Fyne Ales Blog

New Brew News: Fountain Mountain #Collabfest17

by Iain Smith

For the past four years we’ve been invited by our friends in Brewdog’s Glasgow bars to be part of #Collabfest – the Ellon brewer’s annual festival of UK brewing and for the 2017 edition, we were excited to be invited to work with our original co-conspirators in the West End bar and to embrace a new twist on the collabfest party - a three-way with Cumbernauld-based brewers Out Of Town.

Having having hosted Out of Town and their excellent beers at FyneFest 2017, we were excited to get working on this year’s brew, but with time and production pressures on both breweries, it fell to the Glasgow bar team to form the concept for this year’s brew – Fountain Mountain (4.4%).

Once Colin and the team from the bar expressed an interest in doing something sessionable with a lemon sherbet punch, we worked through a few recipe ideas between the breweries before landing on a grisette spiked with the zest and juice of a lot of lemons.

Though fairly poorly documented in history, grisettes can generally be classified as light, farmhouse-style ales, originating from Belgium in the 19th Century. While similar to saisons in several ways, grisettes were traditionally brewed to quench the thirsts of miners working in quarries and mines in the Hainaut province, as opposed to saisons which were brewed for the farm labourers working in fields.

Grisettes typically are brewed with a high percentage of wheat, so for Fountain Mountain, we used a combination of two different wheats from Scottish maltster, Mungoswell, alongside pale and carapils malts and a touch of flaked oats.

To give the vibrant, citrus character of the sherbet fountain, we chose Sorachi Ace and Citra for hops, adding both after flameout and circulating to keep the bitterness low and capture the fresh fruity flavours of two of our favourite hops.

And if that wasn’t enough, then came the lemons… a lot of lemons. In standard Collabfest procedure, we welcomed Jamie and Nicky from the Brewdog Glasgow bar to join us for the brew day and put them to work on over 25kg of whole lemons, zesting and juicing them by hand with the zest joining the hops in the kettle and the lemon juice, over 13 litres of it, going straight into the FV before pitching one of our favourite farmhouse yeasts.

Fountain Mountain, whose name combines its lemony sherbet fountain flavours and gives a nod to its historic style, is a super-refreshing, low ABV, farmhouse-style beer characterised by its fruity estery yeast character up front with a whack of aromatic hops, sliding quickly into sharp, clean zingy lemon fizz that lingers in the finish.

The beer launches this weekend (20-22 October) in every Brewdog bar in the UK (plus Germany and Sweden) – catch us in the Glasgow bar on Friday afternoon/evening and let us know what you think in person, or give us a shout out on social with your thoughts.


New Brew News: New Ragnarök

by Iain Smith

It’s the end of everything. Again.

It’s been just over two years since we launched Ragnarök, our 7.4% IPA that took our flagship beer, Jarl, to the next level.  It was originally conceived as a one-off special to celebrate Jarl, an experiment to find out what would happen if we took Jarl and doubled it – double the malt, double the hops, double the fun (until the next morning), but it’s hung around as a semi-regular brew since that day due to the thunderous reception it received.

But times have changed, so it’s time for Ragnarök to change too – introducing New Ragnarök, a reworking of our hulking IPA that’s rolling out in keg next week.

One of the outcomes of our Workbench IPA Project has been a higher-level understanding of hops, flavours and how to get the most out of them. While the classic Ragnarök was always pretty well received, using a single hop in a strong IPA felt like we’d maybe short-changed the beer a little; higher ABV beers can carry flavour a lot more comfortably than low alcohol ones, and with our new hop knowledge there was no need to be as guarded when it came to hop selection and schedule.

New Ragnarök keeps Citra at its core, with a hella-generous whole-leaf infusion using our hopback, but we complimented it with a dosing of both Warrior and Eureka on the hot side to help bring out an extra fruity dimension in the flavours. Post-fermentation, the beer was tasting light and citrussy, with super-low bitterness, so we chose a dry-hop schedule that would complement the character, using Topaz and Azacca T90 pellets to really power through with the fruitiness and add a hint of pine flavours to the finish. And not to hammer home the point too much, but the total hop billing is over 200% of the previous Ragnarök – it’s a powerful IPA with a slightly sweet, stone-fruit and citrus character that drinks dangerously easily.

