Ferment Issue 34 // Boston Beer Party

jamesbeer52

FERMENTMAGAZINE.COM | ISSUE 34

ADVENTURES IN THE GLOBAL CRAFT ALCOHOL MOVEMENT

GO OVERBOARD, WITH SOME OF

NEW ENGLAND’S FINEST

34>

9

772397 696005


EDITOR

Richard Croasdale

DESIGNER

Ashley Johnston

Editor’s

NOTE

@fermenthq

@fermentmagazine

Contributions, comments, rants:

richard@beer52.com

Boston, p16

ADVERTISING

To discuss how Ferment

could work with your brand, request

a media pack or book an advert,

contact: matthew@beer52.com

nicky@beer52.com

COVER ILLUSTRATION

Gus Scott

www.gusscottillustration.co.uk

PUBLISHED BY:

Ferment & Beer52,

Floor 2,

26 Howe Street,

Edinburgh,

EH3 6TG

This issue of Ferment was first

printed in November 2018 in Poland, by

Elanders. All rights reserved. Reproduction

in whole or in part without written

permission is strictly prohibited. All prices

are correct at the time of going to press but

are subject to change.

I’m English. I enjoy cryptic crosswords, mix my own muesli

and am uncomfortable with public displays of emotion. Yet a

couple of weeks ago I found myself watching impossibly tall

strangers play a sport I barely understood, with a giant foam

finger on my hand, screaming “yankees suck” until my throat

hurt. Why? Because Boston.

What a town, what people, what beer. The bar culture is

among the best I’ve encountered anywhere in the world;

people think you’re actively weird if you don’t start a

conversation with the person next to you and I’ve pretty much

doubled my Facebook friends (I now have eight friends).

But that’s just the start of this fun packed New Year issue.

We seek out the worst crowdfunding ideas in the beery world,

look at the role of volunteers in making festivals happen, ask

whether pubs could help beat loneliness and cut ourselves a

wholesome slice of bread beer.

This issue also sees the start of our new #beerdata feature,

where we dig through the stats in such of curious booze trends.

It’s got graphs.

Feel free to share your hopes and dreams for 2019

@FermentHQ, or ferment@beer52.com.

Richard


CONTRIBUTORS

MATTHEW CURTIS

WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER

Matthew Curtis is an award-winning

freelance beer writer, photographer

and podcaster based in London, UK. He

is the UK Editor for Good Beer Hunting.

@totalcurtis

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.

CONTENTS

LOUISE CRANE

WRITER

Louise Crane is a freelance science and

drinks writer, and a Spirits Advisor at The

Whisky Exchange in London. She holds a

Masters degree in History of Medicine and

is a trained ballet dancer. Oddly.

MARK DREDGE

WRITER

Mark Dredge is an award-winning beer

and food expert based in London. He has

written four books including The Best

Beer in the World, where he travelled the

world looking for the perfect pint.

8: Harpoon

A brewery with a heart, in the heart of Boston

12: Drinking with the brewer

Harpoon’s Dan Kenary, on beer culture, his

mission and the evolving US scene

KATIE TAYLOR

WRITER

ANTHONY GLADMAN

WRITER

OLLIE PEART

WRITER

16: Boston

Richard and Callum get under the skin of this

most remarkable beer town

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.

Anthony is an accredited Beer Sommelier and

freelance writer based in London. When he’s

not writing about beer he runs tastings and

beer tours. @agladman

Host of “The Zeitgeist” on The Modern Mann

Podcast, Ollie keeps his finger on the pulse so

we don’t have to.

@Ollieep

23: clown shoes

Unbridled creativity plus brewing genius

equals a recipe for great beer

28: 2019 predictions

What’s happening, before it happens. With

Matthew Curtis and Roger Protz.

32: city guide: belfast

Your indispensable guide

49: DEBATE

How does a fad become a trend?

Matthew Curtis finds out

54: A SENSE OF BELONGING

Katie Taylor asks whether pubs

could be key to tackling the

loneliness epidemic

66: BEER BY THE NUMBERS

Our new number-crunching column

72: FOOD

Lobster, lobster, lobster.

82: Beer guide

What’s in this month’s Beer52 box?

94: Beer school

What’s up with American lager? Part 1

By Craig Collins @CraigComicsEtc & Mark Brady @HolidayPirate


WORDS: Richard Croasdale

Harpoon was one of the very first

Massachusetts craft breweries,

founded only a year after the nowmonolithic

Sam Adams, and remains in its

original dockside home, albeit occupying

rather more of the building. Gulls wheel

overhead in the chill autumn morning as we

arrive at the Massachusetts Bay Brewing

Company, where Harpoon brew their beer,

and gleaming articulated trucks come and

go from the neighbouring fish markets.

Despite having broadened its distribution

across the states and internationally,

Harpoon is one of those brands that’s

synonymous with its home town, and which

will always have a special place in the heart

of local beer lovers. And, although the

days are long gone when you could simply

order “an IPA” anywhere in the city and

automatically be served Harpoon’s brew,

it’s clear there’s still a lot of affection and

respect for the brewery that helped bring

craft here 32 years ago.

That’s partly down to founder Dan

Kenary’s commitment to integrate Harpoon

tightly into the local community (see

interview on page 12), but also says a lot

about the character of Boston itself. You only

need to look at how the city venerates its

sporting heroes and celebrates its history to

figure that Bostonians are immensely proud

and supportive of local success stories such

as Harpoon.

For a large regional craft brewery though,

Harpoon has a very laid-back, communal feel.

VP of business development Jon Schwartz is

there to meet us in the brewery’s ‘beer hall’,

a tap room with an appropriately Germanic

feel, featuring long benches as well

as tables, plenty of dark wood and

beautiful views out over Massachusetts

bay.

Then it’s onto the brewery floor

itself, with a state-of-the art 120-barrel

German-made brewhouse at its heart.

“This has been here since 2002,

and replaced a 20-barrel gas-fired

brewhouse,” says Jon proudly. “We can

brew around 4000 litres at a time, filling

16,000 or 24,000 litre fermentation

vessels outside, and a range of smaller

sizes indoors. We also have a 10-barrel

pilot kit which gets used three of four

times a week; pretty much anyone can

put forward an idea for what we do with

that – it’s a really open, experimental

process.”

While Harpoon’s flagship IPA still

makes up around 45% of the total

company sales, 25 years after its launch,

this experimentation is still very much

part of the brewery’s culture, and

new beer ideas are not restricted to

the “rockstars” on the brewhouse

floor. All employees are encouraged

to take an active interest in brewing,

and Harpoon’s annual staff homebrew

competition has evolved into a major

event in the company calendar,

with each year’s winner given the

opportunity to scale their recipe up, for

serving in the beer hall and select local

pubs and bars.

As well as Harpoon and Clown Shoes

Beer, a super-creative local brewer

acquired by Harpoon a year ago, Mass

Bay Brewing Co. also has the UFO

brand, which brews some great wheat

beers, many packed with delicious

fresh fruit.

Factor in the brewery’s second site in

Vermont, which specialises in smallerbatch

brews and barrel-ageing, and

you begin to understand the breadth

of activity and invention at play here.

During the times we’re hanging out

in the beer hall, the chalkboard is

constantly being lowered and amended,

and there’s a real buzz among the

punters around what fresh kegs have just

been tapped.

Of course, this is all well and good, but

we’re in the 18th largest brewery in the

US here, not brewing out of an Ikea pan

in a railway arch in Bermondsey. Brewing

cock-ups in this environment are not

kooky and charming. So I’m curious how

Harpoon sustains such an ambitious

release programme while safeguarding

its high reputation for quality.

Enter head of quality control Jaime

Schier and his team of six scientists.

Harpoon’s QC lab is tucked away behind

the staff canteen. It’s obviously a busy

workspace, with some rough edges

and personal decorative touches, but

boasting several pieces of sophisticated

8 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 9


HARPOON

kit, each of which most brewers would

happily chew off their left arm to

possess.

It’s just as well they’re properly

equipped, because the QC team’s

brief is broad, as Jaime explains: “Our

job is to evaluate all the inputs that go

into the product we sell to customers.

It’s the raw brewing materials, of

course, but it’s also the boxes, the

cans, the bottles and the crowns. It’s

the conditions under which the beer

is transported and stored; we have to

consider and measure every variable

that might affect the quality of the beer

once it reaches the customer.”

This doesn’t just mean spotting

technical errors, but anticipating and

correcting for the tiny variations which

could make the end product less

consistent.

“And that’s what makes working in

the quality lab the coolest job in the

whole operation, because we’re the only

people to get to touch on every single

part of the process. Even upstream of

the brewery, we have relationships with

our hop growers and our maltsters, with

people at our local water authority.”

Interestingly (and tellingly) Jaime

also has a kind of customer service role,

as any feedback on the beer itself will

generally end up with him or one of his

team. When he started working with

Harpoon in 1999, he would get handwritten

complaints from customers

when things went wrong, which he

found tough at first, “after all,” he

observes, “who wants to admit they’ve

screwed up?

“What I learned very quickly, which

has been borne out through the

subsequent 20 years or so, is that the

people who are motivated to get in

touch with you aren’t crabby – they’re

not unhappy people – they’re your

biggest fans to begin with. It’s like your

favourite uncle is saying ‘come on, you

can do better than that’.”

We leave Jaime and his team to their

beakers, and head back downstairs to

the beer hall for a bite to eat (see box

out) and to chat about another aspect

of the business that has caught our

attention: Harpoon Helps.

Harpoon Helps, the brewery’s

charitable operation, grew out of its

founders’ general desire to be a force

for good in the local community, as

well as the natural tendency for people

to see breweries as a great source

of free stuff for raffles. Many years

after Harpoon Helps was established

to organise such good work, the

latter form of ad-hoc giving is still an

important part of its activities. But

as Harpoon Helps manager Michelle

Palermino explains, these days there’s

much more to it.

“The next tier up consists of major

partnerships, where we give significant

support to various organisations

– including The Foundation To Be

Named Later, which is one of the Red

Sox charities, the Jimmy Fund and the

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – putting

on events, or through dollar-per-pint

programmes in the beer hall.

“The largest way we give, the top tier,

is by holding our own fundraising events

here and at our brewery in Windsor.

Those are charities we’ve worked

with for over a decade in most cases.

For example, we have the Harpoon

All tied up

in knots

All the beers in this month’s Beer52

box are top-notch, and we’re

delighted to have brought so much

fresh deliciousness to your door.

But it honestly breaks my heart

that we couldn’t also have brought

back some of Harpoon’s beer hall

pretzels for you too. Honestly, I’m not

alone in this –wherever you’re from

and whatever your prior

exposure to pretzels, these

twisty boys will change

your life. Warm, moist, faintly

hoppy (they’re boiled in IPA and

dusted with spent grain, fact

fans) and served with a selection

of home-made dips, Harpoon’s

pretzels had me seriously

researching Boston

property prices.

five-miler – a 5,000-person road race

– which raises a quarter of a million

dollars every year for ALS research.

Then we hold a similar race out of our

Windsor brewery for Oktoberfest,

which benefits a local cancer centre.

We also work with a local food bank to

fund 30,000 meals over the holidays.”

Charitable work is deeply embedded

in the culture at Harpoon, and many

employees are very hands-on in their

participation. One annual event that’s

clearly special to Michelle is ‘Harpoon

Helps Spread Holiday Cheer’ in which

brewery volunteers and their families

take Christmas decorations to brighten

up soup kitchens, half-way houses,

children’s centres and shelters.

“I love that this is something those

places probably wouldn’t be able

to prioritise for themselves –

they have

more pressing

things to use their limited resources

on – but it’s a small gesture that makes

peoples lives a little brighter at what

might be a tough time of year. This is

something we do in all our territories,

across the US, not just Boston and

Vermont. When I see a new employee

put their name on the sign-up sheet,

that’s probably the most satisfying part

of my job.”

We take it as read that the breweries

we visit for Beer52 will put out some

great beers, and Harpoon is definitely

no exception. But there’s something

genuinely special about this place and

the people who work here; a sense of

pride not only in the product, but also in

the business, its role in the community

and what it can achieve more broadly.

Consistency and innovation, tradition

and boldness, success and integrity

– Harpoon is proof that these are not

binary choices.

10 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 11


DRINKING WITH THE BREWER:

DAN KENARY, CO-FOUNDER, HARPOON

Harpoon co-founder Dan Kenary

is a busy guy, and on our

second day at Harpoon we’re

told we’ll be able to get a 30-minute

sit-down with him, to discuss the

brewery’s history and values, and

generally tie together all the good

things we’d seen and heard about.

While I’m sure it’s absolutely true

that he’s kept very busy, Dan is also

an absolute gentleman, and an hour

into our 30-minute chat in Harpoon’s

beer hall, I’m slapping my thigh with

laughter and thoroughly convinced he

should be running something rather

larger than a brewery.

His story is similar to so many other

first-wave American craft brewers:

backpacking around Western Europe

in the summer of ’82, Dan was shocked

to find not just great, flavourful beers,

but also a culture in which beer and

breweries were tightly integrated into

community life and local tradition.

“The scene here in the US was just

dismal,” he recalls. “Just light, yellow

lagers coast-to-coast. Even the handful

of old regional brewers still in business

were only producing light, yellow

lagers. Most bars had three or four taps

– your good ones had six, and the extra

three would be Guinness, Bass and

Harp, which came as a package.

“So, when I got to Europe I was like

a kid in a candy store. Holy shit, this is

WORDS & PICTURES: Richard Croasdale

phenomenal! Everywhere has its own

different beers and styles. And the

culture! Breweries in the centres of

towns, beer gardens and beer cellars

where people could go with their

families. Here, breweries were these

grim factories out on the interstate in

an industrial park. So I came back and

thought why is there no choice here?”

Teaming up with his two co-founders

– college buddies who have since

cashed out – Dan managed to raise

the princely sum of $430,000 from

family, friends, and friends of friends,

to open his own brewery and launch its

inaugural Harpoon Ale; a traditional,

balanced, flavoursome English-style ale

that was quite different to anything else

available in Boston. It was (and is, when

it’s occasionally still brewed) a great

beer and did well locally, but this was

the ‘80s and Harpoon still had to fight

tooth and nail.

“We certainly had plenty of struggles

in our early years,” Dan continues.

“But when people say the past five

We kept investing in

the company, we hired

great people, we built a

great culture

years have been a great time to start

a brewery, I’m not so sure. In the

short term maybe it is, but if you start

a business when it’s easy, you’re not

learning good lessons. Any business is

hard, and we got the shit kicked out of

us by Sam Adams and everyone else, so

we learned to be competitive. We kept

investing in the company, we hired

great people, we built a great culture.”

And it’s really the people and the

culture that are arguably the most

interesting aspect of Harpoon’s story,

and is definitely the subject that seems

to light a fire under Dan. From the start,

the idea of being a good neighbour has

been hugely important to the brewery’s

ethos, and spawned the creation of its

own charitable arm, Harpoon Helps.

The big change came around five

years ago though, when the second of

Dan’s co-founders, Rich Doyle, decided

he wanted to try something different

after 28 years. Determined that Rich’s

share of the business shouldn’t be sold

to private equity, Dan did his research

and hatched a plan to take on bank

debt and transfer 48% of Harpoon to

the employees themselves. Establishing

a panel of six minority shareholders as

a “jury” for his scheme, Dan made the

case for employee ownership and it

was unanimously approved.

“It’s been great,” he says, clearly

warming to his theme. “We’ve always

12 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 13


DRINKING WITH THE BREWER

had a great culture, but this has really

taken it to another level. If you look

around, there’s a shitload of greed and

inequality in the system, so if we can

take our stand against those things

and say ‘our stake’s in the ground

for employee ownership, for giving

everyone a stake in the success of the

company’, then let’s do it.

“There’s a little bit of a mission

aspect to what we’re doing now, which

at this stage in my career - I’m 58 - I’m

really enjoying. Four years ago, when

we made that major change, we took

out a load of debt, and we’ve been

working our asses off ever since. But

it’s not just to sell more beer, or to

make more money for our investors;

it’s to answer the question ‘can we

make employee ownership work in

this industry?’ That to me is a great

challenge and I’m really enjoying it.”

The culture of collective effort and

responsibility this move has helped

foster is evident everywhere, from the

enthusiasm of those volunteering for

Harpoon Helps, to the ‘Finance IPA’

(Increased Profit Awards) in which

employees from the packing line to

the board room are invited to submit

money-saving ideas. The winner –

appropriately – gets a pen, usually a

freebie lifted from a hotel room or

lawyer’s office: another time-honoured

Harpoon tradition.

“If you’re on the bottling line, and

you come up with an idea that saves a

penny a case, you might think that’s not

a lot of money. But you know what, we

do a lot of cases! Multiply it, and you’ve

maybe increased our valuation by

$75,000. If we have ten of those, that’s

three-quarters of a million dollars! Holy

shit!”

Although he’s a Boston native, Dan is

well-travelled, and the decision to set

up shop here rather than another state

was very deliberate. There’s definitely

a sense that New England – that

region of the north-east comprising

Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire,

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and

Connecticut – has evolved in its own

way, with its own distinct history and

culture. This is what Dan understood,

and had faith that if Harpoon could

work anywhere, it would be here.

“We looked at which cities had the

strongest pub culture, where you had

enough of an urban core that you could

build your brand on-premise [ontrade].

Back then, you had to do it that

way; you couldn’t build a brand through

retail because there was too much on

the shelf, though from the perspective

of today, that seems crazy to say. There

was even variation within in New

England, like Massachusetts was much

easier to develop than Connecticut,

which doesn’t really have an urban

core.

“Getting people’s attention was still

really difficult, because there was a

lot of hand-selling. It was real one-onone,

with me handing out t-shirts in

a bar and people asking ‘what’s this

Harpoon Ale stuff?’ ‘I thought beer was

supposed to be yellow?’ ‘Is that a beer

or is that an ale?’ How many times I got

that question?! Sam Adams started a

year or so ahead of us, so they’d been

out educating people, so the work had

already started in Boston.”

With its UFO range of wheat beers,

recent acquisition of Clown Shoes Beer

and steady stream of innovative new

brews, it’s clear that Harpoon, under

Dan’s leadership, is determined to

keep pushing ahead 30 years later. The

brewery’s convivial beer hall boasts

an eclectic line-up – from barrel-aged

imperial stouts to the superb ‘Rec

League’ low-abv NEIPA – many of

which are definitely experimental, with

pump handles labelled in chalk pen.

While his early recipes still clearly

hold a special place in his heart, Dan's

enthusiasm for the future of Harpoon

and the whole US craft scene is

obvious.

I’d love to see Boston

take another swing at

cask ales.

“I’m a big believer in the juicy New

England IPA; I really like that style,”

he says. “It’s a hybrid, a genuinely

interesting development in the beer

world. I like the mouthfeel and the

different explosion of flavours you

get... hell, it’s a real technological

breakthrough. The use of hops in that

way is new, and I really don’t think it’s

going away – it takes that old trade-off

between sweetness and bitterness

and kind of throws that on its head,

because your bittering source gives

you flavours that you associate with

sweetness.

“I do sometimes think we’re at an

extreme point with beer culture just

now though, with people driving

and queueing for hours at a brewery

to spend $60 on a 12-pack, and

everyone thinks that’s great. In two

years, maybe, we’ll all be saying ‘can

you fucking believe we gave up a

whole day for a 12-pack of beer?

