We Like Beer. We Like Gin. We love them put together…!

cy-j4qnwqaupzeeYes, it is true, we love a bit of gin as well as all the beers. So much so, that we thought we ought to combine these two passions. So we hooked up with our friends at Drinkwell Bars, who are as daft about the drinks as we are, to see what we could come up with. The guys run two well respected venues in Old Beaconsfield (The Swan and The Treehouse) and produce small batch spirits including Lady Adler Chiltern Gin and Northern Discomfort under the Wayfarer’s label so were the perfect buddies to work with. You should check them out.

The result of this comradely collaboration is going to be launched tonight! This exciting new beer and gin collaboration project comprises Ukko Beer (a Sahti-inspired Pale Ale brewed with Juniper and filtered through pine) and Ukko Gin which has been created using distilled Columbus and Vic’s Secret hops which also feature in the beer. Ukko is the Finnish God of sky, weather, harvest and thunder. Kinda like Thor…

The beer style inspiration, Sahti,  is a traditional beer from Finland made from a variety of grains, both malted and unmalted, including barley, rye, wheat, and oats; sometimes bread made from these grains is fermented instead of malt itself. Traditionally the beer is flavored with juniper berries in addition to, or instead of, hops and the mash is filtered through juniper twigs through a trough-shaped tun (called a kuurna in Finnish). Sahti is a top-fermented brew, and while baking yeast has been used traditionally, ale yeast may also be used in fermenting. The beer has a distinct banana flavor due to the production of isoamyl acetate by the yeast.

Principal taste comes from traditional gin flavouring, juniper berries. The berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinctive flavour.  In Norwegian farm house brewing, juniper infused water replaces brewing liquor. The berries give a flavour and aroma that is resinous, with pine and  citrus notes and green, woody, floral tones.

“We are so pleased to be working with Wayfarers and to be involved in creating two of the best types of drink in the world – beer and gin!  This small batch project has given us a great opportunity to play and create what we think are two great tasting products.” – Ruth Mitchell, Renegade Brewery

 “This was a really great project to work on, it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off other people, especially those in other parts of the drinks industry and we loved the opportunity to try a new and exciting type of beer.” – Will Twomey, Head Brewer at Renegade and West Berkshire Brewery

“We are overjoyed about working with Renegade Brewery – their passion for great beer, and taking the drinker on a journey – an adventure – really matched in with our ideals at the Wayfarer’s Distillery.  We hope this will be the first of many projects working with them.” – Laurie Othen, owner of Wayfarers Distillery

Ukko will be launched at The Treehouse Beaconsfield on Tuesday 6th from 6pm and The Rake, Borough Market on Wednesday 7th from 5pm with both the beer and gin available to taste.  Both products will then be available from West Berkshire Brewery, Wayfarers Distillery and selected outlets across the Thames Valley and London.

P.S. – In all the christmas kerfuffle and business we have neglected to shout too loudly about some of the other special pilot brews we have been playing around with recently. We made a Bannana Rye Ale  (called Bananas-in-Ryejamas) in conjunction with the team at The Lanes in Bristol (best get down there if you want any as it is flying out) and have been over to Northern Ireland to brew a collaboration with the guys at Farmageddon which ended up as  Red IPA called Red Eye PA, which walked straight into the Belfast beer festival and absconded with the top prize. More on this shortly.

 

More “Beer Is Good For You” News! This time it is the Hops…

MORE SCIENCE! (sorry, I promise to try and write something humourous next time).

Now we all know (or are certainly telling hopconesourselves) that beer is highly nutritious and beneficial to health and there have been plenty of dodgy news paper stories to help back us up. Happily, we now have more ammunition with which to defend our drinking habits as more boffins have been studying that wonder of nature, the hop, and come to the handy conclusion that it may be packed with the biggest health punch.

Hops have been one of the key ingredients of beer — along with grain, yeast, and water — for centuries. Along with their purpose of balancing flavors (adding bitterness to the sweet maltiness) hops have been long known to contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are useful in preventing microbial contamination during fermentation in the brewing process. But these same antibacterial features so useful in brewing have been linked to medical benefits, too. Hops were used throughout history as a form of folk medicine to treat sleeping problems, hair loss, anxiety, and inflammation. Recently, studies have also found that hops may fight dementia: they contain antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress and cognitive decline.

However, there is still not enough evidence to support the notion that hops can treat diseases. In order to unlock their potential, the latest researchers decided to further analyze how to zoom Hopsin on the compounds that may be advantageous. In the latest study, they noted that there are two compounds in hops that are promising from a medical standpoint: humulones, which are alpha acids with anti-inflammatory and anticancer features; and lupulones, beta acids that may also have some healthy properties. However, in order to make a medicine from these compounds, scientists would need to properly extract them from the hops — but existing methods are messy, and there haven’t been analytical standards to compare them to. Ideally they hope to create humulones and lupulones synthetically,to ease the process of turning them into medication.

