Camden BearD

Earlier in the year we were approached by the bar staff of the BrewDog bar in Camden to brew a collaborative beer with them. The collaboration was part of a new project BrewDog and all of their bars were doing called Collab Fest. The idea was for each of the UK bars to select a brewery to brew a beer with and have all of these beers release in all their UK bars on the same night, the 19th Oct. All the brewers were also invited to the Brewdog brewery in Ellon to brew one big collaborative beer. The event was a success in our eyes, with some great beers brewed.

So early September, along with the Camden bar staff, we decided to brew a medium ABV pale, with at least 30% wheat malt, Willamette, Cascade and Centennial hops and a clean US yeast. During the course of the day the naming of the beer was discussed, and together we came up with the name Camden BearD. Notice the B & D in BearD are both capital, this was meant to be read as Camden BD, as in Camden BrewDog.

To be honest, none of us even made the link to Camden Town Brewery. If we had, we may have reconsidered. But Camden Town Brewery took exception to the name, and on 21st Oct wrote an email to James Watt of BrewDog. At this point it’s worth remembering that this beer was a collaboration with the staff from the bar, and had nothing to do with BrewDog themselves. This is 100% a Weird Beard beer that had been sold to many other retailers and not just BrewDog for their festival. If Camden Town had done their research at this point, they may have realised this and contacted us directly, but they didn’t. If they had contacted us in a polite manor, we may have reconsidered the name. James’s response was to get the bars to change the name to London Beard. But for some reason didn’t suggest that Camden Town Brewery contact us regarding the name of our product, or did James contact us directly either. Camden Town Brewery and BrewDog are a couple of pretty big, well established breweries, with plenty of collaborations under their collective belts. They should know how these things work in regard to is responsible for and whoo names the beer. Rightly or wrongly it felt like two big guys ganging up on the small brewery, and for some reason at no point did they think it was worth talking to us, which i find insulting. 

While all this was going on, we heard rumours that Camden Town Brewery may be upset with the name. But we are not one to act on rumour, and we thought that if they did have any real issue they would have the decency to talk to us. The issue became very clear to us when I went into the BrewDog Camden bar and saw our name on the guest beer board with the words London Beard underneath. I personally complained to the bar staff, who were very sympathetic, but said they had been pretty much ordered to make the change. So we took the initiative and on 27th Nov and contacted James Watt to ask for an explanation, who apologised and in late December when back from honeymoon agreed to change the name back to Camden Beard (to much rejoycing from Gregg and the staff at Brewdog Shepherds Bush who had the beer on at the time) and direct any further complaints from Camden directly to us.

We really like this beer, and decided to add it to our occasional brew rotation, and re-brewed it in mid November. We had the labels paid for, printed, and on a number of bottles, when on 18th Dec we get an very aggressive email from Camden Town Brewery demanding we recall the beer, and referencing the conversation he had with James Watt as an indication the name had been changed. We responded stating that the beer had been sold to many retailers over the past 2 months, and this could have been resolved months ago had he bothered to contact us. We also stated that we have no intention of recalling the beer, as we feel the branding of the beer is distinctly different to Camden Town Brewery, and we question their ownership of the word Camden. But after seeking legal advice, we decided we could not afford the costs of this going to court. So we agreed that we would change the name, but would not be recalling any beer. Camden Town Brewery reinforced how seriously they take trademark infringements, and how they will not stand by and allow other traders trade off the reputation of their brand. This implies that they think that we have chosen the name in the hope that people will confuse our beer for one of theirs, which is both amusing and insulting. But it was agreed that by changing the name of the beer the matter could be put to bed.

It was with great regret that we decided to change the name of this beer, as it already has a reputation, and it looses it’s reference to the great guys at BrewDog Camden who were a huge part in making this beer what it is. But we felt we should change the name for several reasons. We don’t believe Camden Town Brewery has any claim to the word Camden, and I think they aren’t 100% sure either, as on 24th Dec they applied to trade mark the word, even though previous communications implied they already owned this. But, as they have been using the word in many of their products for some time now, it was decided they may have some claim to it, and it may come down to who ever was overseeing the case on the day. We are a very small young brewery, and we do not have money to risk on this. There is also the possibility that people may think this is a collaboration between Camden Town Brewery and Weird Beard, and to be honest, right now I do not want people to think we would be associated with them.

So what to call the beer? That was easy! K*ntish Town Beard. Read into this what you will, but the official line is that the beer is called Kentish Town Beard, as Camden Town are actually based just under Kentish Town West station, and we are renaming it in their honour. The asterisk is in Kentish just in case they decide they own that too. 

We are hugely disappointed that this all had to turn out this way. A few polite phone calls right at the beginning could have sorted this out with no hard feelings at all. We are only publicising this how we have because we feel with have been treated very unfairly by two of the supposed big players in the 'craft' beer world, and we thought people had the right to know. We also had to explain the sudden name change.

