ingredients, or the use of its barrels. Most

wines are fermented or aged (or both) in

wooden barrels, the majority made of oak.

The interaction between the oak and the wine

gives rise to sweet vanilla flavours and tea

notes, buttery flavours and hints of wood. It’s

an essential part of winemaking in developing

the flavour, texture and colour of the wine. By

contrast, most beers are fermented in stainless

steel tanks with no opportunity for chemical

STARS

interactions. However, there are several

breweries experimenting with the ability of

wood to transform their beer.

Firestone Walker is a partnership between

Brit David Walker and California-born

Adam Firestone. It was Adam’s early days

growing up on the Central Coast of the USA,

surrounded by his family’s vineyards, that led

him to brewing, with his nascent ventures

taking place on winemaking equipment. The

brewery’s Barrelworks wild beer program,

located in Buellton, California, pays homage

to these young days, allowing the brewery to

explore a place where grape meets grain. All

beers brewed here are aged to some degree in

used American, French, Italian, or Hungarian

oak barrels that have either been previously

used for wine making, or, in the case of the

American oak barrels, used for beer.

“Barrel character brings a new variable

of depth to the final product,” says Jim

Crooks, master blender and Barrelworks

manager. “It can be used as a nuance or as

a main component in blending. Oak can be

aggressive or mild depending on what aroma

or flavours you are trying to highlight in the

blend.” Barrelworks is home to over 2000

wine barrels and 18 wood tanks all filled with

beer in all different stages of maturation.

When most breweries refer to oak or barrelfermented

beer, they’re referring to beer

primarily fermented in the wooden vessel.

That is, wort is poured into the barrel with a

dose of yeast and even bacteria, and left to

undergo primary fermentation there. Foeders

and puncheons can also be used. A second

method is to take beer that has already been

fermented in stainless steel, and transfer it

into wood for secondary fermentation and

aging along with more yeast, bacteria, and

possibly other fruit to make the magic happen.

This is called ‘refermented in the barrel’ or

‘secondarily fermented’ or ‘aged on fruit in

the barrel’. A third option is to add just wort

to a wooden vessel, typically a foeder, and

let naturally present bacteria and yeast drift

down from the air (or from the wood itself)

to ferment it, in the same time-honoured way

that Belgium’s Lambic producers do. Almost

always, these methods are used for sour or

wild beers.

Barrel-aging poses plenty of risks for your

typical brewer. Very small amounts of oxygen

flow through the wood in a process called

micro-oxidation, which can overpower the

nuances of a beer. The dark, moist, oxygenfuelled

environment of their inside layer

provides a perfect home to organisms like

Brettanomyces, which feed off the tasty sugar

in the wood. Indeed, Brettanomyces growth

is one of the reasons winemakers have to

retire their barrels after a period of time. For

re-users of wine barrels, unless the effects of

Jim Crooks, master blender and Barrelworks manager at Firestone Walker.

Brett are desired, barrels must be cleaned out

thoroughly to minimise bug build-up. It can be

a losing game, however, since microorganisms

can infiltrate the wood up to a depth of almost

a centimetre, which no amount of cleaning

product or sanitising solution is going to reach.

Bruery Terreux, which loosely translates

from French to “Earthy Bruery” was developed

by Patrick Rue of The Bruery, who hired

a production supervisor with years of

experience as a winemaker, Jeremy Grinkey, to

orchestrate its wild and sour beer production.

About 50% of its beer sees the inside of an

oak barrel or foeder during its lifetime. Local

California wineries supply the barrels direct,

promoting a strong relationship between the

two producers. When asked what brewers can

learn from winemaking, Jeremy responded,

“Winemaking is something that happens

twice. Once when the fruit comes in and it’s

fermented into wine. Secondly when you

blend after aging. That is sometimes the most

important time in the cellar; it’s where you get

to put your stamp on the product. Those barrel

aging with beer and blending beer can learn a

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BEER SCHOOL: RIESLING STARS

lot from how wine is made and finished.”

Grapes aren’t usually seen in brewing,

but their involvement has gone from being

experimental to a sure bet. Bruery Terreux

has been a leader in this realm of hybrids.

