Gumball - Go Suck On This!

Watch out WEIRDos! Today we're rolling out one helluva big juicy gumball. This is a **Sweet New Beer Alert**

Our latest offering, Gumball is a double IPA (DIPA) packed full of candied fruit flair.

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It's a traditional DIPA in its components but not in its composition. As you can tell from the ABV, this is a big beer but its drinkability belies its strength.

We’ve kept the malt bill simple, with a combination of pale malt, lager malt and oats. But we brought it all together with a long, low temperature mash, which maximises the fermentability of the wort, and dries out the beer. The secret of a good DIPA is to hit a low final gravity, to take the weight out of the final product.

You will taste some sweetness here but that’s from the hops, rather than the malt. We were trying to recreate memories of gumballs sucked on during childhood outings to the arcade at the British seaside. We took Centennial and Simcoe from the American camp, and Motueka and Galaxy from our Australasian cuzzies to culminate in an intense fruit cocktail.

The hop selection was critical here, but we also treated them a little differently this time around. Rather than adding the hops to the end of the boil, we lowered the temperature and let the hops stand in the wort for an hour. This clever technique is (unsurprisingly) known as a hop stand and its purpose is to retain more of the hop oils.

Then there’s the double dry hopping. Instead of putting all of the dry hops in towards the end of fermentation, half were added immediately after high krausen (when the yeast is at peak activity). The biotransformation of the hop compounds releases intense fruitiness that would otherwise remain locked in. Upon final gravity, these hops were dropped out and we hit the beer with a second dosage. To get the most of this addition, it was recirculated in the fermenter a number of times.

The bitterness hasn't been neglected either, thanks to our typical first wort addition, which is always on the generous side. This creates a definite bite to balance things out and imitates the tang you get from a gumball.

It all comes together to create a DIPA that goes down just a bit too easily.

You remember how to play. Put your coin in, pull the lever, and let them drop.  

Opulence - its making

Hey WEIRDos... (Weird Beard aficionados)

As this is the first time I have taken to the airwaves at WB Towers, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Ben, a brewer here at WB, and I want to tell you a story about a journey of opulence stretching from Madagascar to Hanwell.

This is me...

This is me...

Back in January we hit a milestone – our 400th brew. And the WEIRDos out there will know we celebrate our centurion brews in style. The brief was simple: take an existing WB beer, beef it up and give it a damn good twist. Decadence was the chosen victim this time around, and we were going to lace it with vanilla.

Decadence is a great base on which to build an imperial stout. It’s a proper, honest ale, rich in malty goodness and appropriately bitter. We wanted to stay true to the original – it just needed to be more; more of everything. And what’s ‘more’ than decadence? Opulence. Name and vision established, we got on with the recipe.

We knew we wanted huge body, and an increase in mash temperature alone wasn’t going to achieve that. We definitely weren’t going down the lactose route either – personally, I think that’s been overused by brewers lately.

If you’re looking for body, a good place to start is with oats. Decadence already has a substantial dose but we upped it as much as we dared in a single infusion mash, really pushing it to the limit. This added a rich creaminess that complements the star of the show, the vanilla.

We weren’t worried about the potential astringency of a heavy oat addition – this is an imperial stout after all. We were just concerned about getting a stuck mash. The brewers amongst you will know what I’m talking about. It’s like trying to run off liquid from a thick porridge.

The hopping schedule was suitably scaled up to balance out the additional sweetness from the increased Original Gravity. The bitterness would also interplay nicely with the deep, dark flavour of the vanilla.

My slicing and scraping of high grade Madagascan vanilla beans

My slicing and scraping of high grade Madagascan vanilla beans

In its purist form, vanilla is one of those intoxicating ingredients that conjures up images of far-off lands. It’s seriously like a drug. We bought the best raw ingredient our money could buy. The moment our boxes of class A Madagascan vanilla arrived, we knew they were going to lift Opulence to another level. The huge pods were so plump and supple, we couldn’t wait to slice one open. It was stuffed full of caviar, the main flavour component of the pod, which filled the room with its aroma. With one down, only another 499 left to hand slice and scrape. Time-consuming but well worth it for a very special 400th brew.

(Photo credit: Dom Hemy)

(Photo credit: Dom Hemy)

Much like a fine wine or a whisky, the mark of a really good imperial stout is the length and complexity of its finish. The drinker is taken on a journey, rising and falling along a wave of flavours. Here, it’s the vanilla that’s providing the transportation, through the nuances of this dark and daring stout. Go enjoy the ride.

Opulence is being lavishly launched at the Drafthouse Westbridge on Friday 28th April from 6pm with the option to Meet the Brewer (myself). More details here and on our Events Page

Brewing Bad with Wild Weather - our collabs' story

We often say it, but it remains true every time, we LOVE collaborations. With Valentine's Day been and gone, there is no exaggeration there. We genuinely are thrilled to write-up a new recipe, push a new concept, learn from others, play on others' brewkit and work together on a truly collaborative beer venture. But even they can grow predictable. At Weird Beard we are not those kinds of people! When Wild Weather Ales (WW) were looking to brew with us, we thought to do the whole collaboration thing a little different...

Bryan suggested we brew a different beer at each of our places quite close in dates and that we blended the two brews together, to release 3 new, collaborative beers. Our idea, although inspired by a black-and-tan, was to not be so obvious and to brew 2 beers other than an stout and IPA. There is no better way to hash out the concept of a recipe than over a few beers, so Bryan and Iain from WW met at the Lyric to do just that. I got to tag along.