What was wrong with us?’ The

pendulum always swings too far and

then corrects itself. So, if we’re at the

extreme end of that swing just now,

you’ve got to wonder what the new

reality will be like when it swings

back. Where will that balance point

be?”

Rather than seeing this as a

negative backlash though, Dan has

high hopes that the scene and culture

here will continue to evolve and settle

into a state that appreciates good

beer and quality experiences, but

without the same level of hype.

“I think people are coming back

round to traditional style though,

definitely, and I’d love to see Boston

take another swing at cask ales. My

idea of heaven is a traditional British

pub! Our Flannel Friday in the fall is a

hoppy amber, and that’s always done

really well. Everyone used to be more

comfortable letting the malt or the

delicate hops or even the yeast come

through, so I do think some of that

stuff’s going to come back around.”

14 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 15


World-class breweries are only one part of what makes

Boston a truly great beer city, as Richard Croasdale and

Callum Stewart discover

One of America’s oldest cities,

Boston has always played a

central role in the nation’s

history. Founded in 1630 by puritans

fleeing religious persecution in

England, it was also at the centre of

the eventual revolution against British

rule, providing the scene for the Boston

Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and

the Battle of Bunker Hill. Today it’s

a beautiful, exciting, multi-cultural

place, with world-famous colleges and

universities including Harvard and the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We’re lucky enough to be visiting at

the height of autumn, when the sun is

low and crisp against the city’s iconic

redbrick buildings, and its abundant

trees turn a vivid red before the hard

winter sets in. The moment we drop our

bags, Richard is keen to get out and

explore the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile

self-guided walking tour among the

churches, meeting houses, cemeteries

and monuments that mark out the key

events and famous figures in Boston’s

storied past. It’s also a great opportunity

to get our bearings, and find out

how “America’s walking city” got its

reputation.

In short, it’s everything you would

expect from film and television: a

jarring but distinctive mix of colonial

and Victorian buildings, surrounded

by towering glass and steel, with

steaming vents on street corners and

the pervading sense that this is still a

maritime town, on the ragged coast of

Massachusetts Bay.

There are also a huge number of

bars and restaurants, particularly in the

downtown area, promising cold brews

and fresh seafood. Beer delivery trucks

roam the streets, loudly promoting

everything from Coors to Harpoon and

Stone, and we stop at several points on

our walk to slake our palates. The tour

ends at the monument on Bunker Hill,

an oasis of peace that gives us a great

view of some of Boston’s most historic

streets, against the backdrop of its

modern heart.

It’s getting late now though, and

the next stop in our cultural education

couldn’t be more different: tickets to

see the Boston Celtics play the Detroit

Pistons at basketball. TD Gardens is a

great venue, a million miles from the

grotty painted concrete and sad pie

stands of most British stadiums. Even

though we’re right at the back, it still

feels like we’re at the heart of the action

and the atmosphere is oddly intimate

for a big-ticket event.

From the moment the house lights

go down, it’s a non-stop, two-hour

assault on the senses. Despite the many

interruptions to play, from fouls (there

are many) to time-outs (each team

uses its full complement of five) the

16 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 17


BOSTON

crowd is kept writhing on the attentiondeficit

hook every moment, with lulls

filled by tightly orchestrated dance

routines, competitions and audience

participation.

We’re slightly confused that there

are so many empty seats for the first

quarter, and that seemingly committed

fans are still rolling casually in 20

minutes after the start of the game.

Soon enough though, we learn that

it’s really the final moments of the final

quarter where the drama happens,

where every second on the game clock

is strategically eked out for a final

chance of redemption or glory.

In the end, the Celtics snatch a

victory by the narrowest of margins,

pushed over the line by a home court

advantage that seems positively

unsporting to our eyes – the visitors’

every move is accompanied by booing

fans and distracting sound effects

from the powerful PA system. Throw

in a rolling light show that Jean-Michel

Jarre would have found gaudy, and you

have the sensory equivalent of corn

syrup, leaving us jittery and elated.

Time for a drink.

Fortunately, we’re not far from the

newly-opened Trillium taproom, and

decide dank and juicy is the way to go.

The bar itself is very cool and very slick,

playing host to an after-work crowd

enjoying live football on several massive

screens. The staff react with friendly

but poorly-concealed concern at a beer

magazine bowling up unannounced, so

we put the camera away and settle in

for a strictly off-duty drink. It’s a shame

that New England IPAs travel so badly,

because when they’re freshly brewed by

people who really understand the style,

they’re truly exceptional.

We rise bright and early the next

day, which we’ve set aside for exploring

Boston with Harpoon’s Jon Schwartz

and our export partner Qurban Walia.

As luck would have it, our trip has

coincided with both the Boston Red

Sox winning the World Series and

Halloween, plunging the entire city

into a confusing but colourful sports/

apocalypse-themed party. Even luckier,

our hosts at Harpoon have a couple

of spare tickets to the iconic Fenway

Park, for the start of the Red Sox

victory parade, which they offer to

us. When you’re in Boston and you’re

asked “would you like to go to Fenway

Park?” the answer for anyone who

has ever followed a sports team is an

unequivocal “Yes”.

So it was that we entered the actual

Fenway Park, emerging from a dark

concrete tunnel onto the bleachers,

the diamond before us and neon

advertisements for Coca-Cola, John

Hancock and Sam Adams towering

above. We’re there to welcome back

the city’s baseball stars, as one-by-one

MVPs, dignitaries and owners come

up on stage to reassure the select,

3000-strong crowd that Boston has

the best sporting fans in the world

(and stick it to the haters). But this is

just the start of a day (and night) of

celebrations for Sox fans, as the players,

their significant others and hangers-on

are loaded into ‘duck boats’ – those

strange amphibious buses that, for

reasons nobody seems able to explain,

are traditional for Bostonian victory

parades – and trundled around the city

to have beer thrown at them.

Sometimes referring to itself as ‘Title

Town’, Boston is certainly in the habit

of sporting victory, whether you’re a

fan of the Celtic’s (basketball), New

England Patriots (American football)

or the Bruins (ice hockey). For the Red

Sox in particular though, this latest

victory rounds off a decade in the top

tier, which followed 86 years without a

World Series win, so it’s a big deal.

By late morning, the streets of Boston

are flowing with beer, both literally and

figuratively, as the entire population has

clearly sacked off work for the day, and

it’s time to dive into one of the most

epic bar crawls that Ferment has ever

attempted.

Our first stop is the Yard House,

just a minute’s walk from Fenway.

Primarily a sports bar, it’s famous for

having more than 100 taps, optionally

pouring into huge ‘yard’ glasses (not the

recommended glassware for craft beer,

but when in Rome…). Even though we

arrived at 11am, the bar is soon packed

with sports fans. It’s early, and we’re not

animals, so we decide to start with some

of the easier-drinking ‘brunch’ beers.

Rich has the delightfully sweet and

tart raspberry hefeweizen from UFO,

while Callum goes for Abita’s Purple

Haze, a raspberry lager which is just

as drinkable. The bar is typical of the

American craft scene, full of sports fans

of all ages, multiple TV screens to watch

the game, and a huge variety of beer

from across the country.

As is typical here – and across the US,

to be honest – the best seats are right

at the bar, and strangers are keen to talk

to one another. Boston is home to the

Cheers Bar (apologies to readers under

30 for this reference) and, while nobody

at the Yard House knows our names

when we arrive, an awful lot of them do

by the time we leave an hour later.

Our next port of call is technically

the Cask ‘n Flagon, which markets itself

as a craft joint, but is actually a pretty

charmless drinking warehouse, with

surly staff and scant atmosphere. We

duck out after one lap around the

monolithic bar.

18 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 19


BOSTON

Seeking refuge, we head to

Cornwall’s Bar, a ‘British-themed’ pub

where we are made to feel at home with

Old Speckled Hen on cask, a mural of

Margaret Thatcher riding into battle

with Winston Churchill and Sherlock

Holmes, and authentically disappointing

food. This is much more to our taste.

Callum chooses the Lawson’s Sip

of Sunshine DIPA, which is lush and

tropical, featuring an abundance of

US-grown Citra and Columbus hops.

Rich (still sulking over his pie) opts for

the more obscure Extra Dry Sake Saison

from Stillwater N.Y., a low-alcohol, dryas-a-bone

saison brewed with a hefty

slug of rice for a delicate, sake-like

character.

Another favourite shared by the

group was Hop, Hop and Away from

Aeronaut Brewing Co, a light and hazy

easy-drinking session IPA. Founded by

students at MIT, Aeronaut is using this

science knowledge to brew beer in the

Boston suburb of Somerville, and has

developed a steady following within the

state.

The next stop is a strong contender for

Ferment’s Favourite Dive Bar’. Bukowski’s

Tavern, also known as the Dead Authors’

Club, is tucked in a shady corner under

a multi-storey car park, and lighting is

almost non-existent. The walls are full

of graffiti, with quotes from the likes of

Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Brontë and of

course Charles Bukowski himself. Loved

by locals and college students alike, the

bar’s beer list is uncompromising to the

point of being aggressive, favouring

obscure local brews with a smattering

of international bottled oddities. You

can also order Pabst Blue Ribbon, just

to show you’re in on the joke.

Callum goes for Pinot Brune from

Baxter Brewing Co. in Maine, a complex

sour, with noir grapes and cherries,

but darker like a brown ale. Rich finds

his beer-of-the-trip here: Singlecut’s

Bowie-themed Cold Fire, a syrupy New

England-style, double dry-hopped

imperial IPA, which body-slams you with

juicy mango, pineapple and stone fruit,

layered with dank resin notes and a real

bitter edge. Violating our self-imposed

rule early in the day, we stay for a

second round here: the super-hoppy

and delicious Galactica DIPA from

Clown Shoes, featured in this month’s

VIP box.

Moving on across the road, Pour

House seems at first to simply be a

well-stocked, atmospheric craft pub,

the likes of which Boston does so well

(okay, we’re spoiled at this point). Our

host Jon, however, chooses this moment

to bring out the big guns, pulling off

his fleece to reveal the Red Sox Jersey

he’s been secretly wearing all day

and shepherding us down a winding

staircase.

The downstairs bar is a party in full

swing; a zombie, vampire, baseball

frat house, with plastic pumpkins and

cobwebs dangling in plentiful pitchers

of beer. The ghost of John Belushi is at

our shoulders. We’re probably the only

two people not wearing Red Sox caps

(Callum would mysteriously wake up

wearing one the following morning) but

we dive into the celebrations regardless,

with several pints of Harpoon’s superb

and timely Flannel Friday autumnal

amber ale.

Callum’s Scottish accent plays well

here and everyone claims some sort

of Celtic lineage, with at least half the

bar being direct maternal descendants

of Robert the Bruce. We’re adopted

as official party photographers and

everyone is keen to have their presence

at this historic moment marked for

posterity (or have their picture taken

with Callum, for some reason).

Disentangling ourselves, we make

a quick stop for breath in McGreevy’s

next door, before heading back

towards Fenway to Bleachers Bar.

Hidden inside the baseball stadium

itself, but accessible and open to the

general public, this bar offers stunning

views across Fenway Park, with tables

on gameday being reserved weeks in

advance.

We’ve been in dark bars since

11am and are, in any case, still a little

jetlagged. So by the second pint

here, our senses are like molasses

and time has ceased to have any real

meaning. Jon and Qurban have hung

on gallantly, despite having a full day of

work tomorrow, and we seem to have

accumulated a lot of new friends too,

all of whom are very enthusiastic about

introducing us to their favourite local

brew. How long are we there? What

beers do we drink? All sense of proper

journalistic record has long since flown,

and it’s all we can do to keep hold of

Richard’s camera. Everyone is trying to

turn us into Red Sox fans, but the truth

is we have been for about 12 hours now.

How could we not be?

Miraculously, we wake up back in

our hotel room, with the promise of

bottomless coffee and loaded breakfast

burritos wafting up from the restaurant

downstairs. We’ve accumulated a

surprising number of business cards,

cryptic notes scrawled on napkins and

a gaggle of Facebook friend requests,

most of which seem attached to some

kind of half-baked plan or vague promise

of magazines. There’s absolutely no

question that Boston boasts some of the

finest breweries and beers anywhere

in the world, but we feel we’ve just

experienced what makes it a truly great

beer city.

20 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 21


lown Shoes founder Gregg

Berman and head brewer Dan

Lipke make a slightly odd

pairing. Huddled around coffees in their

small office (one of the few in Mass Bay’s

open-plan administrative space) Gregg

is full of energy, spinning mile-a-minute

stories about his brewery’s history, with

frequent tangents which only later link

back to his main theme. This is the kind

of interview where you just try to hang

on, rather than risk bringing the whole

thing to a grinding halt with anything as

crude as a question. Dan, by contrast,

has the stoic gravitas of a veteran

brewer who’s spent his entire career

being asked to do the impossible;

innovating, managing expectations and

ensuring brilliant ideas result in brilliant

beers. In this, they’re the perfect team.

Gregg is the scion of a family

Richard Croasdale discovers why the peculiar

chemistry at Clown Shoes is a formula for success

of merchants stretching back four

generations, his great grandparents

having moved from Russia in the early

20th century. His great grandfather

drove a meat cart into Boston every

day, which eventually became a grocery

store and, after the end of prohibition, a

liquor store. When his father eventually

joined the family business in the 60s,

he became passionate about wine

and began travelling with friends to

Europe – Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy –

and in time developed a large importing

operation, which Gregg duly joined in his

turn.

“I like wine but was never super

passionate about it,” he says. “It was

always the business and the strategic

aspects of that which interested me. But it

was at this point, about 12 years ago, that

I got exposed to craft beer in America.

I really didn’t have much understanding

22 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 23


FUNNY HA-HA

of what was going on at first; I probably

had a wine guy’s perception that beer

was inferior, and that if you wanted

really high quality you probably had to

go to Belgium or Germany.”

The beer that changed everything

for Gregg was Dogfish Head’s Immort

Ale, which was recommended by a

colleague – “one of those guys who had

to make converts”. Dan was shocked at

the amount of flavour, complexity and

thought that had clearly gone into the

brew. So he began exploring, strictly

as a consumer, first among the family

business’s own stock and then, once

this had been exhausted, at a larger

specialist retailer where he befriended

the manager.

“I tried everything that I could from

around the world and domestically.

And then I realised that, with our

wine license, we’d also taken a malt

license – the two came together – so

I was already set up to distribute

beer and had the channels to do so.

My idea was to go after the very best

beers in America and bring them all to

Massachusetts. I learned a lot travelling

around the country, but the main lesson

was that none of these great breweries

wanted to work with me or come to

Massachusetts. Or if they did, they

wanted to be with someone who wasn’t

a wine distributor. So I had a bunch of

doors slammed in my face, and a few

that almost cracked open but then shut

again.”

Undeterred, Gregg hatched another

plan: if he couldn’t bring the beers he

loved to Massachusetts, he’d just have

to start brewing his own here.

“I started poking around, and it

probably took six months before I found

Dan, who at the time was working for

Mercury Brewing in a beautiful town

called Ipswich. It was really a connection

right from the beginning; I travelled

up to meet Dan and his former boss

Rob Marin, because I wanted to make a

black IPA, really just for fun. I described

the beer to Rob and Dan and they said

they were interested in the beer and in

the business, but they wanted to think

about it and I should come back in a

couple of weeks.”

When Gregg did as they suggested,

he was surprised to find on his return

to Ipswich that Dan had brewed a test

batch, based purely on Gregg’s initial

description, and that is was perfect.

“I knew I wanted it to be around 7%

– the other black IPAs on the market

at that time were 10%,” recalls Gregg.

“I also wanted it to have a much more

vibrant hop profile, using west coast

hops with more fruity notes than you’d

usually find. The beer Dan brewed was

exactly what I‘d imagined, and went

on to become Hoppy Feet, the first

beer we sold. He’s a genius, and when

you have genius brewers you can just

describe flavours and they’ll make them.

I’ve been very lucky.”

“It hasn’t always been that

straightforward though,” chimes in Dan

with a grin.

Hoppy Feet made a splash locally,

and pretty soon people were asking

what would be next for Clown

Shoes. The answer came in the

form of two beers, a brown

ale and a clementine IPA. The

latter is still in production, but

almost didn’t make it out of

the experimentation

phase, until Dan

had the bright

idea of blending two “not quite right”

test batches – one dry-hopped and the

other brewed with clementine essence –

to create something much greater than

the sum of its parts.

Perhaps because of his background,

having seen many brands come and

go, Gregg is instinctively mistrustful

of relying too heavily on brand loyalty,

and works tirelessly to stay on top

of consumer tastes and meet the

appetite for “what’s new, what’s next”.

With this philosophy comes a fairly

hard-nosed approach to culling beers

whose popularity is beginning to wane,

including the inaugural Hoppy Feet.

“Every year we’ve grown – we’ve done

well over 100 beers, we’re constantly

rotating,” he continues. “This year, we

had the most aggressive calendar of

releases ever. There’s a bunch of new

products, and then every month

we did a one-off in a 16oz can

that went national, as well as

our barrel programme at the

brewery in Vermont, which has

grown about 50% this year.”

Which brings us on to

the big change that

allowed Clown

Shoes to really

step up its ambitions: its acquisition two

years ago by Mass Bay Brewing Co.

Gregg’s original intention was to build

a new brewery and he even hired an

investment banker to help raise the $6

million he would need. He quickly saw

how much of a trap this kind of highly

structured debt could be though, and

was wary of being in hock to banks and

equity investors, having seen friends

come unstuck through similar deals.

Every year we’ve grown

– we’ve done well

over 100 beers, we’re

constantly rotating

So he tore up his initial plan and began

looking for a strategic partner instead.

“I talked to a lot of horrible people in

that whole process. People who wanted

me to fire my whole team, take the

brand, turn it into a cash cow. People

who want to turn me into other brands

they’d purchased and have me help

fatten everything up, sell it off. That just

didn’t interest me.

“Mass Bay was the one organisation

that made sense to me, which is ironic

because my impression was that it’s

a super button-down, conservative

organisation. And then you’ve got

Clown Shoes which is edgy and a little

bit absurd. But we quickly found out

underneath that, in terms of our view

of people, ethics, long-term vision and

strategy, we had a lot of commonality.

In fact, it’s a benefit that our brands

are different, because we’ve spent this

year learning from each other. So we

came here, the whole team, and they’ve

committed to letting us maintain our

personality, to make the beers we want

to make, and to really communicate our

messages.”

Dan adds: “When we were in

discussions about a merger, the chief

brewer here asked, ‘why are you guys

interested in coming over’. The answer

was quality, of course; Harpoon and

Mass Bay have such a reputation for

being a top-notch facility run by top-

24 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 25


FUNNY HA-HA

notch people, so the chance to be able

to make our beer with these people

backing us up was great.”

While 2018 was about growth – an

astonishing 20%, in fact – and getting

properly settled into Mass Bay’s stateof-the-art

brewhouse, 2019 will be a year

of pushing the boundaries even further,

and Gregg and Dan’s excitement is

palpable. There are new frontiers on

format and packaging, with more 16oz

cans and a move into the ever-popular

12-packs, but also on the brewing side.

