A couple of weeks ago, Jamie and I travelled down to Liverpool to attend SIBA’s BeerX, the annual national conference/trade show for independent UK breweries. Catching up with suppliers, listening to lively panel debates and sampling some great beers from around the UK are all part of the BeerX experience, but for me the most rewarding thing was getting the chance to meet and hang out with beer people.
One of the best things about being part of the craft beer industry is the sense of community that’s abundant in every aspect of it - I’ve always believed that beer people are good people and going to a show like BeerX is a welcome reminder of that. And it’s this community spirit that has lead to us ramping up our collaborations schedule for 2018 - there’s so much to be gained from working with another brewery - sharing knowledge, reaching new people and trying new things, and we’re super-excited to already have a few collabs in the bag and a lot more coming up this year.
A few weeks ago we were delighted to host Tom from London’s House Brewery to join us in creating a cask-exclusive black IPA, Loch & Key. I’m personally a big fan of the style - black IPAs were my first love in craft beer and its fall from popularity from its hype days is nothing short of tragic, so I’m delighted we’ve made a new one with Tom and that it’s a good one. It launches tomorrow evening down in London at House’s Prince N22 venue (two pints for a fiver!?) - get along and give it a try if you can.
Next up is our three-way collab with Grunting Growler and Dead End Brew Machine. Dead End’s Chris has a long history with Fyne Ales (#BringBackZombier) and he’s developed a stellar reputation for amazing IPAs and tasty bretted saisons under the Dead End banner. Grunting Growler is one of my favourite spots in Glasgow - owner/manager Jehad has nailed the chilled-out beer cafe vibe at his space in Finnieston and when he gave us a shout about brewing a New England IPA for the venue’s second birthday, we jumped at the chance and invited Chris to join us to give us some guidance on our first NEIPA adventure.
Juicy, hazy IPAs have been on our wishlist for a while, but the challenge for us has always been how to make it work on our brew kit using the water that we draw from the hills adjacent to the brewery. Credit to Chris - he was instrumental in helping us figure out solutions to the challenges and didn't hesitate to push head brewer Malc out of his comfort zone in the quest to make the best possible beer. The brew day was great fun - it always is when we get to bring people from the city to our rural corner of Scotland to experience a bit of the country - and we left the brewery tired, but confident that we’d brewed something fun.
And it is. Terrible Twos (celebrating Grunting Growler’s second birthday) is by far, the hoppiest and haziest beer we’ve ever brewed.
On the hot side, we used the lightest touch of Magnum for bittering, and then dropped the temperature to 71degrees after flameout before adding a Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo whole-leaf cocktail. We pitched a combination of our house yeast, which has a soft, fruity and light character on it’s own and White Labs’ WLP095 Burlington yeast to get the signature New England mellowness up front.
There was a two stage dry hop - the full batch got Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado T90 in FV and then after the batch was split into two parts for conditioning, one half got more Citra and Mosaic T90, working out 24g/l dry-hop. Why did we split the batch in two? That’s a story for another blog, but trust me when I say we’ve done something fun with the other half.
Up front, the flavour is all stone fruit - the hops and yeast combo doubling down on the soft, juicy flavours that make NEIPAs so easy-drinking. It’s not shy though - there’s a hint of the beer’s 7.1% in the finish, but it makes it all the more thirst-quenching. It’s just really nice to drink, and to keep drinking and you should go and drink it when it launches this Saturday at Grunting Growler and say hey to Chris, Jehad and Tom from our team!
There’s plenty more collabs to look forward to this year - Malc’s just back from Padova’s Crak where he brewed up a session IPA which has already sold out and scheduled for a rebrew, and in April we’re brewing a kettle sour with our friends at Uiltje in the Netherlands. At the end of the month we down to brew with the guys at DEYA as part of a road trip that will also take us to Huddersfield to knock up something sessionable with Magic Rock. Then around FyneFest, we’re excited to get the second leg of the DEYA collab into tank (and maybe barrels) at ours and host the super-talented Duration team for an Origins Brewing collab. And that’s not even all of it - stay tuned for more news soon.
Beer people are good people, and we’re excited to make lots of good beer with good beer people this year.