We thank you for all the support we have had on this, and hope you all continue to enjoy the beers produced by all of the great breweries in the country right now.

All views, except those edited by Gregg, grammatical & spelling errors in this blog are those of @weirdbeardbryan, and not necessarily those of the Weird Beard collective.

Hive Mind Beer launch - Tuesday 26th November

HIVE MIND may refer to:

        * Collective consciousness [1]
        * The apparent consciousness of colonies of social insects [2] such as ants, bees and termites
        * Swarm intelligence [3], the collective behaviour of decentralised, self-organised systems, natural or artificial
        * A hoppy red honey ale made by Weird Beard in collaboration with the many brains of London Amateur Brewers.

The London Amateur Brewers is a home brew club that meets the first Monday every month to talk beer, taste and give good honest feedback on members beers. Both Gregg and Bryan have their home brewing roots with these guys, so back in October it was our absolute pleasure to invite them along to brew a collaborative beer with is. 

The beer we come up with is a 5.6% red(ish) ale brewed with a healthy dose of Honey. Brewed with Cascade, EKG, and Nelson Sauvin in the boil, and a little Mosaic dry hop to finish it off.

Not sure we have done an official launch yet, so this could be a first in almost a year of brewing.  Both cask and keg will be available at The Harp in Covent Garden this Tuesday 26th November from around 18:30. Both Gregg and Bryan will be about, with a few members of the London Amateur Brewers, so come and say hi. You will probably find us up stairs.

Camden Beard launch

On Saturday 19th October you can sample the beer we brewed as part of the Brewdog Collab Fest, with our now great friends from Brewdog bar Camden, along with the beer brewed with brewdog and many other beers brewed at some great breweries. The beers will be available in all the bars, and both Gregg and Bryan will be at the Camden bar during the evening, and maybe the day time, to chat about the beer and anything else that may be on your mind.

You will be able to find our beer, Camden Beard in your favourite Weird Beard stockist very soon after this event.

Indy Man Beer Con

We are really excited to have been invited to bring beer along to the Saturday and Sunday sessions of this years Indy Man Beer Con. Along with some great, and some very special beers, both Gregg and Bryan will be at the festival serving the beer. So please do come along and say hey.

The beers we will be taking along are.

Five O'clock Shadow - our American style IPA - Keg
Decadence - Our new luxurious stout - Cask
Heaven & Hell -Barrel aged version of our DIPA Holy Hoppin' Hell - Keg
Camden BearD - American Wheat Pale Ale - Cask

Our friends from  BlackJack Brewing will also be bringing along our collaboration Weird Wit, a watermelon wheat beer. They will be about on Thursday & Friday, so be sure to go and check them out.

New fermeters

This week we took delivery of 2 brand new 10bbl fermenting vessels.

We first set up the brewery with 2 of these, meaning we could brew just once every 2 weeks, as the beer sits in these vessels for that long. By buying 2 more we have essentially doubled our capacity, meaning we can brew once a week now, and meaning there should be loads more of our beer out there to enjoy. It also means we have more freedom in what we brew, as recently we've had to concentrate on getting the core beers out there, as we kept selling out very fast.

Meet The Brewer - Cask Pub & Kitchen Monday 12/08/13

We hope you can join us on Monday when both Gregg and Bryan will be showcasing our beers at the Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico, from 5pm.

Expect 10 cask 7 kegged beers, some exclusive to this event. We will be launching a very limited edition beer, and there will also be some T-shirts to give away.

Below is a list of the beers we will be bringing.

CASK                                                                           Keg

1. Hit The Lights                                                           1. Hit The Lights
2. Mariana Trench                                                         2. Mariana Trench
3. Five O'Clock Shadow                                                3. Five O'Clock Shadw
4. Black Perle                                                              4. Single Hop Nelson Saison
5. Single Hop Amarillo                                                  5. Single Hop Amarillo
6. Bad Habbit                                                               6. Bad Habit
7. Holy Hoppin' Hell (citra, Pacific Gem)                         7. Single Hop Chinook - Bourbon Barrel Aged
8. Little Things That Kill
9.  Little Things That Kill (aged on coffee beans)
10.Fade To Black

The Bad habit, Single Hop Amarillo and Little Things That Kill (aged on coffee beans) are the only casks that were made of these beers. So they are exclusive to this event, and will not be found anywhere else.

Holy Hoppin' Hell (citra, Pacific Gem), this is the second batch of our double IPA. This time we used Citra and Pacific Gem for the late hops, and it weighs in at 9.7%. This is one of only 2 casks in existence.

