Be You! What It Means To Be A Farm Brewery

By Iain Smith

In the first blog in this series, we highlighted that we were looking to create a new brand image that better reflected who we are, a big part of which is where we are - tucked away on a working farm in rural Argyll.

Being a farm brewery isn’t something that we’ve talked much about in recent years, but in an industry bursting with breweries operating out of industrial estates and railway arches, being a farm brewery is something we’re proud of and want to talk about more. So, let’s start the conversation...

While the story of our brewery starts in November 2001, the prologue to the story extends significantly further back in time.

Fyne Ales is based in Glen Fyne, specifically on the Achadunan Estate, 4500 acres of land with a salmon river on one side and peat-rich hills on the other. The estate has been in the family of our founders, Tuggy Delap and Jonny Delap, for five generations, and used as farmland since before even then, with the farm buildings that now house our brewery dating back to the early nineteenth century.

When Tuggy and Jonny returned to Glen Fyne in 2001 after spending time living in England, they had grand ambitions for the estate - they wanted to bring jobs, industry and tourism back to their land that had not been used to its full potential for several years by starting a new business using the old farm buildings. Among their many ideas, it was a brewery that felt like it had the best chance of success, with the added benefits that it would give Jonny and his friends access to good beer, and Tuggy the opportunity to reinvigorate the estate’s farm heritage at the same time.

With the unpredictable climate, peaty soil and hillside nature of much of the Achadunan land, pastoral farming is the only real option. Tuggy, having grown up with highland cows on the estate, jumped at the chance to bring the shaggy-haired beasts back to the land. We started modestly with four cows and one heifer - just enough to establish the herd and to consume the spent grain from the small brews that were taking place in the converted dairy building where our first kit was installed.

Over the past 16 years, the brewery has grown, and so has the farm’s herds - we now have 27 highland cows and two bulls - one shorthorn beef bull, Freddy, and a highland bull, Seamus, a more recent addition. We also have around a hundred sheep - a mix of North Country Cheviots and Scottish Mules, which are bred with Suffolk Tups to ensure they’re hardy enough for the chilly Argyll winters. Most recently, we’ve established a deer farm with a growing herd of around two hundred red deer enjoying the scenery of the glen and the spent grain from the brewery. If you ask Tuggy, she’ll tell you that Fyne Ales is first and foremost a spent grain production facility for her animals, and that the beer is just a byproduct.

There’s a lot of take pride in, in both our location and our farm brewery status - we’ve always believed that with so much history, and so much beauty in the estate, that it’s important that our brewing activities not detract from the land and that we actually do everything we can to make a contribution to the ecosystem we’re part of.

Being outwith the reaches of mains water supply, our brewing water is drawn directly from the hills adjacent to the brewery, and during the development of our new brewery (a converted sheep shed), we invested heavily in an effluent processing facility to ensure any liquid byproducts of the brewing process are completely neutral when reintroduced to the land.

In recent years, we’ve undertaken a project to restock our River Fyne with salmon, started a woodland creation programme with support from the European Agricultural Fund for European Development, installed solar panels on the roof of the Brewery Tap to power our bar, shop and visitor centre and begun using the meat produced by our farm to not only supply local restaurants, but to be made into pies and pastries by local caterers to serve in our Brewery Tap, amongst many initiatives to integrate our brewing activities with the farm and the land.

In December 2017 we launched our Origins Brewing project - the purest expression of our farm brewery status, brewing farmhouse-style beers that draw inspiration from diverse sources, but are all deeply rooted in our history and location. The Origins Brewing beers are a bold celebration of our provenance, but we want that celebration to also be reflected in all our beers and everything we do.

We’ve shied away from talking too much about being a farm brewery in the past due to potential negative connotations around what it means. For some people ‘farm brewery’ might conjure up ideas of dirty equipment, off-flavours and poor quality products, but over the past 16 years we’ve worked hard to prove that doesn’t have to be the case. At the same time as promoting biodiversity, building sustainable herds of sheep, deer and highland cattle and actively working to enhance our environment, we’re knocking out award-winning beers on a state-of-the-art British brew kit. Rustic, humble origins need not mean rustic, low-quality products.

We’re proud to be a farm brewery in rural Scotland, and the hard work we’ve done to grow our business in this challenging, beautiful and unique setting - at the end of the day, there would be no Fyne Ales without the farm, and there would be no farm without Fyne Ales. 