“Yes, we use a lot of grapes!” says Jeremy

Grinkey. “We do co-ferments with wort and

grapes (whole cluster), and finished sour beer

and grape juice for re-fermentation.

These types of beers are near and dear

to our hearts.” Across the pond, Brosé from

Beavertown in London sparkles like a ruby,

thanks to the 400kg of Pinot Noir grape

skins that are added per brew. This beer

was dreamt up by former lead brewer Ben

Turley, who had been nurturing for some time

the desire to create a drink “that dims the

border between beer and wine”. Brosé was

conceived when Forty Hall Vineyard - the

first commercial-scale vineyard in London

since the Middle Ages - offered up 1.5 tonnes

of their grapes, or rather, 1.5 tonnes of grapes

post-pressing. The skins that Beaverton took

home went straight into the mash, imparting

their rosy hue and tart fruitiness to the end

result, a crisp, dry beer that has the “distinct

character of lingnonberry,” according to

Beavertown (points to them for knowing what

a lingonberry tastes like).

Barrelworks also employs grapes

extensively, sourced locally within a 30-mile

radius of their site, including from the family

vineyards. Over the years it has used many

methods. Its first wine/beer hybrid was called

Lil Mikkel, first brewed in 2011. 600lbs each

of Sauvingon Blanca and Chenin Blanc grapes

were de-stemmed, a process that ruptures the

skin on the fruit but leaves it intact. The grape

skins and juice were then added to a sour beer

at the end of secondary barrel fermentation,

re-inoculated with Brettanomyces and

Lactobacillus, and left for another year. “From

this process, we learned more about the

flavours that are derived from fermentation on

grape skins,” says Jim Crooks. “We chose to

eliminate the skins from all future processing

due to off flavour of methoxypyrazine,

commonly identified as green bell pepper,

negatively influencing attributes of the beer.”

From there, the team experimented with

adding just juice to unfermented beer, and

using grape pomace.

Other examples include Magnolia brewing’s

Rosebud, a marriage between an English

grain bill, a Belgian yeast strain, rosebuds,

lavender and pressed Cabernet Franc grapes;

Social Kitchen’s Saison Du Sauvignon, which

takes advantage of the delicious grapes of its

California locale; and Sixty One from Dogfish

Head in Delaware, its best-selling 60 Minute

IPA with just one extra ingredient: syrah grape

must.

If grapes are experimental, then lees

are next level. Lees are to wine as trub is

to beer, that is, they’re the dead yeast and

other solids left over from fermentation – a

thick, nutritious liquid the consistency of

milkshake. Normally they’re removed for

aging but some wines, like champagne, are

matured ‘sur lies’ for added nutty, savoury

aromas thanks to their complex mix of yeast,

bacteria, tartaric acid, polysaccharides, and

protein-tannin complexes.

Cleophus Quealy Brewing’s Batch

108/Saison Carl is fermented with lees

rather than brewer’s yeast. The lees come

from “natural wine producers in Napa

and Sonoma, who ferment with only the

indigenous wild yeast which live on the

grape skins,” explains Dan Watson, owner

and brewer at Cleophus. This creates a more

complex beer and imparts the fruity, spicy,

funky, and slightly acidic flavour and aromas

unique to the terroir of the vineyard. As with

wine, we see natural variations in the result

between vineyards and vintages, which we

both embrace and manage by selecting and

blending the best barrels.”

Dan has also made a sour weisse on lees:

a pink, vinous, Berlin-style sour wheat

beer. The lees are used within a day of

racking, while still fresh and vigorous, and

often impart some flavour and colour from

the wine itself. Dan feels their ingredients

and methods blur the modern distinction

between beer and wine. “We’ve recently

released Sauvignon Sour, a sour blonde ale

made with Sauvignon blanc grapes and dry

hopped with Hallertau blanc. We’ll also

soon release a sparkling ale fermented with

Lees are to

wine as trub is

to beer

champagne yeast and finished with hibiscus

flowers and grapefruit peel,” he says.