Just as one example, Gregg is dashing

across town after our interview, to

meet with a team at the Massachusetts

Institute of Technology specialising in

analytical chemistry: “MIT is the perfect

spot to get some bright minds with

unjaded views of the brewing industry,”

he says.

Here though, he also sounds a note

of caution, that even in the hypercompetitive

US craft beer market,

unbridled creativity isn’t the be-all and

end-all.

“Being innovative is great to a point

– we’re competing for attention with

7000 breweries nationwide – but I think

being refined in what you do is also

so important. The analogy I use is that

food here used to be very stodgy back

in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Then in the

‘90s and 2000s everyone in America

got obsessed with fusion cuisine,

where you’d throw everything at the

cooking. Now if you go to a fine dining

restaurant, there may be some fusion,

but it’s all well thought out. It’s refined.

That’s where we need to go as a brand,

and where the innovative brands need

to go in general I think.”

Fortunately, Clown Shoes also has

the brewing expertise to channel all

this creativity to great-tasting beers.

When Dan first met Gregg, he’d been

at Mercury Brewing for around 10

years. He was happy in his work, but

found that brewing mostly the same

recipes that had been brewed there for

decades was leaving him with a creative

itch he was unable to scratch.

“I definitely have a more creative

side,” he says. “Both my mum and my

sister are artists, my dad’s side of the

family has a bunch of chefs and distillers

so I always loved the creative side of

brewing. But in terms of coming up

with new beers and things that were

fun and exciting, there wasn’t much

there until Greg came along. That was

a great opportunity to flex muscles I

hadn’t really been using. Not everything

worked, obviously, but there were lots of

successes too and lots of fun projects. I

think of clown shoes as a super creative

brand.”

Gregg and Dan seem like a great

team, but the proof of these things is

always in the beer. Happily, from the

inspired recipe concepts and impeccable

brewing, right through to the irreverent,

eye-catching branding, everything

about Clown Shoes is as delicious as it is

innovative. In its new home at Mass Bay,

we have every hope that Clown Shoes

will continue to buck the trends of a

slightly weary craft beer market.

26 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 27


2018 saw some truly noteworthy trends in the UK’s craft drinking habits,

with the rise of the NEIPA, a flood of sours and (at last) the rehabilitation of

quality lager. But what surprises will 2019 hold?

Matthew Curtis, Roger Protz and Richard Croasdale share the inside track.

It’s been a real year of ups and

downs for British beer. We

saw more craft brewers like

Beavertown and Fourpure join the

ranks of the big brewers, which

depending on your viewpoint

may be positive – and open up

great beer to more people – or

just further signal that big beer

is slowly sinking its teeth into

craft. Meanwhile, the world’s

largest brewing company AB

InBev opened a Goose Island

brewpub in London’s Shoreditch.

At the same time, I personally

lamented the closure of one of my

favourite London beer bars, Mason &

Company.

And just when it seemed that

things couldn’t get worse, in the

annual cask report we learned that

sales of cask ale are in freefall—down

6.8% year on year. Regardless of your

opinion of cask, it is a core part of

British beers identity. This startling

decline should be a cause of concern.

However, it’s not all bad news.

Despite leading with the negatives

I still feel that the past 12 months

have been overwhelmingly positive

for British beer. The British Beer

& Pub Association now states that

there are 2500 breweries within the

UK. And while market conditions

remain challenging, as the cost of

running a business continues to

rise, many breweries are still seeing

plenty of growth. In addition to this

we’re seeing more bars, taprooms

and bottle shops open—in particular

outside of major metropolitan areas—

meaning that great beer is arguably

more accessible than it has ever

been.

2019 presents something of an

uncertainty — not least because

of Brexit’s looming threat to our

economy. However in my predictions

for the next 12 months I’ve decided

to focus on the positive. We need

to be mindful of the problems

British beer faces, and actively

work towards improving

conditions for industry and

consumer alike. But mostly we

have to remember that beer is

there to be enjoyed and celebrated.

So here’s what I’m most looking

forward to next year.

LAGER, WITH BELLS ON

Crispy pints of Pilsner and Helles

certainly made their mark in 2018,

which was without doubt the year

of the craft lager. Breweries such as

Bristol’s Lost and Grounded went

from strength to strength with its

Flagship Keller Pils and we saw

plenty of positives from new entrants

to the category, such as Hartlepool’s

Donzoko.

I predict that lager will continue to

go from strength to strength in 2019.

Especially considering the number of

breweries which are expanding, and

freeing up capacity so that they have

the time to produce quality product.

However, I feel that with more lagers

entering the category, the breweries

producing them will have to be more

innovative within the style to capture

our attention. That might be from

alternative dispense methods such

as Czech-style side pour taps or

“slow pours,” wherein servers spend

five minutes gradually pouring the

beer to build up aromatic clouds of

foam. Or it may be from investigating

the potential held within amber, or

dark malts. Bring on the schwarzbier.

CASK RETURNS WITH GUSTO

Despite cask currently facing a

downturn, I do believe that this dip

is temporary. An increasingly mindful

approach from brewers about how

they approach the format, who they

sell it to, and the training they offer

those customers, should inevitably

lead to a more positive focus on

cask from drinkers. Whether you

feel Cloudwater’s return to cask was

significant or not, it will undoubtedly

lead others toward a similar

approach. And let’s not forget Siren,

who after winning the Champion

Beer of Britain Award for its Broken

Dream Breakfast Stout saw sales of

its cask beer increase by over a third.

I also feel that a fondness for

more traditional beers will return.

Take Harvey’s Best popping up in

some of London’s most desireable

craft venues like The Axe in Stoke

Newington as one example.

Northern Monk serving fresh

Timothy Taylor’s Landlord in its

brand new Manchester taproom is

another. There is plenty of life in

the old dog yet.

MORE WILD, MORE SOUR

Thanks to pioneers like Burning Sky

and The Wild Beer Co. wild and sour

beers have become a permanent

thread within British beer’s rich

tapestry. From this we are seeing

an increasing number of breweries

focusing on the production of oak

aged, mixed and spontaneously

fermented beers. Folks like Mills

Brewing and Little Earth Project

have demonstrated the potential

these styles have within the market.

And with its Overworks Project,

BrewDog will likely take these styles

mainstream.

But I feel as though this is just a

frontier, and that over the horizon

there will also be increased interest

from beer lovers for natural wines

and low intervention ciders—and

crucially where these beverages

cross over with beer. The idea of

saisons blended with cider lees

or foudre beers with added grape

must really gets me excited. In some

ways, craft beer still exists in its own

bubble. It’s where the worlds of beer,

wine, cider and more blur, that the

most interesting future for all of

these categories lies, and it’s these

boundaries I feel the most innovative

brewers will veer towards in 2019.

M

28 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 29


2019 PREDICTIONS

It’s possible many of us will be

drinking through a glass darkly

in 2019. After years of the

seemingly unstoppable rise of pale

ale and its many derivatives, there

are signs that people are now

switching to stout.

The omens were there in

August 2018 when Siren Craft

Brew from Berkshire walked away

with the prestigious Champion

Beer of Britain trophy at the Great

British Beer Festival with Broken

Dream Breakfast Stout. The 6.5%

beer is rich and complex, brewed

with eight malts including chocolate

malt, with the addition of roasted

coffee beans and lactose. Lactose,

also known as milk sugar, can’t be

fermented by traditional brewers’

yeast and gives a silky and creamy

note to the beer.

The award created considerable

interest and helped put dark beers

back on the map. Shortly before

writing this, I sampled a porter

brewed by the Italian brewer Ora in

collaboration with BrewYork, again

using lactose along with dark malts.

It’s as tasty as a true Italian espresso,

with the added advantage of a shot

of alcohol.

The revival of interest in porter

and stout will be backed by CAMRA’s

national winter festival that puts

great stress on darker beers

brewed for the colder times of the

year. Perhaps a few enterprising

lager brewers might jump on the

bandwagon with versions of the

German style known as Dunkel.

The year will undoubtedly see

greater interest in bottled beers.

Marston’s have announced they

will be organising a week in 2019

devoted to the promotion of bottleconditioned

beers. The event will

be run in conjunction with other

brewers, including Moor Beer of

Bristol that specialises in cans with

live yeast that have won CAMRA’s

seal of approval.

This initiative will emphasise to

drinkers that bottled beers with live

yeast can age and mature just as

significantly as vintage wines and the

ageing process brings greater depth

of flavour and character. Proof of this

comes with a Golden Edition of the

historic, 13% Thomas Hardy’s Ale, first

brewed in 1968, and which is alleged

to improve for 25 years – I have never

managed to put that to the test.

Further proof comes from the

latest Fuller’s Vintage Ale, an

amazingly complex beer and the first

to be brewed by new head brewer

Georgina Young. A few bottles are

slumbering in my cellar and I will do

my best to leave them for a year or

two. I trust the Marston’s scheme will

stop some retail outlets refusing to

stock beer “with bits in them”.

Of course, the pale ale fervour

will not disappear. Determined

to keep abreast of the upstarts

on the West Coast of the

United States, there is a newish

phenomenon known as NEIPA – New

England India Pale Ale. These are

not only tasty brews but are more

balanced than some of the ultrahoppy

West Coast versions, with

malt allowed to balance the hops.

It’s good to find American brewers

producing IPAs that don’t make your

ears explode with over-enthusiastic

hop rates.

The success of both sour beer and

Saison suggests that brewers will be

looking for other European styles to

create. It’s likely we will see more and

more brewers ageing their beers in

wood, aware of the additional depth

of flavour wood imparts. Already a

few brewers are experimenting with

Gose, an almost unknown German

style that has associations with

Belgian Lambic with the addition of

salt.

The enormous interest aroused

in 2018 by the launch of an English

Trappist ale from the monks of

Mount St Bernard monastery near

Loughborough may encourage both

religious houses and commercial

brewers to produce more abbey-style

beers.

And – this is where I came in – the

Mount St Bernard beer is dark!

The ABV arms race seems

to be well and truly over,

partly because of the

worrying news that young people

are turning their backs on booze,

perhaps also because the palate

of the average drinker is getting a

little more discerning, but largely

because we’re all bored of getting

an Uber home to be sick into a wicker

bin at 8pm on a Tuesday. In its place,

we have an abundance of ‘small’ and

‘table’ beers; low-ABV brews that

nonetheless pack a big hit of flavour

and complexity. Having seen how

these styles are developing in the US,

I confidently predict the best is yet to

come, and we’ll see these delicious,

isotonic-laden beers being embraced

as a relatively healthy, sophisticated

choice this summer.

I admit, it took me a while to come

around to Team NEIPA, but I’ve now

bought the jersey and am standing

on the touchline every Saturday,

screaming at the ref. Once you get

over your instinctive reaction that

this is a beer that’s gone horribly

wrong and judge it on its own terms,

it’s a fantastically rewarding style,

with the potential to evolve off in

all sorts of interesting directions. To

be completely honest, we’re still not

great at making them in the UK, and

their short shelf life means it’s nigh on

impossible to get imported NEIPAs

at their peak. We’re getting better

though, and if 2018 was the year of

the NEIPA in the UK, you can expect

2019 to be the year of the good

NEIPA.

Starting your own brewery is no

longer seen as a fast-track to glory

and riches. We’ve not slowed down

like the US, but 2018 saw a growing

acceptance that competition here is

getting really tough, and consumers

are finding it increasingly hard to get

excited about the latest hot young

thing. I feel this has come as a bit of a

relief to everyone; the stupid question

of “where will the next Brewdog/

Beavertown/Camden come from” can

now probably be answered “it won’t”

or, at the very least, “who cares?”

Instead, we’re seeing a new crop of

breweries who seem to be genuinely

happy ploughing their own furrow,

focusing on producing interesting

(often niche) beer and actively

eschewing anything that would take

them out of their commercial comfort

zone.

We’re fans of bières sans frontiers,

and love being able to get our

hands on the best from around the

world, but we’re also very happy

that localism seems to be making a

comeback. People care about getting

fresh beer and supporting their local

brewery, while tourists seem to be

making more of an effort to seek out

indigenous brews. Historically, this

has been a key part of all the world’s

major brewing traditions, so it’s great

to see it making a comeback.

Will the general level of quality

get better this year? Who knows. We

still come across far too many UK

beers that should never have left the

brewery, let alone been exchanged

for hard cash. Britain produces many

beers that can stand up there with

the best in the world, but it’s still

pretty hit and miss. If there’s a market

cull coming – and history strongly

suggests it will at some point – we can

only hope quality rises to the surface.

Sadly, the one factor most likely to

have an impact on beer in 2019 and

beyond has nothing to do with beer. At

the time of writing, it looks like Brexit

is going to have a massive impact on

all of us, whether we’re importing,

exporting, buying raw materials or

collaborating with brewers in other

countries. Everyone will manage, I’m

sure, and necessity really is the mother

of invention, but it’s going to cause an

awful lot of paperwork, just so Barry

from Great Yarmouth can have a blue

passport.

Finally, can we all just agree that

Brut IPA is the Global Hypercolour

shirt of the beer world: it’s got a cool

name, we all got very excited about

it, but then we realised the idea was

vastly better than the reality, and even

the idea wasn’t that great. Stop this

madness.

30 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 31


PUBS AND BARS

SUNFLOWER

65 Union Street, BT1 1NF

My kind of bar: weird and careworn,

adorned with socialist, sporting

and punk memorabilia and, most

importantly, boasting a knockout

selection of beers on tap and in bottle,

from a well-curated selection of local

and international breweries. Live music

seven nights a week, with occasional

movie nights, live poetry readings and

other loveliness.

THE JOHN HEWITT

51 Donegall Street, BT1 2FH

While we’re on the subject of bars that

wear their politics on their sleeve, The

John Hewitt (named after the socialist

poet) was created to help fund the

Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre.

BELFAST

CITY GUIDE

It’s also a lovely old-fashioned feeling

pub, bedecked with dark wood and

specialising in bottled Irish beers.

BITTLES BAR

70 Upper Church Lane, BT1 9FZ

Recommended by one of my new

friends at this month’s members’ bottle

share, Bittles Bar is not to be missed.

Again specialising in Irish brews, the

selection here is heavy on Kinnegar – a

real Beer52 favourite – while the limited

international line-up will suit visitors

looking for something familiar.

THE DIRTY ONION

3 Hill Street, BT1 2LA

You might visit this former bonded

warehouse for its bonkers architectural

choices, but you’ll definitely stay for

the brilliant atmosphere and nightly

traditional folk music, hosted with

cultural centre An Droichead. The beer

selection has something for everyone,

with a good line-up of local beers at

its core, as well as some English and

American favourites.

LAVERY’S / THE

WOODWORKERS

12-18 Bradbury Pl , BT7 1RS

A Belfast institution and one of the

last remaining great pubs on the city’s

‘golden mile’. A top selection of beers

and some real characters behind the

bar, but the main interest for pub

aficionados will be the building itself.

Lavery’s is a warren of bars, saloons

and snugs over several levels, that

feels like they’ve sprouted organically

like fronds of a giant boozy fern.

The most recent addition is The

Woodworkers, a perfectly formulated

craft bar.

LAVERY’S / THE WOODWORKERS

NORTHERN LIGHTS

451 Ormeau Rd, BT7 3GQ

I accidentally got an AirBnB just around

the corner from this place, and I’m

so glad I did. Formerly the site of the

ill-fated Brewbot venture, Northern

Lights – run by the independent Galway

Bay brewery group – has probably the

widest selection of craft beers in the

city. There’s around eight of Galway

Bay’s own beers, and another 12

rotating taps from the UK, Ireland and

further afield. The food’s also decent,

and there’s a packed programme of

entertainment, including regular ‘meet

the brewer’ events and quizzes.

BREWERIES

BOUNDARY

310 Newtownards Road, BT4 1HE

This co-operative brewery, owned

and run by its members, aims

to bring modern American craft

sensibilities to classic European

styles. Aside from a couple of big

stouts, Boundary specialises in big

punchy flavours and lower ABVs.

From Berliner weisse to Belgian

golden ale and even a NEIPA, this

is a thoughtful brewery making

thoughtful beers for thoughtful

drinkers.

FOOD

MADE IN BELFAST

23 Talbot St, BT1 2QH

So much cool. Made in Belfast is

right in the middle of the city’s hip

Cathedral quarter, and serves a

great-value, inventive menu featuring

locally sourced food. The decor is

idiosyncratically mismatched, but in

a very tasteful, deliberate way, like a

factory canteen designed by Vivienne

Westwood. Get its pre-theatre menu

before 6pm for even better value.

HOLOHANS AT THE

BARGE

1 Lanyon Quay, BT1 3LG

Last time I went to a floating restaurant

was 2003, and I got bitten by a snake.

Not much chance of that here though.

The sister restaurant to the equally

popular Holoran’s Pantry, the barge

is small and genuinely charming, with

scrummy food at excellent prices.

The star of the show is the ‘boxty’:

a traditional Irish potato pancake,

wrapped around an assortment of

fillings. At around £10 with perfectly

cooked veg on the side, that’s some

good eatin’.

32 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 33


BELFAST CITY GUIDE

EDŌ

ULSTER FOLK AND

TRANSPORT MUSEUM

EDŌ

3 Capital House, Upper Queen Street,

BT1 6FB

Slightly more up-market, but without

being stuffy, EDŌ is the brainchild of

head chef and owner Jonny Elliott, whose

extensive experience includes stints with

Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes. Diners

are encouraged to explore the different

tastes on offer through a sharing menu

(though traditional starters and mains are

also possible). The restaurant’s unusual

BERTHA oven, on which food is cooked

over apple and pear wood, gives dishes

a distinctive sweet and smoky flavour.

The slow-roasted ham hock is particularly

wonderful.

MURIEL’S CAFE BAR

12-14 Church Lane

Want somewhere with bags of

atmosphere, hilarious staff and good,

hearty food (particularly the cakes)?

Then head straight for Muriel’s. Housed

in a former Victorian dressmakers/

brothel, expect vintage mismatched

furniture, cozy lighting and frilly lingerie

liberally strewn about the place. It’s the

kind of eatery in which you’ll want to

take your time, especially on a chilly

winter’s day, so book ahead because it

gets busy.

WHAT TO DO IN

BELFAST

TITANIC BELFAST

I mean, obviously. This is the city’s

flagship (no pun intended) visitor

attraction and it’s easy to see why. From

the architecturally bold building to

the informative, interactive, respectful

exhibits, this is a model for how good

big-budget, specialist museums can be.

As the Titanic was built in Belfast, the

main focus here is the accomplishment

of its construction, and lives of the

(predominantly) men who laboured on

it. Give it at least four or five hours. Now,

paint me like one of your French girls.

ULSTER FOLK AND

TRANSPORT MUSEUM

It’s a little outside Belfast, but the

Ulster Folk and Transport museum is

well worth a visit – doubly so if you’ve

got smaller humans in tow. The Folk

Museum in particular manages to

combine fun with genuine interest, in

the form of a ‘village’ assembled from

traditional buildings moved from their

original locations across the region. Go

into homes and meet their inhabitants,

attend a school lesson, visit shops and

ride on a vintage bus. An important and

brilliantly-executed slice of social history

for all ages.

WALKING TOUR: A

HISTORY OF TERROR

www.deadcentretours.com

Not quit as salacious as its name

suggests, the award-winning History

of Terror tour is a knowledgeable and

sensitive look at how The Troubles

shaped life in Belfast, from their

historical foundations to the milestone

peace accord. Visiting some of the key

sites associated with this dark period,

the expert guides give an unbiased but

personal account of the main events,

which act as a timely lesson against

complacency.

