A year ago we were in a rather mixed state. I was up in Newcastle for Craft Beer Calling, as I was this weekend just gone too, enjoying an amazing festival and celebrating having got through what was the 19th week of negotiations with our soon to be landlord on what felt like increasingly unnecessary minutiae. I’m sure our landlord saw things rather differently (they faced no pending deadline, are really rather ‘risk’ averse, and I’m sure they had their legal team on contract) as we passed messages through solicitors on details of exactly how we were proposing to fit out within CDM legislation, and precisely what the nonsense was of our social ambitions and wanting to have people visit our brewery.
We were incredibly stressed. I’d been following the progress of the ship that was carrying three containers full of our cellar tanks, CLT, and HLT as it made its way across the Mediterranean Sea, heading for Southampton and a maximum of three days at port before port rental charges kicked in. We desperately needed a home for our brewery, but we felt utterly powerless to move our soon to be landlords into rapid action. I’m not sure I can blame them, really. Yes, I still think it’s incredibly sad that we still can’t do half the things we’d like to in our unit to affect the sort of positive social and industry wide change we’d like to see in Manchester, but we’re happy to have settled into our bright and airy unit, only a stone’s throw away from the city centre.
We’re only 9 months into production (our birthday bash is going to be a year after our first brew, on the 14th of February 2016), but gaining the right to set up our business in Manchester was such a long hard slog (that started back in October 2013) that it feels well worth celebrating with a special beer release, and the first in many one off releases that’ll include Small Batch, Hibernate, and Drink Fresh beers.
We’re the first to critique every beer we make (as we do with increasing obsessiveness and accuracy during our regular tank tastings, and always again before we pass our beer for packaging and for sale), and whilst we’ve made a good start, and greatly appreciated every single kind and encouraging word, we’re not even the slightest bit shy or proud about noting the times we’ve not hit our target square on. Recently, I’ve been describing us as achieving around a 6 out of 10 for quality across our ranges thus far. This isn’t about ignoring all you lovely folk that appreciate what we do already, nor about disregarding our many triumphs so far, nor about mindless self flagellation, but it’s about pushing ourselves both technically and creatively as hard as we can to try to make some of the best beer in the UK. Today is only as good as it is for beer because of people who pushed hard in the past, and tomorrow will only be better than today if we collectively mirror and support the efforts of the best breweries, bars, writers, critics, and consumers, and all get better at what we do and why we do it.
We’ve made some really rather nice hoppy beer so far, but nothing that’s felt like it really, really sung. Yes, our Spring IPA was pretty good, and our Summer Session IPA proved so popular that it became one of our best sellers so far, but we’ve yet to produce a big hoppy beer we’re all really very proud of. Our sights were already high, but following my return from the West Coast with boxes full of beer that’d been in bottle or can for a few weeks at most, we sat down and schooled ourselves about hoppy beer once again. What was it that made all these West Coast hoppy beers deliver so much on the nose, even more on the palate, and leave us with such a delicious, rich, hoppy aftertaste? We tasted long and hard, and suffered immensely the next day, but we took some notes, and had a damn good chat in the weeks that followed about how to raise our hoppy beer game.
Today, we have two beers in tank that have between them around 140kg of aroma hops, lots of new season NZ hops backed up by a foundation dose of American hops, and are tasting like they’ll be the best hoppy beers we’ve made so far, by quite some measure. We brewed both to start our Winter range off with a bang, but it’s nonsense to have such delicious, bold, ridiculously hoppy beer in tank, and not try to get it out to you all whilst it’s at its very best (and they’re definitely at their best drank as fresh as possible). So we’re inviting you all to join us on the 7th of November, a year to the day after we got our keys to the warehouse we laboured over and transformed into our home, for a special release of two Drink Fresh big, bold hoppy beers – our first DIPA, weighing in at 9% will be available in keg and bottle, and a special 7.2% IPA has been brewed just for cask. We’re going to do our utmost to have both beers on at the same time in as many pubs and bars as we can near you, so if you’re keen to try phase one of us upping our hoppy beer standards, keep an eye out for a list of pubs, bars, and bottle shops taking part, or come to our brewery tap itself on the 7th of November.
The DIPA and IPA as they are this morning, days away from being packaged. We're expecting the DIPA (left) to retain a significant hop haze, and and the IPA to be a little hazy in cask too. We like bright beer, as our track record thus far shows, but we're applying a lighter processing touch to these beers to preserve every bit of their hop flavour – we didn't put 70kg of aroma hops in each beer just to drag it back out with finings.
Please see the list below of *100* stockists (last updated 10:31, 07/11/15):
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