We will be releasing our barrel aged version of our Single Hop Series No.1 - Chinook (A Boring Brown Beer) at this event. This was the first beer we brewed, which we left in a Heaven Hill Kentucky bourbon barrel for a little over a month. This beer is limited to just 200 litres, of which there are only 2 kegs and the rest in bottles. One of those kegs will be at the Cask event. 

Find more information on these beers on our website.

London Craft Beer Festival

As you may know we have been invited to attend this event. And dead chuffed we are too to be included in such prestigious company!

We have four beers we are bringing along.

Black Perle, our 3.5% coffee milk stout. A rare outing for this in keg format.
Mariana Trench, our 5.1% pale ale. A best seller that hopefully you will be familiar with.
Holy Hoppin' Hell Batch 2, our 9.7% Double IPA.  This one uses the same hops as Marina Trench but at twice the abv and four times the hopping rates. It will almost be the launch of this beer. (One cask will sneak out for the Meet the Brewer at Cask Pub and Kitchen)
Bad Habit, our and Northern Monks' 8.6% Belgian Tripel with a small twist of Cascade.

We have two pairs of tickets to one of the sessions to give away for this Festival. Leave a comment with your "Bad Habit" that you hope to bring (or not) to LCBF and the best two will win the tickets. (The selection will be made by the Weird Beard Collective, namely Gregg and Bryan). Deadline for comments is 1st August.

Here is other key information for the festival.

Catch up July 13

It's been over a month since our last general blog. So I thought I would write a quick catchup on what has been going on in Weird Beard land.

Last time I talked about our collaboration we were lucky enough to brew with our kindred home brewer spirit Andy Parker from Elusive Brewing. Well this beer was launched at an event affectionately know as #Twissup in Macclesfield on 29th June. We also got this beer out to some other bars and shops to go on sale on the night. This beer has been a huge success, but if you had tried Andy's original home brewed version, you would know it was always going to be.

We have re-brewed a couple of our core beers. Mariana Trench, which is fast becoming our most popular beer, has now been brewed 3 times. Batch 3 has gone mostly into cask and Key keg, as this is the demand is at the moment. In fact casks are going so fast, 90% of this batch was pre-sold before the casks were even full.

We have also re-brewed Black Perle, but with a few tweaks. We would be interested to hear peoples thoughts on this. We would actually quite like to get this beer up to 4.5%, so i think this beer will evolve over time. We also struggle to get hold of the same beans we used last time.
Holy Hoppin' Hell has also been through our system again too. If you read the blog, or the label, you will know the idea behind this beer is to to keep the the same basic grain bill each time, but change up the hops. This time round we decided to celebrate the success of Mariana Trench and use the same hops, but amped up. As we grow more confident as brewers and with our equipment, we are managing to drag a lot more efficiency out of the kit, so expect something above 9%, less sweet, more bitter and far more fitting of the name this time round.

Another collaboration that was mentioned in the last blog was our Belgian Triple, brewed with some strange cloaked characters from up North. Weighing in at 8.(something)%, Bad Habit,  our collaboration with the fine people from Northern Monk will be launched at the Birmingham Beer Bash from 26th July.

We have also been allowed out of the brewery a few times. One of our regular customers, The Rake down in London Bridge found themselves with 3 key kegs of our beers on at the same time, so invited us down for a low key meet the brewer session. They had Mariana Trench, Saison 14 and Hit the lights, and two brewers just hanging around chatting to anyone who would listen. We also got to sign the way again, a little over a year after we signed it first time round when we were invited to give out samples of our prototypes at their London Beer Festival in 2012.

As the only local brewery to do cask in our local area, Weird Beard were invited along to open the Ealing Beer Festival over the weekend of 3rd - 6th June. We had 3 casks, Black Perle, Mariana Trench and Hit the Lights, and loads of bottles on the bottle bar.  The casks were all sold out well before close of play on the first day, so we rushed back to the brewery and found the first cask of the second batch of Black Perle, which went on on Saturday, and promptly sold out again. We also delivered some extra bottles of Mariana Trench, which along with all of our other bottles were sold out before the end of the festival. The fist picture above shows our very own Gregg Irwin (Dredpengiun) standing on some fencing blocks saying a few words to officially open the festival. The second is WeirdBeardBryan, just posing.

We have a few more meet the brewers and festivals lined up. Meet the brewer at Powder Keg Diplomacy on Monday 22nd July, Birmingham Beer Bash from Friday 26th July, London Craft Beer Festival from Friday 16th August. There have also been a few other festivals around the county where our beers have appeared, but not directly through us, so we weren't able to promote them fully. These include the Edinburgh Independent Beer Festival and the Chelmsford Beer Festival.