34 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 35


MEMBERS’

BOTTLE SHARE

At the heart of Belfast’s

golden mile, Lavery’s is a true

institution: a labyrinth of bars,

terraces, saloons and snugs that seems

to defy the laws of normal physical

space. Like a Tardis, except that every

new room you enter is stocked to

rafters will delicious booze.

Wonderfully, Lavery’s is celebrating

100 years since the Lavery family

bought the bar in 1918 from two

brothers called Kinahan, who ran a spirit

grocer’s and a stage coach stop for the

Belfast to Dublin coach. At this point,

the Lavery family owned more than 30

bars throughout Northern Ireland, run

by the four Lavery brothers Tom, Patsy,

Charlie and Donal, although this would

be reduced to just five by the end of

the first world war. In 1972, at the height

LAVERY’S

12-18 Bradbury Pl

Belfast BT7 1RS

WORDS & PHOTOS: Richard Croasdale

of The Troubles, Lavery’s was burned in

an arson attack, very nearly killing Tom

who lived in a flat above the bar, but was

soon rebuilt in 1973.

Tom’s son Charlie and Patsy’s son

Patrick took over ownership of the bar

in the late ‘70s and the story since then

has, thankfully, been one of good times

and growth. In the mid ‘80s, Charlie

and Patrick converted the upstairs

apartment into the first floor Middle

Bar and top floor Attic Bar, also adding

kitchen facilities. Three years later a

second renovation was carried out,

this time knocking down the old Back

Bar, which was rebuilt and extended.

Most recently, a complete renovation

and redesign resulted in a muchimproved

Back Bar & Beer Garden,

new (absolutely jumping) middle floor

nightclub, as well as a top floor pool hall

and roof terrace.

Each space has its own distinct

character, giving Lavery’s the overall

feel of a connected village of awesome

pubs and bars with their own clientele,

drinks selection and décor. To be honest,

I spent the entire day of the bottle share

drifting between these bars, soaking up

the atmosphere, enjoying the hearty and

great value food, chatting to the staff

and getting a bit of writing done. Time

disappears in places like this.

The newest addition to the Lavery’s

collection is The Woodworkers, a

craft bar and bottle shop built into a

neighbouring retail space the Lavery

family bought a few years ago. There’s

a space set aside for diners, but the

majority of the space is just a really

good modern pub, with a well-chosen

selection of 14 craft taps and a great

range of bottled beers, wines and spirits

(I ended the evening with a Yellow Spot

whiskey, which absolutely blew me

away). There’s plenty of Irish beer on

the menu, but also some very incredible

brews form further afield, including

Burning Sky, Chorlton and Verdant.

Our members start arriving on the

dot of 7, and The Woodworkers has

kindly roped off a corner of the bar just

for us. Filly, our main man from Lavery’s

for the evening, gets in a round of

Castaway, a passionfruit Berliner Weisse

from Yellowbelly Beer. It hits the spot

perfectly.

Graeme Robinson: “Sours are still

kind of a new thing for Northern Ireland,

but they’re massive. The fruity ones

are better I think – I’ve had a couple of

raspberry sours that have been great.

As long as the fruit’s not a shitty artificial

flavour like Fruli. You want raspberries

that taste like raspberrries.”

“And the snozzberries taste like

snozzberries,” quips Joel Egerton.

“I like this, it’s nice and clean and the

passionfruit really comes through,” says

Kris Stoker. “But I also like the more

complex Belgian sour beers too – to get

some Lambics with crazy fruit flavours.”

Next up is Simcoe Simon from Beer

Hut, a NEIPA that several members have

already tasted. It certainly looks the

part; lurid and opaque, with a full creamy

head.

“I was drinking this before we

started,” admits Jolene Stoker. “I love

it. It’s thick and tastes of tropical fruit

– mango and pineapple. I reckon this is

one I could drink all night.”

This seems to be the consensus, but for

me Simcoe always tastes a bit like hand

soap – an observation which spirals into a

discussion of how I would know that, and

what flavour hand soap I’d recommend to

the discerning craft beer lover.

Next up, we’re onto the cans, with

Yeah Yeah Yeah – a witty name for an

ultra-trendy brut IPA collaboration

between Wylam and Magic Rock. I

36 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 37


admit I’m not generally a fan of brut

IPA right out of the gate. I find their

extreme dryness tends to make

them unbalanced, accentuating hop

characteristics that really need to be

tempered by some sweetness. It’s light

and floral, with notes of fresh melon, and

not painfully dry.

Jolene and Kris Stoker agree. “I find

that surprisingly drinkable – I’m getting

through it quite quickly. I can imagine

this being a good first drink of the

night,” says Kris, while Jolene adds: “it’s

got more flavour that a lot of the Brut

IPAs I’ve tried. And I don’t even think it’s

all that dry.”

The group’s split though, with Graeme

Staples feeling it tastes “a bit dead”

and lacks “the tight, small bubbles you’d

expect from a brut IPA.”

Graeme Robinson is also unconvinced:

“It’s quite wheaty – I don’t know if that’s

maybe because they’ve used a Belgian

yeast, but I’m getting a lot of that wheat

beer flavour and can’t really get past

that. Maybe a bit of mango, but very dry.

I’ll drink it quick.”

Moving on to our penultimate beer

of the night, Liesölve is a collaboration

between Verdant and Dugges, a fullbodied

American IPA with wheat and

oats, hopped with Mosaic, Ekuanot and

Loral. Predictably, it’s a hit all round.

Filly smacks his lips: “It’s super juicy,

tropical and citric. I love the creamy

mouthfeel.”

“It’s certainly got a really nice body to

it, agrees Kris Stoker. “It’s more chewy

than the last beer, but it still goes down

really easily. I could drink this in winter

very happily.”

“Yeah it’s heavier, but it kind of sucks

you in,” agrees Graeme Staples.

Our last beer of the evening is

Hagstravaganza Imperial Oatmeal

Stout aged on raspberries, from our

friends in Ireland, White Hag. I saw this

stuff in the barrel, so it was a real thrill

to finally be able to try it. It’s as good

as I’d hoped – a rich, unctuous stout,

which takes fragrance rather than huge

residual sweetness from the raspberries,

all wrapped up in an oaky barrel-aged

finish. The group agrees, though most

of their reactions at this point in the

evening are basically unprintable.

“It doesn’t take any prisoners – that’s

a beer that kicks you in the face,” says

Graeme Robinson.

Joel Egerton is moved to poetry: “I

wandered through a wooded glen, and

stumbled across a patch of pure ripe

raspberries. Will that do?”

It’s been a great night, and The

Woodworkers’ hospitality has been

exemplary. Admittedly, I didn’t get

around to exploring much of Belfast

today, but there’s always tomorrow, and

frankly it’s felt like a day well spent.

Special thanks to Filly, both for his

hosting skills and for posting my laptop

back to me after I left it in the bar.

38 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 39


the volunteers who

keep beer running

There’s a romance to working

with beer. Seen from the outside

it’s easy to imagine scenes one

might file under headings like Artisanal

or Fun Times. The brewer sampling

his hops, picking just the right batch

to add to his gleaming copper kettle.

The staff pass hanging from its lanyard

around your neck at a beer festival,

granting access to the private lounge

where the rarest beers are served.

Seen from inside, working with beer

is of course just that: work. Brewing is a

hard, physical job. Sales is exhausting.

Serving behind the bar can be great,

but it can also be a thankless slog. And

none of it pays that well. You don’t go

into the beer trade for the money. Sure,

people are making a living, but very

few are getting rich along the way. And

Anthony Gladman goes behind the scenes, to

find out what motivates those prepared to give

something for nothing

yet for all the workaday reality, some of

that romance endures. People choose

to enter the industry because they love

beer.

But some people take this even

further. You’ll see them serving at beer

festivals up and down the country.

You’ll see them working as stewards in

competitions. You’ll see them running

campaigns supporting worthwhile

beery causes – and doing it for free.

They are the volunteers greasing the

wheels that keep beer culture moving.

The majority of people who

volunteer do so at beer festivals. It’s

easy to understand why: there are lots

of opportunities to get involved and

for most the barrier to entry is low. You

don’t need to be skilled or know lots

about beer. You just need to supply

your time, your energy, and a sunny

outlook.

If you talk to festival organisers, it

becomes clear that most depend on

volunteers. Rosie Kerr runs ABVFest in

Belfast, which has relied on volunteers

since it began in 2015. “They support

us in so many ways: scanning tickets,

working at our bar, meeting and

greeting attendees, set-up, clear-up,

helping at our tasting events or at our

beer token kiosk. We couldn’t run the

festival without them,” she says.

Rivca Burns, festival manager for

Manchester’s Indy Man Beer Con

(IMBC), says the festival could not

run in its current format without

volunteers. “Working with volunteers

is such a rewarding experience and

really helps to cement the sense of

community that we are so proud of

having at IMBC. We seriously love and

appreciate our volunteers. We get to

meet some incredible people who are

as engrained in the festival as a lot of

the brewers are.”

In return for their time, volunteers

will be fed and enjoy free entry to a

subsequent session of the festival. As

a side-bonus, they also get a sneaky

chance to scope out beers ahead of

time. Free t-shirts are common, plus

of course there’s discounted or free

beer. But talk to volunteers and you’ll

learn they’re not driven by the swag.

Certainly it’s important – few would

step up if nothing concrete was offered

in return – but most people put a

higher value on the intangible benefits

of volunteering.

Looking for your crowd

Jen Noble felt her life in Canada was

missing something. She was a keen

craft beer drinker whose imagination

had been caught by Boundary Brewing,

to the point that she had even invested

money in the venture. But somehow

that wasn’t enough, so she moved to

Belfast in search of a new life and

something to ignite her passion.

At first, Jen found it hard to meet

like-minded people in her adopted

home town. Beer proved the key she

needed to unlock Belfast’s social side.

When Jen volunteered at ABVFest in

2017 she saw it as a way to meet other

craft beer lovers. “It surpassed my

expectations, in that I didn’t just meet

people, I made solid friends. It felt like

a real community. The people were so

welcoming and friendly, I didn’t hesitate

to volunteer the following year.”

This feeling is echoed by Catherine

Webber, a learning advisor from

Birmingham. Catherine has volunteered

tonnes of times: at Birmingham Beer

Bash, Hop City (twice), Dark City,

40 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 41


PASSION ON TAP

Birmingham CAMRA festival and

IMBC. “I love it. It’s really energising for

me to talk about beer and share that

with new people. It’s also a great way to

meet up with friends from around the

country.”

Connecting with people is a common

theme. At festivals you can feel

that beer is more than a drink; it’s a

community built on a shared passion.

It’s no wonder people want to play

their part. But is enthusiasm alone

enough?

When Chris Bayliss set up Craft

Beer Rising, he was keen to avoid using

volunteers. Chris says he wanted to

change the look of beer festivals and

put brewers in front of customers.

“Too often I’d attended festivals where

volunteers didn’t know about the beers

or the breweries producing them.

You didn’t get a quality interaction or

education about the beer.”

Chris still gets many approaches

from people looking to volunteer.

But while CBR does need some extra

support to operate, Chris has strong

feelings about where that should come

from. “I’ve always had the view that you

get what you pay for. If someone seems

very keen then we try and find them a

paying role. That way you can expect a

decent work ethic.”

Does this change the sort of person

who ends up behind the bars at CBR

compared to other festivals? “People

who approach us are keen to get into

the industry or looking to expand

their network of contacts. We look for

someone with good knowledge of the

breweries. These are often people who

work in the on-trade looking to move.”

Finding a way in

For some people, helping out at a

couple of events each year is not

enough. Their desire runs deeper. They

feel the pull of beer’s current drawing

them in. You may well have heard of

Stu McKinlay. If not, you’ll probably

recognise the name of his brewery:

Yeastie Boys.

The company has flourished both

here in the UK and half a world away

in Stu’s native New Zealand. But

breweries don’t just spring up out of

nowhere. Like many brewers, Stu began

as a home brewer. In the early 2000s,

his interest in beer strengthening, Stu

began to volunteer. “This was about

five years before I started Yeastie

Boys. But I already had in the back of

my mind that I would like to pursue a

career in beer. I saw volunteering as a

chance to meet people in the industry

and figure out what I wanted to do.”

With this in mind, he signed up

for a stewarding role at the New

Zealand Beer Awards. Stewarding is

still mainly a beer serving gig, but it’s

more involved than pouring tasters

at festivals. Think of it as Beer Server

Plus. “You definitely get the more geeky

end of the beer spectrum, or those who

have a strong interest in getting into

the industry,” Stu explains. “It’s a much

smaller pool of people required and

most organisers prefer to have people

with more experience and knowledge

around beer.” For example, in the

structured world of beer competitions,

organisers rely on stewards to spot

when a beer has been entered into the

wrong category.

While Stu worked his way up

from steward to chief scorer to head

steward, he also volunteered with the

Brew New Zealand festival. This was

the kiwi equivalent of the Great British

Beer Festival, and was run by the same

people as the NZ Beer Awards. Here

Stu made use of his contacts to put

together invitation lists of press and

industry figures.

When the Brewers Guild of New

Zealand formed in 2006, it bought

the rights to both the awards and the

festival, and Stu found himself coopted

onto the executive committee.

He was the only member not directly

employed in the beer industry.

It’s clear that for Stu volunteering

was a route into the business where he

saw his future. “The industry was very

small at that stage. You could count

the number of craft beer drinkers in

Wellington on one hand. By the time

I started Yeastie Boys I knew every

owner of every craft beer bar in the

city and I knew probably half to threequarters

of the owners of all the small

to medium breweries in the country as

well. So I was very well connected by

the time I kicked off.”

Volunteering is hard work, but it is

also fun and rewarding. Volunteers

benefit in all sorts of ways: they make

friends, form a connection with a

beery community, sometimes even

find their way to making a living from

something they enjoy. These people

who step up to the mark again and

again are as varied as the beer they

serve us at festivals. But if there’s one

thing that unites them – and us – it’s a

love of the liquid that lies at the centre

of it all.

42 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 43


WINNERS

WORDS: Katie Taylor

MBCF19-Ferment-Halfpage ex MBCF.pdf 1 23/11/2018 09:38

BEER, BREAD

DIFFERENTLY

We make beer using left over artisan bread

from Chalk Hills Bakery in Reigate. Each

beer is brewed with a different type of loaf,

that way the style of the beer reflects the

character of the delicious bread that makes

it. We’re fighting food waste and making

tasty, unique beers at the same time.

housands of years ago, or so it’s

said, an ancient race of star-gazing

farmers called the Sumerians mixed

their life-sustaining daily bread into

a nourishing drink made with the fermented

run-off from their clay bread pots, and so beer

became. In this civilisation, baker and brewer

were once one and the same, and their power

to grind grain to flour and rise flour into loaves

was easily transposed into the artform of

creating alcohol. It was all part of that same

mysterious spell of fermentation.

Of course, over time stories convert,

and although we have a 3900 year old

Mesopotamian poem honouring the goddess

of brewing, it may well be that no beer

was ever made by the bakers of the long

lost kingdom of Sumer. Stories of those

astronomers and agriculturalists have lent

colour to many of our modern inventions,

and it would be pleasingly romantic to

pursue this origin story; to pretend with all

our hearts that beer and

bread, the two staples

of human sustenance, are linked genetically

as ancestors. After all, they share the same

ingredients. That’s as good as DNA. There is

hard evidence of bread beer being made and

stored thousands of years ago by the Egyptians.

Perhaps that’s wistful enough.

What is true is that it is possible, efficient

even, to brew beer from bread, and humans

have been doing this for centuries. Interestingly

in modern bread beer, thanks to the bread

being a notable addition rather than a

necessity, the flavour is as bready as the

brewer wishes it to be. To learn more about the

revisited culture of bread beer, we should leave

the ancient Middle East and go to Brussels to

speak with Sébastien Morvan, the co-founder

of The Brussels Beer Project.

Sébastien had heard of a campaign that

aimed to reduce food waste in Brussels. He and

food sustainability campaigner Rob Renaert

talked over a beer about the tons of food

waste created within the city every year. This

conversation is what spurred

Séb on to create

10% Discount on all our beers during January and February 2019

www.crumbsbrewing.co.uk/shop Enter code: FERMENT19

44 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 45


Babylone, a high ABV bitter inspired and

named after the mystical origins of beer itself.

“We try to be a very different animal,

especially in Brussels,” he said. “I thought of

the waste and I thought of the history and I

wanted to try it for ourselves. It took around

two years of tests - testing the bread, testing

how to prepare it, testing how and when to

add it to the mash - to come out with our beer.

It was the first beer made of food waste, and

the first beer to be made with bread in the

modern day.”

On top of using one ton of bread each

month salvaged from businesses’ bins in

Brussels, the bread itself is collected and

sorted by vulnerable people employed by

non-profit training and job coaching NGO

Atelier Groot Eirland [NB. Here if you need it:

http://www.ateliergrooteiland.be/nl/over-ons/

visie-missie/ ]. Jobs are being created from

this one noble idea.

A noble idea it is, but it would all be for

nothing if the beer was bad. So what exactly

does it taste like? Bread?

“Yes indeed, I hope so,” says Sébastien. “In

Babylone, 30% of the grain is substituted for

bread. It’s very slight, but the sourdough brings

a salty note; a crusty caramel taste. It’s very

important to us to create a bread beer that

stands on its own two feet.”

It was during two bottles of Babylone, which

incidentally is without doubt a very good beer,

in the tap room of Brussels Beer Project that

Tristram Stuart decided to launch Toast Ale.

Seeing the potential of a bread beer that tasted

of more than the sum of its parts, he set off

back to England to produce a beer that would

make use of some of the mountains of surplus

bread in the UK. Three years on, Toast is a

fully-fledged non-profit business, with a highly

active marketing team - as you may well have

noticed. As well as crafting their own beers,

the brewery is now also concerned with linking

bakeries with breweries and vice-versa, so they

can brew their own bread beer too.

Chris Head from Toast Ale is always keen to

point out the social enterprise aspect of Toast’s

master plan. “All the money we make is reinvested

into Toast, or passed on to Feedback

(a food charity). All of our investors have

pledged in writing that any money they make

from Toast has to be re-invested in another

social enterprise or charity.”

Unlike Sébastien, some of the breweries

involved in creating bread beers with Toast

have used surplus bread simply as an addition

to their malt bill, hoping for as little bready

character to carry through as possible. A

NEIPA made with Craft Academy called Crust

Academy aimed to be as true to its hazy, hoppy

style as possible. A collaboration brew with

Stroud Brewery turned unsold Hobbs House

bread into Melba - a dry, crisp beer that moves

away from the idea of sweet, cereal flavours.

Craddocks brewery in Droitwitch finds bread

so beneficial to their brewing process that

they now create 1300l of bread beer every five

weeks - and are about to open a not-for-profit

tap room to sell it in called The Good Intent.

The idea is gathering steam across the country

too. Stottie is an unfiltered dunkel hefewiesen

brewed with surplus bread by Hartlepool’s

own Cameron’s brewery in conjunction with

Toast (they are literally EVERYWHERE when

it comes to bread beer) that was launched in

every Head of Steam pub across England in

November.