Saying that, I wasn't just a "fly on the wall" and in writing this blog, I want to share a fair bit of the beers' design processes. I want the message to get across that this collaboration in particular was not a simple, neat exchange of a recipe sheet via email, which can be the case. First up there were a lot of fun options to brew and to blend which were discussed as we got some rounds in. I remember a Black IPA being suggested to be possibly blended with a Wheat beer as one idea. I also remember both sides were adamant we'd use Sorachi Ace. Now that won't come as a surprise to you.* And on the subject of Sorachi Ace, we got talking about the flavour and aroma profile of the hop and how it can be super coconutty, especially in darker beers. An example you may know is Fade To Black, our black IPA hopped with Sorachi. You may recall, and kudos if you do, that we even amplified the coconut flavour by putting the beer in BrewDog Camden's Hopinator with dessicated coconut at a tap-takeover and we even brewed a coconut version of the beer once.

On the subject of coconuts, and since Bryan and I had recently returned from a month-long trip to the States where our final days in Colorado had my hop-wrecked palate craving nothing but Oskar Blues Death By Coconut, we were inspired. The dark beer element would be a coconut stout! We wanted some chocolate and some coconut, nothing as sweet as Death By Coconut if you've ever had it; certainly more subtle so the blend of the 2 beers wouldn't be overpowering.

Which brings us to the second collab. The Wheat idea, with all the banana going on, didn't appeal to us. We had some thoughts of a Chocolate Orange Coconut mix and when we heard "oranges" we got to Saison. I won't say the minds of brewers are as simple as that, trust me I do not attempt to completely track Bryan's thought processes, but flavour matching and complimenting is key. Particularly in this instance. Adding orange peel to a saison wasn't too thrilling for us and after hearing of WW's antics with strawberries, peaches and all sorts of other flavourful adjuncts, we looked to their beers for more inspiration. Their Kaffir Lime Pale (Plain Sailing Weather) ignited that and the concept of a Kaffir Lime Saison, then blended with Coconut Stout seemed wild but not crazy. With my mini-Kanken stuffed with Wild Weather cans, our brainstorming session was over and the next stages of recipe development needed paving.  

Now this part is more lazy chemistry than Breaking Bad, but Bryan and myself had a night of preparing a dried coconut tincture, a suitable stout of our choice, Kaffir Lime Pale can, our Saison 14 (because it has loads of lovely Sorachi in it) and multiple glassware. We infused the stout to get the desired degree of coconut flavour and so, created a quick coconut stout for our experimentation. We then mixed a mashup of the Kaffir Lime Pale with Saison 14, but also kept some Saison 14 aside. We got carefully blending, tasting and comparing. As rudimentary as the tests were, it all tasted good and provided some security that we weren't all embarking on a collaboration that would put out downright rank tasting beer.

We brewed Coconhagen Interpretation, the Coconut Stout, at our place with WW over (it can be found in bottle, keg and cask). It's got a fair bit of chocolate malt and is full of oats for a creamy mouthfeel and luxurious taste to soften the darker and robust flavours of the style. Weighing in at 6.5%, it's a pretty typical ABV for us and we like a stout to have er, well, some "strength". We've hopped this treat of a brew, with our beloved Sorachi Ace for the fresh coconut aroma and flavour we mentioned earlier, and thrown some classic EKG so it's bitter enough so you're not fooled that you're drinking a liquid chocolate bar. It is wittily named after the Copenhagen Interpretation, an expression of the meaning of Quantum Mechanics that explains why the same quantum particle may behave in many different ways.  If you're wondering why it's getting so tech-y all of a sudden, you'll need to keep that brain of yours working a bit more to derive the solution.

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At WW, we made Kwantum State, the Kaffir Lime Saison (it can be found in keg and cans). With a suitable pale and light malt-bill for easy-drinking qualities, Belle Saison yeast and Kaffir Lime, the beer has a twist on the citrus edge. Spiciness from the French farmhouse yeast compliments the zesty lime which works intricately with white grape notes from Nelson Sauvin hops. Plus, there is more Sorachi love going on with that thrown in too for lemon sherbert and some coconut. Another carefully formulated beer, so-named after Quantum State...I'm sure you're following the trend.

Bringing the two together and blending a 50:50 mix, the blended product is called Such a Bohr. The name a nod to our unconventional collaboration methods and to Niels Bohr, the Danish Physicist who made monumental progress in understanding Quantum Theory. (At this point, if the penny hasn't dropped you ought to understand why you flunked A-levels Science). Such a Bohr can found in keg and cans. 

All these beers are launching at BrewDog Shepherd's Bush from 6pm tonight. Come along to meet and greet their makers, and taste the two separate beers and the clever blend physic-ally for yourselves. We're very excited for the beers and the event.

* What will, is we've actually used up all our Sorachi Ace and  we're still going out buying or trading for more Sorachi. Thanks Cloudwater, thanks WW! There's no stopping us #SorachiLove.

Poll to Choose The Maiden's Favourite Hops

Scream for me beer drinkers! SCREAM FOR ME BEER……. Ok sorry, I do get carried away, and I have the obvious selection of music playing in the background as I type.

Back in July 2016 we released the first of our Hops Maiden England series. The label text outlined the idea, and that’s what Cut & Paste was made for right?

“Yes, we find sanctuary in those big tropical fruit, citrus, piney U.S. and New World hops. But you dont have to be clairvoyant to see the problems.  Unfortunately, with the explosion of new craft breweries around the world, these hops are getting harder to reliably source from year to year.

We have taken on the challenge to create a really great Pale Ale, with just English hops. There are many classic English Pale Ales, but we wanted to get a little closer to the American Pale Ale, to bridge the styles a little. So with a set grain bill as the base of the beer, we will be experimenting with as many interesting new English hops as we can get our hands on, releasing several different versions until the Hop Maiden has found the perfect combination, and we can christen a new core beer.

This is the Hop Maiden. She does not listen to heavy Metal, but that girl will run to the hills to find us the best in English hops. “ (Worked out what I’m listening to yet?)