We were also most honored to have been invited to fill the yearly, pre GBBF meet the brewer spot at the Caks Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico. We plan on bringing 10 casks, some of which will be super exclusive, along with as many different key kegs we can lay our hands on. Like i say, we are so happy to have been invited along to do this, and thank the guys at Cask for thinking of us.

It has not however been all plain sailing. I wrote a little last time round about our little cask conundrum. Well, we decided to up the amount of casks we produce, but this has introduced a new problem. Right from the beginning we made the choice to not use isinglass to fine our beers. Basically isinglass is a substance derived from the swim bladder of fish, that is added to real ale to help pull some of the haze from the beer, as people do tend to prefer a clearer beer. We are not bothered by cloudy or hazy beer, as it tastes just as good, and sometimes better. But we have had some comments and even complaints that a few of our beers are a little on the cloudy side. One major culprit is our new, and very popular session beer Little Things That Kill. Now this beer has a LOT of hops in, and most of them are dry hops which are added to the fermenter a few days before packaging. These hops often like to hang around in the beer, giving out their fantastic hoppy flavour to the drinker. But this can be seen as cloudy bad beer to some people. We are going to experiment with non isinglass finings and see if we can improve on this a little.

Another, and maybe more serious issue has been with the carbonation of some of our key kegged saisons. This has been a bit of a school boy error, and we have more than learnt from our mistakes. But we have to apologies to anyone who was affected by beer fobbing in the most part, to an exploding key keg. Basically, we wanted our saisons to have a bit more carbonation than most of our other beers, hence why they don't appear in casks. Unfortunately we over done it a little, and the key kegs had just too much gas in them. This mixed with the hot weather has made these a little difficult to deal with. We have depressurized the kegs still at the brewery, and tried to contact everyone who may still have one in their cellars, but if you are concerned, please do get in touch.

We are essentially still a couple of home brewers playing on a huge scale. We are still learning. And a big part of that is learning from mistakes.

All views and grammatical errors are those of @WeirdBeardBryan, and not always the Weird Beard collective.

Week 32

Week 32? so what happened to to weeks 29 through 31 you may ask.

Well, there are several reasons, not least the fact that we are very busy. As I am sure I have previously mentioned, I still have a full time job, which means I cant be at the brewery as much as I really want to be. This leaves Gregg to pick up the slack with deliveries, packaging, sales, brewing, the list is endless. This means I don't always have the time to be blogging, and sometimes I just haven't been around enough to feel that I can write about what has been going on.

Also, as we become older and more established, we are not having to overcome new or interesting issues. So I don't always feel that a blog would be interesting, or relevant. I really don't want to bore or waste peoples time, there is beer to be drunk don't you know.

So what has happened since my last blog.

At the time of writing the last blog, Gregg was in the brewery with our good friend Andy Parker from Elusive Brewing. They were brewing the second in our Single Hop Series, which just so happened to be our second collaborative brew with a home brewer going pro. The beer that was created on that day was Nelson Saison, which as the cryptic name suggests, is a saison hopped with just Nelson Sauvin. This has been packaged and is currently conditioning, as we feel a little age will help this one out.

We have brewed quite a few different beers in our short life time, but as we sell out of certain beers, and the demand for these grow ever louder, it has become clear that we need to focus a little more on our core range. So over the last few weeks we have re-brewed Mariana Trench and Five O'clock Shadow, with Black Perle in the next week, if the lactose we ordered 2 weeks ago ever arrives. Along with the release of Hit The Lights.

One of our first beers that went down very well in bottle, Single Hop Chinook, has had a mixed reception on cask. Some people have absolutely loved it, while a couple of places have not had so much luck. So a little while ago we decided that we would keep back the last few casks we had for something special. We knew this beer would age well, and it became clear to us that it would age even better in an American bourbon barrel. So that's what we did. Look out for this very limited edition in the next few months.

Not wanting to stray too far from our experimental home brew roots, we haven't totally devoted our time to the core range. Summer is a time when it's nice from time to time to spend the day in the garden, or pub drinking beer, responsibly of course. If you talk to Gregg, he would tell you that sipping on a Saison on a hot summers day is the preferred approach. But these can come in a little high on the alcohol for a good session, so we decided to brew our very own answer to this problem. Little Things That kill, another beer named after a song, is our version of a low alcohol session beer. There will be a full blog at some point, but this is the little brother of Holy Hoppin' Hell. A sub 4% beer brewed to the same grain bill each time, but hops for each batch will change.

It must be something to do with our own beginnings, but we seem to have a thing for home brewers going pro. To feed our apatite for this, we will be brewing another collaboration beer with a couple of home brewers going pro. This time round a Belgian Triple with a U.S. hops, brewed with our friends from Northern Monk in a couple of weeks time.