In Reigate, a brewery called Crumbs has

gathered local loaves together to create

their own version of sustainable, responsible

brews. Their beer, including a Rye Coffee

Porter brewed with surplus bread and coffee

grounds, is based on two things, according

to Morgan Arnell the “chief crumber” of the

brewery: The quality of the bread, and the

positivity of the message. Morgan’s brewery

started independently after noticing how

much bread was wasted in his local café.

Knowing a little bit about bread beers that

already existed (Babylone being the main

inspiration once again), he took his surplus

bread to Campden BRI to see how he could

get the most out of it. In their mashing

trials they tried putting the bread in whole,

toasting it and crumbing it - and just exactly

as Goldilocks predicted, the third time was a

charm.

“We use bread as a quarter of our mash,”

says Morgan, “and crumbing it really helps

break down the starches. The taste of

the bread informs how we brew with it.

Our Blooming Amber Lager started off

with a Belgian yeast but the flavour was

A beer can be like

two slices of bread.

Our beer really is

too overpowering. We decided to choose

an Austrian ale yeast instead to better

compliment the flavours within the finished

beer. It helps bring that sweet, malty taste

forward. In our Sourdough beer, we’ve had

chefs tell us they can taste the funkiness of the

bread’s starter in there. I’m not sure about that,

but there’s definitely a depth there that I really

enjoy.”

Back in Brussels in his brewery that started

it all like some sort of ethical mother dough,

Sébastien says he’s particularly happy to brew

un-Belgian beer with a very Belgian message.

“Here there’s a saying - that a beer can be like

two slices of bread. Our beer really is. It makes

me very proud.”

You’ll see much more of bread beer in 2019.

You could even call it a trend to look out for.

It’s great to see breweries looking out for ways

to take part in charity work, and even better to

see people starting to think about the problem

of food waste, but don’t sip that bottle all

high-and-mighty. This isn’t a cure for a wasteful

society. This is a partial ingredient in a waterheavy

industry that relies on grain, which

will be spiking in cost as the year goes on.

The subtleties of grain’s flavour will never be

overtaken by bread, and many brewers would

laugh at the idea - in a mean way too, not with

a hearty chuckle. Don’t be taken in by goodwill

alone. Remember, one brewer’s well-meaning

charity collab is another’s cynical marketing

ploy. Always trust your taste buds.

46 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 47


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ST AUSTELL

Proper

innovation?

“Innovation has always been at the

heart of what we do,” says master

brewer and brewing director at St

Austell Brewery, Roger Ryman, “and

it seems like whether we mean to

or not, we’re always a bit ahead of

the curve. For one thing, we’ve had

our microbrewery for more than 20

years.” Putting that into perspective,

that’s well before American IPAs

reached our shores.

Proper Job, St Austell Brewery’s

flagship beer, and probably the most

heavily-decorated brew in England,

was initially part of a brewing

exchange with a friend based in

Portland. Roger explains:

“He said what we should do is

brew a bold, hoppy IPA. Remember,

this was 2006, so big American IPAs

weren’t over here yet. It was born in

our original microbrewery and as we

continued working on it, it naturally

evolved into the beer we love today.”

In 2017, Big Job – St Austell

Brewery’s double IPA - calmly

became CAMRA’s champion bottled

beer of Britain. At first glance you

might think this powerfully-hopped

golden ale represents the classic,

traditional side of brewing in this

country. The truth is, Roger Ryman

created this 7.2% beer as an outlet for

his obsession with Duvel; a reaction

to his search for a strong English ale

with the crisp dry character of an old

Belgian beer.

And there’s more experimentation

to find. The Small Batch Brewery

found that 2.5 barrels of Bad Habit

Abbey Tripel wasn’t enough (“I’m

optimistic about selling this widely”

says Roger) and the Saison brewed

in collaboration with Melissa Cole is

now fully scaled up and listed in M&S.

“The Small Batch Brewery gets me

out of meetings and

down there brewing,

and our brewers like

being more hands-on and getting to

try out their ideas.”

Roger’s keen to keep

experimentation natural. “We’re not

trend-chasers. We create diverse and

interesting beers based on what we

love. There’s nothing new in brewing,

but you can put things together in a

different way.”

So which traditional beer styles

are they planning to embark on

next? “We’d love to try more lager

styles. We’ve had great success

brewing Korev Cornish Lager, which

was one of the first British lagers

on the market when we launched

it and is now one of our flagship

brands. I’d like to experiment with the

complicated methods used in these

styles and do everything by the book.

Eventually I’d like to put out seasonal

lagers: a spring pils, a summer wheat,

a winter bock. Collaborating with

Bohéme Brewery is one of the first

steps into this exciting new project.”

St Austell Brewery is a beloved

brewery diligently mashing-in on

the diverse fringes - not cool, not

trad, not bothered either way. But

whatever they are, one thing’s

certain: bet you’re going to pick up

a Proper Job next time you’re at the

supermarket, aren’t you?

Black and

WORDS: Matthew Curtis

The craft scene is notoriously

fickle, but what separates the

fads from the long-term trends?

all over

egardless of how you feel about

the various predictions for what

2019 might hold, there’s no doubt

that craft beer is highly driven by

trends, with drinkers constantly

on the lookout for the next big thing, and

brewers desperate to carve out relevance in a

competitive market.

If the constantly shifting trends within the socalled

beer bubble frustrate you, I empathise –

I’ve been there. From the fleeting nature of beer

styles that are popular one day and forgotten the

next, to the fear of missing out and inevitable

hyperbole and subsequent anti-climax, the

whole thing can be pretty exhausting. Chasing

trends is a rollercoaster, but this is also their

48 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 49


DEBATE: BLACK AND BRUT ALL OVER

inherent attraction. While the lows may be

deep, the peaks can produce moments of

joy and euphoria. And this is the reason

many of us are fans of beer in the first place.

Although there are those who see all

trends as shallow fads, I feel that without

them the modern beer world wouldn’t keep

turning. At least not at the breath-taking

pace it has been over the past few years.

While the majority of beer drinkers, myself

included, are content to watch the ebb and

flow of trends, leaving a minority of what

you might call “early adopters” to keep

themselves oversaturated with excitement,

it’s through their enthusiasm that many

small yet brilliant breweries get the

attention they deserve. It’s their experience,

whether via check-ins on apps like Untappd,

or sharing through Twitter and Instagram,

that often gives us our first look at new

trends.

And to be honest, I don’t really believe

in fads. I struggle to see how something so

fleetingly temporary could generate the

kind of excitement that helps drive a young

industry forward. As Fergus Henderson, the

chef/owner of London’s Michelin-starred

St. John restaurant told The Independent

earlier this year: “the very nature of a fad is

ridiculous because it implies an end. There

should be no end to a love of whatever is

delicious.”

Of bruts and men

In 2018 we saw a trend emerge in a way

There should be

no end to a love of

whatever is delicious

that was quite different to the norm. A style

was born from an idea in a single brewpub,

located in California’s Bay Area, which shot

to prominence through the brewer sharing

his technique via the internet. What’s

perhaps most fascinating, is that most

brewers attempting to replicate this new

style did so without ever tasting the beer

that kickstarted it.

When Kim Sturdavant of San Francisco’s

Social Pub and Kitchen dropped an enzyme

called amyloglucosidase into a batch of IPA,

he probably didn’t expect the hundreds

of emails that followed. But that’s exactly

how one of 2018’s biggest trends—Brut

IPA—got its start. Amyloglucosidase works

by breaking down longer-chain sugars,

which ordinarily yeast would ignore during

fermentation as they are too complex for

it to digest. However, when the enzyme is

applied, it makes those sugars accessible

during fermentation, meaning more of

them get converted into alcohol and carbon

dioxide, resulting in a beer with a bone-dry

finish and almost Champagne-like spritzy

quality. Hence: Brut IPA.

Word soon spread of Sturdavant’s

creation from the doors of the relatively

small brewpub

where he worked,

and soon other

brewers began to

ask for the recipe.

Initially the style

spread around San

Francisco and the

neighbouring city of

Oakland. But soon he

began to hear from brewers

out of state and eventually,

emails began to flood in from other

countries, all desperate to replicate the style

that whoever tasted seemed to rave about—

yet, bizarrely, without tasting it themselves.

Now Sturdavant has gone as far as to

set up www.kimsbrutipa.org so that he no

longer has to deal with endless requests for

his trade secrets and he can get on with the

important work of brewing. As for the style

he gave birth to, it’s now being replicated

all over the world. But what’s the value to

a brewery in chasing a new trend such as

this, especially when you’re doing so based

on an idea as opposed to a real-life sensory

experience?

“A good part of the avid interest in new

styles stems from the people’s desire for the

story. What is it? Where did it come from?

How is it different and is it better than what

came before it? Sam McMeekin, co-founder

of South London’s Gipsy Hill Brewing

Company tells me. “Innovation for the sake

of innovation isn’t positive and can result

in bad beer. However, the appeal of tasting,

questioning and telling the story of new and

interesting styles is

a huge part of why

there’s demand for

new stuff all the

time.”

Gipsy Hill

certainly doesn’t

mess around when

it comes to capturing

the zeitgeist. It was one

of the first UK breweries to

commercially brew a Brut IPA

when it released Napa earlier in 2018. It’s

also adopted other key trends in recent

times, from New England IPA to adopting

the currently favourable 440ml can.

Despite this, McMeekin doesn’t think

trends will erase more popular styles like

the now-classic West Coast IPA. And, in

his own words, “Best Bitter isn’t going

anywhere.”

“They are like everyone’s old friend,

always there and trusted,” he says. “The

likelihood is that if you’re going to have

three pints in a night, two of them will

probably be old friends and one will be the

new thing you’ll spend most of the night

talking about.”

The new new

It’s perhaps too soon to tell if the Brut IPA

will be a mere flash in the pan, or if it’ll

gather enough momentum to muster any

kind of longevity. One style that seems

certain to stay the course, however, is

50 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 51


DEBATE: BLACK AND BRUT ALL OVER

another new style of IPA which emerged

over the past few years: the New England

IPA, now colloquially known as the NEIPA

(and pronounced “nee-pah” by many).

But how has this particular variant of

the IPA managed to capture the interest

of so many? Perhaps it’s the combination

of juicy, often verging on sweet flavours,

with little to no bitterness in the finish. It’s

quite the opposite of the often one-note

flavour found in many Brut IPA clones and,

most importantly, it’s highly accessible.

Bitter flavours can be off-putting, and many

palates need to adjust to the sensation

before it becomes enjoyable. NEIPA skips

that, taking you straight to juicy heaven..

“NEIPAs were waiting to happen,”

McMeekin says. “Take the West Coast IPA,

an amazing hoppy style of beer; soften it,

plump it up, give it a unique hazy look and

you’ve arrived somewhere that’s different,

just as good, and still approachable.”

Like Brut IPA, it’s a style many brewers

have been falling over themselves to

replicate, and yet it feels as though NEIPA

has been around long enough to transcend

mere trend and become something more

meaningful.

However, trends come in all shapes and

sizes, and not all brewers are drawn towards

the hazy, juicy appeal of a NEIPA, or the

skittishness of Brut IPA. Some brewers

are turning to the classics, and one trend

that became prominent within craft beer

in 2018 was lager. For a while, both massproduced

American light lagers and equally

dull European fizz were held up by some

brewers as enemies to rail against. Not all

lagers are created equal though and, as the

world’s most popular style, it was perhaps

inevitable that it would make the kind of

comeback that lovers of craft beer would

appreciate.

“I’d rather be known as someone who

does one great beer than five good beers,”

Reece Hugill of Hartlepool’s Donzoko

Brewing – the flagship of which is a

Helles-style lager – says.

Although Hugill does like to experiment

by brewing Flanders reds and hazy pales,

it’s in his Northern Helles that he puts

most of his stock. He admits that, being a

newcomer to the scene, his focus on lager

has made business tricky.

“It was a really tough sell in the

beginning: walking into great craft beer

bars with a token ‘premium’ – usually

macro – lager tap, and asking if they

wanted to swap it out for something

more expensive they’d never

heard of,” he says. “Luckily people

are more into it now, people are

celebrating the great fresh lager the

UK makes, like Thornbridge Lukas

and Lost & Grounded Keller Pils.”

Back in black

Sadly, yet inevitably, not all trends

manage to stick. One of my

favourite styles is black IPA, but

its tough to find on the regular, let

alone a good example. I’ll never

Drinkers are constantly

on the lookout for

something both

delicious and exciting

forget my first one –Thornbridge’s Wild

Raven – a beer that for me was a near

perfect marriage of dark malts and intensely

citrus and pine-driven hops. However, with

the style flagging in sales, it became a less

common fixture in the pubs I frequent.

Another favourite of mine, Firestone

Walker’s Wookie Jack, was discontinued

completely due to poor turnover.

Some noble brewers still put stock in the

style though, and more often than not these

are breweries small enough that they’re not

releasing huge quantities into the market.

One example is Berkshire’s Elusive Brewing,

whose owner and brewer Andy Parker still

finds the time to dip into black IPA brewing

on occasion.

“For a while, it seemed everyone was

brewing them, but dark beers generally

move slower than pale so I can understand

why, once the novelty had worn off, sales

soon followed and most breweries dropped

them,” Parker tells me. “If I see one on a

beer list, I’ll usually get sucked back in and

wish that was a more frequent occurrence.”

Black IPA’s fortunes may have been

rooted simply in the fact that the majority

of drinkers typically order pale beers when

presented with a wealth of choice. This

is one advantage Brut IPA has then, but

only time will tell if consumers adapt to it

as they have with the hazy, juicy, NEIPA.

However, while Brut IPA is en vogue, it

might be worth breweries having a crack at

making their own, at least financially.

“If you chase the new vogue style, sales

and growth might be a lot easier, but you’re

always one step behind unless your beer

is truly great,” Donzoko’s Hugill says. “In

which case it sticks and you can make it

your own, like people have done with hazy

IPA.”

When looking at this closely, what makes

a trend within beer becomes more obvious:

drinkers are constantly on the lookout for

something both delicious and exciting. This

in turn drives the industry on, and whether

or not the latest trend is to your taste, it

could be that particular trend that drives

the emergence of the next one, which could

be your new favourite beer.

It’s important to many brewers to chase

the latest trends in order to carve out a

little slice of relevance, so their business

can try and stand out in a market that’s

home to 2500 competitors nationally.

However, is that as important as creating

something delicious that beer drinkers

can enjoy? Gipsy Hill’s Sam McMeekin

certainly doesn’t think so.

“Chasing relevance is a battle you’re

never going to win,” he says. “The best way

to be relevant is to be true to what you like

and pursue that with fervour!”

52 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 53


Pubs and the friendships they enable are

key to tackling the UK’s loneliness epidemic,

argues Katie Taylor

In front of a roaring fire that was

welcome if not a little premature

for the time of year, Kev, a retired

traveller of the world, recalled his vivid

memories of a trip to Tanzania more

than 25 years before.

“I was trekking on foot down a dirt

track,” he said, seeing the yellow grass

of the Serengeti against acacia trees in

his mind’s eye as he retold his favourite

story. “I asked our guide why we hadn’t

seen any lions – we’d seen zebra, and

giraffe, as close as you – and cheetah,

elephants, but no lions. He pointed into

the long grass on the other side of the

track and said ‘They’re in there. Two.’ I

didn’t want to hang around after that.”

A pint, a fire and a tall tale. The ideal

way to while away a wet afternoon.

Kev had brought a book with him, but

with the prospect of a new audience it

became a prop; a signal that although

he often came alone to the pub, he

enjoyed that time by himself. In our

company the book lay forgotten and

instead, the worldly experiences he’d

had on motorbike, on foot, vertically up

cliff faces and on donkey-back came to

life before us in the stories he told. His

eyes sparkled with the excitement of

remembering rainforests and waterfalls

and mountains and sketchy border

crossings and luxurious five-star train

carriages. It was quite literally a world

away from the horse brasses and black

wooden beams of his current situation.

He said life is to make memories in,

and when it was time to part ways, left

some advice behind:

“Don’t stay still. See as much of the

world as you can.”

The Campaign to End Loneliness,

a creation of the late Jo Cox MP, was

initially developed to help the growing

number of socially isolated people

in our communities. The Office of

National Statistics reports that during

the years 2016 to 2017, 5% of adults in

England said they “often” or “always”

feel lonely. Loneliness isn’t feeling

left-out. Loneliness is a chronic state of

mind. In a government report, it states

that loneliness poses as much of a threat

to citizen health as smoking, except with

smoking, you can advise people to quit.

It’s much harder, and begins a lot more

conversations about infrastructure and

local governmental spending, to reduce

the effects of loneliness in isolated and

withdrawn members of society.

A project run by Bristol University

in early 2018 looked into the way older

men used pubs as a source of community

Things I’ve talked about

with strangers in pubs

over the past month:

• Travelling on the Orient

Express

• Queer culture in the

1950s, 60s and 70s

• Photography

• Strictly Come Dancing

• Motorbikes

• Homebrewing

• The Rugby

• What I’m writing about in

my notebook

• The Weather

• Dark Mild

involvement. During a focus group of

men run at a local pub, participants

over the age of 65 gave their reasons

for visiting. Most used theirs to interact

with other people and to add a break

to their daily routine, a particularly

important resource for those living

on their own. Some answered that

they visited to enjoy live music with

friends and people they know, and as a

reward in the working week. Drinking

beer was, of course, a good reason for

going to the pub, however for most of

the group this was incidental to other

aspects of enjoying social time there.

Isn’t that surprising?

In beer writing it’s common to see

odes to local pubs. We have a romantic

image of what they are and what they

should be, and this usually involves

perfectly poured pints and conversation

and time slowing to an imperceptible

hum. Over time the classic pub and its

uses have changed. A lot of this change

has come about through necessity –

your local needs to find more ways to

54 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 55


A SENSE OF BELONGING

make money. Running a decent pub

is a trade that’s becoming notoriously

difficult to scrape a living from. An

accidental side-effect of this can mean

people who’ve popped in to nurse a

drink in good company can easily find

their local no longer invites this kind

of behaviour. Tall stools and efficient

service might be perfect for fast-paced

craft beer bars, but stand at odds with

the gentle dust mote ambiance of the

community pub.

Bob, a participant of Bristol

University’s Men In Pubs project speaks

about why he loves his pub so much,

which resonates with our own ideas of

what a pub could, or should be.

“As soon as I walk in, it’s, ‘Hello, Bob’.

And they know what I drink, and it’s

ready waiting for me. By the time I’ve

got my seat, put my papers there, put

my glasses there, that’s my seat now.

Gone back to the bar, it’s ready waiting

for me. That’s what I enjoy.”

It begs the question: How many of our

favourite pubs are favourites because

of the people who work there? Is an

immaculate beer list worth the chalk

pen it’s written in if the people serving

it aren’t welcoming, friendly and ready

for a conversation? For many lonely

people, a quiet pub is just another

empty living room. Seeing familiar

faces behind the bar, feeling a sense of

belonging, that’s what a pub means to so

many regulars. Creating a social space

where people feel welcome and wanted

is a major part of any landlord’s job. It’s

easily overlooked, but a sense of social

occasion is what drives so many from

their armchairs and into their local.