Since then we have brewed 5 different variations, and the beer gone down well with drinkers. It has been a lot of fun and challenging at the same time. Also, it has been very tempting to continue forward and have the hops change with each and every batch, like Little Things That Kill and Holy Hoppin’ Hell. But, we have beers that change and that was never the point of this project. We really enjoyed all the versions we brewed; some more than others. It is also debatable whether we achieved our goal, but a great beer that everyone at the brewery enjoys immensely has been born.

We all have our favourite "Hops Maiden England" and we are searching the Internet's rating sites, but we also want your help in deciding. So, it is time to dust off your beer note books, delve into the dark corners of your memory, find that napkin, anything and anywhere you noted down your thoughts on each or any of the beers. Use this info to get online and rate the version(s) you got to try, or simply let us know your favorite by voting in the pole below.

We will use this info to decide which version will become the latest member of our core range, under the name "Maiden England".

Listed, most recently brewed first:

  • 12/16 (batch 388) Olicana, UK Cascade, Target
  • 09/16 (batch 369) Target, Phoenix, Olicana
  • 08/16 (batch 354) Target, Archer, UK Cascade
  • 07/16 (batch 337) Olicana, UK Chinook, UK Cascade
  • 06/16 (batch 328) Olicana, Minstrel, Bramling X
Which hop combination should be used for Maiden England?
 
pollcode.com free polls

In the spirit of the B(e)ard

As it's Burn's Night this evening, I felt inclined to contemplate some interesting and/or inspiring Scottish folks, and distract all (and particularly myself) from a certain uninspiring American. I also wanted to give our resident Scotsman, leadbrewer Ryan, something else to feel proud about on this patriotic day.

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I'll be honest, listing the cool Scots that come to mind, Robert Burns, isn't top of my list. There's Sean Connery, Sir Arthur Conen Doyle, Robert Carlyle, Ewan McGregor - dare I admit it's because Bryan's got me into G.O.T - there's Richard Madden, as famous actors from things we watch. Music-wise, I'll be the only one from the team pogo-ing with excitement to Idlewild, but there's appreciation for other Scottish bands Mogwai, Primal Scream, Biffy Clyro and Nazareth. But none of these guys, like good ol' Mr Burns, have a day dedicated to them where people drink and be merry, in which case, I do think Burns trumps them in that respect.

So, what's everyone having to accompany their haggis, neeps and tatties? If you're not partaking in any sort of shenanigans to celebrate the life and poetry of Robbie Burns, then here's an excuse, aside from #Tryanuary, to raise a glass of some delicious beer or, even, whisky. Go on!

Our chosen bevvie for tonight would the Wee Heavy we made, "Don't Worry Bee Heavy". This was the second beer we brewed in collaboration with Brussels Beer Project (BBP). A quick jump back to when we first met BBP: Dimitri (Sales, Events and Marketing) and Yves (headbrewer) made the long and arduous journey to our brewery one Open Day. This blog recounts that very first visit and the gesture to do so did not go unappreciated. When we had an opportunity to brew with them, it was a sure “Yes”. When, Yves was back in London town and wished to brew again, that too was a “Yes”. They're super guys.

Yves puffing on one of the cigars which were destined but not used in our 2nd brew

Yves puffing on one of the cigars which were destined but not used in our 2nd brew

BBP’s brews with London brewers have been focussed on the theme of “London”. Our first collab, “Churchill’s Delusion” was a Tobacco Mild, playing up to Milds being a very English beer style and cigars being so very Churchill, a prime British figure. Our second collab, was still to be quintessentially British. With most of the team up in Manchester for IndyMan, Ryan, who we've mentioned is the Scot amongst us, was left to hold the fort and decided upon a Wee Heavy. This style, also known as a "Scotch Ale" characteristically is a copper-brown beer, of moderate strength with sweet, full-bodied malty, caramel flavours and a touch of roasted bitterness. If you've ever had Alesmith's Wee Heavy, then you'd know that definition is a major understatement to how deliciously complex this style could be. 

Our take had to have complexity but also loads of individuality, something BBP and ourselves love to dose our brews with. To achieve this, we used 13 malts as opposed to the normal 3-4 grains. To name a few: roasted barley for the more bitter and toasted notes, chocolate malt for dark choc bitter-meets-sweetness, Special B for candied fruit and caramel flavours, biscuit malt for Digestives sweetness, light & dark crystal as well as amber for more caramel and the quirky addition of peated malt for a smoky edge. Originally, we wanted to continue the theme of our previous collab and make a Tobacco Wee Heavy but there is no way in this country, that we could crumble cigars into a brew. Peated malts suited us fine and we got the layered flavour profile we wanted. We then balanced the roasted and subtle smoked flavours with a lot of honey. We kept the hops earthy and European with EKG and Target. Finally, we pitched Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast to give rise to all those raisin, Dundee cake-like, stone-fruit flavours and desired esters that work in harmony with the honey to give the beer its warmth and richness.

Yves powered hard through his post IndyMan hangover and on our labour-intensive kit; BBP made a wise move in the beginning to invest in a pretty much fully automated brewhouse. Despite the tough day, Yves' whole experience, input and opinion of this beer is one that he’s exceptionally proud of. "Don't Worry Bee Heavy" embodies a lot of our and BBP’s ethos and style of brewing. With a nod to all this, we’ve ensured the branding for "Don't Worry Bee Heavy" is just as strong. As an homage to Yves and to our brewer Kit, both with dreadlocks and both who brewed this beer with Ryan, our Lup’in has dreadlocks. The nod to the Scottish element behind the beer and the Scotsman who wrote the recipe, is prominent in the gingery wig and tartan. The name, a playful pun, which I love, on the honey and Wee Heavy aspect of it all.

Wee heavily hope you enjoy this beer as much as we do and even more so if you're enjoying it tonight.

Slainte!

Pig Smasher - The tail about the beer

26th October 2016.

It was an extra special day for our Weird Beard calendars. For those who have been following us for a while, you may know it marked our 4 years of “Weird Beard Brew Co” coming into fruition. For those who follow us more closely and are close to us, it also marked headbrewer and co-founder, Bryan’s birthday. And the cherry on the top, we brewed with the guys at Against The Grain (ATG), at their brewpub over in Louisville, Kentucky!

