A year is a flexible thing, some fly by and when looking back not much will be remembered, while others stick in the memory because so much has been achieved. This past year has been very much the latter. From a sloping field on a Cornish farm to a fully-fledged brewery focusing on wild and spontaneous fermentation all surrounded by land and livestock that will determine what, when and how we brew.
Back in Spring 2018 we started scraping back the turf and began to lay the foundations of an ambitious plan, to build a new brewery with the soul focus being on research & development. Specifically wild and spontaneous fermentation using oak barrels, foudres, amphora and a coolship. To add to this the land around the brewery was to be put to work. Growing ingredients on the farm to make beer was key, whilst our free-range rare breed Saddleback pigs turned our spent grain into beautiful pork.
During that first spring whilst the large muddy hole in the ground grew into a handsome barn, we got out into the fields and planted the herb garden. Herbs have had a longer history in brewing than hops and give an extraordinary spectrum of flavours and possibilities. They also have the bonus of giving us a crop in year one (unlike our orchard and vineyard) we could be making beers with them in a matter of months.
Saison with Lemon Balm
It was our first collab with Magic Rock that the herbs came into their own, a saison fermented in an open top oak vat with lavender and lemon balm picked that morning from the herb garden. It was midsummer, we camped in the fields, cooked over an open fire and took stock of how far we had come. Even at that point, 6 months in we had achieved so much and it had been a lot of work. But it all felt worthwhile when at The Beavertown Extravaganza - brewers from New Belgium and Blackberry Farm Brewing were propping up our bar and raving about the saison. Laruen Limbach is an icon and when she likes your beers it doesn’t get much better!
Our Cherry Sour came shortly after. Sour beers have always been a big part of our plans and this was the first to be released from the brewery. Our guiding principles with this style of beer is its acidity by fermentation, not by the addition of lactic acid or acid malts. No pasteurisation or kettle souring, all lactobacillus. Whole fruit fermentation, the fruit goes into the fermenter and we use active fermentation to break down the fruit. It was bright, exciting, sour but balanced and most importantly - beautifully pink in colour!
One of the most important and often overlooked parts of brewing, especially in new and innovative beers is drinkability. A beer should excite you from the first sip but it shouldn’t be a struggle to the end, you should want to drink it again and again.
Our Continental Table Beer was the epitome of these values. Complex but delicate, a sipper and a glugger and infinitely drinkable. Using noble Tettenager with a touch of Simcoe to give it a pop and our house saison strain, inspired by Grisettes and marrying the new world beers with the old.
As we now move into Spring, the farm starts to come back to life and our lambic-style coolship brewing comes to a close (keep your eyes peeled for these coming out in the future) and everything comes out from hibernation. We are now into our stride and a steady stream of new beers come out from the brewery, our plans for the next year of work on the farm are put into action. Our Brett IPA is tasting amazing and is on a really interesting journey as the Brett metamorphosis's the hop compounds create new complex flavours. Super classic in its recipe using Columbus, Centennial and Citra hops and all fermented with Brettanomyces Claussenii, the citrus flavours from the hops transform into complex funk and over ripe fruit notes as the brett works its magic.