Unfortunately, many pubs can’t or

won’t allow their staff to spend time

making conversation. When there’s

upselling to do and mystery guests

to impress, the onus is very much on

“cleaning, not leaning”. Engaging with

the punters is very much the opposite

of skiving, but there are plenty of pub

companies who see a back-and-forth

as wasted upselling time. Surely this

increases loneliness not just in the

pintee but the pintor too.

In The Lonely Society report by

Mental Health.org, Professor David

Morris, director of the National Social

Inclusion Programme (NSIP) at the

Institute for Mental Health in England

says this, on reducing loneliness in

society:

“We need to do two things: to

develop deliberative strategies to help

people who are at the margins become

less socially isolated at the same time

as promoting people’s well-being...

One example of these strategies is

to develop a ‘less reductionist’ view

of people throughout society, so that

different generations might find it

easier to integrate.”

Professor Morris’ view that much

more should be done outside of the

When there’s upselling to

do, the onus is very much

on “cleaning, not leaning”

limits of the individual is realistic

and calls for real change on a

Governmental level. For him, so

much more should be done to tackle

loneliness as a public health issue and

in his work, a cynicism can be seen in

the reliance on individual goodwill to

solve the problem. After all, you can

create community centres and social

events in local pubs, but if the bus that

gets people there has been cancelled,

the point is lost.

At the same time, however, he

wants to see inter-generational

communication crossing barriers

of class, nationality groups and

backgrounds, something he feels

is at odds with our current societal

norms. It makes sense. The best way to

reduce loneliness is to communicate.

Pubs are, by their very make-up, a

hotbed of potential cross-community

conversation. Where is there a better

place to practice at least a passing

“ahreyt?”

Without getting preachy about it,

there’s an element of limiting your

own personal experience by only

talking to the people you already

know. The Millennial generation is the

first to avoid visiting the pub alone,

afraid of being awkward, or looking

strange, or speaking to a stranger.

Next time you’re in the pub, instead

of avoiding eye contact with someone

who wants to speak, try passing the

time of day. Who hasn’t got time for

a conversation? Why travel the world

for Kev if you don’t talk to the people

who inhabit it?

56 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 57


WELCOME TO THE WEIRD WORLD OF CRAFT BEER CROWDFUNDING DISASTERS

people bought into the dream; it turns out we’re a

jealous bunch and not keen to pay for rich people to

get their zero gravity buzz on.

WORDS: Alex Robertson

e’ve seen some epic beer crowdfunds

in the past few years. From Left Handed

Giant raising £400k in five hours, a million

in a month, to build a new brewery and bar in the

UK, through to Pico-C raising $1.9 million to allow

kickstarter backers to brew 5L kegs of craft beer in

their kitchen. Craft beer certainly seems to ignite

imaginations and entrepreneurial spirit among those

who, in the past, might have been constrained by the

limits of commercial funding methods (or, indeed,

by the laws of the universe as we’ll see). Today,

crowdfunding has unleashed these ideas on the world

and given everyone the opportunity to ask you, the

drinker, to help them carve out their little plot in the

gold-rush.

While it would be interesting and no doubt

informative to look at some of those amazing success

stories, in the interests of schadenfreude we felt it

would be much more fun to visit some projects that

not only didn’t make it, but that were doomed to fail

from the start.

Let’s remember that the lesson here is not to laugh

at those who fail – some of history’s best ideas have

been born out of repeated failure – but to highlight

the fact that crowdfunding isn’t the easy route to

launch your next shonky business venture, madcap

science experiment, holiday, or elitist product.

We’ll mark the campaigns out of 10 for innovation,

how hard they failed, and the level of hubris on display.

Want not much beer in two weeks’

time? This is for you!

Raised £1,559 of the probably unrealistic £309,355

Trying to take on the world of home brewing is a

daunting task. The aforementioned Pico system

seems to be doing pretty well, but Three60 Brewing

System was an early competitor to that Kickstarter

(or perhaps a grab for cash off the back of other

more successful projects).

The main challenge with this system, quickly

identified on forums and on the Q&A of the

Kickstarter page, seemed to be that no-one

understood how everything came apart to be

cleaned, as there seemed to be a lot of internal

machinery and piping, tubes and cooling systems.

Add to that previous failed fundraising campaigns,

the small capacity, long wait time and some angry

backers withdrawing their money due to the lack of

communication, and this was a bit of a damp squib.

The lesson here is don’t come to the home-brewing

table unless you know how to clean your equipment.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1952198084/

three60-beer-brewing-system/comments

INNOVATION SCORE 4/10

FAILURE SCORE 8/10

HUBRIS SCORE 4/10

Vostok Space Beer... bottle

Raised - $31K of a cool $1million ask

4Pines, a brewery based in Manly, Australia, brewed

the mother of all PR stunt beers: an Irish stout

that might taste good in space. They are hoping

to futureproof their business strategy by aiming

to corner the market for those who wish to have a

cold one while on a hugely expensive space tourism

flight. To be fair, the beer won a gold medal, so

maybe it was a decent brew.

However they have a problem: how would the

thirsty space tourist drink the beer and get the full

experience in zero gravity? Solution: over-engineer

a bottle which works in a similar way to a rocket’s

fuel tank, then ask beer-loving chumps from all over

the world to fund its development. Unfortunately

for the billionaire leisure astronauts, not too many

www.indiegogo.com/projects/vostok-space-beer#/

updates/all

INNOVATION SCORE 7/10

FAILURE SCORE 6/10

HUBRIS SCORE 8/10

Beer doesn’t have a gender problem

Raised - $1,578 of an incredible $150,000 ask

(Indiegogo allows creators to keep whatever is

pledged in some instances, even if a target isn’t

reached)

Isolating a culture of lactobacillus from a Czech

model’s vagina and using this to make beer is

apparently a way to experience the following:

“Imagine a woman of your dreams, your object of

desire. Her charm, her sensuality, her passion… Try

her taste, feel her smell, hear her voice… Imagine

her massaging you passionately and whispering

into your ear everything you want. Now free your

fantasies and imagine that with a magic wand you

can close it in one bottle of beer.”

I think the men (definitely men) behind this beer

could perhaps link up with the team behind My Dad

Wrote a Porno to investigate a sponsorship deal.

Lactobacillus is actually a valid ingredient in beer,

creating the sourness that you would recognise

from a Belgian wit or a Berliner weisse. So, kudos to

the team behind The Order of Yoni (yep, that’s the

58 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 59


Food and beverage businesses get the added advantage

of ongoing customer loyalty aside from just raising

money. This makes crowdfunding a really popular choice

for the sector.

Companies like Curious Brew, West Berkshire

Brewery and Cranes have all successfully funded on

Seedrs, collectively raising millions of pounds from

thousands of investors.

Before embarking on a crowdfunding journey, it’s

important to consider that the pool of potential

investors is made up from three different s ources:

1.

2.

3.

First port of call is personal networks; are there any

friends, family members, angels or institutions that are

willing to put the first bit of money in? Startups need

to make sure that they have a clear idea of who these

people might be before beginning the campaign.

The next step is to start engaging customers and fans.

Historically, breweries are very good at this and by way

of being product-led businesses can offer customers

who invest certain perks. Curious Brew, who raised

£1.75 million from 887 investors offered membership

cards, brewery tours, discounts on purchases and

branded merchandise.

Startups should identify the best avenues for contacting

their customers, be it via email, social media or perhaps

physically on the packaging via labels and leaflets. These

people are already fans of the brand, so encouraging

them to join the journey and share in future success can

be particularly effective.

Once this is in place, then it’s time to focus on the online

crowdfunding campaign. It’s vital to ensure that the

written campaign and the video excite investors about

the future of the company, show off achievements to

date and make people fall in love with the brand.

F&B is one of the most popular sectors on Seedrs, so

there’s a whole host of investors already interested in

backing businesses in this space. It’s important to really

capitalise on this and not lose momentum once the

campaign goes live. There are all sorts of ways to keep

up momentum when your campaign is live; attending

pitching events, curating marketing campaigns and

having a sound PR strategy are all good places to start.

Equity crowdfunding presents a unique opportunity to

mobilise a tribe of followers. Join the likes of Curious

Brew, West Berkshire Brewery, and Cranes who have all

successfully funded on Seedrs.

To learn more about equity crowdfunding on Seedrs

visit www.seedrs.com.

name of the beer) for taking an

idea and following it through to

the logical conclusion that people want

a beer brewed with bacteria from the

vagina of an attractive stranger.

But wait! If you’re rich and insane, you can get

60 bottles of your very own beer, made from your

very own significant other’s lactobacillus culture, for

the low, low cost of $10,000. Bargain. She’ll love you

forever. I did a bit of swift research and identified

that Lactobacillus can also be found in and around

the back door of men. So, you know, it’s open to all

really. They’re missing a trick by not making their

marketing a little less gender-specific.

www.indiegogo.com/projects/first-vaginal-beerbottled-instinct#/

INNOVATION SCORE 5/10

FAILURE SCORE 8/10

HUBRIS SCORE 9/10

Spice up your pint

Raised $30,978 of the surprisingly low $25,000

Hop Theory bags are being included here not

because they failed to get funded, but because

the very idea is somewhat offensive. It’s a bit like

someone saying, “Hey, is that wine a bit crappy?

Add some Ribena and it’s basically a Châteauneufdu-Pape

‘68”. The core concept is that the main

thing stopping crap beer from being good beer is

a few hops and fruit/spice flavours. So, why not add

them by creating a little tea bag you drop in that

contains cascade hops, orange peel, and coriander

seeds. They actually managed to get funded, which

is impressive. They (mostly) delivered, which is also

impressive. They also got feedback that the results

were… not so impressive.

Never fear though – they’re going to try again

according to the holding page on their website.

However, this campaign was three years ago now, so

I’m assuming they’ve realised there is a little more to

beer than just a hint of coriander.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/915128700/hoptheory/description

INNOVATION SCORE 2/10

FAILURE SCORE 2/10

HUBRIS SCORE 8/10

I love beer, give me money to start

the BEST brewery EVER.

Raised £0 of a hopeful £58,004

When Landon MaCallister woke up on January

13th 2015 he said to himself “Well, I have always

loved beer. It is perhaps the greatest thing ever

invented”. The logical conclusion, in his potentially

hungover state, was that he should build a brewery.

The greatest brewery ever seen. Qualifications?

60 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 61


FUNDERWHELMED

Landon doesn’t need them. Experience? He’ll figure

it out! So launched the thin-on-detail, big-on-hype

campaign to fund the Koala Brewing Company in

Georgia USA (Koala? Georgia? Makes sense).

Some might think giving 50-grand to a random

American is a big risk, and Landon is not unaware of

this. He states himself, “The main challenge we will

face is going to be coming on to such a competitive

market. Well rest assured our beers will outshine,

outlast, and overall taste better than 99.9% of beers

on the craft beer market today.” Thanks Landon.

Putting our worries to rest. This is a sure thing.

Incredibly, even the campaign reward for a $25

donation – “You will get a great general thank you

note from me mailed to you!” – failed to draw in any

backers, and the Koala Brewing Company became

but a twinkle in Landon’s eye.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1086354540/newyear-new-amazing-beer/description

INNOVATION SCORE 1/10

FAILURE SCORE 10/10

HUBRIS SCORE 7/10

Beam me out of here

Raised: Campaign removed from Indiegogo,

still present on some crowdfunding sites (and has

raised $0)

The Automated Beverage Synthesizer (or ABS) from

Shiva Science and Technology Group in the United

States is a revolutionary new product that will

build any drink (ANY DRINK) from its component

parts. Why they named it after a braking system,

we’ll never know, because the product, and all of

Shiva’s other products, have been taken down from

Indiegogo and are being reviewed by the site’s longsuffering

“Trust and Safety team”.

However, the gist of it was that you’d programme

in, say, Pliny the Elder, and it would remake the

beer, in the machine, from its component chemicals.

But instead of using this revolutionary technology

to build medicines, it’s best put to work creating

cheaper versions of our favourite beverages.

The mastermind behind this particular campaign

also had campaigns running for a non-specific

nanomedicine cure for cancer and, of course, a

perpetual motion machine that was going to solve

the world’s energy needs. No doubt he’s being

kept down by big pharma and the evil wind turbine

moguls. At the end of the day, whether a genuine

attempt at the impossible, or just a con, this one

holds a special place in my heart for aiming so high

that it missed reality completely.

www.thecrowdfundingcenter.

com/?page=project&id=D1XB44

INNOVATION SCORE 10/10

FAILURE SCORE 10/10

HUBRIS SCORE 10/10

62 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 63


Wheaty, yeasty, cloudy, you just can’t beat a

hefeweizen on a hot day. It’s also a fun word

to say: Hefeweizen. Hefeweizen.

Originating in Germany and predating lager,

hefeweizen was one of the very first wheat beers, and

its more prominent brewers claim it’s been knocking

around for at least a thousand years. Due to its

popularity among the great and the good, hefeweizen

managed to dodge the strictures of the Reinheitsgebot

beer purity law, which wouldn’t normally have allowed

the use of wheat. Bloody one-percenters.

In terms of character, there’s obviously a lot of wheat

flavour, which also contributes to its silky mouthfeel.

But there’s also a tonne of yeast influence (which

is where the ‘hefe’ comes in) with cloves, banana

and bubblegum in abundance. It’s unfiltered, so this

yeast remains in suspension, again contributing to its

distinctive look and texture.

The style has proven very popular with American

craft brewers (partly, one suspects, because it’s easier

for English speakers to pronounce with confidence than

some of the other wheat beer variations) where it tends

to be brewed a little lighter, with a less aggressive

yeast profile.

64 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 65


NEIPAS ARE AN

UNPRECEDENTED PHENOMENON

Selected 'emerging' styles/types of beer as a percentage of total beers released

WORDS: Ian Gordon

Do you rate your beers? Do you feel

a brief moment of excitement every

time you earn a badge on Untappd?

Do you try to write CAMRA-compliant reviews

on Ratebeer? Yeah, us too.

People have had opinions about beer for

as long as it’s been brewed, but only recently

has #beerdata been compiled on a mass scale.

Peering into these numbers exposes the

patterns of beer drinkers and brewers alike.

Here’s some lessons that we’ve gleaned this

month from the numbers.

WE SHOULD ALL ENJOY LIGHT

LAGERS ABOUT 18% MORE.

How the ratings for the top 5% of beers

varies by strength and style. The way

to read this is that the best of the best

lagers typically receive a score 18%

worse than the best of the best 10%

specialist beers.

Here’s a philosophical question for

you: are some beer styles better than

others? Many of us believe that a beer’s

quality is a function of execution, not

style. That a great Bitter is better than

an average DDH DIPA, an excellent

lager is better than a humdrum

Imperial Stout.

There’s only one problem with that

assertion: that’s not how we rate beers.

The data shows a strong correlation

between beer strength and rating, the

higher the ABV the more we enjoy it.

Similarly we favour some styles over

others, anything dark and barrel-

95th percentile (top 5%) beer ratings by strength and style -

difference relative to highest rated

aged, or hazy and hoppy, is at a stark

advantage out of the gate.

So how do we correct for this? Well

we need to account for the biases in our

mind. So, for example, on average the

best light craft lagers are rated 15% lower

than the best strong imperial stouts. So

if we really believe that a good pilsner

stands up to any other brew, adjust your

next rating upwards accordingly!

Speaking of hazy and hoppy, craft beer

has fallen for NEIPAs. The craft beer

movement was built by brewers who

revived forgotten or unfashionable

styles, like the India Pale Ale, in the

face of Big Lager’s crushing dominance.

But with NEIPAs we saw something

different, a new style (or variant at least)

unique to craft beer.

Selected beer styles as a percentage

of total beers released each year.

Together these beers represent ~20%

of releases (by number) in 2018. The

remaining 80% of beers not shown

on this chart include IPAs, Pale Ales,

Stouts, Bitters, Ales, etc.

We looked at selected styles as a

percentage of the overall number of

releases over the last eight years. On

the chart you can see a big rise in the

popularity of sour beers, for example,

going from 4% to 10% of the market

over eight years. But nothing compares

to the NEIPA explosion over the last

two years which have gone from

basically nothing to roughly 6% of the

market.

Note, the graph doesn’t show other

styles of beer that have maintained

or lost share. There are still a lot of

IPAs and Stouts in the market, for

example, but they have not risen as a

share of releases over the time period

presented.

Whether NEIPAs prove a fad, or a

new cornerstone of brewing, we will

see. In the meantime let’s keep our eyes

(and mouths) open for new styles, we

expect big things from Brut IPAs and

Table Beers in 2019.

66 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 67


YOU NEED TO DESCRIBE MORE

BEERS AS ‘RUBBERY’

Don't forget!

EXCLUSIVE

Rate and review your beers (and your beloved

Ferment magazine of course) online - earn points

to spend in our bottleshop, and sip your way up the

membership ranks to become a Taproom explorer.

We’re all influenced by the power

of suggestion, and writing a great

beer description is a great way to

sell more booze. Would Brewdog

have become a billion pound

company without those paeans

to independence on the side of

their bottles? Who can say, but it

certainly helped!

Finding good adjectives with

which to describe the flavour of

your beer is particularly important.

CAMRA have a whole range of

approved words, but they’re a bit

dull. Looking for a wider range of

terms we turned to Mark Dredge’s

Beer Flavour Wheel. This provides

a little more than 120 choice

adjectives with which to describe

the aroma, taste, and mouthfeel of

your brews. We edited out a few of

the more boring words (e.g. light,

dry, bitter) and then looked at the

top 10 and bottom 10 descriptors.

As you can see, fruity and dark

flavours are extremely popular

descriptors. So if you’re looking

to fit in with the crowd be sure to

compare your beers to berries, citrus

fruits, and ingredients used to flavour

lattes at Starbucks. But if you want your

Flavour Wheel Word by usage in beer description (from sample) -

Top 10 and least common words

reviews to stand out, why not challenge

yourself to describe your beer as “acrid,

meaty, rubbery, and cheesy”? We’re

THE DATA KEEPS ON COMING...

sure that the brewery will be extremely

appreciative of your unique take on

their product.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure through the wonderful world of beer by the numbers. As

you can see, there’s a myriad of fascinating layers to our relationship with beer and what it reveals

about our own psychology and preferences. The good news is that the data keeps on rolling in. So

keep writing your beer reviews and ratings, and we’ll be exploring your tastes again soon!

Ian Gordon is a data analyst for the excellent #beerdata blog on

boozers.beer, crunching the numbers behind our favourite breweries

68 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 69


MODERN

This month, Ollie Peart

tosses in his pod, craving

human contact

I’ve seen the future, and it’s

worrisome.

The other week in another line of

work, I was whisked off to test two

things: a pod hotel in Rotterdam and

an inflatable travel onesie. If you don’t

know what any of those are, let me

explain.

A pod hotel is essentially one of

those Japanese ‘morgue’ style hotels

that salary men jump into after a night

on the piss. It’s a pod to get dressed

in, scratch your arse and have a sleep.

A onesie is the wearable version of

the pod hotel and is perhaps the most

disgusting garment in the history of

mankind. A jumper sewn to some

trousers that you can jump in and zip

up because you’re either too stupid to

dress yourself or you’re so lazy you’re

60 beats away from your 15th cardiac

arrest.

The onesie I was testing was

actually a travel onesie, an attempt

to have everything you might need

when travelling long distances be

right there, where you need them.

