I remember back in the day when Weird Beard was just in the planning stage. Lots of talk and dreams, but no real decisions or substance; we hadn’t even agreed on a name. I was still at my previous job, on a night shift, filling the time reading blogs from other breweries as usual. To this day I remember one particular blog that really stood out. I had done some googling after I had enjoyed a stout, rare to these shores a few times, called iStout. I really liked the beer, but did not really know much about the brewery, 8 Wired Brewing Co, as there wasn't much of their stuff around at the time.
Here's that blog. It was really inspirational reading about a guy (Søren) working in a larger New Zealand brewery, who were letting him brew his own stuff on any spare capacity. The beers he made impressed people so much he went on to open his own brewery. 8 Wired beers are now a lot easier to find, thanks in part over the last year or so to Todd and the NZ beer collective.
Everyone at Weird Beard see Todd, and few other people working for the NZ cause, as friends. We've worked many festivals together, meeting a number of Kiwi brewers along the way. It really was only a matter of time before we managed to get together with one of these guys and brewed something special. So when we bumped in Todd exciting a great cask bar in central London where he mentioned that Søren from 8 Wired would be in town in a few weeks and was keen to brew with us while he had the chance, I have to admit to being just a little excited. The very next Monday, emails started flying around and it was official, Weird Beard and 8 Wired were going to be brewing a beer together at the end of February.
We are fans of hops - you may have figured this out by now - but it's always worth mentioning. And what is NZ known for? Could it be all those lovely New World hops? It was obvious, this beer had to be all about the hops. A super basic malt bill was required, with a single sack of Carapils, and then Lager malt, loads of Lager malt. In fact, this beer has a higher percentage of lager malt than our lager. Then, our standard yeast, a nice clean US style yeast that doesn’t add a lot of character, leaving a nice light, easy drinking but essentially blank canvas to paint our hoppy masterpiece. Anyway, back to the hops...we had a brewer from NZ brewing a beer with a UK brewery, so we had to run with this love in, and get some UK hops working in harmony with some NZ hops.
Unfortunately, there wasn't quite enough time to have Søren smuggling hops into the country and we were restricted by our hops contracts; anyone who follows our blogs will know how much fun they are. Out of what we had, Soren went with Kohatu, one we have used a few times in the past and we went with a UK hop that just oozes lovely, fruity blackcurrant, but one usually found in darker beers, Bramling Cross. Just to bridge the gap a little, we went for another NZ hop that we have been using since Gregg's first home brews, and a big part of our flagship pale ale, Mariana Trench. Pacific Gem, a hop that brings more blackcurrant to the party, in a very NZ way.