Let’s set the scene a little more around this collaboration brewday...We had a couple of the team over in Louisville for the annual Shelton Brothers’ Festival. This awesome fest moves around the States, is held each year and all the National and International breweries, which the Shelton Brothers’ distribute, are invited.  So we knew we’d been in town where Against The Grain have been making their innovative beers and it so happened, a couple of Indy Man Beer Con’s ago, we’d struck up a friendship with the founding members at ATG. Well, if jumping around to “Jump Around” in the deep-end of a drained pool at one of the UK’s best Beer Festivals is by any means a definition of friendship. I digress...The equation of us being in Louisville and catching up with ATG meant a beer needed to be made together. With Bryan and my flights booked, the brewday was booked in and we were all set to make beer!

The brewpub is one of 2 of ATG breweries; it is their first location and situated in Slugger Field at the corner of Jackson and Main Streets, Downtown Louisville. The actual brewery part is located above the smokehouse bar and 2 storeys up a ladder. This made for a pretty awesome view of the restaurant filling up as the brewday progressed. See picture below. The collaborative brew team consisted of ATG’s brewery operations manager and one of the founders, Adam, their headbrewer, Amelia, and lead brewer, Brian plus our headbrewer, Bryan. I was more behind the scenes/behind the screens social-media-ing the action. We were greeted bright and early by all including another founder, Jerry, with the quintessentially American breakfast of coffee and donuts. With a maple syrup iced one with candied bacon in hand, this is how Bryan’s birthday brewday commenced. Looking back, the fact Bryan had a pig-based donut and the beer being called “Pig Smasher” is quite fitting indeed!

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Now for the important bit, the beer itself; we had decided to go for an American Red. We don’t get to see those often and always enjoy them when we do. To get that truly red hue, the grainbill featured, amongst other malts: Special X, CaraRye, Red malt and a touch of roasted barley. For the hops, it being an American Red we went for....yes, you’ve guessed it, all-American hops: Bravo, Simcoe and Chinook in the Kettle. For the dry-hopping we added more Bravo and threw some Summit into the mix.  For an alternative take on the style and to play up on the caramel semi-sweetness that lies beneath the hoppiness of American Reds, we added ample honey into the boil. The resulting beer ticked all the boxes for a classic American Red, chock full of lovely, citrus & piney hops but with the honey adding an interesting dimension of sweetness to the flavour profile. At 6.8%, it goes down easy; not too sweet, not too resinous and as the label states: no animals were harmed in the making of this beer! There may come a day bacon goes into a beer of ours (certainly not my idea) but as things stand we’re putting out vegetarian and quite often also vegan friendly brews.

As for the name of the beer, that is something of a story. We at Weird Beard are quite selective about how we name our beers and because of that we do have some fantastic names for our beers. ATG are particularly playful and witty in naming their beers so we really had to come up with something that fitted the bill. And this small dilemma manifested itself for a little while as we had no obvious inspiration for a name after the brewday. I remind you that we were over in the USA primarily for the Shelton Brothers’ Festival. This kicked off 2 days after our brewday with ATG with the first day of the beer-filled antics being on the Friday. The venue for it was at the Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery in Butchertown district of Louisville. It was a delightful day, lots of sunshine, lots of people and lots of beer. There was a not-so-nice aspect to the day and that was the Eau De Butchertown. Being a vegan myself, you’d think I may be escalating the situation but ask anyone who was there, that smell was potent! It came in waves and it got quite bad that someone had to enquire “What actually is THAT smell?” To which the response was: “Oh they’re smashing pigs today”. 

Reminiscing back to the brewday, and our time in Louisville, the idea of naming our ATG collab "Pig Smasher" as suggested by Brian, with “an ode to the ol' Butchertown stink” (quoting Amelia from ATG) seemed like a very Weird Beard and Against the Grain thing to do.

Safe Stout - the fun & games of brewing it

Good brewing involves a healthy dose of craftsmanship amongst other things. When you’re witness to good craftsmanship that often brings inspiration to the table. So, when a good idea knocks us on the head there very well may be an element of building on top of something that we already know works. And this, we’re happy to admit, is how Safe Stout came about.

We brewed our Christmas beer, a Cranberry Stout called Black Christmas, last year and found the juiciness of the fruit made for a satisfying and flavourful beer that outshone all those too potent with sickly Crimbo spices. We found the red-fruit notes worked really well to lighten the darker and roasted malt flavours and was something worth us remembering for future brews. (We do log a lot of ideas that come to mind and would make for a great beer, should we have space in our brew schedule and revisiting the list of sometime whacky and sometimes simple recipes is always a lot of fun).

In the same year, we had also brewed Safe Word, a fruit IPA with slightly tart chokeberries. With this recipe, we discovered that the fruit aromas and taste of Mosaic hops really sung when used in conjunction with the chokeberry. With both these tasty brews under our belt, it wasn’t too long before we found ourselves driven to do a dark version of Safe Word.

Using a very similar grain bill to Black Christmas, except for accommodating for the same ABV ballpark as Safe Word, we pretty much had a solid recipe at our fingertips. We experimented a little with the quantities of fruit in the recipe re-write, to get the level of juiciness we wanted in a darker beer. We also dropped out the dry hops we had for Safe Word when making Safe Word to ensure the richer, stouter flavours still had prominence.

Both beers rock playful, gimpy Lup’ins which to us, represent the fun-loving, no holds-barred ethos we have regarding brewing. They also represent the out-of-the-ordinary, little-bit-daring nature of our brewing with an odd fruit called chokeberry as well as the recipes we like to have some fun with. If you want to know more about chokeberry, a.k.a Aronia, read here.


