A quick catch up post to let you know what’s been going on here in the last few months… The last three months of 2013 were very busy, on top of our regular production we’ve been busy planning our next expansion (more of which later) which is taking a fair amount of organisation and thought and not left much time to keep this blog updated. So here are a few of the things we did in the last few months grouped together…
LERVIG AKTIEBRYGERRI COLLABORATION
In October head brewer Stu headed to Stavanger, Norway to brew with Lervig Aktiebrygerri. We’d first met head brewer Mike Murphy last year at Barcelona beer festival; Mike is an experienced brewer who learnt his trade in the US, before working in Italy and is now pushing Norwegian regional Lervig Brewery forward in both terms of output and quality. In the UK you’re more likely to know his output through the beers he’s produced for Mikkeller. After meeting again at the Haand Festival in May we hatched a plan to do a brew together on Lervig’s big plant (250hl or 10 times bigger than our kit) and Stu jumped at the opportunity to get over there and play with a big brew kit.
The beer we brewed was a Farmhouse IPA, using a mixed yeast culture combining Belgian ale and Brettanomyces yeasts. A portion of the beer will be released soon and some will be put in wine barrels to allow the Brett longer to mature; the overall idea being to produce a couple of different beers from the same batch, one fresh and hoppy (lots of Citra and Centennial) and the other aged and more complex. We should hopefully be getting some bottles sent over when the beer’s ready so look out for them and let us know what you think.
BIRRA TOCCALMATTO COLLABORATION
In November Italian brewer Bruno from Birra Toccalmatto came to Huddersfield to brew with us. This was anther collaboration we’d been trying to tie down for a while and it was great to finally get things moving. Toccalmatto produce some excellent beers and particularly have a reputation for great hoppy beers so it was decided that any beer between our two breweries needed to reflect that.
After some discussion between Giada and Bruno we decided on a US Wheat beer, in our minds a variant of a Hopfenweisse, but using a US Hefe Wheat yeast with the intention that the beer would have less traditional wheat beer flavours of banana and clove. We then hopped the beer with a mixture of New Zealand hops in the kettle and hop back (Motueka & Pacific Gem) and then dry hopped it heavily with both US and NZ hops (Simcoe and Motueka).
We were pretty happy with the results, we still don’t have the ability to do test batches and its never completely clear how these beers will turn out, so we’ve been delighted that the beer ‘Custard Pie’ was well received. The beer should still be out and about with the last 10 kegs heading to Italy soon, if you didn’t get chance to try it, Its looking likely that we’ll brew it again soon.
BURNING SKY COLLABORATION
In December myself and Stu headed down to East Sussex to brew with our friend Mark at Burning Sky Brewery. As you’re probably aware Mark is the ex head brewer of Dark Star and responsible for our collaborative brew with them ‘Rock Star’ a couple of years back. After leaving Dark Star last year Mark has been busy setting up his own operation in the Sussex countryside and as you’d expect from someone with as much experience in the industry as him, Mark had a very clear idea of what he wanted to achieve with the new place and it was exciting to see the dream made reality.
The beer we’ve brewed with Burning Sky is an IPA not dissimilar in recipe to either Cannonball or Burning Sky’s Devils Rest, but with a twist. The beer post fermentation has been transferred to one of Burning Sky’s 4 2000l oak foudres and will now be left to mature over the coming months, this should give us a really interesting beer with both the oak of the barrel and the wild yeast contributing depth and character, the plan is then to transfer the beer back to FV for more dry hopping and packaging. These aged and mixed culture beers (along with utilising locally sourced ingredients) are very much Burning Sky’s raison d’etre, and we’re really excited to taste the results in a few months.
WON’T BACK DOWN BEER
Also in December we were asked at the last minute to produce some bottles for the premier of ‘Won’t back down’ a film about the career of former World Champion downhill mountain biker and legend of the sport Steve Peat. For myself and designer Rich Norgate who met through our love of mountain biking this was a really great project to be involved with.
The beer was a re-brand of our West Coast Pale Ale, ‘High Wire’ and it was amazing to see so many enjoying it on the night of the premier in Sheffield. If you have any interest in Mountain Bikes look out for the film, its a great history of mountain biking in the UK and a fitting tribute to Steve. Check out the trailer here http://www.wontbackdownfilm.com/
As I alluded to at the beginning of the post this year is going to be a very important year for us as a brewery. As you might have got wind of we are moving the brewery to a new site in 2014 and are close to agreeing the lease on a combined 16’000 sq ft unit which will give us much needed space to expand.
The plan is to take our existing 16bbl brew kit with us and install a bespoke tiled brew house floor as well as double size fermenting vessels and processing equipment. In addition to the building of cold stores and offices we’ll also be installing an automated bottling line, which will finally allow us to bottle our beers quickly and efficiently and satisfy some of the demand we’re experiencing.
Another important part of the expansion will be the installation of an onsite tap room/tasting room which will be housed in the same unit as the brewery. The dream is to bring drinkers as close as possible to the product and we’re gonna do all we can to make this a great place for people to taste our beers and experience the Magic at source.
We have planning permission for all of the above and are still tying up some details but are very hopeful we can make it work at the site we have chosen by the summer. We’ve got a really busy few months ahead making it a reality so please keep watching the usual places for progress updates and hopefully we’ll see some of you down at the new brewery later in the year!