We took ourselves down to visit SALT Beer Factory in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. We’ve been hearing some epic things about these guys, with their Alpaca IPA recently picking up the SIBA Regional Gold Medal for Bottle/Can Beer Overall Champion 2019 after only opening in November 2018. It’s not surprising, either, as they have some illustrious brewers within their team of just 4 people; Ned Zairi (Business Development Manager), Colin Stronge (Head Brewer, formerly of Marble Brewery, Black Isle Brewery, Buxton Brewery and Northern Monk), Chris Wigg (Brewer and formerly from Buxton Brewery), and Chris Morse (Events Manager & Brewing Assistant).
From the outside the brewery looked great, it’s in a Grade 2 listed building, originally a tram shed, now fronted by its own SALT bar and kitchen, which is open daily. We walked through to the brewery and taproom, which is open on the weekends, and were in awe. The ambiance of the brewery was fantastic, seating kitted out with gleaming copper tanks lined up on the left-hand side and a mezzanine platform at the back above three mash tuns. The 12.5 barrel brewery was simply a work of art.
Catching up with Ned and Colin, on one of the balconies overlooking the brewery was a fantastic sight. With a grin on his face, Ned kicked things off by telling us where it all began…
“This place was just a shell of a Grade 2 listed building, everything’s been custom built. We opened in November 2018 along with Craft Asylum #1 & Craft Asylum #2 in Leeds that are both extensions of the SALT brand, and to be fair it’s been 6 months of mayhem. The good thing is that we’re starting to create a name and reputation already. Saltaire is a small village, but prior to SALT there was previously The Hop at the front of this building, you then had The Cap and Collar across the road, Fanny’s Ale House and obviously Saltaire Brewery down the road, so it still had a strong beer culture. Although I think that we’re now providing a different offering to the area.”
“The vision for SALT was to build an experience led brand, so obviously we have to brew some amazing beer, but alongside that we can add so much more. The whole idea is that you can follow the journey of your pint from the raw ingredients, through brewing, to storage in these 500 litre copper tanks, to dispense. It’s a completely unique beer drinking experience. Everything we do represents us. We’ve been steadily busy, which is nice, we don’t just have the brewery tap but an events space too. Friday and Saturday’s have a DJ, playing funk and soul on vinyl which is great.”
“So far the biggest challenge that we’ve actually faced is that we’re super busy and only have a small team spinning a lot of plates. Luckily, we’re owned by Ossett Brewery, so we get a lot of support with logistics.”
This puts a lot of demand on the brewing side of things, as Colin emphasised; “We’re already struggling to keep up with demand but we’d rather the beer was right and we wait for it, than sending something out for the sake of getting it out to people. It’s really important that quality benchmark. On a personal note, I want SALT to be known not so much for quantity but more the flavours of the beers, always making it the best we can.”
This is something that both Colin and Ned agree on, as Ned confirmed, “I think that the exciting thing for me is that every time we brew a beer it gets better and it’s really exciting to see where we’re gonna be in 6 months time quality-wise. As a team, we brew what we want to drink. I’ve not said no yet, and you don’t tell someone like Colin Stronge what he can and can’t brew.”
“We want to continue to grow SALT and be recognised, not only for really good beer, but everything else that we do alongside it. I think that we’re really trying to open up the world of hop-forward beer, inviting the outside world in and getting more good beer into the hands of the people.”
SALT has some really exciting times ahead; they’ve already started canning in-house and have launched an online shop with Flavourly, and soon they’ll be recruiting for two additional team members and creating a barrel-aging store. On top of this, they will be hosting a special Beer and Food Pairing Experience evening with Melissa Cole on Thursday the 12th of September.
This place is a work of brewing art and we can’t wait to head back there again sometime soon. Keep up the epic work, guys!
The highly anticipated Czech Beer Week will be kicking off on Monday 17th of June and it’s billed to be a cracker! The event will be the first of its kind to be held in the UK and will span until the 23rd, also celebrating Czech Beer Day on the 19th.
Czech Beer Week will be showcasing the biggest selection of Czech beers, brands and brewers, set up by leading craft and speciality beer importer Euroboozer in collaboration with Czech Trade and Czech Tourism. The week will see a selection of the capital’s leading venues, run Czech-themed events, tastings and promotions.