We think they are being a bit wet however, we work with hops everyday. Sure they get messy, but if the end result is worth it (like a fine West Coast Pale Ale), then what is the issue? More news on this when it breaks.

Apologies to Will our Head  Brewer for my hamfisted attempt at understanding science stuff. Ed

 

14 Signs you’re becoming a beer bore

This article appeared recently on the Metro website, and frankly, struck a nerve with us. It was like reading a psychologists profile of ourselves! So, please read and enjoy the realisation that you too are probably a beer bore. Then join us is celebrating this fact with a fine brew or two!

A room full of craft beer bores. We love em all.

A room full of craft beer bores. We love em all.

Beer used to be simple. The cool people drank exotic lagers from faraway places, and the bores drank cloudy real ales with bits of the brewers’ fingers in them. And then craft beer happened. Don’t get us wrong. We love a grapefruity IPA, a steam beer or a stout so thick you need a spoon to consume it. But it’s all too easy to take craft beers a little too seriously. Here are 14 signs that you might have become a craft beer bore.

1. You name drop beers

‘Oh yeah, I’ve had the Spunky Backpack ’12 and ’13,’ you say, ‘and the Fulchester Furtle ’09’.

Truly, you are a golden God.

2. You flip out about glassware

You know that craft beers come in glassware, not glasses.

Hell mend the barperson who puts your IPA in a frosted Heineken pint glass.

3. You’d rather have no beer than ordinary beer

Unless it’s Budweiser, in which case you’d rather die. (add Doom Bar to that death-list)

4. Your Facebook feed is nothing but Untappd updates

To you, it’s a diary of your intrepid ale explorations.

To everybody else it’s a list of things you’ve put in your mouth.

5. You know that big is bad

You’d much rather have a faintly dangerous, foul-tasting IPA from a microbrewery than a perfectly decent one from a big brewery, because craft beer is about sticking it to The Man.

Even if it means drinking toxic waste.

6. You have a favourite hop

You know who else has favourite hops? Rabbits.

7. You pity people drinking normal pints

Look at them all with their Foster’s and their Heineken.

Don’t they know that Florida Roadkill is on tap this week?

WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

8. You only have one topic of conversation

And yes, that topic is craft beer.

9. Your breath could kill a horse

And let’s not think about what it’s like to use the bathroom after you.

(This one is lies, I tell you, lies. Apart from the bathroom bit. Ed)

10. You’re proud to pay through the nose

Normal beer drinkers splutter with outrage when the price of a pint heads towards a fiver.

You wouldn’t stoop to drinking something that cheap.

11. You hate hipsters

You were drinking Festering Gusset when nobody had heard of it, and when this pub was notoriously dangerous.

Now it’s bare brick, fussy beards and hipsters drinking ironically.

12. You’re keeping score

Beer Advocate score, to be precise.

You’d rather eat your own beard than drink something with a BA rating under 70%.

13. People are always too busy for your house parties

They say they’re busy, anyway.

But really they’re too scared to come in case the booze they bring doesn’t pass muster.

14. Nobody has the faintest idea what you’re on about

Remember when Lawson’s Double Sunshine was back in bombers and the Pliny hype train was at an all time high?

You might, but nobody else knows what any of that means

 

Poached from the  Metro – original article here.

Pilot Brew Kit – New Toy!

Yes, it looks like our brew kit has gone and had a baby! We are now the proud, um, aunts and uncles? Grand parents? of a lovely new shiny mini brew kit for conducting experimental brews and trying out new ideas and recipes.

It is a beautiful 3 vessel system with 2 conical fermentation tanks and a 100 litre capacity that has been brilliantly put together by the good folks at Elite Stainless Fabrications in Swindon. Proper legends.

So be expecting some mighty double dry-hopped monster brews and all sorts of other amazing experiments as we find our inner mad professor!

Here are brewer Griff and brew assistant Tom with the new gear. Poseurs.

pilot kit 2

 

Pilot kit 1

 

 

Barrel Aging Beer

Most breweries seem to have had a images (4)crack at aging beers in some type of whiskey barrel, it has become one of the go-to techniques when building a portfolio of craft beer. The idea was initially popularised by those canny chaps at Goose Island after it released its Bourbon County Brand stout over 20 years ago and has been creeping into many other brewery offerings with greater frequency ever since, and consumers demand increased flavor experimentation.

However, while the payoff is (literally) very sweet, the process is not without it’s challenges. American whiskey barrels are tough to track down and are often in pretty bad shape upon receipt, so they can be quite expensive and tedious to use. They’re built to only be used once, so they’re not as nicely built as wine barrels, with a lot more inconsistency in volume, rougher staves  and the oak or char you pick up from one to the next varies a lot.