We did have some other home brewers in the brewery last week, but this time with no plans to go pro. A couple of our friends wanted a special beer for their special day, so requested we brewed something for them. We decided to go one step further and get them to brew it. We sat down and bounced some ideas off each other and decided on something that they and their guests will really enjoy, that we will enjoy, and just so happened to fit into our Single Hop Series. Expect something Belgian with shed loads of Amarillo.

Beer continues to fly out of the brewery, with cask sales especially popular. In fact, we often sell out of casks before a beer is even released, so if there is anything you fancy, get in quick. This throws up an interesting problem. We are selling a lot of casks at the moment, but we make very little money on them, although people still complain they are over priced. If we put more beer into casks, we could sell a batch of beer very quickly, but make very little money. The answer to this is to obviously brew more often, but we are held back by our size, and the number of fermenters we own. We can't grow as a business or buy more fermenters without first making money, which we simply cant do with just cask. So we are upping the cask output on certain beers, but we are still focussing on bottle. We also like bottles as we can send these out of London, so more people get the opportunity to sample what we are doing.

In other good news, we have finally got two pallets of beer out to Sweden. So you can now find our beers in Sweden and Italy along with all over the UK. So if you are yet to try any, you have little excuse.

We have a very busy summer ahead of us, as we need to get 10 different beers on cask for an event we are very excited about later this summer. Look out for an announcement on this soon. Also look out for us at a number of beer festivals. Please continue to check out the bottom of our outlets page to keep up to date.

All opinions and grammatical errors are those of WeirdBeardBryan, and not always Weird Beard Brew Co. as a whole. For example, Gregg LOVES saisons, I could live without them.

Hit The Lights

Now, if you cast your mind back to early march, and the release of batch 0002 you will remember a beer called Miss The Lights.This was the first attempt at brewing Hit The Lights, but not all went to plan. We decided we liked what came out, and released it. It went down very well in bottles, but completely flopped in cask and keg.

But this time round we done things right. The brewday went without a hitch, with the beer happily in the FV earlier than any brewday yet. I say it went without hitch, we do have a slight problem with this beer, but that is more recipe driven than an actually problem. This is a 'hop burst' style IPA, meaning there are no early bittering hops, all the hops, and there are a lot of them, are chucked in in the last 20 minutes of the boil. This unfortunately means this beer is prone to boil overs, as there are no oils to keep it at bay. We may consider chucking a minimal amount of hops in at the start, just to save ourselves some cleaning.

Expect orange on the nose, with more orange citrus, mango and maybe even some peach in the taste. 

Available in cask, keg and 500ml bottles. Why not grab one and have it alongside a Miss The Lights and let us know which you prefer.

Weird Beard's Summer of Saison

Saison is a Belgian/French farmhouse style of beer which is close to my heart, if not Weird Beard Bryan's. Fortunately he has agreed to let me loose and allow me to brew a summer seasonal in Saison 14. Don't tell him I managed to squeeze another two saisons into the schedule when he was not looking...

Saison 14

The name for this beer had an interesting story behind it. It was called Sunshine Saison when as a home brew it was entered in the national homebrew competition. It was one of four beers I had entered and the one that I had my highest hopes for. When the scores came back I did not get the medal I was hoping for but rather the somewhat scathing 14/50. In BJCP terms this is borderline undrinkable, I think you score 13 for filling in your name on the application correctly! This nearly put me off brewing this beer but loads of people who had tried the beer persuaded me to continue with the brew, and to honour the judges that gave me such a low score we named it Saison 14.

This beer is highly carbonated and dry, making it a great summer quaffing drink. The hops are Sorachi Ace and Pacific Gem that gives a lemon and vanilla taste that plays well with the traditional saison yeast notes.

Only available in keg and bottle. Grab some from the usual outlets, and drink some with some grilled fish.

Saison 42

As you are probably very aware Weird Beard are the product of home brewers becoming pro. The home brewing community is a fantastic place to learn and grow as brewers. We met Ingemar at the London and Southeast craft beer festival in 2011, a home brew competition run by LAB. Ingemar was the closest we had ever met to a Scandinavian giant. Towering over us at 6ft 10 he was certainly a commanding and memorable presence. We met again at the Brewdog AGM and the Borefts festival, so we were almost old friends when we met at the festival again in 2012. At this point we were both talking about becoming professional brewers. We invited him to come and brew with us and our first collaboration was born.

We bounced around ideas about an elderflower pale ale, and many others before deciding on a saison, slightly darker than normal, hopped with Bobec with a twist of some of the batch being primed with elderflower cordial rather than sugar.

Ingemar is a big Sci-Fi fan so this beer has a slight Douglas Adams theme. The answer to Life, the Universe and Saison is obviously Saison 42.

The beer is amber in colour, well carbonated and a quite traditional Saison-like taste. The elderflower-primed Saison 42e has a floral nose and slightly sharp edge to it.