Meet the brewers and try the widely-acclaimed selection of unfiltered and unpasteurised beers with no beer on the night scoring below 95 on RateBeer including lagers, dark lagers, wheat beers, golden ales, IPAs and the trademark Raptor IPA.
Visitors can also enjoy Apollo Galaxy on keg coming in at 99 on Ratebeer.
Details: The official celebration of Czech Beer around the world.
This invite only event is the largest Real Bohemian Lager festival with 12 breweries attending and over 250 visitors.
Expect an educative but also entertaining afternoon with beer, Czech food, music and a special prize draw.
Introduced by the Czech Ambassador, guests will be able to try a wide range of real Bohemian lagers and craft beers from the length and breadth of the Czech Republic.
Bohemian Brewery Tour
When: Thursday 20th June
Where: Taking place at four different Draft House sites.
Details: Experience and immerse yourself in a different Czech brewery at each Draft House location.
At each Draft House stop, customers will get to try two different beers from a different Czech brewery with brewmasters from Cvikov, Kutna and Bohemian Regent on hand to talk guests through their creations.
Tickets for the tour are available on Eventbrite priced at £20, which includes a beer in each of the Draft House sites (Chancery Lane – 6pm, Farringdon – 7pm, Old Street – 8.30pm, Birdcage – 10pm).
This year for Father’s day (Sunday 16th June for those who need a friendly reminder!), Sadler’s are releasing a special edition cask Pale Ale. This pale, American Golden Ale has been brewed from the start with family in mind, using three generations of one hop variety; Fuggles, the Grandfather and OG of the hop world, was originally selected as a seedling in 1861 and was finally introduced into commerce in 1875 by Mr Fuggle himself. Cascade, the Father and one of America’s most popular varieties, was developed in Oregon in the early 1970s and is the result of open pollination of a Fuggle seedling crossed with the Russian Serebrianker variety. Jester, the Son of the family, was brought about as part of Charles Faram’s Hop Development Programme and is a seedling of Cascade, which emulates a lot of the characteristics of its US father. And to match this little hop family tree, it is also brewed using Pale Malt, Caramalt and Oats. This special brew was all set to go into production, but there was just one problem… The Sadler’s crew were at their wit’s end trying to think up a name for it. After a long, lacklustre contemplative session they decided to risk the Beery McBeerface and take it to social media to give this Golden Ale the honourable name it deserved.
After a tough competition and a final heat of 4 top notch names, Gaz Duckhouse, from Bewdley won the competition with his awesomely devised name Nathaniel’s Gold, paying homage to Nathanial Sadler, Founder of the brewery in 1861.
His prize included a brewery tour for two, a couple of pints of the finished beer and best of all actually helping brew it!
So on the 24th of May, Gaz brought along his father Geoff, to brew Nathaniel’s Gold, and we caught up with them just as they were digging out the mash tun!
“I love real ale and I’ve looked into brewing beer before but have never actually done it. From what I’ve learnt so far today, I may explore that idea a little further. The guys made us feel very comfortable and it’s been a good day.” Said Gaz, shovelling a pile of malt.
“Nice to see how it arrives in your glass,” Added Geoff, happily getting involved with the hard labour as well.
Catching both Headbrewers halfway through the day; Steve Robinson commented, “It’s great for our guests here who obviously have some emotional attachment to the beer after naming it.”
Sam Pegg also seemed pleased with the team’s new additions, “We used to do specials but since we moved onto the new kit we stopped doing it, but this is the first brew that’s kicking that back off again!”
Steve and Sam also gave us a quick tour of this new 60-barrel kit, which they invested in a couple of years ago, and it looks fantastic. Sadler’s still brew their small batches on the 30-barrel kit, which is where Nathaniel’s Gold was being brewed. But Steve also informed us that they are due to be getting a 5-barrel kit for even smaller batches and collabs with other breweries, so watch this space!
Just before we left, Gaz and his father were presented with a Nathaniel’s Gold pumpclip and the looks on their faces was fantastic.
The brew will be available in the taproom and all of Sadler’s venues across the midlands. We can’t wait to head down and try it. One thing’s for sure, Gaz and his father can definitely say that this one’s a well-earned pint!