[Beer geek warning!!] However, the final product is well worth the effort. Beers aged in the process gain a new, smoother texture and a slightly oilier mouthfeel, as well as delicate vanilla, subtle oak wood and coconut, and burnt marshmallow notes — depending on what types of whiskey barrels are used. Then there’s impressions you get from the barrel that you can’t taste, a texture  like a silkiness. You’re changing esters and alcohols into new components so things are combining and mingling and changing over the eight or nine weeks, or months, or years in the barrel. You’re getting a lot of micro-oxygenation over time in a process of slow aging you can’t get in a fermenter or a keg.

 

 

 

The Beer Hot Tub is a thing!

No Diving, No Bombing and No Heavy Petting! In what sounds like the ultimate fantasy of a beer fan, it appears the beer hot tub is now an actual thing!

Bathing-in-Beer-ImageSome mad nutters at Austrian brewery Starkenberg have turned one of their fermenting tanks into a hot tub. I guess, for some beer enthusiasts drinking their favourite brew isn’t enough, oh no, they have to take a dip in it. But, is there actually a point to this lunacy or is it all about bombing in beer? There is actually some science to back this idea up. beer beer does actually have nourishing qualities that benefit your skin, with the alcohol able to remove toxins and clean pores (isn’t his more commonly called “getting a booze sweat on”?), while the hops, yeast and vitamins are hydrating and rejuvenating. And for your hair, beer can totally amp up the shine and eliminate dandruff. It might not smell amazing of course, but hell you can’t have it all.

Additionally this is not in some sticky warehouse  — it’s a converted castle nestled into an enchanting forest in the Austrian country side. This thing is massive too, there’s room to both swim and soak. According to the brewers, you’re welcome to drink it, this isn’t just the contents of their ullage tank, the quality of the soaking beer is as high as the drinking beer from the taps –  the alcohol helps to keep it from spreading bacteria. So if you don’t mind the bitter taste and the fact that yours and a bunch of other peoples backsides have been soaking in it, go for it!

Check out some highlights from the breweries promotional video below

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Reports of the death of Craft Beer have been Greatly Exaggerated

BeerThere has been more talk in the media recently discussing the future of craft breweries, and how they are under threat from the big multi-nationals who are looking to exploit the changes in how and what consumers drink. Essentially, the opinion is that the craft beer sector has become a victim of its own success.

In December, our Caledonian comrades at BrewDog published a typically forthright blog post lamenting that several good craft beer companies had been sold to or bought out by the big players in the preceding year.

“2015 has been a bad year for craft beer,” they wrote. “Global beer mega corporations, the ones who destroyed, bastardised and commoditized beer over the last 50 years have been acquiring craft breweries left right and centre.”

The blog post was published in response to the sale of Camden Town Brewery to AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer. Sadly, Camden Town is unlikely to be the last example of this trend, particularly in the US where there has been an intensifying movement of big brewers acquiring craft operations, brought about by brewing giant AB InBev being more aggressive in its acquisition strategy of craft brewers and consequently the other major brewers following their lead.

The increasing attraction of the small craft brewer to the big multinationals is principally down to the changing tastes of the consumer. In the U.K., lager sales have dropped by 8 percent over the past 5 years according to Mintel. But between 2014 and 2015 alone, sales of bitters and ales have grown from 895 million litres in 2014 to 913 million litres in 2015.

So, Craft beer is rapidly gaining market share on the major brands, whose sales have been in long-term decline since the 1990s. In 2014, craft beer accounted for 11 percent of volume and 19 percent of value of the total U.S. beer market, according to the figures from the U.S.-based Brewers Association.

Of course, the trend of craft beer companies being bought out may also pose a threat to competition in the sector as the combination of market saturating distributor incentives and small brewery purchases limit the opportunities for smaller players.

In their blog post, BrewDog said they expected the quality of Camden Town Brewery’s products to decline as a result of the acquisition, a statement refuted vigorously of course by AB Inbev who claim to be buying the brewery as a partnership to enable them to invest in the craft category and grow the Camden Town Brewery brands and business and as part of a portfolio building exercise to develop a portfolio of premium brands that can meet the diverse and changing needs of consumers.

Renegade Brewery has a philosophy of independence, so we do tend to agree more with the BrewDog view – when brewing becomes purely about finances, numbers and returns, as well as some of the romance of the industry getting stripped away, so does a drive for quality and a desire for experimentation in favour of cost savings, profit maximisation and mainstream success. Therefore, we are naturally inclined to treat the statements of the likes of AB InBev with some trepidation – their track record is hardly good. As BrewDog highlighted in their blog post, a simple consideration that, for example, “just by being owned by AB-InBev the beer duty Camden will pay on a 50L keg of their big seller, Hells, will instantly increase by around £20. On their current production numbers (quoted at 65,000 HL this year) the difference between full duty and half beer duty is approximately an extra £2.7m of beer duty annually. To put this into perspective, in their last financial year Camden made £319k of profit. So all of a sudden Camden have much, much higher beer duty costs and they also need to generate significantly more profit to give AB-InBev a return. Something will have to give. No prizes for guessing what it will be.”