Another British example is Kent-based

Chapel Down winery’s Curiouser & Curiouser

Chapter 1, a limited edition 4.9% sour ale

blended with Chardonnay and Bacchus lees,

launched under the Curious Brewery label.

Chapel Down topped the lees with sour beer

from Wild Beer Co. and left the combination

settling in barrels for six months before

blending and bottling.

In a sense, the relationship between beer and

wine has come full circle over the centuries.

Having parted company into two completely

distinct categories of booze, the grape and

the grain are once again furtively flirting like

distant cousins at a family wedding. Rather

than producing gimmicky, wine-flavoured beers

though, brewers are painting with a palette

drawn from every stage of the wine-making

process, finding new ways of working with

these complex and versatile ingredients and

giving us, the discerning beer lover, entirely

new and eye-opening flavour experiences.

90 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 91


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Ferment probes the darkest

crevices of the beer world for treasures and horrors.

This issue, a beer that’s all brut-strength.

Brut IPA is supposedly a bit of a trend

in California just now, so here’s

what you need to know when they

inevitably start showing up here. They’re

brewed with an extra dose alpha-amylase,

the enzyme that’s found naturally on

malted barley, which helps break long

carbohydrates like starch into short,

more fermentable sugars. They

also typically involve super-pale

malts and exclusively post-boil hop

additions (usually involving hops

that present fruit-forward, wine-like

characteristics). The result: a super

light, low bitterness, dry-as-abone

beer where the fruity hop

character really comes to the fore.

Sounds great for the summer months.

It’s said the style is a reaction to the

soupy, sweet and malty beers coming out of

the north eastern US, which were in turn a

reaction to the hop-forward, dry and maltshy

west coast IPAs. Round and round we go,

until some enterprising soul in Maine starts

releasing pots of 12% abv porridge with a

spoon and sachet of apricot sauce.

Our hot take on the whole thing is

that ‘brut’ implies a sense of credibility

that isn’t necessarily earned

by banging a load of enzyme

in your mash. Some of these

beers might be great but,

with a lot of pundits already

inevitably comparing the style

to champagne, we should

probably also remember that

Belgium – and a number of

awesome US brewers working

in the Belgian style – probably

have a better claim to that title.

Go to fermentmagazine.com to

subscribe

92 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 93


WORDS: Louise Crane

Picture this: it’s a roasting hot day,

you’ve just trudged home from

work and you reach inside the

welcoming cool of your fridge for a

refreshing, cold IPA. You crack it open

- and there’s no familiar “psst”. Give it

a sniff, and there’s no recognisable hop

aroma. Warily, you push on, and have

a sip, instantly regretting it as the taste

of wet cardboard fills your mouth. Stale

beer is obviously a big disappointment,

and something that brewers go to great

lengths to prevent. Stability of beer is a

big consideration in brewery processes

and is also one of the reasons lager

has come to dominate over the past

50 years: you can ship it thousands

of miles over many months, abuse it

and leave it in the hands of careless

publicans and it will still generally taste

the same. This cannot be said of all

styles though, or of smaller breweries,

who haven’t spent decades focusing on

brewing for extended shelf life like the

bigger ones have.

Most of us would agree that the best

beer is the freshest beer, drunk as

close to the day of release as possible -

and preferably on it. From the moment

a beer is deemed finished, thousands

of flavour compounds continue to

interact with each other in an endless

meet-and-greet, speed-dating their

way through chemical reactions that

cause flavours to change and haze to

form. Bitterness decreases, though

harshness and astringency increase.

Sweet aromas develop, as does the

catty smell of blackcurrant leaves

called ‘ribes’. Caramel, burnt, toffee-

like, wine, whiskey and leathery aromas

all increase as well as that delightful

taste of cardboard. Evidently some of

these developments are quite welcome;

on the other hand, a mouthful of damp

loo roll and cat piss is not. A beer’s

shelf life is the time it takes for these

developments to become noticeable,

and can be anything from a few weeks

to a couple of years, depending on how

the beer was brewed, its style, and how

it is looked after post-packaging.