As with our chokeberry IPA, Safe Word, when drinking this beer you’re guaranteed the same punchy chokeberry delivering tart, red-fruit notes.  Tie in the aforementioned, juicy Mosaic hops to play on that, and also subdue some of the fruit's bitterness, this beer goes down far too easy for 7%. All the while that you’re relishing these flavours, you’ve also got melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and a silky mouth-feel desired of a delicious stout.

With great pleasure do we share this beer with you. Cheers!   

 

Meet the Weird Bearders

Weird Beard Brew Co. is known to be founded by Gregg Irwin and Bryan Spooner. Our founders are both bearded brewers who, other than their mutual love and passion for beer, share a similar interest in music, horror films and Metal that you will see and continue to see featured in our branding. These guys were running the show as a duo for the best part of our beginning. As we grew, Gregg has transitioned away from physically brewing, still developing recipes but runs the business-side of things. He is our Spreadsheet Ninja. Bryan on the other hand, well described in his twitter bio of “brewery gimp” is strapped to the brewhouse most of the time. He’s not complaining though as he is in his element there. You’ll hear Bryan say how lucky he is to have a business partner, like Gregg, who had the skills and want to put down the mash-paddle but take up the reigns of running the business.

But Weird Beard couldn’t have grown like it has without some extra bodies. We’ve seen some great individuals, mainly our friends, come and go onto progressing their career, making a mark on our beers and contributing to the dynamics of our team. We’ve also had some folk, the majority of whom started off as part-timers, get happily stuck among us. Suddenly it’s 2 years and still counting. So here’s a little bit about each individual who makes up our slightly eccentric team. Other than the same enthusiasm, respect and love for brewing and beer, there isn’t a defining factor of what makes you Weird Beard. But, we’re pretty sure we’re a fairly weird lot and we like to think our mish-mash individualism lends to the fact our beers are never too ordinary, we know no bounds and are always pushing for innovation.


Here’s us:

Gregg Irwin
Director, Co-founder, Spreadsheet Ninja
Beard Status: Big badger beard
Fun fact: Previously ran his own Photography business, who besides Spreadsheet Ninja-ing with us is an international lacrosse referee

Bryan Spooner
Director, Co-founder, Brewery Puppet-Master
Beard Status: Down-to-his-belly long, often plaited
Fun fact: Formerly a BBC Broadcast Engineer for all national stations with an obsession for classic VW Campervans and shouty music, so not a hippy

Patrick Knowles
Warehouse Manager, Master of Warehoue Tetris
Beard Status: Depending on his mood, bearded or baby-faced
Fun fact: Spent a day driving Wolf from Gladiators around in a Vauxhall Zafira

Natasha Wolf
Events and Communications Manager, Brewery Mouthpiece
Beard Status: Invisible beard, but if you saw it, surely ginger
Fun fact: A pick’n’mix in terms of heritage, Greek-South African by nationality with German, Polish, Russian, Israeli, Dutch and Irish thrown in

Rachel Esker
Sales Executive, Beer Pusher
Beard Status: Invisible beard, she’s ballsy so beardless is not an option
Fun fact: Classicist by trade, her cars are often named with a nod to Ancient times and she currently drives Archimedes

Ryan Ringsell
Lead Brewer, No.2
Beard Status: Patchy at best
Fun fact: Exchanged Architect’s blue-prints for brewsheets and is our one-eyed team member who we affecionately albeit jokingly call Ryeclops

Kit Kazarinov
Brewer, Mr. Acid
Beard Status: Still trying
Fun fact: Kit’s extra-brewery achievements are as cool as his dreadlocks: Master of Philosophical studies, long-time DJ, improvisational Jazz pianist

Ben Hughes
Brewer, The Machine
Beard Status: Luscious beard
Fun fact: Machine at any physical activity inside and out of the brewery including packaging, cycling and race-car driving

London Beer City Open Day Line-Up

We've promised an amazing line-up for Sunday's Open Day and we feel we've done just that.

Since it’s London Beer City (LBC) and all, on our “Friends’ Tap” we’ll have the official London Beer City beer on. This is brewed by our friends at Fourpure, Five Points and Beavertown alongside Fullers. The beer is refreshingly light and summery, easy drinking and we’re stoked to be one of the few taprooms to have it on.

Now you’ve probably heard about “Hops Maiden England”, the all-English hopped pale ales we’re churning out in the hope to find a wickedly tasty and exciting prototype that will feature as part of our core range. The blog here bares all. Anyways, we’re getting a lot of good ratings for both the prototypes we’ve first released but not many votes as to which one is better. We will be releasing more but want to get the ball rolling on what hops work and are preferred. So we’ll have Hops Maiden Englands on: Olicana, Minstrel and Bramling Cross in bottle vs. Olicana, UK Chinook and UK Cascade on draught. The former has the aroma of British hedgerow, Primrose Hill summertime and floral notes; the latter is zestier with some earthiness and sandalwood. Make sure you cast your votes!

Warning contains Nuts! Sally Squirrel is our pretty whacky (or nutty, if you’ll excuse the pun) collab with Tim Anderson for Nanban. It’s essentially a dark lager base, brewed with miso for umami & saltiness, chokeberry for tartness & sweetness, walnuts for an added dimension of earthiness and Mosaic hops for bitterness and a fruitier aroma. Then we fermented it with Sake yeast to dry it out and well, because Tim and ourselves are Japanophiles. It sounds full on but like any great chef and with the help of one, we worked real hard to balance those aromas and flavours.

Lord Nelson was originally brewed at our brewery when Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing had just started out. This is version 2, called Lord Nelson (2016), where we got to christian Andy's brewery with his first collab and re-make this fantastic beer. The beer itself is a farmhouse style ale fermented with Saison yeast and heavily hopped and dry hopped with much coveted New Zealand Nelson Sauvin. Full of lip-smacking gooseberry and vinous notes on the palate with a dry finish.