However, the Craft Beer market is lucky to be blessed with consumers who are fans, first and foremost, enthusiasts who understand their favourite drink, and the benefits of the environment they have been created in. They themselves are often purposefully avoiding the international brands and consciously supporting the smaller operations with a mind-set more akin to their own. Add this attitude among drinkers to that of the thousands of staunchly independent breweries still around, and you feel that this is a David versus Goliath fight that could end up once again favouring the underdog.

Beer Bartering Down Under

As a brewery, we obviously like beer. However, we spotted an Australian story today that seems to suggest that the good folk down under like it so much they use it instead of money. This beer economy has become a bit of a phenomenon, with Facebook groups trading goods and services for booze. Think of it as an extension of buying a drink for your mate as a thank you.

Great idea you think? Well so did we, until we looked into it further, as sadly, the originating Perth Beer Economy Facebook group; which has more than 57,000 members trading, for example, a six-pack for say an electric fan, has been under government scrutiny lately, with Western Australian authorities deeming the practice “illegal.”

beermapoaustBut what about the rest of the beer loving population down under?

Put down the pint everyone, it’s not good news. It appears also that for everyone else tthings are equally as depressing – It’s kind of illegal, everywhere, with State Boards across the whole country confirming the practice of trading alcohol for goods and services is against the law, with fines in the thousands of dollars and imprisonment as possible punishment. It turns out that arrangements such as the beer economy that seek to establish online transactions in which goods or services are exchanged for alcohol are required to be licensed in the same way any booze retailer is.

Shame, as an economy based entirely on beer has rather a large appeal to us! However, just picture telling your cellmate that you’re in the slammer for trading your old games console for a case of Victoria Bitter. Can’t see many jail-points in that one…

Craft Beer Rising 2016 – preparations are underway!

I have been sneaking around the yard with the ol’ trusty smart phone and managed to catch Accounts dude and wood master Ed C in action being super manly building our bar-back for Craft Beer Rising 2016 later this month. Using some left over pallets, some spray paint and stencils and a little imagination he is performing chippy magic and turning this waste wood in to what he assures me is going to be a spectacular back drop to our bar at the event. OF course, if he is wrong and it ends up looking like something I made in art and craft at nursery school he will be duly dealt with! However, frustrated chippy Ed has built most of the display furniture in our shop as well out of old pallets and other reclaimed wood.

Who’d a thunk it, a pen-pusher being one of the handiest guys in the brewery?
CBR bar build 1 CBR bar build 2

 

 

We are at Craft Beer Rising 2016!

We are super excited to be debuting our brews at this years Craft Beer Rising! Excited because not only do we get to let you lot loose on the beers, we get to be a part of the coolest beer festival out there! This extravaganza of hoppy loveliness takes place on 26th-27th February at the Old Truman Brewery on  Brick Lane in London. We will be occupying Stand 79 and will be serving all of our beers – West Coast Pale Ale, Craft Lager, Indian Session Ale and our very special Nouvelle Saison and will be really pleased to talk about them with you. So come along for a pint or two and meet brewers Will, Griff and Steve along with whatever other members of the crew are loitering.

Renegade CBR16 Website banner

We love the CBR guys, because for them it is all about the beer. Each brewer no matter their size or marketing budget gets exactly the same space to showcase their brands. The only extras that we can have alongside the brews are tasting notes, food pairings and brand information. So it really is all about the beer, and we LOVE that!

But why do we need yet another beer festival we hear you ask? And one that’s not for all of the beer? Well, as CBR16 themselves point out, “Craft beer is on the rise. It is the only category in the UK on trade that is in growth. A younger, more discerning consumer is turning to the category. A plethora of new brands are being created or imported to appeal to them. Established domestic brewers are changing their strategies, reverting back to craft, focusing on heritage and communicating production processes and ingredients. With 7.8 million craft beer drinkers in the UK it is now the perfect time to host a Festival for them. Craft Beer Rising 2016 is here to throw off the shackles of a traditional beer gathering, and craft an environment that appeals to this new vision for beer, and the new audience.” 

So expect there to be most of the worlds greatest brews, an awesome line-up of bands and DJ’s to accompany the merriment, and some of the best street food vendors around. Sounds like a party to us! 

For more information and to get yourself a ticket check out the website by clicking here  and don’t forget: It is all about the BEER!