“Beer shelf life is a two part thing,”

says Elliot Murphy, a brewer at Bath

Ales who happens to have a PhD

in Chemistry. “The first is physical

stability, which is related to the gradual

formation of protein-polyphenol

complexes over time. These precipitate

and cause haze. The second is flavour

stability (or staling), which can be

affected by microbiological infection

and high dissolved oxygen content in

the beer.” Haze is reduced in many

ways, from using good quality malt,

with low levels of haze-forming protein,

to separation of trub at the whirlpool

stage and using cold conditioning to

force haze to precipitate so it can be

filtered out before packaging.

One of the biggest issues is oxygen.

It creates haze by fueling the reaction

that couples up polyphenols and

proteins, and it triggers the release

of free radicals, which are just crazy

about reacting with anything they can

work with. When a free radical reacts

with something, that compound is said

to be “oxidised”. Oxidised versions

of flavour compounds taste different

- and often unpleasant - compared

to before. Oxidised melanoidins can

taste almondine or sherry-like as well

as “catty”; oxidized polyphenols and

isohumulones (hop acids) generally

have astringent flavours. Papery and

leathery flavours come from oxidised

long-chain aldehydes.

Brewers fight against oxygen on a

daily basis, at several stages of brewing.

According to Elliot, some of the most

important methods are: purging all

tanks with an inert gas before filling

them with beer (especially bright or

filtered beer); measuring the residual

oxygen content in a purged vessel

to verify effective purging; flushing

pipework with de-aerated water when

transferring beer (Elliot writes, “This

requires a de-aeration column, which

is expensive.”); and having a bottle/can

filler that is designed to reduce oxygen

pickup on filling. “For a can this means

effective gas flushing and for a bottle

it involves sucking all of the air out of

the bottle and refilling with inert gas at

least twice before filling (double preevacuation).”

With the use of commercial fillers,

brewers can reduce the amount of air in

the headspace of a bottle to just 0.1ml.

By contrast, hand-operated devices

leave 2ml, which is a pretty dangerous

amount since only 1ml of air is sufficient

to oxidize all of the reductones (a class

of aldehydes or ketones) in a typical

beer. “This is the main reason why

small breweries struggle with shelf life.

94 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 95


BEER SCHOOL: SHELF LIFE

Excluding oxygen during packaging

often requires various pieces of

expensive equipment,” explains Elliot.

The other problem is if they send their

beer elsewhere to be packaged but in

poor containers with no facility for gas

purging.”

Not all is lost for the low budget

microbrewery in the battle against

oxygen, however. There is a cheaper,

easier way to fight, and that is to

harness the natural powers of yeasts,

who scavenge for oxygen to use in

their growth stages. Adding yeast to

the bottle or a cask does the trick,

though it does risk infecting the beer

with bacteria if the yeast is no good.

Bacterial spoilage can reduce beer’s

shelf life to a matter of days, causing

haze, sediment, acidification, gross

flavours and sickly ropiness.

Toby McKenzie, who founded

Manchester-based Redwillow,

explains how he keeps the brewery

“meticulously clean” to combat

microbiological infection: “We use

ATP testing at every single point

during the production process to make

sure the machines are completely

sterile. ATP stands for adenosine

Bacterial spoilage can

reduce beer’s shelf life to

a matter of days

triphosphate and is produced during

respiration by every single living

organism. We do ATP swabs of all

the vessels before we put beer in

them, all the fill-heads of all the

canning lines are swabbed and tested,

and we randomly test empty cans

before they’re filled to ensure there’s

no contamination.” Pasteurisation

is used by bigger breweries, but

it poses a couple of problems for

smaller breweries. “It’s the ultimate

way of preserving shelf life, but it’s

ridiculously expensive,” says Toby.

For example, Robinson’s have got a

million pound pasteurisation plant.

Flash pasteurisation is very good for

preserving beer, but if you’ve ever

drunk pasteurised milk versus fresh

milk, you know it has an impact on

flavour.”