Now an occasional brew but originally a milestone beer to mark our reaching Brew 100, we love a bit of Double Perle. Essentially, an amped up version of our Black Perle, it is more of everything: creamier, slightly sweeter and more chocolate-y. It’s a richer beer but we suitably add more Has Bean coffee to compliment the roasted flavours of the darker malts used.

The big beer of our Open Day is massively limited and supremely special. We will have a Brewery exclusive pin of Defacer, the triple IPA that we developed to mark our 200th brew. Casks of this bad boy do not exist so this is a big deal. That’s an 11.1% beast of an IPA, with heaps of Sorachi Ace alongside Summit and Apollo. It’s got lemoncurd, sherbert, coconut and citrus notes, packing a juicy punch with its strength and bitterness. Yet we find this is one of the easiest drinking TIPA out there.

But that’s not all! We’ll have other specials to drink-in or take-away:

·       7th Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmower: our Anspach & Hopbday collab Dark Cream Ale

·       Safeword: Chokeberry IPA that’s officially an occasional beer now, with an awesome new label

·       Attack of the Ryeclops: the 1st of our Rye series, a Rye Pale Ale

·       Heaven & Hell: Heaven Hill bourbon barrel aged Holy Hoppin’ Hell ie: barrel-aged DIPA that is as great as the song it’s named after

·       Sadako, barrel aged in Jack Daniels Whisky: 660ml waxed bombers of beautiful beer

Remember drinking-in will be happening at Unit 5 our brewery, whilst take-out is from Unit 9, the warehouse. T-shirt and glassware sales will be facilitated at both. Also at Unit 9, be sure to partake in the LBC raffle. We’ve got a range of prizes from free-drinks or bottles or merch.

See you at the event Sunday!

Hops Maiden England - All English hopped Oatmeal Pale

We decided there was a hole in our core range, there was room for another pale beer.

Weird Beard have been feeling the strain with hops, as outlined in our Spreadsheet Ninjas blog. We are frequently struggling to get the hops we want from around the world, mainly US and New World. This frustrates us. We are also becoming more aware of interesting new British hops coming out on the market. They all have big bold claims about the tropical fruit flavours, but I am sceptical. I have tried some great UK hops, but they are always unmistakably UK hops; they all have a tell-tale earthiness to my pallet. Something down where the bitterness lingers, that just screams UK hops.

And we have experimented with British hops on a number of occasions. To me, the most successful of these was Weird Wired, a beer we brewed in collaboration with NZ brewery 8Wired. The idea of that beer was to pair UK and NZ hops in an ultra simple, ultra pale beer. We went with Bramling Cross for the UK hops, and it tasted great, but the beer had those NZ hops to prop it up.

Our session IPA, Little Things That Kill, in which the hops are different in each batch, has also had the UK hop treatment recently. We made a couple of really good batches, but again, we mixed in some US hops. Some people didn't rate these batches, because it didn't give the usual big US or NZ hop profiles we usually go for. But you have to take UK hops for what they are, and alter expectations accordingly.

A good example of this, and a bit of a marketing failure for the hop sellers in my mind, are UK Chinook and UK Cascade. These really shouldn't be called “UK blah” in my eyes. People are obviously going to judge the hop on its US counterpart, and these hops have no chance of standing up against those. It makes it difficult for brewers like us, who like to sell beer on the hops used, as people will see Chinook, or Cascade, and in their mind they are already anticipating something, leading to disappointment. The beer may be great, but it was not what the drinker was expecting.

We don't have a lot of experience of most of these hops. We have used them, as explained above, in combination with other, more tried and tested varieties, but the idea here is 100% UK hops. So we come up with quite a classic malt bill with oats and a touch of biscuit to compliment, yet give the hops a chance to shine, as a backbone to this beer. A number of incarnations will be brewed, with different UK hops each time. Then, looking at the sales, feedback and our own personal tastes, we will decide on the combination that will make it onto our core range.

First up we have Olicana, Minstrel and Bramling Cross. And second we went with Olicana, UK Cascade, UK Chinook.

We are quite well known for the inspiration for our beers, especially the naming and branding. We draw a lot on our love of horror movies, but mostly heavy music. This time was no exception, and the perfect name came to us almost instantly. Usually we go with song titles, but this time it was the title of a 1988 world tour by one of the biggest metal bands in the UK, and a personal long time favourite of mine. We contacted the band, through someone who knew someone, who knew someone...you know how it is. We explained our idea, and asked how far we could go with the branding. If you look at our recent beer, 7th Church Of The Apocalyptic Lawnmower, we have totally based the product's name and label around the band. But on the other hand, we have Little Things That Kill, that some people still don't realise is a song title. Here, however, the band in question's representatives gave us full permission to use the name, or the 2 words we wanted from the English language put together, as long as the label was “not overtly metal”. Now a lot of our branding is pretty metal anyway, so this put us in a bit of a pondery. We currently have a basic label and branding for this beer while we test out the different hops, but will come up with something different when the final beer is decided on.

We hope you enjoy the beer as much as we always enjoy developing and brewing all of our beers. And we invite you to be as critical or as complimentary as you want. All feedback will be great, so let us know by email, comments on the blog, postcard, or the usual social media what you think. We will also be checking up on things like untappd and RateBeer, so be sure to check in the correct versions.

Hot and Cold Liquor Tanks up for grabs

 

SORRY - GONE ALREADY!

We are giving away our old Hot and Cold Liquor tanks!

Totally free, you just have to come and collect them.

When we started, back in 2013, we got these liquor custom-made. They were designed hoping to work in a 10 Barrel set up, but didn't really have the capacity. We used them for over 2 years, changing the way we operated, so it is possible. I would recommend their use with a 7 barrel or smaller.

Not sure of the weight, but without the lids, 2 strong people could probably lift one.

They are both essentially the same size, with different fittings for purpose.

Fibre glass shell with around 10cm of insulation.