In recent times, the world has become more aware of the environment and the now pressing climate emergency. Some individuals and groups have been increasingly more active in voicing their opinions on the subject, with the British-based Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement orchestrating mass protests across London back in April 2019 pushing for more to be done to avoid climate change. This has brought a lot more focus on how companies big and small operate. With this in mind, many breweries have been trying to embrace change.
There are many different ways that this can be done; using by-products to replace ingredients, re-distributing ingredients such as spent grain, hops and water, or disposing of these in a responsible way. Using a sustainable source for both water and energy. Keeping yield as high as possible, using reusable containers and packaging, the list could go on…
We decided to visit a brewery that has really been pushing this. The Welbeck Abbey Brewery is based in Nottinghamshire, and has been using an initiative called #GoGreenFor2019. Its aim is to introduce an innovative new range that focuses on sustainable production and zero waste. The brewery sits on the grounds of the historic Welbeck Abbey estate dating back to 1153, originally home to the Duke and Duchess of Portland, now housing a host of independent artisanal shops. They have been growing steadily since launching back in 2011, brewing 17,000 pints per week and serving beer to venues mostly within a 35 mile radius.
We had a chance to sit down and speak to Founder, Former Head Brewer and now General Manager, Claire Monk, and Creative Director, Jess Low, to chat about what they’ve been doing to embrace the initiative.
Sitting on the idyllic grounds of the estate on a lush, sunny afternoon Claire told us where it all began…
“I’d done a Biology degree and wanted to turn my knowledge of science to brewing. I turned up to Kelham Island Brewery one day and my job interview was three pints of beer with the boss and he was like, ‘yea, I’ll give you a job.’ They took me on and taught me how to brew and I was really lucky as I just turned up at the time when Dave Wickett, owner of Kelham Island Brewery had met the family here [at Welbeck Abbey]. The family wanted something for these sheds that fit in with the artisan foodie scene here and the Kelham Island Brewery had a load of spare kit, so between them they decided to set this place up. They then came to me and were like, ‘hey do you want to do it?’ and I was like, ‘yea why not!’
At the time, I was the youngest female head brewer in the country, aged just 23. The hardest thing was the sales side of things, especially when people haven’t heard of you before, but once I got people to try the beer they were like, ‘yea, it was good. We’ll have some more!’”
On achieving #GoGreenFor2019, Claire told us some of the specific steps they’ve taken, “For brewing, we use the estate’s own water supply that comes from a borehole that goes down to an aquafil [underground lake]. They have their own water treatment plant on site that doesn’t require much treatment as it’s so fresh. Once we’ve used it, it goes back into their water treatment plant where it gets recycled, ready for use again.
We’ve done a lot of work during the past couple of years in reducing water usage. Industry standard is between 5-6 pints of water used for every pint produced. We’ve managed to get ours down to 3.5 pints of water for every pint of beer that we produce. We’ve invested in some nice shiny new kit, so instead of using a two stage fermentation system, we’ve decreased it to one, which means [only] one lot of cleaning with chemicals and water. We’ve also changed from a using a hosepipe to a jet washer and that’s reduced a lot of the water as well.
With repackaging we’re also good at reusing it; We save pallets and give them to the dairy to use. The cardboard sheets in between beers on our pallets get reused for repacking beer. We love cask because it’s a reusable packaging and have recently moved to using our own kegs to limit waste. Although our mini kegs are recyclable we want to start a project this Christmas, promoting how to upcycle your keg when you don’t want to recycle it.
The one thing that we need to look into is more heating; we use a heat recovery system, so we’re using cold water to cool down the wort then recovering hot water from that. We tend to brew in consecutive days so that we don’t lose the heat.”
It’s a comprehensive initiative, for sure, as Jess elaborates, “We have a green flow chart to see the progress that we’re making and for ideas on other ways that we can change. It’s about looking at what we’re doing and thinking ‘can we do it better?’, whether that’s big or small. It’s not just about cost, it’s about environmental impact; We recently changed our beer mats to biodegradable ones with vegetable based inks from Thirsty’s just down the road, eliminating air miles.
Our Foraged and Found range has also come from #GoGreenFor2019, there’s a great community of artisan businesses and producers on the estate. Having all these local producers within a stone’s throw of us, we thought why not team up with them and use their food byproducts.
