The story behind Scarecrow Army

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This beer was approached in a slightly different way than the majority of my beers.  The idea behind this beer was to produce a beer that would replace Cambridgeshire Common without pushing too hard.

As a brewer, it is always said that there are some beers that need to be made just to pay the bills… you make those beers so that you can afford to make the fun things.  Cambridgeshire Common was that beer for me.  It was a beer that was absolutely not me…definitely not something that I was proud to put my name on.  It was a well made beer.. it tasted  like it should, it looked like it should (almost crystal clear for an unfined beer), it even sold as it should.. but at the end of the day this was not a beer that I ever liked and did not enjoy brewing, and what is the point of owning a brewery if you are going to make beers that you can’t pour your heart and soul into?

I decided that I still needed a brown beer in my range but that it needed to have more spirit to it than CC.  A poured over ideas, researching different styles that I thought might do the trick but I always found myself coming back to the idea of doing an American Brown.  It is a style that is very much neglected in the British brewing community (don’t get me wrong, there are some incredible American Browns being produced here, they are just few and far between).  The style itself tends to be a little higher in ABV than its British counterparts, hoppier and drier as well.  The idea is to have a slightly hoppy well rounded beer with a strong malty backbone.  I decided to put a small portion of dried bitter orange peel into the recipe as well to help balance out the malts and to add a bit of….something.  It’s hard to explain why it is there because it is not at all apparent… but it would be noticeably different if I were to remove it.

The name and artwork are from the incredible Nic Walker (https://www.instagram.com/art_of_snaggletooth/ ).  He has been my illustrator for a number of my beers and his stuff is simply amazing!  For this project I wanted him to have free reign… so I gave him the ability to name the beer as well so that he would have a complete control over the concept.

The Story behind Would A Bexar S#!t in the Woods

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As is typical with my collaboration beers, this beer was first conceived in an alcohol fuelled conversation. My mate, Tom from Alphabet Brewing Company (Manchester), and I were trying to come up with ideas for our upcoming collab and we were spewing out copious amounts of stupidity…I don’t think that I can emphasize how ridiculous and random some of our ideas are.  During the course of an hour or so conversation, we probably came up with 20 ideas for beers…only about 2 or 3 were actually worth thinking about.  Tom needed/wanted to brew something dark and sessionable but already had enough stouts in his range…so a porter was eventually decided upon.  The gravity was going to be mid tiered so that it would be something that everyone could approach.   I had always wanted to do a treacle stout, so I threw out that idea… I couldn’t see how treacle wouldn’t work for a porter as well.  I also had always wanted to do something with black pepper but had been reluctant to try it because getting the balance right could be a right pain… so I suggested that thinking that it would be laughed off like so many of my other stupid suggestions…but Tom liked it.  So that was the rough concept done.

The final beer recipe was written together on the brew day up in Manchester.  As luck would have it, Tom had all of the dark malts that we needed so we could just pick and choose the malt that we needed.  The brewday itself was rather standard (Tom and I have brewed  enough together that the process is smooth and easy) and everything went to plan.  The only surprise of the day was the strength of the black pepper…during run-off, that was all that we could smell.

The name of the beer itself was something that Tom came up with.  It started as a place holding joke of a name but by the end of the brewday we were both happy to keep it as the permanent name.

The graphics for this beer were done by an incredible illustrator name Hammo (http://www.thehammo.com ) who does all of the artwork for Alphabet.

Timanfaya

Timanfaya

This pump clip might never be seen in the wild as this beer was not really designed to be dispensed via cask.  That being said, the first appearance of this beer was at Norwich Beer Festival 2015 on cask.

Why is it called Timanfaya?  Well Timanfaya is an area in Lanzarote (Canary Islands) …an island that is historically important to my family.  Timanfaya erupted between 1730 and 1736 and changed the face of the island.  This change was extreme and violent but the outcome was a thing of beauty.

I look at this beer the same way.  It is an extreme departure from what many people would consider beer…and I expect the backlash to be quite pronounced from those that don’t understand it.  But to those who are willing to accept change, who are willing to try something new, it will be a thing of beauty.  It will be unlike anything else they have had…and it could potentially change the face of my brewery.

The story behind Timanfaya

Timanfaya is a beer that I have dreamed about doing for ages.  It stemmed for my love for sours but my need to be creative…more creative than the next guy.  Since my first trip to Brussels, I was hooked on “sour” beer (tart is probably a better descriptor, but sour seems to be the term that everyone uses these days).  I had had them before, but until I had spent a day sitting in the tasting room of Cantillon sharing big bottles of beer with people I had just met, I had never EXPERIENCED them.  And a proper sour is an experience.  It was this experience, and many subsequent visits that solidified my love for sour beer and fueled my dream to produce one.