In principal this is a great idea; a

built-in pillow, removable pockets for

travel paraphernalia and an arse flap

for having a dump. The idea is that

you can zip yourself up, your own

wearable bubble to watch Netflix,

listen to music or swipe through

Tinder.

I arrived at the pod hotel – a

place where you are assigned

a wristband that gives you

humanless access to coffee, booze

and food – and ventured up to my

pod, an app-connected double bed

encased in a giant Tetris-style ‘L’.

I climbed up onto the bed and it

hit me: this… this is the future.

Think about it. Everything is

being designed to save us the

agony of communicating with

one another on a face-to-face

basis. Self-service checkouts

have somehow infiltrated their

way into our everyday lives, and

we barely noticed. Facebook,

Instagram and Twitter are all

digital manifestations that do the

same thing, distract us from the

real world, but when our real world

no longer becomes ‘real’ then what

the fuck are we supposed to do?

You’ve seen that Pixar movie

Wall-E right? It’s about a little

robot whose only job is to clear

up all the shit we left on planet

Earth while we hover about in

deep space. Powered by the sun,

he roams around picking up bits

here and bits there, the aim

being to complete the job

so we can all come home

and start growing plants

again.

What HAS driven us

to this point where

we are working every

minute of every day

just to fulfil some

weird fantasy of

doing nothing?

The whole time he’s doing

that, we’ve spent generations in

space being waited on by other

robots, whisked about on floating

chairs while wearing onesies,

communicating with each other

exclusively through screens.

When I saw that film for the first

time, I remember thinking ‘well

that’s stupid, we’ll be long extinct

before we get to that point’ but

as I’m sat up in my very own pod,

wearing a onesie and staring at a

screen, the only thing standing in

the way of me and that reality is a

floating chair and a lovely robot bin

man.

How the hell did we get here?

What forces have driven us to

this point where we are working

every minute of every day just to

fulfil some weird fantasy of doing

nothing? We weren’t born to do

nothing, and now the existence

of certain technology is not only

encouraging us to do less, but is

actively inhibiting us from doing

anything at all.

Messaging apps for work distract

us from family time, social apps

stop us from getting out and

enjoying life, connected devices

allow people to leave their pets

locked in a room, communicating

with them through a screen,

dating apps remove the surprise of

meeting someone new. We’re losing

touch. And fast.

The onesie and the pod are our

protective barriers from this future,

pixel lit hell-holes where we can

forever forget that we are

living in a real world, with

real things and real people.

Why face that fact though

when you could slip into a

cocoon and forget

it all.

70 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 71


This month, Alex Paganelli

celebrates the classic Boston lobster

roll, with three special recipes, all

using the same ingredients.

POACHED LEMON LOBSTER

The easiest and most ‘humane’ way of killing a lobster

in my opinion is to place it in the freezer for 20

minutes to partially put it to sleep and then place it

on its back, grab a sharp, strong knife and run the

blade down the middle of the head in one quick

movement. Slice the head in half and it will keep

attached to the body, allowing you to cook it whole.

Poach it in very salty water for about eight minutes

(for a lobster roughly 800g).

Refresh in cold water and remove the meat from

the shells. You can keep the shells to make a stock!

SEAWEED MAYO

Place 10g of dried nori, 10g of dried kelp and 10g

chlorella powder into a bowl. Add 200ml of boiling

water and mix well until the seaweed has softened.

Squeeze the water out of the seaweed and discard

the seaweed (keep the water, that’s what we need).

Sieve the water and remove any little bits from the

seaweed, add a teaspoon of corn starch and place

back onto the hob to thicken.

Once thickened enough so it’s more of a thick

sauce, add a few tablespoons of mayonnaise and

mix well. Adjust with more or less seaweed sauce if

needed. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

CHOPPED CHIVES

Chop chives really thin and set aside.

ROE

I personally love herring roe, but feel free to

experiment with other types.

LOBSTER CHIPS

Deep-fry some chips and season with salt. Place on

a tray and cover with chunks of shredded lobster

meat, seaweed mayo, roe and chopped chives.


LOBSTER ROLL

In a bowl mix a handful of shredded

lobster meat, seaweed mayo, roe

and a squeeze of lemon. Stuff a soft

brioche bun (I prefer the hot dog

shape) with the lobster meat mix,

and cover with fresh chives.


LOBSTER EGG

In a bowl crack 2 eggs and whisk until

loose. Add a pinch of salt, a small handful

of shredded lobster meat and a bunch of

chopped chives. Drop the mix into a hot

pan with some oil and with a fork continue

to disturb the mix as if you were making

scrambled eggs. Keep stirring until it’s

almost set. Once the eggs are almost

cooked (and there’s barely any liquid left)

take off the heat and serve immediately

with some fresh roe and herbs.


The Edit: Germany

Happy New Year to all our Beer52 members

and Ferment readers. As we step in to 2019,

I only have one new year’s resolution: to get

the world’s best craft beer in to your hands. We have

some amazing issues planned for the year ahead, and

we can’t wait to share these with you.

The Edit is going to bring you the best of the rest,

showcasing small-batch, exclusive collabs and more

from breweries around the world, often hard to find

treasures, all showcased in our brand new shiny online

shop. It’s also home to our Beer52 favourites, the best

picks from previous issues that you can go online and

re-order.

This issue we’re taking you back to Germany and

I’m picking out my top beers for the new year from

the online shop. All of our beer is ordered in fresh,

and once it’s gone, that’s it.

Just in from Stone Berlin we have their seasonal

favourite Xocoveza. This Mexican inspired mocha

stout is generously layered with cocoa, coffee, vanilla

and nutmeg, providing a real festive treat at 8.1%.

A touch of pepper adds a gratifying warmth to the

finish, best enjoyed on a cold winter’s evening in front

of the fire.

WORDS: Callum Stewart

Also from Stone, we have the IMBC exclusive

collab, featuring Buxton, Magic Rock and North,

coming together with Stone, to create an incredible

7% IPA called The Fellowship of Beer. The pineycitrus-flavour

of the beer is highlighted by hints of

lychee and cherry. The dank hoppy notes are derived

from a selection of the best malts and hops found in

the breweries’ iconic IPAs: Buxton Axe Edge, Magic

Rock Cannonball, North Transmission, and, of course

Stone IPA. The result is a balanced hop complexity

that rounds out this beer that was a huge hit at this

year’s IMBC.

Brauerei Lemke’s Spree Coast IPA was a standout

hit from the Oktoberfest box, so much so that we

have restocked it along with a full range of beers from

Lemke, including the Black Rye IPA, made with 35%

Rye Malt and full of chocolate and bitterness tones.

Also stocked we have Lemke’s Original Vienna lager

and also their delectable Hopfenweisse, offering a

bouquet of yeast and hops with the scent of banana,

ripe apples and honey.

Lemke are well distributed throughout Germany,

and have been making craft beer since 1998 when

founder Oli Lemke dropped out of business school

to study brewing instead. Having brewed in Venezuela

and Japan, Lemke brings a wealth of brewing

experience in to the German craft scene.

Top beers from the box making the cut for the

Oktoberfest edition include the Vanilla Killer, a cream

ale from Bunthaus, BRLO’s West Coast IPA and Baltic

Porter, along with our office favourite Neukölln NEIPA,

made with white grapes for a dry white wine finish.

Our guest for this issue comes in the form of

eccentric and forward thinking brewery Sudden Death.

Describing themselves as ‘a beer team with a hockey

problem’, they use American influences to create fun,

hoppy beers. Beer52’s online shop will be the only

place to source these beers in the UK.

They take their inspiration directly from Boston, as

founders Olli and Ricky are both avid ice hockey fans

from Northern Germany they would travel to the US to

watch the Boston Bruins at TD Garden,

They were immediately impressed by the intense

fruity IPA ‘s from local breweries, the grassy pale ales

and seasonal specialities, such as pumpkin beer for

Halloween and gingerbread beer at Christmas time.

What they found with different types of malt and hops

flavour variety, was just not available in Germany.

After not being able to purchase the beers back

home, they started homebrewing back in Germany,

and a short time later, Olli trained as a beer sommelier

and the story of Sudden Death Brewing took its

course. The hockey influence is shown throughout

their logo, right down to using hockey sticks for tap

handles.

Wolfman Ate My Homework (yes, that is the beer

name!) is an example of such beer, and would not be

out of place in the craft beer bars of Boston. A NEIPA

at 8%, it’s dry hopped with Mosaic, Galaxy and Vic

Secret alongside a characteristic hazy appearance.

Their pair of stouts are the joint top two highest

rated stouts in Germany - Mr. Cinnamon Bun and Who

Shot The Almond Brothers. While also contenders

for the best name and artwork awards, it’s the depth

of flavours that do the talking. They are both 10%

Imperial Oatmeal Stouts, the former with a touch of

Lactose infused with cinnamon vanilla, while the latter

has lactose, marzipan and dark chocolate. We will let

you decide which one you prefer. Prost!

78 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 79


ENJOY YOUR FAVOURITE BEERS

WITH A SELECTION OF DELICIOUS PRODUCTS FROM

Beer52 subscriber’s best beers

Your notes on the Balkans box!

£5 OFF

Go to Degustabox.co.uk

and use discount code:

BEER52

FREE delivery + FREE bonus item

HOPTOPOD IPA

Dogma Brewery

ABV: 6.5%

Style: IPA

4.3

/5

4.1

/5

CRYO DDH NEIPA

Ailyak Brewery

ABV: 6%

Style: NEIPA

Really enjoyed my first beer from Dogma.

Nicely hopped (as you would hope) and a

lovely fruitiness.

LAUREN EVANS • SUPER TASTER

Exactly my type of beer! Rich, hoppy and

tasty all the way through. Brilliant beer.

ANDREW O'MARA • TASTER

Hoppy as hell, it really deserves a calm enjoyable drinking.

ABEL GARCIA PENAS • MASTER TASTER

Fresh hop and citrus nose with notes of pine. Real dry with a

massive hop bite that draws the lips over the gums!

CARL ACKASOVS • SUPER TASTER

Just amazing, my new favourite - just need to work out how

to get more.

RICHARD GARFIELD • TAPROOM EXPLORER

Smooth hoppy taste with fruit that’s not too over powering,

nice balanced IPA, love the name and design.

IAN VAUGHAN • SUPER TASTER

I cannot say the name of this beer but I would

definitely order it at a bar.

BEN STEWART • SUPER TASTER

I loved the cool, subtle, citrus flavour.

PIERS STANGER • MASTER TASTER

Best beer in the box. Nice creamy head with a nice hop flavour

shining through. Excited for the growing Bulgarian beer scene!

WILL BLUNDELL • TAPROOM EXPLORER

Tell you what, it was A LOT easier to drink this than it

was to pronounce it. *raised glass* To the beer with many

Consonants. Cheers.

ED GOODE • TASTER

Fantastic! Light and refreshing, but with a wonderful depth of

flavour. Just the right amount of hops and citrus notes. Cool

bottle design too!

JIM ROBERTSON • SUPER TASTER

Very smooth and fruity, thoroughly enjoyable beer.

KATHRYN MACLENNAN • SUPER TASTER

TOP TASTER:

Hoptopod IPA - 4.1

ANOTHER ROUND?

81% Would go for Hoptopod IPA

DELIGHTFUL DESIGN:

Hoptopod IPA - 4.31

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

Cheers!


THE MASS BAY BREWING COMPANY

Founded in 1986 by a group of three beer-loving friends, The

Mass Bay Brewing Company has become the oldest, continually

operated production brewery in the state of Massachusetts

and the 18th largest craft brewery in the U.S. Employee-owned

since 2014 with two breweries, one in Boston, MA, and one in

Windsor, VT, MBBC brews a family of three brands: Harpoon,

UFO Wheat Beers, and Clown Shoes Beer.

BOSTON

ABV: 6% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Coffee porter

TASTING NOTES

dunkin' PORTER

Harpoon Brewery

Brewed in collaboration with Harpoon’s

favorite Massachusetts-based coffee and

donut purveyor, Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’

Donuts), this porter is a tribute to the all the

times Dunkin’ coffee helped them fire up

the brew kettle in the morning. A handful

of darker specialty malts and a touch of

oats to give it a rich, chocolatey backbone

with light notes of toffee and vanilla.

After fermentation, the finished beer is

then blended with a significant amount of

Dunkin’s espresso blend cold brew to add

extra layers of rich, roasty character.

Take 5

Harpoon Brewery

BOSTON

BOSTON

Winter warmer

Harpoon Brewery

ABV: 4.3% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: American session IPA

ABV: 5.9% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Holiday ale

TASTING NOTES

A small portion of caramel and Vienna malts round

out the grain bill and then its loaded up with Simcoe,

Amarillo, Centennial, and Mosaic hops. There’s a subtle

touch of malty sweetness but plenty of bright, aromatic

notes of pine, grapefruit, lime, and mango. It finishes

crisp and clean with just a light bitterness.

HARPOON BREWERY

Earning its name from MBBC’s

original beer - Harpoon Ale -

The Harpoon Brewery acted as

MBBC’s lone brand for its first 13

years of existence. Most wellknown

for its flagship Harpoon

IPA, as well as its massive annual

festivals at their Boston brewery,

Harpoon has become one of the

most iconic craft brands in the

U.S. Harpoon sets out to make

great beer and inspire great

times, embodied by its mantra of

“Love Beer. Love Life.”

TASTING NOTES

One of the oldest, continually-brewed

seasonal beers in America (since ’88).

Victory, dark caramel, and a touch

of chocolate malt combine to give it

a bready, toffee-like malt profile. An

early addition of Northern Brewer

hops act to balance the malt while

the addition of ground cinnamon

and nutmeg shine through to add a

subtle spice. Dark copper in color

with a medium body, its rich but

refreshing and wonderfully warming.

82 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 83


DARK

Harpoon Brewery

BOSTON

BOSTON

ipa

Harpoon Brewery

ABV: 5.2% Enjoy at 8°C

Style: Munich Dunkel-style ale

ABV: 5.9% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: American IPA

TASTING NOTES

Like an Americanised version of a

classic Munich dunkel lager, Dark is

brewed with a wide range of darker

specialty malts and Harpoon House

ale yeast. Chocolate malt, munich

malt, and a blend of different caramel

malts give off subtle notes of bitter

chocolate, roasted nuts, and toffee,

while an abundance of Willamette

hops balances out any sweetness. It’s

dark, inviting, and drinkable without

any roast or bitterness.

TASTING NOTES

One of the first ever American IPAs

and Harpoon’s flagship beer since

’93. Originally a summer seasonal

and now a year-round staple- like a

traditional English IPA but reworked

for American drinkers. The end result

is a perfect medley of pale and amber

malts, Cascade hops, and Harpoon

house yeast. Its hoppy and floral on

the nose but balanced and crisp in

flavour. A true American classic.

CAMP WANNAMANGO

Harpoon Brewery

BOSTON

BOSTON

baked goods

Clown Shoes Beer

ABV: 5% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: Mango pale ale

TASTING NOTES

Harpoon’s beloved Summer seasonal –

Camp Wannamango combines bright,

tropical hops and fresh mango puree.

A simple grain bill of pale malt and

caramalt sets the stage for a healthy

amount of Northern Brewer and

Denali hops. Before fermenting with

Harpoon house yeast, nearly 60 kgs of

pureed mango is added in. The finished

beer is dry-hopped with mosaic and

denali, which add notes of pine and

juicy tropical fruit to compliment and

elevate the flavour of the mango. Its

refreshingly fruity but still finishes clean

and crisp like a pale ale should.

ABV: 5.5% Enjoy at 10°C

Style: American pale ale

CLOWN SHOES BEER

Founded in 2009, Clown Shoes

Beer joined MBBC family

in 2017, staying true to the

commitment to brew great

beers without pretension. Well

known for its original package

artwork and style-defying

use of unique and distinctive

ingredients, Clown Shoes stays

free and always a little crazy.

TASTING NOTES

A modern take on an American pale ale.

This is a smooth, easy drinking ale full of

delicate tropical fruit hop flavours. Tastes

hoppy, not bitter, and smooth.

84 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 85


MANGö

Clown Shoes Beer

BOSTON

BOSTON

CHOCOLATE SOMBRERO

Clown Shoes Beer

ABV: 5.5% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: Kölsch-style ale with

mango extract

TASTING NOTES

Clown Shoes brewed a

traditional, crisp kölsch but then

dry-hopped it with Huell Melon

hops and added all natural

mango extract. Tastes tropical,

balanced, and easy-drinking, but

definitely beer, not juice.

ABV: 7% Enjoy at 13°C

Style: Mexican-style stout

TASTING NOTES

Clown Shoes' take on a chocolate

stout adds spices to give it a

unique and interesting flavour.

Ancho chilies, cinnamon, vanilla

beans, and lactose in a chocolate

stout give a wonderful mix of

flavours. Tastes smooth with

chocolate, vanilla, and subtle

spice flavours.

GALACTICA

Clown Shoes Beer

BOSTON

BOSTON

HEFEWEIZEN

UFO Beer

ABV: 8% Enjoy at 10°C

Style: American double IPA

ABV: 4.8% Enjoy at 5°C

Style: American wheat beer

TASTING NOTES

A classic double IPA, with a

balanced flavour of clean malt,

bitterness, and tropical fruit,

citrus, and pine. Dry hopped

this with Galaxy, El Dorado,

and Citra hops. Tastes citrus,

pine, and tropical fruit with a

pleasant bitterness.

UFO BEER

Starting with the release

of Harpoon’s “UnFiltered

Offering” UFO Hefeweizen

in 1999, UFO Wheat Beers

has continued to brew a wide

range of unfiltered wheat

beers, all showcasing their

distinctive, hazy appearance

and light, refreshing

flavours. UFO crafts its beers

for any of life’s adventures

but always with fun and

approachability in mind.

TASTING NOTES

Inspired by the classic hefeweizens of Bavaria, this was

the first beer in the UFO brand. Simple and clean, with

an abundance of wheat malt, a touch of Apollo hops,

and American ale yeast. The nose has some subtle

fruity esters and a touch of clove while the flavour is

light, bready, and crisp.

86 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 87


IN PARTNERSHIP WITH 71 BREWING

71 Brewing

Even though they’ve only

been open properly for less

than two years, Dundee’s

71 Brewing is already taking the

Scottish beer scene by storm.

Located right in the centre of

the city, within walking distance

of the university, it’s a muchneeded

boost to the economy

and to Dundee’s creative

community.

Founder and managing director

Duncan Alexander hails from

Dundee, but left in the early ‘90s.

Duncan was an amateur brewer

when he went to visit a cousin in

Melbourne, Australia around eight

years ago, where he discovered

a burgeoning craft beer scene,

and fell in love with White Rabbit

in particular. He brought that

excitement home, and after a

brief stint running a community

brewery in Portobello, Edinburgh,

felt it was time to take the leap

and set up a proper brewery.

71 is Dundee’s first brewery in

50 years, despite the city’s rich

brewing history. Duncan remarks:

“[Dundee’s] brewing heritage got

swept away as the whole industry

got swept away.” This gave it

a certain appeal to make it the

home of the brewery, he adds:

“as far as we could see, it’s the

last city in the UK that didn’t have

a brewery, so we thought this

WORDS: Siobhan Hewison

seemed like a perfect spot for us

to start up.”