The School of Artisan Food is next door where diploma students practicing baking bread, and despite giving the bread to shelters, they still had shed loads left over. So we said we’ll make a beer, substituted it for the malt and made Breaking Bread. We then took the whey from the Stichelton Dairy, using it instead of water and made Out of the Blue Porter. Another byproduct that we used was the coffee grounds from the Harley Café around the corner to create Wake up and Smell the CoffeePorter. It’s been amazing, next one is a nettle pale called No Pain No Gain which we will be hand foraging!”
And going green clearly doesn’t do any harm, as Claire concluded, “We’re growing 10% year on year at a good pace. We’re potentially looking at getting some new tanks next year which will make us more efficient. We’re happy to keep growing gradually, with no aspirations for world domination, buyouts etc. We’re about locality and to be known as everyone in the area’s local brewery.”
Welbeck Abbey Brewery have certainly put the environment at the core focus of everything that they do, without compromising on the beer and even making it more experimental. We’re really impressed with this brewery’s clear commitment and vision. Many breweries are also embracing change and if all breweries made one change in the right direction, it will most certainly make a big impact overall. Hats off guys!
We love a good beer competition, and The London Beer Competition (LBC) is a beer competition with a bit of a difference. Back for a third time after the huge success of its second year, beers entered at LBC are judged and rewarded for obviously their quality and taste, but also value for money and packaging design to reflect how most of us pick and choose a beer we’ve never tried before.
Ros Shiel, Secretary of the British Guild of Beer Writers and 2019 London Beer Competition judge said, “I think that competitions have probably become more important as the market has grown because as a consumer, if you’re confronted with a very busy beer aisle or a bar with dozens of pub clips, how can you, unless you know the market, unless you know what brands are already like … how can you make a choice? So actually, having a beer with a medal win on the label or on the pub clip gives you some kind of reassurance that a mark of quality, that other people, that experts have tasted this beer and found it to be an award-winning beer. And I think for an initiated beer drinker that can be pretty reassuring.”
It’s a pretty nifty idea! With the huge expansion of the beer scene, breweries need to stand out more and more on the shelves of pubs and shops, and the quality should be reflected in the price. And the London Beer Competition is all about picking out and rewarding those breweries and their products that we actually want to buy; rather than just judging a beer on its taste, they’re judging which breweries give the whole package and are able to show off their hard brewing work with their commercial smarts because this is what the best breweries do every day.
And it’s not the best beer for the lowest price that wins! The judges are a mix of people from all sides of the industry – writing, brewing, trading, beer sommeliers, marketing and educators. And medal-winners are chosen for a variety of reasons; whether they offer the best value for their price, the best quality for their price, they stand out on shelves against competitors, or tell a story in the most relevant way.
So give it go or keep an eye out for the winners! Entries will close on 6 March 2020! Judging will be held on 23 March and we’ll find out who are winners are on 30 April.
So it’s time for the Bank Holiday “part deux” or the “Spring Bank Holiday” as most like to call it and the weather looks… timid, perhaps slightly wet! But as a wise band called Crowded House once said “everywhere you go, always take the weather with you”… Well you can’t quite do that, but you can most certainly bring a decent brew or two with you and here are a few that will make it a brighter one for sure!
SKA Brewing – Modus Hoperandi (IPA, 6.8%)
Based in Colorado, SKA Brewing was created by two guys named Dave and Bill who loved drinking great beer and listening to thinking music, (Ska).
Appearance: Deep amber, with a reddish glow, slight haze and a dense head that retains throughout your enjoyment.
Aroma: Notes of bitter grapefruit, pine and resin, matched by a sweet hit of malty marmalade and caramel.
Flavour: The sweet and maltiness are followed into the flavour, complimented by a touch of chocolate and a hint of spice in the finish.
A well balanced, bitter-sweet brew, very warming but exceptionally easy going at the same time.
Bath Ales have recently appointed Georgina Young from Fuller, Smith & Turner as their new Head Brewer. This coupled with the launch of Gem in a can in Tesco stores nationwide, is hinting at a busy Summer ahead for the brewery.
Appearance: Deep amber with a moderate head that retains, fed by bubbles slowly rising to the surface.