For lovers of the original Ragnarök, fear not, it’ll be around in bottles into the new year – New Ragnarök is going to be a relative low-key launch and we’ll wait for some feedback before deciding whether New Ragnarök replaces the current recipe in bottles, which is why it’s super-important you let us know what you think on Facebook, Twitter or Untappd.

So, what do you think? Is New Ragnarök fit for the gods, or does the classic recipe need to be avenged? Put a team together and get to your local to try out the new version!



New Brew News: Rest & Meet The Brewer - Yvonne!

by Iain Smith

There’s something comforting about Autumn – about seeing the red and brown-hued leaves clinging on to branches and dramatic sunsets in the early evenings. Summer’s busy days and heady nights have well-and-truly departed, and it’s time to slow down, get cozy and enjoy a bit of a Rest.

Our latest cask special brew is a beer for the Autumn months – a 4.2% golden amber ale to help stave off bracing winds; with a well-balanced, crisp, fruity hop bite in the foreground and a lingering, soft caramel finish, a pint of Rest by a crackling fire is the dream for those who love this time of year.

Rest is the first brew to which our new Technical Brewer, Yvonne Wernlein, has contributed. Yvonne, who joined us at the tail end of Summer, has an impressive history of brewing science and is instilled with the attention to detail that only someone who trained in brewing in Germany can attain.


What’s your background in brewing?

Well, my parents have their own brewery in Germany and it’s a family business so I’ve always worked in breweries, straight out of school I began training to be a master brewer. I actually did my three-year apprenticeship in a brewery in Franconia, as my parents thought it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time away from home, before moving to another brewery, Rothaus in South West Germany where I worked in their laboratory for a couple of years before moving on to do my brewmaster qualification for two years. Afterwards, I moved to run the laboratory for a brewery in Offenburg doing quality assurance and management before finally heading home to work for my parents brewery and help the family business.

What brought you to Fyne Ales?

The first time I came to Scotland was in 2003 or and I’ve been back every year since, at least once a year. I think it has always been calling me and I knew I’d end up living in Scotland, so when I met a man who lived in Dunoon and I had the chance to move here to live with him, I had to do it. When I moved, I had to look for a job at a brewery and from the first time I visited Fyne Ales for my interview, it felt like coming home.

How have your first couple of months been working here?

I love it. It’s kind of touching; I have never liked Sundays, because I’ve always hated thinking about having to go back to work on Monday, but here, as I said, it’s like coming home. I love my job here and the people have been so welcoming – moreso than anywhere else I’ve been in my life. I mean, there are always friendly people in breweries but here it is something different, it’s special.

How has the transition been between brewing in Germany and brewing here?

It’s a very different environment – this is the first time I’ve brewed without the purity laws being an influence. During my first brew, I was adding something to the copper and I couldn’t help but think about my dad because if he could see me, he would be shaking his head at me! But I’m a technical brewer and I know that these things are serving a purpose when we’re brewing here, they’re only making our beer better so I think it’s acceptable.

Tell us about Rest.

It was a bit of a collaboration between [Head Brewer] Malcolm and I – it’s very much Autumn-inspired with a nice dry finish. I’m not a huge fan of aggressively hopped beers, so I wanted to make something very easy-drinking and well balanced and use some hops that don’t get showcased very often so it uses a combination of Perle, Eureka, El Dorado and Polaris. Oh and I love the colour.

What do you want to achieve at Fyne Ales?

I’m very goal-oriented, so I have a couple of short term things that are achievable – getting some of the new accreditations for the brewery and getting the lab properly set up so I can establish a full schedule, but honestly, I’ll be happy if I do a good enough job that I get to stay here for a long time because I don’t want to leave! 

Keep an eye out for more blogs about Yvonne's processes coming soon!