Available in kegs and bottles. Don't Panic! Share and Enjoy!

Single Hop Series No 2 Nelson Sauvin

Having tried Andy Parker's Nelson Saison I knew I had to brew it myself somehow. What better way to steal a great recipe then to offer a collaboration.... ;-)

Andy is starting a his own brewery Elusive Brewing...check out the cool retro 80s style video game logo

Loads have been written about this beer already here and here and we hope to have it ready to launch at the Twissup in Macclesfield see here for details

When it is ready it will be available in bottles and Keykegs.

Fade To Black

Is it a hoppy porter, or an export stout or even a dark cascadian ale? There has been some considerable debate about the validity of the name Black IPA. How can an India "pale" ale be black? Well I have a view on this argument ... I don't give a shit about it, it is just a label get over it.

This beer is influenced by the Kernel black IPA brewed with Glyn Roberts that I first tried a couple of years ago. When I tried to do something similar at home I totally misjudged the amount of dark grains I would need to get the colour right... To my mind it had faded from black and it was a short jump while, listening to a certain band, to change the name to Fade to Black.

Another awesome Lup'in and label from Josh and Chris.

The beer has a complex grain bill with loads of crystal and crystal rye, a touch of chocolate and some carafa III special. This creates a black colour and full body to which layers of hop character are painted. The hops in this beer are Citra, Summit and Sorachi Ace. This gives a strong citrus character and interestingly a touch of toasted coconut that comes from the combination of the Sorachi and the dark malt.

If anything this version of the beer is a little too chewy and full bodied, especially in cask form, and a little low ABV so expect subtle changes for the next version, but I certainly won't be changing this too much.

This beer is available in cask, keg and bottle - look out for it in the usual places.

Week 28

Does this count as gorilla marketing? Taking a picture of one of our beers in someone else's brewery, where they happen to have a very fitting neon sign? Don't worry, we're not going to start playing that game, we haven't got time for that right now. This is just a picture I quite liked that someone posted on twitter. It's also a good way to show that Holy Hoppin' Hell has now left the brewery, along with Five o'Clock Shadow and Fade to black, and are all available to buy in bottles, along with some casks and key kegs.

Not sure how it happened, but things timed themselves to produce a very busy week, with 2 beers bottled and 2 beers brewed. The plan was to just bottle once a week and then brew straight away to get fresh beer into the FV. But this week we found ourselves with 2 beers ready. I blame that over-active saison yeast.

First off was finishing off the packaging of Hit The Lights. This was casked and kegged over the weekend, leaving us with around 1800 500ml bottles worth. We are pretty happy with it this time round, it has a great aroma, great colour and tastes fantastic. So this beer will be leaving the brewery as Hit The Light this time, in around 2 weeks hopefully.

This left FV3 empty, so we decided to fill it with one of our most popular beers to date. This week we brewed our first re-brew, not counting Miss/Hit the lights. We have re-brewed our 'Transpacific Pal Ale' Mariana Trench. This will be a real test for us, as consistency in a new brewery is very difficult, but key for our future. The day went very well, with no real issues, so we look forward to seeing how this one turns out.

As previously mentioned, we have some very excitable saison yeast in the brewery right now. And this yeast has managed to finish off our Saison 14 in record time. I'm not really a saison man myself, but Gregg assures me it is tasting great. So we filled 18 key kegs, no casks, and 2400 500ml bottles, which again should be available in a few weeks.

The saison yeasts work was not finished yet though. Saturday we brewed the second of our Single Hop series, which just happened to also be the second collaboration in the brewery. Saturday we invited Andy Parker of new gypsy brewery Elusive Brewing to the brewery to brew our take of their Nelson Saison. I left Andy in Gregg's safe hands, and the reports of a fantastic nelson aroma filling the brewery made me regret not pulling a sickie from my day job. I love Nelson Sauvin, so really looking forward to see how this one turns out. Also curious how quickly the yeast can get through this one too.

And as if that wasn't enough, in other news: We shipped off our first international pallet on Friday. Look out for bottles of Single Hop Chinook, Mariana Trench, Five O'clock Shadow & Holy Hoppin' Hell hitting the shelves and the same again in keg form, minus the Chinook, hitting the bars of Italy very soon. We also had a visit from a nice couple of Swedish importers who made the most of the brewery bar and put in a rather sizeable order, that will be leaving the brewery by the end of the month. Not enough international action for you? Well, we are also in the final stage of talks with a Finish importer too, so hopefully we can get that deal closed very soon also.