Aroma: Sweet malts and treacle, finished off by a cracking little touch of spice.
Flavour: The sweetness is followed into the flavour, met by a blast of toffee and liquorice, finished off by a slightly dry bitterness.
Birmingham Brewing Company – Pale Brummie (Pale Ale 4%)
After taking on a new head brewer in March 2018, Birmingham Brewing Company have come on in leaps and bounds, creating limited batches for their taproom. Recently, they have revitalised their core range recipes, one of which is Pale Brummie.
Appearance: Golden, with a slight haze and a very lively frothy head.
Aroma: Hoppy, with a hint of citrus and bitter grapefruit, mellowed by a sweet biscuity underlay and a touch of caramel.
Flavour: An epic combo, sweet caramel and a dry, hoppy, bitter finish.
Whether rain or shine, this bad boy has a thirst quenchingly nice twist on the traditional English pale ale!
We picked up a bottle of Lancashire Stout from Mayflower Brewery this week. It’s an award-winning brew which picked up Best Stout and Supreme Champion Beer of Lancs at the Lancaster Round Table Inaugural Lancashire Cup in 2011.
The brewery itself was founded by Alan Branagan and his wife Tracey in Wigan, back 2001 and after a short sabbatical, returned in 2018 to a brand new premises. Now at a team of 10 strong, they’re planning to take the scene by storm, conjuring up five core ales, all handcrafted and conditioned in 9-gallon casks. Lancashire Stout (a traditional dry English Stout) is in that core range and racks up a modest 4.0%, so let’s see how it fared …
Appearance: Black in colour with a slightly brown/ reddish tinge and a head that reduces quite quickly to leave a little bit of lacing on the surface and on the side of the glass.
Aroma: Chocolate mixed in with a touch of banana, met with a touch of coffee, treacle and a slight nutty underlay.
Flavour: The notes of chocolate and nuttiness follows through into the flavour and are met by a nice touch of smoked peat, finished off with a dry powdered-coffee finish.
Overall a fantastic Stout, quite traditional with plenty of dominant flavours going on, especially for a 4.0%. The carbonation gives it plenty of body but it’s not too heavy at the same time and you can probably smash a few of these out in an evening easily!
If you’d like to get your hands on a bottle or two, you can call the brewery on 01942 259071 or message them on Facebook or Twitter.
With the early May bank holiday over, it’s time for a competition to give you a case of beers to set you over until the next one! We’ve teamed up with Birmingham Brewing Company to give away a case of 12 Stout Brummie’s…
Stout Brummie pours deep, dark black with a ruby tinge and a thick head that fizzles away leaving a thin layer of lacing on the surface.This brew has a rich aroma of red berry, chocolate and molasses. This is matched by a blast of fresh coffee beans in the flavour and a slight touch of vanilla in the finish.
Quite an easy-going stout, not too thick or heavy, but warming at the same time.
So if you want to get your hands on this bad boy, all that you have to do is head over to our Facebook page (like/ share) or Twitter page (like/ retweet) then tag in who you’d like to share the case with!
I’d heard a lot of good things from a fair few people about Bristol. In England, I’ve only ever really visited Manchester and London, so thought it was time to see what Bristol’s beer scene has to offer.
After around a 15-minute walk from our hotel, we came across The Strawberry Thief, a relatively small bar that focuses mainly on Belgian and craft beers. It was here that I tried a Belgian Dubbel from a brewery I’d never heard of before, Tap Social. They’re an [Oxford-based] craft brewery and beer school who offer courses and business training to people serving prison sentences; an amazing idea which is also producing some brilliant beer.
Strolling further into the city, there’s literally a craft beer bar on every corner; most of which are serving various beers from the brilliant Lost and Grounded, Moor Beer, and Left Handed Giant. We were spoilt for choice on where to go, eventually we settled on booking a table at The Wild Beer Co’s taproom on Wapping Wharf. Everyone knows how great The Wild Beer Co are, they’re always pushing the boundaries on beer styles and flavours.