So, over to you to carry on the conversation - did you know Jarl was brewed in a former sheep shed? Does it matter? Have you visited our little corner of Scotland to see our unique location for yourself?

Let us know with a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

Be You! Research, partners & getting to work on a new look for Fyne Ales.

By Iain Smith

The last eighteen months have been pretty big for Fyne Ales - in 2017 we brewed and sold more beer than any single year in our history, we launched our growing Origins Brewing project and we’ve just about recovered from our biggest and best FyneFest ever.

And we’ve also been doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes, dedicating time to taking stock of where we are as a brewery and as a brand - what’s working, what’s not and what people really think about us. We ran focus groups in key markets (Glasgow and Edinburgh), interviewed our customers in both on and off trade and spent hours talking with our team about where they want to see us go as we grow as a brewery and a business. You might also have seen our brand survey in Autumn 2017 - the phenomenal response to which really opened our eyes to how we’re currently viewed in the market. And what did all the research tell us?

The way that people see us now, and how we want them to see us don’t match up - so we’re making some changes.

This isn’t a radical overhaul of the Fyne Ales you know - it’s the next stage in our evolution as a brewery. Who we are hasn’t changed much since 2001, but how we look has changed a few times over the past sixteen years and, looking at results of last year’s research, it’s time to change again. We’re going to develop a new look and feel for Fyne Ales that is not only more coherent, but also better represents what we do and more importantly, who we are. We're working to develop a new look that better tells the story of our brewery, and what makes our beers so special.

We’re proud to be a working farm brewery in the heart of our rural Argyll community. We’re proud to draw our brewing water from the hills that surround us and to feed our spent grain to our healthy, happy herds of sheep, highlands cows and deer on our beautiful, historic brewery estate. We’re proud to be a contributor, not a burden, to the ecosystem in our rural corner of Scotland and we’re proud of our rich heritage as an independent, family-owned and multi-award-winning brewer of outstanding beers. 

Your favourite beers won’t be changing at all - Jarl will continue to be and will always be the best easy-drinking session blonde you could hope for on a hot day - but we want the way our beers look to reflect what’s important to us: our roots, our community and our ongoing progress.

For this process, we teamed up with the incredibly talented team from O Street in Glasgow - their creative, design-led approach and work ethic has thus far blown us away. The photo used for this blog was (sneakily) taken of a corner of their notes during one of our initial meetings and we've borrowed it for this series of blogs as a reminder of what we're setting out to achieve - being ourselves and presenting ourselves as best as we possibly can.

The O Street team has taken a no-stone-left-unturned approach to nailing down a new look and feel for our brewery and we’re getting closer having some exciting things to show you in a future blog. We can’t wait to hear what you think.

 

Morning Light

New Brews: Summer Single-Hop Series & Experimental Hops

By Iain Smith

At this year’s BeerX conference in Sheffield, Fyne Ales MD Jamie and I couldn’t help but note the number of award-winners starring the American hop, Citra. After the fourth or fifth Citra-centric winner was announced (including our flagship session ale, Jarl), I jokingly said to Jamie “Everyone bloody loves Citra” and the idea for a new summer session series was born.

For this summer’s session cask special series, we’re taking it back to basics and running a series of new single-hop spins on the recipe for our lovely Jarl. A few little tweaks here and there - oats in place of wheat, a bigger dry-hop charge here and there if we think it needs the extra aroma tasting from tank, but at their core, every beer in the series will be based on Jarl, but each showcasing a different single hop.

We’re kicking off this week with Everyone Loves Mosaic, showcasing arguably the most popular hop in craft beer today. We’ve gone big with whole cones on the hot side and given it a kick of T90 on the dry-hop - for 3.8% it packs a punch of fruit flavours - soft stone fruit aromas with beautifully balanced and rounded citrus, berry and tropical notes on the palette.

We’ll be following up with two more in the core part of the series - Everyone Loves Pekko, a fairly new hop variety which blew us away at the hop-rub event at our suppliers earlier in the year and finishing up with Everyone Loves Nelson, which I’m personally most excited about because I bloody love Nelson Sauvin.

There’s also going to be two small-batch variants in the series - Trial 215 and Trial 212. Both beers are single-hop session pales, again using the same malt base as Jarl (for the most part) and coming in at 3.8%, but both feature two brand new experimental hops.