It hasn't all been plain sailing though. We are very lucky to be sharing the actual brewery location with another brewery, Ellenburg's Brewery. They have had a few more label issues than we have had, and have yet to receive theirs. This means they have a few bottles of beer waiting around. We are also brewing as often as we possibly can, and sometime more. This means there is a lot of beer around on site at the moment, so space is becoming a real premium. Unfortunately just selling beer is not always the answer to this problem. Once a beer has been brewed it takes 2 weeks to condition, at the very least. Some beers can benefit from standing for over a month before being sold. We had not really planned for this fully, so had been just sticking pallets of beer where ever we could. But we had got to the point where we just couldn't fit any more beer in. So on Friday I, Bryan, armed with a forklift spent several hours playing a rather large game of tetris. I removed some of the pallet racking, as it was causing more problems than it was solving, and just piled the beer in an orderly fashion. Now it is much easier to function in the brewery. I feel there should be a time lapse video with the tetris theme here, I may have to the at the CCTV footage.

We also sent the last of the bottles of Holy Hoppin' Hell through the labeller. Although we managed to come out around 50 labels short. So those bottles may make it into the luck dip, or the fridge.

As always, these are the rantings of WeirdBeardBryan, and not the weird beard collective.

Holy Hoppin' Hell pt1

Not exactly a core beer, or even a seasonal. This is our beer! A beer that does not take itself too seriously.

A beer we brew when the feeling takes us, and a beer we brew how ever we want. Same grain bill each time, and aiming for the same IBU, but that's where the similarities end. This is a canvas, an outlet for our creativity. We give ourselves free rain on the hops used, and the processes.

This time round an 8.5% ABV Double IPA using some of the newer 'new world' hops. We have Dr Rudi (Super Alpha), Green Bullet, Pacific Gem and Columbus (not quite new world, but we never said there were rules here). Expect sweet fruits in the form of Papaya, mango, grapefruit pith, along with toffee and caramelised sugar. As a double IPA also expect huge bitterness lingering behind all those late hops.

Process wise we tried a few different things as well. Up until now we were getting far more bitterness from the late hop additions than we expected, and feared we would thus be loosing a lot of the volatile flavour and aroma oils as the hops sit in the kettle for up to an hour waiting to get cooled from 100 degrees C to 18. So we took a large portion of the flame out hops and threw them into the underback. The idea being the hot wort from the kettle would flow into the underback and be in contact with these hops for short time, then take the aroma and flavour with it straight through the heat exchange and into the FV. This time round the beer was brewed before we had calibrated the kettle, meaning it was diluted far more than it was meant to be. This gives us more beer, but dilutes the ABV, IBUs and general beating you get from the hops. Expect round 2 to be bigger, hoppier and all round more intense. We aim for 9.4% next time.

I personally love the branding for this one. Every time I say the name to myself I hear Robin the excitable sidekick exclaiming something to his friend and trainer. "Holy hoppin' hell batman, that's a hoppy beer!" I had images in my head of classic cartoon strips, and a masked Lup'in (is he a good guy or a bad guy?). That's all the information Josh & Chris, our amazing label guys, needed to some up with the label.

You will be able to find this in keg keg, 330ml bottles and a very limited number of casks.

We hope you like it, and want to share a few with us. But if not, that's just fine, we'll drink it all here at the brewery.

Week 27

So I have finally found the time to sit down and write a few words about the week just passed. And I think the word of the day is Saison.

The week started with a good old fashioned bottling session. With our collaboration Saison we brewed with Ingemar from Sad Robot. Unfortunately no sign of Ingemar on bottling day.  As mentioned in last weeks blog, there are 2 versions of this. The standard Saison 42, but then a version we call Saison 42e that has been primed with elderflower cordial. We bottled just 255 500ml bottles of this and 6 key kegs, half of which will be going to Sweden. So if you are lucky enough to spot any of this I would grab it while you have the chance. There's plenty of the original Saison 42 to go round though.

Saison 42 was the beginning of a bit of a Saison season for us. Normally we use a dry yeast as our house strain, but this time we splashed out on some freshly cultured saison yeast. This stuff wasn't cheap, so we are going to get our monies worth here. So the very next day, we brewed another saison, this time one of our core line up, Saison 14. There is a great story behind the naming of this beer, but I will leave that for the beers own blog. This beer took off like a rocket, coming down 14 points in just 24 hours, and is pretty much ready to bottle. So we just need to look at our schedule, crash cool it and get it into some bottles.

But our saisons wont be finishing with that. Hopefully in the coming week or so we will be inviting our friend from Elusive Brew to brew the next in our Single Hop Series, and our second collaboration on our own kit. Nelson Saison will be, as the name may suggest, a saison hoped with just Nelson Sauvin. And im sure any brewers out there will know how hard that hop is to get hold of, so we are extra excited about this one.

A lot of the week was spent sending bottles through our labelling machine. 5 o'Clock Shadow was all finished last week, with Fade To black all done and around 50% of Holy Hoppin' Hell all ready to go. So if any of our customers are interested in any of these new beers, please give us a shout.