The Air of Grandeur in particular really impressed me. A collaboration with AZ Wilderness in which only 4 barrels were blended together; a barrel fermented Millionaire, a Wineybeest, Delusions of Grandeur, and Rooting Around Autumn. The result, a delicious imperial stout with sour citrus notes that really freshen it up, making it very easy drinking. Their recently released B*Wildered was also fantastic, essentially a Black Forest gateau in drink form. The food here was pretty decent too, and not a single wood-fired pizza in sight!
Just across from The Wild Beer Co is the Bristol Cider Shop, which is also worth a visit if you’re that way inclined.
Moving on to King Street in the centre of town, you are spoilt for choice, with Kongs, The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, and Small Bar all within 100ft of each other. We headed into The Beer Emporium for the rest of the evening, which turned out to be a great choice. They’ve got 24 beers on tap (12 keg + 12 cask), and a great selection in the fridge. You could easily spend a weekend holed up in here and still not have tried everything that they have to offer.
We would have liked the chance to go on a couple of brewery tours and try out some of the other iconic bars in the area, so we will definitely be revisiting in summer to see more of what this amazing city has to offer!
Nestled in Birmingham’s City Centre lies one of the coolest bars. Tilt has got a lot going for it, 18 taps and a pleasingly large fridge constantly updated with the freshest beers from around the UK and the world. On top of that, you can get yourself a flat white to rival any that you can find on the streets of Melbourne, or get yourself addicted to one of the beautiful, shiny pinball machines that line the walls of the bar (there’s over a dozen!). When we arrived, they had just set up for their Wander Beyond tap takeover. And we sat down with co-owner, Kirk, to chat all things Tilt…
“I used to work just there [pointing over the road] at HMRC as a tax fraud investigator. I used to walk past this building every day. I left that job to open this place.” Unconventional start-up stories seem the norm in craft beer; it invites those who want a total change and already love drinking beer, as Kirk confirms, “It was craft beer first, then we added the coffee and the pinball. Just three things we like. Coffee was my hobby and there’s a resurgence in pinball, so it’s quite unique.”
And with only about three places in the UK with more than a couple of pinball machines, Tilt is one of the few nationwide venues where you can play on such a large public collection, and it’s still growing, “[My favourite] changes with every new one that comes out.” When asked what their latest addition was, Kirk beamed, “Munsters. It came out at the beginning of the year; they are still being made, there’s lots of new ones coming out.” They also hold a Pinball League every year, currently on its seventh season and going strong.
Aside from the glorious distractions Tilt has to offer, we’re here for the beer and they don’t disappoint. They pride themselves on the rarity of their imports, “I don’t like core beers. I don’t like anything that anyone else is going to get.” And they’re not kidding, with the largest stock of Mikkeller beers in the country outside of the brewery’s own London bar, thanks to their distributor, Euroboozer. Usually supplying the beer shelves of Greater London on a daily basis, Euroboozer have now started delivering direct out of their base in Hertfordshire from Birmingham to Southampton and many other cities in-between, hence why Kirk was so keen to take advantage, “We took a massive, massive order, about 12 or 13 beers on draft for the first one. We did an all-fruit event, so it was all the Oregon Series and we had seven spontans [spontaneously fermented beers] on as well.
We got our hands on a few of the Oregon Fruit Series from the fridge to try for ourselves…
First up, the Strawberry Coffee Berliner Weisse made in collab with The Coffee Collective at 3.7%. A seriously great start, with its tangy, acidic sourness. Notes of dried strawberries, and coffee backing up the light wheat malt. Nicely balanced and mouth-puckering.
We all too quickly moved onto their Tangerine Hazy IIPA, bit of jump at 8.3% but we weren’t complaining. A blast of fresh, grassy hops. The juicy tangerine playing off the creamy mouthfeel from the oats and the yeast; deceptively drinkable, this one.
Next up, Crooked Moon, another New England style hazy IIPA with smooth raspberry this time, a light carbonation and citric hops, which leaves a fruity dry bitterness. Another well-balanced and surprisingly subtle brew for the elevated ABV, and our favourite of the bunch.
And finally, the Cherry Flat White Stout, giving warming chocolate malt and a sugary sweetness brought through by the Oregon cherries. With the coffee, again from The Coffee Collective, bringing a smooth, rich body. Finished off with a lingering dry, roasted oat flavour. An all-round top-notch selection of beers!
So, if you’re looking for a real unique beer destination, Tilt is not to be missed!