The base that sits on the floor is 120cm by 125cm. There are various connections coming out, so space around the tanks will be required.

They have a large main lid, so you can get inside safely; this is then bolted into place. There is another square manhole on each, which a person could happily get through.

With the main lids on, which over hang, the footprint is more like 130cm by 230cm.

Heightwise, with the lid on, and the hatch, they stand about 125cm tall. But they are pretty strong, and the top can be used for storage.

Both are 2000L in total volume, holding around 1400L of usable liquor. This is due to how they were designed with the various fittings etc.

They both have sight glasses, thermowells and float switches.

The HLT has an 18KW element, which is already installed.

See the diagrams and pictures below for details on fittings etc.

Cold Liquor Tank

 

Hot Liquor Tank

Please feel free to contact us at info@weirdbeardbrewco.com for more information.

Or come on down to us to check them out, although please let us know in advance if you plan to visit, as they are hidden away at the moment.

June Open Day Beer List

Let's get you psyched about Sunday’s Open Day by announcing the taplist, shall we?

As with last time, for this event, we’ll be pouring 6 taps of great beer: 5 of our own and 1 which is “The Friend’s Tap”. Just a reminder of what this relatively new feature is about: at each Open Day we're now offering a guest beer from a brewery that we have collaborated with or are in the process of collaborating with. We showcase their beers because we rate them and think you should to, hence providing you the opportunity to try the beer.

This time around we’ve got something from the guys from Anspach and Hobday who we've quite recently collaborated with to make a Dark Cream Ale (sorry, you'll have to wait to hear more about that in later blogs).

Cream Ale 5.2%

A cross between a pale ale and a lager, Anspach and Hobday's take on this style is uniquely aromatic and flavourful. Bursting with Sorachi Ace deliciousness, perfectly creamy, this beer remains light and quaffable.

Black Perle 3.8%

Roasted flavours and chocolate star in this beer which has the added oompf of Hasbean coffee. Lashings of lactose smoothes the bitterness of dark malts and plays well with the milky quality of Perle hops. It's a treat of a sessionable dark beer!

Little Things That Kill 3.9%

This brew is part of a series where the grain bill is the same but the hops differ in each batch. Here we've got UK Archer and Olicana teamed up with US Amarillo for fresh fruit hopiness.  Always low ABV, this session IPA is still full-bodied because of additions of lactose and oats.

Attack of the Ryeclops 5.5%

A new beer from us: a Rye Pale Ale in fact, that we're launching on Sunday. It's got the perfect combo of floral and spicy hoppiness meets rye chewiness and further spice. Peppery Columbus, fruity Equinox and herbal Chinook all feature in this beer but we've struck an awesome balance to ensure this beer is easy drinking.

Boring Brown Beer 6.5%

Originally number 1 in our "Single Hop Series", this is a our rendition of an Imperial Best Bitter, hopped solely with Chinook. It's lightly nutty, satisfyingly biscuit-sweet but balanced with resinous hop aroma and flavour. This beer is the first we ever brewed commercially on our premises so it's a bit special. It's also a beer we're thinking of laying to rest so be sure to have it this weekend or you may regret it!

Tsujigiri 7.3%

This Japanese inspired I.P.A is brewed with fresh yuzu juice and fermented with sake yeast, certainly a great summertime beer. Sorachi Ace hops add lemon-sherbet notes that compliment the citrus yuzu as well as imparting herbal qualities to the beer. Chinook hops add spice and rounds the drier flavours given off by the yeast.

Other special beers, which are not mentioned above, that will be available for drink-in and/or take away include:

  • Limited bombers of Saison 28 (an Imperial Farmhouse IPA)
  • Double Perle - Jim Beam Barrel Aged (Bourbon barrel-aged Coffee Milk Stout)
  • Something Something Barrel Aged (Bourbon barrel-aged Double India Stout) 
  • Weird Wired (Extra Pale Ale brewed in collaboration with 8-Wired

No doubt about it, we'll have a range of our core and other occasionals too. Plus, expect some seriously tasty snacks from Pig and Hay and Karkli. Food from Redneck Smokehouse will be on sale outside and we've stocked up on refreshing Square Root Sodas including their "prepared-to-get-hooked" seasonal Strawberry soft-drink.

Merchandise will be on sale from Unit 5 including:

  1. New addition of branded Pint glasses (£3) 
  2. Branded stemmed or Craft Master glassware (£3).
  3. Assorted T-shirts including new Baseball designs (£15)
  4. Hoodies (£25)

We're looking forward to Sunday and hope to see you then!

Saison 28 - Our 300th Brew

In some instances, our brewers at Weird Beard are creatures of habit. Yes, we certainly like change in certain things: we have several hop-changing beers (Little Things That Kill, Holy Hoppin' Hell, Spreadsheet Ninja...etc) and we like to veer away from convention in terms of brewing, beer-style, ingredients, whatever we fancy - but all the while we do have our habits. One being, when it comes to a brewery milestone such as a centenary brew, we like to go BIG. It's just how we do those things. 

So, let's take a walk down memory lane...For our 100th brew, which took us 17 months to reach, we made an amplified version of our award-winning Black Perle, a coffee milk stout. This was Double Perle, a double stout version with a similar recipe but additional lashings of lactose and more coffee. 

We approached our 200th brew a little quicker, 11 months after, and we made Defacer. This was a triple IPA version, still a redevelopment of a previous brew: Sorachi Face Plant (double IPA) beer. Sorachi Face Plant, itself, was an amped up version of Little Things That Kills (Summit, Apollo and Sorachi Ace edition), also known to some as "Sorachi Face Punch". Digressions aside, fast forward 9 months later, we hit brew 300 and we're sticking to the same trend in how we mark the special occasion. Since we're still going strong, the beer that we put out, it's gotta match that.