Distribution of the finished product

is a whole other science, and careful

co-ordination with pubs and suppliers

ensure that no beer is wasted to

staling by delivering just the amount

that’s required. Sometimes breweries

will manufacture their supermarket

beers differently to ones destined for

a bar. Toby explains, “Supermarket

beers we tend to filter quite heavily,

because we know it’s going to be on

the shelves for six months at 24°C

to 25°C.” As temperature increases,

the rate of reactions does too, so by

keeping beer cool (just above freezing

to around 7°C) you can slow staling

processes. Rob Brown, operations

manager at Beer52, comments, “If

we’re collecting styles that are heavily

hopped like NEIPA’s, a style wellknown

for fading fast, or even IPA’s

from Europe and beyond where the

transit time is more than a day, we’ll

have them transported in refrigerated

containers or trucks to ensure they’re

in the best possible condition on

arrival.”

Rob says Beer52 has a huge

advantage over pubs and bottle shops

when it comes to supplying fresh beer

to the consumer: “The volume we

require from each brewery is fairly

significant. Small breweries simply

don’t hold those kind of volumes, so

the order can’t be made up of preexisting

stock. This means it’s produced

fresh to order. There’s no sitting around

on supermarket or warehouse shelves

for months at a time before it’s in the

consumer’s hand.” Beer52’s other

advantage is the quick turnaround

of stock due to the changing theme

every month. “Generally we’ll schedule

beers to arrive one to two weeks before

production is due to start; in a matter

of days the cases are being shipped out

to our members.”

Best before dates guide the

customer and retailer about beer

shelf life. Breweries usually determine

this using sensory analysis - basically,

tasting it themselves. “Any canning

run, we keep back between twelve

and twenty cans,” explains Toby

at Redwillow. “We’re continually

tasting those against fresh batches

coming off and checking to make sure

they’re pH stable, what the dissolved

oxygen levels are over time, is the

colour changing at all, is the aroma

changing, is the taste changing.”

Live cask ale will last a matter of

days and kegged beer several weeks.

Packaged, pasteurised beer that’s been

refrigerated and kept out of direct

light fares a lot better and can keep for

up to six months, though after 90 days

the flavour may start to degrade. IPAs

may see a drop-off in hop aroma in

about three months, but a Scotch ale

or an import lager should be fine at six

months. Delicate, hop forward beers

have the shortest shelf lives, while

higher alcohol or barrel-aged beers

are given best before dates two years

in the future. Stouts, porters, barley

wines, Belgian Ales, and German

Bocks have the longest shelf lives.

The best before date is not a

number to fear once it has expired.

Beers do not become dangerous or

unhealthy to drink, only somewhat

less palatable, or perhaps just too

dissimilar to what the brewer was

going for. But since they become

unsaleable when expired, past-date

beers have a different fate to their

fresher siblings. Retailers may allow

staff to take home any expired stock,

or distribute it through charitable

avenues. “We partner with a charity

and donate any expired beers to

them,” says Rob. “They recycle the

glass and aluminium, sell it and turn

that into cash. It’s a great solution

on many fronts.”

96 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 97


Bo Kapp, South Africa 2018.

EXPLORE WITH

Some of our highlights:

• SIBA retailer of the year 2016

• Rated 9.5 on Trustpilot

• Customer magazine of the year 2017

• 50,000 members in the club 2018

• Six million beers shipped to our members since launching

We travel the world to bring you the freshest

beers and the freshest stories from across the

globe. In the past year, we’ve run with stallions

in Kentucky, partied in Cape Town, met our

brewing heroes in California and explored new

beery frontiers in Poland, alongside some of the

best writers, illustrators and photographers in

the business.

The next 12 months are shaping up to be even

wilder, with exclusive beers never before seen in

the UK and more award-winning beer journalism

than ever. We’re thrilled you’re joining us on the

beer journey of a lifetime – cheers!

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Next time...

Join us next month as we tuck

into the greatest love story

ever told: the millennia-old

relationship between beer

and food. We've teamed up

with top London-based chefs

to bring you an exclusive

selection of beers, designed

to titillate all the senses and

nourish the soul.

With recipes, interviews and

a healthy serving of adventure,

we're hungry already!

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