The brewery has a taproom

that opened at the beginning of

this year; it’s small at the moment

but there are plans for expansion.

It’s right in the middle of the

brewery, so visitors get a sneaky

look at what the brewers are up

to. It also hosts events like pub

quizzes, beer events and there’s

a DJ on a Friday night. There’s a

bottle shop, and local businesses

provide the food.

If you’ve ever tried 71’s lager

or Meridian Session NEIPA,

you’ll be justifiably excited for

what’s coming up in the future.

This month sees the launch of

seven new beers under the its

Blueprint Series, which includes a

hazy IPA, a session citrus IPA, an

American pale ale, a Helles lager,

a breakfast stout, and a couple of

wheat beers. There are also some

barrel-ageing projects on the go,

with several barrels stashed away

in the brewery’s upper levels.

Having started out brewing its

famous lager as the core beer

to capture local trade, 71 has

evolved a lot since it opened.

“The whole rationale and ethos

of the brewery has changed

dramatically [in the last couple

of years] and we are very much

more of a creative outlet now.”

The brewery is run by a small

team of about 12 people split

between the brewery, the office

and the taproom. Originally

named as a nod back to the

history of the building it’s based

in – a former ironworks set over

three floors – 71 Brewing is now a

thriving hub of creativity, fun and

quality beer of which Dundee can

be proud.

BOSTON

WINTER BLONDE

UFO Beer

ABV: 4.9% Enjoy at 6°C

Style: French vanilla coffee

wheat beer

TASTING NOTES

The perfect balance of winter comfort

and light refreshment. The base starts

off pretty similar to the classic UFO

Hefeweizen but is “winter-ified” by

blending it with a touch of French

vanilla cold brew coffee. The finished

product still has that classic hazy straw

look of a wheat beer but with a ton of

coffee and French vanilla right up front

on the nose. The flavour follows suit but

doesn’t have any roasty or bitter notes

from the coffee- instead, it finishes clean

with a slight, pleasant sweetness.

EXCLUSIVE

NEW ENGLAND IPA

Paradise

ABV: 5.5% Enjoy at 7°C

Style: New England IPA

TASTING NOTES

Haze for days! A big tropical fruitforward

New England beer packed

with late hops and the delectable

pillowy mouthfeel that defines the

style. Juicy and ever so moreish!

88 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 89


COCKTAIL OF THE MONTH

COCKTAIL OF

THE MONTH:

BLOOD &

SAND

One of the few classic cocktails

to use Scotch whisky in the

standard recipe, Blood & Sand

is a riot of flavours, which on paper

may seem a little jarring; it’s certainly

one of those love-it-or-hate it cocktails,

but we’d strongly recommend giving it

a try. The Scotch whisky – here with a

dash of smoky, peated whisky (we used

Smokehead), because that’s how we

drink it at Ferment HQ – is absolutely at

the heart of this punchy, short cocktail,

and is ably supported by sweet red

vermouth (we used Martini Rosso) and

sweet cherry brandy. Freshly squeezed

orange juice, or more properly blood

orange juice, gives it the freshness and

acidity to keep it from being cloying.

Little is known about the origins

of this classic, though it was first

recorded for posterity in Harry

Craddock's iconic Savoy Cocktail Book

in 1930, so it’s generally believed to

have been created at London’s Savoy

Hotel (birthplace of so many timeless

cocktails).

Its name is thought to be taken

from a 1922 film starring Rudolph

Valentino, the silent-era star also known

as “The Latin Lover.” In this story of

a bullfighter, based on the novel by

Vincente Blasco Ibáñez, Valentino plays

the role of Juan Gallardo, a simple

village boy turned superstar matador.

The plot revolves around Gallardo’s

marriage to the beautiful and virtuous

Carmen, and his subsequent (torrid and

slightly kinky) affair with smouldering

widow Doña Sol. Overcome with

guilt at betraying Carmen, Gallardo

starts getting sloppy in the ring and

is inevitably gored to death by a bull,

reconciling with Carmen in his dying

breath. A suitably melodramatic

namesake for such a melodramatic

cocktail.

It is categorically not named after 50

Cent: Blood on The Sand, a criticallyunpopular

2009 video game, in which

the eponymous rapper travels to an

unnamed middle eastern country to

retrieve a diamond-encrusted skull he

was promised as payment for a tour,

shooting a lot of people in the process.

HOW TO MAKE A

SMOKY BLOOD & SAND

22.5ml Speyside Scotch whisky

15ml Smokehead whisky (or other peated Scotch

whisky)

22.5ml Cherry brandy liqueur

22.5ml Sweet red vermouth

30ml Fresh blood orange juice

METHOD: Shake ingredients with ice, and fine

strain into a chilled coupe glass. Serve with a

twist of blood orange peel, or a slice of candied

blood orange. Easy-peasy, orange squeezy.

90 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 91


You say you want a

WORDS: Siobhan Hewison

It’s January 1st and you’re praying for

the cool, non-judgmental embrace

of death. Your moral and chemical

excesses of the previous night are

merely the climax of ten days of overeating,

over-drinking and generally

over-consuming along with everyone

else you know. But it’s 2019 now –

chance to make a symbolic change in

your lifestyle. This will be the year to run

a marathon, learn the piano, remember

to feed your fish. And, by God, it will

start with giving up booze for a month.

Of course, if you want to do the

whole Dry-anuary thing, we’re not

going to judge you (unlike growing a

moustache for November, abstaining

from booze won’t make you look like a

‘70s sex pest). But honestly, if you spend

the entire month gritting your teeth

and crossing days off a wall planner,

then go absolutely mental until the New

Year’s festival of self-recrimination rolls

round again, the only thing you’ll have

proven is that you’re an alcoholic with

willpower.

If you’re serious about developing a

healthier relationship with drinking in

2019, it’s far better to take an honest

look at your alcohol intake and establish

some realistic, sustainable yearround

goals and habits. Here are our

suggestions:

KEEP A RECORD OF HOW MUCH

YOU’RE DRINKING. Those units

mount up quickly, and could be a real

wake-up call.

LIMIT POTENTIAL TRIGGERS.

If you’ve had a stressful day, do you

automatically reach for a cheap lager

to relax? Then don’t keep a stock of

second-rate beers in your fridge. Try

instead to develop a new routine,

such as drinking a quality soda or tea

instead. Do you have that one friend or

work colleague whose ‘just one drink’

inevitably turns into five, followed by

a greasy kebab? Tell them about your

plans, and cut back on time spent with

them. Stand up to peer pressure!

DESIGNATE SOME DAYS OF THE

WEEK AS ‘ALCOHOL-FREE’. This

might be difficult to adjust to at first, so

you could start by substituting beers for

alcohol-free brews. Bonus: the more you

do this the more you’ll appreciate what

a novelty it is to wake up hangover-free,

so it’s likely to become habit quite easily.

On boozy days, stick to only drinking

with dinner, or limiting yourself to one

or two post-dinner drinks. Buy a few

premium craft brews for the week, and

savour them as you sink into your sofa.

BOW OUT OF ROUNDS AT THE

PUB. Sounds antisocial, but it means

you can keep a slower pace than your

boozehound friends, and keep in control

money-wise.

PLAN. If you’re the nerdy, organised

type, make a plan for how much you’ll

drink on a night out and set a budget

for yourself. It’s also useful to space out

your drinks with a nice premium soft

drink or a boring pint of water if you’re

out for the long haul.

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU’RE

DRINKING. Try sticking to low-ABV

beers instead of that 13% imperial

barrel-aged stout. Or, go for halves or

thirds instead of pints - this also brings

the hipster benefit of being able to try

a wider variety of beers, which will do

wonders for your Untappd profile.

START EATING DINNER BEFORE

YOU GO OUT. This way you’ll end up

heading out later and spending less

time drinking, and you’ll know you’ve

eaten something to hopefully stave off

that sore head tomorrow. No, a munchie

box doesn’t count.

92 FERMENT MAGAZINE

FERMENT MAGAZINE 93


Weak sauce

America makes some of the best beer in the world. It also

makes the absolute worst. Louise Crane finds out why.

Think Budweiser, and you’re

thinking of the United States of

America at its most clichéd -

jocks and cheerleaders, cinnamon apple

pie, Tony Stark and the Superbowl. But

of course, although Bud is uniquely

American, it has its roots in the German

brewing tradition. In fact, eight out of

the ten best-selling beers in America

have German origins. And, yep, they’re

all lagers - half of them “light” varieties.

How did a singular style of beer come

to dominate the American market, and

why is it so different to its continental

European forefather? Beer School

takes a leisurely, two-part look into

how the great American lager came to

be, why, and where it’s going.

Let’s be frank. Commercial American

lager is bland. There is little variety in the top

ten best-selling lagers because they are all

brewed in very similar ways with very similar

ingredients. But it wasn’t always this way.

Once upon a time, America had the tiswin

corn beer drunk by the Apache, or the choc

beer of the Choctaws of Oklahoma, brewed

with tobacco as well as hops and barley.

See also spruce beer, sour porter and

coriander ale, the Kentucky Common

and the Pennsylvania swankey, which

sounds worth drinking just because

of the name. Generally, these beers

were made in small batches with

top-fermenting yeast, sold locally

and drunk quickly, before the

beer soured.

Bottom-fermenting lager was

introduced to the USA just

before 1840, much later in history than the

more robust porters and stouts from Britain

that could be shipped over warm without

spoiling; lager imports had to wait until

the technology of refrigeration developed.

Couldn’t Americans just brew their own lager

before then? No, since bottom-fermenting

yeast was to be found only in Europe, and

the journey by boat was just too long for the

special fungus to survive the transatlantic

crossing until the mid-1830s.

Historians disagree exactly who successfully

brought over the first viable yeast, but

one candidate is John Wagner, a Bavarian

immigrant and brewmaster who brought a

sample from Germany to

Philadelphia for making

his own lager. True to the

old tradition of sharing

yeasts, Wagner is said to

have given some of his to a

fellow local brewer, George

Manger, who opened

a commercial brewery,

producing lager in much bigger quantities

than his friend.

This was to huge success - local German

populations were booming thanks to the huge

numbers of people who were being displaced

by anti-aristocracy revolts in Europe and

choosing to emigrate to the New World. One

million Germans moved to the USA in the

second half of the 1800s, carrying with them

a pride for their own brewing traditions,

and they lapped up this reminder of home.

Many other breweries followed in brewing

bottom-fermenting lager, possibly even using

the same sample of shared yeast. According

to an account that is likely apocryphal, the

By 1860, lager

represented one-fourth

of US beer production

breweries often ran out and had to post

adverts proclaiming when the next batch

would be ready for sale. In 1846, a brewery in

Boston was making lager, another in New York

that same year, and one in Chicago the next.

Lager had legs. By 1860, lager represented

one-fourth of US beer production (about 1.1

million hl of 4.5 million hl).

Why was lager proving to be so popular,

not only within the German communities but

outside of them too? Well, imagine that all

your life, you’ve only ever slept under a rough,

slightly scratchy blanket. It’s thick, warm and

kinda dense, but it does the job. Then, one

day, someone gives you a new-generation

super-engineered duvet, all

fluffy and light, that warms

you up from the inside

but keeps you refreshingly

cool at night. That would

have been the difference

between drinking the new

lager and the beers of

yesteryear. Germans also

brought over beer garden culture to America,

open drinking resorts that catered to families

(meaning, heaven forfend, you might find a

woman there – some Irish pubs didn’t allow

women until at least the 1960s). Rather than

somewhere to drown your sorrows in a puddle

of whiskey, German beer gardens were for

whiling away a Sunday afternoon, getting

pleasantly tipsy but not inebriated. They

were often attached to the new breweries

and ennobled German lager as a safer, more

acceptable option for alcohol in a society

where the temperance movements were

increasingly powerful.

Another key factor in spreading the

94 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 95


BEER SCHOOL: WEAK SAUCE

popularity of lager outside the German

community was the Civil War of 1861-1865.

German-Americans made up the largest single

ethnic group in the North’s army, with over

200,000 German natives serving alongside

Americans who might yet to have had their

first sip of light, bright lager. The war also

mixed together country boys with city boys,

introducing rural soldiers to the city delights

of lager, particularly when soldiers passed

through or were stationed near cities where

there were lager breweries. Washington, for

example, was surrounded by sixty Union forts

and full of hospitals for wounded troops. It

was also home to several lager breweries and

no doubt many thousands of young men from

the countryside first tasted lager made by

Ernst Loeffler, George Juenemann, or John

Kozel.

It’s important to note that despite all the

German names and origins, this was not

German beer. It was distinctly American

beer, made in America from American

ingredients for both practical and economic

reasons, since shipping over barley and

hops from Europe would have been costly

and inefficient. This had a major impact that

defines American lager to this day. Whereas

Bavarian barley was of the two-row variety,

the barley in America was six-row, high in

protein and therefore prone to haze during

lagering to create harsher flavours than its

gentler cousin. American hops at the time

were likewise coarser in flavour.

The new German brewers needed

something to temper these abrasive features,

and that something was not only right in front

of them, but all around: corn. Corn was and is

a huge crop in America and, as per the tiswin

corn beer and many others, it had a history

with brewing. The new German brewers

found that this native corn softened their beer,

lending it a distinct sweetness, smoothing

out the edges of the American barley. It

also contributed little haze, producing a

clearer beer. By cleverly combining imported

German aroma hops with domestic bittering

hops, a fraction of corn with the domestic

barley, these brewers could make a flavourful

Pilsener-style beer, similar to the lagers of

central Europe, but very much of the USA.

By the 1870s, new technology helped

to cement lager as the alcoholic beverage

of choice in a land used to hard liquor.

Artificial refrigeration became economically

viable, critical for allowing lager production

to increase in scale to meet demand.

Maarten Van Den Heuvel

Refrigerated train cars allowed the bigger

breweries to market their products countrywide

and ensured a consistent product.

Between 1840 and 1875, the amount of beer

consumed per person per year rose from one

to just over six gallons.

The looming threat of temperance actually

helped lager. From 1830 to 1845, the movement

gained momentum as increasing numbers

of Americans took voluntary “temperance

pledges” to give up the perennially popular

spirits and cider of their homeland. German

brewers brought over a European outlook

towards beer – that it was a life-stuff, natural,

nourishing, and above all, relatively harmless.

Lager’s clear and light nature underlined this

sentiment and, for a while, it passed muster as

a temperance beverage.

But as sentiments towards prohibition

hardened in the 1870s, beer had to become

weaker and once again the originally German

drink had to evolve into something more of

its new home; mellower still, less alcoholic,

and thanks to the refrigerator, more stable.

As an 1878 issue of the trade publication

Western Brewer noted, Americans “want a

clear beer of light color, mild and not too

bitter taste.” This was the Bohemian pilsner

and, against the darker lagers, it won out with

those who sought to avoid the judgement of

the puritanical abstainers. It also suited the

American factory worker, who would often

eat and drink at saloons between shifts. No

one wanted to risk coming back to work

drunk, so the lighter beers were the best

bet. In 1876, Anheuser-Busch introduced

Budweiser, whose rice adjuncts produced an

even milder beer, to great success. Around

the same time, Pabst Blue Ribbon, with its

corn adjuncts, became a national sensation

as well.

By the time Prohibition finally rolled into

town in 1920, American lager had established

itself as very distinct from the flavoursome

Bavarian lager that it came from. With as

much as 25% corn in its mash bill, it was

sweet, with a medium malt flavour, aroma and

body and medium to high bitterness. In the

second part of this article, next issue, we will

explore the permanent effect that Prohibition

had on the American palate and how this

impacted on the lager that Americans had

grown to know and love. We will also explore

the phenomenon of “light” beer, asking how

and why it has become the number one

choice for many drinking Americans. Watch

this space.

96 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 97


Letters from America

In the first of his dispatches on the US craft

scene, Dan Orley returns to Colorado

Unlimited

Free Beer

Exclusive Offer for

Members

I’ve waited two and a half years

to see these mountains again.

Cresting a hill on highway 24,

I can’t help but feel just as

overwhelmed as when I first made

this drive in 2002. At that time, I had

never seen the earth shoot straight

into the sky like this before. I pulled

my car to the side of the road,

stepped out, and simply marveled

at what was in front of me. I’ll never

forget it.

During my last year in the UK, I

probably drove everyone mad talking

about Colorado beer; the quality,

the innovation, and the fact

that this is the best beer

state in the United States of

goddamn America.

So, on returning to the US,

I couldn’t wait to go back to

Colorado Springs and see

how the lineups had changed.

I imagined a 12-pack that

used to boast an IPA, pale

ale, stout, and a seasonal would

now include a sour, gose, gruit, fruit

beer or something weird that I had

never heard nor dreamt of. No more

12-packs of the same old shit for me,

no thanks. Colorado would have

changed, fully embracing the new

trends while improving and refining

the old.

Sadly though, in reality, very little

has changed for the common, casual

craft beer drinker here. 12-packs still

contain the same beers as two, four,

and six years ago and, aside from

a few very specialized breweries,

the beer (in Colorado Springs, at

least) is just more of the same. Oh,

you have a really good amber? Who

cares? Oh, your IPA is 90 IBU? So is

everyone else’s (also, that’s not at all

what people are drinking right now.

Ask Verdant).

Outside of Colorado Springs,

the craft brewers who helped make

Colorado the state for craft beer

now seem content to relive their

greatest hits, with cosmetic tweaks

to stay in the front of consumers’

minds. There are two different

versions of Fat Tire now, while

Ranger has been relaunched as

Voodoo Ranger with six different

varieties. I wish one of them was

above average. For this beer drinker,

this tactic is simply not good enough.

There are exceptions, of course:

Local Relic and Goat Patch in

Colorado Springs are producing

extraordinary, unique beers. River

North and Funkwerks, out of Denver

and Fort Collins respectively, have

finally started putting out 12-packs

and they are both superb. And I

would still drink Odell’s standard

variety 12-pack any day of the

week.

I was simply expecting

more. I was expecting

styles I’d never even heard

of before. I was expecting

to see these huge craft

breweries who can afford

to roll the dice do just that.

Perhaps there comes a

point where a scene unconsciously

stops innovating as a form of selfpreservation,

where gambling with

its existing success feels like too

much of a risk. If so, there are plenty

of other breweries, cities and states

willing to pick up that baton.

Invite your friends to join

Beer52 and get a Free

Case for every friend that

signs up*. PLUS they get

their first box Half Price.

To invite your friends, login at

Beer52.com and click ‘invite now’.

Drinking is always more fun when

you invite your friends along.

Not a Beer52 member? Sign up at Beer52.com

*Receive your free box once they become a fully paid up member.

98 FERMENT MAGAZINE FERMENT MAGAZINE 99


Next time...

다음 달:

Korea 한국

We bring you beers created

by four of South Korea’s most

exciting craft breweries: Magpie,

The Booth, Amazing and Wild

Waves. From a tangerine Kolsch

brewed with tangerines from

Jeju Island to a coffee porter

brewed with locally roasted

coffee, we’ll be exploring the

exciting flavours of this unique

country.

And, in a world first, we’ll be

doing a brewery tour of North

Korea - meeting the brewers and

learning more about the most

secretive nation on Earth. In

collaboration with South Korea’s

breweries, we’ll be bringing

you ‘One Day, One Korea’, a

saison promoting peace with

one ingredient representing the

North and another the South.

More magazines by this user