Anspach & Hobday (A&H) started back in early 2013 around the same time we did. They took a very different approach to us, starting a small brewery with a tap room in Bermondsey. We went for a larger scale production brewery based in the middle of nowhere. Regardless of these differences and the distance, we have been friends, but this became stronger while we were doing our monthly Bottle Shop residency, just a couple of railway arches down the road. A&H guys would run samples of their newest beers to us and we would return the favour by sending over any of the specials we had on. Then, we would usually end up sharing a beer at their tap room after our event had finished.
So when the A&H brewery was out of action while they got their new floor put in and a bunch of sexy new stainless tanks delivered etc, it seemed the perfect time to finally get together and create something special. I have always been a huge fan of their Cream Ale, a style that I hadn't really tried before trying theirs. It is stuffed full of Sorachi Ace hops, very much like shooting fish in a barrel getting my thumbs up. So when deciding on a style, there was no problem with inspiration. I probably quite unfairly obsessed with brewing a version of this. It is a beer they do so well, so we got the basics of their recipe. To make it a little more collaborative, we tweaked it here and there and incorporated a bit of “Weird Beard”.
How did we do this? We started with the Cream Ale, or the classic U.S. 'lawnmower beer'. That is, a beer somewhere between a lager and an ale: clean, crisp and dry, yet malty and sweet. It’s the type of beer you crack open and quaff down while mowing the lawn/working in the 'yard' or drink in the sun on a lazy day. Then, we added a twist and took the beer off-style, as we quite often do, deciding on going for a Dark Cream Ale. Why? If you believe the likes of RateBeer and Untappd, we do dark beers very well. The idea of a Dark Cream Ale maybe doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven, but it does sound like the makings of an interesting beer. Using an adequate amount of flaked corn to still get the silky mouthfeel and sweeter flavours of a Cream Ale, we then added Black Prinz. We saw that little bit of dark malt would play with the coconutty flavours of Sorachi Ace. We upped the ABV and of course the hops to balance that out; there’s a little Summit to the hop mix. At Weird Beard, although we are some of the biggest fans of Sorachi Ace out there, we feel the addition of a little Summit really makes it sing.
The brewday itself had a great atmosphere. Along with myself, we had Ryan our lead brewer to back me up just in case it was one of those collaborations where the guest, let’s say ‘forget their wellies', and Natasha, social media, events and general people person, representing Weird Beard. We were expecting Paul and Jack to show up, but since there wasn’t a lot to do at their place, pretty much the full A&H team walked through the door. We had Paul and Jack along with Dylan and Dan. It was a great day, talking and drinking beer, and getting to know each other a little more. The guys really got stuck in as well (Jack did all the cleaning) making the day pretty easy and enjoyable for all involved. We look forward to having a play on their new kit soon.
Naming and branding a beer can sometimes be difficult, especially when you have more than one person involved. I do really like the process though; it gives me a chance to draw on my other passions of music and horror films. This time round I had a whole bunch of names ready before the beer was even brewed. It was just a case of choosing one. My inspiration came from the fact we were brewing a 'Lawnmower beer'. Originally a scene from the film “Brain Dead” came mind, where the main character, Timothy, walks through a crowd of zombies with a lawnmower over his shoulder. But then, our Spreadsheet Ninja, Gregg suggested the band Lawnmower Deth.
After listening to the music and looking through the song titles it became clear we were definitely onto a winner. And the beer has been really popular with the band and their fans when we posted it up on in the Twitter-verse. That's cool. References to both the film and the music can be found in the bottle label text.