This time around, true to our Weird Beard selves, we remained unconventional in our ideas for the brew. We re-developed the recipe of Saison 14, a 5.6% French/Belgian Farmhouse Ale to make an imperial version, which the name quite obviously yet cleverly implies. Voilá Saison 28

Like I said, we mark milestones with a bigger beer. We increased the grainbill and tweaked the proportions of malts used so we could hit an ABV above 10%. To counteract the sweetnes of the higher malt-base, we ensured we enhanced the hops adequately. Keeping to the same hop-schedule of Saison 14, we simply made sure we added more of the same: Pacific Gem and Sorachi Ace. "Of course, there is Sorachi in this special beer", we hear you say. Indeed, we love the stuff!

With Saison 28, the malts and hops play well together to create flavours of candied fruit. Pacific Gem boasts NZ tropical fruit notes but in this beer, it's all about candied papaya and juicy blackberries intermingling. With Sorachi Ace, you've got flavours of lemon-curd developing into coconut. And somewhere in-between, you get candied orange coming through. 

We think these well-matched, fruit-bowl flavours lend themselves to the refreshing quality of a Saison, a beer that we like to sip all through Summer. And, although this beer is big on all accounts, it wouldn't be a Saison by any means, without the Belgian yeast quality. Belle Saison yeast imparts a bold, full-on Farmhouse flavour that rises up to the challenge of the magnitude of hops we've chucked into this brew.  The hops here aren't timid; you get them on the nose, in tasting the beer and the lingering bitterness. It's that bitterness that made us decide to call this beer an Imperial Farmhouse IPA. Even as hoppy, bitter and just the right amount of boozy this beer may be, it's undeniably a saison with spice and peppery flavours coming from the yeast in the finish. 

So there you have the lowdown behind Saison 28. Happy 300th brew to us and happy drinking to you; there's most definitely a "Cheers" in that. 

Not only is this beer a celebratory brew but it's the kind that's for sharing so we've packaged it into 660ml bombers. Saison 28 will be launching on keg at our event at The Hopsmiths on 26th May from 4pm and will be available from then on after.

April Open Day Beer List

It’s with great excitement that we announce this coming Sunday’s Open Day beers.

For the event, we’ll be rocking a 6 Tap bar, which includes a new feature: “The Friend’s Tap”. On top of all our latest brews, we will be offering a guest beer from a brewery that we have a collaboration in the pipe-line or under our belt.

To kick start this special feature tap, we’ve got something from our long-time friends from up in Manchester, BlackJack Beers. With these guys we’ve brewed beer together, drank beers together, pub crawled, festival-ed, you name it…and they are the guys that have been bringing our beers up to the Greater Manchester region for yonks. We got a lot of love for them and think you should too.

Dragon’s Tears 5.2%

A classic saison style infused with “Dragons Tears” Jasmine tea leaf that have been picked within the first 3 weeks of the season. Expect this to be floral and fragrant, with the refreshing quality both a saison and iced jasmine tea has to boast.

We always strive for an amazing taplist for those who venture to our brewery but this time, we’re also making up for the recent postponement of the open day. So with Dragon’s Tears to get you thirsty, here’s what Weird Beard brews will be pouring from draft:

Weird Wired 5.7%

A very recent release and all sold out within a week, this is our collaboration brew with 8 Wired Brewing Co and in partnership with the NZ Collective. A crisp, light Extra Pale Ale that is all about showcasing the UK-NZ hops we used for it. Blackcurrant meets tropical fruit in this super quaffable number.

(Disclaimer: Only 1 keg of this so come early to avoid disappointment but we do have some bottles of it also).

Spreadsheet Ninja 4.8%

Our Pilsner, refined and rebranded to a hop-changing lager that now weighs in below 5%. This batch is a reworked recipe of our Gregg’s favourite version and is Citra hopped. For those who know about hop-shortages and follow our blog, we’re lucky and so pleased to have this hoppy Pils on tap.

Five O’clock Shadow 7%

Our core American IPA but the tweaked recipe, which you can read all the about here, that recently won best at BottleDog’s “Blind IPA Tasting”. Because of hop availabilities, we’ve opted for a different choice USA hops: Centennial, Simcoe, Summit and Chinook as well as re-jigged he malt-bill. We believe in staying true to ourselves but here, change was a very good thing.

Single Hop Centennial 8.7%

With a personal favourite of Gregg’s we ought to have the other co-founder and headbrewer, Bryan’s, personal favourite on also. Here it is! A pine-y, orange-juice fruity double IPA that is quite frankly too delicious for its/our own good. We here love this beer so much, we’ve had to hold back on pillaging the fridges of any bottles so that you too can get your hands on them this weekend.

Ole Smoky Blend Barrel Aged Sadako 9.2%

Brewed with 10 different malts including oats with additions of honey, molasses and fresh coffee beans, this is our flagship Impy Stout that has been barrel aged and blended in Ole Smoky Bourbon barrels. It’s a deliciously rich, complex and intense dark beer that has hints of Campfire marshmallow. Limited bombers are available for treating yourselves and others.  

Other bottles, which are not mentioned above, that will be available from drink-in and/or take away include:

  • Limited bombers of Macallan Barrel Aged Weird Brodmance (a Maple Syrup Imperial Stout)
  • Sorachi Faceplant (A Sorachi Ace Hop-bomb of an IPA)
  • Something Something Barrel Aged (Bourbon barrel-aged Double India Stout) 

And a bit of a show-stopper, since it’s only ever been brewed and released one time before a few years ago:

  • Bearded Nurse (a Barley Wine) 

All the delicious snacks from Pig and Hay, food from Redneck Smokehouse, Square Root Sodas and Karkli will be on offer as expected from our past events.  

Plenty of merchandise including branded stemmed or Craft Master glassware (£3), assorted t-shirts (£15) and hoodies (£25) will be on sale. 

On that note, we’ll let you plan your beer wish-lists, plan your route and see you at the brewery from 12-7pm on Sunday!