CF215 will hit first - it’s a new British hop engineered by Charles Faram which is exclusive to Fyne Ales this year - we bought the whole crop of whole cones. It offered really intriguing aromas with hints of both coriander and strawberries on the rub, but expressed itself with a much earthier, almost German noble-hop character in the beer we brewed with it. Trial 215, coming next week, is ultra-pale, ultra-clean and ultra-thirst-quenching - it could be the star of the whole series.

We’ll be back with more news about Trial 212 and updates on the rest of the series soon.

Cheers!

Extra FyneFest 2018 Tickets Released

By Iain Smith

A note from Jamie Delap, Fyne Ales MD

The response to this year’s FyneFest has been incredible. From the day that we put early bird tickets on sale to where we are today, the excitement and enthusiasm for the festival has been far beyond anything we’ve ever seen before – which is why, after some careful consideration and planning, we’ve extended Tier 2 ticket sales and increased overall capacity for FyneFest 2018.

The festival team have been busy working with our suppliers and partners to ensure that we can comfortably cater to a slightly larger audience – we had already factored a second campervan field into our plans for 2018, but in recent weeks we’ve also secured a larger main marquee, booked additional facilities, upped our beer orders, and contracted more staff to pour it throughout the weekend.

This isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly, nor one we would have made if we weren’t confident that we would be able to maintain the same vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere that makes FyneFest what it is.

We want to share FyneFest with as many people as possible - from all of us here, a huge thank you for your support, we can’t wait to celebrate our biggest festival ever with you in June.

Jamie Delap

Book FyneFest 2018 Tickets

Mixed Case: Origins Brewing Autumn & Spring

FyneFest

Mixed Case: Origins Brewing Spring 2018

Origins Brewing - Spring 2018 Collection Launch

By Iain Smith

Fyne Ales is delighted to invite you to the launch of the Origins Brewing Spring 2018 Collection on Saturday 21 April at the Fyne Ales Brewery Tap & Shop.

BOOK NOW

The launch will be marked with a one-day celebration of bold, adventurous brewing, with exclusive first pours of the three new Origins Brewing beers alongside rare beers from the Fyne Ales cellar and beers from our friends from around the UK and special guest bottles from Europe.

We’ve invited three UK breweries who specialise in experimental brewing with a sense of provenance to join us for the day, bringing with them special beers from their collections. Each brewer will offer a short talk on their beer and brewing processes with a Q&A following.

The breweries announced for the Spring 2018 Collection launch are (regularly updated):

Little Earth Project

Joining us from picturesque Suffolk, the remarkable Little Earth Project specialises in brewing historic, farmhouse & wild beers using wild and organically farmed ingredients from the local landscape. We’re very excited to have Little Earth Project’s Tom Norton on-site to introduce his daring, complex beers.


 

The Wild Beer Co

Longtime friends of Fyne Ales, The Wild Beer Co have been championing multiculture fermentation, unorthodox adjuncts and flavour-forward brewing in the UK since 2012. Their love of experimental brewing - using modern creative techniques and ingredients to brew diverse and historic beer styles - has created a range of exciting beers that, like we have set out to achieve in Origins Brewing, showcase a sense of place in every drop.

Dead End Brew Machine

Dead End Brew Machine is the brewing pseudonym of Chris Lewis, Glasgow-based gypsy brewer and yeast-wrangler. For over two years, Chris cultured his own strain of Brettanomyces, refining it using small-scale brews to develop a unique flavour profile for use in Dead End beers. Chris will be joining us to showcase his brett-forward beers and to talk about how to approach multiculture fermentation on a small scale.

Tommie Sjef Wild Ales (Guest Bottles)

Tommie Sjef is a fermentation and blending prodigy. Hailing from the Netherlands, Tommie produces small batch, barrel-fermented beers with strong wild yeast characters. Often augemented with fruit or other adjuncts, his limited-release beers are highly sought after and we're excited to have some for the Spring 2018 Collection launch.

Alongside the exclusive beer and talks, we’ll also be offering food and music to keep the good vibes going until midnight (license pending). 

Tickets are on sale now for £10 (+fees) which includes admission to the event, and Origins Brewing tasting glass and access to all the beers being poured and brewery tours lead by one of our team!
 

BOOK NOW

We’re also offering overnight camping at the festival for ticket holders (included in ticket price).

Join us for an amazing afternoon and evening of exciting beers!

 

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