Traditionally, souring a beer is done in a coolship but unfortunately I was not in possession of one (unlike Elgood’s who have two fantastic coolships that they use to produce sours using semi-traditional methods).  Instead, I would have to come up with a way to produce this beer without the equipment that other breweries have.  There are a few other methods that can be used…inoculating a beer with “wild yeast” (in quotes because many times this inoculation is done with a known entity…ie, something from a vial from white labs), inoculation of wort in the kettle (this can be done before or after the wort has been boiled) which is called kettle souring, or sour mashing which is inoculating the mash itself.

The method that I decided to use was to kettle sour before the boil.  The reason was mostly because it is a way to keep from inoculating the entire brewery, but also because it was an easy way to use the souring agent that I wanted to use….a kombucha SCOBY.  To the best of my knowledge, up to this point in time, nobody in the UK (at least no production brewery) was using Kombucha SCOBYs to sour a beer.

The entire brewing process took 6 days, and then took another 8 days to ferment… and that was to produce Timanfaya.

El Diablo de Timanfaya will also be produced from this batch.  El Diablo de Timanfaya is the base beer (Timanfaya) which will be oak aged for ~3 months on cherries.

The Story Behind Death in the Sea of Mediocrity

This beer was actually designed after a long day at the “office”…aka a beer festival (actually, 2 beer festivals).  The first beer festival was a typical real ale festival with loads and loads of beer (I don’t think I can stress how much option was available at this fest…).  At these festivals I typically drink thirds or halves…not for any other reason than that is how I like to drink.  On this day, I had quite a few different beers and none of them were memorable.  One beer flowed into the next with nothing really sticking out as being interesting (now don’t take this as being the festival’s fault…they only order beer…it is up to the breweries to actually provide beer that is good)

The second beer festival was exactly the opposite.  Yes, there was keg beer…but there was also cask (which is what I am referring to at this point).  The cask was amazing!  The selection was small (say, only 20 odd beers on at a time) but anything you ordered was amazing…delicious…memorable.

So this is where the concept was originally born.  I wanted to make a simple beer (pale and hoppy), and make it into something memorable.

Around the same time, twitter started blowing up with someone’s “genius” idea of naming and shaming breweries that produced hazy beer.  I get that people don’t like to drink murky beer…I get that people in this country drink with their eyes…but that doesn’t make a beer that is hazy, or even murky, is bad.  That being said, it is true that many breweries are making really crap beer and hiding behind things like “naturally hazy” or even “um, it’s a wheat beer”.  In the end, hazy does not indicate a beer is good or bad…only that it still has material in suspension (likewise, clear beer does not indicate a good or bad beer… it only indicates that the suspended matter has been removed)… Anyway…. so I decided that I was going to make a beer using nothing to clear the beer at all…design a beer that is meant to not be clear.  Make a beer with a taste profile designed around matter in suspension.

In the end, “Death in the Sea of Mediocrity” came in to be as a revolt against the “social norm” of beer in this country.  I wanted to create a beer that went against the grain and yet was still a really good beer.  I think I succeeded…

Death in the Sea of Mediocrity

Ginger-Keg

This badge symbolizes how I see the uk brewing industry at the moment.  The “sea of mediocrity” are the breweries out there that are happy with just sustaining.  They have no want or need to better themselves as brewers  and are quite content sending out mediocre (at best) beer and selling it cheap.  These are the beers that we see at the pubs who are purchasing these beers for cheap and flogging them to the public trying to pass them off as quality product.  The clipper signifies the other side…the breweries that are making quality beer, that are pushing themselves and working hard to make beer that will give the consumers an excellent experience.  As they push through the sea of mediocrity, they create waves… and in their wake, leave a trail of mediocre dying behind them.

The recipe:

  • 97% pale
  • 3% caragold
  • Nugget (60 minutes) 12 ibu
  • Simcoe (15 minute) 13 ibu
  • Nugget (10 minute) 13 ibu
  • Centennial (5 minute) 5 ibu
  • Simcoe (5 minute) 7 ibu
  • Centennial (hopback)
  • Simcoe (hopback)

Papa Steve 2015 badge and recipe

Ginger-Keg

The badge for Papa Steve 2015 has two very important components to it.  The first is the photo of my father dressed up as superman when he was a child (oddly, he never grew out of this habit), and the second is the green cell in the background.  In real life, this is an actual lymphoma cell (the variety of cancer that he had) which turned out to be his actual Kryptonite.

The recipe:

  • 70% pale malt
  • 7% medium crystal
  • 6% roasted barley
  • 3% chocolate malt
  • 4% wheat
  • 3% cara-pils
  • 7% candi sugar
  • Apollo (75 minutes) 50 ibu
  • Apollo (45 minutes) 37 ibu
  • Cascade (30 minute) 12 ibu