The week drew to a close with a number of new beers making debut appearances at 2 beer festivals. Firstly we had 3 beers, 2 of which new, at the Reading Beer Festival. Here we had one of our favourites Black Perle, but also one of very few casks of Holy Hoppin' Hell, along with Fade To Black, our black IPA.
We also had 5 beers, and a brewer at the new LBA organised London's Brewing Festival at the London Fields event space. Here we had Black Perle on cask all weekend, Mariana Trench and 5 o'Clock Shadow in keg during the Saturday morning session. Unfortunately, Mariana Trench was not Mariana Trench for the majority of this session, and the trade session the day before. This was sorted out, but not until quite late into the session. So apologies to anyone who may have sampled this, and not got the hoppy pale they were expecting, but were greeted with a pilsner instead. Both of these keg beers sold out during the Saturday morning, so sorry if you did not get the chance to try them. Bryan was about for the morning session too, and got a chance to speak to a lot of interesting people. I was meant to be doing a meet the brewer session at 12:30, but as there were delays in opening this session, I was not inside in time.

Sunday saw Holy Hoppin' Hell and Fade To Black on in the keg bar. These again sold out, so agian apologies to anyone who missed out. Neither Gregg or myself could be there for the Sunday session, as Gregg was delivering beers up in Manchester, and I was filling casks and Kegs with Hit The Lights.

We also got some really cool looking branding items, so you wont be able to miss us at future festivals and events.

All views and grammatical errors are those of @WeirdBeardBrew.

Week 26

This week started with a rebrew, or should that be a new brew? Let's start again shall we.

This week kicked off with a brewday. We started off by brewing one of our core beers, that we have actually tried to brew before. This will be brew 0009 and will go by the name Hit The Lights. Now, if you cast your mind back to early march, and the release of batch 0002 you will remember a beer called Miss The Lights. That was the first attempt at brewing Hit The Lights, but not all went to plan. But this time round all things have gone to plan. The brewday went without a hitch, with the beer happily in FV3 earlier than any brewday yet.

Hit The Lights will be getting a good dose of dry hops sometime in the coming week, and maybe bottled towards the end.

FV4 currently has Saison 42 in, our collaboration with Sad Robot from Sweden. This has been sat at around 25 Deg C for just over a week. The yeast have done their thing, and it is down from 1049 to 1006, making it a nice 5.7% abv. There will be a couple of versions of this out, and bottling will start early this coming week. I think you will agree that we got the label sorted.

Bottled beer continues to fly out of the brewery, and we have now sold out of Miss The Lights & Black Perle, with stocks of Single Hop Chinook and Mariana Trench getting very low. Cask and keg beer is also making its way out, but at a slightly slower pace. But we expect this to pick up dramatically with festival season now upon us. In fact, we have 4 casks going to the Reading CAMRA beer festival, 1 cask & 2 keg kegs going to the Hope in Charshalton and 1 cask & 4 key kegs going to the London's Brewing, all in the coming week.

We have bottles of 5 o'Clock Shadow, Fade to Black and Holly Hoppin' Hell waiting for labels, which have now arrived. We have made a start of the 5 o'Clock Shadow bottles, as these are ready to go. Fade to Black and Holly Hoppin Hell will be done when we have time over the coming week or so, as these could do with a little more time to condition, so no rush to get these out.

All opinions and grammatical errors are those of WeirdBeardBryan, and not to hairy ones as a collective.

Five O'Clock Shadow

So this is the third of our core beers. One of my personal favourite styles, the American IPA.

This beer had been through a number of iterations of prototypes, AC3 and AC4 were early names and some of you who have known us for a long time may have sampled one or both of these. One of the best prototypes had both Citra and Nelson Sauvin but the availability of hops caused yet another version to be tried. In the end we did find some Citra and added it to a load of the dankest, most pungent American hops (Summit, Apollo and Columbus).

The Lup'in for this beer is one of our favourites. Cowboy Lup'in has become our poster boy and has made it onto our bottle caps in a slightly different hat. I have even taken to wearing such a hat in homage.

The brewing of this beer, as you will have become accustomed to hearing, did not go without minor hitches. We reduced the bittering hops, on the basis of the previous batches being overly bitter at the time so this beer lacks a bit of the edge we were looking for (although this will probably make the beer more popular with the non beer geeks). The colour is also a bit too dark for my liking. So expect this bitterness to be increased and the colour to be toned down for the next release.

Still, what we have here is a very drinkable hop forward beer with a load of mango and grapefruit. It will be available in 330ml bottles and key kegs and will be released this week. There may be a key keg of it on at the Hope in Carshalton for their festival this weekend.